Part 9: The circus: Home to really, really stupid illusionary crap
Chapter 6 - The circus: Home to really, really stupid illusionary crap
As we returned to the Promenade to perhaps purchase some spells, if possible, we were accosted by a violent, racist man.
Who then verbally attacked Saerileth for her resemblance to the Elves. When she denied that she was an Elf, he then proceeded to physically attack her.
He was swiftly slain by a nearby guard.
Wow, first time in a long time I've actually been glad to have a city guard nearby.
Now, why would THAT be, citizen?
Oh, something involving the entire Flaming Fist heirarchy being overthrown by my evil half-brother by means of dopplegangers, followed closely by him framing me of the murder of his foster father and his cronies.
I... See. Er, carry on, Citizen. I assure you we in Amn are far better at what we do than the Flaming Fist.
Yeah, I'm sure you are...
Following that, I was understandably curious regarding Saerileth's resemblance to the Elves, so I asked.
Saerileth, you don't look like a normal human.
[Saerileth laughs and touches the points of her ears.] I do forget that in the Prime these differences are of more import. My family is touched by the eladrin. Long ago, the first father of the Lords of Everspring did great service to the Lady of the Stars, Queen Morwel. In gratitude she invited him to the Court of Stars. He could not accept being tied by love to Mount Celestia. To repay him, then, the Queen of the eladrin touched him. From that day to this, all of his line have had some touch of the eladrin to them. My father hath hair of azure, and my eldest brother Caladus hath emerald skin. I have the ears of the Eladrin, and I can see in the dark as they do.
So, in essence, you number amongst the Aasimar, not the humans?
I suppose 'tis so, Asim, but I had not priorly realized it to be so.
In the back of the Adventurer's Mart, there was a woman who sold scrolls, much against the law of the Cowled Wizards.
What is it that you sell?
Magical scrolls. Illegal of course, which is why I must charge so much for them.
Have you no fear of the Cowled Wizards?
Those pompous fools? They are as corrupt as anyone else in this city, if you know who to talk to. Now, are you interested or not?
Perhaps you could tell me who to talk to amongst the Cowled Wizards, then. I'd be interested in that.
Aye, I'd imagine you would be. One of the wizards by the name of Corneil decides who gets license to use magic, here. Bring plenty of coin if you go to see him. You can probably find him in the government building in the Government District. Now... would you like to see what I have to offer or not?
Sure, let me see what you have.
Asim, why wouldst thou seek to so subvert the government? Art thou a criminal?
No, Saerileth. How can I aid people magical power if the law prevents me from using it? If the official who would grant me the ability to do so demands a bribe, then so be it.
But, 'tis still the law, Asim.
Yes, but is it what is right and just? Should the laws of evil men be upheld as well?
Dost thou believe this law is evil?
Indeed I do, Saerileth. If the governing body demands conformity, demands that they have an absolute monopoly on power, they are evil.
And how dost thou know so much of the Cowled Wizards that thou canst so pass judgement?
I do hate to interject in this little debate, but Asim is quite right. I know that the Cowled Wizards do exactly as he says, and I have lived here for some time. They are not just and good as the Order of the Most Radiant Heart.
Then perhaps thou art correct, Asim.
Looking back, the whole concept of Anomen being right about much of anything gives me that whole parallel universe "up is down, black is white" feeling, but it was pretty welcome at the time.
We purchased a scroll of Wizard Eye from her. It is most suited for scouting and distractions.
From Ribald Barterman himself we obtained a scroll of Breach, which strikes down the majority of protective enchantments. It was promptly scribed into my spellbook, as it should have been.
As we walked by a large circus tent, the guard within hailed us with a warning.
Why? What has occurred, here?
We are not exactly sure. There was no problem until a show was scheduled earlier in the morning. Apparently the show began well enough... and then something occurred. Nobody has come out of the tent who went in for the show... and everyone we have sent in to investigate has not come out, either. Foul magic is, no doubt, involved her. We are waiting for the Cowled Wizards to arrive. They will be able to solve this, I am sure.
I can handle myself. Perhaps I can solve this problem for you.
Very well, then. I'll not stop you if you wish to risk yourself, citizen. You were warned.
We should be careful, Asim... there's no telling what is going on within if the city guards can't handle it. Be prepared for anything, is what I always say.
*sniff* My momma's still inside. They says she can't come out.
What are you talking about, child?
My momma went into the tent to see a show. But somethin' happened and now nobody comes out. There's guards who won't let nobody in anymore, too. But my momma's in there! I want my momma!
I'll go and see if I can find your mother, alright? Just calm down and be brave.
*sniffle* O-okay, sir.
We must help this child! I will find who took his mother and teach them a thing or three about decency, respect, and keeping their hands off peoples' parents!
Thou art most correct in thy assessment, Minsc. Asim, let us make haste in our aid!
