Last time around I had the smug smile wiped from my face as the puzzle in my way I thought I’d solved remained sitting there, making fun of my pathetic yellow bracelets. All other options exhausted, I had some back tracking to do.
My first instinct was to look at the earlier choice I had been directly presented with inside my current route. The yellow bracelets I had coveted had not been the only item I discovered in the seemingly precious sack carried by Strongarm and co, there had also been a pendant. So, I went back to that point in the story and picked up the pendant, hoping it was a little more useful than the one on offer in Dark Souls. Thankfully this gave me a new thread to tug on as this dull, metal pendant had a little trick hidden up its sleeve. With it, I was able to detect the presence of hidden passageways within the catacombs. If I came across any passage in the book starting with the text ‘You cannot see a thing…‘ then I was to deduct 20 from the reference to find my hidden area. Recalling a section of dungeon just after the shadow creature being blacked out, I set off in that direction.
Reference 257 did indeed start with those words and some simple maths triggered the pendant. The dull piece of jewelry started to hum and a red beam fired out of the center to point at a stone wall ahead of me, and following the beam, my eyes were drawn to what seemed to be a piece of stone hanging in mid-air. Pulling on the stone set off a release mechanism of some kind and a hidden door in the wall creaked and crumbled open. The text then readjusted the rules for finding secret passages, stating that any reference I found starting with ‘You find yourself…‘ was to have 20 added to it to reveal a secret. This was making me remember something potentially very important, but firstly I had a secret door to check out! Within a small chamber, a single glowstone provided just enough light for me to make out a chest. Inside were two items, a shield and a large lump of crystal. Having already translated part of the diary of Zharradan Marr in part three, I knew full well to keep my eye out for a crystal club, so my selection here was a no-brainer. My lump of crystal was revealed to in-fact be a crystal club which I could use by turning to reference 333.
Now I say I remembered something potentially important, before I began this read-through I had been tipped off by some readers and my own research that there was an error in one section of the book where the correct trigger phrase had not been used, rendering the book nigh-on impossible to complete. Sounding familiar to the mechanics of my new toy, I checked it out and lo-and-behold, the trigger phrase left out was ‘You find yourself…‘ which should have started reference 213, that reference instead starting with ‘You reach a dead end‘. I’ll save my seethe for now and leave it until the Conclusions section!
So where is section 213? Around the portion of the book where I thought the yellow bracelets were the answer amidst a selection of dead-end cross-roads, that’s where! Geographically, I was on the right track, I could continue from the spot where I obtained the crystal club and make my way back through the area where I met Hannicus in part 3, past the Chattermatter from part 2 and get my pendant swinging on page 213. Finally making some progress past my end-point of around 25 years ago!
As with last time, a beam of light projected from the pendant onto a seemingly solid wall, fumbling around on its surface released a hidden catch, sending jets of smoke bursting from the edges of the door that was now sliding open in the rock. Awaiting me was an entirely pitch-black room which as I stepped in started to light up as several little flames popped out of the gloom, four in total and all revealing a human face! An instant later and they were speaking to me –
‘Your progress has been watched, foul creature of destruction. So far you have done well though you know not why or what, but you have caused two of the vapours to be lost. Zharradan Marr himself has decreed your destiny. You shall remain in his dungeons and do my bidding for i am Darramouss your master.’
If you can understand him turn to reference ninety.
‘Your first order is this: Report for duty at the Yellowstone mines. Leave now and head there immediately. I will be waiting.’
Hannicus had told me about this guy and I was on full alert to find a moment when I could grab him and make use of the ring he had armed me with. The lights came up and my environment was very different, no longer was I in a cold, stone cavern, I was in an area adorned with rich drapes and gilt-framed paintings. Darramouss confirmed that I was a magical creation of Zharradan Marr and while my fate was yet to be decided, my immediate future would see me being sent to work in the mines. Resistance would be met with my demise. Gritting my teeth and growling my dissatisfaction I wasn’t even given the option of going along with the idea of becoming a miner and Darramouss started casting a spell. My moment had come so I added 50 to the reference and hoped my gift from Hannicus would do the trick.
‘….the Ring of Holy Blessing! Where did you get that? Give it to me! This instant!’, he yelled fiercely. Hannicus, you’re a star, sorry for leaving you to die. Grinding the jewel of the ring into the wall a sweet-smelling gas filled the air, Darramouss stepping back and hitting a panel in the wall to open up a secret passage, but he was too late. Clutching his throat he hit the deck, the gas had done the trick and the awful creature was dead. I headed north through the passage opened up by Darramouss as he attempted to flee. On my way I yet again crossed the foul-smelling Bilgewater river and continued until I arrived at a heavy looking door carved into the rock. Opening up, a dark-skinned man stepped through and began asking me who I was and if I had been granted permission to leave Marr’s dungeon. Of course, I said yes. Please, god, let me out. It clearly wasn’t going to be that easy though and he asked me what the secret gesture was. I chose to play dumb and made out that there was no ‘gesture’ to pass on. The end result was that for the price of my pendant, the guard would let me through. I figured that it’d served its purpose by now and handed it over.
Rummaging through keys, the guard let me through a cold metal door which led up a flight of stairs and into a dark, stone-walled room decorated with carvings and patterns. A crack of light shone through the ceiling and edging around the room revealed a door which I swung open to be hit by the cool night air and a wide-open-space. I was out! The moon was described as a large white orb, this was the first time my creature had been outside I guess, the description of what sounded like a graveyard and church was all that I had to go on to accompany the ‘orb’. Still in awe of my new surroundings I decided to check out the ‘old building’, which I’m assuming was a church.
And yes, I finally have an illustration to brighten things up. I hope you like hags.
Chattering to each other and to me in equal quantities, these weird sisters three were the Women of Dree and said they could influence my destiny. They set me a quest, a relatively simple one, to collect some Sculliweed root for them before the next full moon and they would tell me everything. Well, I’m several thousand words into this now and I’d quite like to have a tangible goal to pursue, so ladies, by all that I stand for, you shall have your Sculliweed root!
Although I have no idea what it is, what it looks like, where to find it or even where I am.