Part 19: The Planar Sphere: What if everything you knew came crashing down in one day?
Chapter 13 - The Planar Sphere: What if everything you knew came crashing down in one day?
Why does Anomen always do that one thing? You know, talking? I don't like it. Why does he keep doing it? Why can't he just hit things with maces and cast spells like I tell him to?
You served in the campaigns against the giants?
Aye, and a bloody campaign it was. I slew twenty of the beasts during that scorching summer.
Twenty giants, Anomen? I find that hard to believe. You are very arrogant.
Arrogant or extremely competent. Believe what you wish, my tale is true.
After that, we marched in silence back to Imnesvale. It was a refreshing change! We then encountered this guy.
I'm looking for Valygar, yes, but I'm not interested in a fight.
Well, move on, then! Get out of here!
Hast thou not been hired by the Cowled Wizards to slay Valygar?
I don't trust the Cowled Wizards at all, and it's not so much "hired" as "pressed into agreeing to do it." I feel absolutely no compulsion to serve them. I intend to talk with Valygar and decide from there.
With that, we entered a nearby cabin and encountered Valygar.
I am with the Wizards, but they said nothing of a sphere. What do you speak of?
A planar sphere appeared in the slums of Athkatla weeks ago. My ancestor, the necromancer Lavok, built that sphere as some sort of planar traveling device. Lavok disappeared with the sphere over five centuries ago. It has not been seen again until now. I have no desire to meet my ancestor, and even less desire to help the Cowled Wizards, who seem certain that my body is the only key to the sphere... alive or not. They tried to force my co-operation when I refused to aid them, and I had hidden myself away as a result. I thought I had been successful, as well, until you came.
'Tis clear then; we must aid this Valygar Corthala, for he is sought unjustly.
I am glad someone sees my plight as it truly is.
Why would you fear this Lavok? This ancestor of yours is certainly dead.
It has been a long time, but for all I know time may work differently when travelling the planes. As for his immortality... well, my ancestor has extended his life, before... but that is a different story. I am the last of the Corthala line. That may mean little to you, but it means plenty to Lavok. When Lavok left Athkatla in the sphere, he was already many centuries old. Lavok extended his life by stealing the bodies of blood relations. If he yet lives, you can imagine my concern. This is also why my blood may allow entrance to the sphere.
The wizards have not been entirely truthful... Well, they haven't been truthful at all, actually. How do you propose we solve this?
My proposal is that we return to the city and enter the sphere. That way, I will know if Lavok lives. If he does, we can exterminate his ghoulish existence once and for all. You are more than welcome to whatever lies within the sphere, such as magical treasure and anything else of Lavok's. None of it interests me in the slightest.
Very well, join and we shall see what is inside this planar sphere ourselves.
Most excellent! My family swore an oath long ago to kill Lavok should he ever reappear, and perhaps I shall be able to fulfill it. My heartfelt thanks at your offer of aid.
An oath? [Saerileth nods solemnly.] Then indeed thou must be rejoiced at the prospect of fulfilling it. An oath once taken cannot be broken.
You are correct, little girl, but I just want to see this damnable curse ended.
Well, actually, oaths can be broken quite easily. My Uncle Itchy once swore an oath of chastity to Ilmater. It was actually quite a bit of an oath for him. Itchy wasn't his real name of course, but he had a dreadful tendency to come down with the Calimshite Itch ever since he broke the oath and Ilmater cursed him so the name just sort of arose.
Alright, let's go. And pray fervently that I get that mental image out of my head.
Let us be moving, then. More than likely the Cowled Wizards will hear of my movements... and the fact that you accompany me... soon enough. We shall have to be ready. Ah, but your party is full.
Well, the question to be asked is whether we allow entropy to rend the group asunder? Is it time to move on?
Yes, it is time for us to go separate ways.
I've things to do on my own, truly enough... if you fancy to speak to me again, I might be in the Five Flagons Inn. Or not, as the muse takes me.
Okay... we'll meet you there at a later date, once we wrap up this business with Lavok.
And so, we headed back to Imnesvale to inform Minsister Lloyd of the Shade Lord's demise.
And the... the merchants are looking forward to it, too. Madulf wants to come to town to purchase, ah, supplies and things. That should be quite a sight! But... thank you, Asim. I wouldn't have thought of... negotiating... with those creatures. This will be better for Imnesvale all around. But... but I babble on, so. My apologies. Was there aught that you needed, Asim?
