Part 51: Act Two Chapter Sixteen - Zhjaeve
At long last, we meet Captain Brelaina. She's the head of the City Watch and the primary questgiver for the Watch plotline.
: You see, at first glance, the two halves both appear as separate stones, but they were both once one stone - yet not. Do you follow?
And Aldanon is still as coherent as ever.
: The prisoner has asked for you personally. I was hoping you might be able to help us out concerning her identity - or her intentions. Aldanon has a theory, but I'm afraid...
: If you both would simply listen - the comparison to a rock, a big rock, is a simple one, almost perfect. This prisoner you have... it seems that she is of the same stone as the githyanki, but yet she is not.
: You see, both were once one people, at one time, even though time is a very difficult thing to measure depending on the Plane, and that's not counting time in the Astral Plane or on...
: Of course. An oversight on my part.
: So I should think if your young lieutenant here... well met again, by the way, you seem to be everywhere... is hunted by the githyanki, then the githzerai, and this githzerai prisoner, would be allies, by default. But I could be mistaken.
Obsidian never shy away from dumb jokes like this, and it's great. I like it when a writer has as much fun writing something as I do reading it.
: She seemed reasonable enough when we spoke together in Crossroad Keep, but there was a foot of stone between us, which is notoriously hard for a blade to cut through to kill someone on the other side.
: Good day - and I hope the prisoner doesn't attempt to kill you. She didn't seem the type, but you know how assassins are.
Well, then let's do that.
Phew. You know, with so much dialogue between Aldanon and Brelaina, I wasn't sure if we were even actually here.
Oh yeah, be prepared to hear this a lot.
: Know this name our enemies have draped upon you - this Kalach-Cha - its sound travels far, even reaching the ears of my people.
: At first, my people thought our enemies had erred, that they did not know that of which they speak. But here, now, as you stand in my presence, I see the truth.
: I did not think it possible - but the key by which you may know yourself lies within you.
: I know much of the problems that beset your people and mine - the reason behind these attacks upon your heart and home.
Ooh, it's a new companion!
: Go free? I don't think so.
: I have borne this indignity because I knew that it would bring you to me - and a greater truth will be known.
: Why don't you tell me what you know first, and then we'll see.
Unfortunately we'll have to wait. Nevalle wants a word.
: You are to be commended - both for your efforts and the lives spared this day. Had you not been there, we would have many less brave men standing with us today...
Nevalle is considerably less congratulatory if you get all the Many-Starred Cloaks killed.
: ...along with what may be the key to taking this battle to our enemies.
: Then know the trade between us is this...
: We promise an honest hearing, and if your tale rings true, we will grant your freedom.
: Then listen to me, and know this threat for what it is.
: But we cannot do it here, in this prison, where my words echo... and the shadows fall thick around us.
: And why should we allow your freedom until we hear what you have to say?
: Because if you deny me that, then anything I can do to aid you will prove useless.
: And that means that I must see your lands, what you would spill blood for... and what you have spilled blood for.
* * *
Well, we're back here again. Still a dump.
: This keep was destroyed during the war with the King of Shadows. It was a dark time for Neverwinter, but we persevered, as you have this day.
: I have brought you back here under orders, Calliope. For Lord Nasher has a new task for you.
: And perhaps our... guest can see what it is you'll be fighting for in the coming days.
Did he just say what I think he said?
Oh hell yeah
We've made it. This is the big time, folks.
A motherfucking castle!
: This is your land. Defend it, for the sake of your people, and the sake of Neverwinter.
* * *
First we've got to interrogate our prisoner.
: Know this - the first glimpses of this conflict you have seen are not the first. They are but glimpses of things that travel well into the past and the present.
: It is all part of a greater war, a war almost as great as the one that split my people on the sword of Gith long ago, and the tragedy is tied to such a blade.
: These shadows you see... there is a Lord who dwells in darkness with them. And he has fought on this Plane before against those who have embraced Gith's hatred - the githyanki.
Well that explains the githyanki's involvement.
I bet you'd forgotten all about them, hadn't you?
: The fighting was terrible, fierce, and it was only through the deaths of thousands of githyanki that this King of Shadows was driven back.
: But not matter how many countless thousands of their people they lost, they were only capable of severing the portal through which he could attack them...
: And so the githyanki were denied a victory, and forestalled their war for a time.
: And as terrible as knowing the followers of Gith hunt for you, even more dangerous is this Lord, this King of Shadows.
: The King of Shadows was not always tied to darkness, and that is part of the tragedy. His will was once devoted to an ancient empire, to the protection of its people.
: He was once the light of Illefarn, empowered with the strength to protect them from their enemies... and he was bound to the natural magics of the plane, the Weave.
: But as much as a ritual created the Guardian that was to be Shadow, there is a ritual that will unmake him. It is a Ritual of Purification, designed to allow him peace when his days of sacrifice are done and the empire needs him no longer.
Right. Next plot point ahoy!
: But know that this Ritual of Purification... and the blade of our enemies are the only chance of success in this.
: I don't see why I have to do this.
: He can already make his presence felt beyond his chains. The advantage is his. If you cannot strike at an enemy, know your battle is already lost.
Hey, that's not what we said. We're happy with killing him, we just don't see why it has to be us that does it.
: I am a zerth, and I swear upon the Circle of Zerthimon that what I speak to you I know to be true.
: And know that your life is as precious to me as it is for the followers of Gith to end it.
* * *
Yes. We've been over this.
It's some kind of... githyanki... thing. Uhm.
Oh, would you, for once?
So that came out of nowhere.
That silver sword, the one lodged in our chest? Turns out it's the silver sword. The very first one, the one on which all others are modeled. The Sword of Gith.
And that is why Zeeaire was so interested in it, and so circumspect in gathering the shards.
So now you know.
