Part 64: It's still the weekend! Labor Day makes today part of the weekend!
Chapter 50 - It's still the weekend! Labor Day makes today part of the weekend!
There's always time for one last meaningless conversation before you go fulfilling prophecies, you know.
This is because Rasheman is a very far ways away. Once Boo kept track for me of the number of steps I have taken since beginning my dajemma, but Boo has since forgotten. Boo claims that the number is very large. Larger, maybe, than the number of butts that Minsc has deservedly kicked along the way. I find this hard to believe, even though Boo is usually very reliable in these matters.
Yes... so Rasheman is very far away. But what sort of place is it? Did you like it?
It is a wonderful place with many fields. It could only be better, maybe, if every ranger of the Berserker Lodge had his very own hamster. Just think of the implications!
But what of the witches? You said Dynaheir was a witch, right?
Yes, Dynaheir was a good Rashemeni witch. But I am not so certain that the witches have need of their own hamsters. Dynaheir never approved of Boo... she used to glare at Boo so it frightened him sometimes.
[giggle!] Oh, never mind, you big galoot.
Now then. TO DESTINY!
I am ready. It is time for the end.
Mana Forge flyover
This part of the Abyss was once your father's and might have been partly yours... but it's mine, now. Along with all the essence of a god, this place is mine to rule as I wish.
Yeah, well, I suppose everyone has a dream. Psycho.
I am disappointed in you, Asim. So much bluster, so much force. So much power and wisdom locked into such a fragile form. I suppose you actually believe you have a hope in opposing me, in seizing the Throne for yourself. Such delusions. You do not believe in my power, I can see that much. You have fought terrible foes in your past and have always managed to succeed. Why...you leave a trail of felled opponents littered about even here in the Abyss. Such as this one I found, discarded...
No. NO. NONONONONONONONONONONO. NOT YOU AGAIN. FUCK YOU.
Indeed. We meet once again.
You're collecting my leavings, Melissan? How very sad for you.
Of course, if you truly desire a demonstration of my influence over the essence, that can be provided as well. It seems you've misplaced your darling little Imoen, haven't you? But her essence is easy enough to command. Let's see what she has to say, shall we?
Yeah. Turns out I had Abi-Dalzam's in a Contingency floating around for some reason. Imoen is set to hostile here, and that Contingency must have been set to on-target on-enemy-sight, so yeah. Whoops.
There, there, Imoen. I command the essence within you. Let's see just how much of my power you have within you, yes?
I'm not going anywhere with you! And nobody's touching my soul! Not again!!
You don't have to go anywhere, little one. I'm not calling you, after all...I'm merely coaxing forth your essence.
So what do I care about Imoen? Kill her, Melissan.
Bah! I should not be wasting time on you. I still have to absorb the Bhaalspawn essences...and there is more than enough power in this plane to keep you busy. Irenicus...Imoen...show Asim the power he dares to oppose while I take what is mine!
This is the Irenicus I have been told of? I was expecting more intensity and power from one who hounded Asim so, and not simply...*another*...wizard.
Better that than a laughable fool whose most promising idea to dominate the Sword Coast was to 'poison' its supply of iron. I discarded you as a candidate long before Asim soundly defeated you merely for fear of losing all common sense merely by association with your pathetic soul.
Yet I certainly would not have allowed Asim to escape from me, had he been within my power not once but twice, even. But, then, I imagine you were too busy taking control of insane asylums and making thieves out of vampires for absolutely no reason.
Bark if you wish, mongrel. Whatever dull fangs you might have possessed have long since been pulled. If a has-been wishes to ride Asim's coat-tails it makes no difference to me...but you'll be disintegrated right along with him.
So you're actually willing to serve as Melissan's little lackey? I would expect more from the great elven magician. Ellesime would be sad to see you reduced to this.
Do not speak her name, dog. Ellesime will understand the fullness of her regret soon enough. As for you...Melissan has given me the opportunity to return an old favor. One ascension for another...it rings with universal justice. But enough of this. Though I would dearly love to let my sister rot in her own Hell for eternity, it would not be a true and fitting re-union if I did not use my new power to send her an invitation.
