The Let's Play Archive

Divine Divinity

by Stabbey_the_Clown

Part 13: A - Speeding Through Skeletons

Chapter 9A - Speeding Through Skeletons (Dungeon Bypass Edition)

This chapter combines 3 dungeon chapters into one, cutting out most of the irrelevant bits. I would prefer that you read all three chapters, but I put this in so you could choose not to.

Music - "Crypts and Catacombs"
Download (Thanks to Grawl)

The orc by the ladder fired! There were times when training your senses and mind didn't pay. This was one of them; time seemed to slow down as I saw the crossbow bolt come right at my head.

I knew I had miscalculated, I couldn't move out of the way fast enough. Suddenly, Smiruk thrust Slasher out in front of the projectile. The bolt ricocheted and shattered on the floor!

I didn't know what was going on, even more so when Smiruk turned and charged the orc by the ladder!

Before the ladder orc could load another bolt, the sharp edge of Slasher cut him in half - literally. My stomach heaved and I quickly averted my eyes, trying intently to keep the contents of my stomach down.

"What- the hell- is going on?" I croaked out, as I wrestled my breakfast back into its proper place.

"About the Game" posted:

When you give Slasher to Smiruk, he really does test it by killing a fellow orc, who does shoot at him as he advances.

I think that there used to be an issue where if there were no surviving orcs to test the weapon on, the game used to hang, although that may have been fixed in a patch.

The next screenshot is extra bright because it really was hard to see Smiruk and Vradnir's corpse in the shadow.

Smiruk lied before. Smiruk is not chief of this clan. Real Chief say he lead clan to honorable combat, but instead clan hide in woods and steal. Smiruk thinks Chief is honorless coward. Smiruk spits on cowards. Honorless Chief hear of Slasher, tell Smiruk to get Slasher for Chief. He not trust Smiruk, send Vradnir to watch. Now Smiruk have Slasher and Vradnir is gore!

It was the longest speech I'd ever hear an orc make. I was almost completely at a loss for words.

And what will you do now?
Slasher is powerful weapon, many will listen to Smiruk now. Smiruk will lead honorable orcs away. But do not follow.
Why shouldn't I follow?
You Smiruk's friend. Smiruk tell human friend that honorless chief is very near cave exit. Many honorless orcs up there.
F-friend? An orc calling me a friend?!
Very well. Goodbye.

Smiruk and the rest of the orcs climbed the ladder, leaving me alone. The orc threat to Aleroth from beneath was ended.

I noticed that the orcs had left a sack behind. It was full of gold coins, one thousand gold pieces!

An Orc, keeping his word? Bah. Doesn't mean anything. One good apple in a barrel full of rotten ones doesn't change a damn thing. On any other day he'd probably have slit my throat without a second thought.
Is it so hard to believe that there is decency and honor in some orcs? In your heart you know this to be true, why can you not admit it?
Shut up! You're not real. Don't tell me what is in my heart. You can't trust orcs, any of them. Besides, this wasn't his gold; it was probably stolen from the travelers his buddies had murdered.

I didn't want any part of the blood money. But I was sure I would need it. And it wasn't like I could bring the victims back to life. And I had lost my money when the orcs ambushed me near Aleroth. For all I knew this was my own.

Sheloi... Look at me, I've only had this gold for a minute and I'm already making rationalizations for profiting off of orc butchery.

I headed back to the depths of the catacombs. I could afford to be disgusted with myself later - after I'd cured Mardaneus and found Jenna.

"About the Game" posted:

Of course, if you want you can simply keep Slasher for yourself and leave Smiruk waiting down in the dark... forever. If you're still going to hand it back, you don't have spend the money to identify it, just make sure it's the only axe in your inventory when you talk to Smiruk.

I didn't actually know until this LP, but completing the Slasher quest nets you 1000 gold from the orcs. That's in addition to the very valuable axes you find during the quest. If I HAD known about the reward, I would have been able to immediately pay to have all my magic items identified, and then sell the stuff I didn't want for gold, instead of running all over town doing trades. But in this game, 1000 gold doesn't translate into a lot of purchasing power. Ordinary, non-magical items cost hundreds of gold. This will mostly give us the ability to buy potions and pay to have magical items identified.

