Part 13: More Exploration and the GIFTSUpdate 10 (More) Exploration and the Giant Intelligent Friendly Spiders
YAY! IT'S SPIDER! SPIDER IS BACK!
Aaaaa.....nd we're leaving.
Why? They ssseemed eager to sssee you again.
No thank you.
Ssshe hazz her reazons. Let usss away.
Well, this is not good.
I don't know why people would think that going west would get us away from these Barriers.
Let's just keep going.
Oh Mother-of-us-all. This one is fresh.
Let uss do away with thesse firsst, then return to the buziness at hand.
This fight involves Aranea and Lord versions of them, all Spell-slinging foes. So I summoned a Spirit into the fight (as Art has a rather large SP pool) to act as a bait and distraction. It works quite well, though it has the same problem that all Summons do. You can't control them.
Well, maybe not as well as I'd hoped. You see, Kai-Lyss got Dumbfounded. Like many statuses, Dumbfounding stacks, and every 'stack' of the spell causes the PC/enemy to lose a level of Spell casting. One casting means losing 7th Level Spells, while Kai-Lyss here has FIVE layers slapped on him, dropping him down to 2nd level spells.
And here's the cure. Restore Mind. I cast this one a lot against Aranea.
You were right. Thisss body isss... recent.
What does that mean?
A messenger from the Vahnatai?
Ssspy. Or Mage to build the Barriersss.
I don't see anything on the body though.
Should we take her... him... it... down? For burial?
Would it be the right thing? Art... you know the wordsss?
For the Vahnatai? No. I don't. I don't even know their language. That shade back in Formello could have been a prepared speech.
Now, if we're blocked off, does that mean that other sections of Exile are in the same situation we are? And if so, what about the Invasion?
I'm not going to speculate.
It would be... difficult to block off riverssss. Large sections of the Cavernsss would ssstill be traverssable.
It's just our luck that we got stuck in this small area.
Could thissss have been another messenger?
I doubt it, child. Why send in a person here, now?
.... I do not know.
ENOUGH! We're just talking in circles. We cut the body down, we make a cairn, and leave some form of identifier on it in case the Vahnatai come looking. But the only way we're going to get answers is to find them, and talk to them!
Sorry. I'll come back, or send someone for you.
Not going this way, Sir Ma'am.
Back to the Spiders then?
Thisss... feelsss wrong.
Oh, don't sweat it. We're headed for Solberg's tower. He's the local archmage, and hopefully he has some idea about what to do.
Chester! Your turn to row!
Because I'm in charge, Dmurr and Marianna aren't ready to row as a team, Kai and Artist don't have the experience, and I know these waters a bit better than you, I'm guessing.
I ssshalll help!
Sure! Just do what I do!
NOT North, guys. South.
Pull up here guys, something's off.
What do you sssee?
Now this is odd. Why would an Empire Archer wield a Cavewood bow?
And what killed him?
Starvation, looks like.
Impossible! Those mushrooms are edible, and there's good water down on the river!
We know thesse thingss to be true. Would he?
A spy then?
Recon then. Replacement Bow.
Either way, let's just build a Cairn, and mark the location so we can tell the guards at Fort Draco about this guy.
Yep, buried the body, and decided to let you know.
I'll get some men down there to retrieve it. Thanks.
Thisss place ussed to be underwater. The river hazz lowered a bit to reveal it.
Something is here.
These look almost cultivated....
Really? How can you tell that? These are swamp weeds.
I have experience with such things.
A ssspring, it would causse the cavern to flood outwardssss if it waz rising.
Meet the Naga! It's not as much of a 'We're all gonna die!' level encounter as say a Basilik, or a Demon, but it's right up there in terms of dickery. Where to start?
It casts Firestorm, for massive damage.
It casts Summon Host for Shades and a Deva, all mid to high tier undead. And Martyr's Shield, which I can guarantee is a lot more vicious when the monsters use them.
I finally beat it by reloading, then stopping just out of sight and hasting and blessing everyone before charging into battle. The free round was enough to tip the scales in my favour, but even then, it was still annoying with the Curse All being thrown around.
That wasss... harder than it ssshould have been
Either way, there's something back here.
An Alchemical workshop?
Nothing much if interest here though. Perhaps it had just moved in?
Perhaps. Let's move on.
Totally random fight there. Pity the team that grabs a boat first thing and starts poking along the shoreline.
I have never been in thesse waterz before. Shall we do both pathz?
