For attempt 15, I rolled a Skill of 6, a Stamina of 19, and a Luck of 9. I played this ages ago, and I don't know why I never wrote about it. My memories are vague, but looking at my notes I can see that I died in Book 3 to an illusionary Deathwraith. Normally I would have dispelled this thing with a MAG spell, but I only had 2 Stamina left and no recourse but to fight it. Obviously, I lost. Perhaps I was so demoralised by my failure that I couldn't bear to post about it, but it's long ago enough that I don't remember.
For attempt 16, I rolled a Skill of 8, a Stamina of 20 and a Luck of 8. It doesn't get any more average than that. Stats aren't as important in Sorcery! as they can be in the main series, but I was still a little nervous about this guy.
I got through the first three books with no problems, and started The Crown of Kings with the following scores: Skill 10; Stamina 20; Luck 9; 0 gold pieces; 5 provisions; a sword, a backpack, a broadsword (+1 attack strength), a bamboo pipe, a silver key numbered 111, an Armband of Swordmastery (+2 AS with swords), a skullcap, a magic chain, a mirror, a green wig, a lucky talisman (no Luck lost when unlucky), a bow and silver arrows, another broadsword (-1 AS, +1 damage), a tinderbox, a serpent ring, a galehorn, a chakram, a crystal orb, a suit of chainmail (+1 Skill, -1 damage on a roll of 5-6), a hewing axe, a pearl ring (worth 10gp), a brass pendulum, Sham's vial, a serpent staff, some sand, a whistle numbered 199, and a cure disease potion. I had also lost the sight in my right eye while fighting a Baddu-Beetle, which hasn't had any negative effect on me so far. Finally, I defeated all seven serpents during book 3, so I could be confident that I was entering Mampang in secret (I could deduct 40 from the current paragraph whenever someone called me the Analander).
Climbing up the Zanzunus towards Mampang Fortress, I had the choice of three caves in which to take shelter for the night. One of those had hoof-prints leading inside. Despite the potential danger, I decided to enter that cavern and see who the hoof-prints belonged to.
Inside, I saw a human-like figure leaning against the cavern wall. It's legs were like those of a goat, and it was unmoving.
|This one's for the furries AND the necrophiliacs.|
I called out to attract its attention, but got no reaction. Warily I reached out to touch it, and to my shock I found that it was dead. I probably should have found another cave to sleep in, but I was already here, and what could possibly go wrong for me if I bedded down next to the fresh corpse of a goat-man? I ate a meal (leaving me with 4) and went to sleep.
In the morning I left the cave, taking some pebbles and a handful of stone dust with me. There were two paths onward: one via a rope bridge over a gully, and another winding up the mountainside. I chose to go up.
Further along the path I encountered a pair of goat-women, who got my attention by hurling spears at me. They were obviously of the same race as my sleeping companion from the night before, so I told them about their dead friend. They were grateful, and explained that Sh'himbli had disappeared from the village days before, presumably to die of fever in peace. They offered to take me to their village, and I accepted.
At the village I was taken to the leader, who I told about Sh'himbli. She nodded gravely, and informed me that Sh'himbli's disease was contagious, and that by sleeping with the corpse the night before I had almost certainly contracted it. Luckily, they had recently learned that Colletus the Holy Man was able to cure the disease, and that by whistling in a certain way at the right place (and by subtracting 30 from that paragraph) I'd be able to call him. I was also offered a selection of items that I could trade for, but I opted not to trade anything. (It looks like, by getting infected with the disease, I missed out on getting the blessed spear. Hopefully it's not too important.)
Not far out of the village I found an alcove where I stopped to eat (leaving me with 3 provisions). Inside I saw a message written on the wall, telling me that Colletus could be found at the Groaning Bridge.
Further along the path I saw a narrow crevasse, and a rope that could be used to swing across, but I thought better of it. Continuing along the path, I came to another crevasse blocking my way. There was a bridge spanning the crevasse, but when I stepped upon it, it let out a series of disturbing groans. This was obviously the Groaning Bridge, so I whistled to summon Colletus.
The blind holy man appeared, and I ask about his powers of healing. He was more than happy to cure me, and did so with a simple palm on my forehead (or at least so he claimed; it's not like I'd had any negative effects, so how would I know if he's legit?). I questioned him further about Mampang, and he revealed that the Groaning Bridge was an illusion, which would have disappeared once I was halfway across. He summoned the real bridge, and I was soon on my way. Before I left, he gave me three items to help me: a skullcap, some holy water, and a medicinal potion. He also gave me a blessing of good luck (that increased my initial Luck score to 10).
