Part 96: Fake Update # 19 - Alternate Prologue / Skipping Aleroth's Catacombs
Fake Update # 19 - Alternate Prologue / Skipping Aleroth's Catacombs
The first quest of the game was to find a cure for Mardaneus's insanity. You do this by going down into the skeleton-filled catacombs beneath Aleroth until you reach the last chamber, where you discover that a dead necromancer called Thelyron Hashnitor has been calling to Mardaneus from the Lands of the Dead trying to get him to honour his end of a deal they made, and activate a resurrection device. After you do that, Thelyron changes his mind and decides that death is preferable. See chapters 3 through 13 for details.
But that entire quest is actually optional. You can in fact leave Aleroth without doing that, you can avoid telling the healers about the plague in Rivertown, and avoid telling General Alix about the healers needing an escort.
Skipping the opening catacombs leaves you horribly underlevelled. But that's OK, because I used a cheat program to get a Survivor character to level 30. I didn't do that for this run, I made the level 30 character solely to get one screenshot for an alternate prologue which I never even used.
Here for the first time, unaltered and unpolished (so if it seems like crap writing, it might be) is one of the alternate prologues I decided not to use:
ALTERNATE PROLOGUE: Journal of Jeremiah Liro, The Divine One
If you asked anyone on the street today about the incident in the Dukedom of Ferol a couple of years ago, chances are they'll have heard of me. But if you asked them how I came to be involved, very, very few of them will know why I was there in the first place.
This is my tale. It begins with the first confused tangle of recollections I had after I was Marked.
Prologue - The Marking
7 Apirius 1218
I was staring out the window, marveling at how green everything was already. Spring had come warm and early this year. I heard footsteps on the stone floor approach.
"Jeremiah?" the woman asked. I could tell from the firm tone in her voice what she wanted to discuss.
No one had come banging on the door looking for me so far, and I preferred to put off that discussion until either someone did come or until the world ended, preferably the latter. I blatantly tried to change the subject.
I just heard the news. Congratulations, Jenna. Look at you. Just 28 years old, and you're going to be an ambassador. I mean, I knew you were smart and ambitious, but this impressive even for you, big sister.
Jenna paused, as if she was re-thinking how to broach the subject. Not for the first time since my return, she decided to avoid it for the moment.
Thank you, although it's not as impressive as you think. The Dukedom of Ferol is mostly just farmland and forest. I won't have many real responsibilities when I'm there.
Oh, please. You may have been the one who inherited father's knack for politics, but even I know what the appointment means. It's well known that Duke Idfren holds a great deal of respect for you, and he has no heirs...
My clumsy attempt to manipulate the conversation further was ill-advised.
"Stop it," Jenna said with sudden anger. "Enough games. You're trying to distract me. Over a year, Jeremiah, a year! No word, no letters, it was as if you had vanished from the face of Rivellon. Then two months ago, you burst into our Idfren City house carrying a -"
"I- I know. I'm sorry," I said. "I know an explanation is long overdue. ... the night Tom died, I had to get away to clear my thoughts. I heard people talking about murders at the university... I didn't want to end up in jail, so I kept running, and got myself mixed up in an even worse mess. After that, it seemed better at the time to just stay away."
"Worse mess? What happened."
"I really, don't want to talk about it. I'm not ready yet. Let's talk about your ambassadorship-" I started.
"I don't think I'm going," Jenna interrupted.
"Because I'm not sure who you are anymore, and you won't tell me," she said.
I scratched my head ruefully, "After Tom's death and the worse mess, I wasn't really sure who I was either. I even gave up using magic. Jenna, I came back when I heard about..."
I stopped speaking and tried to find the right words.
"I came back because that person I was in the year I was away, I didn't want to be him anymore, I ...I got mixed up in something, Jenna, and it seemed easier to just stay away.
Jer... I'm not sure if I should go. We still haven't really talked about what happened in that missing year.
I-I'm not ready to talk about that. I got caught up in something... and it seemed easier to just stay missing. I can't take back what I've done, but beating myself up over won't take it back either. What matters is what I can do here and now.
"I-I need to become a better person." I took a breath and continued, "So, I prom- no... I vow to you, when you go to Ferol, I'll take up your cause. When you go, I'll spend my time and energy helping the poor and unfortunate, where you left off."
Jenna smiled and said "I'll hold you to that."
"I'm just not sure how exactly I'll do that. I don't have your gift for dealing with people," I said.
"But you do have gifts," Jenna said cryptically. Her shoes clicked on the stone as she walked to a cupboard. She opened it and picked up a slim package lying on a shelf. She walked back and handed it to me.
"This might help", she said. "It's your papers of accreditation from Magicum Omnus Liberum. You couldn't have forgotten that you're still are a highly skilled mage."
I went back to gazing out the window.
Actually, I had forgotten. After what I had done, there was no way that I still had my accreditation. Unless...
"Really?" I said incredulously. "I would have figured that "the Mole" would have burned that, after what I did, after- ... after what happened to Tom."
Jenna wore a neutral expression on her face. "The council of magi decided to regard the incident as a training accident."
