Part 72: Preparations"We should go tell Erika what Aydin had to say."
"Oh great, more walking."
"Actually, we should be able to take the river down to Erika's tower. No walking needed!"
Indeed, if you can't fly, this is the only way to reach Erika:
It's kind of impressive how much of the game can be completed without Thralni's Orb.
"I believe that's the path to the teleport augmenter here. No point in investigating it now."
"Wait, didn't we need to get Khoth's help to get to the...thing...anyway? Shouldn't we do that?"
"Man's got a point. May as well."
"Farewell, knowledge I may never gain."
"Aw, take heart! There's always something else to learn!"
"Yes, the one great cruelty of the universe."
"Man, what would you do with yourself if you ran out of things to learn?"
"Irrelevant. Let's go get that ritual."
"Mighty Khoth, we have learned you created some wards to the teleport augmenter?"
"Please, we would know more about them."
"We have returned your scroll to you. Would you teach us the ritual?"
...thanks, game, for failing to recognize that I've already completed the quest. Oh well. Ask him about the scroll:
And the other question just points you to the dungeon he destroyed (the one where Lagrann was hiding). Anyway, let's get that ritual.
"Thank you, Mighty Khoth."
Now that we've helped him, he'll also teach us spells:
"And if you think that Byff's turning down that offer, you haven't been paying attention."
"A pity I have already learned all that you can teach me."
Khoth can also help you find the password for the surface exit, but only by pointing you to Athron. Anyway, let's go see Erika.
"This isn't Erika's tower."
"No, but it is the alchemist who wanted a black drake fang. And I've finished my tests of the thing, so I won't even complain when we give away a priceless magical artifact!"
"Are you acquiring an attitude?"
"I've had an attitude for years. I'm just getting less subtle about it."
"Subtlety doesn't play well with this crowd, hon."
"Yes, so I've learned."
At level 3, you get a slightly larger melee damage bonus. We never really used this spell because only Kane would benefit -- likewise, only One-Eye would benefit from Cloak of Bolts, the ranged combat equivalent spell. Oh well.
The only spells Byff hasn't completely mastered now are Call Beast, Spray Acid, Minor Summon, Cloak of the Arcane, and Arcane Blow. We'll get to each of them eventually.
"Whoah, hey, wait! What's this?"
"Man, people suck at picking spots to colonize."
"You'd think such an isolated location would have been easily-defensible. What happened?"
"Monsters. Well, ask a silly question, get a silly answer."
You can freely ignore this encounter, but there's no text or of course reward for doing so. If you attack, you just get thrown into a fight:
10 Hulking Ogres, 4 Ogre Mages, and a very confused Cave Giant. I get a rude shock here: Ogre Mages are completely immune to energy damage, which protects them from both Divine Retribution and Arcane Blow! They are not, however, immune to fire, so Byff mops them up with Fireblast.
300 coins and a Steel Helmet.
"What is it about this little section of river that attracted so much activity?"
"Hello? Anyone? We come in peace!"
"Well hell, why not?"
"C'mon, Kane, you can't be this dumb. He's a demon! Just kill him!"
"He's got to attack us first, Elly. Here you go, buddy."
"See? And now everyone's happy!"
"You're twisted, you know that?"
"Can't hear you, killing a demon!"
One Haakai and two Divine Shades. This would be a seriously nasty fight earlier in the game, but now we thoroughly out-power them. The Haakai wastes his only turn summoning a Fiery Demon, and while the Shades can put out some good damage, they can't manage to kill anyone. Then Elly and Byff get their turns.
"Huh. Interesting sword."
+8 to Blademaster is a lot -- that's an additional 24% damage bonus (on top of the 36% bonus Kane already gets from his native ranks in the skill). Pity the base damage of the weapon is so poor as to make the bonus useless. Maybe it'd be more useful if you were dual-wielding.
"Oh come on! This is ridiculous!"
"I agree, this is implausible at best. Why are there so many towers and camps right here?"
Because they can be hidden to anyone who doesn't take a boat down this way -- so these encounters are a reward for thorough explorers.
"I have the strangest sense of we literally just did this."
"Well then, ready for round two?"
"Sure. Go to it, tiger."
This game. Why go to the effort of coding in an entirely different possible encounter when you can just slap some text on afterwards to patch it? I love the mental image of Kane going "Wait, but -- no, see -- just listen to --" as the demon chatters on.
"...this isn't what I wanted at all!"
"Dude, demon's dead either way, so what does it matter?"
"Ahem. I suppose you are right."
"You're just jealous you didn't get to stab it."
"I can neither confirm nor deny those scurrilous allegations."
"I have no idea what you just said, which means Elly was bang on the money."
Let me just take a moment to show you the map of this area:
The abandoned village and two chained demons are the three little indentations in that central pillar, just east of the river. They're right next to each other. I almost wonder if the village got destroyed because they unleashed a third demon.
Anyway, there are, mercifully, no more interruptions before Erika's Tower.
"Hi, scary crazy mage lady."
"Archmagus Erika, we have done as you asked."
"...brooches. Like, what kind of brooches?"
"And saying we needed help finding them, hypothetically. Where would we look?"
"Wait, statues? You're responsible for those spies in all the major cities?"
"Ha! You clever minx!"
"I guess we should probably check in with them to see what they have to say."
"Why bother? We have all the brooches already."
"Really? My word, you people work quickly."
"We're just very thorough."
Just to recap:
- We got the Ivory Brooch in Motrax's Cave. He'd tossed it into his junk heap, which was infested by fire lizards.