Do not overestimate your usefulness to me, 'dear' sister...nor the extent of my non-existent affection. Or do you truly think I had forgotten your whispered urgings which had led me down the path of my exile?
[chuckle] How very like you to blame me for your own failings. Poor, poor Irenicus...always so very, very close to getting what he wants and yet always so very, very far.
You over-step your bounds, as always. I did not call you here to rejoice in your venom, Bodhi. Do you not notice where we are? Whom we face?
So I see. How absolutely delicious to let me in on your little play with the Bhaalspawn again, brother dear. And how are you, Asim? I do so hope you are as...healthy...as I remember. Shall we continue our merry dance?
Still trapped in servitude to Irenicus? Do you have no will of your own, Bodhi?
Oh Child of Bhaal, so serious and grim! Do you not enjoy that our paths have crossed again? Does your blood not rejoice?
Stand aside Bodhi. Your brother is blinded by his lust for vengance. He's prepared to fight me to the death, but you don't need to die at his side. There is no need for you to die at all.
An opportunity to feast on the blood of a God, and yet you think I will stand aside? [chuckle] You know me no better than my dear brother here.
So much talk from your brother, Bodhi, yet actions speak louder than words. How many deaths has your brother granted me? Do you truly believe you can win? Take the portion of soul I offer and live again.
Such a delicious offer you make...though I must wonder if you are telling the truth. Are my chances of survival really any better with you...? No, Asim. Sadly, I do not think we are destined to work together again. I am content to fight by my brother and revel in your blood and that of those that follow at your heel.
So my ungrateful sister, you finally stand by my side. I shall deal with your treachery afterwards. As for you, Asim, Mellisan has granted me the power to rip the divinity from your body. The first thing I shall feel in an eon shall be pleasure as I watch your corpse turn to dust.
If Asim was evil, then she would have accepted that offer. It's how evil players are allowed an ally in this fight, much like good players can get Balthazar on their side.
I'd give screenshots of this fight, but there's really nothing special about it - just beat the crap out of everybody, with the intermediate step of throwing spellstrikes at Irenicus beforehand. It's very straightforward and NOTHING LIKE TACTICS AT ALL. No dragons. No inexplicable shapeshifting. You can turn Imoen back into a human, but I didn't. Oh, there is the matter of Irenicus' somewhat glitchy Project Image or whatever that didn't do much besides run around and live on after him somehow. Haer'Dalis got petrified at some point but his statue wasn't destroyed so no harm done.
The only option you can think of seem to be regarding the three 'essence pools' that adjoin the Throne. Your own link to the essence might allow you to cut off the flow of energy to Melissan from these pools, forcing her to fight. The pools are, however, likely to be guarded...
Ascension very much changes the pool guardians as well, not to mention how the pools themselves work. In Vanilla ToB, you get some rather disappointing enemies. In Ascension...
GIANT PILE OF DEMONS HOLY SHIT
Eh, they were just demons after all. Well okay no they weren't. They had lots of spells at their disposal and they weren't afraid to use them. Much like me, come to think of it.
Ascension also makes the pools give you FANCY NEW BHAAL POWERS for use during the fight.
They also fully heal you and re-memorize your spells. After you take out the first pool, you're free to move on to the second, gaining two new powers.
You mean I can?
Yes! YES! FINALLY! I CAN TELEPORT, YOU BASTARDS!
I mean yes this was probably not a very important development given what else was going on, but I was happy dammit.
One last pool...
And we were done! Sort of.
Oh son of a bitch.
If you have convinced Bathazar to fight with you, then she will summon Gromnir to replace him.
They provided a considerable challenge for you individually, Asim. I wonder how you will fare against them all?
If by "individually" you mean "together with all of their minions at their disposal". I somehow think I'll be just fine. You should have kept your energies to yourself, Melissan. Spending them on re-creating the Five will cost you...and cost you dearly.
Perhaps. But already I am immortal, which means I cannot be killed even by you. And there is still more of your father's essence for me to take. There is enough essence, in fact, even for you...Sarevok.
What do you mean, wench? We've no business, you and I.
