Part 26: Update 023 Exploration, Blosk, Gnass and Fort EmeraldUpdate 23 Exploration, Blosk, Gnass and Fort Emerald
This update will be a whole lot of talking. Three whole towns in close proximity to each other, and no dungeons to break up the monotony of it. I even had over 2500 words of dialogue to put into this update, so enjoy!
But first, a little bit of exploration to cover this half of the Great Cave, and to fill in the map I'll give you all at the end of the update.
This first location is North and a bit east of the Goblin Cave, in the middle of nowhere.
Hail the camp!
You have got to be kidding me.
Well, think of all the issues we had to go through to deal with that.
Like the demons.
Demons? Wait, you haven't...!
Thank you! I'll let my superiors know you were of great assistance. Bye!
And our belated reward is a Gauntlets of Skill, which acts as a Gold Ring of Skill, except taking up the hand slot instead of a ring.
And if you come back afterwards, you get this message:
This location is north of Dharmon.
Ah, a place of industry!
In many ways, I see the developing mines at Fort Draco to be a competitor to this place. Higher quality ores and materials against the cost of high distance to ship them through hostile lands. It's something I'm probably thinking too much about, but I like to make these connections to give the game's background a greater sense of depth to it.
Now, on with the update proper. This next town is east of Dharmon, along the north edge of the cavern.
That's an odd set of walls.
Why do you say that?
Look at them. They almost remind me of Fort Dranlon.
But it does look occupied. Come on.
A moment to map the location.
A fortress town, it seems. We're coming close to going back to where the Sliths are supposed to be, so perhaps this is some sort of forward staging area?
Let's just see if we can enter or not.
Karmas was right. Look at these ruts. A lot of traffic goes through these gates.
The usual, people.
And Ember, try not to head straight for the Inn this time?
If this is that crazy plan that King Micah is thinking about, I'm not sure any reward is big enough.
Hello there, good lady.
A heavy set woman with black hair cascading down her back works at a small anvil. She has to take great pains to keep her hair from the sparks. "Welcome. My name is Jonnhalyn."
Forgive my impertinence, but that is a very masculine name for a woman of your beauty.
She laughs at Karmas' compliment. Well, what can I say to that? It's the name my parents gave me. But anyways, this is my shop. I can't talk much. I'm very busy. Supplying the fort, you know. But I can sell you weapons and armor."
Ah, most interesting.
Oh, and don't mind the boy. I let him play in here to keep him out of the way of the soldiers.
A small boy in ratty clothes runs amuck.
Hello, child. I am Karmas. Who might you be?
"Hi! I'm Jeff!"
That is a good name. What are you doing here? I hope you're not bothering her too much.
"Playing!" He looks down at his clothes, ratty and two sizes too small. "Daddy won't let me play in my real clothes cos' he says their tough to make. Can I have a coin!"
Of course. Here.
He smiles. "Thanks!"
You shouldn't spoil the child like that, Karmas. His daddy doesn't like that.
"Leith is my daddy! He does lots of neat stuff!" He looks sad for a moment. "Mom is at Fort Emerald. She's fighting. I miss her."
A woman in a tattered dress thrusts out a bowl at you. Her breath smells of mushroom ale. "Spare a copper for Old Kathy?"
"Give me a coin? I'll tell you my story!"
"Thanks! Yeah, thinks were tough for me on the surface. So I began getting into the wine. Before long, I couldn't stop. Still can't. They didn't like that up there, so they sends me down here, where the wouldn't see me. For 10 gold, I'll tell you more."
"They sent me down into Exile, and I came here. That's it."
A heavy middle-aged man with a disorganized beard puts fletching on arrows behind the counter. His fingers work with unerring skill and speed.
He continues gluing the feathers on cavewood shafts. "Bruce. I run this little supply shop. You can purchase arrows, and I think I have some other stuff left too. You'll excuse me for being disorganized - things have been hectic."
Duncan. I can believe it.
"Yes. Fort Emerald buys my arrows as fast as I can make them. It's hard work, with lousy materials, but beats being on the surface."
You don't look like a new arrival. And you sound like you have a grudge.
"Oh, yes. Every minute of every day making arrows for the idiot nobles and their stupid tournaments. Playing games with first class weapons. Well, one of them told me what he thought of my art, and I told him what I thought of him."He grins. "A week later, I'm down here. But at least my arrows are getting the use they deserve!"
Even more so.
Nothing I can't handle.
I hope this was worth it.
Magic Darts. Not really. And I was already in a town, so I just tanked the damage.
Just a trainer.
I apologize for not taking proper pictures here, but there's something I wanted to cover at this point. It's about the Skill Points we've been getting as the party levels up.
You see, Art is now level 21 (out of 50). Peregrine is down at Level 14, with everyone else at 15 through 17.
