Part 63: The Path to GarzahdUpdate 059 The Path to Garzahd
This will be a fairly short update, as I've done a few of the requirements for this quest already. And it's a lot of talking, which is a nice change of pace.
But first will be the last round of Knowledge Brews. After checking with the thread, it was determined to Make Marianna Lucky and to give Dmurr some Priest Spells. To that end, Marianna got one potion to give her 10 Skill points after a couple levels, while Dmurr got 9. Then they drank them all.
Now, here's the thing. Investing in Magic is a huge thing. Mage and Priest Spells are the most point-intensive purchases you can make, and if you don't start out with them, then you miss the character creation bonus to Spell Points. You also need to buy Intelligence, and then Spell Points as well. A mere 26 Skill Points isn't going to do a lot, but what it will do is give Dmurr just enough to start throwing about some status effects that are less Intelligence dependent than other spells.
While in the Tower, I pick up a few Smoky Crystals and more Energy Potions. The Crystals are vital for Mind Duels, and you will find out why later in this update.
A quick run up to Silvar for training nets Marianna two more points in Luck (giving her 5), and Dmurr gets this:
2 levels of Priest Spells, and 16 SP. I decided investing in intelligence wasn't worth it at this point, and going 3 Priest and 11 SP would just result in him running out sooner on more expensive spells.
Oh wait. There's that location that sets your caster's SP to 150. Um... I should have kept that in mind.
Alright, we know that Erika has leads on dealing with Garzahd, so we should talk with her first.
King Micah alssso had some input to offer.
What possessed you to pick up that skill?
Backup for Art?
Now hold on! That makes three people here who can cast Priest spells, but only one who can do Mage spells! There's something off with those proportions!
You're just jealous.
And priessstsss have important rollz to play in the running of many culturez.
Wait, you're thinking about the future?
She does have a point. Dmurr, I mean.
We're planning on assassinating Garzahd!
Doesn't that strike any of you as suicidal?
Considering what else we've done? Not really.
Right! Think of how many times we should have been dead already.
Look, I'm not saying it'll be easy, but we can do it.
Kav Ait Bon.
I mean, it seems so improbable!
You're complaining about that while stabbing an Imperial Champion with Demonslayer.
Why can't my life go back to normal?
You had that choice, when you chose to sign up with Unspecified Services.
I wasn't expecting this!
Art got poisoned, so I had Dmurr Cure Poison for her. Yay!
Hey! You've got vagrants on your front lawn again.
And you took care of them for me, so I fail to see the problem.
Look, we've wiped the Teleporter out which you should have done a better job of in the first place, but now is not the time for that. And we've secured all three stolen Crystal Souls, which means that the Olgai Vahnatai are now official Allies of Exile. That only leaves killing Garzahd.
Her smile is chilling. "Oh, sweet Garzahd, the man, the vermin who sent me down here. Now he is in Exile, and I want him dead! And I have several leads on how it may be done."
Let uz hear your leadsss, might Arch-Magus.
"To slay Garzahd, you will need to be able to reach him, and be able to kill him. Someone named Thompson might help with the former, and Solberg might help with the latter. And, of course, for what it's worth, you may want to see King Micah."
Wait. I remember Thompson. Years ago. I haven't heard from him in a while.
She sniffs. "A lesser mage, but he knows a lot about teleportation. That seems the best route to reach Garzahd. Ask people about him is Blosk - that was where I knew he was last. You may have to ask a lot - he was a quiet one."
Blosk. Check. What about Solberg?
"A worthy mage. Alas, he is trapped in his tower as much as I am. He lives southwest of Formello. Ask him about Garzahd - they knew each other. He might know something."
Wait. He's still in his tower?
Ask him why yourself.
And what about Micah?
She shakes her head. "A good man, but he's up against the greatest foes the Empire has to offer. Fortunately, his resources may have uncovered something necessary to slay Garzahd. You should see him."
You seem to know a lot for someone the Empire wants dead.