Oh, but we do, Sarevok. I made you an offer once before, and that offer still stands. Join me now, abandon this pathetic whelp, and take your place at my side.
I see. And you believe your offer interests me? Asim has done well enough against you so far.
Perhaps. But you are a great warrior...and could be a fine general to lead my earthly armies. Power, riches, respect...all you desire. Including the return of the Bhaalspawn essence you lost. Come, Sarevok...be the demon you once were. Serve me.
Become the demon I once was? I am no longer that man, nor do I wish to be. If Asim has shown me anything, it is that I am better off untouched by the madness that once swallowed me whole. Wallow in your delusion if you will, woman...I remember it well. And I will not join you in it.
Then die with your fool brother, if that is your wish! The Five shall be the end of you both!
If I hadn't changed his alignment, he would have turned on me because Asim is good and I'm not a wuss who plays on Easy. If you're evil-aligned and have reputation under 10, then he'll stay if he's evil. He'll also stay regardless of anything if you're playing on Easy.
Right about here I found myself wishing I'd actually convinced Balthazar to join, since him being immune to Time Stop fucked with my favorite strategy.
When Abazigal died, Amelyssan evidently decided that it was time to come out and attack us. Not very fun for me.
Spells were flying around like snowflakes in a blizzard.
After beating on her for a while, we succeeded in wearing her connection to Bhaal's essence down to the point where she was mortal again.
And so she started employing the Abyssal nature of Bhaal's powers, summoning demons en masse. My legions of planetars were running about, healing, resurrecting, and using their vorpal blades to great effect throughout this.
After what seemed like an eternity...
No! [nggh!] I am a god! This is not over until I say it is!
You are no god, priestess of Bhaal. You play with stolen energies that make you immortal, that give you great power... but that does not make you a god.
No! The Bhaalspawn has NOT won! I refuse to believe it! [nggh!] I would die, first!!
But you cannot die, so long as the essences are within you. Even now, however, they struggle to flee from your weakened frame. You are defeated, and destiny belongs to the victor.
N-no... [nggh!] I... I will kill you all!
You will do nothing, Amelyssan, but accept your fate.
The vast majority of the soul essences of the children of Bhaal, Lord of Murder, now belong to you and you alone. You must now decide what to do with this power... be wise, the choice is irrevocable.
What are my options?
First, you may choose to surrender that portion of the essence which remains with you. It shall be given to Amelyssan... and her soul, with all the essence it contains, shall be destroyed. You may think this brutal, but Amelyssan has welded the essence to her own soul, foolishly, and there is no other way. The price of ambition is always high. Surrendering the essence will allow the gods to remove its evil taint and hide it well within the halls of Mount Celestial, forever preventing it from soiling further souls. You, Bhaalspawn, would be made a mortal... free to continue your life with a destiny of your own choosing. The manipulations of gods will no longer be your concern and your soul will be untainted.
And my other choice?
Once Amelyssan's soul is destroyed and the essence released you may accept it into yourself, if you want it, and the Throne of Bhaal will be yours to command. You have fought against the taint of your father with great vigilance. It is most impressive... impressive enough that I would be willing to remain by your side. The power you may claim will bring new enemies, and the attentions of evil gods such as Cyric, who usurped your sire's godly role by the edict of Ao the Overfather. I will fight by your side and help you achieve whatever destiny awaits in the planes. Your future is unknown even to the gods, although it will certainly be a great one. The choice is difficult, but these are your two options, Bhaalspawn. This is where your destiny is realized, and your future begins.
And here it was. The magnum opus of Jan Jansen, Master of Nonsense.
This I've got to hear.
