Part 5: Here and Now
Chapter 3 - Here and Now
Music - "Roads Shaded by Green Eaves"
Download (Thanks to Grawl)
"About the Game" posted:
Zombie Jake is the first "boss" of the game. He's a level 21 Corpse, except he has higher health and much, much lower armour (likely so you can actually hit him). Don't even bother trying to fight him in melee before level 8 or so, he'll wipe out your tiny health pool long before you exhaust his.
Zombie Jake continued to advance.
Come on, come on, COME ON! There's got to be something else I remember. Think brain, thi-
A spell suddenly snapped into my mind. I didn't remember what it did, but there was only one way to find out.
I took a breath, spoke the spell... and fired a pathetic sizzling blob that spiralled off course, then broke into sparks and singed the ground. Not a good result, but it looked to be a fireball spell of some kind.
I tried again, concentrating more, and fired a bolt at Jake. This time it held together, and my aim was better. Jake flinched in pain, and there was the delightful odour of burned rotting flesh, but he kept coming. It didn't seem to faze him much. He still kept coming, and every time I stopped he gained a step or two.
Well, I didn't have much punch, but maybe I could make it up with volume. I cast the spell over and over again. Each time it got a bit easier to concentrate.
"About the Game" posted:
- This is your basic fireball spell. Both Male and Female Wizards start out already knowing the first rank. It does low to moderate damage, but it has a very low mana cost (2 mana at rank 1), so you can spam it like crazy. It'll be generally useful throughout the game. One free spell book is available not long after we reach "Act 2". It's pretty common on random bookshelf drops.
All non-skeletal Undead are weak to Fire Damage.
There is no casting delay for spells in this game. You can spam them as fast as you can click. Combined with the Ctrl key which auto-targets the nearest enemy, and you can lay waste to groups quickly.
Finally, Jake the zombie fell. I stood there and realized that despite the mental exertion, I wasn't tired at all. In fact, I was feeling a bit better. Perhaps it was just the adrenaline, but the pounding in my head had faded away completely. I still didn't feel up to a long trek through the orc-filled forest, but using magic seemed to be good for me. I saw a few gold coins spilling from a rotting cloth pouch tied around Jake's waist, and scooped them up.
"About the Game" posted:
When you level up, your health and magic are fully restored, so if you're on the cusp of a new level (the green bar is nearly full), don't waste a potion if you can safely avoid it.
Zombie Jake is a little secret. He's incredibly dangerous to you in melee combat, but with a ranged weapon you can use or a spell, he's free experience - a LOT of free experience, in fact, which is why I went after him right away. At level 1, he's worth 13275 XP. That's enough to immediately boost you from level 1 to level 3.5.
I killed Jake, a level 21 zombie, just like you saw. Completely untwinked, fresh out of Joram's house, no weapons, no spells other than what I started with, wearing nothing but Joram's old sandals.
Because both genders of Mages start with Meteorstrike, they have a very easy time killing Jake. Other classes have to be more creative, and must rely on finding a good condition short bow in the containers in people's houses. The long bow in George's shop can be easily stolen, but requires 30 Agility, which no one has at level 1.
Remembering that spell was incredibly fortunate. When did I learn that?
18 Aventuris 1214
"...Holdin' the power o' the elements in yer hands ain't as easy as it looks," said Master Groghammer. The gruff Dwarf continued, "That ball o' flame in yer mitts is dangerous, an' not just to th' foe yer smitin', neither. If yer careless or foolish, you don't need fear any enemies, for yew are your own worst enemy."
I glanced at the table of contents for my well-worn copy of Magical Tragedies.
In fact, NONE of the students had a new copy. All had clearly been used before. There were burn marks on some pages, and some suspicious stains that looked rather like dried blood. All of the pages were still legible enough to read, which I felt lend credence to the common theory on campus that the damage was faked to drive the point of the book home.
Groghammer continued, "Fewls and idjits with a wee bit o' power like to mess around, to literally play with fire. They try daft things like jugglin' fireballs or dancin' between lightnin' bolts. I've seen countless of 'em get their own fool selves maimed or killed tryin' to show off to th' ladies - PAY ATTENTION WHEN I'M SPEAKIN', MISTER BAIRD!"
