Part 40: Verdistis
Chapter 30 - Verdistis
16 Sembten 1218
Waking up in a bed is so much better than itchy hay.
I went to the Rivertown market, where a guard directed me to Dr. Elrath's house.
I discovered entire loads of poison in a cellar in the Blue Boar Inn, apparently you are hiring that cellar from the owner there!
Yes, what about it? I use many chemicals in my studies and research. It's a common practice. Obviously, you know nothing about medicine.
Apparently, that same poison is being used to poison the harvest in the farmlands!
What? That's terrible! Who would do such a thing? Without the harvest, we won't be able to sustain the Ducal Army and we'll all be hip-deep in orc warriors by mid-winter!
Surely you must have noticed some of the poison go missing! When was the last time you visited your storage room, Doctor?
Hmmmpf, the key to that cellar was stolen from me a few weeks ago. Do you know who was responsible?
I don't see any reason to tell him the truth.
It was an orc called Tipsix.
Ah, that explains it! The orcs have spies everywhere, you know. A notoriously dishonourable bunch, they are. Poisoning fits right up their alley.
Hugh the farmer would disagree. ... and I can't believe I'm thinking this... but so do I. That doesn't mean Elrath has any reason to know better. Still, the orcs were poisoning the field, and Tipsix did mention a master before he died.
You found the orcs responsible, I take it. Did any of the orcs survive?
Yes, unfortunately, Tipsix got away and escaped into the woods, leaving only the key behind. I couldn't track him at night, but I'm going to go see if I can find him today. He can't hide forever, I'm an expert at tracking.
Provided that my quarry leaves a trail of brightly coloured objects, AND also stops to carve "I went this way" signs on various trees.
Good. When you do, make sure to cut his throat for me. Such a vile crime deserves a swift death.
May I have my key back please?
He extended his hand. I didn't move.
I'm afraid not. It's evidence of a crime.
Hmph. Now you'll have to excuse me, I am needed urgently elsewhere. Please leave my house.
All right. Good day to you.
At Elrath's prompting I left the house. He came outside and locked it. He started to head to my left, but then he stopped for a second or two, then pivoted on his heel and turned to my right, heading through the marketplace heading for the road which would eventually reach the Poor Quarter.
There were many things that I wasn't sure of. ... The question of whether I could trust Elrath or not wasn't one of them. I was sure that I could NOT trust him.
I tried the handle of his door, but it was indeed locked. The lock looked fairly new, and extremely expensive. I looked around. Even this early in the morning, the marketplace was bustling. There was no shortage of watchmen around, either.
You should investigate further.
How? That's an expensive lock. I'm not sure I could pick it even if it wasn't out in the bloody open like this.
So will you do nothing?
What, should I try and break the door down, or blast it off the hinges with magic? How will I explain that to the guards? I've got no evidence but my word, and if Elrath really is a friend of the Duke, that's not going to be enough. I don't even know if there's anything in there to find. Do you have a plan, mysterious voice?
I didn't think so. I'm not going to go risking jail looking for something which might not even be there. I need to find Jenna. I'm going to Verdistis.
Music - "War and Peace"
Download (Thanks to Grawl)
After a longer walk then I expected, I came within sight of the walls of Verdistis. Of course, the city had long since expanded beyond the confines of the walls. Nearby, slums lay in a maze-like configuration, and closer to the river taller warehouses for the port could be seen.
I passed by a road marked with the sign "To the Dukedom of Idfrennia", where I had a brief moment of homesickness, which I quickly supressed. Everything I cared about from home was here; I just had to find her.
The road leading into the city center was clear, though, and the gates were open. The guard on duty was less than attentive.
Are you alright?
Eh? Oh... er yes, well. 'Tis a madly dull job I have here. Standing day and night for all hours. I was put on this damnable duty thanks to Commander Kratus. He wanted me out of the way because he sees me as a threat to his position.
Sorry. That is really bad luck for you... I'll leave you to your nap, watchman.
Beware! Due to the recent spate of murders, the town authorities strongly suggest citizens stay indoors at night. Signed - Commander Kratus, Verdistis Town Watch.
This really is a small city. The Watch in Idfren City would find bodies every day, but they didn't make nearly this much fuss about it.
You need a room? Come to the Ducal Inn!
Hopefully, I won't be staying long enough to need one.
Want to rent a house? Trevor can be of assistance!
That sounds rather nice.
Sure, keeping a fixed address will really be a GREAT way to throw more lizard-jockeys off your trail.