I crossed the real bridge and entered a pass leading to Mampang Fortress. The sight was imposing (lowering my Skill by 1 until I was inside). I crept cautiously, looking out for guards, and was able to sneak past a pair that were asleep (with a successful Luck test that reduced me score to 9).
I found a sheltered spot to sleep in, but during the night I was contacted by my goddess, Libra. She informed me that the netherworld deities that ruled Mampang were strong, and that she could not aid me once I was inside. She also told me of another follower of hers, who had escaped from the fortress via a secret door. She told me the password, and I took note of it before going back to sleep. (When I wanted to use the password, I could subtract 92 from the passage I was on.)
(At this point, Libra also told me about the effects of the trembling disease. Apparently, I wouldn't be able to regain any Stamina, and when choosing spells I'd have to roll a die, and only have the option of casting the spell that was randomly selected. Nothing's said here about being cured by Colletus, so I could interpret this as meaning that the old charlatan hoodwinked me. He's on the level about everything else, though, so I'm choosing to believe that I've already been cured.)
In the pre-dawn gloom I approached the fortress and made my way to the front gate. I gave it a knock, then climbed to a perch above. A guard came out to investigate, but didn't spot me hiding. I decided to wait, and a second guard appeared. Still I waited, until a third and a fourth guard appeared. Then I dropped to the ground, and slipped inside the gate while they were preoccupied.
Ahead of me were two double doors, and there were also doors leading left and right. I took the left-hand door, opening it as silently as possible (with a Luck test that reduced my score to 8). It opened into a short passage, with a door at the end and another to the right. I opened the door to the right, despite the horrid smell coming forth.
|That Gandalf rune cracks me up. |
What was he even doing here? Nobody in
Lord of the Rings poops.
It was a latrine, and I had to resist the urge to vomit (reducing my Stamina to 19). I decided to search the room anyway, and although I was able to once more resist vomiting (with a Luck test that reduced my score to 7), the flies buzzing around had given me an unpleasant illness. (I immediately lost another point of Stamina, reducing me to 18. I also lost 1 Skill point for battles only. The disease would progress further by the time I first encountered the Archmage, and would seemingly be fatal. It was all pretty moot, because I cured it immediately with a cure disease potion that I had found during book 3.)
Ignoring the door at the end of the passage, I went back to the entrance and chose the left door. I could hear gruff voices beyond, so I kicked the door down to murder whoever lay beyond. It was another pair of Guards (Skill 8, Stamina 6 and Skill 7, Stamina 7). I was able to kill them with the element of surprise, but not before one of them was able to wound me twice (reducing my Stamina to 14). In a drawer I found some keys, which I used to unlock the double doors and progress further into the fortress.
I was in a courtyard, milling with inhabitants of the fortress. I tried to cross as inconspicuously as possible, but a group noticed me and headed in my direction. Trying to avoid them I veered to the left, heading towards a pillory.
A pitiful man was held captive in the pillory, He asked for some food, and I gave him one of my provisions (leaving me with 2). I stopped to chat, and he revealed that he had been placed in the stocks because of his wagging tongue. He then asked if I was another of the Archmage's warmongers, before stopping himself, afraid that he might have gone too far. I threatened him unless he told me more, but he refused to get himself into more trouble. Figuring that I didn't want to be caught freeing prisoners, I left him to his fate.
There were some guards ahead, but I instead turned aside to investigate a ragged shape on the ground. It was a toothless old woman, who held out a hand and begged me for a copper piece.
|That's some very chill, casual begging.|
I wanted to give her a gold piece, but I didn't have any. Instead, I reluctantly parted with my pearl ring, which was worth 10 gold pieces. She gave me words of thanks, then went to shuffle off, muttering something about her friends from Schinn. I questioned her about them, but she was reluctant to reveal anything until she had touched my face to discern whether I was trustworthy. I let her do so, and she told me that the Samaritans of Schinn were a faction among the Archmage's Birdman allies that were plotting his overthrow. I was told that I could identify the Schinns by asking about their parents; loyalists would only talk of their fathers, while the Schinns would honour their mothers. (My Luck was restored to 9 by learning this information.) I asked her how to get through the doors ahead, and she told me a little about the Throben Doors, but nothing of use. I bid her farewell.
To my left were some guards, and to my right another group who looked vaguely familiar. I ignored them both and went straight ahead, where I saw some double doors. There was also a door in the corner of the wall, and I investigated this. Inside, a short stocky man asked if I was here to torment the Mucalytics. There were two doors onwards, and the left led to the Mucalytics, so I chose that one.
