Part 56: Appleton, Spineride and MerniaUpdate 50 Appleton, Spineridge and Mernia
So, where are we going?
If I have my maps correct, we should be north of the Giants, and still west of the long mountain range that separated them from the coast. I intend to do a quick sweep through the area, find Appleton if possible, then head north.
Golems or Alien Beasts?
Golems, as she has already said.
Sounds like a plan.
I'm on a horse!
So, what is this?
What just happened?
Hold on, something is over that way.
Oh, there they are.
If you think this fight is a challenge for the party, you've skipped the last 20-30 updates.
Especially with the allies. But, this does give me my first real chance to cast a certain spell! You all know it, you all love it, and it's been in the game since Exile 1!
Well, that was quicker than usual.
Now we just need to find our way out. Joy.
That's my line!
You guys make it sound harder than it actually was.
I was told tales that such creatures were fickle and not to be trusted. But this is at least the fourth time we've encountered them in the past three months, and they have yet to live down to my expectations.
That's a lot of words!
To be fair, most of the other people in those stories are jerks, and the Dryads are responding in kind.
But we're the HEROES!
What he said.
Another town? How many are, or were up here?
Well, maybe we can ask them.
On one hand, we're fighting the Empire. Which is natural. On the other hand, we've been working very hard to earn nice points with them, so what gives?
Can't we talk this out?
Well, I tried.
So, what's going on? Well, we've been avoiding encounters with Empire troops for some time now simply because we've been helping. Except as we go north from Lorelei up towards Gale and Blackcrag, that stops being the case. It's about a 50/50 chance that the Empire patrols up in the north-east quadrant of Valorim will be hostile or not.
And in this case, they were hostile.
WHAT THE HELL?
Perhaps they had not heard of our deeds?
Or they were mean!
I'm going to side with Sass on this.
As am I.
Me as well.
Not a word.
Totally is. But let's just go north for now, and we can leave this ... statistical anomaly behind.
What? I still use that spell. On occasion.
Still, that looks like a lot of giants. How do we handle this?
Makes sense. Start a fight in the town square, let them come to us. We start to get overwhelmed and we can fall back to the horses.
You know, I like this plan.
Except for the part where the giants with ranged abilities don't come to us.
Or they hide in buildings.
I will never get tired of seeing Bronwyn with all the bonus damage from the Flaming Sword and Assassination stacking like that. Too bad Art's never been the one to go for that skill.
Someone summoned Gremlins?
Apparently. Also, why are they all throwing the rocks at me?
I love having access to Level 7 spells again!
Are we still collecting Unicorn Horns?
We can check up on those later.
And thus, everything else died.
We had best be careful.
No! The precious Tavern!
No, it was the barracks, actually.
This building looks relatively intact.
So noted. Though 'Tiny Mountain' doesn't help us.
There was one other intact building in town on the south side by where we came in.
No. Not feeling bad about this at all.
Well, at least going north is easy enough.
Here we go!
There's nothing here.
Well, we were supposed to keep going north anyways, so maybe it's a different one?
I doubt it.
Wait a minute...
No one say a thing.
Back south of Appleton, and this time to the East!
And right off the road and into a Mountain.
Oh, hush you.
* * *
* * *
* * *
What is this?
For those of you who are lost (like me), we are just north of the road leading east from Appleton, and headed to Spineridge. I was just taking a circuitous route to get there due to wanting to fill out my map. Yes, I could cheat in the overworld map at this point, but seeing blank spots tells me to go places to find things.
Can't be worse than the ones around Golddale, could it?
Speaking of, doesn't the mayor from there want us to steal a book or something?
Yeah! From the nice guy who lets us use his portals!
Curious. Although it does appear to be a controlled demolition.
Let's keep looking around.
You know, I was expecting something smaller.
Scrying the Monster!
And here is the first Golem-class enemies we encounter. Golems are technically not as powerful as the Alien Beasts, but as a person who has beaten this game a few times, I dread dealing with them more then I do with the Alien Beasts.
Yet the worst part is the final dungeon for the Golems. So much so, that it can be regarded as the single hardest dungeon in the entire Exile series, bar none. You'll see why when I get there.
On the other side of the coin, they all drop Golem Gems, which can be sold for cash. When I remember to. I think I'll actually keep them to simply count how many Golems I destroy before taking out their source.
While tempting to report back to Anaximander at this point, we should keep going north.
Depends on what that sign says. We may have to go further east or west first.
Of course, we should have known that Spineridge was here.
Time for a visit, I think.
SERIOUSLY? Apparently the move to enter town caused a Disease roll for Matthias, and he caught it. Except it doesn't show up on the log as the message about entering town was given priority!
Doesn't look like much of a town.
One does look like it has books.
We can go there first then.
I guess it's official then. We're in Monoroe Province.
You meet one of the Empire's seemingly endless supply of bureaucrats. She has the haggard look that comes with long periods of much work and no sleep. Oh. It's you. She shuffles idly through a thick stack of papers. I am Alzon. You must be Art, Matthias, Blodwyn, Ni'aurrl, Delilah and Sasserithrasix.
