Part 5: Freeeeeedoooooom! Also new companions, crazy cultists, and prices amounting to extortion!
Chapter 4 - Freeeeeedoooooom! Also new companions, crazy cultists, and prices amounting to extortion!
Where was I? Oh, right. Right as we got out of Irenicus' dungeon, Imoen and Irenicus were both taken by a group of wizards in robes. Turns out that their order is called the Cowled Wizards. Anyway...
No, this cannot be! The murderer of Dynaheir flees from righteous butt-kicking vengeance! And he takes Imoen with him, too! Something must be done, M'nardran'm! We must find this evil wizard! All that is goodness cries out for this! Even little Boo, although he cannot cry out quite so loudly.
I find it odd that this Irenicus would leave of his own volition. And why take Imoen, when it is M'nardran'm he is so obviously interested in? Perhaps he expects us to give chase? We must step carefully, then. We know little about him... who he was fighting, who took him, or even where we are. We seem to be drawn into machinations not of our own making.
Uhh, yeah. Kinda used to that over here, Jaheira. In case you've forgotten, my entire existence is the result of some harebrained scheme of Bhaal's regarding resurrection?
Yes, I am quite aware of this, M'nardran'm. Regardless, we should step carefully.
No! We must go quickly and save our friend Imoen! The wizard may be leering over her evilly even now!
Do not be foolish, Minsc. We must know our enemies... and the extent of our danger, here... before we rush into anything.
The druid is right, my large friend. The wizard obviously had great power, and I doubt we have seen the last of him. Perhaps we should see if allies can be found here.
We noticed that Minsc and Jaheira had grown stronger. I found the ability to cast some more powerful spells, but lacked any spells of that power level in my spellbook. I made a note to obtain some when we had the money. However, out of the entire trove, we really only had two remotely useful magic items.
Anyhow, we headed off to the Adventurer's Mart to sell off our haul.
Greetings to you, good sir. I trust all is well?
It is... well enough, Miss Jaheira. Ye'll not bring Harper trouble to me doorstep, good lady... might I remind ye that me days of involvement with yer kin are long over?
I am not here in an official capacity, suspicious one. There is no need to worry.
With yer kin there always be a need to worry... but I should mind me manners. Please excuse me. Ribald Barterman, at yer service. My Adventurer's Mart is the finest shopping in all Faerun. Widest selection, lowest prices, and nary a fancy illustration. Just the goods, fair and plain.
Yes, there are some items we're interested in.
Music to me ears! There's a customer born every minute, and a rube soon after. What'll it be for ye today?
Yeah, we made a whopping profit of a whole, oh, 1400 gold pieces.
Later, when we were walking along...
Oh, hey, guys. The name M'nardran'm kinda sucks. I'm going by Asim now.
Ow, hey. That won't change my mind, I'm suck of people stumbling over my damn name.
Anyhow, it was pretty uneventful travel out of the Promenade district. Once we headed into the Slums, however...
No, I changed it to Asim about fifteen minutes ago. Was there something you wanted? Anyway, the fact remains that I am indeed who you want.
Uhh... Yyyyes. 'Tis not what I want, but what I can be doing for ye. You might be wanting information about a young lass arrested by the wizards on your arrival here, aye?
You're talking about Imoen? What do you know about her? Also, do you want a centipede bagel?
Ermm... No, thank you. Now, Imoen, aye... that be her name. Young lass made the misfortune of castin' a spell or two in a city that frowns on such business. Bad timin', it was. You be thinkin' ye wants to find her, then?
Boo and I would like some centipede bagels, Asim! They sound fascinating!
My pleasure, Minsc. Now, regarding Imoen - of course I want to find her! What do you know?
That's... Quite disgusting, actually. But, coo! I knows very little meself, me Lord. I can, however, link ye up with a group that knows. Or can be findin' out. But this be not the best place to hold such a dialogue. I be having a place that would suit far better. It be just a short walk from here. Why don't I take you there right now? Unless you be having some reason for not wantin' to come along?
Yes, show me to your home.
Coo! Wait, how did you get behind - oh, nevermind, not really important. I hope. Come with me, then.
Inside his home..
I kept up just fine. Now tell me what this is all about.
Aye, I'll be doing that quick as ye blink. I'll tell ye straight that I know a powerful group that can be helping ye. They can be findin' the wizard and the young woman both, they can. But they can be doing far better than the tellin', my friend. They can also affect the rescue of your lass to boot.
They can rescue Imoen? Of course I'm interested!
Ah, good, but you should know what it requires my friends to cross the Cowled Wizards. Not something ye would be able to do on yer own. Tsk.
