Part 43: Update 039 Beneath Baghra and the Lair of PyrogUpdate 039 Beneath Baghra and the Lair of Pyrog
Phaedrus! See! I remember the password!
"You have succeeded in your mission. We will now consider you one of us. Go through the secret passage to the south and speak with Rogow. She's in charge here."
Aw, I was hoping for a party.
A nimble woman with a short sword and a deadly expression stares at you from across the desk. "I'm Rogow. Of the Scimitar."
Art, First Exile Escape Committee. Feels weird to say the full name for once.
We know. I'm in charge of this particular cell. You are now a member of the Scimitar."
Alright, just what the heck is Scimitar, anyways? We've seen you guys even down into the Great Cave, but info on you is scarce.
"I thought you'd never ask." She chuckles. "We're all down here. They're all up there. But we are harder to control and watch in these endless tunnels than they expected. This is the ultimate breeding ground for rebellion. But - there is one problem."
It has to do with the cell structure you talked about earlier, doesn't it?
"The Scimitar is large, and getting larger. Alas, spies and assassins of the Empire above are everywhere, and many of us were being killed. So we split up into small groups, any one of which only knows of few others." She sighs. "Makes recruiting hard."
"In particularly, we're looking for a group of skilled, dedicated adventurers."
In particular, us. What's the problem?
"It's simple. There is one advantage they will always have over us. They can get at us, but we can't get at them. To be on equal footing, we need to find the exit to the upper world."
What she means to say is; 'What Exit'?
"This is something I'm sure you don't know. They left an exit unblocked. We know where it is, and we know how to get to it. But we don't have everything we need. That's where you would come in. We need a small, strong group to get the right information."
"Our greatest ally is an archmage named Erika. She told us the location of the exit, and about the password."
"Erika says there is a four part password necessary to get through the exit. She has known that for some time, and has been scrying to try to find out who knows it or who might know it. Try to find her, and ask her about the password."
Erika? Seriously? That psychotic bitch?
Careful Art, I think you're starting to repeat yourself.
Hey, she called me a soulless Ginger, she started it!
Not this again...
Look, let's just get out of here before Art does something we'll all regret even more than usual.
I see a button to open the game on this side, but nothing on the other. I suppose this is an escape, or more likely, a secure entrance.
A man in rags sits in his cell, munching on a chunk of stale bread.
You've been given permission to talk to the prisoner. And for what it's worth, we may not say it up front, but we do appreciate what you're doing.
What is your name?
"Vennel." He speaks wearily, as if used to being questioned.
What are you doing here?
"I'm your prisoner. Well, the Scimitar's prisoner. So I guess your prisoner too."
Obviously you're a prisoner, I was just asking what you were doing here.
"You guys captured me when I got separated from my group. I told them all I know already. And I'm homesick."
Homesick? Where are you from? The Gallery? The Great Cave?
"Oh. You probably don't know. I'm from the surface. I was part of a group they teleported down to watch all of you, but I got lost in all these tunnels. I've already told them about the fort. I don't have much else to say. Please don't kill me."
There's a hidden fort in the Cave of Spirits. That's where we keep to orb we use to communicate with the surface. I told them all this already. They didn't need to torture me or anything. You aren't going to torture me, are you?"
Well, now we know where they got that information. Seriously though, the Cave of Spirits? That's just a giant scree pit now that Drath is destroyed.
Why do you think we'd torture you?
He starts twitching. "That's what's going to happen, isn't it? They told me you were all harmless, and I'd be away from my family for six months. Now I'm going to die in this pit!" He starts to get hysterical, then regains control.
That's enough. Let's go.
Should we be back here?
We were not barred, so I do not think so.
And yet, here we are.
I think this is the town vault.
Or not. Not much here.
That's a lot of stuff.
I would say, a year's worth down here, including the fresh water.
And there's something in the back corner here.
And there's the other way out of the Scimitar base.
Let's go. We've got to figure out our next move.
And we're over by the Mayor's office. Makes sense.
So, any ideas about where to go?
I think I do.
Well, let's hear it.
Alright. Logic time.
We know that this region of Exile is where the Empire like to Teleport their people in for the most part. Fort Exile seems to be an aberration, a way to send the undesirables away. From there, we can draw a basic map of Exile as we know it, thus:
That's not basic!
What are the purple dots?
Where we were when I updated that portion of the map. My final version will be using those spots as compass radials.
Humph. You can't draw a curve to save your life, can you?
Not the point. Anyways, here are the three Empire Outposts we've hit.
