Part 24: To Crush Your Enemies, To See Them Driven Before You, and to Hear the Lamentation of Their Women
The vote is in, and it's unanimous. We're going after Auric Whiteskin!
To Crush Your Enemies, To See Them Driven Before You, and to Hear the Lamentation of Their Women
"That title makes no sense. I'm not the one who's going to be doing all the lamenting."
"So you are Ignatia, servant of the tyrannical King Maximus. My people have long suffered under his oppressive rule: we will not submit again to his yoke without a fight."
"Oh God, don't tell me you're the kind of barbarian who's full of earthy wisdom. I wish one of you would just shut up and surrender for once."
"Our ancient hunting grounds have been despoiled by farmers, townsfolk and other half-starved weaklings. It is a universal law of nature that the strong must overcome the weak. I demand a trial by combat to defend my people's right to these lands. If you are not a coward, show me your strength!"
"Nobody calls me chicken, Needles! Nobody!"
Uh, Ignatia, you're not Marty McFly.
"Hey, I can already control the flow of time. All I need now is a DeLorean."
Ragface had 600 skeletons and we beat his army with next to no losses. What the fuck does Auric think 724 peasants are going to do?
Looks like you had the right idea, but your calculation was off. 25 damage times 15 spell power is 375.
I'm betting you can wax, oh, 325 peasants with one fireball.
Man, mowing down scores of enemy troops with midget-powered heavy artillery never gets old.
Still better than Archers.
And, well, everyone hits harder than Barbarians.
At least they can take hits well.
"You hear that, Auric? Barbarians are only good for getting beaten up so that useful people don't!"
"Is that so? Well, my 40 Barbarians just attacked and killed two of yours! How does that... huh, I guess that actually kind of proves your point, doesn't it."
"Maybe instead of being a barbarian, you should have become a sorceress."
"But that would be biologically impossible!"
"That didn't stop me."
If you think this is some crazy damage we're dishing out now, wait until we get Archmages.
Our Giants didn't leave one enemy alive this time.
Even the Barbarians are making themselves moderately useful!
Those Gnomes are getting too close for comfort. Ignatia, you know what to do.
"When you factor in its sheer annoyance value, this spell can be almost as much fun as Fireball."
"Curse you, witch! Magic is a cowardly weapon used by the weak!"
"I'm not going to be lectured on good manners by a man who's wearing a sheep."
At this point, we're really just mopping up.
I see that our giants are back to leaving units almost but not quite dead.
Our Barbarians were more than capable of cleaning up the last two of Auric's, though. Now there's just the matter of those gnomes.
The whole battle only took slightly more than three rounds.
"This is an outrage! I am robbed of my rightful victory by trickery and subterfuge! I demand that my grievance be settled with a duel!"
"Oh, give me a break. At least when Moradon tried that he didn't expect it to work."
"Um, what are you doing? Aren't we supposed to garrison the Dwarves -- well, Dwarf -- and keep everyone else?"
Oh, I know what I'm doing. Just wait and see.
"Okay, dragons are great and all, but we've only got two of them. What gives?"
All in good time, Ignatia. For now, let's go sailing! Please try not to set the ship on fire
As you may have noticed, we're outrageously wealthy. In Ignatia's terms, that's 320 Fireball spells. That's a good thing, because there's one villain on Saharia who we're going to have to throw a lot of money at.
See that little bit of desert to the north?
The correct answer is "no", because that is not a little bit of desert. It's a fucking huge desert covering the entire continent. To walk across it, we'd need an absurdly huge number of Time Stop spells, so we're not going to walk across it just yet.
Top-tier monsters like Dragons, Demons and Giants are going to appear in pretty much every encounter on this continent. We could still slaughter them without too much difficulty, but why do that when we can just use Time Stop to walk around them?
This sign speaks the truth. Saharia is just one big maze of mountains in the middle of a continent-sized desert, with a few towns around the coastline. Speaking of which, let's see what the town we arrived near has to offer.
