Part 62: Denouement and IntermissionLast time, we defeated the demon tyrant Grah-Hoth, saving the realm of Avernum from endless torment and subjugation. We then decided to have a celebration in the middle of the formerly-demon-infested hellscape that Grah-Hoth's fortress was in.
"Celebrate? Out here?"
"Sure! Who's going to stop us?"
"...can't argue with that. Cheers!"
"Here's to the saviors of Avernum!"
"Heh, saviors. Never thought I'd see the day."
"Yeah, the Way of the Word isn't all that big on saving things. No point, y'know? It's all going away anyway once we figure out how to get the Creator's attention."
"...and now I need another drink."
"Hey, cheer up! We did good here! Why worry about the ultimate futility of it all? Make the most of what you have right now!"
"Oh, say, I know what'd cheer you up, One-Eye. We need to go see King Micah!"
"Hey, yeah! And get our reward for saving the nation!"
"Ha. Yeah, okay."
"Let's go! Allons-y, Orb, take us away!"
"Wait wait wait the ceiling's too -- "
" -- low for flight. Well, whaddaya know, I can dodge the ceiling."
"I am nowhere near drunk enough to not feel that. Ow."
The teleporters make transportation kind of silly at times, since everything routes through the Tower of the Magi.
En route, at Erika's Tower:
"Oh hey, more good news! The teleporter system is probably safe now! Ish."
"You think we killed all the demons that could have exploited it?"
"What? No! No no no ah ha ha that would be silly. There's always more demons, hon."
"But! After what happened to Grah-Hoth, there's no way any of them are gonna want to mess with this sector anytime soon! Demons're cowards, really. It's cute."
"Sure! Kinda like a puppy that barks at bigger dogs until they get close."
"Let's just use the stupid teleporter."
To the Castle!
"Okay, hold up a sec."
"Something like that."
"Things went fine the last two times we were here!"
"To be fair, the first time we were all drunk out of our gourds, and the second time Fort Remote got annihilated. I wouldn't call that ''fine''."
"Hooo. Okay, I'm ready. Let's go."
"See? Everything's --"
"MICAH YOU SON OF A BITCH!"
"Guards! ...hold, for the moment."
"You lying sack of shit! I wish you'd take that slippery tongue of yours and lick your own asshole with it!"
"For what you've done to us? I'm gonna build you a statue made out of coprolith after this!"
"I don't believe you know what that word means."
"I wondered why he was asking me about insults on the way here."
"It means I'm gonna take a huge, steaming dump and slap your name on it, so everyone will remember what a shitty person you are!"
"Or have you forgotten? Finally gone senile? Just conveniently failed to remember a certain minor detail when sending your last best hope for peace literally into the demon's maw!"
"Oh! Or maybe it's not senility! Maybe you've always been a simpleton, like your son, you just hide it better! You --"
"Enough. I will not have you slinging insults at those who cannot defend themselves."
"One-Eye, what the hell?"
"Don't tell me you forgot too!"
"We had to fight our way through that fucking wall full of undead! That were all on our side! Because King Fucking Micah wouldn't give us the countermeasures!"
"Oh. Oh! Oh dear."
"Yeah, ''oh dear''. Is that all you have to say for yourself?"
"No, certainly not. But first, please pull your pants back up."
"Our vulgar friend is correct, my liege. We had to fight our way through Skarragath, because the constructs there would not believe that we were here on your orders."
"Yes, and I apologize for that. Skarragath was erected in some haste. We were rushing to finish the seal while trying to fend off the remainder of the daemonic army."
"That still doesn't excuse not giving us the countermeasures."
"There were no countermeasures."
"That mention of a safe-passage ritual? It was a red herring. The intent was that anyone trying to break through would be slowed down as they tried to find or derive the ritual, long enough for us to muster conventional forces and drive them out."
"The entire thing was a desperate ruse, scrambling to achieve any advantage we could think of at a time when our poor nation was spread horribly thin. Why do you think we raised our own soldiers as undead guardians of that place? We would have used living troops if we could; you know the Avernite stance on necromancy."
"Well then. Don't let us catch you practicing necromancy."
"Understood, your majesty!"
"Don't you mean ''Don't practice necromancy''?"
"A wise king does not give orders he cannot enforce. For that matter, I do not relish the prospect of trying to bring you lot to trial. So just be discreet. Please."
