Part 108: Does Whatever A Spider CanPART 108: DOES WHATEVER A SPIDER CAN
Helpful healers from the Tevinter Empire have arrived to help cure the poor and plague-ridden elves of Denerim. Surely these kind souls could have no ulterior motive dot dot dot question maaaaark?
[OK, we're all done with the ghost-busting and ready to get back to our regular job. Elven elder Valendrian has disappeared in the Tevinter quarantine hospice and we're going to find out what's going on.]
No, you can't go inside "just for a moment," so you might as well walk right back around to the front doors.
[We have three options for getting through the quarantine.
1. Fight our way through the front door.
2. Sneak in the back
3. Pretend to be sick and get carried in.
As option 3 only works if you're an elf, and we can't make Zevran do it, we're going to try being sneaky instead.]
You shouldn't be out on the streets now anyway, what with the plague.
Keeping your people from their families doesn't bother you?
Look, this is how things are. I didn't make the Blight, or the plague, or anything. I'm just trying to make a living.
Aren't you afraid of getting the plague yourself? They didn't even give you a dorky face mask.
What's worse? Dying of the plague or dying of hunger? I'll take my chances with the plague, thank you, if it means I get paid. I've been hungry. The noveltys worn off.
How much do they pay you?
Not enough to put up with all these questions. What do you want?
Oh, why do we have to want something? We could just be making small talk. All five of us having a friendly chat, here in this dark alleyway.
(Persuade) Would you let me in that house for six sovereigns?
Six... sure. I never saw you, and you never saw me.
[(Hacker voice) We're in.]
So what's our cover story?
We're concerned family members here to visit our beloved Uncle Valendrian.
Dear Uncle Valendrian. How I miss his sad face and weak flesh.
Wait! We didn't get a chance to lie to you!
[Besides a few grunts, the hospice is ominously empty.
I accidentally clicked on Zevran following the battle, triggering an inappropriately heartwarming conversation.]
Here... it seems an appropriate moment to give you this. Killing Vints always makes me emotional.
Is that an earring? I can't tell through the blood.
I acquired it on my very first job for the Crows. A Rivaini merchant prince, and he was wearing a single, jeweled earring when I killed him. In fact, that's about all he was wearing.
I thought it was beautiful and took it to mark the occasion. I've kept it since... and I'd like you to have it.
This is a bit out of the blue, isn't it?
Don't get the wrong idea about it. You killed Taliesen. As far as the Crows will be concerned, I died with him. That means I'm free, at least for now.
Feel free to sell it, or wear it... or whatever you'd like. It's really the least I could give you in return.
So... not a token of affection, then?
I... look, just... take it.
It's meant a lot to me, but so have... so has what you've done. Please, take it.
I'm glad to, then. It means a lot to me too.
I have no better way to say it. Thank you.
[+2 to emotions]
If you've quite finished.
[The Tevinters here are armed with Qunari saw swords, or human knock-offs of same. Them Qunaris, they know their swords.]
Welp, so much for private healthcare.
Help us! Please, we're not sick. Let us out of here!
I'm getting you out of there. (Open cages)
Thank you, friend!
Do you know what happens to the people they take?
I don't know, and I don't want to find out. We're leaving. Maker keep you.
I mean, it's slavery, right? They're enslaving these people.
Not necessarily. They might be sacrifices for blood magic.
On the other hand, I've heard of Tevinter archmages that eat elven hearts as a delicacy.
Perhaps they are exterminating the locals so they can redevelop the area into affordable riverside condominiums, and make a killing on the overheated Denerim real estate market.
No more alternatives. You're all bumming me out now.
[Leaving the hospice will turn the Tevinter guards out front hostile.]
[The two Tevinter mages use healing and support magic more than direct attack spells. Neither are very powerful.]
He burst! They're not supposed to burst!
[I don't know what happened here. It looks like Walking Bomb going off, but I have no mages in my party and none of my characters were damaged.]
[Killing the Tevinters gets us some mage robes and a few poultices and potions.]
What happened? Some of the elves ran out... but I didn't recognize any of them! Where are all the others?
I found this note...
Let me see that.
What does this even mean? They can't be shipping people, can they? Shipping them where?
We have some theories.
No we don't. Have you seen them bring anything out of the hospice?
No. People go in, but they don't come out. They aren't shipping anything out of there that we've seen.
They could be moving through the back alleys. There are all sorts of buildings back there, they could be using one as some sort of... warehouse? Staging area?
There was a key with the note.
There are apartments off the alleys. I would go to the back of the hospice and maybe follow the alley from there.
If you find any more information, please let me know. I refuse to accept that they're all simply... gone!
[The back alley has one other door accessible. It was locked before, but the key we found opens it.
We could have just lockpicked it earlier and skipped going into the hospice at all, but this is a 100% completionist run, dangnabbit.]
Dark... gloomy... screams in the distance.
This looks like a job for...
[The spider is the final pet we get access to in the Ranger skill tree. He is strong and good and my friend.]
