The Let's Play Archive

Exile 3: Ruined World

by berryjon

Part 12: Gihkra and Erika's Tower (1)

Update 011 – Ghikra and Erika's Tower (1)

Something was brought to my attention after I posted the last update regarding something I missed in the Tower of Magi.

TooMuchAbstraction posted:

Getting access to the Tower of the Magi is the most important part of cheesing your mages in this game. Not just because of Solberg, X, and Mother Clarisse, oh no. That tithe box? If you donate there, then pray at the altar, then the INT of everyone in your party is increased by 2 points, assuming it's not below...I think, 15. Which is a nice and reasonable reward for the pious...except that Jeff Vogel forgot to make it non-repeatable. So you can trivially get 10+ points' of INT (6 levels' worth of skillpoints) on every caster as soon as you get to the Tower, making your Bless, Haste, and attack spells all preposterously powerful for this point in the game.

LuffyVeggies posted:

This is so easy to abuse too. Something I actually remember reading is that hardcore/ironman players (basically players who never use the editor and are not allowed to reload) have a rule that you can use that tithe box, but only once as intended.

This is the tithe box in question.

Just give (DO NOT STEAL)...

Then go to the altar...

And pray...

Now, let's just check out my stats...

Huh, Art's Intelligence went up by two over her training from last update. Too Much Abstraction says it's repeatable, so let's check that...


backing away very carefully now....

I seriously considered reverting my save at this point, but decided against it. Free Stat points are a thing in the Exile series, so I'm not going to undo this advantage. I will, however, refrain from using it ever again. Each character just got +4 Intelligence, which would normally cost 12 Skill points and 200 Gold each. For the low, low cost of 10 gold in donations, I saved three levels worth of grinding and 1190 gold. That's insane!

* * *
Also, Tax Refund – a poster in the thread for those of you reading in the archives, started doing some math regarding market markups.

Tax Refund posted:

A bit of poking around with a calculator suggests this is a 60% markup from the items' base prices, as that makes them all come out to round numbers. (For example, a 20% markup would mean Medium Energy Potions had a 400 gold base price, but that would leave Smoky Crystals with a 133.33 gold base price, which doesn't make sense. Pretty sure Vogel would have used integers for his items' base prices.) If the 60% markup is correct, then the base price for these items is:

Smoky Crystal   100
Weak Curing P    40
Weak Healing P   60
Weak Energy P   100
Med. Curing P   120
Med. Healing P  180
Weak Speed P     50
Med. Energy P   300

From this, and some other poking around, it seems that for every 'degree' of price gouging is a 20% increase or decrease. Thankfully, this does not affect the price at which we sell things to the stores.

Now, on with your regularly scheduled LP.

* * *

“Alright, we just follow the road. No sense in crossing the wilderness until we have a better idea of where we're going.”

“I've seen that map, we can chart a relatively straight line to the nor'east.”

“I wanna do that!”

“I vote follow the road.”

“As to I.”

“And I make it four to two.”

“Oh, it's so cute how you guys think you get a vote!”

“I love voting!”

“I understand New Cotra after the old one was destroyed in the War. But why is there also a New Formello even further north?”

“Couldn't tell you. I'm a Silvar woman myself.”

This sign lies.


“I was sure our tan would have given them cause for alarm.”

“Well, we are still pale where we haven't been exposed to the sun.”

“We've been lucky that it's been relatively overcast.”

“What does that mean?”

“That the clouds are stopping the sun from causing your skin to flake off.”

“Ugh. That doesn't sound pleasant at all.”

“What are clouds?”

“So typically Vahnatai.”

“Never met these people before. What are they like?”

“Very old. Native to the Caves, like the Sliths.”

“Yeah! Some of the elders think that they and us share the same basis for our ancestor worship! But we use stone, and they use crystals.”

“Um... does anyone here speak Vahnatai.”

“{The language is called Novah}”

“You should teach us.”

“Can't. I learned it through a magical ritual.”

“Everyone on your best behaviour.”

“Is it just me, or is it cool in here?”

“The materials and architecture are definitely keeping the temperature more regulated.”

“Thanks for having fur!”

“Ahhh... heat!”

“I'm certain that Slithzerikai are not cold-blooded.”

