Part 36: Mister Kelemvor, Tear Down This Wall!
Act Three Chapter Five - We Who Are About To Die
The Founder's portal dumps us back in Lienna's hideout.
: In a manner of speaking, yes. She shaped me from a fragment of her own soul.
: When I saw her, it became so clear. Her voice reminded me of the voices I've been hearing since... well, as long as we can remember.
: As long as "we" can remember?
: My whole life, I thought they were delusions, but it was actually the others lending me their warnings and wisdom... and sometimes their pain and nightmares.
: You know, technically, you're talking to yourself.
She's got us there.
: I think we know who to thank for that particular curse.
: Yes... the Founder's actions were pragmatic and... questionable. And I thank you for sparing her life. You must hate her... you have little reason not to.
Safiya is considerably less impressed if you say you spared the Founder to keep her on side.
: She did deserve the full measure of your wrath... and I will always be grateful for your mercy.
: I must confess, I fell a small measure of guilt in the matter. The person who wronged you is... is me, in some small way.
Not that it matters much now. We're close to the end... it's time to make things good.
* * *
We got a new sword!
The fully-repaired Silver Sword of Gith has been upgraded to suit our Level 30 character. Naturally our dual daggers are still the best fit for Calliope but the Silver Sword has some very neat powers and bonuses.
Silver Sword of Gith
Chilling Wrath: Three beams of cold damage attack a single target. If all three connect, a large explosion of ice and energy damages all enemies in an area, plus a chance of knockdown on original target).
Infinite Resonance: A sound wave damages and potentially deafens/knocks down enemies around the wielder.
Unity of Will: Allies receive effects of Mind Blank and Heroism. Enemies receive effects of Fear and Crushing Despair.
Unbroken Circle: Premonition and Spell Mantle for wielder.
Perfect Rejuvenation: Regenerate and Greater Restoration for wielder.
Penetrating Edge: Maximises physical damage.
Anti-Magic Edge: Mordenkainen's Disjunction on each hit.
Defensive Edge: Bonus to wielder's Armor Class.
Base damage: 1d8
Critical Threat: 19-20/x2
Damage type: Slashing
Bonus Hitpoints +30
Damage Bonus vs. Outsider: 1d12
Damage Bonus: Slashing: 1d12
Enhancement Bonus +10
Enhancement Bonus: Dexterity +8
Immunity: Mind-Affecting Spells
Massive Criticals: 1d10
Material: Metal (Alchemical Silver)
Spell Resistance: 24
Not bad. Like before, some bonuses are redundant (+8 Dexterity won't stack with our Belt of Agility and Gann's romance feat gets us immunity to mind-alteration already) but some of the spell-likes could be very useful. Unfortunately the sword doesn't work with Calliope's general build of "lots of Sneak Attacks" so it's more of a ceremonial piece than a real weapon.
That's not an issue, though: Lightbearer and Thanatos are more than good enough for now. We get Safiya to boost their enhancement to +7 - the highest she can get at Level 28 - with our many Pristine essences. There are hidden recipes in the game for enchantments like ability drain and Vorpal weapons, but at this point they're simply not necessary; Calliope doesn't need them and she's the only party member that actually uses weapons in combat.
* * *
We're having a final chat with our companions before we enter the endgame. Okku's up next.
: The two-legged gods have a twisted sense of justice. Or perhaps it's humor.
: I hope that when this curse is put to rest, whatever remains of Akachi can find peace.
: Rabid beasts must be slain for the safety of others... but that does not mean they are worthy of hate or spite.
: Akachi's punishment far outweighed his crime - Myrkul's actions are unforgiveable.
I was thinking more about how it affected us, Okku... but sure. Rashemen. I care about Rashemen too.
* * *
We've come a long way from when we first stepped out of the Veil to be accosted by three angry women in strange masks.
: Then accept this gift from your sisters, who also wear masks, and struggle to control what lies beneath them.
: We will pray for you, Calliope, and speak your name to the triune goddess, in the secret places where only she can hear.
Thankfully this is the last time we have to hear the term "mask" used as a metaphor for body/soul dualism. Anyway, Sheva gives us the Heart of Rashemen: a ring that grants Regeneration, Haste and Freedom of Movement.
* * *
There's nothing left for us on the Prime Material. Next stop, the Plane of Shadows.
Safiya, Okku and Kaelyn won't stop griping and moaning about the past, but at least Gann is enjoying himself.
But there's not much to hear from him so it's over to Kaelyn!
: What thoughts?
: The tale the Founder spoke of. It is the second time I have heard of this crusade. I heard it from my grandfather, on the slopes of Mount Celestia.
: He sought to dissuade me from my questions with the tale - but instead, it did the opposite. He intended it to explain how the universe worked.
: Instead, it simply made me question the universe all the more... and look for a way to change it.
Well that's all right then.
* * *
Deiomidas has a few choice words for us before we descend into the Lower Vaults.
: Do not ask us to choose sides again. Your first crusade was a beautiful lie, masking a purely selfish end.
: I am not who you think I am. The presence within me is the man you once knew as Akachi... but I am much more than that.
