Part 18: Formello Environs; Motrax's Cave"I swear I don't know what you're talking about. Now let's get out of here."
"I want to see the dragon!"
Before we leave, somehow killing all those nephilim leveled everyone up. We get basic improvements, plus some Tool Use -- enough to get into the mayor's back room:
"I know she already paid us. Consider this a down payment on the next time we help out."
"Just keep in mind this helps pay for your religious training."
"I didn't say anything. Thief."
There's another chest hiding in the bottom corner of the room, where you can barely see it. It has three emeralds in it. Score!
"Let's go find that dragon now!"
"Do we really have to?"
"Yes, we do. We took a job to deliver that sack you've been carrying. A sacred duty!"
"I didn't know the Church of the Word was so big on a functioning postal service."
"And besides, watching you squirm is amazing."
"Too bad we don't know where the dragon is."
The area west of Formello is a large maze of narrow tunnels. There's a lot of small encounters here, all pretty disconnected from each other.
We get a Wisdom Crystal; we now have three of the things waiting for a rainy day when someone really needs to gain a level.
"Man, those footprints are huge! Bigger even than an ogre! So where'd the creator of them go?"
"Maybe it's out hunting. Or harrassing a caravan. We'll check back later."
"Nice healthy population of bats here."
"Including lava bats, even! I'm glad they're not endangered."
"Oh, they will be."
With his most recent levelup, Kane now has access to Adrenaline Rush, turning him into a cuisinart once per outdoor encounter. It's a glorious thing.
"This our cave! You go, leave humans alone or we kill!"
"Our own Priestess Elly, master of a thousand inhuman tongues."
"Flattery will get you nowhere."
"Come on, let's get this menace out of here."
This would be a pretty tough fight for a younger party that can't just shrug off giant lizards and has no good way of mitigating the ogre's attacks. As for us...
"Let's see...oh, it was Mayor Evelyn who wanted us to kill this thing. Guess that cash you stole is our reward then, One-Eye?"
"Uhh, no, it would be, ah, a waste to spend such a large reward on such a small favor! Yeah. We should save that for a really big task."
"Uh huh. Come on, you aren't fooling anyone."
"Ma'am, we killed that ogre for you."
The ring is the Chilling Band, which gives some armor and fire resistance. One-Eye finally gets a ring to wear. As for the job board, the mayor's not kidding:
"A giant? There's still giants alive? Truly this place is a hellhole."
"Wait, menacing the womenfolk? Ew, ew ew ew."
"How does that even work? The physics involved sound implausible."
"Let's just go kill it so we don't have to worry about it any more."
"Guess we know where those footprints are coming from."
"Come on, let's set up an ambush."
"Great going, One-Eye."
"So they're smarter than we expected. Wait...they? There's more than one?"
This encounter would wreck parties that were appropriate for the main quests in this area. If you had trouble with one ogre, five of them, plus a cave giant, would be borderline impossible. We have the advantage of Adrenaline Rush and area-of-attack spells, and Kane still ends up half-dead by the time the ogres' turn is over.
I mean, he heals himself back to full after that, and then everyone else kills the ogres, but still.
The wand is a Crystalline Wand, which has an AOE cold attack.
"Cripes that sucker was huge."
"Well, back to the mayor again."
"The giant's dead, dear, and our womenfolk are safe."
This time we get a Crystal Symbol, which increases magical efficiency by 1 (slightly reducing the cost of spells). We have better already -- it's vendor trash. Which reminds me; we have a bunch of junk to sell. We pick up another 5k gold, half of which is then spent on training Byff and Elly in Cave Lore at Vermeers' training facility.
This pays off a bit later; north of Formello, we find a patch of dirt which has a Wisdom Crystal in it. Nice!
"Holy cow, what happened here?"
"I thought you worshipped the law, Kane, not cows!"
"I told you that dragon was bad news!"
"Calm down, bucko. We don't know what these people did to anger the dragon. I'm sure as long as we're polite, we'll be fine."
"...though come to think, being polite is not one of your strongest suits, is it?"
"This is all junk. I doubt anything valuable's left after all this time."
"That sounds like quitter talk!"
"Do you want to spend the next year or so picking over some ancient battleground? Come on, we find better crap in rat nests. Literally!"
"Well, we're here."
"Okay! You three have fun. I'll stay --"
"Oh no you don't, mister! In fact, we're putting you in front."
"Hey! I don't want to be in charge! This is mutiny!"
"Come on, let's go! I want to meet the dragon!"
"No, wait! Slow down!"
"Okay, Kane, take point. Byff and Elly, let's get those enchantments up. Be ready for an attack at any moment!"