Meeting a friendly orc early on is a little suggestion from the game to not consider all orcs automatically evil. The main character of the game however is written (by the game developers, to make it clear) as disliking orcs.

Smiruk's warning is serious. You follow him up and you end up right next to a bunch of
orcs, including a (hostile NPC) Orc Chief who is much faster than the other orcs.

Zearoth is right. If they really had been intent on killing us, we would have been in deep poo poo. The lowest level orcs were level 9, and because they don't start out as hostile, they're considered NPC's, which means they get a speed bonus if they turn hostile. The only good news is that they do low damage.

Unlike normal Orcs, they are resistant to fire - which until Elemental Hail, was our only non-melee attack. On top of all that is Smiruk, who has 1500+ HP and does 24-56 damage per hit. Jeremiah has a max health of just 80 right now. With full magic, it'd probably be possible to kill Smiruk with Elemental Hail, but it would take at least 6 full blasts.

18 Fengali 1214 - 16'10 O'Clock

"Wait! What about my mother?" I said urgently. "She's still inside the carriage!"

"Please, someone help!" said my mother from inside.

"Dame Liro, just stay down and away from th' windows," Samuel said loudly. "We've got things under control for now. Just try t' stay calm."

I didn't believe him.

Then to me, he whispered "Get a hold on yourself, lad. She's safer in there than out here in the open with us. Now start thinkin' about a way to be useful. If that fancy school of yours taught you mor'n how to pull a rabbit from your pointy hat, now would be a good time to demonstrate."

One of Samuel's men spotted who was shooting. "Orcs!" he said. I heard a piggish squeal as one of the mercenaries took one of the greenskins down. More orc bandits in crude gear charged, but Samuel's men had good aim, and their crossbows went right through their light leather armor.

It turned out that the schooling hadn't been a complete waste.

"Orcs," I recited, staring straight ahead. "Tough, strong, masters of physical combat."

"Oh, the lad's just gone," said one of Samuel's men disgustedly.

"... weak to all kinds of magic, especially spiritual attacks... also weak against fire and lightning-"

I had an idea. I knocked on the carriage. "Mother, we're going to get you out, hold on a second and be ready to move, okay?"

"A-alright. Please hurry!" came the faltering reply.

"What are you doing?" Samuel demanded. I ignored him and stepped out of cover.

I launched a barrage of fireballs blindly at the woods. The drought had made the area very dry. Several small fires started burning with thick smoke, obscuring the vision of the hostile archers. The orc arrows stopped.

I wasted no time opening the carriage doors, and hustling my mother back behind the cover, although it wasn't very adequate for five people.

My mother hugged me. "Oh, Jeremiah. Thank you!"

"What'd you do that for?" Samuel demanded. "She was safer in there than out here, you fool!"

The orcs had fled the burning trees onto the road itself. They no longer had cover. Several of the greenskins were cut down by well-placed shots from the mercenaries.

But the bandits had realized that we didn't have cover either, not if they attacked from both sides. Samuel suddenly raised his shield in front of us, and an arrow bounced off it with a clang so loud it was disorienting. Another arrow felled a second one of Samuel's mercenaries.

Thunder boomed, and rain started to fall. My 'rescue' had only made things worse.

So that nightmare I had was a memory after all. My mother... She... she didn't make it, did she? ... I can't afford to worry about that. I've got to keep moving. What's past is past. I have to worry about the present. ... Don't think about it. Keep moving. Worry about the present.

After a minute, I was able to shove my introspection aside once again. I retraced my steps back to the area further down, where the nasty axe-wielding skeleton had ambushed me. Sure enough, those were stairs I'd seen.

The staircase went down quite a distance.

I opened up a book in a circle of candles and recognized Mardaneus' handwriting.

