Part 35: Update 031 The Abyss and SpireUpdate 031 The Abyss and Spire
"We ain't stopping because your feet are sore."
"No, not that. Something I just remembered. The Royal Seal."
"What of it? I mean, it probably dates back to the First Expedition."
"Remember who told us first about the Shattered Fort and the Seal?"
"Patrick, if I remember correctly."
"If it wasn't him... Silverton, was it? In Fort Emerald."
"I remember! The lady who was meditating by the crysal all the time! Silverio!"
"Correct. She mentioned to us its existence."
"Wait! Who won that bet?"
"No one did. We went and got it on our own accord."
"So, what, exactly is a Royal Seal, and why is Art all weirded out over it now that she has it on her?"
"It's an absolute symbol of Imperial Authority. The Seal is forged in a very specific manner, with certain metals and magic going into its construction, each Seal is uniquely representative of the power of the Empire.
"There are also magical enchantments built into it which can act as an override on many of the Empire's logistics and security features. It's almost like a skeleton key which grants its bearer the power to go places that would otherwise be locked to them."
"Having one means that someone very important and powerful has died, and now I have his authority."
"So, you can order us out of here?"
"No. It is highly unlikely that any Exile would be granted such a thing."
"What if one of the Empire's agents was sent into Exile in order to infiltrate the society?"
"I doubt it. Can you imagine the Empire throwing one of their good agents down here like that with no support? Especially when we've seen evidence that they will send armed parties down here."
"It also goes against their strategic policy. The Empire isn't factored towards small scale actors like that. Their response to a problem is to bury it in bodies. No finesse at all."
"I... have to agree with that."
"So, how does it work?"
"Most of it is passive, and keyed to its specific wielder."
"But we took it off the dead man.... Can you use it?"
"No, it's not set to me. And I don't know anyone who could do that. For now, it's just a hunk of metal, which would be useful for hitting someone over the head with."
"Oooh! Can I?"
"With that out of the way, what are we doing now?"
"Headed back to Rone in order to try and figure out where we go next."
"Oh, so that's why we've been standing in front of the Castle for the past 15 minutes?"
"You know Rone is pretty much senile, right? What are we going to get out of him?"
"I don't know."
"Hey, we raided that ruined fortification. It was pretty small. You sure it was the real thing?"
"Yes, yes. It's called Akhronath, by the way, you puppy!"
"So what now?"
"I, Patrick, and Erika trapped him is a powerful bottle of our own making. To get him out of it will take a blessed athame, and I can't remember if there is one of those down here."
"I'd have to agree. Finding one of those would be ridiculously in our favour."
"You may want to ask Linda! She may have made one! Thought she could trim her hair with it or something like that."
"That would be in line with her ego, that's for sure."
"For the uneducated masses?"
"A Blessed Athame is a ceremonial blade used in purification rituals and the like. In theory, with Grah-Hoth contained in a bottle that can only be opened by one, it would reduce the likelihood of Demons using a holy blade to free him. I've used one in the past.
So, what are the odds that Sss-thsss was going to go looking for one during his little war.
Who says the two are connected? War for destruction's sake, and deal with the whole 'bottle' thing later.
I think you're all missing the point.
Which would be?
We have to go back to the Tower and talk to Linda.
Well, Karmas, Duncan and Ember haven't punched her yet. In the spirit of camaraderie, we should give them the chance.
EEEEEEWWWWWWW! I don't want to get any of the stupid on me! Peregrine, you can hit her for me.
Do we really have to? Talk to Linda, I mean?
That seems to be the case.
But we just left there!
I have no desire to return there either, but it must be done, to follow this lead.
And we still have no leads on the location of the place where Grah-Hoth is imprisoned.
Well, if you remember Rone's journal from the first time we talked to him, it mentioned the caves to the east.
Isn't that where Erika Redmark is supposed to be?
I still don't believe that she's alive, all things considered. But even if that were the case, a location as vague as 'The caverns to the east' is, well, vague. Too much so. We are equally likely to stumble upon her abode as we are upon the demon's prison, or to miss both entirely!
What if Erika has been set as the guard of the Haakai-Lord?
You obviously haven't heard of the Archmage Erika Redmark. Her ego is the stuff of legends!
Considering who's talking, that's something of a stretch.
Did I hear the nattering of an insect?
Oh for! Save your punching for Linda!
WHAT DO YOU WANT?
The Blessed Athame.
Why should I give you anything? You've already ruined years of work!
You're all mad! I don't know how you broke into the labs, but you'll never get past the barrier!
Oh, well, if we hadn't dealt with Drath, that might have been intimidating. I know where it is.
Yes, and like Drath's lair, we simply need to go around.
That was stupid!
And yet, here we are.
This is not a combat worthy blade, as befitting its status as a ritual knife. I shall keep it.
