Part 14: Crypt of the Scorpion
Chapter 10 - Crypt of the Scorpion
Music - "Crypts and Catacombs"
Download (Thanks to Grawl)
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 entered into an ornate room decorated with pillars and statues. A vase that had been sealed shut unlocked with a tap of my magic staff.
Who stores lockpicks in a locked container?
Several doors opened out from a hallway. I headed into the room, and was reminded once again that I needed to pay more attention, because I felt something swipe at me from my side. The attack tore the crude rope that served to hold potions in easy reach. It was another Ghoul. I showered it with fire until it fell, but the noise once again gave me away.
Both shambling and bony footsteps began to echo through the halls.
Another Ghoul lurked in a crypt off the main hallway. There was a splash of blood in a corner, some rusted metal armor lay in the puddle. It was inflexible and damaged from long neglect.
Blood... odd, I haven't seen much of that down here. Even if some explorer got into these catacombs, how did they get past the sealed stairs without triggering the trap?
I wonder why skeletons carry around gold and healing potions. They can't have need of them anymore. Maybe it's just fragmentary memory from when they were alive, the poor things.
"About the Game" posted:
The room opposite is much like this one, only it has a pair of healing potions concealed behind a decorative jug. They're easily spotted if you hold the "Alt" key.
The main hallway narrowed and turned south, but I entered a third door instead.
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 them had been wearing a helmet that looked like it might fit my head. It was in very poor condition, it might only hold up for a single blow. But that could be enough to turn a lethal arrow into a mere headache.
One of the tombs was different - it was inscribed with an unusual insignia of a scorpion. It seemed oddly familiar...
20 Junar 1214
"Aren't you tired?" Eloric asked Tom. "We've been roaming the market all day, there has hardly been anything of interest."
"Maybe not to you," Tom smiled. He was carrying several packages.
"It's good to get some fresh air, Eloric." I said, "It's not healthy to be shut away from the sun for weeks at a time, studying dusty old books in a dusty old library." I put on a teasing tone and said, "I would think an ELF would know better." I knew he was accompanying us for our company, not the shopping.
"Elves don't window-shop. We don't even have windows. Nature provides all we need."
"Oh come on," Tom chirped, "you've got to live a little, my friend. Come on, just one more street and we'll head back, alright?"
Eloric looked reluctant, but relented. "Alright, one more street."
We turned into a narrow street.
"Hey look, a magic shop!" Tom said enthusiastically.
Eloric and I looked at each other and shrugged mutely. We all went entered the store.
"I didn't know there was a magic store in this part of town," Eloric said.
"Maybe there wasn't," Tom said in a mysterious tone.
"Maybe it's one of those shops, from the stories, you know... the hero find a strange object in a mysterious store, the shopkeeper gives it away cheap or for free, and it causes the hero all kinds of strange problems. But when he goes to the store to return it... the store has vanished like it was never there to begin with."
"That'd be nice, the tax collector seems to find me just fine," came a woman's voice.
"Ahh!" Tom shouted. "Uh, I mean, ahhhye didn't see you come in."
"Ooooooo." The woman brought her hands to the side of her head and waggled her fingers at Tom. "Spooky, aren't I."
I smiled. The attractive young lady was hardly the old crone or mysterious man of the tired old scare stories Tom was fond of.
"Come on, kid, how old are you? Get yourself some calintos," the woman said. Eloric let out a strangled laugh.
Tom gave Eloric a sideways look. "Was that elvish for 'spine'? he asked.
"Mmhmm. No," Eloric said, smiling.
The woman smiled, "Greetings to you. My name is Elsie Warren, the "Staff and Orb" has been in my family for three generations. You must be students from the university. Please, take a look around. We have many things of a magical nature."
I spotted a strong leather belt with a golden clasp. There was a scorpion engraved on the belt.
"This seems old, but the magic coming off of it is powerful."
"Aye, it is." It's said to be one piece of a set of magical items belonging to a legendary bandit who terrorized the land of Ferol and the desert waste long ago. His real name was lost to the sands of history long ago, he was known as the Scorpion, for he moved softly and killed his victims with only a single 'sting'."
"What's something like that doing in a shop like this?" I said, realizing too late that I had unintentionally insulted her. "Uh, sorry, no offense."
Elsie said, "None taken - mageling. No offense. Yes, it certainly is worth a fair amount - to a collector, and I acquired it in the usual way - some wanderer came into the shop and sold it for a bit of coin. Pity he didn't have the rest of the set - boots, armor, hood and sword."
I was intrigued "So if I came across the other pieces, I could sell them to a collector, skip the middle-woman, and make a fortune."
