Part 7: MainiPart 007: Maini
Also no one, no one bring up the Toronto in casual conversation with the locals.
But isn't finding the Toronto the goal of our quest, Tom?
If something the size of the Toronto landed around here, it'll be the hot gossip everyone will bring up anyway. If we ask about it, someone's going to request that we travel through the Haunted Caves of Hoodool to fetch their laundry, do their shopping and mow their lawn.
Is this a tortured way to explain why there are no dialogue options to ask about the Toronto anywhere on Maini?
While on Gratogel, we could ask every major authority figure about the Toronto, here we literally can't bring it up in conversation at all, for some strange reason. Possibly because it might make the player think there was no reason to hang around Maini well before they encountered the main quest here...
Let's ask some of the locals for directions.
You cannot and need not understand everything.
Which is actually what Tom says in the game, not any of my improvised dialogue. At this point I also realized there was something I needed to share.
The walk cycles for the human NPC's not wearing dresses in the 3D mode are just amazing sometimes, by which I mean just amazingly comical, especially combined with the way they skate around the place and always face you.
Like that, I don't understand that. How the hell are you walking that way?
Please, Tom, remain calm. I think he's going to call the guards if you keep yelling.
Beloveno is pretty large, about as big as Jirinaar, the first city in the game. One thing that's helpful is that in the city areas, to distinguish enterable from non-enterable buildings, the non-enterables, the ones you can completely put out of your mind, have closed doors. So you don't need to go bash your face against every door in a given city location to figure out which ones you can interact with.
The guards refuse to let us out unless we engage with the plot first, such as it is on Maini, which is plot-wise probably one of the weaker stretches of the game.
Well, guys, guess we have to find the council hall!
Yes, Tom, that's what the guard just said.
He's just saying it out loud so he can walk into some random people's homes pretending he hasn't noticed the council hall is the huge building on the west side of Beloveno.
Is this the council hall?
Judging by all the people with visible sores and ulcers, I'd say this is the local healer.
Good thing we won't need that, a good night's sleep cures almost anything for us and drugs cure the rest.
I'd been wondering about that, personally, but I'm not going to look a gift horse in the mouth.
You can pay healers to, well, heal you, but it's a fool's game. Grabbing some rations and sleeping is cheaper and restores both hit points and spell points, you might need it if something sticks you with a condition you lack the potions for, or if you're a dumbass and grab an unidentified magical item and equip it, but outside of that, healers serve no purpose.
Truly there's a lack of trust in Beloveno, almost everyone here locks their doors.
I certainly can't imagine why.
-and remember, stop him if he gets near alcohol.
Was it really that bad, Rainer?
He was literally shitfaced for a week stumbling through the woods, believe me.
As far as I can tell, despite this being a bar, I literally couldn't find a single NPC to help me get Tom drunk, also despite multiple people telling me about the local liquor, Sugo. Most people inside also have just one bit of dialogue, rather than being "full" NPC's you can talk to.
I was talking to everyone because I expected someone, somewhere, to mention Siobhan, where she was, or to indicate that she was recruitable. But all that I could find was people mentioning Khunag and what a weird basement-dwelling goon wizard he is.
Sounds like an unhealthy relationship, dragging other people into dangerous and uncomfortable situations where they don't want to be...
Does it remind you of anything, Tom?
I don't know why you try, Sira.
I can't believe he's this bad, there must be something decent in him deep down.
Drirr! Check it out! You can take everything off the tables here!
On it, Tom!
Obviously I don't actually steal anything off the tables, on account of it having no value to the local pawn shops.
Eventually I find the one character in the tavern who actually has an amount of dialogue to engage with.
Well, I'm going to say that I enjoy it, even though the devs left in no way for me to get shitfaced in Beloveno.
Hmm, normally it taketh a very long time to acquire a tathte for it, thee? But I'll believe you. Ath long ath you don't drown your thorrowth with it...
You wouldn't bring up drowning your sorrows if we couldn't ask you about it.
Well, what would you thay if you couldn't trutht the motht important people in the thity? The Counthil of the Jutht thhould be for the people. For the thecond time now I've had a quarrel with my neighbor. It wath over real ethtate, and we were quarreling about ownerthhip. Our withe counthil thhould make a jutht decithion in catheth like thith. But in both catheth a juddthment wath made whidth wathn't favorable for me or my neighbor. The counthil thimply confithcated the property, thee? I don't underthtand it. Thomething ithn't right in that counthil.
The Council of the Jutht, I mean, Just?
It's our government, see? Herras is the president, and with him are Riko, Perron and Gard.
Hang on, where did your lisp go?
I just had something stuck in my teeth, see?
