Part 68: Act Three Chapter Four - The Truth Is Out ThereOne Alliance down, three to go. By popular demand, we're trying for the Wendersnaven next.
Grobnar's the go-to guy for that one. Let's drop in for a chat.
: What's wrong?
: Well, it's about Shandra, really. It... it just, well, got me to thinking.
He's feeling a bit down in the dumps. You know, what with Shandra dying and all that.
: I... don't really know what to say about it except say it. But I... well, was kind of wondering what you thought about it. You know, death. Of friends.
: I am sad that we lost her... but there's nothing to do but carry on.
: It is sad, that's it exactly. She didn't deserve what happened, not at all.
Grobnar's the only companion that reacts to Shandra's death (well, apart from Ammon of course). Nobody else has anything to say.
That's the drawback of having twelve companions in the party: it makes it so hard to write up new dialogue to match plot developments. However, that doesn't excuse Khelgar's dialogue still having the option to ask what his name is.
I like the way this line hints at Grobnar being the 'heart' of the party, even though most of the time he's the zany comic relief. It's the weakness of the NWN2 line-up - there's no real emotional core to the party, no one member that draws everyone together. It leads to a very divided party that bickers a lot, which was plain from the very beginning of the story.
Obviously Calliope can't be it, because the PC has to be a blank cipher for the player's personality (as well as Calliope in particular being a legitimately Lawful Evil sociopath). I'd have suggested Elanee for the role, but on consideration that wouldn't be a good idea.
* * *
Okay, so I didn't talk to Grobnar. Hey, he was feeling down, I didn't want to catch his mood off him.
Instead, we ask Bishop.
: Grobnar mentioned something about them.
: Well, then that's a guarantee they don't exist.
: I believe in what Grobnar says.
If you're going to be like that, then yeah, that is all.
* * *
All right, enough dilly-dallying. Grobnar suggested we talk to two sages in Port Llast about the Wendersnaven. Apparently they might know where to find these folk tales.
: You see? No, no, no. That's not the point. No, no, no, no.
: Er, yes?
: No. Sorry. No.
: Excuse me?
: Allegory, yes?
: Yes, explain so that they may understand what we already...
: No! I am alone in this. You, for once, know no more than a gnome.
: But how is your learning to survive unless it is shared?
: I know. I shall explain so that you will all know, no?
: Maybe we should put these two fools in a room with Aldanon.
: No, no, there's sense in it, but not at a level we can understand - yet.
: Just give me a little time, let me listen a little more... it's like a song they're singing.
Surprise, surprise, Grobnar's sages are whacky comedy gnomes - and they're insane.
* * *
Our only option here is to persevere. Fine line, madness and genius, etc.
Very fine line.
: No. More 's' words.
: Slithering, sunning, stunning.
: Less 's'. More 'og', I think.
* * *
Christ on a crutch.
: Oh yes!
: No oh!
I don't think my commentary is really necessary anymore
: What in the Nine Hells did you say to them?
: Oh yes, yes, yes! Yes-yessity-yes!
: Please, I must know, the Wendersnaven... do they exist?
: They can only answer yes or no questions, so, uh, keep the question simple. Pretend you're talking to me.
Gotcha. Not a problem.
: Are the Wendersnaven west of here?
I should hope not, "west of here" is the Sea of Swords.
: Are they east of here?
: Actually, no.
: Well, kind of yes.
: Not really, no.
: They are southeast?
We wrangle the map out of them... eventually.
: That's it, that's it! I know where the Wendersnaven are now! I'll mark the location on our map.
: Wait, you solved the riddle already?
: It was a riddle? Oh, I said that, didn't I? No, it wasn't. I mean, I think it was, but for some reason the mishmash of nonsensical words with a simple rhyming scheme just made sense to me.
: What was the riddle?
* * *
Let's try this again. After that last encounter I fancy talking to someone with some sense.
Yes, I know I'm talking to Grobnar.
: The Wendersnaven? What about them?
: What do you know about the Wendersnaven?
: Somehow, I am not surprised.
: You see, they see everything, know everything, and exist everywhere and nowhere at once! It's truly quite amazing.
: How is that even possible? They'd have to be... well, big.
: How convenient.
: Well, not really. You see, even if they left their home of Wenderithm, that means it would be impossible to spot them.
: Wenderithm? Where's that?
: Wenderithm is up in the clouds. There's many gateways to reach it, scattered throughout the realms, but they are hidden from mortal eyes.
Aliens. Gosh-darned extra-terrestials.
