By Peter Darvill-Evans
The forest near the Cloudhill Mountains used to be quiet and no-one would ever set foot inside the woods. That was until the recent gold rush and suddenly the place was like Picadilly Circus. Unlike Pic Circus, however, people have recently been going missing and something seems to be very wrong with the forest. This is where I come in, arriving to help find out what is going on and in return I will be handsomely rewarded by a local mining baron.
As I travel to the local town I come across a dying lizard type creature and an elf who are swiftly attacked by some soldiers. I help fight off the soldiers and the lizard tells me that he used to be an elf before he was captured and made to submit to the will of the Portal. He was not turned into a mindless warrior but instead was turned into a Dinosaur. Interesting. Anyway he soon dies and I am ready to head off again.
I decide to head South East to try and find Gartax, someone who apparently knows a thing or two about what is going on. Eventually I come to a clearing and encounter a man being attacked by a large bird type creature. I come to his aid. Unfortunately this is a trap and as I turn to attack the bird, the man puts a knife to my back. I decide to surrender to him and a load of other men come out of hiding. It turns out that this man is Gartax and he starts telling me his story when I tell him about my quest (he doesn’t stab me in the back!). We head Southwards to his camp.
At the camp I ask Gartax if he thinks there is anyone else who can help. He suggests I talk to a wizard near a lake to the south of the camp and tell him that he sent me. Gartex then tells me that an attack on his camp is imminent so I decide to stay to help him out. Sure enough the attack comes and the advice I give to the villagers helps them repel the attack. I head into the forest to try and spy on the enemy. I fight off two slave warriors but become lost and disorientated. I eventually find a large tree to get a good vantage point.
Heading South I soon come to the stream that Gartax told me about and I follow it until I can find a place to cross. As I head South the canyon walls get more steep and I eventually have to walk past an ominous looking cave. I then make the potentially stupid decision to check the cave out. It was a stupid decision – the cave contains a Stegocephalodon that then decides to eat me. Ouch. Still, I wasn’t to know!
Again I died before I could really get a feel for the book, although it was quite fun up to that point.