Part 49: Spire"Hi guys. Managed to get away from Garzahd, did you?"
"Yep! And Kane smashed that crystal."
"Good. Garzahd is not a good enemy to have."
"So I've heard."
"C'mon, let's get back to the Abyss!"
"It hasn't spontaneously gotten more welcoming while we were gone."
"Were you expecting it to?"
"Expect? No. But it made a nice daydream."
"Hmm...I'd wager those waterfalls there lead into the southwestern corner of the Waterfall Warren. We've been near here before."
"Urp. You just had to remind me, didn't you?"
"Dude fights zombies and demons and spiders and so on without blinking, but he still gets seasick."
"Look, let's just visit this nice friendly town, okay?"
"Hang on, let me check my notes...hm. I thought those were highwaymen!"
"In any case, we're not paying to get into your city."
"Well, that wasn't so bad. I guess we're too intimidating to extort?"
"Wait, is that an ogre?"
"My word, I've never seen ogres working with friendly humans before."
"Friendly, he says."
Of course, the first thing I find while exploring town is the trash heap:
"This town has a serious vermin problem."
"...how charming. I think I need a drink."
The inn's quite busy, but most of the inhabitants are bandits who all have the same dialog:
"Are you sure it's quite wise to drink anything served to us by these people? They hate our guts."
"Not to worry, I'm carrying enough drinks for all of us."
"Hello, dear! Nice town. What're you visiting for?"
"Look, we're trying to get in contact with the Scimitar, so could you just...?"
"Not to worry, we'll get this sorted out someday."
"Yeah, yeah, that's cool and all. Out of curiosity, how much would you charge us if we wanted to order anything?"
"Wait, this inn of all places actually has rooms available?"
"How's the common room?"
"And the, uh, ''nice'' room?"
"Gee, how about that. Look, do you have any useful information for us?"
"Oh, I'm gonna suffer an accident, all right. All over your fucking inn, asshole."
Incidentally, Harry keeps his money in a chest behind the bar:
Too bad there's so many witnesses.
"Arena combat? That sounds...barbaric."
"I dunno, could be fun. Hey, what's the deal here?"
"This is not what I was expecting of this place."
"Really? What were you expecting in the hellhole that's so awful that even Avernites don't want it? A shining city of noble rebels carrying on the good fight even as they are rejected by polite society?"
"You're mocking me."
"I'm just saying, you're visiting a penal colony. Be glad we're allowed to leave it, unlike everyone else here."
"Cliff the Smith"
"Hi Cliff. What do you have for sale?"
"Sure, let's take a look."
Hello, Utterly Ridiculous prices! We've missed you so. Never return.
Cliff will also buy stuff from us, so we pick up 4000 coins by dumping our loot. Our bank balance is looking pretty healthy at around 20k. And no, there's no vendor bias when selling loot, just when you buy from them.
"Hey, this stone's loose..."
"Really? Even in a place like this, you can't do business in the open? Why hide back here?"
"And what do you sell?"
"Watch it? Or what?"
"Hm. Circlet. What circlet?"
"So noted. Let's see those goods."
Dammit Utterly Ridiculous, I told you to leave and never come back. I mean, not that we ever buy anything that isn't a spell or skill regardless of how much it costs, but still.
The other door out of Entwhistle's little closet is locked in the "you need a special key or lever to open this" way, so we'll just have to leave for now.
"Urp. That is not food any more."
"Says you. You've had some of that meat in your pack for months!"
"There's a difference between a finely-aged lizard salami and...that."
"Look, man, what kind of goods do you sell here?"
"...scuse me, I think I need to step outside for a moment."
"I'll join you."
"I have to say, this isn't a very good selection, sir. Need any help augmenting your options?"
"Oh, that's good news. I happen to have two dozen bottles of ale right here! Mind you, we mostly found these in bandit forts, nephilim lairs, and so on."
"Well, I guess we'd better be going then."
That's an easy 250 coins and a pittance of experience in exchange for hoovering up all the ale bottles we've seen so far this game.
"Hmph. Completely deserted, but they didn't even have the common decency to leave some valuables in a box or to have a secret switch leading to a hidden cache? So what's the point of this room then?"
"Sometimes a room is just a room, chum."
"Nonsense! Everything has a purpose!"
"Oh dear. You haven't been wearing your personal protective equipment, have you?"
"You sell alchemical creations?"
"Don't suppose you could tell us where your ingredients come from?"
"Before you get too sad for her, realize she did something fairly unpleasant to end up here."
"Assuming Avernum's justice system isn't corrupt, you mean."
"So far it seems to be batting pretty much 100%, judging from the people we've been talking to."
"No more than I expected. A shame anyway, though."
"Oh look, the boss of the town. Hi, Meena. Nice place you got here."
"I'm amazed you actually have a government and a mayor and everything."
"Oh don't worry. We end fights. We don't start them."
"I don't suppose you could tone it down with the ''vole'' stuff, huh? I'm at least a gopher."
"Charming. Before we go, you're going to give us some information about this place. Tell us about the Abyss."
"By choice, no doubt."
"And with all that freedom, you steal from Avernum, right?"
"Seems to me you're doing more than merely surviving. Nice town you got here, by the way."
"Ooh, ooh, was that a threat? What could your goons possibly do to us?"
"Right, now here's a threat for you. We know you've been sending people to steal from Avernum. I advise you to stop."
"Well, we'll be leaving, then. Cheers!"
"Don't let the door hit your ass on the way out, asshole."
"I would not have expected a town like this to have so many forms."
"There's no escaping the bureaucracy, Byff."
The other two doors out of here are also of the un-pickable variety.
"Hrm. Seems like there's a chunk of the city that's hidden from prying eyes. There's got to be another way in. Let's check outside the city walls."
"Ha! Knew it!"
"Oh good, I have been itching for a fight."
Two Rogue Warriors, a Hulking Ogre, a Rogue Archer, a Rogue Mage, and an Assassin hiding just out of view. Barely a speedbump for us.
"Cave slimes? They couldn't find a more threatening guard dog?"
"There's your guard dogs, One-Eye."
"Just my luck."
Guardian Hellhounds can breathe fire, of course, but not for so much that we can't survive three doses -- if only just, in Elly's case.
"Now, what's so important to deserve all this protection?"
"...urk. Okay. We're leaving this one alone."
"What, you don't think you can open it?"
"No...just...I have a bad feeling about it."
"Then we're done here? All that's left is the arena. Let's go be gladiators!"
If we go around the back of the arena, we can find the combatant entrance:
"But seriously, why do you have an arena? What is this, the reign of Emperor Caligula?"
"C'mon, let's fight!"
"Eh, sure, why not? This place could stand to be depopulated a bit anyway."
"Yeah! Let's do this!"
Arena combat! This got seriously amped up compared to the first game; the arena fights can be quite difficult. Well, after this first one, which is just some Submission Fungi and a couple of Writhing Masses placed in inconvenient locations. Nothing we haven't seen before, and we take them down quickly.
"Wait, that's it? I want more!"
"Damn, lady, that's one hell of a blood thirst you have going there."
"Hang on, that guy stuck in the smith's closet wanted us to talk to someone here..."
"Hey, you're Scab, right?"
"Someone said we should talk to you about adventuring stuff."
"We've met her. She has an obsession with voles."
"What went wrong?"
"I bet it's in that box we found, the one One-Eye can't get open."
"Can do, boss!"
"Looks like Elly gets her wish."
"Hee hee! We're gonna be arena champions!"
"Geeze, more of you little buggers? How can there be so many gremlins in this part of the caves?"
"What're you doing here? Imprisoned, are you?"
"Sounds fun. Looking for anything in particular?"
"Oh really? Do tell."
"Ha, no dice. We already found the third way in."
"Let's just collect our winnings and leave."
The arena ejects you at the southern ogre that we couldn't talk to earlier; he's the paymaster.
Just 100 coins. Between each fight, we leave and re-enter town, for a free full-heal. Might as well.
This is a significant step up from the last fight. Clockwise from Big Red in the upper-right, we have a Chained Drake, an Ur-Basilisk, a Mutant Lizard, an Inferno Lizard, and another Ur-Basilisk and Mutant Lizard. The Chained Drake and the basilisks are the most dangerous: the former because he can breathe fire twice per turn, and the latter because their breath attack causes stunning.
As long as Elly survives, though (and she does), she can full-heal the party, and the Drake is fragile enough that we can kill it in a single round. After it's down, the rest is just mopping up.
Winning round two is worth 200 coins. Now for round three!
It's the title bout! The current champions (named Newman, Dahle, Neko, and Bejar, clockwise from the armored dude up top) all start with War Chant and Shield Chant...I should probably have been pre-buffing the party before each of these fights, shouldn't I? Oh well.
One-Eye goes first, as he usually does, and taps each of the champions once to draw their fire away from the rest of the party. This works perfectly. A little too perfectly.
Yes, One-Eye only has about a 25% chance to dodge these guys. That's...not going to cut it. Good thing Elly can resurrect him!
"C'mon, man, stop slacking off!"
We focus fire on Bejar, the priest, since he can heal the others. But he's irritatingly durable, especially with that Shield Chant up. As for his healing...
There goes three turns' worth of attacks! Oh well.
Byff gets shanked by the assassin Neko.
Elly brings him back, of course, but her energy's now much too low to do that a third time, so from here on out it's scrolls, energy potions, or nothing.
Oh look, and Bejar summoned a Vengeful Shade. Fan-fucking tastic.
Having Kane wedged into the corner is keeping Bejar from running away, but it's also doing jack-all to control their front-line fighters; Neko just shanked Byff again. Elly's out of juice anyway, so she downs an Energy Elixir and casts Restore Life. Byff reappears immediately adjacent to Neko and Newman, who spend their turns killing him, then Elly gets double-teamed by the Spirit and Dahle (who's mostly been sitting at the top of the arena casting inconsequential attack spells).
And Bejar heals everyone again. Meanwhile, Kane's been stunned, so he can't do anything
Well, that was unpleasant! Let's try again, shall we? With a little more advance preparation this time.
Here's hoping this helps.
Starting the fight while already in combat mode means we get a free turn while the champions deal with their summoning sickness (or something). Then One-Eye manages to dodge Newman's combat discipline, eats a stunning blow from Neko, and gets terrified by Dahle.
But hey, he's still alive, and that's what matters. Certainly it's more important than the 20-damage pokes he's been sending at these guys. Everyone else keeps chopping at Bejar, with promising results one turn later:
"Seriously guys, I could use some help over here!"
"You're fine! Sheesh."
Bejar is down! And unlike us, they can't resurrect the dead!
"Man, how'd they get to be so dangerous if they haven't figured that one out?"
It's not all sunshine, though; Dahle (their mage) manages to one-shot Byff with a lightning spray. And Elly can either keep everyone else healed or resurrect Byff, not both. One-Eye comes to the rescue, though, by a) finally snapping out of his litany of mental afflictions, and b) dodging all three of Newman, Neko, and Dahles' attacks, leaving everyone at full health. You go, One-Eye!
"Right, let's get this fight started properly, then."
"What was all the business earlier?"
"Getting the cheaters kicked out of court. My enemies should not be allowed to heal each other after I hit them!"
"Glad you could rejoin us, Byff. Roast these suckers for us, would you?"
Without their healer, and with all three enemies bottled up together, this fight goes a lot more smoothly. Kane and One-Eye can tank the enemy melee attacks, while Elly keeps everyone standing and Byff applies gratuitous amounts of fire.
Well, Kane and One-Eye can usually tank the attacks. Elly?
One-Eye immediately dies again. Dangit, man.
Byff also runs himself dry on energy; casting Inferno over and over again is a very spendy activity. On the plus side, we take down Neko. I think we'll just let One-Eye sit out the rest of the fight.
In short order, Dahle is reduced to a fine paste, leaving just Newman standing.
"Yes! Arena championship is within my grasp! I can taste it!"
"That's energy potion, Elly."
Without his allies, Newman has really no tricks to speak of; he's just a brick clad in armor with a big sword. Our brick (that's Kane) is brickier. And has a fiery sword.
"Are you watching this, Scab? We're going to have words after this fight, you and me!"
"Well! That was fun."
"We just engaged in blood sport, you know."
"Pssh, I'm sure whoever those jerks were, they were jerks and deserved everything we did to them."
This last round rewards us with 300 coins. The arena is not a good source of money. On the plus side, Newman had a shiny breastplate:
Too bad it's not even an upgrade for One-Eye, let alone for Kane, whose Crystalline Plate has been keeping him hale and hearty even since we looted it from Adze-Haakai.
"Hey Zagat! Got any more fights for us?"
"Okay, we're the arena champions now, Scab. Tell us about the circlet."
"So noted. Thanks, buddy."
"Why are we so set on stealing this thing, anyway?"
"You kidding? With all the effort we've put in this far, it'd be dumb not to steal it."
"Sunk cost fallacy. How do we actually benefit?"
"Well, we get to bring Meena down a peg or two. After what she's done, she deserves it."
"Also I'm secretly hoping she attacks us and we get to kill her."
"Look, I don't go stabbing people in broad daylight unless they attack me first."
"How principled of you."
"I'm just saying, there's a huge difference between self-defense and premeditated murder."
And that's it for today! Here's the map of Spire:
Clockwise from the leftmost !: Meena, Eunice's Apothecary, Eustace's awful food, Entwhistle's closet, Cliff the Smith's Smith Shack, the arena, and The Spire Inne. And yes, it's spelled that way in-game.