Part 53: Lair of Khoth
"C'mon, hon, this'll be fun!"
"Says the lady who won't be standing in front if the dragon decides to eat us!"
"Khoth welcomed us here. It's not gonna attack us."
"Maybe it's just too lazy to go hunting!"
"And if it's friendly, then why the guards?"
"Probably just forgot to turn 'em off."
One Runewarded Golem, two Ironwarded Golems, and one regular Golem. As you might guess, the Runewarded is nearly impervious against magic (including elemental damage like from Kane's Flaming Sword), and the Ironwarded are nearly impervious against physical damage. They still can't do anything besides punch us, though.
"Hear that, One-Eye? No stealing from the nice dragon!"
"Fuck, I'm not interested!
"Byff? No stealing from the nice dragon!"
"Wait, it's a nerd dragon?"
"Yep, that's us adventures. Always looking only for things that are immediately useful."
"I want them all!"
"No, Byff! No stealing!"
"Nice place. Not exactly the horrible lair of a monstrous lizard that you would normally expect."
"On the other hand..."
"Dare I ask what kind of meat that is?"
"Well, that means it's fresh! Where'd it come from, hon?"
"See, the dragon won't be hungry anyway. Because that's for the dragon, right?"
"Ahh, and Khoth is male. Good to know."
"Does that really affect anything?"
"It affects pronoun choice! We wouldn't want to insult the dragon that maintains such a lovely library!"
"...no, I suppose not."
"Even if this library has rather more liberal rules regarding food than I am used to."
"Another ghost! And this one isn't hauling around gigantic lizard shanks and dripping blood on the floor!"
"In fact I bet this one and the other one get into fights sometimes."
"This is mildly concerning."
"What? Everyone needs a laboratory!"
"To study sentient beings?"
"At least there aren't any human prisoners here."
"And if it's any consolation, I don't think they're aware of what's going on."
"Right, that's it, I'm getting out of here. Nerd dragons are still dragons!"
"Give up, One-Eye. Or do you want to try to make the trek back to civilization alone?"
"...dude. That was cold."
Did you see the switch in the laboratory?
"Oooh, a special hidden book! Surely Khoth won't mind if we just read it..."
"...hm. Okay, okay, just give me a second to transcribe the first hundred pages or so."
"I don't think so. You can ask Khoth when we see him."
"I'll work on translating it while we travel! Please!"
"Come on, Byff."
"A missing dragon scroll, eh? I bet I know what we can do to, a ha, get in Khoth's good books."
Trying to steal gets you thoroughly roasted by the statues. What did you expect would happen?
"Uh, guys? Runes, like all over the fucking place?"
"Strange. They don't seem to do anything."
As you may recall, way back in Formello we spoke with Mother Claudette, a priestess who was searching for information on the history of Avernite priests. Here in Khoth's lair, we can finally make progress on that quest. Most of the tomes have the same flavor text as that first one we checked (the "no immediate value" one), but the one in the northeast corner of the room instead has the book she's looking for:
"Great. Now we just have to survive the trip back to civilization."
"I'm just looking, I am very pointedly not taking anything."
"And we admire your restraint."
Khoth's material treasures are pathetic anyway, amounting to a few basic potions, 100 coins or so, and a lemonwood longbow.
"Ah ha! Ah ha ha ha ha ha! One-Eye, you're going to like this!"
"What? What happened?"
"We're going to return to all those barriers that stymied us in the past! And we're going to crack every single one of them open!"
"Fuck yes! C'mere, Byff!"
"That sounds like it could take awhile."
"No barrier shall stand before the might of Byff!"
I may have slightly exceeded my remit according to the goonvote, by coming here now. We are not exactly in the Abyss, after all. But dammit, I wanted this spell.
"That's nice, dear. Shall we go talk to the dragon now?"
"Hail, mighty Khoth."
"Your library is amazing."
"There are other dragons in these caves, besides you and Motrax?"
"Uh, hey, so...what's that big rune circle for? Is it gonna zap us?"
"Right, right, fair enough."
"Hey, can you teach us? I wanna learn magic from a dragon!"
"Aww. What if we returned your scroll?"
"Wait, the Empire has been here?"
"The dragon scroll! We can get it back for you!"
"Ha, joke's on you, we already know where it is! And we'll bring it back to you!"
"Hmph. Do so, and we will see."
"Can do! Thanks for the chat, Khoth!"
"What a nice young man."
"Okay, now can we go back to civilization? There's nothing else here except for demons and a huge river to the east. And we don't have a boat."
"Oh, fine. I guess."
We will eventually see what all that water is for, but for now, it's a lot of walking for us. En route back home, we may as well stop by the Blocked Passage again.
"Okay, Byff, show us your mighty powers!"
"Right, here goes nothing."
"...I was expecting something more impressive."
"By all there is to learn, these barriers are incredible! I could only barely get that one down...it must have weakened over the centuries."
"Don't care, looting now."
I mean, honestly this isn't that great. Byff is wearing Mercuric Leather and Mercuric Sandals, giving him the +2 AP needed to be able to doublecast every turn. We could give this to Elly for +1 AP, but losing the bonuses from the Robe of the Magi would smart a bit. Plus her spells are more expensive, so she can't really afford to be constantly doublecasting. Still, once Elly's trained up her Gymnastics skill some more (which as you may recall has a 10% chance per point to give a bonus AP), this may be worth using over the Robe of the Magi.
In the meantime, One-Eye could use it, but ironically that'd put him over the encumbrance limit, imposing a -1 AP penalty.
Also, that crystal on the corpse is a Piercing Crystal. Totally useless against these barriers...which begs the question, how exactly did this guy get there in the first place?
"Finally, back in civili -- no, wait, that's just that shithole Spire. Never mind."
"There's supposed to be another town around here somewhere. Let's go find it."
"You know, we could just go around them."
"Ew! Kill the bugs! Kill the spiders!"
"Or we could kill them, I guess."
Six Aranea Seers and six Cave Widows (the slightly redder ones are the Aranea). These guys would have kicked our asses a few levels ago; now, we outspeed all of them, and Elly is able to wreck their faces with Divine Retribution. Two castings, and all but two of the spiders are dead; Byff takes care of those before they can even act.
"See? Easy path around them. Completely pointless to fight them."
"Maybe, but I feel better now."
"I think this is that cave Scab was telling us about..."
"Now if only we knew why we wanted to rob Spire so badly."
"I smell alchemy!"
"Black fangs? How odd...some kind of bacterial infection, maybe?"
"Maybe that Chasm Drake down near Fort Remote has a black fang."
"Hang on, that cave looks familiar...dammit, Kane, you brought us around in a huge circle!"
It is, however, too far away for the Orb of Thralni to let us fly there. No shortcuts for us.
"Aww, more friendly undead!"
"Or not. How strange."
"I think I found the second town."
"That looks more like a fortress. Like, even moreso than most Avernite towns do."
"That may just be the friendliest group of guards we've seen since we came to the Abyss."
"Dead body alert! Wow, this one's toasted."
Another Crystalline Wand, like the one that crazy wizard dropped. I'm not certain, but this might actually be a check of the amount of Luck your party has -- we have 9 points spread across the party, mostly from gear bonuses.
"Okay, let's go say hi to the people of Bargha."
And we'll call it there. Before we go, here's the map of Khoth's Lair:
Clockwise from the top left, we have Khoth, the Circle of Runes (with the priest tome in its northeast corner), the Dispel Barrier spell tome, and the scroll display case with its missing scroll.