Part 16: Update 014 The Cave of Motrax and the Ancient CryptUpdate 14 The Cave of Motrax and the Ancient Crypt
"I don't want to!"
"By all accounts, this Motrax isn't hostile. And the likelihood of him actually being a proper dragon are slim to none.
What are you looking at me for? Peregrine is the one who wanted to talk to it. Him. Whatever.
Peregrine! You can leave me behind, right? I can stay in Formello annoy that trainer who thinks he's all mysterious and everything? Right?
You shall come with us!
It is obvious you are afraid of such a creature. Would you care to share with us the reason for it?
I hear confession is good for the soul!
Art, we should just leave her.
No, bad precedent.
NO! Dragons are scary!
One of these days, I'm going to figure out why you're so professional and unprofessional at the same time.
Now I'm betting that when she was young, she saw one of those plays where the evil dragon gets killed by the holy knight, and she was far too young and impressionable for it.
Perhaps a compromise could be had?
Sure, make it.
Ember is to accompany us to the residence of Motrax, but it not required to enter.
I can agree to that.
Do I have to?
You're all MEAN!
And yet it's for your own good.
* humph * fine.
You handled that well enough.
I've dealt with kids acting like that before.
Personal experience, huh?
Want to talk about it?
Would it kill people to make proper maps?!?!
Especially when there are abandoned mines in the area!
Although I suspect these are Sapphires.
More free Sapphires to feed into the Magic Map machine. Actually, I think I'm going to cheat a little about that and abuse my save game a little to avoid carrying around a half dozen of the things.
I want to take this moment to discuss one of the problems with Exile. Inventory Management. You see, each PC only has slots for 12 items in their inventory. With an entire party, that goes up to 72 items total. And this includes equipment. In the next screenshot setting up the next encounter, you will see that of Art's twelve available slots, a full eight of them are being used for equipment. Karmas isn't much better off as he has less in the way of accessories, while Rook is quite strapped with needing unstackable arrows for his bow. Duncan needs a few spaces for his lockpicks while Ember and Peregrine are perhaps best off due to not needing equipment to fight properly. They will have nominal armour and a weapon just in case, but for the most part, they'll have 8-9 spaces each for carrying loot around.
The problem comes with dungeon crawls. You'll collect a lot of loot during them, and you're reliant on the Item Lore to passively identify them, or to leave the dungeon and trek to the nearest place that can Identify things for you. In this region, it's back in Fort Duvno.
Eventually, the only things you'll want to keep to sell to the vendors are rings, wands and magical gear. Everything else just isn't worth the expense. Just make sure to raise your Item Lore enough to reliably identify everything you pick up.
This battlefield has been here for quite some time.
And it looks like it's been picked clean by scavengers and looters of all sorts. There's nothing here but a history lesson.
We don't even have that much to go by.
Come on, there's nothing left here. Let's keep trying to find Motrax's place.
So, I can wait outside, right?
I see some buildings just inside the cave entrance. Maybe you can stay there instead of outside.
Indeed. These buildings look to be useful for humans, not the proverbial Dragon-kin.
It also seems like this Motrax has a guard. Understandable.
please can i go now?
Hold on for a few minutes more. You may be able to stay in the barracks directly.
Hello sir. As requested, we are reporting as visitors to Motrax's Cavern.
You see a skinny man in nice steel armor. He's almost manic - he can't seem to slow down. He bounces up to shake your hand, a wild grin on his face.
"Greeting! I'm Ko! Welcome to the Cavern of Motrax."
That must be an interesting duty, being a greeter.
"True, I greet visitors to the cave. I also guard things I need to be guarding." He goes into his spiel, quivering with happiness. "All visitors are welcomes to the cave of Motrax, to greet the ancient one, to teach and learn. The rules are simply: stay on the path, and behave."
"When visiting Motrax, go through the main cave. He'll be in the second cave in. He throws trash into the tunnels to the west, and lives in the tunnels to the east. I recommend against going into the latter. He probably wouldn't like it. "
Does Motrax really need a guard?
