Level 36: This place looks uninteresting
Marash's first action is, of course, to detect evil in her new surroundings. She finds a werewolf, a mature white dragon, and a cloud giant (all asleep), as well as a giant white ant and a crow (not evil, but near enough to be visible).
The ant and the bat are from so near the surface, and Marash has grown so powerful herself, she can almost ignore them for now. Praying for trap detection and a map of the area reveal something troubling, however - that cloud giant is near by to the only door out of here. If she is to walk, Marash will have to pass close by it to leave.
Perhaps now is a good time to discover exactly how dangerous cloud giants are. One quick slash of her main gauche disposes of the pesky crow.
Unwisely, maybe, she calls upon the Phial of Galadriel to illuminate, and determine at once if there is anything she desires from this room.
Nothing, except some stairs leading deeper which she wishes not to take just yet. She creeps along to the door, harried by the ant, and the giant does not stir.
Another crow greets her in the doorway and though she misses her first strike it goes down quickly. She destroys the ant, also, in order to clear the doorway so she can close it behind her.
As she heads south down the corridor, she finds herself growing hungry again. A quick prayer takes care of that.
Just a couple more steps down and she hears the door opening behind her. The cloud giant has woken and now is in pursuit. There is no clear shot for her from where she stands, with her rods, and taking a step back puts it out of sight, so Marash continues along until the giant begins to catch up with her.
First fire, which hits fine, then lightning, which it resists. Perhaps to be expected, in retrospect. She fumbles her rod of drain life, and the giant hurls a boulder at her.
On her second attempt, the giant is visibly weakened, but now has caught up entirely with her. Marash activates her gauntlets, projecting acid at the giant. Its fists arc with electricity each time they strike her.
Marash prays for an orb of draining, hitting the giant hard, but it continues to pummel her. A few strikes with her main gauche, and finally it falls. The giant hit hard.
At the end of the corridor, a door. Marash detects no evil on the other side, but in the distance, something called a 'shadow drake'.
The room behind the door is dark. Marash illuminates it with the Phial, revealing the room to be empty save for a mistletoe staff of teleportation.
More corridors, more rooms of nothing. A growing sense of foreboding. The only path onward lies through the white dragon and the werewolf she sensed earlier, or by descending into more perilous depths of Angband.
Rubble blocks her path. On clearing it, Marash discovers some elvish waybread buried beneath the stone, still fresh after however long it has been trapped here.
Marash pauses around the corner from the dragon, praying for protections: from evil, from heat and cold, and to be blessed.
So-protected, the dragon falls to a barrage of rods and gauntlet and prayer without managing a single attack on Marash. The werewolf behind, with the aid of arrows brought from home, falls quickly also.
Marash ends up replacing her corroded wicker shield of fire resistance for a shiny new metal shield of acid resistance. She is already protected from both elements by other sources, but at least this shield won't be damaged so easily as the old one.
There is a potion that would restore any of Marash's life that may be drained, also dropped by the white dragon. To make room for it, she foolishly eats the elvish waybread she just found. It is so filling that Marash feels quite gorged, and she cannot move as freely as she is accustomed to.
Fortunately, a second prayer for her hunger to be satisfied cures her.
More roaming through uncomfortably empty corridors, until at opening of another large, dark chamber, Marash detects fresh evil. Snagas, which she no longer fears, werebears, which make her nervous, and a grave wight, which definitely does. Further to the east, a kobold and a guardian naga, which also do not concern her.
Greed, greed is bad, right? But here is a concentration of evil creatures known to carry useful items. Very tempting to pursue and slay them.
A moment of pause. Between Marash and her blood treasure lies another cluster of fire ants. She no longer fears them so much as before she fought them, but approaching closer and realising there are not merely six ants, but at least fourteen.
Marash experiences a moment of selfish worry - those ants are clustered around the snagas. If they trample the snagas to death trying to get at her, she won't be able to loot the snagas' corpses.
First protection from fire; second blessing herself. Third, centring an orb of draining on the nearest snaga. Snagas: dead. Various ants enraged, and a couple of grizzly bears in pursuit.
A fire bolt from her rod sends the first bear fleeing, her main gauche strikes down the second, and a blow from it sends a cave bear running too. Then at last she sees the reason for all these bears - Beorn, the Shape-Changer is here.
He shrugs off lightning and acid. Drain life hurts him a little. Fortunately he is mostly missing her with his many attacks, or she would be in dire straits already.
Though it is attuned to evil creatures, and Beorn is not evil, an orb of draining does help... but not as much as she'd hoped. In desperation she turns her wand of teleport other on him, disappearing Beorn, a werebear, and a giant fire ant.
Other ants soon arrive to trample the remaining bears to death. A lengthy battle of attrition ensues, with Marash low on health and mana after facing Beorn, and giant fire ants swarming in to attack her, trampling to death all the bears that were Beorn's escort.
Whenever her rods recharge, except the here-useless rod of fire bolts, Marash blasts the nearest ant with them (or the nearest healthy one if that might be overkill).
Eventually she runs out of mana entirely, and her protection from fire fades. The ants have been destroying her staves and scrolls and prayer books throughout the battle, though Marash has not lost her entire stock of anything. The ants crush underfoot any snagas or werebears foolish enough to try and involve themselves in the fight.
As she nears death, Marash drinks a potion of Cure Serious Wounds, restoring herself to her strength at the beginning of this drawn-out ant battle, and fights on.
One last burst of protection from heat and cold as her mana recovers enough. One last bolt of lightning from her rod, and one last ant left the slay before she can scour the wreckage of this room for anything of use.
But, she neglects to consider herself, and as the ant's jaws close upon her, flames erupting from its bite, Marash is finally burned to death.
So ends her lengthy, heroic quest to brave the depths of Angband and slay the dark lord, Morgoth.
Everything Marash has learned about Giant Fire Ants so far: