Part 18: Continued
As we ventured further, we saw this rather morose (and rather smelly) fellow!
Seriously, if your eyes are used to the game, you can see the little cloud of flies buzzing around him. It doesn't appear to be visible in this screenshot, though.
What do you know about the killings around here?
Oh, only a little. I have not been in the village for very long. It's my understanding that the wolves have become very active, yes? All I can think about is my Colette...
What's this about your Colette?
My love is Colette, and her father is a wizard of no small power... and possessed of considerable bias against me. His name is Jermien... and I understand he intends to use Colette as a bargaining tool for some wizardly endeavour of his own. Against her will, I imagine... although I've had no chance to ask her opinion. I know she wants to go with me, I know it! But her father will have none of it! He intends to go to great lengths to keep us apart! Oh, woe is me...
Perhaps I could speak to him for you.
It would be of no use, I am sure. And I do not wish to use violence in such an endeavour... I do not appreciate its taste, and no doubt Jermien would crush me with magic. You are kind to offer your assistance, but there is no helping me, I think. Leave me to my sorrow, please.
Here we have a problem involving me having Minsc lead the party. It occurred to me only after I decided against all this and had saved everything that I could have just written things so that it was right, but eh. I just quit that really fast and had Asim do the speaking to get this quest and this is the resulting dialogue.
I've spoken to Daar... why don't you give him a break?
Hmph! I've far more important things in mind for Colette than that fool, Daar. She'll get over her childish infatuation, I assure you... and Daar will be long gone. If I'd known you were going to plead the boy's case, I would have at least magic missiled you upon entrance. I'll thank you not to bring up the subject again.
What is this... thing... you're making?
Ah! Glad that you asked! This, my friend, is nothing other than a golem of stone! A fine piece of magical craftsmanship, if I do say so myself! Few other mages have made the attempt, you see. This type of golem quite powerful and dangerous... but I am more than skilled enough to control it. Once it's complete, I'll have an excellent servant... and something to keep an eye on my daughter and that foolhardy beau of hers while I am away. Trouble is, I'm missing one of the crucial ingredients... the blood of a mimic. I'd pay handsomely for some, in fact. Hmmmmn... you look like the adventurous type... care to find me some?
What's a mimic and where would I find one?
A mimic in a vicious little creature... shapechanger... that likes to attract and kill adventurers by looking like a treasure chest or similar objects. They generally exist in dungeons, ruins, or similar places. Although where you would find one around here, I haven't a clue. That's why I'm looking for some.
Very well... I'll make the attempt.
Fine. I wish I could point you in the right direction. But if you do find some, you know where to find me. Off you go, then, boy.
We were then hailed by this fellow on our path to adventure. (The path to adventure is really quite full of distractions, you know. It begins to grate on the nerves after a while.)
Just the price of being an adventurer, my good man.
Adventurers, are ya? Heh, I'll give ya an adventure ya won't soon forget... for a few golders' mind ya.
Golders is it? Will 10 gp be enough for you?
Ten golders? Nay, metal-head, this one's worth at least thirty.
Thirty gold pieces, is it? This had better be quite the adventure, friend.
Heh, heh. Sure, sure. Ya see those folks in town with all the chickens? 'Tis the farmer Hendrick and his wife, fled here from their lands just like I have. His daughter was a tom-fool tin-head adventurin' type just like you... died young just this past season. You still with me? Good, then I won't have t' repeat myself. Not long after she died, a bunch of other tin-heads came lookin' for her, said she had somethin' of theirs. Heh, ol' Hendrick just took 'em outside an' pointed to her grave marker and told 'em to get the hell off his land 'cause they had somethin' of his, too... So that night I heard a ruckus in his henhouse. Looked out the window and there he was tryin' to stuff somethin' down the gullet of one of them chickens he keeps out back. Draw yer own conclusions, friend, but I'm thinkin' there's somethin' a tin-head like yerself might like buried deep in the gizzard of one of them cluckers, heh heh. If you can think of another reason they fled to th' town with their chickens and nothin' else, I'd be glad t' hear it. Now clear off, 'afore ya bake in them there ovens of honor ya got on ya.
Well, Asim, rumors are often quite true, you know. I think that we should check this out.
How much are you asking for the chickens? I'll buy them off you.
They are not for sale.
I'm only interested in one chicken, truly... a chicken that swallowed something quite valuable...
[sigh] I s'pose it's best not t' be hangin' onto it any longer. Eventually someone will come an' take it from us. What... what can ye pay me for it, me Lord?
100 gold pieces... more than fair, I am sure.
Aye... aye, 'tis more than fair. This will pay for a fine headstone for our daughter an' more. A better tribute than a hidden gem in a chicken. Take it, then... you've been more an' kind.
And he then gave us a Belijuril.
With all that properly taken care of, we went to see Madulf.
Who are you and what are you doing here?
Me Madulf... lead fellows from great army of Sythsill in the south. No want to kill races no more. Lead fellows in desertion. We just wants be left alone.
You're deserters from the Sythillisian Empire? How do you expect to live up here?
Is very hard. Humans hates us, and we just wants to be left alone. Some humans call knights, who chase us... it not bad here, but Madulf thinks village will call knights soon. Humans very mad.
Why should the village allow you to remain?
Madulf and fellows like here. But something bad killing fellows. Lose one, two maybe, at a time. Disappear, bodies too. Very bad... Madulf very worried. Madulf no want death... Madulf no want fight. Just want peace. You tell villagers, maybe, that Madulf and fellows will protect village... protect from orcs in mountains, yes? Humans let us stay, then, and no call knights. Maybe let us come, once in a moon, to trade for food and goods. Madulf make deal with village, if you'se tell them... we no want trouble.
Alright, I'll tell the mayor what you've said. But I can't promise anything.
Madulf happy. Maybe fellows can live alone and eat good, be happy here. You do good thing... maybe humans agree. Madulf keep deal, you tell them.
What is this, Asim? You would make a deal with these... monsters?
Actually, Anomen, my magic tells me that this ogre truly means what he says, and is in fact a force for Law and Good.
Most interesting, my raven!
Seriously, Madulf is Lawful Good. At the time I cast Know Alignment, the closest anything on the entire Umar Hills map came to registering as evil was a few Chaotic Neutrals scattered about, and Khalabaxin the dragon is probably evil, but he's got the magic resistance thing going on, so it just returned "Magic Resistance" for him.
So, we returned to Minister Lloyd with the interesting news.
I have spoken to the ogre, Madulf, and I do not believe he nor his followers are responsible for Imnesvale's problem.
Wh-what? But... but I was sure that those monsters were the killers! What makes you so certain that they are not?
Madulf has had his own people going missing... much the same as yours. He is as worried as you are.
Ohhh... that isn't good news at all. If ogres can be worried, what should we be?
Actually, Madulf sent me with a proposition... he and his people will provide protection for the village in exchange for peaceful relations and a bit of trade.
He... he has? I... I must say... that might not be such a bad idea. If this ogre can be... can be trusted, that is. Thank you for bringing this to my attention, my Lord. I will have to... go and talk to them, I suppose. We could both benefit from this. Since... since the ogres are no longer a possibility, all I can suggest is that you go to Merella's cabin. There must be some evidence of what happened to her!
After that, it was off to Merella's cabin. It was really quite easy to find. No stupid wild animal attacks, even.
Inside, we found Merella's journal on a table.
Flamerule 7 - Kaatje came to visit again. A sweet child, and eager to learn my ways with the wild creatures.
Flamerule 12 - Dark creatures roam the forests. Several townspeople have been slain by some unknown predator. Everyone seems to have their own opinion of what is doing the killing. The strangest thing is that the bodies are disappearing in the morning. This leaves me baffled, for most signs point to a pack of wolves that have been in the area for a long time. Wolves don't steal bodies.