It's nice to hear you eager, for once. It's not every day that a gnome finds himself in the middle of the Abyss fighting an avatar and talking to a solar, you know. I haven't done that for at least a year, now... although to be honest, the last time was only in the company of Aunt Patty and we all know what a pushover her Larry was... and it's nice to see that my tribulations in this party are recognized. Anyway, it was during the Time of Troubles that I'd run afoul of some Banite cultists who accidentally mistook me for Bane's earthly avatar. Don't ask. Maybe they didn't have a picture. I wasn't sure what to think, myself, and resolved to spend more attention towards my breath in the future. It wasn't long before I was worshipped by thousands on a regular basis. They made good stew and the constant chanting wasn't unpleasant, so I decided to play along. No one grows turnips under threat of eternal torment quite as well as a Dreadmaster, and I'll stand by that statement to this day. Well, it wasn't long before the whole Time of Troubles thing was over and suddenly little old worshipped me found myself up in the heavens before the Overfather, himself. Seems they were short of death gods at the time, and it didn't seem like such a bad gig, so I took him up on his offer. Plus, the dental plan was extraordinary. Being a god isn't what you'd expect, though. Sune was all over me from day one... I hear she developed a thing for turnips about a decade ago. She just wouldn't leave me alone! There were parties at all hours of the night, Lliira would get plastered and fall into the lily pond and eventually Torm would start a brawl with somebody. Did you know what it's like to have Helm pounding on your door at three in the morning? I could never get any sleep at all. If it wasn't one thing it was getting slapped by Umberlee or hit on by Loviatar. All night long... and in the morning, all the gods would be in a foul mood. Terrible. I couldn't find anything good about the experience at all. No wonder Ao kicked them all out. He probably had to catch up on his housekeeping, of all things. Well, after all of that I was more than happy to let Cyric have the job, eager puppy that he was. Left it behind me for a turnip farm and a nice pension, and gladly... although I eventually traded the pension for some stock in a Spelljammer trading cruiser, which was a bad decision but all us mortals aren't immune to that, of course. Lost the farm, too, in a game of checkers to Uncle Fibbert. But that turned out all right, as the turnips got a bad rot that year and Uncle Fibbert died of too much intestinal gas. Poor man. Anyhow, I hope all my experience has been of some help. Ummm... feel free to accept other opinions. Ummm... no need to stare, now. Move on, move on.
Just... Anyway, with that out of the way, other people had opinions. Less mindboggling opinions, thankfully.
But either way your adventure continues, does it not? I envy your position, truly. Naturally, I'd like it best to join you in your future travels, but if it's not meant to be I'll bid you fond farewell, certainly.
Boo and I will say we knew the hero Asim. And people will of course not believe us. And maybe, they will look at us more strangely than they do now. Or maybe not.
I... I couldn't do it. I wouldn't want to. What a frightening thing to become. But... you've never taken the easy path, have you, Asim?
And finally... The choice.
I will retain the essence of Bhaal that is my right, and become a power of the planes.
As you wish. You have proven to us all that the power in your blood is yours to command... it does not command you. I shall be proud to stand by you in a place of power among the heavens.
And what of my companions? Jan Jansen's life following his association with me was typically convoluted, the barest of details hidden amidst his half-truths and whole lies. According to his published memoirs, "A Jansen in Every Port", after a short prison term for monkey smuggling, he returned to his first love... monkey smuggling. This led to the now infamous Gibbon Riot of '72, a tumultuous and altogether unclean event that seemed to center on the estate of the Shadow Thief Vaelag. Jan would deny that he had planned the downfall of the rogue, but he was unable to explain what practical application he had intended for a horde of knife-wielding simians. Nevertheless, the death of the admittedly disliked and generally suspect Vaelag could not be attributed to the young gnome. Strangely enough, Jan had alibis for each and every second of the day in question, and what a day it must have been! Relatives from across the Realms came forward to say that he had stopped in for tea and turnips. At his later wedding to Lissa, Jan was asked how he managed to be in so many places at once, and yet still so far from the scene of the crime. "Well," Jan would say, "when you have that many monkeys, anything is possible."
...Funny, all that and it still makes more sense than the story he told me right before my ascension.