"Dude. Calm down. Nothing's attacking us."
"That's just because they're waiting to ambush us!"
"Dunno, looks like a town to me."
"See? There's people and everything."
"You there! Do you work for the dragon?"
I looked up the name of the Good Witch of the North in the Wizard of Oz stories...it's evidently either "Locasta" or "Tattypoo". Well. I learned something today!
"Look, can you calm our friend down? He's scared stiff of the dragon."
"I am not scared stiff!"
"WAUGH! Don't do that!"
"Heh heh heh."
"Oh dear. This happens sometimes. You want my advice? Get him drunk. Like, soused."
"We can do that! Here, One-Eye, let's tank you up a bit."
"This is a plan. Yes. I like this plan. Let's do that."
"And while they're doing that...I don't suppose you teach any magic?"
"Aww. Y'know, I know plenty of productive magic. There's just not much call down here for spells to ease sheeps giving birth, or for enchanting spices for better flavors."
"I didn't realize you were so well-rounded, Byff."
"I know a lot of useful stuff! It's just mostly totally inapplicable to what we've been doing lately. Can't help but make me feel a bit useless."
"Hey, you're doing fine."
"Anyway, where would you recommend I go to learn the more, ah, applied magics?"
"Ahh, been there already. But I need more!"
"Well, there's the Tower of the Magi. Everyone knows about that place."
"I knew it."
"Hey, how're things going back there?"
"C'mon, haven't you learned to relax your throat? We're going to be at this for hours at this rate!"
"Uh huh. So how long have you been here, anyway?"
"I think I see where this is going..."
"If you ever find a way out, please let me tag along."
"I'll leave that up to the captain."
"Well, thanks for your time, ma'am, and good luck in your search!"
"And what about you, sir? What do you do here?"
"Mourn? Dragons live for centuries, if not millennia. Do you really think they have the capacity to mourn people with such shorter lives as us?"
"Hang on, someone mentioned you awhile back. Um...something about a sphere?"
"Sounds like a hospitable place. What water maze?"
"Well, thank you, sir."
If you ask him about magic, he just kind of quavers off and falls asleep. Poor old man.
"There! How're you doing, One-Eye?"
"Iiii've been better. I've also ben...been a lot worst!"
"You sure have! Okay, boys, I think he'll be fine. Where were we?"
"Poking into the guest quarters, looks like."
"Imma master thieve!"
"One-Eye, come on, we don't need this stuff!"
"S'notta point, point is....point is. Point is, ya gotta take what you can, 'cuz nobody's gonna ever give you anythin'. So you gotta take it. Otherwise you starve. 'N tha's bad."
"I think if we want to keep him calm we'd better just go with it."
Security is pretty lax in Motrax's cave, at least in the human half.
"Heeeey, a secret room! These always have the best stuff!"
"And we're going to leave it be, because there's a witch and a wizard right over there. See? She just waved at us. Wave back, One-Eye."
"Hiiiii Ms. Witch Lady! I'm n'a stealing anything. Promise."
"Hey, Byff, do you have any way to record this? Because this is hilarious."
"If you gave me a pen and some paper, I could probably do some quick sketches...?"
"No, I was thinking more like, a recording of our vision. Or something. Y'know, like mages doing that projection thing?"
"Oh, holograms! I don't think we have the right kind of crystals here though, sorry."
"Heyyyy, it's the city guard! Hi buddy! How's tricks?"
"Nice to meet'cha, Ko! So we report to you? Captain Wang, reporting for duty as ordered, sir!"
"That is the worst salute I have ever seen."
"I'mma visitor! So what's the news?"
"The path? That sounds significant. What happens if we stray?"
"Sound advice. Thanks. The rock path is just outside?"
"Heyyyyy. Hey buddy. Hey, does the dragon have a...thingy. Treasure?"
"Right, got it. Discreshion is our...thing."
"Wow, this is impressive."
"I think I may have overdone the dosage a bit."
"So hey, we hear you're a good friend of Marian?"
"Don't suppose you know anything about Thralni's Orb?"
"Yer damn right!"
"Thanks for your time, captain. We'll be sure to keep our companion here on the straight and narrow. Er, so to speak."
"I'm surprised there's so many guards here. What does a dragon need with guards?"
"I should've known."
"Remember, our job here is to be smarter than One-Eye."
"Hey! I'm plenty smart! I just...just...you got me drunk. That's all."
"We sure did, buddy."
"Oh, geeze...that thing is big."
"Wow. Now I need a drink."
"Amazing! What a fantastic specimen!"
"HEY BUDDY! Heyyyyyy, hey Motrax! Gotta THING for you! Sack a'...something."