I wished to tell you a Shade Lord was responsible. It had possessed the body of Merella, your ranger... who died once the shade was destroyed.
Oh, this is most joyous news! It is sad that Merella is dead... but we are most grateful to you, my Lord, for ridding us of this peril! As agreed, here is the armor of my ancestor ranger... it is leather, but I assure you it is most strongly bound with magic to make it as strong as plate mail! I am not sure if the armor will be of any use to you. Errrm... is... is this enough of a reward? I suppose I could offer you some amount of gold, as well...
No, no. The leather, itself, is more than enough.
You... you are very kind. It is good to know there are valiant and generous folk still in Faerun... My thanks to you again, my Lord... it is a great relief to know that Imnesvale will now be safe. I will tell the townsfolk immediately!
I've always found it really funny, somehow, that only the "Oh, this is most joyous news!" is voice-acted.
Right you are, Minsc. Only good things will come from the examples we set.
Yes! Lead evil by example, and one day we need no longer put the boots to those that stray off the path of goodness into the muck and bile of villainy and track great bloody footprints across our lily white tiles! Boo will have clean wood shavings you evil bastards!
One of the best Minsc interjections, in my opinion.
The armor that Minister Lloyd gave us was pretty nice. We really didn't have much of a use for it and sold it for money, though. It brought a pretty nice price.
We then went and spoke to Madulf, who was rather grateful to us.
Madulf and fellows owe you much... we can stay and be left alone, here. Is good. Here... have shield to give you... is magic, from Sythsill army... we no use. Maybe you like.
The shield was pretty nice. We sold it for money in the end, though.
So, we returned to the Slums to see about this Planar Sphere business. Encountered another vampire talking to some Shadow Thieves, as usual.
You do paint a rather pretty picture, but I heard some nasty stuff about what happens to those that join.
Rumors and hearsay. I am here before you as the proverbial horse's mouth. You may take what I say at my word, or you will end like all the others will.
See, there you go threatening. Though I suppose my own guild has threatened no less. I just don't know.
You know. You just haven't said it out loud yet.
Perhaps but I... wait, someone is listening to us! Get out of here before they see us! Go! We'll take care of these spies.
They took care of us, if by "took care of us" you mean "died with no trouble at all." There were no further obstacles on the way to the Planar Sphere.
Once we got up to it, I got my first up-close view of the crazy thing.
I don't know what sort of madness convinces you to make a giant fuck-off plane travelling sphere, but it's the kind of madness I like. As Valygar suspected his mere presence caused the door to open easily.
Valygar, you are the best key ever.
Hey, I'm no body-stealing giant sphere-building crazy man. Merely a centipede bagel-making crazy man. Speaking of which, who wants some? No one? Oh you all SUCK.
Once we got inside...
Mein gott, ze interjections, zey do not end!
A short ways in there was a very interesting pool that showed the area of Athkatla.
'Tis most beautiful, Asim. [And she moves closer to you, pressing her head to your chest.]
Oh, will you just STOP. You're going to make me SICK.
Say, that reminds me of the time that Ma Jansen made some bad turnip stew... For the next tenday, we were all -
I don't wish to hear this story.
Oh, you never want to hear my stories. You just don't know quality when you hear it, you know that?
In a room to the left, after killing a clay golem, we found an interesting key, a golem's arm and a pile of coal. It all looked rather useful, so into the packs it went.
So, I walked up to the locked door and inserted the key into a slot that it seemed to fit.
And sure enough, the exit was sealed.
A trap! Damn you, Lavok! You will die here this day! I swear it!
Whoa, calm down there. You look a touch fevered. Here, have a turnip.
And you give turnips to the new upset man and still not to Minsc and Boo? How is this justice, gnome?!
Oh, dearie me. Here Minsc, I just so happen to have one last turnip. Here, take it.
There is no turnip there.
Oh, excshcushe me, I sheem to haff shomefing in my mouf.
Well, nothing to do but press on until we find Lavok.
Asim. It appears that I am as trapped as you and your companions.
Trapped indeed. I am Reyna. Myself and my fellow Knights of Solamnia, Onvo and Anca have been imprisoned in this strange dungeon for a long time.