I see. And what might this sort of help cost me?
It may seem to be costly, but think of the danger in crossin' the Cowled Wizards. A fair price, if ye think about it. It be 20,000 gold pieces for their help.
20,000 gold pieces! That's an outrageous sum!!
Outrageous, is it? 'Tis a lot, but ye ask me friends to go against the wishes of th' Cowled Wizards. I told ye it not be a thing to be done lightly.
Is there no way to lower the cost?
None. It be 20,000 gp or me friends canna' be helpin ye.
I do not have that much... how am I supposed to raise such an amount?
I am sure ye have spent as much in the past and will again. Surely there be work in the city for ye. Or perhaps some of yer expensive goods to sell?
Where can I sell some goods?
Coo! There be many places to sell as well as buy. Arledian upstairs is as good as any. He may have a few items you need as well, I think.
Very well, I'll be back with the money.
Aye, I'll wait for it. Brus'll be waiting for ye outside. He's me nephew, an' he'll show you to the Copper Coronet. Ye'll find work easily enough there, ye will. There was some fellow named Madeen looking for adventurers. Don't know much about him, but he's at the Government District if you're interested. Fare ye well, then... an' give me greetings to Lehtinan if ye happens by 'im, heh...
Interlude - Chapter 2 Narration & Ominous Cutscene Ahoy!
Well, we went upstairs to visit Arledian. He had some pretty nice glasses but that was about it.
We left Bayle's house when suddenly SMALL (also annoying) CHILD OUT OF NOWHERE!
Yer a mage or somethin' right? Well... me boys tell me there's this feller named Madeen in the Government District... he's workin' for the Cowled Wizards and offering some job. I could takes ye to the edge of the slums if ye wants to check it out.
Certainly. I'll look for this Madeen in the government district.
Okay, then... make sure to stay close, 'cause I don't have time to wait for ya.
*fade to blaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack*
Here ye be. I'm sure ye can find the rest of yer way from here, aye? Off ye go.
And then, before I could take another step!
How the hell should I know?
Don't snap at me, mister. I thought simply you might have a plan of sorts. Obviously I was mistaken. This is ridiculous. I'm... I'm sorry, Asim. I do not wish to cause undue strain in our party. I am merely a bit stressed, and no doubt you are as well.
Perhaps, but I will try to be pleasant if you will.
Agreed, though we have all suffered much and the mood may change. I will try to be civil by your side.
Anyway, I thought "Eh, screw the Government district, the Temple district usually looks nicer what with all the money the various churches get." So, we went there first. When we got there, there was a crazy, eyeless man berating the masses.
I, Gaal... I, who have been stripped of my eyes most mercifully, have been shown the truth that has eluded the sighted! The gods that you worship are false gods, icons that serve to increase the wealth of the churches and heathens! Listen to them not!
Hold! You speak of blasphemy! The Morninglord Lathander has always shown His benevolence and power. His presence among us is unquestionable!
Is it, priest? I ask of you all a question, for a moment, if what the priest says is true. Yes, his false god grants him power to fuel his spells, much as any wizard might possess. I say that the churches lie to you! They claim their gods are present when they do nothing other than require your coin to fill their pockets!
No! What you are saying cannot be true! The gods have ever protected us!
Is that so? Have they protected you from famine? Have they protected you from disease? Have they wrought harmony upon Faerun? No, they have not! They lie and cloud your sight to gain your worship of their false images! I have stripped myself of their foul eyes and I see what is the truth! The truth, I tell you!
Tell me, then, priest. What is it that makes you any different from the gods you renounce? In my experience, anyone who claims that theirs is the "One True Faith" and ask the people to renounce the gods they worship has their own personal agenda to serve, one that does not include the peoples' well being.
Aye, you lie! You lie! The gods exist!
Such words are a horrid affront to the gods! Surely you will pay for this!
Quiet, listen to what he has t' say!
I call on you to abandon your false gods! They have done nothing for you! Cast them aside and join me on the true path, join me in the calling of the true sight!
What... what does that mean? Shall we tear our own eyes out, then? Don't be foolish!
What shall we do, then? Who shall we turn to if there's no gods?
But thereis a god! There is the true god! The Unseeing Eye is here amongst us! He offers the faithful a clarity of vision, the true path to the divine! He offers you protection and succor!
I do hope you realize that you are doing absolutely nothing but arguing my point for me, fool.
Do not listen to him! He seeks to poison your minds!
Bah! What has your god ever done for me, eh? Eh!? I'm poorer and no better off than I ever was!
