Gravestones were scattered around the graveyard that stood before me, in the middle of which was a large stone crypt. Above the doorway was a sign which read ‘HERE RESTS LORD SHIVA – FIFTH NOBLE OF KHARE‘. So given all I’ve learned, at this stage I’m pretty certain a line of the North Gate spell is hidden somewhere inside and so I pressed on. Before I could enter though, a shimmering circle of darkness lay on the ground along the overgrown path leading into the crypt. A quick Luck test and I hopped over it. Flinging the door open, I jumped inside and found the entrance room to be quite small and quite empty, save for a small staircase that led down further. Damp air, dripping water and a stench of decay were the first things I discovered. A coffin was the next thing I noticed and with a sudden creaking sound it was a coffin whose lid was starting to slide open! To make things worse, from an alcove in the dark, I was joined by this abomination…
Too shocked to cast a spell, I readied my sword and began combat with the 9/8 Deathwraith. Unfortunately, my sword literally just couldn’t cut it, a silver weapon was needed to harm this thing and so all I could do was buy time. On winning an attack round I simply bought myself a Luck roll. Having no other option available to me, it was time to call upon Libra. Blinding light shot down the stairwell, seemingly being emitted by the radiant figure of a woman, whom I’m guessing is this Libra chick I apparently worship. She’s a bit of a badass though as all she needed to do was point at the coffin and the terrified Deathwraith slid into the coffin, it’s life-force apparently being drained. And all of a sudden, everything was quiet and it was done.
As soon as I took a second to relax, the coffin began to open again, but this time, instead of a Deathwraith appearing, a man climbed out. A very old man. He thanked me profusely, he had been trapped and tormented as the living dead for so long he felt he owed me a debt. We spoke of my quest and as I’d hoped, he did have a line of the spell for me – ‘One lock made out of Golem’s hide’. It turned out that he had another little bit of information, a rhyming couplet that read ‘For sleeping of the sleepless Ram; Seek out the one they call The Sham’. I had no idea what he was wittering on about, but I earned 2 Luck points for my discovery.
Now I really was leaving the centre of Khare, city streets were turning back into the huts I saw on my way into the city itself, I was off the cobbles and onto a dirt track. Stopping to give a gold piece to a blind beggar, things got lively again.
I always wondered where the slightly freaky image of the Harpy in Out of the Pit came from, now I know, it comes from right now as Harpies descended upon the old guy from the skies, his possibly paranoid cries telling me they were after his gold. I think they were just being dicks. Combat time, but as I hadn’t used any magic for a while, I thought it was time for a spell! Being quite flush at the moment (as nobody seems to want to sell me any god-damn provisions!), I cast WOK, which instead of summoning a furry bro from Kashyyyk, turned one of my gold pieces into a shield. For the duration of the next fight I could deduct 2 from my enemies Attack score. This could potentially be quite handy as even though the harpies weren’t very strong (7/6, 6/6) I was being assisted by the beggar who was unsurprisingly rather weak (2/8) and I wanted to keep him alive so they had to die as quickly as possible. Lots of Luck rolls to nuke them with maxed out damage later and my new buddy made it through, but with only 2 Stamina left!
This man was a good man to help. After the fight he told me he was once a Noble of Khare and had suffered a pretty major fall from grace to where he is now. Indeed, he had a line of the spell to share with me, ‘By Courga’s grace and… ‘someones‘ pride’. Yes, he couldn’t actually remember that bit, but he did tell me that the god of grace had a temple nearby and I should be able to find the name of the god there. He gave me a tip for that too ‘the left eye leads the way‘. As a final gesture he gave me a silver ring, fashioned as a serpent which has a page reference attached to it for use in the next book!
Having now left Khare-proper, the North Gate sat before me in all its terrific splendour; gargoyles and stuff making it all like, impressive and shit. But I still had a temple to hit! The Shrine of Courga was to presumably be my final destination. A vast, echoing entry-way greeted me, giant stone gargoyles leaning into the room over multi-coloured depictions of Khares mythology, accompanied by presumably very valuable ornaments and beautiful tapestries. Standing on an altar was a large golden statue of Courga.
Before I got onto that though, I decided it was time for a little magic. I cast my SUS spell which would help reveal traps, and indeed I did find a dark circle on the ground before the idol that I would me mindful of. I then turned my attention to the valuables! Rather comedically as I picked up an attractive looking gold chalice, the gargoyles hanging above me predictably began to creak into life, I replaced the chalice and they went back to sleep. Problem solved. And so, the idol was next and as you can see in the illustration, he bore an instruction ‘On Courgas face you kiss a cross and finish with the lips, for answers to your questions must not err or else me spits’. A cross, you say? As I’d learned earlier I should start with the left eye and avoid the cheeks, so I went left eye, right eye, forehead, lips. Bingo! Worked a charm. The idol spoke to me and granted me a question, wanting to complete the third spell line I asked the name of the god of pride, ‘Fourga‘ was my answer. I left the temple and headed towards the gate.
Of course, the gate was heavily guarded, I guess they don’t want it being opened given the evil stuff that’s out there. But being the responsible adventurer that I am, those gates are getting opened anyway. I cast a DUD spell, temporarily disguising a worthless piece of my inventory as something infinitely more valuable and used it as a bribe to get the guards out of the way. I think I used my Bomba apple, my notes are in another county at the moment. Regardless, it worked and I moved onto the gate! As I approached the gate, a phantom voice spoke to me, asking for the spell… the fact I only had three of the four lines was a problem. I was instructed to start again.
My adventure was over.
However, as I prepared to start over again, maybe explore the port this time, maybe avoid getting showered in sewer poo, I realised I’d screwed something up. In my notes I realised I’d missed a bit! Flanker was to meet me at two page references in the book, I had been to both of these references, but only remembered to turn to the relevant page on one of those occasions! So we have a loose thread, lets pull on it a bit…
All the way back to the festival we go and this time amidst all the dancing and fighting, I bump into Flanker. Who’d have thought it! And yes, as we start conversation, he almost instantly tells me of a friend who may know a line to the spell. D’oh. Lortag the Elder was his name and I headed over to his hut.
Three raps on his giant brass knocker and he came over to see me with slight apprehension, he asked for my weapon before he would let me enter, perhaps foolishly I agreed and went in unarmed. As Flanker promised, this chap did know a line to the spell, but he wanted me to help him solve a puzzle first. A number of runes lay on the table before him, as you can see in the illustration, but one more followed in the sequence and he wanted to know which of the following it was.
Now I’ll be totally honest here, I didn’t have a bloody clue as to what I was looking at. Complete and utter guesswork to the right answer followed. 274 was the correct one, the runes apparently matched those on a gambling die and I am still none the wiser. Anyway, the now happy-chappy Lotag gave me his spell line, ‘So tumblers two sealed deep inside‘. I left his hut and followed the path round until I arrived at the chapel I visited in part one. And there we have it, I now had a path to the end that had me gather all four lines of the spell. Back to the gate we go…
The four spell lines need to be placed in the correct order and three of them contain a number, which together give a page reference. After a brief mental fumbling around I realised that ‘Fourga’ was meant to represent ‘four’, and so I came up with this…
So tumblers two sealed deep inside,
One lock made out of Golem’s hide,
By Courga’s grace and Fourga’s pride,
I bid you, portals, open wide,
…and turned to 214. To be honest though, the lines fit together in just about any order, but we got there in the end. With a big creaking sound, the gates opened up for me.
The Baklands awaited me and as I had been told at the start, from this point onwards, my progress will be watched… ooo.