Castle Death

Castle Death, Attempt 3, Part 3

And we have once more solved the riddle posed by the Zakhan statue…

Aside : Joe Dever liked villains starting with the letter ‘Z’, didn’t he? – Zlanbeast, Zakhan, Zagarna, Zahda – did a girl called Zoe break his heart at some point?

…and am once more confronted by the bat-worm-spider hybrid called an Oudagorg.

Lone Wolf – CS : 25, E : 19

Oudagorg – CS : 17, E : 17

[Mindblast doubles my damage]

My first blow finishes the combat, although I do lose two Endurance ( down to 17).

I now have the opportunity of climbing onto the observation platform (over the monster’s corpse, no less) or continuing down the corridor.

With nothing to lose, and wary of the trouble during my last ‘life’, I take the [different to last time] path down the corridor.

 

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I reach a hexagonal (!!) chamber, containing two exits with arches of ruby and jade respectively.

However!  Secret option (c) is revealed because my Magnakai skills help me to notice that one wall is thin, and was obviously a doorway in another, presumably better-looking incarnation of the maze.

Never one to pass up an option offered by my warrior monk skills, I break through the wall with several well-placed blows, and the different ambience of the new tunnel (on the other side) makes me feel that I may now have escaped the ‘pre-planned’ portion of the maze.

After numerous twists and turns, I reach a T-junction with choices of left and right.  It is the same choice (and, clearly, the same location) as my previous adventure, with choices between prison cells and a guard room / torture chamber.

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Since heading for the guard room didn’t work to well before I head for the cells…which is hopefully not where I’ll end up.

Inside one, I mean.

Get it?

[Crickets]

Humph.

In a deleted scene from a prison movie, I walk among cells filled with the slaves of Kazan-Oud.

And here the book gets a bit uncomfortable.

In a problematic, to say the least, choice of words from Joe Dever, the prisoners are described (and I quote) as “in the main, a pitiful herd of gangling, black-skinned creatures” who are “curious to see the fair-skinned warrior who walks upright among them”.

 

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Honestly – not wild about the depiction of black people as a ‘pitiful herd’ who are in awe of the ‘fair-skinned warrior’ who walks upright.  Let’s just chalk it up to a misjudgment by the author, and move on quickly.

As I move down to the end of the corridor, I see one particular man in dire straits in a cell and take a nearby key and release him.  He asks if I am from the Elder Magi (AKA ruthless mercenary paymasters) and I take a (small) risk and answer honestly.

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Exposition!

Bullet points!

  • This man (Kasin) is Paido’s brother.
  • He is in the final stages of [insert name of made-up disease] which is fatal and, in the final stages, causes blindness.
  • There are stairs at the end of the corridor that lead down to the throne-hall of Zahda.
  • At the entrance to the hall there is a tapestry behind which there is a secret passage. It leads to Zahda’s throne.
  • Above the throne is the Lorestone you seek, but unfortunately Zahda has apparently merged its power to a Doomstone ‘from the realm of Naaros’
  • This power source forms Zahda’s magical reserves, and I’ll have to destroy the shield generator *ahem* destroy the gem before eliminating Zahda.
  • Maybe most importantly, Kasim has a boat behind the steps under the old stone jetty, which may prove my method of escape following victory.
  • What – no handy wizard to teleport me back home?  Disappointing!

I promise to tell Paido that his brother has not died in vain, and leave the cell with a heavy heart.

 

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*snif*

Aside : My wife ignored my advice [because I’d seen it already] on Saturday night and watched La Vita A Bella (Life is Beautiful).  There were tears.  Many, many, many tears.

Anyway.

At the end of the cell block, a staircase is guarded by a dude that looks suspiciously like the ‘Beast’ in ‘Beauty and the Beast’.

Project Aon link – Beastman Gaoler

Lone Wolf : CS – 25, E – 26

Beastman Gaoler ; CS – 17, E – 22

 

For the loss of 1 Endurance, the Beastman will trouble the prisoners no longer.

I take a Dagger and 2 Gold Crowns from the body before quickly moving on.

