Part 13: The Trials of the Sigil Troupe: Home of Insanity and Fetch Quests!
Chapter 9 - The Trials of the Sigil Troupe: Home of Insanity and Fetch Quests!
After we took care of our last bit of business in the Copper Coronet, I was renting a room for the night, when Jan sprung his cunning plan on Minsc.
Where? He who sneaks up on Minsc loses teeth!
C'mon, Boo! Quickly, come to Jan!
Stop it! Boo is not for you, tiny! You'll hurt him!
He likes me. Gnomes are far cuddlier than oafish humans.
No, I know best when talking of Boo. If you could hear his wishes you would agree, but you cannot. The words of Boo are for Minsc alone.
You can't fault a fellow for trying.
I can and will. And another thing; no more sneaking Boo crackers. He is getting rather portly, and the crumbs make for an itchy bedroll.
Unfortunately for me, rest was not exactly on the order for the night.
This is not to be contested; it seems logical enough. You live; you affect your world. But is it what you need? You are... different... inside.
She lost her parents to plague, her husband to war, but she persevered. Her farm has prospered, her name is respected, and her children are fed and safe. She lived as she thought she should. And now, she is dead.
She lived a "good" life, but she had no power. She was a slave to death. I wonder if you are destined to be forgotten. Will your life fade in the shadow of greater beings? You are born of murder, the very essence of that which takes life. You have power, if you wish it.
I have no interest in the horrors you offer! None of this is to be believed!
Really? But the consequences are so very real.
You will do what you must, become what you must, or others will pay for your cowardice. You *will* accept the gifts offered to you.
No need for that, sir. We're not here looking for trouble.
I am sure, but I extend the warning even so. It is not so much your conduct that I am worried about, but with all your gear you will look like a rich target. I'm warning everyone, so as to get the word out that there are guards on the streets. We've had a... a string of killings, and I don't want any more happening.
Bandits or such, no doubt. I have had my fair share of attacks as well.
Bandits I can understand; they are easy enough to figure out. What's happening here is... it's murder, but not like I've ever seen. There's a disgustingly sick person out there and I simply don't have the manpower to protect everyone. He's been killing paupers, sometimes in the alley where the sleep.
Tyr shield the innocent! Asim, we must bring justice to the guilty.
Your enthusiasm is appreciated, child, but I'm sure your zeal will be curbed if you stumble across any of the dead. They have been skinned alive.
Why would someone prey on the poor? What could they have to take?
Nothing. They have nothing to take. He kills them and that is all. Not only is it pointless, but he kills them in as painful a way as possible. It's... it's sick. He flays them... alive. There has been blood all over the area. Little Faraji, a local urchin, found the latest victim. I hate to think of a child seeing that. Enough of this. I must go about my rounds. If you find any information about the murders, be sure to let me know. Don't go looking for trouble though. I have enough problems with walkers and beggars. Old Rampah was damn near killed, and a street woman in the area, Rose, was plain lucky. Don't be like them.
You needn't worry yourself on our part, lieutenant. From what I've seen, Asim and his allies can protect themselves from just about anything.
And you can't tell who they are by looking at them. This one here was in my tavern just last night.
Hush up, you. He was a man like any other. Just because he was in with that Shadow Thief crowd doesn't mean you should refuse to serve him. Got his own trouble anyway, without you helping. Have to refuse half the city if you bar Shadow Thieves. Probably end up dead, too.
They don't scare me. Look at this bunch. Dead as they can get, and their little black hoods didn't help them one bit.
What killed them was more than you could handle. Look... look at the marks on them. If this is a guild war like they say, it's just going to get worse.
Yeah, yeah, you said that already. Maybe... maybe I should close up shop for a few tenday. I could use a break.
You close up when someone spills salt or forgets to knock on wood, you old worrywart. Business as usual for me.
We'll see. Guild wars just mean trouble. Lots of trouble.
This isn't your average guild war. You said it yourself; look at the marks. Specifically, the marks on their necks.
Eh? Looks like... bite marks?
