Part 25: Cutpurses and Inns
Music - "Stones and Trees"
Download (Thanks to Grawl)
About the Game posted:
I actually forgot that this update was going to use new music, so the video might not be processed yet.
In one snake-swift move, Crawler drew a rapier - almost certainly poisoned - and charged. I didn't have a weapon in my hand, I appeared defenseless. My first move was to Swap Places with him.
Before he realized what had happened, I cursed him with Limbs of lead. It was all over, right then and there; he was just too stupid to know it.
Crawler didn't even make it halfway to me. He collapsed onto the ground, but as I had hoped, he wasn't dead yet.
No. First you'll tell me what happened to my sister.
Jenna Liro. She was at Stormfist, like Sir Richard was. She vanished at the same time you tried to kill Richard. What do you know? Speak quickly!
I dun...dunno 'bout that. M' contract s'only for the knight. I know nothing 'bout the other hit, I swear. ...
I kept my face impassive, but the viper's casual words cut me as deeply as any blade.
'The other hit...' no... no! I knew it was a possibility, but until now... until now it hadn't sunk in.
I-if you're not gonna kill me, p-please, can you give me a healing potion? I-I'll leave Sir Richard alone, I promise!
I saw the fear in his eyes. But I could never trust someone like him. I didn't dare, not with lives on the line. Even if I let him live, he'd just run back to his master, and someone else would just be sent after Sir Richard.
The blood loss seems to have made you confused. I never said that I wasn't going to kill you.
I closed my eyes and brought my staff down hard on his head. The sound of shattering bone left no doubt that the deed had been done properly. I felt a bit ill, but only a little. I didn't regret killing him at all.
Giving him mercy wouldn't buy Richard much time. Killing Crawler could buy Richard several weeks to escape.
Still, I couldn't look at what I had done. I told myself it was what separated me from him.
I went through his pockets, but all he had was a pouch of gold. On his finger he was wearing a silver ring inset with a small ruby. I wiped my staff off on an unstained part of his cape.
"Gods, you killed him!" came a voice from behind me. It was Rufus, the man who'd tipped me off.
"I'm a killer. You said it yourself. You have very good instincts for people." I said mildly. "Anyway, it was self-defense. Well, mostly. No one will mourn his loss. He wasn't a very nice man." I turned to look at Rufus. "I'm sorry to hear about your memory problem."
"Memory problem?" Rufus asked confusedly.
"Yeah, you have a habit of forgetting things, a terrible condition, really." I tossed him the pouch of Crawler's gold. "I hope this will help treat your condition." I said as I walked out of the orchard.
"Uh-Y-Yes, I-I think so..." said Rufus nervously to my back.
Near Homer's farm, I spied a milkmaid.
"My lover Gareth has joined the army," she said sadly. "I think he regrets the decision, but he's bound by his oath and now, because of the orc war, he can't even leave the barracks. I've written him a love letter - we parted with bad words that I would take back - but there is no one who can take it to him. I'm pining away for the loss of him."
I'm sorry, but-
Damn! I almost forgot about the plague. I said I would get word to General Alix.
...Actually, I've got some business at the Barracks anyway. I suppose I can try to deliver it. But no guarantees, though.
Her face lit up. "Thank you!" Isolde exclaimed. "Oh, poor Gareth must know that I still love him and think of him every moment of the day!"
He is stationed at the Barracks, right?
"I don't know where he is," she said. "And my duties here don't allow me to go search for him. Anyway, I doubt if the heartless officers at the barracks would tell me where he is. Oh! Gareth might as well be sent away on a dangerous mission! He might die..."
I have to go.
I returned to the barn and found Richard.
I confronted your friend Crawler and did unto him as he had done to others. The assassin's as dead as a miser's sense of charity. You can relax, at least for a while...
Richard sagged in relief.
By the Merciful Gods! Thank you... I'm glad I'm not alone in this anymore. I need some sleep, then I'll join you and help search for Jenna.
I appreciate the offer, Richard. But I-I don't think it's a good idea. If the duke's son hears you're still alive, he'll just send more assassins. Jenna was last in Stormfist. I don't know if she's still there, but it's all we have. I need to get inside the castle, and I can't do that if I'm spotted with you.
