Part 30: Crypt of Drath Level 3
"Come on, let's get this over with."
Not today, game!
...or should that be ?
"Well, this is fantastic terrain. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide."
"It feels like a ritualistic path, though. Maybe they won't dare to attack us here?"
"No such luck. Quick, behind me!"
"But we already are."
Fortunately, they ease us in with nothing but a couple of Cave Demons. We don't need any magic for these guys -- which is good because Elly and Byff are both almost tapped out.
"Oh, literal hell, there's more of them."
"Well. Should I be worried that chopping down demons is becoming routine?"
"Considering our future plans, familiarity with the destruction of demons is a good thing."
"Oh yes, let's not forget that this is only the prelude to something even worse! Can't let that happen!"
"Now, now, hysterics don't suit you, One-Eye."
"I'm not hysterical! I'm stressed out and pissed off! When do I get a vacation, huh?"
"After we save the world we'll take a break. And that's a promise."
"...you're serious, aren't you."
"I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that it'd make me look silly."
"Yeah, like that's never happened before."
"Ran into another one of those excessively strong barriers. Sorry."
"Whelp, guess that's it, we'll have to go home now."
"And where exactly is home, then?"
"Anyway, there's a button back in that crystal room."
"Oh by the sacred adverbs! S̫̹͉̱̯̰̃̑͐̚h͍̰̺̣̦͛̈̌͒̒̌̎i̻̟̦̜̱̖͒͌ͪt̗̤̞̣̘̮̠̄̽̐̒ͦ!̻̙̈́͂"
"You knew that portal we saw earlier was an omen, right?"
"I didn't know you were a soothsayer, Kane."
"No, I'm just good at recognizing patterns. It's a portal, what's the big deal?"
"It's barely stable, that's what!"
"But it is stable, and we don't have any other leads."
"C'mon, we'll be in and out before you know it!"
"Or we'll fall through the cracks between worlds and spend an eternity weeping in madness. Happened to one of my brothers of the Word once. Poor bastard wasn't exactly all there to begin with, but after that little incident...brr."
"Nah, Drath wouldn't let that happen."
"What? How do you figure?"
"Look, if anyone's gonna torture us for eternity, it's the guy who controls the portal, right? So it's much more likely to take us somewhere he controls. Y'know, like a torture chamber or something."
"Hm, sounds logical."
"Great, then you go first."
"Whoa whoa wai --"
"You're really pushing your luck, Kane."
"Anyway, where are we? And why is it so dark?"
The game turns out the lights here, like it did in the Spiral Pit. Fortunately this area isn't very big, so we can kind of spread out and get a look at it, lights or no.
"Oh great. More portals! Why not! Because the first one went so well!"
"Well, but which one do we take?"
"There must be some trick to it...but I doubt we'll figure it out without some experimentation. After you?"
"They're both nuts, Elly. Only possible explanation."
"They'd better not come crying to me when their eyelids have been flayed off and ethereal maggots are chewing on their souls, that's all I'm saying."
"Congratulations, that did fuck-all."
"Pick another one, Byff?"
"Uh, that's different."
"We appear to have landed back at the entrance. Oh well. Back in?"
"Utterly psychotic. How can they keep doing this?"
I hope you like teleporters! Every time you step into a teleporter here, you either get dumped back into the same room, or you get sent back to the entrance (so at least you aren't stuck here if you can't figure it out). The important thing is to notice the switch at the top of the room.
"Come on, let's press this thing and hopefully start making some actual progress."
"Orrrr not. What the hell."
"Back into the portals!"
"Great job, One-Eye, you summoned some golems with that button."
"Did not! You must've picked the wrong portal!"
So yeah, sometimes you get to fight golems! They're not too bad, but since their basic melee can knockback and cause immobility, it's very difficult to have Kane tank all their hits, so fighting them involves an awful lot of healing, draining our already-low reserves. And they just show up at random sometimes when you go through the portals; they aren't a penalty for doing it wrong or anything like that.
