I see the light!
Actually, I don’t see the light, and a very good thing too, since Thaum’s spell sets off an eruption of glare so bright that it blinds anyone fool enough to be looking at it.
Do you need to ask? Of course my fellow adventurers are temporarily useless. Hold that thought! Vespers, the swordsman, is actually alert enough to shield his eyes, along with Thybault.
Tyutchev and Cassandra are now moving to attack.
I can either throw a Shuriken at Thaum, who is obviously readying another spell, or try to put Cassandra and Tyutchev between me and Thaum, effectively using them as a ‘human shield’.
I think disrupting the spell has to take priority, so that my companions as well as myself are protected.
Luckily I don’t need to make a dice roll (surprise, surprise) and my Shuriken wounds Thaum in the shoulder, disrupting his spell.
Meanwhile, Thybault and Cassandra are having a dispute, as adjudicated by weapons, while Tyutchev and I actually trade blows, for the first time in the series.
Wait for it!
It can’t be!!!
The two of us are actually having a fight, which requires some dice-rolls!! Vespers is apparently also helping, although you’d never be able to tell…
Weirdly, the book doesn’t ask me to choose between kicks, punches or throws, but rather designates my attempts to wound Tyutchev as ‘Way of the Tiger’.
Aside : No indication from the book as to how to measure the damage done by me in this interaction, since it isn’t either a ‘kick’ or ‘punch’. This is unfortunate, because of my positive ‘kick’ and ‘punch’ modifiers.
More worryingly, Tyutchev does 2 dice + 2 damage on each successful blow.
Apparently this is not, for the moment, a fight to the death, as after either wounding him twice or having three rounds of combat, I have to turn to another paragraph.
I roll a 9 (needed an 8), and to the extent that it is important, do 1 damage.
Tyutchev hits, my block fails and he does 13 (!!) damage.
Aside : Seriously, those last three rolls were 12 (to hit), 11 (to break through the block) and 11 (damage). Amazing.
I roll a 5 and miss.
Tyutchev also misses, with a 6.
I get an 11 (hit!) and do 6 damage.
Since I’ve hit Tyutchev twice, I turn to a new paragraph which states that ‘you are about to finish Tyutchev off…” when, naturally, Thybault crashes into me.
Like I didn’t see that clumsiness happening from a mile away.
Thybault is, shockingly, losing his battle with Cassandra, as the various fighters on either side now regroup. Tyutchev has apparently lost a pouch from his belt, which I retrieve.
Suddenly the tapestry at one end of the cavern (and presumably, most of the wall) is ripped asunder by a monstrous beast ‘as big as a city’ which emerges to basically throw down with both sides of this little tete-a-tete.
Aside : I’m assuming the ‘big as a city’ stuff is just hyperbole, just as I will overlook how this monstrous creature managed to approach our battle completely undetected. As anyone who has watched movies like Jurassic Park knows, huge monsters and dinosaurs can be heard from some distance, if only to allow suspense to be built.
Anyway, as pretty much everyone involved in this equation attempts to flee, one of the bodyguards riding atop this monstrosity throws some bolas (!!) at my legs, causing me to stumble. Cassandra, meanwhile, makes a reference to the ‘Worldworm’ being their only chance for escape.
Tyutchev opens a secret door at the end of the cavern, exposing a ‘bowl-shaped cavern running with fire’. Oookay, this is getting Mount Doom-esque.
This new cavern is, apparently, in a brief infodump, the lair of the Worldworm, a creature which has a head in the Rift, and a body which stretches all the way through the mountains and down to the very centre of the world.
In other words, the world’s hottest water slide.
Everyone in front of me, led by Tyutchev, dives into the mouth (!!) of this great worm. Cassandra is the last to dive in, immediately in front of me. As we approach, the Worldworm is apparently ‘coming to life’ (!!)
This is seriously becoming a drug-addled version of Disney’s Fantasia.
Cassandra thrusts her sword in the Worldworm’s mouth to prevent it closing, and she and I leap up into the gap.
I can attempt a killing blow against her, or dive into the mouth of the beast.
Prizing survival of myself and others over revenge, I dive into the mount of this mythical beast.
I confirm to the book that I did not, at the start of the book, confiscate Cassandra’s original sword, and turn to the final paragraph of the book.
I (along with the others) enjoy my path down this twisted slide for about 5 seconds, before I discover that this ‘creature’ no longer has a stomach or tail. In practice, what that means is that we all fall out of a ‘jagged hole’ into the void.
We fall into the darkness as Cassandra grabs at me, either to kill or hug me. Given my dashing looks, and the proximity of death, I’m thinking the latter.
In any event, I try to call upon Kwon, but no dice (both literally and metaphorically). We all fall into a massive spider-web, as we see an enormous spider moving towards us, with obvious ill-intent.
We have apparently fallen into the web of the (capitalised) Black Widow spider.
I want everyone to remember that the following was the last we readers heard of this series for TWENTY-SEVEN YEARS :
“You have fallen into the web of the Black Widow, whose minions have driven you to this pass. Here on the seventh tier you will make a juicy morsel for the Queen of Evil, unless you can master your despair and somehow rid Orb of its darkest blight.
Yep, that was the cliffhanger we were left on.
Further thoughts on that and the book overall, in my concluding post, tomorrow.
Final Stats : Endurance : 9 (Edited : Thanks, Barristan!), Punch Modifier : +2, Kick Modifier: +3, Throw Modifier : 0, Fate Modifier : +1, Inner Force : 5
EDITORIAL NOTE : As pure chance would have it, this post on the end of the original 6 books coincides with my 100th post on this humble little blog. I never would have imagined the reaction I’ve received from wonderful people around the world, including both authors of the books (!!) along with followers from many countries such as UK, USA , Australia, Singapore, Ireland, Italy, Bulgaria, Spain, Turkey etc etc. Thanks to everyone for following, and feel free to leave a comment here about how you felt when you encountered this (Grrr…) cliffhanger.