Part 42: Slith Castle"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!"
"Great, thanks guys."
"It sure was nice of everyone in Fort Remote to put us up for the night!"
"Indeed, though I have to admit I wasn't expecting a sing-along."
"What I wasn't expecting is that Byff is such a good singer. Where'd you pick that up from, dude?"
"What, I'm not allowed to have hobbies?"
"No, I --"
"Besides, it's good for the plants."
"-- I what?"
We left our boat north of Almaria, so we have a bit of a hike ahead of us.
In the lake north of the Slith Castle...
"We never did find out what this place is for."
"I guess we can swing by after we finish up with that fortress. Probably be easier to invade there if they're still getting over the fact that their supreme leader's dead."
"Heck, they might just surrender!"
"What would be the fun in that?"
"So -- by boat or by land?"
"Didn't we find someone who said they saw a secret entrance at the docks? Sounds worth checking out."
We can swing around to the west and reach the western gate. Or we can hit the obvious switch.
"I don't remember where that key came from. Anyone else?"
"Uh, let's see...oh, yeah. Found it in one of those slith forts in the Eastern Gallery that we attacked way back when."
"Huh! That was ages ago."
"I guess they're sacrificing stuff to statues? Oh well, ours now."
"Or you could wait to finish looting until after the guards are dead!"
"What would be the fun in that?"
Man, remember when we used to fight Slith Warriors and Frozen Worms all the time? They're back! The difference being that now, only the worms are really capable of hurting us; One-Eye dodges everything else and Kane is nearly impervious to physical damage.
"Hey, that secret passage dropped us right into their treasury! I like that secret passage."
There's coins, gold bars, precious gemstones, and a few basic potions here.
"Hm, the way out. Or in, as the case may be. But we'd've had trouble getting in this way."
We can use the wheel in this little gatehouse to open the gate and get out, but it'll be closed again when we return.
"Okay, how did we let this happen?"
"It's not my fault!"
Even boxed in like this, we wouldn't be in serious trouble...if that Cultist didn't turn out to have Divine Fire. He roasts the party, critically injuring everyone except One-Eye...who dodges it and four follow-up attacks.
"Okay, this is ridiculous. Haven't you guys learned to anticipate where an attack's -- no, of course you haven't. Sheesh."
"Look, guys, I'm trying to leave! If you could just step aside and let me carry my friends out, I'd appreciate it!"
"Finally! I thought they'd never leave me alone."
One-Eye dodged I think 18 out of 20 attacks there. Good god man.
"Well, this is just going swimmingly so far."
"Yep, nothing says ''success'' like carrying my three dead compatriots for miles through enemy territory."
"Okay, what happened?"
"I think we died, guys."
"Yes. Yes you did. Haven't any of you ever heard of dodging before?"
"Dodging? What for? I usually just let 'em hit me and then have Elly heal me afterwards."
"In my defense, I'm not supposed to be anywhere near the front lines."
"Uh huh. Let's get back there and do things properly this time, hmm?"
Okay, in my defense, I typo'd the letter for the enemy I wanted Byff to use Bolt of Fire on, so instead of nailing one of the Slith Warriors to the north, he ran off and attacked that Cultist that wasn't even aware of us. We'd've been fine if that hadn't happened.
"Hey guys, if you could keep trying to hit me, that'd be great. Emphasis on ''try''. Things go a lot more smoothly when my friends are still alive."
"Hang on, how did you make it back out, One-Eye?"
"Ask these guys. They were there."
"Emphasis on ''were'', I guess."
"Oooh! Oooh! Let's cut their army down to size a bit!"
"Sure, let's just --"
"-- oh geeze, back up, BACK UP!"
"I'm right here, what do you need?"
"No, back up! Into the corridor!"
That's six Slith Warriors, a Slith Scourger (super-warrior), two Slith Flingers, two Slith Cultists, and Scourger Vhlasss, plus probably more that we can't see right at the moment. Attacking them head-on would be unusually foolish, even for us.
"Oooh, what's -- no, no, One-Eye, focus!"
"Healing standing by, Kane!"
"This is going to be a long day, I can tell."
Our top priorities are the Cultists (who, after all, almost wiped our party last time) and the unique Scourger. None of the other enemies can really touch us; they just get in the way. Scourger Vhlasss, who's currently trading blows with Kane, can give himself Battle Frenzy. He'd do some serious damage to our casters if he could reach them.
"I have an idea! Hey big slith dude!"