...the hallucinations are getting worse though.
Kind sir, a moment of your time.
Who's there? Stay away! Is that a...AAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!
Calm down. It's only a man-sized spider.
I didn't know they grew that big!
I was bitten by an irradiated human.
I just want to ask some questions.
I can't say nothing. Please, just go. I don't want trouble.
(Intimidate) I'm not going to ask twice. I will feed you to my spider.
I don't even have teeth. I'll gum you to death!
I don't know, I swear! I only saw them take people away.
Took them right out of their beds. Dragged them down the hallways. Maker, the little ones crying...
Where did they take everyone?
Through the landlord's old office. They go in there, they never come back.
What about Valendrian?
I saw him. They marched him through the hall with a bunch of others. All tied together like pack mules.
What else have you seen?
Every few days they come back. It's like a parade, a silent one. Men and women and children...
You have to go. They'll be back soon. They'll find out I talked, and they'll take me, too!
They're going to take you anyway, idiot.
Please, just go.
[The abandoned apartments have various interactable objects scattered about, all telling the message that Bad Shit Went Down. There's no reason to check any of this, it's just flavor text.]
[A nearby chest contains a juicy bone for Barkley, and this precious sextant. We picked up a fetch quest from a Chantry noticeboard to find this thing many updates ago. Now we can complete it. Hurray. ]
You should have stayed in Tevinter, human.
[♫ Barkley and Spider,
They're the best of paaaals,
Spider uses webs,
Barkley disembowwwwels! ♫]
[Web is the spider's only combat ability, but it's a good 'un. It paralyses an enemy for a long time and is very hard to save against.]
What's this? Another shipment already? We weren't--
Wait, you're no Tevinter. Who are you supposed to be?
I am here to relieve you. Weren't you told?
What? No you're not! There's nobody relieving us until midnight!
Wow, how long are your shifts?
We've been on duty since noon. I can barely stand up.
Have you considered joining a union? I have these pamphlets...
I've often talked about it with the lads but... I mean, Quick, get them! Hurry!
[These guys aren't tough, but their archer support incessantly using the Scattershot AoE stun ability is annoying as heck.]
[Spider has temporarily disappeared because your summon buddies despawn whenever you pass through a loading screen. He will return... soon!]
This is the most beautiful alleyway I've ever killed a man in.
There's nothing quite like the soothing sounds of a sewage outflow.
What is the meaning of this? We were told that there would be no interference from the authorities!
Are you blind? I'm not with the "authorities".
Oh? An errant group of do-gooders, then?
You will regret this, you know. Believe it or not, we have been given dispensation to do our business here.
The humans talk a great deal about how very wrong slavery is, but isn't it funny how quickly the smell of gold overcomes such ideals?
Really makes you think, doesn't it? Wait, no it doesn't. I don't really care what you're up to.
Indeed? I am intrigued enough to wonder what brought you here, if not to exact righteous retribution?
(Persuade) I'll explain it to whoever's in charge here.
You wish to parley, do you? Hmmm.
Very well. I'll leave it for Caladrius to decide your fate. Come with me... and be respectful, if you know what's good for you.
[And with a single leap we skipped the back half of this dungeon.
We can also persuade Devera to leave, or fight and kill her, but this way has more finesse.]
I hope there is a good explanation for this, Devera.
There is, Enchanter. This intruder fought her way through the courtyard, but claims that she is not here to exact revenge.
(Scoffs) And thus you thought it best to bring the Grey Warden directly to me?
Grey Warden? But... I...
Indeed, the talk of all Denerim. You should get outside a bit more, my dear. Speak with the locals.
Well, what is done is done. Well met, Grey Warden. I am Caladrius, and I have heard a great deal about you and... your friends.
You've heard of me?
One can hardly get a word out of Regent Loghain besides "Warden" these days. It surpassed even "gold" in popularity.
How do you know Loghain?
Yes, you would be curious about that, wouldn't you?
I have heard that you are trying to erode Loghain's support. It must be a difficult task, yes? Like washing away a mountain. Perhaps you could use some help?
Don't you have an agreement with Loghain?
More of an arrangement, truth be told. One that disappears the moment angry, armed intruders storm my abode.
There was always a limit to how long we were going to be able to operate here. We've paid for many of Loghain's troops, but once the Landsmeet is done we become inconvenient.
So here is my offer: one hundred sovereigns from you for a letter with the seal of the Teyrn of Gwaren upon it, implicating him in all of this.
Then we leave a few days earlier than planned, with our profits and remaining slaves, unharmed.
He gave you a letter with his actual seal? Stone and sky, Loghain's bad at this.
I know, right? It really is amateur hour down here.
I suggest you look those elves in the eyes before you agree to have them hauled off to slavery, my friend.
So... do we have a deal? Even you must admit it's much better than resorting to barbarism, yes?
I have a counter-offer.
(Intimidate) You leave everything. Get out with your hides.
Now thats not much of a deal, is it?
