Part 52: Admit it, you actually believed me all the times I said I wouldn't do this.
Chapter 39 - Admit it, you actually believed me all the times I said I wouldn't do this.
Since Ellesime had told me to talk to the stone heads, talk to the stone heads I did.
That which hath past is ne'er truly gone, / History repeats, though mortals choose not to see. / War and bloodshed be not new to the Realms, / A god that once hath been may be once again.Armies march and cities burn, / The rivers froth with tainted blood. / The corpses of those born not innocent / Feed the inferno of boiling hate. Bhaal's Servant deceived, Five led down a false path, / A hidden traitor lurks in thy midst. / The Servant of Bhaal knows death and destruction, / The face of an ally, the mask of a foe. / The Children of Bhaal bring death to the land, / They slaughter each other, and feed their Father. / Death and betrayal walk together, / A river of tainted blood doth not cleanse. The storm approaches; we speak no more.
Yeah, that, uhh, pretty much spoils the entire game right there.
Why does Illasera's portrait look like some sort of gothy female Zorro? Also, notice the spike trap here. I used them to take out some of the improved allies she gets from Ascension and tenderize anything left.
I suppose you are some bounty hunter after Bhaalspawn?
All that you need to know is that I've been given the pleasure of ending your life. I may yet mount your head on the wall with all the other Bhaalspawn I've killed... I haven't decided.
You can try, if you like. I am no ordinary Bhaalspawn.
I know. Neither am I. Not all of us have been wandering Faerun like witless cattle, like you and pathetic Imoen and so many others of Bhaal's blood. Some of us have far greater aspirations. The time of Alaundo's prophecy has come, Asim. These rhyming ghosts, here, should have told you that much. Great things are afoot... and your contribution will be your death. It has already been decided, Asim. I am Illasera the Quick, Child of Bhaal, and I have been chosen to perform this deed. You cannot resist us.
So others have said. They're dead, now.
We shall see, Asim.
Yeah, that's what I thou - wait, why is everything going dark? This is just never good.
Meet the Solar. Solars are pretty much as powerful as you get on the side of Good without being a god. This is a horrible generalization but it helps to convey how important it is that one is sent to talk to Asim.
And just who are you?
I have existed since the first strand of fate was woven, a servant of the paths and the gods. I have watched your own path most carefully. Our own servant, who was the mortal Alaundo, spake the truths that became prophecy. It tells of your coming and of all the others who are the progeny of Bhaal. The spark of the divine rests within all of Bhaal's children and the time for their joining is nigh. I am here to aid you, god-child.
Aid me? How?
I cannot interfere. I can only prepare you, god-child... aid in your education, you who are most unready to assume your destiny.
What do you mean by that?
I mean only that you are unready for the possibilities that await you. Your mortal mind does not readily comprehend the power in your blood. When you were last in your sire's realm, god-child, it was altered by your own consciousness without you even forming the intent to do so. You are not ready for the power. You must be ready. It is your presence which determines the outcome of the prophecy, although even I cannot see it yet. When the time comes, you will be ready... I will make certain.
What is going to happen?
Power comes with knowledge, god-child. It shall come to you in time, as your destiny unfolds. I shall see you soon. Until then, hold your heart close and know that you are not alone.
Wait, who is tha - oh. OH.
Eh? He is like bad penny, this one. An armored, deep-voiced penny of most sinister evil!!
Silence. I have waited for Asim and my words are for him only.
Sarevok?! Didn't I kill you for the last time in Hell?
You did, indeed... although that was no fault of mine. It was you that summoned me, then, even if the words were my own. I have done nothing but attempt to re-form myself, since. As you will recall, it is your will that shapes our father's realm... whether you are aware of what you do or not. I myself am nothing, now, but the shadow you see before you.
Are you saying that I am in Hell once again?
You... you do not know where you are, do you? You did not come here on purpose? Ha ha! What a bitter irony this is! You who stumble about nearly blind to your true power continue to survive while I, Sarevok, am reduced to this. Bah! Very well, Asim... I shall tell you where you are. You are within our father's abyssal realm, brother. That plane once ruled by Bhaal and now shaped by the taint present in your soul... but no longer present in mine. You have been here before. This is a... a cocoon, of sorts. A miniature version of our father's larger realm, sort of a plane-within-a-plane. I assumed your mind formed it to protect you from the power of this place. Rather ingenious, dear brother... I wouldn't have thought you'd had it in you. Regardless, I spotted it forming and guessed at its purpose. So I came here and waited, knowing that eventually you would come... and that then we could discuss my... deal.