Flamerule 13 - Or perhaps I should say wolf-like creatures. At night while I've been patrolling I've often caught shadowy glimpses of these "wolves" running alongside me. I've tried to attract their attention but they ignore me. I find this most strange, as if the pack is being controlled by someone else. Years ago I spoke with the pack leaders and they were cordial. Now they either flee from me, or, and I fear to say this, they stalk me.
Flamerule 21 - It is near noon and still the wood outside my cabin seems full of shadows. I've been hard pressed to hear birds and most of the larger animals have long fled. I plan to find the wolf's den (this afternoon). I've drawn a map to it. All signs point to them as being the culprits, but what wolves act like these? They are wolves with the cunning of men. And there is something else, a whispering in my mind. It is faint now, in the waking hours, but while I sleep I dream only of this voice and the face behind it. Whether it is connected to the voices, I do not know. I suspect by the time that the sun sets tonight I'll have answers to my questions.
We found in the bedroom a note from Mazzy Fentan on the floor, and a mutilated corpse on the bed.
on the same sheet is drawn a crude but effective map which indicates the path to a forested area several hours north of the Imnesvale region.
With bugger-all else to do regarding the quest, we went to the area marked in both Merella's journal and Mazzy Fentan's letter. As we drew near...
Mine was not an expression of fear, Asim, but an observation of the palpable evil which strangles every black and twisted tree.
Following the cry of death we heard as we entered, we found a dead man. He had a journal, which we read.
Nothing is as I'd imagined that it would be. I expected to become a hero when I joined Mazzy Fentan's party. I expected that we would slay monsters with ease and bask in the glory of victory as they do in the old tales. But it is not as it seems.
I did not expect the drudgery of the march, the casual horror of slaughter, the smell of death everywhere. I swear I can taste it! We've killed so many shadows and black wolves that my brain has become as numb as my arm. I am covered in ichor but have not the energy to even clean myself.
If not for Mazzy I think that I would be mad. She is a constant source of strength and always reminds us of the innocents that these beasts have killed, of the horror that we must take upon ourselves to save the people who have no defense. Mazzy is the hero here, not I.
The battle has only just begun. Today we arrived at the entrance to the ruined temple. It was crawling with shadows. Were it not for Mazzy's quick thinking we would surely be dead. There were far too many to fight but Mazzy used the stained glass of the ruins to reflect what little light we had, illuminating the entrance and sending the shades to their doom. While the stained glass caught the light, we were able to find a pocket of safety. Any shadows that came within were destroyed by the light.
Tomorrow we will attempt to enter the temple and the darkness. I have never felt such dread. I try to be as brave as Mazzy but cannot. I feel the horrible inescapable urge to run and when the battle is joined, I can only hope that I will not.
Fun fact - even at the low, low level of 10, Turn Undead is capable of blowing the majority of the shadows in the area to chunky bits.
We encountered a werewolf (wolfwere? hmm...) while exploring the area.
She then fled into her cave, so we followed.
We've come to put an end to the evil of you and your wolves! You've preyed on your last innocent!
My wolves? Hah! No longer, fool. The pack has fallen under the fell magicks of the Shade Lord. Your hunting has gone awry.
Maybe so. But the villagers have spoken of a werewolf that leads her pack to murder innocent families. You must not live.
So be it. I expected no understanding from you.
We then killed her. A pitiable result, though I felt like taking no chances with sparing her and allowing her to perhaps pose a threat to the villagers.
We then entered the temple, after performing the bit with the stained glass as mentioned in the journal we'd found to slay the multitude of shades that had descended upon us.
Dear god, how many interjections does she HAVE? That "Saerileth's Gate: Saerileth of Saerileth" description is becoming more and more appropriate all the time.
After we slew some shades and skeletal warriors, we came across a small skeleton.
Oh, but this is so very sad that a child should die and be so beset and gnawed upon by these horrible wolfy creatures!
Yeah, yeah, suck it up beefy, and let's get back to killing these critters!
Further in, we encountered a jailor of a sort.
Being a jailor, he naturally had a key.
The jail cell held Mazzy Fentan!
Well met! Who addresses me?
Your grace, I am Mazzy Fentan, a valiant servant of justice and righteousness. As you can see, I could use your assistance.
