Part 44: The Witch of the FensUpdate 44: The Witch of the Fens
In This Update:
- Lazy mornings vs punctuality!
- The price of love!
- Introducing: The Witch of the Fens!
Dear archive reader, you may be surprised by the title, "The Witch of the Fens," considering last update's ballot. You see, I made a bit of a mistake.
I forgot that the Prima Donna, Fishing and Ecology quests are all locked behind a particular area in the Tramdine Fens. This area is unlocked by completing a chain of quests involving the Witch of the Fens. I put up a new vote, and the thread decided we'll handle the Witch quests instead of the update they initially voted for.
So, without further ado: the Witch of the Fens!
It begins, as these things do, with a fetch quest.
We can actually visit the final quest location before obtaining the potion.
The actual quest location is the mysterious hut in the fens. Which makes a lot of sense.
: Definitely not a ghost. No... definitely not... *gulp*
: That's a big surprise... I'm, uh, actually here on a quest -- part of a clan and all that. I was supposed to find the Witch of the Fens. That wouldn't happen to be you, would it?
: Great! Y'see, I need you to make me something that you can't exactly walk in and buy at just any shop.
: You bring me ingredients most peculiar. Is it the malboro draught you seek?
: Wow, you could tell that before I even gave you the ingredients? I'm on a quest for someone who needed something to help them wake up in the morning.
Is it really that hard to invent an alarm clock?
: Very well. I seldom have the chance to brew such draughts.
: Viera noises must be pretty sharp.
: You say this is to be used to rouse someone from sleep? It will do that only too well.
: Thanks! Oh, about your payment...
: No payment. The reagents used were yours, after all. And my usual fee has a great many zeroes at the end.
: Uh, I don't think we could afford that anyway... Well, let's leave it at thanks, then!
With that, Samuel leaves and we can finally head to the requester.
: A few sips of this and I doubt I'll have trouble waking up on time.
How is drinking a foul-smelling potion supposed to wake you up?
: Isn't there someone you could just ask to wake you up?
: There is my mother, but not matter how she tries, I just go on sleeping. That only upsets her more, and I still end up late.
I didn't realize the stakes were so high.
: I'll miss those morning spent drowsing in bed, but enough is enough. With this draught, my troubles should be behind me. Thank you!
That's one customer satisfied!
- Geldran the Once Drowsy
It doesn't last, of course.
Back to the Witch we go, ingredients in hand.
: You've come for prim draught, am I right?
: That's the one. The potion you made for us last time seems to be a little too, um... effective.
: I can well imagine. Malboro draught can wake even the dead. It is no penny potion to be hawked and traded by roadside charlatans.
Because, like any wizard, the Witch of the Fens has no sense of right and wrong.
: You ask for a draught - I give it to you. My responsibility ends there. Now you have asked again, and I shall not send you away empty-handed. Perhaps your next request will be something a little less... trifling.
Poof! Same animation as before, sorry.
: There, it is done. Take it and go.
: Thanks! Oh, and about your payment...
Please do not anger the Witch, Samuel.
: Right, we'll leave it at thanks, then!
And back to the questee.
: Is this the prim draught I asked for? It certainly smells sweet. As sweet as those lazy mornings wiled away under the covers...
: Didn't you say your mother would stop paying you your allowance if you didn't wake up on time?
: I realized that money is no replacement for sleep.
Except if you have an allowance, you can buy "little luxuries"! Though I have to admit, sleep is quite important.
PSA: Don't mix uppers and downers like this. I know these are just fantasy potions, but pills to wake and pills to go to sleep again can really mess you up, OK? Just look at Brian Epstein.
: But that doesn't mean I can't work hard on my studies. If I do that, why should she complain? Before I get to that, I'm going to take a sip of this draught and enjoy a blissful night -- and morning -- of sleep!
Well, I'm sure he's happy now.
But we're not done with potions and poor decisions just yet!
-- Kuleek, Moorabella Magick Akademy
Another student is in trouble, and it's up to us to obtain the right drugs to solve his problem.
Which means another visit to the Witch.
: You've brought some unusual items with you once again.
: Huh, even the usual stuff looks unusual to me! All I know is someone drank a love philtre that wasn't finished and came down with a fever. I'm here to get some medicine to cure it.