Actually, it's a Key Item. And I didn't really come back here. I loaded the game, ran back to pick it up, screenshotting along the way, then reloaded back in the Castle, having cheating the Athame into my inventory.
Thanks to Gullwhaker for pointing out what I missed.
Where to now?
I think East?
Fort Saffron, perhaps? I suspect that the prison is to the north and east of Fort Remote, but I would rather try to find the long way around for that.
Poor Mick and Belinda.
I should really investigate the construction of a teleporter array down here. It will make getting around so much easier.
And going through wasn't a hassle. Let's see what we have.
Bandits. How droll.
This point makes little sense in its current location, as we are clearly north of the Great Cave, and into a section of the map called 'The Abyss'. I suspect that there was an error with this node, and it calls a sign that was supposed to be actually in the Great Cave.
Any particular reason why we're back here?
Because I wanted to squeeze through those corners back there?
There's also tracks made by people here.
And they lead here.
Can anyone think of any logical reason for people to be back here?
Well, it's guarded like one.
Um, why are we even here then?
Intruders! Kill them!
You were saying?
Wait a moment. We outclass these people so much, I don't need to cast Major Blessing!
You're kidding me.
No, he is right.
I'm a shocked as you are. For the first time in ages I haven't had to cast Major Blessing in a battle! It feels... weird. But don't worry, things will be back to normal soon enough.
That just means we get to break out the bigger spells!
You got soot on me!
Could be worse. Could be friendly fire.
That never is.
Let us examine this facility.
I don't think I've introduced the Assassin type enemy yet, so here he is. He's an assassin, which means he has a small chance of triggering extra damage on his melee attack. And he can poison on the melee too. He also has a ranged attack. Oh, and he has 20 HP. Very much the definition of a Glass Cannon.
But the party is pretty much real cannons by this point.
I only wanted to show this picture off due to how the party stacked up when I went into combat. That Evil Acolyte is very dead.
Bah! Major Blessing!
Map shows a secret passage back there.
I got this.
This stuff is crap!
I think I see a boat over there, round the right.
Aw, isn't it cute!
Great, more traps.
At the end...
Mist Orbs. Really? That's what they were protecting? Pathetic.
There's just something off about this place.
Perhaps it has more to do with that armed camp over there?
HAIL the CAMP!
You mean the one we just wiped out?
Damn. Wait. I've heard of you... Of course! My apologies for holding you up!
That's... nice. Thanks.
Of all it's like, I've never seen...
Fellows.... It's bigger....
Meet the Great Chasm. It's very, very large. And very deep. It is suggested in later games that this is where the Sliths first emerged into Exile, climbing up from caverns even deeper. But for this game, it is environment, and while spectacular, is nothing more than that.
This bridge is very artificial.
Let's... not go that way, maybe there's a way round to the west?
At this point in the LP, I suddenly realize that the directions I've been given are wrong. Grah-Hoth's prison and Erika are to the WEST, not the east, as I've been saying all along. It's not the first time that it seems like information got changed during the development of the game.
Cache or Brigands?
Map says it's under construction.
My eyes say it's been attacked.
No bets on if the place is empty.
Awww, I wanted to win!
Were these things ever a threat?
Maybe not, but this might be. Ember, can I get some fumigation back here?
This looked like a leader. He died cowering.
These traps have seen better days.
And nothing of worth, really.
Let's find that secret passage into that hidden room there...
A pittance, really.
Well, this is a bad idea.
At least we're not being shot at yet.
Hello. A tall man with long, curly hair sits behind the counter working on a ledger. He wears nice clothes and a sash of office. "I'm Bohman. Tower liaison."
Art, First Exile Escape Comittee.
I know who you are. You've been granted passage.
Pardon my ignorance, but... liason?
"I'm liaison for the Tower of the Spire. That's a fancy way of saying I greet visitors."
You get many? To this place?
A few, mostly travellers. Merchants and the like. North to the Abyss, south to the Great Cave.
What of the Spire? Is there anything you can tell us?
"Yes. The huge stone pillar coming from the pit below, upon which this building is built. I'm sure you saw it while crossing the bridge."
That's not what I asked....
Don't care. You have Royal permission to pass, so I ain't stopping you. Now go.
I don't know. I think there's more going on here than what we've seen.
Maybe, but still, that was no reason to be like that.
Oh, don't worry about him. He's just grouchy. A priest with a sour expression sits at the table, guzzling ale.
Oh? I'm Rook, by the way.
"Reynold. Sit and join me." He takes another swig.
Sure. What brings a man like you here?
"I'm a former missionary." He stresses the word 'former'.
"I just came from the Abyss. I was trying to bring some of their less horrible souls to a more peaceful state, when I suffered the fate of the holy."
You make that sound so ominous. What fate left you alive?
"The derision of those who live far from grace. It could be worse, of course. They could have killed me." He sighs, and drinks. "Anyway, I failed, and fled. Now I'm going to the Castle."
