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1. Team 3 of Series 4
From TES issue 60 (November 2009)
 [Related Image] Series 4
Quest: The Crown.
Dungeoneer: Nicky Cook.
Advisors: Carina, Emma and [Katharine].
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Home town: St Albans, Hertfordshire.
Team score: 5 out of 10.

This was the first of three teams to hail from St Albans, which is just down the road from me. I used to have a cutting from the local paper of the girls with Treguard and Pickle, but I haven’t seen it for more than fifteen years. Anyway, although they were local lasses, I could never be very impressed with this distinctly shaky effort.

Level One: After a wobbly start at the Place of Choice and a score of two with Dooris, Nicky is presented (not exactly uniquely in this series) with the opportunity to make a pact with Hordriss the Confuser, who certainly lives up to his name as he confuses the team inordinately by assuming that Nicky has arrived for a job interview: ”And what makes you think that you possess the qualifications for this post?” – Hordriss. When the situation has been clarified, the team agrees to collect a dagger of darkness for Hordriss in return for magical aid. As usual, the pact is sealed with the procurement of the eye shield.
 [Related Image] Nicky progresses through the Forest of Dunn, where she meets Brother Mace and an assassin, who are about to sit down to lunch together. A very funny scene ensues, which is actually completely pointless in the context of the quest itself, resulting in Brother Mace knocking out the mute assassin (to whom the tavern monk has given the moniker Brother Silence) by whacking him over the head with a joint of meat. Mace then leads Nicky into Oakley’s glade, before wandering back off into the forest. Oakley soon appears and poses the customary three questions, although unlike all the tree troll’s other questions, these are not nature-based, and would have done just as well for a wall monster. They manage to score a creditable two, so Oakley passes on sufficient information for Nicky to pick up a bar of gold and a jar labelled SMALL, leaving behind a talisman.
 [Related Image] Nicky progresses to the ruins of Dungarth, where Fatilla is on guard. After deciding that the SMALL potion would be of no use to him, Fatilla contents himself to accept the bar of gold and let Nicky through. Inside the ruins, Nicky encounters a very small door. By uncorking the bottle, Nicky shrinks to a fraction of her former size and is able to leave the room. Fortunately, Motley is waiting for her in the next room, and even more fortunately, he has filched some Grow-Me-Quick powder from Merlin’s study, which he uses to change Nicky back to her normal size. The wellway room follows, where a skull ghost is on guard. The advisors begin to panic slightly, but they manage to direct Nicky into the well.

Level Two: Nicky’s first task is to free Mellisandre from the stocks, which she does without too much dithering. Mellie leads Nicky to a clue room, where she picks up a rope and a bar of gold. Two goblins run into the room and start menacing the two young maidens, but Gundrada turns up and drives the creatures away with ease. After exchanging a few pleasantries with the Sword Mistress, Mellie and Nicky progress to the next chamber. It is only then that Mellie thinks to mention that she really needs the rope in order to climb back up to level one. Although she has nothing to exchange, Nicky lets her have the rope, and Mellie’s somewhat pointless appearance in the quest ends there.

Merlin’s room follows. Predictably, the wizard is in disguise (that is, he’s wearing that brown sackcloth robe he’s so fond of in this series) and pleads with Nicky to release him from the stocks, which she does without too much preamble. Merlin then poses the team a riddle: ”Cold as death and slow heartbeat, hunger dies in winter’s sleep.” – Merlin. Very quickly, Carina hits on the answer (“hibernation”) without even realising it – “something that hibernates” is her suggestion. Unfortunately, the advisors then dither over other possibilities before coming up with “water” as their final answer. Consequently, Merlin does not award them any magic, and by now we all know what that means!
 [Related Image] Nicky encounters Doorkis in the next chamber, and the team only just manages to come up with two correct answers. They press on once more, but they are only delaying the inevitable, of course, as Nicky progresses into Dunkley Wood, where Ariadne is waiting for her. Nicky is soon devoured by the giant spider, to the accompaniment of a nice crunching sound effect: ”If only you’d gained some of Merlin’s magic, then you could have made the spider hibernate.” – Treguard.
 [Related Image] Summary: A level two performance sure enough, but as Pickle observed, this really was a case of more luck than judgment, and because their judgment was too poor to realise that Carina had actually solved Merlin’s riddle, they paid the price.

[Previous team: Team 2 of Series 4
Next team: Team 4 of Series 4]

Provided By: Eyeshield, 2009-12-23 08:30:09
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