Part 44: Demon in the Dark, Demon in Disguise
Chapter 33 - Demon in the Dark, Demon in Disguise
Music - "Suffering and Shame"
Download (Thanks to Grawl)
The house was empty and filthy. The smells of rotting food, vomit, and human waste permeated the air. Rats were everywhere, feeding on the garbage. I decided that I would avoid touching things as much as possible. A child's doll lay abandoned on the floor. I didn't see anything worth investigating. I headed for the front door, sending the rats scattering to various hiding places.
I was inside the quarantine zone proper. I wasn't sure what waited for me, but I doubted it would be pleasant. I didn't know if I would find anything which would help implicate Elrath, but it was worth a shot. Perhaps something that the sick had noticed would help. I asked the Seven Gods for a blessing in hopes of not catching the Grey Death.
I opened a door of a house with a black skull painted on it. The man inside had a sickly pallor. It was clear why the disease was called the Grey Death.
Who are you? Are you one of the new healers?
Um... Yes, of course I am! I am Jeremiah, from Aleroth. We're all trying our best to help you. I'll need you to tell me some things, though.
How did you become infected with the Grey Death?
I...do not know. I suddenly felt a burning sensation in my throat and... and then the fevers came. Please.. you must help me! There must be *cough* a way to cure the plague. Please *cough* I don't want to die! If you find a way to *cough* *cough* save me, you will be well rewarded... My father is... *cough* *cough* *cough*
Be quiet, you need to save your strength. I need no reward; I'll try and save you regardless.
The man continued to cough, so I left him in peace. He hadn't been helpful, but there were still others about.
Unfortunately, I had forgotten something very important. With the healers in town, that meant they would, on occasion, leave the inn to check on the people they were here for.
HAVE YER COMPLETELY LOST YER MIND?!
Otho, I can explain-
I have NEVER seen such IDIOCY in all my many years! Breakin' in to a quarantine zone! Ye could already be infected and not know it! What, were ye gonna just take a look around for curiosity's sake?
After all yer talk in Aleroth, you were just gonna walk out again, weren't you? And by doing so, you'd possibly be infectin' everyone else you meet? D'yer not have two brain cells to rub together to tell yer what QUARANTINE means? Do yer?
Otho kicked a stone in fury. Luckily for me, his shot went wild and sailed past me, entering some bushes. There was the sound of shattering glass. That was not the sound a bush should make. Otho immediately forgot his anger. We both investigated the bush.
There were two large empty flasks there, and a pile of shattered glass with a rock in it probably used to be a third.
I picked the flasks up and immediately detected a strange odor.
These flasks smell funny... Who hid them here? And why?
I handed one to Otho, who took a sniff and quickly pulled his head away.
Suddenly, everything clicked. It all became clear and I got a nasty feeling in my gut. I looked at the nearby well and drew up a bucket of water from it. Bringing it near my nose was all the answer I needed.
This water has the same odor as the bottles, although it's barely noticeable. What do you make of this, Otho?
Otho smelled the bucket, then looked at me. His eyes were widened in rage and his face was white with fury.
"POISO-!" Otho shouted, before catching himself. He continued in a quieter tone, so the patients wouldn't hear. "Poisoning the well?! What bastard demonspawn could do such a thing?"
"I think I know," I said grimly.
Who, spit it out, damnye! I'll have his guts for garters!
Echoing his own words back at him, I told Otho, "I have my thoughts on the matter, but I ain't gunna talk about it."
Think you're clever, do ye? There are still victims alive! Speak!
No. Not yet. I don't have any proof, just suspicions, and I won't see a potentially innocent man sent to the executioner's block just on my gut feelings. But I'll give a note to Lanilor. I'll tell him that if he doesn't hear from me within two days, to open the note.
What do you mean, 'if he doesn't hear from you within two days'?
I mean that I'm going to investigate my suspect more closely, and if Lanilor doesn't hear from me, I will probably mean that I am dead.
I picked up one of the poisoned flasks and put it in my backpack.
What are ye going to do now?
I came here looking for answers, and now that I've found some, I'm going to talk to the other patients. Maybe they know something.
"This is a quarantine -" Otho started before realizing he would sound foolish.
These people have been poisoned, Otho. I'm not going to catch the Grey Death from them.
I entered another house. Otho followed
Who are you?
