The Cauldron of Fear

The Cauldron of Fear – Attempt 1, Part 3

Banedon and I ride across ‘endless miles’ of ‘treeless grassland’.  Luckily (!) I’m not bored, as Banedon fills me in on all the gossip and news from Sommerlund, given that I haven’t been there for three years (!!!)



Three years?!  Presumably this refers to the period of time between Book 7 and Book 8, but the only hint I received that any substantial period of time had passed was this quote from Book 8’s “The Story So Far” :

“At the Temple of Truth in Elzian, the magnificent capital city of Dessi, the Elder Magi prepared you for the next stage of the Magnakai quest. Lord Rimoah, the speaker of the High Council, tutored you in the ancient histories of Magnamund, and you received lessons in lore that you would have learned from the Kai Masters if only they had survived the attack by the murderous Darklords of Helgedad.”

I hope I got an Arts degree at the end of this three year period….

Aside : Lone Wolf experts, feel free to tell me in the comments about what I may have missed.

Back to it.

After sunset, we reach the village of Chadi, and decide to seek shelter at the tavern owned by Guyuk.  There’s a sullen crowd there, probably because the recent war has caused the football season to be cancelled.  Guyuk informs us that a room will be 12 Lune / 3 Gold Crowns.

Guyuk takes my money (and, presumably, Banedon’s), and, in a cunning marketing move, gives us a glass of liquor (called ‘lovka’) on the house.


Aside : Lovka??  I love you, Joe, but just call it vodka.  Life will be so much easier.

We now have the options of : 1. Sitting next to a group of men who are gambling 2. Chatting to Guyuk 3. Ordering food.

Given my Huntmastery, I’m not worried about needing food.  Let’s check out the gamblers, because gambling is always such a clever move right after you’ve been drinking strong liquor!

Apparently, since ‘gambling’ is forbidden in Anari, these men are getting around the law by betting on the ability to answer riddles, thus competing in a game of ‘skill’ rather than ‘chance’.

Aside : The vexed question of whether poker is a game of skill or chance has been the subject of extensive litigation in the United States (and other countries), for pretty much the same reason.  Here’s an example from 2012.

Given my record on the riverboat in book 8, I’m keen to add to my store of loot, so I accept the challenge to take part.


I must wager either one Special Item or three Backpack items, so I slap my Fingerguard, my Rope and a Meal on the table.  The riddle :

‘This dagger is now half as old as my son Loen was when the dagger was new. Loen is now fifteen years old. How old is the dagger?’

If the age of the dagger now is X, and Loen’s age when the dagger was new is A, then these are the pieces of information that we have been given :

15 – X = A

A/2 = X

Therefore (and I apologise if there’s a quicker way, but my algebra is pretty rusty) we first use the two equations to calculate the value of A as follows :

  • 15 – A/2 = A;
  • 30 – A = 2A;
  • 30 = 3A
  • A = 10

Now inserting A’s value into the first equation :

  • 15 – X = 10

Therefore (drumroll, please) : X = 5

The answer to the riddle is 5.

If you want to do it without even bothering to calculate A, you instead can use the following steps :

  • (15 – X) / 2 = X
  • 15 – X = 2X
  • 15 = 3X
  • 5 = X

And I can’t believe I spent that much time on a maths problem.


Now – to the more important question – what I get for winning the bet!

I get to pick two items from this list :

  • Silver Bowl
  • Vial of Gold Dust
  • Altar Cloth
  • Scroll of Honour
  • Jadin Anklets

Now THAT is an eclectic bunch….

In the spirit of being a gracious winner, I give my opponents my Wrist / Fingerguard and my last meal, and take……the Vial of Gold Dust and Altar Cloth.

And what is a ‘Scroll of Honour’, anyway?


I talk to Guyuk, but if he has anything useful to say, he conceals it well with his blather about the world crumbling around him with refugees streaming past over the last two weeks.  He does mention that the ‘Senate’ in (presumably) Tahou, keeps reassuring everyone that ‘nothing is wrong’, which either indicates incompetence or collusion (by the Senate, not Guyuk).

Banedon and I retire for the night which passes without incident.


The next day, we hit the road, refreshed, and nothing of note happens until noon.  As we then approach the village of Phea, we pass a mass of standing stones.

Banedon channels me by talking about an annoying bit of trivia that no-one asked him about.  Apparently the legend has it that the standing stones are the remnants of an invading Vassagonian army, transformed after the villagers prayed to the goddess Ishir for help.

After passing the village, we see a cloud of dust on the horizon.  My new and improved telescopic vision helps me to make out that the cloud is caused by a troop of about 20 Anarian cavalry, led by an officer in a crimson cloak.

Project Aon link – Anarian crest

We can ride to meet them, or conceal ourselves by the side of the road.

[Aside : This sort of decision is when you would think Sixth Sense / Divination would come in handy.  Oh well.]

I decide (on behalf of both of us, since Banedon is apparently mute) to hide, for the following reasons :

  • We seem to be doing pretty well riding incognito, and I don’t think an escort is necessary.
  • There are indications that the rulership of Tahou may not be entirely on the up-and-up.
  • Have you ever encountered someone in fiction who wore crimson and WASN’T evil?  Seriously??


