AFTER THE TERRIBLE loss of my strongbox I went into a decline. Hurrik, my old friend and landlord of the Crazed Camelherder, upbraided me for consuming a mere half ox at dinner.
To cheer me up he suggested I take part in a contest with Garlak, one of the smiths from the fortress and undisputed feasting champion of Urtuun.
Two nights later we assembled in the parade ground at the fort. Hundreds of soldiers and townmen were waiting, and much cash was changing hands. I had arranged with Hurrik for a vast bet to be placed for me. The chosen food was pickled newt, a local delicacy. No drink might be consumed.
The first hour went well enough. Thirty each and no sign of flagging. Wild cheers arose as we reached 40, though Garlak was now sweating profusely and I was suffering mild discomfort in the abdomen. I mumbled a brief prayer to Kram, god of feasts and hangovers.
Without warning Garlak doubled up, howling. Like an oak he fell. "Ah, Gordo," quoth he, "I should never have had that haunch of venison before the contest - it has given me indigestion." What a man, what a hero.
|Gordo gorges on newts and passes tips around the table in celebration|
We adjourned to the Camelherder and I offered free drinks to all. Some poor devil, Hallam of Ilkeston, had clearly become psychotic and was being strapped to a table by five men. In between seizures he yelled to me that his mental state was deranged because he had never been able to find the shelter in Ground Zero. After telling him that he could make one from a door and some old cushions, he quietened.
Jaye the Walker of London seemed oddly dressed in a straw hat and bathing drawers. His misery and odd garb came, he said, from his failure to get his camera and suitcase on the way to Terrormolinos. Passing him a stoup of sangria I suggested he he look carefully around his kitchen and garden. If he can find a ladder and secure it well he will be able to climb up and get the camera from its shelf and even mount these steps to enter his loft and find the suitcase.
A Return to Eden has proved difficult for Startrooper Johnson of Leighton Buzzard. On landing from his vessel he finds that he cannot stay alive for long, being constantly fried like a sausage in a nuclear blast. To avoid it, I suggested that he hurries to leave his ship but makes sure he takes some useful and protective item with him. Once he has these on his person the best course is to find a suitable hole and get as far down it as he can.
Alex Axethrower, a grim and heavily armed traveller from Bristol, came over to tell me that he would offer help with The Golden Apple, Erik the Viking and Adventureland. Should you need it, remember to pay the return post. His own quest was for the Arrow of Death and he had a number of questions for me. "First, Gordo, I have a hook I cannot use. Secundo, I have discovered a miserable slave. What help can he be? Ultimo, them is a building where giants roam and I cannot enter."
My brains were feeling a little strained by now but I did my best. The hook, as I believe, will help to lug armour up a cliff. The slave - he should be freed as they ail should. His chains can be broken with a sword and he may show some gratitude. The building full of unpleasant giants can only be entered when these creatures are asleep. Bide your time and wait.
Two sailors, Ensign Creed and Gunner Mercer, told me how they'd tried to escape from death in Subsunk. Inside the sunken submarine they had never been able to stop the flow of water from a blocked basin. That always ended in the flooding of the deck connecting well and certain doom to all concerned. Neither could they unrust the hinges in the machinery room.
Freeman David of South Wirral volunteered this advice. "Listen, friends. To clear the connecting well you should get a broom from the cupboard. If you attach this to the sucker which is in the toolbox you can then 'Plunge' the overflowing basin. The hatch hinges can be freed by taking the battery and spilling its acid onto the hatch. What I want to know is how to move the dust or get out of the locker." Write to him and share your knowledge, all you tars. He is also losing sleep over The Helm and would appreciate any news of it.
Some secret agent, whose name is unknown, told me that he has entered a well-protected castle in his search for Valkryie 17. There he has discovered a fine diamond protected by laser beams which kill. Close by is a billiard cue which can be got by inserting a five Frabnik piece. He also has a mirror. How, he asked, could he get the cue to dislodge the diamond when he had never found a SF coin?
The simple answer is never, as both the coin and cue are red herrings! There is no coin so the cue cannot be got. The real route to riches is by using the mirror to deflect the beams. Then it will be safe to shake the pedestal and dislodge the gem.
A portly and important gent, Sir Malcolm Beal of Doncaster, whispered to me that, although he has attained 88 percent on his trip to Hampstead and has seen Chubby and got his blessing, he has no idea what to do next to be a complete success.
Attainment must become a matter of style and not purely possessions. This is the final secret of the ritual and I will not reveal it in detail. But remember that when you are utterly rich and powerful you can be as eccentric as you wish, wear what you wish, travel how you wish. No. one will call you a fool then. A careful reading of page 12 of the ritual manual could prove instructive.
Sir Malcolm also needs help to find a screwdriver blade in Escape from Pulsar 7 and will offer in return advice on Colossal Adventure, Snowball, Lords of Time and the Emerald Isle.
So, groaning, to bed and wild reptilian nightmares. Farewell, and may Kram have mercy upon me.
|Gordo Greatbelly, Landlord in agonising dyspepsia|
|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.|