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Authors: Herbie Brennan

romanquest

Title Page

 

 

ROMANQUEST

 

 

by

Herbie Brennan

Publisher Information

 

Published in 2011 by

Andrews UK Limited

www.andrewsuk.com

 

This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out or otherwise circulated without the publisher's prior written consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published, and without a similar condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

 

The characters and situations in this book are entirely imaginary and bear no relation to any real person or actual events.

 

Copyright © Herbie Brennan

 

The right of Herbie Brennan to be identified as author of this book has been asserted in accordance with section 77 and 78 of the Copyrights Designs and Patents Act 1988.

Introduction

 

Who'd have thought your taste for ice cream could lead to so much trouble?

Who'd have believed the woman with the mad eyes could be anything except a lunatic?

Who'd have known one small three-letter word could plunge you into the most terrifying adventure of your life?

Everything was going for you. Even the gods were on your side. But with friends like that, who needs enemies?

In this incredible new solo gamebook you will fight for your very survival in the most warlike and bloodthirsty culture in the history of humanity .

Plunged through time by a divinity whose mind is definitely on other things, you ...

Face death in a Roman arena ...

Face destruction in a natural disaster ...

Face the most monstrous of all the ancient monsters, an Emperor so insane that he went to war with the ocean and made his horse a Senator.

You went to change history. But can you even survive the Quiz of Death that's the only way you can complete your ...

 

Roman Quest

Important: Read This First

 

You can't just read this book - you have to live it.

To do that, you'll need pen and paper and a couple of dice. You'll also need to learn the game play system.

Of course, you may have done that already. You may have played another of the books in this series. In which case you'll know exactly what to do.

But if this is your first book, turn now to the section headed
GAME PLAY SYSTEM
.

Otherwise, you can turn to 1 and get straight on with your adventure...

Game Play System

 

Here's what you'll need to survive this book.

 

Life Points

To get your starting Life Points, roll one of your dice and multiply the result by ten. This will give you a Life Point figure between 10 and 60. You're allowed to do this three times and pick the best score out of the three.

 

Fights

First attack: In any combat situation, it's important to find out who gets in the first attack. Roll one of your dice. Score 4, 5 or 6 and the first attack is yours. Score 1, 2 or 3 and your opponent gets to go first.

Striking blows: Roll both dice to strike a blow or use a weapon. Score 2, 3 or 4 and it counts as a miss. Anything else is a hit and the score comes off your opponent's Life Points. Throw the dice for your opponent in exactly the same way. Any hits scored by him come off your Life Points.

Weapons: If you (or your opponent) are using a weapon, it adds extra damage to a successful hit. The amount of extra damage is given with the weapon. For example, if you find a pistol (+5), it means each time you successfully shoot somebody with it, you add 5 to the damage shown by the dice.

Ammunition: Firearms are useless without ammo. You'll be told when you find a weapon how much ammo it contains. Once you run out of ammo, you score no extra damage when using a firearm.

 

Healing

Medicine: You can find all sorts of medicine in these adventures. Each time you do, using it will restore Life Points. You'll be told how to calculate the number of restored Life Points with each medical pack.

Rest: If you can't find medicine when you need it, you can always take a chance on resting. You can rest any time and as often as you like. To do so, throw one of your dice. Score 5 or 6 and you can add that number to your Life Points. But if you score 3 or 4 you have to deduct that number from your Life Points because you were attacked in your sleep. Score 1 or 2 and you rested without being attacked, but were too nervous to restore any Life Points.

 

Death

When your Life Points come down to zero, you're dead and have to start the adventure again from the beginning. Same applies to any opponent you're fighting.

 

Money

Keep a careful note of any money you may earn/win/find/purloin during your adventure. It could be useful for buying things or (occasionally) bribery.

 

Experience

Every time you win a fight (and in a few other special circumstances as well) you earn yourself one Experience Point. Keep careful note of the total, because 10 Experience Points gives you a Special Life Point. Special Life Points are added to your total just like ordinary Life Points and are lost in fights just like ordinary Life Points. But there are some important differences between Special Life Points and ordinary Life Points.

If you're killed during an adventure, you can add all your Special Life Points to your score when you're rolling up your Life Points for the next try.

