Part 10: Update 008 CotraUpdate 008 Cotra
"Is everyone ready?"
"I doubt she will ever be a 'morning' person."
"I've got my gear stowed, and provisions checked."
"I've got our path laid out for the most part. There's a road that leads along the coast of the inland lake, and we'll reach Cotra where the next river flows into it."
"I'm still amazed at the internal ecosystem that this cave has produced. I wonder...?"
"Quick! Let's leave before he stops thinking and starts paying attention!"
"I am surprised there is no bridge here to bypass the inlet. It would shave many miles off the journey."
"Where would they get the stone to reach over that? Most of Exile's building materials are barely enough for their homes and cities, let alone having enough to spare for a non-vital bridge."
"I see the logic in your statement, but it still galls me that such a project has not yet been undertaken."
"You do realize that they barely have proper roads right? That all the 'roads' we've been on so far are mostly just dirt paths with trees on the side. And we're off the road."
"Still; it seems like I would like to talk with the high authority in this land about their infrastructure issues."
"There may be extenuating circumstances. Like Nephilim attacks."
"Which we have curtailed for the time being. And improved civilian infrastructure can be leveraged into greater strength for the nation as a whole."
"You realize you just recognized Exile as a legitimate nation, right?"
"Are they not one by default? The Empire has no claim down here, and we have seen evidence of a larger political structure. Obviously they are organized with internal divisions between military, civilian and magical lines. The people recognize them as a legitimate authority and said authority does take action to protect their charges. They meet all the basic criteria of government, and as such, should be recognized as such."
"Did you want me to make it simpler for you?"
"Nah, they're just surprised that you know about such mundane things, that's all."
"And what would you have to say about such things, given your cultural background?"
"I would state that leaders can only be called leaders by the will of the people. But the will, and the people, must be free. There must be the capacity for choice, and there must be options to choose from. The notion of leadership can only extend so far as those in whom are trusted that position can and have the ability to see their choices through. You define government by its material examples; the divisions and balance of powers between those who hold their positions by whatever structure. I define it by the capacity to act. Leaders must lead, not be lead."
"Interesting. Please allow me some time to think of a properly structured counter-argument."
"It must be longer than that due to the curves of the shoreline."
"Alright. Here we are. Contra."
"Cotra. There's no 'N' in there."
"What? Oh. Ok. Sorry. Cotra it is. As usual, we'll split up, look around, and meet at the inn to compare notes."
"I have to say, the city is better fortified than the other places we've been. Double walls, guard houses..."
"A more developed city, or at least more defended against outside attacks."
"As per the plan people. I think Art needs some alone time."
"Hello there, miss. Don't often get visitors over here."
An archer sits at the water's edge, looking out carefully. He's old and wrinkled, but his eyes seem sharp.
"Oh, sorry. Didn't see you there."
"Name's Elmer. And before you ask, I'm watching the water. The sliths occasionally attack from the lake. It's dull, but I deserve a rest."
"You don't mind if I sit for a while?"
"Nope. You look like a girl with a lot on her mind, and that lot's gotta need percolating."
This is a statue of a bent old man. When you look at it closely, you see it is looking back at you.
"I don't suppose you're the talking type?"
It just stares at Rook.
"I don't suppose you be telling me what you know?"
It smirks slightly. That is the only response you get.
"Right, note this down for Art when she's out of her funk."
"Makes sense, another place to buy boats. Man, I hope I don't have to fake that accent this time."
* whistle *
You see a heavy man with a peg-leg. He wears an eyepatch, but you can't help but notices he occasionally lifts it and looks at something with both eyes.
He makes a brief "Arr" noise. You aren't sure why. "Arr, matey I'm Eduardo. I'm the master boatsmith here." He says "Arr" again.
"What is up with this guy? Um, boats?"
"I sell boats. Fine crafts, fit to sail the seas. Well, the lakes. I've got one ready to purchase. You look tough enough to brave the danger, matey! And a bargain, at 250 gold."
"Cheaper than the 350 in Silvar, that's for sure. Thank you, sir."
"And you are?"
You see a teenager. He's busy eagerly working on the boats.
It's annoying, seeing two guys exactly the same in close proximity to each other. You never know who is who.
"I'm Andrew. I'm apprenticed to Eduardo."
"A good job."
"Just working on the boats. Spreading tar. Filling holes. Following Eduardo's orders."
"How is it treating you?"