Up until this point, everyone had been gaining 5 Skill Points per level-up. However, at level 20, that changes. You only get 4 SP a level from here on out. To demonstrate the math, by the end-game, you get 60+(18*5)+(30*4) = 270 SP in total through the game.
I won't give all the details about what I trained up, but here's the highlights: Art picked up Level 5 in Priest Spells, and another point into Intelligence so she can use Divine Thud as something more than a support AoE.
Duncan picks up another couple points in Alchemy so he can brew the Greymold potion when we finally find the ingredient for it.
Ember grabs tier 6 Mage spells. Now she can cast Kill and Ravage Enemy!
Everyone else gets minor upgrades to stats and skills that are just slightly incremental.
I feel like I'm slowing down. I can't be that old yet! I swear, I'm 29!
I need a freaking drink after that.
Sorry, the inn is just to the south. A tall, thin young man with very long blonde hair sits behind the desk, reading a tattered scroll. "Welcome, adventurer. I am Leith. Of all trades."
Art. Sorry, just... not having a nice day. What sort of trades?
Oh, not much that will interest you. I do some identification of various items, and I sing!
I don't believe you.
He leaps lustily into a bawdy song of almost mind-bending proportions. The air flickers blue.
AAAAAA! I'LL PAY YOU ANYTHING TO STOP!
But I'm getting better!
Nah, I know what Art says, but there's no better source for information than the bar!
There is a short, blonde woman tending the bar. You wouldn't give her a second look, except that her clothes are very fine and delicate, and she wears a sash of office.
Wow. I'm Ember!
"Hello, friend. I am Vicki. Welcome to my inn."
Alright, I have to ask. What?
"Well, we have fine, fine rooms for the night. Only 15 gold. And we have dinner and a drink for 2. That's how I run my inn." She smiles. "I'm also the mayor, but I'm sure adventurers such as yourselves wouldn't be interested."
Since when does the Mayor run the inn?
"Ah, yes. These times call for clear heads, and the townsfolk judged me the clearest head about. It's not a bad job. Takes a lot of time, and I need to hire a replacement to look after the bar when I go to the Castle, but I like it fine overall." She starts washing out some mugs.
Is the Castle really all that awesome? I mean, why would you go there?
"Yes. For meetings of the Council." She looks at you strangely. "Hmm. And don't go asking me for a royal token. The king's looking for adventurers to go on some mission, and I'm not going to be a party to it. Adventures are loose cannons. Hotheads!" She slams down a glass. "If there's anything we need now, it's clear heads. The army is fine. Adventurers? Nope. The conversation was over.
Can I at least have a drink?
A gangly man, dressed in loose-fitting red clothes, stands at the bar calmly drinking. He seems not to have noticed you. "Royce." He slid a coin over the table to pay for Ember's drink.
Ember, but you probably already know that. What are you doing around here?
"Keeping an eye on things. I've heard of you."
Ah! I remember! You were referred to Art, said you could make a decent scimitar for her. She really doesn't like that axe.
He speaks very quietly. "Yes. We've been watching you, but waiting for you to approach us. Calder. In the Abyss. That's who you should talk to. About the scimitar, that is. That's all I can say."
Really? You're just a middleman? Typical men. All tell and no show.
Fine! Be that way! He storms off in a huff.
Good job. He's been oogling me for days now, and you sent him running away. How about a free drink?
I like how you think, Mayor!
A women in priestess robes sits at the table, getting drunk in a most unholy manner.
Drink me in, sister!
She looks up at you. She's not as drunk as you thought. "Greeting, my children. I am called Sabrina."
Damn it, and here I was, hoping for a drinking partner. At least, an we share our woes?
"The sedentary life wasn't for me. I'm an adventurer, much as you."
Really? What about me screams adventurer?
She sighs. I'd rather not talk about it."
Even I am beginning to think that course of action is a bit excessive.
We cannot continue to object to that choice of action. We did receive a bit more information about this 'Scimitar' group. And given that they seemed to be the ones who slew that Empire Patrol to the south, I say we can trust their intentions.
That's not the point! I told her not to go straight to the inn to wait for the rest of us!
Can this wait until after we deal with that roving Slith warband?
I got this.
Ravage Enemy is Group Curse and Group Slow out to 8 tiles from the caster. This spell, plus Major Blessing, is a very lethal combination.
Meh. Not flashy enough.
Silly Girl. Magic isn't about flash, it's about substance!
Shows what you know! Hey, Art! Side with me here!
This is... ominous.
We should take a moment.
You know what? Let's find somewhere else to be.
Like the middle of nowhere?
And that was the longest loop we've ever taken.
Oh shut up. You enjoyed the walk.
I think that's a fishing village on the other side of the water.
This can't possibly be what I think it is.
A town of non-hostile Slithzerikai. I suppose it must have happened eventually.
Give me a moment.
This town is completely defenceless.
Alright. The usual when we come to a new town. But everyone watch out for everyone in case something goes wrong. If something goes wrong, kill everyone.
This craftsmanship is amazing.
