Part 53: Tonight! Tonight we'll rise!
Chapter 40 - Tonight! Tonight we'll rise!
I'll show some of the larger Saradush sidequests here. There's a bunch of stupid little ones like saving groups of terrified civilians in the streets or preventing brawls and stuff too, but they're pretty damn insignificant.
I would normally invite you to look at my magical wares, but alas my shelves are completely bare. I have not even a single parchment left for you to purchase. My spellbook has been stolen! Without it, I cannot fashion the powerful scrolls which normally fill my shop. Please, mighty Asim... I beg of you to help a humble wizard!
Very well, I shall help you recover your spellbook.
I thank you for your aid in solving the theft of my spellbook, mighty Asim. Is there anything I can do to aid your investigation?
What can you tell me about the crime?
At first I suspected Hectan... he is well known about town for his sticky fingers. But after questioning many witnesses it is clear that Hectan was at the local pub from dusk until dawn the night of the theft. I still suspect that no-good thief Hectan was involved - I can clearly see the guilt in his face! But there is no proof. Without my spellbook I am virtually powerless to pursue this myself, and as a newcomer to this town I have no one to turn to for help.
Are there any clues?
There is but one clue, Asim... though it does little to point the finger at Hectan. A set of muddy footprints leading from my window. Very small footprints... far smaller than those of Hectan. Or any man or woman, for that matter. I regret that there is little else I can tell you. Hectan can usually be found in the Tankard Tree if you wish to question him.
I shall return when my investigations are done.
As you wish. I urge you godspeed. Without my spellbook I have no way to restock my inventory with the precious scrolls I normally carry.
These Sarevok talks are actually forced to occur by Ascension since it kind of relies on the outcomes. Otherwise there's just a random (not very good) chance of them occurring.
No, that's not true. I don't fear your presence at all.
You have grown in power, so I do not expect you to fear me as you once may have. But I do expect the lack of trust, the suspicion that I might betray you. If I were you, I would feel so. It eats away at me, then, as to why you would agree to take me with you and not force some form of compliance from me through an oath. I told you that oaths had real power in our father's realm.
I don't believe in enslaving the wills of others. Your destiny is your own business.
So you... allow me to make my own destiny by your side, trusting I will not betray you... why? Your vengeance aside, why would I not do so, if I thought I could gain advantage?
You might. But everyone gets a second chance, Sarevok. Even you. Especially you, apparently.
An... interesting view, Asim. Perhaps it shall be your downfall. I shall have to think on it.
It was off to figure out who made the muddy footprints. I started with the children, and it was a pretty good gamble.
Do you know anything about a missing spellbook?
Oh, sure... just cause I'm a street urchin I have to know about stolen books! Everyone always blames me! 'Squip stole this!' 'Squip took that!' You got no proof!
I have proof... small muddy footprints. Like a child's footprints.
Okay, yeah... I might know something about that. Maybe I can help you out... for a price. A thousand gold will get me talking!
You drive a hard bargain, Squip. Fine, here it is. 1,000 gold. Now start talking.
A thousand gold! I'm rich! Filthy, stinkin' rich! Okay, here's the scoop: I stole that book for Hectan... he paid me to do it. But I don't have the book no more. I gave it to Hectan. Honest.
Ehhh, it was just a thousand gold. Wow do I sound like some sort of crazy noble when I say things like that.
Along the alley to the Crooked Crane, this woman approached me.
Ah, what tragedies war brings! This fair white dove must sully herself to survive these bitter times.
Uh... what I mean is... um... you know... I'm just saying that...
Is something the matter? You seem nervous.
Oh... oh... I'm sorry! I'm not a... I just... I just didn't know how else to get your attention. I saw you talking to Melissan. I heard her say you were trying to find Gromnir. Please... he had my parents murdered - I want someone to kill that bastard!
I'll do what I can.
You... you will? Oh, nothing would make me happier! But... how will you get inside the castle?
I don't know. Do you know of a way in?