- The Malachite Brooch was possessed by the Giant Intelligent Friendly Talking Spiders, who gave it to us in exchange for rescuing some of their friends, who had been captured by the Aranea.
- The Platinum Brooch was stolen (from whom?) by Eldin and taken to Mertis, where we bought it for a nominal sum.
- The Pearl Brooch was at the bottom of the Spiral Pit, the undead-infested hellscape near Mertis where we first discovered what it was like to play on Hard difficulty.
- The Chalcedony Brooch was in Pyrog's treasure hoard.
"Prepared for what? Go in, stab a tyrant, teleport home, done, right?"
"...you can teleport us back home, right?"
"That's why you need all five brooches. Much easier to bring you home again that way. As for preparations?"
"You mean you won't be able to teleport us directly to Hawthorne?"
"Alas, no. He's far too well warded by Garzahd, that insect. I can get you close, but you will almost certainly need to hunt him down once you arrive."
"Fantastic. Let's go talk to those statues."
"Anything I can do to put this off is a good thing."
"I suppose we should thank you for your assistance, Archmage."
"So far you've done all the work. Save it until you're home again."
Let's go hit up those statues! There's one in each of the major cities of Avernum: Silvar, Cotra, Formello, Almaria, Dharmon, and Blosk. The Tower of the Magi's teleporter is getting a workout today.
Silvar's statue is standing out in the open, in the central square:
"Statue! I require that you divulge your secrets to me!"
"Look, this is just a super-boring town. I'm sure the statue hasn't heard anything interesting because nothing interesting ever happens here."
The Cotra statue is in the southeast corner:
"Okay, statue, start divulging."
"...done that already. This is disappointing."
"What do you expect? We've already taken care of every significant problem in the area."
"I just want to hear someone talk about us for a change."
The Formello statue is...
"Making sure Thantria's still dead?"
"Ha, no. Someone cleaned up the bloodstains. I wonder if they're sending a new spy down here to keep an eye on us?"
Ahem. The statue is in the town park.
"What's up, statue? Got anything to divulge?"
"Hey, s'okay. We can't all be perfect."
"Somebody has acquired an ego."
The Almaria statue is in the war memorial.
"Okay, statue: divulge."
"Ooh! I'm listening!"
I'll note for the record that I had some trouble getting this to actually teach us the spell; something seems buggy with the UI. But clicking around at random eventually got it to trigger. Anyway, level 3 Spray Acid puts a Lightning DOT on the target instead of an Acid DOT, and has a 30% chance to affect an adjacent target. It also does half the damage that Lightning Spray does, so we're never going to cast it. It's kind of weird how late you get this spell upgrade, because Spray Acid has a very narrow window of utility (before you get Lightning Spray, basically).
Unrelatedly, the job board has some new jobs for us!
"...Thantria's gonna have trouble paying up for that one."
"Heh, yes. Well, back into the sewers!"
"Truly, the life of the adventurer is everything I always dreamed it would be."
Taking Julio's second quest adds access to a previously-blocked section of the sewers:
"Aw, just some spiders."
"What were you hoping for?"
"...I dunno, Grah-Hoth again? That was a fun fight."
This is four Frenzied Spiders (two hiding just beyond our sight range) and a Slime Aranea. I assume that Frenzied Spiders have extra AP and the Slime Aranea is pretty much just a more durable Aranea with some kind of slime-related power, but Elly exercised her "kill it with fire" prerogative before we could find out.
The Aranea drops some worthless spell scrolls, and the nest has an energy potion, some coins, and a ring of energy resistance. There's also a body with some moderately expensive gear on it. Not bad for a short fight.
"We squished some spiders, Julio. Now pay up!"
512 coins, a Speed Elixir, and an Energy Elixir. Very nice. Kind of an unusual monetary reward, but I guess I shouldn't begrudge a programmer his chance to slip powers of 2 into the game every once in awhile.
Dharmon's statue is along the southern water:
"I think it's my turn. Statue: divulge!"
"Huh. That's the first tip towards the brooches we've heard from these things."
"Where's the boat?"
"...fair enough! Anything else?"
"Well, that was productive!"
"It's all stuff we've heard and/or done before, though."
"Okay, that could have potentially have been productive."
One last town! Blosk's statue is just standing around in the northwest corner.
Oh, this is a good time to note that in the original game, the Talking Statue sprite was identical to the sprite for an ordinary landscape statue. Which on the one hand meant that you were far less likely to notice that there's a bunch of golems in all the major cities...but on the other hand meant that when you got the password, you'd have to go around minutely examining every statue in every city until you found the one that was actually a monster instead of a piece of terrain.
Fortunately the cities were also a lot smaller, so this didn't take long.
"Oh, this one. Poor thing."
"Nothing we can do. Just best get it to divulge its secrets and then move on. Maybe Erika can fix it someday."
Before we wrap this up, let's finish what we can of Byff's spell list. It turns out that all he needs for Call Beast is to pay a teacher for one rank, since I never considered it a spell worth buying. That's easily done in Formello. At level 3, the beast gets an automatic Haste effect. Meh.
Minor Summon, his other missing spell, is in the Ogre Cave northwest of the Tower of the Magi. Likewise, at level 3 the summon starts out hasted.
North of the commander's room is a room with two tomes:
Not sure how I missed this one, to be honest.
But that's it; Byff's mastered every spell except for Cloak of the Arcane and Arcane Blow!
Next time, it's time to take the fight to the Empire.