Part 18: Solberg's Tower and Loose EndsThe Tower of Solberg and Loose Ends
I want to apologize for this update. Those reading this in the archives will not know that I had an issue with my system for about a week, delaying this update. Because of the delay, and the need to re-do pretty much everything here-in, you'll see me jumping about quite a bit, rather than taking a more natural path back through places previously visited. I've tried to clean it up as best I can
First, I went by Fort Duvno and Silvar to dump my excess gear and train up. I'll go over training at the end of the update, as usual. What I want to say now is that as per the wishes of the thread, Peregrine IV got trained to cast level 7 spells so that we can use Major Blessing and Protection now, rather than later.
Ember, I must charge you with a solemn duty.
You're scaring me, Peregrine!
With this power at my command, I must leave to you a lesser duty, one more fit for your magical reserves will last longer.
I must conserve my strength to cast these epic spells in times of dire need. And from that, I must charge you with the more mundane task of using Fireball, Ice Bolt and other offensive magics in my stead. Do you understand!
HELL YES! BURN BABY BURN!
My second stop was Mertis. With 2600 gold burning a hole in my pocket, and not enough to go out a equip everyone with steel equipment, I go there to do some long term preparation:
I buy a little over 1000 food to keep me in stock for the duration.
Are you crazy? Just how are you planning on carrying all this stuff!
Peregrine could use the weight training?
Next, I went back to Fort Draco and picked up that boat I bought. From there, I went south along the water, then turned back to the East.
You know, based on the positions of those two camps of Nephilim we fought, we could have taken this boat and bypassed them both to reach the back entrance to their citadel.
And why couldn't we have done that in the first place?
We didn't have the money for the boat, and you couldn't row?
So, if our directions were right, this should be the place. I don't expect him to make things easy, but we have to try...
This humidity. More open lava or magma. How much of Exile rests just above pockets of active vulcanism?
You have got to be shitting me. Solberg really likes his privacy.
No two ways about that. You and Peregrine best be ready with your healing magic.
This image is disingenuous. To get to the tower, your best path is to walk on the lava from the west, hitting two tiles of it before entering the tower from the left. When you leave, you come out here, on the north side, then have to walk over two tiles of lava to get back onto safe land. There is no secret path to bypass the worst of the lava. Thankfully Light Heal All can keep you in shape long enough to cross the worst of it.
Are you sure this is the right place? I mean, seriously, it looks like some dark foreboding tower of evilness.
It does have a certain magmatic charm to it.
Seriously? I know you poach eggs, but this could just be a simple mistake.
Before we go into just how dottering this old man really is now, I see we can walk around the edge of the tower along the rock there.
Ah, thank goodness Solberg was good enough to expand the heat-repelling magics on his tower to expand out this far. Else the convection from all that lava would surely kill us.
Still very hot. And why don't they turn that into some sort of lava walk spell?
The maxims required for the establishment of such edifices scale poorly downwards. While it would be simple enough to construct a building whose materials can be augmented through magic to resist even the most intense of non-magical heat, the effort and energy required to make it usable on the personal scale becomes extreme as you would need incredibly energy-dense materials to hold the spell in place for any usable amount of time.
So we're talking...?
You'd be better off developing outright flight for the same energy expenditure.
Everyone on their best behaviour. We are the bearers of bad news.
STOP CHATTING AND GET IN HERE!
You see an ageing, bald man in brilliant crimson robes. He supports himself with an oaken staff carved in the shape of a cobra. He looks at you nervously. "I am Solberg, of the Triad," he says. His face sours as he looks at you. "I would like to welcome you, visitors, but your arrival fills me with fear. Let us just say I am here waiting."
About that, sir. We have some very bad news...
I suppose this means that my fellow members of the Triad have completed their business?
If you mean business, then Linda has....
They plan to summon a Haakai! I know! And not any Haakai, but a Haakai Lord!"
We know! Wait. Haakai's have Lords?
Be careful where you say that word. It has dangerous power. They are the lieutenants of demonkind, powerful, and cruel. And my colleagues planned to summon one who is powerful enough to lead them. A chieftain, as it were." He groans. "And now this foul deed is done! Heavens help us all!"
Sir, you make it sound like they did not call forth a mere rank-and-file member of this demonic elite.
You are right. I dare not say his name, but they must be mad to have brought him down upon Exile. They have great dreams of what they can win from him, but not even they have the power to contain him for long. Nor, I suspect, can they force him back to his home."
Do not call up what you cannot put down.
Wise words. No. He must be defeated. Destroyed."
Is that even an option?
"I wish some bold adventurers such as yourself could destroy him. It is a dangerous, gruesome mission, but one that must be done, and soon." He looks at the party hopefully. "Should you ever wish to undertake it, return, and ask me for the crystal key. It will enable you to reach where the demon is kept."
You mean, in the tower?
