Part 25: Update 022 Fort Saffron and DharmonUpdate 22 Fort Saffron and Dharmon
"That was the single most useless place in the whole of the caverns!"
"I cannot disagree, but I think your actions based on that opinion need refinement."
"Don't. She's on the warpath, and needs some release."
"I think I have an idea..."
"Thanks, I feel a lot better now."
"Couldn't they do something productive? Like investigate that drake they're so worried about?"
"That would be a useful measure of their time. Hence why I suspect it won't get done."
"They just require an event to bring them out of their somnolence. I am sure that their situation had been noticed by the proper authorities, and will be corrected in the future.
It's just our bad luck to catch them before that, right?
I don't believe you. A place like that? I think whoever is in charge has already met the Drake, and they're on polite terms.
Let's stop here. I got to wash up.
Before you do, there is something odd on the horizon. It looks... irregular. Not natural at all.
What happened here?
No signs of fighting.
I agree. It's like this place was abandoned. But an orderly evacuation. The homes are tidy.
Or it could have been looters.
I have seen looting. This was far too calm.
So, abandoned then. But why?
I see signs of further activity to the north. Perhaps there?
Signs of industry.
Bad soil maybe? I'm pretty sure these are poisonous.
Then why settle at all? Did they hope that access to the fresh water from that lake would offset the soil conditions?
Perhaps that was not an official settlement, but a casual one designed to take advantage of the local lumber, but was improperly planned?
Wouldn't be the first time someone did something that stupid.
You're never going to let us live that down, are you?
Huh. The name is familiar. Shall we investigate?
Come on in! My supply changes often, so you'll never know what you'll find!
Much like the shop in the Mage's Tower, Shaynee's Bazaar has random items in it. Worth checking out if you don't want to run all the way back to the Tower, but like that one, don't depend on it for lucky breaks.
We shall return later.
What? No sign?
We passed one a couple miles back, but you were distracted.
We should check in, and enquire as to the status of Fort Remote. This place does already look better maintained.
I am close enough to map it.
It looks like a fresh-water source to the east, with an old fort to the west.
Come on, let's find the commander.
Be very careful, those runes look very dangerous, but not active.
Hello. A weary man sits at the table writing out orders. He wears mage's garb with tiny runes woven into it.
Art, 1st EEC, sir. And you are?
"Commander Novak." He sighs. "Welcome to Fort Saffron. I'm in charge here. Here at Saffron, we work hard, day and night, to keep Exile safe from brigands." He rolls his eyes. "Plus, I'm going insane."
It can't be that bad....
"I was drafted, plain and simple! They needed mages, so they grabbed them. And me! A promising alchemist!
Tell me about it.
"I was making a pretty penny. And one of my colleagues, a fellow named Hodgson, was a better alchemist than me! Ask him about it." He leans close to you and whispers. "He was going to try some experiments with Graymold! But then he had to give it up. They drafted us both. He's at one of the Great Cave forts now. Big waste."
Another man looking at the recipe for Greymold Salve? I'd better get a move on to make my mark on that discovery.
You mentioned keeping Exile safe. We just came up from Fort Remote, and we didn't have much of a briefing on this fortification.
"As safe as possible, of course, given we haven't been given and reinforcements, any new weapons, any acknowledgement we exist for months! They say keeping this pass safe should be simple. Simple! Hah!"
I would think so too. This pass is very narrow, so it really should be an easy task to defend it.
"This pass is the only halfway decent path known from the brigand-ridden cave to the north to the Great Cave. You'd think they could never get through, but they get by somehow! I don't understand it! They must be invisible!"
That explains the group that attacked us to the south. But invisibility? That's a stretch.
"That's the only explanation I can come up with. Sometimes we see them! They approach the fort from the north, laugh at us, and disappear. They we hear about raids to the south, and catch hell. But we can't do anything about it without resources!"
It can't be that easy.
What do you need in terms of resources?
Was it just me, or did that sound really professional?
Old habits, I suppose. She's not as good at keeping her secrets as she thinks.
"People, mainly. And another mage for scrying. It takes all my energy to keep the wards up."
