Part 71: Northern WatersWe're running out of new places to explore. Time to head north. All the way north.
"Okay, enough playing around. It's time we got back on track."
"On what job? Finding the exit, or killing Hawthorne?"
"Still can't believe we're actually going to do that."
"Which do you think? Erika wanted us to go to the northern waters to find...uh, someone."
"Yeah, that guy. We should do that."
The only way to reach the Northern Waters is via the giant docks, near Pyrog's Cave. And the fastest way to do that is to go via Bargha's teleport pylon.
We have some errands to run, en route:
- We sell off our accumulated loot, getting up to 9k coins.
- Elly gets 2 ranks in Summon Shade from Throndell (the priest in the Tower of the Magi). Her only non-maxed spells now are Ward of Elements, Divine Restoration, and Divine Host.
- We stop by Dharmon's witch and finally cash in a bunch of our alchemical ingredients to get 10 Energy Elixirs, which should be enough for just about anything, really.
- We stop by the Freehold of Kyass and buy a couple of ranks in Blademaster and Parry for Kane.
- Speaking of Ward of Elements and the Freehold, it turns out that the spell tome for that spell is at the Freehold:
I have to say, this is pretty cunningly hidden; normally you'd have no reason to explore along the southern edge of town. And there's several other "voids" in the walls that can't be opened up, so this one doesn't stand out as an obvious hiding spot.
Anyway, enough lollygagging, let's go to the docks.
"Now these are ships!"
"Yep. Have fun rowing."
"My kingdom for some wind. And sails."
"Aww, stopping so soon?"
"There's someone on this island."
"Maybe it's Aydin!"
"I don't think so. But it bears checking out."
Two Dark Cultists, two Sharpshooters, and seven Elite Warriors.
"Whatever are you folks doing here?"
"I'll tell you what they're not doing: living."
Nothing that some judicious use of overwhelming firepower can't handle. One of the cultists attempts to charm Kane, unsuccessfully; that's the most interesting thing that happens.
"Seriously, though, the Empire doesn't just throw patrols around for no reason...right?"
"They must have been looking for something."
"Then we'd better find it, whatever it is, before they do."
"This may be it!"
"I don't think so. Ancient, abandoned altars to unknown forces are a dime a dozen even on the surface."
If you pray:
A full energy restore! Nice.
If you destroy the altar:
No energy restore, and you get to fight a bunch of demons! One Cryos, two Mung, and four Cave, to be exact. And there's no reward for killing them, either, except for the experience.
You may have noticed a secret passage in the eastern wall of the cave the altar is in. It leads to the cavern that the Giant Castle and Pyrog's Cave are in...which seems kind of odd. If you can get here, you can already get to the caverns, and it's not like it's much of a shortcut.
"Hmm, by my reckoning, we should be just north of the Graymold patch."
"Hey, how do you figure out where we are, anyway?"
"Oh, this map has a minor enchantment on it. Always highlights our location. It's rather handy."
"Byff, honey, never reveal your secrets."
There's three little "fingers" like this, leading south to the river that feeds the Eastern Gallery lake. They're all blocked by boulders, though, and are thus impassable.
"Don't mind if I do!"
This gives everyone a level-1 Ward of Steel.
"How curious. I feel like practicing fisticuffs. Anyone? Kane, you don't mind if I punch you a bit, do you?"
"Maybe you shouldn't punch him in the armor."
"But he's completely covered in the stuff! Where am I supposed to punch?"
"There, why don't you go punch those...things?"
Five Gnawing Stoneworms and three Draining Slimes.
"I think they'd eat my hands. No thanks. Guess I'll stick to magical fire, then."
"Oooh, that's nasty."
"If it makes you feel any better, this guy was probably an asshole."
"It does, thanks!"
The necklace is a Ruby Chain -- 3% armor, 18% fire resistance.
This cache has an Invulnerability Potion in it.
"Here, have some hay!"
This actually deducts 1 from the Dried Meat that One-Eye's been lugging around all game. If you can't feed them, they attack:
Four Mutant Lizards. And no, they don't have any treasure as a reward for beating them.
"This looks significant."
"Looks like the kind of thing you'd have to be trying to miss. So why was the patrol wandering around in the middle of nowhere instead of here?"
"Hello? We come in peace, I swear!"
"'Scuse us, miss..."
