Part 49: Rumors, Bargains, and Lies
Chapter 36 - Rumors, Bargains, and Lies
Music - "War and Peace"
Download (Thanks to Grawl)
I returned to Verdistis via the teleporter. The storm hadn't arrived yet, thankfully. I headed to sir Dante's mansion, when I was approached by a little girl.
I hesitated, but I couldn't keep the memories of the Poor Quarter out of my head. All the people were walking around without even a trace of hope in their eyes. What with salvaging the weapons from the orc camp, and various small rewards for my good deeds, I had plenty of gold to spare.
You poor child. Here's ten gold pieces. Take it home to your mother so she can buy some food.
The child's face lit up, but not in the way I was expecting.
Why you filthy little...
I never learn, do I?
Suddenly, seemingly from out of nowhere came a whole horde of other urchins.
I tried to walk away, but they followed.
Please stranger! I haven't eaten for days!
I will have to sleep on the streets and it gets soooo cold at night. Please help!
I sighed in exasperation.
Very well. Here, take this gold. Now go away.
I tossed down a generous handful of coins and made my escape to Sir Dante's house, just as the rain started to pour.
"About the Game" posted:
I think that if you say no enough times, they also leave. You jerk.
The other responses for what you can say to the initial girl are in the Behind the Scenes.
And of course, the death of his son?
Hmmm... oh yes, that matter. Anyway, do you -
I have this golden brooch crafted by Elmer Vignus, the famed dwarven jeweler. I handed the package over.
Ah, the golden brooch for Sir Dante's wife. She'll be very pleased to see that her husband would buy her such an expensive and extravagant gift.
Will that really help? I don't mean to be callous, but didn't she just lose her son?
Hmm? Oh, no. Tibus's mother was Sir Dante's first wife.
What a lovely caring family.
Thank you for delivering the brooch. I am sure Sir Dante would see you rewarded for this. Here, take these coins as payment of thanks.
I take it that Sir Dante can see me now?
Oh, yes of course. One moment.
Randell walked over and knocked on the door. I heard a man say "Enter," and Randell went in. "There's a man by the name of Jeremiah here to see you, sir," Randell said. "I believe he wishes for a favour from you. He did retrieve the brooch for your wife."
Randell emerged from the room. "Sir Dante will see you now."
I took a breath and entered the room.
Sir Dante was standing behind the desk. There was a roll of thunder, and rain pelted the windows.
You are Jeremiah Liro?
You're not from these lands, are you?
No. I am from Idfrennia, to the west.
I am familiar with it. Since you are a foreigner, you may not understand exactly who you are addressing. I am the famous Sir Dante, one of the richest nobles in Verdistis. I am also a close friend and advisor to the royal family and a founding member of the Guild of Moneylenders.
For once, I decided it would be in my best interest to keep my big mouth shut. "Good, someone who knows when not to speak," Sir Dante said, and sat down.
I understand, Mr. Liro, that you were at the heart of a recent matter.
Some mad doctor decided to poison the poor quarter. That does not concern me. Some of the victims were cured, but some were not. And you were the one who decided who got the cure?
That is correct.
Why were you the one who made those decisions?
There wasn't anyone else. The healers - the REAL healers, have a code which prevents them from healing one at the expense of another. When faced with two people equally sick, with only the possibility to save one, they simply cannot make a decision. There was no time to waste, the patients were all getting close to death. I am not a healer and was not bound by the code.
Did you know at the time that Tibus was my son?
I did not.
Here you sit, having ended my son's life, hoping for a favour from me. ... If you had known Tibus was my son, if you had the chance to change your decision, would you have done anything differently?
I had done little else except think about what I'd done. My answer came to me at once, I looked Sir Dante into the eye and gave my answer.
Sir Dante blinked in surprise. " 'No'? Explain. Why did the others more deserve life than my son?" he said calmly.
The thought came out fully formed. "They were not," I admitted. "It was not just the lives of the sick that influenced my decision, but the lives of those who depended on the sick. A mother had a husband and daughter to care for. A husband would have left a wife behind."
I couldn't keep my voice from trembling - just a little. "I did not want to see any of them suffer or die. The others worried about their family, your son didn't. I... I am sorry for your loss, I truly am." I regained control and said firmly "But I would have made the same decision again, even if it does cost me your aid."
There was a long, dangerous silence, broken only by thunder and the sound of rain on the roof. Finally Dante spoke again.
You must have the courage of an entire tribe's worth of orcs.
Is that a compliment or an insult?