But it's my fault-
Yes it is. And I don't want your death on my conscience, and I'm pretty sure you don't want to interfere with me finding Jenna.
There was a moment of silence.
If you want to help, I know how. Follow the road to Aleroth and talk to Mardaneus, the leader of the healers. He owes me a favour. He's a powerful wizard - more powerful than I am and he can hide you while you rest and get your strength back. When I find Jenna, I might need your help to rescue her. I'll come get you, and we'll save her together, alright?
I extended my hand, and he clenched it in a gesture of solidarity.
I-I understand. Thank you.
I reached into my pack and retrieved two invisibility potions. I handed them to Richard.
These are invisibility potions. Use one to slip across the bridge unseen. There may be orcs along the road, so be wary. The second potion might get you past Lord Seth, who is guarding the gate to the village. Alternatively, there's a secret way into the village via some caves to the southeast of the gate, but there's an orc camp at the cave. Mardaneus's house is the one nearest the gate on the west side. It's the one with beehives.
Thank you, Jeremiah. Good luck.
And to you, Richard. I'll be back when I've found her.
Richard nodded, and walked out.
I had to get moving as well. I checked my map. The barracks were to the southeast, and the Dwarven Bread Inn was further east from there. I decided to cut through the fields to save time.
Hello, what's this?
I moved some of the straw out of the way and discovered another one of the teleporter platforms. Unfortunately, I couldn't do anything with it.
I noticed some deep tracks in the grass and mud, leading away from the teleporter platform into the woods.
At the time, it didn't seem to be worth investigating. There was a large building up ahead and the road leading east.
Just south was a large collection of shabby houses and even shabbier people. I recognized it as the kind of area where all the poor get shunted off to, out of sight of the well-off. It didn't look like the plague had taken the entire area, perhaps it wasn't as bad as my imagination had made it out to be.
It was a hot day, so I took off my heat-conducting metal helmet and stashed it in my pack.
Apparently the large building was a tavern. A drunk man wandered up and stumbled into me clumsily. He was so soaked in booze that the smell of it churned my stomach. Or maybe that was the memory of Crawlers smashed-in head.
Speak to me when you're clean and halfway sober, not before.
The drunk staggered off again. To the southeast I saw a fortress. If the markings made on my map by Seth were accurate, it was probably the barracks.
I know I promised to report the status of Seth's patrol and get an escort for the healers. But nearly getting killed by that dragon-rider changes things. ... I think I'd better find out what all this Marked One business is about first.
I spotted the sign on the tavern. The Blue Boar Inn, it wasn't the one I was looking for. But I went in anyway. Maybe the proprieter would be charitable enough to give accurate directions.
"Splinter?" I asked.
Yes, that is my name. I own the Blue Boar and I am your host and faithful servant.
Do you have any gossip of what is going on around here these days?
Our old Duke is dead. Apparently he fell off of his horse while hunting. His son Janus, now is the new Duke!
Fell off his horse, huh? Um... I am looking for the Dwarven Bread Inn.
Splinter scowled, "The Dwarven Bread Inn! Bah! If you wish to sample their rinse-water ale and lice-ridden beds then you will find them to the east."
"I do not mean to insult you or your fine establishment, sir," I said, trying to calm him down. "I go there on business, not pleasure."
"Then do you care to purchase some ale before you go?" Splinter asked.
I started to reach for my coinpurse, but stopped my hand halfway there.
"I would welcome something to clear the dust from my throat, Splinter", I said. "but alas, I fear I must keep a clear head for my business. Fare thee well."
I continued along the road east, in the rough direction of the marking Zandalor had made on my map. Soon though, an irate woman came up.
Have you seen him? Have you seen this son-of-a-bitch?
I threw up my hands and said, "Calm down, good woman! Now, who are you talking about?
"WAIT A MINUTE... STEALING!?" I exclaimed! "Why, I encountered a drunken man in front of yonder tavern not long ago. Let me check my gold..."
I reached for my coinpurse... and felt only air. I looked down and confirmed that it was indeed gone.
The woman continued on down the road, shaking her head in anger and muttering to herself.
