Part 46: Fort Saffron; Bandit Keep"I continue to be thankful that you're on our side, Elly."
"...yeah, no fucking kidding."
"Aww, thanks boys!"
"Anyway, it seems we're done here. I say we do all those jobs on the job board next."
"Might as well. Brigands don't belong in the Great Cave."
"So we hear there's some brigands around here! They look kind of like you!"
"Oh, you poor, poor dears."
"Nobody ever said that brigands were smart."
I'm pretty sure we've already done this exact encounter before, except the mage was hiding in back. This one appears to be much more
"I deeply regret the choices I have made that lead to this set of circumstances! Would that I could turn back the hands of Time's clock and live my life anew, I would fain have sought a different path through that grand story we call Life! I -- urk!"
"Oh, shut up already."
To deal with the other jobs, we have to head north, towards Fort Spire. We take the scenic route.
The Wisdom Crystal in the message log came from one of those caches you need Cave Lore to see. We now have 12 of the things. We'll use 'em someday!
"I still can't believe this stuff is strong enough to use for making bows."
"Strange...I wonder why this site was abandoned?"
"Just one of life's mysteries, Byff."
"I don't like unsolved mysteries. They're itchy."
"Well, that's not suspicious at all!"
200 coins and a Steel Helmet. Not bad for a completely free stash.
"Hello, what's this...?"
"Oh! Hey! We have a message for you! From that insufferable twit in Blosk!"
"Well, sorry to be late, but we were a little busy ending the Slith war."
"Don't care, lemme at the scrolls!"
Elly's Mass Healing is now level 3, and now has a 50% chance to tag the entire party with Regeneration when she casts it. Well hey, why not?
"We may as well look at her wares while we're here. You never know, maybe we'll actually buy something!"
In the original game, Shaynee was one of the "random" shops: her stock rotated frequently and could potentially have literally any non-unique item in the game. Notably this included several incredibly powerful but incredibly rare items like Boots and Rings of Speed.
In this game, her stock doesn't rotate. She has a bunch of lightly-enchanted items that mostly just give marginal boosts to various elemental resistances. She does have one incredibly important item on the second page, though.
"More cake! Oh sweetie, Daddy missed you!"
"Hey, share some, would you!"
"I'm taking the sugar, too."
"Okay, are we done here?"
"Haaaaaaang on a second."
"I've been wearing this stupid slimy shirt for ages now!"
"So, what, you're saying you want to buy a replacement? Get some fresher slime on you?"
"No! I want a non-slimy shirt! I'll take yours if that's what it takes!"
"You get away from me, crazy woman!"
"...here, Elly, I have an old breastplate I'm not using any more. You can wear it instead."
"Aww, thanks! Gimme that sword and shield too!"
"Lookit me! I'm a knight in shining armor!"
"Who can't hold her sword correctly."
"Details! Now let's go get those bandits!"
Hopefully this will keep Elly from folding over like a slice of warm cheese as soon as anyone looks at her funny. The sword just gives +1 to Blademaster (totally pointless for her) and +2 to Quick Action...which means that she goes after One-Eye in the party's turn order now. The shield is just more armor and some hostile effect resistance. Elly's now as well-armored as One-Eye is, but with slightly worse resistances.
"Man, if the brigands are north of this fort, how are they getting into the Great Cave? It spans the entire tunnel!"
"I'm sure we can figure it out."
"I can't imagine they're sneaking through this."
"Maybe they have help on the inside?"
"Hi boss, what's new?"
"Ooh! Would you like to hear about The Word?"
"Prrrobably not the best time, Elly."
"The nerve! People should be free to pursue their studies! Speaking of, what were you studying?"
"Why do I get the feeling we kind of short-circuited this whole Graymold thing by finding the recipe first?"
"You seem to have a lot of trouble with brigands."
"Man. Invisible bandits. Wouldn't that be amazing?"
"We'll see what we can do, sir. Meanwhile, you seem awfully prepared for any non-invisible threat."
"Poor dear. Don't worry! We'll take care of it!"
"We take care of everything, seems like."
"C'mon, let's go chat with the other mage. Maybe he knows something?"
"Hey, this one's already cracked! C'mon, join the Way of the Word! W͓͇̟ͯ͑̐͛ͤë̱̠̲̜̣̼̿̈ͯ͋͐ ͎̗̱ͣ͗͋̓h̜̯̬͖̽̓ͣͭ̎̃ǎ̩̥̱̠̐͋ͨ̏v͈̜ͭ͗́̀e̳̫̘̰ͫͦ̈̈́ ͙̫̣ͩc̖͍̜̓͌̎ȏ̭̰̳̟͇͍̄o̠̻̣͖͇̲͐̋̽k͎̯̾ͣi͙̙͙̇͑̈̆̀ë̜́̎s̯̜̗̻͑͐!͎̜͆͗"
"Whoa, damn. What happened to you, man?"
"Oh, really? We met one of your compatriots, I think."
"We're still trying to pin down where its lair is. Got any directions for us?"
"...I'm letting you take point when we go there, One-Eye."
There's all of one other person to talk to here, and she's in the cells.
"Hello hello, what have we here?"
"Now what did you do to end up here? Where are you from?"
"Care to tell us anything about your homeland? We could use the intel."
"So noted. Rot in hell then."
"Pleasant girl, isn't she?"
"Come on, let's go."
