Part 6: Boiled Cabbage
Chapter 4 - Boiled Cabbage
Music - "Roads Shaded by Green Eaves"
Download (Thanks to Grawl)
I conjured a fireball and carefully orbited it around the frozen elf, but the magical ice didn't melt in the slightest. I shrugged helplessly. "How can I help you?"
Only Mardaneus can negate such a p...powerful spell. You'll have to ge-get into Mardaneus' house and c-convince him to rescue me...P-please? I think I'm d-dying!
I stared at him incredulously. There were limits to how far I'd stick my neck out for strangers.
Seven Gods! Do you think I'm a fool? I know better than to strike-up chats with mad magicians!
Ghaaaah...Sheloi!! Plea...ssee... c-c-convince Mardaneus that he m-m-made a great m-mistake. I beg of you!
The sun was getting low in the sky. Soon it'd set behind the mountains. I sighed. If I did nothing, he'd die a rather pointless and sad death shortly.
Hang on. I'll see what I can do for you.
I cautiously knocked on Mardaneus's door. No response, but at least he didn't blast the door into splinters. So far, so good. I tried turning the doorknob, preparing to jump out of the way if needed, but it was locked. I talked to Lanilor again.
Uh, Mardaneus's door is locked, and he's not opening it. Any idea how can I get inside, friend?
O-old well n-near Mar-Mardaneussss's hous-s-se. P-p-please hurry.
"About the Game" posted:
Lanilor isn't at home to start the game, you'll first meet him here. If you're a thiefy sort, you can go through Lanilor's house while he's away or "occupied" and rob it blind, consequence free.
If you're roleplaying a jerk, you also get the option to tell Lanilor that he'd make a nice ice statue. That just lowers his disposition. Helping him is mandatory for the main quest.
I found the old well and dropped a small stone into it, it produced a wooden *clonk* at the bottom. There was a crude ladder set on the side and I climbed down.
The well had clearly not been used as such for a very long time. There was a terrible, terrible smell of boiled cabbage, which crawled inside my nostrils and unpacked its luggage for a long stay.
"About the Game" posted:
The game has no official tutorial, so the well acts like a micro-tutorial. However I don't need to explain the concept using keys to open locked doors or click on enemies to attack them.
Rats scurried about in the darkness. There was an odd clattering noise coming from a room to the northeast. I entered cautiously, and my eyes were drawn to the something glittering green in the dim torchlight.
It looked to be an emerald. That ought to be worth a few coins. But as I passed a corner...
...from the shadows came a skeleton wielding a club!
"About the Game" posted:
This game doesn't start you off killing a handful of rats and other minor pests, instead you'll be dealing with lots and lots of skeletons. How many? A couple hundred .
It was quickly dispatched with a pair of fireballs. But mysteries still remained. What was a skeleton doing in Mardaneus's cellar? Why was Mardaneus losing his mind? And most importantly, where was the gods-awful smell of boiled cabbage coming from?
I slipped the emerald into a pocket. I found a small blue potion in one of the barrels. I remembered that it replenished the drinker's magical energies. It wasn't a surprising thing to find in a wizard's cellar.
I found the way up. I muttered a quick prayer for the Seven to protect me, and entered Mardaneus's house.
Well, at least he's in an 'ask questions first' mood.
No, you don't know me. I got in through those stinking cellars that smell of boiled cabbage. Lanilor asked me to ask you to unfreeze him. You see, he's getting rather cold.
Mardaneus seemed confused. He eyed me suspiciously.
...Boiled cabbage? ...Ah the taste of... you're not an agent of Thelyron Hashnitor, are you? I'll destroy you, creature of darkness! Where's that spell...
I hastily said, "No, no, no! L-A-N-I-L-O-R, you know, your elven friend, pointy ears? He needs your help! You've frozen him, and now he would like to be unfrozen."
Mardaneus sniffed the air. The stench of the cellar had followed me up.
"What's that smell?" Mardaneus's eyes refocused, and he seemed to finally understand. "What? Lanilor? Lanilor! Where is... Lanilor? Speak up stranger... I'll have you know that I control mighty magic and can kill with but a word ... Is that boiled cabbage I smell?"
I made sure to move slowly and keep my hands where he could see them.
He's just outside... please, calm down a bit!
"About the Game" posted:
I love the characterization that goes into the dialogue in the game, it's so much more interesting than what the typical protaognist usually says in an RPG. There were no alternate choices in that conversation.