I think thiss whasss a misstake.
What was your first clue?
My, aren't there a lot of them?
Once again, early parties shouldn't be coming down here! For this group now? Free XP!
Solberg's tower is due east of here. It's near a volcanic vent south-west of Formello.
Sir, Ma'am, are you sure he can help?
At this point? I just hope he's home. He's always been helpful whenever I've come to him for help, and I don't see why this should be any different. Besides, last time I was there, he had a scrying pool back to the Tower. We might be able to get some advice there.
Or at leassst attempt to sscry elsssewhere.
Something is weird here...
A campsite? No...
Who would come all the way here to raize an Obelisk?
And what does that mean, anyways?
Everyone who does know: SSHHHHHHH! And yes, I will trigger the easter egg involving that.
Maybe it's a tombstone? For this 'Bon' person?
'Maybe. We're almost there.
You weren't kidding when you said volcanic!
He must be home. Otherwise, this would be real lava we're standing on.
Sir, Ma'am? You should see this sign...
OH COME ON! I have Royal Clearance!
I would not trussst that fact anymore. Until you can ressolve it.
You're right. Damn!
Oh, and if you try to walk over the bridge to Solberg's tower?
NOPE! Not going to fight that one!
We're only going this way so I can think about my next move.
There's always the Spiders!
Oh, such fresh water!
Darn! My complexion hasn't improved one bit!
Pale is pale, human.
This is... suspicious...
Forgot to take a shot of the center of the swamp, where the springs are.
You know what? Let's go deal with the Spiders. If their request is dumb, I'll just burn down the cave again.
FOUR levels of disease if you drink from that 'Healing' spring! It was horrible! Art ran out of SP, so the next couple screen shots shows Dmurr and Marianna still sick.
We should stop by Formello to recover, and to report our success in the former ruined castle.
Sir, we've completed the mission. Art here was able to sanctify the altar they were using.
He listens to your description of what happened. "Well done!" He starts filling out forms. "This will count towards your getting a higher clearance. You apply for higher clearance at The Castle. Thanks for your help!"
Gives me a reason to get in there and yell at Micah some more!
Didn't you already promissse to do that?
I can make multiple promises, can't I?
I also take the time to ID the wand I picked up off the Vahnatai corpse over by the Aranea. It's a Wand of Vorb. What does it do?
I don't remember.
Let's get this over with.
EEEEE!! EVERYONE! SPIDER IS BACK!
I may have done them a favour or two. And rescued a few of them from the Aranea from the south. And other things. They decided to give me the highest honour they could. They named me 'Spider'.
You meet a rather large spider, watching rather carefully through the web barrier. When you get close, it turns to look at you. It isn't hostile. "Hi! My name's Spider!" It has a squeaky, high-pitched voice.
So, what do you do here, Spider?
"I guard the barrier!" It points at the barrier, apparently in case you didn't see it.
The Barrier? From what?
"We put it up in case the nasty spiders come! They're nasty!"
"We're at war with the evil spiders! They're mean!" It hisses loudly, to clarify the point.
I don't like the Spider Cave, or the GIFTs in general because it's so darn hard to locate whoever I have to talk to.
Makes me part of the in-group.
And what do you do?
"I'm a guarding spider! Yeah! If any evil spiders come, I do the Spider Dance of Alarm, and the I bite em'! I got big fangs!
"Yeah! Look!" It opens its mouth and hisses alarmingly. One thing is for sure. These spiders may not be very bright, but they have fangs the size of short swords, and venom sacs like grapefruit. "Cool, huh? Oh, Spider? Talk to Spider!
Oh, and every last one of them is named Spider.
A little spider, only up to your knee, drags around a basket of bugs twice as large as it is. "I'm Spider!"
You mussst have an important job. Do you know Art-Spider?
"I help wrap up bugs. That's all they let me do." It looks sad for a moment. At least you think that's what it looks like. Then it perks up. "But someday, I'll be a warrior spider!"
"Yeah! Watch this!" It leaps straight up into the air, about the height of your waist. Then it lands. "I don't know what good doing that is, but it's a good start!"
Alright, I'm just going to post the dialogues of the various non-plot important spiders. This place is the worst to narrate.
A giant spider wanders around forlornly.
Name: "Spider."It sounds glum.
Job "Looking for a new mate."
Mate It sighs. "My old mate got eaten up by aranea. It's all sad and stuff." It looks up at you hopefully. "Any of you need a mate? I have big pedipalps!"