You came here, and say right to my face... that not only did you kill my son, but you would do that again! And on top of that, you have the gall to ask me for a favour!
See, this is what happens when you get so caught up with 'playing hero' that you forget why the bloody hell you're here in the first place.
There was a shorter, deadlier silence.
Do you understand that if you had killed my son Timothy, whatever your excuse, we would not be sitting here having a pleasant chat?
Yes sir, I understand.
From what I have gleaned from rumors, this Elrath targeted the poor indiscriminately out of some grudge?
That's what I understand. Elrath was working for someone else; they were the ones who gave him the poison. They were not happy that Elrath used the poison to settle his petty grievances.
Do you know who those people are?
I'm afraid not, the letter was only signed with "I".
Strange... if Tibus hadn't been such a disappointment, then I wouldn't have had to disown him. If I hadn't disowned him, he would never have ended up in the poor quarter, and wouldn't have gotten sick when the water was poisoned. Tibus ended up being the cause of his own death, in a roundabout way.
That's your son! Your own flesh and blood! How can you be so callous?!
It's much better than than him being mad at us. Count your blessings.
But still... I could never treat a son of mine with such inhumanity and disregard.
Nevertheless, Tibus was my son, and someone must pay for his death.
Uh-Oh... Looks like you spoke to soon, Cynical-Me...
Jeremiah Liro, the blame... does not lie with you. It lies with Elrath, and those he worked for. I demand to have my revenge. Can you assist me in this?
I will try. Some other things I found in the letter might give me a place to seek out this "I", although it's only circumstantial proof. The favour... the favour I want you to do for me might help me get closer to finding Elrath's co-conspirators.
Yes. I do not know for certain. But it is all I have.
There was another silence.
Ask your favour.
I've heard from a friend that you've got excellent contacts in the Assassins' Guild.
A brief look of surprise flased across Sir Dante's face, then his expression turned neutral again
That's not important! What is important is that I need to contact a high official in the Assassins' Guild.
Interesting... I of course, know nothing about that, and cannot help you.
Thank you for your time.
I got up and turned to leave.
"But..." Sir Dante said. I turned around. "I am curious, Mr. Liro. After all your talk of helping to save lives... why do you wish to hire an assassin? Indulge my curiosity, please."
The tone of his voice suggested it was an opening, but my answer would have to be a good one. I decided that sticking close to the truth was the best option.
Off the record, naturally.
My... my sister has been murdered in these lands. Her killer is well-connected and has escaped justice. I want the killer taken care of, and while I have the funds, I lack the necessary knowledge of these lands myself.
I see... Hmmm... off the record, perhaps I could introduce you to someone in the Assassins' Guild, but my introductions don't come cheap, if you catch my meaning. Obviously, I don't want money, but you will have to do me a little favour. Understood?
What is it you want me to do?
There is a man. Sir Patrick. He also lives in Verdistis, but he is a shame to the nobility. Great Gods, he WORKS! He may be richer than me, but at least I don't sully myself with labour like some dirty peasant!
What a jackass.
If not through work, then how did you get to be so rich?
That is none of your business, peasant!
You obviously seem to dislike Sir Patrick.
Ha! That's rather an understatement - I hate his worthless guts! He's constantly trying to undermine my authority in this town. But I will be rid of him soon enough. This is where you come in. I need you to break into Sir Patrick's house and steal his title deed.
His title deed? What would you want to do with that?
None of your damned business, peasant! Now get going! I urgently need that title deed!
Where do you think Sir Patrick keeps it?
Sir Patrick lives on the other side of Verdistis... on the downwind side of town. The stench is unbearable, so I'm told. I'm pretty sure he keeps his title deed in his secret vault. I don't know how to gain entry to it however... That is for you to find out!
As it so happens, getting in to inaccessible places is a specialty of mine. So if I steal this title deed for you, you will introduce me to someone of importance in the Assassins' Guild?
If you do this little favour for me, I will give you a formal introduction to the Grand Illuminated Cyclops of Death herself.
No doubt that Elrath gave them my name, so I should obviously use an alias.
Very well, blueblood, we have a deal. When you make the arrangements, say that my name is Edwin.
Well, what are you doing standing about here, then? Go and steak that title deed! Immediately!
So much for my promise to change my ways. But this is about finding out what happened to Jenna. If she's still alive, I can't waste any more blasted time looking for a nice solution, and if she's dead... if she's dead, I no longer care what I do, or what happens to me.
I left Sir Dante's mansion behind and headed out into the rainy streets. The storm had driven everyone - even the street urchins inside, and I hurried to Sir Patrick's house. The sun was setting and it would be dark quickly.