William Baird straightened to attention and pretended he hadn't just been flirting with a young female student a minute ago.
"The ladies won't find yer so attractive once you burn your fool face off yer head, which I guarantee you will happen if you don't SMARTEN RIGHT UP RIGHT NOW!" Groghammer shouted.
When he was sure everyone was paying attention, Master Groghammer continued: "There's one, and only one proper way to use the Meteorstrike spell. Summon the fire and thrust, all in one smooth motion." He aimed at a training dummy set up at the far end of the training yard. The fireball struck it square in the chest from 50 yards away.
"Don't hold on to the fire, waitin' for a perfect shot. You want to get that destructive energy far away from yourself right quick."
Groghammer nodded to the class, "Right, let's see what yer got..."
I was jarred from the memory when I heard an odd digging sound behind me. I turned around to see that the... corpse of Jake's corpse was gone, but there was a small patch of freshly turned earth where he had laid. I swallowed nervously. I sure hope Jake knew when to give up.
I wandered back into the cemetery, and sat down with my back against the cemetery wall. My childish anger was spent, the adrenaline rush had faded, and I was still stuck here, with Gods-know-how-many orcs between myself and freedom.
"Now what?" I asked myself rhetorically.
As I sat there brooding, I imagined what Jenna would say to me:
Wallowing in shame and frustration never helps anyone. I am not the only one in trouble. When you deny your aid to others for my sake, you are dishonoring the vow you made to me.
She - I was right, feeling sorry for myself and moping around town wasn't going to solve any problems. I should focus on what problems I could solve, here and now. Except that they all seemed so big.
I remembered a familiar man's voice... no, my father's voice...
"Nearly every big problem is made up of a bunch of little problems. If you can solve the little problems, you're on your way to solving the big one. So when you're stuck on a big problem, don't think about that, look for how to solve each of the little problems inside it."
What's the big problem here? I need some way to get past the Orcs. What's a little problem inside the big one? I need supplies or money to buy supplies.
My eyes fell on a small bronze key lying on the ground in front of Esmerelda's tombstone. It must have been beneath the flower vase. On my walk around town, I'd noticed several houses which showed signs of neglect and seemed to be abandoned. Jake's house would be a good spot to start looking for supplies.
I tried the key in the lock of the house south of the cemetery, and the door clicked open.
The house was cold - colder than I expected. The dust was thick on the floor; undisturbed, save my passage. There wasn't anything of interest, just a few empty barrels and a room with a heap of tightly wrapped packages. Upon closer inspection, the packages contained only old clothes, books, and other assorted household supplies, all in such poor condition as to be worthless.
Something seemed odd, but it took me a minute to figure out what.
It was the big pile of packages in the center of the room. Most people would put them against a wall to maximize space. I started shifting a few packages around, and discovered a trap door.
"About the Game" posted:
Because you can move all kinds of stuff around the game world, the game makes occasional use of the "hide a door behind/under moveable stuff" gimmick. "Moveable stuff" includes practically everything in the game though, so don't move everything you see looking for secret doors.
The cellar had was damp, earthy, and cold. Damp and earthy I expected, but the coldness seemed strange - almost malevolent. The peculiar thing was that the cold sensation didn't seem to be entirely real - my feet were still warm despite the fact I was only wearing sandals. I realized that the cold wasn't coming from without, but from within.
The air had a sour smell, like a corpse in the last stages of decay. Maybe some animal had gotten in through a hole and died. Hopefully it was an animal.
I stepped on something and heard the crunch of old bones. There was a large pile of unidentifiable bones nearby. Perhaps they were just old animal bones.
Then I found another room. "Hmmm... perhaps not," I said.
I didn't care to think about the emaciated skeleton. The unnatural cold seemed to chill my very soul. I wanted to leave as quickly as possible. There was one more door. Through the iron grating I saw a vase.
There was a sudden stirring of dirt in the back of the cave.
