Part 20: Never trust a wizardPart XX: Never trust a wizard
Since we're a praetor, we're allowed access to the third floor to see Erebus, Gaelius's loremaster. What a waste of floor space.
We have many questions.
: What can you tell me about the War?
: What do you know about the gods and demons who fought in the war?
: So, the Empire stood for more than a thousand years, yet there is not a single record of otherwordly beings, gods or demons. Then the Qantari came and at the drop of a hat we summon "gods" to aid us in battle as if it's something one always does in times of crisis.
: And yet the war started before the fleet came. Why would a few ships attack us, knowing full well that they don't stand a chance?
: I'd be more interested to learn how "a few scout ships" managed to hold their own against the Empire for a year.
Basically, much of what the records say doesn't pass the smell test.
: Why did the Empire fall?
I like Erebus's description of why empires rise and fall.
: Why is Gaelius so afraid of the artifacts?
We saw one of those warnings (kind of) in the hidden room under Saross.
: I have some artifacts I'd like you to look at.
We can only show him the Jellyfish artifact.
So it's some sort of key. Good to know.
: Is there anything you can teach me?
A boost in Etiquette. At least we know which fork to use when eating salad now.
Speaking of showing our stuff to loremasters...
The metal glove is used to manipulate machines from other realms. Okay then! The part about needing to see the other realms seems important.
If we show Abukar the reliquary, he pisses his pants and yells at us to get out, so we do.
We're going on our second trip to Zamedi. Hopefully, the artifact Gaelius gave us will do something about the force field.
It works! Side note: the demon core we picked up from the dead Guardian does the same thing.
It's good to see stone demons amuse themselves by reading.
With a Streetwise of 5, we can sense the Guardian is fibbing about the treasure.
: What makes you think you can kill me?
Don't fight this Guardian. Unlike its counterpart in Inferiae, this one is fully functional and will slice us to ribbons in seconds.
: What do you need?
Find ring, bring it back. Simple.
This looks exactly like the strange chamber under Inferiae.
: How will I get back?
: Wait, I'm not sure about this.
oh shit run
Made it. Let's look around.
Mass distribution... gravitational wells... voids, charted and uncharted... low-density space... physical evidence... cognitive dissonance... universal mechanism...
Ferrous and non-ferrous extractive metallurgy... pyrometallurgy... thermal treatment... energy output variations... sustainable temperatures and proposed solutions...
Forms of energy... laws of conservation... conversion of electromagnetic radiation to thermal energy... a treatise on dispersion, dissipation, and absorption... solar-thermal collectors...
I don't understand any of this!
Finally, something I can really use.
Yet another artifact we don't know how to use. Par for the course.
Besides a chest full of alchemical ingredients, there's nothing else of note. Time to go upstairs.
The windows contain energy fields instead of glass, because Magi are just too good for silica.
We'll figure that out soon.
Let's examine the image first.
Probably not a good thing. On the bright side, we have some leverage over the Guardian.
Time to figure out how this contraption works.
You need an Intelligence above 7 and an absurd level of 10 in Lore to figure out this thing.
First up: the portal network.
We can teleport to two places, one of which (the ziggurat) is the endgame. We'll visit both locations later, so we're not using the network.
Looking for more information on the Gods yields something far more interesting.
Okay, not immediately, but trust me. Let's start by looking up info on the war.
It was very, very bad. Next query:
We finally meet Abu Hassan, albeit not in the flesh. By the way, I like that al-Sarabi means "the mirage." Sums him up nicely.
These recording are a plot bombshell. I''ll admit I was pretty staggered when I discovered them.
Might that scroll be the one we found with the surgical tools?
Balzaar again. Something tells me this ended up being another poor decision.
I was right!
Time to go back to the Guardian.
Not so fast.
: I know what the ring does.
: You mentioned treasure?
Thought as much.
: I'll trade you the ring for some answers.
: Are you a living thing? A mechanism? A magical construct?
This Guardian is one sarcastic construct.
: Your appearance is... unusual.
: Why were you created?
: What happened to your master?