His eyes widen. "He's good to work for. Doesn't beat me, lets me sleep six hours a night! Plus..." His voice lowers to a whisper. "I hear he was a pirate!"
"You may be right...."
"Hrm, I think we're good enough for now. But it won't hurt to check up on supplies in case we need replacements."
You see a lethal looking woman in a leather baldric. Knives poke out from various places on her anatomy.
"I am Elspeth. Welcome to my humble shop." She grins in a reassuring, lamprey-like way. "I deal in armor and weapons, and if you have any supplies you don't need, you can sell them to me. What with the lizards around, business has been very, very good."
"Ah, that's very convenient. I would hate to trudge all the way back to Duvno for such things. If you don't mind, a question not related to your shop?"
"I am a new arrival, and I have heard much about these 'lizards', or 'sliths'. Yet I have not heard much about them, if you understand my meaning?"
"The Slithzerikai. That's what they're called. They all live to the west, and they've just started raiding and attacking. Like we didn't have enough trouble with the Nephilim." She looks back at the wide variety of weapons on the walls. "Yes, it's been a two front war. But we're holding them off pretty well. Better than some."
"Yes, I have heard of the issues over at Duvno with the Brigands and Nephil. Ah, speaking of, what is the difference between the Nephilim and Nepharim?
"Nephilim. And Nepharim. They're like Nephilim, but bigger, and sterile. Don't know much about it, but that they're nasty. Captured a bunch of our people last week." She sighs, then starts fingering a knife up her sleeve. "We'll pay them back. Mark my words."
"I wish you well then. I must be off, and thank you once again for answering my questions."
"No problem. We all got to stick together down here."
"Excellent. Pardon me?"
A wiry, nervous man sits behind the desk. He has long, frazzled hair and an aggressive bald spot.
Future Exiles tend to have more NPC pictures, so you won't see duplication like this in the future as much.
"I'm Paul. I'm the secretary to his lordship Mayor Steele. If you have some business with him, you have to ask me. But he's pretty busy with this prisoner business. You'd have better luck in the library."
"Ah, I was hoping you had a library. Where is it?"
"Door on your left. Not much there, mostly records." He chuckles. "But who knows. There might be a magic scroll."
"I doubt that. You look like the kind of man to say such things to encourage the unwary to read."
Here's a hint to remind people to search everything. Finding scrolls in shelves is possible. Just not here in Cotra.
"Now, about the Mayor?
"Normally he loves to see people. But, the nepharim to the north are holding some of our men prisoner. I'd only bother him if it's really, really important. He's only been thinking about the prisoners."
"Thank you for your time."
A gray haired man hunches over a desk, muttering to himself. He wears impeccably clean silk robes.
"Pardon me, Mayor Steele?"
"Huh?" He looks up at you briefly. "Why did Paul let you in here? Go away."
"Your honour, I am with the First..."
"What? Look, I'm very busy. Unless you have something important to say, please go away."
"Why can't things ever be simple? You honor, about those prisoners?"
"Ah. You've heard. Yes. The Nepharim captured a half dozen of our troops in an ambush last week and took them to their fort by the lake to the north. If someone could rescue them and report back to me, I'd reward them generously."
"I think that will do nicely. By your leave."
"Deeds, not words!"
"You ready to talk now?"
"A little. Sorry for taking up your time like this."
"Don't worry, girl. I'm old, but I'm still sly. What's ailing you?"
"I'm new here. Should be obvious." She displays the still-pinkish tone to her arms. "and now I'm lost. I mean. I know why I'm here. I know what I want to do. But it's just... I'm trying something and I realized I'm in way over my head."
"Are you now? What are you trying?"
He scratches his chin, thinking. "That's quite audacious. Most folks take the chance Exile gives them to create a new life for themselves."
"I can't stand that. What was done was wrong. Exile itself is wrong. I have to get out!"
"I can see that. But that's a worthwhile goal, I'll tell you. What makes you think you're alone in this?"
"I'm not! But I feel like I'm tricking those around me. Like I'm giving them some sort of false hope, or a goal that's something they can never achieve."
"Are you lying to them?"
"No! Well, I mean, I'm not..."
"You ever lead people before?"
"Let an old soldier give you some advice then. If you'll listen."
