Part 26: Mertis and the Grim CavernUpdate 022 Mertis and the Grim Cavern
"Oooooh, Magic Lockpicks!"
Lock Picks are used with the Lock Picking Skill, except that the Magic version can't break in case of failure!
It was also in this screencap that I finally realized what Encumbrance also does it also reduces Accuracy by 5% per point. Huh.
"We ssshould get a couple energy potionsss. They will provide... duration."
"What does that mean?"
"Oh come now, Farmboy! They are like healing potions, save for the energies required for spellcraft."
"I think he's questioning why we are getting them now, as they could have proved useful in the past."
"Perhapsss they were not available in the passst?"
I just want to point out that Medium Energy Potions cost 300GP, and restore 30SP. They are the most efficient means to replenish SP, especially now that the bottles of potion stack. The Tower is the best and most reliable place to get them.
So like an idiot, I only buy two for the coming dungeon.
"May I make a request?"
"Can we swing by Mertis? I got folks over there."
"It is on the way back north, we could touch base with the Mayor of Formello. Remind him that we did take care of the Barriers."
"I think he would knowsss by now."
"It would be... polite."
"Fine. Mertis, Silvar, Cotra, Formello."
"What... happened here?"
"Stupid people doing stupid things that I had to clean up."
"Demonsss were here."
"Will you tell the tale?"
"Because it involves killing Sss-Thsss and Grah-Hoth."
"Then it is a tale worth telling!"
"I have to agree. You cannot force such things to happen."
"But how will all know of her deedssss?"
"Not all talesss are meant to be Glorioussss."
"Even I can tell you that distance seems wrong."
"Perhaps it is a security tactic, to mislead Empire Spies?"
"Kill the desecrators!"
So yes, Asps and Slith Warriors as Random encounters near the Tower.
"Sir, Ma'am, this isn't the way to Mertis."
"I know. Just checking on something."
"Why would yo be checking on Ogres?"
"Why wouldn't she be?"
"They ssseemed afraid of you."
"They really did, like they expected you to do something mean and nasty to them."
"Eh, it's all in the past."
"The sssite of another of your talesss?"
"Wow, they must be brave."
"But their selection is low."
"If we haven't scavenged better stuff, this would be a good place for improved weapons."
"Exccept for you, there's no arrows."
"... I don't see why not. The economy of scale!"
"Now I'm nervous."
"Just, you know, coming home and all that."
"Just hold your head high. You'll be fine."
"And dust yourself off. You need to look presentable."
"Well, these are the neighbours..."
"Thanks for the food!"
"Even I know this is the wrong direction."
"Oh, shut up."
"Although, I think there is some alchemical ingredients this way..."
"I didn't know about these guys."
"We're all over the place."
"Art? Can you help?"
"Hrm, let me invessstigate."
I need a plot device to do this properly.
"Aww, nuts. That cave is in an uproar again."
"There's a cave full of Undead to the north."
"Why hasn't some one cleaned it out yet?"
"Oh, adventurers come by every year or so. This seems worse than years previous."
"Come on then. We're going to finish that."
"What do you mean?"
"Just what I said."
"Sir, Ma'am, you don't have to do this."
"Is she thinking what I think she's thinking?"
"But first, a quick stop for supplies."
"Ah, Mertis, home!"
"Best not speak too loudly, son. The walls have ears."
"Hello! Anyone around?"
"Only the usual crew. Not in Army cloth, I see. You couldn't have washed out."
"No, I got diverted form the regular Army to Unspecified Services. This is Art, my tema leader."
"Captain. Welcome to Mertis."
"Um, that's a question I have."
"How can tell her rank? She's not wearing a standard uniform."
"Red hair, two swords, Unspecified Services. I know who she is, as I pay attention to the briefings."
"There are briefings about us?"
"No, just the Captain in particular."
"You're welcome. And keep your nose clean."
"Thisss placess is indefensssible."
Meet the new Mertis. Same as the old Mertis.
"All right, everyone else is at the Inn. And I get to wander around by myself. Why did I want to come back again?"
A huge, greatsword bearing warrior sits behind an amusingly small desk, shuffling around piles of paper with hands like hams.
"Well, if it isn't our wayword son. You've gotten your folks sick over you up and leaving your farm. I've already heard about your posting, so while I'm dissapointed, I'm not angry."