"About the Game" posted:
If you respond to Dante's question about "Who told you?" with "Zandalor the Wizard" or "It doesn't matter", the conversation continues. If you reply with "Commander Ralph" or "Smiruk the Ork", Dante gets annoyed with you and you tell him you're joking, then you get sent back to pick another "Who told you?" option.
Well met, Sir Patrick. I hope business serves you well...
Yes, yes, thank you. And if you're clever, today will also become your lucky day. Anybody needs a few extra coins, right?
Oh, you're a lender of money? You are helping people to realize their dreams, financially that is?
I am indeed, my friend. If you need a large sum of money in a short amount of time, I'm the person to satisfy that need.
You appear to be one of the city's richest inhabitants.
I am the richest person in the city. Though it can often be more of a burden than a blessing.
Wealth a burden? How so?
Wealth attracts envy and plenty of enemies my friend. There are a lot of people in this town that would like to see me ruined. Why that damned Sir Dante has been a thorn in my side for some time.
Tell me more about Sir Dante.
Other than the fact that he's a callous bastard.
He's a most disagreeable fellow. Constantly gossiping about other people. I had a dispute with him recently and now I fear he plots against me.
What sort of dispute did you have with the Sir Dante? Maybe I can help you with it.
Oh, the irony.
Oh, I outbid him during an auction held in the city recently. He didn't like that at all. He stormed out of the auction red-faced and fuming, threatening me with ruin. Now whenever something terrible occurs in my life, I'm convinced it's due to Dante.
Interesting... but let's bet back to business. Tell me more about your loan conditions...
I pretended to listen attentively as he carefully explained the different loans and interest rates he offered, but I 'regretfully' declined. I bid him good day, and left his library. As soon as I was out of sight of all living thing, I activated my invisibility and carefully looked around the house.
I noticed that the house seemed to be smaller on the inside than the outside. I tapped on stones as much as I dared, but all the walls seemed to be solidly mortared stone. I went outside. The storm was still going. Sir Patrick's usual compliment of guards seemed to be taking shelter, which was ideal.
I carefully snuck around investigating the grounds of his mansion, and then I found it.
A teleporter stone, like the kind I'd seen in the Dwarven Halls. I took a breath and readied myself for a fight as I stepped on the stone.
Thankfully, when the sensation died down, I was alone. The only sound was the rain drumming on the roof. I was in a room with five doors. There was a lever in one of the walls. The doors were locked, without keyholes, but when I pulled the lever, I heard a clicking sound come from one of them.
Ah... I've seen this kind of thing before...
A few minutes and several lever-pulls later, and I was into the last room. The Title deed Sir Dante wanted was sitting in plain sight.
Sorry, Sir Patrick. You may not deserve this, but this is more important to me than my code of ethics.
I picked the deed up and looked it over.
I don't understand how this is going to work. There was an auction. Surely there were legal records about who has rightful ownership of this... Bah, I don't care. Let them sort it out. It's not my problem.
"About the Game" posted:
If you want to rob the place, do it now, after you turn the deed in, the teleporter stone will no longer work (or vanishes completely). There's a couple thousand of gold I liberated from the chests, which is not really a lot compared to what you can get by asking for a loan. Just to be clear, I the player took the gold, but Jeremiah the character left it behind.
I returned without incident to Sir Dante's house.
I have the title deed you wanted. Do you have any idea what I had to go through to get this damned thing?
I handed it over.
I did my part by stealing that title deed. Are you going to hold up your end of the bargain?
Sir Dante always keeps his word! I've arranged everything with the assassins. Yarun, a high-ranking assassin awaits you in the archives of the Merchant's Guild.
Just leave already!
I left without a word. The Merchant's Guild was closed for the evening, so I found a cheap inn out the outskirts of town.
20 Sembten 1218
By now, news of Elrath's arrest had spread to Verdistis. Opinions on it depended mostly on the social status of the people I heard talking about it.
So it was the local doctor poisoning the Rivertown poor section's well that caused the 'plague', was it? Give that man a medal I say! Anything to get that rabble off the streets and raise the tone a little! My Father always said that the only way to reduce the number of the poor was with a gallows.
Great Gods! They say that the plague in the poor section of Rivertown was actually caused by a mad doctor poisoning the well! Why would a man do such a thing? I just hope they find a suitable punishment for him if he's still alive. Drop him down the well he poisoned, that's what I say!