The last time we were here, we got our butts whooped.
The undead here are still a tough bunch, but no match for us. Safiya may be dead but only because I've given up micro-managing and am just watching Calliope Feint the crap out of these vampires.
There's lots of loot to be had in the Vault. These prison cells in the south wing contain valuable magic armour and tens of thousands of gold pieces - if you can handle the mummified priests.
Forget that, actually, the mummies are the easiest enemies here thanks to their weakness to fire.
Death Lords (like Death Knights but angrier) are fragile but pack a punch. Their scythes can cut Calliope down to size (ho ho) on a lucky critical.
I spent a lot of time farming Shadows of the Void (available from each of the urns throughout the lower complex) for Brilliant Spirit Essences. I'm not entirely sure why, since I ended up just making my Belt of Agility into a Belt of +10 Strength as well... though it meant I could get rid of my Ring of Strength and replace it with something useful.
The central wing contains the temple vaults. It's possible to end up locked out entirely of these rooms - the traps require a very high DC to disarm, but once detected prevent you from picking the lock due to interface issues, so you basically need a main-character Rogue to access these rooms. And no, Kaji isn't good enough.
There's nothing especially valuable though. The Vault is an exercise in risk assessment: the earlier you go, the better the reward, but the greater the chance of dying.
This is what we're really looking for. To the north of the central chamber is the library. In it, the Lamentations of the Dead - the scroll that the Old Man wanted to research before he buried himself alive in Okku's barrow. Now, we finally get to read it.
These scrolls appear to have been written by Myrkulite priests, centuries ago. They record the fates of many who opposed the former god of the dead, and they were probably read aloud to encourage fear of Myrkul and his faithful. At one time, there must have been many of these scrolls, but this one has decayed considerably, and much of it is missing.
A prominent passage records the fate of a traitorous high priest:
Know that all who follow the Lord of Bones shall face tests of faith. Not even his most favored are spared, as we are taught by the tale of Akachi the Betrayer.
As a child, Akachi was offered as a Sacrifice to the church. Along with his brother, he was left unnamed upon our temple threshold, as was the custom in that time. Akachi was thus favored by our god, and named in the tradition of the eastern church, as are all those who come as babes into the faith of the dead. Indeed, he showed an uncanny faith as a boy - no poison or disease would touch him, and when the Black Whisper ravaged Mulsantir, he alone walked amongst the sick, hauled their corpses, and dug their graves unharmed. He offered salvation to those who would embrace the Lord of Bones, and it is said that those who converted to Myrkul's faith were healed.
Each night, Akachi would return to the temple and entreat his fellow priests to join him in ministering to the dying, but all refused, except for Akachi's brother, Eveshi. They remained hiding in the temple, fearful of the plague. So Myrkul permitted the Whisper to enter his church, carried upon the robes of the two young brothers, and all his cowering priests died coughing and rasping in their beds. Only Akachi and Eveshi survived, and the boy Akachi was annointed high priest of the Mulsantir temple.
When the plague had passed, hundreds converted to Myrkul's faith, inspired by Akachi's courage and divine favor. While Eveshi ministered to the faithful, Akachi walked the surrounding lands and converted hundreds more souls to the Lord of Bones. Myrkul's eye was upon him, and our god would visit Akachi in his dreams, instructing him in the highest mysteries of the faith, and entrusting him with missions to destroy his enemies.
Akachi became the hand of Myrkul's justice, hunting the foes of our god across the planes. No slight against the Lord of Bones went unpunished, no betrayal went unavenged... and no honor was denied Akachi, in return. In his hand he bore a silver blade, taken from the depths of the Hells at Myrkul's bidding and granted to him as a reward. Akachi was Chosen of Myrkul, favored above all.
But with such favor come the greatest tests. Akachi's lover was a wizardess who cared little for the gods. One day, her enchantments went awry and she was killed in a magical conflagration. Then was Akachi distraught, for he knew what awaited his beloved. All those who died without faith were bound into the Wall of the Faithless, and finally dissolved into the substance of the Wall.
Akachi entreated Myrkul to spare his lover. For this, he would pay any price, perform any service Myrkul might desire. But Myrkul's judgement is swift and sure, and it does not waver for those who deny the gods. Akachi's lover would remain in the Wall.
In that moment, Akachi's pride outshone his faith. His anger turned to wrath, and he swore that he would tear down the Wall itself to take his lover back. And by this sinful vow, he was doomed, and he became the Betrayer.
Akachi spoke wicked lies to his brother Eveshi, and turned him against Myrkul. By his devotion to his brother, Eveshi was also doomed. Eveshi set aside his name, and he took a new name that was given to him by his brother, as a token of his own betrayal.
And Akachi spoke lies to others as well, turning many faithful against the Lord of Bones. He opened the prison of Myrkul's vault and called forth the demilich Rammaq, who had thrice attempted to become a god and had been thwarted by Akachi himself. The Betrayer made pacts with many others as well, promising them great rewards when the Wall of the Faithless was overthrown. Among these were Zoab, a prince of Celestia, and Sey'ryu, a queen of dragonkind. When he had assembled a mighty host, Akachi carved a doorway between the Plane of Shadow and the realm of the dead, and he led his army into Myrkul's realm.
