Part 41: Fort Remote"Okay, west to Fort Remote, they said..."
"Looks boring! I can't wait!"
"I remember you being excited about this place awhile back, but I forget why."
"It's because he's afraid of demons! Sensible of him, really."
"Well, the rest of you morons were all champing at the bit to go fight that Adze-Haakai guy. I have to act as the voice of reason sometimes!"
"Voice of something, anyway. What's Fort Remote got to do with it?"
"I figured it was so far out of the way that nobody would care about it, and I could just safely hole up in it until that whole demon thing blew over. Or I died of old age, either way."
"For all you know, they're fighting a desperate delaying action against whatever's in the...uh, unexplored tunnels to the west."
"Nah, we'd've heard about it by now. Anyway, c'mon, let's go check the place out."
"Aww, lookit dat!"
"Excuse me, sir."
"I said, excuse me. Sir!"
In the original game, you could talk to the guards, but they responded to every query with "Zzzz."
"Ha! Give it up, guys, he's completely out of it."
"Let's find a different guard, then."
"Hey there! Hello?"
"What is this, some kind of enchantment?"
"Ha, no. It's just really, really dull here."
"Oh sure, deal me in. What's the stakes?"
"We mostly trade guard duty shifts. But it hardly matters, because on duty or off, there's nothing to do here."
"Oh. Eh, whatever."
"Wait, so if you're the acting commander, then where's the, uh, nominal commander?"
"No formal commander? Why not?"
"Hey, at least you get to order people around. Oh, and hit me."
"Here. It's not as thrilling as you think."
"To be frank, this all sounds rather tedious."
"Behold, a classic example of the sunk cost fallacy. You should just abandon the fortress if it's so pointless, rather than waste lives guarding a bunch of mostly-empty tunnels."
"Well...not that I disagree. But someone should be stationed out here. In case those things in the tunnels decide to push into the Great Cave."
"Why stave off madness, anyway? I find it's great for clearing the sinuses."
"Indeed? I for one prefer to stay grounded in reality."
"Hit me again. Had any other visitors recently?"
"That drunken priestess of One-Eye's religious order was talking about a Chasm Drake, wasn't she. Do you know anything about it?"
"Oh ho ho ho, wealthy, eh?"
"You'd think such a dangerous creature would have a bounty posted on it."
"Remember how I said everything in the tunnels keeps to itself? We don't want people going and prodding great nasty demi-dragons with their pointy metal sticks. Because a) they'd die, and b) then the lizard might decide to leave its hole and bother us. I may be bored, but I'm not suicidal."
"Man, we have seen some shit. Some ancient slithering lizard shouldn't be any trouble."
"Oh, fine, but don't say I didn't warn you."
"To the west. That...is not very helpful."
"Really? Too bad."
"Know anything else of interest about this region?"
"Damn, went bust. I guess if I ever sign up with the army, I owe you a duty shift."
"Ha ha, don't worry about it. Thanks for the company, folks."
"Take care, hon!"
"This is not a very big cafeteria."
"It's not a very big fort."
"And yet it has a big drinking problem."
"Wow. Does your boss care that you're completely wasted?"
"Sounds easy enough to me. Pretty relaxing, really."
"Having so many soldiers out here does seem pretty pointless."
"Is this, uh, state of affairs common for you?"
"Dude's asking if you drink like this all the time."
"Hey, somebody's gotta translate for you."
"Oh yeah? Where to?"
"Cave monkeys. Now that would be a sight."
"Anyway, I don't think you're irrelevant. Somebody's got to guard the border!"
"Oh yeah! Can you give better directions than Ward Tesik? He just said "To the west" like that means anything when the only place to go is west."
"So, since it looks like we'll inevitably be hunting down this Chasm Drake..."
"Don't you know it!"
"...anything we can do for you in the process?"
"Fire lizards. Check. And I think we're done here."
"Take care of yourself, hon."
"That sounds lovely, thanks! What's cooking?"
"Hey, that's not bad!"
"Wait, really? Actually decent food?"
"Ma'am, I could kiss you!"
"Okay, okay, don't crowd the lady."
"Man, if I ate like this every day, I don't think I'd find it tedious."
"You mean, besides cooking? And can I have some more, please?"
"Ooookay. I guess we'll go do that, then."
"This should be fun."
"Wait, so can you tell us more about her?"
"How come you're out here, instead of hanging around in the cafeteria?"
"Hey, so nobody wants to tell us where this Chasm Drake thing is. You got any idea? What all's out there?"
"...let's not fight a dragon, guys. I don't think we're that strong yet."
"Well, fuck if I know what we're capable of! Less than a year ago we were nearly dying to bandits and now we're killing demon lords!"