“{Greetings, honoured Ihrno}”

You meet a tall, dignified Vahnatai. His skin has the dry, dusty sheen that is a sign of a Vahnatai growing old. "I am Tekora-Tel, of Avit. I greet you, Art-Iktah. Your presence is a good omen." The Tel after his name means he is a leader or mayor of some sort.

“I'm sorry. Tel? Iktah?”

"I am a leader and a teacher. I come from our city of Avit with my pupil, searching for one of our number."

“And Iktah is a compound word for 'Two Blades'.”

“Thank you both. You are a teacher? Your English is good.”

"My student, Kyhar is near. Speak to him, if you wish - I wish him to meet humans." He thinks. "This is reminding me. I teach magic to those I find. Wish you to purchase spells from me? It would be an honour to display my skill to the Iktah.”

“Sure, show me what you have for people to buy.”

Same stuff as Silvar. Pass for now.

“If you don't mind, whom are you searching for?”

"One of our mages, Bon-Ihrno, dissapeared. He was a hero among us, the first to befriend you humans, and to bring Exiles into our lands. He said he was going on a journey, and has not been seen for months. It is a worrying mystery.

“That is a concern. What makes you think he came to Upper Exile?”

“I do not. Rather, Rentar-Ihrno is here, and it is her advice I seek.”

“A wise choice, Tektora-Tel. If we encounter evidence to resolve this mystery?”

"Should you ever meet him, return here to me. I wish much to know of where he has gone."

“We shall.”

“Well, this path is blocked. Wonder what's back there.”

“I'm not about to poke my nose into their private areas like that.”

You meet a Vahnatai child. She looks up at you with great curiosity.

“Hello, dear! What's your name?”

"My calling is Khyhar." She can speak your tongue, but slow and haltingly.

“Your Imperial Common is improving. Do you live here?”

"I am of learning and travelling."

Travelling? By yourself?”

"With my mastering one. Tekora-Tel. He learns me of magic."

“Ah! He mentioned you. What sort of magic are you learning?”

"He is learning on me my magic and alchemy."

Alchemy is an excellent starting point. You should be proud of your teacher.”

"Yes! We learning alchemy before magic. All of us learning so! I know much good recipe. Tektora-Tel say I may teach, to earn money if I can! I am aged enough to do so. Like purchasing?"

How can I say no to a child who is effectively running a Lemonade stand? Let's see what's available...

WTF?!? GREYMOLD SALVE? What is some random child doing selling this recipe? I... I... I'm just going to go walk away now before my brain explodes.

“Have fun with that!”

“Huh. I didn't think they would risk coming up here.”

“We should talk to them! Think of the things I could learn!”

“But my questions! PLEASE!”

“Yeah, let's not bother the crystals of mass destruction.”

“There you are.”

Art straightened her back. “The rest of you, go ahead. This is not a conversation for the rest of you.”

“Who is this?” Matthias asked.

“I am the Archmage Rentar-Ihrno,” the Vahnatai said, gazing upon Art's companions with a mix of disdain and curiosity before turning her attention back to Art. “Leave us.”

“You need anything, just call,” Bronwyn offered as she started to back away from the powerful sorceress. “We'll be over... there... somewhere.”

After a moment, the two were left alone. “{I thank you for answering my summons, Art-Iktah.}”

“{I apologize to my better for the delay, my duties are many and not so easily discharged.}”

Rentar-Ihrno nodded slightly. “{I have heard of what you do. I accept that you are perhaps the best of all of us to investigate.}”

With a sigh, Art shook her head. “{It is a strenuous thing, and I am old in body, Rentar-Ihrno. This is a duty best left to the next generations, where I can simply pass on my wisdom.}”

“{And what wisdom it is,}” the Vahnatai offered an uncharacteristic arm of support. “{Your salvation of our precious ancestors is a debt I can never repay. Yet I have plans in motion to make this world better for you and your progeny. I believe you will be pleased when it is done.}”

“{I am certain, Ihrno, that you paid back those debts when you aided me and my people in our attack on Garzahd's fortress. Anything more is a joy to be shared.}”

“{No. That was cooperation. To slay the one who had wronged us both. That was not in the payment of our debt. Tell me then, what of the surface? I have aided in the scrying, but I have no context for what I see.}”