They only bothered to give Aurino his lisp for dialogue specific to him, not for any of the generic dialogue you can get from most talkative people in Beloveno.
Well, some guy at the harbor said we should ask everyone about Kounos-
Kounos is the little village where people still have a traditional lifestyle. The path to Kounos is arduous and difficult to describe since the village lies on the mountain plateau. Just try to find the rock walls on which large, climbing plants grow. With a little exertion, you can climb up onto the plateau. Kounos is pretty far up, but if you really look for it, you will find it.
Srimalinar is a beautiful little Iskai village. It lies to the north of Beloveno on the other side of the mountain. Just like the inhabitants of Kounos, religion plays an important role in the lives of the people of Srimalinar. There is a shrine which they visit regularly near their city. There is also a magician's guild.
-and the Mountain Pass.
That is correct, there is a path over the mountain range which connects the north side and south side of our continent. It is a very narrow, barely recognizable path because it is rarely used. It goes past Kounos and then continues north to Srimalinar. I have never been there and, therefore, can give you no information about it."
Any place that's about a "traditional lifestyle" always make me wonder if it's meant earnestly or as a cover for "when there were no minorities around."
Kounos isn't so bad, I used to know the guy in charge, Kontos.
Tell us more about him.
I've known Kontoth for a long time. Long ago, he wath a nithe guy and you could talk with him eathily, but not any more, oh no. Some yearth ago he began to fool around with black magic and religion, and now he thinkth that he if the thmartetht Druid on the planet, thee? He uthed to live here in Beloveno, but then he got thriendly with Riko and ever finthe he hath gotten more and more aloof. He hath a lot of followerth now from Kounoth who believe in hith theorieth. Well, tho be it. I think motht of them will realithe thoon enough that he ith no longer completely thane.
I'm sure this extensive backstory will at no point become relevant.
On the way out of the bar, though, I encounter something odd, trying to talk to one of the locals for some flavour text.
He won't stand still so I can select him, and I accidentally select the chair next to him instead...
What the hell?
The game emits a loud beep and hits me with a dialogue prompt.
Guys, what should I ask this chair?
...Tom are you quite okay?
Poor chair, he has it so rough.
Let's get the hell out of here.
Put me down!
Drirr, do not let go of him.
I'm sane, I tell you!
He's squirming, I can't hold on to him!
Just a minute longer, Drirr, I'm about to get you some help, one of the bar patrons told me she'd be just around the corner...
Block the door until he settles down and talks to her, Drirr.
So the weird thing is that no one in this house acknowledges that Siobhan is there at all, they don't even mention her. Is she there working for them? Is she just some armed stranger who kicked in the door and sat down at the dinner table one day?
Do you have any experience subduing violently struggling people without harming them?
Is this about your friend who's bouncing off the walls and addressing the furniture?
Yes. After that we need you to go with us on a dangerous adventure with no guarantee of compensation except for being splattered with gore at every turn and being given the biggest sword we can buy you.
...that was much easier than expected.
It doesn't matter to me where I go and what goals you pursue, as long as I can travel around the world, learn about new things, and exercise myself in battle. But you will have to help me finish my current job.
This doesn't sound too bad, what are you working on currently?
It's an extermination job, these people have a few pests in the basement.
We can handle those bugs! We've killed demons! Let us at 'em!
Now, my personal explanation for Siobhan is the exterminator one, because the house does in fact have a basement full of pests.
A lot of pests, a huge swarm of demon wasps each the size of a large dog.
That was a bracing warm-up. Now what was that about buying me a big sword?
On the way to sword store, I get everyone a nap at the local inn. It's equivalent to sleeping on the ground outside, but they won't let me leave yet and I can't just sleep on the streets, sadly. While hassling the other patrons I come across this guy:
Who entertained me more than he really should have.
And this happened outside, one of the NPCs was loaded down with a short novel's worth of dialogue that she spits at the party and then walks away.
And then we reach the sword store.
Well keep your eyes open, kid, you're about to see some great stuff getting bought.
Because this store sells Danu's Light. It's a non-unique weapon that just about anyone can equip(even Drirr, despite it being technically a human weapon), does the third-highest damage of any melee weapon in the game, adds a massive +20 boost to Speed and +15 to Close Combat while held, and on top of that it has a limited number of charges of the spell Lifebringer which heals every party member.
With three melee characters, then, we'll want at least one, and as promised it'll go to Siobhan after a large amount of selling loot and some amount of swapping around gear.
How come she gets a huge magic sword right after she joined? I never even got one!
You can have the next magic sword we find, Drirr, I'm sure it'll be even more powerful than hers.
