So having unwillingly entered myself into some sort of hideous, undead version of Countdown there was no time to mess around and so I made a move, going further into the city of lost city of Vatos; and now I think about it, a lost city that was remarkably easy to navigate to. At the end of the corridor was a T-junction with patterned drapes hanging down the wall. Pulling back the drapes revealed a large iron door, an unlocked one at that. Passing through I was in a dusty room, walls smeared with blood and a bucket hanging from the ceiling. Another door was on the opposite wall, but before I could make a decision as to what to do next a scratching, skittering sound from a low archway soon turned into a giant centipede.
He wasn’t as fierce as he looked though and I was soon wiping some sort of ichor off my blade and moving to investigate the bucket. Inside was merely a bunch of old bones, but closer inspection showed one was carved into the shape of a dragon which will bee my first artifact! Leaving the room through the opposite door took me to a cross-road with nothing of apparent interest to the left or right, forcing me to push straight on. A large pit threatened to block my passage, but using my Jump spell sent me sailing over it unhindered. I say unhindered, it actually cost me 3 Stamina to pull this off, a magic system reminiscent of the Sorcery books. Hovering out of the torch-lit gloom came an awful creature which was now blocking my path, a giant floating eye-ball, an Eye Stinger, was trying to catch me with its hypnotic gaze.
Having nothing in my pack which would be of use, I drew my sword and started swinging, eyes closed! Lucky old me managed to thrust my sword straight into its eyeball, sending the thing crashing to the ground, leaking a horrible yellow toxic ooze. My exit from the area was swift, but brought back to a halt soon after when I spied an iron grille on the right side of the wall. Prising it open seemed the thing to do, but as I reached up with my sword I realised the grille had been tampered with, the bars highlighted with chalk to form a ‘H’. The Messenger of Death had made his first mark on me, costing me 1 Luck, 4 Stamina and potentially ending the adventure prematurely somewhere down the line.
Taking a left turn at the following T-junction I turned sharply right to find an armoured lizard man guarding a pile of sacks. Clearly an important thing to be doing in an un-populated lost city in the middle of the desert. Not having a Creature Sleep spell I drew my sword and finished him off (9/8) without issue. His sacks only contained grains and spices, but there was a large iron key in his clothes which I took along with me. At another T-junction I followed it to the right, the corridor slowly opening up into a dingy room where two Ratmen were gnawing away at the carcass of a goblin, the illustration showing a pretty harrowing expression on the face of the dead goblin!
Thankfully, the Ratmen were about as difficult an opponent as you might imagine (5/4 & 5/5) and the rewards were just as exciting, 3 gold and a monkey tail were in their pockets. Two archways led away from this dingy pit, I took the one to the left which led me to yet another T-junction, the right path was covered in broken glass so I only had the option of going left. I mean, c’mon, I’ll fight a giant sandworm at the drop of a hat, but broken glass? You must think I’m mad.
With the corridor ending at the now seemingly mandatory T-junction I went to the right but I could hear footsteps approaching. I decided to hang around to see just who it was.
Jerkily walking skeleton warriors were on my trail and posed a smidge more of a challenge than the Ratmen duo (7/5 & 6/6), but that isn’t saying much. I was able to take one of their shields with me for 1 Skill point that I couldn’t use. Had I not stopped to investigate those boney footsteps I’d have ended up at a locked wooden door, my Open Door spell being rendered obsolete by the iron key I took from the lizard man just a moment ago. An un-natural cold filled the room and two caskets lay on the floor, now prepared for a vampire encounter all I actually found myself doing was taking a clay goblet with a heart etched into the rim… odd. I headed back to the previous T-junction and this time went left. A door on the left-hand wall offered itself up, its carved decoration of a hideous creature being consumed by flames made me think twice about going through it, so I carried on along the corridor which ended at a plainer door.
Going through I found myself in a dark room with scratch marks all over the walls, a low growling sound could be heard in the murk. The door behind me suddenly opened and someone threw in pieces of meat, this fully got the attention of the Death Dog that had been lurking in the back of the room and he was now lurching forward to attack me.
