Elf Sacrifices, Sea Monsters, and Glass Castles

Is this my fifth day of Spectral Stalkers? My sixth? I was excited to see Peter Darvill-Evans’ name on this, but the clip-show channel-flipping thing is really becoming tedious. So when the Aleph offered me the opportunity to just hurry up and move on with the quest, I took it.

This is likely a mistake, because so many of these FF books require that you’ve collected some obscure piece of kipple, and I have only a few such souvenirs.

I land right in front of Spectral Stalker. Fortunately my trail score is only 4 so it doesn’t see me. Far away, I see a giant castle on an impossibly tall cliff – I assume this is my destination.

For my next trick, I hide in the bushes and watch as some elves tie someone to a stake, and invite a dragon-centipede creature to devour them alive! Good grief, did our brave hero just cower and watch a human sacrifice to a dragon? I feel sick…

I slink off in shame, and find my way to a seashore. I can finally see the cliff side clearly, and a trail up it. I also see giant bubbles floating on the surface of the water. That’s weird, and also interesting because I’m collecting spheres here, so I go take a look. Turns out that they’re vehicles for some truly horrifying sea monsters, but I have a good feeling about them so I surrender. Turns out they’re quite nice, on account of a prophecy that a warrior from beyond will save their queen and themselves from Globus. Cool!

And now, up the trail of the cliff, toward the castle!

Drow and Davros

We continue being Spectrally Stalked as we travel the cosmos in a series of vignettes, courtesy of the Aleph. I have so far seen a giant library outside of the universe, a crappy version of my home world where I was almost robbed, a chess game in which I was a pawn, a clay golem, and a vampire. And now… I am in a drow elf temple.

Apparently there was a vigorous debate going on as to the existence of other worlds, and I have appeared here as proof of such worlds. The elves kick my ass pretty thoroughly (I’m down to 9 stamina) and chain me up with the fella who summoned me. They’re about to execute him by pouring a flesh-eating poison all over him, and now I get to join him in that fate.

No thanks! Aleph away!

In Doctor Who, the guy who created the Daleks… is right in front of me. He certainly seems friendly, glad to have a visitor. Turns out he makes maps on wooden balls – what a nerd. 🙂 He asks if he can ransack my collection of spherical things, but since the only one I have that he would find interesting is rumored to stop death magic, I’m reluctant to let him do so. He gives me a lecture about magical charms and superstition, then sells me a globe of my own world Titan, before he becomes bored with me and I wander off.

This time, the sphere gives me a choice: hurry up and finish the quest, consult a sage, or collect more loot. I’m fairly bored of this book already, so let’s just push on with the adventure.

A Deadly Game and Pottery Gone Awry

We are still playing Spectral Stalkers, in which I was given the entire universe inside a sphere, by Lucifer. Long story, don’t ask. By looking into it, I was transported randomly and now find myself standing on a chessboard… a living pawn!

The description here is quite vivid: the other pawns are either worn out and demoralized (my team), jubilant and battle-ready (their team), or dead and lying where they were killed (a bit of both, but mostly my team). The voices of gods boom out overhead, taunting each other over how the game is going… with real lives on the line!

They asked me to make the finishing move of the game, and fortunately it’s not really chess but a very simple puzzle. We win, I’m given a healing vitamin pill, and I’m sent on my way to another random adventure.

I find myself in a crummy run-down tourist town, where only one person remains, making a living by selling candles to Aleph-adventurers like myself. It seems that one by one, the entire town except for her has gone up the mountain looking for the potter who lives there, and not returned. Sounds like a job for, me!

It’s the usual story: the potter created a clay golem, it went out of control and held the potter prisoner in a cave, and basically the entire population of the town has gotten killed throwing themselves at it one by one. If I had a gold piece for every time this happened… He rewards me with a ball of clay full of life force, which will protect me from life-draining death magic should I run afoul of a wizard. Gee, foreshadowing much?

Gaze into the Aleph again, and… I appear on stage at a magic show, Ta Da! The magician looks like a vampire, and his assistant is a were-cat, so I just take off running. The mob pursues me, and eventually I lose them long enough to Aleph away again.

Stalked by Spectres

I am taking a brief break from the Caverns of the Snow Witch, because frankly it’s ticking me off. I grab a book at random off the shelf, and… Spectral Stalkers.

I have played this one before, and already have it on the website. It’s written by Peter Darvill-Evans, and illustrated by Tony Hough – the same team that did Beneath Nightmare Castle. And I recall that this one was good, though a bit heavy on the clip-show thing of flitting from world to world randomly.

