Part 47: Ruined Bandit Lair; Fort Spire"...see if we ever do anything for you again."
"All right, that was fun, now let's get going."
"What's the rush?"
"Bandits aren't gonna kill themselves, you know? And there's supposed to be another bandit fort northwest of Fort Saffron."
Sure enough, if we follow the western wall, we'll find this little cul de sac:
"Phew! Someone's been liberal with magical fire around here."
"And with the fungal spores. Look out!"
Can you see the Gazer in that screenshot? Because I missed it until it acted. Fortunately they aren't as much of a threat as they used to be. Kane's Flaming Sword makes a huge difference in his damage output against such "soft" targets; it's at least a 50% improvement.
The fungi are irritating, but the only ones that can hit us (the Lancing Fungus, the brownish-green ones) are too few in number to be a serious threat.
"What happened to this place? Dead bandits everywhere, walls in ruins, new monsters moving in..."
"They're acting fast, too; these bodies aren't really decayed at all."
"Found a journal!"
"Yeah, that'd do it. If these guys were anything like the chumps we just wasted, no way they're standing up to multiple eyebeasts."
We explore a bit. The eyebeasts haven't done much looting, so there's random low-grade salable stuff all over the place.
I tried to pull Kane back so we could lure the Eyebeasts into tighter confines (and away from their Lancing Fungus "turrets"), but they stunned him and then outpaced my efforts at healing. So let's just try that again, except this time we're forewarned.
My clever plan consists of casting Elemental Ward, and then having One-Eye run into the middle of the room to draw everythings' attention. He dodges everything. Keep being awesome, One-Eye.
Then I bring everyone else into range and things get a bit hairier.
"How can something made out of eyeballs be so durable?! We had no problem with the one in the foyer!"
"That was a Gazer, these are Eyebeasts!"
"So what's the difference?"
"Eyebeasts are more durable!"
"Also, they know stronger spells. Ow."
"Well, that was fun!"
"I nearly died. Just putting that out there."
"Well, and it was a learning experience! You like those, right?"
"Not really. It's happened so many times now it's kinda lost meaning for me."
"Oh look, another barrier I can't dispel."
"One of these days we're going to get you a better barrier spell, Byff. And when we do? We're revisiting each and every one of these things."
"But that could take weeks!"
"Don't care. Locked doors exist to be unlocked, dammit."
"Hold that thought."
I guess killing the two Eyebeasts triggered these two Gazers and their four Experimental Rat buddies? Oh well, no big deal. Elly nearly taps herself dry while nuking them, though, so we take a quick hop over to Fort Saffron for a recharge before continuing.
"Nice craniums on those things."
"I guess I could try my hand at making rat brain soup."
"You do that and I'm eating your cake."
"Don't you dare!"
Brain Rats can cast Charm. One-Eye can't dodge that! And he does get charmed...
"MUST PUNCH LAWYER! MUST PUNCH LAWYER!"
...but he appears to be too stupid to use his bow.
"This is getting repetitive!"
"Hey Gazers, we've already done this like three times today. Mind just letting us through? No? Oh well, worth a shot."
This one's different in that the Pustulant Rats act as meatshields, keeping Kane from reaching the squishy Gazers. So we just have Byff freeze them into oblivion instead.
"Maybe the second floor is less damaged?"
"Wait...who? Who is this guy?"
"You look vaguely familiar..."
"Don't tell me you've forgotten! I am Lagran! The Bandit King!"
"Lagran...Lagran...wait, you don't mean that idiot that tried to attack us way back at Fort Avernum?"
"Oh yeah! That guy! Hey man, how's things?"
"Terrible, thanks for asking!"
"Man, I'd completely forgotten about you! Wow. I'm amazed you're still alive."
"Aww, is a life of crime treating you poorly? Not what you expected?"
"You know, you aren't the only group of bandits here. We just took out a much more successful group. In a non-ruined fort."
"Hmph. We spoke with them. They lacked vision! They refused to allow me to lead them, and the greatness that would have been theirs is therefore denied them!"
"Which begs the question, why are there so many bandits around here anyway?"
"...wait, this was ruined, with eyebeasts already present, and then you moved in?"
"Man, you really are stupid. Guess it's just as well we caught up with you. I wouldn't miss this for the world."
More probably, he meant "monsters moved in before we could build a strong gang." But I like my interpretation better.
"Look, just...take up farming or something, man! Get a hobby!"
"I am not some peasant to spend his life digging up dirt and being a servant to animals! I am Lagran!"
"I don't suppose I can point out the problem with your plan, viz. it requires killing us?
"Dude, this is just sad. We'll give you a mulligan on this one, okay? Hell, we've even cleared the path out for you. Just go away and disappear up your own ass or something, I don't care."
"Your funeral. And I mean that literally."
"Nonsense! I shall prevail! It is my destiny!"
We face off against Lagran, two Lagran's Thugs, Incantor Rhys, and Cultist Vysyla.
"Yeah, see, here's problem #1 with your plan: you and your goons can't hit shit."
"Ahh, but while we are near, you cannot use your bow against us! You are helpless, while our mages can pick you apart!"
"Uh, boss, we can't hit him either."
"Also, I have allies of my own."
"Hiya, Lagran. How do you feel about three feet of flaming steel embedded in your thorax?"
"Silence, fool! I'll take that fancy sword from your corpse!"
"You know, you really should have picked a less cramped spot to have your showdown in."
Lagran's casters are shockingly fragile for what is nominally a "boss" encounter, and spend most of their turns summoning weak monsters for us to chop down.