Not a chance he'll look anywhere near as cool as I do, though. Where to next?
We're going to visit the local seat of government.
Hm, I didn't sign up for regime change but-
No! We're just going there so they'll open the gates for us and we can explore the island.
Alright gang, we're in. Let's split up and look for anything they haven't nailed down.
How about instead we all stick together so we don't get arrested?
Big place, nice decor.
This is the biggest human city outside of Umajo Kenta.
Swords and armor are always fitting clothes.
Maybe she's referring more to the fact that we're still wearing the same shirts we crash-landed in weeks ago.
Yeah, the guards at the gate won't let us out without the Council's permission so now we're perilously close to getting suckered into a sidequest.
I'm too busy looking ambiguously villainous, go bother one of the others instead.
What a jerk, let's try the next one instead.
What's up with your buddy?
My colleague Riko is somewhat taciturn, but a fine fellow. I should also mention that our colleague Perron is quite sensitive and sees all kind of specters. Don't let yourself be worried by him. Finally there is Herras, the council president. You can visit all of us. I hope you enjoy your stay in our beautiful city. We will try to make it as pleasant as possible. If you need something, let me know. I'm always here for you.
But you won't actually do anything useful for us.
Exactly. But I'm going to make a lot of comforting noises until you leave me alone.
Point gotten, we're going now.
It's probably just a decorative chest, or full of cutlery.
But I won't actually know because the door is locked, and it's driving me crazy.
...why is he mashing his face against the wall repeatedly while grunting?
Usually the answers to these questions won't make you any happier, Siobhan.
Look, it's simple, I'm trying to phase through the wall so I can reach the treasure chest! Trust me, I've done this before!
The game has a very relaxed attitude to walls and their permeability, if you can get the "interact" box through them, you can interact with stuff on the other side. Unfortunately the devs caught on to this trick enough to put some furniture in the way so Tom can't loot this chest he isn't meant to be looting for an update or two yet.
You guys keep an eye on him while I find another politician to talk to.
-little village by the name of Kounos on this mountain range. On the north side there is a small Iskai village called Srimalinar. Near there is a holy shrine, but there have been rumors recently that horrible creatures have been seen there. Now then, I wish you all the best for your journey. And come by again!
Dear God, I only just said hello!
I'm sorry, but we haven't established a tourist board yet so I feel responsible for informing every newcomer to the city.
So about that Iskai shrine, you're not the first to mention something's up with it.
Well, I'm still not sure if there is anything to it, but I have heard that more and more horrible creatures are coming out of the shrine there. But you better not go there anyway; there is a taboo which prohibits humans from entering the shrine, and it belongs to the Iskai.
Well thank you for the information, I should see how my friends are doing.
I couldn't do it, Rainer, the wall must be reinforced with crystal-energy force fields.
There was a potted plant in the way so he couldn't reach his hand through a crack in the wall.
...let's just talk to the last of them and get out of here.
Just lay the last of the exposition on us so we can get out of here.
You are interested in the council? I will be glad to tell you about it. The Council of the Just has existed for generations. I have been a member for five years. There are two other council members : Gard and Riko. Then there is the council president, Herras. He is a wise person and I am glad that he is in the council. Unfortunately, I can't say that about all of them. Sometimes it seems that Gard and Riko do not take their tasks seriously unless it directly interests them. We often make decisions which I don't think are in the best interest of the people, and Gard and Riko are responsible. I don't like to say bad things about people, but sometimes it is necessary to tell the truth. I believe Gard and Riko are here more for their own interest than that of the people. But that's only my opinion. Talk with other people, maybe they will have a different opinion. Have you been to Kounos yet? Just talk with Kontos, Darios and other people. They all know Gard and Riko, even though they sometimes deny it.
Pretty much everyone says someone in here is a selfish dickhead, and since two out of four named people in here have been unwilling to give us the time of day, I think we know who it is.
Alright, let's go talk to Kontos the evil wizard, foil whatever scheme he's got going and then get on with the plot.
Onwards, to adventure!
I thought everyone else was noting down the directions to Kounos when we got them!
I assumed you'd ignore me even if I did.
Tom usually gets us where we're meant to go.
As much as I hate to admit it, that's true, and by now we know all the places Kounos isn't.
Alright, I gotta ask. We've been out here a week and this one guy hasn't said a word, what's his deal?
Mellthas is mute, Siobhan.
Huh. That explains the notes he keeps writing, I thought he was just too awed by my martial prowess to say anything.
So more or less for a literal in-game week I got the party lost in the sticks of Maini. There's a huge swathe of the island east-southeast of Beloveno that doesn't connect to anything else, and has nothing in it except for more Triifalai seeds and aggressive wildlife. On the bright side everyone is now several levels beefier than when we arrived.
