Part 20: Update 018 Exploration and the Slith CaveUpdate 018 Exploration and the Slith Cave
"Ember's packed. I'm packed."
"I have some additional cartography supplies for Duncan's insistent mapmakng project.
You denigrate this project with such venom, my friend. And yet the tales of history have many examples of the benefits for knowing the lay of the land. And I do not speak just in military terms, but also in measure of surveys for towns, of mines and farms.
They why haven't the locals done so yet?
I can answer that. It's because of a man-power shortage. Not only in terms of raw population, but also in measure of people skilled enough to make maps. I can tell you from experience that a good map is worth a hundred times its weight in gold.
Oh, completely. Even a basic sketch of the path of the caverns can do wonders to allow future explorers foreknowledge of what to expect.
Including Here, there be Spider?
Great, you broke them. Again. You bastard.
Can we just get on the damned boat already?
Fine, I'll row for the first little bit.
If I were a more childish person, I would take this opportunity to taunt all those monsters with the knowledge that they can't attack us.
Interesting thought. Throughout this update and the last, every random encounter has been running from us because we're too powerful.
And sometimes you come across things like this. It's good to see things happen that don't trace back to the party.
I lied. You run over this the first time, you get a random encounter with some Nephil, but it was so boring and they both ran away so I decided to try and present what happens with the encounter node after it was triggered instead.
We should get off here and do some checks of the caves along the water.
What are we looking for?
Things like this, were there is a lot of plant growth. You see the marsh there, as well as the excess plant growth here and across the river there?
This land would be good for farming, or at the very least, a good place to start proper irrigation further into the caves.
What he said.
Not me this time, I swear!
Nice lake. And not one sign of lava!
I see something in the curve of the lake there. Like a shack of some sort.
Weapons ready, Rook, Ember, watch our backs.
Does anyone see signs of a struggle?
No, my friend.
I can tell that the resident was struggling with the notation on these scrolls, but that's not what you're after, is it?
Hey guys, we're clear. You can come in now.
Duncan and Peregrine are going through these papers. It looks like some hermit was living out here.
At least, I hope it was a hermit, and not a philosopher. That could get messy.
Sure, but whoever was here already left. I don't think they're coming back.
Duncan? Surely you haven't found something so asinine and utterly without merit that even your feeble intellect must shut down at the horror?
Hey! Be nice!
That's enough out of you, young lady.
No, this is quite serious. But this can't be. Everyone, look around to see if there's any mention of a 'Cortath' living here.
Cortath? The Tower Alchemist? I thought he went west from Fort Draco, not South?
Just LOOK, dammit!
We've found a couple things that suggest he lived here. Why?
Because of this.
This is a great loss.
There's no way he'd abandon this work?
What is this?
It's the culmination of all Cortath's work. It's the recipe for the Greymould Salve.
This is another Mage Lore locked event. If we hadn't raided the library of the Hidden Temple a couple updates ago, then we would still be stuck at 10 Mage Lore not the 15 minimum for this event. The proximity of the two locations is one of the few nice things the game gives you.
But now we have this recipe, long before we actually need it. Nor do we have any Greymould, nor is Duncan capable of mixing any up.
But this is beyond my skill. Even if I had the necessary ingredients, this is well beyond me.
Hmph. To be expected.
Don't be such a blow-hard, you ass! This is important! So many lives will be saved with the use of this Salve! Cortath's mixture is something far greater than anything you've ever done!
Listen to me you utter
THAT'S ENOUGH! BOTH OF YOU! OUTSIDE! NOW!
That was... vehement.
I don't mind bickering, but I do mind when they argue like that.
Still, such an elixir would be a great boon for all. Perhaps we should seek to distribute the recipe?
If it's as hard as Duncan says it is, not many could do it, you know? Who could we sell it too, without at least proof that it works?
She raises a good point. Having a recipe is different is very different from knowing it works. At the very least, there is a good possibility that Cortath has gone to find the necessary Greymould for his recipe, and his home has been ransacked in the meantime by less than savoury people.
What does that make us?
I suggest we tidy up, and make sure the door is closed to minimize the possibility of animals getting in.
Good idea. Ember and I will do that while you two wrangle Duncan and Peregrine.
You know, I've been meaning to ask...
How is it that you're so good at giving commands and stuff like that?
I used to be an officer in the Empire.
And that is the end of that conversation.
Alright. I mean, we are all down here, right?
