Part 32: Fort Dranlon and the Tower of Eldaran (1)Update 028 Fort Dranlon and The Tower of Eldaran
"Alright, I know what we're doing next."
"Going to the Castle?"
"Don't be silly, farmboy."
"Perhapsss zome hidden agenda?"
"Not quite. With Cotra raided, I want to check up on Fort Dranlon."
"The 'Unbroken' Fort?"
"Really? The Slith call it that?"
"It hasz a reputation."
"What szhe meanz to ssay iss that Fort Dranlon wasssz a point that no Slithzerikai could take."
"Good to see some friendlies. Ever since someone kicked the Empire out of their outpost in Cotra, we've been able to better contest the region."
"You are welcome."
"Why are we back here?"
"Just checking on something now that we've driven the locals away that we couldn't do last time."
I told you both levels of this dungeon were abandoned!
"DO. NOT. DARE."
"Wasn't planning on it. Damn. Alright, we need to get a message to Blosk, have them send up a recovery group."
"That would take time."
"I know. Is there anything you can do?"
"Thiszz place is protected. None of these are ready to come out of the water for ssome weeks. Yeszz, we must go to the nearest town and beg their help."
"<Why would they leave them behind?>"
"I do not know."
This is the same choice offered to the party back in Exile 1 a little ways west of here. And back then, I asked the tread a simple conextless question "Kill them, or don't?" The response was "Don't!", and this follows from that decision.
Besides, killing them would spawn a large vengeful group of Sliths. I don't like killing babies, I'm certain that Kai-Lyss and Aaarth-Tss would object, and in the end, this is a story. I d'n't have to do everything, epsecially when it's out of character.
"Offerings to the dead, and they leave their babies behind? No offense to the two of you, but what it wrong with these people?"
"I wissh I knew."
"Is there any real reason to go here?"
Giant Slugs are surprisingly tough. They take something like 20% physical damage, and can attack at range by spitting at you for ~25 damage.
But spells and Assassinations (which don't deal physical damage) work like a charm.
"This looks suspicious."
"Hold up! Art, Unspecified Services!"
"I need a favour."
"What is it, <Mage>?"
"To the sssouth easszt iz an abandoned cavern where some of my people rezzided. They had to flee, but left the tadpoleszz behind. Can you ssspare people to watch until reszcue from Blosk can arrive?"
"What? Fucking Empire. Yea. We'll do that. And having a second place to operate out of will be good for us. Tell us where it is, and we'll watch over your younglings."
"You are quite eager to help."
"Whatever problems we may have had in the past, this isn't one of them. And anything to mess up the Empire is worth risking in my book."
"Thank you. We are in your debt."
"No, you aren't."
"That's an odd formation..."
Assassins! They like to throw darts, occasionally poison your party, and have a mere 25HP.
"This is Fort Dranlon? I'm surprised it's still standing."
"Thiszzz place standsz on Magic and will alone."
"What do you mean?"
"Our people asszialed this place for a long time, and it still standz.
That doesn't tell me anything, Kai-Lyss.
You see that western wall on the map?
Magic barriers. Because stone fortifications fall to easy and take too long to repair.
No funny business. Especially the snakes.
We can wait outsside if needed.
No need. We know the lady, so if she's vouching for you, that's good enough for us.
Why are we here again?
I don't want Kai-Lyss dependent on the Piercing Crystals to deal with Barriers in the future, and this place is one of the few where it's allowed to be taught.
I'm sorry, Sir Ma'am. But the fort that is dependent on Magical Barriers is a place that teaches how to take them down?
Makes sense to me.
You're a farmboy. Get used to it.
The counter is being polished by a middle-aged, heavy-set man with short black hair and a very neat moustache. He shakes your hands. "I'm George. I'm the quartermaster."
Chester, sir. How do you do?
Well, thank you. You must be adventurers. I'm the quartermaster here, such as it is. Plus, I run the commissary."
Aren't those the same thing?
Not quite. One's an internal position. The other is an external one. He indicates behind the counter. There are some supplies there. "For what few adventurers we get passing through. You can buy stuff if you want. We also have rations. This is all we got, and we wouldn't have that, but for the cache!"