"Well, is the drake the dragon?"
"Oh, you wanted the Drake! My mistake."
"So there's two of them, then."
"That's...not very helpful. Oh well."
"Sorry, that's all I got."
"Hey, I'm gonna go get some more food. You guys want any?"
"Count me in!"
"You guys go on ahead; I'll catch up in a bit. Mick, you mind if I sit here for a spell?"
"Be my guest."
"Okay, we'll catch up with you later, One-Eye."
"What do you think a hero is?"
"Oh...probably those guys who are always out there killing monsters, performing daring rescues, exploring uncharted wildernesses, and assassinating evil overlords. Righters of wrongs, seekers of justice, that kind of thing."
"Yeah, okay. But then how come the army isn't full of heroes? They do that kind of shit all the time, right?"
"Depending on who you ask, it is. But I know what you mean. Your average soldier or officer isn't a hero, not the way you mean it, right? They're just doing their jobs and trying to stay alive."
"So what makes a hero then?"
"Motivation? I guess altruism's gotta have something to do with it. Heroes aren't in it for the money, you know? They just want to help."
"...maybe some of them. But come on, you know your fairy tales -- the hero always gets the princess and half the kingdom. You can't tell me those guys are all 100% selfless."
"Point taken, point taken. Hmm. Revenge is a classic. Nephils killed my parents, that kind of thing. Lot of people down here would be heroes if the Empire were within spitting distance."
"Heh. That'd be a pretty brief heroism, but okay, I'll buy revenge. Anything else?"
"Fuck, don't talk to me about love. Anyway, if your hero's just motivated by love, once they've achieved their first goal, they'd stop, wouldn't they?"
"Ahh, so you're looking for the serial hero, the wanderers, not the one-and-done type. Well, there's the thrill-seekers. Y'know, in it for the experience. Not many jobs out there that let you get into so many different kinds of mortal danger on the regular. And if you're going to go put your life on the line, it might as well be for a reason, right?"
"Brr. Okay, so crazy people can be heroes."
"Ha! Something like that."
"Probably some of 'em are just curious, too. You know, gotta know what's over the next hill or around the next bend in the tunnel. The First Expedition was probably full of types like that. They weren't really trying to make the caves livable, but I hear they killed a bunch of monsters anyway while just trying to map the place out."
"They created a few more monsters in the process, though. But yeah, I guess I can see curiosity."
"And ultimately, I guess some of 'em just feel responsible, you know? Like, there's a problem out there, and somebody has to deal with it. They're somebody. So they deal with it."
"Hmph. And as soon as they deal with that problem, another one springs up. So they run off to deal with that one. And then the next after that, and the next after that. And pretty soon it's a habit, so they don't even think twice about it."
"You said it, I didn't."
"That's no damn way to live. Always charging off after the next crisis?"
"Maybe. I don't think most people could handle it. I know I couldn't."
"But sir, I want you to know that you four are making a huge difference out there."
"Let's see...pacified the Eastern Gallery bandits, stomped the hostile nephilim tribes, rescued a couple squads of soldiers, stabilized both fronts against the sliths, restored communications with Formello, broke the undead curse at Mertis, did something at the Tower of the Magi, oh and rescued some apprentices from a local ogre tribe. Not to mention you've broken a dozen forts at least, without any kind of military assistance, and done a hell of a number on random hostile wildlife."
"You...heard about all that, huh?"
"Oh, and one of you apparently puked on King Micah's shirt?"
"I thought that one sounded kind of dubious. I mean, what kind of serious group of heroes shows up to the Castle drunk?"
"Look, we're not used to getting good news, nobody is. It's a bitch and a half to survive down here. I can't imagine how many lives you've saved with everything you've done. I want you to know, we appreciate it. People may not say it to your face, but...you know, I never used to think that we'd ever be able to stop fighting? And now I think we have a real shot at living in peace someday. Thanks to you and your friends."
"Okay, you're ladling it on a little thick now, buddy. Shaddup."
"Haha, peace, peace!"
"Right. Take care, Mick. I gotta go."
"You ever want to talk again, you know where to find me. Good luck out there."
"So our prodigal archer returns! How ya doing, One-Eye?"
"Hey, have some kebabs!"
"Thanks, Elly. I'm doing okay, I think."
"Yeah, y'know guys, I think we need to do something about this slith war."
"What brought this on?"
"Well, nobody else's gonna do anything about it, right? The army's sitting tight, and the only other adventurers we've met would be totally outclassed. Who else is there?"
"You have a point there."
"Believe me, I wish I didn't."
"Well, okay. I guess we've put that off long enough. What d'you guys, say, tomorrow we start heading back to the sliths?"
"Sure, why not?"
"Music to my ears!"