"So you're a dragon? You're a big sucker, aren't ya?"
"How old are you? Er, sorry, I don't know if that's a rude question."
"A dragon after my own heart. What do you study?"
"Uh oh. What happened then?"
"Ha! Thass' what you get for messin' with a DRAGON! Wham! Pow! Fwoosh! What'd you do to 'em?"
"Ooooh, treasure. I liiiike treasure."
"I take it the second group's bribe wasn't to your liking?"
Any time the game says "You take note of this", you've just set an event flag.
"Well, now we know what to look for, anyway."
"Wait, these cats are yours? You like cats?"
"Wow, dragon battles. That'd be something to see."
"And preferably not participate in. Right, One-Eye?"
"Oh, sure, sure. Just watch. And laugh at. Ha ha ha ha ha oh you dumb motherfuckers you picked a fight with a dragon!"
"You have brothers? What about sisters? The race isn't in danger of dying out, is it?"
"Why not? Wass' wrong with 'em?"
"Sorry, mighty dragon. We did not wish to offend. One-Eye, get your butt over here."
"Can't make me!"
"O̡̪̰̮̻͓̱͌̇ͧͪ͐̃̅ͅh̵̫̭̱̣͎̻͐͗ͯ̄ ̗̬̦͍͠y̴̩̩̜̖̞̳̫͆e̬̦̥͇ͮͧ̑s̩͢ ̨͍̯̞̤̱̒Ȋͫ͌̾ͤ̚͝ ̙̰ͭͨ͒͒ͪ͒͋c͈̾̅̈̈́͐͟å̵̪ń̥ͧͦͬ!̫͕͍̲̼̣͈̽̃̐ͤ̎̑"
"Ahem. Sorry, lord. We tried to bolster our companions courage, and it appears we overshot the mark somewhat."
"It iss all right. This is very interessting."
"You find us interesting?"
"Ancient heroes? You mean the First Expedition?"
"Perhapss ''hero'' is a strong word."
"Hey, are we heroes? Huh?"
"Mighty dragon, I had heard the Empire had killed all of your kind. How is it some still live?"
"Hey, if you wan' revenge, Kane here's gonna fight the Empire! Prob'ly die horribly, but y'know, them's the breaks!"
"Maybe we will, at that. Meantime, have you heard of Thralni's Orb?"
Gee, I wonder if this orb is significant.
"Oh! Mother Claudette in Formello was searching for a treatise on early Avernite religion. Have you heard of such a thing?"
"I see. That is disappointing."
"Hey, Motrax! You wann' hear a song? I joined the choir at the Church of the Holy Chance!"
"I believe that's our cue to leave. Thank you so much for deigning to speak with us, sir Motrax."
"♫ Oh I've been a wild rover, for many a year / And I've spent all me money, on whiskey and beer ♫"
"Come on, One-Eye, let's let the dragon be."
Motrax does indeed have a couple of pet cats.
"Okay, now what do we do with One-Eye here?"
"Well, I figure if we throw him into a fire, then most of the alcohol should burn off."
"What if we throw fire at him instead? Because that's looking kind of likely right now."
"Did we wander off the path while I wasn't looking?"
"Yep! We sure did! Now which one of you six lizards is the real one?"
West of Motrax is a small warren of tunnels, filled with fire lizards.
"You're not seeing double, there actually are six fire lizards."
A lot of fire lizards. Fortunately we have AOE cold attacks and plenty of hitpoints.
"What are we looking for, anyway?"
"Oh, any ancient relics that look promising."
"Oh, in that case, found something."
"This looks Significant."
"Why did you capitalize the 's'?"
"How did you even...? Oh, never mind."
"Hm. It's magical, somehow. But damned if I know what it does."
"Well, we'll just hold onto it for now. Maybe someday it'll come in useful."
"Hey guys! Let's go see the dragon's hoard!"
"Nope! Nope nope nope."
"Turn around, buddy."
"I like my skin the way it is, thank you."
We can't handle that area anyway. Not yet.
"Come on, let's go search that battlefield. Give One-Eye some time to sober up."
"Oh, we want him sober now? I can do that."
"Aw, shit, my head."
"I can fix that too!"
"What the hell did I do back there? There was...singing?"
"You did what you had to do, buddy."
"And it was hilarious."
"Now let's go scan that battlefield."
"Do you really think a key made of stone from centuries ago is going to come in useful?"
"Knowing our luck? It's practically a certainty."
The battlefield is quite close to Motrax's cave, which is in the northwest of this shot.
"Well spotted, Byff!"
"So now what?"
"Tower of the Magi!"
"I'd like to finish up exploring around here first. We should run into a river if we go further west; let's see what's between here and there."