"Empire supply cache. They got 'em all around here. Fresh supplies, teleported from the surface. We don't get much of it, but we can make do!"
I don't need to buy food ever again (Thanks Manna!) and the supplies are already outclassed as Marianna got lucky with those Magic Lockpicks.
Not very high.
Wouldn't want to fall, would you.
Oh, I could use the rest.
I also take the opportunity to restock on my food.
For twice the SP cost, you get three times the amount of Food as Minor Manna. So yes, there goes a money sink.
This person won't have the spell we need, but it will be nice to touch base.
There is a striking woman praying at the altar. Her long, dark hair contrasts sharply with her snowy white robes. She stands to welcome you. "I am Caitlin."
What? You think I spend all my time working from side caves?
Look, I can get that. But local priest? Won't they get suspicious if you keep running off on occasion?
The captain knows. I'm not hiding.
I was not expecting this.
I think Jeff Vogel made a mistake here and reused a name. Or he really intended for one of the heads of Scimitar back in Exile 1 to come back as the head of another guerrilla force here in Exile 2 as well as being a priest in Dranlon.
You know what? I'm not even going to bother. I've seen worse actions. Done worse myself. Do you at least know anything about Rook and Duncan?
No. All that I know has been passed to Anaxiamander, and from there to you, I would hope.
Duncan missing in the Giant's Lands, and Rook is just plain missing.
Yes. If I knew anything more, I would tell you, old friend.
For a 'friend' you sure were hostile when we first met.
I could not say as much in front of that group. They have their own biases.
Unless there's anything else, I do have a job to do.
Right, see you later after we've gone and done some of that.
Forget fireballs, a stiff breeze could knock these down!
Really? This solidly built blonde woman can't seem to stop moving. She moves from barrier to barrier and fortification, looking for something to repair or augment. "I'm Wendy. I'm a mage here."
Dmurr. That's not much of a barrier
"Walls take time to repair, and Empire mages hit us with fireballs all the time. They're much worse than the sliths."
I know about the Slith. There's two of them right over there.
And you're a cat. That's who we fought before the Empire came down here. Well, that's what Fort Dranlon fought before the Empire came. I wasn't here, I was with the Scimitar."
Now that I don't know. Who is Scimitar?
She smiles proudly. "Underground warriors against the Empire, back when their agents among us were covert. We fight with the army now, mostly doing stealthy stuff. But when one of us is needed somewhere, we go." She claps you on the shoulder. "We're all in this together!"
Does that mean you're a member of Scimitar as well, Sir Ma'am?
I joined a few years back. We've been trying to fold them into Unspecified Services properly, but they're still resisting at an organizational level.
And here we are. Nice to see she got that promotion.
A small, beautiful woman with long, curly brown hair is sitting behind the desk. She wears simple velvet robes, and bears the staff of a wizard. She nods to you, and smiles blazingly. "I'm Commander Mairwen." (Pronounced Mire-When.)
The pronunciation is right there in the text file. I didn't add it.
Hey! Nice to see you. How's things?
Her smile falls a few notches. "I run this fort. It's pretty bleak."
I heard about your promotion. Good for you! So, how is the Fort?
Been here seven years now. We're always the first to be attacked, and the last to be relieved!"
Surely the attacks were reduced?
"The Empire's been hammering us non-stop for months. The barrier didn't help things. And adventurers rarely come here anymore."
Look, it's not that bad.
Her smile disappears entirely. "The Vahnatai barrier? Remember? It was us and Cotra versus three full Empire garrisons and the tower! And we still endured!"
I just want to say that I'm tweaking this conversation a bit better. There's a massive difference between player/PC knowledge, my knowledge as the LP'er, and the in-character knowledge described by everyone. And sometimes they just don't match up.
Now, I take it for granted that Bon-Ihrno's message went out to multiple points in Exile, and yes, even into the lands of the Empire. And that there were probably multiple ways down to Avit. There are waterways that join into the path we took that we can't reach, so it's not impossible to discount the option.
