Part 52: Northern Vahnatai Lands and the Lava DomeUpdate 048 The Vahnatai Lands (2) and The Lava Dome
You know, I think we missed some people back at the Shrine.
What do you mean?
Yeah, how do you know there were people there we didn't talk to already?
Hello! Sorry, we missed talking to you earlier. I thought I canvassed the entire building completely.
What she's saying is that she regretted not talking to you before returning Jekknol-Bok to his rightful place.
You see a young Vahnatai man, sitting by his fire reading a scroll. "I blame you not, for the recovery of our honoured elders is a worthy task. Welcome, humans. Sit by my fire a bit. I am Mentos." His friendliness is a fresh experience.
Greetings. What are you doing here?
"I am a mage in training. I'm here to study from Wilvron."
A Mage? I find that a curious thing to study without peers.
I do have them, from Elgi. One day, I'll not be called Mentos, but Mentos-Te. It is my hope." He proffers several small pieces of Vahnatai candy to you. You try one. It's pretty good.
And you hope that learning from Wilvron-bok will aid you?
Yes! He teaches spells to those lucky enough to be sent to him. I am a Pilgrim all the way from Mancuso."
But you just said you were from Elgi....
No, I said that I had peers in Elgi. Rather, Mancuso is a small village, far to the east. I hope they're doing well without me - I'm their only mage. T'was a long journey.
Then I hope you receive your training soon.
Isn't that the one that taught Art that spell?
But that's a Priest spell, not a Mage one.
There is nothing preventing a person from knowing both types. Kai-lyss does, though Art tends to handle that side of things.
So, this can happen when a town is up against the edge of something, and you can leave the town in that direction. We can't go in any direction except North-West or North-East to get into the open, or North into the Shrine again. It doesn't happen often, and is mostly just a small oversight.
I think so. I mean, this is really close to the Shrine, it should be well protected.
No need to disturb these people. Let us go.
Here's another one. Just as secure.
Oh, come on! Walking across Lava has never failed us yet!
Why don't we just use the Orb, then?
Sometimes you will not be able to fly across a location because the Ceiling is too low, which is little more than a cop out to force you to go around, or in this case, cast Firewalk multiple times.
I am getting so much use out of this spell.
There is something different about this one.
Yeah, like it wasn't sealed properly...
Is that a..!
Wights and Spirits. Nothing serious.
We should make camp here, I will assist Marianna in identifying all our loot.
Yes. I need to know.
This was that red orb we liberated when rescuing Jekknol-Bok. Kai-lyss wants to keep it.
Still no idea, but we should check them out someplace safe, later.
It's the same.
Art carefully drew her weapon, and laid it down on the thin cloth that served as her bedroll. The dark curved blade showed its Vahnatai heritage easily now that her eyes knew what to look for. From Chester's hands, she carefully drew the blade they had just recovered from the tomb behind them. Setting it down beside the one she had borne, it was apparent that they were twins. The same curves, the same gleam in fire and lava-light, the same wrappings about the hilt.
Amazing, Marianna whispered in awe. She had seen Art wield the first with ease, and now there was a second. I can't tell the difference.
There is none, Kai-lyss agreed, using the Vahnatai tongue to avoid his hissing accent. They are different. Unique. Individual. But the same. Where again, did you find the first one, Priest?
Art recalled from ages past, in a cavern so far away. West of the Abyss is a great fetid swamp, stretching for dozens of miles in all directions. It acted as a barrier against the Demons to the North, under Grah-Hoth. The Escape Committee was going through it, and we smelled Magic down one cavern.
In that cavern, we found a small crack, where the magic came from. It was small. Thin.
But it ended in Barriers. Vahnatai Barriers, like the ones that we saw all that time ago.
It was the first time that I or anyone really had seen the name of the Vahnatai. I mean, we on the Committee had heard about them in our travels, but it was always in the past. This was.. .it was present. In the now. Peregrine, our mage, found a weak point in the outer layer of the barrier, and was able to open it up just a little. Through it, I saw this sword. Art indicated her alien blade. I took it. We later showed it to people, who had never seen its like before. But it was a curiosity at best. Who where these Vahnatai? Were they still alive? Questions that were deferred because of more important things.
Aarth-Tss pondered this. It is a sign, I think.
Really? Dmurr purred out.
Yes, the young Slithzerikai spoke. One, a sign of what was to come. The second, a pair, a mate. Something to remind you that the past moves into the present and from there into the future. You have found these in places of honor. One, a tomb, the other were one stayed behind, instead of seeking the safety of sleep. You have been given these by those from the past, to carry their deeds forward.
There was a moment of stunned silence at her plea.
I'm going to bed, Marianna said. I must be hallucinating if she speaks more than one sentence at a time.
The others spread out, no longer interested by the history of the blades, or the beliefs of their youngest member.
When it was just the two of them, Art looked at Aarth-Tss. What scares me is that you may be right.
As long at that fury is directed at the Empire, and not us, I think I can live with that.
What sort of reward, I wonder?
