Part 5: The Metaphorical ShieldPART 5: THE METAPHORICAL SHIELD
Disturbing news! Bianca's elder brother plans to murder her to secure Orzammar's throne for himself, and there's a critical mission against the darkspawn tomorrow. Prepare for the backstab...
Killing him now makes your house stronger now and saves a great deal of bloodshed later.
[But the thread voted for no murder so...]
Yeah... but I can't gut a man based on hearsay. We'll wait. See what Trian does.
Very well. I'll keep my eyes open.
I don't want to lose my dearest sister.
I'm your only sister. Still, I'm glad for your concern, Bhelen. Thank you.
I'm taking your place as Father's second, so I'll be at hand tomorrow.
For now, try to get some sleep.
May the Paragons smile down on you.
*twinkly sleep time music*
THE NEXT DAY...
Trian and his men will clear the way for the Grey Wardens to descend into the easternmost caverns.
These caverns are still infested by the worst of the darkspawn. We cannot risk our own troops in there.
[The man talking is Lord Harrowmont, whom a codex reveals is King Endrin's chief advisor/grand vizier.]
Understood, Lord Harrowmont. We should be able to sense the darkspawn and avoid them once the way is open.
May the Paragons favor you, and the Stone catch you if you fall.
Come, men, glory awaits!
Bhelen, you and your men will second the king, clearing the main road. Picking up litter, repainting signs and such.
Don't you think it looks a little... cowardly to allow these humans to take our place where the fighting is thickest?
Are you questioning the battle plan? Better them than us, in the words of Paragon Windrinser.
Of course not. I'm sure your caution is for the glory of us all.
Enough, Bhelen. Take your men and make ready.
Harrowmont and I need to have words with your sibling.
Good luck, my sister.
Your father has a special mission for you.
In the eastern Deep Roads, there is a secret door carved into the stone.
And does it lead to a magical kingdom of ice and snow and smug lions?
...What? The door leads to a thaig abandoned long ago by your ancestors. The darkspawn have made it impossible to reach.
[A thaig is a dwarven settlement/fortress.]
My father believed that the shield of the Paragon Aeducan remains in that thaig, under the stones of the central room.
Reclaim the shield, and glory will be yours!
The Shield of Aeducan would be quite the find.
We've sent two scouts ahead to make sure the tunnels are cleared, but be careful.
One of the scouts will meet you at the first crossroads you come to, the second will be further in.
When you get to the door, use you signet ring to open it.
Meet the scouts, find the door, grab the shield. Got it.
The crossroads where you meet the first scout will be the rendezvous point. There, you can present the shield to the lords and demonstrate the strength of Aeducan!
May the ancestor's watch over you, my child.
Let's go, Gorim. Keep an eye out for any knives in the dark.
[It's our first proper dungeon!]
[It's our first monster! The classic Giant Spider. Their webs immobilize you, but otherwise they're not a challenge. Not at this level anyway.]
That's a lot of blood... Are spiders supposed to have blood?
It's probably because of magic, my lady.
Mages are weird.
[Traps! Come in all shapes and sizes. Tripwire traps usually just hurt you if you cross them. Sometimes they alert enemies as well.
Rogues get a heads up on trap locations, and can disarm them for a little XP.]
Who left this here?
[Genlocks are the first and most common variety of darkspawn we'll face. They attack with swords or bows, and usually in large numbers. Higher level ones get the ability to stun party members or spam arrows from a distance.
They're kind of pushovers considering they're the vanguards of The Army of Ultimate Evil.]
Creepy little things.
This looks like the crossroads.
Hey, I recognise that guy.
You made it, Commander.
Did you run afoul of any darkspawn?
Nothing we couldn't handle.
We fought two.
We didn't expect any activity in these tunnels at all.
Once I finished scouting the tunnels, I hid here to avoid the darkspawn.
Most tunnels are dead ends. The one we want is swarming with those fiends. It's going to be a fight.
Weren't you at the Proving yesterday?
I was, indeed.
Would that I had been good enough to beat you.
May today's battles bring us even more glory. I'll take rear guard. Shall we move?
[Frandlin is basically Another Gorim. Now we have two meat shields!]
[He wasn't kidding about all the darkspawn either.]
I wonder what happened to this poor guy.