: The githyanki and my people are tied in a way by such a weapon... and now that weapon is you.
: Know that you are the only one who can reforge Gith's blade and use it, once more, in a battle. A battle that will free your lands and people from an evil even greater than the evil the illithid sought to bring upon my people.
: There is no other And if the title of Kalach-Cha displeases you, then know that you must make another title.
: So you will travel with me?
Well, I say.
These aliens seem awfully keen on their Wookie life-debts/Klingon blood oaths/githzerai Pronouncements.
: It is my life I am giving you, Kalach-Cha, and I ask that you let me share your path with you.
: I thank you, Zhjaeve, and I welcome your help.
Please note that at no point does 'Zhjaeve' actually introduce herself to us.
: Then we shall speak no more of it now that my vow is spoken.
: Another crawl through a monster-infested city, no doubt.
Oh no, adventuring! That's not what I became an adventurer for!
: I have marked the location of the city on your map. There, we shall find what we seek and complete the Ritual of Purification.
Okay. Cool. So we have a plan.
We won't go off straight away - there's a ton of stuff we have to sort out here at Crossroad Keep first. I'll be asking your opinions on that later.
But for now, let me introduce:
* * *
Zhjaeve is voiced by Lisa Emery (Listen here).
Oh, man. Poor old Zhjaeve.
She gets a lot of stick. For this I think we can blame our old friend Mister Chris Avellone, who decided (for some godforsaken reason) to write Zhjaeve as a long-winded spaced-out mystic with an over-reliance on the word "know."
Avellone is, of course, cribbing heavily from his previous work in Planescape: Torment. Dak'kon was an NPC githzerai zerth (classed as a fighter/mage) who swore a vow of service to the game's protagonist, The Nameless One, and he was great. Absolutely fantastic. His sidequest involved learning the teachings of the githzerai religion and he was pretty decent in a fight and he was voiced by Director Skinner off the X-Files and oh my
And Dak'kon said "know" a lot, too. Actually, he said "*know*" because the writers of PS:T liked to put *everything* in *asterisks* for *emphasis.* NWN2 has italics so we don't have to worry about that.
Torment had reams of dialogue and nearly all of it went unvoiced - so you never actually had to sit and listen to KNOW KNOW KNOW KNOW KNOW all the goddamn time. No such luck in NWN2.
There's not a huge amount of game left (I'd like to imagine we're over halfway at this point) so we don't have a lot of time to get to know Zhjaeve.
Just as well because she's really boring!
Yeah. Just by glancing through my notes I can find about three or four opportunities to gain Influence with Zhjaeve.
But that's not very helpful so I'll describe her anyway:
Zhjaeve's our new Mystic. During Act 1, Elanee played the role of our conscience, always prodding us to investigate the King of Shadows for the sake of "the land." You may have noticed Elanee's shut up a lot since then - this is largely because Zhjaeve's taken her place. She plays the exact same role, guiding us towards defeating the King of Shadows, only now it's in the name of "the Planes" not "the land."
So that's what she's all about. She's got this weird roundabout way of talking that pisses people off but she doesn't moralise like Elanee does and it's hard to actually annoy Zhjaeve: the main way to do it is to pick up points with the very last companion we meet, but that's not until Act 3.
Anyway, it's up to you lot to decide what we do with her. Friend or foe?
(Zhjaeve was poorly received by the thread, not that it would've made much difference anyway - Ed.)
Okay, before you decide, check this: she's a Cleric.
About fucking time, right?
Clerics are one of the core-est of the core classes, straight out of the depths of 1st Edition: divine crusaders, servants of the gods. The traditional adventuring party consists of one Fighter (to tank), one Rogue (to sneak), one Wizard (to burn things) and one Cleric (to heal).
Clerics are- were originally defensive characters, capable of healing, repelling undead, buffing the party but not doing much magical damage to the enemy. In compensation though they could wear armour and wield blunt weapons with some skill, unlike Wizards.
Then, in 3rd Edition, somebody decided that Clerics should be just as good as Wizards. So they got a whole bunch of offensive spells, and were allowed to wield any weapon they chose... making them into right old powerhouses. Imagine! the power of a Wizard with the durability of a Fighter! They could even get special bonuses by choosing domain spells - a level of customisation that offered extra spells, feats and so on without penalties. Zhjaeve has the Knowledge and Magic domains - which allow Zhjaeve to cast certain Arcane spells like Knock and Mage Armor, in addition to her usual Divine spells.
Like Paladins, the main disadvantage to Clerics is that they're supposed to serve a greater power - so if the DM feels the Cleric is getting too big for his boots, he can require him to go on a pilgrimage or donate his wealth to the church or whatever. There's no such requirement in NWN2, though, for obvious reasons. Worse, Zhjaeve doesn't actually have a deity - because she's a zerth, and zerths are more like scholars and lorekeepers than servants of gods. However Clerics are allowed to worship 'forces', 'causes' and 'ideas' so it's not that big a deal.
(Compare to Bishop, who as a Ranger should also have a nature deity for his Divine spells, but is most definitely an atheist - no recourse there, I'm afraid, but it makes for a better character so whatever.)
Zhjaeve's not actually that great a Cleric. She's got good Wisdom (the stat that controls Divine spells) but everything else is pretty mediocre. Higher Constitution would make her a decent secondary tank; higher Charisma would make her Turn Undead abilities more effective.
She's intended to be a caster-type more than anything (hence her domain choices). In fact, pair her with Sand and the two of them can make almost any magical weapon, armour or item in the game via the crafting system. Nice!
We'll mostly be using her to advance the plot, though. She's required for quite a few parts of the game and she'll eventually gain a special ability that'll make her absolutely crucial in our fight against the King of Shadows.
But that's not until Act 3. For now... we've got a castle to run.