I’m heading through the forest, and the book gently reminds me that I am, in fact, still riding the Prince’s horse. I am also aware that night-time is approaching, probably because I notice that my green camouflage is starting to resemble a certain ninja’s stealth outfit.
Given the option of continuing through the forest or steering back towards the road, the decision isn’t hard. Horses and thick forests don’t mix well (unlike, say, Glenmorangie and water).
I re-emerge on a main highway and, getting my bearings, see that the small city of Toran is to the north and the capital (Holmgard) is to the south.
Good excuse to post one of my favourite horse memes :
I head on down the road and manage to make significant progress before pulling off to the side of the road. I melodramatically ‘pull my cloak around me’ and drift off to sleep. I’m woken in the morning by several Kraan (the Lone Wolf equivalent of drones) flying overhead. I quickly mount up and ride on.
After some peaceful progress I mount a ridge, confident that I will see the capital from the top.
I do indeed spot the proverbial shining city of Holmgard before me, but a ‘vast black army’ (the book’s words, not mine) is marching on the capital.
There is a crucial choice before me : I have three basic options to make it to the walls of the capital :
- The direct route, galloping straight down the highway. It should take me less than an hour, but I will be completely exposed to attack.
- Alternatively, I can discard the horse and attempt to swim down the river Eledil to the city wall.
- Finally, and the most seemingly ‘interesting’ option, is that I can sneak through the (awesomely named) Graveyard of the Ancients. This D & D-esque area is apparently filled with ‘tombs and crumbling monuments to a forgotten age’.
Heck, I’ve gotta try this at least once.
Graveyard of the Ancients, prepare to be conquered!
As I get closer, there is an atmospheric mist which shrouds my entry, and my horse (probably more sensible than I) removes to budge.
I sneak forward on fott and, just as I’m starting to get a little more confident, the floor gives way beneath me and I crash into an underground tomb. Naturally, the walls are too sheer to be scaled, and it looks like this wilderness adventure has just become a dungeon crawl!
There is a tunnel which leads out of my current chamber, but the most notable feature is the sarcophagus of an ‘ancient noble’. My Sixth Sense ‘screams’ at me that this place is ‘evil’ and counsels me to flee as quickly as possible.
I quickly dash down the corridor, and reach a traditional choice of a branching corridor – north vs south. There is absolutely no clue or indication as to which path is preferable.
I flip a coin (yes, I actually did that) and turn south. The corridor opens into a large chamber with a granite throne (!). A large bowl resting atop it gives off a strange greenish light. In front of the throne sits a statue of a winged serpent in the shape of an ‘S’. I suppose if it was in the shape of an ‘F’, that would have been properly impressive.
Aside : All these paragraphs have, thanks to my Healing skill, raised my Endurance back up to 20.
I can sit on the throne, look at the statue or just look for a way out. I’m nervous about some hidden trap, but feel nervous about just leaving this room behind me. I check out the statue. As I do, it breaks apart and a Winged Serpent emerges (!!) and attacks me!
Aside : Was the serpent just having a nap?? How did this trap work? Was it like those traps at the start of Raiders of the Lost Ark, where someone was presumably coming by to maintain and repair them? We’ll never know.
Winged Serpent : CS : 18, E : 26
Did someone say victory without sustaining a wound??
Stats : CS : 17, E : 20, GC 26
Weapons : Dagger, Sword
Backpack : Meal
Special Items : Map, Crystal Star
Final paragraph : 266