Part 16: Mysterious Ruins, Island Hut, Watery RuinsUpdate 13 Ruined Town, Island Hut and the Watery Ruins
I can see the end now!
Get ready for anything!
That was anti-climactic.
Kai-Lyss, Map the area please.
Asss you wisssh.
Come, let usss find these people.
Vahnatai. They were here. Ages ago.
You're right. This place hasn't been occupied in lifetimes.
That map showed a hidden passage to the north. Let's check that out.
Art-Thss, do you have any idea what we are to expect?
What are these?
I don't know, but I'll take them.
Meet Razordisks! These make the Throwing Skill not suck! And you're going to see why before the end of Black Waters.
Look at the edges.
They've got the same curves as your sword, Sir Ma'am.
I mussst wonder then, how will the Vahnatai react to your wielding that blade.
Oh, I should be able to talk them down.
Why ssshould they take offennssse in the firssst place?
I don't know. Why did you ask, Kai-Lyss?
It ssseemed... a prudent quesstion.
Oh look, a distraction!
And thisss iz why you pay attention to your surrounding.
A boat? And a...
Not very subtle.
And it's not like there's anywhere else to go.
When I first played this game, this map was perhaps one of the most evocative images I can remember. Here I was, leading the group out into the unknown. This wasn't like the opening of the game, where there was a road right outside. No, here was a giant blank slate of the unknown, new ground with unknown dangers.
To the me that is twenty years older, even knowing what is coming next, the feelings of entering into something alien and unknowable are still with me.
No choice then. Come on.
And ruining the immersion of being isolated is that little sliver of map from the far NE corner of Exile. In going through that plot-tunnel, we were moved from Formello up a map-and-a-half and right about half a map. By the time we're done, we're going to hit the equivalent of the south end of Exile, a distance of about 6 maps.
Chapter 2 is long.
You're never going to stop calling me that, are you? And what?
No, Sir. Sir, Ma'am. I was wondering if this lake is same source as the water in Formello.
Lower water table. We went down to get here.
And its more likely that this lake is fed from the same source as Formello.
Looks thoughtful for a moment. Wait, how far down are we?
In the known cave system, officially the lowest point is the Waterfall Warrens, but having been there myself, I don't think so. I'm of the opinion that it's the lava vent in the Steam Cavern to the east of the Great Cave. As for the highest, officially it's the land on the north edge of the lake north of the Giant Lands. But I've been higher to the west of the Great Cave.
There's a story in there, I know!
Wouldn't checking with the Duncan Maps be a good idea?
Don't let Peregrine hear you call them that. He helped a lot. Anyways, there are things on those maps that were deliberately left off, including, by association, the actual highest point in Exile.
What doesss it matter?
Maps are important to see beyond the horizon.
Can we ssspeak more on this later? There!
I had forgotten this was a town marker.
Yet, not fortified?
I don't like this, Art, dahling. It's too easy.
And yet here we are.
The Vahnatai stares at you expectantly.
I am Art, of the nation of Exile. Human. To my right is Marianna, the same. Behind is Chester, also of the same. To my left is Dmurr, Nephil. At the end of the table is Aarth-Tsss and Kai-Lyss, Slithzerikai.
It bobs its head. "I am called Bentis-Ka by my people. The Ka is the sign of my position as a mage." It speaks your tongue, but haltingly and with many errors.
I too, am a Mage by my name. Art is our group leader, and is a priest.
"I have been waiting here for humans to be coming. Before you begin the dark journey, you must learn of my people." It pours liquid from a nearby flask into several small crystal cups. "Have a drink."
For added hilarity, make your entire party Slith/Nephil. Bentis-Ka still says 'Humans'.
Art, let me speak. I have experience with negotiation. What is in this drink?
"Water with mold. One of our favorite drink. It will be safe for you." You sip it nervously. It's nasty, but doesn't kill you.
*cough* Had worse.
Have you been waiting long? We did not respond to your summons right away, so we have to ask if others have gone this way yet.
She nods. "This black river is the only way some of you humans can get to our land. We must bring humans to our land, to try to prevent horrors. I was put here to tell you of my people, and to tell you the route. I can giving you some small assistance.
We knew of the Vahnatai only as legends, as bones in forgotten crypts. That your people still live...
"I see your horror in your eyes, at my appearance. But that may change I hope, for you might be finding we have similarities to you, under our different furnitures and faces. Our race has women and men, as yours. I am the former."
She sips her drink. "There is but one true difference - we are natives of the caves."
The Slithzerikai are also natives, though the Humans and Nephil do not claim such a thing.
"You call this land Exile, but that is meaning, if I understand, this is not your true home being. But it is our true home, and was for years upon years. This place is our love. Here is where we can only be. But we need not be alone."
"It is our hope for peace, and not being killing you all, that we are helping you go to Avit."
"Avit is one of the few Vahnatai cities that has been awakened. Go there, to meet Bon-Ihrno, my great master, who will tell you how you may save the humans."
Is it a long journey?
"To Avit, city of my people. The route is simple. Take the boat south, down the many tunnels and waterfalls. It will have dangers, for this was once lands of our people before the Resting. The ruins now may have many traps and beings."
"Go south and south, and you may then find the tunnel to Avit."
You said you could offer us assistance. What do you mean by that? Maps perhaps?
"No. In my quarters are many foods for your long journey. Once you go, there isn't turning back, so have food. Can I ask questions for myself?
