Back above ground in the town of Hasith, I do my best to avoid strutting in a John Travolta-esque fashion.
It is mentioned that it would be a wise move to leave town before the followers of Nil find out that I killed the son of their God. Leaving aside the Judeo-Christian implications, I have no idea how they would discover this fact – goodness knows what kind of gossip these priests chat about in their break room.
I can choose between travelling to two ports in an attempt to get home – Ulrik’s Haven or Wargrave Abbas. Checking out my trusty map, Wargrave Abbas appears closer to my home, so I start jogging that way.
I pass through various towns on the way, including Cheaping Knowe (which has just got to be an inside joke of some kind) before arriving in Wargrave Abbas and spotting a fellow worshipper of Kwon.
I then invite myself into the local Kwon temple and meet the local priest, a charming enough gentleman named Hardred. I’m allowed to pray in their sanctum and regain a point of Inner Force.
It is suggested that transport be arranged by ship from here to Tor, where I can hopefully meet Glaivas, the ranger that initially assisted me on this quest. Hardred also ‘suggests’ that I leave the Scrolls of Kettsuin with him. With that sort of attempt at a scam, I’m surprised he didn’t also claim to be the heir to a Nigerian multi-million dollar fortune.
I spend a couple of days in Wargrave Abbas, catching up with a couple of shows on Netflix and futilely trying to learn where I can obtain a decent haircut.
I also learn about a couple of the other gods with temples here. Dama, the ‘shieldmaiden of the Gods’ is a quasi-Athena figure, with primarily warrior-women as followers and standing directly opposite in the pantheon to Vasch-Ro, Honoric’s god of choice. I get the distinct feeling that if the pantheon of gods was a US-style college, Vasch-Ro would be the patron of the biggest, noisiest fraternity of all.
On a more ominous note, there is a large temple here to Torremalku the Slayer, patron god of assassins and ‘swift-sure bringer of death to beggar and king’. I know that’s he’s evil and I’m in theory a good guy, but that still has got to be considered the most bad-ass motto in this series of books so far.
I’m given the option of travelling to the temple of Torremalku and offering to ‘exchange skills’ with Mandrake, their local grandmaster. Sensing trouble from a mile away, I decline this chance to put my head in the lion’s mouth.
Relaxing in the garden of the temple, I see a bald monk, who I initially assume to be Hardred, approaching me. When I ask him if he has news of a ship, he smiles and reaches into his jacket….
Aside : I know from previous attempts at this book that this is an imposter, whose aim is to kill me. I also know that many of the choices which I am about to make have life-or-death stakes for Avenger. Having said both those things, I can’t remember exactly which choices are the correct ones. Here we go…
I can (1) Use a poison needle (2) Call upon Kwon for help (3) Hurl a Shuriken (4) Use my skill as an Acrobat to jump onto the tree-branch above me (5) Roll to one side and stand up.
(4) is not an option, as I don’t have the skill of Acrobatics. Much as it pains me to do so, I don’t think Poison Needles are the way to go here, since by the time I grab one, put it in my mouth and split, this imposter will have the jump on me.
I decide to throw a Shuriken.
How’s that suspense going?
In a mixed result, this imposter throws a dagger at my heart while I am still reaching for a Shuriken. It would be curtains for Avenger, save that my skill of Arrow Cutting comes into play, and my arm (with, remember, the thin iron bars sewn into the sleeves) knocks the dagger aside.
Ready for a pitched battle, I prepare to fight. However, the imposter flees, while the real Hardred, unaware of the close shave which I just experienced, calmly informs me of news that a ship is leaving for Tor on the evening tide. Thanks for the late entrance, dude.
I politely (too politely, if you ask me) inform Hardred of what happened. He is convinced that Mandrake, a master of disguise, and guildmaster of the local Torremalku chapter, was commissioned to kill me. Well, its nice to be well-known, I guess.
I board the ship, the Winged Serpent, who is due to take me to the Island of Plenty, the adjacent island to my home Island of Tranquil Dreams. Hardred, in a final attempt to redeem himself, makes me a final gift of 5 Shuriken. In unrelated news, I’m yet to get that single-malt scotch for which I’ve been searching for some time.
I conceal myself below deck, break out my newspaper, and start thinking of home.
Stats : Endurance : 12, Punch Modifier : +1, Kick Modifier : +2, Throw Modifier : 0, Fate Modifier +1, Inner Force 3
Awesome names : Torremalku the Slayer, with bonus points for that fantastic motto.
Note : The featured image is Mandrake, if you’re dumb enough to confront him in his lair.