Why do you look like you want to cry?
Because this is pretty much their version of Scrioth.
Getting Exile 2's Alien Blade, then this in such short order was a punch. Two awesome weapons back to back like this just hurts me, as it means that I have too many weapons for people to use properly. This means that Dmurr is going to get this one, or the Protective Wave Blade, despite having no skill in Edged weapons.
And while in town, I did some training. Nothing to write home about, but Kai-Lyss did manage to scrape together another level, which I put into Mage Spells, maxing that one out!
With this task done, perhaps we can get an audience with Rentar-Ihrno.
You really want that spell, don't you.
Hopefully, we shall gain audience.
A mage anywhere as good as what is described would have a bolt-hole, just in case. Let's find it.
Huh, in the back of one of the meditation chambers.
These are Shock Barriers, so we can walk through them.
Orrrr... now, maybe this is just a stupid non-mage talking... you could Dispel them?
I don't see anyone...
Under the table, idiots.
There is a small, demonic creature scuttling underfoot. It smells of sulphur and bad cheese. It looks up at you and laughs, an irritating, high-pitched barking noise.
And what are you doing?
"I run errands! And you better watch it!"
Errands? For whom?
"Or Rentar-Dumbo will turn you to slugs! HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!"
And that is the end of anything useful we will get out of that creature.
Well, the door leading further in is unlocked, so...
This Vahnatai lady has robes of incredible delicacy and richness, and a mien of utter confidence. Many tiny crystals are set into her jewelry.
Both her eyes and her crystals glitter as she sweeps her eyes over you. "I am called Rentar-Ihrno, human."
And I am Slithzerikai, he draws himself up to his full height, towering over the Vahnatai mage.
Her mouth crooks in a half-smile. "And I am a mage. Nothing more, nothing less."
I have heard of your skills as a mage far and wide.
"A mage, yes. My modest skills enabled me to create the barriers in your land. My minor knowledge is helping me find ways to bring tons of rock down on the homes and cities, husbands, wives and children of those who dared to steal our crystal souls."
"I am a mage, humans, and I have little else to say to you."
I have heard that you hold the secret to Quickfire. I came here to petition to learn that spell.
"Yes, I can create quickfire. You could too. But I can control it, and you couldn't. But, if you want to destroy yourself... To the east and then far to the north, there is a ruined fort. There is a magical tome there. Bring it, and the spell is yours."
Hey, you're friendly, aren't you?
The huge bug wanders around and chitters dispiritedly.
Come, let us take our leave then.
If you want to leave faster, go through the end chamber. There is a one-way route out.
Or it could be a trap.
During this fight, I remembered that I had Kai-Lyss up to Level 7 Mage, so I checked to see what spells he had...
Yeah, I really need to fill in the Level 6 spells. Kill, for certain.
Well, there was something in the corner here.
Is no one going to note that this 'exit' involved killing a demon?
I will figure it out later.
So, head north on Mancuso then?
That would be correct.
And nothing of interest happened on that long walk.
Here's the map from the last time we were here. We were stymied by the lack of the ability to fly.
I have the spell.
And I have the Orb! My precious will be good to us, won't you?
Let's cross this chasm first, as it seems to be the most pressing barrier.
Like over there?
And putting that down, because guess what?
I remember that sword. Not fun at all.
This entire area has a few places where you can pick up radioactive material. Just skip them.
Looks like we can head north from here.
Was this whole region mined for this stuff?
Leave them be.
You know, this is one time where getting lost is a good thing, as it means we are thorough in our explorations.
Maybe we can get directions there?
Let's see what we have here.
I do not believe this is the fortress of which was spoken.
Looks like an old fortress to me.
Better this, than going closer to the front entrance.
We need a plot key to go further.
Eh, no pressing need to be here.
And now we are further north than we had been before.
Uh...those tiles are normally used for garbage piles. This is the overworld map. It's... well... something.
I don't know which is worse the sulfur or the rotting plants.
Hrm, I'm not hearing or seeing anything unusual in there.
One wouldn't hurt.
And we're not immediately swarmed by angry bugs. This is looking up!
We're high enough level that the bugs in the region flee from us. No more random encounters with Null Bugs, Chitarchs, or Larvae!
Why is there a road here?
I'm more surprised that the road is still here.
I hope this is not the place we have to go. Let us search more.
And no boat.
And the ceiling is too low for the Orb, so we'll just have to fire-walk.
Might as well, we do have that dead bug.
And nothing happened.
So, say you chose to desecrate this place instead? Well...
The first person in your party dies. No way around it. And, because this is on the over-world map, the automatically drop all their equipment, and everything in their inventory.
Items dropped on the overworld are lost. Permanently. So yeah, I would have just lost the Orb there, plus other awesome items. Glad that didn't happen!
Why are we walking over the Lava again?
Because there has to be something back here...
Not a word.
Vogel, you troll, you. And the best part is? Look at the location descriptor above the buttons.
I suppose this means that dome by the lava is where we need to go.
