Well, here we go again! The Cityport of Traps awaits. Quite why I simply couldn't go around such an obvious deathtrap is a bit of a mystery. I get the impression that this is not dissimilar to the legendary Port Blacksand in many ways, and I've always found this one a bit of an intriguing title. My adventurer managed to get through the Shamutanti Hills without too much trouble, the second time, and I have an awful lot of numbered stuff to enjoy – including the friendship of Flanker. My Luck is pretty high, though I could do with a new sword to replace the one I dented back at the witch's hut – then I'd have an effective Skill of 12, which would be excellent. (Once again, this will be spoiler-heavy.)
Happily, I have a key I can use to get in...nice start. That my character manages to forget to take it with him after getting into the city is probably not such a good thing, but hopefully I won't need it again. Gulp. I spot a building with an old man, and deciding to be friendly, I step in to say hello. Naturally, I am quickly captured. Great. I'm thrown in a cell with another old man, who says that I need a spell to leave the city...but not being a wizard, this is pretty bad news. Fortunately, he knows a lot about this, and gives me a pretty full briefing. I need to find four lines of the spell, held by some of the 'leading citizens' of the city. Let's hope they keep office hours.
After a good – if hungry night's sleep, as I am out of provisions – I wake up to find that the guards have released me and the old man. Naturally, he's stolen my boots – which does not stop me chasing after the git. I make chase and stumble into a pack of Black Elves sitting around smoking pot. I sit down with these stereotypes and take a deep drag myself – it's been a long day, and my feet hurt. It turns out to be good stuff – I get an extra point of Skill for my next fight! Astoundingly, the potheads know nothing of any interest, so I stagger back out onto the street.
Stopping at a fountain, I come across a silverfish who starts to talk to me, guarding a gold coin. He says, “Bwrthhrs”, which I suspect is fish for “Burp!”, and I have no intention of risking life and limb for a single gold; I have a crown to recover, after all. Continuing my obsession with the animal kingdom, I then walk over and try to talk to a horse. When it fails to speak to me, I leap on and ride it down the streets, letting it take me where it thinks I should go. That turns out to be face down on the street, and I have a choice of huts to explore.
I choose to visit the 'Chainmaker' – god knows what sort of stuff he is selling for people; presumably Khare has a thriving S&M community. I toy with buying some chain, and eventually decide to – it might come in handy later. Apparently I can use it to finish off wounded opponents; that could come in handy later.
I follow my nose to a pleasant smell, and come across a nightmarish tentacled horror cooking some sort of snack. Yes, in Khare Cthulhu is a short-order chef. Following my usual pattern, I try to steal his stuff, and scare the poor thing sufficiently that I can take everything he owns – a mirror, a scroll and some gold. Loot in my pocket, I leave again...and stumble across my old friend, Flanker the Assassin, who I almost killed a few days ago. He seems fine now, though, and offers to take me to a sage who might be able to help. Success!
I travel to the house of Lortag the Elder, and am invited into his study. Turns out he has a line of the spell, but I have to decode some runes to earn it. Blind luck sees me through here, and I get the first line. And a green wig? Weird.
Celebrating, I head for Artists' Row, and take a look at a man making different sorts of fires. He invites me into his hut to see his 'special' fires. I have a sneaky suspicion this will end poorly, but follow him in anyway. He has a chest that I could try and steal – if I wanted to walk across fire to do it. I end up just complementing him on his pretty fire and going on my way. I have to say – thus far Khare seems remarkably tame. Few attempts on my life, and I'm only down a pair of boots.
Onwards through some twisting streets, and I find a human who seems really lonely. I see a good deed for the day coming up – slaying this obviously evil person! I go in, sit down, he offers me a drink, and of course, it is poisoned. Something I learn after taking a nice swig. Fortunately, I have yet to call on Libra in this book, so I can tick off that box, and she just kills him. I end up with gold and some stuff – good work, goddess! Thanks! My pockets are getting crammed with useless junk right now, and I still need a sword...
I stumble across a church, holding a prayer meeting – apparently they worship Slangg, the Goddess of Malice. Nice. After a Monty Python reference, I get asked a mathematics question to determine my 'worthiness'; if I get it wrong, I end up a Slangg worshipper. Apparently Slangg only wants worshippers who can't count. I can count, and answer his riddle. Though disappointed, he gives me another line of the spell! Half-way there...excellent.
I really feel as if I am getting somewhere with this book, it's actually a really good experience.
Satisfied with my prowess, I find a seedy dive of scum and villainy to stay the night at, called the 'Wayfarer's Rest'. It's a bit pricey, but I have the money, so I buy food and board – and a helpful sailor even buys me a drink! Excellent. He tips me off that to get more of the spell, I need to fight undead. That sounds like fun, so I go along with his suggestion. Turns out that one of the lines is held by a Vampire, and presumably I'm going to have to pay him a visit. I go to bed, and start to get a good night's sleep, only to be woken up by the innkeeper, who attempts to murder me. Guess I'll be giving this place a bad review on Tripadvisor. I am apparently to be 'dinner', but I disarm his trap – and he lets me go back to bed! More amazingly, I go back to sleep again.
Waking up the next morning, I set off onto the road again to find the other half of the spell. I go to look at a monument, which turns out to be the entrance to a local sewer. Sigh. Luck is not with me and I am thrown in by the locals, for whom this is 'sport'. Someone really needs to set up some youth clubs or something around here if this is what they do for fun – hang around sewer outlets waiting for passers-by they can throw in. Well, I stink now, and have to find my way out. Maybe I'll find some spells down here; I know there are smells. Naturally, there is a monster – a Slime Eater! Fortunately, I still have that bonus from the pot I smoked yesterday – I haven't done any fighting in Khare until now – so I have a major advantage.
It takes forever to get out, but I finally emerge in a graveyard, battered and bruised. Hmm – graveyard? Vampire? This sounds promising. I head for a crypt, leap over a magical circle of presumably instant death, and get my chain ready as I head into the gloom. I am asked very carefully if I want to press on – so much so that I decided to leave again. I've come too far to leave now, and I remembered that this is the wrong crypt; it belongs to the Fifth Lord, I wanted the Third. No help here.
I leave the middle of the city heading north, and come across another blind beggar. Last time I helped one, it really paid me back, so let's see what happens this time. Turns out I get attacked by Harpies. Great. At least they turn out to be easy kills – I wasn't even scratched. The beggar – somewhat relieved, says he was once a Lord of Khare. Of course he was. He tells me to go to the Temple of Courga, and gives me a silver serpent ring for the Baklands, for Book 3...so again, giving to the poor pays back!
I find the temple ahead, and look around inside, but there isn't anyone there. After kissing the icon inside for quite some time, the god tells me that I haven't got enough of the spell to get out, and with the Gate just ahead, he is quite right! The book tells me to go back to the beginning and try again. Sigh. Well, at least I'm not dead. I guess I go back to paragraph 1 and take another try at it, tomorrow...
Gold and Treasure
Equipment (Provisions: 0)
Sword (Dented, -1 to Skill)
Key, Numbered 111
Key, Numbered 206
Ragnar's Armband of Swordmastery (+2 to Attack Strength using a Sword)
Essence of Bark
Silver Serpent Ring (130 in Book 3)
Bonuses, Penalties, Curses
Friendship of Flanker (79 in Book 2) – 244 (111), 110 (222)