Interesting. It's like the Empire has centered on the Abyss for their arrivals. Any ideas why, Peregrine?
Not at this time. It would require research. Perhaps a leyline?
I didn't get the feel for that at all. Perhaps it's straight under the facility they used to start with, and as such, it's just the shortest distance?
That would imply that Exile is located under the Capital Province. Castle Hawthorne could be above our heads as we speak.
I'd rather it didn't, thank you.
Anyways, here's the locations of the four brooches we've found.
We can't really count Mertis, as the brooch was purchased there, not found.
No, but the other three points make sense, especially when you also account for the location of the Orb of Thralni, and the Royal Seal.
We can use these artifacts, or rather, their locations to determine a probable path they took through the caves.
Alright, so what does that mean?
We know that the First Expedition split up, at least once. After arriving here in the Abyss, they went East, rather than South. Passing through the Giant's Lands, they arrived at the river where we found the Greymold, that leads down to Slith waters.
From there, Thralni explored the waterways. He died in the Waterfall Warrens, and I suspect that the brooch purchased in Mertis was his. The survivors of that portion of the expedition carrying with them further south, as we know there was evidence of the Expedition in Drath's cavern.
By this time, the Demons were chasing after them, and they crossed that river, keeping east. I don't know where they crossed the next river, but I suspect that it would have been near that peninsula north of Dranlon.
From there, they went north, through the caverns, until a faction of them were killed by the Aranea, and a party of them were entombed by the Spiders. Where we found one of the Brooches.
We know from Motrax that a group came to him requesting sanctuary. I theorize that group met with survivors of Thanli's group, who brought with them the stone key from that place. One group tried to hide there, hoping he would be shelter by his presence, but the local drakes killed them, leaving us with another Brooch.
Right. The last survivors fled south, the battle where the Demonslayer Blade was broken, we encountered to the south of the Dragon's cave. The remains of that battle kept running south, across the Eastern Gallery, where they tried to find shelter in the cave north-east of modern Mertis, where they died, leaving behind the last brooch.
Still one unaccounted for.
Not true. They passed through the Giant's lands, and there are two points of interest we haven't examined yet. The first is the Wall, the second is the Lair of Pyrog.
We still don't know who, or what, this Pyrog is.
I suspect some form of shamanic spirit, based on my observation of Giant literature. A 'living flame'.
Very well. Art, your decision?
... We'll check out the region behind the wall, if it's relevant. If not, we'll go the Lair, and investigate there.
At least we shouldn't be bothered by Giants after what we did to their castle.
Let us see if the Key works.
I'm actually surprised.
Anyone else hear water?
A lake. Interesting.
It probably feeds the waterway leading south to the Siths, and west past the Abyss and Erika's tower.
Grab a boat. We can explore a bit first, before deciding to check out the Lair.
I would suggest the lair first, as it is a fixed point, whereas this lake can have a multitude of locations to investigate.
We're here now. No backtracking.
Very well. It is Ember's turn to row.
I name thee.... BOAT THE THIRD!
There's people on that island.
What are they doing here?
Who cares? CHARGE!
Several islands here on the northern lake have this encounter on it. It's actually a pain as the enemy mages are behind the Mung Demon, which will drain your SP quite fast. But not insurmountable. I just didn't enjoy it.
They were searching for something.
No idea what though.
Or perhaps us?
Why would we be here in the first place?
Something else then.
Well, there's nothing here, so let's go.
Row, row, row your boat...!
Didn't we already have this conversation?
Interesting. I think this is a source for the water in the lake. And there's something on the shore.
It's not evil...
I can sense no hostility from it either.
That was nice.
It feels odd to find something not out to kill us.
Well, it had to happen eventually.
She's right. The odds were in our favor.
That's a gambler's fallacy, and you know it.
And we could have gotten here over land, oddly enough.
And the next river is....
Drink up boys!
Dexterity +1 for everyone in the party. Like any other even-flagged ability increase, this one can put you over the natural limit of 20.
This has been an unusually fortuitous occasion for us. To find such boons in close proximity to each other...
Nothing special, I think.
You keep saying that, but then it turns out that it is actually something much later.
What, I can't be perfect all the time! Peregrine would get annoyed I'm stepping on his toes.
Do I have to come over there?
Interesting. This area seems to flow out to the North, but there are far too many shoals to make it through. I suspect within a couple decades, erosion will make this passage possible.
There is much magic coming from here.
I agree. Everyone on your best behavior.
What kind of mage puts out that much power when she takes a nap?