At the end of the staircase out of the prison section, I find a deserted hallway leading to beautifully appointed doors.  There are such decorations as a fountain, tapestries, statuettes and so forth.  Without warning a guard steps from behind the fountain and, if you don’t have Huntmastery or Divination, you would right now have a 30% chance of an insta-death.

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The guard falls prey to over-confidence and, when his arrow doesn’t do the trick, I manage to disarm him and fight a lopsided combat.

Lone Wolf – CS 25, E : 27

Throne-Room Guard – CS : 14, E : 22

For the loss of 3 Endurance (down to 24) I take out the sassy guard.

After my victory, I pause to gather my breath, while the ‘To Be Continued….’ legend appears on your TV screen….

 

Base Stats : CS : 18, E : 22, GC 33

Final Stats : CS : 33, E : 25

Weapons : Sword, Dagger

———————————-

IN CUSTODY :

Weapons : Short Sword, Broadsword

Weapon-Like Special Items : Silver Bow of Duadon (+3), Sommerswerd (+8 CS), Jewelled Mace, Dagger of Vashna

———————————–

Backpack : Red Robe, Potion of Laumspur (+4E), Rope, Meal (1), Alether Berries (3) (+2 CS), Lantern

Special Items : Brass Whistle, Copper Key, Map, Crystal Star, Shield (+2 CS),  Padded Waistcoat (+2 E), Chainmail Waistcoat (+4 E) Blue Stone Triangle Pendant, Diamond (3), Ornate Silver Key, Quiver (6 arrows), Boat Ticket, Power Key, Fireseeds (2)

Kai Monastery storage : Map of Tekaro, Potion of Laumspur (+4E)

Magnakai Rank : Primate

Magnakai Disciplines : Weaponmastery (+3 CS in Sword, Bow, Mace, Dagger), Pathmanship, Huntmastery, Divination

Lore-Circles : Fire (+1 CS, +2 E)

Kai Disciplines : Camouflage, Animal Kinship, Tracking, Hunting, Sixth Sense, Healing, Mind Over Matter, Mindblast (+2CS), Mindshield, Weaponskill (+2 CS in Short Sword)

Paragraph : 282

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11 thoughts on “Castle Death, Attempt 3, Part 3

  1. Hi Tim, in the italian version of the book, the stuff about the “black creatures” was translated in a different way and sounds like this: “A lot of poor people, in a pity way, look at you, a warrior with a “clean” face, walking on with his head up”…so nothing weird at all (even if when i was a kid i thought that i had fought against everything/everyone in the maze so how can i have a “clear” face after all my struggles?!?).

    Liked by 2 people

  2. There’s more racially problematic material later in the book. I suspect that Joe Dever was just trying to riff on pulp tropes, but it does make for uncomfortable reading.

    Incidentally, the book does give a clue as to the trustworthiness of the man in the cell: back in section 1, there’s a brief description of Paido’s uniform, and the tattered remnants that Kasin wears are in the same colours. Be warned: later in the series, your life may depend on whether or not you made a note of the right seemingly trivial factoid that was mentioned at an earlier stage.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Zzzz is not a sound any author likes to hear from people with his books. While Killing Zoe may have been a personal favourite for Joe Dever (that’s my attempt at a Ms Delpy reference) its simply having Ms Delpy would be enough to account for that. Ziran was also the Giak word for wizard, whether they were NadZiran or others, and Kai Lord is Aki-Amaz in Giak. This may indicate a Polish influence, or he may just have wanted to wear out the Z key at the same rate as all the others.

    I shrieked when you didn’t take the first chance to escape the Maze because I do remember that everytime I did that I died, but you’ve got a different skill set from me. Glad that you went to the cells this time (more on that after) as I’ve always treasured rescuing Paido’s brother. That said, he suffers the same fate as your other sidekicks whatever you do so whether it was better to bring him to die with you (via curing) or leave him to die in the cell is an unpleasant debate.

