Part 60: Let's Just Start at the Bottom Next TimeUpdate 18: Let's Just Start at the Bottom Next Time
After finally getting a chance to rest and heal, we're ready to pick back up. Naturally this starts with a trip to visit the king.
"She doesn't miss a chance for theatrics, does she?"
"I guess, but I'm going to be absolutely amazed if neither of those dragons eats him by the time they're done."
"It could fuel far more than that. Although judging by the history of that stone I doubt that even the Dark Queen could control it for long."
"What do you mean 'received word'? You were there, weren't you?"
"I'm using the draconic we, naturally. I was only there for the destruction of the army."
"Thanks! Uh how did your guys break magic items?"
"It's safer not to ask. The ring makes you invisible, and the wand shoots lightning. Really surprised they didn't find a use for that in some kind of experiment."
This provides a nice pause to stock up on supplies, do any leveling you have to do, and configure your characters for the challenges ahead. In particular, getting some enchanted ammunition would probably be a good idea. Naturally, as it's a good idea, I didn't do it.
"That guy's a disaster waiting to happen. I sure hope we're far away from his ship."
"I think a mace to the head really might do wonders for that tic of his d'you think they'd let me try it?"
"Oh Paladine, we're all going to die. Please guide our souls into your embrace and let them not be burned to a crisp in the lava."
"Don't you worry lass, I'll take over from here. This is my ship. Hrumph! Windship pilot Hrumbishnog at your service!"
"I feel better already. I know you probably don't have time to teach him everything you know, but anything would probably be good for him."
"Somehow I do not find that reassuring, although it is surprising that there isn't some kind of flame-resistant bird living above the lava sea."
"Flaemchaldar! They say the Grathanich Greystone raised it up. Is it not a wondrous thing?"
"For a given variety of wondrous, yes. Any clue on why it was raised up?"
"With the Greystone, the answer is always 'because.' The tower shall belong to the gnomes one day, when we have cleansed it of its evil. Hrumph!"
"I don't know if I like where this is going."
"We will go for a high platform. Jump up just before we hit."
"I dunno, I think I like it just fine. Why didn't we start crushing draconians with ships before now?"
"The Greystone was pretty darn neat when it put this place together. Brickwork and metal covers on all the portholes."
Note: horripilation = reflex erection of hairs of the skin in response to cold or emotional stress or skin irritation
"Crysia? Nice to see you. Are you feeling less crazy?"
"Wait! Something is wrong here!"
"Next time, let's just start on the bottom floor and work our way up. Is everybody okay?"
"I think I lost my shoe "
"We also seem to have lost Daenor as well. I'm sure he'll be okay, though."
"Nothing to it but to start looking for him. On the plus side, everywhere we go from here is somewhere we haven't been and where he might be."
"That's true and we even get some fun things to kill as a bonus."
Naturally, the Tower of Flames is full of fire using creatures of all descriptions. The red robed giants are shaman, while those in blue robes are mages. The warriors with swords can cause a good bit of damage, but aren't terribly accurate. You'd think the mages would be a threat, but they actually have very low caster levels and are thus pretty ineffective. Unfortunately, the fire giants and just about every non-draconian in this place are immune to fire. So much for delayed blast fireballs to clear the room.
"I think we found out where most of the giants here on Taladas have come from. I don't think I've ever seen so many in once place."
"I don't think they understand how iron golems work. What does this thing even power?"
"What makes you think it does anything? The Grathanich created it, and it doesn't necessarily need a reason."
"Whatever it does, we'll stop it right here and now!"
The trolls just strike me as a real oddity. Considering that they're weak against fire, this is the absolute worst place for them to be. These encounters aren't really that dangerous, but there are a lot of them.
"These iron golems are certainly odd, though. The ones we've dealt with before would have reacted much more violently if their masters were threatened."
"It only really makes sense if these guys aren't the masters. They really were just watching for the sake of appearances."
The differences between our characters now and our characters in the last game couldn't be more marked. 8 iron golems would have been a monstrously difficult encounter then, but we're almost twice the level we were then.
"Maybe we should have thought this through a little bit more "
Notice the fact that all of our characters names have changed color at this point. This is the cruelest trick in the dungeon. We're already at a point where most of our characters are going to gain one level and be ready to gain another level after a single fight. Essentially, all the experience from this point onward is absolutely worthless and there's nowhere to train. I won't be bothering with character updates for a while, since nothing will be changing.
"Just out of curiosity, has anybody ever heard a story that started with 'they walked through a wall of living fire' that had a happy ending?"
"There's got to be a first time for everything, right?"
"It's certainly a unique experience to observe the denizens of the flames. This is almost what one would imagine the elemental plane of fire to be like."
A lot of familiar faces. The tower is actually an outer section with a flaming core in the center. Inside the core there's a constant risk of having things like this show up, but they're small fry by now. After entering the core on the first level, however, we're about done with the first floor. Once we move upstairs, we find...
"Heads up on spikes already? That's some quick work."
"We should probably take those down before the rest of the gnomes get here."
"I think they're offended by us redecorating."
It's been a while since we've seen these guys. I tend to think that some of the weaker encounters are just there for flavor. We're in a fire tower, so we HAVE to have some kind of salamander encounter right?
"They're certainly prepared, aren't they?"
"They're even prepared enough to have a giant pot of molten metal for us to dump these into. Let's get started."
"They don't care about us slaughtering their overseers, but destroying their work certainly gets a response."
The mages really are pretty beefy, but literally cause more damage with their fists than with fireballs. Unfortunately, this really is the entire guard compliment for this area but we're not quite done yet.
"Y'know, if you keep running you're just going to die tired."
"Don't tell them that! We want them to keep running until they stumble into a pit."
Somehow this makes it look like they're all formed up to protect that one ettin in the background. I like to think that's an idiot savant who's the only one who can actually work the forges and get the iron golems to listen to him.
"Y'know, there's something familiar about the mix of monsters inhabiting this place "
"Yeah, I'm pretty sure it's all Fastillon's fault. Not sure how, but it is."
You wouldn't think a group including Gorgons would be stealthy enough to sneak up on us, but it's probably pretty noisy in there.
"Man, where was this a few minutes ago?"
"Cheer up, there's another one right over there. You can pop it like a windship."
"Wow, I think all the draconians know us by sight. That actually feels pretty good."
"Doesn't mean they won't fight, though."
Looks are deceptive, since there's another six tucked off to our right. Luckily even 12 of them aren't that threatening, especially with a few unenchanted types thrown into the mix.
"Eh, good enough for me."
"You all might want to stick behind us if you want to get through this alive."
"It'll also give the draconians more things to cast spells at."
"Hmm, they're certainly being extremely aggressive, especially since one would think they'd be more comfortable in the core."
More of the same, although this time they were kind enough to arrange themselves in a nice neat line a couple spaces from Ishmael. Cone of Cold can be difficult to use, but it really shines in situations like this.
"So they just pop out of the walls whenever they want a fight, and we can't do anything? That's hardly fair!"
"Yeah, considering how easily those things go down they need a lot more advantages than that."
"Okay, what is that thing? And what made it worth hauling all of this way?"
"Ladder machine, obviously. You've got to take one when you're hunting for the Grathanich. Going up?"
"Can't argue with tradition, I suppose. I'm just hoping it doesn't explode or slam us into the ceiling.
"How many more floors of this are there?"
"Three more. We can only hope that the ritual to summon the Dark Queen will take a considerable amount of time."