He straightens up. "It's a dull job. With Motrax around, only a fool would cause trouble. I mainly greet people, and take care of my cats."
"Delta and Epsilon are their names. They should be in the cave. Motrax loves them.
Thank you for your time. One of our party has no interest in meeting with the Dragon. Is there some place she can stay in the meantime?
Of course. We have guest quarters just over there. He gestures quickly to the west at the building seen out the window.
Let me guess, afraid of Motrax?
A bit. Yes. Which is weird considering she's never seen one before.
You see a tall, thin man with a long beard. He is old and frail, but you can feel great power coming from him.
Sorry. Name's Art. This is Rook, Karmas, Peregrine IV, Duncan and Ember is the one looking for an unclaimed room.
He gives you a barely perceptible nod of his head. "I am Leith."
If you don't mind, what are you doing here?
"I grow old. And I learn from the dragon. We understand each other. Although he was as old as I as an infant, I still find we think surprisingly alike. And one day he will mourn me."
You're not that old! You don't look a day over forty!
He nods solemnly. "Thank you, but yes I am. It gives my spirit great comfort to know it will be mourned by something so ancient."
Pardon me, sir. But there was a man by the name of Crisper in Formello. He said something about you researching a Sphere? He asked us to see if you had any further information.
"Sphere? Oh! You must mean Thralni's Orb. It was brought down here by the first visitors long ago. Years I spent trying to find it, knowing the gift of flight might help me escape. But I never did, and eventually gave up. I never could find it. Hmm. I did find out that Thralni met his end while navigating the water maze."
How do you get a maze of water?
"A bizarre mess of waterfalls, to the west of the Slithzerikai. Very dangerous and difficult to explore. I read an account that he went in, hoping to use to orb to save himself from disaster, and never came out again."
I've heard of that Orb. It granted limited flight to its possessor. A useful tool when exploring caverns, I would presume.
Very much so. If someone were to retrieve it, why, we could probably reverse engineer the spells involved and create our own flight spell for mages to use!
A worthwhile goal!
Well, there he goes, talking up his own little world there. Sorry about that, miss.
You see a woman in long sparkling robes. She has long brown hair, set off well by the sparkling crystal around her neck.
"Greetings, traveller. I am Marian. What brings you here?"
Oh, this and that. You?
"I have been here for a year know, conversing with, teaching and learning from Motrax."
What's he like?
"The ancient dragon of the cave. He knows so, so much of these tunnels, and the races in them. I hope, one day, to plumb into his memory and find knowledge of a tunnel to the surface world. Then, I can escape this horrid pit." She looks at you slyly. "And maybe take the captain with me."
She grins, very broadly. "Ko's the captain. If I left, I'd have to take him with. He's good to have around."
I wonder if he knows that. Well, thank you for your time, we should be going now.
Have a nice chat!
Well, we'll collect the scaredycat once we're done.
Anyone want to go join Ember, be my guest.
too scared to move
You see a dragon. He is green, with reddish highlights, and towers high above you. The dull color of his skin and the cracks in his wings indicate he is very old. He stares at you with frighteningly wise eyes.
His voice is so deep it seems to make the ground vibrate. "I am Motrax. He chuckles quietly for a dragon. I have that effect on people. You need not be afraid of me, your hindbrain not withstanding.
Sorry sir. Your dragoness. Um... I'm sorry. I completely forgot what I was going to say!
He sighs. A small wisp of flame comes out. "I am an ancient dragon, long past my prime. I do not roam the caves and hunt anymore, but devote myself to scholarly pursuits and playing with my cats."
Cats are good! I heard they were named Delta and Epsilon! I'm sorry to hear about Alpha, Beta and Gamma.
"Remarkable little creatures. I don't know how I lived without them."
So, um, people talk to you? Like scholars and others?
"I have humans come here, yes. And I learn of their ways and of the land above ground. I would like to visit. Alas, your leaders would no doubt cast me below again, at best." He chuckles smokily. "I like you humans. Despite our first meeting."
Meeting? I hope it wasn't too bad?