Don't speak to the priest in that tone! The gods will be offended!
Don't you hear what he's saying? There are no gods to be offended! I say we see what this Unseeing Eye has to offer!
Aye, I wish to see!
No one ever listens to me. I'm always right, too. Why does no one ever listen to me?
No, my friends... you do not wish to 'see'. Forget what the years of lies have taught your eyes! You wish to 'know'. You wish to 'learn'. These are the truths that the Unseeing Eye can offer to you. A truer gift that you'll not find amongst any of these other so-called deities. Come, witness the miracle of the truth! Come and behold the Unseeing Eye for yourself and see the true god that is present among us!
"Present among us, present among us!" Bah, the gods do not take permanent avatars, you fool. It is you who worships that which is not a god.
No! Do not go with him!
I'll do as I wish! I want the truth! Show me the Unseeing Eye!
Yes, show me!
Fools, all of you. If this man were offering to show you Cthulhu you would blindly follow him and be devoured in lieu of the usual 1d6 Investigators per turn...
Come, then! Those of you who wish to become the truly faithful, to witness the magnificence of the Unseeing Eye and the truth he brings, come with me!
What are you doing, are you mad?
Quit yer mouth, wench!
Aye, if you do not wish to see the truth, that is your business!
Come then, my faithful! Follow me!
This must not come to pass. The everseeing eye of Helm must be made aware of what they intend. You. I would speak with you. I would hire you as mercenaries in the service of Helm. I would prefer a man of faith, but you will be adequate. Follow me to the temple of Helm. I will discuss what is required of you there. Do not take too long; Helm requires you now.
Yeah, I'll uhh... Get RIGHT on that. As soon as it interests me...
Er... yes... yes, I am. Why do you ask?
You don't remember me? We lay together an evening many moons ago. And this, here, is your daughter. Lanie, greet your father, darling.
Ack! I... are you sure? I mean... I have no memory...
You were deep into your cups that eve, Nirkhas. Blame me not if you have no memory of the event.
I... I see. What exactly is it that you want?
I want you to take responsibility for your child, foolish man.
*sigh* Mommy, I don't like this daddy. I liked the other daddies better.
Heh heh... oh, nothing, Talon Nirkhas. A simple mistake, perhaps, on my part. Please do excuse me. You are in SUCH trouble, girl!
I see. Talos' blessing on you, then, and... er... good day.
Ahaha, gold digger. Well, as I walked past her...
So, I said:
The child is mine.. like she was the cleric's? Or the gods only know how many men's?
Oh, er... perhaps I was mistaken. You look very similar to another I had... spent time with. Excuse me, my Lord.
Look, if you have one of my famous centipede bagels, I'll forget this whole incident...
I... uhh... ew.
And then she ran away very, very quickly. I WILL NEVER FORGET THIS INSULT.
As I was exploring the Temple district, I happened to walk by a young maiden. There were some... interesting reactions on her part to my DEAD. SEXY. NATURE. Ohhhh yyyyyyeaaaaah.
[The girl recovers her poise at last and speaks again.] Art thou not the child of Bhaal of whom I have heard?
Why do you tremble and look pale?
At thy beauty, my Lord. Mine eyes have seen today for the first time, for the world is lit with a new light.
Is this how you talk to every stranger?
Nay, not so to *every* stranger. [The girl's face flushes rosily.] But to thee, godchild, aye, I must speak so. But I do forget mine errand! I am called Saerileth, and in obedience to Tyr, I have sought thee.
Well, now that you've found me, what is it you want? I hope that it is to try my centipede bagels, as no one around here will, and this depresses me greatly.
:saerileth: Nay, the holy fathers, of the temple where I wast raised, have sent me forth to find and slay Kesevar, fallen guardian of Tyr's temple. Such doth be mine desire. The father's said unto me, "Seek thou one of Bhaal's children, for they are the great ones upon the earth where thou shalt sojourn. Find thou a godchild, and in his company shalt thou be led unto Kesevar." "The godchild is an instrument of destiny, and the doom of his age rests upon him."
So you wish to travel with me?
I do. Wilt thou have me by thy side or no?
Yes, join me.
Thou art satisfied? Thy trust is freely given. I thank thee for it. As long as thou dost tread the path of good, I will sojourn with thee.
Saerileth was wise, beautiful and moderately intelligent, but somewhat frail in terms of fighting. Fortunately, magic items can fix such things easily. She wore upon her head Tyr's holy symbol in lieu of a helmet.
