Part 45: Preacher's Cursed Lever
Update 44: Preacher's Cursed Lever
"Jostiband, if exploring one castle dungeon got us into this predicament, perhaps another one can return us to normal."
"Well, return me to normal and return you to your previous state."
"It's always nice when doors have helpful warnings on them."
"We're still going to open it, right?"
The dungeon under Luxus Palace does a good job of feeling like a real dungeon, in the sense that it's hard to get into, hard to get out of and very unpleasant to be in. The monsters aren't anything we can't deal with, but there are a lot of them. Also, the door to each room locks behind the party, forcing them to pick their way out.
"Oh, come on. How bad can they be?"
No worse than the normal bad guys, really, but in larger numbers.
"It doesn't look like anyone's been in here in a while. Maybe they left some weapons behind or something..."
"Fine? What fine? What's going on? Why does my backpack feel so light all of a sudden?"
"Well, guess I shouldn't have bothered hunting that ancient dragon before I came here."
Yeah, there's a bunch of places scattered throughout this dungeon that just take all the party's gold away without warning. On the list of all the horrible things this game can do to you, this is... somewhere in the top ten.
"At least we didn't bring any dwarves along, I guess."
This is another of those permanent HP boost areas. After the Dragon's Dominion, +10 to maximum HP is not really a big deal any more.
We did bring Archers along, but all that's behind these doors are a couple of Archer-only items that boost Intellect (Sun Crown) and Accuracy (Topaz Shard). We'd rather just have more Defense Rings.
"Been there, done that, got a souvenir."
"That's exactly what we've come here to get rid of!"
"Sure, why not. I've already lost all my gold, so what else can go wrong?"
"That actually wasn't so bad. I feel... sturdier."
Here's where you go to exchange Speed for Endurance. There aren't any items that raise Endurance, so this is the only way to get it above 100. We could use the Speed Boots to abuse this exchanger and get everyone's Endurance to 255. We have enough HP already without raising our Endurance even higher, though.
Once again, we have Sorcerers in the party, but all that's behind here is some Intellect-boosting items (Amber Skull and Quartz Skull) that we don't really care about.
"What's Queen Lamanda got against sorcerers and archers, anyway? Does she really feel that threatened by us?"
"If the second floor is just going to be like the first but with more monsters, maybe we should cut our losses and get out of here now."
"Absolutely not! Not until I've found what I came here for!"
"I don't know what you're looking for, but what makes you so sure it's even here?"
"It has to be somewhere!"
Down we go to level 2. Fortunately for the party, it's not very much like level 1 at all.
It does have another portal to Hillstone Dungeon, but that's where the similarities end. There are no more locked doors and no more gold-stealing traps. The monsters are stronger, but that doesn't matter so much at this point.
Oh, and there's another stat exchanger.
"I got back some of the speed I lost, but now I feel weaker. Well, you can't win 'em all."
The second floor of the Luxus Palace dungeon is a very open level, so it's not hard to explore. The catch is that there are a bunch of random teleporters that will bounce you around the dungeon when you least expect it. It's still less of a pain than the first floor.
"... for only one million gold, I'll sell you all the hit points you SHOULD have."
"Naaah, we're good. I mean, if this many hit points aren't enough, nothing ever will be."
The Hit Point Maximizer is basically a way to fix your characters if they ended up with low HP due to training in Middlegate instead of Atlantium, or gaining most of their levels while they still had 8 endurance. It recalculates the whole party's maximum HP based on their current level and endurance. If you need a quick HP boost, scrounging up a million gold pieces is probably easier for a medium-level party than killing the Ancient Dragon.
"Could this be what I think it is?"
"Yes! Finally! I am restored! Jostiband, quickly, drink this!"
"Aw, do I have to?"
"Hey, what's so special about this water? Are you two trying to keep it all for yourselves? Let me try it!"
"I, too, have fallen victim to a cruel fate!"
"But you don't... how can you even tell?"
"Trust me. I can tell."
"Hey, wait. Preacher, is this why you've been so secretive? You found another of those pools down in the dungeons, but that one worked the other way? Ha ha ha! Oh, that's great. That actually makes this worth it."
"I don't see what's so funny. I encountered a problem and resolved it. And now, it would seem, you are the one with the problem."
"Ha! What do I have to fear any more?"
"I fear no dungeon, no monster, no mysterious pool! I have nothing to fear from pulling this lever, either! Just watch!"
"I freed myself from a curse that the gods themselves could not break! I can face any challenge with my own power! All the world should obey me!"
"Uh, you sure everything's okay there, Preacher? This doesn't seem quite like your usual kind of crazy talk."
"You dare to question me? Who do you think you are?"
"... maybe we should just head back to the inn quietly and hope that you sleep off whatever's gotten into you."
"Huh. The walls of this level spell out "Central Research Observational Nacelle"... and the first letters of each word spell out CRON! I wonder what it could mean."
"Well, Preacher hasn't exactly calmed down, but we made it back to the inn alive. I'd call that a victory."
"Nah, that's not gonna fly."
"What is this? Are you two talking about me behind my back?"
"Gertrude explain everything. Is smart decision to see evil way as best way, but you want to take over world, and that not so good. Gothmog want same thing. Oldest story in book. Two heroes fight, destroy thing they fight over. End of world bad for business. As hireling, I object."
"Plus, Jostiband's evil now too, and her plans for the world aren't going to be good for anyone."
"Gertrude! You, a mere hireling, would stand against me?"
