Part 47: Update 043 The Theft and the Final GauntletUpdate 043 The Theft and the Final Gauntlet
This is it. Once again, thank you to everyone for reading. A more comprehensive thanks will be at the end of this chapter.
What Circlet? Has anyone heard of such a thing?
No. But we should head back to Baghra. We can ask the Scimitar about it. We have everything else we need, this should be the end of it. They will help, or they will not be worth helping.
Yes? How do you progress?
We need to know anything you may know about a Silver Circlet. Sulfras wants it as payment for passage to the possible exit.
I know nothing, yet... Head to Spire. Talk to the man behind the blacksmith. He is one of us, and he may know something of use.
We have to help each other. Get going, you need to get out of here.
A greasy man with stained clothes loafs behind the counter. He gives you a knowing, nasty look.
I'm Duncan. I heard you could hook us up with a Scimitar.
"Entwhistle the supplier. I supply goods. Of all sorts. You look to be voles, but your money looks as good as any, so you can buy something if you want. But if you plan some thievery, watch it."
Thieves? Us? I take offence! We would never do such a thing!
His mouth twists evilly. "Yes. There are things here you might want to steal. But I'm not the one to ask. If you meet a man named Scab, ask him about the circlet. There are some people here who'd like to see that thing disappear."
What do you have, anyways?
Now go, get out of here.
Back, heh? You should go through the Arena again, Miss. You were pretty popular.
Maybe another time. We want to know about the circlet.
His head swings around. "You interested in that?" His sedate demeanor has disappeared. "You know, there's a person living here named Meena."
The name is familiar.
"Yeah. She's the mayor. Runs this place like her own personal hell. Thieves die. Don't like that. Well, she's got this magic circlet. Don't think it does anything, or at least that she knows how to use it, but it's a magic artifact and old."
"Anyway, some of us tried to steal it. But we failed."
Scab shakes his head. "I'm still not convinced you're good enough for the job. You've only fought easy stuff. Keep going through."
It's not obvious here, but you're supposed to complete the Arena battles to advance the plot. And here you guys thought that after seeing this place back in Update 21, I would never have to come back, right? Wrong! Let's get to killing!
Heya Miss, care for another go-around?
Sure. I'm pretty sure unless you have a dragon locked up here, nothing you have can stop us. I'll enter.
Zagat nods. "I'm so glad you're trying again. You were very popular last time. Go through as before. The reward is 20 gold."
This time the foe is a Giant Lizard. Art almost kills it in one hit, then Karmas assassinates for ridiculous damage.
"Excellent. The reward is 50 gold this time. You go over very, very well!"
Yes, the enemy is described as a Drake. Yes, it looks like a rat. I don't know how this glitch happened. It dies like a Drake anyways.
And never use this spell in the Arena. You will damage a lot of innocent people, turning the entire town hostile. Then you can kiss your chances of finishing this quest goodbye.
Zagat grins broadly. "Good for you! This battle doesn't look to be too challenging, but it will be very exciting for the rubes. The reward is 500 gold. Have fun!"
Such a leap in prize money, there must be some other factor in play...
A damned Ur-Basilisk! This is a gargantuan leap in difficulty from the Drake previously, and I kept this picture to show you what it did on its second turn. It stoned Karmas and Duncan. One reload later...
Anything else? That last one might have been lethal.
Zagat sighs. "Alas, as much as I would like to send you through again, we're out of monsters. Come back later, and maybe we'll have some in stock."
Thus ends the Arena.
"OK. I'm convinced. I was working with a thief named Asp. He can help you. Tell him my name, and ask about the circlet. Also, we got the key to its case. It's in a secret cave west of here." He tells you where in the cave the key is.
So, how does the mayor factor into this? If we fail?
"She found out. She doesn't know I was in on it. But the others were killed. They died slow. Two of us lived, one's far away now. Anyway, just to get her back, to get that troll, I want to see someone steal it."
So, we get the key, talk to this Asp, then acquire the thing?
Yep. Best you be off now. You have places to go.
Duncan was quite good at getting what we wanted out of them.
That, he is.
I suspect these are the caves Scab told us about.
Before you trigger Scab's acceptance, this place is blocked off by impassible rocks. Afterwards, they mysteriously disappear to allow you access to this small hidden alcove.
I found the shiny!
I knew that would be useful someday.
All we need now is a password. Now, where is this Asp person?
He was sitting across from that mage guy, back in Corta! In the inn! You know, the one who taught us Firestorm!
Are you certain?
It says much about me that I do not consider the long journey back there to be a hassle. And that we left the Fifth anchored north of Almaria.
I suppose you wish to ask us about our future?
I feel like I have to. We've all been through so much together.