A deal? Well, spank me silly and call me a rutabaga. This fellow must be some kind of merchant, indeed, to still be bargaining long after he's dead. Sounds a bit like ol' Uncle Salebottom. "Jan, my nephew," he boasted one day, "I'm going to continue making money long after I'm dead!" And he did, too. Ten gold apiece for each of his fillings and twenty for his left foot. Don't ask.
What do you think I would want, dear brother? I wish to exist... I wish to be alive again. You can do that. The smallest fraction of your soul, my brother... given freely, with the taint of our dead father within it. That would recreate my flesh, restore my mortality... Sarevok would live again!
I killed you once before... what makes you think I would want to return you to life?
I do not come to the table empty-handed, Asim. You think me a fool? You are stronger than me... I do not contest that. But I can help you. And that has its price.
And just how is it that you can help me?
There is the knowledge of how to leave this plane of yours, Asim. That is one thing I can give you, although I did not know that when I came here. No, what I offer you is knowledge that is much more relevant. Something that dates back to my mortal days when I was gaining power within the Iron Throne. Something that you will find... most intriguing. I know where your destiny lies, Asim. I know where you must go to find it. Search about on your own and it will soon be too late... the time of the old prophecies is upon us. Or upon *you*, at least. What say you?
And just what do you intend to do with your... new life?
I... do not know. Avoid crossing you, dear brother, certainly that. My ambition was everything, once. Now that the taint is gone, I... am unsure. But I wish to live. What say you?
Very well, I agree to your demands.
So I have cheated death! Thank you, dear brother... no gift could please me more.
Though my sword and armor have not appeared. No matter. Without the Bhaal essence to channel their powers, they are of little use. I shall make do without them, as I once did. Thank you, Asim. I am pleased.
I held up my side of the bargain, Sarevok. Now tell me what you know.
The first thing I shall tell you of is how to leave this pocket plane that you have created. It is an extension of your will, Asim... it exists because you need it to exist. It is this plane which creates the portal out, but it will not take you where you wish to go. It takes you where you need to be. Or, perhaps, where you believe you need to be. But I cannot give you the ability to make this plane create such a portal. There are many barred passages in this plane of yours that I know little of. One, however, I can open... and beyond it lies what you seek. Watch...
Regardless, once you have completed that challenge, you will be able to leave this plane of yours. It does not, however, take you where you wish to go... it takes you where you need to be. And I, as I said, know where that is. In my youth, I spent much of my time looking into the old lore of the dead Bhaal priesthood. I unearthed one of the old prophecies from an uncooperative sect of Cyric... one that spoke extensively of this time now upon us. The Sword Coast will run red with blood, yes... but the battles will culminate in a great struggle within a city to the south, the Tethyrian city of Saradush. It is there that you *must* go, where the first step of the prophecy will unfold. Although, naturally, you must face your challenge first.
Aren't you still a Child of Bhaal?
No. Bhaal's essence left me as I died... and that which has been given to me now maintains my mortality only. Some might still consider me a Bhaalspawn, but it is solely a matter of history and memory.
Then I shall go to take my challenge now.
Before you go, I have one more thing to ask of you, Asim. Take me with you.
I once was sure that the old prophecies centered around me. Even if that is no longer the case, I know more about them than perhaps anyone. I can help you, Asim. With the challenge in that room and more. Of course, I do this for no selfless reason. There is power in your wake, Asim. I am sure I am not the first to tell you this. And there is no better opportunity for me elsewhere. Besides... you defeated me long ago. You have earned my respect. Think of it, Asim! Brother and brother, side by side!:
I might consider letting you join me... but you'd have to do exactly what I say.
I will take an oath to follow you, my Asim, if that will satisfy. Here... in this place... such an oath would have power, like a geas. I could not betray you.
No, there's no need for an oath. I'm satisfied. Join me and let's go.