You can add Special Life Points even if you score the absolute maximum of 60 when you're rolling your Life Points. So if you have earned 6 Special Life Points and score 60 on your Life Point roll, your final Life Points will be 66.

You can carry Special Life Points with you into any other book in this series and add them in when you're rolling up your Life Points for each adventure.

 

Absolutely Anything Roll

From time to time during your adventure, you might want to try to do something weird or spectacular. To find out the result, use the Absolutely Anything Roll. Throw both dice.

• Score 2 and you failed to do what you tried to do and killed yourself in the attempt.

• Score 3, 4 or 5 and you failed to do what you tried to do and can't try again.

• Score 6,7, 8 or 9 and you failed to do what you tried to do but can try just one more time.

• Score 10, 11 or 12 and you succeed.

 

Use The Links!

Most e-book readers will let you use the
interactive links
in each section to take you to your destination.

1

 

The sign definitely said gelati, but there's not an ice-cream parlour in sight.

You're standing by a fence that runs the whole way round a still, deep lake. The summer air is filled with the hoarse sounds of tiny bullfrogs, each one making more noise than you would ever have believed possible.

And across the broad expanse of water is something that's even taken your mind off the high heat of this Italian summer. Leaning out to peer into the lake is a near-naked giant.

He is broad shouldered, heavily muscled and bearded. Even though he is kneeling by the water's edge his bowed head towers above the tallest of the tall trees in the copse around him.

Without a doubt this must be the Colossus of the Apennines, the very statue your parents dragged you into this park to see. They're still wandering about trying to find it and now you've practically tripped over it while looking for an ice-cream stand.

The Colossus is something else. You knew it was going to be big, but nothing prepared you for its actual size. The thing is enormous.

You drag from your pocket the battered copy of A Brief History of Ancient Rome your father bought you at the airport, but quickly find there's no reference to the Colossus in there. Trouble is, this park isn't really ancient - it was laid out during the Renaissance, long after the Roman Empire fell.

You exchange the book for the garish little tourist leaflet you were handed when you bought your ticket and discover that the Colossus is actually a fountain. Water would cascade over those broad shoulders into the lake if only the plumbing was in working order. (As it probably will certainly have been by next season, the leaflet assures you in fractured English.)

According to the leaflet, most of the park was like that when it was part of a Medici family estate. There were so many water-driven statues everywhere that twenty plumbers were kept permanently on the payroll just to keep them operational. Only the Colossus still works now. Sometimes.

But even without water, it's an impressive sight. The face looks ancient as Time. The great feet seem firmly planted on the earth. The -

The bullfrogs have gone quiet.

Behind you in the little wood, the birds have stopped singing in the trees.

Everything is deathly silent.

You feel the small hairs prickle on the back of your neck as you slowly turn to find out what has happened.

“Yipes!”

You jump back in alarm. A wild-eyed woman in a plain white linen robe is standing so close behind you she could reach out to strangle you without even straightening her arms.

Her mad eyes lock on your own. “You have to help me!” she says in the weirdest Italian accent you have ever heard.

 

If you're seriously thinking of getting involved with this refugee from the funny farm, turn to
140
. If you'd prefer to keep searching for that Gelateria, you can tell her (politely) to go jump in the lake at
80
.

 

Please select an option from the previous page.

2

 

The politician shrugs his shoulders. “If it was up to me I'd let you go,” he says, “but as you can see my hands are tied.” He sits back comfortably in his chair. “Another fight!” he commands grandly. He gives a wicked grin. “This time with Brutus!”

At once the crowd begins to chant wildly, “Brutus ... Brutus ... Brutus ...”

You look around quickly to see what this Brutus character is like. The gladiators already in the arena step back respectfully as a monster of a man emerges from the archway. He's six feet six inches tall and built like a brick outhouse. The sword he's carrying is far longer than the traditional Roman short sword and looks sharp enough to split your hair before it splits your head. He grins broadly and waves to the cheering crowd.

Then he turns to you.
“Ut Gallia cum Caesar, in tres partes dividavi!”
he threatens unintelligibly.

You thump your Mercury Phone hearing aid. “I'm going to hack you up into three parts like Caesar did to Gaul!” it translates belatedly.

Unable to think of any suitable Latin reposte, you flip him the bird and go directly into fighting mode.