No. I wish I did. There's some people that say that the old prison underground leads to the castle. But they're all sealed up, now, just like the sewers. I heard that some of the army outside the walls tried to sneak in that way, and that's why Gromnir had everything sealed up. I... I wouldn't know how to get down there at all...
Well, I'll find a way in, somehow.
That Gromnir killed my parents... he deserves to die!
Inside the Crooked Crane...
Viekang... didn't I run into you in Trademeet?
Perhaps. I spent a brief time there, between jumps.
It was you in Trademeet! You vanished in a flash of lightning right in front of my eyes.
The curse of my Bhaal-tainted blood. Whenever I was afraid, I would suddenly be teleported to a completely new part of the world. Most disruptive, especially while I was being hunted.
Hunted? By who?
By other Bhaalspawn, of course. Yaga-Shura, for one. Others. Whenever I tried to build a life, the hunters would show up and poof - I'd jump. Or teleport, if you rather. It's not a very comfortable thing to live with.
So how come you haven't jumped out of Saradush?
It's kind of ironic, actually. I ran into Melissan during my... travels. She helped me, as she tries to help all the Bhaalspawn. She helped me cure myself so my fear wouldn't make me jump anymore. At first it was a great relief. Knowing you can be snatched away without any warning is a little upsetting. But now, trapped here, I pray every day that my curse will manifest itself again.
You must resent Melissan for putting you in this situation.
Melissan was only trying to help me. She had the best of intentions, though obviously events have not worked out as we all hoped.
I may be able to provide a happy ending to this remarkable story if you tell me how to find Gromnir.
I can't imagine why you would want to meet with Gromnir - he's rather unstable. Paranoid even. But he isn't hard to find. He's in the throne room in the castle, or so I hear. That's all I can tell you.
Hmmm, wait, I think I might have a solution to your little problem.
Melissan removed your capacity to be scared, right? Literally?
I think so. She doesn't know how to return it, either. Not permanently.
But all you need is to get scared once and you'd at least be away from here, right?
I don't know. Probabl.
So a Horror spell or something similar should do the trick!
Hmmm. Maybe. I'm either immune or resistant to a lot of magic, but you never know. Too bad I don't know any spells or I'd try it out.
So I rummaged up a Horror scroll (no one had it in their spellbook because it's just not that useful in most situations) and cast it.
Oh I am so awesome.
Hectan was sitting in a corner, being shady.
I want to ask you some questions about a stolen spellbook.
I see where this is going! Well, Lazarus is barking up the wrong tree! I was at the Tankard Tree all night long... and I have witnesses to prove it!
I talked to Squip. He told me he stole the book and gave it to you!
Okay... I admit I took the book. But I don't have it on me. If you kill me, Lazarus will never get it! I'm not a bad man. Really. I just took the book because I thought I could use it to escape this city. But the damn thing is locked with some kind of spell... it's useless to me! Lazarus has a teleportation scroll to escape this city... I know it! If you get me that scroll, I'll give you the spellbook. Do we have a deal?
...Very well, I will go talk to Lazarus once more.
Hectan admitted he stole your spellbook. He will give it back in exchange for a teleportation scroll to escape the city.
I knew that thief was to blame! But he is a fool if he thinks a teleportation scroll will help him escape this city. I do have such a scroll, and I will gladly trade it for my spellbook... but the scroll is useless. Yaga-Shura's mages have cast powerful spells imprisoning us here. Anyone foolish enough to attempt a magical escape will rebound off the invisible walls, a grisly and very messy fate. Nevertheless, here is the scroll Hectan wanted. I suppose the choice is up to you, Asim, if you wish to warn Hectan about the consequences of using the scroll. I wish you luck in recovering my spellbook.
Plus one bad idea scroll.
I have the scroll right here.
You have the scroll? Quickly, give it to me! Here... take the spellbook. I can't use it anyway. But this scroll... this scroll is my ticket out of here!
I have to warn you... the scroll won't work. Lazarus said that if you use it, you'll die.
You are lying! You must be! But, why would you lie to me now that the exchange has been made? And why would Lazarus have not left the city if the scroll actually works? Perhaps... perhaps you are right. I must think hard on this before I use the scroll.
