Part 65: Lost Bahssikava
"Hooray, they're willing to listen to us!"
"Is something wrong? I'm not especially familiar with Slith anatomy, but --"
"Stone? What stone?"
"Well hey, that's what we do, right? Go into ridiculously dangerous places to get back sentimentally-important trinkets!"
"Sure, why not? Could be fun."
"And he would be...where?"
"If I had to guess, he's the huge one over there."
"I still don't know how you can tell. Anyway. You are the leader here, correct?"
"Could you tell us about the stone?"
"I assume you haven't just been sitting on your butts up here. There was an expedition to retrieve it?"
"You don't suppose --"
"No, he's not related to Livingston."
"I don't think that was the bandit's name..."
"What's so important about this stone, anyway?"
"Purify? What do you need to purify yourselves for?"
"Interesting. The sliths in these caverns came from elsewhere, then."
"I'd love to hear more."
"Very well, thank you for your time."
The slith in this room can occasionally be seen saying "Ohmmmmmmm". Just putting that out there.
"Please, we will not take long. Could you tell us about your colony?"
"What do you know about the expedition?"
"And what about these triangles? If they're important, we're going to need to find more, I bet."
"Can do! Thanks, honey."
"...she did say this was a trash pit, didn't she? Oh well."
This gives us a plot item, the Metal Triangle. Why the sliths would throw out a vitally important trinket, I have no idea.
"What do you pray to? Hopefully not demons."
"Replaced by what, demons?"
"Huh. I thought it'd be demons."
"If I may, where are we?"
"Sss-Thsss is dead. We took care of that ourselves."
"It wouldn't hurt you to be a little grateful."
"Hush you. What is holiness, for a slith?"
"Thank you, elder. We will remember."
"Aww, cootchie coo, little guy!"
"Awful lot of lady-type sliths here. Where's the big muscly males?"
"Hush, you. Nice spear, that."
"Are you a warrior, then, in addition to a smith?"
"I hope humans aren't a recurring problem for you."
"You get attacked out here? But you're in the middle of nowhere! Why would humans come here to mess with you?"
"Forgive me for asking, but how many are you here? It's important to maintain an adequate gene pool, you see..."
"Maybe they pick up the occasional defector from Sss-Thsss' forces."
"Not any more, they won't be. I think we'd better help these folk fulfill their purpose and then reunite them with Gnass. Speaking of which, what would you say your purpose is here?"
"Hey, I can't help but notice you speak our language pretty good for a slith."
"Pretty well, One-Eye."
"Not much in the way of supplies here."
"But very carefully guarded."
"I think that's it for the settlement. Whatever else is down here, it ate an expedition of skilled slith warriors. A possibly-inbred expedition, but nonetheless. We should keep an eye out."
This begins the dungeon portion of Lost Bahssikava. This dungeon was not in the original game: it was added in the first remake, instead. Lore-wise, the implications are interesting: the sliths in these caverns, the ones that are largely responsible for the loss of the First Expedition, and that serve as the major existential threat for the new nation of Avernum, are violent outcasts from some greater slith society, which has a home somewhere deeper in the caves.
Unfortunately, given that this wasn't in the original series, the implications of this aren't addressed -- at least, not in the original trilogy. Avernums 4-6 might touch on the topic, but that's outside our remit.
Anyway, dungeon time!
"Fire lizards? Really?"
"Look more closely: these are lava lizards!"
"What difference does that make?"
And they're bigger and more durable, but not by a whole lot.
"Oh great, a maze."
"Not to worry, I'm mapping every step we take!"
Oh hey, ice lizards do exist! The other three are just Mutant Lizards, though. Ice Lizards have an ice breath, of course, as well as a healthy mess of hitpoints.
"There's the settlement, just downstream."
"Sliths are good swimmers; I wonder why they need the land path to this part?"
"Oh hello! You're a big, ornery fellow, aint'cha?"
