Part 20: Too Many Paladins
Update 19: Too Many Paladins
"Whew. Finally got myself free. That was a good trap, if I do say so myself. Hey, where's everyone gone?"
"Did Preacher leave us behind? But... she said..."
"Aww, don't cry. Come on, we'll find another party until we catch back up with them."
"You're in luck. Another group hired our thief, and we need a replacement."
"And you're going to take me along after you saw me get stuck in my own trap?"
"Well, adventuring is all about making do with whatever you can find, isn't it?"
"Hmph. I could say the same to you. Anyway, I think the rest of my party was headed for Middlegate; mind if we follow them?"
"Not in the least! Mattybee went with your party, and I must find him. He'll get into no end of trouble if he's left on his own!"
"Well, I guess they're not in town. Preacher's probably off on a quest or something. That's the sort of thing she'd do."
"A quest? I'm going to regret saying this, but your friend may have gone to Luxus Palace. We should head east if we want to find her."
"Are you sure it's okay to come here? Aren't we trespassing or something?"
"We wouldn't be very good adventurers if we only went where we were supposed to go."
"On the other hand, I'm sure there are a lot of other places we're not supposed to go..."
"We can't turn back now. Queen Lamanda's brother Mandagual has extorted money from travellers in these lands for too long. If I only do one good deed today, let it be this!"
Here's what we're up against. The Court Mage has 100 HP and wastes the one turn he gets using a physical attack because he's drunk or something. Mandagual also has 100 HP, plus a high armour class and a poisonous weapon, but he's still kind of a pushover.
The Court Bowman has 150 HP and is the only real threat here. There's only one of him, though, so he's not that intimidating.
"Yay! We won!"
"Oh, he'll be back. The royal clerics won't let Mandagual stay dead. I can't say that wasn't satisfying, though."
"I still don't get why we can't just melt the chest down and sell the silver."
Hands up everyone who didn't see this coming.
"Well, that was certainly worth being turned into a human pincushion for. I didn't really need that pancreas anyway."
"Seriously, guys, we're going to get into trouble if we just stomp all over the Queen's orchard."
"We already killed the Queen's brother. If they don't throw the book at us for that, they never will."
"You were saying?"
That was what they did to the party in the first round. This is shaping up to be quite a battle.
Royal Horsemen have 250 HP and an armour class of 32: high enough that attacks will miss them fairly often even with the party's +12 weapons. It's a good thing all those clerics and paladins are in the party to bring back anyone who gets knocked out; they mostly use First Aid, because Power Cure is a waste of spell points on someone who'll probably just be knocked out again if they're hit. Once there are only two horsemen left, the battle is as good as won.
"Whew. Why are they guarding an orchard so heavily, anyway?"
That's a well-earned slab of experience. There are several of those encounters scattered around the orchard, and they tend to carry good treasure as well, so once the party is capable of taking them on they're a decent place to level up.
"All for Gertrude! Gertrude eat delicious fruit! ... Gertrude not feel so good..."
"Uh-oh. How are we supposed to drag a six-foot-tall orc statue back to town for healing?"
Several days later...
"Um, are you sure it's a good idea to try another fruit?"
"Well, this certainly would have been handy when we were trying to carry Gertrude back to the temple."
"Gertrude highly displeased with rough treatment. Still got scars from cracks in legs."
"Aw, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to hurt you, but I tripped over a rock on the way."
"Gertrude forgive -- once. Next time, Gertrude break your legs."
A word of advice: the fruit from the westernmost row of trees raises the party's Might and Speed to absurd levels. The fruit from the middle row turns a random party member to stone. Remember which is which.
"You know, Mt. Farview isn't far from here. Before we enter the palace, we should stop by there and see if your friend has visited."
"... and recognition in the form of a '+'. Classes must go alone, without the rest of the party or in the company of Robbers, who must aid at least one class to earn their mark."
"Sounds like I get to pick the easiest job. Neat."
"Ahem. Knights must defeat the Dread Knight of Jouster's Way. Paladins must defeat the Frost Dragon who resides in the dungeon beneath the Forbidden Forest."
"Awesome! I get to slay a dragon again!"
