Part 22: Mertis
"Anyone got a beer?"
"Here, and cheers."
"Guess we'd better get back on the road."
The thread has voted, and by a wide margin, we are heading south!
"And good riddance to this place. See you never, Thantria."
"Oh, we'll be back someday."
"Fort Duvno's so much more peaceful now! We didn't see any bandits on our way here!"
"Hmm, wonder if J.R.'s willing to share her archery knowledge with us now? Can we stop and check?"
"I don't think we're in any real hurry. Sure."
"Hey there, J.R!"
"Are we still nameless nobodies?"
"Music to my ears."
Ironically, One-Eye doesn't really need more bows training right now. But Elly could use a hand; she's currently three levels short of getting Adrenaline Rush and a shortcut to that goal would be welcome. We get her two levels of Bows; now she's only one level short, and that should come soon enough. We could get a rank in Throwing and get it immediately, but money is a little tight.
"Here's the route south; to the Tower!"
This is one of two ways to head to the rest of the game; the other is to sail out from the Eastern Gallery lake.
"That's...a long trip. Guess we won't be going to the Castle soon."
"Of course, officer."
"Undead? I didn't think they usually got up to much on their own."
"I remember someone way back in Fort Avernum mentioned this place had an undead problem."
"And we're going to solve it, right?"
"That does seem to be how things go, doesn't it?"
"Explains why it's so cold, anyway."
"Sure. Undead represent a local entropic inversion."
"Sure, makes sense."
"You didn't understand a word he said, did you?"
"I understood "sure"! And "a"!"
"Okay, uh, you know how things tend to fall apart?"
"Especially once we're through with them, yeah, sure."
"Well, in the area of effect of an undead's motivating enchantment, things instead get more structured."
"And this makes them cold?"
"Yep! Heat is disordered, so cold is ordered. Plus it helps keep the fleshy ones from rotting so quickly."
"Wow, talk about pastoral."
"But what's that on the other side of town?"
"Guess it's time we earned our pay."
"But nobody's hired us to kill these guys!"
"Ahh, but when they do we'll have already done it, so we can collect immediately."
"...I can't help but feel there's something wrong with your logic."
"Academic, anyway. Here they come!"
A Ghast and five Ghouls. They're reasonable durable, and immune to Byff's Icy Rain spell, but they still aren't exactly threatening. Their melee would slow us, if they could hit us.
"Guess we'd better go into town and see about getting paid, then."
"...weird. No walls."
"This is literally the first town we've encountered that hasn't had any walls around it. And they're literally under siege from the undead."
"Nobody ever said farmers were smart."
"Easy talk, city boy, but I guarantee you wouldn't last long on a farm. Maybe they built the town before the undead became a problem?"
"What's this? An auction house?"
"Hey, we pre-emptively destroyed some ghouls that were wandering around town."
"And he means that literally!"
"So can we get paid for that?"
"See, Kane? This is what happens when we do jobs before securing a contract!"
"Yeah, yeah, mea culpa. I'll be sure to milk the next impoverished town as dry as possible. Anyway, sir, I'm guessing that's a mayoral sash?"
"Oh, now he has funds!"
"Stop complaining, you. What do you need, Mayor Elmer?"
"Wait, you knew this land was haunted and you still didn't build any walls?"
"What'd I tell you? Farmers, man!"
"What's this Spiral Pit place?"
"If it's getting so bad, why not evacuate?"
"We're working on it. I hear Fort Duvno is rather nice nowadays."
"Thanks for your time, sir. We'll let you know when that Spiral Pit is cleared up."
"Do you ever worry that we're taking this too casually?"
"Town Mill. Free for all to use."
There's naturally several bags of mushroom meal in here. There's also guards wandering around outside, but some careful timing will let you steal them safely.
"Hey, the market! Wonder if we can get any fresh produce?"
"You mean mushrooms?"
"Armor? Do you all farm while geared up?"
"Well, let's see the goods."
Of all the armor stores we would never buy anything from, this one ranks pretty poorly.
"So who's the lucky lady at the other booth?"
"Aww, good luck to you, dear!"
"I think we have the zombies under control already, thanks."
"Much call for weapons out here? Do the farmers know how to fight?"
Okay, for the sake of completeness, here's the completely non-reactive response to the comedy dialog option:
"So how long have you two been together?"
"Well, let's see those wares."
Nice UI overlap with the shop name there. Oh well. Tina also buys goods; we pick up 1646 coins from her, loot from the aranea and other miscellaneous encounters west of Fort Draco.
"Really? 'Cause I've been looking for a 1/8" lever bar for my lockpick set. Got one of those?"
"The caravans bring things? I'd expect they'd mostly stop by to load up on food."
"You don't know either, huh?"
"Does it look like we need much out here? Besides more soldiers? I don't know what the caravans sell here, but it's probably not much."
"How're the giant lizards working out for you? Tame, are they?"
"Sounds like the first person to breed a docile giant lizard would probably become the new king of Avernum."
"Is that the sound of ambition I hear in your voice, Byff?"
"Nahh. Too much risk of losing limbs working with those brutes anyway."
"So, what do you sell?"