Apologies for the poor highlighting: the drake is Drake Valush. And he has a Basilisk in tow, and a half-dozen Mutant Lizards. But they're all so tightly-packed that Elly's old standby, Call the Storm (cold-based conic AoE with knockback), is able to tear through them in very short order. Mr. Valush of course has a number of spells and firebreath; he just doesn't get much of an opportunity to use them.
"Whee! Look at all the blood!"
He drops a Runed Jade Necklace (+2% armor, +15% poison/acid resistance), and his nest has an Energy Potion in it.
"Didn't we just do this?"
"Yeah, but this guy doesn't have a name!"
"...how can you tell?"
This one has some Lovely Crystals (vendor trash), and a secret cubbyhole...
...which has two Flawless Crystals, a Ruby, and a Purging Crystal (casts Mass Curing).
"I think that's round one completed. Who knows how deep this thing goes."
"Slimes. How lovely."
Spouting Slimes have a radiate-acid ability, poisonous melee, and are decently durable.
Incidentally, while researching this dungeon, I discovered that the dungeons do indeed apply special modifiers to monsters. Spouting Slimes are renamed from some base slime class (what exactly is hard to tell, since the actual map data is in a binary file), are given a boosted level (to level 22), and are given the radiate-acid ability.
"This place could be almost pleasant, if it weren't for all the monsters."
"Really, we should just stop following trails of slime."
"Hooray, lizards! I'm hungry. Anyone want some charred lizard steak?"
"I wonder what those slimes taste like...?"
"You must be kidding."
"Eh, mostly. I am positively sick of mushrooms."
There's a couple of Ice Lizards around the corner, too. Lizards and slimes is really the theme of this level.
Lizards, slimes, and spiders. It's a who's-who of unpleasant pseudo-natural monsters! There are three Aranea Seers around that corner, by the way, as well as a generous helping of Cave Widows. It's a good thing they're so fragile; as it is, one of them manages to tag One-Eye with Howl of Terror.
"I wanna go hooooome!"
"Stiff upper lip, soldier! No going home until all the spiders are dead!"
"Oh, how lovely. A pile of skulls."
"Not human skulls. Slith, presumably."
"What is this madness? Why can't people put normal, pickable locks on things? Don't they trust strangers?"
Incidentally, notice that the webs on the walls here are brighter than usual. These webs can be searched, for a Group Healing scroll and a Domination scroll.
Back behind this drake is a small nest, with some coins, a Curing Elixir, and a Radiate Ice scroll, which is hilariously out of date at this point.
"My, what a magnificient specimen!"
"He's kinda trying to eat us."
"Yes, yes, let him nibble a bit while I make some sketches. Look at that dentition!"
"Now this is just silly. What do they eat?"
"Dead sliths, by the looks of things. See that body?"
"Strange...this body broke into many pieces."
"Oh well, another triangle for us."
This is a text error, or at any rate lazy programming. We'll see this same text in a moment, in a more sensible location.
"Whoof, nasty way to go."
"Oh look, more undead."
The other two are Vengeful Shades. The Tormented Shade can stun with his melee, which is a pretty nasty ability, especially as the AI is reasonably smart about ignoring units that are unable to act. He's also seriously durable and has a powerful cold-based attack (which, being elemental, is more or less impossible to dodge). The first real challenge we've seen here! Fortunately, Mr. T. Shade charges into melee with Kane, clogging up the corridor and ensuring that even if he does stun Kane, he can't move on to stun anyone else. Meanwhile, Byff and Elly lay into him with spells. He lasts for several rounds, and Elly has to heal once or twice, but the outcome was never in doubt.
For a little context, our 4 ranks in First Aid bought us 21 health and 5 energy at the end of this fight. Byff cast Lightning Spray three times, and Elly cast Smite four times and Group Healing once, for 30 and 34 energy, respectively. First Aid may give you more longevity in a dungeon, but it won't let you steady-state without a lot of investment.
"Huh, nice belt on that...ghost. Wait, how does that work? It was incorporeal!"
"I'll take this, if nobody objects."
"Hey, I found another one of those triangle things on...uh, in, this corpse. It's kind of all mush now."
