Level 21: This Place Seems Reasonably Safe
Marash detects Boldor, King of the Yeeks among local evil. She has been resolved to avoid unnecessary conflict again, but surely what makes conflict necessary is a likelihood of profit, and surely even a king of yeeks could not be too fearsome for her. If he does, she can hope to flee and reconsider. She heads north.
A... cold vortex? For destroying it easily she is rewarded another prayer, but no time to discover which yet. A brown yeek falls to her bow, two novice warriors approach from the west. No, four. Make that at least seven. She falls back, to the corridor she arrived in.
By the time she is safely ensconced she has killed seven of the warriors, plus another brown yeek (the same one?). Boldor has come to her, along with a harpy, so she finally invokes her protection from evil, only to see him blink away.
More brown yeeks, more vortices, more warriors swarm in after her, but they give little trouble.
Boldor returns, summoning more yeeks when Marash has barely made a dent in him. A couple of strikes at the master yeek conjured behind her, and Boldor blinks away again. And with that moment's distraction the master yeek summons novice rangers to back it up. Messy, messy, messy.
A dead end, to be sure, but Marash cannot abide nonetheless to leave enemies at her back, even if there is no passage to escape that way. She focuses on the rangers behind, before the warriors afront.
A little worn now, she seems to have got the better of the humans for the moment. Now, the killer stag beetle Boldor summoned on his last visit. Her breathe hisses. Unfamiliar, and better-suited to this depth than anything yet she's faced.
As so many creatures have yet proved to be, not so dangerous as she feared. With it dead she has some space to recover herself, and rummage through the corpses.
The prayer she has been gifted turns out to be... Prayer. And the yellow potion she found makes her more charismatic, permanently. The hat on the floor doesn't make her permanently cuter, but it does a better job than the hat she was wearing, and it armours her better too. She grabs a wand of teleport other from the floor and heads after Boldor.
Or... not. He doesn't register as a nearby evil, but there is a line of forest trolls that looks ready and willing to settle her hash if she doesn't settle theirs first. In the process she discovers trolls do drop nice useful things after all. Just, not many of them.
And Boldor is now in range. She maps a path to him.
Light Hounds! This cannot be good. Nor has she an easy path to control them. Standard smashing will have to do. Marash blesses herself; a hound breathes light and she is blind.
Her curing rod fixes that as one of the hounds is upon her. She lays about with her maul, chasing them back a little way and killing two of the three. Are there more? Where has the first gone? She resumes her hunt for Boldor, but remaining alert for more hounds.
There is a swarm of giant black lice in her way, and the only path she knows of for retreat if they grow overwhelming lies either through the lice or through what is probably a pack of light hounds.
Fortunately they go down easily. Marash discovers they were guarding a scroll with the power to increase weapon damage; immediately she uses it on her Maul of Westernesse.
Another two-headed hydra? Tedious but not a threat. Marash kills it, takes its treasure and continues after Boldor, soon encountering an imp, some new species of demon. She prays for protection from evil and attacks.
The imp is fast, it dances back and forth, but when wounded retreats behind a sleeping salamander. Out of her way, and Marash doesn't fear it, so she continues on her way.
A swordsman approaches from behind, peppered with arrows until it dies. Something else died in the darkness too; Marash assumes that was the imp, caught in crossfire, but she has no proof.
Ahead, sounds of signs of Boldor casting, summoning more minions. They fall, the now-woken salamander falls, but Boldor escapes again.
It seems the King of the Yeeks has eluded her, but as Marash retraces her steps he comes into view again, shielded by an energy vortex.
She lets loose arrows, despite her targets being out of range. Boldor summons forth more minions, then casts a spell to blind her.
A quick activation of her rod of curing fixes Marash's vision. More arrows follow; the energy vortex breathes lightning indiscriminately, hitting yeeks. As soon as it is in melee range, Marash destroys it and the creatures behind it.
If she doesn't have to worry about their breath, corridors seem fit places to battle, her foes trapped between her and their fellows, unable to flee and recover.
Finally Marash gets to do battle with the King of the Yeeks himself, with a nervous eye on the light hound approaching from the distance. Barely has she hurt him when he summons more minions and blinks away again, leaving Marash to curse herself.
1, 2, 3 yeeks down. The hound blinds her with its luminescent breath and her rod is still recharging from its last use. She fires blind in the direction of the hound, hearing it yelp in pain.
Her eyes clear and now there are three hounds approaching. She backs round a corner, hoping they will follow. Something else - not a hound - blinds her again by magic.
One rod of light, down each side of the t-intersection, in hopes that when her eyes clear she won't be caught so off-guard again. She steps into the third tunnel, the northward passage she originally came down, the path the hounds approach from, to minimise her uncertainty.