You mean the ones outside?
"Out in the passage. They're harmless now, but I can make them incinerate anyone who touches them, if the fort gets attacked. And it might."
He's right. You see a glyph on the floor, things can hurt very quickly.
Peregrine, show him the map you scryed up.
You mean the passage to the west?
He looks interested in the conversation for the first time in a long while. What passage?
I initially thought it a form of alternate path around the fort to strike at foes attempting to besiege it from the sides. But what if it's more a smugglers path?
Not unheard of.
I can see that actually. Although I'm more concerned about this little passage connecting to the Fort properly.
Listen, I know I'm not supposed to have heard, but I do know that sometimes, there are people would would perform... Unspecified Services to Exile. If you were to look into this, that would be... much appreciated.
I think we can do something about that.
Thanks. Report back to me when you're done if you don't mind.
I could hear the emphasis he put on that name. 'Unspecified Services'.
No money wagered on it not actually existing.
Come on, let's see if there's anything else of note before we make some more friends.
By starting by going in the other direction? Alright.
You meet a beanpole of a man, wearing robes that hang off him. He paces about muttering. He nods at you. "I'm Dilbert."
We're with the First EEC, checking up on the fort. What do you do here?
He turns to talk to you. You see he has extensive burn scars on his face. "I volunteered to maintain this fort. I look after the wards, mostly. Safer than some things I could be doing." He runs his hand over the scar self-consciously. What's the EEC?
Exile Escape Committee. Our job is to free up local resources for larger projects. We're here to investigate your problems with bandits bypassing the fort, rather than just dumping another 20 or so soldiers on the place where they may or may not do any good.
Specialists, huh? Well, I suppose it was only a matter of time. Novak... well, he's been under serious pressure for a while now. He's a good man, but he's not the sort of person who should be here, if you understand me?
We understand. But there's a shortage of people due to the Sliths and the Kitties.
Pox on all them! We're beset on all sides. And the damned bastards from the north keep making a mess of things as well.
You mentioned the wards?
"The huge runes out in the hall. They're off now, but when they're on, they're a powerful defense."
I can believe it.
Oh, you should also talk to our prisoner in the back. She might be able to help you in your investigation.
Of course. Thank you for your time.
Unlikely to divulge information that she wouldn't have already.
A women with her arm in a sling and a grimace on her face sits in the cell. She spits at you, and misses. "I'm Mona, voles. Whaddaya' want?"
We're here to talk to you about
"You aren't a soldier. Piss off, vole."
We're not here to
"I'm from the Abyss. You aren't. You are a vole. Now let me out of here, and get me my scimitar back!"
We're not getting anything out of her. Come on.
Quiet back here. But should be safe as a storehouse.
Come on, let's go check out that passage that Peregrine scryed.
Oh! Hello. Didn't mean to interrupt your work.
You see a muscular woman wearing studded armor and carrying a dented sword. She looks nervous. Oh, you're the investigators. I heard you talked to our prisoner.
We did. And you are?
These are standard questions, but what do you do here?
"Guarding the fort from brigands. And a tough job it is, too! Sorry. Too busy to talk." She moves to leave the room.
Even I can act better than that.
But not proof. Come, it should be behind this wall.
That wasn't it!
Is there no end to this?!?!
There, that should be it.
How did no one notice the battle?
We should take care of the details, then report back to Novak.
We should also examine where these tunnels come out, and mark them.
Time to report back.
That was fast. You need anything else?
Detain Bette on suspicion of aiding the smugglers and other miscreants. There was a secondary tunnel system to the west accessible from her quarters. We cleaned it out of hostiles, then found the north and south entrances. We marked them with this sign so you can find them and seal them up.
That's... that's.... amazing! Oh, my, yes! I'll give the orders right away! With this, we can hopefully stem the tide of intruders to the south!
We forgot to talk to him about Fort Remote, didn't we?
Yes, but we did leave him with much on his plate. Reporting about the new developments means he may not have the energy left to properly instigate improvements at Remote.
Huh, this is different.
Not true. Dharmon is closer to South East.
