The Crown of Kings – Part 6

We pick up the story having just been whacked over the head with a chamber pot by a fat-man who may or may not be the evil Archmage of Mampang Fortress, the man who stands between me and my goal, the Crown of Kings. Giving him the benefit of the doubt I tried to calm him down and have a talk. He told me his name was Farren Whyde and that he was not a native of Mampang, he had been brought here by bird-men so the Archmage could exploit his knowledge of science and weaponry, specifically regarding something which sounds an awful lot like gunpowder. Believing his story, I told him mine and was told that the Archmage doesn’t actually come to Mampang Fortress that often as he feels it in unsafe… FFS… However, Farren was able to tell me where I would find him.  A short spell was uttered in an odd language and the tower appeared out of nowhere, visible through the window as the invisibility spell it had been hidden by faded, There is the Archmage’s tower. That is where he stays!’, said Farren. An opportunity to cast a spell myself arose and so I went for DOC, I needed to get my Stamina back to a respectable level after that marble sheep had kicked me from wall to wall.

Farren told me one more thing, that a secret passageway was hidden within this tower along a specific solid wall and would be released by a password. My visit from Libra way back in part two detailed a hidden passageway that sounded much like this one, so I went to the wall and deducted 92 from the reference as Libra had told me, I held my breath and…. hooray! The wall creaked, cracked and the split open and a door began to open from within the rock, just in the nick of time as I could hear guards ascending the tower in pursuit of me. Zig-zagging down the hidden stairs I neatly avoided any further attention and was very relieved to find the Archmage’s tower still visible when I emerged. A winning Skill test later and I had the door barged down and was ready to go find me a crown.

Two doors led on from this point. I initially chose the right one, an empty circular room lay on the other side, a staircase on the opposite side. What put me off was the scratches that ran vertically from floor to ceiling along the walls. They’re gonna suddenly start moving and crush me when I step on them aren’t they? I still haven’t checked actually, but the option to go back to the left door was given so I gave that a shot. This room was dark but I could tell the floor was scattered with hay, I could also tell there was a smell of decay in the room. A large, bulky shape sat at the far side of the room and as I approached to investigate, it began to rise up…

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Easily one of the most utterly bizarre monsters I’ve seen illustrated in a Fighting Fantasy book, before me slumped a hydra. It was unlike any hydra I had seen before though, infact it had seven necks and no heads, the heads you see here slowly began to form at the end of the necks, one by one. I held back and waited for the remaining heads to form and allowed the creature to engage me in combat. However, as it advanced upon me, at the last moment it simply vanished. It had been an illusion! The bulky shape and stench in the air were both representative of the hydra corpse that lay on the floor, presumably having once guarded the tower. From this room I was able to progress further by climbing a staircase that wound up the tower until it stopped at a large, ornate door bound in brass. This was it.

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‘And who do we have here then?As if I did not know. The Analander!’. I had found the Archmage and I told him I had come to take back the Crown of Kings. Rather unexpectedly, he told me I could have it and was rather anxious to get rid of the thing. I didn’t buy this for a second and prepared for a fight! Being an Archmage I guessed he was going to have some pretty powerful magic at his disposal, so I chose to cast MAG, a magical protection spell. It seemed to have done the trick though as the rope the Archmage sent hurtling through the air to bind my hands stopped a few feet in front of me and fell harmlessly to the floor. ‘We will have to use less impressive means to capture the Analander’, he said, and before I knew it I was being marched off by guards to the prison cell at the top of the tower. Not again…

Oddly enough, in the cell I met a friendly face. All the way back in The Shamutanti Hills I met a minimite called Jann, well, today we meet Jann again! He was supposed to have proved quite annoying as the presence of a minimite prevents a person from casting all the but the most powerful of magic spells, but I hadn’t actually attempted to use magic when he was with me, so that one passed me by. After I ditched him though, the poor thing had apparently been following me, trying to keep up with my progress. Unwilling to enter Khare, he went around the city and tracked me across the Baklands, getting confirmation from Fenestra that he was on the right course before finally being captured by the Red-eyes and having his wings cut off to prevent his escape! Jann told me that what we were in was not actually the Archmage’s tower at all, this was his prison tower where he holds all his most valuable captives. Why Jann was that important to the Archmage I do not know. What did now make sense was the idea that Farren was not who he said he was. I brought this up with Jann and he sniggered and confirmed my suspicions, that had been the Archmage all along and I was told that should I encounter Farren again I could deduct 111 from the reference to expose him.

For now though, we were locked into a tower with seemingly no possible escape, I couldn’t use my magic due to Jann nulifying it but I could perhaps try to ambush the guards when they brought food. I asked Jann if he had any suggestions. After outlining again the futility of our predicament, Jann started talking magic. My traditional spells would not work around him, but there re a few spells that their protection doesn’t work against. He asked if I had strength to spare, the text asked if I had a Stamina above 8? Thanks to my DOC spell-casting from earlier, I did. ZED was the new spell I was learning, apparently a very powerful one too that the Spellbook did mention but conspicuously stated that its exact effects were unknown. Jann gave me a tangent-ridden description of the spell and to cut a long story short, it allows the user to control time and space. I decided to give it a go and everything when swirly and then un-swirled as I was no longer standing in the prison tower, but at the top of a spiral staircase in front of some heavy-set double doors. Now this really is it.

This had been the top of the tower I had previously ascended from the hydra room, and again, Farren was waiting for me there, only this time I had the information Jann had given me and deducted 111 from the page number. ‘So, the Analander knows our secret!’, he said, he began to tease me with the idea of the Crown of Kings itself and began to produce it from a nearby drawer. Whilst I was distracted by the shiny, a creature had begun to form over the now prone Farren Whyde, a Nether-World Demon, which frankly looked like it wouldn’t be out of place in the bowels of House of Hell. A fantastic illustration, probably my favourite from this book.

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As the thing was still in the process of forming when I attacked it, it was actually quite weak at 7/7, I did have a 5-round target to kill it, but with my superior skill and high Luck, this was quite easy to meet.

It appeared to me that the Archmage had attempted to turn into the nether-world demon to destroy me once and for all and having discarded his illusion, left the body of ‘Farren Whyde’ on the ground. Perhaps Farren Whyde was a real person the Arhmage had based his illusion around? A RES spell seemed an interesting option here, so I whipped out some Holy Water and set about bringing him back. I explained what had happened and he praised my efforts and everything I had done for him and the Femphrey Alliance. He set about repaying me in the best possible way – getting me the hell out of there. He produced a crystal ball from within a velvet bag and called upon the Samaritans of Schinn. Peewit Croo, their Chief Disciple was to come to my aid, he was a bird-man and was going to fly me and the crown home.

The Crown was on its way home, the Archmage was dead and somewhere in The Shamutanti Hills, a squirrel is set-up for food over this winter and possibly even the next.

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My adventure was over and I have earned a rest.

 

 

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