"T͖̞̎ͯ̓ͣ̄a̰̣̜̤̠͔̱s̫̘͙͎ͩ͌̓ͅṭ̽ē̞̹͙̅̎ ͈̺͓͎t͉͉͇̩̋͌ͅḫ̱͆̾ͅe̫̓͋ͯ̇ͣ̀͐ ͖͉̺̮̭̿ͅw͕̺̖͎̺̍͆̈́͂i̹̗ṋ̜̞̄ͩd͇̜̤ͯͨ͐͒s̩̤͍̳̯̥̟͐̈ o͒f̃̎̅̎̑̎ ̬͓̪̲̘̯̞̓̑ȯ͔͙̇̏ͥ̽ͣͤb̟̜ͬ̅̍ͅl̃i̊v̮͍͈̲͚́͊ͫͧ̉ͪ̐i̳oͩ̅̓̓̂͛n̂ͫ̋̌̒!̰̟ͫ̂"
Elly's spell Call the Storm has knockback! So we'll just park the Scourger next to One-Eye, who appears to be basically immortal against these guys. Problem solved!
"One-Eye, you're doing my job. Stop it!"
"Love to! Little busy right now though!"
One-Eye takes almost no damage for the rest of the fight. Just putting that out there. Melee and ranged attacks have a 5% chance to hit him, according to the message log; I don't know what the odds are for magical attacks, because they aren't listed, but only one of them hits him in easily half a dozen rounds. What have I done?
Needless to say, having a nigh-invincible dodge tank makes this fight a lot easier.
Pictured: Scourger Vhlasss has been so badly beaten on that he got scared and ran away.
"Look, guys, you just have -- whoah! -- anticipate where they're gonna, yikes, swing. And then not be there!"
"Easy for you to say!"
"I just don't see what's so difficult about this!"
"See? You see him wind up for a spell, jump to the ceiling, hang there until it passes, and then drop down again! What's so hard about that?"
"Uh, for starters, I can't jump more than a couple feet."
"I'm afraid we're not you, man."
"And a good thing too!"
And after all that boasting, it turns out that Slith Cultists also have that earthquake attack that Adze-Haakai had that gave us so much trouble. So on literally the second-to-last round of the fight, one of them one-shots Elly with it.
"The funny thing is, if it'd been one of us that died, she could have revived us."
"No, that's alright. After a fight that big, I need to recharge anyway."
"Hey, Kane, take this."
"Hm? Oh, nice."
Dropped by Scourger Vhlasss, this should help keep Kane relevant for dealing damage. He's been lagging a bit, a victim of the preposterously huge defenses our enemies have had lately.
If we'd gotten this earlier, it could have been useful for getting access to combat disciplines, but everyone can access Adrenaline Rush, and that's all we really need.
"Man, this is a lot more pleasant than last time."
"How did you carry all three of us back, anyway?"
Let's get back to the fort. After remembering, oh hey, Fort Emerald's emerald gives you a free Cloak of the Arcane, powering up your spells, we should really be using that!
"Well, there's the front gate. So, was fighting all those sliths really pointless?"
"Nah! It was fun!"
"Including the part where you died?"
"Less fun. Educational, though!"
Have fun getting in here without the Onyx Key! It's theoretically doable, but you wouldn't have much cover unless you could somehow lure enemies back to the gate.
The room to the east of the entry corridor has a chest with a Speed Burst scroll in it! Those babies will never go out of fashion.
"Hey, so if we've opened up the perimeter, let's go check it. Might be more secret passages, just a hunch."
"I hate my hunches."
Four Basilisks. At least they're tightly-packed for easy AoE damage. Our prieze is some salable crystals and a Wisdom Crystal.
"Hey, it's that cultist that killed all of us awhile back."
"Time to repay the favor!"
"Wait, why isn't their signage in the Slith tongue?"
"We have bigger problems to think about right now, Byff!"
I'm not really clear on what Shaman Sss-Kelia can do, since they only use a couple of low-level spells before dying. The game evidently doesn't think they're that interesting either, as their special drop is boring:
"Oooh, grim! Sacrifices for their evil altar!"
"Or maybe this is their larder?"
"I think I like Elly's answer better."
These are the actual docks; the secret entrance is on the other side of those rocks. Kind of weird that you aren't allowed to reach this area by boat. I wonder why the map's designed that way?
"Okay, so how does this gate open?"
"Well, it stands to reason."
Surprise! You have to have the onyx key anyway! Hope you didn't come here without it and fight your way in through the front gate!
"Okay, let's get this over with."
