Part 31: Adze-Haakai
"Boys, this is nice and all, but you remember why we wanted this sword in the first place, right?"
"Oh, no. Please no."
"She's right; Demonslayer is just a means to an end. Come on, we need to go save the mages of Avernum from their own stupidity."
"We'll take the Formello teleport pylon. Let's go!"
Incidentally, Solberg has nothing special to say if you have Demonslayer.
"Y'know, after all we've been through lately, Ms. Imperial Spy doesn't seem so formidable any more."
"Want to settle the score with her when we're done with the Tower?"
"Ha, ''when'', he says. But no, let her think we're still doing her business. It can wait."
"Howdy folks, we're the exterminators. Understand you have a little bit of a demon problem? No worries, we'll take care of it. Bill to our next of kin, y'hear?"
"You're serious, aren't you? Well, good luck then."
While we're here, Elly's leveled up twice since we started the Crypt of Drath, advancing her enough to be able to cast those powerful spells Throndell the priest was selling.
"Hit me up, Throndell!"
Three purchases later and we have 37 gold to our name.
"Alright, let's go break into that secret lab of theirs."
"Shoo, kitty! This is no place for cats!"
"Here, I have Solberg's crystal key ready."
"Phew, you'd think with all the fire that demons would at least be clean!"
"Okay, keep an eye out..."
Two Mung Demons, a Cryos Demon, and two Cave Demons. One-Eye gets nuked right off the bat -- the Cryos Demon breathes cold, one Mung Demon douses everyone in acid, and then the other Mung Demon and the Cave Demons attack Kane, cleave, and hit One-Eye. Too bad we can't tell Kane to march out an extra tile in front of the rest of the party.
Of course, the big problem here is that we just waltzed into a combat situation without pre-buffing. One reload later...
"Okay, hold up."
"You think those demons haven't noticed we're here? We need to be ready for them. They're gonna attack us as soon as we walk through that gateway."
"...if you say so, buddy."
"You're all set!"
"Okay, here goes. Breach!"
"Well hunh. Well spotted, One-Eye."
"Just a hunch I had..."
We're able to blitz down the Mung Demon that appears in the circle behind us, while Kane jams up the main group.
"Demons! Meet your doom!"
"What? That was it?"
"Hey, that was a really solid hit!"
"Maybe, but I was kind of hoping he'd just pop like an overripe gourd."
"Look at it this way, now you still get to contribute to the fight!"
"Oh, rapturous day."
Demonslayer is incredibly powerful against demons -- +75% damage is no joke. It's just not enough to be an automatic win button.
"So much for the welcome party."
"Let's get this over and done with."
"Music to my ears, Byff."
"My, they've been doing some remodeling."
"Okay, I don't know much about lava, but this doesn't seem very plausible. Shouldn't it have melted through the floor?"
"Oh, for -- is this all we warrant? Couldn't send someone more important to face us?"
"Sssht! This is fine!"
"But they're imps! Come on!"
Eight Molten Imps, to be precise. Kane can nearly kill one imp with two hits, which really just means they're more durable than I'm comfortable with, considering their numbers. We kill four of them in the first round before they can strike back. Have I mentioned lately how much I love Adrenaline Rush?
Predictably, they have firebolt and fire breath attacks, but they spread them out enough that everyone lives! On the first turn, anyway.
"Why do I feel like I just dodged an arrow?"
Unfortunately, their firebolts really hurt! And while we're conscientious about keeping everyone healed, that doesn't stop Byff from getting double-tapped by the last two imps.
"It's okay, guys! I have a plan!"
"Does it involve killing demons?"
"Okay, imps are dead. What's this plan?"
"You do realize we're literally right on top of friendly territory, right?"
One quick trip to the edge of town...
"Well, that was unpleasant. I guess sometimes you're too busy freezing your foes to death to notice that they've set you on fire."
"If you say so, old friend."
So yeah, that takes a little bit of urgency out of these fights. Even moreso than usual, we only need one person to survive each fight, and we have no reason to hold back on our spells or combat disciplines because a full recharge is less than thirty seconds away.
"Hey, it could be worse. He could still be alive."
"Oh. Oh dear."
This hidden corpse has a Speed Elixir and a Basilisk Fang Wand:
"Well, there he is."