"Hello Commander Lynn. What's going on, if I may ask?"
"I look after the prisoners, and shuffle papers." She looks at her desk in distaste.
"Wait. Prisoners? But we're a farming community! Did someone create a still?"
"I shouldn't be talking to you, but the Services interact a bit hazy with the rest of the Army. We're being used as a behind-the-lines prison. The yard to the north is for grunts. The cells to the east are for detainees with special information."
"A detainee? But wouldn't the Castle or Almaria be better?"
She shakes her head. "Sorry. There's a VIP, a Very Important Prisoner, in there, and nobody gets in to see her without orders, no matter what clearance they are."
"I don't make the rules. I just kill those who try to break them." She pats her greatsword meaningfully.
"Sure, sure. Anything else?"
"Papers this, forms that. I'd rather be going out on missions. Instead, I assign them!"
"We've done some missions for other places before. I'm sure we can do something for you too."
She smiles. "I'm glad you asked. There's a bunch of bandits hiding in the Honeycomb. They have some sort of mage helping them - we can find their lair, but we can't get in. Get in there and wipe them out and you'll be rewarded."
"Sounds like something the.... Captain would do."
The bar is tended by a short man with long curly hair and a friendly face.
"Hey Cronan. How's the inn?"
"Chester! Oh, the usual. Hauling shrooms across Exile. You can buy mugs of mushroom mead for 3 gold. You can also get a room for 5 gold. You'll be in the commons, though. The private room is occupied. I gotta charge you since you moved out."
"No, that's fair. The private room is occupied?"
"Some mage is in there. He goes to where the prisoners are, then come backs here. Does it three times a day. He seems a weirdie, but it's none of my business."
"I just knocked! I didn't expect the door to swing open!"
No, it's locked. Marianna picked it.
There is a figure sitting cross-legged in the shadows of this darkened room. You look closer - it's a thin man in mage's robes.
"Sorry for interrupting, I was hoping to knock first. I'm Chester..-"
"I am Caelen." (Pronounced Kalin) "I've heard of you, envoys to the Vahnatai. If you weren't who you are, I wouldn't forgive your intrusion on my privacy. Instead, you may be able to help me, and us all. I'm here to find out about the passes."
"We know about those. We've found a couple Red passes up north."
"Good. I am here to question the prisoners to find out about Empire passes. The passes are scrolls given out by the Empire forces down here, which let you into different areas they control. They are, worst to best, Red, Blue, and Gray."
"I want to find a gray pass, and I think a prisoner here knows where it is."
"And this prisoner is..."
"Yes. In one of the cells in the building to the east. The damned bureaucrat in charge, however, won't let anyone in to see him. I keep trying, but she just won't budge. But if someone stealthy and strong, like you, could find one of the gray passes, they could get far into Empire lands!"
This is where you officially find out about the nature of the Empire Passes. We'll have to come back to Mertis later on to 'interrogate' this guy, once we have the necessary plot-wordage.
"Also the usual."
"Hey, old man!"
You meet an old man with sparse hair. His clothes look heavily worked in, with many stains and small rips. He shakes your hands firmly. "Chester! Word has it you're back in town."
"Still running the Auction?"
"Yep! Coming back for good?"
"Sorry. My unit is passing through."
"Well, good luck with that. Thankfully we haven't been attacked yet. I've heard that Cotra got raided a couple weeks back."
"We're headed up that way. Anyone you want me to check up on?"
"Nah, it's good. Have a nice day!"
"Ah, the Bazaar."
A lovely woman sits behind the counter, playing with a young boy, maybe two years old. They are both surrounded by arrows and tools of fletching. She looks up. "Hello. I'm Tina, and this is Nikko." She waves her baby's hand at you. "Wave hi, Nikko!"
"Oh! Chester! I didn't recognize you!"
"Hey! How goes the archery?"
"Fletching. And good! You coming home?"
"Not yet, I'm afraid. Still on the job. Say, can I buy some stuff for the team archer?"
"Your money is always good here!"
"Just some Iron Arrows, and a lot of normal ones, please."
"Thanks for the business!"
"Hey Matt. Saw the wife and kid."
There is a thin man sitting behind the counter, carefully chipping an obsidian spear head. "You ain't been away that long, kid. Heard you're in town for business."
"Are you boys moving to the front?"