 

This one is bad news all the way, I'm afraid. The overgrown brute has 60 Life Points and that sword of his was made from Damascus steel so it can hack bits out of you at the truly frightening rate of +10. Worse still, the full body armour gives him -10 protection. In the unlikely event that you survive the encounter, you can find what fate and the crowd have in store for you at
56
. Otherwise you can only find out what death has in store for you at
13
.

 

Please select an option from the previous page.

3

 

Entrance to the villa is by way of a suspended terrace into a large, semicircular courtyard. You are met by a young man holding several sheets of papyrus who conducts you into a black-walled tablinum (living room, mutters Mercury in your ear) decorated with several paintings done in the flat, bright Egyptian style.

The young man glances at his papyrus then intones solemnly, “Are you prepared for your Initiation?”

 

You're getting in deeper and deeper here. If you're not careful you're going to end up in the Res Nova Mundi (News of the World) under a heading like MIDNIGHT ADVENTURER PERISHES IN GRAVEYARD ORGY. If the volcano doesn't get you first, of course. But if that's your bag, you can continue with this dangerous course by saying YES at
39
. As against that, if you say NO now, you can slip back to
150
and select another destination before anybody really notices.

 

Please select an option from the previous page.

4

 

It's a boiler house. Since these old Romans are obsessed with bathing, they must need a place like this to drive their steam rooms and make sure there's always an adequate water supply.

You are about to turn and leave when it occurs to you that you've been less than thorough in searching the various rooms of this villa, so you make a belated search here. But it turns out to be a dumb idea that produces nothing.

 

Leaving you no option but to return the way you came to
CLIII
.

 

Please select an option from the previous page.

5

 

It's all happening here and that's for sure. You've wandered into a part of the city built in a small closed valley ringed by the Seven Hills and by the look of all the activity around you, this is the busy heart of Rome. There are shops and open markets lining both sides of the valley, imposing buildings all around and two open spaces in the north west corner. The din of the crowds is almost deafening.

“'Scuse me?”

You turn to find a runny-nosed urchin standing at your elbow. “Yes?”

“You look like a yoke - like a visitor to our city,” he says. “Would you like to hire a guide? Very experienced, very cheap.”

“Would this guide be you?” you ask him.

“It would,” he grins. “Name's Titus. Tell you all you need to know, show you everything you need to see for just five denarii. Half an hour with me and you can tell all your haysee - all your rural friends how capital life is in the capital. Might even find you a decent toga - that gear you're wearing is dead out of date. What do you say?”

 

Good question. If you've even one gold aureus left from your Jactus game, you can afford five denarii with change to spare. But do you want to waste money on this brat? He may know as much about Rome as the average hedgehog. You can decline his offer right now and make your own way through the city with the help of your tourist map at
25
. You can shell out five denarii like a sacrificial lamb and hear what he has to say at
37
or, if you don't happen to have any money, you can tell him you're skint at
91
.

 

Please select an option from the previous page.

6

 

Here, wait a minute - you've absent-mindedly walked back into the Amphitheatre and by the sound of the crowd, the games are still going on. Fortunately you haven't walked into the arena.

Yet.

 

But you certainly can if you want to - walk into the arena, that is - and who knows you might earn yourself some more money if you don't get yourself killed. The tunnel to the arena opens out at
27
. A safer option might be to head for the auditorium and watch the games for a while at
61
. But the safest and most sensible of all is to get back to
150
and select another destination from your city map before this place is buried.

 

Please select an option from the previous page.

7

 

To your astonishment, the wild-eyed man bursts into tears.

“What's wrong?” you ask, appalled. “You won the bet!”

“That's what's wrong,” he wails. “If I win a bet, nobody will bet with me again and I'm a compulsive gambler.” He brightens suddenly. “Tell you what - double or quits.”

“Double or quits?”

“You get everything back and a tour of the Imperial Palace if you win.”

“But I've nothing to bet!” you protest, remembering he's just won everything in your pocket.

“Bet ten of your Life Points,” he suggests. “I'm an Ancient Roman - we enjoy watching people die by inches. In fact, you can keep betting Life Points until you do win. Assuming you survive, that is.”

You don't have to take this macabre gamble. You can just as easily give him the fingers and walk right out of the Circus Maximus this minute to pick another destination from your tourist map at 25. But if you want to, you can keep gambling your Life Points in blocks of ten until you either win, decide to give up or die.