"When people follow you, it's because they believe in you. It's because they've put their trust in you. You may wind up lying to them, you may wind up hurting them. But when they give themselves into your care, it's the trust they have in you and your ideals, your goals. But you have to trust them in return. Those at your back, you have to believe in them as much as they believe in you. They may not agree with you in all things; that's impossible. But trust is the key.
"Oh, listen to an old man rambling. Sorry, but it's not often I get to talk like that."
"No, it's alright. I think I've taken too much of your time already."
"Be that as it may, I wish you luck. But I'll tell you this. Even if you do find a way out of Exile, not everyone will want to go. A great many people are happier now than they were back on the surface. And me? Well, I'm too old for that sort of thing. So if you're the kind of person who would like to do things for the good of everyone, you need to know that sooner, rather than later."
He also gives some advice about sticking to the side passages when attacking the Nephil Fort with the Prisoners that I haven't gotten to yet, but I couldn't work that into the narrative.
"Oh, damn. Didn't mean to wander this far. I'm so out of it. Need a good night's sleep."
A young woman wanders around, preoccupied. She wear a bright green dress, and is in quite a good mood.
"Oh, sorry. Didn't see you there. Art."
"I'm Nance. Yes, it is short for Nancy. No, I don't like being called that."
"Hey Nance. So, what do you do around here?"
"Normally, I trade off days with Elspeth. We own the weapon shop together. This is my day off."
"Nice. She your sister?"
Nance smiles shyly. "She's my, umm... my friend." She puts heavy inflection on the word friend, then watches your reaction.
I was 13 in 1995, when this game was released.
"Friends are nice to have. Have you known each other long?"
"Yes. My very, very close friend. I don't know what the Empire's reason for sending you into Exile was, but you're getting pretty close to mine." For a moment her cheery mood breaks, and her eyes show a cold glint of fury.
I repeat: 1995. And this went so far over my head it took coming back to this LP to make me see what was being advertised here. Kudos to Jeff Vogel and Spiderweb Software for this.
"Ah. Ah! Well, have a nice day. Where's the inn anyways? I'm supposed to meet up with my party there."
"There's the Darklake tavern over by the docks. Closest thing we got."
"This isn't a tavern."
There is a pregnant woman with long, blonde hair behind the counter.
"Oh, hey. Name's Art."
"My name is Jenny. Welcome to my store."
"Neat. I didn't see a sign out front. What do you sell here?"
"I brew a wide variety of different potions. I am an alchemist by trade."
"What do you specialize in?"
"For healing, for the curing of poison." She smiles down at her large stomach. "For the easing of pain. Let me know if you want to buy something."
"Maybe later. Say, you wouldnt happen to know any recipes? I know one of my guys is looking into alchemy for research and things."
She smiles apologetically. "I'm afraid I don't sell my secrets. However, there is a mage visiting who mentioned some having some skill in alchemy. He's been staying around the bar. You might ask him."
"Thanks. I'll look for him."
"Boy or girl?"
"Well, I hope it's a good delivery. I know mine wasn't that easy."
Jenny's our first real potion shop, and as such, she's not that well stocked.
Healing restores HP, Curing cure poison, Strength acts like the "Strength" spell, and blesses the drinker for a short time.
"Looks like I'm first."
"Don't mind me. There's just not a lot of seating. I'm Rook."
"I am called Konig."
"My name? Just call me Asp."
"Nice to meet you both. How's the ale?"
"Oh, sound's fun. Watered down that much?"
"Ouch. Well, might as well get something while I wait."
"Much like the issue at Duvno, there appears to be a second Nephil fort to the north. This one, however, has facilities for a more... active prisoner population. I would propose mounting another raid on there as it seems to be a complete fortification. Therefore is should have the information that the other facility lacked."
"Huh, never thought you to be the type for that."
"There is also the issue that the Mayor has posted an open reward to whomever releases the prisoners. I suspect we will need proper political backing for the Committee at some point, and so this seems like a good start."
"Sounds good to me! Having a politician in your pocket is always a good thing."
"I wouldn't know. But I like the idea. Objections?"
"None from me. I did acquire more information about these ' Nepharim' that the dead soldier's message was about. It seems that they are some sort of variant of the normal Nephilim that is stronger and tougher, yet apparently sterile. Don't ask how my source has that particular piece of information."
"Like a mule?"
"The analogy may be apt."
"So, another raid. Rescue prisoners, get political clout, use clout to forward our goals?"
"Sounds like a plan. Everyone ready?"
And here's the map of Cotra!