Hopefully this will be simple.
You would think that we would stop saying such things by now.
Then the weird would become the normal, and only Dmurr hasn't fallen into that yet.
Huh. Wanna bet the tome is in the highest room?
There seems to be a lot of imps and lesser demons. Let's get to clearing them out.
They're an annoyance more than anything else. But Imps and Hordlings have a high spawn rate in this dungeon, so once you've done your initial clearing, you'll still have more to deal with.
A worthy place to experiment with Quickfire.
Someone else sent in ahead of us?
I'm not so certain about the virtues of Rentar-Ihrno.
An imp stands behind the table, polishing a long, twisted, wicked-looking sword. When you enter, she puts it down and smiles at you. She bows and smiles unctuously at you. "I am Goosenargh. Welcome to my humble Shoppe."
"I make fine imp weapons for Sastor." She picks up and displays the sword. "I take great pride in them."
"Yes. But Sastor has been slow getting them. You can purchase some if you want. They may be helpful if you want to see Sastor." She winks at you saucily.
And who is this Sastor?
She looks around, to make sure nobody's spying. "That old stiff? That pompous imp with delusions of grandeur? He runs this place. For now. He only rules because he's hidden himself so well."
We may have business with him. Where is he hidden?
"Hidden very well." She leans close to you. "But I can tell you how to get to him. You need to get into the room north of the hordling pit. There's a hint for how to do it, I hear, hidden under one of the hordling's filth piles."
"Why don't you go look? If you can kill Sastor, you'll be rich!"
What would we want with riches?
I don't know! Gems! Gold! Magical tomes! You'll never know until you go!"
Let's see what you have in stock...
We must decline.
This is the only place I know of to get these weapons.
What are we looking for again?
I think I found something!
No way, this is too good to be true.
* yawn *
Here's the thing to this room. You need to get to a tile adjacent to the NE corner (close enough that you can look at it to trigger the next flag), but certain tiles in this room give the 'sleepy' message. If you get three of them while in the room, then this happens:
And you get dumped outside the room, with one level of Dumbfound on everyone. The path through involves going south, then angling North East, ending with this:
So, hugging the wall then?
Here is hoping...
Huh, and no casting of Firewalk necessary!
Weren't there pillars in the room to the south of the nap room?
Of course there would be a demon.
Really? Look Imps, just leave.
Ah, here we go. Behind the middle-south pillar.
Please tell me that isn't what I think it is.
I will enjoy this!
What can I do you for?
She slaps his hands to his ears irritably. "Ow! Stop that!"
She winces. "Don't say that!"
He stumbles back. "Please stop saying that!"
"OK! OK! I give up! You can get to Sastor now! Just stop saying that! There's a door over on the other side of my shop!"
This was not here before.
Did anyone even bother to remember how many Imps were in that room?
Oh, good. Because there's another Demon.
Nothing special about that.
This room has hidden flags to deal minor electrical damage for every tile that is stepped on. There is a demon at the bottom of the room, throwing spells at you as well. And to make things worse:
You can't cross the room properly. Instead, you see that corner that's jutting out? There's a secret passage there which will allow you to bypass the barrier and get into the safe zone where the demon is.
Here's Chester, having bypassed that limit. If you look carefully, you can see the dashed archway indicating a secret passage. Also of note the Demon summoned a Cave Slime onto the barrier tiles. It can't go left or right, but it can more or attack in the other directions. And Art drops a Flamestrike on the Demon, pulverizing the other Slimes, but barely hurting the Demon.
We are almost at the top now.
Well, look, no one is home!
Let us get the tome and leave before the Imp returns.
Oooh! I think I see it down in the corner there!
Right, kill the Imp who said you were an Imp.
Don't worry about that.
... Ur-Basilisks. Art saved against that, but then the Demon casted Smite to finish her off. And with everything else, it was just better to reload.
Hrm, this could be a trap. Let's cast some buffs first.
Plenty of targets. Let's try one of my new spells....
This spell would work better if it wasn't against Demons...
Hrm, I have new spells as well, let's give them a whirl...
Yes, Revive All is awesome.
And to top it off Avatar. It's overkill at this point, but Art is now Hasted and Blessed (again), Invulnerable to Damage, has Sanctuary, and the Martyr's Shield. Really, really overkill.
Hah! That... took a lot more than I was expecting.
Eh, wait until we recover Demonslayer.
Didn't the King say it was already recovered?
Yes, but I won't be satisfied until I have see it myself.
In the mean time, here is that book.
Now, we shall return.
Here is your Tome, Rentar-Ihrno.
She takes the tome and nods. "I am a being of honor, and your reward is here." She passes her hands over the tome and shows it to you. You read it. From it you learn the secret of Quickfire. She takes the tome. "Should you need to see it again, return."
Thank you. I hope this small token will return good dividends in the future.
Perhaps. You have retrieved but one of our stolen elders. Two more remain in the hands of the 'Empire'.
Don't worry, they're on our list.
What does the list look like right now, anyway?