The Let's Play Archive

Neverwinter Nights 2

by Lt. Danger

Part 70: Act Three Chapter Six - Dead Wood

Well, if it isn't a familiar face. Daeghun.

Our foster father survived the destruction of West Harbor, it seems. Now he's come to Crossroad Keep, to serve us as a scout.

: The Mere has grown dark and many villages needed help in leaving before it was too late. And I have sought the scent on the breeze, to learn of the dark hunter - King of Shadows.
: More can still be learned in the Mere, but I have discovered something and had to tell you at once.
: If it's about West Harbor, I know. I saw it destroyed.

: Once of the Circle, yes. What do you want?
: You're here for her?
: Try to hold in your scorn, I almost missed it.
: This does concern her. It concerns you both.

Huh? But way back in Act 1, Kaleil told us the Druids of the Mere all died - and we got a similar report from Naevan, the druid we contacted using the Skymirror.

: That's impossible. You're mistaken - if they were alive, I would know.
: I can only venture to the swamp for brief periods of time - the reeds and waters feast on the living now. I followed the druids, and they had a ritual I think sustained them - even in the Claimed Lands.
: The Circle... they must have found a way to restore part of the Mere, keep it from the influence of the shadows.

This would be handy - this might be a way of getting to the King of Shadows without being consumed by the Claimed Lands - or getting the Tome of Iltkazar off a very unfriendly Shadow Reaver.

: Is this for you or for me? I'm not going off on some fool's errand to give you peace of mind.
: If you so quickly cast away allies, then you deserve the shadow that comes. Do I want to know if it is the Circle? Yes, I do. And if it is, they can help us.
: And we need to know what's happening in Merdelain. If anyone knows, it's them.
: Then you must make haste at once, if this is your course of action.

: No, I cannot. But I can mark the location on your map.

: It's difficult to see how he raised you... and you turned out so different.

This line was originally intended to be a lot blunter if you were female.

: Of course. You wouldn't want any of us letting you down, would you?
: Regardless, we need to find the Circle, but as for reaching the location, that could be difficult.
: Ah... I thought I heard the cries of a damsel in distress. Someone had to fill Shandra's role, eh?
: Bishop. This doesn't concern you, so stop spying on us.

Great, now Bishop's here. My three favourite NPCs in the whole game, together at last.

: As for you, Captain... heard your father was playing scout. I wanted to meet him, tell him what a wonderful girl he raised... all of the Sword Coast is thankful, I'm sure.

This is what we get if we're male, by the way:


: {Accusing, then suggestive} I like to keep an eye out to make sure you aren't trying to play our leader for a fool... and because you don't always fasten your robes as tightly as you should, sometimes I catch a glimpse of other... secrets.

Yeah, I know.

: I'm surprised you even care, Bishop.

: They're in the Mere... along the northwestern reaches, near the settlements the orcs attacked many years ago during their incursion into Neverwinter.
: I suspected that might be one of the places... as for the incursions, it wasn't just orcs.
: That's near an area the King of Shadows isn't likely to have claimed... yet. Might be a good staging area to look for your dead druid friends.

: Maybe for now. Still, if you want to go, I can guide you to a safe port on the edge of the marsh.
: All right... that would be welcome.
: Did you just offer to help, Bishop? I'm not sure I heard you right.


: Something tells me those friends of yours may have to move around a lot if they want to avoid the shadows.
: Yes, Bishop's probably right.
: All right then, I'll set out now - I'll start scouting the path, and join up with you only when need be. It'll save us all a lot of time.

* * *

If you go down to the Mere today...

Bishop and Elanee are the required characters for this quest - Bishop to scout and Elanee because, well, it's her buddies we're dealing with here.

: Is that what this is?
: Whatever the Circle did, they must have found a way to shield themselves from it. If we can find out how they've done it, then we can reach the Vale of Merdelain, I'm certain of it.
: Then let us find what we need to know and leave this place.

Well, this is odd.

The tree is alive, and talking. It sounds like Naevan, the druid we met much earlier in the game. He was nice, even if Elanee told him all our secrets without asking.