So the 'plague' in the poor section of Rivertown was actually an evil doctor a poisonin' of the well water, was it? I reckon the nobles and that Duke Janus paid him to do it! Those rich swine are always sayin' they wish we poor folk would all die. I reckon they decided to speed things up a little. Bastards. We should rise up an' kill 'em before they kill us!
There were also some rumors that hit a little too close to home.
Early this morning, Commander Kratus and a squad of men were summoned to Sir Patrick's manor. I don't know what that's all about, but none of em' looked happy.
I heard that there was a break-in at Sir Patrick's mansion. I don't know who it was or what they stole, but good on 'em! Serves the miserly bastard right. I just hope Sir Patrick don't find out whodunit, or else they'll be in a whole heap o' trouble.
I arrived at the Merchant's Guild and entered. There was a man in red in the front hallway.
A pleasant speech. I am called Jeremiah. May I know your name?
I am Malcolm, the honourable secretary of this guild. If you wish to do some business with our house, you must speak with me first.
There's an assassin somewhere in here.
What kind of business takes place in the Merchant's Guild?
I am afraid I am bound by the strictest laws of our guild to not impart such information to commoners and strangers.
Very well. I am looking for a man called Yarum. Is he here?
Yes, he's in the guild archives.
He made no move to get out of my way or direct me.
Can you take me to see him? I have business. Confidential business.
Absolutely not! This is a private building, and the archives are the most private part of it! We can't let strangers come barging in on a whim!
I gritted my teeth in frustration.
Then when will he come out?
I can't say that I've ever known Yarum to leave. He has a small apartment and takes all his meals here.
Then have him summoned! Or do I have to give you a thrashing, you fool?
I hadn't intended to take out my frustration on him, but I wasn't expecting his response. A look of terror crossed his face and he dropped to his knees.
You're him, aren't you! No! Please, I beg you! Please don't kill me! Tell her I'm sorry!
Tell who what? What are you talking about?
You mean... Oh... I mistook you for someone else. Never mind, i-it's nothing.
Okay... now if you'll just step aside and let me into the archives.
N-no! Only members of the guild are allowed into the archives. If you persist on trespassing, I can have Commander Kratus lock you up. He is a personal friend of mine.
How do I become a member of your guild?
You must have a document that proves that you have a business of medium size in the dukedom. If you are not affiliated with a company then you can always pay a sum of 10,000 gold coins to enter.
10,000 gold coins!? That is rather a large amount!
Think of the many advantages you can get as a guild member! With the proper training, all shops will give you better prices. Yes the fee is large, but... I would be willing to lower the fee is you could do me a small favour.
Does this have something to do with what you said a minute ago?
Yes. There is a woman called Maria living in the poor quarter of Rivertown. She has slandered the reputation of the guild for quite some time. I have recently received information that this Maria is planning to assassinate a member of the guild.
What do you wish me to do about that? Can't you get your friend Kratus to help you?
Kratus' jurisdiction and influence is limited to the city only. We cannot take any direct steps against Maria ourselves. If you can... take care of her then your favour with us would rise considerably. I would even waive the entrance fee to join our guild.
Something doesn't seem right about this. For one thing, people living in the poor quarter barely have enough to feed themselves, never mind hire an assassin. And something about his manner feels forced.
You want me to kill an innocent woman? That's all?
If you were telling the truth, you would have protested the assertion that she was innocent.
I thought for a moment. If I tried to force my way into the archives, and was caught snooping around, I'd attract a lot of unwanted attention, and I might blow my cover before I'd even established it. Not to mention that Commander Kratus already disliked me, and he'd probably eagerly lock me up. This might be my one and only chance. It would be better to do things as carefully as possible, even if it cost me some time and trouble.
"Consider it done!" I lied cheerfully.
Next Time: A Tale of
Behind the Scenes
Thanks to Glazius for making me realize that I needed to clarify exactly how Sir Dante felt, and why he wasn't going to kill Jeremiah.
There are other things you can say to the street urchin girl. I believe you get experience for this encounter no matter what you choose.
Sorry little one. I have no gold either.
The girl just walks away without saying a word.
Be gone beggar! My gold is hard earned and I'll be damned if I'm giving it to a dirty street urchin such as you.
I hope your hair falls out and you become too fat for your armour!
Here, take this gold piece and buy yourself an apple.
Do you know how much an apple COSTS these days?
Here were some conversation options for Dante which didn't fit. As always, this is completely real.
What do you want, peasant? My time is short and I don't like it when dirty strangers come strolling through my house.
How unpleasant! Who are you to talk to me in this tone?
