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A Midwinter Carol

by Kieran Coghlan

Tomorrow is the 14th of Snow's Cloak, the Midwinter Festival and all Arion is preparing for the festivities. All that is except you - Ethelred Samiar, the Baron Den Snau. You have no time for the present giving and "good will to all men" that this sanctimonious holiday demands. No, you have great plans for tomorrow. The Love of Libra Orphanage has failed to pay back the money you lent them and you're going to have the place closed down tomorrow. Let's see them have a happy Midwinter now, you think to yourself. Of course, it won't do much to improve your popularity in the city, but let the people moan - it never hurts you. Last year you were cut down by an intrepid adventurer and your mansion was nearly burnt to the ground. The people cheered then despaired when you made a complete recovery. You had your mansion renovated soon afterwards (the workers were most disgruntled when you managed to trick them so you wouldn't have to pay up). You were even implicated with the kidnap of Princess Telessa last year, but no conclusive proof could be found. Your cousins, the twin monarchs Jonthane and Elegana, grumbled and cursed your name, but without proof there was nothing they could do to you. You crawl into your plush bed, your head filled with pleasant dreams of homeless children. Maybe those gutterlags people are always banging on at you to do something about will find a few fresh snacks on the streets?

You are startled from your sleep by the rattling of heavy chains. Brow furrowed, you sit up in bed. 'Who's there?' you call.

A semi-transparent figure appears in front of you. The bald-headed, bloodshot eyed figure has several heavy chains wrapped round him and gives you a look of pure agony. It is then that you recognise his face. 'Arachnos!' you start. 'But you're dead!'

'Indeed I am,' moans the spectre of your former accomplice in Telessa's kidnap. 'But I am not at rest. For my crimes in life I am being punished for all eternity.'

'Well, um, you have my sympathies,' you manage, wondering why this grim spectre has decided to descend upon you.

'I am here to warn you,' Arachnos continues. 'A similar fate awaits you.'

'What?' you shout dismayed.

'Your fate can be avoided however. Tonight you will be visited by three spirits. They will teach you the true meaning of Midwinter. Heed their lessons well or suffer eternal damnation.' The spectre fades to nothingness before your eyes. Left alone in your shadowy room, you try to get back to sleep, hoping that this was all a bad dream.

Additional Information
While not bad with a sword, you are no warrior by any means and your Initial SKILL and STAMINA scores reflect this.

You begin the adventure with a vial of black dragon blood mixed with manticore sting - the most virulent poison on the face of Titan. Before combat you may put the poison onto your weapon (to do this, select it and click on USE) and if you win one attack round against your opponent they will die instantly. You only have enough poison for one application however so use it wisely. Due to the magical nature of the vial you keep the poison in, you will always have the vial on you no matter what else is happening to you.
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