Okay, we see here the start of a few recurring themes in the Saerileth mod. 1) Saerileth blushing like crazy at random intervals and 2) Nethrin and Sillarra stealing things from Planescape: Torment. In this case, it's just the inventory image for the Holy Symbol, but it ramps up. Lazy bastards! Also, I intend to capture some of the craptastic voice acting at some point just to demonstrate it.
THEN we went to the Government district.
And what did we see but a bunch of crazy-ass followers of Beshaba trying to burn a drow at the stake? I swear, those followers of Beshaba have absolutely no originality; burning drow at the stake is just SO passé...
After some random boring shouting about "burn the drow" on everyone's part (boooooriiiiiing...) the drow herself started talkng.
You rivvin are mad! I have done nothing to any of you! I seek only to make my way without molestation! Why have you done this?! Why?!
Ye shall be silent, evil one! The power of the Maid of Misrule will be demonstrated here today!
Aye, burn her now!
No! Nau!! Oloth plynn d'jal!!
Spout your evil speech if ye must, drow, but prepare yourself for the journey to the next world! Beg for forgiveness, beg for salvation! And hope that the cleansing fire will -
[I stopped listening here...]
They... they will burn the pretty elf? There must be no burning if she has committed no crime! This is not justice! Asim, we must stop this travesty!!
Shar! My deliverance is in your hands! ...Wait... I recognise you! M'nardran'm! It is I! Viconia DeVir! You must remember! My life depends on it! Please, M'nardran'm, I beg of you! Save me from these madmen!
Well, I cut her free, and naturally the idiot fanatics tried to kill us. They died most easily.
I was surprised and he called out to others, revealing me. I suppose they assumed I was here to spy upon them... fools! They are so quick to fear, these rivvin! But, come... we must be on our way soon if we are to avoid drawing another crowd. I distrust these barbaric people too much to hang about. It would be both a privilege and an honor to join you, M'nardran'm. What say you to my proposal?
This elf is as black of heart as of face, Asim! Beware of her!
Surfacer prejudice never fails to sicken me!
Truth be known, I am not opposed to having Viconia travel with us. Remember, though, that many will think less of us simply because she is here.
We have saved her and she is our responsibility. What if she was captured again? Neither Boo nor I could live with ourselves. No, she must come.
I can survive, addled one. I was taken by surprise today, but I have been among rivvin secretly for quite some time. But neither do I object to traveling with you. The decision, ultimately, is... Asim's? Why do they call you that?
I changed my name recently. M'nadran'm is really a terrible name, you know.
That it is, though Asim is hardly an improvement.. Have a backbone, Asim... take me with you and I will fight by your side! Together we shall vanquish all!
Not at the moment, Viconia. Perhaps later.
As you wish. I will be here a while, yet. If you change your mind, Asim, I may be found amidst the artful monuments in the Grave District. Most of this city is brimming with artful rabble who'd murder a Drow as soon as draw breath... or worse. Look for me amongst the dead.
While looking for the Madeen mentioned by Brus, there was another SMALL CHILD OUT OF NOWHERE! moment, but he wanted to talk to Minsc, apparently. Bad idea if you ask me, but whatever.
Minsc and Boo are the greatest warriors, small one! I will crush your foes into little foe-shaped chunky bits! Who dares pick on you? Just point the way!
I... I don't have any foes, sir...
No foes? I am relieved. I trust those who prey on children no farther than they can be thrown, even if I manage to throw them pretty far, and throw them I shall! Er... Boo wonders what you need a warrior for when you have no foes?
*sniffle* I'm lost, sir. I was sent to f-f-find somebody who could help my village, but I've had all my things stolen and n-n-nobody can help me!
What?! Boo is outraged! See his fury! It's small, so look close. Trust me, it's there. What is wrong with your village, small one? How can we heroes help?
I'm from Imnesvale in the Umar Hills. People h-have been disappearing. Some of them have t-t-turned up, but they're all turned inside out and mad.
Minsc has been inside out and angry, before, and it is never a good thing. Sometimes it frightens even Boo.
N-no... not mad as in angry, sir. Mad as in c-c-crazy...
Oh! Minsc has never been crazy, no sir.
Bwaaaaaahahahahaha! Ahaha, oh, don't mind me, carry on Minsc. Ahahahah... You've never been crazy, oh that's great, ahahaha.
Er, yes. Being inside out was bad enough! Is there more, little boy?
And... and, even worse, everyone says they seen strange b-beasts out in the hills. Everyone's so frightened! There's even t-talk that Umar herself has returned!