Oh, you think so? Your plebeian mind could not hope to understand what I am capable of!
Probably, but I seem to run out of lives to care with, if the comments of everyone else is something to consider.
Ooooh... I like that one. Keep her.
"The Empire will stop at nothing to slay me. It was I who engineered the assassination of Hawthorne." She pauses. "Of course, for that, some fools resent me!"
I was there, remember? You know? The one who actually did the deed while you stayed behind. I've caught plenty of resentment myself.
Her face twists in fury. "Exile is full of tiny minds! Pathetic worms who blame me for this invasion! As if the Empire would not have eventually decided to slay us anyway! At least I struck a decisive blow before it happened."
She shakes her head. "Tiny-minded fools. That's what they all are. But I'll show them!"
But not you. You understand. You rose to the challenge, and for that, I tolerate your continued existence. Now, dismissed. You have places to go, people to talk to, things to learn.
The best option would be to go north to Solberg, then loop back south to Micah then across to Blosk to pick up Thompson's trail. After that, we'll see what we need from whom.
* * *
WHERE'S THE DAMNED BOAT?!?
I have no idea. Maybe it came loose from the moorings and came this way?
Or someone stole it.
Don't care. Let's just go back to Solberg's place.
Come on! Out of the way!
Alright, back door then.
Hrm. That pillar, I thought it had a teleporter code on it.
... Why iz Erika'z location marked here?
I have no idea. I could have sworn this was supposed to be Solberg's location, but that's not right.
Didn't someone tell us this was here?
If they did, I do not recall.
Nothing to work ourselves up over now. Let's just hit up the tower.
... Didn't someone mention that we have Royal Clearance, and thus, are allowed here?
One short fight later, thanks to Firewalk...
Where iz he?
A large calico cat is patrolling the tower in a somewhat dispirited manner. It's a very old cat indeed. When you get close, it looks up at you.
Oh, hey. Sorry, I forgot your name.
It meows and stretches. It takes about a minute. Then it deigns to look up at you. "My name is ..." It hacks editorially. "Cheeseball."
Right! Sorry. You're not the only familiar with a poorly chosen name. So, how are things?
"I guard the tower."
What is wrong with the tower?
"I wonder why I bother! Look at this place! Pitiful!" It hisses. "The best years of my life, spent here. No catnip! Nobody ever in heat! Pfaugh!" It thinks. "Don't you think you should scratch me?"
You scratch the cat. It purrs contentedly. It doesn't thank you. It looks very irritated when you pull your hand away.
So, who do you guard the tower from?
"Well, someone has to. There are demons everywhere. Pfft."
Demons? Like the ones we just slew?
It spits. "Demons. Lava. Soot. Lousy food. No lizards to eat. If I wasn't a familiar for that stupid wizard, I'd probably just jump in some lava and end it all."
You poor dear. Here, let me scratch you some more.
You meet an aging, highly unkempt man. You think he's wearing mage's robes, but all the stains and tears mage it hard to be sure. "Visitors! Wonderful! I am Solberg, of the Triad. Welcome to my humble home."
Yes, I know. It's me. Art. And what is that smell?
Smell? I don't smell anything.
You are Sssolberg? Truely?
"Well, I am a officially a member of the Triad of the Tower of Magi. Except most of my responsibilities are with... oh... what's his name? Peregrine? Yes! Him! Normally, however, I fight boredom in my exile within Exile."
I wasn't aware that the Triad allowed proxies. And Peregrine didn't tell me that.
"The Tower of Magi is, following the custom for such towers in the surface world, run by three mages. Normally, the system works. However, several years ago we had a disaster."
Linda was a disaster alright.
"Linda was on the Triad then. She came up with an insane scheme to capture a demon lord and bind it to her will. She imprisoned anyone who questioned the scheme. I came here and built this tower, so that I could repair any damage from a safe distance. Fortunately, the beast was slain."
I know. I was there, remember? Helped kill Adze-Haakai.
