Part 21: The Trials and Tribulations of Trademeet
Chapter 15 - The Trials and Tribulations of Trademeet
After our little crime-solving spree, we headed off to Trademeet to investigate the random chaos there. When we got there, we helped the militia defeat some of the creatures attacking them, and their captain told us to speak with High Merchant Logan Coprith.
As we journeyed to the High Merchant's home, we encountered an encampment of genies. Jan managed to steal an Efreeti Bottle from one of them while I spoke with their leader.
A Dao djinn? What is that?
The clans of djinn are beyond the ken of most mortals, this I understand. It is a complicated thing, wayfarer. Suffice it to say that I am a djinn of the family Dao, yes?
What would Calimshite genies be doing here in Trademeet?
Yes, this does beg a question, mortal, does it not? The Dao would not normally choose to make such a place our home, even temporarily, indeed. Suffice it to say that we have come on a service, hunting a criminal of some repute from Calimshan... a rakshasi by the name of Ihtafeer. Rakshasa, of which the rakshasi are females, if you have never encountered them, are devious shapeshifters and thieves. We have followed this particular prey for quite some months now, and she has eluded us at every turn. We have grown tired of this chase. We know that Ihtafeer lies hiding in this area in mortal form, and so the Dao have taken over the trade of this town. We Dao buy all that comes here, you see, and charge prices too high for the mortals to afford... and we will not relinquish it until the mortals find this rakshasi for us. Eventually, they shall run out of their food and they will become desperate enough to do it. Or not. Regardless, the hunt is less taxing and far more amusing this way, don't you agree?
You have monopolized the trade of this town? No, I don't think that's amusing at all!
That is a very precious statement, for a mortal. What do you intend to do about it, then, little one? How do you intend to dissuade us from this activity?
What would you say if I found this rakshasa for you?
Hmmmn. I would say, mortal, that I wish the head of this rakshasi returned to me... and once that was done, despite the amusements we have found here, the Dao would return to Calimshan.
Do you have any idea where this rakshasa might be?
If we knew where she was we would go and collect her, yes? As a shapechanger, I am sure she hides in the form of yet another tiresome mortal. It is a tactic she and her kind use often. It is doubtful that she and her companions actually reside in the town, itself. The appetites and predilections of the rakshasa would not keep her hidden among you for very long. But we are sure she is somewhere in the area. Perhaps hidden and preying secretly upon you mortals, as the rakshasa do. But who knows, really? She could be anywhere. Why, little mortal? Do you intend to bring Ihtafeer's head to us and end our stay in this dreary little place? We would look forward to a mortal finally ending this business.
Very well. I will attempt to find this rakshasa and bring her head back to you.
Ah, this is a good thing! The Dao wish you well on your hunt, then, and await eagerly the sight of Ihtafeer's head!
We also encountered a seer on our way to the High Merchant's house.
If you wish, I can tell you something of your place in the future. A mere 10 gp, should you desire the benefit of my gift of insight, good man.
Certainly. 10 gp it is.
As you wish. Come and sit beside me, good man, and I shall take ahold of your hand. Close your eyes and let Kveroslava feel your aura... You are a strong man. You have powerful blood and a... a destiny that shines so brightly. It is... it is the blood of a god that flows in you... But you are not alone... there is another. Another who calls to you for help... and I see a man, a dark man whose life has been taken from him... I see this other... she screams! She screams! There is a beast... a beast of terrible power! And... a dark man... the Exile. He smiles! He smiles! I... I... NO! No more! P-please forgive me, good man. Your path has overwhelmed my limited gifts. You... frighten me. I wish you... good fortune.
Followed shortly by...
Seriously, this is what creeps me out more than the fact that Saerileth is 15. Just... This is proof of how disturbingly OBSESSIVE she is. Read on. Read on, and take pleasure in my misery! Also, hidden in this dialogue tree is yet another point where you can dump her, as I just discovered while browsing the dialogue files in an attempt to see what happens if you take the alternate paths.
[Saerileth is there almost before you have realized it is empty.] Here, Asim. Drink of mine.
Thank you, Saerileth.
[Saerileth gives you her water-flask and watches you drink. When you have finished she wipes the last drops from your face.]
