Part 42: Update 038 The Statues and the Giant CastleUpdate 038 The Statues and the Giant Castle
You know, we never covered this corner of this cave before. It's pretty much straight west of Drath's lair. I'm surprised we didn't cover this before.
Fair enough. We've mapped large sections of the region, a bit more won't hurt.
It's just one of those mysteries.
I suppose there is no use in further delay, Art.
I have to agree. We have to confront her sooner or later. We have delayed long enough.
This is annoying. I don't want to talk to her!
But we gotta. She did ask for our presence.
At least we know how to get past her tests this time.
I drop this barrier...
Oh, not you again!
Guess, my ass.
oh merciful mother of us all, she's going to kill us
There is a piercingly beautiful woman sitting in the throne. She looks at you with an expression of haughtiness and utter confidence. Occasionally, a spark flies from the wand in her hand. "Welcome, adventurers. I am Erika, formerly of the Triad, master incantatrix of Exile."
Formerly? Huh. And here I thought Linda was the worst the Tower could produce. What do you do now, aside from teleport people around like it's nothing?
She smiles. The reptilian coldness of her eyes makes you shiver. "Now? I greet visitors."
Ohh! Doorwoman! Great! You must get so~o many visitors out here in the middle of nowhere.
"Few manage to penetrate my tower. Even fewer are of value to me. You are both. And you, Art, annoy me. But you are worth tolerating your pathetic words, worm." You notice she doesn't look at you as if you're quite human.
someone shut her up!
No! This is funny!
Value? What? Had to go kill a Demon Lord for you to realize that there are people out there that can break your ego bubble? That can do what you can't?
Her expression darkens. "I am an exile here, like you. A prisoner, but worse because of my curse! And, more than anything else, I thirst for revenge, beautiful revenge. You should help me. I can assist you in many ways."
At this point of composing the update, I remember that I forgot to ask her about her Curse. It's actually pretty important for the overall plot as it gives you a sense of the scale of magic being thrown around by NPCs
The short of it is, after losing to the machinations of Garzahd (whom we've met in proxy), he cursed Erika that if she ever was touched by sunlight, she would die. She doesn't like that one bit.
Really? Pleading now? I'm almost magnanimous enough to listen to you out, but you really got to make my participation in your revenge worth my time, you silly little girl.
I wish to bring suffering to the petty fools of the Empire, who put me here. To do that, I need tools. I would allow you to fulfil that function, to join me in my mission."
My mission... I want to assassinate King Hawthorne. It would be a good start. It was his father who sent me down here, and he who accelerated the pace at which people were exiled. He poured people down here like water! He is a tyrant, and tyrants must die!"
"If you would help me strike this blow for our freedom, ask me for instructions."
Her voice grew cold and serious. Say that again.
Oh, does that interest you, you rampaging mammoth? Yes! I will use you to kill Hawthorne!
If you're lying to me, there is no force in this world, or any other that will stop me from killing you.
Why would I want to lie? I know who you are, what you did. I know that you will take any chance you can get to get your own revenge on him for what he did to you. She smiles again, knowing enough.
What are your instructions?
HEY! One moment, Incantrix Erika, I need to talk to our leader for a moment!
Go ahead, it changes nothing. It is to late for the pebbles to vote on a plan, for my avalanche has started.
Are you INSANE?
I concur! This woman is clearly insane. Certainly powerful, but completely mad as well!
Even I can feel the raw energy coming off her. This is not something we should be doing.
Mad. Leave her be. We can find something else, get back on track.
I don't care! I'm enjoying watching the two of you bicker!
Look, here's the thing. If she's the real deal, then she wants to get us to the surface
To do her dirty work! Art, you've proved you've got a good head on your shoulders, no matter what happens. But you can't just jump into this like you are. What is this thing she's talking about anyways?
I'm not saying.
Rook is right, you obviously have some personal stake in this that is clouding your judgement. You must reveal this to us so that we can act as your sober second opinion.
Hey, even if you don't want to tell the guys, I'm always available to listen!
No. This is far to personal. Far too important to me to miss. I'll understand if you choose to go on without me, try to find a way out, but this is why I wanted to escape. And if making a deal with Erika is the best way to do this, then so be it. You don't have to follow.
That's a stupid reason.