And I'm sure it's a long story. But then, after the demon was slain, I still had to remain here."
Why? I mean, the demon was dead. I thought you returned after a couple months.
"This tower is where I must stay. There is a simple reason. If I leave, I will very likely be assassinated."
Solberg, have you left your tower at all?
"This puny tower has been my home for seven years. That is a lot of time."
One of the few firm instances of how long it was between Exile 1 and 2. And it's still off.
Um, Solberg. It's only been five years. Plus a few months. I think any assassination or retribution is something that we can take care of. I mean, we did slay the demons guarding this place on the way in.
"Don't think I am being paranoid. Hordes of demons orbit this tower, day and night, waiting for me to leave the safety of my wards so that they may devour me. Would you like to know who their sender was?"
I think I have an idea, but go ahead. Who was the sender?
"Well I'll tell you. Forgive me if I'm a bit windy. I so seldom get to talk to people. You see, all the most powerful mages in Exile, me and Erika and Aimee and Patrick, we were colleagues on the surface world. Us, and Garzahd."
Wait, I remember Aimee...
"I haven't seen her in years. She's a recluse now, travelling the planes. In spirit, of course, not in body."
And it was Erika who told us to come to you...
"Damned foolish woman! She was the one who masterminded Hawthorne's assassination! She brought this mess down on our heads. We weren't ready!"
Hello? The Assassin herself? Right here?
You were just her tool, Art. I will not blame you.
What does Patrick have to do with this?
"He's still alive, thank the Heavens. Won't be for long, I fear. A more loyal servant our nation couldn't hope for."
You know something?
Age catches up with us all.
Fine, everyone knew everyone. Hell, we even met one of Garzahd's former apprentices earlier, and she told us he was a sleaze. Which is perfectly in line with what I know of him.
"Yes, Garzahd. Poor, foolish, paranoid Garzahd. He worked and learned with us, but could never stand the thought that others could have as much power as him. He also was the only one of us who developed political connections. And he used those connections. Oh yes."
Ssurely hiz power was sssufficient? Why the connectionsss?
"He envied us our skill. He thought us a challenge to his aspirations. So he spent his time, he and Hawthorne, getting each of us exiled one after another. He did that, and spent years developing protective spells for himself. Such a bright mind, wasted in such petty pursuits."
Wait. What sort of protective spells?
"Years he spent, infusing himself with protective magicks, down to the marrow of his bones. Fire, cold, poison, hostile magics, I don't think any of them can affect him anymore. Blades? Probably not. And that's why he wants to kill me. I'm one of few who can strike him at his weak point."
"I am a master mindduellist. No spell known can shield a mage from a mindduel. It's a price we pay for our powers. I could kill him if I got close to him. Any good mindduellist could. It would help, of course, if your power was augmented."
I know of the augmentation you ssspeak ov.
"There is a magic item. It's called a Ring of Will. Very rare. It was created to protect from dumbfounding. It has a side-effect. Its wearer is much better in a mindduel. Patrick said he has a Ring of Will. Ask him about it."
Kai-Lyss has 20 Intelligence, Magical Adeptness and *two* Rings of Will. This is the best method for dealing with Garzahd, as conventional attacks are severely reduced.
Well, thanks. Come on then, we can escort you out of here.
No. Thank you, but no. The forces you dealt with were but a fraction, meant to deter you. If I left these walls, every point from here to the walls would fill with demonic creatures. And by leaving them alive, you keep a drain on Garzahd's power. No, knowing you are acting, I stay here not out of fear for my safety, but to act as a distraction. Go. Now. Kill him, and I will be free.
Oh, and Kai-Lyss? There is a book I think you should read. Over there.
Finally! Such an awesomely powerful spell, back in my hands at the last minute. Oh, I used you so much back in Exile, it's good to have you back, finally.
Right, that's good. Before we make our run, I think we should stock Kai-Lyss up on everything he needs to duel Garzahd.
