As those who followed the last instalment would know (and seriously, if you haven’t read the previous entries, what the heck are you doing here?! Read the archives!) I have defeated the Spider Rider (which sounds like the mascot for a junior sporting team) and am ready for the next challenge.
Just like a bad penny, the Black Widow keeps turning up. This time she literally crawls out of a chasm just as the fighting appeared over.
We rush onwards and, speaking of bad pennies, Cassandra also shows up. She steps out from behind some stone concealment, wielding a crossbow the bolts of which she claims are coated with the Blood of Nil.
If only Honoric was here to serve as a human shield!
Luckily, there is yet another opportunity to use (suspenseful keyboard fill) Poison Needles!
Even though Cassandra ‘at the last moment’ recognises my ‘ninja trick’ the needle finds its way to her right cheek (which is, yes, ON HER FACE) and Cassandra staggers away, out of commission.
However, Cassandra did manage to send towards me a solitary, lonely, crossbow bolt. Luckily, my Fate roll succeeds, and the arrow goes wide.
Just as we are about to enter the cave which contains our path of exit, we see that the entrance is now covered by webbing fired, presumably, by the Black Widow.
Hey! That’s a Spider-Man strategy! Wrong franchise!
Pausing for a moment, we see that the creature / woman also known as ‘Foxglove’ has ridden a giant raven to a space near both my party and the cave mouth.
Foxglove states that she ‘needs’ my Sceptre to ‘secure’ her role as the new ‘Keeper’.
Aside : Given how the previous Keeper’s role ended, that might not be the most secure job position.
Foxglove then babbles some gobbledegook about how she can’t be free of the Black Widow’s ‘blood curse’ but with my Sceptre she can rather be released from the ‘geas’.
Eh – you say tomato….
After I answer a few questions for the book’s benefit about the history of this playthrough, Foxglove tosses over a silver gauntlet which can apparently substitute for Dore’s severed hand. I can give it to him (Dore) or toss it away.
Dore’s not a child (although he might act like one sometimes). He can decide for himself as to the use to which to put this magical (?) gauntlet, so I throw it over to him.
Foxglove again asks for (yeah, ‘asks’) the Sceptre while ‘dozens’ of Spider Riders come closer, to clearly emphasise the consequences of refusal.
I ask Eris to cast a spell, urging him to concentrate all of his potential ‘usefulness’ (and I use that word advisedly) into this moment!
Eris, with his magical reserves low, casts a spell to make the Torch of Lumen appear to resemble the Sceptre.
That is, in all honesty, an awesome idea! Well played, Eris.
I give the supposed ‘Sceptre’ to Foxglove. She accepts it with glee, uses a token to melt the webbing blocking the cave’s entrance, and vanishes to parts unknown.
Meanwhile, my party enters the cave, and see a figure appears that seems to be a cross between a stripper and a fortune teller.
Not that this is all bad, however…. (see image above)
This bewitching creature utters some boilerplate dialogue about how even the Black Widow cannot enter this area without her consent. She notably does not comment on whether this consent will actually be given any time in the near future.
Interestingly, she also admits that Shadazar, the Dark Elf from the start of Book 5 apparently made her way to attack Irsmuncast through this route.
Presumably, this is the Orb equivalent of Shadazar travelling first class while all the actual soldiers flew economy.
I screw my courage to the sticking place and step into the crystal circle, giving a great ‘to be continued’ moment.
To Be Continued.
Stats : Endurance : 20, Punch Modifier : +2, Kick Modifier: +3, Throw Modifier : 0, Fate Modifier : +1, Inner Force : 3