Part 47: Act Two Chapter Twelve - You Laugh At Me Because I'm Different, I Laugh At You Because Aaaargh Argh Argh Arrrgh
We were on our way to Lord Tavorick's house when we spotted this argument brewing in the middle of the street. Being adventurers, we immediately drop everything to go investigate.
: You little rat! You wouldn't!
: We're not bothering anybody. It's nothing. We're just trying to get rid of my little sister.
: That's right. So go away, and mind your own business.
: It isn't nothing! They're going into that old crypt with a bunch of boys! And Father told Lisbet not to.
: What exactly are you doing in a crypt with boys?
Oh, I could think of a few things.
: Savanna, you idiot. Nobody's inviting her anywhere. Let's go.
: And don't let me catch you following us, Kyli. Or I'll let Raven hurt you.
Good. I didn't particularly want to have to fight a little girl.
: Yech! I'll never kiss a bunch of stupid boys. Especially not in some creepy graveyard. I know that's what they're doing.
: Lisbet thinks I don't know anything, but I'm a lot smarter than stupid Savanna.
: She never comes home anymore, and Father always sits up and waits, and she doesn't even care. I hate her.
: Who are those friends of hers?
Hey, you think Nevalle is Savanna's uncle? We only meet three (potentially kinda four) of the Neverwinter Nine in the game, so it's probably someone else, but I'd love it if Sir Nevalle had a skeleton or two in the closet.
: Savanna's just stupid, but Raven... she's mean. One time she hit me when Lisbet wasn't looking, and she said she'd cut my throat if Lisbet would just let her.
: Sounds like she just needs some discipline.
Yeah, discipline not to shoot your mouth off in front of your target - trust me, as an Assassin, we know. Now the little girl will be expecting it.
: I'd go in there, if I was older. I'd grab her by the ear like grandma used to do, and I'd make her come home.
: But Raven and Savanna and those dumb boys - they're all bigger than me. And the crypt is really creepy.
: How about I go and find your sister?
Ha. No problem at all. Who's scared of a bunch of smelly boys?
: Trust us, we can help - our leader's faced much, much worse on our journeys than dark-clad boys.
: I hate the way those boys look at her. You... really think you could get her to come home?
: Oh, she'll come, willingly or no.
There's every need to be harsh, Elanee. Those are boys she's with. Boys!
: You can't hurt her! You promise that you won't hurt Lisbet, or I won't tell you where she is!
: Very well, I won't hurt your sister.
: All right. If you promise, I guess I can tell...
: Just please, please don't hurt her, all right?
The nobs' graveyard is tucked away in a corner of Blacklake, right down by the lake.
The Bryce crypt is the one in the centre. Unfortunately we're not allowed to pillage the other tombs.
And these must be Lisbet's friends. Gah.
: [Success] You're friends with Lisbet? But you're dressed all wrong. And you smell like fish... and bad wine.
: Lisbet's farther back in the crypt. Hey, are you sure you're-
Damn. If only Bishop were here. He'd blend right in.
: Someone's in trouble.
: We should get the kids out of the crypt - now.
: Right. Let's go find out what that was.
Looks like our Bluff check was for naught.
We open a door and find two more goths surrounded by a pack of ghasts.
Ghasts are no match for us at this stage. Time to receive our well-earned thanks.
: My fault, Vera.
: She came in looking for Lisbet. But it was only the six of us, and I didn't think she'd have a chance against your, uh... friends. The dead ones, I mean.
: Well, now there's eight of you. Do you like your chances better?
: Against a bunch of smelly thugs like you? Yeah, we like our chances pretty well.
: We warned you. You weren't invited, but you came in here anyway...
We only just got cleared of murdering an entire village, and now we're killing teenagers. Evil teenagers, yes, teenagers who deserve a good smack, but that doesn't really make it that much better.
Anyway, this is actually a fairly interesting fight. Most of the goths are spellcasters of some sort, so there's a lot of spells being chucked around. If we were a few levels lower this might be difficult...
...but spellcasters are unusually susceptible to Super-Death-Combo-Bleeding-Wound-Sneak-Attacks.
We dive deeper into the tomb. Ghouls and ghasts are as annoying as ever (stat drain is a right pain in the arse) but that's what we've got Casavir and Elanee for, isn't it?
Along the way we find more goth- oh, what the hell. Cultists.
I hate cultists.
You'd think that cults would be interesting, wouldn't you? I mean there has to be a lot pretty fucking seriously wrong in your life to consider signing your immortal soul over to some malevolent death god or inhuman snake-people or whatever. The only reason any sane person would drink the proverbial Kool-Aid is if all their psychological barriers had been broken down beforehand.
But too often cults are reduced to faceless mooks: disposable henchmen for a villain that couldn't or wouldn't just hire mercenaries. I mean, half the time in these stories you could just replace all Cultists with Mercenaries and you wouldn't really be missing out on much.
These Shadow Priests that keep popping up everywhere (whenever they're not competing for screentime with Luskans, githyanki or orcs) - what is their deal? Why are they serving this evil King of Shadows dude anyway? Why pledge their life to some undead (?) wizard-sorceror-villain-type?
I just think it'd be an interesting question to answer. It'd be nice to explore the reasons that could convince someone that a tyrannical world of darkness would be better than the current status quo - something beyond Mad With Power, at any rate.
Oh well. At least they're not wearing orange jumpsuits.
I like this sidequest. I genuinely think it's good.
: [Success] Well... no...
: Don't listen to her, Savanna. Think about Lisbet and me. We're your friends, remember?
: [Diplomacy] What kind of friends would ask you to throw away your life?