What?! You don't know me? I am the famous Sir Dante, one of the richest nobles in Verdistis. I am also a close friend and advisor to the royal family and a founding member of the Guild of Moneylenders.
Just one of the richest nobles in Verdistis, eh? Got some competition on the old bloated plutocrat front, have you?
Well, there is Sir Patrick. ... (the rest of this conversation was already included.)
Since you are such an important person... What can you tell me about the city of Verdistis?
I can tell you that I'm the most important person in Verdistis! That is all you need to know!
If you chose to cure Sir Dante's son Tibus, you can ask him about the reward Tibus promised.
I am the one who saved your son, Tibus from the Grey Death.
Are you? Oh yes, you are. Yes, he told me about it. So, what about it?
Um, Tibus told me you would give me a reward.
There's another conversation option here as well:
Tibus told me you would give me a huge reward for saving him.
Well, he was wrong. Anything else?
Father of the year.
You can also talk about different things with Malcolm.
I would like to learn more about the history of the Merchants' Guild.
Very well. Many years ago a group of merchants founded a guild where other merchants could receive financial support. This organization established the first trade caravan routes to the kingdoms of the dwarves and elves.
The former Duke asked the guild to quickly build an efficient economy, so the merchants ordered tremendous amounts of gold bars from the dwarves which were then pressed into coin immediately.
What happened next?
Within a single decade, we became the most powerful organization in the dukedom.
You have the option of paying Malcolm the 10,000 gold directly. The "training" he's talking about technically exists. If you become a member, you get a key to the archive, where you can find a set of three books. Once you read the whole set, you permanently gain 1 to the Traders Tongue skill. But there aren't really any other benefits for us.
If you ask about buying or renting a house, we're turned down. We need permission from the Merchant's Guild, some money (a lot for buying the house outright), and a recommendation from someone who lives in Verdistis already.
Additional Dialogue from the Grey Death quest
There are only two potions for the Grey Death, and three patients. So is there a way to actually save them all? Yes, there is. It doesn't work for the narrative because it doesn't make any logical sense.
All of the NPC's are above level 6, but they're all below level 12. That means you can pickpocket them. Give one of the NPC's a cure potion, then use Pickpocket Rank 2, and you can take the cure potion back. Even though they should have technically used it already, it's the same item as an unused cure. So you can turn two cures into three.
Some conversation options I didn't take when talking with Tibus for story reasons:
What can you tell me about your family?
I am the sole son of Sir Dante. I am of noble blood! You must help me! Please! *cough*.
I'm sorry to say this, but your place looks like a dump! Don't you have any decency?
Well, what's the use of cleaning up if you can die any moment? I've lost all my pride, all hope. Besides, Doctor Elrath told me not to do any efforts and to rest as much as possible.
There are lines for curing the victims. I didn't show those because I wanted to keep the focus on the death of Tibus.
Here, take this antidote. It will help you.
An antidote against... the plague? Please g-give it to me... oh Gods, thank you!
Are you feeling better?
I don't know. The burning sensation in my throat has gone. I need rest now...
What are you doing now that the Gods have given you a second chance?
I always wanted to own a little casino. You know, help folk enjoy an evening and make a tidy profit at the same time. The Gods may hate gamblers, but the odds are always with the house. Ha ha!
Here, take this. It will help you.
I shall try it, though I have never been much blessed with luck in my life... *gulp*
She doesn't even have a "How are you feeling" conversation option.
Take this. It is an antidote for the plague.
An antidote! You have a cure for the plague? Please give it to me! Thank you! Thank you... *gulp*.
How are you feeling?
I wish I knew... most of my limbs are numb and abscesses are appearing on my body.
Your limbs have gone numb? I imagine that's a bad sign...
I feel exhausted, but the pain has gone! I think I will be able to see my family again after all! Thank you!
Rest my friend. In a few hours you should be fully healed.
What's fake in this update?
- Because in the actual game, the plague victim you don't help never dies, I made up a lot of the conversation with Sir Dante. I tried to get as much of the real dialogue in as I could.
- Oh, it wasn't raining in Verdistis. Rain and storm effects were coded into the game, but they are only done as scripted events in two tiny areas. Perhaps that's because you could go inside buildings while it's raining.
- There is no other inn in Verdistis, but I'm pretending it's larger than it is.
- I made up the rumors about the break-in at Sir Patrick's place. Whether or not that will come back to haunt Jeremiah is a question for another day.
- Malcolm is in his office, not the front hall. We don't need to talk to him to see Yarun. In fact we can't talk to him about Yarum at all. I made that up to splice in a bit more side-questing into the LP.