We know of the Slithzerikai the word rolls off her tongue better than her command of Imperial Common, but not of the Nephil. It is Humans that have offended us, so why are you here?
The Nephil, like the Humans, are dissplaced from the ssurface. <Do you speak Slith?>
If you say what I thinking you say, then no.
To answer your question, Bentis-Ka, the Nephil and the Slith are allied with the Human nation of 'Exile' against the Human nation of 'Empire'.
There is more that one Human Nation? She talks to herself in what seems to be her native language. This is information that must be conveyed to Avit and Bon-Ihrno.
I sssee you make an error. The Slithzerikai affiliated with the Humanss are opposed to a group of Slithzerikai that were themselves exiled from our homeland for... religious differences. The Nephil too are divided politically.
Such confusion. My questions would be useless. You must go.
Will you come with usss?
At this time, no. I wait more.
Take the food, and leave. Your time is short.
Thank you, Bentis-Ka.
I have no idea how that bed works. It couldn't hold Art or Marianna, let alone Kai-Lyss or myself.
Bentis-Ka. Ka. Kah. A gatekeeper. How did she get there?
Teleportation, most likely.
She also wasn't the one who made the hole back in Formello.
Waz sshe really blind?
I don't think so.
I don't think this is the right way, everyone.
What the hell?
Another out-of-level encounter! These are the Null Bugs. What makes them so annoying, you may wonder? Well, for starters, they deal three attacks a round with a chance to poison on each. But that's not a real issue. You see, this is what they do:
They cancel magic. They radiate Anti-Magic fields around them, preventing casting while near them, and attempts to magic them directly auto-fail. I hate them.
South, she said. This is the only way.
I sssee what waz meant by 'Black Waterss.
Yes, look at it. There must be a lot of clay in this lake.
No, look ahead. It's dark.
no no no no.
And yet, this is the only way.
Let us advance.
Point of no return here, folks. Go down over this waterfall, and you can't go back north.
Batten down the supplies! We could loose some going down these rapids and falls!
Going over waterfalls also reduces ones supplies of food. Why do you think I took the time to Minor Manna myself over 9000 units of the stuff?
I lost 450 food over that one waterfall. It's a percentage reduction, so I'm not totally worried,but still, keep an eye on that number over the next few pictures.
This chapter is, as I've mentioned before, one of the most atmospheric RPG segments I've ever played. No safety, no resupply, no idea how far or how long this is going to take, Black Waters scared me when I was younger playing the demo.
Oh, yes. We're still in the area contained by the demo of the game. We will be for a while.
These waters... they are dead.
Not quite, but close.
What do you mean?
This place, it is... I do not know the word.
Drained. The water, this river, it has nothing but silt in it. You will not find fish here.
More rapids and waterfalls. We have our choice of dooms.
You can say that again.
I think it's official now.
We're farther down than Exile.
Another achievement for you.
No, we are not as far down as our forefathers from Bahssikava, our ancient home.
How far down is that?
Only by the stories, many weeks of descent.
Let us make camp here, and recover a bit.
How shall we explore, Sir Ma'am?
Stick to the walls for now.
This is north, not south.
But still the wrong way.
I'm surprised. We can even see the tower through the barrier surrounding it.
We'll officially come back to the Barrier Tower later, but the first time here, it's surrounded by an impenetrable wall of barriers. I didn't even bother to screenshot it.
Maybe we'll come back soon?
Or not. We don't have to investigate everything on our path.
Are you sure we should be going this way?
There's something back here.
And this is the other new enemy in Chapter 2.
Well, at least they aren't spiders.
Chitrachs are man sized Mantis', while their Larvas are the next step up from Spiders, able to throw webs around. A challenging, but not difficult fight. And downright fun compared to Null Bugs. Also, remember that Ivory Bug I picked up a couple updates ago, and said I wasn't using it because it would slightly spoil something? Well, this is what it would spoil.
And this is another set-piece scenario with a whole horde of enemies. A casting of Curse All revealed 7 Chitrachs, and 10 Larvae. And I rip through them like a hot knife through butter thanks to Curse All and Slow Group.
Have I mentioned yet how much I love those spells?
Can we go south now?
Not that far, apparently.
This passage would be easy to flood, if the water were higher.
We'll come back here. It seems like its a checkpoint on the river, so I don't want to leave something behind.
Let's not land on that island.
Just to mix things up, there are undead in the Black Waters. Totally not foreshadowing something at all.
You know, these flood plains would make excellent farmland.
You would know, wouldn't you, farmboy.
Well, yes. I have plenty of experience there.
On one hand, it's 40 food. And there are four places to collect them in this area. On the other hand...
Disease! Requiring multiple castings of Remove Disease per person. Another reason for Art to have 50 SP, she used 42 to clean up the party.
Your choice to explore more wazzs correct.
Thisss placces would be eassier to explore by sswiming.
Sure, for you and Aarth-Tsss. Being Slith and all. Not I!
My boots are getting soaked.
Cryohydras and Baby Hydras. Multiple attacks, and the former can breathe cold. They aren't a real threat, and I can avoid the worst of them. Of note, you'll need to bring your boat onto the map in order to get into the upper left corner.
I, uh, may have gotten a few bars, especially with no encumbrance limits for stuff carried in inventory and not equipped. Only 20 or so.
Time to deal with this.