Part 18: Update 17.5: Dexter, Bandit King!Chapter 17.5 - Dexter, Bandit King!
I was told by one of the pirates about Dexter's lair to the south of Onar's farm. I marked a route on my map and set off.
The sun was beginning to set and I could see the bandits' towers on the hill ahead. In the valley appeared a camp of some sort, though the current occupant didn't show any hostility. I ignored him and walked a narrow, winding path to the top.
A bridge connected a gap between the path and the fort where, nestled between the cliffs, there were a series of buildings and even a mine. The bandits had settled in nicely.
I approached the bridge guard, weapons still sheathed. The guard stopped me but showed no other sign of aggression.
"Halt - you can't go through here."
"I want to talk to your leader." I stated.
"Oh, I see, you want to talk my boss Well, then OF COURSE I will let you through." the guard said, his voice dripping with sarcasm. He reached for his sword."But only if you know his name - because if you don't, I'll be obliged to kill you."
The guard appeared surprised and stepped aside. "Well... I guess you know the boss. Okay, I'll let you through. Though, I'm warning you: you get too close to anybody, you won't get out of here alive! So take a deep breath and leave your weapons where they are. You'll find Dexter in the house."
I ignored the order to disarm and walked over to the tower where Dexter resided. I heard the bridge guard shout some warnings, but I ignored him.
I walked in, and found the former shadow reclining in his expensive chair. He looked at me and smiled. "Look who's here. The great emancipator. Well, hero - what are you doing here?"
"I'm looking for a few answers."
"I never thought you'd come here voluntarily."
"What do you mean by that?"
"I mean that I've been looking for you. Haven't you seen any of my wanted posters? They all bear YOUR mug. Oh yes, you're very much wanted. Didn't you know that?" I'd forgotten all about the wanted posters. They were what had gotten me interested in the bandits almost two weeks ago since then, things developed into something more than just a personal vendetta.
"So what do you want from me?"
"Me? Nothing whatsoever. But my boss is hell-bent on seeing you dead. So he wants me to find you and bring him your head."
Two could play at that. I happened to know of someone looking for him. "There's this fellow with an eyepatch. He's looking for you."
Dexter shrugged. "Everybody's looking for me. I couldn't care less. If that guy has some business with me, let him come here."
Intimidating didn't seem to get any results. I decided to be upfront with him. "They say you're kidnapping people from Khorinis."
"So you found that out, too. Good work, buster. And here I was thinking I had covered my tracks."
"Where did those people disappear to? Maybe down the mines, somewhere here?"
Dexter laughed. "They're far away in the north-east by now where you can't get to them. I could show you where exactly, but I don't know why I would want to do that."
"Who gave you this order?"
The Bandit Leader grinned. "My boss. He's a dangerous man. You know him." Dexter paused.. "Raven" I went pale. Raven was one of the Ore Barons in the valley of the mines. During my rampage through the Old Camp, Raven was one of the many I struck down. I'd thought he'd been killed but I never did locate the body.
Dexter continued, ignoring my obvious alarm. "He needs those people to fulfill his plans. And that's all you need to know."
"An ore baron here, in Khorinis?"
"He's no longer an ore baron. He's got plans of his own, and Khorinis will feel that before long."
"Raven, dangerous? Oh well..."
"What do YOU know", Dexter snapped. "You don't know him like I do. He was a miserable swine even back then, but these days."
The bandit grew solemn. "He has changed since the fall of the Barrier. There's a black shadow across his face. His fierce glance will pierce you like the claws of a raptor if you look into his eyes for too long", Dexter seemed more afraid of him than I. "My only advice to you: Leave Khorinis as fast as you can before it's too late. There's nothing for you here, except for death."
"And what do you intend to do now? Kill me?"
"Yeah. But you set us all free. That's why I'm giving you another chance. Beat it - disappear, make yourself invisible. Go and don't cross my path again."
"I need to know why you brought these people."
"Well. You could try beating it out of me", he laughed. "It's better for you if you leave now. If I see you around here again, I won't hesitate to kill you."
I walked through the bandit's camp toward the bridge. Just as I was about to leave, I caught a stone tablet out of the corner of my eye. I moved over to it and picked it up to look it over.
I remembered why I was here: to find out what happened to these people. The Water Mages entrusted me with this and I'd already betrayed their trust once. Even if I did abandon it, the Orcs were massing in the valley of the mines and would soon make their move.