So I’m at the county fair, wasting money on a fortuneteller. Suddenly from the sky falls Lucifer, holding the entire universe inside a sphere which he gives to me. I have a sudden flash of two Futurama moments at the same time: when Farnsworth built a box that contains the entire universe, and when he places a device into someone’s hands while telling them not to let it fall into the wrong hands. Yeah.

I take a good look at the sphere, swoon a bit, and find myself in a library. There’s a dragon sitting at the inquiries desk, and the book asks if I want to attack the dragon. I don’t freaking think so! Instead, I sensibly ask for directions. I muddle about for a few hours, and run into the practical joker who is also the artifacts expert. He tells me that the sphere contains the entire universe, so I better be careful with it, and to look for circular things and let the sphere take me where it needs to go. Yeah, that worked great for the last guy!

I find my own way out, and find myself in… my own homeland, but a worn-out version of it. There’s a roguish looking man with a sword who insists that I stay at his hotel, and I’m not in the mood to argue. But I’m also not in the trusting mood to eat his dinner. That turns out for the best though, when some goblins sneak in in the middle of the night and expect me to have been drugged so they could just rob me in peace. This does not end well for them. On my way out, I notice that the hotel sign happens to be circular, so I steal it. Our hero, ladies and gentlemen!

What comes next? Let’s look into the Aleph.

It’s a Long Way to Stonebridge

In our last adventure, The Snow Witch went down without a fight, and I killed some critter guarding her loot, and the locals engaged in some lovely interpretive dance to express their joy of being freed from the witch. But now we need to keep moving forward, to find our way out of the Caverns of the Snow Witch.

Not a mind flayer not a “Brain Slayer”. Nope, totally not at all related.

We come across a casket, and my companion gets bitten by a snake. We run into a cave man in the hallway and have to kill him. Then we run into a Mind Flayer, one of the most dreadful and terrifying creatures of the Dungeons and Dragons universe! No wait… sorry, this is its cut-rate failure of a brother, the Brain Slayer. I pass a skill roll and kick its ass, then steal its loot (some sort of token, and a spell of protection from air elementals).

Long story short, I then encounter The Stabby Door, an air elemental, a shield worth +1 combat strength, an air elemental, a cave that drips acid, … and the Snow Witch this time trapped inside an adorable snow globe where she just yells at me and throws lightning. I huck a rock at it though, and it’s curtains for the Snow Witch again.

Another damn Test Your Luck roll later as the roof caves in, and we’re free of the caverns! (remember, there are a minimum of 5 TYLs so far, so I’ve already burned down my luck then the potion) And so begins the long trek to Stonebridge…

Like really long. And it’s not even an adventure, just a straight line of 8 more encounters: river ferry, bird men, trolls, etc. and we get to Stonebridge. High fives all around, and the dwarf takes off to join us in another adventure book earlier in the series. And, our adventure ends here… erm, no, I guess not…?

The elf I met in the caves, says that we need to go for a walk and he wants to tell me something. Our leisurely walk is interrupted by a fight with trolls (again), and the he breaks the news: we had a Death Spell cast on us back in the caverns, and it takes effect… NOW!

My adventure ends here.

What the heck?

Escape and Death in a Far Away Land

Shadow in the Sand was so much fun, and I saw so little of the book last time, that we should do it again. This time I have 14 combat, and am loaded out as a tank: mindblast and healing, sword skill and a shield. Rawr!

We arrive in Barrakeesh to find the king dead, and replaced with a new one who wants to arrest me fresh off the boat. I am of the opinion that cowardice is the better part of discretion, so I dive into the water to escape. I have a brief talk with a floating blob monster asking him not to eat me, then flee into the bazaar district with the soldiers hot on my tail.

I try to blend in by buying a black sash of mourning and acting sad, as I crawl into a tavern to drown my alleged sorrows. The owner understands my grief and lets me hide in the basement, where I find a sewer grate and decide that it’s a great place to hide! A few stinky hours in the sewer, and I have killed several lizards and contracted a paralytic bacterial infection in my arm before I find my way out. It was a full, rich day.

I escape the sewers and fortunately find myself at the public bath house. I wash off and start looking for an herbalist to see to my arm. The only herbalist in town though, says that the king’s apothecary is the only one with access to Oede herb these days, so I guess it’s time to break into the palace!