"I can't say I'm as eager as you are. Anyway, if I may continue... Archers must stop Baron Wilfrey from terrorizing Falcon Forest. Clerics have to reunite the soul of mighty Corak with his body. Sorcerers must release both the Good and the Evil Wizards from the Isle of the Ancients. Ninjas must assassinate the chaotic Dawn of Dawn's Mist Bog. Barbarians must defeat Brutal Bruno, the Barbarian Chieftain."
"Corak's soul... how interesting. Then perhaps the rumours I have heard are true..."
"I think we took a wrong turn somewhere. This isn't the way to Luxus Palace."
"Er, yes. We'd better turn back. This desert is notoriously dangerous."
"Well, I swore I'd never come back here, but here I am."
"I still have our castle key, safe and sound..."
"So this is the Queen of Cron's palace, huh? It's pretty big. You think Preacher's in here somewhere?"
"I don't see why she would have gone in here, but I suppose it never hurts to look."
"We've killed some of these before, haven't we? I'm sure we have. How dull."
"That was easy. Let's hope they have some good treasure. Hmm... this is a tough lock... careful, Escher, easy does it--"
Why can't chests be more compliant? Why do they all have to quarrel with us?
Hey, have I mentioned recently that Might and Magic hates you? Because it does.
That didn't happen. Reload from the last inn, go back and kill the illusionists, open their chest again...
Oh, for God's sake.
"Well, uh, once we get Escher revived, I guess we should go check out what's in the next room."
"What the heck are those?"
"Whatever they are, arrows just bounce right off them! This is bad!"
"Have no fear! My Deadly Swarm shall tear them to pieces!"
"Don't be stupid, that'll never--"
"-- whaaat? How can a swarm of insects get through their armour when an arrow can't?"
"Owowow! Could somebody cast Protection from Elements or something, please?"
Between Schildkrote casting Deadly Swarm, Gothmog casting Lightning Bolt, and the paladins desperately keeping everyone healed, the Iron Wizards are defeated. They only have 70 HP, but that's a lot when they're immune to physical attacks and can fireball the party for half its HP every round.
"Here's hoping they have more treasure than the illusionists did."
"Evidently, you still have more disasters to pull from Pandora's box before you find Hope. Useless humans... you are fortunate that your suffering still amuses me."
"Huh. I wonder what's in this room."
"Oh no! Someone locked a man with a funny hat up in here! Don't worry, Funny Hat Man, we'll help you!"
"The Bishop of Black Battle once bestowed honours on those who won the famed Black Ticket Triple Crown: a Black Ticket match in each of the three battle arenas of Cron. But that was a long time ago. Now he's here, and here he'll stay."
"But that's not fair! What did he do to deserve this?"
"Queen Lamanda doesn't easily forgive those who insult her, especially in front of guests. But I've said too much already. Even if we wanted to free him, we'd need a black key, which we don't have. We should just keep moving."
"Well, would you look at that. I've found a secret passage."
"Leads all the way down to the dungeons, too. Wanna take a look around?"
"We should probably avoid visiting the palace dungeons, if at all possible."
"I bet this is where Preacher is!"
"None of those people look like Preacher."
"They don't look happy that we barged in on their prayer meeting, either. To arms!"
Holy Men would be slightly more dangerous than Iron Wizards, were it not for the fact that we can just beat them to death with swords.
They leave better treasure than Iron Wizards, too. Invisocloaks can be worn by any character class, fit on top of normal armour, and provide an AC bonus equal to chain mail. Unfortunately, this one is Neutral-aligned, and I've managed to set up a party without a single Neutral member: this'll go in someone's backpack and I'll pass it off to Jostiband.
"Hey, I am a robber. Besides, I'm trying to get my alignment down to Neutral so I can wear that cloak."
"I know what'll cheer you up: some fighting!"
And you thought the update title just referred to the party composition.
Every two steps in this room, the party encounters a group of 8 Paladins. They have 120 HP and high AC, hit reasonably hard in melee, and...
... they're annoyingly resistant to magic. All we can really do is cast buffing spells like Invisibility and Holy Bonus, heal when necessary, and slowly beat them to death.
"Maybe we can turn stuff into gold in this room!"
"Hey, someone's already done it for us! Cool!"
"Wait, you can't just--"
"Wait, they're surprised that they have to actually do their job and guard something? Who trains these guys?"