Ah... here's something more my style... "Are you interested in buying magic goods? Come to Corinna Al'Meara the Summoner." I'll have to check it out if I'm here long enough.
I continued walking and met a visibly agitated patrol of guards.
Is it so unsafe to walk the streets of Verdistis these days?
Remain calm! There is no need for panic. The Town Guard has everything under control!
They quickly moved on.
Sure... and I'm the King of Ponyland.
I didn't really know where Sir Dante's house was, but a friendly local saw me looking around.
Do you know where Sir Dante's mansion is?
"Sure do. From the gate, go west down the street - past Sir Patrick's mansion - then north until you see the second mansion to the northwest, which is Sir Dante's. Then follow the street west until you find the gate," said the helpful man.
"Thanks," I said.
"About the Game" posted:
His only purpose is to put a bunch of flags on your map of the town. I don't think the rest of his directions are worth transcribing.
I followed the directions. I met a little boy outside the gates to Sir Patrick's mansion.
Kids know more than you'd expect.
Hello, littleun. Do you know any stories? I like stories - especially if they're about real people and things.
I saw Lady Lela ride past on a white horst. My mummy says that she's the beloved of Duke Janus and that it's all very romantic. But Daddy said that Lady Lela is a dirty little whore and Duke Janus is a sick little monster. Mummy and Daddy had a fight then. I think Lady Lela is very pretty, but she's also not very nice.
Thank you for telling me that. Now run along.
At the corner I met a man with a harried expression on his face. "Hello," I said in greeting. He just looked exasperatedly at me.
What goods do you need from the market?
I need some bread and milk for our evening meal. I can't afford much, though, the merchants have driven up their prices?
Do you know why that is?
I hear orcs have set up a huge camp on the southern border of the dukedom. Now if that's not a sign of trouble than I don't know what is. Talk of an impending war is rife and people everywhere are afraid.
I continued up the road. A little girl volunteered some information.
That's probably a very good idea, yes.
"About the Game" posted:
There are other random things this generic girl can say of course, one of them actually reveals a piece of the main plot of the game. Obviously I'll save that for later. If I'm feeling up to it, the next fake update will be "Talking to Verdistians," where I go through a lot of the general rumour dialogue you get in the city.
Why should I avoid the guilds? What's the problem?
Well, unless you are a member or have a specific invitation from a guild member, then you would be made very unwelcome. They do not take to strangers lurking around their property or prying into their affairs. The last unfortunate soul to do that was a dwarf who foolishly tried to sneak into the Assassin's guild.
What happened to the dwarf?
We found him face-down in the gutter with a blood-eagle cut into his back. Not an easy death, by any standard.
Thanks for the good advice. I shall make a point to stay well away from the Assassin's guild. But uh... as I am new in town, I do not know where it is. Do you know where I should not go so that I don't accidentally stumble into the Assassin's Guild.
No, I do not know where they are, and I do not wish to know. Such knowledge is unhealthy to possess.
Alright. Farewell then, and thanks for the advice.
I continued up to the crossroads. To the northeast looked like a park of some kind, and to the northwest behind an iron fence was another mansion. A pair of men approached. It was clear to me by now that I was an obvious newcomer to the city and would not be able to blend in.
"About the Game" posted:
Text just doesn't do the next part justice, so watch the video. You'll obviously notice that the video takes place somewhere which isn't the street. It seemed simpler to photoshop them into somewhere else than to write a reason for Jeremiah to go to them.
The reason why I had to put them in now and not in a later update will become clear soon enough.
Yes, Jeremiah's line in the next part is from the game.
Video - Tart Search (Voice Acting)
Hello, neighbour...did you just arrive in Verdistis? We did, my brother Titrin and I, Codran.. True, Tit?
We were told, here in Verdistis, we could find... ahh... women with special talents, if you know what I mean. Right, Tit?
Yes, women with great big...assets. You know what I'm talking about, right?
I truly hope not.
Well, it was nice talking to you, neighbour. Maybe we can have another chat later. Please excuse us, my brother and I want to go to the bar at the Ducal Inn, right Tit?
Wasting no more time on idle chatter, I headed for Sir Dante's mansion.
A man in a fancy hat was leafing through a sheath of documents when I entered. The man didn't bother to look at me.
Whoever you are, get out, I'm busy.
I'm here to see Sir Dante.
Do you have an appointment - don't answer that, I know you don't because Sir Dante is away. My name is Randell, and I am the personal secretary of Sir Dante. Now leave me in peace, I'm in the middle of several annoying tasks which require my concentration.