I don't speak politics well, but even I picked up a few things. "You mean father bribed them," I said.
Jenna didn't answer, but the silence told me I was right.
"I should start getting prepared, there's packing to do and a lot to learn," she said. "You're sure you'll be here alright on your own?"
"Ha. Go on, get out of here, you overachiever. Good riddance," I said with a smirk.
Jenna laughed and punched me in the shoulder hard.
"That's the old Jer I remember. Good to see you smiling again," she said.
I glanced at my accreditation papers. I wasn't expecting to see those ever again.
"I've got a lot to think about, I need to clear my head," I said, and started walking out.
Jenna said, "I'll write every two weeks so you'll know -"
Something odd happened. The world flickered for a second, and then it seemed slightly... wrong.
"What was that, Jenna?" I asked.
There was no answer. When I looked back, she was gone.
She couldn't have been gone. I'd only moved five feet. There was nowhere to hide. I didn't hear any footsteps or doors. She was just... gone into thin air.
I ran through the house, checking rooms as I passed. There was no sign of her. As I ran... things began to look... wrong.
The lights were out, and there was more and more garbage in the halls.
That... that's not right.
The world warped and grew dim at the edges. I passed through a doorway and into darkness.
My vision blurred for a second, then went back to normal.
22 Declianum 1217
My feet splashed into a puddle. I was in one of the many back alleys of Idfrennia City. The wind of a fierce storm howled over the city. It was the kind of wind you get just before the really heavy rain starts. Good, it would take a downpour to clean the blood off my clothes.
I had to hurry, acquiring the item had been more troublesome then I thought it would have been, and there wasn't much time left. I didn't want to be too late, not... not again.
I stopped running. This was familiar, but it didn't feel right.
This storm... this. I remember this storm. It happened the night when - wait, that... that already happened, I shouldn't be here. This... this can't be real...
The wind lightly tossed scattered pages through the alley. They looked oddly familiar, so I grabbed one - it was a letter from Jenna.
"Dear Jeremiah, I've arrived safely at Stormfist. It's extremely old, but maintained well, and the staff are most efficient. I was settled in no time. Duke Pendrak Ferol greeted me personally at the castle gate. He's seems to be jolly and carefree, but I can tell from his eyes that he is also a wise man. He can be a bit boring when he starts getting deep into one of his hunting stories, but otherwise I think you'd like him. I can't say the same for that son of his. But I suppose dealing with that brat will give me plenty of chances to practice speaking diplomatically. - Gods, I hope Ferol's guards don't read the outgoing mail. I'll write again when I have some news to report.
These letters shouldn't be here, this night was long before she left.
I snatched up more letters, all sent from Stormfist Castle, all from Jenna - except for the last letter I grabbed. It wasn't written in Jenna's elegant handwriting. Instead an unfamiliar, hasty scrawl read:
" Jeremiah Liro - I'm a friend of Jenna. She's missing, I may not survive long. Hiding from -"
A sudden gust of wind ripped the page from my hand and sent it sailing down the alley. I chased after it, not taking my eyes off it.
My vision blurred again and I was blinded by a sudden light.
5 Sembten 1218
A branch snapped under my feet. I took my eyes off of the sun, blinking away the afterimages. The sun had passed the zenith and was heading for the Tanoroth mountain range looming not far to the west. I added another item to my growing list of errors. I hadn't considered that it would get darker earlier on this side of the mountains.
"About the Game" posted:
This is where the prologue dovetails back into the actual one. I decided that it would be better to start the LP with the most important thing relevant to the game - the marking of Jeremiah.
I did like the "sudden descent into madness" of the nightmare, but I thought it might be too confusing for the reader, especially because it mixes real memories with mixed-up ones. The shot of Jeremiah in survivor gear in the alley was actually Level 30 Edwin in the Rivertown Sewers. He was level 30 so he could clear out the nearby enemies without getting disturbed.
Okay, Prologue derail over, back to the topic:
WHAT IF: You Skip Aleroth's Catacombs?
I decided to start from where I had my level 30 character
This is Edwin in Mardaneus's cellar/the old well, just after he killed a rat and "magically" gained 30 levels of experience. (I hacked the character's experience, but it doesn't notice that until you do something to cause the game to check.)
Look at that. 145 stat points and 35 skill points. More than enough to make a character which can survive anything I need to do.
As soon as I left Aleroth, I got the best and luckiest possible break. Lord Seth automatically killed two orcs in a cutscene, and one of them dropped a Frog Statuette.
Frog Statuettes - as mentioned earlier - are good because they let you move around incredibly fast. This is the best possible drop I could have gotten, because moving about fast is what I want to do, instead of killing enemies. That statuette probably shaved HOURS from the time it would have taken if I had to kill enemies. It only took me about an hour and 12 minutes combined.
I decided to do the Cursed Abbey first to get the Human Teleporter scroll, to make travel even faster.
I maxed out Evade Trap because it wasn't like I needed those skill points for anything better, and the less damage I take, the faster it goes. If you see a red area like this, it's a trap, and you click on it to disarm it.
It was tricky with all the enemies in the abbey catacombs, I nearly died a couple of times, but I made it into the library and got the scroll without triggering the Engineer's dialogue.