[Take her hands.]
[Saerileth's hands feel soft and fragile in yours. She says nothing, but her fingers and yours intertwine.]
Now, what creeps me right the fuck out about that is that she's apparently been paying close enough attention to the PC to know exactly when his flask is out of water when he doesn't. What the heeeeeeellllllllllll?! You all better be enjoying my pain, dammit.
We did stop in at the local tavern to check on the situation. It was mostly fruitless, but there WAS one very interesting thing.
I mean you no harm, sir...
No, no! Not after all this time! I won't... ah... AHHH, NOT AGAIN!!
Most interesting. Likely he has some sort of innate talent of planar travel, though it does not explain how he knew you are a Bhaalspawn, my raven.
We'll see Viekang later, in Throne of Bhaal. This is really the single most thing in the game, in my opinion. I'll elaborate on the whole thing when we see him then, since it involves spoilers.
Anyhow, after that, we spoke with the High Merchant.
Yours is a decent face however, and I bear you no ill will. My name is Lord Logan Coprith, and I am the High Merchant of this place.
May I ask why you are High Merchant? You look more used to armor than finances.
I spent much of my career in the military, but other duties called me here. My family was influential and it fell to them to provide a mayor for Trademeet. Perhaps finances are not my best skill, but the guard has benefited from my discipline and I have improved security. There is only so much that can be done, however. Trademeet has been here for generations, but new we are harassed from the strangest of sources. It has been a very difficult time for the local merchants. The very land is against us. Animals attack, and even the foliage strangles. It began subtle, but now we suspect a dark mind behind it. Until recently we did not know where to place blame, but now the people have found a target. The last group attacked saw several figures directing the chaos. Druids, belonging to a group that has long been peaceful. The people apparently captured one. Had I not locked him up they would have quartered him in the streets.
And has he confessed, or have the people condemned him for being a druid?
That is my dilemma. He claims he is here to investigate the druids, and I believe him. Unfortunately many of our citizens already believe him guilty. Nothing less than a public burning will satisfy an angry mob. This druid remains behind bars as much for his own protection as anything else. What I would have you do is escort him to his task, or see to it yourselves, whichever you prefer. I would seem to be collaborating if my men or I were to help him, and alone he may not make it out of town. Will you help?
I will speak with him and see if I can help. If there is anything I can do, I will do it.
I thank you. I will allow you to pass so you might speak with him. He may leave under promise of your care. Keep me apprised of the situation.
You look pleasant enough; are you friends of that charming Lord Coprith? I've made very few friends among the merchants.
Lord Coprith sent me. I am to escort you out of town and help in any way I can.
He seemed less prone to rash action, though the merchants had little reason to trust me. I arrived not long after an attack so it must have seemed suspicious. I should have crept quietly as the vine instead of blustering as the wind. On occasion I forget the subtleties that allow nature to progress. Ahh, the blight shall pass and I shall return to cultivate better relations when the time is right.
What has poisoned their opinions? Their leader is sensible enough.
I am not quite sure, but I have suspicions. I will try to tell you what I know of this. I am Cernd, as I said, sent from the north to investigate why the druid order of this region has severed its ties with the traditional heirarchy. It is not unheard of, but the attacks have me worried. It can only lead to greater evils; these people will eventually strike out as an animal cornered. You have the ranger Minsc in your group. Likely he will also understand the danger of balance being lost, even though I have heard he has lost his own. I know many druids in this region and they would not support such actions without due cause. I suspect that there has been a change in leadership here. It is the duty of any druid to find this new leader and ascertain if this is for the best of nature. The attacks on the merchants only serve to alarm me. I might succeed alone, but I would much rather have the backing of a group, one that will also benefit from my service. Are you up for the task?
I will help as best I can, but I do not wish any more travelling companions.
Unfortunate. We would be stronger together. Like snowflakes on the bough, if we were many it might snap it with ease. I will await you at the grove I have marked on your map. Do not tarry, our task is difficult and time is short.
And thus, we arrived at the the druid's grove. It was full of trolls.
And this guy had some things to say to us.
This is not as it should be. What has changed here to cause this hostility? Cernd said it has not always been like this.