"This sucks. Portals suck. Undead suck. Demons suck."
"Steady on, it's not that bad!"
"Indeed, we can figure this out."
"Let's try the switch again."
"See? A way out!"
"Okay, I'll bite. How did you know it would work this time?"
"Oh, it had to eventually!"
"In other words, you had no clue."
"This Drath must be a riot at parties."
We return to the portal maze, and wander at random until we find a subtle difference:
"And this one doesn't do anything either. Fantastic!"
"Well, back to taking portals at random, I guess."
Incidentally, you get no experience for killing the golems. No infinite grinding for you!
Okay, so here's the "trick": just take the eastern portal every time. There's four different portal rooms that look identical except for the switch in each: two have a switch on the northwestern side, two on the northeastern, and one in each location is nonfunctional, so this serves to uniquely identify each room. If that's not enough, you can also simply drop an item in each room to help you figure out where you are. Once you figure out that there's a set number of different rooms, it's just a matter of figuring out where the portals go. The eastern portal will take you to each room in turn, eventually leading you to the room with the useful functioning switch.
"Nope, gotta be another dead end. We're gonna be in this portal maze until we starve to death."
"Hey, the golems might always get us first!"
"Would it kill you two to have a little optimism for once?"
"You want optimism? Get us out of here. Alive!"
"Sure thing buddy. C'mon, let's do this."
"Obvious or non-obvious path?"
"Like you have to ask!"
"...they're books, Byff, not women."
"Yeah, he can actually pick these up!"
"Uhh, Byff? What are you reading there?"
"Important information, Elly!"
"Yeah, but it's kinda...doing things. To your brain."
"Don't care! Worth it!"
"Whoo. Everything's so...clear, now! I see!"
"Aw, shit, Byff's brain's been eaten by cosmic ambulatory squash or something, right? Mercy kill time?"
"No! No. No need for that. I'm still me. But...wow. What I just learned ought to come in very handy."
The entire party gets a rank of this. The Arcane Lore bonus is largely pointless as we already have enough for every spell in the game, but hey, +1% to all spells cast!
"Okay then, if that book's so amazing, we're taking it with us."
"Let's keep it the hell away from Linda, hmm?"
As for the other book:
"Good news! I think I can make you two somewhat less likely to turn traitor and kill each other!"
"Has...has that happened before?"
"Buddy, you have no idea."
"Okay, moving on! I believe we have a lich to kill?"
"Indeed, and we must be close, considering these tomes."
"I vote we continue taking the back way."
Push the northern switch, and a passageway opens up:
"Hm. I appear to be tapped out."
"Me too. Guess we'd better top off?"
"Ugh, I hate what these things do to my head."
"With all the abuse it's taken today, I'm sure a few potions won't hurt it."
Energy potions! Invaluable for long dungeon treks. Byff downs three of the things, and Elly two -- they have a very wide spread in how much energy they restore.
"Hey, more magic fountains!"
"We're not planning to drink the lich's personal booze stash, are we?"
"Sorry, what was that? I was busy drinking."
Well, okay then. 15 turns of regeneration and 10 turns of "invulnerability" (read: 80% global damage reduction).
"I warned you before! Surrender your --"
"-- shard of Demon what?"
"This is an unparalleled opportunity to actually talk to someone from centuries ago! Think what we could learn!"
"Sir, your name is Drath?"
For posterity's sake, let's rewind...
"Wait! We don't have to fight! I like my insides, y'know, inside. Shall we just see ourselves out?"
And the third option.
"Die, monster! You don't belong in this world!"
Right. Now, let's rewind and pre-buff ourselves before starting this fight. We cast Haste until Byff gets everyone some turns of Battle Frenzy -- we're going to need it. Then Elly activates the fountains and gives everyone War Chant and Shield Chant.
"Let's get this over with."
"One scrambled lich, coming up!"
