Part 6: The Slimes of KrizsanUpdate 05 The Slimes of Krizsan
I notice you're not screaming.
I knew what to expect. You?
OH MOTHER-OF-US-ALL Why?
I will invent something to protect my eyes!
What is that horrible thing?
It's called the sun. You're probably the first Slith in living history to see it.
Wait, does that make me a legend?
Yes it does! Aren't you joyful?
I AM AWESOME!
Alright, it's a valley. And the sky is clear...
The sky! Praise the almighty, I see the sky!
But where does it come out? I see it curving away to the east.
That's beautiful... I've never seen such colors.
And those of us who have, we had forgotten.
Trees with leaves.
Birds. They fly.
No swimming, Sass.
But why not?
Who knows what's in the water?
Right! Don't know the currents at all. Got to be safe.
Oh hey! Look at this! Fish in a pool!
I don't know what those are.
No, seriously. Never seen them before!
They appear to be much larger versions of the Goos you find in the caves. Fascinating! I didn't know they could maintain coherency at that size!
Should be easy to kill then. Just splatter them.
Meet the Slimes. They come in four major types. Amber is your general fighter. Emerald can cause a PC to sleep, making them miss their turns. Mauve can cast first level Mage and Priest spells.
Did that one just use magic?
They're still weak! Beat them down!
That was easy.
Yeah, but goo everywhere.
This is worrisome. The Empire wouldn't tolerate these things existing, and should have hunted them down.
Quite. Most concerning.
Oh, don't worry. I'm sure someone is on top of this.
Undertow is no joke.
But this is a safe crossing it seems. The city is on this side of the river though, so no need to cross yet.
An actual forest! With groves! And trees! And leaves!
Farmland! Careful. Who knows how they'll react to us.
Will that be a problem?
Yes. And what's the problem.
I don' know if they've seen your kind before.
More of these slimes. Attacking farms like this? Where is the army?
And here is the last type of Slime Ochre. Acid does two things. First is that it decreases your defence as it eats at your armor. The second is that it will also deal damage over time like poison, except it runs out faster.
Ah! The burning!
Just the normal ones left!
This is wrong. Very, very wrong.
More farms. We need to be careful.
We're right here, you know.
Look at that city...
It's actually not that big. Almaria is bigger.
Can we go in? Please! I want to see?
Hey, Art? Are you sure this is the right Sass? Seems more like a hatchling than a proper agent.
He's what I had to work with. Other options, not so much.
Look at the walls. They are showing acid scoring.
Come on, let's talk to people!
Stick together! I don't want us separated here.
I wouldn't worry about that. We make sure lost kids get returned to their parents.
That could go wrong in so many ways...
I know. Listen, go see the mayor before you leave. Please?
He'll explain things. For now, I need to get back to work, in case more Slimes show up.
Pretty obviously a port town if the inn farthest from the docks has a maritime pun as a name.
This innkeeper has filthy, dirt-encrusted hands, which have probably touched every mug and plate in the place. He looks you over with disinterested eyes. "I'm McElroy. Welcome to the Rowdy Oar."
Good day! We're from out of town. What does your establishment offer?
He wipes his nose with the back of his hand. "Well, we got the best drinks in the whole town. Only two gold. And we got room in the common room to sleep for the night. Only three gold. And we'll make sure none of the slimes get ya'."
Well, your inn is up against the outer walls. I hope the slimes aren't too much of a trouble?
"Well, those slime creatures have been sneakin' in all over the place. There was even an attack near here!"
An attack? Inside the city? Horror!
"Oh don't worry, one will slip through the walls every one in a while, but none get in here. Sleep easy!" He grins in a way you find not at all reassuring.
Well thank you. But we have some other business to attend to first. Have a good day.
How delightfully normal.
Next building then, with a sign on it.
Our supplies are running low.
What's a herring?
A small fish used as a distraction.
You meet a big, beefy man gleefully attacking a leg of lamb with a large cleaver. After years of chewing on mushrooms in the underworld, the smell of food in this shop drives you wild.
He looks you over knowingly. "I'm Herron. Proprietor of Herron's Herring."
"You all look hungry, like you haven't seen good victuals in a long time." He winks at you. "You're in luck! Herron's Herring has the best food for sale around!"
What's a herring?
I told you! A distraction!
He grins. "Well, we don't have herring anyway, on accounts that the sailors when they come to shore are all sick of it. I just call this place that because it sounds good."
You sure you don't have any for him somewhere to taste? I don't think he's going to let it go now.