Inside was a room covered in filth. A strange, elephantine creature was slumped in the corner. I decided to ignore it and leave through another door, but it got to its feet and swiped at me with a blubbery arm. I slowed it down with a DOZ spell (reducing my Stamina to 12), but I still had to fight the Mucalytic (Skill 4, Stamina 9). I made short work of it with my broadsword, and searched through the filth. I found a rusty sword, which I left behind, a bracelet made of bones, two goblin teeth and 5 gold pieces.
Going through the door opposite, I entered a passage with a small chamber off to the side. Seeing a raised portcullis over the entrance, I decided not to enter, and continued up the passage. Passing through another door, I entered a plush chamber. A man in a turban with a pet jaguar under his table greeted me. He said that I had to give him a gold piece to enter. Instead I asked him his name, and learned that he was Valignya, First Assistant to the Lord Treasurer of Mampang.
I had been warned about Valignya by one of the seven serpents, so I continued to refuse to give him any gold. Instead, I gave him my serpent ring, which I no longer had a use for. In return he gave me the password for the next Throben Door: "alaralatanalara". I thanked him and left, swiping a pouch containing 10 gold pieces on my way out (raising my total to 15, and restoring my Luck to 10).
I was able to return to the courtyard and the double doors without incident, where I used the password to get through. (I would have been accosted by guards here, but because I'd slain all seven serpents I was able to avoid this encounter.)
Beyond there were two doors leading into the inner keep. The main entrance looked to be guarded by Birdmen, two of which nipped inside while I was watching. The other appeared to be unguarded, but I decided that I wanted to contact the Samaritans of Schinn, so I headed for the main gate.
The door was unlocked, so I slipped inside. I was in a wide hallway, and I could hear Birdman voices approaching. Without much time to think, I had a choice of doors to the left and right. I nipped through the right door. The room was uninhabited, but the Birdmen outside had heard me, and a trio of them entered. I asked them about their mothers, but this only angered them further, as they told me that they had been taught to hunt and kill by their fathers. These were obviously not Samaritans, so I drew my sword and attacked the three Birdmen (Skill 8, Stamina 10; Skill 9, Stamina 8; and Skill 8, Stamina 9). Luckily they could only attack me one at a time, and they only managed to wound me once before I killed them all (reducing my Stamina to 10).
Looting their corpses, I found 6 gold pieces, (raising my total to 21), some worms, and enough bread for two meals. I ate some of the bread right away (restoring my Stamina to 12, and leaving me with 3 provisions).
Leaving quickly, I came to a T-junction. One of the passages ended in a metal door, with a noose hanging over it. This path looked more interesting than the other, so I tried to metal door. It was locked, so I tried the silver key that I had found all the way back in the Shamutanti Hills. To my surprise, it fit, and I was able to enter, avoiding a spiked mace that had been set up as a trap (weirdly, there were no rolls to avoid this, it just happened automatically). The room beyond was a torture chamber. The torturer was an Ogre, with an eyepatch and a whip.
|Naggamanteh does not care for leg day.|
He didn't recognise me (because I'd killed all of the seven serpents), so he made me an offer: he would give me what help I asked for, then he would ask me a question. If I couldn't answer, I would be his "amusement" for the rest of the day.
I agreed to his offer. Earlier, one of the seven serpents had given me a clue: "pay your respects to Naggamanteh the torture-master". With this in mind, I complimented him on his torture chamber before asking what he knew of the Throben Doors. Naggamanteh was quite touched by my compliment, and told me that the next Throben Door would be open, but when I entered I would be seemingly plunged into a pit of hell-fire. This would be an illusion, and I would be best to ignore it. (I was told to turn to paragraph 399 when stepping through the door, rather than the paragraph indicated.) Naggamanteh had forgotten about his own question, so I slipped away while he was distracted.
I left through a door to the left, and soon came to a small courtyard. There was a passage onward, with a door to the left, and another to the right. The right door had a sign that said "Nylock - Merchant", so I walked up to investigate. The room was lined with shelves filled with objects, and Nylock eyed me suspiciously from behind his table.
|Check out the pictures of Ian and Steve.|
I bought the following from Nylock: a rusty cutlass, two candles, a nest containing a golden egg, and a pouch containing four ancient silver pieces. These cost me 11 gold pieces (leaving me with 10). The cutlass was not enchanted, and would reduce my Skill by 1 if I used it in battle. The candles were normal, one made of wax and the other made of blood from a Firefox. The egg was a mystery. The coins were cursed; a short time after placing them in my pack, they burned a hole in the bottom and fell out. This also caused me to lose my silver key. (I was told to cross off the third item on my equipment list.)
