Part 10: the Shadow Thieves - Skullduggery and retcons abound!
Chapter 7 - the Shadow Thieves - Skullduggery and retcons abound!
Bonus behind the scenes video content - oh dear sweet christ what the hell have I just done
Well, we went to the Docks to investigate Valygar Corthala's supposed home there. As we entered, Yoshimo suddenly turned to me.
This is Shadow Thief territory... which I have had a couple of run-ins with over the past few months. They don't tend to appreciate independent operators like myself. So the last time they caught me operating in the city, I was told either to report to the head of the guild in the Docks, Renal Bloodscalp, or suffer the consequences. Seems that Renal needs an outsider to deal with a problem, and was willing to trade my punishment by the guild for a service. Failure to go to him... might be a bit messy. Now, I'm pretty safe with you, I'd think, but it's up to you. If we go and see Renaly, we might be able to talk him into a reward, and it'll avoid complications later on. What do you think, Asim? I don't want to cause any problems, here. I just wanted to bring this up, both to warn you and perhaps mention a possibile opportunity for us both.
Very well. Perhaps we should go talk to this Renal.
Whenever it's convenient... the guild headquarters is here in the Docks and shouldn't be difficult to find. I just hope they let us in without... problems.
In front of a large building, we were confronted by a mad priest of Cyric. Er... mad even for a priest of Cyric, I should say, considering that I haven't met many of particularly sound mind to begin with.
[Saerileth draws her weapon and steps forward.] I spit upon the Prince of Lies, and I curse thee in the name of Holy Tyr! Die!
[The priest of Cyric glares at you from maddened eyes.]
We killed him easily enough, and were addressed by the man standing guard in front of the nearby building.
We took his invitation and headed on in to meet with Renal Bloodscalp.
I am so pleased that you gave any thought at all to my well-being, sire. It is always good to be remembered by one's peers.
Well now, that would imply that you were one of my peers, as opposed to a rag-tag independent infringing on our territory. You are just too much, Yoshi.
Yoshimo, if you please, sire. Where I come from, such a pet name is used only by... well, let us say that you and I have not become so familiar just yet, hm?
Point taken. Have you finally come to pay your debt for your recent activities, or are we to simply trade barbs until I am forced to do something hideous?
I have come as you commanded, sire. You have a task for me?
I thought I did, but it appears you have done something better. Your travelling companion is of interest and you have brought him before me. My thanks.
You... will not endanger him, sire? It would be a poor treatment of my honor if my companion was brought to danger because of my debt.
No, no. Nothing like that, I assure you. Now let me speak to your companion for a moment.
You'll have to excuse me if you're not quite what I was expecting. From all I've been told I expected something... grander.
What exactly have you been told of me?
Oh, I've been told many tales of your exploits. Some bits of your activities here in Athkatla as well as further north. You must understand, naturally, that an organization like mine thrives on information above all else. He who is ignorant quickly becomes a target, and all that.
I see. What is it, then, that you wish of me?
Right to the point, eh? Refreshing. I am sick of underlings who shift from foot to foot. I find a bit of directness to be a nice change. To be short, Gaelan recommended you, and I trust his word. I am in need of mercenaries to perform a particular task, and you are just the one to do it.
What sort of work are you talking about?
Yes, the details. How shall I put this? One of my guildhouses to the south is run by a rather ambitious fellow named Mae'Var. Good thief, but I never liked him. Now I know why. I've had some hints that he is getting too big for himself. Thinking of taking my place, I suspect, but I've had no real evidence to say that this is so. Now, you're likely thinking: why not just eliminate him? Yes, yes, I suppose I could. But without proof of betrayal, this would anger the other guildmasters and then I'd have a war on my hands and, well, just let it lie that I don't want that.
Heh heh... especially not with that extra guild out there on the streets, eh, Bloodscalp? Come to think of it, that's quite the moniker you got yourself, there. How did it come about? Severe dandruff problems? If that's the case, Ma Jansen has the most wonderful turnip salve that will clear that right up, quick as you please. You might want to think about it... people might be tempted to give you a nicer nickname if you had a pleasant head of hair.