I doubt any of them are more annoying them talking to you.
Nonetheless, I put on a good face and tried to ignore the man's rudeness.
Greetings, Randell. My name is Jeremiah. I have to do some business with Sir Dante, but I've never dealt with him before. What can you tell me about him? Is he a good master?
Rendell sighed in irritation, sensing that I would not easily be ignored or put off.
It is my honour to work for him. Five years ago I attempted to offer my services at Stormfist Castle. Alas, the Duke was not satisfied with my abilities and I was forced to resign. Sir Dante then hired me and has proved to be a most pleasant mater to work for... though he does have his quirks.
Sir Dante has his quirks, you say. Could you be a little more specific?
Sir Dante is a very busy man, prone to becoming furiously angry when things to not go his way. He also suffers from certain private problems too.
Randell got an expression on his face which seemed to say that he realized he'd said too much. It wasn't smart of me to press the issue.
Really, what kind of problems?
Randell's annoyed look returned to his face.
I am not at all at liberty to discuss the matter. However...
I assume you wish to see Sir Dante for a favour of some kind?
That is correct.
Sir Dante has a very busy schedule. Perhaps you can do something which will help curry your favour. One thing I can say is there has been recent heated discussions with his wife, and Sir Dante is of a mind to calm his wife's temper with an expensive gift.
How can I help?
Visit Elmer Vignus, the dwarven jeweller in the Dwarven Halls. Tell him you were sent by me to pick up Sir Dante's gift for his wife.
Randell scribbled something on a piece of paper, poured some candle wax on it and made an impression with his ring. He handed the paper to me.
Here. The road to the Dwarven Halls goes through the Dark Forest, and there are many fearsome beasts. Go now, and be quick about it. Sir Dante will return in a few days, and I doubt his temperament will have improved.
The least he could do is not treat me like some errand boy at his beck and call.
Do you know the magic word?
I would be most grateful if you would pick up the gift for Sir Dante's wife at the dwarven mines.
That was not the magic word.
I grow weary of these games! What is the magic word?
*sigh* I am doing you a favour at great risk to myself.
Ah, I see now. Very well. I will give you 1000 gold coins if you will bring the gift to me. You could buy much equipment and weapons for your travels with this amount of gold.
Actually, I would have settled for a "please," but a thousand-gold "thank you" is good enough for me.
Where can I find this dwarven jeweller?
I shall mark the location where you will find Elmer on your map. You must travel to the Dwarven Halls in the mountains. You must cross Rivertown and head through the Dark Forest to get there.
Very well, I will do as you ask.
I left Sir Dante's house. It was getting late in the afternoon - it had been quite a long walk from Rivertown. I had barely arrived in Verdistis before being told I needed to go on another very long walk. Honestly I wasn't eager to just rush off blindly into a forest filled with angry creatures. Also, I wasn-... let's just say that wizards aren't really known for their fondness for hiking, and leave it at that. With Sir Dante away, there wasn't any point to rushing. I decided to at least see a bit of the sights and find the city's teleporter platform.
I met a dwarven miner in the city.
Hello human. You're a male, aren't you? It's so difficult to tell, what with your people's unnatural habit of shaving and all.
Hello friend dwarf. Any gossip going about?
I continued on and saw a gathering of women gossiping.
Video - Verdistis Gossips (Voice Acting)
She was pointing at the house they were standing outside of.
Well I heard a horrible scream two days ago. Dreadful it was!
Gods' Truth! And she lives there all alone in this house... with no man to protect her!
Not that she's short of male company. She's setting herself up as competition to old Afrasam's whorehouse if I guess aright.
I don't believe it! You'd see males coming and going all the time if that were so!
The one in the red and purple turned to the one in brown.
Maybe you should ask your husband. I've heard he's been "asking for Magdalena" a lot at Afrasam's Tavern lately.
WHAT?! THAT BASTARD SON-OF-A-HALFLING! I'LL CUT HIS PHILANDERING PECKER OFF!!
That wasn't necessary, Jocaste. Don't fling rocks from inside your own glass-walled house! I've heard you've often gone to Afrasam's to "ask for the handsome Yaniz" of late!
Jocaste's face became flushed.
You lying bitch! It's not true!
Excuse me ladies. I'm off to greet my husband's return home with a carving knife!
With that, the gathering broke up and the ladies went their separate ways.
I sure hope for her husband's sake that this city has some extraordinary healers.