Until we return home? What does that mean? Are these people exiles from Slith lands too?
Perhaps I can ask at this building here?
A delicate slith female watches over the babies swimming around in the pools. She smiles at you. At least, you think that's what that is. "My name is Eath. Welcome to Gnass." Her English is nearly perfect. Ever her S's sound right. She cuts them short, instead of letting them trail off.
Peregrine the Fourth. My apologies for the intrusion. I was hoping to ask a question about the statues just outside, and came here via location association. What is it that you do here in Gnass?
She sighs, a slow hissing noise. "I am a sage, by trade, learning, and choice. But I fled the castle of Sss-Thsss, and my tomes stayed behind. And now my mate and I wait here for the war to end. And I take care of the little ones, because someone must."
And who is he? Your... mate?
"Skatha, the blacksmith. He is the finest smith I have ever met. Your kind would be well to get weapons from him. Very few of the blades I have seen in human hands are any match for his."
I wonder why I always seem to find the smith first?
A gigantic slith, green skin bright and shiny, muscles bulging awesomely, forges a slith two-tined spear. "Ahssss! Humansss! I Skatha! Welcome to my store!"
I greet you, noble smith. What styles of weapon do you make?
"I forge weaponsss! My spearsss are my pride, and I love when they used! Purchasss one, and I burst with pride, that a human use my weapon! A slith spear is a mighty thing!"
He's right, but Duncan already has a better weapon. No sale.
A young female slith pores over a leather scroll. Her eyes glow. She looks up at you, her reptilian face expressionless. "Welcome. I am Garthass."
Art. First Exile Escape Committee. Pardon for the intrusion.
I have not heard of sssuch a thing.
We're a group focused on getting out.
A noble goal. For me, I study, and prepare. One day, we will be called to defend ourselves."
From who? You're in peace with the humans here, and does that mean the other Slithzerikai will come for you for it?
Indeed, thissss is truth. Our dark slith brothers concentrate on you humansss now. But they will come for us as well. We will fight them! And if not them, I fear you humansss will one day give in to your hate for us. Our little village sits between two giantsss, waiting.
"But I see you are not like that. Or so I think. I have help for you."
What do you mean, help?
"I brew potionsss and scribe scrollsss. You could purchase them now, if you like. Though I fear what humansss may one day do to ussss, we help them now best we can, in hope that one day peace may lassst."
For what it's worth, I'm not interested in harming you.
No. Freaking. INN.
A muscular slith works on a statue. "Ah! Welcome, humansss! I Bass-Athai, slith stonemason."
Who the what now?
"I work the stone. I make statues, and homes for people here."
"We sliths remember the great magi and leaders of our past. And we remember them with statues. Paper rots, and carvings fade, so sliths keep their history in many, many statues. Stonemason much respected by sliths!"
That's... you know statues crumble too right? It all depends on the environment things are in? Wouldn't it be better to put them in, you know, a house?
He laughs, a strange, sibilant sound. "We learn that from humansss. Sliths live in warrens, but when we flee here, no warrens. So make housesss. I think I am first slith to ever do so! I did not well at first. Rocks fall on our heads. But now!" He indicates the town with a grand gesture, his strange face lit up with pride.
Right, don't go messing with altars and stuff like that without Art around. Besides, these people are all friendly. Who would summon demons here?
Oh, what the hell.
And this guy looks like the local leader.
A mighty Slithzerikai with rich, dark green skin patrols the town watchfully.
Greetings, Lord. I am Duncan, formerly of the Surface. I bid you peace.
He nods gravely. "I am Sss-Schai. The Sss is the slith way of stating leadership. I am ..." he pauses to recall a word "... mayor here. I watch over my people, and deal with the two great forces that surround us - the humans and Darklings."
I have to ask, what are the Darklings?
"Ah, yessss. I tell this tale to any human I can, so you can understand us. The sliths here are refugees, exiles like yourselves, from the mighty slith kingdoms in the deeper caves. The kingdoms are ruled with wisdom and justice. And peace. We valued that which you humans valued. But there were rebels."
His face darkens with anger. "A band who followed dark powers, led by Sss-Thoss, grandfather to Sss-Thsss. They were expelled, in the mercy of the leaders, and came here, threatened by death should they return. Then the humans arrived. As the war started, decades after we arrived, some of us finally rejected Sss-Thsss."
What does that mean for your relationship with humanity?
"I want nothing but friendship and have nothing but welcome for your kind. You seem to live much closer to the true Slith ideals than the Darklings."
That's an interesting notion. But I must ask you to ponder this. If your culture is descended from the rebels, how can you be certain that what you hold dear is what your home culture expresses?
Simple, human. We oppose them.
That was a nice diversion. Nothing strange or unusual. Just a completely normal village. Inhabited by Sliths.
I think... south.
Not much to see in this update. Here's Blosk:
Don't worry, next update, we finally reach the Castle! I hope.