Check his possessions. Perhaps there'll be a clue to his identity.
That must be the other scout Lord Harrowmont mentioned.
You're here! I thought the darkspawn had got you for sure.
I'm not that easy to kill.
Then I'll make sure I'm behind you if we get swarmed.
Top marks for courage, soldier.
Eh. We want the tunnel ahead, but there are darkspawn tracks all over it. Be careful.
I though these tunnels were mostly abandoned.
Well, abandoned isn't vacant, apparently. Still, two months ago, we couldn't get within a mile of this place.
I'll follow your lead, Commander.
[Scout has joined the party! Duh duh duh duhhhhh!
Scout's a rogue, like us, but his starting skills make him more suited to dual wielding than archery. Dual wielding being the other rogue combat style.]
[He can also use Stealth, which is why he looks like a graphical glitch in this screenshot.
Stealth lets you sneak by enemies, and gives you an instant critical hit when you attack from it. At this level though it can't be used in combat, and you can't interact with anything without re-appearing.]
[Shortly after you meet Scout you'll run into your first Genlock Alpha, the elite form of the weedy Genlocks. They get a lot more HP and often dual wield for extra damage. Not too hard at this stage if you gang up on them.]
[Complicating matters are all the traps scattered around. Exploding barrels (see right) will... explode if you get near them, knocking you over and setting you on fire. Man traps (see in front of Bianca) will paralyse you for a short time, letting enemies grind you into paste.
Once a trap has been spotted, the AI will automatically avoid it. Your character won't though, so you need to watch where you move.]
Looks less promising.
Seems like someone beat us to the door.
This darkspawn body is still fresh. Whoever opened this door is most likely still in there.
They had to have an Aeducan signet ring to get in.
It could have been stolen, recently or generations back.
Or it could be an ambitious cousin out for his own glory.
Nobody steals my glory.
Understood. Let's move, men.
Thank the Stone for asbestos undergarments, else this would be really uncomfortable.
Mercenaries. This is likely to go badly.
So glad you could finally join us. We feared you'd gotten eaten by darkspawn.
Turns out the shield isn't quite as easy to retrieve as I was led to believe. I wager you know where it is, though...
So maybe you tell me where it is, and I don't let my boys have a go at you before I kill you.
The shield's a metaphor. It's in all of us.
Oh, she's a funny one. Just what I needed.
Now kill these idiots.
[So there's a massive punch up. The mercenaries are all pretty weak except for their Captain, but they do have weight of numbers.]
[The Captain can stun you with Dirty Fighting, but gang up on him and he's toast.]
[There's also a mercenary manning a ballista over here. He isn't a good aim. It just shoots constantly into the wall opposite.]
Well, that's our good deed for the day.
How did they even get in here?
I'll check the leader's pockets.
[Bianca is standing on the little platform where the Merc leader died, which is why this shot looks so weird.]
Is that an Aeducan signet ring? I guess that's how they got in here...
That ring is Trian's? That means he...
Yes. My brother has been sloppy this time.
It would have been a major victory to get the shield first. But he showed his hand and failed.
The first way we can hurt him is to find that shield ourselves.
My thoughts exactly.
You have your orders, boys.
Father said it was in the centre of the thaig...
This is the room. How do we get the shield?
Look around. There must be a clue.
You two, see if you can spot anything.
Hmm. This sarcophagus looks like a good hiding place. But it's sealed somehow.
There's something odd about those tiles...
Oh? Ohhh. One of those puzzles.
[Yes. Make everyone stand on the tiles with the shield patterns and the box unlocks.]
[There is an indentation here that seems to match the Aeducan signet ring perfectly.]
Thing ring, do your thing. [Press your signet ring against the indentation.]
[The lid of the sarcophagus slides away, revealing a small hollow that contains the Shield of Aeducan.]
That's it. We've got it!
It doesn't look like much.
The skill of our crafters has come far since then. But still... the Shield of Aeducan.
It's a symbol, that's all. Lousy 22 strength requirement.
If it helps rally the troops, it's a good thing.
Enough talk. Where is the rendezvous point?
Back in the direction we came from, at the crossroads.
To the crossroads!
NEXT TIME: The crossroads... of destiny!
NEW CODEX CONTENT:
Lord Pyral Harrowmont