Part 16: ShayderUpdate 015 Shayder
This update and the next were supposed to be one, however the whole thing grew to be too big so I split it into two.
Before we enter town, I want to do a quick survey around the edge. Just to, you know, check the ways in and out.
Makes sense. I mean, it's not like I can't see the roof of the temple over the walls.
That's not joyful! How can they possibly spread joy when their roof is blinding?
I don't know.
By being a happy roof?
... Yes. Let's go with that.
Just the one. Curious though. Normally cockroaches are quite sanitary, yet these ones spread disease.
Perhaps it's the result of whatever made them so huge?
That seems possible.
Why would they simply leave a place like this behind?
It doesn't matter. It's a dead end.
No it isn't.
Move Mountains! Always a fun spell. Dungeon Bypass in a can.
I want to point out a small flaw in the game engine. You see the tile where the wall used to be? Well, it has now been removed and defaults to the standard tile type generic underground land. It's a little disconcerting to see that blue tile when surrounded by greens and browns.
There's a lot of bugs!
Yes, now keep stabbing them!
This doesn't make any sense. Why is this small area walled off? What could be so bad that they would abandon it in the face of all logic?
Well, maybe it's because of the mud? They didn't want it inside?
That's.. not the best answer.
No, but there is something that could explain it.
Sewage entrance. Kept outside the city proper for sanitation purposes.
We are not going down there if we can avoid it.
Understood. Into the city proper now?
Yep. Let's get this over with and find someone with a lead on the roaches.
This looks like causal quarantine procedures.
People staying away from each other to keep from catching sick.
Well, I'm slith! I won't get sick.
He does have a point. Trans-species diseases are extremely hard to come by. You'd need magic to pull that off.
Alright then. Split off, talk to the locals. The usual.
You and 'usual' do not go together.
Yes they do. Just my level of 'usual' is different from most peoples.
One of these days...
Hello there! I saw you all arrive. This man has the earrings of a sailor who has been over many seas and to many lands. There's something very unusual about him. He wears an Anama ring. "Greetings to you. My name is Boyle." He's unusually friendly for a sailor.
Hello there. I'm Art, and the rest of my party has vanished on me. So, what do you do here?
"I sail the seas, a very difficult calling of late. For some time now, I have been stranded on this isle."
It can't be that bad. I mean, you can still sail from the island to the mainland.
His eyes get a faraway look. "Oh, the wondrous sights I have seen. I hope someday I shall not be stranded and can see them again. And, of course, carry the word to other lands.
You're not exactly stranded here. There are ferries to the mainland.
"If I chose to stay in Valorim, that would be the case. But it is not. While I am trapped here until I can find a ship to take me home, my time here has not been a loss. I have gained a purpose in my life and much tranquility through the teachings of the Anama. I once even carried a wand to defend myself! Now it is no more. I have weaker defenses, but more peace."
How do you plan to defend yourself now? Swords?
"The Anama taught me that a sword is of only limited use when the others have more swords than you. That is why I no longer support the use of magic. To show my loyalty, I took a wand I had carried for defense for many years and threw it through a grate into the sewers, where I hope it lies still." He looks very proud of this.
Really? You would just toss away a wand rather than selling it and donating the money to the church?
It was the gesture that counted more than the material worth of it.
Right. I'm out of here.
* * *
This is a nice place! Hello there!
Hello! You meet a slightly deranged looking little man. His rough, dirty clothes and thick boots speak of many months on the road, and he's bent over under the weight of a heavy sack. "I'm Vlad the Light Salesman! How are ya'?"
Hi Vlad the Light Salesman! I'm Sass! What do you do?
"I'm a Light Salesman! Takes me places, let me tell ya'!"
That's amazing! What places have you been?
"Oh yeah, seem like I"m always goin' somewhere. I was up in Gale the other week! What a mess!"
"Gale's a city way up the northeast. You arent' gonna believe this, but they're being attacked by horders of monsters!"
No! Monsters? That can't be!
"You heard me. Hard to believe. I know, but whaddaya'gonna'do? Now, you wanna' buy a torch?"
I skip him. Light sources aren't hard to come by, being both Mage and Priest spells, and only really needed in the occasional Dark Dungeon. But what's more important about this NPC is that he moves! Not just around town, but he can also be found back in Krizsan! I cut him out of that update due to issues with the size of the update, but he's there too.