Yes! You need to rehearse that far more often.
Are you guys really buying this?
Name one genuine Exile, not sent here to spy on us, who wouldn't want to gain some measure of retribution against the Empire? That Art's reason is far more visceral and personal changes nothing.
You're all mad!
Hey, Art has seen us through thick and thin. Without her, I don't think we'd all be here right now. It's about time we paid her back.
And the only thing worse in my mind right now than joining up with this, is leaving you to do it a man short.
I understand. Our fellows are vital to us on these long campaigns. I say we make the attempt. There is no shame in trying.
You know, I'm going to side with Rook here. Better to go with you guys to watch over you than to walk away.
This is all madness! But I suppose I can tolerate this distraction if it means getting a good look at the Incantrix's methods. I can learn from that.
Peregrine? Admitting he needs to learn something? Will wonders ever cease!
So, you're all agreed this is a bad idea, my reasons are poorly articulated, but you're going to do it anyways?
Pretty much. Don't make me regret this.
I'm pretty sure you do already.
By that look on his face, he does. Shall we return to our audience with Redmark?
Alright, sappy stuff out of the way. We're in for as long as you keep your word about our objective. What are your instructions?
"My plan is simple. I want to teleport you into the heart of the evil, into Hawthorne's throne room! The wards are powerful, but it is possible. To do this thing, I need several brooches."
You mean these brooches?
Yes. Your ability to find these things was one of the reasons I chose you to perform these tasks for me. When the First Expedition came down, each of their five leaders wore a magical brooch, which was linked to the Empire above. They were used for communication. I can use them for something more - using their magical link to teleport you up there."
"The problem, of course, is finding them. The statues may help."
You mean the statues we've found that talk?
Not many worms notice what is right in front of them. I suppose you are a grade above. To keep an eye on things, I created six intelligent statues and placed them in each of the six largest cities of Exile. The word to get them to tell you what they know is 'Divulge.' They might have heard something."
Divulge? Seriously? Well, I suppose if people don't know what they're talking to, they may not use the keyword like that.
Actually, I think that particular keyword is something a lot of people who've played this game remember. Namely because it now involves backtracking across the entire length of Exile to find these statues (I've only found 5 of the six so far in this LP) and asking them this question. And most of them have outdated information for quests and events that'll have already been cleared. You'll see.
So, what sort of assistance can you offer? You know I'm not getting into this out of my love for my fellow woman.
"I am adept in all the magical realms. If you wish to buy some priest spells, I can sell them to you. I know certain spells that are beyond the reach of most. I know much alchemy, and my libraries are open to you. There are advantages to allying with me."
"Also, I can help you with dealing with my tower, should you want to return to aid me."
Your Tower wasn't much of a deal the second time around.
"Now that you've passed my defenses, you don't need to do so again. There is a spare key to the second gate in the library. Also, the password to the third gate is 'Dry rot.'"
You know, there was that crone-image of you down to the south that told us the latter part as well.
Humph. An initiate like yourself couldn't possibly hope to understand the power I put into my spells by simply casting even the most basic of illusions! Do not question me!
Translation: she screwed up.
I CAN HEAR YOU.
I can hear you too!
What? Art gets to insult her, so why can't I?
Because Art is Art?
Anyways! About this library of yours?
"Through the door. Most of the books I magicked down from the surface. It was difficult, but how could we develop out magic down here otherwise? Non-mage insects don't realize how much they need us! Just for the mushrooms alone!"
The mushrooms as well?
"The mushrooms down here, that are edible, nourishing, and grow with only the slightest light? I created them! The worms down here should worship me! They owe me their lives! But do they appreciate me? No! The insects!"
And that's our cue to leave! By you psychotic bitch with delusions of godhood!
You will do as I command, you soulless ginger!
That's a redundant insult!
By asking her about 'Alchemy' and 'spells', Erika becomes a shop for some things.
The Priest Spells are nothing out of the ordinary, but the alchemy gives you everything you could want, except for the Greymold recipe.
And this isn't the last time we'll have to talk with Erika. A different quest has us coming back here to ask her about something different. You really can't avoid her.
So, what do we have here?
Already know Protection, but Recharge...! Wow, if we ever used items with limited charges to them, I could use this spell to add some more back in. Although there is a case of diminishing returns here.