"Now, what can we do with a boat?"
We can loot some more alchemical ingredients, for one. For two,
"Another way up?"
"This makes no sense. Why would they leave the body of their fallen comrade to rot, only a short swim from safety?"
"Maybe he was a blasphemer, and they left him to die as an example to the others!"
"Don't know, don't care, looting the cloak."
Elly doesn't need to be strong or dextrous, so she gets this! And back into the abyss we go...
"Oh, perfect. What's with all the undead here anyway?"
"Multiple failed expeditions, filled with frustration and anger at their inability to recover a sacred relic?"
"Or maybe it's a side-effect of inbreeding."
"Hey, you never know!"
Four Vengeful Shades and a Revenant. Kane foolishly charges into the melee and nearly dies as a result. I really ought to remember that the party is not invincible.
"Bunch of undead, altar covered in blood...what the hell were the sliths doing down here?"
"Well, they said they used to worship their war gods."
There's nothing here except a Crystalline Wand and some discarded Slith Spears.
"Looks like we'll have to reach this place from below."
"Fuck me, how deep is this cave?"
"At least three levels, looks like!"
"And speaking of, here's our way down."
"There's no way the lower levels aren't completely flooded out."
Incidentally, there's some Energetic Herbs and a pipe on the rug there.
"I take issue with the layout of these tunnels."
"Don't think about it too hard, hon. If it helps, pretend they didn't occur naturally!"
"Ominous, glowing crystals. Surely this is a good sign."
"I don't follow."
"Well, they make it easier to see."
"And the ominousness?"
"Look, I'm taking my silver lining where I can find it, okay?"
"Slith statues. And...does anyone hear squeaking?"
"What is wrong with this dungeon?"
A whole bunch of Pustulant Rats and Brain Rats, hooray! Fortunately the Brain Rats refrain from charming anyone (as I dimly recall they are able to). This fight gets us 64 health and 13 energy from First Aid, incidentally. The returns appear to be based largely on how many enemies you kill, not on how dangerous they are.
"One guess where this goes."
"To a magical land of chests with easily-picked, conventional locks, full of cake?"
"The locks or the chests?"
"I'll take either."
"I admit, I was not expecting to find a living slith down here."
"Hey buddy! How's things?"
"Yeah, they were talking about you. You should go home, man!"
"Any information you could give us would be most welcome."
"Drakes, sure. Basilisks, sure. Demons? Eh, why not."
"You know where you stand with demons, anyway."
"On the moral high ground."
"And for you, that's saying something."
"Oh, shut up Byff."
"Hey, where's that gate? Might be fun to visit the lands of peaceful sliths!"
"Those are not exactly turn-by-turn instructions."
"It is sealed in any case. You would not be able to pass through."
"Why did you attempt this expedition, anyway? It seems to have gone horribly wrong."
"Ooh, rituals! I love me some rituals!"
"Lay it on me, my lizard brother!"
"Okay, great. You should get out of here now."
"Oooookay, then we'll just leave you here with some food. Be back in a bit. With the stone."
"I hope you are right. Be careful, lest you meet the same fate that we did."
"Hey, we're the ones destined to retrieve the stone!"
"So you may believe. So did we believe ourselves. It was not true for us."
"Man, you are just a ray of sunshine."
Back down to level 3.
"Incense, mats to sit or kneel on, totems...this must be a ritual room of some kind."
"I'm just glad we haven't seen any more rats or slimes or spiders."
"They're probably all afraid of the demons."
"Yeah, but I can handle demons. They're not so icky."
"Holy shit that's a big fucking lizard."
And two Huge Basilisks for escorts. It doesn't appear to have anything special going for it beyond the standard basilisk stunning breath and a few more hitpoints than usual.
"Well, this looks significant!"
"Right idea, but we'll need more triangles."
"Back to dungeon crawling, then."
"And there's the demons!"
"Whatever happened to "wait for them to attack first?""
"Demons have a way of resolving ethical dilemmas, old chum. They're always evil."