"Indulge me for a moment? Let's check behind the barriers."
"One last looting spree, eh? Sorry, they're too strong for me to break."
"I've had the worst luck lately. "
"Alright, let's get this done. Demon!"
"Wait wait wait, parley? That's an option?"
"What could we possibly gain from negotiating with you? You're a demon!"
"Look, what say we hand Linda to you and let you go back to hell?"
"Nope. Group punishment time."
"What artifact could possibly attract a demon into such an obvious trap?"
"Oh, I imagine we can figure something out for it. Trapping demons, for example."
"Look, why won't you just leave? Hell, take the stupid sceptre!"
"And just out of curiosity, what do you want?"
"Heh. Bit of a flaw in your plan there, chum. Avernum will never submit to you! You think we live in this shithole because we like caves? No! We live here because here we are free! And freedom is --"
"Uh dude, he stopped listening to you as soon as you said ''never''."
"Oh well, so much for diplomacy! Good thing we have a backup plan, right guys?"
"Yeah! You're gonna get slayed, demon!"
"Only way we're breaking this thing is if we snap it off in your ribcage!"
Okay, so: round one, Adze-Haakai summons a Fiery Demon and then gives himself and his new pal Battle Frenzy. I'm kind of tired of enemy units being able to grant themselves double turns at will, to be honest.
...then Kane three-shots the Fiery Demon. Go Kane!
"I love my job!"
Round two: Adze-Haakai casts Terrify, followed up by Charm. Both hit One-Eye and leave everyone else unaffected.
"AGH I'M SURROUNDED BY SCARY CRAZY PEOPLE! Help me, friend demon!"
Fear takes precedence over charm. Hooray!
We do have something of a problem, though: our hit rate against Adze-Haakai is somewhere on the order of 25%.
And here's the main gimmick of the fight. Standing in the circles, as Elly and Byff are, periodically grants you this buff, which we last saw in the Ancient Crypt:
Meanwhile, Kane and One-Eye have just been tagged by a Death Curse.
"Details! Death has no meaning to us!"
"Oh really? Let's test that theory, shall we?"
"I don't like this plan!"
Adze-Haakai terrifies Kane and One-Eye, and then Kane's turn comes around and the Death Curse timer hits zero...
"Okay, it has some meaning. Be right back!"
"Guess I'd better get the resurrection scrolls ready. Would it kill you to be more careful? ...um."
"You're next, little naked man."
"Ha! I paid attention to the crystals!"
"My turn eh? Righto. One-Eye, get your stanky ass back here!"
"Gah! It hurts and stings!"
"Fine! Then I'll just kill all of you together!"
"How about no?"
Well, that went poorly.
Adze-Haakai is a monstrously powerful opponent. He can summon Fiery Demons at will (though I've only ever see him summon one at a time, thank goodness), he can spam Battle Frenzy, he has a wide-area Terrify spell and the Charm spell, he can use a wide-area acid attack, he has an earthquake spell (that we never get access to ourselves, but I assume it's based on the Shockwave spell from the original games) that hits everyone for preposterously huge amounts of damage and stuns them (causing them to lose their turn), of course his melee is powerful and always cleaves (hitting two targets), and he has his gimmick.
The gimmick is that the two sets of crystals on either side of the room will occasionally start glowing. When they do, you need to drop everything and position your party inside them; a turn or two later, they'll stop glowing and everyone standing on the appropriate magic circle receives the Enlightened buff.
Everyone else will get tagged by Adze-Haakai's Death Curse at intervals, and...let's just say it's appropriately-named.
Now here's the thing: Adze-Haakai is at least level 34 (I say "at least" because the enemy data I've found only contains data for non-unique monsters, and Haakai are level 34). The party is level 18. Our first attempt at this fight went amazingly well because Adze-Haakai did not either a) lead off with the earthquake and thereby one-shot everyone but Kane, or b) charm Kane and let him one-shot two other party members. Even then, we can hardly hit him, and when we do we're dealing 20 damage, or 50 from Kane on the high end. I made several additional attempts that ended on round 1 with everyone dead except for Kane, who was stunned or charmed. This fight, I am confident in saying, is quite impossible for the party at this time.