And this is the Key to the Second Door, I presume.
That lizard is so cute! It thinks attacking us will do something.
I suppose she uses it to keep rodents away.
You know what?
It's a trap.
Obviously an illusion.
Aw, but I wanted the pretty shinys!
No, Ember. That's enough.
Time to take our leave.
So, we know that the brooches came in a set of five, one for each leader of the First Expedition. We've found three so far. And Erika wants us to interrogate her statues to find clues to the others.
But the 'six' major cities. We've only found five of them, by your reports.
Right. Dharmon, Almaria, Silvar, Corta and Formello.
I would assume that the last would be in Mertis or possibly one of the cities in the Abyss Spire or Bargha.
Right, but we've been through them. And we haven't found a single talking statue in those cities. Heck, I don't even think there is a statue in any of those three.
Didn't Blosk also have statues? Over by Fort Emerald?
Yes, but I don't recall finding any that talked.
Alright, this is what we're going to do. We're going on a Grand Tour. We head south first, go past the two forts, hit up the known statues Dharmon first. We check out Blosk on our way to Almaria, and then Mertis. From there, we go North past Silvar, swing past Corta, then north to Formello. After that, we go back west past the Giant territory back to the Abyss to check out the two cities there.
Why don't we double-check Spire and Bargha first?
We did promise to do something about the Giants, and I suppose Scimitar would like to know that we've upheld our end of their demands. We can finish off with them in case we have to come back to Erika for whatever reason.
You're being quite thorough in all this planning.
It's a long trip. We'd better get started.
Let me take the lead, I know where all these statues are.
Guess who forgot to screencap the statue in Dharmon? Well, no worry, it's one of the three along the waterfront past the beggar.
Divulge your secrets to me!
Way to make a production out of it, why don't you?
It sighs, and speaks. "Some bandits were talking back here, and I overheard them. They have a storehouse of stolen goods hidden somewhere in Dharmon. They also said something about a magic weapon."
Already dealt with that, Heartfinder is a good blade, but the Ravage Knife and the Vhanatai Blade are better.
Moving on then.
Welcome to scenic Blosk. According to that guard over there, there was a statue that was vandalized by some kids, and put back here. With the lack of other things, I think we should try this one out.
Among the rubble, you find a heavily cracked and battered statue. It's missing an arm, and both legs. Its eyes are closed, and a stone tear runs down its face. Amazingly, its eyes flick open. It looks at you, makes a whimpering noise, and closes them again. It open its eyes, makes a tiny whimpering noise, and closes them again.
It opens its eyes and whimpers. "Look what's been done to me. Isn't it awful?" It sighs. "Before this horrible thing happened, I heard a man who called himself Eldin bragging that he stole a brooch and was going to sell it in Dharmon. But then..." It pauses, then sobs. "Look - if this happened to you, you'd forget things too!"
Looks like we have our lead. Back to Dharmon.
What do you want?
Only for you to tell us what happened with the brooch you stole.
He laughs. "Brooch? Yeah, I heard about a brooch. In fact, I might have had it, and then you could have stuck it to me! But I don't got it, because that weasel Bertrand took it from me and high-tailed it east. So go nail him! And leave me alone!" He sits down on his bunk and grimaces.
I remember that name from somewhere, but now I can't.
But that does account for the six statues. We don't have to check up the other cities now.
We should, just in case another lead pops up. For example, we did find a Brooch in the undead cavern north of Mertis, so perhaps someone there knows about it.
And we can stock up on food again.
Actually, while we're in the area, there's something I want to check out with the Orb that we missed the last time.
You remember that place where we found the exterminated Empire Patrol, to the south of the Great Cave?
Well, I remember there being something on the other side of that chasm.
It's no use, the Orb won't let us go low enough to get under the curve of the cavern.
You'd think that a device that would allow people to fly would allow them to fly down, instead of up in a parabolic arc.
I guess Thalni wasn't as good as he thought he was.
I have to agree. Very disappointing, but I doubt anything of value is over there.
And you never find out what's to the south in any Exile or Avernum game that I'm aware of. Another mystery best served by other adventurers.
Now, which one was it?
Screw it, I'll just say it out loud. DIVULGE!
"Alas, I have heard nothing of interest."
Well, that was a waste.
