Part 24: Team Ethnic Diversity
Update 23: Team Ethnic Diversity
"Maybe one of the lords can help lift my curse. I've heard that Lord Slayer of Castle Hillstone is hiring mercenaries. If I help him out, hopefully I can get in his good graces."
Hillstone is a long, long walk from Middlegate. Fortunately, there are plenty of signs to show the way.
Here it is, waaay over on the southern edge of Cron.
"My feet hurt."
"Watch your step. That's the Quagmire of Doom to the right."
"Why did Lord Slayer have to build his castle out here? That swamp's full of monsters, and it kinda stinks too. And then there's all that history with the late King Kalohn..."
"From what I've heard of Lord Slayer, the monsters are exactly what he likes about this place."
"But why would anybody want to live next to a swamp full of monsters?"
"Oh, you'll see."
The layout of Lord Slayer's castle is similar to Lord Hoardall's, with a short path to the throne room past one door and a big off-limits area full of guards past the other. No prizes for guessing where the party's going first.
"Yes, Marcel, we can see there's a bishop there."
Like all the other lords, Slayer's keeping a bishop locked up. The Red Key is sold in Vulcania, and the reward for freeing this one is 108,000 experience. Red Ticket battles tend to be a bit tricky, though.
"Hooray, a zoo! I wish Jostiband was here to see this!"
"Nice kitty-- ow! It bit me! Bad kitty!"
Lord Slayer's zoo is full of monsters, from the laughably weak...
... to the intensely annoying.
"That could have gone better. Time to set a beacon here, go get Julius revived and come back."
Pretty sure these things can gaze at the party to petrify them. They didn't live long enough to get a turn, since I wasn't really keen on finding out for sure. I'm screenshotting them mostly to remind you that this monster graphic is still awesome.
None of the monsters in the Zoo leave any treasure, even if they're of a kind that normally does. Pity.
"We should go in there to complain about all the mean kitties and metal-kitties and horn-kitties! This is a bad zoo!"
"She's right, you know. A zoo full of monsters? What kind of clowns are running this place?"
I'm not sure quite why every castle has an infinite stash of food hidden in it, but I'm not complaining.
"Hmm. I wonder if we can learn anything by talking to Lord Slayer's prisoners."
"Failing that, I'm sure he won't mind us killing them for experience."
"Didn't that kind of thinking already get you put in prison once?"
"Oh my. Are they gone already? Perhaps we should drop by Sandsobar on our way back and properly introduce ourselves to them."
This castle has a jester too. His jokes haven't improved.
And there's another one of these mysterious devices behind a series of secret passages.
"Ooh, a grand hall! Maybe there's a grand prize at the end!"
"Heavens above! This place is simply swarming with monsters."
Every step the party takes in this room will spawn a fairly powerful random encounter.
"Oh, come on. This is just getting silly."
Oh, and they can call for help to double their numbers.
"Where did all these lepers come from?"
Fortunately, the party is a team of stone-cold badasses more than capable of beating nearly two hundred lepers to death.
Not a bad haul of experience for a few minutes of autocombat and occasional healing.
"I'm fairly sure I didn't graft any spare parts from lepers onto any of you. But do be sure to tell me if anything starts to rot away."
"Come on, everyone, let's keep going to the end of the hall! I can't wait to see the grand prize!"
"That wasn't a grand prize at all. I don't like this castle. "
"Well, we're nearly done here. Let's just have a quick chat with Lord Slayer and then go back to Middlegate."
"Excuse me, Lord Slayer, but I've had a magical curse placed on me and I have come here to seek your help. Do you know anything about curses?"
"Fuck off back to whatever Godforsaken hellhole you came from, you shit-eating half-breed. Fuck you, fuck the sorry excuse for a party you travel with now, and while we're at it, fuck everything you have done in your entire life. Fuck you, your mother and your father all at once with a trifurcated obelisk. There, that's all I know about curses. I don't know about magic and I don't care to learn. Are you here for a quest or do you just want to waste my time?"
"If you're going to be like that, maybe I should just--"
"Give us the biggest quest you've got."
The first three levels of quest are hunts for random monsters and they're just as pointless as Lord Hoardall's random-weapon quests, so once again we've skipped straight to the Lord's Quest.
"Thank you. We'll be leaving now."
"What was that about, Godobor? After the way he treated me I was ready to walk right out of there, curse be damned."
"Slayer hates magic and monsters -- and to him, we're monsters. Were you really expecting a warm reception?"
"I suppose that the meeting could have gone worse, all things considered. Still, I'll be glad if I don't have to see Lord Slayer again for a long time."
"At least I managed to pick up this nice new shield and ray gun off some castle guards."
"I got a new shield too! Maybe that was my grand prize after all!"
"Lord Slayer said those three monsters were to the north of his castle, right? Given how far south his castle is, that means we only have to search about 90% of Cron."
"I do like these new Defense Rings we bought in Atlantium. They suit me well, don't you think?"
"Day 179 passed again, so we also took the time to buy +12 weapons for everyone who didn't already have one. I should have had a naginata, but, well, there was a mix-up with the shopping list."
"I'm fully decked out in excellent armour, so why is my AC still so low? Oh, of course -- it's my Speed. I should get that fixed."
"I wonder what this N-19 Capitor is for. Perhaps somebody somewhere wants it."
Once again, we've picked up two new hirelings, and their level is already about on par with the rest of the party. Here they are:
Friar Fly is a pretty unremarkable cleric. If it weren't for that Diplomat secondary skill, his Personality would be a mere 13: barely enough to qualify as a Cleric. Still, spellcaster hirelings tend to be better than fighter hirelings simply by virtue of the fact that they automatically know all spells.
Dark Mage is in much the same boat. He's not completely useless (especially if you pick him up early in the game and abuse his Teleport spell), but unless we really need a lot of spellcasters for some reason, we can make do with the hirelings we've got.
Once again, dear reader, you have reached the end of an update. What fabulous adventures will you see next? Should Preacher's group search for Sherman, should Tarquinn's group look for the legendary swords, should Julius' group go on a monster hunt, or should I just have a bunch of guys go and explore a dungeon? The choice is yours! Vote now!