"Not sure sure. Unspecified Services does things differently than the Army."
"Well Chester, between brigands, nephilim, undead, Empire patrols and rogue sliths, they need all the help they can get."
Matt sells Stone weapons. Unless you are literally out of money and equipment, then you shouldn't be buying here.
"Chester." There is a woman sitting behind the counter, concentrating amazingly intently on mixing some reagents. You looks closer. She's making poison. She finishes what she's doing, and turns her attention to you.
She begins preparing some poison glands as she talks. "I make tools and poisons for the merchants now. Buy something or get out."
Nothing worth buying here.
"Oh, how I've missed these sermons."
It's hard to figure out what's most memorable about this priest - his wild hair, wild gaze, or huge mallet at his belt. "Welcome, child! I am Rhoads!" He slaps you on the shoulder with one hand, and keeps the other near his mallet.
"Hello, Father Rhoads."
"Have you been preaching the word of Elgar?"
"He is a mighty warrior deity! One with the wisdom to realize that knowledge is best let into a skull after cracking it first! It's not subtle, but it gets the job done!"
"Plus, he teaches us great warrior magic! Incantations to crush your vile foes. We long to spread this wisdom! I can teach you the ritual, for a small fee."
"Let me go get the... Captain."
Here is where Priests get Smite. Art picks it up, then doesn't get to use it as much as I would like.
"Fun time is over, let's go."
"And here we are. The Grim Cavern."
Not pictured: Me realizing I don't have Dispel Barrier yet, and running all the way back to Elgi in the Vahnatai Lands for some Piercing Crystals to do the job instead.
See? That's the nearest place to get them.
"Used to be the kids would see how close they could get before they ran away. Even now, it scares me."
"There is an oppressiveness here, that I have not felt in a long time."
"I know. First time I was here was... five years ago. Couldn't finish the job then. Now I can."
"Iss thissss something we ssshould know about?"
"Fine. Let me tell you of the Grim Cavern.. At the time, it was called the Dark Pit."
"Honestly, we just needed some time to relax. We were under stress, and everyone agreed that we should beat up some undead to relax."
"I heard there was a group of adventurers who came in here before us."
"This is... fresh. We may be able to catch up to them."
"Thissss place drainsss all light."
"There is a malevolence here. It's my goal."
"Why did you not dessstroy it when you were here then?"
"Because I didn't know enough. I was too focused on my goal at the time, and this place was essentially a vacation."
"Not all heroic deedssss are made equal. Ssssome are larger talesssz than otherssss."
"Thisss darknesss comes in wavez."
"I'm pretty sure this was supposed to be in the south-west corner, not the north-east. Oh well. Anyways, we didn't really learn about the history of this place until a bit later. Sure, we had clues, but at the time, we thought it was just the usual necromatic magics."
"There are... usual Necromatic magics?
There are more.... sssstandard onessz.
Like those skeletons we just passed?
It turned out that this was the last stand of a group of explorers who came down here before the first Exiles arrived.
They had pissed off Motrax, pissed off the Sliths, and the Demons, and even a certain Lich. The latter three just kept chasing them.
How did that happen?
You have not heard? Then lisssten.
They holed up here, seeking shelter, but all they did was trap themselves.
Dumb of them.
I'm worried that we haven't seen those other adventurers yet.
And none of these bodies seem fresh enough.
The details are sketchy, but it seems like the Undead were the ones to attack the cave.
Our hissstory sssayz that the Slithzerikai camped outsside with the Demonsss to prevent esscape.
Thanks. The Lich, Drath, cornered the humans in the bottom of the pit. The mage of the party killed himself to cast a barrier to protect the remainders of the expedition.
But the Lich was able to work its magics from the outside. As they died, they were raised as undead within the central cavern.
Untill all are dead. Requiescat in Pace.
Here is where the last of the First Expedition died.
Here is where Demonslayer was broken.
Here is where we grabbed one of the Pendants that now adorn the necks of the Mayors of Exile to allow them to communicate with one another.
And this is where I left them behind.
To lay fallow.
But today, that changes.
I keep my promises.
Though it may take me to the ends of the world and beyond.
I'm sorry. Forgive me.
We ssshould prepare ourssselvesz. Not all the undead are at resst.
I feel up for a nap.
There is no reason to come here, save for the XP. And a sense of closure for those who have gone through Exile 1.