I last remembered seeing Logan head beside the tavern. I headed that way and spotted him. He saw me coming, but he didn't run. He probably hoped I hadn't noticed, or he could talk his way out of it.
Hey, nimble-fingers! I know your game! Give me back my money or I'll take it back with your blood on it!
Logan looked at me carefully. Like when I confronted Crawler, I didn't have a weapon in my hand. Unlike Crawler, though, he was smart enough to figure that I might not need one.
OK, take your money back, but let me go now...
He handed me back my coinpurse. The weight felt right, but I wasn't done with him yet.
Not so fast. You've got quick fingers, Logan. Yes, I know who you are and where you live. Teach me what you know about picking pockets, so I can avoid having mine picked by the likes of you in the future.
Logan opened his mouth to object, but saw the look in my eyes. With reluctance he taught me some tricks. I picked it up quickly, probably because I'd done it before during my time on the streets of Idfren City.
Finally we were done. Logan started to move off.
Without looking back, he sighed and tossed me my coinpurse.
Now get lost!
He didn't need any further encouragement to leave my sight.
Some days it just doesn't pay to get out of bed.
"About the Game" posted:
I had to go back and take another screenshot because I did the Logan conversation twice when I was getting screenshots. In one I had Logan talk to me with my helmet on, and when he left a shot from the second run showed it was gone, looking like he had stolen my helmet off my head mid-conversation! Jeremiah isn't that stupid.
Logan takes only up to 500 gold from you, no matter how much you have.
As soon as Logan starts to move off, you get control back and can talk to him before he leaves your sight. You know he's got your money. If you do that though, Logan's wife doesn't show up on the road.
If you want, you can try and kill Logan as punishment for stealing from you. But he's a surprisingly tough opponent with several hundred HP, so be careful.
- You can try and rob NPC's of level 6 * Pickpocket Rank. You can't pickpocket enemies of Rank 31 or higher, so don't try, it'll fail each time. Getting caught is not a good thing, obviously. I never use this skill because most NPC's have nothing worth stealing, skill points are better spent elsewhere. I can't tell you much about how this skill works because I don't use it. I think it works on the same pass/fail check as lockpicking does - if you have a high enough rank for the target NPC, it always succeeds, but I'd have to do research to conform details on how it works.
I reached a crossroads. The signs read: "Barracks - Southeast, Graveyard - Southwest, Stormfist Castle - northeast. Long Live the Duke!"
A tired-looking man approached from the south.
He was polite enough. I gave the man three gold coins.
A thousand thanks... I'm on my way to the castle, you know. The duke must help us war victims or we'll all starve.
Where did you live?
My house is... I mean, was - in a village to the southeast. We were attacked by the greenskin savages and they burnt everything to the ground.
Horrible... If we could only find a way to repay them!
The man hesitated.
You look dressed for combat. Do you think that you'll have reason to be killing any orcs down south?
The man looked slightly downcast. I smiled.
I find that I never NEED an actual REASON to kill orcs.
The man smiled in the manner of one who was anticipating something nasty happening to someone he didn't like.
In that case, I might have some useful information to help you.
I'm listening, friend.
The man looked around to see if anyone was listening. No one was, but he beckoned me closer anyway. He spoke in low tones:
If you pass through the village, you'll find a hatch inside my house, hidden under some boxes and garbage. The secret tunnel leads smack into the center of the nearest orc encampment. I used to do a bit of smuggling in better times. I don't know if it will be useful to you, but kill a greenskin for me if you find reason to draw a weapon down that way.
A secret tunnel to the orc camp? Hm, that is interesting... can you give me directions?
The man told me where to find his house, then he headed east up the road. I investigated a cart which had turned over. All the barrels seemed to be intact, which seemed odd so close to the poor quarter. I picked up a paper on the ground.
"About the Game" posted:
It isn't a bluff. The barrels are indeed trapped. Magical traps can be extremely dangerous. I decided not to steal what was inside.
I continued following the road until it forked. One part headed north to the castle gate, another road continued east past an important-looking building.
Lots of guards at the castle. I think I should have a plan before trying to just walk in - especially if Janus really is behind Jenna's... disappearance. I should at least get that meeting with Zandalor over with so I can find out what the bloody hell is going on.