Immediately under attack, she lashes out and kills something. Then another something. Her eyes clear and her protection from evil fades. Four hounds ahead of her, Boldor, King of the Yeeks behind her with two brown yeeks and a master yeek escorting. Bad situation.
She prays to restore her protection. Boldor summons more yeeks and blinks away again. Hounds first, then.
The next time she can see, there are no hounds about. She turns her maul and her bow on the yeeks, then a straggler hound that shows up after.
Someone had left behind a pair of yellow mushrooms. Marash impulsively eats one and it turns her skin to stone, slow and tough. Useful?
Evil all around. Wandering yeeks, Boldor in the distance, a kobold shaman out there somewhere, and a swarm of Mirkwood Spiders now not too far off either. A light hound ambushes her, put down with a little trouble.
Marash creeps into an alcove and rests.
Time to find Boldor again.
There's a large grey snake in the way, briefly. Then... Nár, the Dwarf? Not evil, but looking to kill her all the same, looking more dangerous than Boldor too. Protection from evil won't protect her here, blessing herself will have to do.
The rod of drain life doesn't make much dent in him. She switches back to her maul and Nár tries to mind blast her, fortunately failing. He didn't seem like he had any abilities but hitting things; it feels almost a betrayal to learn otherwise. Marash doesn't have many options to hurt him except brute force, so she keeps hitting, but when Nár uses a spell to confuse her, her health starts going downhill fast. Faster when a master yeek creeps in from behind.
Panicking, she tries her new wand of teleport other, but in her confusion wastes one of its charges. Finally, she remembers she has a rod of curing and does away with her confusion. She immediately prays for healing, but ends up right back where she started.
This fight is going nowhere but her grave. In more sober state of mind, Marash uses her wand to teleport Nár away. The master yeek dies quickly, with no greater threat commanding her attention, and Marash rests to recover her wounds.
Healed, still near the location of her fight with Nár, she detects evil. A skeleton orc sleeping neither near nor far, no worry. A zombified human awake, but more distant. Likewise no worry. Two master yeeks on the prowl, one of them with a kobold shaman for company. Those can be annoying. Sixteen Mirkwood Spiders, at least four awake and hunting her, heading for a nearby intersection that's close to Boldor too. Something to worry about, but something she believes she can handle. Nár is undetectable in this way, and could be anywhere she can't currently see.
At this point it might seem wiser to abandon the area and head downward. Marash is aware of four paths deeper, one of which probably involves a fight to reach and the other three definitely do.
She proceeds, nervously, forward.
Ahead, she hears Boldor casting spells, moving himself around, summoning aid. But when she scans for evil again, he is gone from the area, no trace of minion yeeks left behind. She could fight the spiders, maybe try and hunt down Boldor again, but all this place's treasures came early in her time here. Marash keeps walking to the exit.
Along the way, a rubble pile. She attempts to dig it out, hoping for something interesting under there, but before she can finish something blinds her.
The rod of curing is still charging so she makes a break for the stairs instead. Briefly vision regained, then blinded again.
A mistake. She doesn't want to risk emerging below blinded, unaware of what deadly threats might lurk 1100 feet below the surface, so she stands at the stairs and waits for her vision to clear, meanwhile buffeted by attacks from unknown foes.
By the time her eyes clear she is surrounded by two yeeks, a skeletal orc and a dark elven priest, and she is badly hurt. She should flee now, while she can. And what if she does end up in a worse situation?
A thought enters her mind. She prays for an orb of draining to strike her foes. A moment later, she is alone. All dead but the master yeek, which blinked away to escape. She gathers up the blue yeek's silver, and an extra scroll of recall from the remains of the dark elf, shoots down a newly approaching yeek. She rests.
Level 22: "This seems a quiet, peaceful place"
Nothing evil, but something here is strong enough to burst through doors. She heads east to explore a nearby chamber, activating the Phial of Galadriel to light it... a mistake. Seventeen novice priests awaken and come after her.
Not so hugely dangerous to her now, but Marash is not so confident as to want to fight them all in an open space if she can avoid it. She retreats back into the corridors, hoping to force a confrontation better under her control.
Marash pulls back to a nice t-intersection, where she can take them rounding the corner. An unexpected novice comes in from the west, surely they haven't had time to round that island of rock? Perhaps another mob of them is on to her.
No matter; she puts the unexpected novice down quickly, a satisfying stream of adamantite pieces falling from its crushed purse.
More priests come from the west, forcing her to alternate the direction of her attacks to stay on top of things. They fall easily, but there are so many it is as if she is fighting a pair of immortal, endlessly regenerating foes.
She has killed thirty-two fellow priests before she sees a different creature, a cold vortex that breathes frost and shatters some of her healing potions. She prays for resistance to heat and cold, then strikes it down.
The priests have left a mess. More trash than Marash knows what to do with. She hefts a warhammer for a while, getting a sense it is magical. Couldn't possibly be better than her weapon, but might be worth something? Nothing around to test it on, seems. After a while making a fool of herself on patrol, she puts it down again.
