Chapter the Sixtieth: When One Cannot Right One's Own Wrongs, Right Another'sI walked down to the bar on the docks, Franklin in tow, and was none too surprised to find one Captain Edward Teach sitting at a table and enjoying a tall, frothy glass of ale. Franklin wandered over to him enthusiastically, although he did have a tendency towards enthusiasm in very nearly everything he did. "Hello there, Captain Teach! I thought I'd find you here! I've brought a new friend."
Captain Teach looked over at me with ale-fogged eyes and smiled in recognition. "Well, well... if'n it isn't me old friend. A friendly face is what I be needin' to see, lassie. The days have been dark since last we sailed..."
I stepped forward, giving old Teach a smile of my own, "What's happened, Captain Teach...? You don't look yourself. For one, you're on land."
Played you a fool, eh? "Do you think he cheated?"
Teach shook his head negatively, "Oh, I don't know if'n old Drake's a cheat. He's just lucky... about the luckiest old sea-dog I ever did meet. I can't be callin' a man a cheat just because the dice landed his way."
Hmm... I'd love to take it back from him, but even I can't steal an entire damned ship, and I'm certainly no good at dice... perhaps I could persuade him...? "Well... maybe I could do you a favor and help out... though I'd need to call on that favor mighty quickly."
He nodded, taking another swig of ale. "That's mighty nice of you, lassie. And you know if there's anything I can do for you, Old Teach'll do it..."
I suppose it's best to be up front about the matter, though if there's anybody in all of Arcanum that'll be willing to take us it'll be old Teach. "Thank you. I need to get to the Island of Thanatos."
Well, I certainly can't afford to buy my own damned boat... I'll never forget that time Frederick and I- ...oh, Frederick, it's been so long since I lost you and even still I'm thinking of you. "What are my other options?"
He shrugged, a helpless and pitiful gesture that showed how broken old Teach was without his ship, "You might be able to get a dice game with Old Drake, but he's no rubber-leg when it comes to the dice... he's lucky, and he plays for big stakes. I wouldn't be a'tossin' with him unless you feel REAL lucky. And he won't be a'playin' with just anyone. Old Drake knows a gambler when he sees one..."
I tossed the bartender a handful of coins, gesturing towards Teach's nearly-empty glass and he seemed to get the proper hint. "I'm terribly sorry, Teach, but I've really never been one to gamble. I'd love to help you, I really would... but... I'm not sure I can get your boat back from a man like that."
He drained the last of his ale and handed off the empty mug to the bartender as he arrived to set down a fresh one. "Well, there is one other thing... I'm a little leery of even mentionin' it... it's not somethin' I even like to think about, much less let spill outta me blowhole. But ye seem ta need some help..."
I felt terrible for being unable to do anything for Teach. At best, I could only hope that I'd have a boat leftover once I got back from Thanatos, and then perhaps I could give it to old Teach in thanks. "I'd really appreciate any help you might be able to give..."
It sounded like I was in for quite a tale. "No, you wouldn't tell me of it before..."
He took another swig of ale and set his mug down hard on the table. "Well, would ye like to hear it now?" I simply nodded. He cleared his throat and began, "Well, missy, by the time I could start growin' a beard, I'd sailed from one end of this land to the other, from the southern shores of Weeping Maidens to the northern ice-choked waters of the Jailer's Hump. Ain't nothin' of the sea I hadn't seen, and most of it twice...
At the time, I was runnin' ale outta Caladon, for a mean and crusty old cap'n who went by the name a' Jack Skellybones. Half pirate and half devil, with the mouth of a blue-gilled she-demon and the breath to match. Jack used to drink so much that we'd pray for tailwinds... if the journey'd take too long, he'd start drinkin' the profits..."
I chuckled at the thought of such a man. "Sounds like quite a character..." For some reason it really didn't surprise me that Teach had been involved in smuggling goods out of Caladon. I didn't mind, it wasn't as though I was Caladon's most respectable citizen anyhow.
"Interesting..." So, Teach got his boat from this Jack fellow, eh? "What happened to him, Captain?"