If you don't tell him, he uses it, gibs, and you lose reputation. I guess Viekang escapes it just because his is a product of Bhaal's essence and godly powers trump puny squishy man magics.
Yes, here is your spellbook.
My spellbook! Thank you, kind sir! Truly, the legends of Asim have not been exaggerated! I can once again craft my scrolls! Please feel free to peruse my vast collection of enchanted parchments. And if you see anything you like, I'm sure we can work out a mutually beneficial exchange of coin for the said item.
This was very worth it for one little reason - the sixth and final (as far as I care, anyway) pair of Boots of Speed!
Yes, I am one of Bhaal's offspring.
I myself am one of Bhaal's progeny - or so I've been told. I guess Bhaal's blood runs thicker in some of his children than in others.
That reminds me of my great uncle Hegemony... not that he was much of an uncle, you understand. Always in dispute with the local lord over his rights to the surrounding farmlands. The duke had him thrown in prison for a year and a day before the duke's mother revealed Hegemony was actually a distant relation of the royal family - something about a drunken tryst between the duke's grandfather's brothers and a comely gnomish lass... details are sketchy.
Lucky break for your uncle he was related.
Not really. The duke didn't want Hegemony making any claims against his throne (or whatever those fancy muck-a-mucks sit on), so he banished Hegemony's family and sent my uncle himself to the guillotine. After the execution, they returned the body to his family, but nobody could remember where they had stashed his upper portions. All worked out in the end, though... Hegemony's family couldn't afford a full length coffin, anyway.
You are truly an odd one, gnome. Whatever possessed you to share this bizarre story with me?
I was just struck by the coincidence, is all. The royal blood running through great uncle Hegemony's veins was as thin as your own Bhaalspawn essence, friend... and in the end it kept his family from getting ahead. Huh... you look a little pale there. Why don't you just forget I ever brought it up.
Uh... is there anything else I can help you with?
No, I'll just be going now.
Whatever you wish. Soon enough we shall all be dead anyway, I suspect. The walls won't hold forever.
Jan and his stories. There's one for every occasion and I'm pretty sure that not a damn one of them is true in the slightest.
It was just your average travesty of justice going on in this town under siege. I ended up in another game of intrigue, but after winning that game against the infamously treacherous drow, this was nothing at all.
Yes. He is the one... Mateo. He is the... traitor.
No, the Countess must be mad with grief! There must be some mistake!
You are certain, Countess? There is no mistake?
I am certain. Before my beloved son Ardic... disappeared, he told me he had witnessed... Mateo... opening the gate.
There. Surely you now see, my over zealous Captain Samand, that your egregious accusations have needlessly vilified my impeccable character.
Why are you doing this, Countess? I am Ardic's friend! Your son and I grew up together!
Captain, I stringently demand you incarcerate this heinous felon immediately!
You make no demands of me, Kiser Jhaeri! I fulfill my duties as I see fit! Men, take Mateo away. And escort the Countess to her quarters.
Yes, please... take me away from this place.
You are free to go, Kiser. Get out of my sight - I'm in no mood to see your unscrupulous face right now!
I suppose such abuse is the best approximation of an apology I can expect from an uncouth cretin such as yourself, Captain Samand.
I need to ask you a few questions.
Well, you better make it quick. I can't stay for long - I must see to the defense of the walls.
Why did your soldiers drag that young man away?
That? Oh... a most unpleasant matter. A few days ago someone opened a secret gate into the town. Saradush could easily have been overrun. We just discovered the traitor was a young man named Mateo.
You don't sound convinced.
There's no doubt in my mind that *someone* betrayed us. The enemy came through a small sewer outlet that was protected by both a locked iron grate and several powerful magical wards. There is no way to open that entrance from the outside. But Mateo is a faithful soldier, not the type of man to betray Saradush.
Maybe he didn't. Are there any other suspects?
An alarm was raised and my soldiers arrived only a few moments after the gate was opened. We found three people in the area: Mateo, Ardic Santele, and the merchant Kiser Jhaeri. When we began our investigations, I strongly suspected Kiser. He's a greedy, self-serving weasel who would sell his own mother if the price was right.
