Part 32: The Long Way AroundUpdate 9: The Long Way Around
"Guys, I know the last village tour worked out so well last time, but this time can we just go straight back to Sebas?"
"I suppose at this point we'd better, especially since the Dread Wolf and Karl beat us here and weren't surprised to see us."
As soon as we open the door to Sebas' hideaway, we receive an unexpected greeting.
It's not much of an ambush, but it serves to get the point across especially since you can't see two more equal sized groups behind and to the side of us. Also, this is one of a few transitions during this update where the game doesn't prompt you to press enter and instead just dumps you into the battle. I wasn't quite quick enough to catch it, as my computer is playing at a slightly sped up rate.
"Empty and his candle is out. That's incredibly sad, somehow."
"Wait, whose earring is this?"
"She's the consort of the garrison leader in Kalaman. I remember that earring."
"You've got quite an eye for jewelry. But there's something wrong here. What kind of woman would leave something this personal behind?"
"We'll have to follow up on this in Kalaman, but I'm thinking we might have to take a bit of a detour."
"You too? My money pouch is so full that I can hardly walk."
"And the only bank we have access to is at the outpost. Well, it just means that if they're waiting for us to go charging in they'll get bored and start to lose their edge."
"That sounds like good strategic thinking, but for some reason I feel like it's just a bit off them mark "
Naturally, we'll be filling in a couple of side quests on the way over there. The first is a weird little place tucked into the mountains west of the outpost.
"Welcome, welcome. Gluten's the name, maze is my game. A strong mind for riddles will bring a reward, a weak mind will need to rely on its sword."
"Relying on the sword might be a touch faster, though."
"One word of caution before I depart. Cleanse your minds and souls before you start."
"I'm trying hard to think of reasons not to just walk out of here right now."
"Fabulous loot and magical prizes?"
"You had me at magical."
"What runs, but never walks, sings, but never talks?"
"Wait is this one of those things where we have to trade riddles, or just answer them?"
"What is your answer, oh weary soul?"
"I think just answer. The answer is water."
"What do you use to slay a foe, hoe a row, wring with woe?"
"If it weren't for that middle part, I'd say a dishtowel, but that's just me."
"Since it's not just you, I'm going to say the answer is hands."
"Can we just skip straight to the fights? I hate riddles."
"A bell shares it, a hand wears it."
"A ring. Did you find a kid's book of riddles or something?"
"I'm not usually one to complain, but did it have to be more undead? I'm starting to get an even worse feeling about this place than I started with."
Turn undead is your friend in a situation like this, since every single one of these enemies can drain your levels. There's always a risk that they'll get a higher initiative than your cleric and/or paladin and get a few licks in.
"I'm pretty sure I could make a door, based on how flimsy these walls are."
"Someday you'll get your chance."
"Promises, promises. If you're lying I'm going to take my reward out of your intestines."
It's the same lich template we dealt with before, except that he's got two friends this time. A fireball and a few moments of work will clear this right up.
"Gotta go. Time for another show. Catch our act again sometimes."
The prize for this side quest is a Girdle of Frost Giant Strength and a red mage scroll. The second one has an obvious destination, and the girdle goes to Sam since he's our highest level ass-kicker.
"Finally, now we can finish this stupid detour and get on with things."
"Not so fast I think we might have come in at just the right time. Looks like there's something going on in front of the gates."
There's a small chance when you return to Gargath outpost that you'll arrive just as enemy forces are attacking the outpost. The first fight is pretty simple.
The second fight is a bit harder, but not particularly dangerous as long as you can shut down those three mages. The fact that some of them are right in front of your fighters helps with that.
"Wait, why are we running? We can take 'em!"
"Screw that, dragons! Let's go find them!"
"That sounds great and all, but we should check in with the head of the garrison."
"I want the five minutes of my life I spent walking over here back."
Once the invasion has started, you have a random chance of running into a dragon encounter inside the outpost. In fact, it's necessary to progress in this side quest. Considering that these dragons are directly in front of a high level fighter with a dragonlance, this doesn't end well for them.
"Huh, the note in the commander's office didn't say anything about this."
This fight is considerably more serious than the last one at the gate. I haven't mentioned this before, but enemy clerics love to use the inverse of raise dead, slay living, which can do exactly what you think if you fail your saving throw. If they're not doing that they're throwing around hold person, which still has a reasonably good success rate against our characters even at this level. On the plus side, there's a wand of fireballs in the treasure after this fight.
You'd think that would be the end of it, but there's one more step we have to go through here...
"Thanks. We'd kind of missed that."
For our final stop before going to Kalaman, we're going to hit this random square east of Kalaman. There's nothing on the map to indicate that there's any reason stop step here. Doing so, however, is worth it. This is one of the easier early side quests we can do, and you could conceivably stumble into this on your way to Kalaman.
"I've seen wood going like this before ropes it is! They'd last longer than you think.
"Smells like rum. And zombies "
"Can't get anything past you."
"Especially where rum is concerned."
"Wait, so the ordinary crew members got turned into zombies and the leaders got turned into wraiths?"
"Of course! Rank has its privileges, even when it comes to being turned into an unholy monstrosity."
"Either that or the galley slaves got turned into zombies. Giants would be very useful as rowers."
"And the captain's a specter. At least they're consistent."
"Who or what turned everything here into undead, though? Even the rats are undead."
Yes, undead rats. They're actually quite tough for rodents, but are weak enough that either of our turn undead users can destroy them. This also pretty much confirms that wraiths always show up into battle facing away from you. I don't know if this is done for flavor, or if someone accidentally put their sprite in backwards. The prize for this fight is a Mace + 4, which goes directly to Rip.
"I'd say it can't possibly smell any worse in there than up here, but I know I'm going to be wrong."
"It's definitely more densely packed, which isn't helping matters."
That is a LOT of rats. Fireball might be an even better option than turn undead here.
Our reward for this whole deal is a set of banded mail +3 (basically inferior plate mail, but it'll improve the AC of people who only have +1 plate) and a +3 long sword, which means all of our fighters now have +3 or better weapons. This will be important later.
"Can we please get out of here and go to Kalaman? Please?"
Finally, a full selection of character sheets! Sam has actually managed to drop her THAC0 into the negatives, which means that she'd have a better than even chance of hitting that death dragon at this point. Amanda continues to catch up, but is doing quite well, and Ishmael has hit max level for his class on this update. Even Durfey's gained a level, which is pretty unusual for a guest party member.