The Cryos Demons have two Huge Basilisks with them. And let me just say, Kane and One-Eye are doing an amazing job at resisting being stunned. Sure, I guess the stakes aren't all that high. But it's so nice to see them not get incapacitated by mental attacks at every turn. Kane's hit 60% mental resistance, and One-Eye's at 39%; I guess we've just been getting lucky.
"Oooh, another named drake!"
"Seriously, how do you tell they have names?"
"Well, this one carved their name on the walls, for one."
"...oh, so they did."
And two Crocolisks, a Huge Basilisk, and a couple of Corrupted Lizards, which have a poison gas breath that causes Weakness Curse (take extra damage from attacks). Cryossa is no slouch, either: enough AP for two actions per turn, a brutally powerful cold breath, and the standard set of unpleasant spells. Like charming. Kane resists being charmed; go Kane!
We spend an awful lot of energy on this fight, between healing and spamming AoE spells to bring down Cryossa's escorts. But once we have her (him?) alone, the result is not really in any doubt.
"That was invigorating! Nothing like a good fight for your life to get the blood pumping."
"I will never understand you."
"Ah ha! I get to join the fancy pants club!"
Byff is, indeed, the last person to get magic pants.
There's also a bunch of coins and an energy elixir in the nest. Those are always welcome.
I got a bit lost at this point and couldn't figure out where to go. Turns out there's a tiny side passageway hiding in an area we'd already explored.
"This is amazing...imagine if the sliths of Avernum had retained these skills!"
"They'd have probably won the war, for one thing."
"Even so, all this lost knowledge and opportunity is still a tragedy."
"Enough mourning, we have lizards to kill."
One-Eye attracts the attention of the Huge Basilisk, two Ice Lizards, and two Corrupted Lizards -- who, I now discover, have a lightning "breath" ability as well. Good thing One-Eye can dodge it even when he's been stunned by basilisks!
"It's kiiiinda like dronken funting. Cun sambaddy hell me? I no talp so gid."
"I can help you. But I'd rather watch."
Two Infernal Sentinels.
"This looks important!"
"Fear not! I'll hold off the demons!"
"Honey, I don't think any of us are scared of demons any more."
The Sentinels are mostly just burly melee enemies with a lightning spray ability.
"Now, what's in this book that was so important they had to bar it off?"
"Messages from an ancient civilization! And I can translate them!"
"The ancient sliths were apparently big on fear."
"I would not have guessed that."
"Hidden treasure! The best kind."
"Wouldn't treasure that's just lying out in the open be better?"
"No, see, then someone else would probably beat us to it."
This chest has five Emeralds and a stack of Steel Javelins.
"Aww, what a nice little shrine!"
I think the bit about ankhs refers to the fact that the symbol for a "non-evil altar" used to have a prominent ankh on it, so the flavor text is hanging a lampshade on it. A rather obsolete lampshade, now, since this altar appears to have a pair of menorahs instead.
"At last, the rest of the triangles."
Two Slith Avatars. They're pretty strong for melee-only enemies, don't get me wrong. But you can keep melee-only enemies pretty well locked-down starting from very early in the game, so even fighting two of them is not a difficult task for a level-appropriate party. And we're definitely well beyond level-appropriate.
"Here, give me those triangles..."
"Ha ha, it worked!"
"You did it wrong, Byff."
"It's not my fault!"
"Uh, boys, we have bigger problems. Kane, get your butt over here!"
"I'm on my way. One-Eye, you can distract four hungry undead sliths, right?"
"...sure. No problem, lawyer boy."
"Watching Kane, I can't help but feel like some music should be playing."
"Ahhh! Demon! Run!"
Stupid Howl of Terror.
"Never mind. I'll fight the demon, boys!"
"What? Elly, no! Just fix Kane's head...to the extent possible. It's his job to have hostile things take swipes at him!"
"Says the man who's being assaulted by undead slith ghosts."
"I mean, kind of? They're really inaccurate."
