Part 53: Playin' With the Queen of HeartsUpdate 12: Playin' With the Queen of Hearts
This is one of the two theoretical entrances to the palace, but it's locked and is difficult if not impossible to get into from this side. Bashing, using the knock spell, and picking the lock had no effect. Might be possible at higher levels, but all this accomplishes at the moment is getting attacked by a patrol of Thenol warriors. It'll have to be the front door after all.
"We're here to escort the new recruits."
"Good, good hurry up, straight to the dungeons. Can't miss it."
"It looks like they've all already left "
"Either that or they're all downstairs."
"It looks as though the draconians are the only thing keeping this place running. It's on the verge of falling apart."
"What're you looking at?"
"Perhaps the loyal warriors would like a chance to rise quickly in the ranks."
"We're listening as long as this doesn't mean some kind of suicide mission."
"We can arrange for a glorious assignment to protect our king himself. Interested?"
"Sounds great! Sign us up."
"Good. Here's some new uniforms, just report to the palace."
So we now have palace uniforms and the freedom of the palace. There's a lot of abandoned and empty space in the palace, but as you can see it's not uninhabited. It's a pretty bad sign when you've got black pudding loose in the halls of your palace. It's like black mold, but worse.
The palace has three floors and several basement levels. It gives a pretty good sense of scale, and really seems like a slowly decaying royal seat.
"Ah! The King's guards! But I understand you now all work for the tyrant Trandamere."
"Trand oh, that guy! Eh, it's a living."
"I called him tyrant, and you did not seem to mind. You must be loyalists! I am a loyalist too. Have been for hundreds of years. But politics, of course, cannot prevent us from eating you."
"Things like this are probably the reason you're running short on loyalists."
Naturally, the lone figure has plenty of friends who have managed to surround us while all the talking was going on. Not pictured is the presumed speaker, who is actually a lich and who confirms that the sprite some of you commented on previously is in fact the new lich sprite for the game. Continuing into the bowels of the palace...
"This seems awfully convenient "
"That would be why. It seems we just missed them."
"This would be the worst palace to wander around in trying to find a snack at night."
"This place is either falling apart out of neglect or it's been kicked in something fierce by monsters attacking from outside."
"But our clay pass?"
"Idiots! That's for the basement! Get down there now!"
"Hmm we'll either need that signet or another way up."
Close range fight against basic draconians and a single wizard. One Power Word Kill and some mopping up is all she wrote. Kind of weird that there's no enhanced draconians at the guard post.
"Yeah, we're not having that."
"Nothing we did not know, but this certainly confirms that we shall have to visit Hawksbluff."
"I think that answers the question of where the draconians are."
"Er me, I guess?"
"I'm not impressed. What I have to know is: do you hate draconians or not?"
"Like bad boots, hemorrhoids, or an itch you can't quite scratch."
"Then you got a problem! This place is gonna be growling' with 'em soon! If you want to see for yourselves, go down to the dungeon. They're preparing to hatch a bunch more of the putrid lizards."
"Didn't we do this back in Throtl Keep?"
"I'm afraid we haven't had the pleasure how did you get in there?"
"You should try talking some sense into the blubber head. What a misguided fool he is! Royalty, pah! We went down to the dungeon and saw them bringing the eggs out."
"Wait, you and the king went down?"
"Then those sour-livered Thenols I was with turned tail and ran! I was on my way back up to see the queen. You talked to her yet?"
"She talks more than Tasslehoff I didn't think that was even possible."
"I heard she was not so daft. Anyway, can I join you? Help you hew off some draconian heads?"
"Sure. We'd be glad for some extra help."
Our new companion is actually pretty beefy, and surprisingly intelligent. Her equipment isn't great, but we're not dealing with anything that can only be hit by magical weapons right now.
"Good day. Would you like to buy an urchin? Only 50 steel."
"Ooh, a monkey! SOLD!"
"And it's already run away. I think we just got taken."
"Aww hey, is that another gate?"
"This place is a maze. You should have put some signs up."
"Thenolianss! Let'ss see if they lose their nerve!"
"Just keep walking "
"Valiant Thenol allies! Welcome! With your help, we are growing in numbers and might. Soon we will help you sweep your enemies from Taladas!"
"Uh yes, yes! Soon!"
"Yes! The minotaurs, the Armach elves, the Hulderfolk - all will kneel before you!"
"That actually does sound pretty good. Especially the last part."
"I tell you this to impress upon you the importance of your mission: to escort our new recruits to Hawkbluff. The recruits are still somewhat disoriented from their, ah, training. You must protect them."
"Hush! Thenolian friends, I charge you to put the lives of these draconians ahead of your own, and this order from Lord Trandamere confirms that. If they do not arrive unharmed in Hawkbluff, your lives are forfeit."