Great. Would it have killed the old fart to say how he planned to get past the trap? No of course not, that's just silly-talk.

For about the thirty-ninth time since descending into the darkness, I contemplated turning back, and for the thirty-ninth time I decided to continue.

Even if Mardaneus didn't know some extremely dangerous spells, I had promised Lanilor I'd help. But more importantly, I was getting memories back, spells I had learned. Fighting my way to the bottom of this mystery might awaken enough of my old knowledge to get past the orcs in the woods.

I passed through a doorway into the largest room I'd seen so far. In the dim light of fire braziers, I could see steppes rising up, with columns at the summit supporting the ceiling. It was a true engineering masterpiece, given how much dirt and rock was above my head, and how few columns were supporting the weight.

"Incredible!" I blurted out before I caught myself.

It echoed in the depths of the room. There was a moment of intense stillness, then the clatter of many skeletal feet could be heard.

I inspected the tombs in the middle of the chamber. They were sealed beyond my means of opening. There was a paper on the ground nearby, but time and the passage of skeletal feet had reduced the writing to illegibility. Perhaps it had once been Mardaneus's instructions on how to bypass the trap, but it was no help anymore.

I was getting tired from the exertion, my magic reserve was all but spent, but still I pressed on.

"About the Game" posted:

The note by the exit is just a treatise on Natural Alchemy. It tells you that red/pink plants produce health potions, blue plants produce magic potions, yellow makes stamina potions, and grey mushrooms make poison. You can find a copy in Lanilor's garden, but I'm ignoring it for this story until I get Alchemy rank 2.

I finished my explorations of the large crypt, and came to one conclusion.

There was no point putting it off any longer, I hadn't found any way out. Mardaneus might have known a trick to avoid setting off the undead ambush spell, but I didn't. I'd just have to hope I could survive the Ulthring's Undead Ambush traps on all four of the tombs.

I took a deep breath and pushed opened the lid of one of the trapped tombs. There was a surge of magic and at least a dozen angry skeletons materialized around me.

The biggest threat was the conjurer, and I didn't spare my energy as I brought magical hail crashing down.

I grabbed the last restoration potion from my belt - realizing too late that I should have checked that before opening the trap - and drank it down as the now-leaderless skeletons, ignoring what just happened seconds ago, formed up into a nice little group to attack me.

There was no time to fumble in my pack for a potion, the survivors were already on top of me. I fought them off with my staff in an inefficient, but effective manner.

I sensed magic in the leggings. Only then was I reminded that I had been wearing buckled leg armor for quite a while. I'd actually gotten used to the chafing and the armor digging into my leg.

My stomach growled. I returned to Aleroth for a quick meal and paid Joram to identify the leggings.

They were nothing special, but they were intact, which was all that mattered.

Suitably refreshed, I opened a second tomb.

This time among the dozen lesser skeletons was a towering skeleton with a horned helmet, a bow and flaming arrows.

This lord of skeletons stood still to draw the arrow back and aim, which was its mistake.

After the carnage was over, I discovered a magical staff. It had an enchantment to help me channel my magic better, not by much, but I needed any advantage I could find, no matter how tiny. I made a note to return Joram's old staff next time I was aboveground.

I went to the third tomb, preparing myself, I pushed the lid open.

This time I was standing in the wrong spot and took a heavy blow to my shoulder from a guardian. I knew I couldn't get away in time, so I dropped the blast right on top of it - and me.

I was getting to be an expert at slaying skeletons, well, at least the small ones.

The guardian had dropped his magical axe. That would probably be worth quite a few potions in trade. I winced as Restoration closed up the wound on my back, reknitting the nerve endings back together.

I went to the last tomb.

Without even turning around I could tell by the sudden stench that a ghoul had materialized behind me.

It was tougher than the other one I'd slain, blasting it cost me nearly all my remaining energy. I was getting a headache, to match my backache, legache, footache and everythingelseache.

The skeletons were closing in; I just needed a few seconds of breathing room.