“{It is beautiful, Rentar-Ihrno. There are no words in this language for the feelings I felt when I stood in the} sun {again. I felt something in me that I didn't feel when I almost made my escape a decade ago.}”

For a moment, the powerful Vahnatai looked like she wished to say something. “{You are a better person than I gave you credit for when you first trespassed into our lands those years ago. You continue to surprise me.}”

“{All is not well,}” Art admitted, her hands falling to the pommels of her ancient weapons. “{Monsters prowl the surface, and we have just returned from ending the thread of one such plague.}”

“{Curious. Tell me of these things, that I may aid you.}”

Art took some minutes to describe the Slimes, the pit and experiments found under Jordan's Tower, and into the source pit and the fight against the Alien Slime before describing what was found behind the secret passage there in.

“{Erika's hatred for the Empire rivals my own. It is something I respect. If she has done this, then you will find her a most terrible foe.}”

“{That is the point, honoured Ihrno. I do not believe in my soul that she has done this. It is not her way of doing things. When she helped me slay Hawthorne years before I crossed your path, she acted to fight against the beating heart of the corruption that gripped the centre of the Empire. She did not consider the people themselves to be the enemy.}”

“{Perhaps she has gone mad, or perhaps she is experimenting, to find a way to strike that she can send into the heart of the Empire first. You mentioned other plagues. Do you intend to fight them?}”

“{I do not know. Perhaps. It is still a confusing thing.}”

“{Heed my words, honoured Iktah. These plagues are not your concern. They are that of the Empire. Let them save themselves. If they can.}”


“{Why do you say that?}” Rentar-Ihrno looked confused by the statement. “{They are your enemies as much as mine and Erika's. To aid them would be to betray your people.}”

“{By that logic, honoured Ihrno, you became my enemy when you raised your Barriers through our lands. Yet I chose to see past your aggression, to heed the call of Bon-Ihrno, and in doing so, proved that we were not your enemy. Just as your barriers were a threat to my people, so too are these plagues a threat to the people of the Empire. The innocent who cannot defend themselves. Is that not what being Iktah means? To hold the gates? To be the defender of home and hearth? I would save them from their enemies, no matter who they are. Erika, or Empire.}”

“{Your words will be committed to memory, Art-Iktah. You drive me to shame with your purity of thought and motion, such that I cannot compare. Find your foes, or let them find you. Slay them. And should you find yourself outmatched, return here, to the safety of the Caverns, and I will protect you and all of Exile. You may seek the salvation of the Surface, but to I, my people – and yours – come first.}”

“{I hope it does not come to that.}”

“{Perhaps. But I have taken too much of your time. It was not my intent. Rather, my summons were at the behest of our Bok. Two of them reside here, and they wish to speak with the ones touching the surface. That it is you eases my worries.}” She waves her hand in a magical gesture. “{You have my permission to go past the barrier protecting them. Speak to them, and seek the wisdom they will impart.}”

“{I will, honoured Ihrno. Go in peace.}”

“{And you, honoured Iktah.}”

Yeah, that's not the full conversation. She's far more aggressive normally, but there's no way to reconcile what I wanted to say thanks to Art being a constant across all three games, and what she actually says. Here's here proper dialogue tree.

LOOK: You stand, edgily, before the most powerful of the Vahnatai; the archmage Rentar-Ihrno. She was Exile's greatest help in winning the Empire War. She looks at you curiously.
NAME: She doesn't approach you. She doesn't seem to feel you merit much of her attention. "I an Rentar-Ihrno," she says.
JOB: She sighs, resigned to waste time talking to you. "I am Ihrno to my people, and mistress of Ghikra. I do my research, and protect our treasures."
IHRNO: "Ihrno is an honorary title. It means 'person of great learning.' It is appropriate that I should bear it, as I am the most magically talented of my people."
TALENTED: "Great are my powers." She gets a peculiar expression on her face. It's difficult enough telling how a Vahnatai is feeling under normal circumstance. Sometimes, it's simply impossible. The moment passes, however. She simply says "Do not trifle with us."
RESEARCH: She frowns. "That I prefer not speaking of."
TREASURE: "Our Crystal Souls, the spirits of our ancestors in physical form, and even more powerful and knowledgeable than myself. I hope to become one myself. Alas, others covet them. We have two of them here, and guard them totally. However we do allow some to visit them."
COVET/GUARD: "As the Empire taught us, we have great treasures others may covet."
VISIT: She looks uncomfortable. They have said they wish to see humans who visit. I dislike letting humans near them, but their wishes are paramount." She makes a few hand motions. "You may now pass the barriers that keep you from them."

