Part 37: Act Two Chapter Three - Don't Worry, They Get What's Coming To Them In The ExpansionNasher's sent us to Port Llast to gather evidence for our trial.
The trial's one of the most lauded parts of NWN2. It's a great big massive effort-quest, with a ton of options and as many outcomes. The trial itself is a nicely-written piece of work, but it's only the second half of the quest - what you do while gathering evidence beforehand counts just as much as what you say in the courtroom.
For a change, there's very little combat in this module. There are a few optional fights, but most of the work will be done through exploration and dialogue.
It's up to us how much searching to do and how much evidence to acquire: Nevalle will start the trial for us at any time, so long as we have one piece of evidence and have spoken with Haeromos, the First Captain of Port Llast. However, there's no disadvantage and considerable benefit to finding all seven pieces of evidence in the Port Llast area. Sand's our evidence counter - we can ask him at any time whether we have enough evidence to make a case, or if he thinks there's any more evidence to gather.
Before we go, we stop by Axle to see if he has any advice for us. Or maybe he has a more... direct solution in mind?
: I would intervene, remove Torio, but it's too public. We'll have to wait until it fades from the public eye for a time, then Luskan will get theirs, I swear it.
: Who wouldn't? But as long as the Arcane Brotherhood's got a stranglehold there, it's as good as dead anyway.
: Look... this Torio Claven. Watch her. She's slippery, and she may not be much of a fighter, but she's... "convincing" when it comes to speaking to people in high places.
: You may not see it on Nasher's face, but she can do a lot to make people hate you, make them believe you a criminal. And if she does, she's won.
: Any advice?
: Look carefully, talk to everyone you can at Port Llast, see what comes out. And search Ember thoroughly. The real murderer was there, and he or she must have left a trace.
* * *
Port Llast is a small way up the coast from Neverwinter. Unfortunately it's close enough to Luskan that Luskan think it ought to be theirs.
In the Forgotten Realms lore, Port Llast used to be a large mining town called Grath's Hold, the 'last port' between civilisation and the mineral-rich wilds of the north. Some of the ruins are still standing, east of the town, but we won't be going there.
: Gods, Sand, you hold your nose so high it's a wonder you don't wear your hat on it.
: I don't even know what that means, my dear, but I'm sure as far as your local expressions go, it's quite quaint - and charmingly ignorant.
: Enough, you two. We need to find information.
: Asking some of the locals couldn't hurt, either. After we speak to Haeromos, of course.
: Agreed. They may have seen something, and as long as we use simple words, we may be able to get information out of them.
: I'll try to sort through what we find as we discover it, but check with me if you're ever curious about all we've gathered... I'll have a good sense for when we have enough to bring to trial.
: All right. I'm glad to have you along.
The one thing you need to know about Sand is that he loves to be flattered. Not simply in a "Well done Sand, who's a good boy then" manner, but just appreciating him and not letting his talents go to waste. Easy, yuh?
The flipside is that he gets pissy when you reject his ideas to help you out of concerns for mere 'morality' or 'decency'.
The militia headquarters. Haeromos is in here.
As soon as we step in, we're accosted by this grumpy old man.
: Think what you want. I need answers.
: You're free to conduct your business here, but you'll be watched.
: If you have questions, ask them now. I'm a busy man.
We can ask several questions, but we only need to ask the first one. The rest is background fluff.
Uh, I thought all the Neverwinter officers were supposed to know we're innocent? I thought Haeromos was going to be on our side!
: You are beginning to anger me with your lies.
: I have a source who witnessed the attack, and you are described in great detail.
Uh oh. That's not good.
Our first obstacle in the evidence-gathering questline.
: [Success] Very well. You may question the witness, but you shall do it in my presence.
: Bring the girl here.
* * *
Alaine... the woman who approached us after the githyanki ambush in Ember. As I recall, she was a friend of Shandra's.
: Alaine, it's all right... shhhh. Look, I've brought people to help. We'll get to the bottom of t-
: You! Shandra, it's- it's her. Why would you bring her here?
: I saw you murder those people.
: No, Alaine, it's not true-
: I know what I saw. They had no weapons... some even surrendered, but she... she...
We play nice for an Influence point (and to butter up the witness).
: That's right, Alaine. We're here to help, all right?
: When I came back to Ember, I heard the screams and saw the smoke.
: I left my wagon and went into town. That's when I saw the bodies...