In that hour, Myrkul appeared in his glory, at the head of an even greater host - all the heroes of the ancient dead marched at his back, with all the masses of the False, and many baatezu who had been summoned from the Hells. Akachi's army crumbled before the Lord of Bones, and his generals fled to the darkest corners of the planes. Not even the Betrayer could stand against Myrkul in the realm of the dead. Akachi was dragged in chains to the Basilica of Lost Hope, and Myrkul pronounced Judgement upon him.
Be watchful, oh faithful of the Lord of Bones. For it is said that Akachi's generals still live, and that they promised to return should the Betrayer ever stand before death's gates again. And it is also whispered that Akachi tore the soul of his lover from the Wall before Myrkul struck him down. If this sacrilege is true, then she shall be hunted, and find no rest in this world... for the Faithless must be held to account, and none may challenge the judgement of the Lord of Bones.
We could have read this at the beginning of Act Two... but I held off on showing you this because I think it gives too much of the game away. Especially since the LP format makes it easy to cross-reference plot info and guess future twists and turns. That said, in a normal playthrough this kind of 'over-writing' is necessary, due to the player's marvellous capability to completely miss all relevant story details - like the memory-dreams at the Wells and in Ashenwood. That's why "mask" is repeated so often.
There's a familiar chamber waiting for us at the other end of the northern passage.
The Betrayer's Gate.
: [Though it is nearly the twin of the gate on the upper level of the vault, the markings are different, and powerfully alive. The keyhole is the same, though - a thin, vertical opening of identical size.]
: [As you look upon the door, the presence within you writhes and contorts, but there is no pain. Rather, you feel... excitement... a yearning to pass through the door...]
: [Lay your hand upon the door.]
: [The voices are all around you... mortals, angels, dragons, and the forsaken dead... they are in the chamber... they are surging forward, through the Betrayer's Gate. They are surging forward... and the gate is closing... and the voices fade...]
The cutscene camera messes the next sequence up a bit. This is our point-of-no-return conversation, and our companions have something to say to us.
: This is the gate that was the threshold of the First Crusade. Beyond lies the Fugue Plane, and the City of Judgement - Kelemvor's domain.
: Hrnh. Let us go and end your hunger, little one. The realm of the dead holds little that could frighten me...
: Are you committed to this, then?
Ah, there we go! Back in time for Gann's confession of love.
: I think I like you better than the one we go to save.
: What do you mean?
: There is a certain purity in what you are, and if you hunger, at least such hunger is honest.
: It is easy to forget such kindnesses when walking these lands.
Aw, Gann! I didn't know you cared!
Well, I did. We already had this conversation with him - just after we completed the Sunken City module. This is actually a second chance to have that conversation with him - he'll repeat his lines here if he hasn't already spoken them in a playthrough.
: Whether you are Akachi, who hungers eternal, or a wayward hero from the West, you are more to me.
Lines that hint at Gann's cut bisexuality, I think.
: And you are a thing which I think the gods themselves must bargain with if they are to maintain their grip on their worshippers.
: I love you as well, Gannayev.
: You have healed the darkest places, the deepest doubts in my spirit - you showed me my mother, my past... all of these things have closed a hole in my soul.
: I do not think you are a spirit-eater at all - I think you have more power in healing spirits than devouring them.
: I'll take that as the compliment it was intended to be.
: Then so be it - we will share dream and awareness together. That was all I needed to know.
: My dreams are of you and I surviving this, with a tale of how two lovers braved death and returned.
: I think we deserve a happy ending, don't you? That is my dream. I think it is not too much to ask.
This section annoys me. Partly because of what happens next, but partly because the party cap still applies - but it doesn't make sense not to bring everyone to the Betrayer's Gate. This is a crusade against God! Why leave anyone behind? What's the point in having four companions if we have to leave them behind at the climactic moment?
Good thing I got cheats then, ain't it?
: I can only speculate as to what awaits on the other side of this gate... but we may step into danger, and this may be our last chance to speak freely.
This is the point where Safiya declares her love for male player characters - obviously not content for us. She is still, however, our longest-serving companion, with the biggest interest in freeing Akachi aside from us.
: It's been good to travel with you, too.
: I've had very few people in my life who I love and respect. My mother... Master Djafi... Kaji.
: That changed when I met you. I was bound to you by dint of my promise to protect you. But in our travels, I've seen your true nature, and it is honest and strong.
It's especially hilarious to choose the third dialogue option when romancing Safiya: "The only reason I love you is because of this ghost hiding inside me." Definite mood-killer.
: No - I do. I would never forgive myself if I let you wander through the gate without me. Besides, a trip to the Fugue Plane would be... academically stimulating.
: I will stay at your side until we finish this... trust me as you would trust yourself - I will not let you down.
Either way, it's done. Nothing stands between us and our new crusade - the Third Crusade.
So what are we waiting for?