He is the first example that I've shown of this sort of NPC. Tied to the date counter, various people can move from location to location though I believe that Vlad here is like Merry in that way he's simply in all places at once. We've received mention of one more, who goes between Delis and Krizsan, and we'll be hunting him down closer to the end game for his quest.
* * *
Curious. This chest is empty.
And that entrance to the underground is very close to the docks here. It's almost like that was the first place walled off, then the rest went with it.
And it's nice to know that you can leave here directly, rather than go back south-east.
Oh, an Inn. Weird, I didn't see a sign.
A sleepy looking man sits hunched over in the corner, nursing a mug of really smelling drink. He doesn't look like he wants to talk to you.
Hey. Don't I know you from somewhere?
I'm Bronwyn. Are you sure?
Irvine. Yep. And I'm enjoying my privacy."
Fine! Be that way. And how are you today?
The tattoos and weathered skin on this woman mark her as one who's seen a lot of the sea. She cleans off the bar's counter with a dirty rag in a calloused hand. "I'm Mickie. You gonna gab, or you gonna get a drink?"
Hit me up for a drink. What's else on the tap?
"Well, for fine out-of-towners like yourself, we have the luxury suite. Only 10 gold. Plus we have fine amber ale on tap. You can purchase that for only 6 gold."
Amber it is.
She serves up the unpleasant tasting, watered down, yellowish fluid. "Sorry we can't get anything better. The Anama make beer, but keep it all to themselves." She thinks. "Of course, I have a little bit of stronger stuff. Only 10 gold."
Yeah... let's go for that. Anything has to be stronger than that.
She serves up some incredibly nasty grog. As you force it down, she says "By the way, want to be let in on a little secret? Only 20 gold."
*cough* Wow, that's some nasty stuff. Really. Refill please! And sure, why not. What's this secret?
She leans close. "You look like people who do a little travelling, and are comfortable with your weapons. Irvine over there in the corner is lookin' for people like you. Go ask him about shipping."
Maybe. So, I see you don't have an Anama ring. Not part of the parish?
"Buncha' weirdos if you ask me. My inn was here before they were. Losers."
Interesting. Well, thanks for the drinks.
Let's try this then.
I said I wanted my privacy.
Oh shut it. I figured out where I've met you before. You were in the shipping business.
Yeah, about that.
Look, everything I do is completely legal.
She takes a seat, then a small knife out to check her fingernails. I remember you. But you don't remember me, do you? Still doing small time business like this?
What did you say your name was?
I don't know anyone by that name.
Lots of people get it wrong. Just a couple letters off.
cronwyn ... no that's cromwell ... !!! Um, you wouldn't happen to be a noble, would you?
What? She smirks Me? A blue blood? Whatever gave you that idea?
No one's heard from you in a couple years! He leans over to hiss. What happened?
Things turned upside down, and I had to hide under a rock for a while. You know how it goes. Still in pharmacy?
Yeah. There's a lot of crops in the jungles and forests of Bigail that are... homeopathic remedies.
Interesting. What's so important that you're willing to offer a job too anyone who walks in?
Despite all the plagues being on the land, the Empire ordered a lockdown of the continent to prevent them from escaping. And given how there have been reports of roaches off the island, it's a good thing. And because of that, my normal business associates have been... unavailable.
Which leaves me.
Which leaves you.
* * *
Neat! I wonder what sort of things I can find here.
This man is well built and dangerous looking. His face has a dark, ferrety look to it, and he seems quite at home among all the weapons. "Ahm Begbie," he says. You can't quite place his accent.
Good afternoon. I am Ni'aurrl. What do you sell?
"Ah got weapons, ya daft sod! What else would I got? I run this shop with mah'mate Renton. Also, if you wanna' sell somethin', I'm your man."
And who is Renton?
"Across the way. Fine armors of all sorts, he got."
Nothing worth buying here now. That I can afford. There's the Iron Halberd which would be an upgrade for Sass, but well out of my budget.
The man behind the counter is tall and thin, and has very short hair. He wears an Anama ring. "I'm Renton."
Hello. I was just talking to your friend there. So, what do you sell?
"Oh, just trying to rebuild my life, ya'know. So I run this shop here. You can purchase armor here, finest in quality, brought down from Gale."
A worthy thing, building yourself up. So, what is Gale?
"To the northeast, hundreds and hundreds of miles away. They make the finest armor in Valorim up there, and I got a bunch of it shipped here. You won't see it's like anywhere for miles and miles!"