I'll go buy the food, the rest of you take a break.
I REMEMBER YOU!
Tell me about the brooch, now! Or I'll rat you out to the guards!
He yelps in horror. "It's mine! Not Eldins, whatever he says. It's mine!" He looks you over, and smiles slyly. "Although you could purchase it. Just a hundred gold."
Fine, I'll buy it.
You give him the money, and he fishes out of his tunic a grimy ebony brooch. "There. Take it. If it really is magic, its use is beyond me."
HEEEEEEEEE! Four down, one to go!
Yep! And cheap, too!
But that still leaves us with no clue as to the location of the last one.
We may be able to do something with the four in our possession, but that will take some time. In the meanwhile, perhaps we should check up the other statues to see if they have anything interesting.
Next stop, Silvar.
This one, that whistles. Divulge!
"Don't have anything to say. Haven't heard a thing. Nope, nope, nope. Sorry." It resumes its humming.
It smirks. "I know something. There's this crystal cavern hidden nearby, with magical restorative powers. But someone vandalized it, and it awaits repair." It smirks again.
On my way up to Formello, I stopped Fort Duvno to ID some of my stuff and dump stuff as well. That Greatsword that Art has been carrying around for a while? Well, it's a Grim Greatsword.
Last one. Divulge!
"Greetings, master. I have little of use to say. The mayor had her necklace stolen. The town treasury is rich. There are magic fountains to the southeast, and magic spiders to the west. Oh, and someone said Motrax knows about a stone key. Please forgive me for not knowing more."
Now, I know we've heard about these magic fountains, but I'll be damned if we've found them.
He's right, we even looked high and low for them when we first came by here with the boat to check out across the river. Everything else checks out, so I suppose getting some incorrect information was bound to happen.
Alright, let's go back to the Abyss.
Are we there yet?
You know what?
You want to arbitrarily attack a Giant's castle?
Well, I'm not going to sell pastries!
And it will get us in the good graces of the people of the Abyss, if we act to secure their borders.
This is a dumb idea, and we all know it.
Not as dumb as agreeing with Erika!
Well, it's not actually that big a fortification.
And there's a secondary door over here.
Alright, who thinks that this is a trap? Main door wide open, with a locked side door?
Let's just get this over with.
Their attempts at defense are faulty, there is no inner gate.
Don't jinx us!
Where are we?
We still have all our gear though. A moment.
This was a stupid idea.
Before you go all moody on us, this pile of rocks in the back actually covers up a small passage out of here.
Huh. That was way too small for a giant.
While the rest of you were going through, I found something interesting.
This is way to regular to be the end of a tunnel. And something else.
All the cells have escape routes for non-giants. Oversight, or something more sinister?
We can probably find out on our way out.
mrrrrr. Hello there, prisoners. You see a thin, scraggly Nepharim, holding a crude club. It watches you warily.
Or maybe not. We're the First EEC. And you are?
"Mrmmm. I am called Hfass."
So, what are you doing here? A spy?
"Hrmm. Normally, I would be your foe. But here, we all work against the common enemy." As he says enemy, he lets out a slight hiss.
What enemies? You mean the Giants?
"Mrrm. And Vapor rats. It is not important. The human there and I slipped away from the cell with the help of the third, and wait here for the chance to depart."
What do you mean, 'A chance to depart? Is there no way out?
"We have made it as far as the gate, with stealth and skill, but the gate is locked, and we cannot find the key. Without the key, there is no hope of getting out. I hope that one day I can return to my mate, but I despair."
Don't worry, we've been in worse situations than this, we can get you out to your mate.
"Oh beautiful, soft-furred tan. You could never in a million years appreciate her beauty. She waits for me in the fort still, I am sure. Nepharim mate for life."
"A few of us Nepharim choose to live together, with our own kind, near your city of Cotra. We guard ourselves, and the crypt."
Oh, I see where this is going. A crypt? Why would you do such a thing?
It is the tomb of a Nephar hero of old, who helped win the first victory against you humans. Hrmmm. In the crypt is a piece of the great blade of a human hero. It is a beautiful sight. I hope to see it again before the giants eat me."
Exceedingly awkward, as I'm pretty sure we pulverized that fort's defenders on our two passes through there.