So why did you arrest Mateo?
We didn't get a chance to complete our investigations. Ardic, the son of the Countess Santele, disappeared. He was our primary witness.
But somehow you still made an arrest.
Our attention was focused on the vile Kiser Jhaeri, but had no proof. Then the Countess told us that Ardic, her son, had implicated Mateo before he disappeared.
How do you know the Countess is telling the truth?
If you knew the Countess, you would know her word is beyond reproach. And she has nothing to gain from a lie: Mateo was Ardic's closest friend. Accusing him was very traumatic for her. Still, I have to admit this does not sit well in my gullet. I was so sure Kiser Jhaeri was the culprit. To discover it was one of my own men... I'm shocked.
So now you just sit back and wait for the executioner?
Mateo will not be executed, not while we are under siege. The defense of Saradush is my first concern... but if I had more time, I would investigate further. I just want to find the truth.
Perhaps I could delve deeper into this matter for you.
If you wish to investigate further, I will not stand in your way. Speak to Mateo in his cell. The jailer will let you see him.
Thank you for the information. I shall be going now.
What you do is your own concern. I must away to aid in the defense of Saradush.
To the dungeon and the jailer admitted us entry to see Mateo. All very nice and orderly and easy. For once.
I am Asim. I want to ask you some questions.
You may ask, but no one believes my answers. The words of the Countess have condemned me in the eyes of everyone.
Why would the Countess make up such a story?
I cannot understand why she would falsely accuse me. She is a good woman. When I was growing up with Ardic, her son, she was like a second mother to me.
Maybe that merchant, Kiser Jhaeri, is involved?
I do not know if Kiser is involved, but if he is the Countess herself may be in as much danger as I am. Kiser is devious, and maybe he has some hold over her. The Countess did seem to be acting strangely when she spoke to Captain Samand. At first I thought it was grief over Ardic's loss, but now I think there may be something more sinister afoot. I regret that there is nothing more I can tell you. You must speak to the Countess at her home to find the reasons behind her actions.
Why have you betrayed your son's dearest friend with your false accusations?
I... I was forced to do this. By Kiser Jhaeri. He has kidnapped my boy, Ardic! He said if I accused Mateo, he would return my son to me. But now he has gone back on his word. He says he will keep my son to guarantee my silence. I fear... I fear the worst - that Kiser has no intention of ever returning my son.
What a snake. I can kill him for you, if you want.
No! Kiser must not be harmed, I beg you. He is the only one who knows where my son is.
So what would you have me do?
I... I don't know what to do. I wish Mateo to be free. I wish Kiser to be punished. But most of all, I just wish my son was safe by my side.
Poor Mateo. He is alone in the world, as Minsc was before Boo found him. Yes, Boo - you are right! As heroes we must befriend the friendless. We must help the helpless. We must deaccuse the accused. Er... well, you get the idea.
I have little to reward you with, but perhaps... perhaps you could go to Kiser's home and speak with him. Maybe somehow you can convince him to release my son.
Is there anything else you can tell me?
I have nothing else I can tell you. Please, go to Kiser's home and speak with him.
If you vacate these premises forthwith I shall exonerate you for the transgression of your intrusion.
I have some questions for you, Kiser.
I am at a distinct disadvantage. You have the privilege of knowing my appellation, yet your own moniker remains something of an enigma.
I am Asim. I want to ask you about Mateo.
A sorrowing circumstance, to be sure. Who could have conjectured that Mateo was a traitor?
I think you're involved in this somehow, Kiser.
You are most perceptive, my Bhaalspawn friend. Oh, do not look so surprised - I knew both your identity and your ancestry long before you blundered into my not so humble abode. Before you vault to spurious conclusions, however, I suggest you hear my exegesis of the extenuating circumstances. I have an offer for you, Child of Bhaal. I admit my culpability in Ardic's abduction, yet this does not implicate me in the betrayal of Saradush. Ardic did indeed see me near the gates, but I was not the guilty party.