I used my last energy to summon a rat. The incessant squeaking annoyed the skeletons, a few of them started chasing the rat. It didn't last long, but long enough for me to find a potion.

Finally all was still.

I sure hope this wasn't all for nothing.

I returned to the center, and pushed open one of the tombs. It slid smoothly. A familiar putrid stench wafted up. Ghouls.

Swallowing my trepidation, I went down the stairway.

The room at the bottom of the hidden stairs had seen better days. Collapsed pillars were everywhere, and dirt had trickled down from cracks in the ceiling. There wasn't another book from Mardaneus, but I was sure he had made it here somehow.

There was a large pile of ancient rotting bones in the room. They showed clear signs of being chewed on, likely by the Ghouls. The very stench of them filled the air.

I continued on and reached a room of some interest.

It was a moderate sized room with several tombs and a raised platform with several of the large dragon-thing statues. It was well stocked with decorative carvings, decorative plates, decorative jugs, decorative tombs, and of course, decorative animated skeletons.

After some thoughtful re-decorating, I climbed the steps onto the platform and discovered a dead body. The unusual thing was that it was not moving, and it looked somewhat recent. It looked like the corpse of an adventurer or looter, judging by the wrecked armor on the corpse. The morning star by the body was also of high quality, although it was in need of repair, for it had seen much use.

Poor soul, to come to such a lonely end in the bowels of the earth. But how in blazes did he get into this section in the first place?

Inset into the floor of the platform were four tombs. More skeletons climbed onto the platform from the far end. I sighed and readied some fireballs.

One of the tombs was different - it was inscribed with an unusual insignia of a scorpion.

I opened the tomb. Like the rest, there were no bones, but on bottom of the tomb was a pair of shoes radiating powerful magic, and oddly enough there was a withered husk of a huge scorpion. Suddenly a flare of magical energy swirled around the husk and it came alive!

Curse this infernal place and its traps.

It took several fireballs to return it to a state of death.

I picked up the shoes. The scorpion insignia was embroidered in gold thread on the sides of the boots.

"About the Game" posted:

You can get the Shoes of the Scorpion from a tomb on this level, and are attacked by a level 10+ Scorpion for your trouble. It's pretty tough. The Shoes are only one of three sets of unique boots in the game. The other two pairs are harder to reach, so if you swing that way, it's worth abusing reloads to get a decent set of boots.

Leaving the statue chamber behind, I headed down the hallway. A mine with legs sprang up behind me. I moved quicker and a SECOND mine sprang up. That was my cue to run as fast as I could. I ran far enough away from the mines explosions... but right into the arms of a large group of waiting skeleton archers.

Was this a trap? Are they getting smarter? I sure hope not. I'm badly outnumbered as it is. The last thing I need is for these guys to get smart on me.

I backed off to a less populated part of the room and prepared a spectacular welcome for the expectant crowd.

There were oohs and ahhs at the light show. Well... no there weren't, but there were plenty of cracking and shattering bones. While the skeletons were still dazzled from the lights, I snatched a restoration potion from my belt.

There was a blow from behind and I felt the shoddy helmet give out.

I tossed the now useless headgear aside as a ghoul swept the bones aside and planted something in the stones near me. There were enemies all over me, so I retreated.

A mine sprang up where the ghoul had planted it. I ran, and arrows started flying past me.

The mine exploded closer than I would have preferred, but I was unharmed. I was growing tired of the excitement, so I filled the air with fireballs until everything was still and quiet again.

A couple rooms further south, once the clattering of freshly re-killed skeletons had settled, I heard voices talking!

More humans? Down here?

But as I got closer, I saw that the voices belonged to some skeletons!

Video - Thinking only leads to problems (Voice Acting)

Aha! So how can we speak? We don't have no vocal cords either. Answer that, Mr. Cleh-ver!
I was just wondering that myself.
Hmmm.... You're right, you know. I mean, if you think about it, we don't have no muscles or flesh on our bones either... So what keeps us together, sort of thing?
Best not to think about it. I don't want to fall to bits 'cause of excess existential thought. Uuugggghhhh....Nasty...