Thank the Goddess, we found a road again.
Hah, as if that little fence and lock would stop us if we wanted to explore the cave on the other side, right?
The sign says the cave is dangerous, I'm sure that ignoring a clearly posted warning is breaking the law.
You actually have to enter the cave from the far end to come out this way as a shortcut to save you having to trek all the way back to the entrance.
No wonder few people go to the other half of the island when you literally have to climb vines to get there. Here's hoping these plants are healthy enough to support all six of us at once.
Please let this be the right place, my arms are gonna come off at the shoulders if we have to do any more climbing.
Shame we got here at 2AM, the locals are all going to be asleep.
Rainer, have you ever seen any of the locals asleep?
...now that you mention it.
Either they don't sleep or they've adapted to be awake any time we are.
...the locals do not seem quite right.
And I'm happy to see your friends as well, of course, my home is their home.
No, Tom, he doesn't mean you can take his stuff.
You picked a poor time to visit, though, Kontos made another one of his speeches recently, and while I don't doubt his intelligence, what he says is a bit... radical.
How so, friend of Mellthas?
Well, he keeps veering on to the subject of exterminating the Iskai to secure a future for human children.
For once I think that Tom's willingness to kill and steal may have found a deserving target.
We could also just tell Tom that Kontos is hiding treasure in the cellar under the tavern and let nature take its course.
Please, step aside, we're building inspectors, here to verify that the basement is built to code.
Okay, we're here to steal from your boss, if you let us through we'll give you a cut.
You're hardly the first to make that kind of offer.
My idiot friend Rainer is dying of a rare disease, and only seeing Kontos can cure him.
I take offense at this.
Please just leave.
Well, while I figure out the rhetorical trickery that will get Nodd out of the way, we may as well take advantage of this trainer.
I have no idea why the NPC's here call this guy Otikro, everyone else calls him Garadd.
This is the guy that taught me to fight, I'm sure he could teach you all a thing or two.
I take advantage of Garadd's services, which are notable as he's the only available Critical Hit teacher in the game. Far as I can tell your Critical Hit skill is a percentile change to just drop staggering amounts of hurt on an enemy, something like 3x the normal damage you'd do, but of course he takes almost a thousand gold per point he'll train you in and most characters cap out at between 5 and 10 points of it, so it's kind of a luxury option.
Then, beefed up, I go back to Nodd.
Not you again.
Stand aside, moron!
That does it, you've got this coming!
And pick a fight.
So Nodd is a pain in the ass to deal with if you decide to do this the hard way. He has 350 Health, more than any enemy so far, he hits hard enough to drop anyone in two hits, has a chance of critting them out with a single blow, can cast Boasting to make anyone Panic and is wholly immune to being frozen. Frost Splinter doesn't even damage him, he doesn't resist it, any turn spent casting that on him is just wasted.
This is how the first attempt ended. Siobhan, Mellthas and Rainer dead, Tom and Drirr panicked off the battlefield.
The second fight didn't go a whole lot better, I still had about half the party panicked off the battlefield by Boasting, but eventually I managed to wear him down, thus allowing me the privilege of looting his body and Kontos' cellar. I kept spamming Blinding Light at him from Sira, but I have no idea how much of an effect that had, while the spell stuck, it was very vague whether it affected his odds of hitting at all, or how much.
Kontos' cellar is a proper dungeon, complete with doors, traps and tons of vermin running all over the place. Of course, Kontos is also here, a literal basement-dwelling goon that you can hassle.
Are you the old basement-dweller who wants to ethnically cleanse the countryside?
I don't want to boast, but I am the most respected and competent magician in the area. For many years, I have been concerned with religious theories... Why am I telling you this? You obviously do not have the scientific knowledge needed to comprehend such information.
"Religious theories" is a cute term for it, why don't you tell us more about those?
From time to time, I must improve the general knowledge of the inhabitants of Kounos. To do this I arrange a kind of religious service... I guess using that word should allow you to understand. This way my tribal brothers have already attained great knowledge. They are thankful for this and rightly so, if you ask me. I have an extremely important position here and I only mean well for Kounos and it's inhabitants. I give meaning to their lives. Now they have something to live for, and believe me that is crucial. I don't think you will be able to understand the principles of our entire religion in just a few minutes. Therefore, I will just outline it: leadership by our Supreme Lord and the continuous improvement of our culture are the most important parts of our religion.
So racism and never questioning you.