Video - Zombie Jake: The Sequel (Voice Acting)
"Uh-oh," I muttered to myself.
Zombie Jake groaned and said, "Who awakens me?"
Maybe he'll just let me leave quietly...
Jake growled out, "You shouldn't have come into this cellar! Now you will never leave again!" He followed that with a hacking, dry laugh.
I was glad for the looping hallway that let me keep ahead of Zombie Jake.
"About the Game" posted:
At level 3, Jake is worth 11808 XP, which is only enough to boost you up to level 4.25. Getting three levels (3 skill points and 15 attribute points) after killing two enemies is a good way to start, and relieves some of the early-game tedium present in most RPG's when you only have one skill.
So, I'm already well on my way to breaking the game. Just by killing two enemies, I'm level 4 without doing a single quest. I haven't even started using the spellbooks I filched yet. The experience from the quests in the village will be enough to almost get me to level 5.
With Jake dead, hopefully for good this time, I investigated the vase. It was sealed with a rusty padlock. I ignored the lock and cracked open the vase with my staff.
After all that trouble, all I got was three gold coins, an empty flask, and some fossilized bread. I had to laugh.
Maybe I could use the bread to beat the Orcs to death.
Behind me I heard a digging sound. Jake's corpse was gone again.
You've got to be kidding me.
I hurriedly left the cellar. The idea of checking other spooky abandoned houses suddenly lost all its appeal.
I went to see Joram to pass along Lord Seth's message, but he just told me to tell Lanilor. Joram seemed to be a bit of an indecisive type. It was time I met the other healers anyway.
I knocked at the door of another house. "Enterr," came a gravelly voice from inside. I walked in. The spicy scent of a recently cooked meal assailed my nostrils, and reminded me that I had missed lunch. But the thought of the fossilized bread sitting heavily in my pack quickly ended my hunger pangs.
When I saw that the resident of this house was one of the Lizard people, I was completely flabbergasted and as usual, I forgot my manners.
I immediately kicked myself mentally for my rudeness, but Goemoe didn't seem to be offended. I probably wasn't the first one to be rude.
I am an outcasst, human. My peopless are a hard racce and have little time for thosse with gentle naturess. Sssss. Only in Aleroth could I find ssuccour and teaching in the healing artss.
I gladly changed the subject.
My name is Jeremiah Liro. If you would, tell me about the healing arts - I wish to learn.
Goemoe wobbled his head, and flicked his tail - I recalled that was a sign for distress among the Lizards.
Woe...Ssss... Woe to uss all! All that the power of healing has fallen away from uss. Ssss. The Ssourcce is tainted and even my sshrine has been infected by evil.
Admittedly, the little I could recall about Lizards was limited, but Goemoe's stress on the esses was actually very light in comparison with the few Lizards I'd met that were friendly enough to talk to a 'smoothskin'.
The Source? It sounds naggingly familiar, but I can't quite remember what it is.
The Ssourcce is a sstream of pure energy, Misster Liro. Ssss. To cure a sseriouss wound or disseasse, the mind of a healer hass to leave hiss body and become one with the flow of the healing power. Ssss.
You can call me Jeremiah. You say that you shrine has been affected? What shrine?
Goemoe gave the distressed head wobble/tail flick again.
Ssss. My sshrine provided healing gemss for the ssick, Jeremiah - but now it will not recharge thesse preciouss sstones. Ssss. There iss only one charge left now.
What are you going to do with the last healing gem?
Ssss. I have in my care a wounded ssoldier. Hiss name iss Ssimon and hiss hurtss could be much aided with thiss healing gem. Ssss.
So why don't you treat his... 'hurts' with your gem?
Otho the dwarven healer is treating another wounded ssoldier. Ssss. Ussing up the healing power of the lasst gem on either one of them would be condemning the other one to die. Ssss. Our vowss prevent uss from making ssuch a deccission. We musst not causse a life to be losst, even by inaction. Ssss.
Goemoe gave a very frantic head wobble to punctuate emphatically, and his tail flicked around wildly.
