MY FRIENDS, I write with heavy heart and grim foreboding. As I rested at Samarrak, intending to visit its fabled market, a weary and travel-stained Royal Courier rode in, his horse well-nigh dead beneath him.
I knew him well - 'twas Argivven of Ashron and he bore the message of his comrade Robert the Woodward, Courier of Northern Eshak and the Marches. Grievous tidings indeed the letter contained, thus he wrote:
"Gordo, a sorry state the Ogre is in, O stout one! I have barely escaped with my life from that troll hole. Only with some nifty swordwork and a smokescreen spell I learnt from Ragnak the Wizard could I escape. Uginnuk has filled the place with more of his kind and human bones litter the bar and floor. As I rest here in the woods that border your inn to the east, I hurriedly put quill to parchment before any pursuit ensues ... but I see lights approaching through the trees and my nostrils fill with the smell of troll - I must flee."
|Gordo receives a despairing letter and meets some weary travellers|
Woeful news indeed and worse than I had expected. More than ever it reinforces the old saying that the only good troll is a petrified troll! I curse Lord Yanga by all the bones of Ithukk for dragging me away from home - what may have become of my strongbox? How shall I survive my old age?
As I wandered disconsolate around the market booths I met Moranna of Yel, an acquaintance of my youth. My spirits rose when she agreed to travel north on my behalf. With her were three mercenaries of Urtutin, Brothers of the Axe. These are fell warriors and the lady more dangerous still. So they rode off that afternoon - with their purses heavier each by forty gold pieces and my pockets the emptier.
At the long table of The Damaged Dragon that night, I began to feel calmer. Fortified by many tankards of ale I talked with the gathered company. A large group had come from the land of Tir Na Nog and were bewildered by its intricacies.
Anstey of Galashiels could not escape the empty lands of Tir Falahm. I could give him no easy answer, as the only way is to make a full map of the area. There is indeed a door but it will only be found by careful exploration and mapping.
A Sidhe Hater of Mirfield had become trapped in the great library - again no exit could he find. He told me that he had found some scrolls therein - those contain the answer. One is in a strange tongue and can be ignored, but the other two appear to be jumbled letters, perhaps a code. Code indeed - the smaller of the scrolls reads F4 B3. By moving the first letter of the longer text four letters forward in the alphabet and the next letter three backwards - and so on - a message will appear. There may lie Sidhe Hater's answer.
Now a number of those lost souls, including Drakkar Christiansen of Hvidavic and Guald of Tunbridge, could not pass the searing fire of the guardian serpent in Ceardac Callum.
This foul snake will destroy anything which it can see so, naturally, to slide past requires powerful magic and invisibility. On your journeys it may well be that some of you have found the severed halves of a torc. Once joined together they will confer the power of invisibility. But beware - the cauldron you may discover beyond the serpent is an object of power and will nullify the torc's power. Seek the back door and an egg for an N.
The Viking of Hvidavic was pleased with that but pressed me further on the doors marked F and C. F is an exit from another place and will generally work only one way, whilst C can be opened by listening to the sound of the letter. Can you hear the waves? Beside them is usually sand. Seek some amongst mouldering books and scrolls.
Remember too you weary ones who seek the Crown of Cernos - stags need antlers not metal crowns. There are red herrings even in the Celtic afterworlds.
Further into the night the talk turned to the mystery of System 15000. Like others, Dave the Desperate and Maynard of Barford had had difficulty in using the services of Selcra. Again I say - to gain information, seekers must write SELCRA followed by the name of the company they are interested in on the System's message board. Those agents of darkness will only reveal information about a very few firms and you should not expect unlimited assistance.
It seems that many more have broken the System's spell and I thank Egbert the Edbanger of Bristol and George Forsyth of Kingston for the advice they have given me.
As the drink flowed the boasting began. Blagger Kerr of Dunblane rose to say he had completed the Hobbit and Hampstead. He will offer full help if you send him 50 pence for postage and paper costs.
Rambo the Rover of Slough has a fair knowlege of Eureka. He requests payment for his answers so you should contact him to negotiate terms. Rambo provided the answer to Orcslayer's plea for help in blowing up the bridge safely. First type D, then attach the dynamite, then type V,S and use the dynamite.
Alex the Messenger of Solihull followed me out for a breath of air and confided he could not leave his hotel whilst hunting Valkyrie 17. The window will provide an exit but Alex must first move along the ledge, explore the other room there and read a book he will find therein. Descent and escape should then be easier - do not use the front door.
Rawle of Witham joined us outside so we held each other up and complained he could not impress Pippa as he strove for Hampsteadness. Cease this pointless effort and be direct - go GET her, lad!
So to bed but sleep I could not. My thoughts fell ever on the Ogre. Moranna may be trusted, though, and I must save my strength for the long road ahead. There are many things I must purchase at the market before I continue and so little time, so little time ...
'Til next moon, riders of the roads, farewell.
|Gordo Greatbelly, Landlord - perhaps.|
|If you have a tale to tell, or are in need of a helping hand, write to the Landlord of the Dancing Ogre c/o Sinclair User, London.|