You... will not require an oath? An... odd... choice, brother. I would have required it of you. If I had even let you live. As you wish, then... let us attend to your challenge. Remember... consider that you may need more companions to complete it.
So... the brother joins us, unfettered? A clever gamble, my raven. Perhaps it will pay off, one can never foretell, hm?
This is another point where Ascension changes things around. Remember Sarevok's Sword of Chaos? I've had it chilling in the party's inventory ever since Chateau Irenicus for this precise reason. With Ascension on, you give it to him...
You wouldn't have my armor, too, hidden about somewhere within your packs? Hmph. I suppose some things are too much to hope for.
And it gets replaced with this upgraded version.
Incidentally, dear brother, about that little girl following you... are you aware of the geas upon you tied to her?
I had my suspicions, but I obviously couldn't hint at anyone else about it or talk about it.
Well, I think I'll take care of it.
Of what dost thou-
FREEDOM! Freedom, ahahahahaha! My mind is fully my own once more!
Little man! How dare you break my spell upon this man! I shall have my revenge upon you for spoiling my plans! [vanishes]
Why do I have a feeling that this is some sort of buildup to a terrible cosmic joke?
You know, you'd think I'd be angry about this. You'd be wrong. There's a REASON that I made sure she had orders that would have resulted in her losing paladin status, you know.
I actually did this three separate times, once with the real one and the other two with one I put in with CLUAConsole because I missed the screenshots the first two times for retarded reasons. Since I didn't actually have the patience to ctrl+r her until Sarevok pulled off a Deathbringer Assault, she didn't gib and her so her corpse is just kind of sitting there in the pocket plane, rotting. Also, I have a paranoid fear that I now have a necrophiliac replacing the pedophile I know was reading this thread previously. Or maybe they're one person.
Archival Commentary - uh, yeah. I really was going to do something with all that, but eventually decided making the epilogue wasn't even worth it. It was going to involve this just because I know that guy and using it in that way would have been funny to me. Also, words cannot describe how happy I was to be done with that shit.
So, Sarevok has the Deathbringer Assault ability, which has a 5% chance of occurring on every hit and doing an extra 200 damage, as seen in the above screenshot. Also, take a look at these stats.
He's just not balanced. Also, meet Cespenar.
Cespenar is my little abyssal butler. He likes to make items of power, provided I bring him the right ingredients. For now, all he could do was make me Alysferund Chain Mail out of the Bladesinger Chain and a scroll of Protection from Normal Weapons. Also 40,000 gold. Expensive recipes, these.
Anyhow, it was time to take care of this "trial" nonsense.
Oh, but you... you needn't worry about me. I'm dead. I'm a nobody. I grew up in a small farming village... I didn't even know what I was until they came for me. But I knew I was different. You can hear the screams at night, can't you? You can feel the blood of the murdered, how it flows all around you... a thousand different pains and you're nothing but a solitary echo. But it's not terrible. It's inviting. It calls to you. And if you give into it, if you offer your entire heart up to it, everything becomes crystal clear. One murder, two, a thousand... it all becomes part of you. I murdered three of the local girls until I was... driven out. And then I went to the city. Murder was easier there, and I felt the call every night. You can taste life, you know... and it is divine. But... you resist it, don't you? Why would you do that? I can feel you've murdered many, and yet you resist all the good that we alone, the Bhaalspawn, can appreciate. After all... the only thing you need to fear... ...is retribution.
Kobolds, sahuagin, ogres, drow, etc. Lots of killing.
Strange thing is, the longer you survive, the more blood you have on your hands. And there's never an end to the retribution. Or is there?
The area cleared up and looked more peaceful, and I gained the ability to control my pocket plane.
And so, I left and headed to... Saradush!
These people represent the concerns of the entire town. Please, good soldiers, hear their case.
Our food is almost gone, our children cry out in hunger! Your master must hear our pleas.
The plight of peasants is not Gromnir Il-Khan's concern. Stand aside, townsfolk!
If you know what's good for you, you'll all head back to your homes.
The army outside the city will surely kill us all! Your master cannot just turn his back on us!
Clear these gates - you won't get another warning!
Threats are not the answer here. Everyone stay calm and we can work together to find a solution.
Our orders are clear. Move these peasants along or we'll move them along ourselves!