He shakes his head.Nah, I tend to work with mutton and the like. Just let me know if you want any rations.
I hold off on buying for now. My finances are pretty tight, at least until I get back to Fort Emergence and the free food and cash.
Ah, decorative pools. Something that we have back home as well.
I don't recall this sect.
Neither do I.
You meet a young, calm woman. She wears long white robes and the ankh of a healer, and somewhat incongruously, wears a big axe at her belt.
Hello! I am Delilah, Church of Joy.
"I am called Terry. I'm the town healer."
"Well, I mainly act as the town healer. Busy work. Plus, I maintain the shrine, for what it's worth."
It's not a large one, that's for sure. But all shrines are worthy of respect.
"Well, Krizsan has one small shrine to the healing arts, and I look after it. Nothing compared to what the other cities have. It's more a worry than anything else, I'm afraid."
You shouldn't worry! Don't worry, be happy! That's what I always say!
"Well, Krizsan has lots of sailors. They're a superstitious lot, but not the shrine-going type. It's all I can do to keep the dust off everything."
That's understandable. While they are superstitious, sailors are not cowardly. They will come when they need to, not because they want to. Until then, be happy!
Um... keep practising!
Let's not leave yet. Those guards are watching us a bit too intently.
What is your exit plan?
Sass jumps in the water and swims back up river. The rest of us steal a boat.
That's less a plan and more like... I don't know.
I've found hard and fast plans have a tendency to go awry. Just stay flexible.
This is one of the tallest women you've ever seen. She looks down at you with a grinning face as she effortlessly hefts about a huge hammer and tongs. She wears a leather jerkin, and her bare arms are sweaty and muscular. She gives the hammer a spinning toss, and catches it."Welcome to my Smithy. Call me Jinx."
Hey! You're tall for a human!
I am, aren't I. And what are you?
I'm Sass! I'm a Slithzerikai!
Well, never seen your kind before.
You're the smith here?
"Oh, well, what do you think? You can sell me what you got, and purchase weapons in return. Always glad to help a visitor to Krizsan."
Visitors. Oh. Yes. Us. Totally.
She smiles, as if she's in on a joke you don't get. "Krizsan doesn't get many visitors these days, being as it's about as remote a large city as you can get. Sometimes we get people from odd places, though. Where are you from?
It doesn't have a name.
Cotra as well.
Interesting. You're from all over the place. Oh, and be sure to ask me if you want a good meal. I know just the place to go." She chuckles at this.
A meal? I suppose you would get an appetite working here.
"Well, Herron, who's a ... a very good friend of mine, runs a shop near here." She rubs a small diamond ring on her finger and giggles. It's strange to see such a huge person giggle.
Aww, isn't that sweet. Anyway, we can go back and ask Herron about Jinx.
"A fine woman, running a fine smithy. And don't think I'm biased or anything just because I'm married to her." He laughs, and dumps some lamb into a stewpot.
We can also sell anything to her that we've identified, so let's take care of that now.
Turns out, I didn't actually have a lot of stuff to lose. And her inventory isn't worth investing in yet.
Those look like warehouses over there.
We'll ignore them for now, continue looking around.
An elderly, angular man sits behind the counter, dispiritedly polishing a shield. There is plenty of armor behind the counter, which is peculiar considering the number of books in the shop.
Hello! I'm Ni'aurrl! Can I look at your books?
He looks you over. "I'm Benedict. And sure."
And while she's reading that, what do you do around here? Identification services?
"Well, I'm a businessman. You know, this and that. Right now, I deal in armor."
Armor is your business? Is it any good?
"I used to sell potions and such, but then the slimes started appearing. Armor suddenly became the best business to be in."
What do you know about the Slimes?
"The ones who drop acid are the worst. Armor doesn't do a bit of good against acid. Still, armor usually helps a lot against them."
Once again, not much.
This storeroom hasn't been used in a while.
At least the spiders in here aren't the talking type.
They're not that bad.
Uh, what are you talking about?
If you're ever west of Fort Draco, you'll find out.
No need to pry.
Besides, I think they take thieves seriously around here. Where's the joy in that?
Hey, I wonder if they have any ships in here?
Hello? Anyone home?
The guy who is supposed to be here has wandered off, and I couldn't find him. That's alright, I'll come back when I need a boat.
That's the western half of the city looked over. Merchant district, warehouses. Nothing out of the ordinary.
Aside from the threat of the Slimes.
You see a seedy looking sailor, walking around town looking bored. He paces over to you - it seems he finds talking to you preferable to doing nothing. He scratches himself."I'm called Denzil. Howday' do?"
