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From the kitchens to the chasms (part 1)

Dear Fighting Fantasy, I never thought it could happen to me. I was a lackey in a kitchen, a third-assistant rabbit skinner. Then one day a wizard rushes in and grabs me by the wrist, dragging me right out the door. My boss screamed and hollered up a storm, but they threw a ouch of coins at him and now I’m here… in the Chasms of Malice.

I, the only direct descendant of Tancred the Magnificent, the founder of this kingdom.

I, the only hope to go into the underground and fight through waves of cave critters, dark elves, and I think he said demons, to kill the big bad guy’s 7 lieutenants bring back the magic shield that was generating our kingdom’s good luck.

Man, that’s cheap and cheesy. I’d believe if it were some magic samurai sword, but come on!

Okay, enough of that. I’m at a three-way intersection with a backpack full of food, and a magic cat curled up in my hoodie. There is no map, just darkness. So I turn right…

I scramble down a steep incline to an underground river, and decide to follow it for a while. I eventually come to the end of this shore, and have to swim across to a small cave on the other side. The hypothermia costs me 4 stamina, but the cavern is clearly a squat: it has a rabbit which I can eat, and some fire wood which I steal (because I’m the hero, nyah!).

Moving on, I hear shouts and what sounds like a hunting party behind me. Oops! I run for my life, and come to a narrow crossing guarded by a drow elf. He insists on fighting me, and I end up killing him in three hits. That’s a real shame, as I don’t even know who he was. After that I have a minor run-in with some wildlife, and find myself at the entrance to the famous Dragon’s Breath Inn & Ale House. You know, like on those bumper sticks for Wall Drug or whatever?

Suddenly, a drunk troll staggers out and comes at me with a scimitar! He’s falling down drunk, though, so it’s a short fight. I pretend to myself, though, that I just knocked him out, because honestly killing 2 people and a bird in 5 pages is really not heroic behavior!

I head inside the bar and accidentally crash a private party. They get in my face, and again with violence — but this guy isn’t just some random bar patron, he’s one of the 7 lieutenants! It’s a rough fight and I get knocked to 7 stamina. Fortunately, the barkeep is friendly and they give me some food and advice, letting me rest for a moment before I continue on.

Their advice was to meet an old man in an iron cave, right over yonder. So off I go. In the process, I hear someone yelling for help because they’ve been caught by a giant spider. I like spiders a lot, but still, I squish it for him. In return, he walks me the rest of the way to the old man’s iron cave, bypassing some presumed boobytraps along the way. Thanks, guy!

The old man is a wealth of information, in that he teaches me how to read symbols that they scratch onto doors and walls to indicate safe or dangerous, which path to take, etc. He also teaches me their written number system (binary) which will come in handy for solving puzzles later. With this and another refreshing meal, I take my leave.

Left or right? That’s a decision for tomorrow.


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First published November 30, 2020. Last updated December 15, 2020.