Dharmon, I presume.
I hate you.
While we're here...
Lets try this again.
Alright, the usual. See you all at the inn.
How could anyone tell?
A muscular man with raven-black hair, pointed beard and a huge mace strides about the temple. He seems to radiate confidence and energy. "Greetings, adventurer!" he says, in a booming baritone. "You are welcome here. I am Malville."
Art. I have a question first.
It's just a time. When this town was first settled, we needed a unified time to begin work and to mark time, we used 'morning' prayers. Since then, the concept has stayed around. It's a tradition, nothing more.
So, anything else?
"I guard this place of light and peace, in these dangerous times. I welcome all here who come with open hearts and peaceful intent, and provide healing and information."
Well then, I suppose I should start by asking about what information you have about the area.
He grins. "Well, you seem new to the area, so I'll tell you what's nearby. To the north is the Abyss, home to the misfits of Exile. Fort Remote is to the south, guarding exactly nothing. The caves to its west have a dragon, but I can say little about it. Or, if purchasing spells interests you, I can still help you."
Art buys Divine Thud. But she won't be good with it as her Intelligence is so low.
"Not many people have been in the tunnels to the southwest. But one group went into them and went north. There, they found a small cave, and in it the saw a dragon. Then they hightailed it. That's all I know, and they might have made it up."
A nondescript man sits sharpening a bunch of kitchen knives. He seems pretty detached. "Oh, hello. I'm Clive." He doesn't seem too happy to see customers.
"Uhhh ... Oh! I have weapons available for purchase. For what it's worth. And you can sell me your weapons too. I suppose. Hell of a life, huh?"
Nothing spectacular. Although that Lemonwood Bow would be a nice improvement for Rook. His old bow is starting to show its age.
A charming, voluptuous woman sits behind the counter, mixing up some sort of pate. Jars of preserved meats and preserves surround her. The smell is mouth-watering. "I am Hestia. Welcome."
Your sign indicates that you are a purveyor of consumables. What do you create?
"I sell delicious gourmet comestibles. You may purchase some, if you wish. They cost more than you may be used to paying, but I think you'll find the taste makes it worth it! All this is just my little contribution..."
Hell no. I've got enough, I can walk back to Mertis if I need food, and restock there.
"To the life of Exile! I was miserable when I first came down here, but then I realized that maybe I could make something good, to make down here as good as up there! So I started finding ways to make the food better, and I think I succeeded. Now my husband, Clive, is still depressed about it. But, well, what can you do?"
I am sure you can think of something.
Interesting view of the pond.
Oh yes, the fresh water is wonderful for my baking, and for the growing of mushrooms!
You meet an ancient woman in a black dress. She is sitting behind the counter, grinding something with a mortar and pestle.[/i]
Hello, I notice you didn't have a name on the store plaque.
She smiles enigmatically. "Names have power, child."
Not for alchemy. Which you are?
"I am an alchemist. Many are my potions, and strange are their powers. I have a secret, one which may be interesting to you. Only a hundred gold. And I have recipes, as well."
I am not a tourist, to so easily buy into secrets.
"To the east, far to the east, is a cave of lava and steam. To the north of it, not far, is a secret cavern. In it is the best source of crypt shrooms. Use them well."
I know the cavern you're talking about. You do realize that everyone walking from For Exile to here will pass through there, right?
And what recipes do you have?'
Resurrection Balm is useful, if I wasn't saving my way around things.
You have the unique pleasure of meeting a sleazy looking guy in ratty clothes. He has a scraggly graying beard and a unique odor. "I'm Rippel. I'm overjoyed to meetcha'"
I have no time for beggars.
"I work! I don't beg. I sell things!"
I don't believe you.
"Well, for example, if you give me 10 gold, I'll sell you some information."
What possible information could you have for me?
Fine. I'll take it back off the next idiots to come out of the Abyss.
"Well, there are lots of bandits to the north. And they fence their goods here! Though I don't know how they get them in. But for a hundred gold (a modest fee), I'll tell you something about the jail."