My name is Jeremiah. I'm a healer.
Otho's mouth opened in anger and astonishment at my lie, but he didn't say anything.
I'm Ce-*cough* Cederic...
Um, you don't look very healthy.
Way to impress him with your 'vast medical knowledge', genius.
I'm dying... you stupid bastard... *cough*
What can you tell me about this mysterious plague?
It's called the... the Grey Death. The Gods themselves created this p-plague to make us suffer for our... sins.
What kind of sins did you commit to deserve this?
I was a stupid... *cough*... a stupid... gambler. The Gods don't like games of chance... My Mummy told me so.
A gambler? Great Gods.
I lowered my voice and talked to Cideric so that Otho couldn't hear me. Otho, to his credit, didn't come closer to try and listen. Or perhaps he had keen hearing and didn't need to
"Cideric, I... I shouldn't be telling you this, but long ago I was a diferent person. I stole things, and killed men," I said regretfully. "Look at me; I don't have the Grey Death. Either the Gods are more just then you give them credit for, or they have exceptionally poor aim when they're smiting sinners," I said. I tried to smile, but failed.
You may not have the G-grey Death... yet. But the Gods will judge you sooner or... later.
Let us both hope it is not before I can cure you. Tell me, how did you get the disease?
A few weeks ago, I woke up with a sore throat and I was itching all over. At first I though I *cough* had a hangover from a party with friends the day before, (although I took care to drink lots of water before going to sleep). ... But later, Doctor Elrath passed by and identified these symptoms to be of the Grey Death. I was put in quarantine immediately. *cough*
Were you all moved to these houses?
No, we all lived here, before that damned dis-*cough* disease came into our lives. ... Oh Julianne...
I... I just can't stop thinking about my wife Julianne... What will happen to her after I die?
You're not going to die.
Don't... *cough* make promises... you can't *cough* keep.
Sorry. I'm just trying to you offer some comfort.
S-save it... for my wife. She's the one who will end up suffering *cough* for my sins. We didn't have much... and I gambled most of what we had away. But she still... loved me. ... Julianne... I'm sorry... I'm sorry for everything...
I'll let you get some rest.
I decided to talk to the last patient - the woman named Sara. Otho followed me in.
Thank the Gods that David and Megan haven't fallen ill as well. That gives me some comfort at least... even in my final days.
My husband and young daughter. They... were away when the illness struck. I miss them, but I'm glad they can't *cough* see me like this.
4 Febirium 1218 22 O'clock
I pounded on the door until the small viewing slot opened.
"Who is it, pounding away?" demanded the servant who had opened it. I recognized him.
"It's me, Neilson... Jeremiah," I said softly.
Neilson was startled. "Jeremiah?! It is you! We haven't heard a word- I suppose you're here about your father..."
"Yes, of course I am!" I exclaimed. "Let me in, I brought something which can help... if... if it's not too late."
Neilson slid the slot shut, and I heard the sound of the door being unbarred. Neilson opened the door and let me in. "You had better hurry... the healers say that he doesn't have long..."
"What's all the noise? Doesn't anyone have any respect?" came an angry voice from the next room. It was Jenna. She strode in and stopped flat-footed. "Who the hell are... J-Jer?" she said in shock.
I couldn't meet her eyes. "I'm sorry. I came as soon as I heard."
"My Gods, Jeremiah! You practically vanished into thin air over a YEAR ago; and NOW you show up? Our father is DYING, Jeremiah!" Jenna said angrily.
Her words were a painful lash, reminding me of my many failings, and I deserved every bit of it, and much more. But it would have to wait until later.
"He doesn't have to," I said, holding up the package. "Healing gems. Now quickly, take me to the healers."
No one moved.
"The healers, I said! Where are the healers treating my father?"
"Begging your pardon, Jeremiah," Neilson said, "But your father had them all sent away, over your sister's objections."
"Well then go have one brought back here! Hurry!" I said.
I took the steps two at a time up to father's bedroom.
He woke up when I entered. "Who are you?" he asked. His voice was hoarse, but it still contained some of the strength it once had.
I pushed my hood back. "It's me, father," I said. Jenna entered the room behind me. Father turned to look at her. "My daughter, tell me that I'm not losing my mind now as well?"