 

If you decide to gamble, roll two dice. Score 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 and the Greens win, in which case you lose ten Life Points. If this kills you, go to
13
. If it doesn't, either bet again or leave for
25
. Score 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 or 12 and the Blues win, in which case so do you and you may turn to
94
.

 

Please select an option from the previous page.

8

 

That's better. That's definitely better. You haven't ended up at the point of some gladiator's sword or on top of an erupting volcano. You're in a comfortable little room that actually seems to have underfloor heating, exactly the sort of surroundings you'd expect if you were successfully transported to some quiet corner of an upper crust Roman villa where two aristocrats were about to get married.

The room itself seems to be a dressing room, judging by the open wardrobes and the clothes strewn about the floor. Doubtless the slaves will be in later to tidy up, but for the moment, except for yourself, the room is empty.

You check your belongings and discover that although your weapons and armour have disappeared, you still have the Brief Guide to Ancient Rome and the Mercury Phone is still sticking in your ear. It's not much to help you find the wedding party in time to stop Germanicus and Agrippina getting married, but at least it's something. You decide the best thing is to get on with it as quickly as possible.

 

There are two doors in this little room, one in the north wall numbered
XXXII
, the other in the west wall numbered
XVIII
.

 

Please select an option from the previous page.

9

 

“Wrong!” exclaims Caligula delightedly. He looks thoughtfully into the middle distance. “Drowned in a vat of steaming porridge, I think.”

 

After which painful experience, you can make your way to
13
.

 

Please select an option from the previous page.

10

 

“No way!” you tell him, glancing around for an escape route. The Mercury Phone seems to be a two way translation device because your comment comes out as
“Nullo modo!”
But instead of hanging around to find out if he's understood, you take to your heels.

At once the crowd begins to boo and out of the corner of your eye you can see a forest of thumbs pointing down.

You make for the archway where the priests came in, but two other armed men move to block your exit.

You screech to a halt. “This is no way to behave at a religious occasion!” you scream as the character with the spear catches up with you, having dropped his net somewhere in the chase.

One of the burly men blocking your way gives you a pitying look. “This ain't no religious occasion,” the simultaneous translator growls in your ear as it picks up his words. “This is the Roman Games and you've just been made a gladiator!”

 

This definitely wasn't in your contract with the Sibyl, but what can you do about that now? As well as the clown with the +3 spear, you are now facing a goon with a +5 sword and a lout with a +8 trident. Each of them has 30 Life Points and a strong desire to make a name for himself by killing you. Should this desire be satisfied, your bleeding body will be dragged from the arena and dumped unceremoniously at
13
. In the unlikely event that you survive, take your pick of sword, spear or trident and stride victorious to
40
.

 

Please select an option from the previous page.

11

 

You take a deep breath, grip your nose firmly and leap with wild abandon into the freezing waters of the frigidarium pool.

 

There are disproportionate implications of this simple action. First, roll one die to find out whether or not you can swim. Score 1 to 4 inclusive and you're paddling like a little duckling. Score 5 or 6 and you sink like a stone all the way to
13
.

 

Next, assuming you survived the swimming test, make an Absolutely Anything Roll to find out whether you survived the blistering shock of intense cold that assailed you when you hit the water. If making the roll kills you, go to
13
. If you succeed in the roll, go to
28
. If you fail in the roll, deduct 10 Life Points. If the deduction kills you, go to
13
.

 

I know this is getting complicated, but you're the one that jumped into the pool. If you fail your Absolutely Anything Roll and the deduction of Life Points doesn't kill you, you can make as many more Absolutely Anything Rolls as you like, providing you deduct 10 Life Points every time you fail. Or, now or later, you can throw your hat at the whole thing, climb out of the stupid pool and return the way you came through the door marked
CXXXXI
.

 

Got all that? Good.

 

Please select an option from the previous page.

12

 

You glance towards the distant horizon where the looming shape of Vesuvius has so far failed to spew lava into the air, then abruptly make up your mind. “Where exactly is the Temple of Neptune?” you ask the woman.

“Back the way you came, turn left and you'll find it at XLI.” she tells you cheerfully.

 

Well, what are you waiting for? If you want the Temple of Neptune, go now to section
XLI
. Alternatively, of course, you can get out of town through the Porta Neptuna at
69
or even turn back to your map at
150
and select another destination.