He shuddered, a rather unusual gesture to be coming from a man like him, "Well, one night we was all drinkin' in this very tavern, the Sour Barnacle, and old Jack got real drunk... and started in with his stories. As the night got on, the tales got taller and we laughed harder, and we were all havin' a grand old time...
Well, Jack had one too many, and started sayin' as to how he was the greatest pirate on the seas of Arcanum, and how if'n there was anyone who thought they were crustier, then he'd a'have something to say about it. He started a'spittin' and a'hollerin', and then, after upendin' every table in the place, he said that he was the greatest pirate who had EVER lived. Tougher than Ruby Dirk, and Black Sam Bellamy... and even meaner than Stringy Pete himself..."
Teach paused, looking at me to see if I followed. I could tell there was something I was missing, "Stringy Pete? Who's he?"
Wait... the very same pirate that desecrated the altar at Vooriden? By the Gods, I've heard of him after all! "I see. And what of Jack Skellybones?"
Teach shook his head sadly, continuing his story, "Well, after he said that, no one much felt like drinkin' after, and we put old Jack to bed. You see, a pirate is mean, but he knows what to be jokin' about, and blusterin' about... and a'callin' out to the ghost of Stringy Pete ain't one of 'em...
A week or so later we were out to sea, and it was the new moon so it was dark, and a strange westerly had appeared, and brought in a bank of low clouds, thick as lamb stew... and then we saw the other ship, just a'restin' off the starboard. Silent as death, and as still as if she was anchored... her sails tattered, her timbers rotted... and then we heard the screams...
Three years ago I'd have given you a funny look, Captain Teach, but now... now I'm rather inclined to believe you. "That's rather frightening..."
Teach sighed, finishing his story, "Bein' first mate, I took command, and ownership, of the Gypsy Shadow. I never seen that other boat, and I hope I never do."
I sincerely hoped that Teach wasn't saying what I thought he was saying. "I see... what does this have to do with getting to Thanatos?"
He took a rather long drink from his ale, slamming the mug down when he finished. "I'm sayin' I seen his boat, and I know it to be real! If you could get his boat, without gettin' yerself run-through by his ghost, you'd have yourself a boat..."
So it's either a game of dice, a small fortune, or chasing down an ancient, bloodthirsty pirate's ghost... why am I leaning towards the latter? "I was afraid you'd say that. How do you find a ghost pirate's boat?"
It was as good of a place to search as any, or at least that's what I told myself. It wasn't true by any stretch of the imagination, but I was never one to take a more direct approach anyhow. "At the very least I might find some clues..."
He stared at me for several moments, taking another swig of ale, "Yes, lassie, I agree. Here... I'll mark your map with the location of the cove." I handed my map to him and he jotted a piratey 'X' onto it. "Looks like you've got precious few options, and I don't like any of 'em, but good luck!"
I stood up from the table and tossed a few more coins at the bartender in thanks to Teach. "Thanks, Captain. I'll keep you abreast of the situation." I lingered only long enough to make sure the ale made it to the right person, and then I was off.
"So, let me get this right," Franklin pondered aloud, "Instead of going straight to Thanatos, we're going to trek halfway around the continent in search of the most bloodthirsty pirate bastard that ever lived... and then, if we should find him, we're to somehow convince him to let us use his ship without getting ourselves run through in the process?"
I stopped briefly at the train station, before purchasing tickets, "I think that's a rather accurate summary of our plans, yes. I could stop by and fetch you when we're ready to go to Thanatos if this little detour doesn't much interest you."
"Quite the opposite!" His voice thundered with that strange extreme of enthusiasm that seemed wholly unique to Franklin Payne. "This sounds like a smashing good time! Why, that pirate bastard is likely to try and slaughter the whole lot of us! Wonderful!"
If it had been anybody else, I would've mistook his words as sarcasm. "I'm glad to have you along, Mr. Payne." I grinned.
"Please, madam! Just call me Franklin!" We continued chatting even as I purchased tickets for the whole lot of us. I didn't want to waste any more time than completely necessary, and travel by rail was the quickest way to get around the Gulf of Morbihan.