"They got a guy in there, name's Eldin. I heard him bragging about stealing some valuable jewelry, but it got taken from him, then he got taken. I don't know how you'd get in to see him, but the thing he had was real precious!"
A statue of some mayor long dead stares down at you disdainfully. Then, it blinks!
It purses its lips in disgust that you would dare speak to it.
It ignores you.
You see an extremely placid, gray-haired man. He sits at the desk, twiddling his thumbs.
Hello sir, I'm Peregrine IV.
"I am Mayor DeBry. And I'm always glad to welcome visitors to Dharmon."
Surely you do more than that!
"I keep out of the way, mainly. The people of Dharmon are an independent lot, and wouldn't let me be mayor if I bothered them! So I mainly do paperwork, and deal with the council."
I've heard of this Council
"Now there I have to work! I and the other five mayors have been working like crazy to come up with ideas to deal with the sliths. Plans! Tactics! Supplies! Entertainment! And Micah just had to come up with that crazy scheme of his."
Anything you can tell me without compromising security?
"King Micah wants to hire a bunch of adventurer assassins. No way! Running the war is our job! All ours! I hope you aren't another group of adventurers come looking for a royal token, because if so, you're going to be disappointed."
Oh, we already have one. From the Mayor of Formello.
Oh! You're that group? I've heard about you. She says you can be trusted to be discrete. Well, sorry, but we still have nothing to take care of, unless you can figure out how the damned smugglers are getting into town.
And first to the Inn again.
A small, sweet looking woman with a baby at her breast sits in the corner. She smiles at you.
Oh, what a cute baby! I'm Ember! What's his name? Or hers?
"I'm Malka. Hello. I've been waiting. For you."
Uh, I think you want to talk to Art then. She's the mommy. If you're having troubles with the baby, I'm certain she can help out with things. She wiggles her fingers, and the baby giggles
I can still talk to you. The scimitar's blade is sharp. And its eyes see far. Oh, excuse me for a moment." She burps the baby. "Where was I? Oh, yes. If you wish to strike a mighty blow for Exile, go see our contact."
You really should be talking to Art now. Maybe Rook or Karmas.
"His name is Royce. He lives in Blosk. Ask him of the Scimitar. We need your help. We all do." She starts changing the babies diaper.
Do that elsewhere! I've got a business to run, not a daycare!
So, what's up?
The King is planning on hiring assassins to kill some external enemies.
Pass. The local food is hideously expensive.
There's a smuggler in the local jail, plus a local fence.
Some group named Scimitar wants our help. Said to talk to some guy in Blosk, wherever that is. The woman who talked to me had a cute kid. You would have gotten along great with her.
What makes you say that?
You can't hide all your secrets from us.
Boy or girl?
Not talking about this.
Didn't that woman in Fort Saffron's jail mentioned a Scimitar...
And she may have been related to those smugglers.
Which leads us to the man in the local jail.
I propose we do a little research about this 'Scimitar'.
Let's. But how do we do that?
I have an idea.
Why are we breaking into the jail again?
Because we have no legitimate reason to be here?
Because it's fun!
A grimy man paces back and forth in his cell.
He looks at you wearily. "Eldin. Look. I didn't steal anything. And I don't have to answer any of your questions. So bugger off! You have no evidence!"
I think I missed flipping a flag somewhere, I can't get a word out of this guy at all. Anyone in the thread know what I'm missing?
This is the last place on the map. If there's smugglers, this is where they'd hide.
This is bad. Really bad. And could have been worse. I click into Fight Mode, and this is what I get...
Everyone in the same time where I can focus fire. From here I can take on one Demon at a time, once Peregrine slaps a Major Blessing on the party.
I HATE DEMONS!
Perhaps we should see about properly reforging the Demon Slayer?
Wow. Beware of traps.
Oh, this is interesting. Duncan?
No idea. I'll have a loot at it later. But don't touch the blade, that looks poisonous.[/i]
Yes, that's three demons you can summon, in addition to the three more through checking the boxes.
Which one is safe, and nets you the second named weapon of the game?
I'm not going to tell you!
Fine. Second from the left along the bottom. You happy now?
Let's get out of here.