    Black skin slaves. Its not as bad as everyone seems to think. Context: They’re in the middle of a Jungle inhabited by a black skinned race. That’s why it mentions in the exposition at the start that the Elder Magi (white skins) are actually refugees who fled to the Jungle (how’s that for a role reversal?). The Vakeros are repeatedly referred to as either dark skinned (from the number of yellow haired warrior mages I suspect interbreeding with Elder Magi) or ebony skinned (e.g. Jungle of Horrors, section 1). When Zahda set up he’d have taken his slaves from the local population, these are their unfortunate descendents. Magnamund is divided into White, Black, Dark skinned and Yellow races, but I never felt myself that Joe Dever ever treated any as being inferior to the other (the only true evil human race was the Drakkarim who were very definitely white). Ok, this could just be my interpretation on things, but would we be happier if even in the Jungle everyone was white? In The Chasm of Doom he also had white Slaves because the locals are white and he does so again in Torgar and the Voyage of the Moonstone because their catchment area’s were white skins while in Grey Star we have slaves who are both white and black due, again, to the local races.

    “not wild about the depiction of black people as a ‘pitiful herd’”
    Sorry to hammer it home but the dark/ebony skinned Vakeros are depicted as a proud race who have good reason to be proud, these slaves are a “pitiful herd” because they’ve been made that way by Zahda. This is a criticism of slavery, not colour. They’re amazed by the white skin because the haven’t seen it before (with the possible exception of Zahda, which would make it stand out more).

    “Elder Magi (AKA ruthless mercenary paymasters)”
    Anyone who read my vigorous defense of the Elder Magi in your previous installment will have lost 5 minutes of their life that they’ll never get back. I apologize to my victims but its your own fault for reading my ramblings. However you’ll also know that our esteemed Lawyer’s description of the Elder Magi is … basically totally correct.

    I only saw the last fifteen minutes or so of Life is Beautiful but you still got me to cry again over it 😥
    That also isn’t fair 😥

    Fortunately for my fragile emotional state you then get to slaughter two evil beastmen. Go get em brother. The end is in sight!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You make a good argument, but it’s not going to be easy to justify the later instance I mentioned. I shan’t go into detail until Tim reaches the relevant section (and it’s quite possible that he’ll make it unnecessary by highlighting what’s wrong there anyway), but it’ll take more than ‘context’ to excuse.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Hi Fen
      I am back.
      Looking forward to many more riveting abd life altering discussions with you and Tim
      I have a lot to catch up with. Havent followed this series.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Yah! Welcome back Ighr. There’s lots of good things for you to enjoy in this series, looking forward to seeing your contributions, and ducking for cover when you and Aussiesmurf start going at each other.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Joe Dever’s an amateur at author misjudgments (aside: I used to constantly misspell judgment because I’d put an ‘e’ after the ‘g’. Still doesn’t look right.) I read many Agatha Christie books from the library, including the classic “And Then There Were None”. I was surprised to discover the original title, “Ten Little N******s”. Yes, she was from a different era, but, c’mon! While that title obviously didn’t survive long, some stuff snuck through. I was reading a Hercule Poirot novel, turned the page, and was shocked by the chapter title “A N***** in the Woodpile”. Of course, that particular slur was all over “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”, but no matter how uncomfortable it made us in our high school Lit class, it was a important part of The Great American Novel.

    Speaking of “dire straits”, I heard the still-amazing “Money for Nothing” on classic rock radio last week, and was reminded that they had snipped out the lyrics “That little f***** got his own jet airplane. That little f***** is a millionaire”. Obviously, they weren’t singing about cigarettes. I’m fine with this, but felt those lyrics helped define the character Mark Knopfler was singing as, a blue-collar worker full of anger and jealously toward the music stars he sees on MTV.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love Christie’s books, but she was a horrible snob and racist, and this certainly came through in many of her stories. Depiction of a flawed character in books is not the same as prejudices on the part of the creator – a distinction that many cretins frequently miss. One of the masterpieces, in terms of ‘first person character is a complete psycho’ is the brilliant ‘The Killer Inside Me’ which was recently translated into a flawed but interesting move adaptation.

      Liked by 2 people

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