Part 65: No One Ever Pisses Off a Wizard... TWICE
Chapter 50 - No One Ever Pisses Off a Wizard... TWICE
Music - "At the Edge of Death"
Download (Thanks to Grawl)
I emerged from the dungeon into an unfamiliar cemetery. The sun gave me some bearings; it was to my right sinking towards the mountains. The Garden of Nericon was not far to the south, and farther in the distance was the bulk of Stormfist castle on its lonely hill.
Arhu had set me free, but then he had dashed off into the gloom, leaving me to fight all by myself and find my own way out, and he was complaining that I'd taken too long to get out?
"I'd never have made it without your help, little friend," I said, overly warmly. "But for you I'd have left my moldering bones down there!"
"Why, than-" Arhu started before I cut him off.
"Why, just imagine what trouble I could have gotten in without you guiding me every step of the way." My tone was getting more cheerful by the second.
"What are -" Arhu started to say.
I was on a roll now, and I laid it on thick, "If it wasn't for your assistance, who knows how long I could have been wandering blindly through a maze of dark, twisty, skeleton-filled corridors? Who knows what kind of traps I could have stumbled into if it wasn't for you pointing out the correct way out?"
At this point, I had no ideas where to look for Jenna. If I was to find her, Zandalor seemed to be my best option. But being the best option was completely different from being a good idea or easily done.
Granted, some things Iona said indicated that he was still free, for now at least. But look, how can we rescue Zandalor if we don't know where he is? And how am I supposed to get into Stormfist Castle? I don't think they'll let me back in there after Janus gave me the push.
Arhu licked his fur while he thought.
I recall Zandalor telling me a long time ago about ancient crypts below the castle where old artifacts are stored. Mrrr... That's probably where he went and that's almost certainly where he's trapped. It is not like Zandalor at all to stay away that long.
How on Rivellon am I going to get in those crypts if they exist?
Oh, they do exist, but I don't have knowledge about the secret passages leading in and out of Stormfist Castle. There are sewers under Rivertown, though. I reckon if water can get out of Stormfist castle, people can get in as well.
How do you reckon that? Water can squeeze between the cracks in these stones just fine, but I'm not that flexible!
I opened my mouth to vent some more, but then I remembered some things I'd heard.
I have heard as well that the sewers are crowded with vermin and aggressive Lizard people... I might be roaming there forever, Arhu. And Iona seemed to be pretty confident that she'd capture Zandalor soon. If he really is in danger, we don't have time to waste.
Perhaps there is another way. Rumors say that the Thieves' Guild can get in everywhere... even in the Castle.
Great! And how do we go on from here?
Pass your map down here and I'll at least mark an entrance to the sewers. If you want to find out where the secret entrance to the crypts under Stormfist Castle is, you can either look for it yourself or contact the Thieves' Guild in Verdistis. Those sneaks know every bolthole and shortcut in the town. They usually have a man on duty in the Ducal Inn.
So I can stumble around in the dark sewers, or hope that the Thieves' Guild will help. Neither seem like great options. ... Very well, I'll give it a try.
With that, Arhu teleported away, and I headed for a gate I saw.
As for you Marked One! You shall not leave this place!
This time, I didn't wait. I blasted Iona with a bolt of lightning.
She screamed and collapsed onto the ground.
Iona! Tell me where you've taken my sister, NOW!
I thought I'd aimed carefully, but as I approached her, she started convulsing and spitting up blood.
I didn't mean to kill her, I still need her to tell me where my sister is!
I rushed up to see if I could aid, when suddenly, Iona stopped thrashing and started laughing maniacally.
What a fool you are, Marked One!
Then she vanished!
Just as suddenly as she had vanished, she re-appeared... all around me! I was surrounded by Ionas!
That bitch is TOYING with me!
Where's my sister?
Your sister is in
the one place
you can NEVER reach!
They began intoning a spell. I didn't know what they were up to, but I wasn't going to fall for an illusory attack. I didn't know which one was real (I suspected none of them were), so I couldn't stop the spell.
The only thing I could do was focus intently on shielding my mind and body against assault or trickery. But to my surprise, the spell wasn't aimed at me, instead, the fence surrounding the graveyard briefly glowed blue before the colour faded back to normal.
Rise! Rise from your graves! And don't let him leave!!!
All around I heard the sounds of earth being disturbed and rotting hands clawing their way up.
You've merely traded one prison for another, Marked One.
The illusions faded out, but the laughter lingered a second or two longer before it too faded.