There was a short, thoughtful pause.

The skeletons spontaneously disassembled themselves. Indeed, it was not a pretty way to go.

Father always told me that it never pays to over-think things.

There looked to be a stairway entrance in the middle of the room, surrounded by a rather pointless-seeming raised circular platform.

By a pedestal with an angel statue was a dusty book. The handwriting revealed it was another one of Thelyron's mad diary entries.

The air coming up the stairway smelled better than the ghoul-tainted air of this part of the catacombs. I'd almost gotten used to the stench, although I wasn't going to miss it.

As I went down, the strange magical energy got stronger and stood my hairs on end.

I think I'm getting close to... I have no idea, actually.

The magic was much stronger down here. I could taste it in the back of my mouth - which is even more unusual than it sounds, it is rare to find places where magic is thick enough to taste, and none of them are natural. The taste continually shifted. First it tasted thick and blue, and then it tasted of wildflowers and rain, then of dry sand. I fought the instinct to spit out the sand which wasn't really there, and tried to ignore the odd sensation.

There's great power here of some kind.

This room was certainly wide, and very, very quiet. Even though my eyes had adjusted to the gloom, I couldn't see the walls on either side. There was so much magic around it was hard to be certain, but the strongest concentration seemed to be coming from the southwest, south, and southeast. There was a door directly south of the stairs from the previous floor.

To my left was a macabre sculpture made out of human skulls and spinal columns.

Some kind of altar? A warning? No, not a warning. No one nice makes a warning out of remains.

I was reluctant to enter the obvious door. The strength of the magic I felt weakened my earlier resolve. Honestly, I was scared to face a necromancer of such power. The vile man had powers over the very dead themselves, all I had were a handful of spells. Delaying the inevitable, I picked a direction and strode into the darkness.

At this point, the room went south; it wasn't a room, but a very wide hall. In the center of the pattern of floor tiles was a familiar floor tile inscribed with a familiar 8-pointed star. This was an indication of a hidden ladder. I removed the tile and climbed down.

The chamber was small, but there was something HUGE in it, dimly illuminated by the dim blue mineral glow. It looked like a gigantic Conjurer, only its bones were blood-red.

Yeaaaagh! Uh, I mean, hi! What's happening down here? I bet you've got some interesting stories, right?

The huge skeleton showed no indication of friendliness. It began casting a spell.

Gotta think fast!

The skeleton didn't seem to be inclined to deep existential thoughts.

*sigh* I figured as much, I guess I'll have to do this the hard way.

The giant Conjurer summoned a skeletal archer, but I ignored it. If this worked, the archer wouldn't be a factor. I cast Limbs of Lead on the Conjurer Lord...

...then quickly followed up with several volleys of Elemental Hail. I let out breath I hadn't realized I'd been holding. I was lucky that time. It could have gone a lot worse.

There were no doors from the room save the ladder up, but the corner held a variety of small potions.

I wonder what this green potion is? I'd better not drink it until I know for sure.

"About the Game" posted:

This is one of the boss pits on this level. They always contains a specific miniboss and some fixed loot.

Skeleton Conjurer Lords are nasty foes because they can summon Skeleton Conjurers, who can in turn summon more Skeletons. If they're not disposed of fast, things can get out of hand. Luckily, this one summoned an archer first, and I didn't give it enough time for a second attempt.

The green bottle is poison. no, you can't try to drink it.

I reached another turning in the hall at a pattern of floor tiles. The hall went westward. I still hadn't seen any doors leading away from the center of the area. The dark energy was definitely centered from the inner wall of the hallway.

I decided to see what lay in the room beneath my feet.

It was my old axe-wielding friend from way back.

I remember you when you used to be scary.

One quick barrage of Elemental Hail took it down.

I finally caught a break. By two tombs set into the wall I found some leather armor in excellent condition, with its most important quality being that it was light enough run in. I gratefully put it on over my robe.

