Part 33: Dryad Grove, Storm Port and the Fiery LairUpdate 028 The Dryad Grove, Storm Port and the Fiery Pit
... I don't know.
Do it! Do it!
We don't even know what she's thinking!
Yes we do.
To investigate the Trogs or no.
You know, I thought they were kinda extinct. Why is there a colony here in Valorim?
Good point! Let's head back south and avoid resolving someone elses problems!
* * *
Curious, there is something to the east of here...
Amazing! You've discovered trees!
Oh, this is bad.
But it's pretty!
You meet a dryad, a beautiful, feminine creature of the woods with greenish hair and skin. She isn't as peaceful and carefree as you've heard these creatures are, however. She is distraught and has been crying.
I am Esselarea, she says in a voice choked with grief.
I am trying to regain my grove! Fresh tears begin to run down her face.
Regain it from what?
She stamps her foot in fury. A fierce Ogre snuck in and scared me out! A dryad's grove is her life. I'm trying to figure out how to remove it.
We might be able to help. Can you tell us about the Ogre?
A horrid beast, the biggest I've ever seen. It's in there now, burning my trees and killing my pets. Oh how I'd reward someone who slew it!
Why are groves so important?
I feel the death of every tree and every animal. If something isn't done to the Ogre soon, I'll be done for!
I'm more wondering about what kind of reward a nature spirit would offer. Not that we need one, naturally.
Her tears dry up, replaced by a furious gaze. The ogre stole some of my trinkets. Whoever slew it could have them, but there's a problem.
There always is.
One of you can enter my glade to the east. But only one of you. The defences of my glade are working against me now. Only one outsider can enter. That was how that one Ogre got in. Please, please please, will one of you accept this quest?
... Fine. I accept the quest.
Just go through the trees to the northeast. My hopes are with you! she blushes, then starts to cry again.
You guys really nominate me, huh?
You have that nice mix of magical and martial to handle the Ogre better than anyone else.
Except maybe Sass. He's learning.
But he's not good enough.
Alone. Again. Story of my life.
Don't have food, so you can't steal anything you purple annoyance.
A nasty little Gremlin is grinning at you.
Who are you?
I'm a gremlin! What use do I have for names?
Then what do you want?
It gives you a toothy little grin. I should be helping you get further into the grove!
Oh really now? And how exactly, are you helping?
Just being helpful wouldn't be very gremlinish now, would it? It emits a little high-pitched laugh. Tell you what ... I'll help you if you can answer my riddle.
I have a thousand little knives, my hands are red and white. You can give them to your maid, to make thins turn out right. What am I?
Correct! In return, I shall tell you this ... proceed on the path with the large stone at the entrance. Otherwise you'll get beaten on.
One or the other. How bad could it be?
Wait.. I hear the sound of something magical...
Even the game wants the Gremlins to die!
Oh, and that 'safe' path has enemies of its own.
Or was this the unsafe path? Don't know. Don't care.
I should have asked how far in the Ogre was.
So.. what's your gimmick?
An unusually tall gremlin, a full three feet, has been waiting for you. It says 1234. You aren't sure why.
What's your gimmick?
6789. 2345. You aren't sure why it's saying this.
You know, I really hope this isn't a math problem. I had enough troubles wrapping my head around how to figure out square roots using subtraction
Come on! Pattern recognition?
I hate you. And if you're just going to throw out random numbers, then I can too!
Smiling, it points at the path marked by a large rock.
You know, that didn't work out so well for the last gremlin.
This is almost calm.
Never mind. This is more my speed.
You know, I remember someone saying that you know you are going in the right direction when more foes show up in your path. I wonder if they were an adventurer.
Hey, your 'safe path' wasn't.
Oh joy. Spiders.
At least the spiders are currently of the normal size. And non-talking. That's the important part.
Oh wow. Open field of flowers. This is going to be one of those silly maze things, right?
Right. Don't step on the flowers. Follow the nice path around them.
Left or right? My sense of impending doom says.... left!
A Gremlin looks at you enigmatically.
Right, what's up with you? Got a name, at least?
I don't have a name. But at least my name isn't a number!