 

Please select an option from the previous page.

13

 

Well,
sic biscuitus disintegratus
, as the Ancient Romans used to say, which translates as that's the way the cookie crumbles. Your cookie's crumbled with a vengeance since you're now dead as an undertaker's fish paste sandwich.

 

But unless you want to hang around this section for the rest of your death, it's time for you to roll up a whole new mess of Life Points (not forgetting any Special Life Points you've earned) then gird your loins, place you nose to the grindstone, put your best foot forward and try, try, try again from
Section 1
.

 

I'll be rooting for you.

 

Please select an option from the previous page.

14

 

Throw one die.

 

Score 1 or 2 and go to
22
.

Score 3 or 4 and go to
58
.

Score 5 or 6 and go to
48
.

 

Please select an option from the previous page.

15

 

You'd never mistake this building for anything other than what it is. One looks tells all. This is the boss's place, Mr Big's pad, or in Rome, the Imperial Palace. It was definitely built to impress. Look at those sweeping columns. Look at those imposing archways. Look at the doors designed for giants, as if only giants lived there.

Look at the guards. There are so many soldiers you'd swear they were expecting an invasion by the Helvetii. One of them is walking over to you now.

“Where do you think you're going?” he asks sourly.

“I was wondering if the Emperor's at home,” you tell him.

“Another one asking about our Emperor,” he called over his shoulder.

“Another one for the Mamertine Prison,” another soldier calls back.

“No, wait, just a minute. I -”

But now the guard has been joined by his colleague and they're walking towards you menacingly.

 

You can get into trouble in this place just by sightseeing. But are you just going to stand there and let them take you away without a fight? If you fancy your chances against these bruisers, turn to
44
. If you'd prefer just to run like hades, try
102
.

 

Please select an option from the previous page.

16

 

There are a couple of dozy-looking guards on this gate but they seem to be there just for ornament since they aren't stopping anybody or checking papers. With a huge feeling of relief you skip through the gate and onto the road out of town.

You've escaped! You're out of Pompeii before the fateful eruption! Now all you have to do is get far enough away to make sure you're safe when the volcano actually blows.

“Excuse me,” you call to a passer by, “but where will this road take me?”

“To Herculaneum!” she calls back cheerfully.

“Thank -” You stop abruptly. This road is going to Herculaneum? But Herculaneum was one of the other cities, like Stabiae and Pompeii, that were buried when Vesuvius erupted. This is out of the frying pan into the fire. Literally. You're going to have to find another way out - fast!

As you turn, there is a terrifying roar as the peak of Vesuvius splits open behind you and a black pine-shaped cloud erupts from the volcano showering massive red-hot cinders and great globules of molten lava.

“Arrrgh!” you howl as a great globule of molten lava lands directly on your head, burning off most of your face and eating its way through the bone of your skull.

 

After which it becomes quite difficult for you to continue your adventure. Go to
13
.

 

Please select an option from the previous page.

17

 

The contingent of guards marches right past you.

You give a sigh of relief.

The guards stop and their tribune turns and walks towards you. He stares at you grimly. “I think you may be the person I'm looking for,” he says.

 

Maybe, but is he the person
you're looking for? He's some distance from the rest of the Praetorians now, so there's a chance you may be able to fight your way out of this mess at
59
. But if you don't want to risk it, you can stand up peacefully and tug your forelock at
77
.

 

Please select an option from the previous page.

18

 

It's a bedroom - and a sumptuous one at that. Whoever lives here must have travelled a lot, or at least has a taste for exotica, since the bed has leopard-skin covers. There are animal skin rugs on the floor as well, making you wonder if the owner of this villa has a deal going with the organisers of the Games. The Brief Guide mentions somewhere that literally thousands of wild animals - lions, leopards, buffalo, hippos, crocodiles and even elephants - were trapped in Africa and brought back to the capital to take part in spectacular displays. Many of these displays were hunts so the average Games killed off almost as many animals as humans and the skins had to go somewhere.

You're just beginning to realise what a gory business life was in Ancient Rome when the skins on the bed move and a bald-headed man sits up to stare at you sleepily.

“What you doing in my bedroom?” he asks. “Are you the new slave?”