Uh... hi? I'm Delilah.
Had'ta' see you up close. He shrugs and spits. "Normally, I'm a sailor. It's a disaster for people in my trade these days, I tells' ya!"
A Sailor? Where's your boat?
He scratches a tattooed arm."Bad trade to be in these days. Nobody is shipping anything anywhere. Too many monsters."
Yes, we know about the monsters. We were attacked on the way here.
"Betcha' think this is the only place with lots of monsters. Don't kid yourself. I've heard the rumors. We sailors get around. There's monsters running around everywhere. Watch your back. As for me? I'm running."
And where could you possibly run when the monsters are everywhere?
"I'm waiting to sign on with some merchants going west. There's a town called Pergies to the west, hasn't been attacked much. Maybe I'll be safe there. Sure getting out of here as soon as I can. Way too many monsters!"
Note to self: Visit Peregies sooner, rather than later. There's something there I need to pick up that will make my life a lit easier.
I hear a guitar coming from that inn there. Odd, I recognize that tune...
This woman hefts a large halberd around with her. Both her weapon and her breastplate have tiny spots of dried slime on them. I am Captain Maxine, head of the garrison.
She shrugs her shoulders brusquely. "Can't talk long. Have work to do. I look after the garrison and city hall. Plenty to do, what with the slime invasion."
We won't take your time then. One of your men told us to check in with City Hall before we leave. Can you tell us anything about that?
"Just between you and me, City Hall isn't too useful to us. I mean, are we going to club the slimes to death with paperwork? That's all Cindy and Agrod have contributed."
Hitting slimes with papers?
Who is Cindy?
"She does research, trying to figure out how to flight the slimes. She's nowhere near bright enough, and I've lost good men trying out her schemes. Still, she's come close sometimes. She's still worth the trouble."
"We beg the Empire for help, and who do they send? That worthless paper pusher. I'd like to use him as a shield, that's what I'd like. Now, I've answered your questions, so answer mine."
Don't make a mess of things. She leaves the party behind, heading for one of the gates.
A heavy set woman sits perched in the middle of the tavern, commanding everyone's attention. She plays a guitar flawlessly. When she finishes her song, she walks up to speak to you. Her skin is incredibly pale - she's an Exile!
Huh, now I know where I heard that music before. Back in Blosk.
She bows. "Art? It's been ages! Nice to see familiar faces. What brings you to the surface?"
Oh, this and that. I wasn't told you were up here. Why are you up here?
She tunes her guitar as she speaks. "Oh, just touring the surface. Like you, I suppose."
You know what I meant! The Surface!
"Well, I've already played pretty much everywhere in Exile, so I snuck up here. Tricky, but I did it."
So, when we go back to the Fort, can you let us know how you got out so we can plug the leak should someone come in?
"Volunteered to help build Fort Emergence. Slipped out onto the surface soon as I got a chance and never looked back. And I'm not the only one! Pretty immoral of me, but, well, there you go."
Let it go, Art.
But..! She's! And more! Security!!!
Let. It. Go.
Look, I know you're on the clock Art, but I would love to talk later. Besides, if you think me being here is mind bending, you should talk to the owner.
You meet a woman with a sun-weathered face, loose clothes and a sure step. Tattoos ring her arms and wrists. She gives you a cocksure grin as you approach.
Hello there. I am Ni'aurrl. Are you the owner?
No, that's Kessle over there. She tugs her earlobe as she looks you over."I'm Dawn."
Ah. Well, what do you do around here? Help out?
Well, I normally sail the open seas. Now I just wait around here. Krizsan's my home, after all."
A lot of those around here. Sailors, I mean.
Yeah! Except you're stuck here too!
"SHUT UP! Not much call for that now. Ships haven't been sailing since the monsters appeared."
The slimes, yes.
"Interesting thing about that. Just when the slimes started appearing, when I was sailing into Krizsan for the last time before the ships stopped going, I saw some weird lights on the coast."
What as so unusual about them?
"The south coast, just west of here. There was a tower, and there were some seriously weird lights flashing around it." She tugs her earlobe thoughtfully. "Maybe it's just me, but the Slimes must be caused by a bunch of weird magic there." She grins."But what do I know? I'm just a sailor, and you're genuine Exiles!"
Could we not advertise that particular fact? We're all politely ignoring it.
She laughs. "Don't worry! Your secret is safe with me! I was pretty close to being sent down there a few times myself!"
I was a sailor. I'm certain you can think of reasons.