I cannot leave. There is too much down here to do, I cannot go in search of the past when the future lay before me.
I wish I shared your conviction, but... I don't know. I haven't really thought about it. It was just a goal, right? Something to keep going toward. But I don't know... I just don't know.
What of you, Rook?
I was honestly hoping for you guys' advice. I can't seem to make up my mind.
Have you asked Art?
No. And I don't know if I should.
Hello, Asp. Scab sent us to talk to you.
He smiles humorlessly. "Ah, an old friend. And he sends you to me. I'm afraid I'm not working now. Keeping a low profile. Perhaps you are looking for information?"
Yes. About a certain circlet.
"Hmm. Someone I met, um, while working, told me that the mayor of one of the rebel cities owns it. She trapped it. It blasts anyone who tries to get it without saying 'Ankh'."
You have been a great help, my friend. May peaceful days lay ahead of you.
You too. Now get out of here.
Can you enter?
This door... I don't think so.
No. There must be another way in.
Let's check outside then.
Who are you?
People who get to kill thieves like you!
There is no place for you here!
Is that it?
I think so.
Might as well check that chest while we're at it.
So THIS is where the damned thing has been! The Ruby Helm is a helm that casts Fireballs, and for the life of me, I couldn't remember where it was. I thought it might have been in a Dragon's horde, but seeing it here was nice.
Mayor's room. Let's just go through.
I've got the box.
One theft, well executed. Now, let's get to Sulfras, before bad things happen.
I was very surprised to see an NPC in this corridor, so I decided to create this conversation whole cloth.
Hello. Just passing through.
We know. I.. No. We. We want to say thank you.
For being who you are. For doing everything you have done. There is more to this world that you will ever know, but know this you have made it better. And we thank you for it. Now go. Get out of here. We have a patrol coming soon.
This will be the last time we talk to a dragon, right?
We have what you asked. The Silver Circlet, and the Onyx Sceptre. Do we have your permission to pass by?
The dragon waves you forward. Trembling, you present the items. He nods, and swoops them up with a mighty claw. "You may go east. It may not do you any good."
Thank you for your forbearance.
Do not presume, mortal. GO. Get out of my sight.
This is it.
We have placed much in what others have told us. Let our faith be well placed.
This doesn't look good.
This... is actually a fairly difficult encounter. Why? Because you're thrown into two consecutive fights against large groups of Eye Beasts and Gazers with no chance to recover. Allow me to present one screenshot that shows off just how badly I was off:
No amount of Major Blessings could keep up with the Cursing and Slowing being thrown my way, and I had to slog through it to finally attrition my way to victory. Normally, I would rest up after a battle like that, but then this:
This second battle took several reloads to beat, and eventually, I had to resort to cheating my HP back to full to make it through. I'm so close to the end, and grinding would be very difficult at this point. Anyways, I win, moving on.
We're going a lot higher...
End of the road.
This place is unmappable.
There's a sign up ahead. I can barely see it through the darkness.
Not giving up.
There's a barrier up ahead.
It could never be that easy.
This doesn't look safe at all.
A little something I like to think of as the loneliest picture I'll take in this LP. Nothing but the black.
I agree. We shouldn't do that.
There was a secret passage to the south, we should look at that, I think.
That triggered something else... We have to find it.
No way back now.
There are drakes on this side of the cavern. Not a threat, but do be careful.
I can see the end. There's nothing over there.
This secret passage to the right of the chasm we just crossed.
Nothing. That's dissapointing.
These two piles of rubble mark the secret passage away from the Drakes and Ur-Basilisks.
And a whole bunch of Black Shades. Joy.
I fired off a Shockwave to see what was in the area. An Assassin I never see dies without fanfare. But it is nice to have an idea of what is in the area, even though I can't tell where they are.
What does it say?
Let's go. There can't be much more.
To arms! We are almost there!
Another Shockwave from Ember, kills a couple foes, but lets me know what's in the room with me. Time to rock.
That's all of them.
Odd, these statues... they mean nothing.
And a bit of lava to light our way.
There's another of those buttons back here. Ember?
Let's get back out into the main cave, see what changed.
Talk about lucky! Art is left with 0 HP after that. Pressing the button spawned in a large number of foes, and I can draw them into this little corridor where I can gang up on them, 6-to-1.
Those buttons, they activate something. There should be a third one nearby. We should find it.
Then let's try the east side.
I don't want to cross that!
You may not have to. Look.
I'm in love.
A boat, on lava.
Wait for it.
I NAME THEE BOAT THE SEVENTH! Lucky number seven!
There's no way this should work.
That's it. Whatever has happened, will happen now.