And you shall have it. How did you come to be here?
I am an adventurer. I led my party here to discover the source of the evil that has befallen the area, which became abundantly clear when it slaughtered my companions at the Shadow Altar. You have fought my jailors, the shadows. Those unfortunate souls are the remnants of live victims whom have been perverted by the power of the dark fiend, the Shade Lord.
Why is it here and what does it want?
It is here to dominate and to conquer. This Shade Lord seems to feed on the corruption of souls. If it is not stopped it will continue to build its army of shadows.
We are here to get rid of the Shade Lord. Why don't you tell us of your attempt.
My companions and I were hired by Minister Lloyd of Imnesvale to find the ranger, Merella, as well as look into the rash of killings that has plagued the area. We found Merella's journal which mentioned the unholy darkening of this land. The local legends tell of how the Shade Lord was struck down by Amaunator ages ago. We entered the temple ruins and found it infested with shadow-magic. The Shadow Wolves, here, are from the wolf packs that roamed these hills mere weeks ago. Through tomes and other clues, my party learned of a perverted altar of Amaunator which can only be reached through the bowels of this place. We had to find sun gems so the doors of darkness that the Shade Lord had placed along our path could be opened. They can be aquired if one passes Amaunator's tests. We searched for the three parts of the key to the door that leads to the horror that the Shade Lord commands. The Shade Lord commands a Shadow Dragon... a most deadly foe. We were struck down as he laughed, and I am unsure of how to defeat such a creature. Most horrible of all, the Shade Lord took the life force of my friends and turned them to members of his cursed army. My beloved Patrick has become a hideous shadow! I would gladly have sold my life with my friends but the Shade Lord would not let the dragon kill me. He wants me to be what he calls "his consort". He is not a creature of this plane and must possess a body, feeding on its life. He inhabits Merella, now... and planned to use my own body once Merella grows weak, I suspect. I have come to believe that this altar which the shadow dragon guards, is the secret of this place. A way must be found to pass this beast for he cannot be killed by such as us. The Shade Lord and his altar must be destroyed. I am uninjured and ready to fight with you if you will have me.
Perhaps it is best if we face it alone. We will free you and wish you well, however.
As you will. In this area, you will have to find a sun gem to pass one of the shadow doors. Be careful! Once you take it off of the altar, its light will no longer protect you from the shadows. Thank you for your assistance. Should you ever need a brave companion, I reside in Trademeet with my family. Ask for me at the tavern. I am well known. Fare thee well.
Nearby, we found a relic of Amaunator.
Well, I don't know the Holy Ritual. Any of you?
I do not, my raven.
I know no Holy Rituals of Amaunator. He didst perish long before we were born.
Neither Minsc nor Boo knows of any such rituals, Asim.
Well then, it looks like we're going to have to try and find some writings in here.
Nearby, we found the (incomplete) Morn Ritual.
As well as the sun gem on the altar that Mazzy mentioned.
I had to do this part twice! The altar script and the turn undead script were both failing to kill the shadows before they swarmed, so I got mobbed so very, very badly.
The sun gem dispelled this shadow door.
An interesting thing, the shadow doors. A barrier made of darkness so thick that it becomes quite literally impenetrable.
Jan, scouting ahead, found a group of undead and reported back.
We made an effort to fight them in an organized manner, but that went to hell pretty fast.
Jan, why the HELL didn't you mention the bone golem?
It wasn't there to be seen, so I couldn't mention it!
How does a bone golem come out of nowhere?
Not important at the moment, my ravens!
As it turned out, the bones we carried were the bones of the former child prophetess of Amaunator, Amuana. Returned to her defiled crypt, she gave us a wardstone to bypass the Shadow Dragon, a portion of Amaunator's symbol and a tome, which detailed the history of Amaunator's struggle with the Shade Lord. She also gave us the Noontide Ritual.
After slogging through some more undead...
And an unfortunate horror spell causing Haer'Dalis to run over the trigger that explains this next puzzle causing me to miss the screenshot of it.