As I turned to leave, I saw something shiny in the dim light, by a spider web.

There was a dragon amulet next to a skull, set with an emerald, large ruby and sapphire, and it was definitely magical.

This amulet was imbued with powerful and complex magic. I probed it with my mind, trying to understand it, when one of the interwoven patterns became clear, a pattern I recognized. It was a more powerful variation of the Limbs of Lead spell.

"About the Game" posted:

The Amulet of Glory is one of several unique amulets in the game. I reloaded many times and these modifiers are what I eventually decided on. I could have picked something better, I forgot to use the Freeze Spell at all, and the Feign Death is only useful for faking images, and I could have just put a spare point into that later.

The extra point into Limbs of Lead was useful for a while until I found enough spellbooks to max it out. I'm almost at the end of Act 2 and I still haven't found a good amulet to replace this, although I'm coming up on a unique one soon.

There is always a set of light leather armor down here, the condition just varies (it can also probably be magical).

I suspected that this hallway was symmetrical and looped back to the stairs. Further along I found another alcove with more chests. There was a wrinkle, these ones were both locked. I wasn't inclined to search the giant area for tiny, easily lost keys.

Well, I've got the tools here, time to see if I really do remember how to do this...

Who was I? Who am I? How'd I get from student adept to thief? What don't I remember?

The silence provided no answers. My fingers had remembered how to pick a lock as if they'd been doing it all my life.

The latch clicked and I opened the lid. Inside was some light quilted armor, and I sensed some magic in it.

Excellent! Better than the plain armor.

Several skeletons later, I came to the third corner. The hallway headed north, and I headed down the ladder.

The biggest spider I'd ever seen came crawling from a corner. I could tell it was nasty. I had a feeling that hitting it with my staff would have about as much effect as insulting its mother.

Then the vile creature spat at me. The burning venom covered my face, stinging my eyes. It clung to my face, choking off my nose and mouth. I backed away, desperately clawing at the sticky mess. I started to panic as I used up the air in my lungs.

Finally, with my vision dimming, I managed to tear enough away from my mouth to get some air, and most importantly, cast a spell.

The thing seemed to shriek as the magical hail pounded it, shriveling it up. I collapsed onto the floor, and gasped for air. I wiped off the remnants of the spider's sticky venom.

That little bit of treasure was not worth it!

"About the Game" posted:

The Giant Spider is level 19, and is by far the most lethal thing in the Aleroth catacombs, because it does up to 50 damage. Notice how much my health dropped between shots. The spider also gives the most experience of any single monster before "Act 2". If it wasn't for my abuse of Elemental Hail spellbooks, I could not have reasonably defeated it before dying.

I came to a fourth corner in the room, identical to the other three, except for a book on a small pedestal.

It provided just as many questions as it did answers.

Hmmm... This magical device must be the source of the energy. It's been storing up magic for nearly 11 years. The book says it needed at least 10 years... Maybe the device is ready by now, but if it is, why is there still energy stored up? ... Maybe it isn't ready? Is the spirit of Thelyron Hashnitor trying to take control of Mardaneus? That may not be much improvement on Joram's worst fear. Hashnitor may not be a demon, but he seems just as nasty.

I looked at the removable floor tile and sighed.

Alright, one more, then there's nothing left but to fight Hashnitor or whatever it is, I guess.

I descended the ladder and was nearly knocked off by a flaming arrow.

Oh, one of you. Not a problem.

The only thing of interest in the small room was a pile of bones and armor. I kicked at the pile and there was a wooden *thunk*. I peered closer and retrieved a sturdy magical club.

About the Game posted:

If I had been thinking clearly at the time, I would have done my save & reload tango to get some good stats on the bat. It doesn't matter too much, since I got the most important one - 5 Charm slots. In the late game, an item with 5 Charm slots can make up for lack of good stats (and in the case of a mage, it can also make up for a lack of damage).

