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July 19, 2008
Lucynde's Challenge Part 2
by Loreis

Continued from Part 1

As I wandered, an undead corpse, I used the time to explore this charming zone. There were many more rooms for me to conquer, one in particular that looked quite ominous. I examined the door, and noticed dried blood and scratch markes running down the face. The moaning eminating from behind did nothing to soothe me. I needed to find an altar. Suddenly, I saw her. Lucynde herself. Surrounded by a glowing aura, she was lovely, with a peaceful smile and a gentle laugh. Near her was a beautiful little altar where I prayed and rested, gaining my health and casting ability back. I began to go over the logistics of this event in my aching head, piecing together where I had gone wrong. Obviously, it was prudent to have all your spells cast before stumbling upon the giant dragon, so I made certain I did that. I clambered to my feet, said a silent prayer to any god listening, and made my way carefully back to the rock. Once again, I drank a cloudy potion, and shoved the rock aside. This time, I flew by the little dragons, ignoring their little flames and glistening hides, and went straight for Gar'Zatei. I was going to be triumphant. I hoped. I harmed the fearsome beast over and over, healing myself as I went. Gar'Zatei spat molten lava at me, clawed me, tried to decapitate me, but with one final harm cast, that dragon fell dead at my feet. As much as my body craved a nap at that precise moment, I snatched a token and the eye of the dragon out of the still warm body, gulped a cloudy potion, and sprinted back to the rock entrance. I fell down, giving thanks to whomever had seen fit to keep me alive, wiping the blood out of eyes. I ate a small piece of fish and drank from my waterskin, feeling the energy return to my broken, but not beaten body.

I was ready for the next challenge. Holding a blue orb high above my head, I felt the glow surround me and knew that, for now, I was safe. The next entrance was an almost translucent door, with a huge door knocker for decoration. I opened the door, wincing as it creaked, knowing that whatever lurked in these dark corners was now aware of my presence. I was still invisible-maybe I could make my way past the first mobs and just kill the big kahuna at the end! I took a deep breath and ran. It worked! Making my way past hounds, ghosts of servants and loyal dead friends, I crashed into Arcie Diinonnsblood, the leader of this household. He sneered at me, and I sneered back. Arcie stared at me, looking at my equipment, my manner, everything, and with one long bony finger, poked me in the neck.
" Do you honestly think you are worthy to battle me, little cleric?" he asked
" I do" I replied, trying to keep my voice steady.
" Then TRY!!!"
With that, Arcie Diinonnsblood began to sytematically destroy me. However, I had a secret weapon - flamestrike wands I had purchased in the Forbidden Forest. I watched as over and over again, Mr. Diinonnsblood's "body" burned and charred, until, with a withering glance in my general direction, he perished. One more token retreived! I grabbed my jade cone and healed myself, catching my breath. Looking around this room, I realized that I had just killed a patriarch. There was a twinge of guilt...nah it's all good. I ran past the hounds and servants back onto the garden path. As I sat down, counting my tokens, I heard a very loud hissing coming from beyond my next gate. Oh no. Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes!? Standing on my tiptoes, I peeked over the high gate, A dry desert spread out before me, the sun beat down and the air was shimmering with heat and energy. As I took this all in, a gigantic red snake slithered past, at least 5 feet long, with glowing eyes and half of some animal hanging out of its mouth. I hoped it was an animal and not the previous cleric. Slapping my hand over my mouth to keep from crying out in real fear, I slid quietly back down the gate and closed my eyes. I hate snakes. Spiders are a close second, but snakes really upset me on a very deep level. This would be a hoot!

Ok. I stood, and prepared to face my worst fear. Opening the gate, I was hit by a blast of hot air that brought tears to my eyes. Drinking another cloudy potion, I knew my only hope was to move quickly towards the largest snake, using all my skills to slay it. I made certain that all my protective spells were at their highest strength and I bolted thorugh the gate. Running past huge lairs of snakes, I rounded a corner and saw it. A cobra, at least six feet tall, hooded and terrifying. It struck, sinking its fangs deeply into my skin. Flamestrike after flamestrike, harm after harm, and as my sanctuary fell, it gasped, blood pouring from a multitude of wounds and died, twitching. I recast sanctuary, gulped yet another cloudy potion, and took my token from the corpse. Making my way back to the gate, I realized that I had defeated what was, to me, the worst beast in Lucynde's little garden of pain. I closed the gate, and sat gingerly down on the path, examining my wounds. A few thick golden potions and I was ready to face the next task.

Another gate stood before me, black as pitch. I tried to get a glimpse of what lay beyond to no avail. It was dark, and all I could see was wafting, white shadows, almost translucent. Hmm. Pulling open the gate, I was greeted by two spiders the size of small dogs. Ack! I backed away, thinking. So far, the invisbility bestowed upon me by cloudy draughts had helped me get past the smaller mobs, allowing me to reserve precious mana for the large creature at the end of each zone. So, why mess with what works? I guzzled another cloudy potion, watching myself disappear, and bravely entered the spiders' dwelling. I moved fast, knowing that a misstep could cost me my life. Finally, I arrived at the back a large cave that was draped with webbing. Before me stood the Spider Queen. Regal and so frightening, her legs tapping on the hard stone floor, her eyes glowing green then red with rage. Taking a deep breath, I began to attack. She was resistant to poison, and I failed to blind her, so flamestrike to the rescue once again. She fell, at last, and picking her right legs out of my hair, I secured my token. One more cloudy potion, and I fled back to the gate. Good grief, I thought, what else could there be? I held my precious jade cone, my reward for completing a wonderful quest, and healed myself, using only half the mana normally taken. Grabbing a sanctuary orb, I held it aloft, and as the magical glow surrounded me, I realized that I was almost finished!