Maybe. Uh, Delilah, you want to talk with Kessle there?
The woman behind the counter looks like a buxom serving wench made good. Her demeanour and clean, stylish clothes clearly mark her as the one in charge. She mops up some beer on the counter and looks at you proudly. "I'm Kessle. Welcome to my inn."
Delilah! You run this place? Nice!
"I run the Crusty Sailor Inn. I feel that, even in the middle of all the slimes and horror, we should still have a little luxury to get us through. We have fine beer for 5 gold, fine wine for 10, and luxurious rooms for only 15 gold. What would you like?"
Well, we're from out of town. What can you tell us about the Slimes?
"We have to be careful in these dark days. And we also have to keep clear heads. Good heavens! Some people from the northern cities said the monsters were being sent by the Exiles!"
"Isn't that silly? I mean, the Exiles have plenty of reasons to hate us, but even if they had the power to do that, why would they want to attack those of us out here in Krizsan? I mean, this is the boonies!
Well, I mean, maybe there's something important in in Krizsan?
"But what could it possibly be? Krizsan is a beautiful city, but it's the youngest and farthest out of the cities in Valorim. This is as far from the center of the action in the Empire as you can get."
Well, if you wanted to mount an invasion, would you start in the capital, where everyone's attention is, or start at the edges? In some nowhere town that no one would miss if something unusual happened?
No! That can't be! We're nobodies! They would never come here! Not in a hundred years.
That's the point! No one would expect those insidious worms to come here!
Of course! It's not possible!
But what about their spies? They could be anywhere.
Not here! That's for certain! I would know an Exile if they ever showed their criminal faces in MY inn!
Good. Good. You keep a watch out for those evil, evil, people.
I WAS IN FRONT OF HER!
Gypsy has been playing in her inn for weeks!
To be fair to her, our skin should darken over a couple weeks in the sun.
Until then, keep your skin protected. I don't remember sunburn being fun.
Hey, why is that building off to the side?
This man looks like a sailor, but is wearing the robes of an apprentice mage (dirty and torn robes none the less). He stares intently into an orb on the table in front of him. As you approach the table, he looks up from the orb."Welcome, my children!" he says in an affected fortune teller voice. "Come forth, so I may speak unto you."
No. I may be happy, but I only have so much tolerance per day.
"I will forecast your future for only two coins! Also, I can share with you my great magical skills!"
Really?!?!? You're an awesome magician?
He waves his hands, and there is a flash of light. It's a very simple spell."I can create charms which will shift your fortunes. Purchase one, and you will never be devoured by the seas. A bargain, compared to the value of your life!"
Hold on, let me check my wallet...
No! He's a con-man, and a poor one as well. It's a disgrace!
No! We're leaving!
Last place to check.
Let's see what that plaque says.
This must be where Cindy is doing her work. Let's say hi!
Yes, those are hostile slimes in the room. The rune-marked floor prevents anyone, including the party, from crossing. Though, if I was desperate for the XP, I would kill them with spells.
You meet a female mage. She's pacing back and forth, completely involved in her own thoughts. She stares intently at a vial of brightly colored slime in her hand.
Allow me. Pardon, my name is Matthias, can I have a moment of your time?
She looks up at you, but her gaze is absent. Her mind is clearly miles away.I am ... umm ... I'm Cindy. Hi."
Sorry for the intrusion, but I was informed that you were a person of interest with these troubled times.
"I am ... oh." She stared at the vial and thinks for a moment. I ... Research. I am doing research."
Doing research into these slimes is a good thing. What have you learned?
"Looking for ways to defeat slimes." She uncorks the slime, and sniffs it."The danger to us is great."
What about the slimes themselves?
She holds the vial of slime up so that you can see it. It's mauve."This. ... A sample. Very useful. For research."
And the dangers they pose?
"The slimes can enter Krizsan at will. They slide through holes in our walls. I look for a weapon against them, but the work is slow." She thinks."Perhaps you should leave, so I work more."
I think that's for the best. Good luck.
The Mayor is in the next room.
You meet a small, fidety man with the look of a natural-born bureaucrat. He sits in an impressive, polished oak chair far too large for him. His expression is hard to read."Welcome, travellers, to the city hall of Krizsan. I am Mayor Arbunkle."
He doesn't have a cat. I checked..
I think you're doing a good job.
He has a nervous tic around his eye. "I was picked by the Empire to look after this area. It was a nightmare assignment, and the monsters have only made it worse." He surprises you with his bluntness.
I am certain that the Empire made certain that you were the most qualified for the position.