Most of these "supplies" vendors sold lockpicks in the original game, which were items that could easily break when attempting to pick locks. There's no lockpicks now, of course, so they don't really have much to do any more.
"Well, you have a nice day, ma'am."
"That's a lot of bitey cows."
"They're lizards, Byff."
"That's what I said, isn't it?"
"I think we entered through the wrong door, boys."
"No, no, this is the right door. Man, something smells good! I didn't think that was possible!"
Sadly the woman in here has no dialog; just an anonymous townswoman.
"Wait...is that a musician?!"
"It is! You have a guitar! How on earth...?"
"I haven't heard anything like that in entirely too long."
"How'd you get a guitar down here? Smuggled it through the portal?"
"So do you just hang out in Mertis' inn and play for the merchants?"
"One of Motrax's 'siblings' is in the Honeycomb?"
"Great, then we won't have to visit it."
"Hey, what's the big deal? Motrax went fine!"
"Yeah, with basically everyone in a hundred-mile radius shouting out 'HEY GUYS, THIS ONE'S FRIENDLY'. This Athron isn't friendly, apparently. Want to guess how visiting it would go?"
"Ahh, you're just a pessimist."
"And I'm alive."
"For the moment! That's been known to change."
"Don't remind me."
"So what's this 'Honeycomb'?"
"Ehh, I'm a pretty decent cartographer. We'll be fine."
"Thanks for your time, miss, but we'd better get going."
"Hey, barkeep! What's on the menu?"
"Alright, let's see that finest meal."
"Wow. I'm impressed."
"I'd actually choose to eat this on the surface!"
"That settles it. Once we have more money than sense, I'm buying this inn."
"Dare I ask if you actually have a room available?"
"Hey, we killed a bunch of undead near town and the mayor wouldn't even give us the time of day! What's the deal there?"
"That'd be the Spiral Pit, eh?"
"Look, we'll take care of it. We know what we're doing."
"I have to admit that if we'd come here a few weeks ago I wouldn't have been so sanguine. It's amazing what a little experience will do for your confidence."
"Hello there! What're you studying?"
There's that "durr teach me spells" again.
"Any interesting discoveries lately?"
"Ooh! Can I see?"
"With all due respect, any random nobody who wanders into town and demands to see my notes is probably either drunk or trying to steal them. Even if your intentions were good, adventurers like yourself still tend to destroy everything they touch. So no, you may not see."
"Oof. Can't fault your logic, but...damn. Would it help if we dressed better?"
"Good luck with that one, Byff."
"Hey, I'll figure this curse out someday. Or maybe learn some illusion magic or something. Hey, do you teach spells?"
"Oh? What're you heading to Formello for?"
"Interesting. Any other magical crystals we should know about?"
"We don't really need piercing crystals, thankfully, but do you know where they came from?"
"Okay, well, thanks for the chat!"
"Uh huh. Please leave me alone now."
"What a pleasant man."
"Nice little shrine, this. Peaceful."
"The entire place is peaceful. Boring, more like."
"What, the ravenous undead aren't enough excitement for you?"
"You can't beat the undead at poker. Their bluffing skills are legendary, plus they tend to eat the cards."
"Ahem. Hello, mother!"
She's named Ether? Not, say, Esther? Is talking to her going to put us to sleep?
"So what's the deal with your church? Not that I'm gonna convert, mind you."
"So...it's a religion of social progress?"
"If you like."
"What do you do for visitors?"
"Yes, those undead seem to crop up often in conversation. Can't imagine why."
"Hang on, they used to be worse? The mayor said they used to not be so bad."
"He's a busy man. Don't worry about it."
"What's to tell about the village, then?"
"The Tower! That's our destination!"
"Pardon me, mother, but do you share your rituals? I have a feeling I could use some better undead-smiting power soon. Like, really soon."
"Oooh, saucy. Any juicy details?"
"Hang on, are you an alchemist? Do you know where I could get a magically sound-dampened chamber?"
"Well hey, we have some of those herbs!"
"No pro --"
"Wait! I need that graymold to make the salve!"
"Surely we'll find more?"
"We aren't giving away our only dose of an incredibly rare alchemical ingredient for some minor reward!"
We get experience, an Acid Shower scroll, and a Healing Elixir (more powerful version of a Healing Potion) for the herbs we turned in.
"Well, I guess that's about it. Thank you for your time."
"Hang on, what're you doing cowering behind the church?"
"Aww, hey buddy, I'm sure it'll be okay! What're you hiding from? The undead? We're working on that!"
"Say, who's looking out for you? Y'know, so we don't accidentally blab your location to the wrong guy?"
"Sure thing, buddy! Have fun hiding out here!"
Lastly for Mertis, there's a couple of grain silos:
Containing hostile giant rats. I don't think I want to eat the grain here. :puke:
On the plus side, in addition to several salvageable sacks of mushroom meal, we find an emerald. What the hell.
Here's the Mertis map:
Silos in the northwest, and the inn east of that. The temple in the southeast, with the bazaar west of it and the auction house and mayor west of that.
"Guess we'd better go tackle that undead pit then."
"Do we really have to? These guys can't afford to pay us anything anyway!"
"I'm not leaving a bunch of hapless farmers to get turned into zombies. We're going."
"Wow, okay then. Yes sir."