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wo days ago, a breathless messenger arrived at your village from Willow. With news about Craggen Dire, and the forces of the Black Tower, the messenger described how history was set to repeat itself. A new army was massing to attack the Vale, and this time, the Grand Wizard was unable to help defend it. Since Craggen himself is unknown outside the Tower, nobody knows just how powerful he is- or how to defeat him. Willow is therefore gathering together all of its allies, to prepare itself again against this foe.
Although you have been training for battle all your life, you haven't yet gained any real battle experience. Because of this, your village elders are unwilling to let you join the contingent from the village sent to join with those from Willow. Although eager to prove yourself, you are going to be denied this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. So that night, you gathered together what possessions you could- a sword and backpack, a few provisions and a health potion- and set off for the Vale of Willow.
So far, the journey has been hard, but uneventful. By avoiding the villages en route, you have managed to pass across the country unchallenged. Now, the Vale of Willow is only a day's walk to the north. Beyond Willow, again a day's walk or so, is Craggen Rock. And beyond that, the Black Tower itself! Reaching the top of a low hill, you look into the distance and see the town that you are heading for in the valley. Since you have never seen this place before, you pause for a moment to cherish the view. Who could have believed that such a peaceful looking place could be under such great threat?
At the base of the hill, between you and the town, is a great lake. You will have to go around the lake in order to reach Willow, as you have no means of crossing the water. On the east side is the edge of a forest. This may offer some protection, in case you are threatened, but it may also hide thieves or wild animals who would attack you. The west side of the lake is barren and rocky, and could mean slow progress.
[[Go to the east of the lake.|192]]
[[Take the western side. |78]]<img align="left" src="images/_Y.png">
ou decide to travel to Willow keeping the lake to your left. The sun is still fairly low in the sky, and you judge that you can just make it to the town before nightfall. Since you don't wish to spend any more nights in the open than you have to- for dangerous encounters are more likely to happen at night- you set off down the hill at a brisk rate.
The grass is strong and springy beneath your feet, and the going is easy. Looking across the lake, you see that the path that you would have followed soon disappears into a rocky canyon- this was certainly the better route to take!
As you near the bottom of the hill, you are able to make out dark shapes moving in the water- fish? Or perhaps something more dangerous? At the edge of the lake you can see a black bundle of some sort. You squint at it carefully, but cannot distinguish any distinct details.
[[Creep up quietly on the black bundle.|250]]
[[Cast a Fireball spell (if you know it) at the bundle.|328]]
[[Ignore the bundle, and continue north.|117]]<img align="left" src="images/_K.png">
eeping the lake to your right, you walk briskly down the hill. Although it is a fair summer's day, a sharp wind is raising waves on the lake. After a short distance, you can make out two figures talking on the path in front of you, a man and a woman. Both are very tall and slender, and are wearing dark green clothes. The woman has a well crafted bow slung over her left shoulder, and a quiver of arrows over her right. The man has a short sword in his belt. The man appears to be gesturing towards the other side of the lake. Cautiously, you approach. Since they are in deep conversation, you are able to get close enough to hear some of their words without them noticing you. They are HALF ELVES from the great forest. Apparently they are here travelling to Willow to join the forces there. You may:
[[Approach them, and attempt to start a conversation.|153]]
[[Draw your sword to attack.|314]]
[[Hide and wait for the half-elves to move on.|264]]
33k words, 400 sections<img align="left" src="images/_A.png">
s you approach the black bundle, it turns to face you, and you can now see that it is a DWARF. "Greetings," he says, "I am glad to meet someone who does not attack on sight." You smile sheepishly, since attack had been one of the options that you considered. He welcomes you to sit down, and he then continues. "A few months ago, I was sitting by this lake, fishing as usual. While I was here, a group of creatures- I believe they were Orcs- came down from Craggen Rock and stole a white talisman from my hut. This talisman means a great deal to me, and I would like it back. If you are going into the Rock, will you get it for me?"
[[Explain that you are already on an important mission, and cannot spend time on other matters?|383]]
[[Agree that you will look out for the talisman, and will try to return it to him if you find it?|69]]<img align="left" src="images/_Y.png">
ou try to cast a Fireball spell. [[If the spell was a success|86]] If you were unable to cast a fireball, you may either:
[[Creep up quietly behind the black bundle.|250]]
[[Ignore the black bundle and continue north.|117]]
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ontinuing northwards beside the lake, you hear a crashing of undergrowth to your right. Turning to face the sound, you see a WARTHOG charging towards you from the forest. There are two short arrows sticking out of its hind quarters, and it is clearly enraged. You barely have time to draw your sword before it is on you.
Skill - 4
Stamina - 6
[[If you win|236]]<img align="left" src="images/_T.png">
he HALF ELVES startle as you call out, and the woman quickly strings an arrow on her bow. The man challenges you.
"Who are you?" he asks. Since his hand is straying towards his sword, you had better respond quickly.
[[Say that you are a merchant heading for Willow.|24]]
[[Claim to be lost, and seeking directions.|302]]
[[Decide that you don't like the Elf's tone, and attack.|314]]
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s you draw your sword, you feel a sharp pain in your leg. Looking down, you see an arrow sticking out of the calf. Deduct 3 STAMINA points. The half-elves are angry that you attacked them, and you are now committed to a fight.
Each attack round, the male half-elf will attack you in the normal way. The female half elf will keep her distance, and will fire arrows at you. Since she is too far away, you cannot hurt her whilst you are fighting the male. However, you must calculate her attack strength in the ordinary manner. If her attack strength exceeds 13 in any attack round, then she has hit you with an arrow, and you must deduct 3 STAMINA points. If, however, her attack strength is less than 10, then she hits her companion instead, and you may deduct 3 from his STAMINA. If you kill the male half-elf, you will continue to fight the female in the normal way.
Skill - 6
Stamina - 8
Skill - 5
Stamina - 8
[[If you win|103]]<img align="left" src="images/_T.png">
he grass of the hill soon gives way to a steep slope of red rock. Making your way across the hard surface, you have to take care not to slip on the pebbles strewn in the path, and progress is significantly slowed. Some three hours after your meeting with the half-elves, you find yourself clambering over large stones and boulders, with sheer cliffs on either side. This is certainly not how you intended the journey to be. Just as you are wondering if you made the right choice, and if you should have gone around the eastern side, you notice a cave set into the rock.
[[Ignore the cave and journey on to Willow.|170]]
[[Investigate.|53]]Double-click this passage to edit it.Double-click this passage to edit it.Double-click this passage to edit it.Double-click this passage to edit it.Double-click this passage to edit it.Double-click this passage to edit it.Double-click this passage to edit it.Double-click this passage to edit it.Double-click this passage to edit it.