Bronwyn actually. It's a common mistake. Sloppy handwriting.
Fair enough. Gods above know I have encountered enough spelling errors in my time. I am in charge of supply for large parts of Monoroe Province's internal structure. In addition, I am the Jobs dispatcher. If you would like some courier work, let me know.
There is nothing wrong with being in charge of supply.
You would say that. It seems there is nothing we are not short of these days. If you have any goods you could sell us, it would be a great help.
Well, no sense in keeping things we aren't going to use.
Normally, I would skip this. But this is one of the few time I think the only time really, where using the Sell command actually brings up legitimate dialogue, rather than a generic message about appraising or something like that.
What Courier jobs are available anyways?
So if I wanted to ask about politics?
I would say to check in with our esteemed leaders in Gale. And nothing more.
This man's robes are stained from heavy travelling, and his pack seems about to burst open from all the scrolls and books in it. Greetings! I am Vairlas, the sage.
If you are looking for my services, I must say that I can only provide a few for now. Most unfortunate.
Why is that unfortunate?
My wife, Malka, and I are on the road now, trying to escape the golems.
We have met some golems ourselves to the north, by the mines.
He suddenly looks interested. You wish to know of the Golems? I was studying them intensely before we fled. You can purchase all I know of them, for only 50 gold.
Might as well. We'll recover that pretty soon.
That's 50 gold less my access to the Moon Library, thank you.
He takes your gold. Thank you. This will be a great help on the road. Now, let's see. Golems. Golems are magically animated statues, very strong and resilient to damage. Gale is currently under constant attack by large groups of them.
I have some questions regarding these gems of theirs...
Eh, boring discussion. Hello there!
The innkeeper is incredibly busy. He's cooking the next meal, serving drinks, and keeping everything clean, and he almost seems to be doing it all simultaneously. I'm McClain.
Sorry, but the inn is completely full. People leaving the province and heading south you know. Keeps me busy. I do have a bunk you can rent. Only two gold. I also have rations. Popular items, those.
They really that popular?
Everyone's fleeing Gale and stopping here. Can you blame them?
Not really. No.
Come on everyone, time to leave.
Giants, or Golems?
Giants. Then the Golems killed them over yonder.
* * *
It's been three days, so I'm going back to Hawke's Manse for the next event.
Any particular reason why we're back here?
Right until Anaximander gets people chosen to represent us here.
You'd think that having a ghost present would present more problems than trying to get food done?
Well, let's check it out.
You see a translucent man, middle aged, standing by the pond. He's staring into the water. He doesn't look at you.
You get no response.
Suddenly, the ghost gets smashed to the ground, as if struck by something from overhead. The spectral body lies there for a moment. Then, in an instant, the ghost is standing again. Then it gets smashed again. And so on.
Well, there nothing we can do here. I'm not a professional exorcist.
Where would we even get one anyway?
I dunno. Never had to deal with a non-hostile spirit like this before. Usually it's either resolve their lingering sentiments, or hit them with Dispel Spirit until they're reduced to ectoplasm.
* * *
Oooh! We're on the east coast!
Except for that land mass on the horizon.
We'll go north from here. Gale's supposed to be on the coast, and from there we can get more information.
This does not look like Gale.
Well, it was something to relieve the tension in the air.
At least they were polite about it.
Come on. We should be able to find someone who can answer questions.
What is that?
And that is too!
And here we meet variants #3 and #4 of the Golems. There are five versions in all. The Blade Golem is the brute attacker of the bunch while the Jeweled has Acid Spit. I haven't had to deal with Acid seriously since the Slimes, but now it's back and with a passion.
One short fight later, with the help of some guards...
Well, at least it took us to this obviously important building.
Hey. You alright in here?
You meet a merchant, resplendent in velvet robes and silver jewellery. However, he has a wasted, haggard look and traces of something green crusted on the corner of his mouth. I am Corin, he says in a slurred voice
Suddenly, he becomes very cheery and energetic. The transformation is eerie in its speed. His voice is slurred, however. "I run the Mernia lumberyard!"
Sometimes, things just fall into place.
He laughs. Of course! The Empire has quarantined all of Valorim, so our wood sits here, worthless except as termite food! But what does it matter? Everything else is so interesting!
You don't say.
He giggles. Why, when seen from a distance, a golem's fireball is a beautiful thing! And their bolts of ice leave wondrous, elegant tracings through the air! One side of his face twitches slightly. And if everything falls apart, we can go to the Isle of Maddok.
Oh, is that the Isle we see on the horizon?
Just across the water to the east. Covered with all sorts of undead. Isn't that just ducky?
Some of you may be wondering what the heck is going on with this NPC. Well, let me explain it for you. He's addicted to Skribbane. Quite badly too. The crop grown on the Isle of Bigail, and that we've been asked to smuggle into Lorelei. It's endemic here in Monoroe Province. When we get to Gale, you'll see.
That's a lot of wood.
Really. A lot.
And that's enough for this town. We should head north now.