Part 12: Shadowtime
Recognizing that we needed to conserve our resources for the confrontation with Hargon I decided on a stealthy approach.
It didn't exactly go as well as Lars might have hoped.
Eventually we reached Hargon's castle, and this time it was well past time to pretend that we didn't know what was going on.
Once the light cleared we could see that the outline of the castle was broadly similar, but the surroundings were far less attractive.
The illusion hadn't been entirely perfect, but had instead used confused spirits who might not have realized that they were even dead.
The only exception were a pair of Gold Batboons, who paid for their insolence with their lives. After their death an eerie silence settled over the castle. Nothing moved, and nothing stirred... it almost seemed as though we were alone in the castle.
Another small mercy on the part of the game.. no random encounters.
Hargon had gone the full league decorating his castle, even including empty chests. Presumably he hadn't felt that his castle would have been complete without a few chests, demonstrating once again that the new wealthy have no taste.
A search revealed no stairs, but a suspicious panel in the midst of a set of barriers caught my attention. Sensing something unseen, we raised the Eye of Malroth and found ourselves climbing a hidden flight of stairs.
Before we had a chance to catch our breaths and reorient ourselves, we found ourselves facing a pair of what we first mistook for Evil Clowns. Their magical power, however, was in a whole different category. Their most notable spells were Defeat and Explodet, and they displayed an uncanny resistance to StopSpell. After a few attempts to disable their magic it became clear that ending their lives was a much faster option.
158 hp, 92 attack, 38 defense and 140 agility. 100 gold and 617 experience.
It soon became clear that Hargon had posted a number of guards throughout his castle, many of which had a strong resistance to magic. On more than one occasion I found myself doing most of the work while Peta and Lars supported me. Such was the case with the Atlas, a giant among giants that had such tough skin that it shrugged off any of Lars blows and Peta's magic.
250 hp, 195 attack, 200 defense and 63 agility. 250 gold and 1100 experience.
As we climbed further, small luxuries like restraining walls were forgotten. The perspective is interesting, but no serious castle designer would have such an open design.
The open design might make some degree of sense given the presence of Bazuzu, surely the king of the batboons as shown with his royal purple coloring. He had all the abilities of his lesser subjects, including all of the most powerful attack spells, sleep magic, the ability to heal himself, and death spells. His attacks were swifter as well, presenting all in all a formidable threat.
250 hp, 127 attack, 160 defense, 75 agility. 240 gold and 1530 experience. And yes, he has Sacrifice.
At the very least, you could say that the design of the castle was straight forward. There were no extraneous stairways and the direction we had to go was always clear.
The final guardian was Zarlox, a golden bullwong wielding a silvery trident. Of all Hargon's highest minions he was the one most like his common counterparts, with only one additional and obnoxious habit that his predecessors lacked. Of all the enemies we had faced within the confines of Hargon's castle he had the greatest fondness for healing magic, spending seemingly half his time healing himself. Eventually he lapsed, however, and I was able to strike him down.
250 hp, 200 attack, 220 defense and 120 agility. 255 gold and 2200 gold.
A strong sense of foreboding stole over us after we had defeated Zarlox, so Peta and Lars traded off the Wizard's Ring until their powers were replenished. I had heard of how fragile these items were, but to our surprise it never broke.
Seriously, I used this thing about 10 times and it just wouldn't break.
Our suspicions proved correct as Hargon the Sorcerer waited in a room by himself, surrounded by bladed floors. Polite sort, though, as he waited patiently for us to walk up and talk to him.
He appeared to have a rather high opinion of himself, so naturally I told him I had no idea who he was and implied that I had just broken into his home and killed all of his minions with no clue as to whose house I was wrecking. This seemed to upset him.
Either answer gets you a fight. The other one ended with a surprise attack so... no.
I'm inclined to suggest that he might have been a touch sensitive because of his hideous visage. Hargon was a malformed malcontent who, to be quite honest, wasn't terribly impressive as a sorcerer. Peta could use the same magic tricks that he could, and he was curiously vulnerable to the Explodet spell, which most of his minions had shrugged off. The one thing that I can say for him is that his breath was far less foul than one might have expected, although it did have the unexpected side effect of putting us to sleep.
230 hp, 180 attack, 187 defense and 150 attack. 0 gold or experience. This is the final boss after all, right?
His magical reserves seemed to be endless, however, and he was quite fond of healing himself. It became a battle of endurance and patience, waiting for a time when he would miscalculate and cast an offensive spell or attack rather than healing himself. Our forethought in procuring Shields of Strength gave us an edge in endurance, however, and eventually Hargon made the mistake we'd been waiting for.
Unbeknownst to anyone, however Hargon had been receiving assistance from someone else. It's perhaps natural, as anyone as unimpressive as him could hardly have been responsible for making most of the world tremble in fear.
Just for having a more stylish name, I immediately gave more credit to Hargon's superior than I had to him. Obviously, however, as I am writing this the bit about none overcoming was exaggerated.
I might be wrong, but this is possibly the first instance of the "Giant Space Flea out of Nowhere" boss type
It was a bit underwhelming when nothing happened immediately, but as we turned to leave the building started to shake and flames appeared all around us... followed by the sorcerer of the Shadowtime, Malroth.
His appearance was obviously unwordly, tearing at the boundaries of normal space and at our sanity was we gazed upon him. Natural creatures of the earth are not meant to have six limbs and a snake's head for a tail. His scales were like iron, and his fiery breath and powerful blows repeatedly drove us to our knees.
The only respite we had was when he healed himself, although thankfully that was the only sorcery he used throughout the battle. Perhaps his entire being was a product of sorcery, as he shrugged off any spells we utilized against him as though they were the efforts of gnats. The only thing that could harm him was my sword, meaning that Lars and Peta could do nothing but work to keep us all alive.
250 hp, 255 attack, 255 defense, 110 agility. 0 gold and experience because this is definitely the final boss
Even that vile being was eventually no match for my strength, and was driven from the world as we know it. From nowhere the voice of Rubiss came, bringing with it healing and words of praise.
We found ourselves outside of the land where Hargon's Castle had stood, with the very earth scoured clean of its foulness. All the monsters appeared to have vanished, and so we made our way back to the shrine where we had lived for so long and received the praise of the inhabitants. It was time to go home, but there were a few places to visit on the way.
At this point all the ordinary people in the game have only three possible lines of dialogue. The two you've seen, and some who say "Thou art Great Warriors!"
The spirit of Peta's father thanked us, perhaps preparing to move on to his final rest now that the malice that killed him has been extinguished.
Our royal relative in Alefgard has finally cracked, making me reaffirm my decision to enfold the old country into a new Midenhall.
The descendant of the Dragon Lord, perhaps realizing that he has no chance against us, has decided that we should be friends. As long as he understands that, I believe we will get along well.
Lars relatives were proud of him, and I didn't have the heart to tell them that most of what he had done along the way and near the end was serve as a healer and die frequently. He did well enough for what we expected of him. Funny that they didn't say anything about how he and Peta were wearing the same dress.
My uncle was right, though, in that it was time to return home and take up the role I was born for. Now that I've seen the world and just about everything in it, I've no problem with taking the throne from my father.
But thou must! You have to agree or it just loops and says you're being selfish.
He seems a tad confused about not being king anymore, as the next thing he did was to turn around and give us all orders. A nice house in the country might have to be found for him, somewhere away from Midenhall.
And so I became the King of Midenhall..
And the world became as it is now.