"Aye... if you could find a collector who wouldn't have a pack of goons ready to slit your throat and get his money back the instant you handed the boots over."
"Woah, woah... I was just asking. Believe me, I have no desire to become an adventurer."
Tom laughed, "Yeah Jer, you've got the gold to hire people to do that for you."
The stylized scorpion I remembered on the belt was identical to the one on the tomb at my feet.
Wow... could this be to resting place of that bandit from history?
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.
The beast stung me and I put some distance me and it. Luckily, the long slumber of death seemed to have weakened the scorpion's venom.
The scorpion chased me, determined to punish me for defiling the tomb.
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.
No, there isn't a complete Set of Scorpion stuff. I made that memory to sneak in a plot thread I have since dropped.
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.
There was a door to the south and a hallway heading west. The door and surrounding room looked more elaborate, so I investigated the hallway first. It dead-ended in an elaborate room with an empty tomb and many columns. Long ago someone or maybe some skeleton had the unfortunate timing to be standing where one of the columns had collapsed. I could only see the legs of the victim, but there was a black invisibility potion by the body. I added it to my growing collection of glass vials clinking in my backpack.
From a small hole in the cracking walls, some spiders crawled out, their fangs glistening with anticipation.
Once again the cheerful sound of staff whacking on carapace echoed through the hallways for a short time.
Using magic again, fighting, blocking, running - it was starting to feel familiar. Old reflexes were awakening. The action was invigorating.
I'd spent so much time focusing my mind on the skeletons and spiders I'd been fighting that it had become even easier. I realized that with just a little extra effort, I now could sense the danger of their weaponry and the toughness of their protection, be it armor or carapace.
I quickly cleared a room of skeletons and strode confidently forward. Arrogance is always the downfall of the prideful.
Of course, there were other things I had to watch out for besides skeletons. I picked myself up off the floor and continued on at a less foolish pace. The main venue seemed to be southward again, so I investigated a hall that doubled back northward.
A chunk of ceiling had crushed another unlucky adventurer, rendering his torso and head to a smear of red. His shield hadn't absorbed enough of the blow to save him, but more than enough to render it worthless.
Heh heh... looks like strawberry jam. Ha ha ha!
My nervous laughter didn't help. I took three steps away before I keeled over and desperately tried to hold down my lunch.
I've got to get better at dealing with this stuff... Actually, no, scratch that. I hope that I never have to get better at dealing with it because my future life won't involve me dealing with dead bodies!
I continued further. All the passages east and west dead-ended, this section seemed intent to funnel me south. As I continued, I could faintly start to feel the presence of powerful magic nearby.
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 were two doors on either side of the hallway, which ended in a solid-looking wall further south. I chose the east door.
There wasn't anything of interest except another stone door, which wouldn't budge, but pulling the nearby lever solved that.
Angel statues on pedestals were the only decorations in the hallway. I passed an odd-looking plate in an alcove, beside what appeared to be a half-eaten large reptile of some kind.
There was only one door, it was flanked by paintings of dragon-things pm either side. A group of skeletal archers inside reacted ferociously when they saw me.
Wait! Stop! Let's talk for a minute!
I ducked as an arrow flew through the spot where my head was a second ago.
Well, it was worth a try.
There was something familiar about the room.
This is where I got the other teleporter stone. It was right under Lanilor's feet the entire time!
I examined the odd plate in the hall. Something about it seemed familiar.
A teleporter platform?
I retrieved the second teleporter pyramid from Joram's basement, and dropped it near the mystery teleporter. I summoned up my courage and stepped on. I was not prepared for the horror that awaited me.
The overwhelming stench of boiled cabbage! I was in Mardaneus's basement! Well, that explained how the skeleton wound up there, one mystery solved. I dug in the dirt where I materialized and uncovered a platform identical to the one that had brought me here, although it no longer seemed to function.
Maybe this is how the adventurers got down.
"About the Game" posted:
With the teleporter stone you can get into this level early, but the door to the rest of the floor is locked with a lever. The teleport stone takes you to Mardaneus's cellar, but you can't get from Mardaneus's cellar back here..
There was only one door remaining. Opening it revealed a decent-sized room with a raised platform, Dragon-thing statues, and a bunch of ghouls. 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.
Under a spiderweb I found some worn, but serviceable studded leather armor. Unfortunately it was a bit too heavy for me. I wouldn't be able to use my primary form of self-defense - running away.
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.
Next Time: The Dark Hall
Behind the Scenes:
Here's the map for this 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:
Your mystic aura is low, about the level of an average human on the street.
What's fake in this update?
There isn't a matching teleporter stone in Mardaneus's cellar.