"Fair enough, Franklin... and you can just call me Samantha." I handed our tickets to the conductor, and he directed us to our seats on the train.
"That sounds like a fair trade! Samantha it is!" It seemed like Franklin was going to make a fine addition to our strange little group. Virgil seemed a tad hesitant towards him, but he certainly amused Sebastian and Vollinger, and even Terry seemed to take a liking to him. We shared a very pleasant train ride the whole way to Tarant, and then made off towards the spot Teach marked on my map.
It was a long journey by foot, but there wasn't any shorter way to go about it without a boat of our own. Since we wouldn't really have need to bother if we had a boat in the first place, travel by foot was just the way it had to be. Franklin carried with him a rather surprising amount of supplies, taking well to the open plains. I'd expect no less from a man of his caliber. In turn, he seemed to be suitably impressed with how well traveled the rest of us were.
It took over two weeks of travel, but at last we finally arrived at our destination just as the sun reached its peak in the sky. The first thing I noticed when we arrived was a rather tiny rowboat tied just off the shore. Franklin looked at it, then pulled out a looking glass and stared across the water, "I say, there seems to be a rather tiny island Southwest of here! What say we check it out, eh Samantha?"
"That sounds grand." I smiled, hopping into the boat. Sebastian stared at the boat nervously as Virgil and Vollinger gently stepped in. At last Terry jumped aboard and gave an excited 'woof' at Sebastian, finally convincing him to join us.
In less than ten minutes we were already on the other side. Sebastian hopped out first, shuddering nervously, "I don't mind ships and the like, but I gotta tell you, I really hate those tiny little boats. Feels like they're gonna flip over any second and... I don't know how to swim."
I winked at him as I stepped out, "Come now, Sebastian... I'm sure Terry would save you if that happened." Franklin laughed uproariously, and Sebastian just gave Terry an odd look. He seemed to realize that I was probably right... it was so like Terry to do something like that.
We passed by a grave filled with loose dirt, and on it I saw the very symbol that teach had mentioned... the evil eye, drawn in a clear line in the dirt. The dirt had obviously been freshly disturbed, and yet that symbol somehow remained... I nervously looked up towards the opposite beach and there, standing on the docks, I saw him. I shuddered uncontrollably, but forced myself to move forward. I've dealt with plenty of bad things before, and if I don't go through with this I might have to deal with Arronax himself... Stringy Pete might be horrible, but he's got nothing on Arronax.
If nobody sees the bloody eye and lives, then how does anybody know it's the symbol of Stringy Pete? Answer me that one, you ego-inflated sack of bones. As irked as I was, I had to tread carefully. I didn't itch for a good fight anywhere near as badly as Franklin, and I wanted to deal with the ghost peacefully if at all possible. "Wait! I'm not here to take anything! I just want to talk!"
"Talk? What would a rubber-legged bilge-fish like you want to be a talkin' about with the ghost a Stringy Pete?" His words were full of ire, but his ghostly tone shifted to a more easy one, and I could tell my words were having a soothing effect. "I been a sailin' the seas of Arcanum for more'n two-hundred years, and I drink blood ale and gnaw on the bones a priests and maidens! I not be a'lookin' to talk...!"
Your tone says otherwise. "Please, I just need a moment to explain."
He continued his rant, refusing to back down. "To explain? What ye be needin' to explain, lassie? Ye be diggin' around me bones and lookin' for me treasure! To a pirate, that be worse than a' findin' ye baitin' yer hook with me wife!" What kind of bloody euphemism is that?
It seemed like being polite wasn't going to get me much of anywhere, which I really should have expected. I had to knock him off-guard if I expected to get around his silly bravado. Leave it to an undead pirate to be so damned concerned about his reputation. "Look, I'm only here because I need your boat!"
That's the opening I was looking for... I knew that being bold would pay off. "Tormented? Don't you enjoy being a bloodthirsty pirate ghost?"
The fire in his eyes dimmed a little and he now seemed truly shocked... or as shocked as an animated skeleton could seem anyway. "Enjoy it? Are ye daft, missy? I was the crustiest, meanest, most blood-thirsty pirate who ever lived, and none of what I did when I was alive compares to the things I've seen dead..."