: An unfinished love philtre, you say...
"Antipyretic" means a fever reducer, unsurprisingly. That's the Greek word, apparently the Latin version (by way of French) is "febrifuge." I love it.
: An interesting notion. Clever, whoever thought up this mixture.
: Something funny?
OK, so I know the game likes to employ a slightly antiquated manner of speech, and here the Witch means she thinks the ancient arts are unpopular now.
But it sure sounds like, "By sheer force of will, I made everyone lose interest in the ancient arts."
: No matter. The mixture will do what you hope it will.
I'm starting to think you don't mean it, Witch.
Poof! Interestingly enough, "philtre" means "love potion," with the root "philia" meaning "love". So "love philtre" is a bit redundant, though "philtre" has come to mean a generic magic potion.
: There, it is done. Take it and go.
Never say I never taught you nothing.
: Er... right. I'm just going to take it and shut up.
: Very good.
One quick trip across the channel...
: I've been waiting for you! Hopefully this will bring down the fever.
: What about the love philtre? Did it work?
: The philtre wasn't complete, so I don't think there's anything to worry about.
I guess they don't teach lab safety at the Akademy, huh?
: I'm exhausted from watching over my friend while she's been sick. But I won't be getting any proper rest until she's well... and I've apologized. *sigh*
Well, I hope it all works out.
Back to the Witch once more!
: What do you do out here, anyway? Some kind of cooking experiments? Well, that's not what I came about, though. I need an antidote for that love philtre. Seems like it worked after all.
: The mixture to ease the fever -- it worked? It would seem the incomplete love philtre was more complete than he had thought.
: You're tellin' me.
Samuel, please do not patronize the Witch by calling her work "cooking experiments." She's giving you exotic potions for free. And she could probably kill you and not bother to make it look like an accident.
But I have the feeling she doesn't really care what you think.
: Whether this will do as your benefactor hopes, I cannot say. A trifling matter, but amusing.
Poof! Is it me, or is she warming up to us?
: There, it is done. Go.
You may have noticed all these potions and ingredients are loot. I have never dared to try to sell them on the Bazaar. I wonder if that auto-fails the quest? Or if you have to scrounge up another one?
: Thanks again!
: It passes the time.
: Well, thanks anyway!
Another quick trip across the pond to Moorabella.
: Thank you! Once I give this to her, she should come back to her senses!
: Well, it's impressive that the love philtre worked even though it wasn't finished.
: I'm... not sure why it did, though. I never meant to use it. I'm actually a little worried... I mean, once she recovers, she's probably going to hate me.
But you're doing the right thing to correct your mistakes. Take some comfort from that. Though maybe you should stop and think if you should do something before trying to see if you could do it.
: What a fool I've been...
I hope she forgives him.
Waiting for us in the pub is a letter from Kuleek:
No Philtre Required posted:
It's me! Kuleek from Akademy? Thanks for the help with that love philtre!
Actually... the experiment was a failure.
It turns out someone had told her about how I'd sat with her when she was in the grip of the fever... and that's why she fell in love with me!
It had nothing to do with the philtre at all!
Failure has never tasted so sweet!
Ah, young love.
And now for things to become serious.
Well that's... serious, I suppose. After a sleepy student and a love philtre, this is quite the change in tone.
First, let's turn to our expert on exotic potions.
: I'm looking for something, and I thought you may know where to find it. It's called zombie powder. Have you heard of it?
: Now I know why your bearing is so grim. I do have knowledge of what you seek. The ancient arts have much to say on it -- a dreadful substance. It is not like you to seek that which lies so deep in the dark. Why do you do so?
: The petitioner of the quest I'm on wants to end his mortal life... What happens when someone uses zombie powder, anyway?
: The effects of one dose are too subtle to discern, so its use often passes unnoticed. Yet taken over time, the user's flesh rots and they become a living corpse.
That's horrifying. And, like many horrifying things in fantasy games, it's based on a real-world concept, namely the Haitian zombie tradition.
: Who would make something like that on purpose?
: There was a kingdom, once, that sought to raise an army of undead. With soldier that could not die, they thought to become invincible.
: For a year, it was so. But that would soon change. Their bodies endured where their hearts and minds did not.