"I met some of those in the First Visitation."
I've heard of it from other people, but not much.
His head rears back in surprise. "You haven't learned of the Visitation yet? When those above found these caves, they sent a large force below, led by a small group of powerful adventurers, with much magic. The sorry band hoped to subdue us all!" He snarls. "They were arrogant. They were stupid. And they were slaughtered."
That doesn't sound nice. But typical of the Empire. Did you leave any alive? Perhaps I can find something to use as leverage over Linda?
"To a man and woman. A group of them came here, fleeing a band of sliths. They attacked. I slew them, and cast aside their paltry treasures. Another band came, humbly this time, asking for sanctuary. I refused them, though they offered a bribe."
What could they possibly offer you?
"A stone key, which they said they found somewhere far to the west. I was enraged at being attacked, so I threw them out, and their trinket with them. They can't have gotten far before the sliths got them. They went southeast."
Art, we were there. We didn't find anything, but now that we know what to look for, we should look again. If it's subtle like that, then perhaps it has been overlooked?
Thank you for your time Motrax.
Come again. If you are doing what I think you are doing, then you will return. We should have a proper conversation then.
Oh! Before we go, the mage Solberg is in the area. Do you know where he is?
Solberg? It is as I thought then. His tower is to the south in a cove along the river by your town. You'll need a boat to access it. I hear that Fort Draco, to the west, has some.
You sure we should be going off to the side? Captain Ko did warn against it.
How bad could it be?
Meet the Firedrakes. An upgrade from the normal Giant Lizards, these breathe Fire, and take half damage from the same. Guess what my only AOE element is? This fight took a while, but I persevered. Good XP and gold too, for my level.
What were they guarding, I wonder?
120 Gold, and a plot item No one has told us anything about these brooches yet, but we've actually come close to two others already. We'll absolutely need them by the time the LP is done.
That's... something alright.
I think we're done here. Let's get to this Fort Draco and get a boat and talk to Solberg.
And here's the map. Note that it's incomplete as I didn't raid the treasure trove. There's no way I could survive getting out past Motrax and the guards. I'll do it later.
YOU'RE NOT DEAD! THANK YOU!
Ember, let her go before she turns blue.
Can we go now?
I hate you, Sign.
You still mention the dragon, but also give other useful information, so I cannot hate you as much at that other one.
Now that we know what to look for, let's try again....
Wow, I don't know what kind of stone this is, but it's pretty damned tough to have survived all this time.
Why would the First Expedition think this was valuable enough to try and bribe a dragon with?
Not the key itself, but whatever lay behind the lock.
This is going to be like that Bronze Key, isn't it. We pick it up, and then we'll find out what it's about so very much later.
This isn't a Fort. But there is a fire. Perhaps we should ask for directions?
Hello! They call me Gooley."
Sitting in front of a fire is a middle-aged man. He wears armor and is polishing a gleaming mace while he waits. He wears a holy symbol.
I'm Duncan, and we're the First EEC. We were looking to get to Fort Draco, but got turned around in the tunnels. I assume this isn't the place. What are you doing here?
"I and Yong-Mi are adventurers. Fort Draco is to the west, although you'll have to go around a few of the caves. This section still has plenty of dead ends. As for your question, we're trying to get into the crypt."
How do you know this is a crypt?
"That's definitely what it is. I can sense the torment of the souls beyond. We hope to liberate them from their unholy bondage, and pick up a treasure or two in the bargain."
Surely there is more to this endeavour than that!
You find a small Asian woman with waist-length hair. She seems to be mixing up some poison.
"Greetings. I'm Yong-Mi."
Duncan. Charmed. And you are..?
"Getting ready to enter the crypt. It'll be a tough haul. Nasty and dangerous." She sighs. "But better than the alternative."
Tell me about the crypt.
"The main problem now is figuring out how to get in. Spells and picking haven't worked on the door yet, but we'll keep on it. There must be some way to open it."
What's this about being better than the alternative?