That's essentially what we're dealing with here, if you hadn't already guessed. Grobnar's not just an annoying bard with more smarts than sense; he's a wild-eyed kook with a poster of a UFO on his office wall as well.
: Yes. Yes, it does.
: Well... take yourself, for example. You are a living jigsaw puzzle of shattered silver shards, that, when united, will become an artifact that cut an entire race in two.
: And this enemy we fight - it's not a shadowy being, it is the dark essence of magic itself, with the ability to embed itself within the very land and ground it walks upon.
: And to think, this Emperor of Shadow...
: ...well, it was once a simple person, just like you... that wanted to protect its people from destruction. Isn't that amazing? I almost sense an irony coming, but I think that might be too much to speculate on.
I stand corrected.
: Really? I do?!
* * *
The sage's map leads us to a clearing deep in the hills.
There actually was a riddle on the map, originally. Item description for object "Wendersnaven Map":
This is the "map" from Enleva and Noduab that Grobnar copied for you. The riddle here is supposed to lead the player to the Wendersnaven. It reads: "Find the Wendersnaven centered amidst the great bend where the river and wood run together and share the same name."
Left over from a different conception of the world map, maybe?
: I can't quite put my finger on it... but there's something strange about this place.
: Cauldron calling the kettle black, I think.
: Why, he's like a little wand of strange detection, isn't he?
In the centre of the clearing is a skeletal corpse with this on it.
: It seems the orcs stripped the body, there doesn't seem to be anything l-
: Ow! Ow ow ow... I stubbed my toe on something.
: What? I don't see anything.
: You know, I don't see anything on the ground I could have stepped on. Unless...
Spot the deliberate mistake
: See? It appears to be an invisible instrument of some sort. Just lying around, where anyone could have stepped on it and damaged it. Shameful.
: I wonder if it still works... well, only one way to find out.
: It's not an instrument, it's you doing that, pretending to play an instrument.
That line makes us sound really upset for some reason.
: How can you say that after what you just heard?
: Did you hear those lingering tones? The way the notes seemed to float in the air... this instrument is able to take even the simplest breaths and turn them into beautiful music.
: I am somewhat sorry for leading you on this rabbit chase, but...
: But, well, perhaps this amazing find is actually a gift, the Wendersnaven's way of helping us.
Note to self: Module starring Grobnar and Bishop as agents with the Many-Starred Cloaks, assigned to locate and bring back evidence of extra-terrestial/paranormal activity in kitchen-sink fantasy setting Forgotten Realms. Grobnar is the optimistic believer, Bishop the eye-rolling skeptic.
Sand to guest-star as recurring semi-antagonistic 'Director' character.
: Well, goodbye Wendersnaven, wherever you are... and thank you so much for the gift.
* * *
A beautiful character moment.
Such a shame to spoil it with a random orc encounter out of nowhere.
Grobnar's Wenderkazoo is an equippable instrument with an invisible model (of course) that provides some nice bonuses and spell-like effects. It's good because I can finally stop buying him Arrows and just let him be the Charisma-caster we all know he is deep inside.
I suppose this counts as Grobnar's other special sidequest, apart from Construct. We didn't get an Alliance out of it, but I'm quite happy with what we did get - so no worries, eh?
* * *
: No, that rhyme doesn't quite work, does it? Maybe if I use "alchemy"...
: That construct you're messing with, gnome - it's dangerous.
: Ah, this is in safe hands, Sir Bishop - Gnomehands, as it were, being my name.
: How reassuring. I'll be sure to remind myself who's to blame when it turns on us.
: Oh, there is little fear of that, I think.
: That's as comforting as leaving the village idiot in charge of a trebuchet.
: Oh, come now, that's hardly a proper analogy.
: But really, this blade golem is such a gentle, unassuming creature... it would never do something so horrible, would you, Construct? Wooould you?
: Oh no, no, no, no, no - the wards of command aren't cued to my voice - only the words matter, much like one would utter when using a wand, staff or other device.
: Anyone can use them, it's only a matter of knowing what they are. I imagine that's how the Construct was issued its orders from its awful masters.
: Hate to have that happen again - provided they don't already have the back-up wards in place. That's what I would do.
: You really think they might?
: Especially if there's any chance the creator could be killed or wiped out - otherwise, you're leaving yourself vulnerable.
: Hmmm. I hadn't considered that.
: But what if I was harmed, unconscious, or, my word, even killed...? Why, the consequences could prove disastrous!