Then heroes are certainly needed! Heroes like Minsc and Boo and Asim! Where is your village, small one? Together we will save the day!
I can show you where it is on your map. I'm sure Minister Lloyd would be ever so grateful if you could aid the village. Everyone is terrible frightened!
Nothing removes fear better than a good sword and a swift kick in the evil! We shall go to your village and do what heroes do, right Asim?
Right you are, Minsc!
You would?! Oh, wonderful! Thank you so much! When you get to Imnesvale, talk to Minister Lloyd! He can tell you everything else! Thank you, sir!
I hope you intend to go to this village soon, Asim. A visit to greener lands would be welcome after our trek through this crowded city.
Also in the government district, and also not the Madeen man I wanted to find, was a gnome who addressed me as I drew close.
Why not? What merchandise do you carry, good gnome?
Well, you've got the look of an adventurer about you. I've been one myself, betwixt stints as a turnip salesman, that is. Occasionally the markets get down and the formerly self-respecting purveyors of fine veggies are forced to prostitute their abilities in the form of adventuring.
Yes, of course. Mobile vegetable peddling versus heroism, the eternal question.
You understand implicitly. That reminds me of the time that dear Cousin Josephine fell in with that gully dwarf. Miserable bloke, really. Bad teeth, rancid smell, truly a joke o' the gods. We used to torment Josey, that was my pet name for her, about her teensey-weensey nose and the way that it hooked into her...
What is your point?
My point, o-so-friendly one, is that I've items to sell you that are especially created, by yours truly, to aid one on the dangerous path to heroism. They're known as Jan Jansen's (that's me) Flasher Master Bruiser Mate. Now pay attention, you take one o' these babies and chuck it at average Joe Orc, close your eyes real tight and WHOOSH!, he's running around in circles clutching at his eyeballs and screaming and yelling like Uncle Sven after three days on a turnip beer bender...
Hold, gnome, in the name of the Amnian Revenue and Taxation Board.
Argh, not again. That bottom-feeding, turnip-hating, scum-sucking brigand! Nothing better to do than stop an honest businessman from selling high quality illegal Flashers for a reasonable price. Here he comes, cover for me.
Jan Jansen, gnomish citizen of Amn, you have been charged with tax evasion and the illegal sale of illegal items in an illegal manner.
Trax, old friend. You do me a great wrong! I would never break the law. As my pappy always said...
Enough! You'll not sidetrack me with your cursed tales again. I'm smarter than you think!
Shutup, you! Latrine duty beckons... that's better. We've been onto you for days, Jansen. We've caught you in the very act of selling your dangerous and illegal contraptions.
What cruel fate! Falsely accused by an old friend!
I'm not your friend, Jansen!
You're not anyone's friend.
Oh, that's it! Do you enjoy guarding used chamber pots?
I swear this job will land me in an asylum. And who might you be? You're certainly no regular customer of this felon.
I am Asim, an adventurer.
Well, Asim, did this gnome try to sell you illegal merchandise? Specifically 'Flashers' as he calls them?
I don't know what you're talking about. We were simply talking about the weather.
Curses! The gnome has gotten to you, too! Jansen, you can no longer peddle in Athkatla. As for you, Asim, you've made a dangerous enemy.
Who's the dangerous enemy?
I am, you idiot! Move it! Back to the office!
There goes a truly evil man. Uncle Scratchy seems like a saint in comparison. Regardless, it seems that I'm once again out of the black market. At least until I scrounge up a fortune to set up my business and have Trax's superiors well bribed. Do you be needing a hand in your party?
I do indeed, Jan. Welcome aboard!
Let us depart then, my new companion. I've an itch to pepper a few hobgoblins with crossbow bolts.
I should probably tell you, first, that my goal is to rescue an old friend of mine, Imoen, who is being held hostage by the Cowled Wizards.
Ahh, the plot thickens. Not unlike a good bowl of turnip stew if you've let it sit out for the proper amount of time. Traditionally, that's a week, although Pappy used to complain about the smell so much that we just went and shortened it to a day and a half. It doesn't taste quite the same, though, which just goes to show that you can't buck tradition. I'll make you some, and Imoen too, if time allows. You won't regret it!
Jan is pretty well-off for a thief. Not so much for a mage, but he can throw out Identify spells and other such supporting things pretty well, so that's fine. My awe-inspiring magical powers need no help in the offense department, anyway.
Well, that certainly is a lot of text. Hit 13 pages in OpenOffice compared to the previous record of 9. More text on Saturday!
Archival Commentary - christ, how the hell did I manage to go as long as I did before killing of Saerileth? Ugh.