I'll give you the benefit of the doubt. Go on.
The real traitor is a wizard named Errard. He poses as a stalwart defender of Saradush, yet in truth he is a seditious prevaricator. The mind of that mage is convoluted beyond comprehension.
If this is true, why didn't you just tell Captain Samand?
No one would believe my account, not without substantial proof. Captain Samand is driven by a perverse desire to ruin me, and he was willing to convict me based on Ardic's speculative testimony. I was compelled to secure my own liberty so that I could pursue my investigations against the sorcerer, and uncover the evidence that will implicate the renegade mage.
But why did you frame Mateo?
I could not let Errard know anyone suspects his involvement, or the wizard would destroy the evidence I need to procure. And the only other people in the vicinity were Ardic and Mateo. I had to kidnap Ardic, then use him to coerce his mother to point the finger of blame at Mateo. Only in this way could I keep myself from prison without alerting Errard of my intent to expose him.
It sounds like you are the victim of circumstance and prejudice.
Ah, the eternal curse of the successful merchant. People see my affluence, and are instantly predisposed to doubt me. I have no proof to offer at this time. But I do hold one card yet. If any harm befalls me, I guarantee Ardic will never be found alive. If you desire to aid the Countess, you will help me exonerate myself.
I assume you want me to find evidence implicating Errard?
Alas, such an elementary resolution is not possible. While Errard lives, he is able to obfuscate investigation into his own actions. Only his demise will allow me to clear my own name.
So you want me to kill the wizard Errard?
Regrettably, yes. I could not attempt such an endeavor myself, but you might prevail where I would falter. If not for me, consider how this will benefit Ardic, the Countess and even Saradush itself. Do we now have a full understanding of the situation? May I rely on your absolute cooperation in this matter?
Do we now have a full understanding of the situation? May I rely on your absolute cooperation in this matter?
Without some proof, no one would believe your tale. And it would be extremely detrimental to the health of Ardic.
So what's to stop me from just killing you now?
You might make the attempt, but my death will not bring gain to anyone involved. I suggest you save your violent impulses for other individuals. Errard comes readily to mind.
Boo does not trust this Kiser, Asim. See how his nose twitches? Something smells about this, and it is not stinky clouds from Boo's furry backside.
Return only once your task is done. Until then, we have nothing further to discuss.
Kiser Jhaeri sent me to kill you, but I'm not going to do it.
Kiser Jhaeri? Why would he do such a thing?
Because he betrayed Saradush by allowing the enemy into the city.
Impossible! Everyone knows Mateo is the traitor. Ardic was a witness: he caught him red-handed, or so I hear.
Mateo is just the fall guy. I think Kiser is the real traitor.
The word of a Bhaalspawn counts for little here in Saradush. But for the safety of the city, I must investigate the truth of your accusations. We must find Ardic.
Kiser swears he will never reveal Ardic's location until you are dead.
Now that I know Ardic lives, and that Kiser was involved in his disappearance, I may be able to use my powers of magical divination to reveal where Ardic is being held. Alas, I will not be able to do much more than this. As urgent as Ardic's testimony is in discovering a traitor in our midst, I cannot leave my place on the wall for more than a few minutes.
Fine. I'll do all the actual work. As usual.
Hold - my enchantment begins.
All the signs point to the home of Kiser Jhaeri. I suggest you investigate Kiser's home more thoroughly. It is there you shall find the son of the Countess.
You're not coming with me?
I must stay to defend the walls of Saradush against the magics of our enemy. Find Ardic - only his testimony can save Mateo.
Down in the merchant's basement...
[sigh] I am getting really, really sick of this.
You're sick of killing?
No, I'm sick of swatting flies.
Ugh, me too. [slap]
Uhh, I was speaking... metaphorically. When was the last time you had a bath, anyway?
I believe at some point BEFORE we all went and died at the Tree of Life.
Threatening you and the innocent here!
Killing you here!
Jhaeri had a shakti figurine on his corpse and some starfall ore stashed in a cupboard somewhere.