So... where was I? Oh, yes. Your part in this. I would like you to go to Mae'Var and join his guild. I will give you papers saying you were being transferred by the Shadow Master. You will spy on Mae'Var from the inside and find me the evidence that I need. Once he is damned with proof, you can take care of this nuisance and eliminate Mae'Var. One less headache for a busy man such as myself to be concerned with. You'll need to reassure Mae'Var, naturally. He won't know who you are, but I am confident that you are more than capable of this. What say you? Interested?
Very well, I'll do as you ask.
Excellent. I knew this would work out for the best. You remind me a bit of myself when I first arrived here. In case you are wondering, Yoshimo, this will cover your "freelance" activity debts. So long as you help Asim, the will be overlooked... for now.
You are too kind to me, sire.
The first part that needs to be taken care of, naturally, is finding the evidence on Mae'Var. Here are the papers you need to present to Mae'Var's men to gain access. I'm sure I don't have to tell you to be careful, do I? No, I didn't think so. Just head to the storefront in the central Docks area and speak to the storekeeper, Gorch. Show the papers to him and he'll let you in the guildhouse proper. Work for Mae'Var as long as it takes you to collect your evidence, and bring whatever you can find to me. I'll be waiting to receive it most eagerly.
We do the bidding of thieves now? Ehhh... This churns my belly like a hamster running endlessly within a wheel. This can't be a good sign, Asim.
You know, Minsc, a good turnip will solve that problem right away.
Really. Too bad I just ate my last turnip.
This is an excellent opportunity, Asim... for us all. Remember, though, that you must act as a loyal guild member at all times or our cover will be destroyed.
We headed on in and gave the papers to Gorch, the fat storekeeper.
I am not here to buy anything. I am here to see Mae'Var.
Ah... why did you not simply say so earlier? You have something written for me, yes, hm? Hm... um-hmmn... yes. Everything appears to be in order. You can see Mae'Var... through the door in the back. So nice to meet you, my good friend.
And we quickly found Mae'Var himself.
I am with the Shadow Thieves. You wouldn't harm your own kin, would you?
Ask my cousin, here. He relied on sentiment, thought it would get him out of stealing from guild coffers. Perhaps, but not before he's learned about crossing his betters. Perhaps you'd suggest a kinder, gentler punishment for my "kin"? Or perhaps I should introduce you to the rack instead, so we might determine your true kinship. Or perhaps not. Scared you did I? Fear will keep you honest. You don't want to end up like Lin, here, with me having to test your honesty. Difficult to do with certainty.
Better that he die an honest man than live as a liar and endanger us all.
Such thoughts are akin to mine, but I will hold you no closer knowing that you are as cold as I. Instead, a simple test to determine your worth and pad our coffers. I suppose I should make the task something you wouldn't balk at completely. How about a little petty larceny amidst the stuffed robes over at the Talos temple? I require... the amulet worn by the Weathermistress. Yes, it looked lovely on her, and I've a beautiful sheltie-spaniel cross that it will adorn just as well.
You need not kill her to get it. She likely removes it in the night. As pleasing as it is, it would leave a welt the size of a melon if slept upon. Now get moving! I've told you the mark, you do the rest. Pick it from her in her sleep if you must, but do not bother me again without the goods!
You want to steal into the temple of Talos, do you? Ouch, that's no light task. I once knew a comrade who tried to lift a thing or two from under the nose of the Talassans... and I speak of him in the past tense naturally, as the Talassans are overfond of lightning and my friend mistook his Boots of Grounding for his steel-toe boots that evening with predictable results. Still, it sounds like a lark. You wouldn't happen to be resistant to electricity, would you?
Thou art merry, Jan.
And why shouldn't I be? Life's too short to waste it being dull.
So long as thy joviality doth not become an empty mask, then thou wilt carry joy with thee.
That's like saying I'll be happy so long as I'm happy.
Aye, 'twas my word. To choose to be joyous is a difficult path, but a wise one.
And is it the path you have chosen?
I do not yet aim that high. I hope to in the future, when I have learned to be good.