You have spoken with Cernd? I had hoped he or another would be sent to help. He serves the Grand Druid in the north. He will know what to do with this Faldorn.
...No. Anyway, Faldorn has seduced quite a few with her Shadow Druid wiles. Perhaps he could challenge her... she seems subject to the old ways even as she poisons our intentions. I must go. I cannot be seen with outsiders. Be careful, you will find few people to help you.
A ways down, we found a nest of trolls. There was a very difficult fight to get in.
Note - this actually kicked my ass quite a few times. I eventually got so pissed off that I spend a while casting Nahal's Reckless Dweomer, attempting to cast the 9th level spell Gate with it. I didn't get experience, but I did get a little heart attack.
Note that 999 damage that the pit fiend dealt to the Spirit Troll. Eeeee.
Anyhow, a wild surge created some gold, and while I was attempting to summon a demon, Jan and Anomen had a very hilarious conversation. (It caused me to fail my spells quite a few times from laughter, actually...)
Did I ever tell you the tale of the Lobotomized Orc, my good knight Anomen?
You have not and I've no wish to hear it.
Well anyway, as a child my mammy would give us kids a bowl of gravel, which was all that we could afford, and tell us this parable. Now listen, knighty, lest you be eating gravel. There was once a heavily brain damaged orc called Ano. Ano was trudging through the forest one day, looking for bull droppings with which he could stuff his mattress, when he happened across a remarkable scene. A brave and noble knight, Jen the Brilliant by name, fought with an evil giant. Ano watched as Jen slew the giant. Then the knight had ridden off to save several small children from a wicked witch, also known as a noblewoman, who was attempting to poison the poor dears. Regardless, Ano promptly cut off the head of the fallen giant and ran home to his home in the Dung Orc village and claimed that he had killed the monster.
I warn you, gnome. Cease your prattling immediately!
Did I mention that Ano had a nasty habit of interrupting folk? Anyway, the giant's brother heard of his sibling's demise and the subsequent display of his head in Dung Town. He caught up to Ano, who was stupidly stuffing his mattress with bull dung, and returned to his cave with the orc stuffed through his belt. As punishment for his brother's supposed murderer, he tied a porcupine to the orc's head and proceeded to clean his latrine with the makeshift orc brush. Much to the giant's dismay, Ano actually enjoyed it. Fascinating tale, that! I love to tell it!
I'll suffer no insults from you, runtish one!
Calm yourself, Ano. There was no insult to you. It was merely a parable told to me by my dear departed mother.
I shall not forget this, gnome! Your blood will stain my blade, yet!
Whenever you wish to try it, Ano.
You use a mace, Anomen.
A figure of speech, Asim.
Aye, "I shall bash your skull" just doesn't sound right coming from someone not a dwarf.
You know, I really wish I could invent things like that for Jan to say... Mine just aren't as good.
Inside the troll compound, once we defeated the trolls inside, Saerileth started asking me about my past, specifically the whole bit with Sarevok's attempt at getting Baldur's Gate and Amn to go to war.
I had to kill my brother to do it.
To slay thy brother? [Saerileth's eyes are dim with horror and pity.] Ah, Asim, 'tis a hard road the gods have set thee. Why, if thou canst speak of it, hadst thou to slay him?
He was the one responsible for trying to start the war.
At times the demands of justice are difficult. [Saerileth's eyes are soft, and her voice is gentle.] Asim, thou art strong not to have faltered when justice demanded the blood of thy brother. I do honor thee.
Sarevok was only brother to me by the tainted blood of Bhaal. He shared no relation the man I call my father, Gorion. The man that he killed.
[Saerileth's face drains of color as her eyes fill with tears of pity. However, she does not speak.]
Yeeeesss, I can control your reactions! Muahahaha.
As we fought through more trolls and spiders, we eventually encountered a group of shadow druids.
Cue a fight that actually involved nothing but Minsc running around in circles with the Boots of Speed on, dodging swarms of insects that were attempting to home in on him...
In a nearby barn...
We found a cool scimitar.
Yay, Belm! One of the game's more popular off-hand weapons.
Nearby, we found a hut with an old woman in it.
