I must admit to a little curiosity about whether this post will have significantly fewer readers than normal. It is a continuation of the attempt at Bloodbones which commenced here, and in the course of the first session I made a blunder which guarantees that I will not be able to succeed at the book. But will knowing that failure is a certainty - for some fans, even knowing the exact point at which my adventure will end, assuming I don't meet a sticky end before I get that far - put anyone off reading this account of my doomed exploits? We shall see.
So far my search for the hidden base of the Pirates of the Black Skull has been unsuccessful, but not fruitless. Indeed, the detour I took to the ruined lighthouse will prove to have been essential. Nevertheless, I think it's time I was heading for where the action really is, and I'm pretty sure that that's the cemetery.
As I make my way down Corpse Way towards Dead Man's Gate, I get a codeword check. I have one of the four on the list: the one I picked up for evading the Pirate near the market. One of the others looks as if it'd be a consequence of having gone to that bogus rendezvous at the Silent Donkey, another could be the result of imagining the Pirates to have been so obvious as to locate their secret base at the harbour, and the last might be part of the consequences of talking to the wrong person in the Temple Quarter. In any case, I've only made one of the mistakes that could come back to bite me at this point, which means a run-in with a couple of the Pirates: a noose-wearing nutter who goes by the name of Silas Gallows, and a Khulian mercenary called Wu-Lin. Gallows erroneously gloats that soon there will be another corpse on the eponymous Way - by the end of this little distraction, there are two new dead bodies littering the street, and neither is mine.
The cemetery has perturbing statues by the entrance, and is shrouded with fog. The snapping of a twig alerts me to the presence of a couple of sailors carrying a chest. Having missed out on a certain clue (perhaps to be found on the body of the Pirate I avoided), I have no idea what is afoot here, but follow the men anyway. They enter an overgrown tomb and, after waiting for them to get far enough away that they won't notice me, I light my lantern and step through the door.
A passage leads into darkness. Not complete darkness, though, as a glowing spectral figure appears and glides towards me, demanding to know the password. I say the one I found in that ineptly burned letter, and the ghost allows me past.
Steps descend to a junction, and I have no idea which way I should go here. Still, this is the sort of situation that justifies playing on even when I know I can't win: if going one way is particularly inadvisable, better to find out now than wind up wasting a character who has a chance of victory. I try Ian Livingstone's favourite direction, and wind up at a door, which sounds and smells as if it has something nasty behind it.
Naturally, I open the door - there isn't even an option to leave it shut - and am confronted by a beast which is a hideous monstrosity and a worse pun. A feline brute with eight more tails than is natural, all of them barbed: a literal cat-o'-nine-tails. I take a lot of damage fighting the thing, but manage to avoid getting stung by any of its tails. Once it's dead, I take a proper look around the room. A door leads on from it, and there's also a cave entrance, with a raised portcullis overhanging it. The cave may well be a trap, but I might as well investigate it just in case...
Unsurprisingly, the portcullis drops behind me. Not having purchased a Potion of Giant-Strength, and having a mediocre Stamina even at full health, I am unable to raise it, so I'm trapped in here until I starve. Unless the Pirates think of an even nastier way of ending my life once they find me...