: We keep you here because we believe in the Circle. In time, you will see that we are right. And when the shadow has passed, you will feel one with the land again.
: This isn't the Mere anymore. You treat the shadow as if it were a passing mist. You fail to see how it now hangs upon you, upon this whole place.
: We are caretakers of this land, and we cannot abandon it.
: We're caretakers of a graveyard! Free me from this prison, and let's stop the decay from spreading.

: Elders, forgive me for not seeking you out sooner - I thought you had all died in the Claimed Lands, how did...

This is truer than we know, actually.

: Elanee, who are they?
: They are my allies... my friends. They helped me reach here.

: Our path took us to Neverwinter, and through many battles - but this is the one from West Harbor, Elders, the one... I... the one I had been watching.

Zeeaire, okay. Zhjaeve, sure. Maybe even Garius. They could feasibly know about the shards.

But then there was Batha, and now these druids, and it's getting ridiculous. The one who just spoke then doesn't even have a name!

: What? I think we all need an explanation here.
: I was tasked to watch you as you grew up in West Harbor. The Circle asked that I observe you, for strange events seem to occur around you...
: Yet she could not turn away. From you, from civilization. She would vanish to the border of the Mere and watch you, for days upon days, weeks, and then into months.
: A Circle is not complete when one of us is missing... or is too distracted with the trappings of civilization or its people.

: There was never any need for her to watch you as she did.
: Elders, please, I did not intend-

So Elanee was a spy all this time?

Funny thing is, that'd be enough to dislike her. But no, it gets worse.

: We are fortunate, this time, that the land itself has chosen to speak.
: How does the land "speak?"
: Can you not feel it in the air? A great storm is coming.
: It will rage across this land and scour clean the corruption of Neverwinter, of Luskan, of all civilization.

: Since when were roving shadows natural?
: Shadows are a part of the cycle of life and death, just as we all are. We do not all have such narrow views of nature.
: West Harbor was destroyed by this "force."
: Your "home" was cleansed, as Neverwinter shall be. Your people did not belong, preying at the edges of Merdelain like scavengers.
: Death was brought to my home. We wanted nothing of war.
: Time and responsibility extend beyond your lifetime, Shard-Bearer. Your wound is both a legacy of and a catalyst for destruction.
: You speak of a common foe. We came for your help.

Hurf durf this is the Forgotten Realms. We don't need to resort to this semantic bullshit when we could, I don't know, cast Legend Lore or something and find out everything about these "greater forces."

: We overheard you earlier. What does your former leader think?

: Perhaps I have misjudged your value, Naevan.
: What have you done to him?
: For a druid of power, living within the folds of a tree is nothing.
: As the land changes we must change with it, Elanee. Stop clinging to what the Mere was and accept it for what it is now.

: Do you truly think what is coming is for the best?
: Listen to me. Vashne's right about one thing - the Mere's time has passed.
: What do you mean?
: You have no obligation to the Circle. The Mere is gone.
: No, hurt - in pain. And most importantly, the Circle can restore it. But...

Wham-bam, suddenly our Influence comes back to bite us on the arse.

It turns out Influence wasn't just a useless intra-party statistic for powergamers to rage over. It does have a real effect on your game - not in statistics or class-changes, but in plot moments like this.

: Is this Shard-Bearer not unlike the shadow you think you fight? Perhaps you built up an image of the Shard-Bearer after all that time watching... but it was only a shadow of the truth.
: In seeing that, perhaps this "King of Shadows" is not the threat you believe it to be?
: The Mere is dying, and with your tie to it, so are you.
: Empty words. The Mere lives, and it will become strong... without your kind to prey on it, Shard-Bearer.
: And we will not allow you to prey on one of our own any longer.

: Even this, Elders. I renounce my ties to the Circle... and to the Shard-Bearer. After this, I will travel with neither of you.

We haven't been nice to Elanee much (or at all) so she's leaving the party. The fight with the Circle of the Mere is the breaking point - she's not going to follow us around any longer. The Circle fight is the last we'll see of her, forever.