"Of course, we shall treasure this sign of Lord Trandamere's regard."
"Excellent. Be off."
Immediately after we go upstairs past the guard post...
"Oh well. Easy come, easy go."
"Aid not the enemies of true Thenol, lest you suffer their fate!"
"So what do we do now?"
"Go back down. There's more going on than it appears, and there's something about those draconians "
"They're shoving demons from the Abyss into their bodies to enhance them. We've got to put a stop to it."
"Huh. We probably should have found another way into the basement."
Going back down the stairs triggers a set of 3 or 4 waves of draconian attacks. Most are unremarkable, but there's tons of draconians each time. This encounter is particularly interesting since it features three new types of draconians. Enchanted bozaks are nearly identical to their normal cousins, but come with a boatload of extra caster levels and always have a fire shield up. At the very bottom of the screen is an enchanted kapak, which is only different from its basic form in that it explodes in a shower of acid instead of just a pool. Traags are what happens when you screw up creating a draconian, and are just basic meat shields.
You can wander around the basement a bit at this point, but all the entrances are blocked off and you're continually harassed by small groups of draconians. The answer, instead, is to go up.
"Huh, I can't believe they just let us through with that scroll from Trandamere."
"Shouldn't be. The security here is absolutely terrible."
"This is the first place we've been to that actually looks lived in."
"All the letters are from Trandamere about how well things are going with the draconians."
"You should be assisting our patrols in the palace. It is most irregular for soldiers to come here. Wait. You are not Thenols."
"Wow. You're actually smarter than ninety-nine percent of your troops. That's unusual for royalty."
"Let me guess. You have a message for me."
"Yes, your majesty. Do you know what's happening in your palace?"
"Well then, let me give you a message."
"I of course thank you for your concern, however misguided. Now please let me sleep."
"There really is no helping some people."
"Let's try the queen!"
"I heard what the king told you. There were brave Thenols here earlier, who also tried to convince him of the danger."
"I'm pretty sure we ran into them when they murdered our draconians it's a long story."
"I recognize you as friends of the Thenol people. I- I had a dream about you."
"He said to tell you to finish this business and to hurry to him. He scared me. Destroy them all, he said. I think he meant the draconians although I'm not sure."
"Doesn't sound like anybody we know. Although I agree with the sentiment."
"Listen, here in New Aurim, we ah, the rebels can control the Hithites. But the draconians are too much for us!"
"That's because they're hatching them in your basement. We'd be glad to do something about that for you."
"Oh. Look behind my fireplace. There is a hidden door there."
"Thanks, your majesty. You're a peach."
"I know not where it leads. Deep down, I think. The draconians use it to spy on us. Please do what you can against the foul lizards. Take this signet ring and it will prove your loyalty to my agent in Hawkbluff, the jeweler."
Some time later...
I think we know whose temple this is better not to mention her name."
"Ugh, and that damn gong is here too. We're going to have to do something about it."
"O Wryllish, open your gate. Let the Abishai come forth and inhabit the vessels we have prepared."
"This can't be allowed to stand. Let's go!"
Entering the temple triggers a series of escalating battles with lines of draconians. They're actually not that bad, but they can wear you down over time.
The final battle actually puts you up against the clerics and a dark wizard. I forgot to grab my initial screen shot of the battle, so there's a couple of holes in the enemy lines.
" we were almost in time."
"Here, you can see where each draconian comes from. Bozaks come from bronze dragon eggs, kapaks from copper eggs, sivaks from silver eggs and auraks from golden dragon eggs. Losing good dragons, it's a tragedy. But we stopped a far worse one! Ptar! I hate the twisted lizards! Or did I mention that already?"
"You did. Let's see if any of the ones responsible are still here."
"Before that, let's deal with that damned gong."
"An iron golem.. that's an ingenious way of keeping time."
Ten seconds later...
"Now that he's out of the way, let's smash it."
Dealing with the gong draws a pretty swift response...
Ishmael could wipe all of these out with a single delayed blast fireball. Or the two dragonlance wielders can handle it. Lower tier dragons are a joke at this point. Destroying the gong enables you to rest on the lower floors.
"Ya know who that is!? That's Trandamere hisself!"
"Oh, I'm looking forward to this "
One short battle later..
The treasure is a ring of fire resistance, which is pretty damn useful. At the very least it means that one character is protected from fire in the event of an ambush.
"I bet he escaped to Hawkbluff, to the temple to Hith. That's his fortress, everyone in Thenol knows that."
"Then he'd better run fast, or else we'll have to wait for him. And that'll piss me off more."
More levels, more power. Grunschka showed up with enough experience to gain about 5 levels for some reason, and is now catching up a bit. The gap between Gable and Ishmael is narrowing a bit, but probably won't ever fully close. Other than that the party is doing well, although we need to get rid of some of this steel. Average party level: 21.33