End. Of. Conversation.
Hey Duncan, how do you explain this?
Simple. The rock for this peninsula is harder than the surrounding soil, so the water eroded around it, rather than through it. What does the sign say?
I have never heard of him. He may be an explorer who was doomed.
Better mark this down, then.
Oh, hey. I'd forgotten what random encounters looked like!
I think that's it for this boat. We should head down to Cotra to buy ourselves a new one.
Can't we, you know, carry it?
Far too far to portage.
So, we just leave it here?
It's unlikely we'll get a refund on it.
We'll hide it for now, and if we need it, we'll come back.
It's the best of a bad deal, I know. But we'll still need it if we need to visit Solberg again.
I name thee..... Water Two!
You lost the game. I got to name this one.
This leaky tub doesn't deserve a name!
You're just jealous you lost.
Just get in the boat. It's my turn to row.
We should really come back here and get that Slith Tome for Mairwen so she can teach me how to dispel barriers.
Land ~ ho!
Well, It looks like there's a small passage here.
Odd, I see no signs as to what deity or force is worshipped here.
Did someone desecrate it, maybe?
I see no signs of that...
It's one of those missing crystals from that broken cavern! One down, five more to find!
Great, now we'll have to go back around the long way.
And there's Grahk's signpost again.
Let's see what's on the west bank here...
MY THIS CURVED SECTION OF CAVERN LOOKS VERY INTERESTING AND NON-SPIDER-FILLED.
I AGREE. LET US LAND AND INVESTIGATE.
You're both ridiculous.
Ridiculous or not, there's some scree here that indicates mining. And it's fresh.
These guys are far from a town.
Why would I Attack?
A one-time event, this purchase.
Here you go. An honest deal is hard to come by these days.
I don't mind helping out, but that seemed a little out of character for you, Peregrine.
Silence! The gems, though crude and flawed, are sufficient to the task of casting that vital spell. It was also very cheap to purchase from them, and I see no reason to not spend the money given that it will only encourage them to work more.
Translation: Because I was a nice guy.
HA! You can't get me out here, you eight-legged freak!
Can't row up a waterfall.
But you can go down them, and that will be covered much later.
This looks to be the place.
But Fort Dranlon is just across the river to the east. Was the fort established in response to the nearby Slith cavern, or the visa-versa?
Don't know. Don't care. Let's go get this book or tome or plans or what-have-you, and get Peregrine his magic spell.
A vital magic spell, thank you very much!
Well, I can't read Slith. Can any of you?
We go in slowly and carefully. There's no telling what awaits us here.
Peregrine, Map it.
That looks like irrigation along the left and centre of this cave.
Not sure what's with those pools along the back of the city, but in the north east corner, that looks like where our objective should be.
I'm more worried about the fortification right in front of us. Give me a second, I'll go check it out.
Guys? Problems. The Sliths have a fortification at the end of the bridge. A stone wall with a couple spell casters behind it, plus several warriors. And that's just the ones I saw in the firelight.
Damn. We need to sneak in somehow.
But this is the only way in or out. We can't simply go around and come up through the back like we did with the Nephil Fort up north.
Allow me to cast Major Blessing. Art can contribute a Curse while Ember slows the defenders. That should give us enough initiative to make a break past the defensive structure.
You sound like you've done this before.
I've studied my history.
I have to agree with Peregrine. You were starting to treat this as an operation for a group larger and with more resources than we do. We must be more flexible in our use of what we have as well in how we use them.
Alright, we'll do it your way. But if we all die, then I'll kill the both of you first.
CLICK THE IMAGE FOR THE VIDEO.
DID YOU WATCH IT? GOOD.
Seriously though, Major Blessing is a huge advantage for a good while to come. Eventually, we'll need it just to keep up, but for now, enjoy!
"Where are they all coming from?"
"The barracks maybe?"
"Can you imagine trying to fight through them on the bridge?"
"I have enough imagining fighting them now!"
"Was a very intense workout?"
"Master of the understatement, you are."
"Guys, why are there still little lizards ignoring the fact we just killed, like, a dozen of their big brothers and sisters?"
"Interesting. Evidence of a physical caste system where ones prowess determines ones course in life. Warriors and spellcasters are larger and, well, 'better', yet these 'civilians' barely come up to my chest, and...."
"That could be the study of a worthwhile life, I agree. But now is not the time. Let them be."
