Part 4: The Thing About TowersDear Diary,
After thoroughly investigating Moonbrooke Castle we have no indication of Hargon's whereabouts nor any clue as to how to get to him. I have no desire to return home as of yet, and so we are going treasure-hunting.
The location of the fabled Cloak of the Wind wasn't mentioned in the local legends, but glimpses of a sandy road caught through gaps in the mountains intrigued me. In our search for the Mirror of Ra we'd covered much of the rest of the land around Hamlin, so I was certain that the Cloak was nowhere to be found there.
To reach that narrow path we had to first travel north, almost to within sight of the passage we'd taken to reach this land.
Eventually the road led us to the land just north of the small swamp where we'd located the mirror, confirming my belief that we couldn't have reached this area any other way.
As a side note, this journey serves as further evidence to the bridge-building mania in my family. We've come across no less than 7 bridges on the way here, possibly more, and all for an area that shows no evidence of being visited by human beings. I appreciate the effort, really, but was it necessary?
Finally we reached a squat tower, sitting alone on an empty plain and keeping watch on.. nothing in particular. I'm not sure what prompted its construction, but I am curious.
The tower was much bigger on the inside than it appeared on the outside, and was constructed of huge blocks of stone that must have weighed several tons each. The inside floors were made of cobbled stone, resembling a city street. For a tower out in the middle of nowhere, the amount of work that must have gone into its construction was unfathomable. Multiple stairways lead up into the tower, but a bit of exploration found another stairway tucked away in a hidden corner.
Within the tower we observed a slightly larger cousin of the common centipod, at first initially distinguishable only by its coloring. Compared to the centipod, however, these Megapedes had far stronger carapaces that required considerable effort to penetrate, even wielding my new broadsword. They were still vulnerable to magic, and presented no terribly formidable menace.
20 hp, 39 attack, 110! defense, 13 agility. 25 gold and 33 experience.
More astonishing that the megapedes was finding a soldier in the uniform of Moonbrooke posted here at the tower, for the express purpose warning people not to step off the edge of the tower. What was my uncle thinking? We had to break the news to the poor man about what had happened in Moonbrooke and tell him that there would be no relief for his posting.
Being familiar with the tower he told us the location of various chests within its confines, although as a guard he had only watched over the location and had no idea what each held. Considering the creatures inhabiting the tower, I was impressed by the fact that he was surviving here alone. If he hadn't been more interested in going back home I'd have considered making him my new third in command.
The tower was full of confusing twists, turns, and superfluous stairways, but we stuck to the outer walls as a matter of convenience. The effort that had went into hiding the first stairway in this path seemed to indicate that it would lead to a worthwhile reward.
Finally we reached a choice of routes, with two stairways both leading up. Considering that it would have been a simple matter to walk to the nearest stairway and completely miss the further stairs, I concluded that the first was more likely to be a decoy.
As we were climbing the stairs we encountered a creature much spoken of in local folklore, the Ghost Rat. Obviously corporeal in nature, the creature earns its name with its speed and ability to escape once detected. Although not as obviously dangerous as larger creatures, the ghost rat's mouth is full of teeth that leave ragged, deep wounds on their victims and they are capable of biting straight through finished steel. Ghost rats have been known to call on each other for help, and roving packs of these rats can tear a grown man to shreds in seconds.
25 hp, 41! attack, 12 defense, and 41 agility. 15 gold and 23 experience
It's possible that the architect who designed this place might have been mad, or under the influence of some kind of hallucinogen. Alternatively, by the time they'd reached the higher floors most of those involved had given up caring about how the tower actually turned out.
At the very top of the tower we came upon a small room with a single chest, which I thought at the time must have held the Cloak of the Wind. We were disappointed, as someone had placed an empty chest at the top as an elaborate joke. Peta blamed her father's sense of humor.
Grumbling the entire way we backtracked to the place where the path set and took the first set of stairs. After initially rising, they began to descend toward a hidden room within the tower. I suppose there's some kind of lesson here... while it's important to choose the hard right over the easy wrong, just becomes something's harder doesn't mean it's right.
Within the hidden room we found the Cloak of the Wind, which I wasted no time in donning. It added a certain dash to my appearance, and even billowed appropriately even without an external breeze.
The only thing left to do was test it.
As we jumped from the top of the tower the magic of the cloak carried us gently to the ground, drifting to a stop in the hills to the west of the tower. The experience was exhilarating, although my cousins found it rather more terrifying than anything else. Neither was quite up to walking back to Hamlin, but Lars had an answer in a new magic spell that he promised could return us there in an instant.
As a reward for coming up with something so useful, and because we had a good bit of extra gold kicking about, I bought Lars a spear to replace the old chain sickle. Although I felt quite out of character for doing so, I hoped that it would inspire him to greater feats.