I followed the passage around through a door. Ahead of me were two double doors, probably the next of the Throben Doors for me to confront. Off to the side was another door, but I decided to ignore this and make my way through the double doors. As soon as I stepped through I was confronted by a fiery inferno, but armed with knowledge I had gleaned from Naggamanteh I was able to step through safely.
The next chamber had a sign that said "Chamber of Night". I opened the door and stepped through into a pitch-black room. One of the Seven Serpents had warned me about this room, and that I should not light the blood candle. Instead I lit the regular candle, revealing that there were many spikes protruding through the wooden floorboards. I slowly and carefully picked my way across the room, and was able to get through without injury.
No sooner had I left the room than a pair of guards seized me by the wrists. They bundled me into another room, where I met Cartoum, Captain of the Guards. I decided to hear what he had to say.
|There's meant to be a clue in this picture, |
but I don't see it. It's probably the portrait
on the wall?
I was not recognised (again, because I'd killed all of the serpents), and the captain asked what my business was in the fortress. I decided to bluff, telling him that I had a message for the Archmage. He believed me (which required a successful Skill test), and offered to escort me to the Archmage personally. Along the way another guard appeared to tell him that some mutants had gotten out of hand. The captain had to rush off, but before he did he gave me a key (numbered 17) that he said would open the next Throben Door.
I continued on, and the next chamber I entered was large, with an enormous carving of a ram in the centre.
|BAA RAM EWE|
As I stepped carefully across the room, the stone ram came to life, to absolutely nobody's surprise. It charged at me, but I was able to avoid it (with a Luck test the reduced my score to 9). It smashed into the wall behind, giving me a few moments to think. I remembered the Sham, who I had encountered in the Baklands, and the vial she had given me to counter the "Sleepless Ram". I still had the vial, so I threw it at the ram. The liquid inside gave off an acidic smell, and caused the stone ram to steam. It toppled over, and I raced for the far doors. Before the ram could recover, I opened the doors with the key the captain had given me, and escaped.
I was at the foot of a spiral staircase, and I climbed up, anticipating my imminent meeting with the Archmage. I stepped through the door at the top, expecting an elegant study, but what I found was quite different.
|Maybe the most legitimately frightening thing |
I've ever encountered in a gamebook.
Instead, I was in a squalid cell. I was confronted by a man in long undergarments, wielding a brass pot. He was obviously reluctant to attack me, so I spoke to him to calm him down. He introduced himself as Farren Whyde, a renowned inventor of weapons from Ruddlestone. The Archmage had kidnapped him for his knowledge, and imprisoned him in the tower. I asked him where I might find the Archmage, and his reply filled me with dismay. Apparently the Archmage rarely visited Mampang, and had a secret fortress elsewhere in the Zanzunus. Farren Whyde shouted some magic words out of his window, revealing the fortress to me. I asked how I might get there quickly, and he told me of a secret passage that could be opened with a password. Unfortunately, Farren Whyde did not know the password.
I took my leave of him and investigated the wall where the secret passage was said to be. Remembering the password I had been told of by Libra, I tried it. It worked, and the door opened into a dark tunnel that zig-zagged down to a door that led outside. Ready to confront the Archmage, I raced over to the second tower and bashed it down with my shoulder (and a successful Skill test).
Inside was a simple, bare room, with two doors leading on. I took the right door, and entered another room with a staircase at the far end. I started to ascend the staircase, but was startled by a sudden rumbling: the floor beneath me was rising! There was no escape as floor slowly raised, threatening to crush me against the ceiling. I tried to wedge it with my rusty cutlass, but it snapped. I tried searching in the straw for anything that could help, but found nothing. All I could do was wait for death. My adventure was over.
Well, that was disappointing, to come so far and fail at the final hurdle. I'm not sure how I could have avoided it, unless I was supposed to take a different path. There were no other options offered. Maybe there's an item I missed that might have given me a secret way out?
I'm not dead?
No, this was not a deathtrap, but rather the Archmage's Floortrap Chamber, which he used to frighten potential enemies into surrender. A crack opened in the ceiling, and I found myself in a chamber lined with star-charts and a telescope. A scrawny fellow stood across from me, perhaps the Archmage himself. He knew who I was (even though I had killed the serpents), and he offered to give me the Crown of Kings, saying that he would be glad to be rid of it. I was suspicious, so I cast a MAG spell (reducing my Stamina to 10), and he was shocked to find that I was a magician. He tried to capture me with an animated rope, but my anti-magic spell protected me. Instead, the Archmage summoned some guards to take me away.