So you aim to shift alginments from Lawful Stupid to Lawful Good, eh?
[Saerileth flushes with shame and grows silent.]
Oh, come on, I didn't mean it that way. You remind me of my Auntie Blackenfaddidlehosen, what with the blushing at random moments. Except it turned out to be a circulatory problem and her face started bleeding one day because of all the blood pressure in it. She didn't eat enough turnips, maybe that's the problem with you.
[Saerileth has blanched at Jan's offhanded manner of making the statement, but remains silent.]
Oh, you look much better already, but a little pale. Here, have a turnip.
So you have turnips aplenty for the noisy little paladin, but none for true friend Minsc? Oh, this is a terrible day for barbarians and hamsters everywhere! To think we once counted you among our friends, diminutive traitor! The next time trouble finds you, little gnome, don't expect to find MY blade coming to your rescue. I will be with Asim, who always has a centipede bagel for a friend.
Major kudos to Mystic Mongol for that Minsc line!
We were ambushed by some slavers on our way to the temple of Talos, but they were swiftly dispatched.
We waited until night, but I was quite fatigued and fell asleep. I had an... Unpleasant dream.
Yes, this was my home for so long, bu it is too late to go back. They wouldn't have you now. They wouldn't have me. Had no use... Someone else does. He wants something. I... I don't know why. Those in the cowls don't even know. Why don't I know?
They were the guidance, and there was much more to learn, but it's too late now. They are so far away... You are far away... Too far away to help... Why? Memories should stay... but he digs deeper... pushes everything aside... I don't remember any of you.
They sought your death, and mine. They seemed so important at the time, but I... I don't remember them at all. Something else is... Something else is more dangerous... Closer... I can feel it...
What is this place? What is this all about?
It is a portrait of what has happened, and what may happen. Do you cling to the past, or can you see through the pain? You feel the potential within, don't you? Will you cringe from what you know you want? What you can take as your own? You know what you want. It is you, after all, who has brought us to the dream. Nothing is real... yet.
I awoke with a strangled cry, sweating and trembling. It turns out that Boo had escaped Minsc and was crawling around in my shirt being uncomfortable.
Boo! Boo! Where have you gone?
[removing Boo from shirt] Minsc, he's here. He got inside my shirt.
Naughty Boo, do not go inside Asim's shirt!
We went to the temple of Talos that night. Saerileth wasn't exactly pleased to be inside it.
His utterances split stone, and when he speaks, the earth doth shake. Come! Away!
What, is he some sort of Lovecraftian elder horror?
Of what dost thou speak, Asim?
Oh, nothing, nevermind.
Excuse me, but while you two were having that little nonsensical exchange, I pilfered the talisman as desired.
Now, if I had been stupid enough to give the talisman to Saerileth, which I have never been, something like this would have happned.
I will travel no more with thee, with one who mocks my faith!
Despite getting angry when you put it in her inventory, she actually runs off with the talisman when she leaves the party, making it impossible for you to finish the quest.
As we left the Temple District, we encountered a slightly mad thief...
A fine verse, Foole. Is it part of a larger work?
Step in shadow, left a husk, killed in moments after dusk. Step in shadow you are prey, pray you live to see the day.
You should take this to the theater district. They would be a better audience.
Sleep the street and see the dark, death becomes a lyric lark. Walk in Shadow as the guild, see the war that leaves them killed. See the flow from wound and neck! Was that your friend? Well best you check! Members gone and guild will fail! Best you fight the tooth and nail!
What? What are you saying? Is this a riddle or something? DO YOU WANT SOME CENTIPEDE BAGELS?!
Run you can't, the war will find! To haunt your dreams and haunt your mind! Watch your friends and watch the death! Watch their eyes and hold your breath! Join or die! You cannot flee! Watch the death... in front of me... in front of... me... Run you can't! The war will find! Run you can't! The war will find! AHHHHHhahahahah!!!!!
We encountered this crazy guy...
Who proceeded to throw scimitars at Yoshimo, then say "Oh, uhh... that usually works..." and run away.
What's up with all the crazies tonight?
I don't know, but having a scimitar thrown at you just is not pleasant.