I coaxed the words out of him expertly, my skill at persuasion and negotiation guiding my speech. "What is it that you see?"
Like a child confessing his worst nightmares to his mother and begging her to protect him, Stringy Pete spoke. "I see all the souls a' the dead who walk this world, and I see the souls a' all me victims, and they torment me as I still be a' tormentin' the living... and it be their pain I feel every day and every night on these glassy seas, an their dead eyes that be starin' out at me from their murky depths..."
It looked like I'd found my way to the old bastard's boat. He certainly wouldn't need it after I removed him from the world, and if he wanted to be removed, well then it was an easy bargain. The hard part would be convincing whoever cursed him to finally put him to rest, if such a man even still lived. "I see. And who had you cursed to this fate?"
It was so terribly unbecoming of a pirate to hear him whine so, though I supposed that 200 years of torture was enough to break any man's spirit. "So you're saying you don't want to be here...?" It was an obvious question, but I needed to make things crystal clear if I expected to negotiate properly.
He very nearly growled, the fire in his eyes flaring up briefly before dying down again, "No! But I've got no choice! I was cursed, lassie, cursed from the day I died to sail the seas forever, a' hauntin' those souls who be takin' my name in vain, to strike terror in the pure a' heart, to be givin' little ones nightmares..."
...and you suppose by repeating the things that got you cursed in the first place, you're going to be rid of the curse? I don't think it works like that, old chap. "Is there any way to break this curse?"
That really caught him unawares, and the fire in his eyes all but went out. "Break the curse?" He sat there silently, contemplating it. It seemed like such a simple thought hadn't even occurred to him amidst his 200 year rampage of terror. "And why would ye want to do that, lassie? Why would one such as ye want to be helpin' the evil ghost a' old Stringy Pete?"
I grinned wickedly, "Your boat, Cap'n. I need your boat. There's not a soul in all Arcanum that wants to set sail to the Island of Thanatos, and if I want to go then I have to get my very own boat." Pete stared at me, the fire in his eyes returning, and I tried to elaborate. "Arronax is returning, Pete. An entire clan of dwarves was banished to the void to build a machine that will weaken the wards and let him back into Arcanum. I have to do what I can to stop him. I don't know what I'll find on Thanatos, but I know my answers lie there..."
There I had it, the beginnings of striking a bargain with an ancient, bloodthirsty pirate. Franklin clapped me on the shoulder jovially. It seemed like he could appreciate my skill with words, and the strange places I was taking him. "Any help you might have would be greatly appreciated, Cap'n."
"Well, I can't be givin' up this boat on account a' the curse... it be my fate to sail these old timbers until the end a' time." He stared at me and I nodded at him to continue. I knew where he was going, and I was willing to accept that. "But I know a way we might break that curse, if ye'd be willin' to do a little leg-work..."
Leg-work was practically my middle name. I ran errands for everybody else in Arcanum, why not do a little work for an ancient horror? "I might... what needs to be done?"
He placed a bony hand on his chin, the fires in his eyes dimming as he thought further. "Well, there be three things, if'n my suspicions are correct. Three wrongs to right, and the curse will be broken..."
I shrugged, "Well, we've got to start somewhere. Tell me about the first."
By the Gods, man...! "That's pretty vicious, Pete. How do you make that right?"
He seemed to stammer a bit, realizing all the more exactly why he'd been cursed to such a torturous fate. "Well... his family... they fell on hard times without him, and the Williamsons been poor ever since. You'll need to dig up my treasure, includin' those silver buckles, and give it to whoever is left a' the Williamsons... my treasure is buried a little north of here..."
I pulled out my map and showed it to him. He glanced at it and pointed to a spot not too far from where we were. "...and where are the Williamsons?" He pointed to a second location, on the east coast of Arcanum, not too far south of Ashbury.
There seemed to be genuine regret in his voice regarding his unfortunate past. "I know they still live there. I've sailed by there in the years since I died... it not be a nice place..."