No one do anything rash. Perhaps if we return later, when it is more convenient for Gromnir Il-Khan to see us...
No, Melissan! We will not be bullied this time. We will stay right here until they take us to Gromnir.
We demand to see Gromnir - take us to Il-Khan!
There's just no reasoning with you people; you only understand the edge of a sword!
I told you to clear these gates! You brought this on yourselves!
NO! Put down your weapons! This is not necessary!
Mmm. Angry mob and soldiers.
This is unlikely to end well.
Intruders! Spies! The walls have been breached!
Slay the invaders! Attack!
No! Hold your weapons! These might be allies, come to help!
Don't fall for their tricks! Kill them all and let the Gods sort them out!
I think "bloody" is quite a good ending, actually.
How do you know my name?
I have watched the events of your life quite closely, Asim, as I do with all the progeny of the Lord of Murder. I have seen many of your kin slain over these past months.
You have been watching me? For what purpose?
You might consider me to be a... guardian, for want of a better term. I know the prophecies of Alaundo, I know some feel they allude to the return of Bhaal to the Realms. By taking an active interest in the fate of Bhaal's offspring - you, and those like you - I hope to prevent the Lord of Murder from returning to the Realms, in any form.
So you are just another person meddling in the fate of Bhaal's children.
I do not know how you came to be here, Asim, but I fear you are now trapped here in Saradush like the rest of us.
Trapped? I have yet to find the prison that can hold me!
There is little hope of escape from this besieged town. In addition to the army surrounding us, dark magic prevents us from even sending a message beyond the walls. Beyond the walls of Saradush awaits the army of Yaga-Shura. They have laid siege to this town, seeking the death of all those here who share your tainted blood.
Is there any hope of stopping this slaughter?
First we must deal with General Gromnir - the man who now runs the city of Saradush. Gromnir is also a Child of Bhaal, and was once a powerful general. I brought him and his loyal men here to protect Saradush and the many Bhaalspawn gathered here seeking sanctuary. But Gromnir is mad. He has barricaded himself in the castle throne room, and his troops run amok through the town with no regard for the lives and rights of the citizens of Saradush.
I should break down the castle walls and slay this Gromnir for his cowardice! Or something of similar effect.
The actions of Gromnir and his soldiers have caused dissension within the town, and made it almost impossible for the loyal Saradush militia to defend the walls. We must first defeat the enemy within before we can end this siege. You must find a way to get inside the castle to Gromnir. Perhaps you can reason with him... but I fear he is beyond reason. I am afraid you will have to kill the General to give Saradush any hope of surviving the siege.
For the sake of the town I will try to reason with this mad general.
I may be difficult to find after this, Asim. The town suffers, and my hours are spent doing what I can for the people. If you have another question, I suggest you ask it now.
One last thing... any idea how long we have until the walls are breached?
The siege could last a few days, or a few months. Act quickly, Asim, and may fortune shine on your mission.
Here's an okay view of something that would happen if we stayed in one spot too long in Saradush - hit by big firey rocks.
And this rather morbid scene.
I'm no Bhaalspawn, little boy. My name is Aerie.
Daddy got hit by the fire and fell down. I can't wake him up, no matter what. Please help my daddy.
I... might... be able to help you with a spell, let's see...
You're lucky. There was no guarantee the spell would work for you.
You... you raised me? But... such spells are so expensive! Never in my life could I have afforded to be raised! I... feel unworthy of your attention, my Lord, but I thank you nevertheless. I have no reward to give you but my thanks and prayers... you are truly a great force of good in the Realms, my Lady. Perhaps you will yet save Saradush!
After that, we went to the tavern. (Haer'Dalis likes to play knight in shining armor, if you can't tell.)
Play time is over... leave this woman alone.
You don't give the orders in this town! We work for Gromnir! Guess it's time to remind everyone who's in charge around here!
It was a VERY one-sided affair.
In the back, we found Volo!
Volo? What are you doing here?
Come, now... surely you know that wherever history is being made I, Volo, will be there to chronicle events. You don't become the most famous historian on Faerun without finding yourself right in the thick of things! Of course, this time I'm a little closer than I normally like to get. But don't worry about me... I always find a way to get out of these tight situations.