"Oh, well then! Thank you very much!"
"...guess we'll be going then."
"What about the Empire patrols?"
"If we destroy them all, she'll be perfectly safe, right?"
Remember the ghost/angel/whatever that gave us the key to Grah-Hoth's fortress? My personal theory is that that was Aimee. There's no real evidence for this one way or another, but who else would it be? An actual angel? Those don't exist, remember? It's just demons, all the way down.
"Whoopsy! You boys shouldn't be here any more!"
Six Ghosts. No reward for re-killing them either, and there's nothing on their island except mushrooms and bones. Someone picked a bad spot for a colony.
"I wonder what's up this way...?"
"Keep wondering. The ceiling's too low to pass, even if the rapids weren't in our way."
It's the edge of the map, that's what.
"A sentient, fire-breathing cave cow!"
"Byff, that's a drake."
"You're no fun."
"Neither is the drake."
The only thing interesting about this fight is that Kane nails a 1-in-400 chance by missing the drake twice in a row.
"Oh, fascinating! I wonder what could have caused this? Some kind of magical parasite, maybe?"
"Maybe it's like those sea insects that replace the tongues of fish with their own bodies!"
"You...you're making that up, right?"
"Nope! Completely, 100% real and they're not even demonic!"
"How did you know about the tongue-eating louse, Elly?"
"It was part of the washout class required to join the Way of the Word. They figured anyone who couldn't handle merely terrestrial grossness wasn't cut out for the job."
"Anyway, some crazy alchemist in the Abyss wanted one of these. We should check in with him at some point...once I've finished my own examination of the tooth, anyway."
"Man, I'm thirsty all of a sudden. Are any of you thirsty?"
"Aw geeze, I hate it when this happens. LA LA LA I'M NOT LISSSTENING!"
"I'm starting to wonder if killing Hawthorne won't cause more problems than it solves."
"Overcome with existential angst, boys?"
"Make it stop!"
"Not to worry, hon, this kind of thing tends to wear off fast."
Indeed, this Enlightenment buff wears off very quickly. What's it for? We'll see. But first:
"Does this island look kind of like a face to any of you?"
"Don't think I don't see you, Empire patrol! I bet you set that trapped fountain, didn't you, you bastards?"
A Sorceress, a Dark Cultist, two Elite Archers, and five Elite Warriors. No idea what the Sorceress does, but the Cultist summoned a Vengeful Shade, so he at least has access to the Divine Host spell. I bet the Sorceress could cast Arcane Blow if she felt like it...and if she could survive the first round.
"Feel better now?"
"No. Gimme some alcohol."
"Well, while One-Eye drowns his innermost demons with alcohol, we may as well continue exploring."
"This looks significant. Hey, Byff, can we fly over there?"
"Launch from a boat? How would we get back?"
"Well, we could...I just realized, there's no anchor. Damn."
"Yeah, the boat would just float away while we were over there. Sorry, Kane."
"Plus y'all'd probably hit your heads on the ceiling again."
"Yes, thank you, One-Eye."
"Hey, lizards! Fuck off! I'm drinking here!"
"They had been ignoring us!"
Five Drakes and four Basilisks.
This encounter is just here in case you missed the secret passages that bypass it, though. There's no real need to fight them.
"Nah worries, I do my best shooting when I'm drunk!"
"Aren't you in Avernum in the first place because of some drunken darts-playing?"
"Yeah, and I killed a guy with 'em! You want these things dead or not?"
"...shoot on, my friend, shoot on."
"My word, it's a lizard city!"
There's a zigzagging path around the bigger stalagmites. Of course, to travel the path, you have to fight the lizards...
"These things are huge!"
"An' cold! I can't dodge cold! Fuck off!"
"I think I see a tower back there...should be worth investigating."
"Is it, Kane? Is it really?"
Drakes and Mutant Lizards. A step down from the last fight, and the fight before that, really.
"Aww, super-bitey cows!"
"C'mon, Byff, you're not fooling anyone."
"I just like lizards okay?"
"I didn't come all this way to not explore everything."
"Fascinating! Really, fascinating!"
"You say that about everything we find."
"Unlike some people, I like to cultivate a healthy curiosity about my surroundings."
"Anyways, taking the jewels."
"You know what happens when we rob holy places, One-Eye."
"Yep. Don't care. Fucking lizards."