: I saw her kill the quartermaster while he was on his knees, begging for his life.
: We don't have all year, girl, nor do I have the patience when the trail of these killers grows colder.
: There were others, but I didn't see them closely. I ran as hard as I could to Port Llast. And they took me in.
: But you did do it.
: Or someone that looked the part - there are many magics that can cloak one's appearance... even allow one to change shape.
And Sand would know. He's a Transmuter - a wizard who specialises in altering matter, changing or polymorphing others.
Time to start earning points for the Trial.
: Well, thanks for considering it, at least.
: You're... welcome. Is there anything else you need from me?
: Who else was there besides me? Were any of my companions there?
: So you didn't see a dwarf? A gnome? A half-demon girl?
: Well... no. I believe they were all human.
: But, you could just have hired others.
True. Although Bishop probably wouldn't have passed up the chance to kill some peasant villagers.
: Yes, my dear... but as your hesitation suggests, why would anyone do that, when they have trusted allies who would follow one anywhere, despite their common sense?
: Eh... no offense.
: You were lucky, hmm? Or perhaps, they let you escape?
: That's all I needed to know. Thanks for your help, Alaine.
We visited Port Llast in Neverwinter Nights 1 and I don't recall Haeromos being so much of a prick then.
If he was even in the game at all. I was too busy chasing secretive cultists dressed in bright orange pyjamas through repetitive cave dungeons for hours on end.
Shandra... so naive.
: Girl - if we do not use your friend, the Luskans will. And they will use her testimony to kill our friend, here.
: So... please, dispense with your convenient morality. Either we use her, or they do.
: If I can find a way to use her, I will. If she dies as a result, so be it.
Probably not how Sand would have put it, but the sentiment is ultimately the same.
Shandra is appropriately disappointed. If we'd decided to leave Alaine out of this, Sand would be the one complaining about his talents being put to waste. However there isn't anything we can do to make Alaine alter her testimony, other than the Diplomacy check we passed earlier.
All right, so we picked up a few hints during our conversation with Alaine. 'Magical disguise' is one. We should also keep an eye out for the quartermaster - I doubt it would have been highlighted for no reason.
That comes later, though. There's some more stuff to wrap up in Port Llast.
: Wyrmsage... that's used as a reagent in certain spells.
: It's used to prevent the dead from rising, if I recall correctly.
: Yes, that's right. You have an eye for the obscure.
: Does Port Llast have an undead problem?
Hmm, this smells like a sidequest.
: I've not been to Ember since the massacre. But I've heard that the bodies are rotting where they fell.
: Why haven't the bodies been buried?
: Ember is in Luskan territory, and the Luskans haven't bothered. Not that I'd expect anything less from Luskan.
Yep, I was right.
I won't show you the backstory, because Nya takes forever in telling it. In short: she's in love with a cleric of Kelemvor, god of the dead. He got reassigned by the Church and she's pined after him ever since. She thinks that by fighting the undead, she might attract his attention and bring him back.
That cleric is Septimund, a party companion in the expansion pack Storm of Zehir. Nya makes a reappearance as well - this time as a slightly-crazy necromancer trying to fight off Luskan invaders.
We'll be going to Ember anyway, so why not help? All we need do is sprinkle a little wyrmsage on each body, and voila! Undead-B-Gone.
Further down the street, some guards attempt throwing their weight around. Looks like Torio's lies are having an effect.
You know, this raises an interesting question: we've been adventuring for a while now, and racked up quite a kill count. Why did Luskan attempt to frame us for the murder of thirty or so villagers when we've easily slain hundreds of Watchmen, Docks gangers, innocent bandits....?
Maybe they thought they could trick a confession out of us. You know, after the hundredth kill, it's hard to know just who it is you're brutally stabbing to death...
Anyway, we Intimidate them to shut them up. For once, Old Owl Well served a purpose.
It's better than killing them. We're in enough trouble as it is.
Inside the local pub, a braggart is telling tales. No cause for concern, surely?
: Lucky for me, I had my enchanted dagger with me. With its jaws only inches away from my throat, I lunged, and with a quick twist of the blade, I cut out the beast's heart!
: I was a bit tired after all this fun in the Duskwood, so I decided to head to Ember to rest up. That's when I smelled the smoke.
: I ran there as quickly as I could, and what did I see? The village in flames, the defenseless people being slaughtered by cruel and evil men.