"Actually, let me Detect Life for a moment..."
"There's just some enemies along the north side of the cave. Odd, it doesn't show any of the Sliths tending the farms though..."
"That class of spell does include a hostility indicator."
"Still, we should head north along this side of the cavern now, and loop around the side.
Duncan and I will take the point.
What do we have here? A fishery?
We have another one here, it looks like.
"We should do it. A generation lost will set them back quite a bit."
"You're asking us to kill so many innocents? Not all of them will grow up to be evil Slithzerikai, you know. There are a lot of civilians who never picked a fight with us as we walked through here."
"And what of those that do become hostile?"
"You are making sweeping generalizations about a species we barely understand. We are also doing a large part in making sure these ones don't grow up to be homicidal Sliths by removing a large section of the individuals responsible for socializing them into people incapable of working outside their species, or even their clan!"
"Now you're the one making generalizations. You're presuming mammilian style parent-child socialization when we are dealing with a lizard-species that has dozens, if not hundreds of young in pools like this."
"Hey guys? Ethics debates are wonderful, except for two points you're all missing."
"The first one, I assume, would be that we have a mission."
"And the second one is that I don't want to kill babies. Now that's final. Move out."
I asked the thread for this decision. One of those simple 'first vote wins' deals. Not because there was any plot need to make a decision here, but because I wanted some input from the thread. Calamitous_Justice made the vote.
I really wanted to write a full discussion here, but it just didn't work, nor wouldit make sense to have a long-winded ethical debate in the middle of hostile territory.
"Very well, but I will warn you of the dire consequences that could come from this."
"Maybes, all of them."
"Enough, both of you. Our leader has made a decision, and it must be respected."
"Anyways, the looks like the place."
"You know, one of these days, we'll be able to accomplish a mission without killing everyone in our path."
"You're kidding, right? Hey Art. Evil Altar. Do we touch it?"
"We're good on this one."
"Very well then. Now, we saw two secret passages on the Magic Map. The one to the West, or the one to the South?"
"Flip a coin?"
"I don't have one. Anyone?"
That was a simple lock. Almost too simple.
What was that?
Light electrical shocks?
To discourage animals, most likely. I don't think we can turn this off.
And you can't! Obligatory damage ahoy!
Well, Peregrine and I can heal us up, so let's go.
Well, what do we have here?
An interesting key.
And Mairwen's book.
You mean the book she wants. Not that it's hers in the first place.
It makes no difference to me. Come, let us go.
I decided to rest up and regain some SP through the 'wait 40 turns' command. When I was done, I Detect Lifed again, and this is what greeted me:
That's a lot of random spawns, and I had to fight through them all to get out.
If you're doing grinding, and the random encounters are running from you, this is a legitimate way to do so. Go into a dungeon, clear it out, then wait a couple hundred turns for a couple dozen more enemies to spawn in, then repeat.
Except Jeff Vogel and his company thought of that. Every floor of a dungeon has a hidden value called an 'extinction value'. This is the number of enemies that can be killed on that particular dungeon/floor before no more will spawn.
I can only recall ever doing this once in all the times I've played this game.
Let's check out that other side passage as well before we leave.
Private sleeping quarters for the priesthood.
Disarmed. I think we can get across through this alcove over here.
And there's nothing of real worth in the chests. Damn. Well, I suppose the Sliths don't have the same value for things that we do.
That was a quiet exit.
Yes, because we killed everyone on the way in.
Yet we have what we came for. Let us be off.
Here's your book! He slams the magical tome down in front of the surprised Mairwen.
She reverently takes the book. "Thank you. Understanding Slith magic will be a great aid." She spends several hours teaching all of you how to cast Dispel Barrier. "Out of gratitude, I will also teach the spell to anyone you may add to your group later."
I tried to tell her I don't do magic.
She must have known that only Peregrine had the skill for that spell.
Alright, with that out of the way, here's the general plan. First, we go back to the undead cavern by Metis, crack open that central area and see what's in there. We can go back to Mertis and report on the danger if we don't resolve it. After that, we head to the Mage's Tower, and tell the witch there that Cortath may be dead. She'll have to be prepared to take over the location permanently. After that, we can investigate the Tower a bit more, then from there, move West to the Castle, and see if the government can do anything about Linda and her madness.
Swamp City/Slith City/Slith Cavern
The Waterway from the Aranea City down to Fort Dranlon and the Swamp City.