Well, it's about Goddamn time. That Raise Control spell is going to be seeing some use soon enough. What about the nearest castle?
Arech Dragonbreath is bad news. He has more Dragons than you're likely to see in all the rest of the game put together, and those Demons and Vampires look pretty threatening too.
I like how his rap sheet mentions "stealing the Sceptre of Order" at the end as if it were an afterthought. It's like one of those hayfever remedies whose side effects "may include nausea, headaches, itching and death."
Maximus could not believe that his advisors were so helpless. The meeting was utter chaos, nothing was being accomplished. His subjects needed help, his enemies needed to be stopped.
Maximus stood, Sceptre of Order clenched firmly in his hand. The room quieted. His advisors' attention fixated on the King.
"We know that the Dragon Arech Dragonbreath leads our opposition." Maximus continued, "We know where he is. It is a time to end counsel. It is time for action."
He raised the Sceptre over his head, "We will lead an army now. We will crush him once and for all."
Suddenly his advisors gasped collectively. Behind Maximus a large, rectangular void had appeared. A scaly head protruded from the void, a dragon head.
Maximus, sensing that something was wrong, began to turn. He instinctively drew the Sceptre to his body while he moved, but it was too late. An immense claw pried the Sceptre of Order from his grip and withdrew into the void.
Looking into the void Maximus could see the dragon who had just stolen his precious Sceptre. Beside the dragon was a fierce looking demon who guffawed wildly. Flames surrounded the pair, licking them but not burning. The void closed. Maximus was frozen in place. His advisors stared at him, hoping that what they had just seen had not happened. Maximus collapsed and their fears were realized.
If Arech had just kept the Sceptre in his own castle instead of burying it, it would have been a lot harder to recover. But he has a villain's usual weakness for overly elaborate plans.
Since we don't want to walk across the desert, it looks as if we'll have to sail around the coast to find all those towns. But why sail...
... when you can fly?
If your army consists entirely of flying units (Dragons, Demons, Vampires and Archmages -- Sprites don't count), you can fly around the overworld map. Flying allows you to travel over mountains, forests, water and deserts without hindrance, and also prevents monsters from attacking.
Of course, we'll have to land to collect treasures and enter towns or castles.
Only if you can't fly, signpost. Only if you can't fly.
"Seriously, you need to stop talking to signposts. It can't be a healthy sign."
Magus Deathspell is the weakest villain on Saharia (although that's admittedly a title not unlike "smallest gas giant in the solar system".) Like Auric, he somehow got the idea into his head that Peasants and Gnomes are appropriate units for an endgame army.
Magus Deathspell placed the finishing touches on his pentagram. The five pointed star was drawn in dried blood and the protective circle and runes of protection were drawn in enchanted powder made of ground bone. He stepped backward and admired his work. Fit to enslave the Demon King, he thought. He was snapped out of his reverie abruptly. "Is it done, wizard?" That was Arech, impatient and imposing. "Let us finish our business."
"It is ready, Arech." Magus glared at the dragon and took a deep breath. "I should rest before I summon Urthrax Killspite, he is strong and I am too tired now to incant the spell properly. Besides, I heard that progress was made deciphering the last part of the Prophecy. I am curious."
"Very well, Magus. I do not like having to wait, but I dislike the thought of having an uncontrolled demon in my cavern. You have three hours," declared Arech. The Wizard left and Arech flew out of the cavern entrance to do some research himself.
Magus walked through the tunnel system to the library. The network interlacing all of the caverns was quite elaborate. One day, he would ask Arech how this was all made and why the dragon would want such a complex.
He entered the library and saw Caneghor the Mystic scribing down information that Prince Barrowpine was rattling off. "What have you two found?" demanded Magus.
"In addition to the prophecy," said Caneghor, "it seems that conditions must be met for the Scepter to be stolen."