"Well, I could be on the surface. I went into Exile voluntarily. I may be the only one. Let's just say there was a marriage I wasn't interested in being a part of." She looks at the substance she's grinding carefully. Then she smiles. "It's hard to get quality ingredients."
I came down by myself too!
She laughs. It's good to see I'm not the only fool then.
I'm something of an alchemist myself. What are some of the local ingredients?
"I've had best luck with the poison glands of asps. Asps are hard to find, but their fangs make powerful poison, if you can find a recipe. I'd teach you mine, but, well, I don't want to. Sorry." She smiles winningly. "Still, there are better things."
"What I could really use are some good arrows."
Oh, how I wish I could get some of those....
"Arrows of light and arrows of life would be really useful in here. The first slays demons. The latter slays undead. Both are rare as hell. Ah, well. Have to do things the old fashioned way."
How the hell did they miss this?
Being a Cleric and an Alchemist means they are not trained for this sort of thing?
The door closes behind you, and cannot be reopened.
I swear, I will MURDER you if you just trapped us in here!
Calm down! Worst comes to worst, we simply wait for the ones on the outside to open it up for us.
You hear the sounds of shuffling coming from deeper within the blackness
Welcome to the Ancient Crypt, another optional dungeon. It's also a Zombie Apocalyse in a can. You will be hounded by the undead every step of the way, with a ludicrous spawn rate of Skeletons, Zombies, Ghouls and Ghasts. It also burns through your Lights at an insane rate. As in Art's Light spell will start to fade after 10 moves. Long Light lasts a mere 15. You're going to either need a lot of torches, or be prepared to stumble around in the dark.
I've mentioned before how exploration while in Combat Mode is useful, and this is the first location where it's a near life-saver. Because of the near constant combat, conservation of resources is vital, and a Bless lasts a lot longer, and can result in more damage than any fireball.
Oh, and a person's line of sight is individual, even though you can see everyone's line of sight at once. This is very important as you can't use people as spell-spotters without a Light active.
The builders of this place, I presume.
Does not bode well for us.
I was wrong. Whenever an Undead drains life, they are not Slowing their target, they are taking away their XP, though thankfully this won't cause a level down at any point.
That's the same mechanism that unlocks the front door. We can leave when we want.
Nice, but I think we'll need to take care of whatever is causing all this
What foulness has crafted these things? What poisons their soul?
A glitch in the game engine. I cast the light spell in this room, and it showed the existence of the enemy. This being before I moved, and the enemy had to chance to respond. My response? Fight mode and charge.
That is also totally not a Beholder. What makes you think an Eye Beast would be that?
If this is the loot that they want, they will be sorely disappointed.
A rare chance for me to screencap active damage. This is Ember roasting a group of undead with a Fireball and here you can see the graphical representation of it This particular Ghoul is taking 22 fire type damage. That level of hurt was only enough to kill the skeletons, but the rest are damaged enough to be easy pickings.
This altar does nothing.
Last place is the deepest section of the crypt, all the way in the back. You guys ready?
There we go, and that lock is sprung!
Meet the Vampire. Nasty, nasty pieces of work. It was also at this time I realized I forgot to buy Dispel Undead for Art I'll have to fix that next update or the one after. Anyways, Vampires have over 100 hit points, a single attack that can slow and drain life, and can cast Firestorm for crowd control. They are a massive, massive threat, especially for a party that is already worn down by the relentless hordes of undead.
There's also a second one behind the first, so don't think you're lucky when the first one dies.
This is how I dealt with them. Duncan, in a moment, will be running around, killing skeletons and the like coming up from behind while the second Vampire is stuck in the doorway and in the dark where he can't cast any spells.
Oh dear god, I could sleep for a year.
Not until we're out.
Look what I found!
A picture of an item's details. This particular wand casts Ice Bolt upto 12 times. I'm probably going to sell it so I can afford training and the Magic Map spell.
Hrm, glad we didn't go in. Those can be tough. I'm surprised you made it out alive.
They're DEAD (again).
And here is the map for the Crypt. Optional, but the real treasure is the massive XP grinding you can do here if you're willing to take the risk.