You are fools! We will devour you!
Except she was really the rakshasi Ihtafeer in disguise. Her companions teleported in, but we killed them all and cut off Ihtafeer's head to give to Khan Zahraa.
As I threw spells towards a small Myconid colony, Haer'Dalis took his turn to rag on Anomen.
I did, actor... So you can stop pushing your weight around and leave the fighting to those of us who can handle the front line.
Aye, Anomen, talk as you wish. For all your swagger, you wouldn't last a day upon the Planes.
Look, harlequin, go on and tell your tales... I'm sure someone here believes them. Now get out of my sight before I skewer you and your liar's soul.
Anomen, I said it last time, but you use a god damn MACE, not a blade or anything else capable of skewering.
Asim, as I said last time, it is a figure of speech.
And, as I agreed with him, "I shall bash your skull" simply does not sound proper coming from any but a dwarf.
Neither Boo nor I has a care for speech, but if there is any betrayal within this group, we shall be there and hacking the offender to tiny bits, oh yes!
As we explored further, we encountered a group of shadow druids guarding the entrance to the grove proper.
They fell rather effectively to my spells and our party's collected implements of death.
Oh god, she writes crappy poetry, too!
[Your searching fingers close around a small scroll that you know was not there when you got up. Pulling it out, you recognize Saerileth's handwriting.]
[Read it silently.]
[It is a moment before you realize that Saerileth is saying the words with you.]
Doubt that the stars are fire;
Doubt that the sun doth move;
Doubt truth to be a liar;
But never doubt I love.
Ah, Asim, I am ill at these rhymes, but that I love thee best, most best, believe it. [Saerileth has drawn nearer to you as she spoke, and she stands before you, her too-blue eyes fixed on yours.]
That was beautiful, Saerileth.
[Saerileth blushes.] I hoped that to know of my love would-would give thee joy.
Of course it does, beloved.
Ah, beloved of my heart, it is the study of my days to give thee joy.
You are all I need, Saerileth.
Then thou shalt neverwant, for ever shall I be with thee.
Aha, I have made you believe what I want. Or.. perhaps... you are doing it to me? Hm. This is some pretty meta shit here...
Jesus fuck why am I even playing this again? It's like a fucking emo kid's wet dream made into an NPC mod. YOU'D BETTER ENJOY MY PAIN, DAMN YOU ALL.
Archival Commentary - oh hey look I said something intelligent for once too bad I didn't just ditch her then and there like a reasonable person I would have been much happier
A woman named Faldorn has taken over. She is a Shadow Druid at heart.
Then it is as I feared. Shadow Druid violence is a disgrace to nature, and now that they have a hand in this area they will not stop their advance. Do you know of them? They have forsaken balance in favor of militant action. They believe they follow the Earthmother but blood is not fitting tribute. This must be stopped before forces from Trademeet seek revenge. The toll on the wood and the people alike will be horrendous. We must issue a challenge on behalf of the virtuous. Unfortunately, only one attuned with the ways of the druids will be able to face Faldorn. It is doubtful she will leave the sanctity of the druid grove, and if she has surrounded herself with its protective magics she will be nearly invulnerable. Such dark rituals are frowned upon, but Shadow Druids stop at nothing. We have but one option: she can be challenged, but only a druid can do it.
You could challenge her. That appears to be why you have come here.
It is indeed. I must restore balance before the local settlers grow to hate nature. Should we present as a group, or should I go alone?
No, I have no room for you at this time. I will just observe.
Then we will go there presently and you may watch my victory or defeat. For all concerned, I hope I am the champion nature deserves.
Why are druids attacking all who enter the wood? This is not the role of the druid!
Who are you to say? Only another druid should have business here. You can do nothing. In the past I might have feared such as you, but no longer. I am stronger than ever with the aid of this grove. No harm can come to me here. Such bonding rituals are frowned upon as they draw energy from the earth itself, but the mother feeds me that I might fight for her!
The rituals of ascension still rule here. Cernd will challenge you for leadership.
I will speak for myself! Faldorn, for crimes upon this grove and her surrounding peoples, I challenge you! By the rites laid down ages ago you cannot refuse!