Man, check out those guards! Three Vengeful Shades, two Revenants, and a Pustulant Zombie. Imagine trying to do this fight the non-subtle way, by just charging in through the front entrance. You'd have to kill those guys while getting pestered by Drath's spells, take down the barriers, and only then get started on Drath himself. Haha, screw that!
Drath has incredible physical damage reduction...
"Argh, why do I feel hungover?"
...and hitting him with melee attacks puts a Slow debuff on the attacker. On those rare occasions that Drath uses his melee attack, he also causes slowness. So Kane's job this fight is to just stand there and hopefully distract Drath, and chew through anything that Drath summons. One-Eye starts sniping out the guards, who'd otherwise still be alive when our invulnerability runs out, and Byff and Elly lay the magical smackdown on Drath.
"Wait, where are the guards going?"
"They're trying to pincer us! Get out of the corridor!"
"Aw man, he summoned a giant. How come you never do that, Byff?"
"Little busy right now!"
Drath is...maybe 20% dead? Byff burns a Speed Burst scroll to give everyone some more turns of Battle Frenzy; meanwhile, Drath and his cronies are also frenzied and spamming nasty spells at us, keeping Elly busy despite the "invulnerability".
"Oh, hello! Ow."
Fortunately, as soon as we kill the Vengeful Shade in the corridor behind One-Eye, the other one charges off to go through it instead. This is good because it means the shade isn't hanging around to use its cold breath attack on us. The pathing AI in this game has some issues.
"Be smited by the strength of the Creator! R̔̈ͭè̥t̘̹̘̞̰u͓̣ͨ͐͌ͤ͊̂̚r̀ͯñ̺̫͎̈́͐ͯ͊̐ ̼̪̦̈́̈t̖͇̜̺̼̪̺ͭ̓̉̋̊͒öͥ̓ͯ̓̊ yo͇͍ͥ́͋ͣͭͭū̲̄͑ͫr̰̜̯̣̗ͮͨͦ̃̇̅̽ ͚̞̤̞̼̺͒͊g̝̦͇̰r͚ͮ̇̀͐̚ȃ͖͚̯͔̮̻v͉̟͙̋͂̇̃e͖͔̹̯̪̩̩͐͆!̻͈͙̮͑ͥ"
I don't know if the wand doesn't work on undead, or if it's just horribly inaccurate, but Elly misses every shot with the wand. And now we're really in trouble, because our invulnerability has run out. Drath casts a single spell, and...
"I didn't sign up for this!"
"That was the Arcane Blow!"
Yeah, so, we can get one-shot by his standard attack spell. Hooray!
"Not to worry, I'll get him back!"
"Gah! Aw, crap, I'm still here!"
"Kill first, soliloquize later!"
"He got Elly!"
With a lucky critical hit on a fire spell.
"Then I'll resurrect her too!"
And the other Vengeful Shade is back. Drath gives his team Battle Frenzy, and the Shade double-taps Byff. Nice timing.
"Uh, I only have one more of these, guys!"
"I fear that's immaterial, Kane. This isn't going well."
"No, no it isn't. I suppose it was nice knowing you."
Okay, that didn't work. Drath is amazingly durable, and ten turns' worth of invulnerability is nowhere near enough to win the fight. And when that invulnerability runs out...we got problems. In particular, reviving someone in the middle of a fight causes them to miss their next turn, so you can easily be stuck in a revive -> die -> revive loop that doesn't accomplish anything. Of course we only have 8 revive scrolls anyway.
For take two, we decide to use the other switch from the tome room, which opens up a wall into the front portion of Drath's throne room.
Oddly, we've managed to alert some of his guards without triggering the dialog or removing the darkness. Great! That means we can kill them without being peppered by spells. We get one of the Vengeful Shades and a Revenant; the others don't seem interested in us yet (and if we end a turn in their sight, then we'll trigger the dialog and start fighting Drath). But notice that switch? Pushing it opens a passageway on the other side of the room:
"Psst! Guys! This way!"
"Great, now the lich is between us and the exit."