What can I do for you, Volo?
Oh no, Asim... the question is: What can I do for you? The answer, of course, is immortalize you and your companions in my historical records. Here's a little preview of what I've got so far: *ahem* Raised as a child in the cloistered confines of Candlekeep, Asim emerged from these humble beginnings to become one of the most powerful mortals to ever set foot upon the face of Toril. Saving the city of Baldur's Gate, defeating the mad mage Jon Irenicus, preserving the Tree of Life... such heroic accomplishments are mere footnotes in the epic tale of Asim, greatest of the Children of Bhaal! (ahem!) That's just a small taste of my entry on your exploits. Of course, the ending is not yet complete. And this is still a first draft. But you get the idea. And that's not all... If you care to listen, I can give you a small preview of what I'm going to say about those people who have the glory of adventuring with you.
Sure, let's hear what you've got.
Which of your companions would you like to hear about now?
Tell me about Aerie.
Those who knew Aerie as the frightened little girl in the circus would be amazed at her transformation. Few beings in the history of the Realms have become as powerful in both priestly and wizardly magics as this innocent elf.
Oh, I don't think I deserve all of that... there are *so* many opponents we face who seem to have more power than us, no matter how much we all grow. But it *does* sound nice.
Which of your companions would you like to hear about now?
Tell me about Haer'Dalis.
There are few who can match the arts of Haer'Dalis, whether he be twirling blades in combat, unleashing powerful magic on his foes, or invoking the spirit of a legendary hero on stage.
You are too kind, dear poet. Would that I had the time, it would suit my fancy to join you in your quest to record Asim's tale. Ahhh, what wonders it has already encompassed! Perhaps I will yet have the chance to relate them to you, one day, yes?
Which of your companions would you like to hear about now?
Tell me about Jan.
Combining the stealth and guile of a master thief with the power of a great illusionist, Jan Jansen is not one to lightly dismiss. In an already-infamous gnomish family, word of Jan's exploits have spread across the breadth of Faerun and will likely grow into the greatest Jansen legends of the future.
You think so? One day some little gnomish bundle of joy will be telling his companions implausible tales about *me*? I wonder if his friends will greet his tales with a similar amount of disbelief, hm? What a sheer irony that would be!
Which of your companions would you like to hear about now?
Tell me about Minsc.
With a thundering bellow and a mighty sword, Minsc and his faithful hamster companion Boo have worked their way into the lexicon of the Faerunian vocabulary as true heroes. Evil beware!!
Oh, Boo, he is going to mention you in his book! Isn't he a nice man?
Which of your companions would you like to hear about now?
Tell me about Sarevok.
Err... Sarevok? You mean *the* Sarevok? He's with you?
Sure, he's right there.
Amazing! I had heard that a warrior of masterful skill was sighted traveling with you, Asim, but even I could not guess at such a convolution! Imagine! The very man who once tried to kill you now fights by your side! I shall have to write that down now, so I don't forget. What a fantastic tale this will make!
It was a good enough tale when I was alive the first time, sycophantic fool.
Well, I believe that's everything. Good luck!
Lastly, this fellow.
Could have fooled me.
Nobody believes me. Why would they? After all that's been going on in Saradush, why even think about the fact that there are monsters amongst us, preying on us?
Whoa, slow down. What are you talking about?
You... you're right. I'm babbling, aren't I? It's just that I know that they're searching for me. They know that I know about them. The nights aren't safe for me, and I can't even flee the city!
Know about who?
The vampires! The courtesans... some of them, anyway... they started disappearing after the siege began. No-one knew where they went. And then... they started to re-appear... changed... Nobody noticed because of the siege, but it's true! They've moved down into the old prison. Their lair is there, I swear! And they come to this bar at night to feed on their customers! I have no idea how many there are, now. So many people die every day, here, what's a few more? I was taken down to the prison, myself... but I got away. And now they hunt for me. I know I sound crazy. Nobody wants to listen to me, but it's true! I'm a dead man!
What are you going to do about it?
Do about it? Ha ha! I'm going to die, obviously! Unless... unless I can hide! I've got to hide! Torm help me, I've got to hide!!
I was GOING to suggest some holy ground, but damn was he ever fast.