Peta was at last ready to face her father's spirit, and so we traveled to Moonbrooke castle. She was initially unsure about the ghost, but his sense of humor confirmed his identity. I can only hope that when we cast Hargon down the king's spirit will be freed.
Within the ruins we caught a glimpse of another nigh-legendary creature, the metal slime. Although they appear to be a common slime at first glance, their body is composed of a strange liquid metal that resists all magic and sword strikes. Barring the mightiest blows, even the best efforts only yield minimal harm. These slimes are quite intelligent enough to cast fireball and to taunt people by fleeing when they are near death. We were unable to kill the individual we spotted in the ruins of Moonbrooke, but one day I will hunt a metal slime down.
6 hp, 10 attack, 180! defense and 100 agility. 90 gold and 135 experience
Lars, encouraged by my regard for his Return spell, has developed a companion spell to escape from the depths of caves or other ruins. It might save our lives at some point, but I feal as though we shouldn't avoid strenuous activity for our own comfort.
Our exploration continued, leading us to a sandy patch of ground with paired monoliths on either side of a narrow strait.
Naturally, the two monoliths were connected by an underground room. The priest within, rather than offering any useful service, tried to refer us elsewhere.
On the other side of the strait we came to an enormous desert, but took it as a challenge rather than a barrier. While the desert was enormous, it must have an end.
Paradoxically it was the home of baboons and strange, walking plants. The Carnivog is a natural curiosity in that it is a plant that eats animals rather than the reverse. In order to accomplish this difficult task they release a sleeping gas and then devour the prey once it has succumbed. Were it not for their gas they would hardly be dangerous, but groups can be a substantial hazard. It is likely that other creatures accompany them in order to scavenge their kills. They're easy prey to edged weapons, and also quite vulnerable to magic.
32 hp, 32 attack, 11 defense, and 12 defense. 16 gold and 29 experience.
The desert was interrupted by a welcome oasis, surrounded by greenery. Traveling lightly we weren't as dependent on the water as a merchant train or other organized group might have been.
North of the desert a pair of twin towers stood on either side of another strait. There was no obvious method of crossing the strait, but looking at the lay of the land gave me an idea.
A helpful merchant sat within the bottom tower, and was more than welling to tell us about the region. I'm not sure exactly what he was doing there, but would later be very glad of his presence.
The tower itself was fairly unremarkable, being constructed around an open space in the center with a narrow walkway. Avoiding a fall was hardly difficult, although it could have befallen a clumsier group.
The rigors of the climb and the constant attacks from monsters within were too much for Peta, but we decided to press on in hopes of crossing the river and finding civilization. Traveling back to Hamlin was hardly an option.
Although we hadn't yet encountered anything out of the ordinary in the tower, some of the groups of enemies were large and dangerous enough to cause substantial difficulties.
Shortly, I alone was climbing the tower in the hopes of reaching the top and crossing the river.
The last thing I remember is the smell of flowers...
And then I awoke in Hamlin, with my cousins still dead behind me. Although the details are fuzzy, in some way I believe that merchant at the bottom of the tower was responsible for our rescue. I shall have to thank him, but first I had to have my cousins resurrected and stock up for a second attempt at the tower.
Party wipe number 3. I also got killed from a group of ghost rats and carnivogs, but didn't keep that one as canon due to the fact that I hadn't actually accomplished anything of note. Getting up a level made me decide to ride this one out.
Once we reached the towers again, Lars revealed that he'd spent some of our coin on magic water that was supposed to prevent monsters from locating us.
It was proven ineffective seconds later, and as a result I gave Lars a stern talking to about snake oil salesmen and not falling for grifters. All in all I suppose we're just lucky he only traded gold away rather than anything important.
Being better prepared this time we climbed toward the top reaches of the tower, encountering a trio of strange creatures floating above the floor. These balls of snakes, dubbed medusa balls for their appearance, were more disconcerting than anything else. Their many heads tear into their prey, and they can devour an astonishing amount of food in a short amount of time. For all their fierce appearance, however, they are easily enough dispatched and I would say that they present no threat to a well armed and prepared group of fighters.
42 hp, 35 attack, 13 defense, 22 agility. 29 gold and 36 experience. Can attack twice in a single turn.
At last we reached the very top of the tower which, conveniently enough, was open to the outside. It was almost as though someone had prepared the tower in anticipation of our having the Cloak of Wind, but that was obviously impossible.
With its magic, however, we were soon on the other side of the strait. I briefly considered exploring the northern tower, but it seemed more pressing to seek out accommodations for the night.
To the north and west we sighted a welcoming town and set off toward it.
End of Update Summary
Level 14, Broadsword, Full Plate, and Steel Shield
Level 12, Iron Spear, Chain Mail, and Leather Shield
Level 8, Bamboo Pole and in this shot Clothes Hiding. I forgot to take the summary shots until after I had saved the game.