Oh yeah, there's quickspell slots. I just memorize the letters for the spells I want to cast instead. One of the things I appreciate about this game is that it's fully playable without a mouse.
"Hey, he looks important. Hey! Are you Sss-Thsss? It'd make our lives a lot easier if you came quietly!"
"<Heathens! I shall pin you to the wall and paint a mural with your blood!>"
"Uh, One-Eye? What's he saying?"
"I think he said he was going to sew us a tapestry?"
"Man, that's some angry sewing."
"Look, I got, like, a week of language lessons."
"Hooray, I get to do my job again!"
"But your ''job'' is getting impaled."
"Look, everyone wants to feel important, right? I get stabbed so you don't have to!"
"Hey, I appreciate it!"
Slith Shamans have Call the Storm, which explains our positioning and why Byff and Elly are hurting. One-Eye continues to dodge everything.
We are a bit overlevelled for this dungeon: the party is level 21, while Slith Shamans are level 18 and Slith Warriors are level 20. On the other hand, Slith Cultists and Slith Chieftans both hit 28.
"Why hasn't the alarm been raised, anyway?"
"Don't question it too closely."
"Hey, I can read these books! What are they doing with human writing?"
"Pfffft! Look at this one!"
"Oh my. I'm pretty sure that's anatomically impossible."
"These must be the mages' studies. Grab everything!"
"Patience, man. There'll be time to make a thorough study once Sss-Thsss is dead."
"Also, none of us can read the Slith language."
"Okay, I'm at least grabbing these notes I found jammed in that amphora in the corner."
"...yeah, sure, okay."
This has been your regularly-scheduled reminder to check the random crates, pots, and piles of skulls in dungeons. Because yep, some paranoid slith decided to dump some Magical Notes in that jug.
"Hey, evil temple time!"
"It occurs to me to ask, Elly: what was the temple of the Cult of the Word like?"
"Oh, you know. Lots of chanting, walls covered in erratic writing, regularly-scheduled screaming therapy sessions, that kind of thing."
"We did have a rather advanced linguistics department though, if I may say so myself."
"Linguistics? Whatever for?"
"Hey buddy, if you're trying to enumerate the True Names of the Creator, you'd better be able to know which combinations of eldritch morphemes are legal and which aren't!"
"Oh dear, Kane! That altar's active!"
"No worries, I'm stronger than it is!"
"Man, what kind of pissant religion do these guys have anyway?"
"Hey, but speaking of altars, you guys didn't...sacrifice, did you?"
"What? No! Why would the Creator care if we carve up some poor schmuck on a hunk of rock? Heck, he probably wouldn't even notice!"
"Well, that's a relief."
"Yeah, that's what the linguistics department was for. Not gonna be able to remake the world if we can't get the Creator's attention, that's for sure!"
"Hang on a second. One-Eye!"
"New target acquired, master."
"Yeah, no. Snap out of it, buster!"
"Wait, what just happened?"
I'll be honest, that unique Cultist was a bit of a joke -- up until the turn before it died, when it charmed One-Eye. But its turn comes immediately after One-Eye's turn, which means there was plenty of time for us to a) kill the Cultist, and b) fix One-Eye.
"Hey, dibs on their boots!"
"Boots? I didn't think sliths wore shoes."
"This one did!"
I figure at this point Elly and Byff could stand to be a little more resilient against physical damage. Kane can't always manage to stand in the way for them.
"This is one of those barriers you can't scratch, right?"
"Ah, no, it's just haunted. That's all."
This little treasure room has a Basilisk Fang Wand (damage plus stunning over a conical area; would be hilariously overpowered if it ever worked) and a Powerlash scroll (damage plus lightning DOT in a wide radius around the player).
"...? Where's the slith ghosts come to avenge themselves upon us for stealing from their graves?"
"Probably got eaten by whatever it is they worship."
"The friendly sliths at Gnass said these guys worship some kind of ''dark forces'' or something."
"So annihilating their religion is a public service, really."
"This looks like progress. Where'd they get the wood for a desk, anyway?"
"More importantly, what's that book on the pedestal?"
"Good thing we're here to put a stop to them, then. And not a moment too soon."
"Well, here goes nothing."
"Sss-Thsss! Surrender now and spare us all a lot of hassle!"
"Ssssurrender? Hhhah! If you sssurrender to me, I will give you the honor of killing you myssself!"
"That's a no, chief."
"Yeah, I guessed. Let's do this the hard way, then."