: Which brings us to the matter at hand. There is a hidden moor beyond this hovel. You must travel there. Zombies and dreamhares frequent that land.
: Thanks... I guess.
: Once someone uses zombie powder, is there any way to make them turn back?
: Why do you ask? Undoing the ancient arts is no matter of coin and barter. Which is beside the point. Your quest binds you to perform a task. No more, no less.
: Right. You're right.
That's the look of someone who knows more than they're letting on. Which is the Witch in a nutshell, really.
Notice that the Witch didn't actually answer Samuel's question. We know there is a way to undo the effects of zombie powder and restore someone to full vitality. After all, in Update 26 we restored the zombified swordmaster Frimelda Lotice to humanity.
But it was not cheap: the aspiring blademaster Ghi Yelgi sacrificed his own health and life in order for the Witch of the Fens to create the potion that would restore Frimelda.
I suspect the Witch withheld that information because she knew Samuel would seriously consider trading his own life to restore the petitioner's humanity.
But we have our task set before us: slay the zombies and create the zombie powder. What other choice do we have?
: Have we met? Oh wait, you're the guy who gave me the card! Ezel!
: The war protecting this place has fallen. That your doing? Who'd've thought it.
: I only -wish- I could do something like that. The Witch of the Fens did it for us.
: Don't that beat all. She's not one to help just anyone, y'know. Matter of fact, she's more like to help no one. How'd you manage it?
: I'm on a quest to get some zombie powder.
: Zombie powder? Just what is it you've gotten yerself tangled in? Go on and tell it, I'll listen.
Quick fade to black while Samuel explains the situation.
: Not too comfortable with it yerself, I see.
Named undoubtedly for Lethe, the river of forgetfulness in Hades.
: Something the witch might have told yer, if she'd had a mind to.
Do you know how hard it is to resist commenting "Metal Gear?" after each comment like this? I would've worn the joke out a few dozen updates ago if I had given in though.
: A thing too painful to remember is better forgotten. A sip of Lethean draught will help with the forgettin'. A thousand and one uses for that, eh?
: But that's not what the quest asked for...
: Well, that's up to you. Just remember: where there's life, there's hope...
: Now I'd best be movin' on. Be seeing ya, Samuel.
Now we find ourselves with a moral dilemma.
Do we stick the task given us by the quest, namely collecting zombie powder so a lovelorn man may kill himself?
Or do we listen to our hearts and provide a solution to the problem that doesn't end in death?
Dear archive reader, I also put this decision up for vote. I left it up to the thread to dictate Clan Sawyer's morals.
I probably should have brought Samuel for narrative reasons, but he's a couple levels higher than everyone else in the clan now.
: If what the Witch of the Fens told us is true, we should be able to obtain zombie powder from fallen zombies.
: But slaying the dreamhares will get us Lethean draught... That's not what we were sent here to do, though.
I am very pleased to say the thread almost unanimously voted to obtain Lethean draught.
After all, we've broken the contract of a quest before. Normally because the petitioner was lying and/or a Khamja operative, but the precedent stands.
You may be wondering why the Witch didn't mention Lethean draught. I think the answer is simple: it wasn't in her nature to.
She is very detached from the world, not directly involved with the goings-on of everyone else. She believes in order, of doing exactly what is necessary and no more. Look at what she said in the second quest we took to her: "You ask for a draught - I give it to you. My responsibility ends there." She would never break the binds of a quest, and she will not induce others to.
Or maybe the "..." after Samuel left this last time was a twinge of uncertainty about whether she should tell us about Lethean draught. After all, zombie powder is a horrifying fate.
: We have an obligation to complete our quest... but when someone wants to become a living corpse, we have to draw the line. It were better the forgot their pain... I'm sure of it.
It is my belief we are completing the spirit of the quest, even as we defy the letter of it.
And that's it. The Witch isn't at her hut. There's no notice waiting at the pub, thanking us for the Lethean draught. (Perhaps the petitioner forgot all about it.) It's a bit anticlimactic.
On the plus side, we unlocked those quests! Next update will feature the ones that won last update's vote.
As always, thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed these quests as much as I did. They're funny, heartwarming, and philosophical.
As philosophical as this game can get, anyway.
Remember the name Lethean draught, for this is not the last we have seen of it.