"I see." It was difficult for me to have any kind of sympathy for the old bastard. I was all business. "Is there anything else?"
What kind of... do you really think I would even consider keeping your... all right, I suppose that was a fair warning after all. "Of course. Moving along... what about the second task?"
He hesitated just a little bit. "That might be a little more complicated..." I sat there patiently, waiting for him to continue. "There be a temple in the hills just off the Gulf a' Morbihan, in a little town called Vooriden, and many years ago I was a'pillagin' the surrounding countryside, and I broke into the place, and stole some holy relics, and desecrated their sacred altar. And sure enough, those old monks threw a curse on me..."
Well, if all I have to do is replace that old altar... though I must say, I hardly figured I'd be helping a bastard like you when I did it. "What needs to be done...?"
For once, even old Pete seemed a bit embarrassed. "They didn't care about the holy relics, but I be thinkin' they might'a got their robes in a bundle over the altar. Ye see, I spilled some wine and ale all over it, and I might'a even relieved meself on it. It'd been a long night, ye know..."
"I can see where they might have a problem with that..." Problem enough to not even use the altar for the last 200 years, in fact.
I shook my head, "That's not going to be a problem. I've already replaced their altar for the current head of the priesthood, a gnome by the name of Edwin Wallows. I borrowed his ogre laborer, a rather brainless chap, and journeyed all the way to the Stonewall Mountains for a great hunk of stone from Torin Quarry. They used that stone to carve up a replacement altar right away."
His eyes lit up, quite literally, and the tone of his voice improved considerably. "Ye have! Looks like the stars are shinin' down on this old evil pirate for once, lassie! That's one less thing ye need to do!"
It's not that I don't need to do it so much as I already did it for different reasons. "Good, Pete. Now, the third task..."
"The last task will be the most difficult." Well, that's just great... though I suppose the altar is done, and digging up some treasure ought not be too difficult. "Ye see, as I was gettin' on in years, there was nothin' I hadn't done, and nowhere I hadn't sailed, and no treasure I hadn't laid me hands on." Please. Spare me the bragging. "There was only one thing I wanted, and I wasn't even sure if'n it existed, and I made it me business to find out..."
I tapped my foot impatiently on the wooden dock beneath my feet. "What was it?"
He didn't seem to be at all proud to answer my question. "The Bangellian Scourge... the most evil piece a' weaponry ever wielded by any soul in the land a' Arcanum. Legend says it was forged in the blood fires a' the Bangellian Deeps, and that virgins and children were thrown into the fire to keep it stoked..."
Virgins and children? Do they just make up the most horrible things they can just to make it sound that much worse? Actually, that's probably exactly what they do... it's like my discussion with Jyheirad regarding L'anamelach. "That's horrible..." I tried to sound as though I actually believed what he was saying.
So if the legends are true, I can't even do this for you.... I might be a horrendous wench, but I'm no Lorek, nor am I the Bane of Kree. That legend was probably as true as the legend saying that anybody that saw the evil eye of Stringy Pete had to die. "Sounds like an evil blade..."
He nodded with shame, "Yes, missy... and an evil blade it be. I wanted it more than anything in all of Arcanum. And I planned on gettin' me hands on it.... At the time I had me a crew of seven a' the most black-hearted and soulless pirates, and they all agreed it was a fine piece a' treasure to go after, and we took a pirates blood-oath to stand by one another and share in the treasure. And so we searched Arcanum for it, and found it one day we did... in the swamps of the Dark Fens, down in the Bangellian Deeps..."
Gods, the Dark Fens... I only scratched the surface of that place before and I'd rather not go back. Well, I suppose if I can't handle that then Thanatos ought be right out. "And then?"
If a skeleton could possibly sweat, I imagined he would've been doing it just then. "It'd been buried there for centuries... a beautiful sight... its blade as black as onyx, and carved in ancient runework, and I held it in me hands, and it CALLED to me..."
"What did you all do with it?" Aside from horrendously evil acts that only made you deserve your curse all the more.