Why would I refuse? I took this grove by force and I shall keep it. Did you think I would retreat? Oh no, Cernd, this is your end. Prepare!
Well, actually, Faldorn didn't even get a hit off on Cernd before he killed her.
The scourge has been purged? I can tell that the deed is done, for even now the land sighs relief. This has been a great service to nature and she shall not forget. Now to repair the land after the ritual that Faldorn performed. Her invulnerability was at great cost; her loss will cause the land to suffer immeasurably. Verthan will serve as challenge master and Great Druid until all the healing is done. His reverence for the land will not allow him to be corrupted. When the scars are healed things will be as they were... or very nearly. A new Great Druid will need to be chosen. More turmoil ahead, but for now we can rest. What of you, Asim? Are you off to travel? If you ever need help, you may find me standing amidst the beauty of nature that is our druid grove.
Of course Cernd. I know where to find you.
I look forward to our next meeting.
I stand as Challenge Master, and all that seek ascension in the druidic order can come to me. And for you, I must formalize our thanks. Go now and worry no more about these woods and the druids who protect them. Remember to pick up any equipment that was dropped before the challenge.
With that taken care of, we returned to Trademeet to conclude our business.
Here, then, is a scimitar that you may find useful. It has been mine own for some time, but I am sure I shall find another. Use it well, wayfarer! As for you, my little Ihtafeer, you have been a very naughty creature eluding us as you have! What a brave mortal to bring you to us! Come, then, my Dao... we return to Calimshan and fulfull our service!
And so, they vanished, and we spoke with Lord Coprith.
In addition, you solved our problem with the djinn and restored prosperity to the merchants of my town, a problem I thought to be nearly insurmountable! I trust the Guildmistress showered you with rewards... and if not, she should! I, for one, think it is high time to give you the hero's welcome you deserve!
They have not only stopped the assault of nature upon us by removing the evil druid that had taken over our local grove, but have also spared us from the recent domination of the genies! You are once again free to walk the streets of Trademeet, and new caravans have already been hired to bring supplies to our local merchants. It is good to know that even though we do not have our beloved Waukeen looking out for us, we still have people like this who we can turn to in a time of need! From this day forth, I declare that these companions be known as the Heroes of Trademeet! Their likenesses shall be displayed on the fountain forever more!
You have saved us all!
Oh, yes... most excellent work, hero!
You will always be welcome here. Obviously, you are deserving of your glowing reputation as a true hero. May the gods smile on your journeys.
It is pleasing to know that there are heroes of real mettle here in Trademeet, ones with both courage and ability. As it so happens, I have need of such people. Please... if you are interested in the reward for performing such a task, come and speak to me at my mansion. I look forward to seeing you there.
I am Lord Skarmaen Alibakkar, and it is my family that founded Trademeet... not hers. So I greet you in the name of the town's premiere family. No doubt Lady Lilith has asked you to perform a service for her... I happen to need the same service done, so I ask that you come to see me in my home so that we may discuss it further. If you are foolish and work for the Lurraxols, however, you will not be welcome in my home. Think carefully on this.
[sigh] I am sorry they chose to involve you in their schemes. The Lurraxols and the Alibakkars are old and powerful families here, and they have been feuding for generations. Be careful in your dealings with them, that's all I can say. I have here a reward that the town merchants have gathered for. Don't forget to go and see the statues that have been conjured in your image. They're in the center of town at the fountain.
And he should be! We are the rightous standard by which others are judged!
Now you are speaking the language of Minsc! Next we must get you a hamster! Or perhaps an ice weasel, whatever your tastes.
I already have a small dragon, thank you VERY much.
We then spoke with Guildmistress Busya.
Those Dao djinn you dispatched came here recently from Calimshan, in the pursuit of a rakshasa, I am told. They decided to set up shop, here, and proceeded to take over all business. They bribed all the caravans to go to them, only... ruining any of our other merchants. Nothing could be done, especially with all these animal attacks keeping Lord Coprith busy. I, myself, have much to do at the moment. The caravans must be contacted and brought in immediately to give us the supplies we need. Thank you once again.
And she gave us an assortment of gems, a good quantity of gold, and a magic shield.