"Yes. As a member of the Triad, I was given one by Linda. It's hidden to the south. But please don't take it until you are sure you have the power to fight the demon, for I have no duplicate. It would be best to wait to take it until you have found 'Demonslayer.'
We have heard of that blade, Demonslayer. What do you know of it?
"A mighty sword, brought down by Karzoth, leader of the first (and doomed) expedition down here. When he was slain by a Haakai, the sword was broken into three pieces. Long have we tried to find the pieces, but all he have are clues." He thinks. "That reminds me. The scepter was brought down by the First Expedition too."
Linda mentioned something about that. How she had found a special sceptre.
"An onyx scepter, which gave great power to the mage that wielded it. We recovered it, but couldn't figure out how to use it. They used it as bait to lure the Haakai to the Tower."
If we are to do this for you, we'll need those clues you had about the pieces of Demonslayer.
"When the sword was broken, the creatures that slew the humans took the pieces as trophies. The Slithzerikai took a piece to their holy shrine, in a swamp far to the south. Another piece was taken by a lich, to an ancient den of undead far to the west." He stops to search his memory "Of the third piece, we know nothing. But some believe the Nepharim took it."
I think I know. You remember that basalt door we couldn't open in the Nephar Fort north of Corta? If Solberg is right, that would be a good place to store something belonging to your hated enemy.
That does seem like a good lead. Beware though, any piece of the Demonslayer would be guarded well by the forces that broke it in the first place. You would need to be prepared to face lesser Demons to attain the pieces of the blade.
Thank you sir. If we find a group capable of doing what is asked, we will let them know how to contact you.
And if it's you?
Our primary mission is escape, Archmage. We stumbled on this issue by accident, and I don't know if any of us are capable of doing what must be done.
Still, young lady, that you are here gives me some cause for hope. Be it you, or someone else, I believe that the cause will be taken up by someone who can do it.
In the meantime, refresh yourselves. I know crossing the gulf to my tower can be onerous. I have a library through that door, and a kitchen through the other.
Thank you, sir.
Don't go drooling over them, ya fool!
You see a large, lazy, calico cat.
It looks at you with utter disdain. It meows, then looks at you as if it were deciding whether or not to bother. Finally, it says, "My name is ..." It hacks, in distaste. "... Cheeseball."
Solberg's Familiar then?
"I am the loyal servant of Solberg. I assist him and watch over him, and accompany him, even when he takes me down to the lowest pit of hell."
It can't be that bad?
He coughs and shakes soot out of his fur. "What do you think this place is? Lava. Can't ever leave. No mice. No dignity. If I wasn't magically obligated to stay with Baldy, I would be off. Now the tower, that was a place for a cat."
You make it sound like being around a bunch of crazy mages....
... crazy mages who live in the tower is better than being safe here.
He purrs. "Now the Tower! That was the place for a cat! Prestige! Excitement! Mice! Mutant catnip! Other cats, some of them a different sex than me! So what if there were demons? I could handle them! I want to go home. I deserve it." Cheeseball fidgets about, in a thoroughly unintimidating display of fury.
... and we're done here.
This book is odd....?
So, this is the crystal Key that Solberg was talking about. I suppose we should leave it here then.
I totally grab it, rather than have to justify coming back for it later.
Nice kitchen. Except there's only a single pot in here.
This pot gives 5 food per activation. You can step on it as many times as you want. Therefore: Free Food forever, as long as you're willing to spend time clicking.
Does anyone feel like jumping into a strange portal?
I suspect it is a two-way portal to allow Solberg the ability to access his tower without crossing the lava fields.
Sounds logical enough.
Corrupted image here, sorry.
Um, why are we in a small cave? I can still smell the lava.
What's this? A... scrying pool I believe?
Well, this explains how come Solberg is so up-to-date on the goings-on in the Tower.
Indeed. Let us head back.
If it seems like a lot of what we just talked about was something that's already been covered, you're right. As has been pointed out in the thread, one of the great strengths of the Exile series is in the exploration. When coming to Solberg's Tower (actually called the Hidden Tower), you can get much the same information as you can poking around the Tower of the Magi and the Ogre Cavern. Except not, as the password to find out how to get inside Solberg's place is located near the Tower in the first place.
The only really new information we get here is confirmation of the presence of the Onyx Sceptre and the hints of the locations of the pieces of the Demonslayer sword. One of my stops later in this update will be to collect the first piece. The second one is relatively nearby, and will be collected as we go through normal questing, while the last we'll have to go slightly out of our way to get much later. Then Karmas gets it.
If you also try to enter the tower without knowing the password, I believe that the door teleports the party into a cavern full of Fire Drakes off to one side, hence the 'poached' comment.
And before I move on, here's the map to the Tower.
As promised, our first stop is to pick up the Demonslayer fragment. As you may recall, there was a door that I couldn't get past in the Nephar Fort where I rescued those slaves. A basalt door in the upper left corner. Time to go there.
This Magic Map spell is wonderful! I can create perfectly clear maps of the local region!