I'm not sure what Iona hoped to accomplish by sending a pack as pathetic as this to try and stop me, but it's not going to work.
There were quite a few zombies about, so some backup of my own was in order.
The corpses once again lay still and silent.
Damn it!! So close, I was so goddamn close! I've been screwing around here for a month, a damn month, wasting time while Jenna was rotting in that dungeon! And the second, the goddamn second, I find her, she's snatched away, and I've got to start looking all over again!! Fuck!
Calm yourself Jeremiah. You must keep control if you hope to rescue your sister.
Oh, it's you again. Where were you in the prison cell, or the house of madness?
Were there any words I could have said that would have lent you any comfort?
I don't know! Maybe! But if you're not going to help, then just shut up.
I headed for the graveyard's gate.
But before I even got close enough to touch it, I felt a terrible, icy sensation within me, it was like my veins were full of burning ice. My chest tightened, I couldn't breathe... I stumbled backwards, and suddenly the sensation faded away. I was back to normal and pain-free.
I moved cautiously towards the gate again, much slower this time, and I started to feel the same sensation. The fence had been cursed with something nasty. I wasn't going anywhere.
So I'm trapped here until someone comes back for me... either Arhu... or Iona, this time with backup. Wonderful. Now what?!
Close your eyes and open your mind.
What? Iona could-
She is not here now, and if you wish to leave before she returns, you should lower the mental barriers you're using.
I thought about asking why, but instead I just did it. The mystery voice was right. I sensed a powerful spiritual disturbance, or possible many disturbances nearby. Such things were not unheard of in a graveyard, but it is hard to notice without training. The strongest impression seemed to be coming from the chapel in the center.
Naturally, the door was locked.
Strange... there's no keyhole.
I looked around the rest of the graveyard and found a few more wandering undead to put down. I spotted a teleporter platform, but on the other side of the fence.
I'd rather not go back into that dungeon unless I really, really have to.
The entrance to the crypt was unlocked and the weather-beaten door swung open with a creak. I descended the stairwell.
"About the Game" posted:
The enemies around here are actually pretty high level, compared to the ones on the first level of Iona's dungeon. There are a few of these Dark Zombie mini-bosses in the graveyard, and there's an even tougher boss in the crypt to my left.
Well, theoretically, these guys are tough - if you try and melee them, normally, they use weak poison as their main short-range attack. Still, even in the end-game, 3000 HP is a tough boss. The main difference between enemies here and in the end-game is that end-game enemies do not have any elemental weaknesses to exploit. Here, I just use Meteorstrike or Burning Wall to cut them down to size with little danger to myself.
Angry ghosts. What a shock.
Nothing cures a ghost infestation like a cleansing fireball or two.
"About the Game" posted:
Actually, I hit level 24 in the upper part of the graveyard, then I did the rest of Iona's dungeon before entering the crypt, so while I did level up at that point after completing Iona's dungeon, it was to level 28, not 24.
This seemed to be an important crypt. There were several weapon cases containing various weapons and armor. I was surprised that they were unlocked. There were several heavy armor pieces that were highly enchanted.
All the training and fighting I've done has helped me a lot. I think the added protection and enchantments are more than worth the extra weight. Sorry George, your armor has served me well, I killed your murderer while wearing it, but it's time I traded up.
I was still sensing a spiritual disturbance - and an exceptionally powerful one. I prepared myself with shield spells.
I rained fireball after fireball on the shrieking spectre, never giving it a second's respite to attack.
Finally, with one last moan, it faded away into intangibility, but I still sensed a spiritual presence, although this one seemed farther away.
Does this open the chapel up?
The sun had finally fallen and it was dark on the surface. The spiritual presence was still in the chapel.
This time the door opened easily, but the chapel was quite bare. There was no sign of anything out of place until I was on the far side of the room.
This ghost had retained more of its original human form than the others, and most importantly, it didn't attack me on sight.
Who are you?
I am, or was, Pendrak Ferol, Duke of Stormfist Castle. Now I'm nothing more than a restless, troubled spirit. I have been waiting here in the hope someone would find me in this chapel.
Why was this place all sealed off?
I don't know... When I was ruler, this was open to all who wished to come and visit the graves of the ancient rulers of the Dukedom.
Why are you still bound in the land of the living, spirit? What happened to you?
I was out hunting when suddenly I felt a sting in my leg, a few seconds later everything went black before my eyes. The last thing I remember is falling off my horse and coming down hard. I believe I was hit by a small poisoned dart, but my soul won't find any rest until I know who killed me!