Two Wisdom Crystals, a Purging Crystal (Mass Curing), a Battle Crystal (Spine Shield/Regeneration), and two Rubies.
"C'mon, then! EAT ME, if you think you won't choke!"
"I think our friend has confused ''drunk'' with ''suicidal''. We'd better go help him out."
Cripes that is a lot of lizardflesh. Three Cryodrakes, three Drakes, and twelve Crocolisks! The Crocolisks are disturbingly accurate and have some unpleasant combat disciplines, plus they're all fast enough to go before our casters. But it hardly matters once it gets to be Elly's turn...
"He may be a lout, but he's my friend. No eating One-Eye!"
And, three Divine Retributions later...
"Uh, what happened? Why are they still standing?"
"You didn't do the voice! It doesn't work if you don't do the voice!"
Oh well, that's why we have items that cast Group Healing for us. Byff sprays lightning everywhere and kills everything that Elly softened up, then One-Eye spends a couple of Group Healing scrolls to patch the rest of the party up enough to survive the lizards' second attack. From there on it's easy street.
"Well, that was thoroughly unpleasant. Can we go now?"
"Never realized you had such an anti-lizard bias, chum."
"Too close to dragons for my tastes. I say, kill 'em while you can, before they get too big."
"Speaking of dragons, heading further west would just take us to Khoth's domain. I believe Aydin must be back in the lake area, back east."
"Yep, that looks about right."
"Can't navigate past those rocks without foundering, though. We'll have to find a way around."
"So...shiny. Man, magic is cool when it's not trying to eat your brains."
"One-Eye! No! Kane, grab him!"
"Hold on, you. No going into the light!"
Continuing on would indeed be a very bad idea...
"Well, the tower's right there. How do we get through?"
"A little existential angst, of course! It'll keep you distracted so you won't notice the magical entities trying to eat your brains."
This is the puzzle for the region. You need to go to the fountain, get the Enlightened status, and then make it back to the energy field before it wears off. Which it does, very quickly.
You need to use the back entrances to the fountain island if you're to make it in time; if you take the long way around, the status will wear off. They're nominally "secret" passages (covered in yellow mushrooms), which helps extend the puzzle a bit, I guess.
"Ha ha ha, I'm too drunk to care! Screw you, introspection!"
"Oh dear. Do you think he's still vulnerable to the barrier?"
"I'll just carry him with me if I have to."
"You're a darling, Kane."
"Ha! That was easy! You can put me down now, buddy."
"Gladly. How long has it been since you had a bath?"
"Uhh, when was the last time we went to the hot springs?"
"Welp, guess we know what the Empire was looking for! Shame about all those corpses."
"You feel sympathy for them?"
"No, it's just a terrible waste of good spell components."
"Hey, golems! You the talking kind?"
"We've never seen a talking golem, One-Eye."
"First time for everything, boss."
"I find these magic circles more interesting."
"...though I will perhaps conduct my observations from a minimum safe distance. Anyone have a telescope?"
"You're doing it on purpose now."
"I have no idea what you're talking about."
"Well that's not creepy at all."
"Ooh, did someone teach golems how to worship? That could really speed up our operations. There's a lot of trial and error involved in finding the Creator's true name, y'know."
"Guys, I can't help but notice..."
"There's no way in."
Quick note: there's some alchemical herbs in 3 of the 4 corners of the map. Free stuff is free stuff!
"Ever think of talking to the guard, Kane?"
"The golems don't talk, we established that already."
"No, the human guard."
"...do I need glasses? I think I might need glasses. Hello there! Sorry for missing you earlier."
"Hiya, hoss. How's tricks?"
"You and who else? We've been looking for someone named Aydin..."
"Wards? You mean that blue field?"
"Hey, lay the poetry on me, buddy!"
"...keep working on it."
"So, uh, how do we get in?"
"No, there isn't, we looked!"
"He's doing a thing, honey. We'd better look again."
"Betcha he's been waiting years for someone to use that line on."
"Magus Aydin, I presume?"
"You are not easy to get ahold of, boss. What the fuck're you doing way the hell out here?"
"Well aren't you Mister Ray of Sunshine."
"How's that wait-for-assassins business working out? 'Cause we nailed a couple of groups for you. You're welcome, by the way."