"In any case. Skarragath was intentionally built with no safeguard, no way to disarm it. I believe our mages called it a ''fail-deadly'' defense. The only way through was by force. That does not, however, excuse our failure to warn you."
"On behalf of all of Avernum, I want to thank you for the great deeds you have performed on our behalf, and I give you my personal, sincere apology that you had to operate on anything less that the best possible intelligence we could have supplied you with."
"I'll also overlook Mr. Wang's little tirade."
"Truly Your Majesty is the epitome of patience and forgiveness."
"Spare me. But! Now, you must tell me everything about your quest!"
1000 coins, a decent amount of experience, and a reputation boost -- we're now at a reputation of 44, "Legendary".
"What would you suggest we do now? We find ourselves at loose ends for the first time in months."
"Done and done already, your majesty. Erika has some...unique...perspectives on Avernum's future."
"Do I want to know about this?"
"Most likely not."
"Very well then. I'll not keep you longer. Good luck, my friends! Avernum will never forget the great service you have done."
Let's go break into King Micah's bedroom and read the book he has there.
Well hey, free is free. Other people in the thread have claimed getting good results from summoning spells, which in hindsight makes some sense as the AI is bad at target selection. Considering how the combat balance is biased such that monsters would have trouble killing other monsters, a summoned monster ought to make a good meatshield. I still don't like relying on units that I can't control, though.
But there's more!
Now we're talking! At level 3, Divine Retribution can stun enemies for 1 turn, on top of doing great damage and having a huge area of effect.
"Okay, now what?"
"Can't we just take things easy for a bit?"
"I concur. The realm seems to be stable now."
"Well then, I have a suggestion."
"We find every one of those barriers that Byff couldn't break down, and we loot whatever's behind them."
"This is your idea of taking things easy?"
"Sure! We've already killed all the guards in every place we'd be visiting. It's easy money! And besides, if we don't get those treasures, someone else might beat us to them!"
"Sounds good to me."
"ROAD TRIP! Cue the montage!"
Alright, let's hit those level-3 barriers! In no particular order...
In the lab in the Tower of the Magi:
"Hi Linda! Still not summoning demons, right?"
"What about eyebeasts?"
"Eyebeasts are fine! You know, it's an open debate how many eyes the Creator has?"
Anyway, he's standing (floating?) on a Wisdom Crystal and a Wand of the Inferno.
Next, on the second floor of the Tower, near where we fought Adze-Haakai:
The chest has a Powerlash scroll (wide-area-effect energy damage, not very useful any more), an Invulnerability Elixir, and another Wisdom Crystal. In hindsight, using Invulnerability potions might have helped us beat Adze-Haakai without having to drop the difficulty down to Normal. Oh well!
Next is the Shattered Fort, Grah-Hoth's home before the first Demon War, where we got the Imperial Seal.
"Hang on, we forgot something!"
"That demon that wanted to help us once Grah-Hoth was free!"
"I'm afraid he's buggered off, hon. No daemonic presence here whatsoever."
If we'd come here between freeing Grah-Hoth from his Prison and killing him, this would have happened:
Not the most useful advice, but it's nice flavor. Anyway, to the Shattered Fort! In the innermost reaches, just before the fight for the Imperial Seal:
Yet another Invulnerability Elixir and Wisdom Crystal.
"Hey, does anyone else think maybe it's not the greatest idea for me to be carrying all these crystal things at once?"
"What's the problem?"
"Well, they're talking, all the time. Whispering."
"So? Tune it out."
"I'm just worried they're talking to each other."
"Eh, I'm sure it's fine."
In Blosk, or more specifically, under it:
Hm, we haven't been here before. Whoops! The Blosk teleport pylon is kind of redundant, given that Dharmon is right next door and also has a pylon.
...case in point.
"Man, Blosk has one hell of a vermin problem."
Five Experimental Rats and a Brain Rat! A single one of these guys contributed our first-ever PC death, waaaay back in the Batcave. Nowadays, Kane and One-Eye can between them kill one per turn. Which sounds impressive, until you realize that Byff and Elly can kill all of them per turn.
"Hm. Dead body."
"Poor dumb bastard. Oh well, what was his is now ours!"
The body has a much-welcome Energy Potion on it; Byff was flat out of the things.
Some coins, a Ruby, and a Rod of Battle (casts War Blessing, is trash).