Wait, I was guessing an identifier? How many of you are there in this grove that the Dryad has to number you?
Doesn't matter. I'm here to help you rescue the grove.
Well, out with it then.
Of course, I'm a gremlin. I don't want to be too useful. I can give you a hint though!
Well, at least you're not being arrogant about it. Tell me the hint.
It grins enigmatically, and points due north.
North? That's it? Wow, you're downright pleasant for a gremlin.
It laughs. We're just not friendly creatures! It kicks you in the shin, just to punctuate the point.
Right. Hate you all.
This seems very convenient.
Well, I could either engage it in an epic duel to the death, or throw this pollen of sleeping power at it. Wait. Pollen? I meant pod. Glad no one was around to hear that slip of the tongue.
Eh, no one has to know.
And thus, I slew the might Ogre in battle.
Oh, who am I kidding? This'll be what I tell everyone:
That's what totally happened.
As far as I can tell, the Ogre is completely generic, and the flavour about it being bigger is just that flavor.
Now, let's check out that stash.
Hey, more bolts for Delilah!
And here's a map of the Grove.
* * *
Yep, not getting back in there.
So, what happened?
Well, I had to hack and slash my way through corrupted and mad creatures before finally confronting the largest Ogre I've ever seen in the centre of the Grove.
Really? You're telling him that?
Is it not acceptable to elaborate on ones deeds to make them better stories?
Well, that's enough of that. We have places to go. More welcoming places, I should hope.
* * *
From the information we've received, the next town along the southern coast should be Storm Port. Now it's just a measure of finding it.
We just follow the road.
Another point where the road loops around a forest. At least this time there's no obvious way through instead.
Nah. Thanks for the offer though.
I come back here. Eventually.
Storm Port this is.
I'm more worried about the lack of a road going further north or east.
Don't care. Let's check it out.
And hopefully Sass won't follow me.
Probably random stuff for people living here.
Hey there, shopkeep!
A tall, thin, twitchy man is sitting behind the counter. He's using a rag to energetically polish what looks, to you, like a shard of broken glass. He stands up. Ah! Welcome to you, stout traveller! I am Valentino! Welcome to my shop! He sits back down.
I'm Bronwyn. So, what kind of store is this?
He's very pleased you asked. Why, I collect and distribute all manner of wondrous items! Here is how the process works! You sell me the excess crud you don't want. I hike the price, and make it available to others for purchase. Elegant, eh?
Sounds like basic economics to me. What sort of wondrous things are we talking about?
Wondrous items. And, of course, a lot of garbage. He shrugs.
I stopped for a moment here, and connected with a follower of this LP I like to chat with on occasion. I told him what I found here, and he may have not quite believed my good fortune. Anyway, Valentino's is a Random Shop whose inventory resets every day, and it can have anything that isn't a unique or extremely rare item. And I have money to burn at this point, so I grab the two armors, the Nimble Gloves, the Archer's bow and the Runed Helm. Art gets the Chainmail, Bronwyn and Art each get an Archer's Bow for the defensive bonus, and Sass gets the Magic Breastplate. I forget who I gave the helm to. Bronwyn also gets the Nimble Gloves. Why?
It makes her better at picking locks and removing traps.
If this is the prices you offer, we'll probably be back as many times as we can.
Where did everyone go?
Oh good, it's only an eight-foot lizard. That's reassuring. You meet an aging female merchant, wearing fine jewellery and rich clothes. She looks on edge.
She shakes your hand. I am Dana. I run shipping up and down the east coast. Right now we're looking for couriers.
Bronwyn was talking about that. I thought you were in Libras?
There are actually a couple points on the route, with Squiggus being the end of it.
If you want to be a courier from here, you can purchase bundles here and carry them up there. They'll pay you handsomely for it. It's been hard lately. There's been some monster troubles.
Oooh! Monsters! Tell me about those!
She looks annoyed, but not at you. You should ask Mayor Runkle. He's next door. He's been useless for dealing with the problem, but at least he may be able to explain it.
This place is literally a copy of the same one in Libras. Just a tad faster to get to.
Well, it's nice to see Sass being polite.
My turn to talk to the local head, I think.
Hello there, sir.