Suddenly, I heard a scream of fear coming from inside the house. Without hesitating, I ran inside.
I opened the door and saw a badly wounded woman.
What?! What's the problem here?
That last blast weakened the beast, but not for long... Finish it! Quickly!
All right then... I'll fight!
But then I saw it...
I froze up, like I had...
24 Declianum 1216 - 18 O'clock
"Jeremiah! Kill it quickly!!" exclaimed Eloric.
My mind had gone blank with fear in the face of the enraged demon. It raised a claw to strike...
What are you doing? Kill it now or we both die!
Her voice shook me out of my memory. I delivered a blast of lightning.
Phew! That was close. Thank you for your assistance, my friend. I am Corinna Al'Meara the Summoner
Jeremiah, alumni of Magicum Omnus Liberum. What happened here? Where did that foul beast come from?
I already know, I just want to see if you'll tell the truth.
I summoned this creature to learn its secrets. Unfortunately it... err... broke free.
It's like what happened to me. Only that time... Tom died.
I bought this book from M'Penzak, a travelling merchant who arrived here in Verdistis this week. The book was written by a mage named Ragon, the Archmage. He's very convincing about the safety aspects in this fourty-page foreword. Maybe a bit too convincing...
No one reads those at "The Mole", they're mostly bollocks.
You haven't had any formal magical training, have you.
Is it that obvious?
You just admitted to eating part of a straw hat.
Corinna smiled warmly.
At one point I did try and attend a magic school, but all the dull lessons, dusty tomes, and ancient teachers just never seemed to suit me. I like to be more hands-on.
I can understand that.
Perhaps if I had stuck with it, I might be better at this. I might not make so many mistakes.
"Experience is no guarantee that you won't make foolish mistakes. Trust me - I know," I said with a sudden seriousness. Corinna looked at me intently.
"What happened?" she asked with sincerity.
I looked away. "I'm sorry. I-I don't wish to talk about it. I'm glad you're safe, though."
I decided to change the subject.
I saw your notice on the billboard. Can I see the magic wares you sell?
Nothing she had at the moment was of much interest, so I politely excused myself and let her begin cleaning up the mess left by the rampaging creature.
"About the Game" posted:
Corrina sells spellbooks, potions, charms, and magic jewellery. She also has a side-quest, which I'm saving for Act 3 because we're a bit too low-level for one part (and because I still want there to BE side-quests to do in Act 3).
I entered the park. It was nice to see a green space in the middle of the city. A visiting elf definitely seemed to appreciate it as well.
I had no reason to be rude.
No, I do not hear their talk.
I feel sorry for you, human.
A woman came wandering through the park.
Good day, madam. Have you heard any interesting news of late?
I continued through the park and found the teleporter platform.
I overheard a couple of people talking as they walked through the park.
I hear tell that yon boy-duke Janus is a-callin' hisself the Divine One, bold as brass.
Maybe, maybe not.
I hopes for his sake that he's right. Gods can get very nasty if you go claimin' to be their chosen one when you're not. Leastways, that's what my old Mum told me when I was a littlun.
All I know is that the Gods need to send us a protector of some sort, and soon! The way things are going, I can see my grandchildren living like barbarians in the future, because civilization is going to collapse!
Yep, the way I recon it, we'll all be needin' some help to get through these tough times.
They wandered off. It was getting late. I decided to sleep at the inn.
Would you happen to have a bed available for me?
Yes, but you must pay one week's rent in advance. That will be two hundred and fifty gold pieces please.
Yikes. That itchy hay isn't sounding so bad now. Especially since I won't be here long.
I sighed and reached into my gold pouch.
Very well, I'll take it.
17 Sembten 1218
In the middle of the night, I awoke from a nightmare of being chased through a maze of catacombs by a pack of howling demons, and discovered that while I was safe in my bed, the dreadful noises were still continuing.
It took me a minute to realize what was happening. It was not a threat to me... well, except perhaps to my sanity.
I wrapped my pillow around my ears in a futile attempt to block out the noise.... Somehow, I eventually managed to fall asleep again, perhaps the noises had stopped.
In the morning, I left my room, suffering from a dreadful headache.
My neighbour's door opened, and out came an elf. Judging by the haggard look on his face, he hadn't had much sleep either.
I shook my head indicating that I hadn't had any sleep either, and put forth my own hypothesis.
Are you sure they were snoring and not engaging in some other activity?
What do you mean?
Then enlightenment dawned... "Ah... I see. Ahem."
Then the door to the room across from mine opened and out stepped the dwarves.