Are you unable to do any healing at all now that the Source is tainted?
Goemoe relaxed slightly, and dismissed the comment with a simple dismissive hand wave - a human gesture he must have picked up.
No, no. sskilled healers, we are! Sss. We can sstill heal ssimple woundss. Ssss. But disseassess, poissoningss, total curssess and the like... removing thosse we cannot anymore. Sss.
I finally got around to the subject I originally came here for.
"Death stalks the streets of Rivertown! A terrible plague has broken out and many are dying or in great suffering," I paused in my hyperbolic description. I hadn't actually been there. "Er.... Well, so I hear, anyway," I finished off lamely.
Geomoe gave his "very agitated" head-wobble-and-tail-flick again.
A plague? Ssss. Chaoss is defiling the beauty of this world oncce again! Ssss. We musst find away to cure poor Madaneuss. He is the only one with the knowledge to find a cure for an unknown plague. Ssss.
With that, Geomoe walked off, lost in thought. I checked in on his patient.
"About the Game" posted:
The main character's in-game reaction to Goemoe is somewhat justified. He is the ONLY Lizard in the entire game that won't try to kill you on sight. It's not outright stated why that is, but I get the impression that they're a xenophobic bunch, probably subject to much predjudice and speciesm. There are more friendly orcs in the game than friendly Lizards, and the orcs are currently waging war on Ferol!
There is a tiny bit of voice-acting for Goemoe later, and yes, he really does extend his esses.
The air was curdled with the stench of stale perspiration. I wasn't going to complain, I probably didn't smell much better after three days in bed, and running away from the walking dead wasn't helpful either. I made a note to take a bath later.
The young man lying in bed was shaking uncontrollably, and was sweating profusely.
M' name's S-simon...
He coughed weakly.
I'm Jeremiah. Tell me what happened. Perhaps I can find a cure to your ills...
Ambushed... Orcs everywhere.... Most of us were butchered in the first minutes... I was hit by a poisonous dart... Damn those greenskin bastards. I think they've killed me...
I'll see what I can do for you. Hold on, friend!
I was lying to the poor man, unfortunately. Right now I knew of nothing I could do for him, so I left Goemoe's house and continued my circuit of the village.
The large building near the gate had a crude sign reading "George's Supplies" nailed to the side. As I approached the entrance, I heard the sounds of a heated argument.
An older-looking, bald man with a flowing grey beard was arguing with a thin man of indeterminate age wearing a peculiar hat. The bearded man was agitated. It wasn't very warm, but he was sweating a fair amount, and his eyes were slightly bloodshot.
Video - Tutamun and George (Voice Acting)
You can't do that! I need the stuff right now! Look how my hands are shaking!
Please! I'll pay you as soon as I get the money myself. I haven't had many customers because of the damned Orc raiders in the woods, but I'll sell something soon, I promise!
George, don't waste my time. If you don't have the gold to pay me, you don't get your herbs. End of story.
Look... perhaps I'll tell my colleagues about your little secret, eh? You wouldn't like that now, would you? Please! Just a little bunch on credit, I'm begging you!
Look at you, George. You're pathetic. Send for me if you get my money before the cold-shakes get you.
With that, the thin man turned and stalked out of the store, catching me eavesdropping. I felt the strange tattoo on my wrist tingle. I don't think that the tattoo liked the thin man. I didn't like the look of him myself, or the way he looked at me, like... like I was a bug that could be crushed at a whim.
"What are you staring at? Out of my way, jacknapes!," snapped the creepy man with the strange hat.
"Nice hat," I sneered.
Creepy Hat Man ignored me and kept walking, heading for the gate.
"Hey, you're walking out of town? Don't you know there are Orcs outside?... Are you crazy? Hello?" I said.
Creepy Hat Man ignored me. I got the impression that Orcs didn't concern him, which was unsettling. But at least the tingling of my tattoo subsided.
"About the Game" posted:
In case you're wondering, none of the options when Creepy Hat Man tells us to get out of his way do anything but end the conversation. All you need to know is that it's a really good thing that we can't provoke him into fighting us now.