Knights of Solamnia?
We are the knights of honor and good upon Ansalon, a world far removed from this one.
Then we are akin, though our worlds be as far sundered from each other as each is from this.
Well met, then. I see you tread a similar path.
Are there any traps up ahead that I should be wary of?
Traps? No, but in the dark rooms of this place I have witnessed horrors. These terrors I am loath to discuss but if it helps your cause then I shall. When we first arrived here, my fellow Knights and I thought to explore our new surroundings. I wish we hadn't. To the west we were ambushed by small creatures, children in size, but not in appetite. We were hard pressed to battle our way out of the trap.
Perhaps they were halflings?
Halflings? If halflings seek to rip and rend the flesh from your body, to swallow your flesh and suck the marrow from your bones, then halflings they may be.
Hmm, sounds more like boggies, then.
You must be careful if you encounter them. They are crafty and the worthy foe of any knight. Fare thee well.
In the room just to the north, there were some Sahuagin. Rather unremarkable foes, much like the cannibal halflings in the room to the west. However, one of them did have some Gauntlets of Ogre Power which went to Saerileth.
Seriously, she gets priority on strength enhancing items. Strength of 16 on a melee character just won't do. In a nearby room, after defeating some simple spiders and ettercaps damn spiders and ettercaps, hate them I found a book on a table. It detailed the creation of a golem up until the point where the pages were burned and blackened, which was really the only part that wasn't horrendously obvious to me.
Slightly to the north was a room with three furnaces.
Each of which, when supplied with coal...
Spawned forth a fire elemental to be slain.
And after defeating some more golems to the east, we found a golem head.
Using these, I was able to successfully complete and activate the damaged golem in the room where I found the book.
We followed the golem as it charged off to defeat something or other. (It turned out to be a beholder.) There was a very interesting room on the way, but more on this room later.
And so, we came to Lavok.
I have been denied the material plane! I will have my revenge!!
Despite proclaiming his intent to gain revenge with as much bravado as could be mustered, he was summarily defeated, and then promptly launched into the dying speech that seems so common amongst body-stealing weirdos.
What is this, some manner of trick?
Who might you be? I... I can barely see you...
I am your descendent, Lavok. I am Valygar Corthala, and I will not allow you to take my body to extend your life. Since you yet live, I will end it now!
Corthala... yes, I remember this now. My family. Oh, I am dying, Valygar Corthala, of that you can be certain. Nothing would bring me greater relief.
Eh? I warn you, necromancer, I shall not be fooled!
Nor do I intend to fool you, young one. I have been imprisoned in my own mind by that strange force for half an eternity. Death would be a blessing.
Are you trying to tell me that you are not evil? That you are not the sorcerer who preyed upon his own family as a ghoul would, whose legacy has haunted my family always?
No, no. I am he. I am all those things that you have said and more. I have spent half an eternity keeping that force from prying the secrets of the sphere from my mind. I could not unleash it upon... my home. Thank you for ending its existence.
And this should redeem you for all you have done? I say it is a fitting punishment!
Indeed it is. I have had years of pain and anguish to consider my sins. I can offer to you nothing other than my sorrow, Valygar, if I have brought you pain.
If I could call it all back... Ah... if I could go back and convince the man I once was that the sphere was a mission of pride doomed to failure. But I cannot. Death shall release me soon enough from my overlong life. I would ask one thing of you, Valygar Corthala, although I know you have no reason to grant it to me.
I... I don't... what would you ask of me?
I would wish to see the sky of my homeworld one final time. To be at peace, knowing that I have died in the place I was born so long ago. I am dying... and I wish to die there. Under my own sun. In return... in return I shall tell you how to return the sphere to your own plane. I... I am glad that you entered the sphere when you did. I was able to keep from the force... the fact that the sphere had a defense against intrusion. It would automatically travel to another plane... A trap... that would allow me to deal with the intruders... at will. But... that was another time. Bring me home, Valygar Corthala, and I will tell you how.
This... this is not a trick?
It is no trick, my descendant. I have no strength left for tricks, nor any desire. I humbly beg it of you.
You are not the man I expected, Lavok. I... I shall do as you ask.