This works out famously, as Our Brave Hero murders a passer-by to steal his clothing and travel papers, then sneaks into the castle and finds the apothecary fight away. Now that my arm is healed, time for the bad news… The new king is cutting a deal with the Darklords, and I’m part of the deal!

I take off running, and make it as far as the gate back to the garden. Then the Drakkarim warriors straight up shoot me in the back. As I fall forward onto the poisoned spikes, I think to myself that this is some serious overkill.

My mission and adventure, ends there.

Finding the Tomb of the Zakhan

In our last segment, Lone Wolf was in Vassagonia trying to find the Tomb of the Zakhan, in which the fabled Book of the Magnakai is said to lie. The Darklord Haakon is also looking for it, so as to destroy it and prevent other people from becoming Lone Wolf.

After a really surprisingly fortunate set of dice rolls, I escaped from Barrakeesh on a giant eagle and have joined up with an airship manned by a magician and a squadron of dwarven riflemen. Now that’s a team to have your back!

We’re headed south to Ikaresh, hoping to met up with a fella named Tipasa who knows exactly where that tomb is located. We walk the last few miles on foot so as not to attract attention, and meet up with a nice man who tells us where Tipasa lives. When we get into Ikaresh, we find that Tipasa has been taken away by the Darklords… but he did leave his diary.

I had to cheat to solve the diary because of misprints in this edition of the book. Yes really, I can take a photo to prove it.

Having arrived at the tomb, well, the entry and boss fight were super simple. I snuck past the only guard, and Darklord Haakon went down without a fight when he dropped his magic rock.

So yeah… My first playthrough and I won. The Book of Magnakai is mine. First playthrough.

But the good news, is that I’ve likely seen about half of the book. There are a lot of turns I didn’t take.

Treachery in the Desert

We’re still continuing through Shadow On The Sand, book 5. Lone Wolf traveled to the land of Vassagonia, only to find that there was no peace treaty at all but a new king making a deal with a Darklord.

The Darklord wants Lone Wolf dead of course, but also knows the whereabouts of the fabled Book of the Magnakai. That’s THE book with all of the Kai secrets, not just the 10 listed in the front of the book! That means Lone Wolf could start up a whole new Kai school, as well as learn a lot of new tricks. The Darklord wants to destroy it, and knows where it is, so better move quickly!

I’m spotted by a guard! There’s a frantic race through the castle, then I get the bright idea of stealing one of their giant hawks. You remember from Chasm, that the most bad-assed Vassagonian officers ride giant eagles into battle – seems like a good way to escape.

Through some phenomenally lucky dice rolls, I beat the bird into submission, hop into the saddle like a boss, and whoosh! Several soldiers whoosh after me as well, and it’s a long pursuit… until we come across an airship! A ship, in the air!

When my bird is shot down, I am rescued by the ship. We fight off the soldiers with swords and rifles, then veer south to make contact with someone who knows where the Book of Magnakai is located.

Flying off… into the sunset. Well, with the sunset to our right since we’re headed south.

Arrested in Vassagonia!

In my last posting, Lone Wolf had arrived as a peace envoy to sign a treaty. As we arrived in Vassagonia, we learn that the Zakhan (king) has died and that the new one is not at all well liked. He’s off my Christmas list on page 1, when he has me arrested.

I don’t put up a fight against 30 swordsmen and crossbow archers, and am bundled off to a jail cell minus my stuff. Fortunately, the guards aren’t very bright and when they come to check on me I kick both their butts, take their swords and their keys, and prowl around looking for my loot.

Luck is with me. I take the correct turn and find the armory, and collect my stuff, only needing to subdue one additional guard. I even find the combination to the door up to the next level.

The next level is an overlook of the throne room (seriously, an assassination balcony overlooking the throne?) where I see the Zakhan talking with… a Darklord! Aw, geez, this just took a turn for the weird.

Far Away to Vassagonia

After a hiatus for other studies and duties, I don my green cloak and re-enter the world of Magnamund. In our last Lone Wolf adventure, The Chasm of Doom, an army from Vassagonia was in Sommerlund fighting for Lord Vashna.

The Zakhan (king) of Vassagonia was horrified to discover that a rogue warlord had done such a thing, and to make amends he wants to sign a formal treaty of peace and cooperation. So I hop a ship, a peace envoy to sign the treaty on behalf of the king.

Didn’t Battlestar Galactica start with a peace envoy?

After four weeks at sea, we get to Barrakeesh, the capital city of Vassagonia… and the Zakhan has died. We knew he was in poor health, but he timing just stinks. The new Zakhan immediately has me arrested. And that’s on page 1.

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