I push on (now walking) through the Durenor forest before reaching the anticipated bridge, which appears the only way across the mile-deep (!) Rymerift river.
Try and say ‘Rymerift River’ five times quickly, I dare you.
There is a small hut in the middle of the bridge, manned by two guards, who are probably bored and spoiling for trouble.
In addition to the bridge, there is also a path heading north, parallel to the river, but my Kai skill of Tracking confirms that it is a dead end.
The guards challenge me, but upon hearing the correct password (as learnt in my previous instalment) let me pass without hindrance.
Interestingly, the book mentions that the guards only permit me to pass ‘reluctantly’. I guess they hadn’t enjoyed a good brawl lately. Or maybe they were just bullies. Or Trump voters.
After some further walking, and as I start to think I’ve become a player in a Lord of the Rings-esque walk-a-thon, I reach a junction where, surprisingly, there actually is a signpost, which confirms that I am now only three miles from Port Bax.
As the sun sets on the tenth day of my quest, I sight Port Bax, and note with hope the Durenese fleet in the northern harbour. I enter through an unguarded (!!) gate and pass the City Hall. The doors there are also open and unguarded.
Aside : This whole ‘let any stranger wander into a major city and through the door of the City Hall without question’ approach to security is…..intriguing. I wonder if it will catch on?
In any event, my Kai Discipline of Tracking again comes to my aid, with the recollection of stories from an older Kai master, who mentioned to me that the consulate was in the naval quadrant of the city, overlooking Alin Square.
Aside : That was an amazingly specific piece of information for what was, at the time, presumably nothing more than a reminisce about old experiences. I can just imagine “I remember my days in Port Bax like it was yesterday. The food was wonderful, and the people friendly. By the way, my young Kai Initiate, it is important for my story that you remember that, in this city you’ve never visted, the Sommlending consulate in the naval quadrant.”
Its like that scene from Wayne’s World where even the protagonist mentions that the information given to him (that becomes vital later) was completely extraneous to the plot.
Enough of this diversion!
I use my sense of direction, and end up at the Port Watchtower, with further progress halted by a large red gate.
Aside : Endurance is now back to 20 through Healing.
I enter the Watchtower and, confronted with two doors marked, respectively, ‘White Passes’ and ‘Red Passes’ start to remember my university study of the stories of Franz Kafka, notably The Trial.
With nothing to guide me except my memory of playing through this book dozens of times (and the fact that the gate I wish to pass is red), I venture into the Red Pass door, and am met by a naval officer who mutters some bureaucratic nonsense about how I must have pressing business to apply for a Red Pass at such a late hour.
He demands to see my authorising documents and, since I don’t have any, I go for broke and show him the Seal of Hammerdal. From all the commotion that subsequently ensues, I guess that’s like handing over the Hope Diamond as collateral for a child’s bicycle.
I am summarily shown into the office of the captain of the watch who, after hearing (presumably an edited version of) my story, immediately orders a Red Pass be issued at once with ‘top priority’
Well, its nice to see that someone thinks my mission is a priority.
I take the Pass, leave the Watchtower and walk with a little more confidence towards the guards. They accept my Red Pass and I enter the naval quarter.
Stats : CS : 17, E : 20, GC 50
Weapons : Broadsword, Mace
Backpack : Meal (x4), Healing Potion (+3 E)
Special Items : Map, Crystal Star, Shield (+2 to CS), Seal of Hammerdal, Red Pass
Final paragraph :202