I walked into George's shop.
George's face broke out into his best salesman smile, and he started on his pitch. "Welcome adventurer! Please come in! Take a look around! My name is George, and I've got the finest wares in the lands! The best prices too!"
I was more interested in Creepy Hat Man. "I'm called Jeremiah. What's the rumpus?" I asked.
A half-angry, half-uncomfortable expression flickered across George's face for a half-second before settling back into his happy salesman smile. "Oh, the fellow that just left is one of my suppliers. We were just arguing about some goods I ordered. He always increases his price when it's time for him to hand over the goods. Damn swindler!"
"They must have been important goods to upset you so much."
"Now, that's no business of yours," George said firmly. That line of conversation was clearly closed.
Are you another healer?
Oh aye, I was a healer, but I retired from the trade. I've seen enough belly wounds and gangrene to last me two lifetimes! Nowadays I just run this little emporium.
George looked me over, sizing me up.
Now, you look a handy type. Care to run a little errand for me? There's a discount on all my wares if you help me out.
I glanced at his wares. Most of it wasn't particularly interesting, and I couldn't afford the things that were - there was an expensive-looking piece of leather armour in a display case. It couldn't hurt to curry favour with George.
Sounds interesting, friend. Tell me more.
Listen, I'm in need of a special herb called Drudanae. For my allergies, you see. They get so bad sometimes, I can barely function. There's some Drudanae in Lanilor's garden, but the damned Elf doesn't want to give it to me. You know elves... tight-fisted as Dwarves in their own way. Anyway, get me a bunch of those herbs - on the quiet, if you catch my drift. I'll make it worth your while.
I hesitated. Something felt a bit off about this, and I also didn't want to make one friend by alienating someone else. But practical considerations pushed those thoughts to the side. Any armor or weapons I could get my hands on would help, and the cheaper the better.
All right, but how do I recognize those herbs when I see them? I'm no herbalist.
Aye, that's plain enough friend. I'll show you a handful of it I've got in my bedroom. Enough to give you an idea, but not enough for my purposes, worst luck!
George came around the counter and unlocked the door to his private rooms. I followed George in.
There it is, next to the table. Don't move it! It's very fragile.
"About the Game" posted:
If you don't do George's herbs quest, you may break a later side-quest, and miss out on a very good reward.
Also, when George leaves the room, if you're so inclined, you've got a few seconds to steal anything you can and get away with it cleanly. I had no need to do so, so I didn't, but I there's a shield, training sword, longbow, and the armor in the case for the taking.
The plant looked withered, like it didn't have enough water or sun, and it had an odd smell, like garlic sprinkled lightly with vinegar and cinnamon.
I left George's store and went off in search of Lanilor's garden when I saw Mardaneus and the elf himself.
Video - Mardaneus is CRAZY (Voice Acting)
Ahh! Look! Here they come! BEGONE foul creatures!
Oh dear me... Come Mardaneus, I'll feed you the medicine myself.
DOOM AND DESTRUCTION! What? Who? ... YOU! THELYRON HASHNITOR, THE LORD OF DECAY! BEGONE FOUL DEMON!
No, no it's me, Lanilor! Come, let me make you some more of that hot tea...
I WILL NOT DRINK YOUR FOUL BREW, THELYRON! DO YOU REALLY THINK YOU CAN FOOL ME? Ha! TASTE MY POWER!
His plea was cut short by a powerful Freeze spell that Mardaneus muttered under his breath, too quietly for me to hear from where I was standing.
Mardaneus walked into his house and slammed the door shut.
Oh good. Now I'm not simply trapped in a village surrounded by hostile orcs, I'm trapped in a village surrounded by hostile orcs, AND there is a dangerously insane wizard in here with me. Much better.
Next Time: Boiled Cabbage
Behind The Scenes
Here's the map of where we've been this update:
What's fake in this update?
- Again, you can't fail to cast a spell, I put that in because Jeremiah was out of practice.
- Jake's corpse doesn't really vanish, either above ground or below, but I had to write that in so that something would make sense later.