I was in a cell at the top of the tower. A squeaky voice greeted me, and to my horror I was face-to-face with Jann, the Minimite who had accompanied me in the Shamutanti Hills. With him around, I would be unable to use my magic to escape. Apparently Jann had followed me all the way on my journey, but had been captured by Red-Eyes and had his wings cut off. He also explained that I was in a prison tower, and I had been tricked into thinking that the Archmage lived here. I told Jann about Farren Whyde, and he informed me that Whyde was actually the Archmage in disguise. (I was told that should I encounter him again, I could deduct 111 from the paragraph to expose him.)
I asked Jann for his opinion about how we should try to escape. He said that maybe I could ambush the guard when he brought me some food, or wait until the Archmage called for me. There was also the possibility of using magic, but only the very strongest of spells would work in Jann's presence. We went through my spells, and as I had "strength to waste" (my Stamina was greater than 8), Jann was happy to hear me out. He was shocked to learn that I knew the ZED spell, even though I had no idea what this spell was for. He explained that the purpose of the spell was to travel through space and time. With proper concentration, I would be able to arrive at the desired time and place. (I was told that I could turn to paragraph 631 after casting the spell.)
I prepared to cast the spell, ignoring my weaker options and going for the ZED spell. The strain was enormous (reducing my Stamina to 3), and Jann was killed by the power of the magic. (Good riddance.) I could feel myself hurtling backwards in time, so I mustered all of my concentration. Past adventures flashed before my eyes, but with the knowledge given to me by Jann I was able to fix the destination in my mind rather than stopping at random.
I was back at the bottom of the staircase leading up to Farren Whyde's chamber. I climbed up, but this time when he confronted me I exposed him as the Archmage. Whyde's expression changed, and he offered me his admiration. He stepped across to a drawer, and pulled out the Crown of Kings. While I was distracted by the crown, he stepped out of my sight. By the time I turned around, the form of Farren Whyde was lying on the ground, and a horrible demon stood before me.
|I'm so tired. Why did I commit myself to |
putting captions on every image in this
stupidly long post?
With precious little strength left (my Stamina score was 3), I couldn't risk a spell, so I stepped forward with my sword at the ready. The Netherworld Demon was still transforming, and was still weak (Skill 7, Stamina 7). Even so, it managed to hit me once; luckily my chainmail armour softened the blow (leaving me with 2 Stamina points). I killed the demon quickly, and took the Crown of Kings. I had almost reached my goal.
The only thing left was for me to escape the fortress and return to Analand. I didn't fancy my chances of making my way back through Mampang, but I didn't have anything useful in my backpack. I considered the spells I had at my disposal. ROK would turn someone to stone, which didn't seem all that useful. NAP would put someone to sleep, which again seemed useless. LAW, to command someone? SIX, to create duplicates of myself? Neither seemed applicable, and LAW would definitely kill me in my weakened state. The only spell left was RES. I cast it (surprisingly with no reduction in Stamina).
I sprinkled some holy water on Farren Whyde's body while casting the spell. He woke up, and I explained the situation. Whyde (the actual person, not the Archmage), offered to get the Samaritans to help me. Pulling forth a crystal ball, he summoned an image of Peewit Croo, birdman leader of the Samaritans. He then gave me a silver whistle, and said that I could use it to summon the birdman.
I blew the whistle, and Croo appeared. He gripped me in his claws, and we flew away from Mampang. The fortress was powerless now without the Crown of Kings, and I had succeeded in my mission. And best of all, Jann the Minimite was dead forever.
THE ACTUAL POST-GAME
What a relief. Especially so, given how dangerously low my Stamina was. I had a little bit of confusion at the end; when looking for items I could use to escape the fortress, I was asked if I had a silver whistle or holy water from the Tinpang River. I had a whistle, and I had holy water, but I suspect that these weren't the items I was being asked for. Also, I should have lost a Stamina point while casting RES; at least that's what it says in the spell book. I'm a little annoyed by it, to be honest, because I'd really like to have finished with only 1 Stamina point.
Regardless, finishing at all feels pretty great, especially having done so by treating Sorcery! as one huge gamebook. It feels like an achievement, albeit a fairly pointless one. Ah well, pointless achievements are about all I have in me these days.
NEXT: With one daunting task behind me, I have another one ahead of me. First, I need to give my Final Thoughts on each of the four books in the series, and to prep for that I have to thoroughly read through every path in each book. Then, I have four Exploring Titan posts lined up to cover the series. So for the next eight weeks, at least, the blog will still be stuck in Sorcery! mode. After that, it's back to the main series for Freeway Fighter.