Ho there human! ... Elf. Aenora and I are so excited! This be our first time in a human town. Everything is so big and light.
Where do you come from?
My wife and I both hail from the Dwarven Halls.
What are you doing here?
Bad way to put it.
Uh..um. I mean, why are you in a human city?
Why? We are visiting Verdistis, or course! Believe it or not, my short-lived human friend, but I'm a hundred-and-eighty-six years old and have never stepped foot outside the mountain caves in my life!
Verdistis is such a lovely place! But if truth be known, I do miss the secure caves of my homeland.
I see. The elf next door complained that you both fair rattled the walls with your snoring last night. I also happened to notice.
The elf looked embarrassed, but didn't say anything.
Hah! I knew it! Uh... I hope you enjoyed your stay.
Enjoyed? Och my human friend, we've barely gotten started!
We're going to be seeing the sights and staying here for a whole month!
An entire month?!
That's right. ... Is something wrong?
SCREW my deposit, SCREW the nice bed, I'm not staying even one more day!
No, absolutely not!
Indeed, everything is quite fine. Now if you'll excuse me, I must be going.
I also have things which are important and need doing!
I'd like to check out immediately!
Both of you? Damn! All these killings are scaring away all our customers!
Oh, but? Haven't you heard? Young women of Verdistis are going missing at night... and their bodies are turning up later... drained of all blood. Another poor girl was found this morning.
Next Time:Vampire Hunter
Behind the Scenes
Two maps: The first is where we've been this update.
The second map shows almost all of the important places in Verdistis.
The following conversation path didn't quite match up with Jeremiah's backstory, or for his reasons for the visit to Elrath. So I had to omit it. But it's a great exchange.
Oh, I've managed to survive all illnesses and the occasional embarrassing afflictions born of passion, if you know what I mean. I don't think I need your services.
Really? Well the common cold and your encounters with venereal ailments are mere inconveniences of no importance. The Grey Death will kill you slowly and VERY painfully. If you develop a burning sensation in your throat, come and see me immediately.
I checked, and the lines about suffering from STD's don't change regardless of your gender. That's not an oversight.
There's another line where a male protagonist mentions sleeping with more whores than he can count. The female version only substitutes the word "bravos" for "whores".
I was considering cutting this update into two parts when Jeremiah sees the monster Corinna has summoned, but the second part was short and pretty uneventful. Since adding that into this chapter didn't make it excessively long, I decided to keep both parts together so that the next chapter could have a more focused theme.
Talking to the elf in the park: The following is all real dialogue. I forget the elf's name, but neither of the elves in this update have the name in their portrait, Their portraits are shared with other elves who have much more to say.
There are good trees around here human. Can you hear their talk? Can you?
Yes, I can hear them actually. They complain that elves are always eavesdropping on them!
Your humour is pitiful human!
And that's all he has to say on that. If you talk to him again
Humans! Always fighting over money and power... how stupid.
Elves! Always complaining about other races... how stupid.
Quest for the Treasure, Part 2
If you have found a scroll, you can ask Corinna about it.
You've read many books, I suppose. Do you know anything about this scroll? It makes no sense to me.
Hmmm... No, I haven't heard or seen anything like this before... Maybe you should go ask the merchant M'Penzak. He travels all around Rivellon, so maybe he's seen something like this before. You'll find him and his cart if you follow the street a little bit to the east.
Next update, we'll see if M'Penzak knows anything useful.
What's fake in this update?
- Elrath doesn't say that he uses poison in his research; he immediately starts in with "The key to that cellar was stolen from me a few weeks ago. Whoever took it must be storing this poison in there." I thought adding in some plausible deniability would keep Jeremiah from seeming a bit too thick.
- You don't meet the guys looking for the hookers on the street, they're staying at the Ducal Inn, which is why they call you neighbour.
- Actually, Randell does in fact use the word please here: "I would be most grateful if you would please pick up the gift for Sir Dante's wife at the dwarven mines." But I also wanted to include the "Magic word" stuff without making Jeremiah seem greedy - he's not in here for the gold.
- The conversation between two people in the park was stitched together from two separate conversations. I just removed the woman's first line which was redundant.
- You don't stay in the room I imply you stay in, that one is occupied by someone that we'll talk to in "Act 3".
- The elf and dwarf couple are in the rooms I imply they come out of, but they don't come out. Their lines are mostly real, though.
- The elf doesn't follow you out to check out. In fact I didn't check out - I never checked in! I'm still living in Joram's cellar.