Friday 25 October 2019

Battle Quest Book Playthrough – Caves of Fury - Part 3

Battle Quest Book Playthrough – Caves of Fury - Part 3

By Casey Douglass

Caves of Fury

Welcome to Part 3 of my adventure through the Caves of Fury, a Battle Quest book where turning to certain pages means you can control the path of your treasure-seeking barbarian warrior. If you are joining the series late, part 1 can be found at this link, with other links finally bringing you back to this instalment, once you’ve brushed up on the tale so far. I’m good like that.

Part 2 ended in a prison of stalactites and ‘mites, with my barbarian beheading a monster and lifting his first piece of treasure: a lovely glittering diamond. It helped put his run-in with the crotchety old wizard who’d scorched his chest into perspective at least. Finally, he has something to show for his labours, beyond his wounds and feeling knackered. Let’s see how his tale continues...

In a turn up for the unlikely, our plucky barbarian finds himself at the edge of an underground swamp. It smells of rot and decay, and its main feature seems to be a massive lake, its surface algae-covered and perfectly calm. It seems to share a few elements with the watery cave in which a certain hobbit meets a certain Gollum, but there’s more greenery and less fishezes, at least, that are visible. The other difference are the stepping stones that stretch across the lake, appearing to go all the way to the other side.

Seeing no other route, I step onto the first stepping stone, waiting for something evil to grab my ankle and pull me down into the water. Not even a ripple! I step onto the next, and the next. It’s all going very well isn’t it? It’s as I get to the tenth stepping stone that it all starts to go wrong. A shriek sounds behind me on the shore that I’d just departed. The fright almost sends me into the water, which at this stage, I have no idea how deep it is or what’s in there.

Carefully, I turn and see an irate goblin waving his arms, shouting at me that if I step on the next stone, I'll drown! He says that every tenth stone is a trap and that I should jump straight over it to the next one! Now, I wasn’t born yesterday. I know how tricky these goblins can be. For a start, they hate anyone taller than them, which is pretty much everyone. Another factor is that they lie more often than they tell the truth, but when they do tell the truth, the disbelieving of it usually leads to disaster anyway. You can’t win is what I’m saying.

I try to reason things out. Firstly, every tenth stone being a trap seems a bit arbitrary to me. Why not the seventh or fourteenth? Then again, I can understand why letting someone walk on nine stones might build their confidence enough to not be so careful for the tenth. Also, why more than one trapped stone? It doesn’t sound like the person who made the trap is particularly confident that it will achieve its goal first time around. Another thing, if the goblin is trying to get me into a trap, what kind of trap would need me to actually jump on it to trigger, rather than merely stepping on it? His having to shout at me isn’t a very efficient way to catch out the unwary. Consider me very wary!

The book gives me the option of using a trance spell to wheedle the truth out of his nasty goblin mind, but I don’t have one, and even if I did, I’d imagine his brain is full of yucky goblin pornography and strange, secret perversions. Another thought occurs to me. Why should he shout at me at all, as I would have been bound to step on the trapped stone anyway? It’s a bad situation. I decide to trust him, but vow to myself to wring his scrawny neck if things go badly, and if I later get the chance. I make the leap over stepping stone ten.

I’ve almost landed on stone number eleven when it recedes out of sight under the murky water! I plunge into the lake, the weeds and other growth starting to pull me down as they attach to my body. The book tells me that I lose One Strength. Fucking great... another one down! As I splutter and struggle for air, I reflect on how, if I’d not jumped, I’d probably have been able to stop myself from falling in. Bastard goblin!

Through the glugging of the water in my ears, I hear laughter and see a small raft coming towards me, the grinning face of the goblin looming into view. He pokes me with his paddle and teases it just out of reach, enjoying the spectacle. An idea flashes across my mind, something that might get me out of this. I yell that I’m one of Cragcliff’s bodyguards and that I’ve lost my way. The look of fear that washes over his face is a beautiful thing to behold, well, if your concept of beauty looks like a constipated goblin-face. Then it happens, the thing that I should have predicted. He wants to know the password.

I’d sigh if I wasn’t struggling for air. The book gives me three options as usual, and as usual, I choose the middle one: GARLON. (Sadly, Googling the meaning of GARLON didn’t return any humorous or naughty double entendres as to its meaning, I guess I got lucky with the other password attempt in part two). Wouldn’t you know it, it was the wrong password, yet again! It’s a pity that there wasn’t an option to whisper the password, and when he leaned in closer to hear me, drag him in with me!

The goblin swears at me and calls me a dog as the water drags me below the surface one last time. The little idiot doesn’t realise what I’m doing though. I have a palm to the underside of his raft and slowly pull myself underwater to the opposite side, feeling the clutching strands of vegetation unwind from my legs as I go. I ever so carefully pull myself up and clear of the lake, trying not to tip the rickety thing too much and alert him to my presence. The little thug is too busy craning his neck over the other side, trying to see if I’ve drowned yet. I see red and give him a mighty shove, sending him not just overboard but well beyond the row of stepping stones too.

Caves of Fury

He squeals like a flying pig that isn’t quite sure why it’s flying. He then squeals like a pig that’s fallen in a lake and can’t swim. Can pigs swim? (Google: Yes they can!) Weariness claims me and I collapse to the deck of the raft. I smile at the sounds the goblin is making and wish him a slow death. The book tells me that the struggle to keep afloat and to not drown has cost me another Strength. I have only two left now. It’s not looking good. On the plus side, my scorched chest feels soothed by the water. I just hope it doesn’t pick up a nasty infection from the algae. It would be just my luck after all. My last thoughts are two in number: I’m not choosing the bloody middle option for passwords or paths any more, and secondly, I really wish I’d strangled that goblin, just like I’d wanted to. I pass out.

That’s where I’ll leave this session, my barbarian unconscious and floating on a small raft in the middle of an underground swamp with a drowning goblin nearby. If this was a TV series, the camera would slowly be pulling up to show more and more of what's around him, which knowing my adventurer’s luck, would be a host of strange creatures circling in for the kill. The music to accompany this would be slow and synth-based, maybe a single deep tone wavering with menace. I quite like the sound of that actually.


If you enjoyed reading about my adventure so far, join me again soon for Part Four of my delve into the Caves of Fury, coming out next weekend.