Pedipalps It moves up very close to you. "I'm Spider. You're cute."
Cute "Would you like to come back and see my web? I have a big mealworm!"
One of the spiders is leading around a bunch of other, smaller spiders. The smaller ones must be a different species - their markings are entirely different.
Name "Oh, hi! I'm Spider."
Job "I'm trying to teach these dumb spiders things. It's all hard and stuff."
Teach "Yeah! Like how to fight and make web baskets and talk and dance and stuff. They're pretty dumb, though."
A spider runs up and kisses you on the leg. It feels like a very light pinch.
Name "I'm Spider! Pleased to meet you!"
Job "I build walls with webs!"
Walls "I'm a webbing spider. I help build the big web wall! Aranea and their dumb spiders can get through it, but it slows 'em down, and we beat 'em up! We have big battles."
Aranea"I don't know why they attack us. Maybe they want our bugs. Spider says they want our cave. Spider, on the other pedipalp, says they really hate us. But I have my own theory!" Spider moves closer, as if to whisper it to you.
Theory"I think they do it because they're very, very silly."
A tiny spider, only a foot long, cowers from you.
Name, Job "Eeek! Eeeeek!"
Spider "That's me!"
A spider runs around frantically, apparently trying to get its web in order.
Name "I'm Spider!" it says breathlessly as it runs by.
Job "I can't talk! I got a potential mate coming by! She's cute!"
Mate "Yeah! She's nice too! She won't try to devour me or anything! Gotta' run" It takes some nicely wrapped gnats and bugs and leaves them on the ground by the web.
A spider paces around dejectedly. It is missing one of its forelegs.
Name "Hi. I'm Spider."
Job "I was a big warrior spider. Now I just weave webs."
Warrior "I was on a raid to get our eggs back from the nasty aranea. We fought a bunch of 'em outside their lair. I bit into one of them, but before my nasty venom got it, it zapped my leg off. I have to weave webs until it grows back." It slumps slightly. "It's all sad and stuff."
Weave, Webs "Boring!"
A spider carries around a huge egg sac, bigger than your head.
Name "My name is Spider. I've heard of you - Spider told me about you."
Job "I'm being careful with these eggs. If they got stolen, it would be real sad."
Eggs, Stolen "A bunch of eggs got taken by aranea!" It hisses in anger.
Aranea "Talk to Spider about it! He's out mayor! If you brought them back, we'd give you valuable, silly things for them!"
Spider. Spider said you wanted to talk to me.
Spider! A spider stands calmly in the center of the cave. "I'm the mayor, the sacred leader of the spiders here, and leader in worship of the Great Spider Goddess! But you could probably tell." You couldn't.
Get to the point, Spider.
"I direct the war against the great, evil aranea. They cast magic spells, but they're wimpy if you get up by them, and you can beat them up. We're silly, but we're tough too, and we have big, big fangs!"
"We're really mad at them, because they stole our babies."
Spider already told me about the theft of the babies.
"They stole some egg sacs and took them to their lair to the south! If you bring them back to me, you can have the stuff in that cave there." It points at a tunnel to the northeast. "We took the stuff from some silly people from the surface world!"
YES! I know! Isn't it silly? Get our babies back!
I don't think they'll let you do that, Sir Ma'am.
And promissesss are meant to be kept.
Could you go talk to the other spiders in those caves over there? They aren't being nice.
Is this a good idea?
We mussst clean oursselves carefully.
* chitter *
Yep, this entire section of the map is giant spiders in their natural environment webs. Carefully 'U'sing webs ahead of you to clear a path is a good idea.
All the way at the far end...
Ehh, I haven't properly desecrated a cultist's idol is a while. Yoink!
Did you really just say 'yoink'?
I LIKE IT!
Was that worth it?
Thanks Spider! That'll teach them. You better clean up at the pool over by the pool. You'll need it!
Thisss now jusst confussesss me.
That pool, silly!
No, don't drink it, silly!
We mussst hurry.
This is only temporary.
Kill now, talk later!
Explains how the Aranea got in. Better let Spider know.
Oh, thank you!
I read an interesting article that wondered why Chimps, Elephants and possibly dogs were the only non-human species to bury their dead. There wasn't much to go on, just some interesting speculation about group norms and preventing the body from feeding scavengers which might in turn attack the rest of the group.
So, a moment of silence please.
I feel like squishing some Aranea now.