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.
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)
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