Part 28: Cotra and the Secret Empire FortUpdate 024 The Ruins of Cotra and the Secret Fort
"So, we're fairly close to Formello now. Shall we be off?"
"Change of plans."
"We're going to see Cotra for ourselves."
"Not to quessstion your judgement, but why?"
"Then why queztion?"
It doesn't matter to me, I'm going where Sir Ma'am is going.
When you're all done critiquing my decisions?
Art, dahling, we will never be done.
I have a bad feeling about this place.
Izz that... sszinging?
No, that's just the wind. I'm not hearing any song.
Oh hell no.
Go ahead, tell me those aren't some of the greatest responses you've ever seen.
NO! You'll doom us all!
And you were saying?
That was an extremely awkward. And what do they mean by the trees?
I do not know.
Only when transcribing this update did that reference finally make sense to me. And some quick research tells me there's no happy ending to that tale. I'll have to do better with the poor Gremlins.
We ssshould not aid them. They are a blight.
Our opinions should not matter. They are in need of help, so we should help.
Your inability to think long term galls me, farm boy.
I am! If we make friends with them, they may not attack us in the future!
... and what of thoze they attack insstead of uz?
I hadn't thought of that.
Huh, I thought there was something here. I know on the north side of this spire, there was a bandit base a few years back.
Let me guess, you destroyed it?
Of course not!
We merely killed everyone in there, stole their stuff, and got rewarded for it by the captain of Fort Duvno at the time.
This is annoying, simply because you are poisoned a bit getting into this encounter, then you get into a massive fight with only a few Giant Lizards to back you up. However, this isn't a hard encounter, so I decided to try something different.
Where were you when I was young and stupid?!?!?
Firessstorm haz a larger radiusss.
You're just jealous.
It's also a Level 5 spell, which means that its damage multiplier is higher than Fireball, which is Kai-Lyss' go-to for crowd control.
Now that those are all dead, there's something interesting here.
Sure, if we had the right recipe.
We're not regular army!
Fort Exile, Silvar and Fort Fuvno are safe places.
<YOU DISGUST ME!>
There are about four of these encounters on the road between Silvar and Cotra. And the worrying part is that this is actually a pretty decent enemy force. Slith and Nephil Warriors backed up by Mages makes for an interesting time.
It also shows off the difference between the two styles of enemy. Sliths hit and take hits, while the Nephil are more accurate and less likely to be hit.
Why would they do that?
Must be so much to get Lizards and Nephil working together.
Or we could just deal with the normal warbands in the area.
Welcome back to Cotra. In the original Exile, this was one of the cities whose mission you had to complete before getting in to see the King. What we had to do was rescue some prisoners from some Nephil in a place that also held a piece of the Demonslayer.
Now it's destroyed. We'll see some familiar locations, but for the most part, this is what the Empire has been doing to anything they can take. The only reason they haven't done more is that their entrance is up near the Abyss.
With information from Exile: Escape from the Pit in mind, it is actually possible to puzzle out the location of the Empire Teleporter mentioned last update already. But don't worry. We'll get there eventually.
All this... Bodies. Ruins.
It iz a warning... perhaps?
From a military standpoint, Exile has just lost the ability to contest the waters west of here. She thinks for a few moments, mental maps and plans being considered. Without Cotra, the two nearest ports are Silvar and Almaria. They couldn't strike at Almaria as it's too well defended through the Great Cave, while they would have had to bypass Cotra to get to Silvar.
By destroying this city, not only do they remove logistical support, they also increase response time to any further incursions through Slith Territory. This gives them more opportunity to isolate the Formello Fort Draco region and its metals.
It would also put a strain on places like Mertis, loosing these farms.
Cruel. But effective.
What worries me is that they haven't tried to hold the location. Empire Doctrine holds the taking of positions to be important. By killing Cotra and letting the people flee without moving up, what do they hope to accomplish?
If they held thiss plaze, would they be able to keep peace with the Slith who follow Sss-thss?
You're suggesting that this was a raid in force, and not a proper invasion?
Hostiles! Take them out!
Watch out, there's an Empire Champion nearby! Leave that one to me!
These buildings look new. Empire?
Ready to breach on your command, Sir Ma'am. The watch didn't alert anyone.
Kill them all.
Wait! I know you! Kill the red-haired woman! The General wants her head!
Not good enough!
What manner of demons are you?
Forgot I had these.
Actually, I'm pretty sure that during one of the reloads, I undid their previous use. Well, not any more, they're both going to be used! Firestorms away!
That's it. They're all dead.