To talk to the priest there. I have information on goings-on in the Abyss. They're two towns - Spire and Bargha. Bargha is to the north, and they're busy fighting off giants. They're doing much better than you would expect. They have some fierce fighters there." Another drink. "I also heard rumors of a dragon, but nothing specific or useful."
Let's not go there!
Ember, it was just a rumour.
Come on, let's go through the gate.
Well, that was a thing. A checkpoint on a spire guarding a magically constructed bridge over a chasm a good dozen miles across.
That encounter dot is the same as the one on the south side, as is the sign. It is quite possible to come at this place from the North thanks to the boat, though it worked out better to approach from the south instead.
Just how big is this?
I want to know what's keeping that section of the cavern up.
I'm not sure where this passage goes...
Actually, this should lead into the scree cavern with the Lich's cave in it, if my maps are correct.
Then I have no interest in going there.
None of us do. Let's go back.
This is a pretty overlook.
Secret Passage to get here, no flying required. * cough cough *
Nothing worth being here.
I would agree with you if those pillars didn't look so much like cooled magma flows, indicating a volcanic source above us.
We didn't so much walk into it as we invited ourselves in.
Finally the enemies treat Art like the threat she is. And it still isn't enough!
This water is pretty fresh.
It would have to be, to feed these farmlands.
And a town there. Is that Spire, or Bargha?
I think Spire.
There's some interesting geopolitics going on with Spire, Bargha and The Abyss, but I can't talk about them yet. You'll see it develop slowly.
Nothing really unusual at first glance. But I don't know what's up with that building to the south-east.
Alright, split up everyone.
Hello! I'm Ember!
A slight young woman with angular features sits drinking. "Carol. I'm busy."
"Not much. I'm waiting for my scimitar to be repaired."
ooooh! Gotcha! We got to talk to you later!
Hello! I'm Ember!
A Nephilim sits hunched over the table, eating stew. His bow sits nearby. "Mrrow. I'm Featherfoot. What's it to you?"
I'm just saying HI in a very polite fashion to the people I meet!
I'm eating, human. Leave me.
Greetings, Mayor. I am Rook.
A short, strong looking woman with long black hair and a leather jerkin sits in a fine, carved wood throne and watching you. "Meena. Mayor Meena. I'm in charge here."
"I'm the boss in this town. The mayor. I watch over things. And I don't want any interference. Do your business, and when you get called a vole, take it as a complement."
I'm sorry, Vole?
"Yeah. That's what we call you. You try to live in this pit, and make your own docile copy of the hell above. Well, we're free, and we'll stay free, no matter where you throw us!"
I... what makes you think that you're not free in the first place?
"I've had you vole visitors before. You come here, all high and mighty, seeing your rejects, and you think you can do what you want, take what you want. Well, I'll kill you in a cold second if you don't behave, and Micah can't do a thing about it."
Better people than you have tried. Yet we're still here.
Pretty words, but that's all they are.
Something important is back here, I know it.
All the shopkeepers also call the party 'Voles'. It would be more effective an insult if the Mayor didn't spell it out for the player. Ah well, can't win them all.
Well, the sign did mention harsh laws. Seems like lenient punishments though.
What do we have here?
Here you go.
Check the log in the next screenshot, as this is one of the few times when an event flag is thrown with no real notification, and no real indication that things have changed. Your hand has been stamped!
Hey. When's the next show?
An extremely nondescript man watches the arena with dull eyes. The only interesting thing about him is his long rapier. He looks at you blankly. "Scab." You notice his face is somewhat pocked, and his hands do have some scabs on them. "I'm busy. Beat it."
A man sits behind the table with his legs up. He's sharpening an axe. "I'm Zagat. I'm the arenamaster."
Pretty tiny for an arena.
"Yes. I don't expect voles such as yourself to appreciate the fine art of blood sport, but we enjoy it immensely. Combat between criminals. Gladiators battling captive sliths and giants. It's a beautiful, beautiful thing."
"And we can always use gladiators. If you want to enter, let me know."
You know what? Why not?
Zagat smiles. "I'm glad you decided to give it a whack. Go through the gate in the corner. If you can make it to the opposite exit, your reward will be 10 gold. Good luck."
Let's see here....
Not Shown: A 'fight' against a Giant Rat.
Anyways, here's the obligatory Arena. This will actually be used for the plot later, but for now, don't worry much about it.
And once you reach the end:
YOU DID WHAT?
That's... highly encouraging of you.
How could you approve?
Easy. Art was willing to show through her actions that she didn't hold herself 'above' the culture of the people in this town. She demonstrated a level of understanding and acceptance that you do not.
Well, that and they threw an easy fight against me. I mean, seriously, do I look like some innocent maiden to scream and faint at the sight of a rat?
Can we save the rest of this until after we deal with these guys?
Time for the maps!
Sorry, no map for Fort Spire. I missed it!
No Training yet, but soon(ish)!