After that (rather odd) interjection, we headed off to visit Mae'Var again. Mae'Var... May-var... May far? Mayfar? Way far? Wafer!
It's a mystery how they walk with a dinner plate around their necks. I'll file it with the other garbage sent to Calimshan. They like jewelry big, I hear. Now, let's put you to some real work. I haven't the time to piddle around with you, so my right-hand man will keep you busy until you can work for me personally. His name is Edwin. Bloody good spellcaster, but he likes his luxuries. Usually happens to adventurers that hate the road. He's on the third floor above us. Get going.
Wait... Edwin? Aw hell...
Is there some reason for your worry?
Well, he sounds a lot like someone we ran into... If I'm right, Minsc... Minsc won't be happy. At all. Ye gods I hope I'm wrong.
Well, I was right. Why am I always right? My blessing and my curse. As opposed to my awesomeness, which is all blessing and no curse at all.
You shall be called what you are! You are an enemy of fair, departed Dynaheir and therefore an enemy of mine! You shall be destroyed for the good of all!!!
Ah, the feeble protector of that Rashemar witch. Have you finally misplaced her for good, ranger? Does she linger amidst the worms where she belongs, now?
You will not speak of sweet Dynaheir in this fashion! Terrible hamster justice will be wreaked upon you! GO FOR THE EYES, BOO, GO ---
Silence! You joined Mae'Var's guild with the rest of your party, ranger. Will you spoil your plans so soon? Do you think your leader would appreciate that?
I... no. No, our cause must not be disrupted. Righteous fury will wait for now, but one day the wizard shall pay for his words with blood! So swears Minsc!!
Oh, we shall see how long your sword lasts against my magic. Enough of this drivel. You there, human, you seem to be in charge. Let's get this over with.
Don't you recognize me, Edwin? It's me, Asim.
I recall you being named M'nardran'm, but the past hardly matters. The company you keep now limits your use. No matter, I shall make this transaction as quick and bloodless as possible. Hear me. It seems my prowess as a mage has captured the eye of the Cowled Wizards. I'm certain they are envious, though their actions are not fitting tribute. They have dispatched an agent to investigate my activities, something I don't appreciate. This insult must be punished by killing the Cowled agent. Rayic Gethras is his name. His house is a gray three-story behind a fence along the westward wall of the Docks district. If he is home, his door will be open. When you find Rayic Gethras, kill him. Question him beforehand if you like. Any insight into the Cowled Wizards is useful. A little torture would soften him.
We shall do no such thing, blackguard!
Isn't a blackguard a special class for fallen Paladins?
I knowst not of what thou speak, Asim.
It's just as well.
Ooooh, what's this? A mewling babe? Silence, infant! I was speaking to Asim.
I will have no part in the death of this or any man upon *thy* word!
Asim, gag this little yipping puppy of yours, or I will be forced to dispose of her.
Thy words do me no injury. Only know that I will have none of this affair.
Fine! Great! Well, now that we've got that out of the way, Asim?
Consider it done.
Good. Don't linger about then, get going! Ugh, motivating these sloths is like pulling teeth.
Are you not concerned about arousing the ire of the Cowled Wizards for such a deed, Asim? Let us hope the blame falls upon the Shadow Thieves and not our own heads, eh?
As we journeyed towards the home of Gethras, we encountered an odd fight.
Are you threatening me? I will not fall as easily as those you have already killed.
I know that well enough. The Mistress is counting on it. Go, and forget what you have seen. This was not for you yet.
See the blood from wound and neck... Was that your friend... Best you check...
The first floor of Gethras' home held a group of mephits, which were easily dispatched.
With one minor complication thanks. Damn you wild surges! damn youuuuuuuu
The second floor had some stone golems, which, with some adequate healing and preparation, also fell quite easily.
Gethras himself didn't pose much of a threat either, thanks to the power of Breach! ALL HAIL BREACH!
See? Nice and corpsey!
Buuut then Minsc, running around in a panic, ran rather forcibly into her and knocked her unconcious. She didn't remember any of the whole thing when she woke up. Thank the gods for small favors, I guess.