Wasting no time, we entered the tent, then promptly froze at the sight that awaited us.
Well, I suppose it's pretty safe to say that magic is most definitely involved here! No doubt about it. This reminds me of the time when Cousin Irony dabbled with a combination of illusions and wild magic. He never DID get his hair to stop opening portals to Baator. Well, not until the gryphon killed him, anyway.
Uhh... Yes, that's... Lovely. Note to self - pray fervently before casting spells. Anyhow, there seems to be nothing to do beyond crossing the bridge.
Across the bridge, there was a genie. Because genies apparently are involved in everything that annoys me. Wait, does this mean Anomen is the result of a genie? An interesting concept.
And why would I want to pass over this bridge?
Because it is symbolic of your progression to enlightenment and understanding, fool. Are you ready to proceed?
I'd prefer to know who this Kalah is before I play any of your games.
Kalah does not reveal himself to those who are not worthy. Are you ready to begin?
Very well, I am ready.
Excellent! A princess is as old as the prince will be when the princess is twice as old as the prince was when the princess' age was half the sum of their present age. Which of the following, then, could be true?
The prince is 30 and the princess is 40.
Ah, you are correct. The mighty Kalah respects those with a most agile and quick mind. Proceed across with my blessing.
And we then entered a vast structure; one which certainly could not have fit inside the Promenade, let alone the circus tent. We were then greeted by an ogre, which hailed us with a woman's voice.
Who are you talking about? Who's killed everyone?
Kalah! Oh, I don't know what he's done, exactly, or how... but everything in here is an illusion! But it's magic that can hurt you, if you believe in it... Oh, you probably don't understand, do you? I... I don't know what he's done to the tent or with the others who have come in, but their deaths are real! You must run!
I'm not going anywhere until I get a full explanation.
Oh, I hope you don't end up like the others... like the others! But, alright... m-my name is Aerie. I... work in the circus with my uncle, Quayle... I don't know exactly what happened, but everything changed a few days ago... everything became chaos and turned into what you see here. Although it all isn't real, it's an illusion... The minions... they all say they serve Kalah, so I know he's behind all of this... he's an illusionist in the circus, but I don't understand how he was able to do all of this! He must be stopped! Before he hurts any more people! Please... if... if you release me from my chains, I can help you stop him!
Why can I not just dispel the illusions of this place?
I don't know... I tried, earlier, when this first happened. Kalah's spells are too powerful, somehow. He's... he's never been that good, though, so I don't know what he's done... If you free me, though, together we can find out and stop him! And... and hopefully rescue my Uncle, Quayle...
How do I release you, then?
You... you need the key to these chains. But... but it won't look like a key! There are a couple of... commoners... in the north side of this chamber... Don't be fooled by the illusion, though... they are monsters! They have a sword which is actually my key... if you get it from them, I can remove the chain and regain my normal form! But please be careful! You... you can't trust anything you see, here!
On the way to the north side of the chamber, we met a talking spider. Talking. Spider. Because the place needed MORE stupid, annoying crap. Attention, Kalah's tormented spirit, wherever you are being tortured at: I hate you. I hate you SO. MUCH.
What exactly is going on here?
Oh, I don't know! All I know is that I came into the tent to watch the performanc. A gnome came on the stage and began to perform some kind of magical act. It was quite silly... it was obvious that whatever the gnome was trying to do wasn't working. His magic fizzled and everyone started laughing! I thought it was part of the act, so I laughed too! And then everything began changing! People started transforming into creatures and then back into themselves. The world shifted somehow and I felt so sick and horrified...
You know, I'm so sick of these evil gnomish illusionists giving the rest of us a bad name. Some of us just want to be mobile vegetable peddlers, but are forced into adventuring by government monopoly schemes. Someday, I shall realize my dream of a free market for turnips! But back to this gnome, he certainly seems to deserve a good Flasher to the face and no turnips for desert!
...I think I passed out. When I woke up, I had been turned into this... into this... monstrosity! I... I don't know what to do! My son didn't come into the tent with me and I'm frightened to think what may have happened to him!
Who are these peasants here?
They're... they're not people! They're vicious and dangerous! I've seen them kill people... you must stop them!
I'll try. Tell me... do you know where this 'Kalah' is?
No, no I don't. But that woman over there seems to know something about him. Perhaps if you talked to her...
I think that your son is still outside the tent. Wait here.
He is? Oh, I will! Oh, thank you!
Well, we approached the peasants.
Hey guys! I'll give you some centipede bagels if you'll give us the key to the ogre's illusion!
But they attacked us! I was quite dismayed. They did have the ogre's sword though, so I guess it wasn't a waste of time.
Aerie the ogre was quite overjoyed that we had the sword, of course.
Aye, as you wish.