If you haven't twigged what this whole sidequest is referencing is then you should put the mouse down now for your own safety because you're obviously an idiot.
Or not American.
: Savanna, you stupid cow, you take that back.
: No! No! I'm sick of you pushing me around, Raven! You're not even half as pretty as Lisbet, that's why Arval picked her instead of you!
The quest is, yes, referring to the big Satanist-scare of the 1980s, when people got really nervy about alt-culture teenagers wearing lots of black and pretending to worship Satan. It was all one big urban-legend, a middle-class horror story for big-c Christian parents to tell each other to make themselves feel special and endangered in their comfortable bourgeois lives.
D&D got hit pretty bad because it's fairly alt-culture to start with, plus it's full of socially-maladjusted nerds who might as well be Satanists for all their social graces. And it's full of references to demons, devils, and God knows what else.
Maybe now would be a good time to post that Jack Chick cartoon?
Hmm, on second thought, I think we can do without it. Okay, instead here's a still from totally non-derivative Mazes & Monsters starring Tom Hanks, which is just as good.
So, uh... anyway, D&D cleaned up its books and renamed all of the pseudo-religious stuff to make itself more acceptable. No more Nirvana, Hades, demons and devils... instead, we got Mechanus, Gray Wastes, tanar'ri and baatezu.
But nobody believes in that old tosh anymore. Now people are unnecessarily afraid of Muslims and foreigners.
: Y-yes. Sure, I... I mean, we... I mean, yes.
: Go back to the surface, and tell Kyli that I'm going to find her sister.
* * *
So this quest is a pretty funny inversion of reality; in fantasy-land, the scowling anti-social goths actually are murderous cultists hell-bent on destroying Small-Town American Values.
And we can play to type as well: hence the corny extended metaphors about darkness and light.
: Lisbet has a part to play here. She will be one of the first to achieve divine union with our King... not the crude undeath which lies in store for you, but a true joining of souls.
: And it is only the first step. I have unearthed truths known long ago, and I have already sent word of my discoveries to my brothers and sisters in Shadow.
: Trust me, you really don't want to fight me.
: I seek to save you from your ignorance, nothing more. But like a child, you persist in your fear of the dark - I pity you, truly.
It's all very silly, really; a whole lot of bother over what is essentially a quaintly-Puritan fear of the S-word.
You know what I'm talking about.
Girls and boys... together in a secluded place? Practicing 'forbidden arcane rituals?' The (spiritual) presence of an older predatory male figure with goat-like features? Hmm, yeah, I don't think religious contrarianism is the real problem here.
Anyway, back to the game. As before, it turns out our teenager doesn't actually want to be rescued.
So much so that she turns all her former friends into Greater Shadows. Jesus Christ.
Lucky Elanee had a Firestorm spell prepared, eh?
: No... no, you don't understand. The ritual didn't work. I wasn't strong enough. Those shadows were just... echoes.
: Arval and the others... they should have been joined with the King of Shadows. Don't you see? That's why we made all these symbols, all these markings. I said the words, but I... I was too weak.
: How did Arval learn about this ritual?
: I... I don't know. He had books, but he never let any of us look at them.
We've gone through a whole lot of trouble and killed a lot of dumbass goths to rescue this girl, and she still doesn't get it.
: Well, I'm not sorry. Maybe Arval didn't love me, but I loved him. That's more important than light and shadow and everything else. It isn't wrong, and it isn't stupid.
If we were a Monk, we'd actually have the ability to use the Stunning Fist feat on her, leaving her down in the crypts to die.
Unfortunately we made a binding contract with a little girl and as a Lawful PC we have to rescue Lisbet.
Thanks a lot, guys.
In a side room we find Arval's study. There's some nice loot scattered around... and Arval's journal.
...giving great power to those reborn in his service. A fascinating discovery. I've sent word to my brothers and sisters at Old Owl Well - I'm sure they'll be as intrigued as I. I'll need to experiment with the ritual first to determine its true power...
...gullible children of these Neverwinter nobles are ideal tools - nearly as useful as Garius. They will make excellent servants for my King...
...only a handful remain to be converted. Once I am done with them, I will undergo the ritual myself and become one with the shadow.
Intriguing. We killed the priests at Old Owl Well a while ago, so unless someone new has set up shop this journal dates back quite a while.
Come to think of it, the priests at the Well were trying to create intelligent undead servitors as well. Hrm.
Well I'm sure nothing will come of it later in the game at all!
Anyway, this is the other thing I like about this sidequest. At first it seems like a simple linear romp through a dungeon - going through each room, fighting ghasts and cultists, nothing too challenging. But now we have to fight our way out as well.
Lisbet's only a Level 5 Cleric (no idea how she could raise all these Greater Shadows) so she's not much help, but Greater Shadows aren't that much tougher than normal Shadows.
So long as they don't Paralyse on hit, unlike goddamn Shadow Fiends.
All right, I may have understated how dangerous Greater Shadows are.
: I won't forget, I promise you. I won't.
Anyway, we got Lisbet to the entrance okay. Maybe she has learned her lesson after all.
We've successfully turned one person away from the darkness. And all it required was the brutal and messy murder of all her friends!
At least someone is appreciative of our efforts.
: Here, I filched some coins for you... from my father, so it's not really stealing. He'd want you to have them anyway, if he knew what happened.
: Come back when I'm older and richer and I'll pay you back with a ring, or a bunch of gems... or a whole chest of gold, I swear!
Hah. We save her sister from a life of evil and in-so-doing turn Kyli to a life of crime.
Yes, and so have we. It's getting dark and we still need to find Tavorick's house.