Base Stats : CS : 19, E : 25, GC 39

Current Stats : CS : 34/34, E : 31/31

Weapons : Sword, Dagger

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

Backpack : Vial of Gold Dust, Rope, Lantern, Altar Cloth, Potion of Laumspur, Sacks of Silver (1), Flask of Boaza, Brass Whistle.

Special Items : 1. Sommerswerd 2. Platinum Amulet, 3. Invitation 4. Shield (+2 CS),           5. Padded Waistcoat (+2 E), 6. Chainmail Waistcoat (+4 E) 7. Blue Stone Triangle Pendant, 8. Invitation 9. Quiver (4 arrows), 10. Fireseeds (6), 11. EMPTY 12. Silver Bow of Duadon.

Kai Monastery storage :

  • Backpack Items : Sack of Silver
  • Special Items : Mao of Tekaro, Diamonds (2), Boat Ticket, Power Key, Copper Key, Ornate Silver Key, Jewelled Mace, Dagger of Vashna, Brass Whistle. Quiver (4 arrows), Pass, Vial of Clear Liquid, Crystal Star Pendant

Magnakai Rank : Principalin

Magnakai Disciplines : Weaponmastery (+3 CS in Sword, Bow, Mace, Dagger, Spear, Quarterstaff), Pathmanship, Huntmastery, Divination, Invisibility, Psi-Screen

Lore-Circles : Fire (+1 CS, +2 E), Solaris (+1 CS, +3 E)

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

Paragraph : 69

13 thoughts on “The Cauldron of Fear – Attempt 1, Part 3

  1. *snickers at last line*

    If A/2 = X, then A = 2X, and thus 15-2X = X, or 3X =15, and X = 5.

    I need to watch all of “Don’t Trust the B**** in Apartment 23” sometime. I only watched it sporadically when it was first on. I hear ABC completely aired the episodes out of order; hopefully Netflix has it right. Krysten Ritter is like my Julie Delpy, I can’t look away from her pale beauty (even better in black-and-white). For me, brunettes beat blondes, though certain redheads trump all.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Actually poker is a real skill game, such as (in my humble opinion) betting. Yes, you understand very well, betting is a skill game: if you think “team A” will win the match against “Team B” and you thought odds were, e.g., 2.00 (because team A is in great form and no top scorer player will miss the match) but your lovely bookmakers gives you higher odds, THAT is your skill: to predict the right odd and find out an higher odd! I hope you understand my opinion, this is not gambling, is pure skill 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Used to have a workmate who’d carefully go over the papers every day to see what horses were running. Then about twelve he’d go over to the bookies and he’d make chunks of money EVERY week.

      However a few times in the year he and a friend would go to some big horse racing event and just pick bets at semi random and lose lots of money.

      So yes, I have seen how betting can be a real skill, except when its not 😊


  3. In fairness a year to a book is a useful, if lazy, way of measuring out time. Now how much of that time was actually spent in the gambling halls of Casiorn before you even began Kingdom’s of Terror properly is another matter.

    “Lone Wolf experts, feel free to tell me in the comments about what I may have missed.”

    The usual, who had babies, who died, who got resurrected, whose head was cut off for being caught sleeping with the wrong person, who’s head got cut off for finding someone powerful sleeping with the wrong person…

    And then of course there were the soaps. “Toran Nights” centered around the academy of magic for those who like student shenanigans. “Holmgard Hostel” involving the transient population of the big city and those who cater to them

    I could go on but then you’d feel like you’re the one who’d lost three years of your life.

    Neat example of algebra, who works out how much you bill your clients? 😉

    Also interesting you’re assumption that the Senate sending out “All is Well” signals with three armies marching on Ta-how “indicates incompetence or collusion”. Having watched many episodes of the cutting edge political commentator’s “Clark and Dawe” I have to ask why you don’t suggest it could be both??? (And thanks again for putting me onto that pair, just such a shame the circumstances).

    Apologies if I said this before but John G. Henry (writing as Jack Campbell) wrote “People think the Government is one giant brain controlling a hundred pair of hands when actually its a hundred brains trying to control one pair of hands”. That makes more sense that I usually like.

    “Have you ever encountered someone in fiction who wore crimson and WASN’T evil? Seriously??”

    Well there’s him
    except he’s dead now.

    Does he count?

    I’ve spent the last while learning more about crimson than I ever had to know about colours full stop (did you know that pink counts as crimson?)

    Hmm, ok that’s evil anyway. Ok. Well, while it has to be pointed out that your behaviour is actually colourist its probably for the best. Roll on the next installment.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. In Wikipedia there’s about 20 different distinct shades of crimson given covering quite a range and giving me quite a headache. So, yes they are redshirts, but what shade of redshirts are they?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Funnily enough just yesterday I got an email announcing “The Crimson King approaches” (Warhammer reference, despite claims of “they’re complex” pretty much everyone there is evil). Other than that the only ones I know of in fiction specifically wearing crimson are the Star Wars Emperors personal guard.

        So, yeah, while my favourite shirt is bright red, I know it to be true. Unconditional surrender. P.s, sorry for late response, thats the trouble with the time difference.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Crimson Evil in Resident Evil, Crimson Cowl is another name for the comic book villain Ultron, Crimson King is the ultimate villain in Stephen King’s Dark Tower sequence….

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Actually the Senate of Tahou was totally well-founded in saying all is well, since, AFAIK, Anari repelled the invasion from both the Vassagonian and the Darklords.

    Liked by 1 person

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