Five warriors, two flingers, and a chieftan? Sss-Thsss doesn't take us very seriously. Once we've killed everything in the throne room (there's a couple of Flingers still taking potshots at us, but evidently they don't count), Sss-Thsss sends his second wave against us:
A Mage, Enchanter, Shaman, and Priest. I don't think I've seen the Priest or Enchanter types before; they may be unique.
"Hi guys! Feel free to try to kill me now. Emphasis on ''try''."
About the only thing they accomplish is dazing One-Eye. I guess the one thing he can't dodge reliably is mental spells.
"Awright, let's do this! Your slaving, cannibalistic, demon-worshipping days are over, buddy!"
And the epic fight with Sss-Thsss commences!
...it's not very interesting to start out. Sss-Thsss can attack twice per turn and has standard battle disciplines. But he's just getting warmed up. After maybe 20% damage...
"Okay, uh, I'm gonna back up a bit. You guys clear?"
He stands still for two full turns, then on his third turn, he uses the Blade Sweep discipline twice in a row:
Except nobody's in range, so it does nothing. I missed the screenshot, because I was distracted by another thing he'd done earlier, viz. spawn two Throne Defenders:
"Will you mooks get off my back and let me kill your leader? Geeze! Rude!"
Throne Defenders appear to be combination Slith Warriors/Flingers, which isn't so bad, but having to manage two fronts in this fight is irritating. We just stick One-Eye in their path.
"Good! You are worthy of my presssence! I had worried that my men had grown sssoft! I shall fight you properly!"
"Oh bugger, there goes our lawyer."
"Well, that's what he gets for standing on the front lines."
Cripes that Blade Sweep is strong.
"Not to worry, I got this!"
"Well, that was a novel experience."
"Yeah, yeah, reminisce later!"
"I have an idea! Hey Sss-Thsss! Ever heard of lightning? 'Cause I'm gonna smite you!"
"H͖̲̻ͣ͂̔ͧ̿ȁ͕̫̎̿v̠̭̳̦͍͖̻ë́̒͛̔̍ ͉͖̦̔̀a̬̹̍̆͐ ͓͔̱̤͉͌ṱ̈́͋ͫ̚o͇͔̫͕̱̰̔ŕͤ̌ͣ̑͋n̺̜ͫͅâ̔ͨ̾d̳̞̘̟̊̈́o͚̱ͨ͋̑͐̈́̀!̊̽ͤ̒̄"
"Hey, and then I can stand in the doorway! Too bad it's kind of hard to aim with a great hulking slith in your face."
You can't use missile attacks against adjacent enemies. That's the biggest downfall to One-Eye's newfound role as a dodge tank.
"This again? Alright, everyone take five."
On second observation, it appears that Sss-Thsss always follows up his initial double-sweep with a single sweep on the following turn. So just don't rush in immediately after his double sweep and you'll be fine. Indeed, this is indicated in the message log:
Once you see this, it's safe to re-enter melee range.
"You can't win, man! We're wise to your tricks! Just surrender!"
"Ah, I got that one. He says to kill him."
"Really? If you say so."
"Well, good job team. Slith war's over."
"Hey, I'm taking his spear as a trophy!"
"Really? It's half again as tall as you are! How can you possibly swing it?"
"Oh, I'm not going to use it. It's gonna go above my mantlepiece! Y'know, once I have a mantlepiece."
"Okay, let's loot the place and get out of here."
"Weird. They already tripped two of the traps? Well, whatever."
The two accessible chests have money, an Energy Elixir, and two Emeralds (a.k.a. more money). As for the barrier-protected ones...
"Well, I can get one of them down."
This gets us a Steel Breastplate and a Wisdom Crystal.
"Hey, who wants a drink? I don't know about you guys, but fighting slith war chieftans is thirsty work."
One fountain is Battle Frenzy, one is poisonous, and one does nothing at all! The wall switches open a small closet with an Energy Elixir, and a new passage out of the throne room.
"It would seem we've found Sss-Thsss' bedroom."
"And his bedwarmer, literally!"
"Oh ew. You don't think he sleeps with that thing, do you?"
Li'l Burny is a joke enemy, no threat at all.
"I wonder what Sss-Thsss considers to be bedtime reading?"
"C'mon, guys, let's get the hell out of here."
On our way out, here's the maps for the Slith Castle.
Nothing particularly special here. The northern entrance is open, but have fun chopping down all the guards without access to a chokepoint.
Left to right: Sss-Thsss' bedroom and spell tome, his throne room, and the treasure room. The shrine and statuary/graveyard is just south of the treasure room.