I already found that out! An assassin named Cybu murdered you.
Wait! A magical field has trapped me in this graveyard! Do you think you can help?
I will try. Thank you, hero, for freeing me... now I will try to do the same for you...
With that, he was gone. I left the chapel and headed for the gate, cautiously. Pendrak had somehow done it. The barrier was gone.
I headed to the teleporter platform, with one destination clearly in mind. The Ducal Inn, Verdistis.
It had been a long, distressing week. I was tired. I was hungry; I was fed up with this whole wretched country. But most of all, I was angry. I was angry at the Black Ring for taking my sister. I was angry at Janus for treating me like a worthless serf. I was even a little bit angry at Jenna and Richard for getting themselves tangled up in this whole mess. But most of all, I was angry at myself.
I had failed to protect my mother from orcs. I had failed my friends Tom and Eloric, which had made me fail Jenna by abandoning her about a year and a half ago. I had failed my father. And now I had failed Jenna again.
I regret what came next. I set a terrible example for wizards everywhere. The year of meditation, training, discipline before you're taught even basic spells is to help make sure you have the right temperament. But we're still people; we have emotions like anyone else.
Everyone has levers that when pulled the wrong way, causes something to snap inside them. The difference is that when something snaps inside a wizard, OTHER people tend to be the ones who end up exploding.
My only option seems to be Zandalor, and Arhu said the key to finding him was through the bloody Thieves' Guild in this bloody inn. But they wouldn't have lasted long as a guild if they just up and let just any idiot walk in and ask to join. Especially since I'm too bloody famous for my own damn good.
Getting kicked out of the castle in disgrace would help, but I still had a reputation as a do-gooder. I was tired, too tired to come up with a plan. I ordered a dwarven ale and watched the patrons. Somewhere in here was my way into the Thieves Guild.
I was deep into my third Dwarven Ale when the trouble started. I was recognized.
"Well, lookie what we have here - the Lord Protector himself!" exclaimed a man I didn't know. He appeared to be very drunk.
"Didn't ye get kicked out for crappin' yer britches at the first sign of Orcs?" he bellowed loudly. His buddies thought this was the most hilarious thing in the world and laughed uproariously.
I didn't want the attention or the distraction. A lecture from my first year at the magic university started echoing in my head.
"A proper wizard is always dispassionate."
"You're drunk. Go home," I said curtly.
The drunk was itching for a fight. I guessed his thoughts were something along the lines of: Wouldn't that be a feather in my cap, I beat down the man who used to protect the Duke.
"Whassa matter," he slurred, "Afraid ta fight someone whose got man-parts between his legs?"
"A proper wizard is always in control of his or her emotions at all times."
I got up and walked off. I was in no mood for this, no mood at all. "Just leave me alone," I tossed back as I headed for the exit.
"Thas what yer sister told me last night!" the foolish drunk said.
"A proper wizard never, ever loses his temper."
I stopped in my tracks.
No, Jeremiah... don't.
The drunk didn't notice that I had frozen. "...but after she stopped strugglin' she came to enjoy it. Said it was just like when yer pa did her!" He gave a coughing laugh.
If he had said anything else, I would have just let it go. Maybe if the Black Ring hadn't just snatched Jenna away from right under my nose, I would have just let it go. Maybe even if I wasn't dead on my feet, I would have just let it go. But as much as the intellectual side of my mind wanted to let it go, I... I just couldn't.
"A proper wizard never acts out of rage or hatred."
I grinned and turned around. I laughed heartily. The drunk and his buddies laughed more. Everyone else was watching in horrified silence, knowing that trouble was coming in the door. I laughed heartily again, so did the drunks.
"Because if a wizard loses control when he or she unleashes their power, the carnage can be horrific."
Then giving no warning, I loosed a bolt of lightning from my hands, aimed perfectly. It tore out the crotch of the drunks pants, setting them on fire, but missing his flesh.
Wasting no time, I summoned five skeletons at once. A cloud of steam rose from the fool's pants as he self-extinguished them. I grabbed the stinking blowhard by his stained collar and whispered in his ear using a sound-projection spell.
"Luckily for you, I'm in an EXCEPTIONALLY GOOD mood today," I lied. Throughout the entire bar, people flinched and looked around. My voice sounded like it was being whispered in the ears of everyone.
"We're friends, right?"
The drunk grinned nervously. He really wanted to be my friend right now.
"R-Right..." he said.
"Good!" I smiled and clapped the drunk on his shoulder. "That's good! Because I'm in such a good mood," I paused. "Are you right-handed or left handed?"