I was impressed... a blade even more evil than Stringy Pete himself, that caused him to do acts even he found disgusting. "And the Bangellian Scourge?"
He shuddered, which was an odd sight. A skeleton showing such a human emotion somehow seemed even stranger than it talking. "It still lies there, as far as I know. Among the murdered bones a' me crew. You must destroy that evil blade... at the bottom of the cave that we found it in is a great furnace. Toss it in there, and let the world be done with it. Here's where the Deeps be..." He stretched a bony arm out and I held my map up again. He pointed to a place not far to the north of the Bedokaan village.
I stuffed the map back into my purse and looked up. "That's all three tasks, then... and I've already done one of them. Is there anything else I need to know?"
It felt decidedly odd to make an agreement with old Pete, especially in light of his past oathbreaking. It seemed like a good way to get double-crossed, but at least I'd be doing the world a bit of good with my actions. I was sure Franklin would enjoy the adventure as well. "I'll do it."
His eyes lit up happily, but I couldn't quite tell if it was because he'd fooled me or if he was genuinely sorry. "I wish ye luck on yer quests, lassie. If'n ye finish these tasks, then return here... I'll give ye me boat, and me thanks..."
"I'll do that, Pete..." ...and I'll just bloody hope that your thanks doesn't come at the end of a blade. My first destination was where Stringy Pete had hidden his treasure. It was nearby, at the very least. I swear to the Gods, Pete, if you murder me I am not going to be happy about it.
Bonus ContentLots of bonus stuff for this one. Specifically, for the altar pseudo-quest, I had to do a bunch of stuff that seemed quite exceptionally extraneous to the main story. Not only did I have to fight through a bunch of Barbarians in Kree to get to the altar of Shakar, but then I had to find myself a black diamond. If you don't just happen to get lucky and find one in random loot there are very few places you can aquire one. After acquiring the diamond I could offer it to Moorindal, who is located in the same ancient temple as Torian Kel. While I was at it I grabbed the dragon's blood and resurrected just because he's too damn cool not to.
Er, so I mentioned something about Kree. I won't show the picture of its location since I showed that in today's second update.
Those barbarians make me feel so welcome.
I welcome them back ...or maybe that was "I welcome their back." I'm not going to think about it too hard.
I could do this all day.
You can see that it's mostly Samantha doing the fighting, with a little bit of Terry. It's been this way for a long, long while.
Hey! The others did some fighting!
Did I mention I could do this all day? I think I did.
My, that's a very interesting, uh... corner you have there.
So I've always taken way more screenshots than I ever post. Considering how often I'm hammering the screenshot button I kind of make it a point to challenge myself by trying to capture death blows. As you can see, I'm getting better at this little challenge of mine.
Also in this screenshot you can see the rather suggestive juxtaposition of corners as well as the results of one of my party members (probably Virgil) using a haste potion. Yes, even when hasted my party members do nothing.
This fight was actually kind of difficult. Samantha may be
More party members get to help in big fights like this. You can see Virgil actually doing something!
It's difficult to tell if that's Sebastian's contribution or if... no, I'm better than that. I won't make a fart joke.
Must resist... too... easy....
Have I ever mentioned that's my favorite emote? Well I have now.
That's a lovely picture of the corner. Also, death.
So, with Kree out of the way I can go fetch a black diamond. I wasn't quite so lucky to get one without trying for it, so I had to run off to the Ancient Maze mentioned as a rumor in Dernholm.
It's basically a bunch of walls and trees that make up a... well, maze. Also, Franklin isn't supposed to be there
Arcanum is the king when it comes to reusing creatures in the most nonsensical places. Seriously, I can see the sewers... I can see the swamp... I can even see the peaceful little ponds... but what the FUCK is that doing here?
In my previous ape rant I forgot to mention Wargunns and Skullcrushers... because we really needed 2 MORE types of monkeys.
Mustn't... use... emote...
Let's go get that dragon blood. It's a pretty simple/straightforward dungeon... that happens to have bones on the ground. The level designers really loved adding bones, didn't they?
So I said something about finding creatures in odd places.... Yes, that's a monkey in an ancient dungeon with a pool of dragon's blood. The reasoning escapes me.