No slouch either this Death Dog, at 9/10 he actually managed a couple of hits on me, but it wasn’t enough. Into the darker end of the room it seemed a tunnel stretched off into the distance, so naturally I started to crawl along it. As the light faded completely away I was asked if I had the ability to cast the Light spell… curious, as the book clearly states you start with a lantern in your inventory. Not having the spell, or seemingly the nouse to use my lamp, I continuing to crawl along in the dark and was ominously asked if I had the Detect Trap spell. Not having this spell either I was forced to take a Luck test as I had just triggered a cross-bow trap which Luckily only hit me in the shoulder for 3 Stamina points of damage. Finally I reached the end of the tunnel and emerged into a small dusty room, but suddenly I was screaming, my mind convinced the room was on fire, my flesh burning and death only a moment away… five minutes later I came around from my fear, severely shaken to the point that I had lost 3 Skill points! This tunnel exploration was a non-stop success I’d say. No explanation was given as to why I’d just flipped out though, I can only assume it had something to do with the cross-bow bolt?
Leading out of the room was another T-junction, to the left was nothing obviously of interest, but to the right were floating, glowing lights. The glowing lights turned out to be giant fireflies, which of course attacked me, but even in my new kitten-weak state of having lost 3 Skill, I still had 9 which was more than enough to kill these things without sustaining damage. Further down the corridor the light of the fireflies was replaced by torches as the corridor opened into a huge room with an ornate golden ceiling, a massive bronze warrior statue stood in the middle of the room. I can see where this is going.
Asked if I wanted to move round the statue to its left or its right, I passed to its left so as to be in a good position to avoid the inevitable hammer swing coming my way. As I walked past, nothing happened, so whatever I’d done, I’m calling it a win. The tunnel that led away from the room was sloping down and started to lead into a flooded room, water pouring in from a stone lion head in the ceiling. Going waist-deep through the water now I was comforted by the sight of writhing tentacles breaking the water surface, tentacles which were then trying to drag me under the water as I wildly hacked at whatever they belonged to. Not having the Bracelet of Mermaid Scaled I chose not to buy at the start of the adventure I had to fight the Tentacled Thing. I also had only 9 rounds (my current Skill) to do it without drowning, not an easy task given that the Tentacled Thing had decent stats at 8/10. A Luck roll pushed me over the line on the ninth round though so my adventure wasn’t over just yet… Deep red with blood, the water began to turn black, an acrid vapour rising from the surface. Interested to see if this would reveal anything hidden I decided to stick around, all I found however was that the vapour made me lose consciousness and fall, a Luck test thankfully meaning I landed on a ledge and not in the water, only losing 2 Stamina.
Continuing down the corridor I ignored the opportunity to turn off down another path and eventually came to a dead end, a solitary candle burning by the wall, but with something glinting behind it, Resident Evil has clearly taught us all that this means something useful is hidden in these situations, and so it remains as a silver box with a dragon motif was in an alcove behind the candle, inside which was a silver dragon artifact! Things taking a good turn at last, I headed back down the corridor to the turn-off I had ignored earlier.
Ahead of me was a very dark corridor, but a figure carrying a lantern could be made-out walking away from me. I pursued, but in true horror movie fashion, the thing spun around to face me just as I was right behind it…
To survive the stare of the Phantom I had to pass a Skill test, which I did, but with no items to deter him and my sword apparently useless against him, all I could do was stand there and suffer his paralysing touch for 4 Stamina damage. Fortunately though the Phantom just wandered off and didn’t kill me, so when the feeling came back I was able to stiffly continue to a T-junction. Showing signs of more recent use this was a decorated passage, tapestries hanging to the right and murals to the left. Looking over the tapestries, they all appeared to depict deities and various animals, I took a fancy to one of a burning phoenix, so rolled it up and put it in my pack. A sphinx-like chair was the next piece I came across, I decided to treat myself to a little sit-down and a Luck test meant the chair was merciful and restored 4 Stamina to me. More healing awaited as a handy herbal water station was at the end of the corridor, my Read Symbols spell allowed me to translate the accompanying sign as ‘DO NOT DRINK’, but bathing my wounds in it seemed to do the trick and I gained another 4 Stamina.
All healed-up, I headed into the final run of the city dungeon, two artifacts down, three more remain… and only four more letters to spell and bring about death. I like those odds!