I could escape the Island but if the rumors were true than the fires of war were already blazing brightly on Myrtana. I would exchange one mess for another. Plus, Xardas would likely hunt me down before I could do anything of the sort. With a new determination, I marched back into Dexter's building.
He heard my footsteps and rose out of his seat. He withdrew his sword and lunged at me. "You asked for this!" he shouted.
I parried his blow and backed up onto the stairs. He came at me hard but I continued to block most of his swings, only taking a minor nick on the forearm.
Eventually, I saw a weakness in his defense and pressed on, forced him into a corner, and landed a killing blow.
I was never too fond of Dexter, but I was still disappointed that it needed to come to this. Nevertheless, I rummaged through his things and came across a few things of interest: A letter from Raven himself and a key.
I took both of them and tucked them away until things calmed down. By now, the other bandits were well aware that their leader was under attack and they were shouting warnings and alarms.
As I neared the exit, I heard that there was a scuffle of some sort outside. Had they, assuming their boss was dead, turned against one another? I held my sword close and crept outside.
I was greeted by a remarkable sight. The pirate Greg was singlehandedly taking on the whole group of bandits. Granted, they were armed with old clubs and were obviously not the most well trained group. Dexter must have sent his elite troops out to the forward camps.
I joined Greg in his fight and together we took down what was left of the bandits.
Greg turned to me. "Ah. Dexter has bought it right?"
I nodded. "Looks like he's dead."
"None too soon, either. Go check out what he's got on him."
"Dexter carried nothing but this letter." It wasn't entirely true, but he didn't need to know about the key.
"Show me that thing." I handed the letter to the pirate and he looked it over. "Aw, damnit. This doesn't help me at all. We shouldn't have just let him croak like that. You wouldn't happen to know how to cross those mountains in the north-east of Khorinis?"
"Maybe through an underground tunnel. The Water Mages are currently studying a portal which leas to the mountains in the north-east."
That only annoyed him. "What's this nonsense? Bah! Water Mages. Can't you come up with something better?"
Greg sighed resignedly. "So I'm stranded here. Dexter was my last hope."
"What did you want from Dexter?" I asked.
"I've come from beyond the mountains in the north-east of this island. And I want to go back. I had hoped the bastard would know how to get there without a ship."
So Greg didn't want to kill him after all. "I saw a pirate named Skip near the port."
"That moron. I waited there for 3 days. So why's he coming so late? Once I get my strength back, I'll give him what for."
"What is there beyond those mountains?"
"You had better not try to go there. Those are rough lands. A wimp like you wouldn't last long."
"One more thing..."
"I'm grateful that you helped me", Greg interrupted, "But that doesn't make us friends, If you get my drift."
Greg sauntered into Dexter's tower, mumbling something about rest.
I looked over Dexter's letter.
I needed to get this to the Water Mages as soon as possible, but first I needed to find out what this key went to.
Now I just needed to find out what this key opened. I went back into the tower to seek out a chest of some sort. I saw Greg lounging on the seat next to the still warm corpse of Dexter. How odd.
A chest off to the side of Dexter's fireplace contained raw steel billets and some tools.
I climbed the tower next. At the very top, I found a few scattered potions but nothing else of use.
Another, shorter tower was situated to the north on the cliffs. I walked inside and found a bandit. He was just getting out of bed when I came in. He quickly fumbled for a weapon, but it was too late.
The chest next to the bed was the one that Dexter's key opened. Inside was a silver chalice, a potion, and a few dozen coins. It was fairly underwhelming!
On my way up the stairs of the tower, I noticed that the mace on the table was of unusually high quality. I didn't have any use for it, but I was sure I could sell it.
The top of the tower was nothing of any note. However, I noticed that there was a way up to the very top of the tower.
I climbed up and, to my surprise, I found an assortment of very useful items.
A magical firebow and twenty fire arrows. I'd not ever seen a bow like this before but it was a nice surprise. I took hold of both and stowed them somewhere safe.
With the camp stripped of all valuables, I made my way down the hill and into the hunter's camp below. The sun had set completely and night was upon us. I approached the man.
"Everything all right?" I asked.
"Ah, an unfamiliar wanderer. I am very busy, so what do you want?"
"What are you doing here?"
"Well, the things a woodcutter and hunter usually does."
"What interesting things are there to see here?"
"Interesting is well put. If you go deeper into the woods here, you will run into some very evil fellows. They're about ten feet tall, hairy, and in a really bad mood. So don't go there if you're not strong enough for them."