Um, thank you..?
I have never even heard of this school of magic.
But this password? Wasn't there something about us talking to Erika about it?
We can talk to her when we see her next.
What? After looting a few castles first?
Nothing important back here.
We have tarried enough. Let us return to Pyrog's lair and see if there is a lead there.
That's an interesting welcoming party.
This happens when the terrain and the enemy mob generator don't cooperate. I land, and all three groups decide they'd like to be somewhere else.
Do we really have to be here?
Huh. Empty chest. At least I don't have to disarm a half-dozen traps to get to it this time.
Oh, this might not be good.
An enormous red-green creature looms up before you. Sulphur smoke pours from its mouth as it looks at you with amusement and hunger. A large key hangs around its neck.
At least we don't need that key.
Hello! We are the First EEC....
It chuckles and gives you a disturbingly predatory look. "I am Pyrog, lord of lizardkind."
That's a very might title. What, if I may humbly ask, does it entail?
It speaks in a voice deep, hypnotic, and malicious. "I am Pyrog. I am a dragon. I take offerings, and spare those who bring them. And I slay according to my whim."
This is why I don't like this...
To wantonly slay, it seems that word of your might would not spread as far...
"If I decide to devour someone, I do. It is my right, that comes with my might. Giants serve me, so I spare them. I give no such mercy to adventurers."
It roars, and belches flame. "Enough talk. I desire dinner, and more wealth. And you will provide it!"
I apologize. I tried to make a recording of this battle, but it just didn't work out. I suppose it was because I was also trying to record the dialog box as well. But Pyrog... isn't much of a boss battle really. I mean, once you finish your conversation, he immediately turns hostile, along with every other Giant in the dungeon. Because of this, they get a free round of attacks in. If you know this is coming (*cough*), then you may want to prepare by casting a couple Major Blessings first. Curse All and Slow All won't work, as until you talk to Pyrog, there are no enemies in the dungeon.
But Pyrog himself... is something of a push over when it comes down to it. The biggest threats are the Giants, really, as the Dragon is just a ball of HP with Flame Strike and Kill as his spell of choice. The Giants on the other hand, massively out number you, especially with the reinforcements from the sides, and that they all have a powerful ranged attack means there's no safe place to hide.
All told, for being the 'Mid Boss' of this quest line, he's about 85% that of Grah-Hoth and his entourage. And when he dies, he drops a key.
That did not just happen. No way did we just kill a dragon!
I agree. With Grah-Hoth, at least we had the advantage of possessing Demonslayer. Here, we had no such thing.
Or maybe Pyrog was all Bluff and Bluster? The Giants were a threat, not him.
Maybe. But here's the question. How do we tell Motrax?
I vote we don't.
That key does look useful.
Fine, I'll get it.
Let's just look around first, we can come back later.
What could cause this?
I don't know. But here's a trash pit.
Altar, nothing special about it.
Shall I destroy it anyways?
I don't think there's a need for it.
Everything's swept. Let's see what this key does.
Obviously a bedding area. But the map I made the first time we were here shows passages to the west and east.
Not even guarding anything of value.
When do we stop walking on lava?
After we kill this Haakai.
The last brooch.
And we only had to slay a dragon to do it. The titles we shall have when all this is done shall be unbelievable, even as legend.
And we still have no idea what to use this Onyx Sceptre for. Even I cannot divine its secrets.
It's out of Linda's hands, and that's enough for me.
Let's get out of here.
Back to Erika, I presume?
No sense in delaying the inevitable.
You killed Pyrog. I suppose that could mean you are possibly competent.
About that, Pyrog wasn't the fight we were expecting from a Dragon.
Pretentious bouts of importance. One's physical nature does not make one great. Power and skill, and the intelligence to use both makes one powerful. Ruler of lizardkind, such a worm.
Hey! Back on track here. We got the brooches.
She looks over your brooches. "Excellent. I have further instructions for you."
Gee, not surprised. Now what?
"There is a place, somewhere down here, well hidden, which is close to the surface and from which someone may be teleported. I don't know where it is, but I do know who you should talk to: A man named Aydin."
And Aydin is...?
"A traitor from the Empire. He hides on the islands north of the giant's cave. If you can win his trust, he should know where you should go. When you get there, perform this ritual to summon me." She teaches you a ritual.
Not really helpful, are you?
You move like an insect. You think like an insect. You ARE an insect. There will be another who can serve my purpose. Take care not to fall too far out of my favour... patience is not characteristic of a goddess. Now go!