"Hireling or not hireling, Gertrude still bigger and stronger than you. Gertrude say you no be evil no more, you no be evil no more."
"Who are you to judge me? Do you honestly believe you understand anything about good and evil? I hope you don't think I'm just going to let you take me to a temple and restore my alignment!"
"Fine. We force issue. Is rumour of pool in Pinehurst dungeon, make evil people good. We take you there."
"What are you doing? Let go of me this instant!"
"Or what? You'll heal us to death?"
"Jostiband! Help me!"
"Wheeeee! I'm getting a piggyback ride! Faster, Godobor! Faster!"
"Screw that! The best thing about being evil is not having to follow orders! All we're going to miss out on is some more HP bonuses anyway."
"Nope, we're not here to trade Speed for Accuracy. Not today, anyway!"
"Way ahead of you on that, buddy. Sorry! If there are any bad guys left, you're welcome to them."
And here's some more class-specific items that we don't need. Both of the items for Knights (Ivory Cameo and Ruby Tiara) raise Might.
Welcome to this dungeon's gimmick.
It likes to drain your spell points and then pit you against a bunch of monsters. The SP drain is pretty inconsequential at the party's current level, which is a good thing because this dungeon also likes to spawn monsters like Stone Golems that are immune to weapons.
Oh hey, look, a class-specific item that we can actually get. This one's for paladins and raises Personality.
"This must be the pool we're looking for! In you go!"
"Feel any less evil yet?"
"Do I look any less evil?"
"Uh-oh. Quick, everyone, grab them again and let's go!"
This is the permanent Accuracy-boosting area. Given what an annoying maze this dungeon is, it's much less convenient than using the Circus.
See what I mean? Try finding a route from any one point on that map to any other. I dare you.
"The pool we're looking for must be downstairs! Come on, everybody!"
"Well, I could use a snack."
You know the deal with these by now: this one trades Personality for Luck. It's a good trade if you're not a Cleric or Paladin.
Speaking of people who aren't paladins, none of us are! This level's class-specific items and non-human-specific HP bonuses are all behind magical barriers that have to be Etherealized through. For our trouble, we get an Opal Pendant, a Paladin-only item that raises Might. Eh.
There's one more interesting thing behind a barrier, though...
"How to Succeed in Spell-Casting Without Really Trying." Buy it?
"Can I have a look at it? Please? Pretty please? I promise I won't destroy you with my newfound arcane power."
"Well, it's not like you couldn't destroy us all with the power you've already got, so I guess we'd better appease you. Sure, go ahead and buy it."
That's right: for 2 million gold, we've just bought every sorcerer and cleric spell in the game for the entire party. If you can get here early, it's an absolute bargain, and much easier than scouring every town, dungeon and outdoor area to hunt down spells. Of course, we've already found almost every spell anyway, so for us it's not such a good deal.
"Looks like we've found the right one this time. Time to throw everyone into the fountain!"
"And a one..."
"Wait, can't we talk this over?"
"And a two..."
"Fools! I could give you wealth and power beyond your wildest dreams!"
"And a three! Heave-ho!"
"Hey, careful where you're getting that water! I think it splashed me!"
"What happened to me? I had the most horrible dream..."
"This is the part where we tell you it all really happened and you recoil in horror at your own actions and fall to your knees begging for forgiveness."
"I... I've been such a fool."
"Aw, it's not your fault. You pulled a magic evil lever."
"No, Jostiband. It was my own arrogance that led me to pull it in the first place. I've treated you terribly for so long when what happened to me was no fault of yours. Can you ever forgive me?"
"Okay, okay, just because we're not evil any more doesn't mean we have to get all touchy-feely."
"Well, if everything's sorted out, can we finally head back to the inn and get a good night's sleep?"
"Speaking of magic levers, now that we've sorted out all of that, can I go back to--"
"Mattybee and I will be heading there presently to restore ourselves. It would be no trouble to bring her--"
"No trouble, you say? You're not the one who has to share a room with her!"
"Being good isn't so bad, really. As long as I save someone's life at least once for every time I lie or cheat or steal, it all balances out, right?"
"That's not what it means to be good at all! You should be acting out of love and concern for your fellow human beings at all times!"
"But whatever he's doing, it must count as good, right? It says 'Good' right there on his character sheet!"
"I'm kind of going to miss finding equipment that was better than the stuff I've already got."
"I have finally achieved complete mastery of the arcane arts. But what am I to do with my power, now that I cannot use it for evil?"
"You could always, y'know, help people."
"I can rain burning plasma down upon my enemies. How, exactly, do you propose that I use that power to help people?"
"Gertrude having crisis of conscience. Feeling urge to travel around world and apologise to families of everyone Gertrude smashed into bloody pulp."
"I guess this means I can't kill people for fun any more. I'll just have to find better reasons to kill people from now on."
So ends a rather eventful update. We've now seen almost all of the world of Cron, and explored every town, castle and dungeon in the present and the past. I can't really make you vote on where to go next, because all that's left for us to do is go to the elemental planes, collect the talons for King Kalohn's orb, save the king, and finally wrap up the main plot of the game.
What I can do is ask you to vote on what party members will be given the honour of completing the final quests.
Look at the character list. Choose up to six party members and two hirelings you want to see included in the final party. Levelling up is trivial at this point, so don't worry too much about their current levels and equipment. You don't have to vote for eight people if you don't want to: if there's only one character you particularly want to see in the party, just vote for that character. I'll be out of town tomorrow, so I'll leave voting open for at least a couple of days, maybe longer. Vote wisely!