“I don’t think the gods are very happy with us…”
Halfinch watched as the bodies of his former comrades were consigned to the flames.
“That much is obvious…”
Oddleigh sighed, looking up at the weird light flickering behind the shuttered window of his master’s room, where Thaddeus had shut himself in with his grimoires.
The mood in the Cloven Hoof had been sour ever since the disastrous expedition to the library. Captain Red Sandra had clashed angrily with Thaddeus after he had refused to pay her fee, causing her to storm out of the inn. She later returned, having reached some sort of rapprochement with the wizard, but there was still tension between them.
Nothing seemed to have gone right since that fateful day – potions had turned to sludge, corpses stubbornly remained inanimate and the summoning circle brought forth nothing more than a noxious smell.
“Oh dear, looks like I’m next in line for a scalding…”
He raced out of the yard and up the old stairway to the sleeping quarters. He peered nervously around the door to Thaddeus’ chambers.
“Well come in then boy!”
His master coughed and sunk down into a large wooden-backed chair. His face was pale and hair lank.”
“Are you alright master?”
“Hmm? Oh… Nothing I won’t recover from… I’m led to believe That Woman is making for an old temple to the East. Now she may be an underhanded wench but she does have a nose for treasure. We must follow…”
He stopped, wheezing from the effort of talking.
“Now come in, I have learned a new spell that will deal with her perishing walls. It takes a bit of effort to get to grips with, and – well I won’t lie to you boy, this is going to hurt…”
Time for the second game of the day, and the last one from the main rulebook: the Complex Temple.
My run of rubbish dice rolls continued in the pre-game phase, with my out-of-game spells all failing dismally. Thus I entered the field with not a little trepidation, splitting the warband into three sections, each going for the nearest treasure-bearing pillar.
Giles’ enchantress had made full use of her reveal secret and fool’s gold spells, so there was extra treasure to be tempted by. However, after the previous bruising, I was having none of it – this was to be a straight in and out mission.
On my left, captain, thief and warhound came upon a magical pillar. Halfinch hacked at the inanimate object. I rolled, and so did my opponent (for the pillar).
He rolled a 20.
Down went the thief.
Undeterred I tried again with Red Sandra.
He rolled. ..
This day was just getting better and better…
I’m afraid to say I may have glowered at this point.
Rapidly losing interest, I sent the rest of the warband to their respective pillars. Thankfully no-one else managed to die in combat with completely stationary stone columns and treasure was taken.
At this point I didn’t even trust myself to put Thaddeus into combat with a pillar (thus gaining extra experience) and let the barbarian do the necessary.
No messing them – as soon as treasure was nabbed it was hauled towards the board edge as quickly as possible.
‘Lady’ Catherine however had other plans, and was pressing her warband forward – scooping up treasure effortlessly.
As she came into view of my wizard, she cast a wall spell, cutting Thaddeus and his treasure-carrying barbarian off from the rest of his men. However Thaddeus had an ace up his sleeve…
Digging deep he cast the newly-mastered spell eater spell, causing the offending wall to melt away, thus allowing him and the barbarian to make their escape!
To slow down any pursuit, imps were sent flying at the enemy captain. He slew them with ease, thus building on his already considerable experience (and hence cost - my cunning plan being to bankrupt ‘Lady’ Catherine into defeat).
My crossbowman dealt with the enemy warhound that had been sniffing around my right flank, but the score was evened out after another crossbowman was isolated by a wall and shot.
Sacrificial lamb Fluffy IV was similarly cut off as the poor beast was sent forward to delay the opposition some more.
But at least she bought time for the others to make their escape with three treasures – not too bad a result for such a half-hearted effort on my part.
Giles version of events is considerably more enthusiastic than mine, and can be read here.
It had been some hours since the warband had returned to the Cloven Hoof. They had expected their employer to erupt with rage, especially Red Sandra and Halfinch, but from the summoner there was nothing but a cold glare and a brooding silence for the hapless pair.
Once again he had shut himself in his chambers, before calling for his apprentice a brooding eternity afterwards.
“Have the supplies have arrived boy?” His voice was calm and measured.
“Er, yes master.”
“Good.” There was a pause, then: “I have been thinking about our erstwhile opponent. She is most dangerous.”
“Um, yes, she is…”
To Oddleigh’s surprise, his master chuckled.
“The gods may have forsworn us, but at least they have deigned to give us this…” From out of the shadows he hauled one of the chests discovered in the temple ruins, it’s bulk scraping loudly along the floorboards.
With thin, dextrous fingers he flipped the catch and opened the lid.
“I believe this may be the solution to our problems…"
His tired and careworn features lifted into a triumphant grin, thrown into sharp relief by the eerie light spilling from the carved wooden box.