Part 56: Iron Scales and Iron HeartsUpdate 15: Iron Scales and Iron Hearts
Finally we're heading to Blackwater Glade, which is actually the last area we'll be visiting on the mainland. Right now we're actually around 90% of the way through the game. As for Blackwater Glade well, it's kind of a dump.
"How inconvenient. Friends, a hand?"
"And this is why you always carry a rope. Too bad about your robes, though."
"I think we've got a bigger problem I can't find the iron scale. It must still be in the sinkhole."
"Sounds like a job for Boo!"
"I'm not even arguing anymore and this time, I'm hanging on to the damn thing."
Continuing with our exploration...
"My kind of show. No matter who loses, we win."
"Now, I can die as a man, and not a boy."
"Oh for Paladine's sake, you're not a man or a boy. You're a damn lizard man, and you're not going to die unless you do something stupid like attack us."
"Few see the Bakali test of manhood. But you have scared away my witnesses. If I act as your guide, will you give your word to my elders?"
"If it means we're less likely to get speared in the back while exploring, you'd better believe it."
"I'm almost insulted. You guys don't have enough money to come close to bribing us."
"I promised I would, and so I shall. Zarketh slew the crocodile in hand to hand combat, alone and unaided."
"And may the Bakali bake in the sun."
"I not guide, sorry at least, not guide now. You go, find later."
Continuing deeper into the ruins...
"May I join your party?"
"I say no!"
"Eh, sure. Just try not to fall into any holes or trigger any traps that'll kill the rest of us."
Baldric is well, pretty damn ancient. Despite that, I believe that he's actually the highest level character we've seen thus far. Despite that, his HP total is pretty pathetic.
"This way, good dragon. Come see!"
"Thank you, kind Lady. Can you tell us anything of these ruins and the dragon Tremor?"
"Matters are delicate here, and I would prefer to invite no discord by sharing information that might lead back to me. His lair should not be hard to find, though. Just follow the smell of brimstone."
A bit further down the road...
"Hey, where'd that bard get to?"
"As long as he's just hiding and not actively trying to stab us in the back, he can do whatever he wants to."
A few seconds later
"Ahem it appears there was a bit of unpleasantness here. Did I miss something? Nature calls, you understand, and at my age you answer."
"Somehow you missed all the explosions and screaming Thenols?"
"Hearing's the first thing to go, you know can still smell, though, and I smell brimstone from behind that door over there."
"Call me Ishmael, and conjure with my name at your peril. My companions are Sir Boo, Amanda, Samantha, Rip, Gable, and Grunschka. We have lately been joined by Baldric, a wandering bard."
"Ah, I see you've met the local bard. How nice."
"And a good evening to you, Lord Tremor. A song, perhaps?"
"That would be lovely. For the rest of you, I demand tribute as undisputed ruler of this place!"
"Let's skewer the worm!"
"Over my dead body."
"Not going to say it won't come to that, but we're not giving tribute to anybody."
"Here comes our fearless ranger out of hiding!"
"I can't help it if the rest of you were slow on the uptake. Tremor's door is locked by a magical ward keyed to a certain word, so if you're inclined to discuss the matter with him further you'll have to guess the word."
"Luckily we don't have to guess."
"Where in the Abyss was that?"
"I think you might be closer than I'm comfortable with by using that word."
"Something is very wrong with these dragons. Tremor, we've come to talk!"
"Excuse the deception. I am baldranous, leader of the Silver Othlorx. Thenolians are pressing hard into Blackwater, steeling Othlorx eggs to create draconians and conquer all Taladas. The Red Othlorx despise the invaders, but cannot move against them on their own."
"We Red Othlorx cannot act on our own, since Takhisis struck a scale from our old leader Kothar and cursed us all. If only we had the scale again!"
"I presume by the story that Othlorx refers to those dragons who refused to participate in the Dragonwars. It must have been a mighty curse to so afflict red dragons."
"Your treasure? Do you perhaps mean this necklace?"
"Aww dammit, how forgot to close the door behind us?"
"Sorry, my bad."
We're actually pretty well surrounded in this one, but the fact that they only have the one wizard simplifies things considerably. In all fairness, we've probably decimated most of their wizards and elite troops by this point anyway. Despite that, Grunschka managed to get pinned down and knocked unconscious.
"By presenting the scale of Kothar to you, my vow is fulfilled."
"You did your duty well, though we would have managed without you, fear not. Come back and bard for us some time."
"Anybody else feel like we're only getting half the story here?"
"Now, I am again and always lord and master over Blackwater!"
"The situation is getting dangerous for you. We should leave while we can."
"Are you kidding? The show's just starting."
"Who slew the woman who wielded this, when all others cowered in fear?! You, knight! Come forward!"
"Is there something you want from me?"
"Place this across my neck."
"I am ruler of Blackwater, and I alone will decide what's wise! Place the sword on my neck, mortal!"*
*There's a false choice here where you can try to behead him. This doesn't actually happen, I believe, but you don't get to keep the sword if you do. As it's a +5 Vorpal Longsword, we very much want to keep it. An additional reward at this point is a ring of wizardry that doubles our fifth level spells per day.
"Well, if you're sure "
"Ha! Your turn, o' challenger!"
"Have the blade as my token. But keep it sheathed, lest you frighten some other Othlorx!"
"Why doesn't anybody ever give me legendary items?"
"You can have my old sword. I'm pretty sure this is the one I used to stab Soth "
"Now that you have unleashed the Othlorx against Thenol, you probably want to pursue draconians. You should see the silver dragon Clematra. She lives just south of here in the ruins."
"I guess these changes have probably made it easier for her to help us and you are the leader of the silver dragons, so that should carry some weight."
And so we proceed:
"I like to think that we made a pretty good start on the job, although we left plenty of conscripts for them to tear through."
"Perhaps you wonder why a silver dragon would aid a red? The Othlorx stick by our own. Our history is old."
"This makes it rather clearer, although one would think that the earliest conflicts between your species would have made it very difficult to truly cooperate."
"That dragon was Tremor's daughter. In return, he promised to protect her family until Kothat's scale was returned. Now you have released him from that oath, and I thank you for that. Accept this silver shield as a token of my gratitude."
"Oh, how kind I..."
"Go ahead. A silver shield like that is right up a paladin's alley. Gotta say, though, that these are valuable gifts are you close to Baldranous?"
"I just hope his next task is better chosen. Children can be so vex some sometimes, can't they?"
"Luckily, none of us are in a position to find out. I think."
"A wand of ice storm? Gladly, and with thanks."
"We have set the Thenols running. What have you found out on Bai'or?"
"Well, you see "
"This must be stopped! They will be too strong for us soon! We must contact the lava sea gnomes. With their help, we can put an end to this egg-stealing, and end this threat to Taladas and Ansalon!"
This is pretty much the last chance to do anything on the mainland. We're already done with all the side questing, but I took the chance to drop some weight and strip down to just jewelry. You really don't need money much in this game.
"Little lunatics? I think I might actually like these gnomes!"
"They definitely sound more interesting than the gnomes we have back home."
I think we can handle it from here, now that we've actually arrived. Thanks for the ride."
A few more levels, and some snazzy new gear for our characters. Of particular note is the drop in Gable's armor class. Part of the treasure found during the past couple of updates was a set of Bracers of AC 2, which stack with the rest of his protective items to bring it down that low. Still not quite up to level 30, but we're about to enter a very experience rich zone.
Average permanent party level: 23