Incidentally, Jonnhalyn the smith of Blosk needs iron bars!
"Honey! Let me give you, let's see here, twenty iron bars by the Creator these are heavy."
400 coins, 20 per bar. This quest, like all of the "deliver lots of some cheap item" quests, can eventually be completed, but nothing really interesting happens when you do.
While we're in the area, a mage named Matthias in Fort Emerald asked us to deliver a message to one Elizabeth in Cotra. If you've forgotten (this was about thirty updates ago), it turns out he's the reason she got thrown into Avernum -- she unwittingly sheltered him and his band of rebels in her inn, back on the surface. She's not too thrilled to hear from Matthias, so let's just go convey that response to him:
100 coins and a reputation boost. At a reputation of 45 we hit "True Hero".
"Here's that damn ring you wanted."
400 coins and some experience.
"Hey, any more jobs we can do for the underworld?"
"You're turning into a regular rogue here, Elly."
"Meena? That --"
"Let me see that box. ...sure, you got yourself a deal. C'mon guys, let's go."
"What was that about, One-Eye?"
"Smell the wood this thing is made out of."
"Hm...strange, I smell nothing."
"That is strange, isn't it? It's been treated to absorb scents."
"Why would anyone do that?"
"Ah, I see. For smuggling aromatic drugs."
"Give the man a prize! I'll bet anything there's a packet of Skribbane in here."
"Oh, ick. I didn't sign up to be a drug runner!"
"I have to admit I still don't understand why you were so keen on committing crimes, Elly."
"I just wanted to make people offers they couldn't refuse!"
"...I see. Ever think of becoming a judge instead?"
"Guys, we still need to figure out what to do with this thing."
"That's simple. Turn it in to the authorities."
Which we can do...over at Fort Spire. Nobody in Almaria will listen to us on this matter.
"Sir. A petty criminal in Almaria thought for some reason that we would smuggle some drugs for him. Here, they're all yours."
This gives us a reputation boost, but no other reward. Incidentally, if you do want to smuggle the drugs through to Meena, you get a whopping 25 coins. Don't be a drug runner.
Next up on the level-3 barriers list is under Patrick's Tower.
Remember this place? We got assaulted by manmade artillery fungus. Good times.
The chest contains a patch of Graymold -- we now have 9 of the things, and still haven't visited the Graymold Patch that was the only source of the stuff in the original game. The basin hiding in the bottom corner of the room gives everyone a decent chunk of experience.
We should also check Patrick's library for a book wanted by the witch in Dharmon.
"This is mildly concerning. If the two largest libraries in Avernum don't have the book, then it may not exist."
"Oh, it has to exist. Otherwise how would we finish the quest?"
"That's what I mean, we may not be able to find the book for her."
"Don't be silly! All quests are completable!"
"This is one of those philosophical things, isn't it?"
"More like metaphysical. Don't worry about it."
Next is Gremlin's Gold, the maze full of monsters where One-Eye went temporarily insane. ...that doesn't narrow things down very much.
On the plus side, at least the gremlins are all gone, so we aren't continually hassled by weak monsters. On the minus side, I have to navigate the dungeon again, and it's a teleporter maze.
This basin improves everyones' Luck by 1! That's a minor boost to everyones' resistances (and possibly critical hit rate, evasion rate, etc.).
While we're in the area, let's stop by Dharmon and clean up a quest or two.
"Hello Clive, you gloomyguts! Good news! We found that shipment that got lost!"
"Hello Clive! Good news! We have some goods to unload, like this weird useless knife!"
Honestly it wouldn't be that useless much earlier in the game; a good stat stick for your casters, at least.
"Hail, witch. We've had no luck looking for your book."
"That crazy broad? Sure, why not."
To Erika's Tower! We're giving the teleporter system a workout today.
"Hi honey! How goes the brooding and plotting revenge?"
"Oh, I stay busy. Congratulations on your recent victory."
"Oh! Say, the Scimitar wanted us to find a route to the surface! Can you help?"
"Dragons, always dragons. Maybe this one won't hate us on sight."
"Could you share with us your part of the password?"
"Powerful beings? Such as?"
"Hm, I suppose that makes sense. Thank you, Erika."
"Now, the book must be here somewhere!"
"If only I shared your confidence..."
"There! You see?"