* * *

“I think they're going to be a while.”


“Ah! Vahnatai magics.”

“Let me see! Let me see!”

“This is nothing!”

“Perhaps there is something here to slate your thirst for knowledge?”

“Or not. Perhaps there is someone here we can talk to?”

“This is a bad idea.”


Eh, I can take it. Later.

“Besides, did none of you notice the secret door between those two cases?”

“What ones?”

“Nice! And now that I think about it, I want to examine that patter a little closer. Just got to get to the centre....”

That's a lot of damage!

“Nothing in here either.”
* * *

“Oh! Hello there. Don't mind the ash, just a silly mage doing her thing.”

This Vahnatai is tall and spindly even by Vahnatai standards. Over seven feet tall, and twig thin. He sits in front of the fire pit, carefully polishing an amazingly sharp waveblade. "Welcome! It is a pleasure to meet humans at last! I am Ohar."

“I'm a Slith!”

“Yes, and I have met your people before. Just not humans in any real way. You must be wondering what I am doing here. Well, I craft weaponry. Our blades are very different from yours, and yet made under the same principles."

“Neato! Our boss, Art has blades! And so does Bronwyn.”

"We have melee weapons like you: our wave blades. And we have missiles, like you: our razor disks. Though not the variety, I grant."

“Is there a problem with our variety?”

"You humans have such a bewildering array of deadly weapons. We are in wonder that you can keep them straight."

For the record, I have two people with Blades as their weapon skill, one with Polearms, and one with Archery. None with Bashing or Throwing. And two people without any.

“What about your weapons?”

“Much effort goes into each of our weapons, many hours of crafting and perfecting. Unlike many of us, I am eager to display our skill to you humans."

He presents several recently crafted wave blades and neatly wrapped razordisks. "If you wish to purchase any of my work, let me know."


“Thank you for your time.”

“Hello there!”

You meet a Vahnatai male, wearing the translucent softly glowing poncho that is the standard dress for their race. He is carving a gentle spiral of crystal with a small, elegant knife. He looks up from the crystal. You think he's smiling, but you aren't sure. "I am called Koriba."

“And I am Delilah. If I may, what are you doing?”

"I shape crystals. They are having many uses." Like most Vahnatai, his grasp of your tongue is very poor.

“Your crystalwork is very elegant.”

He holds up the spiral he was working. It catches the dim light and sparkles beautifully. "Is there ever anything so lovely, so orderly?"

“I have heard that the Vahnatai have so many uses for their crystals. Is that true?”

"It is the basis of our artisticness and our magicalness."

“And you are an artist.”

He looks sombre. "Yes, I had the best example which is not here for showing. It was a statue, but it was stolen."

“Huh. I think that's the one we got from the Bandits, hidden through the wolf pens.”

He looks pleased. "Again, humans correct the wrongs of humans! And in reward..." He produces a beautiful, carved pink crystal. "It is a Soul Crystal, using for certain magical spells and it is yours!" He gives it to you.

“Are you certain? I have heard of the power of these Soul Crystals before!”

"Yes! Soul Crystals, not to be confused with Crystal Souls. They are used for certain spells to trap creatures to be called forth later. Very strong." He looks at you slyly. "In fact, certain such spells I am not forbidded from making for purchase to outside people. For prices."

I might pick these spells up in the future.

“I wonder if Art is finished yet...”

* * *

“I haven't been in one of these chambers in a couple years. Not since the official declaration of Alliance and Trade.”

“Hello, honoured Bok.”

You approach a large, perfectly flawless blue crystal, about a foot and a half high. As you do, you feel peculiar, as if someone other than you is inside your head. You hear a gentle voice inside your mind. "Greetings." The smooth voice in your head continues. "I am Glantris-Bok. I am a Crystal Soul."