: There were dozens of attackers, heavily armed, aided by foul creatures - demons, I think.
Also, where did he get his enchanted dagger? Mine cost about 20k!
: So what did you do?
: The only thing I could do - I attacked. I cut down two of them before they knew I was there, but the others, seeing what a threat I was, ganged up on me.
: I slew several before one of them snuck up from behind and knocked me unconscious. The enemy must have thought me dead, because when I woke, they were gone.
A likely story. First, there was only one survivor: Alaine. Second, subdual damage isn't in NWN2!
: And what of Ember?
: Sadly, I was too late - everyone was dead. There was little more I could do, so I returned to Port Llast.
: At least you tried, Elgun.
: This man is clearly a fool - but it is his audience that concerns me. Such tales could be used against us. We should question Elgun and see about the facts of his tale.
This is a hint about the nature of the trial - much the same as Axle gave us at the start of the update. Collecting all seven pieces of evidence won't be enough to win us the trial - to prove ourselves innocent, we'll have to manipulate the crowds, tell them a convincing story.
Elgun is an obstacle in this matter and must be dealt with. (Not like that.)
Yes, Sand was right. If he had been there, he should have recognised us (and wet himself in terror).
: I did. I'm sorry I couldn't have done more to stop it.
: With a rotund frame like you have, it's a wonder the enemy was able to get close to you at all. Gods, man, you look like you swallowed Ember, not saved it.
: It is a miracle you survived.
: Indeed. Tymora was watching over me that day.
: I spoke with a survivor. I heard there were only about a dozen attackers at Ember, and nothing was mentioned about demons.
: A survivor? Well, erm... that's good news!
: With all the smoke, I'm sure I could have been mistaken. Tricks on the eyes and all that, ha ha.
We haven't got enough clues to discredit Elgun yet - but nothing a quick trip around town can't solve.
: Man can't handle a butter knife, much less a stout blade. I took pity and tried to teach him a few tricks, but he was hopeless.
Haljal Throndor says Elgun's incompetent.
: Now something's driven all the deer away. Nothing but ferocious beasts - and stranger things - for miles around the Grove.
And Malin tells us the Duskwood is full of beasts, but no game. Wasn't Elgun supposedly hunting at the time of the attack?
We confront Elgun again.
: What? He's wrong. I didn't need his training! I learned to fight... somewhere else.
: You were hunting deer in the Duskwood? Malin says there's no deer to be found there at all.
: I... I saw plenty. I don't know what she's talking about.
: Free ale and the attention of women, of course. You think someone like me could get that otherwise?
: Tell me what actually happened.
: I'd heard there was a dryad in the Duskwood, so I figured... well, you know how dryads are. With men, I mean.
: What? What does he mean?
: I think dryad legends do more to get men lost in the woods than dryads themselves.
: What are you all talking about? You're making no sense.
: He went in there to try and... uh, sneak some kisses, Grobnar.
: I didn't get too far in before the wolves chased me away, so I decided to stop in Ember for awhile.
: Then I saw the smoke from Ember, so I didn't dare head that way. By the time I got back to Port Llast, people were already talking about the massacre.
: No one around here seemed to know what really happened, so I figured I might as well... embellish my involvement. No one's getting hurt, right?
It turns out he's a coward as well as a liar. We know what to do with cowards.
: You're doing damage just by spreading that story.
: Oh, please. All the harm's already been done.
: The murderers are still loose, and you're a "witness." Do you understand now?
That shut him up.
One last person to see.
: My partner, Bradbury... he is two days late for our meeting.
: He is a northerner and a fool. But... he is good with pick and wedge and has brought much silver to my house.
: I was planning on taking him to Amn with me, but he heard tell of valuable ore in Duskwood.
: You two are miners?
: Eh? When one sees soot on the anvil, one calls it soot, not silver dust - if the name fits, that's the name you use.
I'm not sure what Khelgar's problem here is, but whatever. Calindra needs our help.
: Besides, she's from Amn. You know how they are.
Anyway, she asks us to look for her missing partner. Everyone seems to have romance on the mind in Port Llast.
: He is hard to miss - his hair is bright orange, like flameblooms in the desert.
: If you happen to see him, just tell him I'm still waiting.
That's all for Port Llast - for now. We'll be back later to resolve these sidequests - and maybe contribute to the romantic atmosphere a little.
Before that, though, we'll be visiting Ember and the Duskwood and picking up some actual clues to help us in our trial.