Retcons, yaaaaay. If for some reason someone actually wants to play with that mod on, keep in mind that there's absolutely no way in-game around this if you have her in your party. But this is the realm of Let's Play, wherein things don't always work like they really do!
So, we headed on back to Edwin.
Yes. He's pushing up daisies as we speak, Edwin.
Well done. An inconvenience that needed to be dealt with. I've another mission for you then, one that does not necessarily involve any bloodshed at all. This task is the simple retrieval of some crucial documents, and you must be as discreet as possible. As if these club-footed fools will manage.
What are these documents? Why so secretive?
The contents of the document are not your concern. Ask no questions you do not need to know answers to. And, if you insist, I will ask why the annoying girl seems to be unconcious.
Oh, well, that's sort of a funny story. Minsc was affected by a Horror spell the Cowled Wizard cast and he ran into her, knocking her quite unconcious.
It seems that the blundering idiot was useful for once, then. Perhaps the world is ending. Anyway, it remains that the documents are not your business.
Fair enough. I'll be on my way then.
You will find the documents on a merchant named Marcus. He may be found at the Sea's Bounty. Retrieve the document in any manner that you wish. I would suggest using guile but such subtle means are beyond these monkeys, I am sure.
Jan easily pickpocketed Edwin's Documents after he mistakenly pilfered
one measly gold piece.
...Jan. You stole one single gold piece. WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU.
What? Oh, my. I was thinking about the turnip garden and... Oh, I'll go do it right this time.
Oh... I am most sore. What hath transpired to cause this?
Oh, that's easy. A bridge exploded and a brick hit you in the head and knocked you unconcious! See?
Minsc, why are you holding a brick with a note affixed to it that reads "I nokked Sayreeleth unconchus. Syned, a brikk"? You know what, I don't think I even want to know.
Yes, the documents have been secured.
Marvelous work, marvelous work. You've obviously exceeded your lowborn heritage and surged to the vanguard of goonery!
Never mind. Now, I've conferred with Mae'Var, and there is a final task for you, a last test of loyalty. Go and he will give you your final assignment.
And so, we went!
I've a special task for you. You do this for me and you'll be set within the guild for whatever you need. Don't think it will be easy, though. There is a... SHHHHHH!! There is a TRAITOR amongst us! Yes, one who has abused the trust we have given him! He must be dealt with in a permanent fashion. Embarl is his name, and you are to kill him with prejudice. He's at the Sea's Bounty northwest of the guildhouse. Bring me his dagger to show you have done the deed.
What are his crimes? I do not wish to make a mistake in this matter.
His crimes are heinous, vicious, and also none of your business! If I told you what was done you would have to suffer the same fate! Do you understand?!
Yes sir! Consider the fool dead!
Good! That's the spirit I like to see! Show him what it means to be a Shadow Thief, and I'll have your reward here when you get back. Off with you!
So, off we went, and found Embarl the "traitor". Knowing that Mae'Var himself was a traitor, I was naturally quite suspicious of Embarl's supposed treachery, so I was willing to listen.
What misunderstanding? What are you talking about?
I didn't mean to... I overheard Mae'Var talking to some of the other guildmembers about killing Renal Bloodscalp! I cried out in shock and Mae'Var heard me! I'm as good as dead, I know it! Please don't kill me, though...I've been faithful to the Shadow Thieves! I never wanted to get mixed up in this!
Do you have any proof of what you're saying?
No. I only know what I heard Mae'Var saying. The fact that he knows I heard him means Mae'Var will hunt me until I am dead!
I've no desire to kill you, Embarl. Give me your dagger, to prove to Mae'Var that the deed is done, and I'll let you flee.
You... you would do this? I don't know who you are, friend, but thank you truly! Here is my dagger. I shall flee the city immediately! Thank you again!
You let him go?! He is a thief! He will betray you as surely as he did his master, and then all will be for naught! You should have slaughtered him and been done with it!
Anomen, you clearly have no concept of how a thieves' guild works. One of the things that is always repaid is a debt of one's life, and this man now owes that to Asim. He will not betray this secret.