Hey, I've seen this movie. We should spell "Amaunator" with our footsteps.
Across the way, we found this shadow.
Saerileth actually came because she was in the best health out of my meleers at the time. That whole permanent immunity to fear made her not get her shit ruined by the constant horror spells every time the Protection from Fear castings ran out.
I think not.
You have chosen poorly! Drink of eternal darkness, fool!
Behind him, we found another section of Amaunator's symbol. Nearby, we found the Dusk Ritual as well as some minor loots in the arms of a strange statue/altar thing.
Thus armed with knowledge, we returned to the statue of Amaunator.
I shall say a prayer to the Light.
What shall you do second in the Ritual?
I shall hold high the Holy Book that the Sun might bless it.
How shall the Ritual end?
I shall reflect on the glory of the Light as it conquers the Dark.
So ends the Morning Ritual. Now, the Sun is high. Noon is upon us. How shall thee honor the Lord?
I shall sing a hymn of praise to Amaunator.
How shall you next welcome the zenith of the Sun?
I shall raise my hands to the Light.
How shall the Noontide Ritual end?
I shall rejoice at the dominance of Light.
So ends the Noontide Ritual. It is now dusk and as the Darkness moves in, the Evening Ritual must be said to ward off evil. What is the first step?
I will recite the Tenets of Faith.
The shadows grow longer. What must be done second?
I will hold high my children that they might see the Sun.
How shall the evening ritual end?
I shall mourn as I watch the sun give way to the onslaught of night.
The Evening Ritual is completed. The Tests have ended. Amaunator in His Glory offers thee this symbol. Use it and its brothers to form the Symbol of Amaunator. That is the ward required to open the door to the Lair of the Dark One.
With that, we gained the third and final portion of the Symbol of Amaunator..
We were then able to finally make our way through the depths of the temple, bypassing the Shadow Dragon and making our way to the Shadow Altar and the Shade Lord.
You can watch it kill me horribly, if you want.
Far from it, fiend. I am the light that shall dispel your darkness.
Bravado, of course. Your kind grows tiresome and predictable yet you may be of some use to me.
I shall not be used by the likes of you!
Oh, but you shall, mortal. This body that I inhabit grows tired. You shall make an excellent replacement. Come, my shades! Open the portal! This brash fool has some strength.
Thus, in an epic battle worthy of song (read - not really, he died pretty quickly actually) we defeated the Shade Lord and purified the Altar of Amaunator.
'Tis a wholesome place once again. Glory be to Tyr for his deliverance!
If there's one thing I'm loving about this mod, it's the timing on the love talks. It's so hilariously inappropriate, really. For example, mere seconds after I defeated the Shade Lord, and actually BEFORE Merella got her dying words in...
What are you doing?
Plaiting these blossoms. [She lifts the half-finished chain.] Is't not a fitting use of thy gift?
But I never gave them to you.
But these flowers are laid each night by my head. If they are not thy gift, then whence come they? [The maid continues to plait the flowers, but her gaze is no longer on them. Instead, her cobalt eyes search the horizon.]
This is a very large part of the evidence for my "Edorem is a creepy, creepy stalker of a creepy, creepy girl" theory. Think about it. He's got a horrendous obsession with her (as becomes much more abundantly clear later) and can open planar portals seemingly at his whim. Thus, it's really not much of a stretch to think that he's opening planar conduits every night for the sole sake of putting these flowers by her every night. And yes, I am analyzing this shit. It's hilarious to me. Hilarious and wrong.
Now, for a somewhat amusing thing regarding the test statue. If you hold tab, you see a little treasure alcove, but you can't access it because of the activator for the speech. (Well, you can, but it's an unbelievable pain in the ass.) Once you kill the Shade Lord, however, you can return...
Have your thief detect and disarm the trap...
And claim your prize of...
One fucking diamond.
And holy fucking HELL is this long. 18 pages before I add the portrait bbcode? How the hell did I not notice that length?!
And 24 pages after I add it! What the fuck is wrong with me?
Archival Commentary - There were so many better places for me to ask that question.