Very well. The sphere... the sphere is powered by the heart of a powerful demon. Our last trip, now, would have depleted the power source of the last heart the sphere had... You need to go out into the plane... and aquire the heart of another demon. I... know not how, but you must... Bring the heart to the engine room of the sphere and place it inside the engine golem at the center there... and I will pre-set the controls while you are gone. But go quickly, Valygar... there are things that will stir in the planes and take notice of the sphere now that it is here! Go! And I... will try to hang on long enough...
And so, we returned to the exit, which this time allowed us to leave, taking us to...
Stay no longer than is necessary.
It's not like you to be so timid. What's wrong?
I am a danger to thee here, Asim. If my presence is detected by a demon lord, there will be a heavy reckoning. Speed, Asim!
I know it says this, but as far as I can tell there was nothing. The Tanar'ri just don't care about Saerileth, it seems.
A short ways to the north, we found the first of the three demons we would slay here.
And, upon slaying it, removed its heart.
We found the second a ways to the east...
And just to the northwest of the second was the third.
This guy just attacks, no talking or anything. It's just not a noteworthy Tanar'ri unless it threatens you, dammit.
We returned to the sphere and, after fiddling with the four symbols, successfully opened up the door they held locked.
You forged the path and we followed with ease through the doors you opened! We shall continue without you! Now learn why the wrath of the Cowled Wizards is feared!
It was a pretty hard fight; Minsc and Valygar needed resurrecting by the time it was over. But, we got a pretty sweet ring from Tolgerias' body.
To the east and west there were a slew of fire and ice-themed monsters, respectively. The fire room's efreeti was particularly nasty.
I was actually very lucky, he only resurrected on me once. Usually he does it about 5 times and I get really sick of waiting for him to come back to get beat down again by the time things are through.
So, we headed on down to the heart of the planar sphere.
And put another heart in, earning a rather nice fireworks show.
The planar sphere then took us back to Athkatla.
Bonus Video - Golems!
So, we returned to Lavok.
Aye, I will do as you ask.
I am... most grateful. If... you could but carry me, my strength has all but fled... my last moments... are upon me...
...I sense within you a power and ability similar to my own, yes? You are a mage. Yes, I am correct. Take the planar sphere, mage. I grant it to you, in payment for my release... Use it... use it far more wisely than I ever did...
And with that, he breathed his last and fell still.
My family's vow has been fulfilled, and I am now safe, and yet I feel little satisfaction. I had no idea it would be like this. Could he actually have been redeemed? After all that time? Did he actually fight that demon to prevent it from escaping the sphere? If you had asked me such a question even a day ago, I would have answered that such redemption was impossible. Now I am not so sure. I think, perhaps, that I do not know all that I think I do. I have not seen as much of the world as I thought I did. A disturbing realization. I would continue to travel with you, if you would allow me. If there is so much I am not aware of, I must discover it. Will you have me?
I do not think it would be wise, Valygar. I suggest you find your own way.
I shall return to my home here in the city, then. If you change your mind, I shall be there a short while before I leave for good. I wish you well on your journey, friend.
If you wouldn't mind telling, I've no objection to hearing.
[Saerileth suddenly blushes.] 'Twas perhaps misleading to speak of a "tale". I dwelt on Mount Celestia, and I was born in the realm of Tyr. To be ever surrounded by the glory of Tyr and yet refuse his call-is there any who could have done it?
I am sure there are plenty. Paladins are rare.
'Tis the calling of the god that is rare. I do not mean to boast! [Saerileth catches herself up.] Tyr does not choose many for his paladins, but 'tis not our merit his eye seeks out. 'Tis our willingness to serve.
I know at least why Tyr chose *you*.
[Saerileth blushes again.] Thou art too kind, Asim, truly. 'Tis no merit of mine but the grace of Tyr. [Saerileth smiles at you, a smile at once endearing and ethereal. She is, however, indisposed for further conversation.]
Oh, god, that line. Also, and this made me laugh, she actually went and started this conversation right before Lavok's dying conversation. I love it. Saerileth - preachy in the name of Tyr, eternally seeking right and justice, gets mad at you if you do anything the slightest bit cruel, but she has absolutely no problem interrupting a man's dying speech to talk about herself!
And, upon selling our loot from the Planar Sphere, we were able to purchase...
Oh, but this is the most awesome bit of awesome that was ever awesome. I love it!
Hey, game balance.