My band and I pause for a moment in a quiet corridor, sharing Dore’s rations of stale bread.
Aside : Seriously, in adventures of this kind, I think writers are congenitally unable to write the word ‘bread’ without the word ‘stale’ in front of it.
Anyway, we have a miniature, alcohol-free wake for Vespers, as we remember the various stupid, clumsy and idiotic things he did during his life, including taking on a freakishly massive, poisonous, Black Widow spider with just a sword.
Interestingly, a discussion commences about Thybault and Eris, the (presumably) still surviving members of the four stooges. Taflwr (and I am going to get sooo sick of typing that very soon) makes the fair point that, although they were not close friends of mine, no companion should be left behind.
Glaivas, in opposition, also makes the point that we have no idea where the other two are (although Taflwr says he can locate them) and that trying to rescue them risks losing everything.
To be honest, I’m really disappointed with Glaivas at this point. He has literally been rescued from torture and certain death only because Avenger risked everything to venture down into the Rift to rescue him. To now turn around (after he has been rescued) and cavalierly state that other friends are expendable is a deplorable attitude.
I don’t find this decision difficult. Although the four stooges have, for the most part, been far from helpful, their help has been honestly given and freely accepted. I can’t leave two of their number in this darkness.
Aside : I also remember Glaivas rolling his eyes when I rescued the poor waif in book 3. He has a ruthless edge, has this Ranger.
Thybault confirms that he knows the way to his companions, and we follow him (Pied piper-esque, if you will).
We finally (well, not really, its one paragraph later) come across our friends in a cave, fighting against numerous red-robed Dark Elf bodyguards of the Black Widow.
Because a giant Black Widow spider needs all the bodyguards she can get, I suppose.
Three enemies rush over from the fray to meet us. Choice! I can : kick one, and Whirlpool Throw the other two into each other, try to Dragon’s Tail the nearest into the other two or use Kwon’s Flail to kick one into the others.
I always had a soft spot for Kwon’s Flail, and the fact that it came up short in the last combat gives me hope that it will work here.
Given my handy +3 Kick Modifier, I only need 4 or more on two dice to succeed in this manoeuvre. I get an 8, and in one of those awesome ninja moves you come to expect from this series, my kick literally smashes the head off the shoulders off the first enemy, while the other two pause in shock, allowing them to be BUTCHERED by Dore, the supposedly virtuous Paladin.
After this glorious victory, we fall back (together with Thybault and Eris) along the passage by which we entered. We fight a rearguard action against various (by which I mean dozens) of spiders while constantly moving in the direction indicated by the (now dark) Torch of Lumen.
Aside : That name is really just false advertising now, isn’t it? We should really start calling it the Stick of Darken. Or is that just me? Heck, in Australia, Women’s Day comes out every week, and Women’s Weekly comes out every month. (Although calling it Women’s Monthly probably wouldn’t be clever, would it?).
In any event, we wave off the thanks of Thybault and Eris (No worries, sir. Just a ninja king, doing my job). We now pause before the ‘gatecastle’ (What?) of the sixth tier, so we can plan our next move.
Stats : Endurance : 20, Punch Modifier : +2, Kick Modifier: +3, Throw Modifier : 0, Fate Modifier : +1, Inner Force : 3