"Doesn't matter! Look what I found!"
"Yes! This is it! It has to be!"
"Great, so let's get out of here!"
"No arguments here."
"Ah ha, that gate we couldn't get past earlier."
"And some stairs, back to the first level. I guess Drath doesn't like having to deal with his neighbors when he wants to go sample the outside air."
"Sweet freedom! I can almost taste it!"
"Screw you, Drath! I hope your bones rot!"
"Ahh, freedom and safety."
"Well, kind of safe. We're still in a sort of combination slith/undead warzone."
"Yeah, but no liches, right?"
Okay, okay, so you can do this. Drath doesn't have to be killed to get Demonslayer, and as we've discovered, you don't even have to properly start the fight either. The tome room gives you easy access to the switch that accesses Drath's sarcophagus, so you just have to be able to kill or avoid Drath's guards and you're home free.
Now let's get back in there and do this properly.
"No no no this is all wrong! We were home free!"
Okay, I don't understand the combat trigger now. Kane stood in the room (just on the other side of the "doorway"), and the lights didn't come on; we just aggro'd another Shade. Well, that means one left, plus a Revenant and that Pustulant Zombie.
Hey look, got the zombie too!
Now I'm really confused. How does Drath not see this? Dude needs glasses. Well anyway, that's all his personal guards dealt with. Maybe that's enough to turn the tides?
"Wow, I can see through walls now!"
"But we did this! And we died!"
"Easy on the paranoia there buddy. C'mon, let's find out what these fountains do."
"They make you invulnerable! And then you die!"
"Oh dear, I think our friend's been through a few too many portals. Ahem."
"P͔̟̓̈́̀̍ͣ̆̈ă͖͚͂ͧ͗y͙͔ͣͫ ̖̘̺̞̭̱̽̾̑n̗̦̪͈̬̭̓̒̄̏ͬo͇̞͖̘͇̥̣ͣ̓͑ ̼̟̞̩̗́̚a͖̮̭̘͚̿t͇͉̖͉̯̹ͥ̐͌̽tͦ͌e͇͕͕n̞̰̖̣̯̗͇̄͋̔̒̉̂ṯ̳ͮi͎̺̟̦͉̋̽̚o͈̠̞̘̥̊̏ͪn̗͖̰̹̉̈́̄ t͈͇̱ͥ̍̏o͔ͬ̌̓́͑ ̮̅ͨ͂̐͐t̃̔̽ͯ̚he͉͍̗ͫ͐ ̫̝ͨ̎̈́͊̽̋̔m̺̆̔á̗̯̞̖͔̠̇̑ͦ͂ñ̰̠͕̳͙ bͧ̐̽ͫ͌͋̐e͙̫͚̲͙̻͊ͤ̃ͯ͋̆ͬh̹̣͇̰̠̺ͯ̐i̖̖̪͍̤̝̿̈́̑̃ͣn͚̂ͥ͆̄̇̋̇d͔͍͈͚̰̘͗ͭ̍ͥ ͙͇ͥt͒̒̄ͩ̉̂ͪh͐͌͋̾̅͋e̞̞͉̟̭̿ ͇̣̂ͯ͋̉́ͤͅcͅǔ̳̙̳̥͕̱̝̒r̖̺͙̯̬͈t͙̫͖a͖͖̣̻î͚͙̟̫̈ͩ́͋n̟̖!̻̫̯͕͚̭̎̽ͫ͑͛̚"
"Wait, what? What's going on?"
"We're about to fight a lich! And hopefully not die!"
"Oh, great. Same as usual, then."
"Intelopers! You shall join my servants! ...wait, what happened to my servants?"
We fight for awhile, slowly whittling away at Drath's HP. Ten turns later, our invulnerability runs out, and this happens:
Note One-Eye is missing; he was turned into a smoking hole in the ground by a critical hit from Drath that did 317 damage. For reference, One-Eye has a maximum of 150 HP. So that's fun!