Best you're going to get.
(Sigh) Let's do this the hard way then. Men? Shall we?
[Caladrius won't accept any deal where he doesn't get his slaves. You can persuade him to give you the letter for free, but combat will always ensue if you try to free the slaves too.
Also, while it was satisfying to persuade Devera to take us here, it's actually a very bad idea if you're not planning on cutting a deal, as this battle will start with Devera and her adds in the room as well as Caladrius and all his troops.]
[Caladrius is a very powerful mage and will usually open up with Inferno (see the burning ceiling?) or Blizzard spells against the entire party- huge persistant fire or ice AoE damage attacks. I've never used them because it's ridiculously easy to Friendly Fire your entire party with them, but Caladrius has no such compunctions.]
Spider's time to shine!
[Caladrius won't leave his area though, and his soldiers won't aggro if you don't approach them. If you flee far enough back, all you have to deal with is Devera and her boys.
Zevran and Leliana got killed in the process but...]
[...they came back once I killed Devera, as I technically left combat.
Yes, I know this is a very cheesy way to win a hard fight. I blame the thread. A party consisting of three rogues and a crap tank? What did you expect me to do? ]
Go for the eyes, Barkley! The eyes! Rraaaarrrrghhhh!
[Caladrius has an interesting trick where he can sacrifice his own guards to restore his health. Wiping out the guards first will fix that, but you'll need to watch out for the firepower he can throw out.
He's still a mage though, so his defences aren't that good once you actually get to him.]
It... seems your reputation is an accurate one. I surrender.
Perhaps you should be left to the mercies of these elves?
Wait! Hear me out, dear lady!
Were I to... use the life force of the remaining slaves here, I could... augment your physical health a great deal.
Allow me to leave this place alive and I would be more than happy to do this little service for you.
[This is a permanent +1 to Bianca's constitution, but come on, seriously?]
So... is my offer of interest to you? Yes?
No. I wasn't going to let you enslave these people, but you think I'll let you kill them instead?
Well... better to die on your feet than live on your knees, yes? No? Aha... I don't suppose you would consider just letting me go?
No, I don't suppose I would.
Ah well. That is a shame, isn't it?
He's misdirecting in heaven now. Or hell. Whatever.
Somehow, if I'd been asked to guess the next person to walk through that door, I wouldn't have said it would be a dwarf.
Are you one of them? What happens to us now?
Did you just miss the pitched battle happening outside your cage?
I wasn't paying attention. I'm old, it's allowed.
Are you Valendrian? Shianni was looking for you.
Shianni... did she send you here? Praise the Maker!
We will not trespass long on your good graces. Come, everyone, let's go home.
We did good here today.
And we got to screw Loghain in the process. I'd like to see him talk his way out of palling around with slave traders.
Counterpoint: no aristocrat in Denerim gives a damn about what happens to the elves.
There's a first time for everything.
It looks like my work here is done.
Farewell, terrifying friend. I'll never forget you.
[Dismissing a summoned animal causes them to literally curl up and die. I thought rangers were friends of nature?]
[There's nothing interesting in the rest of the building- a few chests containing some money and vendor trash, but Devera's corpse has a useful prize.]
[Da da da daaaa! This is one the rare pieces of equipment that has its own codex entry, which I've included at the bottom of this post.]
[Alls well that ends well in the Alienage... but I'd like to take the opportunity to point out how stupid the preceding events were.
A Tevinter slave trader decides to set up shop in the capital city of an anti-slavery nation, spends huge amounts of money bribing the local authorities and setting up an elaborate front operation, all in order to enslave some random elves. Why bother? Why not just sack a couple of backwater villages and abduct everyone old enough to survive a sea voyage? It's the olden days! No one would notice!
This is all ridiculously contrived to give us a smoking gun to use against Loghain. Booo!]
Happy to help, Shianni.
[The last thing we need to do here is say goodbye to Valendrian.]
Ah, Warden! Check out these guns!
Please, come in. Tell me, how is Duncan?
You know Duncan?
[Valendrian is Duncan's contact in the City Elf origin.]
He's been a friend of mine for many years, yes. From the look on your face, I take it the news is bad.
He died at Ostagar.
I am... sorry to hear that.
I knew that the Wardens suffered great losses at Ostagar, but a few escaped... I had hoped Duncan might be one of them.
How did you know Duncan?
He came here now and then to look for potential recruits. Perhaps that seems strange to you, but Duncan was a man who knew that talent could emerge in the most unlikely places.
What will you do about the plague now?
We've been through outbreaks of pestilence during the war with Orlais. We'll endure. I doubt very much now that the Tevinter intervention would have helped us anyway.
Good luck then. I should go.
Please, take this. Duncan gave it to me years ago.
I suspect you'll put it to better use than I would.
I'll stick it in Loghain's ribs for you.
Yes. That'll do nicely.
NEXT TIME: A brief cameo from an old friend
NEW CODEX CONTENT:
The City Elves
The Bow of the Golden Sun