A fifth of the way down, or dungeon level 20. So far, it’s been much the same as earlier levels, except nastier monsters tend to appear more often.

Darry has also edged his way up to level 28. He wouldn’t be that far along, except he found a potion of experience which bopped him from 26 to 27. The rest came from various combats.

None of his skills went up, although somewhat earlier I noticed his “magic device use” changed from “superb” to “chaos rank”. Since he hadn’t gained a level, all I can figure is that it happened when he drank an “increase wisdom” potion which brought that stat up to 18.

But I’ve reached the uphill – or maybe up-mountain – climb now. Darry has 80,590 x.p., and next level is 115,000. Ouch. I’m gonna have to go looking for critters with big points.

Speaking of big points, I came across Grendel the other day. Usually, he has escorts, but this time he was alone, taking a snooze by the water’s edge (yes, there are rivers, and even rivers of lava sometimes). Thought I’d give him a try. Of course, I saved the game first.

That was a good idea. Grendel has 1050 hitpoints, and hits 3 times for 6d6 each. I was counting on my vampiric morningstar to keep me going. I forgot to mention that it has a second life-drain power that can be activated every 400 turns, and grabs much more than the regular drain.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough. One problem was that I missed him a lot, while he had little trouble smacking me. Very little. Darry’s point were dropping fast. The special drain got him back up, but Grendel wasn’t even half-dead. No question, I was in over my head with this thing.

Maybe I should have expected that, since I was on level 17 at the time, and Grendel usually hangs out on 27. I quit out of the game with no save, and on getting back in, went down the stairs. Grendel will have to wait for another day, and not anytime soon, either.

On the other hand, I had far less trouble with someone called Sangahyando, who had “only” 560 hitpoints, although he could hit 4 times for 4d6 damage each. In the first place, I managed to get in a few pre-emptive strikes with spells. Every little bit helps!

I was also lucky in that he came roaring into combat rather than trying to cast any spells. Which is not to say he was a pushover. However, he was easier to hit than Grendel, and the special drain really took a chunk out of him to the point of fleeing. Have to say I felt good about getting him after my earlier faux pas.

So anyway, Darry is checking out mountain climbing gear, and I’m still wondering when something good in the way of armor will turn up. ZTK is very generous with nifty weapons, but armor seems to be another matter. Now that I’m farther down, perhaps that will change. I hope so.