: What happened to Zamedi?
That's one mystery solved.
We can assume the other magus in the recordings was Marcus Domitius.
You're really pushing it, dude. Just because you're a superior life form doesn't mean I'm going to take shit from you.
: Given bodies? Human bodies? I don't understand, don't the gods have their own bodies?
: Were the Magi really trying to create gods?
: Whose bodies were they given?
: How many gods did they bring?
Pretty sure we're not wrong. Plus, Abu Hassan said "We lost two more. Now we are three against four."
: So, the gods were here before the war?
To sum up: The Magi were transferring the essence of extradimensional cosmic beings of immense power into human bodies and containing them with wards. At some point, the wards fail, the gods take over the vessels and start nuking cities (as an Elder God would do if one attempted to trap it), although it seems a few remained somewhat human judging by the "three against four" comment. The Qantari attack and the apocalypse kicks off. From the recordings, we can gather Balzaar, one of the god-things, eventually betrayed the Magi and had to be put down -- remember the story about Abu Hassan defeating Balzurath? With the help of Thor-Agoth/Agathoth, the "demons" are defeated.
According to the Guardian, the Qantari Servants first made contact with the otherwordly entities and convinced the Magi to use their technology to bring the things here. Something happened, presumably the whole "wards failed" thing, the Magi blame the Qantari and attack, which sets off a war.
In other words, this is all the fault of a bunch of bickering wizards. Never trust a wizard.
Two questions remain: what's at Al-Akia, and what happened to Agathoth?
Well, you were helpful...
Surprisingly, the Guardian doesn't rip our head off. It just leaves.
There's some stuff to find downstairs.
Eh, why not?
That's a fucking rifle.
Never mind the rifle, we've got a big sword!
The Bolter is arguably the best "crossbow" (it's classified as such) in the game. It uses only 1 AP to fire, so if you have high DEX and a high crossbow skill, you can run around the map and shit on your foes at range.
Let's get out of here.
Okay, maybe I didn't think the whole "let the giant construct roam free" thing through.
: About the tower...
: There was a demon, but it escaped.
: The demon said it was created by the Magi.
I suppose the Guardian could have been lying, but the recordings corroborate its story.
: Many strange and wondrous things.
: Perhaps it's not too late to start reclaiming the lost knowledge.
Erebus has a point. Knowing what we know, do we really want the possibility of someone imitating Abu Hassan?
Meru got caught with his hand in the cookie jar, so Gaelius is giving him a hard spanking.
: His transformation?
Judging by what we've heard, Meru is a true believer.
: What would stop Meru from killing me on the spot?
: It's not what I meant.
For fuck's sake.
: You'll be seen as a conqueror, not as a savior.
: Some would say House Aurelian owes its good fortune to the fact that when the Empire fell, your House grabbed the best and biggest slice of the pie. It's much easier to do well when you control the largest and richest city.
: I've heard that House Daratan stayed behind and held the line to give other Houses enough time to withdraw.
Gaelius doesn't give a fuck about ancient history!
I'll admit I have a bit more respect for House Daratan now. It's too bad Antidas is all that's left.
: Didn't Maadoran belong to House Calani?
After upping our Lore skill, let's see if we can read the scroll from Antidas's collection.
It's a mantra to persuade air elementals to pull a flying chariot. Naturally.
There's one more place to go in this update: The Abyss. Remember those scrolls we couldn't decipher?
The creature is the result of the binding process. Considering the flashbacks it showed us, Galath was chosen to receive the Gift (read: having an unknown entity grafted into your body), but the "other" (Athazor) escaped, leaving Galath like this. Whatever he, or it, is now is extremely dangerous.
So let's fuck around with the console!
Of course we're going to power it up.
This is fine.
What did you expect would happen?
If you have a CON below 6, you die in the explosion. Reload!
Good riddance, honestly.
The Abyss is now just a giant hole.
You kill a god and people bitch at you for it. Where's the gratitude?
: I'm sorry.
: A creature floating in a tank. I think it was a man once...
Next Time: Finishing up Maadoran