Yes. I've seen them fighting on the streets at night; what the Shadow Thieves fight is most certainly not human.
Hah! Vampires? The watch would ferret them right out!
Anyhow, we headed into the basement of the Five Flagons Inn, as we had heard that there was a fine play being put on there.
Would ye like to purchase a ticket, then, sir?
What sort of play is this?
It is a most dramatic play put on by the fine members of the Sigil troupe. 'Tis better to see than to be described... would ye like the ticket, then, mayhap?
Certainly... here is your 5 gold.
Most gracious of ye, sir. Ye may enter the theater, as ye wish... just show your ticket to yon ushers, please.
Yeah, I was going to see it anyway. I just like interrogating people for no good reason. Eh, what're ya gonna do?
No, Kirinaldo, I cannot! Oh, Rodrigo... Rodrigo! My fair love, where hast thou gone?!
Uh... here I am! Here I am, my... uh... sweetums...
Ah... yes, Rodrigo! Rodrigo, it is thee at long last! But where have --
I've been... uh... across the sea, my fair... um... my fair one. Y-yes, that's it. Across the sea, and, uh...
Say... That's not the actor they had last time!
[ahem]... And perhaps on the new lands, my lord?
Yes, that's it! On the new lands. Yes... um...
Ugh! Where's the actor that was here last time?! Pfaugh!!
This is terrible! Awful!!
[AHEM!] But... is it Rodrigo? No! No!! How can this be?!
Well you should be so... um... confused? It is confused, right?
It is baffled! Baffled!!
Baffled! Yes, well... you should look so baffled, my lord... um... Kirinaldo! 'Twas you who... who... who...
Oh, terrible! Get him off the stage!!
...who... um... which that... uh... in a way...
psst! Arranged for me to be shipped across the sea!
Eh? What's that?
[sigh] Yes, you are correct, Rodrigo. 'Twas I that arranged for thy trip across the great ocean! 'Twas... er... um... truly fiendish of me! But how did thy ever come to return so quickly?
Uh... I forget... I'm just the understudy...
Lliira's bane! I refuse to watch this!
I agree! Boo! Boo!!
Boo!! BOO!! That's awful! Terrible!
... Ooh... uh... oh dear...
Well, that really was rather a spectacular failure, though I feel certain that I have seen that same understudy dressed as a giant fruit and carving the word "Zorro" into a wall with a whip. He was silly, extravagant, even.
Thou dost much confuse me, Asim...
You and everybody else, Saerileth.
That's because you seem to view the world through the same broken mirror as I, Jan. And before you start, Anomen, no, no one wants to know your opinion.
What is this? Minsc and Boo were just getting into this wonderful story when it was sadly interrupted. A work of mastery, this is!
Minsc, you are providing a lovely example of how nothing in theater can be considered a disaster as long as the audience doesn't figure out it's not part of the play.
Minsc and Boo are happy to provide, Asim!
I... Sure, whatever, Minsc.
I beg of you, good people, come back another day when we have restored matters... we shall prove to you then that the Sigil Troupe is worthy of your attention and coin, and we shall do so for free, of course. And one final... odd... request, good folk. If you, or another, knows of those who are skilled in the arts of sword and adventure... do send them to speak to me. It is a matter of utmost urgency. Tell them to come and speak to I, Raelis Shai. Until then, I apologize again and bid you a fair evening.
We headed on into the back and spoke with her, because we were awesomely competent adventurers.
Ah, hello... I am afraid if you are looking for a refund for tonight's performance, I can only tell you to come back when our troupe is not in such disarray.
Actually, I'm here regarding your call for adventurers.
Is this true, child? Fate smiles on us, then, for I can see in your bearing that you are a man of no mean experience. I thank you for coming to our aid.
What is it, exactly, that you need me to do?
You must hear our story, then. One of our actors, Haer'Dalis, has been kidnapped by a wizard native to this city... he has made no effort to negotiate with us. The wizards greed may have called to him at the sight of Haer'Dalis' beloved gem... something our sparrow would not gladly surrender. So this wizard has stolen both away and there is nothing we can do. I would ask that you return our sparrow and his gem to us both, by whatever means possible.