"...it can't be that obvious, surely?"
"Aww, they've got little collars on!"
"And someone unaccountably forgot to file their teeth down."
As far as I can tell, Watchlizards don't do anything special.
"Hi guys! You must be the soon-to-be-ex-brigands!"
"What she means is, retire or be retired."
"Oh, just start carving them up already, Kane."
The brigand leader can cast a few mid-tier mage spells, and every time you hit him in melee he sprays you with acid...but Kane's acid resistance is so high that this doesn't do anything. Ha ha!
"They've carved out an entire tunnel right next to the barracks! How on earth did they manage this?"
"Don't know, don't care, I got a fancy new bow!"
"Man, it's got a scope and everything!"
"This is the best secret tunnel ever."
"No wonder the Commander thought he was going insane. They were right outside his bedroom!"
Amusingly, this secret passage actually has some use for us: we can steal a Speed Burst scroll from the Commander's desk without any of the guards in the adjacent barracks room seeing us!
"Might as well go tell the Commander."
"I have some bad news, Commander. You're not going insane after all."
"She means we found a ''hidden'' passage bypassing the fort. And I use that adjective very liberally."
"Anyway, the brigands are dead. You should probably barracade the passage now."
This just gets us experience and a reputation boost.
Here's the complete map for Fort Saffron. The secret passage is nearly as big as the fort itself!
"You know, I'm looking forward to this. This Scimitar group seems to have their priorities straight."
"Really? You're not forgetting that the first time we set foot in the Abyss we got immediately assaulted? And then insulted by a shepherd?"
"Just a misunderstanding, surely!"
"There's a fine line between hope and self-delusion, buddy."
"Hey look, more bandits to the south!"
"Those aren't bandits, Elly."
"Okay, so I guessed. Sue me."
"Of course we'll help out."
Hey, they brought two mages this time! It's almost like they're learning!
"Hang on, how did the soldiers get injured? We killed everyone before they could move."
"Oh, sorry about that. I think they got a little too close to me when I was casting Divine Fire."
"...but you didn't hit them with the fireball, did you?"
"No, but, you know. Seeing things man was not meant to see, learning the great unknowable truths, bleeding from the ears, that whole bit."
"Oh, right. Forgot about that stuff. I guess I've become inured."
"So hey, those bandits were clearly headed somewhere. Let's check it out."
"I guess the fight outside was just the warmup."
"Man, you smell funny. You one of those hashish smokers?"
Assassins are something like twice as durable as the other fighters here, but they still can't hit us.
"Hey, Elly! Anyone you know?"
"What, you think I know every random religion in the world?"
"Actually, looks like the robes of the All-Consuming Tide."
"What do they do?"
"I'm not very clear on the details, but I gather they're very big on soil erosion. They get into fights with the Seekers of the Mysteries Magmatic from time to time."
"Awright, someone with a name! We're making progress!"
He dies in one and a half turns. We might be a bit overleveled for this place.
On the other hand, his "special drop" is a Scroll of Group Heal, so the game clearly doesn't think he's special either.
"Awww, remember that time we fought a rat just like these way back when? In the Batcave?"
"As I recall, that was the first time any of us died."
"Yep! Good times."
Amusingly, these guys end up doing more damage than Raider Thyron did.
This guy and his Dark Cultist buddy are actually legitimately dangerous! The Dark Cultist in particular can use that unnamed earthquake spell to nearly kill our casters. His friend lacks the wits to apply the followup punch though.
"Ha ha, look what I found!"
We actually sent an assassin running scared to his boss.
"I'm guessing you aren't the magical type, right? So I'll just keep you busy while my friends burn you to death. Sounds good? Sounds good."
"Oh, I am going to enjoy this."
Alera dual-wields, and her attacks can cause stunning...so, unfortunately, Kane spends most of the fight getting repeatedly concussed, as Alera shows little interest in attacking One-Eye.
"This is not going according to plan!"
"Oh, relax, I'll heal any damage you take!"
"That's not the point!"
"Say goodbye to your precious Empire, lady."
"Man, I wanted to do that."
"Aww, I'm sure you'll get your chance, honey!"
"Here, maybe this'll make you feel better?"
Monsters that use mental attacks have been strangely rare of late. Kane can always keep the Ivory Band around as a swap item.
There's a small secret passage off of Alera's bedroom, but it only has minor vendor trash in it. More interesting is the continuation of the passage beyond.
"Oh, this won't end well."
Popping Slimes are weak, but when they die, they spawn Draining Slimes in every adjacent tile. Nothing that copious application of area-of-effect spells can't fix, though.
"I hope some of these books have survived."
"Well. That is interesting."
"Hrm. We may have to come back to this one."
"Finally, a spell for mages!"
At level 3, Icy Rain has a 40% chance of trying to apply the Immobile debuff on its targets. Emphasis on "try": it'll probably fail. So that's a bust!
"Okay, we're done here. Let's get out and report back to the Dharmon mayor."
"Correction: we're almost done. Idiots tried to ambush us."
"Too bad their leader was too dead to warn them off!"
Back in Dharmon:
"Hi, boss! Two things: we took out those bandits on the road, and the ones in that fort you were worried about were being directed by someone named Meena."
200 coins and a Chilling Band, which increases fire resistance.
"...see if we ever do anything for you again."
"All right, that was fun, now let's get going."