"Yes. The continent of Valorim is only recently settled. A post here was a dead end for a career even as it was seen as a blessing. Then the slimes appeared." He looks around."The only worse job is anything dealing with Exile."
There is nothing wrong with Exile.
His mouth twitches. "Don't bother to pretend. I know there are Exiles running around. I don't care. We have too many other problems, and I'm not foolish enough to believe Exile would attack us by dropping slimes in the middle of nowhere."
That's good to hear. So, what can we do to make your life with the slimes easier?
He looks at you cannily."I will be blunt. You're adventurers from Exile. I don't know why you're here. I don't care. We have too much else to worry about." He wipes nervous sweat from his forehead."I have a mission for you, with a considerable reward."
Her eyes narrow. You can tell us what it is, but I can't be certain whether or not we can take missions from Empire Officials.
I understand. We don't know who is creating the slimes or why, and we don't know where they come from. Perhaps a small, skilled band, such as yours, could have luck finding them. Find out where the Slimes are from, and remove the source, and you will be rewarded lavishly. Good luck to you."
That is something we will need to run by Anaximander first.
Things must be extremely desperate if the Empire is willing to reach out to Exile for help.
Agreed. We should head back right away.
But we're almost done poking around this building. We should finish that first.
There is an officious looking woman with a turned up nose behind the counter. Even as she looks up at you, she continues to nervously shuffle papers with her hands.
Hello! Your nameplate says you're the Job dispatcher, but not your name.
"Valoda" The papers continue to shuffle.
And what does that mean, anyways?
"I'm the delivery dispatcher. Even in these awful days, the mail must still go through."
I thought the Empire already had a dedicated mail service.
"Not out here. The Empire insists the mail continues to move as much as possible. It might occur to some to that perhaps they should send more troops to help us, and fewer orders to obey." She sighs."It is, of course, not my place to criticize the Empire."
So, what, anyone can just come in and ask to do a delivery?
"When someone needs something sent somewhere, they come to me, and I find someone to do it for them. It you'd like a mission, let me know. Before you get a mission, however, I have some advice for you."
And that would be..?
"These are paranoid times. You may not want to take a mission to a city until you know you will be let in. Also, we job dispatchers are unforgiving of failure."
She's right. We won't have access to certain cities and late-game quests until we've cleared lower things first.
I refuse to fail! By the way, what is the price for failure?
"Fail to complete one of my jobs on time, and don't be surprised if I don't give you another for a few months."
Another promise. You see the 'Day' counter in the upper right? Certain events are timed, and if you mess us with a Dispatch Quest, you will be shut out of that town's quests for 30-60 days. So don't mess up!
If this looks familiar, it's because it's the prototype for the Job Boards in later games. And it's randomly generated! That means that you'll rarely see the same mission twice!
I think I'll speak with this one.
You meet a Captain of the Empire Army. He has a squashed, puffy face, and a huge nose. He looks at you with extreme distrust."I'm Captain Agrod."
Matthias, thank you for seeing us.
He pulls out a small hip flask and takes a swig from it."Better than nothing. I'm the Empire liaison for this area. I hope you don't plan to cause trouble."
"Look, we all know there are Exiles wandering around. If you were near the center of the Empire, this would be a serious problem. But this is the middle of nowhere, and we don't care here. Just don't cause trouble, OK?"
We understand completely. How is the Empire these days? You know, as we don't get out much.
"The Empire stuck me out here in the middle of nowhere to look after things and to implement their inane policies. Speaking of which, what's your opinion on unicorns?"
We are completely ambivalent on the subject of Unicorns.
"Don't have any romantic ideas about happy, friendly creatures. When we got out here, we found a bunch of them, and they're nasty, vicious pests. The Empire told me to hire someone to get rid of them. So, tell you what, Every Unicorn horn you bring me, I give you ten gold. Just come back and tell me you have the horns."
I think that's it. We should head back north and report in. Something is very screwy here.
Could the previous team have been ambushed by the Slimes and killed?
Possible. But Gypsy mentioned she wasn't the only one to sneak out. She could have mistook the scouts for escapees.
There's no sense in guessing. We can investigate that later. Let's just go back.
* * *
Hey, Anaximander, it's worse than we thought.
But before you do, I need to report back to the Castle. Take care of stuff here in Upper Exile for a day or two, then we can have firmer orders for you.
Yes, sir. Oh, what about the Exile escapees?
Your report indicates they are being tolerated for now. Identify who they are, and their last known location. We'll work something out, but that's for the Castle to decide.