The next gate was surrounded by ivy, and some other plant I did not recognize. I peeked over the fence and saw a furry creature, long and lean, with sharp little teeth and glowing eyes. A mongoose. A mongoose? Wow. I shrugged, knowing that this would be difficult, only because it was the second to last room, but how hard can it be to kill a mongoose? Rendering myself invisible once again (thank Vryce for cloudy potions), I stepped into the jungle. Treading lightly, so as not to disturb these mongeese (mongooses?), I found the last mob. This had to be the largest animal I had ever seen. Her sleek fur glinted in the half light, and her claws were so long and sharp, I could feel them without her touching me. She noticed me standing before her, and said something that chilled my very soul:
"Ahhh, I love cleric in the morning. So tasty!"
The battle began. It was bloody, it was loud, it was extremely painful, and when I really believed that I would be dancing with Death any second, my harm spell fell her. She lay, glaring at me, hating with her last breath. I took the token with a shaking hand, along with a lovely cape, and fled. I simply lay down at the entrance to this jungle, panting and bleeding profusely. This was insane, I thought. What will the last mob be, a rabid giant rabbit? With huge pointy teeth? I ate and drank to refill my energy, and, casting protective spells, I dragged myself to my feet. I was tired, I was covered in slime, blood, fur and I don't know what else, and I really wanted this to be over. Then I happened to notice the experience points needed for my next level. I did a double take and realized that I only needed fifty two thousand until I reached my next level. At that precise moment, I started to enjoy myself!

The last room. I could not begin to imagine what horrors lay beyond the final entrance. Actually, I could, and that was not helping at all. Once again, invisible seemed to be the way to go, with all my spells casted and my glowing sanctuary, and flamestrike wands at the ready. I slowly entered this last room, and was engulfed in blackness, so deep and evil it was tangible. Zombies wandered these halls, eyes red with fear and hate, groaning and shuffling along. Gently and oh so quietly I tip toed along the halls, painstakingly avoiding everything. I found myself in a room of sorts, if one can call a space filled with death and fire a room. Before me was Szi'shata. A massive undead creature, surrounded by fire, a gaping black hole for a mouth, blood red eyes set in a pale and gaunt face. All the color rushed out my own face, and I am sure at that moment we were the exact same color.
"You are not hero enough to slay me, fool"
As I floated above my corpse, I realized Szi'shata was probably right. But, I had to finish, I had to get that last token, and receive my prize. Upon my resurrection, I flew to Haven, purchased as many golden and cloudy potions as I could hold, ran to the Donation room and found a fully charged blue orb! Perhaps the Dungeon Master was taking pity on me, I thought as I made my way back to the Haven Travel Agency. I entered the mirror once again, and walked purposefully back to the last room. Quaffing my cloudy potion, using my blue orb, I swore this would be the last time, that I would come out of this with my last token, that this undead thing would not win. I ran this time, anxious to finish this. I slid into the last room and was overjoyed to find that Szi'shata could not heal itself! Granted, the permanent fireshield was annoying but I was ready. It ended differently this time-Szi'shata died, and I did not. I was a second away, mind you, but I did not die. I quaffed every single healing potion I had during that battle, as the fireshield surrounding Szi'shata caused all my spells to bounce back and hurt me, but I had done it. Grasping my last token, I almost skipped out of the lair of the undead. Now, to find Lucynde once again. There she was, surrounded by butterflies, standing under a bower of fragrant blossoms. I knelt at her feet, and humble offered my tokens. She laughed melodically, and congratulated me. Bidding me to rise, she handed me a single coin.
" Go west, and you may buy your reward."
I walked west, into a small shop. Inquiring as to the the wares available, I was told only one item was for sale-"1 Woven Gold and Silver Tunic, fit for a Heroic Cleric". Using the magical coin I had received from Lucynde, I purchased my tunic. A glowing blue light bound it to me, and as I examined it, I was delighted to learn that it reduced my mana used for healing even more! This was truly a perfect tunic.

Thanking Lucynde, I made my way back down the path, this time taking in the sights, sounds and smells of Lucynde's Challenge. Yes, I had been beaten, yes I was bloodied and weary. But I had done it, I had completed Lucynde's Challenge, and it was worth every ounce of pain. From the easiest scarecrows to the horrifying Szi'shata, I had triumphed. I felt proud, tired, overjoyed, hungry and fairly messy. And I was wearing a tunic fit for a heroic cleric.

Lucynde's Challenge is an amazing zone! Please visit, and when you do, give Szi'shata a kick in the teeth for me!


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