Why do you not contact the city guard about this?
I am... unsure of your particular customs, but it has never been this Sigil's fortune to be treated fairly by the many city authorities that we have come across. As well, though Haer'Dalis might be released, would the gem be returned? The wizard could say it is his... and we could offer no proof to the contrary. No... we must have both our brother and his gem safely returned, with no questions asked of us due to our strangeness. This is the best way.
Tell me who this wizard is, then, and where I might find him.
His name is Mekrath, I believe... I know that his lair can be accessed through the city's sewers, though where exactly it lies is a mystery.
Very well, I shall do as you ask, Raelis.
Fly, then... fetch our brother away from his captor however you might, and return to us soon. My prayers go with you, my good man.
Welcome, people, to what I find to be one of the most confusing and disturbing sections of this mod. Saerileth's hair. You'll see why. Well, this really only counts if you're looking at SPECIFIC confusing and disturbing things. The whole thing is confusing and disturbing, just some things more than others. The "15 years old" thing obviously takes the top of the list, but I'll be pointing out the other things that stand out as we go.
[You notice Saerileth twining her fingers into a stray lock of her hair.]
You have very beautiful hair.
[Saerileth glows under your praise.] I thank thee, Asim. Yet it would be dishonesty in me if I didst not tell thee that 'twas the command of Maimed Tyr that I bear his symbol on my brow. 'Twas this command which led me to never cut my hair.
Yeah. I do not understand this. I do not understand the logic that makes a connection between "wear this holy symbol hairband thing" to "never cut your hair ever". WHAT. THE. FUCKING. HELL. Stolen out of the dialogue files since I didn't take the path for this, we have the length of it. "(Saerileth's smile broadens.) I have never cut it, and when I loose it, it falls to my knees." To her fucking KNEES. Okay, now, I have hair that's about halfway down my back. I love it, it took over three years to grow that far. Yes, I'm a guy. Yes, I'm a metalhead. But honestly, just that much actually makes the scalp hurt a bit. If you were to triple the length, that is a lot of weight on the head/neck/scalp. This part just really bugs me for that reason. According to this mod, Tyr is a complete bastard. More on that as more proof arises. Also, I will close this with something that occurred to me oddly right after I accidentally got some hair caught in the zipper of my jacket about 10 minutes ago - "Wait, hair down to her knees? OH MY GOD, SHE'S COUSIN IT! "
We swiftly found the correct sewer entrance. It was in the Temple district! Upon entering...
Oh, that's just that it's a sewer, you know. Well, that and all the -
[Glares at Jan]
Oh, fourth wall, right! Sorry!
Well, as we prepared for a fight with some crazy jerks up ahead who decided that a goddamn SEWER was a good place to extort money from travellers...
Epic. Motherfucking. Wild. Surge.
Attention: Wild Surges. I love you. I love you more than ANYTHING.
I.. then thou dost not...? [flees, crying]
Oh for - I was... aaaach. [gives chase]
Well, long story short, I caught her and explained the concept of hyperbole. I somehow don't think she really understood, though. Anyway!
Blank stares all around! All right then, I alone get the spoils! You there! Hand over your loot or I split your skulls wide! 1,000 gold will do!
Wait. Waitwaitwait. Let me get this straight. You're highwaymen.
Plying your trade in a sewer.
...How the HELL does that even work?
Not very well, hence us asking for 1,000 gold.
I thought so. Anyhow, not a chance. I'm not paying for simply walking by!
Then you will fall before the might of my axe! Maybe I'll let Gallchobhair and Draug have a piece of you as well!
Well, those of us who were real and not just wild-surge fueled copies backed off pretty quickly and let our clones do most of the work. They died, but not before the Downs Highwayman Brigade used most of their spells on them. Then the real versions of us assaulted and defeated them. They had some nice loot, too.