You meet a tired, thin old man. He sits behind the desk, contemplating a skull. You notice the skull has rubies for eyes. I'm Mayor Runkle. You must be the people wandering around, doing things I've been hearing rumors about.
I'm the mayor. It's sort of a different post around here. I'm the administrator of several towns, and I have enough problems as it is.
How can you possibly administer several towns at once?
Ideally it would be easy. Most of the places run themselves. He counts the towns off on his fingers. Storm Port. Libras. Lost Isle. Gost. Gebra. Bolton. Squiggus. I take care of administration details for all of them as they aren't big enough to have mayors of their own. And of course, I try to protect them from the monsters.
You have a monster problem? Like the Troglodytes?
No, not them. They haven't gotten this far south yet. He holds up the skull he was looking at. There's undead to the north-east. Lots of them. We don't know who's making them, and they move farther south every day.
Well, at least the undead are a known problem.
The undead aren't as bad as the monster plagues I hear the big cities have been having, but they are a threat. And the Empire is no help.
And what do you expect the Empire to do?
When things were peaceful, an Empire adjunct would be through every week, riding me about one thing or another. Now, when we really need their help, we don't get one gold piece, not one soldier. I don't know what's going on up north, but if they don't start helping out more, this whole area will go straight to Hell.
We'll look into it. Not officially, if you don't want a record.
Well, you can't make things worse, can you?
Well, at least the sign is helpful.
A beggarwoman kneels by the docks. In addition to an alms bowl, she holds a roll of tickets.
Well, I hope you won't give me the cold shoulder.
No, good sir, I will not. I am Laika.
You seem to have two jobs.
She sneezes and wipes her nose on her sleeve. Well, I'm a beggar, really. But lately I've been more of a saleswoman.
And what do you sell?
You can purchase tickets to the city of Gebra from me. Only 12 gold ... 10 for the ticket, plus a 2 gold service charge.
And what service would that be?
I only include that image because as far as I can tell, this is the first (only?) NPC to use the NPC's graphic and not a garish face. Nice to know that it could be done.
Same as you.
So, after checking on everyones notes, we can either go south and check out the islands, north and face the undead, or back inland to address the Troglodyte menace.
Yeah, I think we can work with this. To the North!
At least the river is keeping them at bay.
Actually, I'm not seeing much of any activity regarding the undead.
Oh, never mind.
This occurs whenever you encounter an undead mob on the overworld.
That is not normal behaviour.
But I wanna smash them!
Don't follow them. They could be attempting to lead us into a trap.
I'm not seeing any way across. We'll need some way to fly to check out that island.
At least we know now that they are violent. But why not us?
No clue, but this cavern looks interesting.
No undead here.
No, but we should check it out, just in case.
This is nice and relaxing.
Says you! What do you hope to find here anyways?
I don't know.
Drakes are not it though.
It's following us!
Crap, have to fight here!
That seemed... easier.
You're just getting more experienced, and we were able to fight it where it couldn't maneuver.
If this is going to be a thing, It's time to break out a nice spell.
It's hard to tell when and where an enemy will walk over lava. It may have something to do with their immunity to fire, or something like that. But I can't be sure. Drakes will, but Fire Lizards won't.
And when this happens, the Nephil will move to get off the lava if they can. If they can't, they won't move at all. Not moving on lava means you don't take damage from it.
That's the last of them. Can we leave now?
Not yet. There's still the south side of these caves.
Wait. Raw rubies? I think we can stay.
Don't be too greedy.
I cheat here and restore my HP/SP. Art's burning 20% of her reserves everytime she casts Firewalk, and there's more to do.
This path looks well worn down by clawed feet.
I wonder how many little passages like this there are that we've missed?
Welcome to my kill box. Population: Everything else.
Except when one firebreath normally only hitting a single target hits the entire party.
And that's the last of them. Two more Drakes and about a dozen Fire Lizards were in this back corner.
Let's not do that again anytime soon, shall we?
And no more crystals. Just bones. I don't think they've been here for long.
Someone didn't make it out.
Hey, a Fine Crossbow! Poor sap.
That's enough of that detour. Time to go find the source of the undead.