Then you or I add in a 'Detect Life' spell, and we can detect all the non-undead in the area!
I admit it, I'm cheating here. Rather than carry and shuffle around sapphires for all this, I decided to cheat and use the game's character/party editor to give me all the town/dungeon maps for free. What you see here is the result of this; the ability to see the entire map and where all the hostile living creatures are. This can be very useful, especially when trying to sneak around a place.
There are two life signs on the other side of this door. Is everyone ready? Duncan, you have to door picked?
Without the use of Peregrine's Major Blessing, this would be a difficult fight. With it, this becomes a manageable conflict as long as I can keep the enemies locked into close combat rather than allowing them to pelt the party with ranged spells. I win.
Don't touch that helmet. It's cursed.
This is the first piece of cursed equipment I've shown you guys, I think. In general cursed gear have negative properties and can't be removed short the remove-curse spell or visiting a priest in a town. If you ID one, just leave it behind as the shops won't even buy it. The ring, on the other hand, turns out to be a Gold Ring of Regeneration that Art wears through out the rest of the update, but before and after.
And now we have the pommel of Demonslayer, the most powerful two-handed sword in the game.
At some point during all my running around, I picked up a Wand of Curranos. For those of you counting off the references to Dungeons and Dragons, make another tick mark, because this is effectively a Wand of Wonder.
And now, welcome back to Fort Draco.
According to the Magic Map, there's a hidden room back here, perhaps that's where that woman we missed, who knows about Phyella?
Actually, Phyella was her name. She was supposed to refer us to... Cortath, was it?
Your memory serves you well. Let us find out how to get to that location.
A woman paces around here, lost in thought.
She mumbles something.
Um, Phyella? What are you doing here?
"Research. Please go away."
We're looking for Cortath?
"He crossed the bridge to the west and headed south. Looking for graymold. Go away."
I think we're not going to get anything else out of her. Come on, let's go.
North and East of Fort Draco....
There's a few of these encounters on the map, but they all do the same thing. It also helps support the notion that Fort Draco is the major industrial hub of Exile.
Now to the Cave of Motrax:
Hey! A small cave I can hide away from the mean dragon!
Who goes there?
You see a dim, insubstantial figure, lurking in the back of the cave.
Um, who are you?
It whispers "I was Zeld."
What are you doing here? Are you hiding too?
It speaks very quietly. "I wait here, trying for revenge."
"On foul Motrax, who slew me while I looked, merely looked, at his treasure."
Um.... even I know it's stupid to go poking around a dragon's treasure
"I tell all I can, as my revenge. It lies beyond the lake, beyond his lair, beyond the entry cave. But there is a passage, so humans can get to it, should he pass on. I found it. There are no traps in it! I set them off!" His ghostly form wavers briefly in his anger and excitement.
Um... OK? I'm going to go now...
I'm going to first update all the town and dungeon maps for everyone, reflecting my cheating to reflect my ability to actually do it by saving, casting the spell, taking a screenshot, then reloading the game.
TOWER OF THE MAGI
I can't tell where they would be keeping that Demon Lord creature in the middle of all those labs.
In the section with the Lava?
Why are we still planning to actually do it? And it's a Haakai, not a Demon Lord.
Hey, I think this spell is wonky. It's showing a large section of land to the North-West corner of the fort.
I concur it may be a flaw. It seems as though large bodies of water may interfere with the mapping itself, causing it to give false readings past a certain point.
Or the map is incomplete because there's no way for the party to get over there, and Vogel cut a corner here? I'm not complaining, but I am pointing this out because you will see it in the future. Many times.
I mean, really? Who would be dumb enough to try and rob a DRAGON?
HIDDEN (Nephilim) FORT
UNDERGROUND (Nephar) FORTRESS
THE DARK PIT
There is something in the middle there. It must be important, either to recover or destroy.
We'll have to come back after getting that Dispel Barrier Magic.
These Arrows of Life will do great when hunting Undead. Too bad you have to walk across the lava to get to them first!
Finally, the composite map for this region of Exile:
And now, Stats time!
Art is coming along nicely. I branched off into Luck for this round of training, though I should get back to working her primary stats. The Gold Ring of Regeneration is a massively powerful piece of equipment that boosts natural healing 15 times faster. Otherwise, her equipment is still the same.
Nothing really new for him. Still need to invest in HP, Strength, Pole Arms and Item Lore.
Not much to say about him, unfortunately. He's a meat shield. Although he's starting to lose AP due to his equipment, so I should raise his Strength soon.
Rook has improved his combat skills, and got a better bow through loot. This picture was taken before the update, so the half-dozen undead slaying Arrows of Light are not in his inventory.
More Int, more SP. Nothing really spectacular here.
At the behest of the thread, Peregrine stockpiled Skill Points to raise his Mage Spell level to 7 to allow him to cast Major Blessing. I put the other 3 points into SP to give him a little leeway where casting is concerned.