: But if you will not listen to us, then you must be stopped, Vashne. You are Elder of the Circle no longer.
: Then you are lost to us forever. I am sorry, Elanee, but we have no choice.

* * *

Poor Elanee.

She hasn't had a good showing in this LP, has she? I mean, all of the companions have their unsympathetic sides, but Elanee comes off worst. She joins early on, so she stands out as one of the first companions, and she's set up directly against Khelgar and Neeshka, both of whom are funnier than Elanee and less bossy to boot.

It's not just that she's so straight-edge, either: it's also that she ends up getting replaced halfway through the game.

She's one of the 'plot' companions, more than anything else: a heavy-handed reminder of the story and the presence of the King of Shadows. Her storyline is all about the Mere succumbing to the villain's dark power.

This puts her in company with Shandra, Sand, Zhjaeve and Ammon, who are the other 'serious' companions. The rest of the party is tagging along for kicks or potential romantic interest, but these five are Important.

Sand has the trial; Shandra the Haven; Zhjaeve has the Silver Sword coming up soon; Ammon's one of the Big Three and we'll discuss him later.

: Let us work together in this, as there is much we may do where alone we would fail.
: And how do you think you can help me?
: I can hear footfalls in the forests, the secrets trees whisper, the stories stones tell. I can call upon the land to aid us - or harm those that would harm it.
: And you know the ways of towns and peoples, of civilization, of things that I know little about.

: Also, whatever is happening I believe it to be tied to you in some way, and only by traveling with you will such mysteries be made clear.

But Elanee doesn't have a lot past Act 1. Her basic role in the party is supplanted by newer, better characters. Yes, even Zhjaeve.

In fact, especially Zhjaeve. The two share an archetype - the Mystic - but Zhjaeve does a better job of it than Elanee does, mainly because the Silver Sword is more central to the plot than the Merdelain is.

And once Elanee's lost that, she doesn't have much of a purpose any more.

Except, maybe, romance.

The other reason nobody likes Elanee is because she's a spy for the Circle of the Mere.

But it's worse than you think.

: But others of the Elders refused, and said there was little I need to learn from a hamlet of outcast humans and dwarves.
: You were going to be assigned my village? Why?
: I do not know - I wish I had been given the test, tried to find out what they intended to teach me.
: But then I think perhaps I would have suffered the same fate as the Elders... and other druids of the Mere.
: Do you know what the test was?

Including all the pictures here as evidence, because Jesus Christ, Elanee.

"I came to the village at dark"
"watched you for such a long time"
"heard your breath"
"watch you fall asleep"
"I knew what you dreamed"

That is why people fear and loathe her. I thought Bishop was creepy and pervy at times but this takes the fucking biscuit darling.

The worst thing is that it's supposed to be romantic. See romance dialogue no.3 (for male characters only):


: How long had you been watching me in West Harbor?
: {Slight hesitation, doesn't want to admit this} I... have watched your progress for some time. It was something that the Circle agreed to... {downnote, to herself} and something I promised my teacher.
: {Slight hesitation, a little quieter, doesn't want to admit this} It was not my task, but I found myself watching you anyway. I have watched you for some time, though many were the times I did not wish to.

Bear in mind that, as an elf, Elanee is maybe over a hundred years older than us. She basically watched us grow up... and, if you're male, she falls in love with you.

The child she's been watching since the original Battle of West Harbor.

Falls in love.


And the only reason she gets away with it is because she's vaguely attractive. Trust me, if she looked more like Kreia or Ravel Puzzlewell, then there would not be a legion of sweaty nerds fantasising about her over the internet.

Let's be honest here: Elanee's not exactly in good company here. Casavir, the female love interest, is totally into us but can't get over his goony notions of chivalry to actually come out and say something, plus I think he's at least twice our age. Bishop, meanwhile, is abusive, treacherous, and an all-round horrible person. And even though the romance is no longer in the game, Neeshka's deeply unstable and probably incapable of committing to an adult relationship.

It's no different to any other RPG romance, then.

