Doubling back from the tapestry corridor, I went down the mural corridor. Quite impressive it sounded too, twenty metres long, depicting a great battle between undead, orcs, men and dwarves. My study of its detail was suddenly broken by a voice behind me, ‘Do you like my work?‘. Spinning around, I was facing a man with paint pots in his hand and a brush behind his ear, the astute reader may determine that he is the artist. Flattery was the obvious course of action and he seemed pleased to get complimented on his painting skills, this loosened his tongue and so I learned of High Priestess Leesha. Leesha is the boss of this place, despite her terrible nature, she has a taste for finery and art. Every year she invites talented people to come and carry out their works with the lost city. The best entry is rewarded with 300g and the rest are sacrificed to the Dark One – whoever that may be. Our friend here was pretty confident of his victory and also let on that the artists were protected here by wearing magic rings and that Leesha’s inner temple can only be reached by walking through the curtain of golden rain. Despite all this juicy information, he had never seen or heard of Malbordus…
Leaving him to his paint pots I followed the corridor around to the right, off the corridor was a solid-looking door, from behind which I could hear agonized cries and sadistic laughter. I turned the handle and walked in to find Michael Jackson being tortured by a bare-chested man.
Killing the torturer, I took a bunch of brass keys from his belt and set about freeing the prisoner and found his name was actually Thitta, an ex-servant of Leesha who was caught trying to escape. I explained my quest to him and the mention of the Messenger of Death perked his interest, a figure he’d seen was stashing something in a golden casket before disappearing into thin air… We went our separate ways from here.
A little further down the corridor was another door that popped open thanks to my Open Door spell, inside was a marble-floored room, bare except for a bronze head of a woman mounted on the wall which surprisingly started to talk to me. I was asked how many gold pieces Leesha gave to the winner of the art contest, the text telling me to turn to that page number. On giving the correct answer I was congratulated by the head and it started to pour a red smoke into the room which left me feeling invigorated, restoring 2 Skill and 2 Luck! For once I actually needed that Skill boost! Back in the corridor it led to a small room with doors leading off to the left and right, a nice disguise, but essentially another T-junction! Opting for the right door I discovered a room packed full of caskets, chests, urns and the like, oh and one of the urns also a fire-spitting fiend climbing out of it.
Not that tough and opponent at 6/8, but it did force me to roll 1D6 per attack round to see if its firey breath did any damage to me, a roll of 1-2 would cause 1 Stamina damage, but fortunately I emerged un-scathed and un-toasted. My reward on exploring the room was a gold medallion with a heart carved into it, unknown to me though this was actually a medallion given to sacrificial victims and so I lost 1 Luck point. Beyond this room was another with a mosaic floor and a large Medusa head with a coin-slot. I didn’t fancy a Medusa vending machine, I was fine for Medusas that day, so I moved on into what was another darkened corridor my lantern plainly wasn’t good enough for. As a consequence I walked straight into a blade in the wall, costing me 2 Stamina and 1 Luck. Emerging into a candle-lit room with a floor strewn with rotting food, animal droppings and matted hair, the door behind me alarmingly slammed shut while the door ahead of me burst open.
This fellow was a Night Horror and he was shooting bolts of white light from a silver rod at me, which I was none too happy about. A quick Luck roll meant I was able to have a rummage in my bag and not get a blast from the rod. I triumphantly pulled out the brass bell I’d found in the desert sands, ringing it forced the night horror to collapse on the floor screaming, clutching its ears. But Ii wasn’t out of the woods yet as a grinding noise signaled me to look up and see the ceiling was beginning to descend. Grabbing up the silver rod I was all set to brace the ceiling, but as soon as I picked it up, the ceiling stopped moving. A door led out of the room which I could open up with the crystal key I bought from Yaz. Before moving on though, being the nice chap that I am, I threw the rod back into the room, the ceiling grinding returned as it continued its descent, presumably crushing the cowering Night Horror to death.
The room I’d walked into was a workshop, carving materials littered the room and the job in progress was a carving of what was presumably Vatos being attacked by giant sandworms.
Closer inspection resulted in me gaining 1 Luck point as tucked within a hollowed out building was a small ebony dragon carving! That’s three of five artifacts now found.
Leaving the workshop for the next room I found myself in a large hall, weapons and armour adorned the walls and at the opposite end was an altar being attended to three sallow-skinned men in black robes who on seeing me all picked up a sickle and started to ‘advance’ towards me. Although the illustration suggests they did this in a somewhat more confrontational manner than implied.
Trying to avoid a fight with three maniacs I told them I had a gift for priestess Leesha, and on seeing the medallion I picked up earlier they seemed to buy it too, ‘The gift of your life will certainly please Leesha‘. Curiously I felt compelled to walk down the hall towards the altar, but I fought the chanting voices in my head and passed a Skill test to ensure I was able to keep my head on my body for a bit longer. The Dark Disciples weren’t too keen on this though and set about that task of removing my head once again, but while they had a decent level of skill, they weren’t that tough at 9/5, 9/5 and 8/6. The only thing worth taking from them though was a long sacrificial dagger.