I thank you for your trust. This sword... it is actually a key that unlocks the chain that powers my horrible illusion. *uses the sword* My... My hands... my skin, it's real again! Oh, thank you, Baervan! Oh, we must find Quayle... and stop Kalah before he does any more harm!
Wait here, then... I will go further into this citadel and will come back later.
Beware, not all things here are illusions. Close your eyes and strike back only if it hurts you... Oh, bring Quayle back safely, would you? He... he's been very good to me...
Wait, Quayle? I knew a Quayle, once. Met him up near Baldur's Gate. Gnomish cleric and illusionist, right?
Y-yes, that's right. Funny that you should know him, too!
Yes, that is... Anyhow, we'll be back once we defeat Kalah.
We went ever so slightly further into the citadel and were addressed by a half-dressed tart spouting dire warnings. Quite stupid, really. I hate you so much Kalaaaaaaaaah
Be thee not of impure heart or thou wilt surely destroy thyself. Kalah is the one Ruler, the One True Being.
Spout thee not such vile lies!
Uhh... Yes. Who exactly is Kalah and where is this realm of his that I have come to?
Kalah is beyond thy ken, mortal! He is the Beginning. He is the End. He is our God and our King. Tremble before him and he may take pity on thee.
I am my own person and not this Kalah's possession.
Bow before the will of thy betters, mortal! Kalah's rage is awesome to behold. Let not thyself be found in its path.
Where can I find Kalah?
Worry not, Lord, for Kalah has already found thee. Continue on thy path and if thee should find favor in Kalah's eyes then thou shalt surely be granted an audience.
We opted in favor of just dashing straight through everything to reach Kalah, because illusions are stupid. So, naturally, we were addressed by that damn genie again.
I am ready to proceed.
You do show some courage. Go then!
Yeah, I'll go. I'll go and kill this stupid Kalah so that all these illusions stop existing. I hate illusions so MUCH
And so, we went! And were addressed by Kalah and Quayle, who was apparently shapeshifted to a jelly of some sort.
At them, my shadows! If they be fools my other beasts will strike them down. If not, the task shall fall to you, my shades. The circus now truly begins!
some of these beasts are real, and some are illusions! Don't attack the illusions! If you attack the illusions, you'll have acknowledged them, and then their damage will become real to you.
Well, he died easily enough. Had some interesting things to say after his death.
*cough* You... you've killed me... destroyed Kalah with your misplaced morals and beastly greed for adventure...
You deserve to die, gnome. How many have suffered so that you might keep your delusions of grandeur?
I am Kalah the grand... but an illusionist in Amn is a criminal, and a gnome is a spectacle... I was a clown... I was promised a world where Kalah was master, where none would dare... Indifference killed those fools from the circus. I treat them in death as they were to me in life. A gnome gets no respect... I just wanted people to look up... to me. All that I have done...
I may hate Kalah eternally for that thoroughly stupid circus crap, but his tale is a truly sad thing, and serves as a precaution - be kind to others, lest they... summon giant illusionary worlds and torment and/or slay you? Eh, maybe it's not that applicable to the average person after all. Whatever.
Uncle Quayle, you're okay!
Ha! I knew Kalah would trip over himself, eventually. I'm just pleased he despised me enough to play with me rather than dispose of me like some of the others!
What would I ever do without you?
I... I think you need to find out, my dear. I've taught you everything I can. It's time, Aerie... time for you to learn the rest on your own.
You're the wisest and the smartest and the kindest man I'll ever know.
I wasn't always, my dear. You changed that. But I can't keep you here. Asim... you can provide for her better than I. Perhaps you will take her with you?
There is no room for her at my side, right now at least. Perhaps another time.
Come... Come back and visit, then. Maybe you'll have need of me in the future and I could travel with you. I'd like that.
As we went around speaking to the rest of the people in the circus tent, Saerileth had some more... "interesting" things to say.
Such perfections as thine are fit for a god himself, and a god of beauty in truth!
My *perfections*? What are you talking about?
Ah, Asim, thy perfections but begin with thy beauty. Thou art strong and fair, pure of heart - [Saerileth breaks off, embarrassed by her own enthusiasm. She impusively takes your hand and kisses it.]
[Saerileth strokes your hand for a moment. Then, her cheeks flushing becomingly, she withdraws to her place. Her eyes remain on you, however.]
Oh god she's watching me. Why is she watching me.
Kalah had two interesting treasures - a ring of Human Influence and a Girdle of Piercing.
We found the young boy's mother, the woman named Hannah.
She dashed out and we spoke with her son, who said
Thanks for saving my mother, sir! Papa will be so happy!
Hooray, that particular bit of stupid is done. I just went ahead and did the quest while you all voted. Still got a ways on that one, actually. I'll probably close the voting on it around 12PM EST tomorrow.
Archival Commentary - oh god it just occurred to me that I was basically writing fanfiction for this piece of shit when I added lines for her I AM SO ASHAMED RIGHT NOW