“Art-Iktah. I was told you wished to speak with me by Rentar-Ihrno.

“I do. You see, I exist for only one purpose; to help my people."

“Is that not the purpose all who are Bok aspire too?”

"What could be greater? Long after you are dust, I will still be serving my race. I will remember you, and someday, a thousand years from now, I will tell a young Vahnatai of your struggles to instruct him. That is what I do. I remember, and advise."

“To remember so much... I doubt a mortal mind could stand the forces.”

"In this form, I remember everything I hear. Everything that I see. It is a great gift."

“Your ability to advise must be great, O Bok.”

"Often, my people come to me for advice on what to do. I always give it. They do not always take it, but usually they do. This is why I told Rentar-Ihrno to let you see me. There is information I wish to impart to you."

“What is this information?”

The voice in your head gets quiet, so that you have to struggle to make it out. "When you reach the surface, and deal with the Empire as it is today, remember Ourubourous."

“Ourubourus? Isn't that...?”

"Ourubourous was the snake of legend, that was so mighty it encircled the world and ate its own tail. It was all powerful, and yet it devoured itself. As you see the surface, remember that image."

"And that is all I have to say on the subject." The voice in your head fades away, the presence is gone.

“That's not ominous at all. Let's see who the other one is...”

This is a perfectly flawless blue crystal, about two feet high. As you approach it, your head begins to hurt. You feel pressure inside your skull, as if someone just pushed their way in. A harsh voice in your mind says "Speak."

“I am...!”

There is a strange, scratchy discordant sensation in your head. The voice in your head is loud and disturbed. "I ammmmmm Vyvvnas-BOK!" You've heard of it! This is one of the Crystal Souls stolen by the Empire.


"I am here! HERE!" The rough presence in your mind is getting very uncomfortable.

“You are here! There is no foe around you!”

Unexpectedly, the voice in your head calms. "Apologies, Art-Iktah. I am still recovering from my imprisonment."

“So I see. I am surprised you left the Shrine. Your imprisonment...!”

"They I... I... I... may not ... must not mentioned tested on me, twisting my thoughts on myself, to get me to BREAK TO SERVE THEM." The volume of the voice is agonizing. Mercifully, it calms down. "Now, I lend my paranoia to my people."

“An odd service, but one I must confess to desire know about.”

"Strange that must sound, but I am my people's fear. They must share their caves and their scarce resources with you humans and others. And the ... the... the bad people are on the surface above us all. I am their constant reminder."

“We should not need reminders of what the Empire can do.”

I had to show off that yes, Vyvnas-Bok is still unhinged.

“Rest well. May you heal, in time, and with the passing of your foes.”

* * *



“You were past the barrier we couldn't get across.”

“Advantages to being me, I suppose. I get permission others can't.”

“Anything interesting happen?”


“No. Not really.”

* * *

“Let's go talk to Erika now. No sense in delaying the inevitable.”

“As soon as this map becomes relevant, and we find the right directions.”


“That ran away.”

“Those look like warning markers.”

“We should leave them be.”

“Are we welcome if we come with evidence that points to her attacking the Empire on her own accord?”

“She'll probably want to see us so she can lambaste us to our faces.”

“Isn't basting a cooking thing? Does this mean we get food?”

“I don't think so.”


“Are you insulting Erika Redmark the Mad?!?!”

“Yeah. Helps pass the time.”

“I have heard that she is quite the hellion, and does not suffer fools gladly.”

“Well, she puts up with me, so I must be doing something right?”

“Huh. Larger than her last one.”

“Come in here before I teleport you.”

“Yo' Red. Watcha' doin'?”

You stand before Erika, master archmage of Exile. She looks surprisingly young - only the cold, ancient look on her face belies her true age. She watches you as if you were a particularly intriguing new form of insect. "I am called Erika. Simply Erika."

“Yeah. So, what are you doing up here? I would have thought you would stay down by the Abyss.”

“Oh, be silent you crone. Let your peons speak, that I may try to see if they have some semblance of intelligence when pooled together.”

“And fuck you too. I can't help but remember who didn't show up for Patrick's funeral.”

For a moment, her face contorts in anger, then returns to its normal arrogance. “I sent my regards. You delivered them on my behalf.”

Exactly. Now, your turn everyone.”

