Note: I’m not simply going to write out the text as written in the book, I feel like that would be boring. Instead, I’ll be writing in the first person, as if it were actually me in the adventurer’s shoes. ‘NPC’ dialogue will remain unchanged. Choices will be depicted in bold. Though I may take some artistic license here and there in terms of storytelling, nothing pertaining to my playthrough will change. All battles, choices, failed rolls etc will be 100% true and faithful to what happened during my playthrough. I hope you enjoy the journey!
- Skill: 8
- Stamina: 18
- Luck: 10
- Gold Pieces: 20
- Provisions: 2
The light streamed into my bedroom. The realization that it was morning, and the implication of it, hit like a hammer blow across my forehead.
“Oh Libra…today’s the day isn’t it? Nooo…..“
Judging by the gathering crowd outside my house, today was indeed the day. I start to get my act together. I get dressed, breakfast on bread and goat’s milk (goat again? You’ve got to be kidding me) and collect my belongings. The Outpost Settlement was stirring already, and the townsfolk follow me as I make my way towards the Cantopani Gate. The final barrier between Analand and Kakhabad, the Gate is guarded by the Sightmaster Warriors, appointed to their posts due to their extraordinary powers of telescopic vision. As I nod to the Sightmaster Sergeant he gives an order to his men, and the great Gate, two storeys high and several yards thick, draws slowly inwards to reveal the Shamutanti foothills, and the first step of my journey.
The Sightmaster Sergeant strides over and envelopes my hand in his.
“I will not wish you a safe journey, for the way ahead will not be safe. Kakhabad is a treacherous land inhabited by devils.”
Thanks buddy. Super glad I volunteered for this.
“Take the path ahead to Cantopani, a small settlement of traders – although most are rogues and thieves – which you should reach inside an hour. From Cantopani onwards there are three routes through Birritanti to Kharé, a cityport on the Jabaji river. From Kharé you must cross the Baklands, which are unknown. It is said that day and night in the Baklands are not controlled by the sun but by supernatural forces; and bear in mind also that, from Kharé onwards, your progress will be watched.”
Well, super-freaking-duper. This is turning into a right little jolly excursion. I can also totally remember every place name he just mentioned because that’s definitely how young minds work.
“But I have observed your training, and you are indeed a worthy champion. I wish you luck and success with your quest. My thoughts, and the good wishes of all the peoples of Analand, will be with you. With Libra on your side may you live to lift the curse and depression which rack our Kingdom“.
Ok, now that’s a pep talk. You got this, dude.
I pass through the doorway. As I do, I turn and look at the faces of the folk who have turned out to watch me go. Eyes full of hope and and a fervent desire for me to succeed. I wave, then turn and stride towards the path. The morning air is crisp and the rising sun bestows glorious colour to the land, which I know only too well merely conceals the devilry ahead. My quest has begun!
The path winds through fields of wild scrubland, the deserted terrain made all the more eerie by the cawing of an occasional crow. They actually appeared to pause in mid-flight to examine as I pass, and my skin breaks out in goosebumps. Ah well. They’ll get eaten by something bigger eventually.
I pass over a small hillock, and whilst at the top I’m able to see the path continue downwards towards a small settlement of wooden huts at the base the hill. As I approach I become more aware of noises and movement, so it appears the village is well-populated. There’s no other path to follow and it runs straight through the village, so I press on with the hopes that these guys are friendly. As I reach the huts I sense eyes in windows and doorways watching my movements. I acknowledge the growing realization in my head that these guys might not actually be friendly. Suddenly, as I pass one particular dwelling, a villager appears from the doorway stands before me. Five feet tall, with thick-set arms and thighs half clothed in tattered breeches. His matted red hair and beard are a fitting frame for the wild eyes contained within.
“What business have you in Cantopani?”
Honestly, I just want to get out of here as fast as I can, this place gives me the creeps. I tell him I’m just passing through on my way to Kharé and ask for directions onwards.
“I myself have never left this village,” he says, “but you have two paths ahead. My advice though, is not free. For two Gold Pieces I will tell you what I know.”
Wait, so I’m supposed to take pay for travel advice from a guy who’s never left the village? Actually, I think I’m good. I refuse and press onwards.
Safe in the knowledge that not getting that guy’s advice will in no way come back to bite me, I carry on towards the centre of the village. There’s a small inn offering food for sale. It doesn’t smell great and I’m anxious to leave the village (I swear I can still smell that guy), but I only have provisions enough for two meals. Stocking up would be a good idea. I enter the inn.
There are hot meals for sale at one Gold Piece each. I can also get some bread and goat’s cheese to take with me; two meals worth costs two Gold Pieces. I don’t need to eat right now, so I pay the two Gold Pieces for bread and cheese, and leave the inn without eating.
Provisions: 2 → 4
Gold Pieces: 20 → 18
The inn is on the outliers of the village, and as I begin once more to follow the path the smells and noises fade into obscurity behind me. Finally, I thought I’d never see the back of Cantopani. Nice clean air from here on out. Pondering where would be the best place to wash that guy’s essence off of me I come across a fork in the path, with two possible trails onward. As I contemplate which one to follow, I hear weak cries coming from the tree directly ahead. I slowly make my way to the base of the tree, where I see an old man sitting on the lowest branch. Evidently he had not wanted to risk jumping down himself, so being a good citizen and all I help him down. He tells me that he has been travelling towards the Outpost Settlement in Analand but his journey was waylaid by Elvins who robbed him and left him marooned up the tree. Then, to show his appreciation, he starts to rattle off a rhyme he feels might be useful to me:
‘See him though he sees you not;
The black-eyed creature creeps.
A guardian once, but now his lot:
The key to freedom keeps.’
I smile and nod, hoping to convey the message of “Oh wow, this is going to be invaluable to my journey!” Hope I made a good job of it. He also presses a piece of paper into my hand: a page number 102 from a spell book. Though it only appears to be part of the spell, it seems to be some sort of pest-repelling charm.
Item gained: Spell book page 102
The man then bids me farewell and heads back on the path towards Cantopani. I turn to the fork in the road to carry on my journey via one of the two paths, but for some reason I feel the urge to investigate a strange buzzing coming from the base of the tree….
To be continued!