Hello there! No often we get Nephil on the island. You meet a young woman with long brown hair and a winning smile. She's very small, but wields a big cleaver. There's plenty of food behind the counter, and the place smells delicious. "I'm Rippel! Welcome to my shop."
Silly to ask, but what do you do here?
"Most of the time I sell food, you know? The rest of the time I keep busy." She holds up her hand and you see an Anama ring.
A member of the Anama I see.
She shows you the ring, a delicate silver band. "I used to live in Sharimik, but I came here to join the Anama. You know, I've never trusted those mages!"
And what about mages can you not trust?
"How can you trust them? All mightier than you, clustering in their towers, doing their secret rites, making plaguies and weird creatures and stuff? I tell you, that's something we could all do without!"
Uh huh. Have a nice day.
She sells food. Like we'll ever need to buy any ever again.
I think Art should handle that.
* * *
Such a relaxing town, I think. Aside from the anti-mage people.
That really needs to be taken care of, sooner, rather than later.
Hello? Services rendered?
You meet someone unusual in Anama lands, a woman wearing mage robes and doing so unapologetically. She nods in greeting. "I am Sara. I'm a mage."
Interesting. At least you could pass for one of them.
Perhaps. But what of you?
"I study the magical arts and provide training in same. I even dabble in identification a bit. And believe me, between the roaches and the Anama, these are not stress-free occupations."
Yes. The roaches. Why hasn't someone done something about them?
"I know little about it. The Anama tell me nothing, and I rarely go out with all the sickness." She thinks. "Though I do know someone who might be able to help ... he's quite wise."
Finding a wise man to help is part of the reason why I am here. Can you direct me to him?
"Arkley, the librarian, is wise and knows an awful lot. You should be sure to speak with him. He's in the library to the north."
The Library, got it. Now, if you don't mind me asking why are you in the centre of power for the Anama?
"I care not what they say. Magic, despite its drawbacks, is a great force for good. And no matter what they do, this is home, and here I shall remain. The ignorant fools." She thinks a moment. "Of course, I have met a wise Anama member, believe it or not."
So, what spells do you sell?
Let me show you.
I'm on a budget at the moment, so all I do is buy Slow Group for Ni'aurrl. Don't worry, I'll make sure Matthias gets it as well eventually.
So, I identified everything, and went to find someone to sell it all off to. I remembered that the weapons ship guy said he would buy things (turns out it's only weapons, but that's not the point). But I get there and...
He's WANDERED OFF. There is a distinct lack of 'no NPC' tiles in this game, which means that they can wander all over the place and you can and will lose track of them. Close doors? They can open them up themselves. Which makes tracking down NPCs a pain in a half. In fact, I actually catch an NPC at the end of the next update that I couldn't find during this initial pass through town.
And I find him here of all places, in the Job Dispatch room.
* * *
OOOH! More Trees! Now I get to look at them while no one can stop me!
You meet a beggar. The ravages of disease are clear on him. He can barely move, but still manages an air of grim dignity. He wears a dirty Anama ring.
AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH! MONSTER! He starts coughing
Where? Where! I'll stab it with me big pointy stick!
I'm not a monster! I'm Sass! I'm Slithzerakai!
"My name is Spud," he rasps.
Hi Spud! I'm Sass. What are you doing back here?
"I was a farmer. I lost my wife and my health to disease. I ask for a minor gift to feed me while I regain my strength."
Sure! Here's a gift.
You give Spud a few coins. He bows deeply, which is a great effort for him. "Thank you for your kindness. I shall not forget you."
I'm not sure if this actually does anything, but it's still an RPG, and it always pays to be nice to beggars.
I'm doing nice things! And wow, that's some nice armor!
You meet a muscular soldier patrolling the streets of the city. Her soldier's armor has the marks of an EMpire Dervish, the time the Empire gives to its strongest, craftiest warriors. When she sees you, she removes her helm and approaches.
Hey there! I'm Sass!
"I'm Dervish Cassie." She regards you with extreme antipathy.
That's awesome! Your name is almost the same as mine! What are you doing? Looking into the water?
"I'm patrolling for Roaches." She stares at you pointedly. "And other vermin."
Vermin? There are giant rats here too? Where?!?
She spits on the ground. "I served in the war with the Exile worms. I've heard of you, and the people of Valorim may tolerate you, but I know what you Exiles have done."