The pewter rod turns out to detect traps. Not of huge use to someone whose prayers do better. At which point she realises she has been carrying around some scrolls of trap detection for a long time, and tosses them aside.
Seems to be a distinct lack of evil in this part of Angband. That's good, right? But whatever is about, Marash cannot sense it from afar.
An unexpected paladin's attack teaches her something about a cloak she just picked up off the floor - that it is definitely better than the cloak she had been wearing. But the paladin has friends...
Every so often, she must pray to be freed of the magical fear they cause in her. Fortunately too afraid to strike is not too afraid to put an arrow in a knight's chest.
In the same room she finds a pair of leather boots of stealth. Presumably such honourable creatures as paladins would not deign to pick them up. Marash suspects free action is more useful in a boot, but these will be worn until she understands them better.
Testing with a zombie kobold proves the boots are enchanted to protect much better, so tempting to keep wearing. Her weapon gives the same benefit anyway...
A fire vortex rounds the corner. Reflexively she prays to be safe from its flames, then strikes it down.
Marash is full of bad ideas today. Again she enters a dark room and activates The Phial of Galadriel to see, and this time she awakens a chimaera, three-headed fusion of goat, lion and dragon. Even the goats she's met are tricky, and she's not had good experiences with dragons either. Somehow, it isn't evil.
She pulls back and blesses herself, waiting to see what action it takes. For a while they trade attacks, then it breathes fire at her. No shock, but only now does she reinvoke her protection from that element. A few mutual misses, then it bites again, flames rising up from its mouth to burn where she is bitten. She hisses, determined not to let the pain distract her.
Finally it flees, falling to an arrow in the back.
There had been a king cobra too, but that gives her no trouble.
Carelessly she marches on, killing a wood spider, invoking protection to do battle with a gnome mage. For some reason the gnome summons a purple mushroom patch to its aid. Marash wades through them, to the room beyond, firing a stream of arrows at the spiders and ghost within. She is surprised to realise a water vortex has entered from the other side; its spray of acid damages her shield despite the anti-acid abilities of her amulet. It dies too.
To descend, or not descend? Some of these creatures are getting dangerous, with their breath damaging her kit. And yet, for the most part, she is having an easy time of it yet. There are stairs leading down on a twisty path ahead, not too far from here... she shall compromise, and head down, but take the long path.
Along the way she detours to pick up her old cap of beauty, which ought to be worth something on the surface. But the room which once held priests now holds an unexpected swarm of cave orcs, which need dealing with.
Carelessness will surely kill the priest. Having taken care of the orcs, Marash is faced with deciding if she will find room for a scroll of teleportation or a potion of true seeing too. Hoping battle with other monster on the path to the stairs will save her this decision, by using up enough of her resources for her to have room for more, she first destroys an orc shaman, then blunders into a room entirely off her path containing a bizarre, pulsing mound of flesh. A quylthulg, apparently.
In a place like this, anything that weird has got to be horrendous. Maybe she could retreat now and not face it at all. It is awake, but surely a creature that is merely a mound of flesh cannot move, cannot pursue her.
She activates The Phial of Galadriel, in case it is hurt by light. It isn't, but as Marash backs out of the room it summons a killer stag beetle to attack her. Summoning, she decides, places it in the category of creatures too annoying and dangerous to let live.
Marash uses one of her staves to slow the quylthulg, then blesses herself. As the stag beetle dies the quylthulg blinks from one side of the room to the other, irritating Marash further. Surprisingly, her arrows kill it quickly. She fist-pumps triumphantly, gathers her arrows, and moves on. There's a pseudo-dragon that's begging to be taunted.
She tires to activate the phial to light the pseudo-dragon's chamber, but fails and is instead blinded by its dark breath. Fumbling with it while blind works, and despite her improper use of a rod of curing her eyes recover naturally.
The rod of drain life ends the pseudo-dragon. Then Marash compounds her foolishness, realising this path does not lead where she needs to go, and further detours down a path which soon leads to another run-in with Nár. Definitely not prepared to face him now, she runs until her confusion abates, then uses the prayer of Portal to escape. But that places her in another unexplored region, where on her flight back to known relative safety something unseen in the darkness behind is breathing acid at her, corroding her cloak and armour.
After a long, hard look at what she is carrying, she finally reads one of her Recall scrolls.
In town, she dumps as much of her stuff as she can spare in her home, refills on arrows and grabs a pair of recall scrolls. She also, since the studded leather armour she bought there previously has become so corroded as to be worse than a plain regular fresh set of the same, stops by the armoury to pick up a suit of augmented chain mail for nearly four and a half thousand gold pieces.
Seems a good price for such great protection. After praying for her stomach to be full, Marash reads a scroll and is returned to the depths of Angband.