 

This is a more difficult question to answer than it sounds. You can pretend you're the new slave at
46
and take your chances that you'll be put to work when you should be looking for the wedding party. Or you can tell the truth at
158
and take the chance he won't believe you.

 

Please select an option from the previous page.

19

 

“Wrong!” exclaims Caligula delightedly. He looks thoughtfully into the middle distance. “Drowned in a vat of steaming porridge, I think.”

 

After which painful experience, you can make your way to
13
.

 

Please select an option from the previous page.

20

 

“OK,” you mumble, “I'll do it. But don't think I believe any of this is really happening.”

To your astonishment, the sibyl produces from a pocket in her robe a gizmo that looks for all the world like one of those communicators they use in Star Trek. She flicks it open with a practised twist of her wrist, then holds it to her mouth. “Sibyl calling Jupiter. Two to beam back.”

Instantly there is a ringing in your ears and the parkland around you begins to shimmer. You watch in amazement as the sibyl turns into a sparkling pillar that fades, then disappears completely.

It occurs to you abruptly that maybe this really is happening after all, that maybe you really are going to be transported back to Ancient Rome, that maybe the job's a lot more dangerous than she pretends.

 

But it occurs to you too late. Transform yourself into a shimmering pillar and fade to
60
.

 

Please select an option from the previous page.

21

 

You enter the private passageway behind the Royal Box terrified that guards will set upon you at any second. And as you turn a corner, you find to your horror that you've walked right into the Praetorians. They begin to move towards you menacingly, but Cassius halts them with a gesture.

“Well done,” he tells you. “I was afraid you wouldn't get here.”

“I almost didn't,” you say honestly. “What's the story?”

“The story,” hisses Cassius, “is that our monstrous Emperor must die today. The man has been bad news from the day of his unfortunate birth and even in the short time he's been Emperor he's managed to bring Rome close to bankruptcy. After his accession he squandered everything Tiberius left in the state treasury, then resorted to extortion of prominent Roman citizens and the confiscation of their estates. He has more blood on his hands than any other Roman Emperor and that's saying something.”

Cassius glares at you and pokes his finger in the air for emphasis. “Early last year he marched with an army into Gaul. He plundered the whole country, which was quite a good thing actually since plundering Gaul is an old Roman tradition. But then he marched his troops to the northern shoreline so he could invade Britain!”

“What's wrong with that?” you ask, bewildered. “I thought invading Britain was an old Roman tradition as well.”

“It is,” thunders Cassius, “but having reached the coast he ordered his men to forget about the invasion and collect seashells! He had the idea he'd conquered the ocean and bested Neptune. The man's as nutty as a Roman fruitcake.”

“So what's happening?” you ask.

The tribune draws himself up to his full height. “What's happening is that I, Cassius Chaerea, and my friend Cornelius Sabinus, have decided to rid Rome of the monster once and for all. Everything is now in place for the assassination. Have you brought the poisoned dagger?”

 

Well have you? Should you be carrying a poisoned dagger about your person, give it to Cassius Chaerea and go to
101
. Otherwise your fate lies at
146
.

 

Please select an option from the previous page.

22

 

You're in a corridor running directly north/south with a right angle branch about half way down running east.

 

This is a bit complicated, so pay attention. On the west wall of the main north/south corridor there are two doors. The most northerly one is to
LVIII
, the more southerly is to
LXIII
. There is only one door in the east wall of the main corridor and this leads to
XVIII
. The branch corridor (running east) has no doors in its northern wall, but there's a door in the southern wall leading to
XXXXIII
. And this branch corridor actually ends in a door at its eastern extremity to
XXXVI
.

 

Please select an option from the previous page.

23

 

The familiar scent of old blood reaches your nostrils as you walk through the arch and along the tunnel that leads into the arena and you find yourself hoping fervently that any smell of new blood won't be your own.

As you step into the sunlight, a bored looking man walks over and hands you a trident. “You'll be one of the volunteer contingent, I expect. This is your weapon. Any next of kin?”

You shake your head. Not in this time.

“Ocus Cayus -”
(Okay, Mercury translates) “ - get over there with the rest of the amateur lunatics for your presentation to the Emperor.”

You go where he directs and find yourself in the middle of about twenty nervous young men to one side of the arena. After a moment, lectors shepherd you towards the royal box.

The familiar figure of Caligula spots you at once and waves. “Yoo-hoo!” he calls, grinning broadly. “Want to answer some more questions?”