We are almossst dead ourzelves.
We can rest up in a few moments. Search the place!
Is there anything we can do with this?
And with that, I'm pretty sure I've competed a quest somewhere. I just can't remember at the moment.
Now we've rested up, it's time to do more scouting.
I know what I'm going to find, and I don't want to look.
You knew this man?
He... His name was Elmer. He offered words of encouragement when I first arrived. requiescat in pace, my friend.
This door is actively shielded.
Hold on, I have an option.
I abuse pathfinding to trap the Vampire in the corner of his room, then curse it a few times with Curse All, Bless up, Haste up, then go to town.
What wasz it guarding, I wonder?
I may possibly cast this if I knew I was going into a mage heavy environment.
Oh, I forgot that these things were also supposed to be here!
pst! Over here!
You meet a young dark-skinned woman, her black hair starting to slowly fall out from under her helmet. She waves you over to her quickly, and then pulls you out of sight. She whispers, "I'm Yong-Mi."
Yong-Mi is actually a returning NPC from Exile 1. I don't blame you if you've forgotten, but she was one of the two adventurers trying to get into the Ancient Crypt just west of Formello. She told us about the Arrows of Light and of Life, and complained that she was probably the only person to enter Exile willingly.
Hey, haven't we met before?
Maybe? Look, that's not important. She peeks around the corner to make sure nobody is coming, and says "I've been doing recon on the ruins."
And what are the results of your recon?
"To find out what's going on in here. It still hasn't been fully occupied, but there's some weird tension."
What do you mean by that?
"The Empire hired the gazers to help take the town, but the beasts don't want to leave. They're in the northwest. And the Empire wants the town, of course. But they only have a few troops here, running the forge."
I think we already found that forge.
"Well, they were using a forge, because they were short on supplies. But then you destroyed it. Good job!"
Yong-Mi has something else to say before you destroy the Forge, but it's basically 'Hey, destroy it to hurt the Empire!
You ssspoke of Gazerssz. Is there any more you can tell uz?
"There are a bunch of them, I don't know how many. They flew into town, blasting it with spells as they went. If you look carefully, you'll see all the blasts came from inside town."
Thanks. Look, we'll scour the town. If you see anything of note, let us know.
Of what usse are these barriersss, when we can sssimply blazt thoze walls down?
Because they don't think like us?
And that is that.
Kai-Lyss, what do you make of this?
Hrm... Creation of undead.
These poor books...
I saw you wipe out the Gazers. Good job. If I get back to Silvar before you, I'll report your success.
It wazz only natural.
Hey, check out the docks. I think there's a boat there that's usable. If there is, you may want to poke around nearby, see if you can find the base the Empire launched their attack from.
A good idea.
Makes sense. Burn the bodies, the Gazers can't use them to become undead.
And materials to feed the smelter we broke.
And this is why I didn't buy one in Silvar. Free boat in Cotra!
If there were lightsss to the ssouth of this city, I know there are islandz that way.
I swear, I've been here before...
There waz an old Slithzerikai fort here, during the war against the Humanz.
Once again, without speaking to that person in Fort Duvno, this dungeon won't be here.
Come on, maybe they're short on staff now that the attack is done.
Make no mistake, the Secret Empire Fort is full of high level enemies, and in very tight quarters. You need to turtle up by an exit and let them come to you to survive at this level.
There are many foes!
And now there are fewer!
Kai-Lyss totally didn't die. One day I will figure out why he has so much aggro, and fix that.
Izz there no end to them?
I think that's the last...
What is this place?
There's another boat here.
How would anyone get out here without a boat anyways?
Supplies for a large force. More than what were here.
Nothing interesting here.
So many people forgetting to lock the doors behind them when responding to an emergency. How... typical.
And that's two down. There's another Blue Pass out there, but we won't get to it for a while. And the Grey Pass is right out until I advance the plot some more.
It's interesting though. The Empire Passes are not intuitive. The lower-grade passes keep you farther and farther away from the centre of the Empire's incursion. You'd think that would go the other way, or even with Exile's own more nodal security clearance. Speaking of, I've done enough missions right now to get myself to Magi Clearance, but I'll wait a bit before triggering that.
Alright, that's enough retribution for now. Where shall we go now?
Guess what I haven't done in a while? Vote time! We can go a few places from here:
A: Back to Formello / Fort Draco. There's not much to do up here right now, except narrative reasons with checking back in on the people we've saved.
B: To the Castle. This will advance the plot, and open up new areas for us to explore and loot.
C: Explore some more, now that I have a boat. Who knows what we'll find!