There are those that would be nervous about sneaking into a temple of a god called Vile, who is worshipped by martial art ninjas following the Way of the Scarlet Mantis.
And I, for sure, am one of them.
Despite possible distractions of a tavern and being asked if I want to spend a day meditating, I nevertheless decide to scout around the temple before making my move.
In another nice touch of atmosphere, I place fish scales on my eyes, pose as a blind man, and sit at the entrance to the monastery / temple, picking up information. Conveniently, I discover that the ‘Hall of Webs’ inside only has one trap, being a web spell (naturally) cast by a local mercenary witch. Good to see that the monastery defence budget is subject to the normal cut-backs and false economies.
Aside : I’m having serious flashbacks to that scene in Star Wars where the Imperial Officer expresses concern about the Death Star having a structural weakness, only to be strangled for his troubles by Darth Vader. Anyway.
I bravely ignore the query as to whether I possess the ‘Climbing’ skill, and confront a monk coming along the street behind the temple.
In answer to your query, book, I do have the ‘Poison Needle’ skill.
Spitting a poisoned needle into the monk’s eye (!!), I then complete his humiliation by stealing his uniform (a hundred World War II movies nod in acknowledgement) and enter the temple, walking into the fabled (as in ‘I learned about it five minutes ago’) Hall of Webs.
I observe the trip-wires and threads scattered across the floor, and walk on my hands across the floor, because of course I do.
It takes me half an hour of walking on my hands (!!) to cross the room, but I manage to do it, and hear the baddies conspiring. I learn that Yaemon is travelling to Mortavalon and left ten days ago with Honoric (wow, can’t believe he became part of the mission).
Maybe more importantly, I ‘catch sight of a scroll’ with the ninja techniques of the Scarlet Mantis monks! I get the following info :
- I get to add +1 to my Punch modifier (useful if I actually ever get into another fight).
- Apparently these suckers don’t know the ‘Forked Lightning Strike kick’. Mental note if I happen to fight Yaemon, or any other Scarlet Mantis redshirts.
Content with my espionage, I leave the town and hit the road, travelling straight to Mortavalon.
En route, I then see a deleted scene from some horror movie involving a demented circus, as a man with the head of a snake has escaped from a cage within a caravan and is attacking a young child. Incredibly, the book actually gives me the option of ‘leaving the young boy to his fate’. As if! What true hero would shrink away from such a challenge!
And before you ask, of course I don’t get the option of using my new and improved punch modifier. Apparently, its kicks all the way.
Well, true hero or no, my trusty dice don’t live up to the challenge. I need a seven (on two dice) to successfully kick the Cobra Man, and, as fate would have it, I roll a six.
Do I have the skill of Immunity to Poisons? Why, yes, I do.
Aside : If I didn’t have this skill, I would die ‘painfully’. Its that added adverb of suffering that really makes this series of books sing.
The carnival barkers recapture the monster and tell me they are taking him to the ‘zoo’ in Mortavalon. Yeah, I think I’ll stick to the meerkats.
As they depart, I get an enigmatic piece of advice from the young lad….
‘Don’t shake hands with the young magician!”
Well, I’m sure that situation has no chance of coming up again.