“You want us to talk to her?!?”

“Survival instinct. Good. Signs of sapience.”

“Pardon me, Grand Archmagus, but why are you here?”

“I have a great many jobs. I am the greatest wizard in Exile. I am a total foe of the Empire. I have an assortment of hobbies. I teach magic, sometimes. Which of these interests you?"

“As a wizard myself, so stand before someone so mighty, it doesn't seem possible.”

She shrugs. "A simple truth. There are mages in Exile whose work I admire, but none of them are any match for me, and none have assisted Exile as I have."

Exile does owe you a debt of gratitude.”

"Would you like to hear my story?"

“No.” She plugs her ears anyways.

“Yes please! Story time!”

She begins to speak. She is calm as her story begins, but the more she speaks, the angrier she gets. It's a fearsome sight. "I was a mage on the Surface, working for the Empire. There was a power struggle ... we fought for Hawthorne's favor. My side lost. I, Patrick, and others were cast down into the depths, and I, their leader, was cursed!"

She digs her nails into the arm of her chair. "They dared to lay spells on me! If ever the light of the sun touches me again, I will die in an instant! I have no hope of ever leaving these caves! For that, the surface filth must pay!"

“Huh, usually the tirade lasts a lot longer.”

“I am feeling magnanimous to these worms you command.”

“So, your beef with the Empire is political in nature?”

"The Empire cast me into Exile, and cursed me in the bargain. I will destroy it, whatever I do! I believe you are sympathetic to this. Perhaps you wish me to bestow a boon upon you?"

“Uh, yeah. About that. Erika, we have evidence that you're already doing something like that.”

She scoffs. "I am many things, but not a fool! You thing I would leave my symbol there for anyone to find, large as life? To lead them back to me? If you believe that, you're a fool."

“Perhaps it was there to attract your attention?”

“To copy another mage's mark like that is a grievous insult. Even Garzhd never did that, for the forgery would destroy the thin veneer of his credibility. Before a certain Slith destroyed his mind. Then he might have had the stupidity to try, save for his demise.”

“Good! Just checking.”

“You spoke of a boon?”

“Yes. There is an amulet I wish to give you."

“An amulet? What is it?”

"The surface is in turmoil, and it falls to you to forge us a place in the confusion. I wish to aid you. I can track your progress, and provide you aid when need be. To do so, you must wear one of my special amulets. Leave to the west and enter the fourth room on the left. Get the amulet there and bring it to me. And stay out of the other rooms - the aren't safe."

“Before we go, you mentioned that you can teach some spells of minor power?”

Coming back here later for sure!

“What sort of hobbies could she have?”

"You would not comprehend them. Best you do not ask. And do not stray too far from this hall."

“You really don't want to know.”

“Fourth on the left.”

We'll be coming back here eventually and poking our head into all of these doors. Just not today.

“Got it, let's check in with her.”

"Ah! You're back!" Erika says. "Do you have the amulet?" You show it to her. "Excellent. Now, the question is, do you wish me to activate it?"

“Might as well.”

“Leaving! Thankyou! Goodbye!”

“Can we do something safe now? Like go back to the surface?”

“Yeah, I think it's time we did that. Back to Fort Emergence.”

* * *

“Not Erika. Going back to the Surface for more clues.”

“See you.”

I also went to see Levy. You get a reward from him after each major Plague is dealt with.

“For services rendered...” Levy looks through a large book, finds something of interest and produces a potion from under the counter. "Well done! Here is the reward for dispatching the Alien Slime."

I really should just sell this, as I could use the 800 gold sooner than this thing stops being horrific overkill.

And before I go back to the surface, I should train Niarl and Matthias up some more. Let's take care of that.

Getting those free points of Intelligence really helped. I bumped her Strength up to 3 for the HP gains, gave her Mage 4 for Ice Bolt from Solberg, and what we'll be acquiring later on, and dumped the rest into her SP pool. More SP = More Fireballs = More XP = More Skill Points = More SP!

Four free Intelligence! Huzzuh! Mage 4, and +9SP for the same reasons as Ni'aurrl. I also really need to invest in Mage Lore. At the very least, to find out what's in that book back in the Slime Pit.

* * *

“I think, this time, we go west.”