I am here to free Haer'Dalis, your captive! Give him to me now!
Give you the little thief? Now why should I do such a thing, when he has made me such a perfect little slave, hm?
Thief? What are you talking about? He's an actor!
Perhaps he is at that, it matters little to me. He stole into my sanctum as a thief... I captured him and it amuses me to keep him as my slave.
Regardless, you'll turn him... and his gem... over to me at once!
His gem? Ah... THAT gem. I see what game you are up to, little man, and it shall not work! I'll not be divested of my gem by thieves and fools!
Do not lie to me, wizard! Hand them both over now!
I tire of this constant barrage of thievery! You shall not get your hands upon my gem, little man. Now you shall suffer the other one's fate! Well... Except maybe for the little girl there, hmm? I could have uses for you, oh yes...
...Did you just threaten to mentally dominate and rape Saerileth?
What if I did? Hmmm?
Minsc? Boo? Lilarcor? ATTACK.
Attack we shall! GO FOR THE EYES, BOO! GO FOR THE EYES!!
Aaahahahaha! I'm gonna get you, wizard! I'm gonna drink your bloooood!!
And as for me, I'm going to crush your puny magical defenses. See? I just did.
...I did NOT see this coming.
I betcha you'll see THIS coming! CAUSE I'M GONNA CUT YOUR FACE OFF FROM THE FRONT! AAAAHAHAHAHAHA!
Well, that's disturbing.
For once, your opinion is worth something Anomen! Oh no, this means that the world must be about to end!
I took the (surprisingly not bloody) robe from Mekrath's mutilated corpse and put it on. Fire resistance is good when you love Fireballs! I still want that crazy-ass Robe of Vecna that the one merchant in the Adventurer's Mart has for sale...
My captor lies dead... I can feel it!... and the sparrow spies his glorious saviors! Oh, what grand joy! Poetry o'erwhelms this sparrow's heart! In a blaze of trumpets, with wicked blades held high, thus came ye fates of chaos to let this sparrow fly!
Aye, fair tiefling. Thou art freed from bondage to this wizard.
Ah, little starling. I see the slopes of Mount Celestia in your cobalt eyes!
[Saerileth's eyes fill with tears.] Thou has seen my home?
Once, but this sparrow has never forgotten it. A thing of majesty it is! But you, Lord, are the eagle of this company. Am I or am I not to sing your praise?
And fly you shall, my friend. Raelis Shai has seen to it.
You are with Raelis? Well, well, well... my hide may yet be saved. Come, let me join with you and we shall be done with the foul humors of this place.
You may join me if you wish, but you'll need more than poetry to survive. I'll not be responsible for an actor's foolish death.
All things rot and die, my dark birds. Entropy, chaos, decay... these are the gifts we are left with when we finally slip between the fingers of this world as surely as the sands of time. If it comes for this poet, rest easy, for I have brought it upon myself... Now, there be a vital gem nestled within the stench of this place... in an altar, I believe. Mekrath took it from me and I must have it back. Come, let us retrieve it before we venture further. Ah, but there is not room for me in your group. A choice, it seems, is before you.
Yoshimo. I regret to inform you that our time together draws now to a close.
I do not wish to end our pairing before our tasks are done, but perhaps a rest is in order. Are you sure you wish to go separate paths?
We don't need your services right now. Sorry Yoshimo.
Where do you want to meet if we are to adventure again together?
Go to the Copper Coronet. If we need you, we'll find you there.
I don't know what happened to the rest of the screenshots of Mekrath's lair. I took them before the trouble happened, so I'm at a loss here. It wasn't much lost, at least.
We fairly easily found the gem and returned to the Bridge District.
Once inside, more
Huh. Well, there's been several people comin' by to look for you, not to mention your actor friends were all concerned.
People have been looking for me? Aye?
Yup, you were missed. Pretty woman just the other day... oh, yes, and a tall fellow dropped this off for you. Told me to pass his thanks on to you.