I'm sure people told you horrible tales about me, and you wish to know what I think about them? You know, as long as I can concentrate on my goals I do not care what others think about me. I know my work is for a good reason and has decisively improved the lives of many people. You should concern yourself with real problems, not me. I would also like to give you some real advice: Just talk with the Iskai yourself, then you will see where the problems originate. Those pig-headed people! I only have to think about Edjirr, the tavern host... Arrim is even worse. Convince yourself. Talk with those conceited people in Srimalinar.
Please, keep incriminating yourself.
There is something dangerous in the north of the continent, right near the Iskai village of Srimalinar. There is a cellar there which the Iskai have considered their possession and shrine for generations now. They regularly hold religious ceremonies there and have imposed a taboo on the place and its surroundings. This taboo is strictly observed by everyone. That is the official version and what everyone in the area believes. But it is not the truth! The humans are gullible and they gladly believe anything. Nobody thought to investigate that place's secret, but I have done so! The truth is that under the cover of a 'holy shrine', the Iskai have been researching powerful black magic. They have been experimenting with new forces which even I wouldn't dare use. I probably don't need to mention the dangers that lurk in such an enterprise, and how easily things can get out of control when amateur magicians are fooling around with forces which are way beyond their capabilities. However, they have chosen to do it and now they are paying the consequences. The forces have grown too powerful for them. A completely uncontrollable situation has arisen. Those horrible creatures near the site are only the first indications of the growing danger which emerges from that place. We will have to do something about it before long. And even if the Beloveno council thinks it is not necessary to get involved, we in Kounos will not sit by idly!
It sounds extremely believable that the Iskai with their magic plants are filling an area with demons and not the guy who secretly researches "fire magic" in a basement, fire magic that we've seen before will easily fill a dungeon with demonic dickheads.
No, I'm being sarcastic, so now we're going to go through the rest of this guy's basement so we can find some incriminating evidence and not get arrested when we eventually gut him like a fish and loot his body.
I then promptly say my goodbyes and go to do just that.
Around the corner we run into a new enemy, the Rinrii. They're not particularly dangerous, exceptionally unrewarding in XP, and killing a few of them tends to make the entire formation run away.
There's a hallway with coloured windows on either side that change colour when pressure plates in front of them are pressed, obviously a puzzle of some sort we need to find the solution for.
And down a long, adjacent corridor, we find this sign, right next to a chest containing...
Another one of these wonderful +50 Strength amulets. It didn't even have any guards! So let's just turn around and l-
Any clever ideas, Tom?
Well if I'd still had all those buckets of water, we could have extinguished it and walked across safely...
The human body holds a lot of blood, if we cut open Rainer we could use his blood for it instead.
No, wait! I know what the solution is! One person must sacrifice themselves to carry everyone else across!
It will be agonizing, but possible!
I won't let everyone else down!
The end is in sight, now Tom will respect me as an equal!
I made it! I-
Drirr? Snap out of it, while you were zoning out, Rainer complained that it was completely illogical and went to punch a wall-
-so we didn't have to sacrifice him to cool the embers after all. What were you thinking about over there, anyway?
So the amulet is really good, but when you grab it, it spawns a bunch of all-party-damaging tiles on the way back. You CAN have someone drag everyone else's unconscious body across, chugging healing potions in between damage ticks, or if you mash your face against all the walls you can find the illusory one and make such a sacrifice pointless, then go down to the second level of the dungeon/basement.
The second floor is a sprawling network of rooms again filled with vermin, though more varieties than just the Rinrii this time around.
The dinosaur-looking guys on the left are Kizz whose main thing is having high magic resistance. The tier 1's aren't too notable for it, but the higher-tier ones can shrug off close to all spells, especially if they're not fully trained by the caster.
The weird yellow lizard-pigs are Brogg, whose gimmick is mostly just being ranged attackers that throw rocks at you. You can pick up the rocks after the fight and use them yourself, but predictably they're inferior ranged weapons to just about every other option.
Eventually you find the combination for the colour-shifting barriers up above and you might think that's the goal of the dungeon... no, it's actually just like 60 gold worth of rewards behind such an elaborate key system. Instead, you're faced with using a movable glass wall to redirect fireballs into other glass walls so they explode, revealing a path behind them-
Does Kontos do this every time he wants to fetch something from his basement?!
That's druids for you, never quite right in the head.
-Which actually isn't even where the actual goal of the dungeon is hiding!
Instead in a random chest in a random corner of the basement, you find this half document that Drirr is carrying around now, which is the real goal of the dungeon.
Well, what does it say?
I wish I could tell you, but we can't read it until we find the other half.
...let's just get out of here and get to Srimalinar, I can't deal with any more druid bullshit until I've had a drink.