I have ssssome already, but more would be uzeful.
* * *
So, Micah now.
Hey! We're ready to assassinate Garzahd now. Erika thinks you may be of use.
"If anyone can, it would be you. Yes. He is down here now, but we know not where he is or how to reach him. Or how to kill him if we could reach him. But perhaps, if we are lucky, someone will figure out how. In the meantime, we do have some knowledge."
What iz your knowledge, King?
"We have some information. Erika and Solberg knew Garzahd once. They may know how to deal with him. We know also that he was skilled in creating guardian runes. Those will need to be dealt with. Finally, he is a wizard skilled in summoning, and an attacker would need defenses."
Already talked to Erika and Solberg. What's this about runes?
"The court wizard, Rone, says he may know a way to break even the strongest guardian rune. Ask him about them."
"Garzahd has summoned demons for Empire attacks. Lots of them. His fortress, wherever it is, is probably filled with them. To get far, one would probably need Demonslayer. If we could spare it."
You mean this Demonslayer?
Use it well - Garzahd masters many of the creatures it was designed to slay."
Thank you for your time.
No, thank you. You have put so much on the line for this nation, I do not know how we can ever properly repay you.
The ancient wizard puttering about this room has paper thin skin and thin, wispy white hair. He seems to barely acknowledge you're here.
Hey, Rone. Micah told us you could tell us how to break the protective runes around where Garzahd has made his fortress.
Yes! You need the Blessed Athame. It can cut any magical construct like that. We've...
He sees you have a Blessed Athame, and beams. "Yes, take that! Cut the rune with it to break its power!"
Because I had the Athame first, he cut straight to the end. I edited out of the party, and he still says the same thing, alas. I missed his pre-Athame dialogue.
* * *
So, where do we go to find Thompson, or where he used to be?
Start with the Mayor, I think.
Sounds like a good idea to me.
Sir, do you know anything about the location of Thompson?
Thompson? No. But there is a couple of mages in the Nor-west quarter. You may be able to ask them.
Or, his name could be on the door.
A worn down man in mages robes stares at you apathetically. You don't feel welcome here at all. "I am Bartholomew. What do you want?"
We're here at the best of Erika Remark, and his Royal Highness, King Micah to locate the mage known as Thompson.
Bartholomew looks surprised. "You know of Thompson? He's not here. He's disappeared. We were working on secret research together, but one day I woke up and he was gone. And all he left me was this useless message!"
And what was this message?
"He left me a note saying he left a message on the back of his dresser. I found the message, but I can't understand it!" (You take note of this.) He shakes his head. "The work goes slow without his help. I hope someone finds him soon."
What can you tell us of the work?
I'm afraid I can't tell you. If you find Thompson, I'm sure he will explain.
His room is the far one!
Wait. The key we found in the room guarded by the demon, where we encountered our first Basilisk? That key?
The one we've had since... forever? I think so.
Saves us a trip.
* * *
"I am Fraitus."
Cool. We're looking for Thompson. You're the last person we know of who saw or talked to him.
Fraitus looks startled. He looks around, then bends close to you. "Yes, he came here. He is in hiding below - he is convinced the Empire wishes to destroy him. He came here one night, and the next morning he disappeared."
"Before he was gone, though, he told me the secret of his hiding place, should an Exile need to find him."
Well, I am an Exile. Not Empire. I think that's been established for years.
"He said that, to find him, you must look behind the painting in the eastern guest room." (You take note of this.)
I knew thiz was here for a while. But could not access it.
We even tried looking behind the painting!
Not hard enough, it seems.
You will ssssee.
I'm surprised we haven't lost it somewhere along the way.
Hrm... What is it?
Let me save you the pain: West 6, North 2, East 2, North 4, West 2, North 2, West 2, South 4...
... North 4, East 2, South 2, East 2, South 4, West 4, South 2, West 2, North 8. Yes, you back track after the 'click'.
That could have been worssse.