Art leaned against the window, a deep and aching emptiness that she didn't know she had welling up inside her. After months of travel, thousands of miles... it was right in front of her. Escape.
She fell to her knees, tears falling down her face, even though she did not cry.
There's a portal back there, Peregrine announced, his robes swishing against the floor. Seems it leads back to the entrance to this cave. An easy way into Exile, though not so much a way out.
Rook sat down at the lip of the fountain. Is this it? Are we free?
Yes, Art finally managed to choke out. We are.
YAY! At that, Ember abandoned all pretence of patience, and ripped open the door with a slam before bolting out into the wilderness. As the rest of the First Exile Escape Committee watched, she started running up a hill through a field of flowers before tripping and vanishing under the layer of colour.
Rescue was stopped when the raven-haired pyromaniac jumped back to her feet. She laughed aloud, a chime in the ears of those who listened. Throwing away her now-broken sandals, Ember vanished over the hill.
I think I will return. Karmas walked away from the window with heavy steps. I cannot be free like that. Not where there is still so much obligation to fulfil.
Setting a gentle hand on Karmas' shoulder, Rook shook his head. You don't have to do that. You have a people you were forced to leave behind.
They do not know me, my friend. The people of Exile do. Micah needs a strong right hand in the days to come, and I will offer my services for that.
Aiming for kingship, huh? Duncan stood framed in the doorway, on the precipice of Exile and Empire. King Karmas the First. Has a ring to it.
Karmas laughed sourly. No. Not yet. There is still much for me to learn. I am not yet a Prince, let alone a King. He removed Rook's hand, then walked toward the waiting portal, a return to the pit.
Art stood, wiping away the last of her tears. What about the rest of you?
Peregrine sighed. I think I'm going to wait a bit. A place like this? It's small, but there should have been someone here, to watch over things.
Agreeing, Duncan turned back inward. Smart words. Let's have a little chat. Rook, what about you?
I think a little chat would be nice before going out. A bit of a rest too. The last three turned to look to their leader. What about you, Art? Aren't you going home? Or at least try to? We know you have family still up here. They have to miss you.
Art shook her head. No. They're too high profile. I couldn't get anywhere near them without bringing down an army on my head. I may be good. But I'm not that good in a fight. She looked back and forth. No, I... I... I....
It's alright, Rook admitted to Art, letting her see that no matter what she chose, he would support her. You can go. We won't stop you.
Art picked up her gear and went for the Portal back into Exile.
* * *
You came back? Karmas asked as Art emerged from the magical transport into the darkness of Exile. He waited while her eyes adjusted back to the gloom of the light-producing moss. And what about the others?
As Art regained her sight, she didn't look behind her. They stayed to wait for whomever would come to check the place out. I didn't need to be there for that.
Then why come back? Why not join Ember in the sun?
I'm not going back, Art replied, steel growing in her voice. I'm going forward.
Thanks to everyone that participated in my thread; TooMuchAbstraction, MagusofStars, Redmark, veekie, Tax Refund, Pierzak, Glazius, GodFish, Shady Amish Terror, Cheez, Zebrin, CAPT. Rainbowbeard, RabidWeasel, Tylana, Parts Kit, Whybird, curiousCat, Gullwhacker, AmiYumi, krael, Food Guy, SIGSEGV, Mega64, GetWellGamers, Krumbsthumbs, Arquebus, Shwqa, Dirk the Average, Whit27, Scribbleykins, JustJeff88, DarkenCecil, Gothsheep, Pieuvre, Double Rabite, ShadowCatBoy, Kinfolk910, Kiavahr, Pester, Captain Oblivious, Deceitful Penguin, Tuxedo Ted, Kuros, goldjas, Dad Beer, Aleator, Linthar, Mrit, occipitallobe, Cinephile86, Sparda219, Hermetian, Xandor TikRoth, Agent Interrobang, The Lone Badger, EightDeer, GrimRevenent, Disproportionation, Must Love Dogs, Rogue Lemon, Kerbtree, inscrutable horse, Calamitous Justice, Chronische, Darthemed, Technowolf, SilkyP, Private Speech, SineNobilitate, Thuryl, and Raspberry Commie.
Special thanks to Gullwhacker for acting as a sounding board for the later half of the LP.
Thanks to my Dad, who may eventually get around to reading this, for it was he who introduced me to Role Playing Games in general, and it was his computer on which I first played these games.
And my mother, who for not knowing why I liked these game so much, was still supportive by telling me to get off the computer and to go to bed at a regular hour. A good habit I have kept to this day.
To Jeff Vogel and everyone else at Spiderweb Software, for making this game, and for the sequels I will get around to doing.
And to everyone else to whom I owe something, but did not name directly. You may be forgotten, but your contributions are not.
See you all next time.