THIS is more like what I ought be fighting.
In case you thought I was kidding with the random treasure chest loot, I finally found one of the pictures I took. I've still got the durin stone and the offering to Shakar in this screenshot (I actually found a bone dagger to offer him, but that's random... if I hadn't I would've had to buy an axe).
So I go down some stairs and find this. I can't rightly tell you what the hell a "Voltax" is, but it died anyway.
There's the pool I'm looking for, guarded by more dragon-like creatures. At least they aren't monkey swarmers.
I don't know why it's a picture of a chicken leg, but you only have to fight so many forest swamp beasts and ancient dragon-blooded monkeys before you stop asking questions.
Let's pay our old friend a visit. Oh god, I'll never get through this without using my favorite emote... I'm sorry, I'm weak!
[You just barely hear it.] Use ... the ... bloooddd ... on ... me ...
Some quests auto-use items, some don't. You actually have to manually toss the blood on him.
No... no... I can't resist.... aaaaaghghhh
Ahhhhh!!! Yes!!! My flesh is restored!!! [The man before you laughs, ominously.] I'd forgotten the pleasures, the feelings, the rush of blood running through my veins. It's ecstasy...!
Who are you?
Me? I am Torian Kel, Warlord in the Gray Legions of the Derian-Ka. [He looks around, at both you and the surrounding temple.] How many years has it been...? All of this, and you... so unfamiliar...
I don't know... how long were you like that? (isn't this a little redundant? Like some kind of 'who's on first' gag? "How many years has it been?" "How long were you like that?")
[The warrior shakes himself, turning to you.] Forgive me. I owe you a debt of gratitude. [He holds an arm over his breast, bowing slightly.] What question did you have?
Actually, I have quite a few. Do you have a few moments? ("No, actually, I've got a poker game at 7... I really hate to drink and run, but...")
I had some questions about the Derian-Ka...
What would you like to know about the Derian-Ka? (You see, this is the kind of conversational bullshit I tend to shortcut in my normal updates)
Who were they?
Perhaps things are different now, but the practice of the dark necromantic arts was forbidden for many years. The Derian-Ka lived among the shadows for centuries, wielding their dark magicks behind locked doors, uncovering the secrets of the spirit worlds... soul-poisons, the raising of the undead [He points to himself.], speaking with spirits beyond the grave...
What happened to them?
and king run-on sentence)
And so? What caused the schism...?
The Gray Legions were a great army of the undead, raised by the Derian-Ka as protection against the Molochean Hand. Our sole purpose was to eradicate all traces of the Hand, so that the Order could continue...
You spoke of a great battle?
[Torian Kel seems lost in thought, his eyes somewhere far away.] 10,000 strong we were, fearless and of one mind. Standing upon that battle-field, the darkened sky reflected in our black, burnished Dread-Armor... the stamping cavalry on their Shadow Stallions behind the endless rows of the stone-faced pikemen. It was cold, but we had no breath... the air was so still...
And the Hand?
Oh yes... there was a battle the likes of which Arcanum had never seen, perhaps will never see again. The Hand threw themselves against us, we without death, time and time again. They severed the arm that held the sword, burned the body which held the arm, destroyed the souls within those bodies... the Hand, you see, were themselves not unlearned in the ways of magick...
And the Gray Legions were defeated?
Yes... the Gray Legions fell on that day, but so did many of the Molochean Hand. A few soldiers from both armies stumbled off the battlefield, and were lost to history. The Derian-Ka were never heard from again...
You said you were 'the last'... what did that mean?
Yes... and I was fortunate. Do you see the piles of dust scattered here and there? Those are the last remains of my companions. Dead, but not dead... you see, their souls are still trapped here on this plane. Forever tied to their earthly remains. A curse... a cruel, cruel curse...
Is there nothing to be done?
There is nothing I can do. The Dragon's Blood pool can restore the flesh, but even it has its limits. Nothing will ever raise my comrades from the dust. They will live on... without voice, without dreams, without vision...
What will you do now, Torian?
I wish he fit better into my party