While I was thinking, a woman who was staring at me with a disturbing intensity approached.
Aaaaah, I see the light!
Four words in and she's already starting to creep me out.
What did you see?
I see you, oh freebooter. Surrounded by light you are... And I see trouble... a world, a universe of trouble!
I was in too much of a hurry for vagueness.
You're either mad or a charlatan, woman. Any half-trained adept knows that every living creature has an aura. We're all 'surrounded by light' to one with the second sight. The world is an unhappy place - if you indeed have the sight, tell me something that will be of some use to me!
The woman clutched her head and moaned in pain, squeezing her eyes shut. If this was a performance, it was a good one. Still, I made sure to watch my coinpurse.
No, no... The vision is too strong, too overwhelming... I can't take any more...
Tell me what you see!
NOOOOOOOOOOO! GOOOO AWAAAAAY!! The pictures... too many pictures!
NO! Leave me alone... PLEASE! I'm begging you... You bring joy and you bring pain... I can't... Ahhh!
She ran off towards the farmlands.
First the lizard jockey, then the old wizard, now her... What is it about me that attracts all the crazies of the world?
I looked at my strange tattoo. "Don't answer that."
I headed for the building to the southeast.
"About the Game" posted:
The woman's name is Sisaya, not that it matters because we won't see her again. If you remember to trade in the conversation, she sells low-to-medium level charms and animal statues. She's actually found on an obscure road south of the Dwarven Bread Inn if you're looking for her.
I headed for the important building. There were a pair of guards outside.
"Uhh..." I hesitated, "Good day, officer. Is this the Dwarven Bread Inn?"
"No!" The guard said with clear irritation. He continued in an exasperated tone, "This is the Town Watch... go east to reach the Inn."
"My apologies, I'm new to this area," I said.
I continued east. Past some trees and a band in the road I could see another building.
As I got closer... I started to sense something... I couldn't put it into words, exactly, but there was a presence coming from the building up ahead (which I presumed was the Dwarven Bread Inn). It filled my heart with lightness.
Can you sense it? Joy! Reunion!
Hello? What's wrong? I can hardly hear you.
I passed by a teleporter. My feet were moving faster and faster on their own, without waiting for me to tell them.
I broke into a run. But from behind me came a cry, "Halt!"
Three guards were coming towards me. They were eying me with suspicion.
Next Time: Wouter
Behind the Scenes
For the curious, here is Isolde's letter to Gareth:
I didn't show you the barracks and castle entrance, but if we were really standing there, we'd be able to see them.
What's fake in this update?
The last exchange actually goes:
By the Merciful Gods! My chances for the next week or so have improved a lot thanks to you! Maybe it will give me time to get away, but I doubt it. On Janus's order, the Assassin's Guild will hunt me across Rivellon and back again. But you've bought be a little more time, friend, and for that I'm very grateful.
Rest in peace... Ahem... Sorry. Slip of the tongue... What I wanted to say was: Good luck, my friend, you've got the wits to survive! I hope...
- When you kill Crawler he just dies, no conversation, Rufus doesn't comment, none of that.
- You never see Richard again after you solve his quest, and even he leaves, you never see him again. That may not be the case in the narrative, however...
- You can't have the map up and get the "I can't use this teleporter" dialogue box at the same time, that was a Photoshop.
- Logan doesn't teach you pickpocket. I made that up because I knew I'd need a point or two in it later. However, I did not actually put a point into Pickpocket, I always try and find a +1 Pickpocket magic item. I found one so I didn't need to waste a skill point or two on something I'll literally only do once or twice.
- The refugee on the road is real, but you meet him between the Barracks and the front line. That's appropriate for the information he gives you, but it didn't work for my narrative. I also made his revelation of the secret tunnel sound a bit more natural then it is in the actual game dialogue. That's what a lot of my faked screenshots tend to be - keeping all the dialogue, but moving the speaker. It doesn't feel quite realistic for Jeremiah to just rudely barge into stranger's houses and rooms without invitation, so I try and move those conversations whenever possible.
- The conversation with the seer (her name is Sisaya, by the way) is real, but it takes place on an obscure backroad south of the Dwarven Bread Inn.
- Your character can't REALLY sense anything when you get close to the inn.