: I failed that test, and I failed you, and the Circle. And now the Circle is no more, and your village is filled with dead ones.
: It was not your fault, and you could not have known the village would be attacked.
: Perhaps not... but I cannot help but think if I had taken the watch of West Harbor, then perhaps I could have prevented what was to come.

Personally, I strongly suspect Chris Avellone (who wrote the dialogue for the companions) of deliberately sabotaging the NWN2 romances. He's on record as being dead-set against cheery happy hugs-and-flowers romances, much preferring dark, tragic, doomed relationships (though that's not much better). I detect his hand in this; this is the delightfully subversive sort of thing he'd do.

* * *

With the death of the corrupted Circle, Naevan is freed from his prison.

: Don't be unsettled by Vashne's words. I believe you have seen things more clearly than any of us.
: What will you do now, Elder Naeven? I... I do not know how much is left for you to watch, not any longer.
: I don't know. The Circle is gone, as is the Mere, but much remains untouched.
: What happened to the Circle?
: We were too complacent and unlike Elanee, perhaps not watchful enough. Though we felt a change in the air, we could not understand it.
: The poison of the shadow spread quickly. Some of us failed to adapt and perished.

: I know that "it," whatever it is, is not of this world. And while I have little taste for your fortresses of rock and metal, they are preferable to this shadow.
: The King of Shadows won't stop with the Mere. We can use your help.
: Vashne was right about one thing. You are, in many ways, the root of these troubles. When the swamp last burned, the shard in your chest made a black mark on the earth.
: However this conflict ends, I know you will be in the center of it all. My place, however, is with what remains of the Mere.

: How do you know if such mastery is even possible? And what else, aside from the Mere, might fall victim to your quest?

It doesn't matter what answer you give him - he's unsatisfied regardless. Say you'll heal the land and he'll claim it's impossible; pick the semi-sarcastic option and he whines that you're not doing it for the right reasons.

This is what follows from our Influence Failure. No joke; Elanee's leaving the party. If we'd been nicer to her, she'd stay - though she doesn't have a lot to do after this quest.

But you chose differently.

: My place was always here in the Mere, and I should fight for it here, not within walls.

She doesn't have anything on her - that Sickle, maybe, but I never did equip her with any armour or equipment. Possibly because I rarely used her.

: To leave her defenseless in the swamp does not seem a gracious act.
: And this is why I wish to leave, Elder... you cannot replace one cruelty with another, and one King of Shadows is much like another.

True, but we don't drain the very life out of everyone we meet.


: Agreed... I think you will walk alone, Shard-Bearer. Thank you for what you have done here, but Merdelain has no more need of you, I think.
: Here's your equipment we gathered, all of it - consider it payment for helping me find the Circle again.
: Don't leave anything out.
: Take it, then. I have no need for such things anymore.
: Now that you're disarmed, get ready to die.

And now we get the companions' reaction shots.

Predictably, the Evil companions approve of this course of action (with the exception of Ammon, who doesn't care) and you can cash in some hefty Influence here. The Good-ish companions aren't so keen and will try to convince Elanee to back down. Khelgar and Casavir are especially upset.

: I don't want her dead, but I don't care much for traitors, either. You can walk away from this, Elanee - but if you don't, you're going to be in a mess of trouble.
: I say we put an arrow through her throat. I'm sick of her whining anyway.
: You all have chosen to walk with the Knight-Captain. You know the heart that beats next to that silver shard.


: Very well. We will let the power of the Mere speak for us.
: No one threatens me - certainly not some stuck-up druidess we came all the way to help.
: I say let's butcher the rest of these druids, then get back to business.
: This is the end for you, Shard-Bearer - I was a fool to put any faith in you.

She doesn't put up much of a fight. Weakened from the fight with the Circle, and with all her equipment lying on the ground, Elanee and Naeven don't last five minutes.

And that is the end of that.

Even if we had passed Elanee's Influence check, Naevan wouldn't come with us. We could have let Elanee go peacefully as well... but the party is like a gang: you want out, you get beat out.

The end result of this quest is that not only have we failed to gain an Alliance, we've lost a party member as well.

Thanks a lot, Daeghun.