All joking aside, this is a somewhat tricky fight, mostly because Elly and Byff are very low on energy, and Byff went and got his fool self trapped on the wrong side of the sliths. Elly spends the last of her energy smiting the Haakai to death, and Byff spends his on Lightning Sprays for the avatars. Which leads them to notice his presence, and do something about it.
"One-Eye, I could really use a crash course in dodging...!"
"Okay, uh, duck to your left!"
"Wait, shit, I meant my left. Uh oh."
"Nice going, chum."
"Eh, Elly can bring him back."
"Not right now I can't! I need a nap!"
"Let's just...kill the sliths first."
"That's a plan I can get behind!"
Without access to magical attacks, this fight is a real slog. But with the Haakai gone, and One-Eye and Kane standing in the doorway, the sliths can't really do much to us.
These Slith Avatars are special, in that they drop actual items. Three of them have Platinum Rings, and the fourth has something more interesting:
Kane, you can have it.
"Okay, now what?"
"I don't want to go deeper down without Byff."
"And a recharge."
"Let's finish looting this level first, though."
"Sheesh, what a mess."
"This was a major atrocity. Maybe even a war crime."
"Hold on a second! What if the stone is here?"
"You want to search through this pile? Be my guest."
"That's what that ritual was for, wasn't it?"
"Were you paying attention when Legare taught it to us?"
"Um. No. I kind of figured Byff and Elly would handle that."
"Good thing we didn't both die, then!"
"Wait...so if the stone is here, then where does that staircase go?"
"Well then. I guess we may as well head back."
"We should check in on Legare on the way."
"Hiya, honey! We found your magic rock!"
"Suit yourself. Weirdo."
"Hi guys! We're back!"
"We should check in with the chief."
"Hi boss. Here's that stone you wanted."
There's not much in the way of new dialog for us, but Sss-Kasss, the young slith wandering around Sss-Voss, notes a problem with the stone:
Good luck with that, kid.
"Right, that's done. Let's go get Byff back."
"But what about the treasure?"
"Treasure can wait."
"I understood the individual words you said, and they appear to form a sentence, but I can't make heads or tails of it."
"The closest town is Fort Dranlon. Let's get going."
It may be the closest town, but we have to take a roundabout route to get there, because of where we parked the boat:
"Oof. I could feel my small intestine spill out."
"Sorry, my bad."
"It is all right. I lack the physical aptitude for such activity anyway."
"Anyway! Let's get back to the sliths!"
"Or to their treasure, anyway."
"Oh? Did we find the stone, then?"
"Yep! Right behind the wall you bled out on."
We can head north from Fort Dranlon to get back, though. En route, we find a detour.
"Hold up! Body!"
"Let's just get this over with."
"No objecting about how gross the worms are?"
"My wishes on these matters never seem to matter, so we'll just call this my character development for the episode, okay?"
Two Divine Retributions kills the lot.
214 coins and a Ring of Warmth (+15% cold resist). How ironic.
Back down in Lost Bahssikava:
"...this is the sliths' reward? The chest covered in spiderwebs?"
"Hey, treasure is treasure."
"Even if it's another man's trash?"
"...Elly, why don't you take this bow?"
Sure, mental resistance is important, but One-Eye really needs those critical hits to keep up with the rest of the party in damage dealing. We'll just have to cope, if he ever gets charmed/terrified/stunned.
"So now what, Byff?"
"Let's finish up exploring around here, then I suppose we can go to Kyass."
"Sounds good to me. No more lizards or slimes or anything like that, right?"
"Elly, you realize what you just did, right?"
"Me and my big mouth."
Before we go, the maps for Lost Bahssikava!
The ! is the colony of friendly sliths, and the stairs down to level 2 are in the bottom-right.
Left to right, the ! are the docks with the boat, Legare's
Left to right, the ! are the room with the altar (and 3 triangles), the Howl of Terror spell tome, the pile of bodies we found the stone in, the gate that needs 6 triangles to go through, and the gate to the slithzerkai lands. The stairs to reach this left enter at the top-left.