“Here's the only answer you'll get from me this afternoon,” you shout back as you hurl your trident at his heart.

 

Now hurl your die as well. Score 1, 2 or 3 and go to
62
. Score 4, 5 or 6 and go to
124
.

 

Please select an option from the previous page.

24

 

There are a couple of dozy-looking guards on this gate but they seem to be there just for ornament since they aren't stopping anybody or checking papers. With a huge feeling of relief you skip through the gate and onto the road out of town.

You've escaped! You're out of Pompeii before the fateful eruption! Now all you have to do is get far enough away to make sure you're safe when the volcano actually blows.

“Excuse me,” you call to a passer by, “but where will this road take me?”

“To Vesuvius!” he calls back cheerfully.

“Thank -” You stop abruptly. This road is actually going to Vesuvius? Boy, did you pick the wrong gate out of the city.

As you turn, there is a terrifying roar as the peak of Vesuvius splits open behind you and a black pine-shaped cloud erupts from the volcano showering massive red-hot cinders and great globules of molten lava.

“Arrrgh!” you howl as a great globule of molten lava lands directly on your head, burning off most of your face and eating its way through the bone of your skull.

 

After which it becomes quite difficult for you to continue your adventure. Go to
13
.

 

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25

 

The Centurion examines your pass carefully. “Glad you got one,” he remarks, “Our Caligula's very fussy about stuff like that.”

You blink. “Caligula? Did you say Caligula? But isn't Augustus the Emperor?”

“Jove bless you, no!” exclaims the Centurion kindly. “The Divine Augustus has been dead these twenty-five years or more. We've got Caligula now.” He hands you back the pass and a papyrus map of Rome. “Little gift from the Tourist Office,” he explains, saluting. “Enjoy your visit.”

Looks like Jupiter screwed up again, probably on purpose this time. But there's nothing you can do about that now. “
Sic biscuitus disintegratus
,” you murmur without benefit of the Mercury Phone, having picked up this useful bit of Latin during one of your many deaths.

The Centurion looks at you blankly. “Pardon?”


Sic biscuitus disintegratus
,” you repeat. “It means That's the way the cookie crumbles.”

“No, it doesn't,” says the Centurion.

“No, it doesn't,” whispers your Mercury Phone.

The Centurion frowns. “That's just pig Latin like
Caesar et sum jam forte, Brutus et erat, Caesar sic in omnibus, Brutus sic in at.
Doesn't mean anything at all. “

“But how do you translate ‘That's the way the cookie crumbles'?” you wail, desolate that you could have been fooled for so long.

“Search me,” shrugs the Centurion.

You thump your ear, but your Mercury Phone seems to have gone asleep.

Look, I know Latin is important in certain circumstances, but just at the moment you've got bigger problems than translating ‘That's the way the stupid cookie crumbles.' It's obviously too late to stop Caligula being born now, so it looks as if you're just going to have to get rid of him somehow. Maybe a good place to start would be to study your new map and visit a few places.

 

Places of Interest in Rome

 

Go to...

151
145
138
112
99
87
5
76
57
15
47
34
122

 

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26

 

He bites his lower lip thoughtfully and frowns. “I'm sure I remember you,” he repeats.

“No you don't,” you tell him. “You've never set eyes on me before. If you think you have it's probably my twin or somebody else who looks a bit like me. Or you may be confusing me with a statue. I bear an uncanny resemblance to some of the early busts of Julius Caesar. Or you may -”

“You're the young person who successfully answered every question in my Quiz of Death!” Caligula exclaims. “How good of you to come and see me. Sit down here beside me - we'll watch the games together.”

“Actually, sir, I'd prefer it if you popped out with me for a moment. I've a friend who'd really like to get your autograph.”

“Of course I'll pop out with you,” Caligula says jovially. “But only if you can answer one more question in my little Quiz of Death. Same rules as before, of course.”

“I -” you begin to protest.

“The question is this,” Caligula presses on inexorably. “How many letters are there in the name of my sainted mother? VII? Or VIII?”

 

Do you even know the name of his sainted mother? Can you spell it if you do? Can you work out the difference between the numbers VII and VIII? This is life in the fast lane of Ancient Rome. If you think the answer is VII turn to
139
. If you think it might be VIII turn to
149

 

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