This is what your map will look like if you use the frog statuette to race around avoiding combat. I also used Mardaneus's scroll to activate the Aleroth and Market teleporters, and the Dwarven Scroll from the mayor's office to activate the Glenborous and DBI teleporters.
I decided to do the "Find the Duke's Assassin" part of the main quest, because it was simple if you figure out the puzzle in Patrick's house and the frog let me bypass the fighting in the assassins guild.
I was doing the Stormfist quests, and accidentally took Janus the flowers he wanted me to give to Lela. You can also do the same thing with the teddy bear.
I don't want the tatty old thing! Take it to Lady Lela immediately.
They still call you the Hero of Aleroth even if like me, you do literally absolutely nothing to help Aleroth. Oh, this next part is kinda funny:
Video: The Indifferent Bodyguard
Wah?! Lord Protector! Help me! SAVE ME!
Normally, the game automatically has you attack with your melee weapon. But it turns out that if you have a bow equipped, you do nothing.
Iona's dungeon is extremely short and easy if you use the frog to avoid fighting completely.
Because I haven't been questing, my reputation is low.
There are invisibility potions in Stormfist's treasure room to bypass the fighting.
Here's something weird- you can cast spells in just this one room of Stormfist Castles treasure vault. You'd think that the battlemage Ralph could have used that to escape.
The map just before I go to the council chambers. The council chambers were actually pretty hard, because the enemies there are close to level 30, so I no longer have an advantage. I got tired of ineffectually plinking at them with my bow, so I maxed out Meteorstrike, which was just about all I could afford with my tiny SURVIVOR magic pool.
The succubus was tricky, but she eventually did die.
I made a video of Edwin attacking the orcs who invaded Aleroth, but it's not that interesting.
It was also a pain killing the orcs and Demona, but that got done, and FINALLY, we can get to what's actually different if you don't save Mardaneus's sanity.
It's less of a pain if you use Burning Wall. I found a +1 Burning Wall belt for Edwin, and I was able to put 4 other points in so I had it maxed.
Otho, Goemoe and Joram still all left for the Blue Boar, regardless of whether you helped or not, but Lanilor stayed behind to look after Mardaneus. Demona and her orcs killed him for it.
I never got George his herbs, so he never died, but he has nothing to say about the invasion.
Mardaneus never actually saw me, except maybe out of the corner of his eye as he froze Lanilor solid.
Just shortly ago, I came to my senses again. But I was trapped inside my house, not able to cast any magic. I saw giant orcs outside and that evil witch and... oh no... QUICK! We have to find Lanilor! He was here too!
It's too late, Mardaneus. They killed him. I saw his body outside.
Actually, I hadn't seen his body until after this conversation when I went to go find it.
Oh Gods, it was horrible! They cut him down without mercy... I saw it. He died as a healer should, without raising a hand against his enemies. But I don't understand why they didn't kill me too. That damned woman told me I was bait to trap you... What does she want of you?
I think we may have found a chink in their armour. Somehow our enemies knew that you could help me to defeat them. That's why they laid this trap.
What do you mean?
All the recent chaos and hatred in the world is the work of the Black Ring...
And that goes back to the conversation we already saw. There's one new conversation option though:
Where are the other healers?
Well, I vaguely recall Joram, Otho and Goemoe leaving the village when soldiers came mere, led by a knight of the army. I also see Lanilor treating me... poor Lanilor. We foolishly thought that we would be safe here because the orc raiders and human soldiers had moved on and the woods were peaceful once more.
So Mardaneus's insanity goes away on its own, which surprised and disappointed me just as much as it did for you, although it's a good idea to not force you to slog through 5 levels of painfully easy dungeon fighting enemies who are no threat at all by the time you can save Mardaneus.
But what happens if you try?
Giving Smiruk the wrong axe
I met Smiruk on my travels, and I don't think I ever showed you what happens if you give him any old axe and claim it is Slasher. He tries to attack one of his fellow orcs, but it doesn't work.
If this is no good axe then maybe you should go and find it yourself. By the gods! Testing to see if an axe is genuine by trying it out on someone!!
Can't... resist... urge... to... snark...
Oh, but I did know. I just wanted to see what the great Smiruk would do... and it was quite hilarious!
We not like this. Me knew human not trusty. Turnak! Bregor! Golg! Vradnir! Grim!
By your powers combined, I am... Captain Shortbus!!!
do not tempt me into using the mst3k guys to offer snark in my next two LP's because I WILL do it if you ask
Attack puny human weakling!
Prepare to die.
Let's rewind a bit...
This no Slasher, this no Slasher... Sounds like the BIG SMIRUK is crying for his mommy!
You laugh with Smiruk?!! You complain soon when me split skull with axe! Turnak, Bregor, Golg, Vradnir, Grim! Kill human scum!
At level 30, Burning Wall makes the ensuing fight easy.
So what does happen when you go confront Thelyron again? NOTHING DIFFERENT. All the dialogue is exactly the same, the only difference is that when you leave the room where Thelyron was, Mardaneus doesn't teleport in. That's it.