Another 10 days pass (apparently that’s the equivalent of a week in Orb) during which there are reports of a build-up of evil nasties on the edge of the Rift. There are descriptions of Dark Elves, Cave Trolls, Justin Bieber fans and sorcerors. I may have made up one of those.
The books asks if Gwyneth (ahem, sorry) Force-Lady Gwyneth is captain of the Watch (tick), a Privy Councillor (double tick) and leads my army (bingo!)
I assume I’m about to find out that her competence gets me extra popularity, right?
When I turn to the new page, I find out that the people of the city idolise Gwyneth, and she is both more popular than me and seen as more powerful than the Overlord! A General Macarthur situation! People cry out for her to protect them from the massing armies, and the priests of Nemesis, never ones to let a crisis go to waste, demand that she lead the army out of of the city to meet the enemy in battle.
Rule #1 of any siege is that you do not give up the advantage of your fortifications. Plus if the priests of Nemesis are for something, I’m against it! Sort of like Rush Limbaugh. I gently, tactfully and courteously tell the priests of Nemesis to take a hike.
Sure enough, the memory of the common people is fickle, and the sound of their adulation as I was crowned is but a distant memory (wow! that was almost poetic!) In any event, my Popularity Rating drops 2 whole points. It does, however, remain above zero, so I am temporarily saved from the forces of counter-revolution.
There is an initial assault by the forces of darkness, but they are repulsed by the shieldmaidens. I get the feeling that this victory won’t be an end to the matter.
Bored with being in the palace (which doesn’t say much for the pay TV selection or the entertainment value of my warrior women bodyguards) I don the disguise of a journeyman and wander the streets of the city. Before I can find a cocktail bar or a comic book shop, some little girl greets me by name (I can just see it “Hey, Avenger, killed any Dukes of Hell, lately?”) and tells me that I should listen to my dreams and the way will be shown.
That was about as helpful as astrology.
While sleeping that evening, Kwon appears to me and, rather than giving me advice on my enemy’s plans, advises me to seek out two historical artifacts that were stolen from my father – the Sceptre and Orb of Telmain I. These are apparently now within the Valley of Scorpions in the Mountains of Undying Solitude. Naturally, this Valley is where the ninjas who follow Nemesis live and train.
Aside : Just once, I’d like for these mystical items to be located in the ‘Lost and Found’ box at the local shopping mall, instead of being stored in the depths of my arch-enemy’s home base.
I awake in the morning, ready to quest for the Orb and Sceptre. At least, after I have ‘been dressed’ by my handmaidens.
I announce to the people at large that I am departing on this quest, and the commoners are supposedly inspired by my heroic quest. To give the book credit, it points out exactly what I was thinking – that I am essentially deserting my subjects in their hour of need. If I, right now, was a plumber on Struggle Street, Irsmuncast, I’d be saying “So. He’s leaving at the first sign of trouble. To find a mystical Orb and Sceptre. Riiigggght.”
No mention is made exactly of how I evade the besieging forces, but I, leave the cities, evade the ghoulies near the Rift and pass the cities of Segesvar and Pest (!)
I approach the Mountains of Undying Solitude, and reflect on the fact that I have yet to touch the dice in this book.
Stats : Endurance : 20, Punch Modifier : +2, Kick Modifier: +3, Throw Modifier : 0, Fate Modifier : +1, Inner Force : 5, Popularity Rating : 3
Awesome names : Valley of Scorpions! Mountains of Undying Solitude! Pest! The list goes on!