Also, Drath can summon Pustulant Zombies (and also Hellhounds, and the Giant we saw earlier)
"Not to worry, I'll get him back!"
Then a few turns later, Drath kills both Kane and One-Eye in a single turn. Liches should not get Battle Frenzy. [/i]
"This is not going well!"
"Really? Looks pretty normal for a bunch of humans going up against a lich."
"You know what I meant!"
Good thing those revive scrolls revive the entire party instead of only one person!
"I have the most splitting headache..."
"No, no no no it's happening again!"
"Oh look, One-Eye died again, could you fix that please?"
"Maybe we should let him rest for a bit?"
Drath can cast Slow. The entire team lost their turns as a consequence and we nearly died.
"Okay, enough resting!"
"Oh dear, back here?"
"Hey, is that what I think it --"
"Not doing this without our healer."
"Aw shit, the lich saw us! Nothing personal, Drath, I swear!"
"Aw crap, and I'm tapped out."
"No worries, I still have one scroll left! Drath, stop killing my friends! And eat this!"
Elly's Smite takes Drath down to 50% health...
"Yeah...yeah, go on, get out of here!"
"That's right! Leave before we grind your bony ass into oh boy there go my organs."
"I don't believe it...we -- we did it! We won!"
"And you were so pessimistic. Ha ha ha ohhh that feels good."
It sure does, Kane. And now we're reloading again.
So here's the thing: the party is level 17 right now. Drath is level 30. The game does not like it when you fight things that significantly outlevel you. Remember the Slith Temple? You do a lot less damage, and you take a lot more damage. We wouldn't have had to spend five out of eight of our revivification scrolls in that fight if we'd had more levels under our belts, because people wouldn't be getting one-shot left, right, and center.
Now, I've demonstrated that Drath can be "beaten" at this stage of the game, by getting him down to half health and then letting him run away. But that's not a very satisfying victory, is it? It's not a real win if he's not lying at your feet, inanimate, and ideally in several pieces. Unfortunately, it's pretty clear that the party currently cannot accomplish this. We only barely managed to get the flee result, and that was with ten free turns to beat on him before he could properly start fighting back.
So we'll be back, later, to finish this properly. In the meantime, we're taking Demonslayer.
"Screw you, Drath! I hope your bones rot!"
"Ahh, freedom and safety."
"Well, kind of safe. We're still in a sort of combination slith/undead warzone."
"Yeah, but no...I have the weirdest feeling of deja vu."
"C'mon, let's get these pieces over to Boutell so he can fix Demonslayer."
"Hello boat! You're not a lich! That means you're all right in my book!"
"Coming for you soon, Sss-Thsss!"
"The gigantic, terrifying waterfall! Also not a lich!"
"Oh dear. I think our friend needs some therapy."
"Who me? No, no, I'm fine! Just feeling like I died a half-dozen times today, that's all."
"Cotra! Civilization at last!"
We could take the portal pylon here back to the Tower of the Magi, then go to Formello, but we'd still have to walk from there to Fort Draco, and we can just walk north from here to there instead.
"Remember when we killed a bunch of anthropomorphic cats and freed a prisoner with Stockholm syndrome? Ahh, good times."
"At last! That's a heck of a hike, guys."
"Hey, Boutell! Just who we were looking for!"
"We got the last piece of Demonslayer! What do you think?"
Demonslayer is a very nice sword, especially of course when fighting demons. I'd say it's worth using right now over the Radiant Shortblade, despite the slight damage drop, as it has better resistances, and Kane's most important trait is his ability to survive things.
"That did look fun. Maybe I should learn to do some metalwork."
"You? No offense, Byff, but you're kind of noodly."
"Oh, none taken. But I'm sure I could put my magic to use to help out there. Think of it -- a magical forge, making enchanting items!"
"Tell you what, you do that, I'll handle your marketing for you."
"Boys, this is nice and all, but you remember why we wanted this sword in the first place, right?"
"Thanks, but I was trying to forget."