"Hm. Perhaps we just got lucky."
"We're not taking this book, are we?"
"Fuck no. Crazy witch lady can come here if she wants to read it. Let her deal with the crazy sorceress lady's traps."
"Hiya, honey! Found that book for you!"
Experience, a reputation boost, and...
Incidentally, the witch is an alchemist, and can make Wisdom Crystals for you. This makes absolutely zero sense lorewise: Exile 2 reveals the source of these things, and it's nothing that anyone we've met ought to be able to imitate. They're also expensive -- costing 1 of each alchemical ingredient -- but alchemical ingredients are available in infinite supply if you're willing to trek between the various respawning patches.
Which means in theory you can gain unlimited experience points by wandering all over the game world to get ingredients, crafting Wisdom Crystals, using them, waiting for the ingredient patches to respawn, and repeating. That's dumb and stupid. Don't do that.
Back to level-3 barriers! The next is in the Swamp Temple, one of the slith dungeons we raided ages ago. The fastest way there is to take the teleport pylons to Cotra. Incidentally, Jenny the Alchemist here wants to know where Erika's Tower is.
"Hi hon! We found Erika's Tower for you!"
"Wait, that was a thing we were doing?"
"It's in my notes here somewhere..."
100 coins, a reputation bonus, a Speed Elixir, and an Invulnerability Elixir.
"Well, here we are. What are we doing here again?"
"A slith assassin is hiding out here. The mayor of Almaria wants us to assassinate her."
"More importantly, there's a barrier to crack here!"
The assassin is hiding in the northeast corner of the first level.
"Sacred? It's full of corpses now. Has been for months."
"Cute. You know we've been sent to reunite you with your honored ancestors, right?"
"Sss-Thsss is dead, and we killed him. I really recommend you surrender."
"Oh well, gave you the chance."
"And now you feel fully justified in fighting, eh?"
"You know it!"
This is not even remotely a fair fight. Three arrows from One-Eye, three stabs from Kane, three Divine Retributions from Elly, and four Arcane Blows from Byff, and Nyryssa dies without ever having gotten a turn. Her corpse has a couple of Fine Slith Spears and a Rod of Succor, which casts a weak Group Healing spell.
The barrier's up on the second level.
"Worms won't stop me from the treasure that is rightfully mine!"
"Sure, there's nobody here to stop us, right?"
"'Cause we killed them all!"
Worms killed, the sarcophagus has a Wand of the Inferno.
"Sorry buddy, maybe next time your prize for genocide will have a higher resale value."
Next is the Slith Castle, but I get briefly confused and run us through the Waterfall Warren first. While we're in the area, we really ought to check in on the Crypt of Drath again.
"Why are we here again?"
"According to my notes, there was a powerful barrier in the crypts, and another in the bottom level, near that teleporter maze."
"Oh well, fair enough. At least it's not in the teleporter maze, right?"
"We should check on Drath's chambers again. For all I know he's alive again."
Just another Divine Shade, ho hum. They're only the most dangerous shade-type enemy in the game. Small potatoes for our crew.
In the crypt is some coins and another Wand of the Inferno.
"Okay, here we are. What's so important that an incredibly powerful undead monster would want to protect it with such a powerful barrier?"
"Fuck all undead, forever."
This is such a brilliant dick move, I love it. There's three barriers in a row here. And until Drath is dead (properly dead, not just chased off), this place is shrouded in darkness, so you can't see more than one tile in front of you. The first time you come here you may well lack the Dispel Barrier spell, but you probably have some Piercing Crystals...which can crack the first barrier only. So you go and get the spell, come back, and cast it...and take down the second barrier, revealing the third behind it. Probably at this point you could kill Drath, too, but all that reveals is that the corridor continues on beyond the last barrier.
Much, much later you get the level-3 spell, and come all the way back here to dispel the last barrier...and there's nothing behind it except a cave-in. I like to imagine the rocks are arranged in the shape of a middle finger.
"Aww, ol' Boney's still dead."
"Sure! I thought he was more determined than that. Guess he was just a quitter after all."
"I suddenly fear for what form Elly's remains will take in, oh, eighty years or so."
Anyway, to the Slith Castle!
"Say, we never did investigate this cavern."
"Something to do after we finish One-Eye's little errand, then."
"Whelp. I guess our job's not done yet, boys! Let's kill some evil sliths!"