But hey, we've beaten enemies that were twice our level before. It just requires one minor adjustment.
There we go.
"Hang on, what happened? His skin's gone from being as hard as steel to as hard as, uh, pine?"
"Don't question it, just hit him!"
This helps an awful lot -- as does keeping everyone inside the circle so he can't Death Curse us. His damage goes down significantly, while our accuracy and damage improve a fair bit. The real key, though, is that his earthquake spell just results in this:
Elly's dead, but One-Eye and Byff both lived! That's progress!
"I'm a little busy right now to be resurrecting people!"
"I'll get it! Just keep hitting him!"
"Everyone out! Move to the other side of the room!"
After the first time, the game doesn't give you explicit messages about the crystals or Adze-Haakai's Death Curse. Each turn, one of the crystals will turn orange; after all three are thus powered up, the next turn will bestow Enlightenment on everyone on the circles. Hopping back and forth is annoying as it takes Kane out of melee range and he's our best damage-dealer, but better that than him dying.
"Hate to say it, folks, but I think I need an edge. Bottoms up!"
Relying on Byff to randomly proc Battle Frenzy with his Haste spell is not a good idea, and this has a vastly longer duration too.
"You're all insane! You --"
"-- You should be cowering before me! I am a lord of demonkind! YOU SHALL FEAR ME."
"Whatever you say, sir!"
Stupid AoE Fear spell. Fortunately this happened immediately after the crystals Enlightened everyone.
"Boys." "G͎̫̻͆̈̈ͨ̇̃ͅe͚͋ͬͮͣ̂̓ͭt̰͎̗͖̘̝͔͚͆ͫͪ̒ͭ̌̿ ̤͙̖̩͕̫̒̀ͧb̬̯̟̺͈̠̭̖ͣ̌ͫḁ̙ͦ͊c̯̙̮̯͖̦̭ͩ̿ͅk̘͚͓̖̩̟ͫ̆ͤͧ̒̋̑ ̲͙͓̦͎̤͌͋ͅí̳͉̦̗̝̮͎̖ͧn̙̹̙̙̮̖ͩ͗̊ͭͤ t̠̬̘̥̬̜̫̾ͤh̩͕͐̂̋͊̈͐̉͛e̗̳̖̣̅͌ͯ́ͮ̀̐̀ ̪̬̰̪ͭ̌̽̆́̇͒̐̃ͅͅf͉̘̳ͬ̾ͮi͇͚̇ͩ̇̅̆̑ġ̗̦̜̲͕̓̆̂̏ͯͮh͎̖̠͙ͫ̍̐t͙̱̼̙̰̦̤̓!͖͚̝̹̞̺͊"
"What am I doing? I have a demon to kill!"
"What am I saying? I don't want to fight a demon and my mom at the same time!"
"Man, I haven't had this good a workout since that time an entire flock of sheep came down with bluetongue! Better dip into my stores..."
"Is...is that contagious to humans?"
"Why aren't you taking this seriously?! I AM YOUR SUPERIOR!"
"Oh yeah, I keep forgetting that..."
And he terrified Kane, One-Eye, and Byff, who all ran out of the safe zone right before it triggered. And then Kane and Byff got killed by the Fiery Demon because Elly spent her entire turn clearing the Fear ailment. Mental statuses in this game are kind of bullshit, folks!
"Oh, sanity, why do you never improve the situation? Okay, Kane, back on your feet!"
"Do you tire of sanity? Let me fix that."
Fortunately, One-Eye's too much of a dumbass to use his bow when he's charmed, and he's totally incompetent at melee. Unfortunately, Adze-Haakai casts the fear spell again on his next turn, immediately after Elly cured One-Eye -- fortunately, only One-Eye is affected.
On the plus side, after we get that all sorted out, everyone gets a new dose of Enlightenment before the Death Curses can take effect. On the minus side...
"Crawl on the ground, WORMS!"
"Can we just run? Please?"
"Come now, man! We could be doing a lot worse! I mean, I could be out of resurrection scrolls!"
"Oh, give it time."
"It's working! Keep hitting him!"
"I will not be defeated by MISERABLE INSECTS!"
"I think you'll find your opinion on this matter is not relevant!"
"And STAY OUT."