Castle Guards aren't a huge danger at this point. The only real threat they present would be if they managed to knock a character unconscious and then kill them with a lucky shot. Fortunately, the battle goes smoothly.
"So now we've killed three of the palace's high-ranking clerics, slaughtered dozens of elite soldiers, and robbed the treasury. I'm going to have a lot of explaining to do when we see Queen Lamanda."
"You know the worst thing about all this?"
"We'd probably have made more money just by throwing away our castle key, killing the guards at the palace gates and taking whatever treasure they were carrying."
"I hope nobody's gonna try to kill us for stealing their food."
"Nope, doesn't look like it. Score! Free pork!"
"I don't get it."
"Um... it's... you'll understand when you're older."
"People have been sayin' that to me for nearly 20 years now. When am I gonna be older?"
"Corak... ah, that's a name that brings back memories. Perhaps I can examine his notes in his absence..."
"Wait... you're a 'he'?"
"It's a long story. Let's just say you should stay away from the palace dungeons."
"What happened to Corak, anyway? I know he disappeared but I never heard the whole story."
"The truth is, I don't know much more than you. He behaved strangely for months before his disappearance, secretly visiting Lord Peabody of Pinehurst, studying at all hours of the day and night and ranting about a terrible wave of fiery destruction that would annihilate Cron, brought by a being named Sheltem."
"Yes, Sheltem. I believe Corak and Lord Peabody were building some magical device to stop Sheltem, but it failed while he was testing it, killing him."
"Man, that Sheltem guy was some serious bad news. If he followed us to Cron somehow, we're in all kinds of trouble."
"What's going on? Who is this Sheltem? Do you know him?"
"You don't wanna know. But I gotta find Preacher and tell her about this. She'll know what to do."
"Very well. Gwyndon, thank you for the information. We'll visit Queen Lamanda now, if she will receive us."
"Wait, seriously? She wants us all to do those crazy Mt. Farview quests and win the Black Ticket Triple Crown before she'll even talk to us? Now I don't feel bad at all about killing her servants."
"Forgive her, Escher. She... has her reasons for acting as she does. I will return when I have fulfilled your requests, Your Majesty."
"Sorry about killing all your guards and stuff, by the way."
"Oh, do not concern yourselves with such trifling matters. I have some more expendable servants in the back room there if you would like."
"Okay, if you say so. I don't see what's so funny about this room..."
The Court Jester and Mystic Clown can each juggle the party for quite a lot of damage. I think they can also steal backpack items or something.
In any case, they only have about 100 HP each, so they don't even survive long enough to attack once.
(And I finally managed to screenshot a backstab happening at a significant moment. Backstabs do awesome damage, but don't happen nearly often enough.)
Oddly enough, that one easy fight earned the party more experience than anything else they fought on the way to Queen Lamanda.
"Hey, that is pretty funny."
"We've finished exploring the palace, but we didn't find Preacher anywhere. Bummer."
"Maybe we should head back to Middlegate and wait for her."
"Drewjitsu! I wasn't expecting to see you back here so soon! I've been on ever so many adventures lately. Why, I've even found Corak's soul!"
"Wow, am I ever glad to see you. I've got some pretty gnarly news of my own..."
"This new armour does suit me well, doesn't it? And my skills are improving, too. Maybe one day, I'll be ready to return to serve at Luxus Palace. But not yet..."
"I still don't get it. Why would anyone want a pet rock? And how would a rock run away?"
"Gertrude find shiny new knife and helmet! Gertrude very pleased. Gertrude very pleased indeed."
"Maybe I need even more thieves' picks..."
"... so then Gwyndon (who was totally a hot babe even though she said she was a dude) told me that Corak had been trying to stop Sheltem..."
"Mattybee? Is that you? At long last, we are reunited!"
"No! It's not me! It's someone else! Go away!"
"Even I can cast spells now! Well, sort of. Maybe I should visit that intelligence-boosting statue under Atlantium."
"So, Corak's soul has been found... the plot thickens. And I, for my part, have a most useful bargaining chip in my hands..."
Whew. That was kind of a long update, but it's over now, which means that it's time to decide where to go next. Should the party explore the dungeons under Luxus Palace, go and investigate another castle, or just explore the outdoors some more? The choice is yours!