Hey! We didn't do anything! Exile isn't doing bad things, and you're bad if you keep thinking that!
She spits at your feet. "All these monsters came from you! I know it! And don't get smug. Everyone knows Exiles are among us and by now the Empire knows too. Believe me, whatever you're doing, you'll pay for it! A thousand times over!" She turns away.
But we're being nice!
Just stay away, worm.
Sass? SASS! Where are you going?
What is going on?
I don't know. I'll find out.
Probably a good idea. I've been directed to the library here, so I'll talk to the librarian while you talk to him.
Right. On it.
Hrm, some light reading first.
This is great literature for all the wrong reasons!
Propaganda as usual.
Pardon me, are you Arkley?
You meet a withered, tired looking man in long robes. When you approach, he is studying diagrams with illustrations of cockroaches on them. "I am Arkley. Greetings to you."
I am Matthias. Traveller, part-time adventurer and person of action. If you can believe that.
Looking at you, I can believe the first two, but not the third. I am the librarian of Shayder, and one of the keepers of knowledge for the Anama Church."
An interesting library you possess here. What is in it?
He waves at the shelves of books surrounding you. "The Anama dislike magic, but are great believers in knowledge. Ahonar himself commissioned me to do a bit of very important research."
And what research would that be?
"My current research is critical. I am trying to find ways to deal with the cockroaches that plague us. I am having little luck, but I have found a few leads."
Well, fret not my friend. For I and my compatriots are here on Bigail to investigate and resolve this... problem. We've already taken care of Krizsan and their slime problem, and you're next on the list.
I've heard rumors to that effect, that the Slimes are vanishing now. If it is as you say.... Yes, well. I have heard that there are intelligent spiders on this island. It's odd, but they may be able to help. Also, I know of a mage named Purgatos, who I suspect will be an aid."
.. What was that?
Don't worry about that. Who is this Purgatos you mentioned? Where can I find him?
"I know it is problematical for an Anama member to send one to a mage, but just between you and me, we are not yet strong enough to handle the roaches on our own. Purgatos lives in the ruined town of Kneece. I believe you can find a ferry there in the town of Kuper. They are on the west end of the island."
Thank you for your information. Sara was right to direct me to you.
She did? He shows his Anama ring. "I agree with their stance on magic, though I do not dislike mages. Sara, to the southeast, is a mage, but a great finder of knowledge."
You must be distracted by your search for knowledge to give me that response.
Perhaps. I am quite busy. I keep the library, but I also seek learning when necessary. High Priest Ahonar has me doing research. Also, I make money on the side by creating maps. If you would like to purchase one of my maps of the island, you have but to ask. Only 50 gold."
Sure, I would like a map.
This will be useful. Thank you for your time. I shall be gathering my companions and set out soon.
Good luck, Exile.
Here, kitty, kitty, kitty...
Everyone who has ever owned a cat can agree with that statement.
* * *
Hey! Have you seen a seven-eight foot tall lizard run by crying?
Hello there. You meet a very tires and overworked man. He has the look of someone who's been up for days straight. He wears a mask over his mouth and often wipes his sweaty brown. You notice he wears an Anama ring. He speaks with you while grinding up some healing herbs. "I'm just called Jed. Sorry if I can't give you my full attention."
That's alright. I'm looking for a large lizard who may be running around. And I don't' think he's here.
He applies the poultice to a sick woman's forehead. I am the hospital's healer. It's a terrible task, as you can probably tell."
There's a few people in here. Why is this task so terrible?
"It's the roaches, of course. They're a plague causing nightmare. It if wasn't for the Anama, there would be many, many more deaths."
I've heard a bit about how they're helping, but nothing firm. What is the Anama doing in response to this crisis?
"The Anama have been working nonstop to heal the diseased, Anama or not." He smiles. "I am proud to be a member."
What can you tell me of this disease? I'm the only member of my party who can't invoke priestly spells, so any information you can give me, I can pass along to them.
There is not much to be said. Everything the roaches touch becomes diseased and a risk to all around it. There's little in common with any infection. It's like it's magically mutating.
What about the roaches themselves? If they aren't infected, could they provide a cure?
Perhaps, but at the worst each Roach contains a unique strain of disease, meaning that any vaccine would be useless the moment we killed the roach to make it. He wipes his brow. "The roaches are a nightmare, no two ways about it. So many people have fallen ill from the plagues they spread we may have to expand the hospital!"