"No, father," Jenna said, with just the slightest tremor in her voice. "Jeremiah has come home at last."
I took the velvet-wrapped gemstone out of my pocket. "I've got this magical gemstone - it can heal you, cure the plague. You'll be..." Jenna's face still looked grim. "What is it?" I asked.
"I don't... have the plague," my father said. "It's some kind of magical curse."
Up until that moment, I'd been convinced that I was going to save him... that everything would be alright again, somehow.
"I told you that back in my mercenary days; I killed many evil wizards. But one of them - Drakthorn... it turns out that he had a daughter. About a month ago, she showed up... and told me... told me... that now my children would know what it's like to have their father stolen from them."
"My Gods..." I didn't know what else to say. "Who was she? I'll track her down and make her undo what she did!"
"No! Don't... she's too powerful. She didn't give her name, just her father's. ... I don't think that there is a way to undo it... not... with the time I have left... I even asked that elf wizard friend of yours to help... but he couldn't..."
"E-Eloric? You talked to Eloric?"
"Yes, that's the one, Jer," Jenna said.
Eloric's alive? I thought he was killed by the demon!
"Father... don't give up. Please! There must be something we can do!"
"There might be... but unfortunately... I don't think there's any more time. Jenna... Jeremiah... look after each other..."
My father's eyes closed.
No. You're wrong. You're so very wrong. Your family... they would want to see you.
My words carried the ring of experience. The woman looked at me closely.
Who are you, stranger?
My name is Jeremiah, and I will not allow you to become another victim of this... disease! I will find a way to cure you!
There is no cure! The good Doctor Elrath has tried to save me, but he says he can only slow the process.
What can you tell me about Doctor Elrath?
He's a brave and kind soul, constantly risking his own health by treating us plague victims.
What does the doctor ask you to do?
Well, he instructs us to rest as much as possible and to drink often.
And do you follow that up carefully?
Of course we do! Surely after poor Corroner died. He did not follow the doctor's instructions carefully: he refused to drink lots of fresh water... the doctor found him the next day... he suffocated in his sleep, because of the high fever of course.
My jaw dropped before I could cover up my expression, but luckily the woman didn't notice. Otho, on the other hand was turning his familiar shade of furious red.
"Take care." I said, hustling Otho out before he could erupt.
I am no healer, but even I know-
That murdering BASTARD. I... I...
Otho didn't even finish his sentence before he headed for the gate in a fury.
Your oath, healer!
You took an oath to not kill anyone, even by inaction. Leave Elrath to me. I'm going to break into his house and see what he's up to. Your job - and the rest of the healers as well is to get these people fresh water - NOT from this well, and to keep Elrath occupied as long as possible. Can you do that Otho? For the sake of these sick people?
There was a long pause, then Otho nodded. "Aye," he said, "but how are ye gonna get in? If I heard right, his house is right in the market, with lots o' people about."
"Leave that to me," I said. "I've got a plan."
Also, I seem to have misplaced my house key. If you or any of the other healers find it, let me know, would you? It's new, so it should be nice and shiny.
If you've lost your key, how will you get back into your house, Doctor?
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...
18 Sembten 1218
Blasted damn missing key. I hope it turns up soon, I'm sick of having to use the spare each morning.
As Elrath left, I cancelled my invisibility spell. My gamble had paid off. It was worth getting here before dawn.
While I was waiting, I had decided what I would say if someone spotted me. Elrath had asked me to get him some notes from his house. Of course I was invited, I had his key, didn't I? ... Alright, it wasn't a GOOD story, but it wasn't like I had had much time... or sleep.
I needn't have bothered. No one paid me any attention as I turned the key and slipped inside.
Elrath's dining room was simple and sparse. Nothing looked interesting, so I headed for the door.
It was locked.
No problem, I'll just pick...
There was no keyhole at all.
How does this open?
It looked too sturdy for me to break down, and using magic would at the very least be noisy, at worse it would burn the entire house down.
I looked around carefully. I examined the table, inspected the globe, and tapped on the walls. And then I saw it.
I pulled the lantern, and the door swung open. I entered the hallway, and...
"About the Game" posted:
Elrath's house is locked most of the time with an unpickable lock. You can't get in at all until you confront him about the poison in the Blue Boar Inn cellar.