Leading out of the hall was an archway that led into an ornate corridor with a familiar sounding gold curtain, but before I could pass through I had to deal with the small matter of a wall of stone arms brandishing swords at me.
A formality to pass by the four of them though as all the stats were so low at 6/4 each. I stepped through the curtain of golden rain and felt wetness, yet remained dry. I was in a luxurious chamber, decorated with paintings and the like, even scatter cushions. I wasn’t alone though, a Slave Guard was waiting at the end of the room with a very fine mustache.
Having taken him out I was knackered, the scatter cushions were just far too inviting to this dusty adventurer and so I decided to have a drink of water and a sleep, a risky choice maybe but I was able to rest long enough to restore 2 Stamina before I was awoken by a deep humming noise, I dived behind some drapes to hide from whoever or whatever was making the sound. A white-robed man carrying a golden chalice entered the chamber, he saw the body of the slave guard and checked for a heart-beat before running out of the room, completely oblivious to my presence. Taking the opportunity to get out of there before he brought back more men with mustaches I set about getting the door out of the room open, I was given the opportunity to hack the door open with my sword as opposed to using my Open Door spell and was able to do so without any penalty or check… really glad I took that spell!
My next challenge was to pick a door, the corridor led me up to two doors, each bearing a different set of runes and, one with a moon, one with a sun. I tried to use my Read Symbols spell but apparently the golden rain had sapped away my magic abilities. I suppose that explains the door situation then.
I went for the moon door and didn’t die, so I guess it was the right guess! A long, sloping corridor took me down into a chamber covered in hieroglyphics. Three clay pots, white, red and black sat on a stone table. The black pot had a shrivelled monkey paw inside, which I decided could only be bad news. In the white pot was a ring with a lightning bolt on it, I put it on to no obvious effect – could this be the ring the painter had mentioned? Usually I assume that Fighting Fantasy books that take you through a choice of three give you a good option, an indifferent one and a punishment. I’d had the in-different one, I was assuming the monkey paw was the bad one so there must be something awesome in the red pot! Of course there was nothing in the pot, but underneath was a letter ‘E’. Damn you, Messenger of Death! I lost 4 Stamina and 1 Luck for my inquisitiveness, maybe I was right about the rings value after all. On my way out of the chamber I found a small trapdoor, but finding it too dark to properly explore I moved on into what can only be described as a treasure room! There was a golden skeleton statue I quite liked the look of, so I had that. From what I was told earlier by Thitta clearly the Messenger of Death had left me a note in the golden casket, so I left that alone.
Leaving the room took me on to another T-junction where I took a right. Strangely there was a large bowl of grapes in the middle of this corridor, I took a gamble and ate the lot, 4 Stamina points were my reward. Ending the corridor was an archway blocked by a black curtain with a skull carved above it. I threw back the curtain and found myself in a small chamber with two guards standing at the end; ‘Give good reason to intrude on the domain of Leesha or die’.
I didn’t have what they would consider a good reason to intrude the domain of Leesha, so I drew my sword and fought them off, which wasn’t easy as they both has a Skill of 9. Marble steps led onwards, up into a high ceiling room supported by parallel lines of white pillars. Screaming luxury, this was indeed the domain of Leesha as she was draped over some satin cushions, being fanned by a large, muscular servant. With a smile and a snap of her fingers he attacked me.
After killing this milky-eyed freak I turned my attention to Leesha and found she was already coming at me with a shiny, black, crescent-shaped object. I was given the option to fight her using a giant sandworm tooth, which did the trick as it was, for some reason, her weakness and she turned and fled at the mere sight of it. Knowing I was still looking out for dragon artifacts I checked a large chest in her chamber. I remembered I was reading an Ian Livingstone book too late though because of course, inside was the final letter from the Messenger of Death, a letter ‘D’ written in gold-dust costing me 4 Stamina points. The silver lining was that I only had a D, E and H, so I had ultimately survived this particular threat!
Turning my attention back to Leesha I pursued her through the door she left the chamber by into another hallway, in the middle of which was a bronze idol in the shape of a dog. Taking a closer look I could see that the dogs mouth was hinged, inside was a small Golden Dragon, that’s four artifacts… is it enough?
Running down the hall I found myself in a cross-passage, also known as a T-junction, to my left I could see Leesha hurriedly opening an iron door, to my right was a dwarf! He was crawling on his knees, seemingly badly sunburned and carrying a hammer. He also seemed to recognize me, so I thought I’d best see what he wanted.
This dwarf was an envoy sent by Yaztromo to bring me the legendary war-hammer of Stonebridge as only something so mighty was able to destroy the Dragon Artifacts. I’m sure this crispy, delirious dwarf was delighted that Yaz hadn’t sent me off with it in the first place! Continuing after Leesha I pushed through the iron door she had just gone through to find myself in a features room, save for a circular pit in the middle and a very high ceiling. Sadly, I had only four of the five dragon artifacts, Malbordus had won. A window was open at the top of the room and sunlight was streaming through, only to be blocked out by the shadow of a huge dragon with an evil-looking man on its back who could faintly be heard laughing, presumably in an evil-manner. All of Allansia would soon be in shadow as Malbordus would now lead his hoards across the land accompanied by dragons. I had failed in my mission.
My adventure was over.