I followed Mardaneus as he unlocked the door and unfroze Lanilor with a spell. After he cast the spell, a vacant stare came over Mardaneus's face. His body was still here, but it was clear his mind was once again wandering elsewhere.
"About the Game" posted:
Because of Mardaneus's insanity, you can also rob him when he's standing right there, and he doesn't mind. I got a +10 Mana Quarterstaff from a locked chest which always contains at least one random magical item. The key is under his bed.
Lanilor beamed at me. "Thank you stranger. I thought I was never going to get out of that prison... Brrr... My feet are still numb."
He bent down to examine them.
"Seven Gods My toes have gone blue! Let me rub them... Ahhh... it hurts! The blood is returning... Hy! That is better."
Lanilor straightened up.
Now, what can I do for you, oh my benefactor?
Jeremiah Liro, at your service. Are you all right?
Lanilor smiled. "I'm called Lanilor. Don't worry about, me, I am already feeling better - we elves recuperate fast, you know. The first thing to do now is find a way to help Mardaneus. The man is raving, and it's only a matter of time before he starts hurling destruction spells at shadows or passers by. Look what he did to me if you don't believe what he's capable of in this state."
I nodded. I was stuck in Aleroth for the time being, so it was in my best interest to keep Mardaneus from blasting everyone to bits. We walked back towards Lanilor's house and continued talking.
Tell me, do you have any idea what's wrong with Mardaneus?
I'm not sure. He started behaving like a madman several days ago. Since then it's only been getting worse. Some of the healers here think he's possessed by some demon. I simply don't know.
Something faintly nagged at the back of my mind, but no memories came.
Aye, it's not as farfetched as it sounds. It's only recently that some healers have ceased to believe in demons but - intellectual fashions aside - hell spawn do exist. Fortunately, they are also very rare in this world. Mardaneus is constantly muttering mysterious things and his personality has changed dramatically. Those are typical signs of demonic possession...Galad finguil!
For a healer, Lanilor had the most vulgar vocabulary I'd ever heard from an Elf. Not that I minded.
Is there something that can be done to save Mardaneus?
Well, if the demon theory holds water, the catacombs beneath Aleroth might provide a clue. They'd be the most likely source. Places of the dead are spiritually closer to the non-corporeal realms... such as Hell.
Catacombs? Sounds like a place where I might find some valuable or useful things. It also sounds like trouble.
What are the catacombs you mentioned?
Only a few people hereabouts know it, but there's a huge cavern system running beneath our feet at Aleroth - some of it is an ancient dwarf-working, but most of it is natural. Several years ago Mardaneus went and explored down there... alone. When he came back, he sealed the entrance and warned us to not go down there ourselves. He wouldn't tell us what he found down there in those pits, but whatever it was, it scared him. He once mentioned old catacombs and evil spirits to me, but he would say no more.
So, how do I get into the catacombs?
I've only discovered that recently. During one of his trances, Mardaneus mumbled something about the catacombs and 'facing all the dragons to the north.' Other than that, I'm afraid I have no idea.
Dragons... that seems familiar, but I can't remember from where.
A messenger from Rivertown has told me that a foul plague has befallen the people. They need the help of the healers.
Sheloi! What a fix we are in! I wish there was something we could do, but we healers can't leave Aleroth as long as Mardaneus is running mad. He is a monstrously powerful wizard. If he goes completely crazy, there is no telling what magical damage he might do. He knows spells that could kill hundreds or can tear reality to its very core. If Aleroth's founder is to be allowed to live, we must find a cure for his malady.
Unfortunately for me, I knew that Lanilor was absolutely correct.
Holes in the fabric of reality tend to get really obnoxious at just the exact moment when you least need the hassle.
I understand, but you cannot leave the plague victims without help!
Hmm... you are right of course. I will ask the other healers to prepare themselves. But I will not ask them to go alone through the Orc-infested woods.
What will you do?
I am staying here to treat new patients who would come to Aleroth. I will look after Mardaneus as well.
He sighed and continued, "I would feel way more comfortable with all this if we could cure him. Perhaps I have to go down to the Aleroth catacombs myself..."
I looked over the elf's slender frame.
Lanilor may be a skilled healer, but I doubt he'll do well against...whatever is down there, be it more skeletons or otherwise.
I think that is not such a good idea. You are not really an adventurer. I'll go there.