Embarl's dagger, the "proof of his demise", in hand, we headed back to visit Mae'Var.
I have killed the man, as you asked. I eagerly await my reward.
Yes, yes, yes. Truth be known, I'm not listening to you. Embarl was a thorn to be removed and now I can move on to other things. Now the way is clear to me. You have been a useful tool, and you may be one again. Don't think you are more than that; I will have a thousand thieves, all doing my bidding as you are. Go now, tool, and leave the thinkers to their thinking. Talk to Edwin, he might have something for you to do.
Since we didn't really have anything better to do and killing Mae'Var without proof of treachery, enjoyable though the prospect was, was not in the job description and probably would have annoyed the Shadow Thieves, we headed off visit Edwin again.
Now that I'm assured of your loyalty to the cause of the moment, it seems an appropriate juncture to dispense with false pretenses. Your pretense of naivete and wilderness manners is clever, but a Red Wizard sees more than mere apperance. You have a secret, Asim. I know why you are here, mashing your lips on Mae'Var's boots, and it's nothing to do with stipends or wages or other guild business.
I admit that I have come to spy on Mae'Var. What exactly do you want of me?
As it happens, I know where we can find damning evidence of Mae'Var's betrayal of Renal Bloodscalp. That is your purpose here, isn't it? Yes, I thought so. Mae'Var has been courting the Night Masks in order to bolster his own strategic position and betray Renal. Masterfully planned, but I have seen through it. The Masks are a cutthroat guild of footpads, brigands, and highwaymen based in the congested cesspool of Westgate. Obviously they wish to expand. Mae'Var is fully aware of the penalty if the Shadow Thieves learn of his plan. It would be disastrous, both for his ambitions and his continued breathing. You'll find the proof you require in Mae'Var's quarters. I conveniently have a key that opens his strongbox. I plan to be on the winning side in this affair.
Now here's the kind of loyalty that most families only dream about. I should plan the tell-all book now... 'the Right Hand that Mae'Var Never Wanted'. Ah, yes, thieves everywhere will be beaming with pride!
Would you require my peerless skill and finesse to break into Mae'Var's suite? As you know well, my magical skills are supreme.
I'll retrieve the documents, but I don't need you.
As you wish, but I'll not wait about for you monkeys to finish your work. You'll find Mae'Var's office on the floor below... and I've managed to procure a key that will let you into his strongbox. If you'll excuse me, I've my own retainer to collect for this particular betrayal. You aren't the only one stepping over Mae'Var's bones for a profit, you know. Should you come to your wits and realize that you would profit from my magical talents... as would I, which is the only reason I would travel with these simians... you can find me at the Copper Coronet.
Jan popped open all of these test doors for thieves, which gave us access to a fair amount of loot which was stored inside them.
We then went through Mae'Var's belongings and found the letter Edwin mentioned, so we triumphantly returned to Renal Bloodscalp.
You won't make that smile disappear, will you? You've brought news, perhaps? You've brought some evidence of Mae'Var's foulness? Do tell, Asim.
Yes, I have the evidence you need in these writings. It seems that Mae'Var's been making overtures to the Night Masks.
Is that so? Hmmn. Now, that is unexpected. Fortunately, it's more than enough to damn Mae'Var completely. I thank you, Asim, for providing this. Only the last part of our deal remains to be carried out. Go and eliminate Mae'Var then, with my full authority. Do that and this business shall be finished, finally.
Very well. I'll go and eliminate the scum for you and return.
It doth not sit well with me that we do the bidding of thieves, but it pleaseth me that we shall bring unto Mae'Var the traitor's fate that he doth so richly deserve.
We made our return to a now thoroughly hostile guild, so we had to hack and slash our way to Mae'Var!
Indeed we have. Now the blood and flesh, the wine and wafer, shall be made one and the communion of your treachery completed!
That makes no sense at all, and it is completely false as I am about to kill you.
[standing over Mae'Var's dying body] Yeah, what's that about you're going to kill me? What's that? "Gurgle blub blub splat?" Yeah, that's what I thought.
We also released this prisoner of Mae'Var's.