"Huh?" The drunk looked puzzled.
"When you drink an ale, do you hold the mug in your left or right hand?"
"Uh...right?" the drunk said confusedly, not at all sure where this was going.
"Good to know, good to know. Where was I? Oh, that's right. Because I'm in such a good mood, I'm going to let your buddies -" I fixed each of the drunk's buddies with a Look. They all had on their very best 'I-have-never-seen-this-crazy-drunk-guy-before-honest' face. "I'm going to let your buddies take you home to sleep it off. Isn't that nice?"
I smiled broadly.
"Y-Yeah..." the drunk trembled.
"And when you get home, you're going to pray to any gods you believe in, if you believe in any at all, that you didn't catch me when I was in a BAD mood. We clear?"
"Y-yes." The drunk said, relief flooding his features.
"Excellent," I said cheerfully. I clapped him on the shoulder once more and headed back to the bar. I nodded to my waiting skeletons.
"Break his right arm, so that he'll have a little reminder when he sobers up."
I took only a little pleasure in hearing the crack of bone and the scream, but demonstrations like this have a way of getting around fast. I doubted I'd be bothered by any more idiots.
I smiled brightly at the bartender, whose face had gone pale. Behind me, the drunk moaned in agony, clutching his broken arm. "More ale, please, my good man!" I said merrily.
Next Time: Den of Thieves
Behind the Scenes
The next update will cover the rest of Iona's dungeon which I skipped over, and if I have space, the extra event in the graveyard.
I mentioned in the last update the resistance debuff skills Withering Curse and Curse. I'm pretty sure that I didn't mention that Curse is one-half of an "I Win" button. When you combine Curse with a certain skill I don't have yet, you can end any non-boss fight in seconds for a pretty low mana cost (compared to killing them the regular way). This doesn't work on bosses, so I'll still have to kill them the old-fashioned way.
I was exceptionally lucky with that piece of chest armor. I would gladly have accepted those enchantments on armor for the end-game, if I didn't know there were even better pieces available.
What's fake in this update?
- The image of Iona cursing the cat. That really happens, but I moved her position (and covered up her original position) for reasons in the next point.
- The shot of Jeremiah zapping Iona with lightning was fake. He was actually zapping a zombie, I just pasted Iona over top of the zombie, which is why I faked the image of Iona in that location. [Real semi-spoiler] That image of Iona being electrocuted was taken from a future boss fight.
- Obviously, the gang of Ionas image was also faked.
- There's no energy field blocking off the gate, I just needed an excuse to keep Jeremiah inside because I wanted to show off meeting Pendrak Ferol, and the narrative wouldn't allow that if Jeremiah could just leave the graveyard right away.
- I replaced the experience bar in the image with the Dark Zombie to get it to match the sequence. Normally, I don't do that anymore, but it was a close enough match, so what the hell.
- Jeremiah didn't get his new fancy armor from the weapon closet in the tomb, he got them through exploring the dungeon. Images 12 through 15 were taken after the fact, images 16 and up were taken in sequence.
- That Lightning in the pub image was faked, it took about a half-hour. I took a real image of me attacking a random townsperson, which turns everyone hostile, then I could engage a townsperson. The actual target needed to be covered up. Attacking also lowered my reputation by -5, -2, and -5 again. I removed the extra -5 and -2. Attacking also instantly summoned a group of several guards to attack me, who also needed to be photoshopped out.
1) His shadow, which I set to be mostly transparent (because the lightning is a light source)
2) Most of his body.
3) His left leg - a part of this is separate, and I applied a filter to make it glow blue because of the lightning as a light source.
4) His right leg is a separate image because the lightning has to be in front of it, but behind his left leg. I added some glow to that, but it didn't work that well.
5) I had to add the bolt part of the lightning in, not the glow around it. I needed a separate part to go over the shadow as well.
1) I changed the second set of lines between Arhu to reflect Jeremiah's unhappy mood.
I'd never have made it without your help, little friend. But for you I'd have left my moldering bones down there!
Mraoww! Just doing my job squire. But now I need a favour from you...
Your wish is my command, my furry master!
Nnaoww! Cut the sarcastic theatrics!
I also changed Jeremiah saying "How on earth..." to "How on Rivellon" because this is definitely not planet Earth (that is official canon).
I made a couple of tweaks to this line:
I have heard as well that the sewers are crowded with vermin and aggressive Lizard people... I might be roaming there forever. If Zandalor really is in danger, we don't have time to waste.