Barrowpine continued, "No evil may be in the castle except the evil stealing the Sceptre. Once the Sceptre has been stolen, we must wait. King Maximus will sicken and die soon after the theft. While he sickens, so will the land. Chaos will slowly replace Order. When the King is finally dead, the demon will sit upon the throne. Magus concluded, "And with the demon on the throne, we will have accomplished all that we have strived for."
"I just hope Arech can control the demon," said Caneghor nervously. "I would not relish living under the rule of a freed demon."
"There is no fear of that happening, my incantations will bind the demon thoroughly," assured Magus. Magus took his leave and went to his chambers to rest and prepare for the evening's exertions.
That "no evil may be in the castle" part of the prophecy is why Arech bothered to have those five villains broken out of the dungeons. Magus helped to decipher the prophecy about the Sceptre's theft, and also summoned Urthrax Killspite, the Demon King, to aid in the theft of the Sceptre and rule the Four Continents once Maximus was dead.
Here's the third and last town on this continent. Saharia isn't as densely populated as the other continents, but to be fair, it is a fucking desert.
If you think Zaezoizu is a dumb name for a town, wait until you see what its corresponding castle is called.
Zyzzarzaz. At this point, I think the designers ran out of names and just started stringing letters together randomly.
Oh, also, there's a demon king in it. His army has a lot of demons. Go figure.
They say "conspiracy against the Crown", but you know he's really just being persecuted for being a demon. Racists. Well, that and the whole stealing-the-Sceptre-of-Order thing.
Magus stood in the center of the cavern dressed in his finest red robes with his arms upraised. His brow was furrowed in concentration which threatened to break as a single, warm bead of sweat slowly traced a cold, wet path down his forearm to his biceps and finally to his sweat drenched chest.
The incantation was harder than he thought. He realized that summoning Urthrax Killspite, the Demon King, was a near impossible task. But the fight the demon put up! He either really did not want to be summoned or he was testing Magus to see if he was worth anything but a slow, lingering death.
Minor demons fluttered distractingly around, attracted by the strong magic Magus was working and no doubt sent by Urthrax to disturb the wizard. Magus shut them out, they could not enter his protective circle anyway. No harm could be perpetrated.
A wave of joy and terror flushed violently through Magus' now trembling body. Urthrax had come! Sulfurous vapors swirled madly in the center of the pentagram. A ring of towering flames flared up inside the protective circle of the pentagram.
The cavern turned totally black. Slowly, from the center of the pentagram, a fiery light shone. Urthrax Killspite had come.
He was huge and terrifying. His skin was bright green and had a scaly texture. His arms were long and heavily muscled with cruel, sharp nails extending inches beyond the ends of his powerful fingers. His massive torso was topped by a ghastly head. Thick, green horns protruded from the side of his head. The features of his face were blunt and ugly. His manner reeked of death, command, and power.
When Urthrax spoke, his deep voice seemed to echo from the vastness of his chest. "I am here. I know your plans. I will be your king, but conditions have to be met first. Where is your leader, the dragon?"
Arech stepped forward from the perimeter of the cave, forgotten in the excitement of the conjuration. "I am Arech. Let us set the terms so that we may act quickly."
Magus, near total exhaustion, sighed. It was going to be a long night.
Well, we've seen the last three villains and now we're on the home stretch. All we have to do is explore Saharia and capture the last three villains, but even with flight, that's easier said than done.
That's Saharia. There's a whole lot of desert in there to explore.
I don't think we'll be taking on any castles with this army.
Ignatia is rich and powerful, just like a sorceress should be. She'll be even richer and more powerful once we're done exploring the continent.
And here's our map to the Sceptre. We already have as clear an idea as we ever will of where the Sceptre is, but that sword and amulet look intriguing, don't they? That brings us to today's vote: should Ignatia explore Saharia first and find all the treasures, artifacts and monster lairs, or should she go straight for one of the villains? Magus Deathspell and Urthrax Killspite are both options, but I'll be saving Arech for last.
"I have a good feeling about those artifacts... especially the amulet."