This is a puzzle. Some (not all) of the lamps are attached to cords. Pull one, and some doors open, and some doors close. Where we want to go is through door D.
Honestly, what I do is just monkey around with trial and error until I get it right. The following diagram is based on a walkthrough.
Switch DECOY looks like it's important, and it probably also has an effect on the doors, but it can be completely ignored.
When you come in, doors A and C are closed and locked, and doors B and D are open.
Press the switches in the following order:
1, 2, 3, 4, 2, 2, 3
1 and 2: opens A and unlocks C
3: opens B but closes A
4: opens A
2 twice: closes A and B, then opens A
3: closes A, but opens B and D
Video - Solving the Door Puzzle
Finally, I seemed to untangle the whole mess and entered one last room.
No one goes to so much trouble if they aren't hiding something. Whatever is in this cellar is the key to the mystery of Elrath, I'm certain of it.
The cellar was just one room, and it was empty of anything interesting.
Maybe there's something in this chest...
A key, but what is it for? Anyway, this spellbook looks useful...
"About the Game" posted:
- This skill gives you vision of an area you couldn't normally see for 1 to 5 seconds. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to show you the entities in the room, so you can't see who is waiting for you, making this already limited-utility spell even more useless. You could use this combined with telekinesis to perform thefts, however.
I used wizard sight to look below the south wall, but there was nothing there but solid rock.
I checked west - AHA!
I unpiled the crates and found a door, locked.
I inserted the key from the cellar chest, turned it, and the door opened.
There were empty cells on either side of a hallway which headed south. They didn't seem to have seen recent use, but they were not something that belonged in the cellar of a doctor.
Neither did the poison trap I stepped on! Luckily, my Spellshield bore the brunt of the toxic cloud.
I opened the door at the end of the hallway and stepped through. The trap should have warned me to be more cautious, but with all the adrenaline and the sleplessness, I wasn't thinking completely straight.
I came face to face with a demon; a Djinn.
... no... no... not again...
The fear only paralyzed me for a split second.
That split second of hesitation was all the time that the demon needed to slash through my armor with impossibly sharp claws.
Next Time: Triage
Behind the Scenes
I hope you're not expecting the next chapter to be fall-down hilarious. It isn't.
You can offer to put Cideric out of his misery, although you can't actually follow through on that.
Do you want me to put you out of your misery?
N-nay! I was not a... righteous man. Now I must face my p-punishment...
What kind of sins did you commit to deserve this?
I was a stupid... *cough*... a stupid... gambler. The Gods don't like games of chance... My Mummy told me so.
A gambler? Great Gods, I've killed more men and slept with more whores than I can count! Look at me; I don't have the Grey Death. The Gods are more just than you give them credit for.
If you're playing as a female, the word "whores" is replaced with "bravos", but the rest is the same.
In Elrath's Bedroom is a copy Part 9 of The Adventure of the Dreaming Gem. You can only get this on this visit, so be sure to take it while you have the chance.
The ending shot is more accurate then you might think. The demon - despite the relatively low damage output of its stats - for some reason can actually kill you in one blow if it gets up close to you. This is another reason why this quest seems aimed at a mage.
What's fake in this update?
- I swapped Cideric and Tibus, they are in the opposite houses then I claim. You'll see why I did this next update.
- There are no schedules in the games. NPC's always stay in pretty much the same spot and only wander back and forth. So like all the healers, Otho always is at the Blue Boar Inn, never anywhere else. So all the shots which have him are faked.
- The image of Jeremiah at his father's bedside was actually mostly real. I wasn't expecting to be able to do that practically, but in the Verdistis healer's house, there's an old man in a bed. I used the survivor character took a few screenshots. I wiped out as much of the distinguishing features and the HUD as I could. I also added a cabinet to cover up an empty bed which conflicted with the impression I wanted to give.
- The twist with Jeremiah's father being killed by a magical curse is actually me trying to dig myself out of the plot hole I created by having past-Jeremiah get his hands on a healing gem.
- The shots of Jeremiah watching Elrath retrieve his key were faked.The key however is there, but only after you confront Elrath about the poison in the Blue Boar Inn cellar.
- There isn't a spellbook in the chest. I actually added that well after I had done this part, I figured it was a good place to show off the Wizard's Eye spell.
- The last shot was faked, but not much - I only replaced the health bar and the active skill icon.