I mean, look at that! Byff, you are a marvel.
"A ha! We have reached your spellcasters, and are even now tearing into their soft defenses!"
"Sorry hon, but the sliths hit harder than you do."
"Okay, your goons are dead. Last, last chance, buddy. Give up, go away, and we'll pretend this didn't happen."
"No minor, temporary setback can convince me to give up my destiny! I will destroy you all and emerge all the stronger!"
"Let's just put this turkey to bed already. It's not funny any more."
"Besides, I haven't played my trump card yet!"
"Now you see, you are always two steps behind me!"
This gives him Battle Frenzy (bonus AP), Spine Shield (damages you if you hit him in melee), and Blade Shield (improved chance of parrying melee attacks). You might notice that this mildly inconveniences Kane and does nothing whatsoever to stop the rest of our party.
"Goodbye...uh, what did you say your name was, again?"
"I am Lagran! And I am invincible!"
"That was weird."
"Hey, look what he was wearing around his head."
"...a belt? You don't suppose it was cutting off the supply of blood to his brain, do you?"
"I don't think that can possibly explain him. Nothing can."
That's it for the Ruined Bandit Lair! Here's our maps:
The Eyebeasts are in the northwest, and there's Gazers, rats, and fungi all over the rest of it. The ! is the stairs.
There's some shovels and picks piled up in the back area, where Lagran and company were evidently trying to dig their way free to avoid having to deal with all the monsters. Poor dumb bastards.
Incidentally, it is entirely possible, if difficult, to kill Lagran the first time you meet him, at Fort Avernum. Doing so gets you a decent-ish broadsword early on, but of course you won't meet him here, nor get the job board quest to kill him. Still, I appreciate that he is in fact entirely optional.
"We'd better keep pushing north. There should be a fortress nearby, I think."
First, along the eastern wall of this area is a secret passage:
"I believe Clive in Dharmon wants to know about this."
"We'll tell him on our way out of the Abyss."
"Wait, why can't Elly just carry all the iron for us?"
"No, thank you! My backpack wouldn't take the strain."
"So what you're saying is, I need to buy you a reinforced backpack."
"I can't imagine any bandits sneaking through here. The approaches are completely exposed."
"They used to have several hideouts around here. Not any more!"
"Check in? Is this an inn?"
"So what's the deal here? Why all the paperwork?"
"Fancy name, that."
"I wouldn't think you'd get a lot of traffic. Who wants to go to the Abyss?"
"We've heard a bit about the Abyss, but what's it like there?"
"Nasty. A little prison inside a prison."
"Unpleasant place then, I take it? Not very peaceful?"
"Hey, before we check in, any jobs you need done?"
"The southeast one, right? Not the southwest one?"
"I guess it takes time to reassign soldiers. I wonder where the army will go next?"
"You know there's another bandit lair in that cave, right?"
"Heh. How pragmatic."
"Anyway, good news! We killed the bandit leader. Aren't we fast? I'd like to get paid now, please."
500 coins and a reputation boost.
"Guess we'd better check in, then."
"Cake isn't contraband, right?"
"Ha, no, and thank goodness for that."
"Fine by me, then."
"Good luck in there! We're rooting for you."
"Hey, that's a Ward's uniform. I bet she's the one that wanted us to kill, uh...what was his name again?"
Another reputation boost and this hat:
"Finally, I can get rid of this hat I've been wearing! Rat fur isn't very comfortable or stylish."
"Oh, cry me a river."
"You have a point. Want my old hat?"
"No, thank you!"
"Hello, what's up?"
"Nice to meet you. What're you doing here?"
"Nice fort you have here. Kind of precarious though."
"Wait, hang on, there's two towns in there? We'd only heard of one. What are they?"
"Normally at this point I'd say something like ''sounds like my kind of place'', but honestly, that sounds like a real shithole."
"What about the other one?"
"Good to know, thanks."
"Hey, I don't mean to pry, but is your armor okay?"
"Hmm...nope, no names on mine. Lucky me."
"Thanks for your time, ma'am."
And now for the second gate guard.
"Howdy. Been doing any fighting lately?"
"...what are Scimitars like?"
"So sue me, I don't know the password."
"Hello, someone's in a foul mood."
"Wow, look at you go. What's up, hon?"
"Yeah? What sect?"
"Have we heard of that one? It's so hard to keep track of all these religions, honestly."
"Anyway, where're you from?"
"Heard anything interesting while you were there?"
"Well, good luck to you. Remember to stay hydrated!"
"Ahhh, you must be one of those real criminals we've heard so much about. Enjoying your cell?"
"Outmaneuvered, eh? And you ended up down here because of that?"
"I get the impression you weren't exactly hard to frame. And how come we lack sense?"
"Oh, buddy. We're throwing a politician into the Abyss? This can only end poorly."
"What's with the ''vole'' talk, anyway? We aren't rodents!"
"Seems to me we're doing a sight bit better than you are, so pardon me if I don't exactly envy you."
"Okay, let's leave this asshole be. Better places to be, right guys?"
"Yep! Like outside of a cell!"
"...and inside of another cell. With a ladder. What the heck."
"This appears to be additional cells."
"Weird. Well, whatever, we can't get in anyway."
"Aww, look! A lizard!"
"Byff, we see lizards every day."
"Hey there, little buddy! How's things?"
"Oops, almost got me! Take care, little guy!"
"Okay, are we done? No more delays then, eh? Let's see what the Abyss is like."