"Can you teach me something about hunting?"
"Sure. But first get me something decent to eat. I'm dying of hunger out here. I want a bottle of milk, a loaf of bread, and a fat ham. Then I'll teach you what I want."
I'd considered using his camp to sleep, but decided it was in my best interest to see Vatras immediately.
Vatras was in prayer when I found him. I waited for him to finish and told him what I knew. "About those missing people" I said.
"I know where the missing people are."
"What have you found out?"
"A man named Raven dragged them off to a remote part of Khorinis."
"What makes you so sure?"
"I read his orders. He's got the local bandits working for him." I withdrew the note and handed it to Vatras.
When he was done reading, he looked up, satisfied. "Good. You did a great job. I had feared that we might have to resign ourselves to never knowing."
"I'm ready to join the Ring of Water!" I excitedly told him.
"So you delivered your message to Lord Hagen?"
I nodded. "But he sent me to the Valley of Mines so I could get him proof for my words!"
"YOU must decide what you want to do next. To me, it was important that he should get the message. Now it's up to him to act, or to wait for your proof. As far as you are concerned: You have proven that you are indispensable to us. You shall be one of our children and go forth into the world in our name to do the bidding of Adanos. I consign to you this Ring of Water. May it help you find your allies and, together with them, preserve the balance of this world. May Adanos protect you. And now go and meet your brothers. They will await you in the tavern 'The Dead Harpy' and accept you into our community. Do not forget to wear your ring, so your brothers will recognize you as one of their own."
Exhausted, I trekked back over to the Dead Harpy. I sure wished I'd been told of this before hand. Maybe we could have just met here?
I approached the bartender as I knew he was a friend. "I heard that the 'Ring' is going to meet in your tavern." I said, perhaps a bit too loud.
"That's right. They should be starting just about now. I wonder what's taking them so long?"
Slowly, Lares and the other members o the Ring of Water began to arrive, all dressed in their outfits.
When everyone was finally here, Lares spoke up.
"All right, my young friend. We have come together here to celebrate your admission to the 'Ring of Water'. The boys who are present here will keep an eye out for you from today on. Of course, there are others who also belong to the 'Ring of Water' so be careful. Whether you do us a service or mess things up - we are going to learn about it."
Lares presented me with a set of armor. "Here, take the armor of our community. Wear it with pride, but never in town or in other inhabited areas. Remember, we must not be exposed. Nobody must therefore be told who the members of the 'Ring of Water' are. Nobody talks about the 'Ring of Water'. That's our foremost rule. Stick to it. Any more questions?"
"What about weapons, then?"
"The weapon of the 'Ring' is the quarterstaff, but everyone uses whatever arms he is most comfortable with. Here one of our staffs. I never really figured out how to use it, but maybe you can handle the thing."
"What kind of help can I get from you?"
"I can show you ho to become more dexterous. If you need help with wielding close-combat weapons, talk to Cord. He is a master of the blade. Gaan will gladly show you the proper way to gut animals. Martin can tell you a lot about the paladins. Cavalorn will teach you sneaking, one-handed combat, and archery. Orlan will always have a warm chamber and a bed waiting for you. And for anything related to magic, talk to Vatras. Now go directly to Vatras and have him give you your first task." Lares turned to the others. "Brothers of the 'Ring'. Let us now return to our duties. The bandit attacks are still going on. We must see to it that this menace is stopped. Adanos, preserve the balance of this world."
I was barely still on my feet at this point, but I managed to get back to Vatras unscathed. "The brothers of the 'Ring' have sent me to you." I said.
"Good! I've been awaiting you!" I still wasn't sure why I had to walk so much. "I shall send you through the portal together with the other Water Mages. You are to track down the former ore baron Raven and find out why he has taken the citizens of Khorinis. We here shall continue to try and deal with the threat posed by the bandits." Vatras produced a sealed letter. "Bring this letter to Saturas. He will set your tasks from now on. May Adanos guide you."
I'd worry about what to do next in the morning. Right now, I was determined to get a good night's sleep.
Other Info: A small vote to determine where I go next. Shall I go to The expansion area or the valley? Either way, I'll be going to each eventually so it's not super important. I actually just can't decide which I want to do first.
The expansion area is pretty difficult but really cool in design and different from the rest of the world.
For the Valley, I have some a few small neat things planned in regards to showing off the differences between Gothic 1 and 2. It's not all that long, either. We'll be going back here a few times, where as the expansion is mostly self contained.