I decided at the start that I wanted to use a quarterstaff (two-handed). I forgot that I also wanted to use a shield later on. My second mistake with using a quarterstaff is that the base damage is really terrible, especially combined with the terrible strength of a Wizard, and better staffs require you to pump more points into Agility than I wanted to.

Once I realized this, I had taken screenshots up to a point where it was a bad place to arbitrarily switch, so it'll be several more updates until I switch weapons.

I had come full circle back to the entrance. There were no other doors, and I was in as good shape as prepared as I was going to be.

This is it. I'm scared, but I've -

22 Declianum 1216

"-made up my mind. There's no turning back now," I thought, looking at the book in my hand. There was a familiar tapping knock on my door. I barely managed to hide the book under a pile of old papers before the door opened and Tom and Eloric came in.

"Hello, fellow graduate!" Tom said enthusiastically, tossing an apple up and down.

"Um... hi!" I said, "I'll hang out with you guys a bit later. I've got some packing to do."

"Oh, no, packing can wait. Now it's time to celebrate!" said Tom. "Here!" he said, tossing the apple at me. I reached out my hand, but the apple bounced my outstretched fingers and landed on my desk.

The papers scattered, revealing the book I'd tried to conceal. Tom and Eloric saw it and their faces turned grim.

"Jer, what is this - is that the book on demon summoning from the restricted section of the library?" Tom asked.

"It's nothing. Mind your own business," I said curtly.

Eloric asked, "Jeremiah, did you steal that?"

"I'm just borrowing it. No one knows it's missing yet, in all the busy-ness of the end of the year. It's none of your concern. I was just curious, I'll put it back," I lied.

They wouldn't let it go.

"Are you going to summon a demon?" Eloric asked?

"Jer, that's crazy!" Tom exclaimed, picking up the book. He waved it at me accusingly. "Students aren't allowed even allowed to read this, let alone perform any of the rituals in it!"

I snatched the book from Tom's hand. "I know what I'm doing. Besides, we're not exactly novice students, we already graduated, remember? And with high marks, I might add."

Eloric had a way of finding the heart of the matter. "This is about what happened with the orcs, isn't it," he said. It was a statement, not a question. I flinched, he'd hit the mark.

Tom saw it too. He said, "Jeremiah, it wasn't your fault what happened."

"You were only a second-year adept," Eloric said. "No one expected you to handle that many orcs on your own."

"Jenna did! She still blames me," I said sharply.

"Do you?" Tom asked.

"No, at least, not completely," I said. "I know that probably couldn't have killed them all. I knew that then."

I slumped down in my seat, tired.

"Your sister wasn't there. It's wrong of her to blame you," Eloric said.

I ran my fingers through my hair. "But that's the thing - she's not wrong. I didn't even try. I might have scared them off. I could have changed things, I'll never know. What happened wasn't all my fault, but I can't pretend that I don't bear any blame for my own decisions."

"Look, Jer-" Tom started.

I continued, interrupting what he was about to say. "It's been two years, and Jenna has barely spoken two words to me. And father, he just hasn't been the same since. He barely eats and rarely sees visitors. It's almost like he died too."

"Yeah?" Tom asked, "And do you think this... this demon-summoning... madness will help?"

I stayed silent for a moment.

"No. I'm doing this so that next time I'm in that kind of situation, I will have enough power to make sure no one else dies. I don't want to be a coward who runs from the hard decisions."

Eloric tried to be the voice of reason. "Jer, if the university council finds out, expulsion is the least they'll do to you. You've got to put that back and forget about all this."

I nodded. "Maybe you're right. I'll put the book back and give up this nonsense," I lied.

I got up and headed for the door. I didn't need the book anymore anyway, I'd already copied out the instructions.

I survived that demon... well, if I went through with it, I obviously survived. I can survive this, too. I don't think it will be easy, but I didn't come this far to back down now.

I mentally prepared myself for a nasty fight, and headed through the door to face the powerful necromancer.

What I got instead was a skeleton. I raised my staff to attack, but the skeleton paid me no heed even though it was looking at me with those glowing red coals which passed for eyes. It seemed to be preoccupied in thought.