This, and another point later in the castle, make me think that at some point, the Giant's castle was supposed to be a more accessible location, earlier in the game, rather than placed so far into the upper-left of Exile. Talking about the Demonslayer Blade here seems... far too late, though I suppose it's because I knew what I was doing in getting that weapon.
Hey? Someone new? There is a young, bearded man. His once solid figure is slowly wasting away.
Rook, First EEC.
"I am Zed. Welcome to you, fellow prisoner."
What are you doing down here? Beyond the obvious, I mean.
And where might that be?
"I am from the Abyss. It is my home, and I look at it with pride. I don't expect a vole to understand it."
Alright, maybe you can answer this for me then. Why is that place called the Abyss in the first place? Is it supposed to be an insult?
"Yes! You call it the Abyss! We see it differently. We all live in the Abyss. But our cavern is the ladder that we will all one day climb to escape."
Escape? From the Abyss?
"Maybe. Perhaps you might help. We are protected from the giants by Bargha, the fort we build with our outlaw hands. There, ask of the Scimitar. I would be helping them now, but the giants are in the way."
Thanks for the advice, but we've already met with them.
This place is full of passages that are too small for a Giant. It's almost like they took over a preexisting location and expanded the caves they were using.
We should try to get into that storage room.
And when was the last time any of those had anything of value to us?
There might be that key that was mentioned stored in there.
Fine, but these rocks are a pain to go around.
These are obvious traps.
And an eye beast, just to make things interesting.
What did I tell you? Uninteresting.
I wouldn't say that.
I don't identify it yet.
Dammit Art! This is why we should have kept Demonslayer?
It's only a single Haakai! How much of a threat can it be?
Not much of one.
And a possibly useful wand, if I wasn't capable of doing everything myself.
Better check that book first.
This would have been interesting to read if we hadn't already killed both of them.
And this is the other piece that causes me to think this was supposed to be earlier. I suppose this is a note to let people know about part of the first major quest line, assuming they've been exploring first.
Non linearity is good and all that, but it gets annoying when you're running across information that badly outdated.
And behind the door?
Wow, now that we're north of the cells, this place looks like a pantry.
I sincerely hope you're not suggesting the two are related.
I don't have to!
LEAVE NONE ALIVE!
Meet the Giant Shaman. Like Giants, they are huge balls of HP, and they don't give up their physical attacks to add in decent offensive magic. In short, if I hadn't already wiped the floor with demons, these would be a threat.
We should secure this floor first, before going upstairs. At the least, we can let the others know it's safe to advance.
Like looking for this?
This should fit the doorway we saw above. And maybe even that large walled gate we saw to the east.
We should see if there are any other jailers.
I should not be surprised.
Nice to know where we are.
Come on, let's secure this place.
It never ceases to amaze me how you can so confidently just decide that the six of us can take on entire fortresses, and succeed.
You doubt the power of heroes?
I don't know.
Great, a temple of some sort. Anyone remember what gods they worship?
Not really, only that they view the Troglodytes as their mortal enemies.
Not helping any.
Priest's room, for private ceremonies.
Why do I even bother?
Come on, let's keep sweeping.
Might be useful. Might not.
Enough dallying, my scrying detected a library to the east. We should investigate.
Don't be such a barbarian!
Oh come on, do you even read Giant?
Oh. Never mind me then.
I never did.
WHAT IS ALL THIS RACKET?
Hi? Rescue service?
Who are you? Why are you here?
Um... saving people from the Giants? You included?
No! You've ruined everything, you vole!
What was that? Another Anastasia, out to rule via proxy?
I don't know.
We should look around.
I should stop setting myself up for disappointment like this.
Completely generic supplies.
And some not-so-generic weapons.
On others hands, these would be siege shot.
And more of them, obvious set so that no matter which side of the castle you are on, they can get to them quickly.
And a livestock larder, with water source.
Nope, don't want to go back down stairs, at least, not yet.
Alright, let's get those two, and get out of here.
Your Giant Castle was a bust, just wanted to let you know.
The giants we just slaughtered? And I do mean slaughtered? They had nothing for treasure. Now, we don't mind doing services for all Exiles, even those who would rather they weren't, but you have to be honest with us in the future. Bye!
I'm going to cut the update a little short here, as I'm already pushing my limits with it. I'll finish off the Scimitar outpost next time.