Haer'Dalis found traveling with me a fine introduction to the Realms, and once they parted company he was eager to see more. He visited such varied locales as Waterdeep, Neverwinter, and Thay, spreading the tales of his deeds with me... and somehow always managing to find himself in the midst of as many adventures as he once had. Eventually Haer'Dalis would find himself immersed in local troubles on one side or another, and that would lead to him being back on the road once again. Which was fine by him, although the bard would admit to himself that he only rarely understood some of the peculiarities of these Primes and longed for the remembered grandeur of the planes. In time, he would befriend a wandering female Cambion and gladly returned with her to the Abyss... only to unintentionally end up leading a revolt on several layers of the hells. Afterward, the tiefling would be amused to hear stories that he had forced the great Graa'zt to the negotiating table, an awkward position for such a great demon lord... though Haer'Dalis would never verify the truth of the tale. For a time afterward, Haer'Dalis was the most-hunted man among the planes... but the ire of his enemies could not match his wanderlust, and he eventually found his way back to the city of Sigil unharmed in any permanent fashion. There he rejoined his beloved Raelis and her acting troupe, pleased to finally settle down for once --- until the next misunderstanding occurred, of course.
With the saga of the Bhaalspawn closed, Minsc fulfilled a long promised oath. He returned to Rasheman, hoping to regale the Icedragon Berserker Lodge with the tales of his deeds, and earn a place within its hallowed halls. His words were not needed. Every tavern in Faerun had a bard singing of the valiant ranger, and he was welcomed as a hero. Eventually he formed his own adventuring company, the Justice Fist, striking fear in the hearts and faces of evil until, in his advancing age, he again set out across the Realms... and disappeared. And what of Boo? Well, what is Minsc without Boo? The two would never be separated, and some say they are together still, up amongst the stars where hamsters are giants and men become legends.
In the years following his resurrection by my hand, Sarevok spent many years wandering throughout the Forgotten Realms, rarely spending much time in any single place. In Berdusk he is said to have routed an army of invading orcs, displaying such fearsome power and rage that terrified locals weren't sure whom to fear more... only to disappear quietly without expecting a reward. In Westgate he arrived as conqueror, brutally enforcing his will over the city only to mysteriously vanish months later, leaving his own startled men to the mercies of the angry mobs. He acted like a man that did not know himself, and all the stories agreed that Sarevok was a tortured soul, balanced between life and death, never to achieve either. Those who knew Sarevok best, which were few, said that the tormented warrior would in turn curse me for giving him his second chance...and then thank me. Eventually he disappeared entirely from the Realms, said to have assaulted the Abyss itself or even taken his own life. In truth, he journeyed to Kara-Tur to bury his one true love, the warrior Tamoko. He never returned, though the stories endure.
Aerie continued adventuring after years after leaving my company, often traveling with a larger group but sometimes striking out on her own to use her considerable power to fight against slavery in the Realms. Her compassion grew tainted by revenge, however; revenge for what had been taken from her when she was in chains and could never be restored. She might have lost herself to her vengeance entirely had fortune not smiled upon her. The tale goes that Aerie, filled with a righteous fury, destroyed a slaver enclave in the northern hills of Cormyr single-handedly. She was surprised to find a group of avariel elves that had been held captive there and quickly freed them, and was in turn invited to return to her long-lost home of Faenya-Dail. She learned much while she was there. Most importantly, she learned she was no longer truly one of avariel, and let go forever of the wings that she had lost. Faenya-Dail was no longer her home, and it was with mixed emotions that she bid it farewell. It is said that Aerie eventually became a high priestess in Understone, a gnomish village her mentor Quayle had sometimes spoken of. He had been her true family, and it was among his people that she finally found happiness and the family she had always longed for. It was also said that Aerie prayed for me, each night as the stars revealed themselves in the sky above. She sincerely hoped I had been fortunate enough to find the peace that she had...for without me, it would never have been possible.
Well, I thought this would be the final update, but I now think it would be a bit ugly if I were to post the remaining two endings in this post. Coming later this week - the mortal ending and the evil god ending! They're not too different, but they must be shown!
Edit - Special thanks to Suspicious for pointing out that the epilogues were different, since I hadn't actually read them closely enough to notice! Also thanks to Schildkrote for telling me where to upload the images since WaffleImages was sucking and to ShadowCatBoy for making the decision on which of these endings I made official!
Archival Commentary - ShadowCatBoy is still an evil bastard for that Edwin/Slayer thing.