A diamond, hm? Well, the berk must have liked it very much, indeed. Thank you, goodman Thunderburp, you are a giant of courtesy and a gentleman, besides.
Ha! And flattery like that may just get you a free ale. On your way now, you strange big'un, you.
After that, we returned to Raelis Shai and the Sigil Troupe.
We bring it with us, Miss Raelis, that we might have all the more reason to celebrate.
Ah, Mekrath's prize! It shall be our salvation yet! Here, Asim: 300 gold for the rescue of my bard and a further 700 for the gem.
...You paid more for the gem than Haer'Dalis?
Haer'Dalis, tell them the truth of what we are about while I prepare the summoning of the conduit.
Yes, Miss Raelis. Ah... my ravens, there be a tale between us that is long overdue: forgive me if I led you to believe that yon gem was just a worthless bauble for the stage. In truth it be something far more interesting: a planar jewel... a nexus between the Astral Plane and the Prime Material Plane, in which we are, currently. Few of you primes would sense its presence but Mekrath did and so it was that I fell into his keeping. Luckily, he had not rid himself of it before your timely recue.
Why did you lie to me, Haer'Dalis?
'Tis true, I lied to you and not once as you might think, but twice... The stone was not even mine but Mekrath's and I was sent to steal it. I'm just an actor on the run, nothing more. A single play has left me a wretched man, my ravens. A single, wrongheaded satire I didn't even write...
What play, Haer'Dalis, and how?
'Twas only the Lady of Pain, herself, Mistress of all Sigil, who through her unplumbed whimsy sent us careening through a portal to emerge where we are now, in this place you know as Amn.
But the price upon your heads, is it not still there?
Aye, my questioning hounds, one does not satirize Duke Rowan Darkwood, factol of the Fated, and expect to live a life of safety... A wretched cambion hunts us as we speak and has apparently tracked us down to the Prime Material, though he has yet to make his move. Which brings us back to where this whole tale began, that is to the planar stone you rescued from damned Mekrath's rubble.
Of course, the planar stone and whatever it is that Raelis is summoning.
To travel between planes, we birds of flight can pass through what are called young conduits, whipping snake-like tubes that writhe within the Astral Plane, their heads and tails clinging to different parts of the multiverse. The planar stone acts like a charmer's pipe upon these conduits, bringing them to us that we might enter and pass through. Miss Raelis is playing the stone as we speak that our company might slip through our hunter's grasp and find another stage. The play must go on, you know.
Haer'Dalis, everyone, gather round. The stone is ready to begin the summoning... As the conduits open they will bring something with them. We will do what we can to hold off whatever beasts come, the better to determine which route be safest. Asim, your presence here would be appreciated. Will you stay with us?
We shall hold off these creatures as best we are able. Tell me when you find the right tunnel.
Whenever you are ready, Miss Raelis.
After some minor chaos involving annoying beasties...
Who are you and what business do you have with us?
Oh, just an employee of an old acquaintance of yours in Sigil. Duke... what was his name? Darkwood? Yes, Duke Darkwood, that was it, wasn't it... You really oughtn't have done that play, you know...
The Duke? Asim, these tieflings are in grave danger, even more than thou canst imagine.
Indeed they are.
We were set up. We performed it under the assumption that it was fiction. The playwright never told us otherwise.
Ah yes, the infamous anonymous playwright. Now who was he, anyway, we never did learn.
Neither did we... he wore a mask and met with us in the alleyways. It doesn't matter... Come, my bards. It appears 'tis time to make our reckoning.
What of these others? Who are you humans? Surely Raelis did not hire you in the hope that you would save her?
If you want these people you will have to go through me.
Fool! I don't need to involve you. Already I have the souls of these ones attuned. Let it begin!
SO! Quick poll. All in favor of charging blindly through this conduit, say "aye".
These tieflings are liars and thieves! They do not deserve aid!
Well, Anomen, two things. One, it's four votes to one. Two, NO ONE CARES WHAT YOU THINK.
...Thank you, Jan. Anyway, let the charging blindly commence! HUZZAH!