"Uh... hello?" I said cautiously.

The Skeleton snapped out of its ponderings.

"Leave me alone. I'm very busy, as you should be able to see," it said irritably.

This was not at all what I was expecting.

Next Time: Thelyron Hashnitor MUST DIE... again

Behind the Scenes:

The Four Tombs is a geographically simple level. Here's the map:

Skeleton Conjurers, Ghouls and Spiders start appearing as regular enemies now. The Conjurers aren't as tough as the one on the second level of the catacombs was, but the Spiders are level 5 and are sometimes much harder than the skeletons. And these are the little spiders. They get much bigger and nastier from here.

Here's the map for the dungeon's fourth floor.

There are no Skeleton Conjurers on this level, but there are lots of Ghouls.

Oddly, there are quite a few corpses of adventurers on this level which seem pretty fresh, despite how difficult it was for us to get through to here.

There aren't any puzzles on this level, it's just a walk to the end, although the opposition is fierce enough to give you trouble.

Here's what my Personal Traits say now:

Thinking no longer gives me a headache, I've been upgraded to stupid! Yes! I'm stupid! Woo-hoo!

The 10 Spiritual Resistance is from the Shoes of the Scorpion.

Also, there was another comment change earlier, when my magic was only 160:

Magic 160 - Your mystic aura is low, about the level of an average human on the street.

Map of the fifth floor down:

There are no Ghouls on this level. But there are a lot of Skeleton Conjurors. But they're pretty easy to dispatch because their HP is under 150.

As I mentioned, I'm not showing every time I rest, or every time I drink a potion. I'm also not showing every time I teleport back to Aleroth to have an item identified or repaired. All of that stuff happens a LOT, so I usually only mention the first couple of times that I do it. It's not important now that I have some money. So behind the scenes, I am resting, id'ing items, trading for potions/gold, and getting stuff repaired.

As is standard, time moves faster in the game world than the real world, so while this is only day three for Jeremiah the character, it's been several more in-game days (resting is cheaper than potions).

I have had to go back dozens and dozens of times to re-take screenshots to get better ones, so don't worry too much about the way my health, magic, stamina and experience bars fluctuate. I sometimes fix it up, but it happens so often, and it changes so much on its own in normal gameplay that it's not worth fixing every time.

The quilted armor and light leather armor look the same on your character, there are only like three or four different looks for armor on the third-person view of your character, and those are light, medium, and heavy.

The next update will be FUN.

The Amulet of Glory we got had two new skills.

- This is the only "cold" spell in the game. It's actually classified as "Spiritual Damage" though. Unfortunately, that reduces its utility. At Rank 1, IF the target's Spiritual Resistance is less than 10, it does 20 damage and freezes the target for 3 seconds for a magic cost of 4. The magic cost skyrockets, though. At Rank 5, IF the target's Spiritual Resistance is less than 30, it does 60 damage and freezes the target for 15 seconds for a magic cost of 25.

I don't use this skill much at all because it's simpler to just kill the small enemies, and most of the big enemies are immune anyway. The reason why it's got such strict requirements is because immobilizing enemies renders them into helpless, easy kills. that. Don't bother using this on ranged enemies or casters, they can still attack and cast spells - but on the bright side, if you get hit by this, you can do the same.

This skill can be found on weapons, and when it is, it's completely broken. It ignores the Spiritual Damage check, so it paralyzes everyone. Combine it with a Poisioned Weapon for even more game-breaking goodness.

Feign Death
- It makes enemies think you died, and they go back to their idle wandering. Whoopie. At Rank 1 it costs 6 magic to cast, and drains 80% of your current total magic. Each rank the drain goes down by 20%, and the magic cost rises by 3 until at Rank 5 it costs 18 mana, but no longer drains any magic. You should never have a need to use this skill.

On the other hand, finding this on an item is GREAT skill for my LP, because I can pretend to be dead or passed out at will anywhere with no photoshop required. I'll get a bunch of use from this.

What's fake in this update?