Thank you for your time. I'm going to to keep looking.
I hope you find your friend.
WHAT THE HELL? How is there Graymold on the surface? I can maybe believe the recipe being sold by the Vahnatai, but this being here? What?
Of note though, these three ingredients are the types for curing poison, restoring HP, and the Graymold Salve itself.
* * *
Thank you for seeing me, Mayor.
A wrinkled and weary woman shuffles papers at the end of the table. She looks up at you with the air of a bureaucrat, and with the sense of having become accustomed to the pointlessness of her existence. "At least you knocked. For the formalities, I am Mayor Bernathy. Welcome to Shayder."
Art, Unspecified Services, Exile.
Not often spies announce themselves.
Not often that adventurers come with letters of recommendation from the Mayor of another Major city to help.
True enough. I am the Mayor of the beautiful city of Shayder, placed by the Empire as a guardian. For what all that is worth, which is little."
Certainly you have some power as mayor?
She coughs. She doesn't look well. "I was hand-picked by the Empire to come here and try to run this place. Of course, the Anama really run everything. Things I say are basically ignored. Plus, of course, nobody expected the roaches."
I see you're sick. I can help with that.
And the Anama aren't helping? You'd think they would, if only to cement their position with the population.
"I won't tell you what rubbish they sprout. You'll hear enough of it. But most everyone on the island follows them and only listen to me when they say so. But they can't handle the roaches! And I have the Empire's authority to give a quest!"
So we've discovered. Now, for the formalities, what is this quest you're handing out?
"One bit of authority remains to me. The Empire gave me the ability to give adventurers a quest, if necessary. Here it is. Slay the cockroaches. Rid the island of them. Save these people, before diseases kill them all." She coughs delicately into her hand. "Do this, and return to me, and I will reward you will. Please hurry. And good luck to you."
It's official then. Man, to think that even five, ten years ago, this would never have happened.
If you don't mind me asking how long ago were you, you know...
About ten years now. If you don't mind me asking, what has the Empire been doing with the criminals that they used to Exile?
Garzahd drafted them into mining and things like that to support the Army during the quote-unquote 'Suppression of the Rebellious Province called Exile'. After that failed and he died, Empress-Ascendent Prazac ordered the construction and re-opening of old prisons, and revoked many of the laws that would have resulted in Exile. Near the end there, a lot of crimes were given the blanket punishment as it was seen as 'fair' when it wasn't something serious like rebellion or piracy. Crime went down, and the laws were toughened to keep the system operational. The good Empress has seen fit to release that pressure while rebuilding the power lost to the deaths of the Emperor and Garzahd.
Interesting. That fills in a couple gaps. Now, back to business. Is there anything you can tell me about the roaches that I can use to get started? I trust my people to go digging, but anything official would help.
She wipes a running nose. "They bring disease. Everyone is dying. The crops are being eaten." She grins evilly. "And the Anama can't handle it. About the only authority I have is to give a mission to someone who could handle it."
Well then, here's to the restoration of the proper order of things that the civilian government knows what they are doing.
Here here. But if you want, there's a records room to the south. Check it out, there might be something there, some early report you can find.
Tax code. Criminal proceedings. Trade deficit. Requisition of military units to deal with Ursagi....
Something to identify later. Nope. Nothing here to use.
Hello. The Mayor told me you were on her side while you were checking out the records. I'm to give you leeway to operate. You meet a short, fidgety accountant type with a heavily chewed pencil behind his ear. He nods in greeting.
Thanks. And you are?
"I'm Grunders. A lovely day to you."
I see. So how are you going to give me leeway?
"Oh, I run a variety of business operations. I'm the main jobs dispatcher for Shayder, and I'm also an accomplished reseller. Good occupations, thanks to the roaches."
Really? You're the first person who thinks that the roaches are good for business.
"Well, with the monsters everywhere, the normal supply lines are gone, so small time couriers and treasure hunters are what's needed today, and I work with them. I'm getting rich, I tell you! Pity about the dead though." His sincerity is unconvincing.
He's the guy in town to whom we can see anything, not just weapons. And here's his job board. I could take either mission and be done with them, but I'm holding off on those for now. The one to Fenris port is actually quite doable at this juncture, I could be to Fenris port and back to Shayder in less than three days.
* * *
Well, here goes nothing.