"But we killed their leader!"
"Try telling them that."
Three shamans and a bunch of warriors, no real threat.
"Attention, sliths! Your leader is dead! There is no purpose to prolonging this conflict!"
"Doesn't seem to be working, old chap."
"Nobody ever listens to reason."
The barrier is in Sss-Thsss' treasure chamber.
The chest behind the barrier has another Rod of Succor and Invulnerability Elixir. Don't get me wrong, we're, like, double-plus invulnerable now. It's just kind of repetitive honestly. Where's the energy elixirs?
Next stop, the Ruined Bandit Lair, where we fought Lagran.
The chest back there has 2 Wisdom Crystals and 2 Flawless Crystals (vendor trash).
That's it for level-3 barriers! There's a few more, but only in places we haven't been to yet. We still have a few more quests to mop up, though.
Mayor Bevan in Almaria was the one that wanted us to kill that slith assassin.
"Hi boss. One assassin, assassinated."
250 coins and a Sniper's Vest:
"You'd think we'd start getting respected at some point."
The priestess of Mertis, Ether (not Esther, Ether ), wanted some alchemical herbs.
"Ahh. I'd almost forgotten how pastoral this place was. Look! Cows!"
"So, Byff, can we give her some of our hard-won alchemical ingredients now?"
"I guess. Now that we have more than one piece of graymold, anyway."
"Wonderful. Here's some graymold, Ether."
+1 Cave Lore for Kane. I suppose if you cared which character got the bonus, you could rearrange your party prior to turning this in.
"Heck, mandrake root? We have loads of that!"
"More mandrake than we have graymold, really. It's strange, you'd think mandrake would be more rare."
And +1 First Aid for Kane. If you've forgotten, First Aid restores some health and energy after each fight, depending on skill and how big the fight was. It's usually inconsequential.
The innkeeper of Silvar, Gary, wanted us to find him some hot springs. Which we did ages ago, but we've been sitting on that little secret rather than turn it in.
"Do we have to?"
"Look, we're not very well using the springs ourselves, right? Other people have a right to know about them too!"
"But...maan, they're our springs!"
"Not until we buy a deed they aren't. Hey Gary, we found those springs you wanted."
"I guess I can't fault his motivations."
In Avernum 2, you can in fact find construction efforts at the hot springs. It's a nice little bit of continuity.
The provisioner of Formello, Jen, was willing to pay us for bulk mushroom meal.
"You mean I get to unload another incredibly heavy burden I've been carrying around for who knows how long?"
"Jen! You beautiful woman! Have some flour!"
765 coins and nearly 400 pounds of mushroom meal later...
"Uh, honey, you didn't take it all. Please! Take the rest! Aren't you still buying mushroom meal?"
"Eh, we'll just hock the rest at the closest vendor, then."
And there's our first bulk-goods-delivery completed. There's no special reward; we just cap out on a source of money. Speaking of which, the party's bank account is at a very healthy 21907 coins right now. We'll have to find something to spend that cash on.
While we're in Formello, Mother Claudette wanted us to track down the dragon Khoth for her.
"I have good news and bad news. The good news is, we found Khoth. The bad news is, the nerd dragon's being a recluse way out in the middle of nowhere."
"The better news is, we copied down that scroll you were hoping to read."
This gets us a reputation boost; we're now at 50, and still merely ranked as True Heros. The ratings might not go any higher.
More importantly, we can read Mother Claudette's spellbook now.
This...is not really worth anything. At level 3, it cures an additional mental affliction. That's it. You'd have to have a party member with three out of dazed, stunned, frightened, and charmed for this to be relevant, as those are, as far as I'm aware, the only mental afflictions in the game. Oh well, they can't all be winners.
Finally, over in Fort Draco, Bill wanted us to deliver him as much cheap wine as we could, to keep his miners pleasantly soused.
"WE BROUGHT ALCOHOL"
"JUST TAKE THIS PLEASE"
480 more coins.
We aren't capped out on this one yet, but I probably won't document it if/when it happens.
"Okay, now what?"
"...that's it. As far as my notes go, we're out of easily-tied-up loose ends."
"Great. Then I have an idea."
"The hot springs! Still ours, for the moment!"
A bit of a scattered update. I suppose this is what I get for leaving a bunch of quests un-turned-in. Next time we'll be a little more focused.