Now you've jinxed it.
I got it.
There's no way around, is there?
This spot reduces your health by 2/3. No save allowed, no 'damage dealt. Just 2/3 gone!
Oh good, this is relaxing.
Except the trapsss are ssstill there!
There! Everything is dead! Let's just find Thompson now!
You finally reach Thompson. He is a small, harried looking man, who seems profoundly relieved you're not about to kill him. "I am Thompson. Welcome to my hideaway."
Hello. Sorry, but your defenses were annoying.
I'm sorry. He bows his head. "Hiding here. Cowering, like a vole."
A vole? Seriously?
"Or some other sort of small, grubby creature."
So you're hiding. Whatever for?
"I'm not paranoid. Coming here, I was one step ahead of my potential assassins. But I'm safe here, and I can tell you what I have discovered."
What was so important about your discovery?
He sits. "You see, I was doing research for the Tower of Magi. I was trying to discover coordinates for their portal."
We know about the portal. Used it a lot.
"A wondrous creation. It can send you anywhere, if you only know the right thing to chant when you step into it! I was trying to discover the chants. I'd developed a special technique."
"I can travel with my mind, all over Exile. And I figured out a way to match coordinates with the places where I end up. But that's technical and not very important. What is important was that one day, when travelling through the ether, I became lost!"
"I travelled too far away to be safe. I wandered for hours, looking for a landmark. And, eventually, I ended up outside a huge fortress, black and surrounded by lava and chasms! And when I was there, the master of the fort detected me!"
"It was Garzahd! It was his fortress! He detected me, and I fled, before he could disrupt me. I finally found my way home, after many more hours, but it was too late. I had the forbidden knowledge."
I wasn't aware that having teleporter codes was forbidden knowledge.
"I detected the coordinates to reach Garzahd's fortress, and he knew it. That's why he will stop at nothing to kill me, and anyone who finds him out. And that is why I must tell you that they ..." He takes a deep breath.
"The coordinates are Vag Obb Tor." He sighs. "What a relief."
"I'm still probably a dead man. At least now the secret won't die with me."
Vag Obb Tor. Thank you.
No. Thank you. Go, let the right people know, and we can strike at the heart of his evil!
Thank you still.
Well, I think we can leave him behind in safety. There's one other person we should talk to.
Rentar-Ihrno. Vyvnas-Bok said she would be willing to help.
Back to the Tower, then.
* * *
Well, we should be expected for once.
The back way.
Hey, Rentar-Ihrno! We've got a proposition for you!
What would you ask of me, Art-Iktah?
... You too, with the Iktah thing?
It is accurate, is it not? Speak your peace, I have much planning to do with regards to punishing the Empire for their crimes.
Cut to the chase then. Vyvnas-Bok said you would be willing to aid us when we assault Garzahd's fortress.
She nods. "I will help you. I savor revenge against that surface worlder fool who dared insult us. Go to Garzahd's fortress. I will watch you. When you get there, I will go to you and give you aid."
Direct aid? I like you better than Erika!
Yes, a dangerous wizard is that human. Even I would be stressed in contest against her.
Well, here's hoping it doesn't happen.
No, it should not, for we are allies now. Your services are... admirable. For a human.
Well, little time to waste then. And please don't start scrying on us while we're still here. I don't want to have to deal with that.
You've mentioned something like that before. What does that mean?
Oh, if you scry upon yourself, you can cause a recursion in terms of how the universe interacts with itself. In large enough scales, it's... well.... bad. Very bad.
It is why telling a mage to 'Scry oneself' is a euphemism to do something so monumentally suicidal that you take everyone else with you. Something you humans have learned, which is nice to know.
Huh. Well, I'm never learning magic like that.
With your cooperation, we will return to Exile, and prepare ourselves.
* * *
Get some sleep everyone. There's nothing left to do.
Except the final Great Map Update! Oh, so much fun with that before hitting up the final attack on Garzahd, and the end of the game/LP.