My power-playthrough continues, as I do the first five Lone Wolf books in one sitting (well, a few evenings). It’s… The Journey of the Kai Marathon. Today we open The Chasm of Doom, book 4.
The story arc of the previous war against Helgedad has petered out, and now I’m being sent to investigate a missing wagon full of gold. The king already sent a troop of 100 men, and they went missing. So, he’s sending the best — me.
But, unlike the usual adventures, this time I’m accompanied by 50 rangers. I wonder whether they’ll really do anything, or just be a plot device…
We’re heading south through the wide open farmlands, the great plains of wheat and other food crops. Not a lot to see, until we meet up with a troupe of entertainers. They seem like a friendly lot… and then I notice that one of them is carrying a genuine Sommlending cavalry sword. Upon investigation, it turns out to be Captain D’Val’s sword… the leader of that troop that went missing!
Fortunately, we forgive and forget, sleep well, eat a hearty breakfast, and take off.
At dusk we find ourselves at a inn, where everyone is really edgy. They almost didn’t let us in, because they thought we were the bandits who have been attacking them every night. They’re a determined bunch of bandits, too: despite the band of soldiers here, they attack anyway. I make a swashbuckling leap through the roof of the stable, shake off a mild concussion, and kick some ass. But it was a hollow victory: only 11 horses remain so 40 of my men take off back home on foot, a legion of Sirs Not Appearing In This Film.
But, they’re better off than the troop that came before us. The next day as we’re riding, we see a flock of carrion-eating birds… and the bodies of 40 of the previous troop. They were apparently set upon by an unusually large host of bandits… that’s weird.
We continue onward to the village of Eshnar. That one entertainer who had Captain D’Val’s sword, said he bought it here at the inn. We get into town and my Spider Sense tingles like crazy… but not in time to save us. The whole village is bandits, and they’re hucking sawblades at us! Two of my men are killed, and the other 8 take off running home, as I run into the woods.
That answers that question of my platoon of soldiers. They were really just narrative text, and not something effective. Darn.
As I flee through the woods, I come to the entrance to the mines. I figure I haven’t had a good ol’ dungeon crawl in some time, so I head into the darkness.