Lanilor gave a relieved smile and said, "Thank you my friend!"
"Could you teach me a bit about Alchemy?" I asked.
"Certainly, my friend!" Lanilor replied.
"About the Game" posted:
You start with a 10 point disposition with Lanilor, get a 50 point boost for saving him from the ice, and a further 10 points if you ask him if he's all right.
In the conversation, you can actually volunteer to take on the 'Escort the healers through the orc-infested woods' quest, and Lanilor turns you down! Yes, not only do you not have to do an annoying escort mission, if you try and volunteer, the game won't let you!
- This is one of those must-have skills for all characters - ESPECIALLY wizards, because mana potions are horribly inefficient. Rank 1 lets you mix two potions together, which lets you make Restoration potions, which is pretty much all you should be drinking. Rank 2 (available at player level 9) lets you make combine small flasks with from herbs and mushrooms in the world to make small potions. Ranks 3 and 4 increase the size of the potions you can make (you'll have to have the appropriate sized flask). One free point in Alchemy is available late in the game, but Alchemy is not worth boosting past rank 4, because Rank 5 just lets you supersize potions you already have if you find a rare Augmentor plant somewhere in the wilderness (It doesn't help that plants, including the Augmentor do not regrow).
Lanilor taught me the proper way to mix two potions together, and a few rudimentary formulae for combining other potions.
While I'm on his good side, I may as well see if I can do that favour for George.
Can I take some herbs from your garden?
Certainly, Jeremiah, if you think you know what you are doing. Just remember some of these herbs are very potent and therefore dangerous!
George was probably asleep by now, I decided his herbs could wait until morning. Before heading to my bed in Joram's cellar, I decided to see if I could decipher anything Mardaneus was saying. There might be clues to his condition.
Help me to escape from the chamber where the shadows dwell.
Clearly, it wasn't Mardaneus who was speaking.
Um, what's wrong with you? ... Who am I talking to anyway?
There is a place where I'll find myself all alone. The silence is too loud for me to hear.
The smell of decay lingers in the air. The Lands of the Dead are a barren wasteland. There is no sun, no light at all. I keep asking why I am here.
I'll leave you alone for now. Just don't do anything stupid
I'll wait for you in chambers where the shadows dwell...
Before retiring, I used the lessons Lanilor taught me to mix the magic potion I found with one of the healing potions Joram had given me. The mixture churned before settling down to the gleaming white of a restoration potion, more powerful than both the separate health and magic potions.
In my sleep, I had a vision... it didn't feel like a dream. I wasn't there, but I was seeing it vividly. I sensed another presence, but I couldn't see who it was.
The presence I felt spoke, it had a woman's voice.
They Are Coming.
Who are they?
The Black Ring.
What are they planning?
My eyes snapped open. My heart was pounding wildly and I was soaked in sweat. I was confused for a minute, before remembering I was in Joram's cellar. I lay back down, trying to get the image of those eyes out of my head. Even though it was a dream, it felt like they were staring right at me.
Next Time: Missions of Mercy
Behind the Scenes
No map for this one, it's not that important.
I'll go over Alchemy and the various potions in more detail in a short Game Mechanics update this weekend.
Alchemy works fine, but the Restoration Potion is somewhat broken. One small health and one small magic potion, which restore 40 health and 20 magic, combine to restore 50% of whatever your maximum health and magic are. It only weighs 1 unit, and there's no cooldown timer on potions. That's an incredible bargain. You can - and will carry around at least 50 of the guys at all time. However, you'll need those potions, you can burn through your magic reserve fast if you're not conservative with it.
If you go see George again without the herbs for his allergies, he gets unhappy.
Listen, 'friend'. I'll be n-needing those herbs pretty soon. It's not like I'm asking you to swim to the Moon or anything. Just go to Lanilor's garden and fetch me some Drudanae. My discount will be w-well worth the effort. Remember, I can always increase my prices for customers who won't help a friend in deed. Catch my drift?
What's fake in this update?
- Lanilor doesn't teach us Alchemy, I put that point in manually, since I was already past level 3. If you have spare attribute or skill points, you can allocate them anywhere, any time, and you always get a little floating "I have learnt..." message appear next to your character. From here on out, I'll be exploiting that floating text for purposes of my narrative. (I may even use it to fake learning a skill.)
- The images in the dream are all from the intro movie, but there isn't any dialogue, and there aren't any dreams when you actually sleep.