But here's where things start to get wonky. People already know that our party was responsible for the lowering of the barriers, including Caitlin and Scimitar. And yet, here, Mairwen doesn't. Now, this could be because information travels through different chains of command at different rates, but it just seems off to be told about things we've already gotten ahead of.
What's this about a tower?
"It just appeared, almost overnight, up river to the north, a few months ago. It's run by a mage named Elderan, and launches nasty, nasty raids. It's an important place, though. If you could hit it hard, it'd really stick it to the Empire."
That sounds like a mission to me.
"This mission is a dangerous one, indeed. To the north of here is an Empire tower, filled with mages, led by an archmage named Elderan. We need him dead, and have been trying to find a small band to infiltrate his tower and slay him."
And you couldn't get a group of adventurers to take care of it? Or say, Scimitar?
"Used to be, there were always adventurers coming through here, doing missions for us. Great help. Now, I rarely get anyone to do missions. Plus, I can't bribe them as easily."
Ooooh! That's actually what I came here to ask. If we do this mission, can you bribe us with Dispel Barrier for Kai-Lyss here?
"I'm not allowed to teach dispel barrier to people anymore. I can only offer gold and a good word to the government for those that do missions."
But! But! I did it last time!
That was years ago.
Do you not remember?
I was never a mage! I just went through the motions while Peregrine and Ember learned!
Perhapsss we ssshould talk to Peregrine?
No, he wouldn't do it, I don't think.
Oh, hello! There is a young woman with long blonde hair sitting at the table. She clearly hasn't slept in days, and her face, which which seems naturally made for smiling, is creased with sorrow and worry. "I'm Nance."
Hello Nance. While our leader is moping over her failures, what do you do here? You don't exactly look like a soldier.
"I have no skills that are of use here. I cook and sharpen weapons, and wait for the war to end. However it does."
Ah! I remember! A woman currently in Silvar was looking for you. Her name is Elspeth.
She looks at you warily, and asks you why you said that. You tell her, and a look of profound relief crosses her face. "If you see Elspeth again, say 'Labris' to her. It's a code word we made when the war started. And thank you."
Enough moping. Time to do something. Like go back to wherever we left our boat.
I think that was by.... Cotra?
There! Kill them!
This is one of the more powerful random encounters in this section of the Eastern Gallery. Not the least of which because:
Direct Damage, slowing and major poison? Why can't I get that spell?!?!?
I love it when they come to me!
Thisss one iz protected!
I will take care of it.
That Giant random encounter seems to be out of place. The only 'source' of them should be much farther north, and to the west.
Careful, there's some magic in play.
This is actually in your favour. Yes, their are four options. After repeated saving, loading and other testing, I have determined that the chance of success is about 75%. That's right, the game wants you to win this one, and while the selections are randomized, you're probably going to get it on the first try. If not, just keep going until you succeed.
And if you somehow fail...
Well, that's a good thing to know. We have the password for those caches that Scimitar wants us to burn.
I'm all for that.
Ah, there you are. Nance says Labris to you.
You tell her where you met Nance. She seems beside herself with relief. "I'll go there as soon as I can! And, in thanks, something I saved from my shop..." She gives you a small, wicked looking dagger. "Thank you!"
I don't know...
Isn't a good offence better?
The Knife of Warmth is a unique weapon, with its Cold resistance. But in this game, better damage is better in the long run, so while I don't sell it, I don't think it'll get much use either.
Hrm, should check out these other islands, in case there are more Empire Troops on them.
I have no idea when we're going to be able to drop this off.
<They do not listen!>
That's a lot.
Well, let's get to it.
Why does this sort of thing happen around you, Art?
I've stopped wondering.
Why are there Aranea this far south?
The Barriersss are out of the way?
They could have made silk rafts to come down the river.
That means that the GIFTS could too.
NO! Not thinking about that!
This other river leads to the Slith lands, right?
Yesss, and that is why Fort Dranlon is located here.
We've been rowing for a while now, can we take a break?
Hey, you think that password will work on this?
Thisss place iz trapped. We cannot remove the supplies.