"Right, Erika wanted us to seek you out. Are we the people you were waiting for?"
"I wait with bated breath."
"I think at this point there's nothing we could do to talk Kane out of this, so lay it on us, buddy! How do we hurt the Empire?"
"Punch it in the nuts?"
"I still think this would cause the Empire to come down on us like a particularly large elephant. A headless one perhaps, but it would still do a lot of damage."
"Don't have to tell me twice, and I can't even use magic!"
"C'mon, I taught you healing spells!"
"Okay, I can mostly not even use magic. Anyway, continue, please."
"Giant teleporters. Naturally."
"Trust the Empire to build big. Anything else we should know?"
"We've searched damn near everywhere down here. It's got to be in the Remote Caves, right? That's the only place we haven't been."
"Not quite. Way off, in fact."
"And the towers? What do they do?"
"Khoth? That fucking nerd put a trap in our way?"
"And what about the Spire?"
"It's full of thieves."
"Wrong Spire, honey."
"Oh, that one's a fort full of guards."
"Just ignore him, please."
"Actually, he's right, in a way. There are guards. But more importantly,"
"Good thing we have a Royal Seal already, then!"
"It seems awfully convenient that there was a Royal Seal down here to begin with. They're rare even on the surface."
"It's all part of the Creator's plan, honey."
"Well, it would seem we know everything we need to do now, just about. Anything else?"
"For all the scrying you do, buddy, you are behind the times."
"Ahem. I think that's our cue to leave. Thank you, magus."
Though we may as well explore the rest of his home before heading out.
I never really noticed before, but it is pretty obvious that Byff's map sprite was made by someone using Poser (or similar software) and just dialing up all the muscle sliders to maximum. You look ridiculous, you overmuscled dork.
"Hiya, toots. Nice dress."
"Ahem. Nice to meet you, Josie. Enjoying your work?"
"Wait, you're responsible for that field thing? You're the reason I had to go drink that awful water?"
"Ha! Wouldn't that be ironic."
"So what are your talents, then? Aside from keeping this place running?"
"You'd think she could find a magical way to do the chores."
"It's harder than you'd think, actually. Magic is much better at creating entropy than reversing it."
"Unless you want to create undead! That's super-easy. ...which is kind of weird, isn't it?"
"You've lost me."
"Hey, so can you teach our friends anything? We should be prepared as possible before we leave."
I swear. Every mage. I'm surprised we couldn't ask Aydin to teach us, in fact.
"Oh yeah, your husband or whatever wants us to go kill the Emperor."
"You really think so?"
"Ah, well. Perhaps you are right."
"Thanks for the chat, hon!"
"Dunno what's in there, but I want it."
"So? Open the door, then."
"It's locked! Really hard!"
We are in fact just short of Tool Use skill to open this door. Maybe I should go pay a trainer to get us another point or two before the endgame hits.
"Guess we'll just have to take this secret passageway through the cowpen!"
"You're kidding, right?"
"I am not!"
Nothing of interest in the desk or dresser, but the book:
At level 3, Blink ensnares, dazes, and puts a War Curse on nearby enemies when you cast it, in addition to its usual teleport effect. I've never used Blink much because it can't teleport you anywhere that you can't walk to; it's primarily meant for getting your mages out of melee. And I can usually manage that by positioning Kane and One-Eye properly. If I can't, then I'm probably panicking and throwing out as much damage as possible, instead.
"This place sucks. More booze!"
"I'm cutting you off, mister."
"Then I'm going to sulk."
Before we go, might as well look at the map for the Northern Waters.
This should provide some evidence for why I don't try to do stitched-together maps like berryjon does for his LPs. There's a fancy ragged-paper overlay on the maps, plus a square indicating the current field of view. They'd both be very annoying to work around. Anyway, some points of interest:
- The far northwest ! is Khoth's lair.
- East of that is the drake city.
- The passage off the western edge leads to Grah-Hoth's domain.
- The smattering of magma we were able to see from our boat is the teleportation augmenter, but we haven't revealed the path there just yet. That path should start around about where the red square is.
- The fountain that gives Enlightenment is in the "fold" of the map, with Aydin's island the ! just east of it.
- The Giant Castle and Pyrog's cave are visible along the southern edge of the map.
- Aimee's tower is the ! in the eastern section of the lake.
- The southeast corner ! is the Graymold patch.