Burn it then?
One down, four to go.
There issz one to the north, I remember.
I feel like doing something easy for now. Let's go burn some things!
This, I can get behind.
Who is this guy?
Never found out.
There used to be a Barrier here, wasn't there?
Well, it's gone now.
Izz that ssupozed to be normal?
That iz the tower we have been taszked with assssaulting.
We'll come back later when there isn't as many guards in the way.
I remember there being a mining operation going on up here. I wonder what's happened to them?
No one is here...
Thesse could be of uze.
This place is....
Don't say it.
An organized withdrawl.
Well, time to go kill an archmage.
Iz it that easy?
Of course! You put the pointy end of your weapon into the other guy until they stop moving.
You are aware that I don't use bladed weapons, Sir Ma'am?
That's not the point, farmboy.
I shouldn't be here. I don't have the right resources to finish this mission. I'll explain when we get there.
But still, a cozy introduction.
Did we catch this place while there was no one home?
The food looks good.
Is that real beef?
Yes. I know our cows are saved for their milk production. To have actual beef is a luxury we can ill afford.
Oh, can we stay and get our fill?
You would say that.
It's not poisoned or trapped, so yes. Everyone eat your fill.
Great. Why do these people have to be obviously evil?
Kill them all!
Hordlings are the lowest level of demonic enemy. Then there is Imp, Demon, Haakai, and Haakai Lord. Don't worry, we'll be killing all of them before this LP is through!
And one quick beatdown later...
Interesting. Ssstudiez on local creatures.
They would both try to kill us if they got out.
Just need to get through.
Does anyone else think this is too easy?
Oh, just flip the lever already.
Not pictured three enemies with ranged attacks appearing on those glyphs. That's the trick of this, you have to pull the level, then run around to kill the enemies while they pelt you from range. Or get into combat mode and do it in a quarter of the time.
Up, up and away.
Thisss... I do not know.
Oh god Golems. This should have been my first clue I was in over my head. These guys have over 200 HP each, and hit like a truck. Bless and Curse are your friends, and just wear them down faster than they can to you.
It's been mentioned how using an unfocused spell and checking to see what comes up in the log is a great way to 'ping' out enemies. Well, have a look, and you'll realize just how badly I'm in for it.
This isn't going to be easy.
I cannot read thesze.
Throwing one of these opens the related 'pen', and the monster within. They're quickghasts, really annoying undead that attack three times a round for three hits each and can Slow with each attack.
Providing fodder for the spiders and undead, I presume.
I didn't mean to be this right.
This is disgusting.
We need to dissspel these Barrierz to advance.
Roadblock! Alright, let me explain something here. You know how I've mentioned that there are missions available which will improve our Security Clearance from Soldier to Magi to Royal? Well, what the game doesn't tell you is that certain missions only apply to certain Clearances. Formello, The Tower, Mertis, Silvar and Fort Dranlon all compose the Magi Clearance Missions, and you only need to complete four of the five for it. Fort Duvno's mission to this tower is for Royal Clearance.
That reminds me, I still have to do the Mertis mission and go into the Honeycomb.
Gaining access to Magi Clearance not only opens up new areas, but new resources as well. And in this case, it would include being able to (finally) get Dispel Barrier. Once we have that, I can reliably get through here and finish the mission. So now it's time to leave.
This isn't good.
We can rest up here until we can sort things out.
I am not ashamed to say that I panicked here. I had no idea how to get out, so I resorted to the Cheater to leave. When I come back here to finish this off, I'll show you all how it's done properly. Until then, let us leave the details to the mysterious aether.
And maybe using the background information that Fireballs can damage walls and say that Kai-Lyss used that spell while Art used Move Mountains on a segment of wall to make a hole from which they dramatically leaped down from the second story and into the marshland below to make their daring escape.
You know, that sounds awesome. I'll say that happened instead!
THAT WAS A STUPID PLAN!
And holding the door against those ravenous beasts was tiring!
Well, we know why othersz have had trouble here.
Oh, this isn't over, trust me.
Why did I sign up again?