Part 48: SPINEBREAKER - Breaking Batlin's Back Part 1
Breaking Batlin's Back
Tomorrow's update will be (relatively) short, so this one will be (relatively) long. In fact I think it's the longest update I've done yet, not counting those text dump sessions in Monitor and Fawn. Fortunately there is about twenty times less scripted dialogue in this sequence!
We were just leaving Skullcrusher and the City of Chaos when I decided to derail us exploring the tunnels. Sorry about that. Anyway, we're now in a huge, open area with lots of places to explore, including the various temples of Order and Chaos. For now, we're mostly going to ignore them and concentrate on pursuing Batlin.
Mostly. You may notice this layout as being a bit familiar.
"I saw this in my dream! The Moon's Eye is here."
"We know. We were there."
"Yes, but we weren't supposed to be."
This place is actually the Temple of Emotion. I know this because the green blotch on the wall told me so. We're going to ignore her and her plight for a while as well, and just check out the Moon's Eye.
"Now how are we supposed to find this useful, again?"
"I don't know. Snake Guy was really insistent about this one though."
"You just listen to every person who talks in your head, don't you?"
"The fact that we are discorporated voices in the Avatar's head should by no means invalidate our opinions!"
"Ja, I find that offensive."
"You guys know nobody heard that, right?"
Righto then, let's peep that Moon's Eye.
"Oh boy, we get to spy on Batlin."
"...before the Avatar cometh. I must prepare an appropriate welcome for mine old enemy!"
No, I'm not accidentally misusing Batlin's amulet portrait. That's his portrait again. I guess he had a spare.
Batlin proceeds to address his cronies.
"To thee I give the anchor's job... The Avatar must not enter the Shrine of Balance before the Wall of Lights is fully open. Thou must stop the Avatar, should the others fail."
"I'll split her from stem ta stern afore I let her pass, Batlin! An' o' course there be another yearnin' for a chance ta meet up with her again, too..."
"Ah, yes... I had nearly forgotten."
I have no idea what Batlin is talking about here. This seems to suggest Deadeye has a history with the Avatar, but I have no idea what that is. It could come from one of the Underworld games, or else I'm missing something really obvious about his identity.
It'd be nice if they'd bring that up again later so I had some idea what was going on, but naturally they don't.
"Thou shalt be my door warden. I can count on thy strength to delay the Avatar..."
"Dost thou wish her dead or mangled, Batlin?"
"Mangled will suffice, mighty Brunt. But do as thou wishest..."
"Good... Dead it is!"
"Thy fire shall warm the heart of my trap, Palos. I shall rely on thee to make sure the Avatar feels the warmth of our welcome."
"To be my great pleasure. To look forward to the meeting..."
Well, that was lame.
"Well, that was lame."
"We kind of already knew Batlin was going to probably set some sort of trap for us."
"I bet none of the information we just got from that will even be particularly useful."
"Yeah, thanks a lot, Snake Dude."
"Hey, what happens if we look into it again?"
In case you got lost before getting 20 feet from Skullcrusher's exit.
Snow leopards and ice lurkers scatter the wilds between the Skullcrusher and Spinebreaker mountains. Nothing major, but a step up from what's been mucking about before. This is about as hard as random wilderness trash will get though.
"This looks promising. And the Hound suggests Batlin is inside."
"Well that, and the fact it's the only entrance that looks like a city."
"And the blue serpent motif which indicates Order."
"How did you guess this was a city of Order?"
"It's the only one left."
Spinebreaker's a bit large, so here's the entrance location.
Heading inside puts us in some generic tunnels.
"Canst thou hear me, Avatar? Thou art too late! By the time thou hast found the Shrine of Order, I shall have become as powerful as the Guardian himself! Come! Come and witness mine ascent to power. Come, Avatar... Come and meet thy death!"
"That's right! You won't be able to... wait just a minute... did he say... oh that guy is so dead."
The automaton then thanklessly attacks. Honestly, is this a default feature of automatons or does it have to be specifically programmed in?
"I command you to head to the Temple of Discipline and tell Frank that dinner is ready."
"Very good, master. Shall I attack him for no reason afterwards?"
"Sure, what the hell. Keep him on his toes, you know?"
And speaking of which...
"That's the idea, yeah."
"I cannot allow thee to enter until thou dost tell me the password. Canst thou tell me what the password is?"
"But Avatar, surely thou dost not know the password! How canst thou fool this infernal thing?"
"I am waiting to receive the password."
"Order is... great?"
"That is not the correct password! Thou art forbidden to enter! Thou shouldst not loiter about here. Thou must leave this place immediately."
"I take it that was a guess! Ha! I knew thou couldst not know the proper password! I suggest we cease trying to guess the password and find a better way of entering this place. Simply guessing could take forever!"
"Hang on a second."
"I got another guess."
And yes, as soon as we
Just past that tunnel we run into Batlin's heavy, Brunt.
"He is attempting to open that cursed Wall of Lights! Quickly, follow me! I will lead thee straight to him."
"Yeah, we could do that. I mean, you know, if this weren't an obvious trap or anything."
"All the same, I think it's time for you to go."
"I get the distinct feeling you were not supposed to do that."
"What's the worst thing that could happen from killing Brunt before we were actually supposed to?"
If you do follow Brunt, he leads you through a hallway full of explosives, which is bad. So instead, turn around and go north.
A secret passage. I'm not sure why this is here. Does Order just have a hallway where shit explodes all the time and another, more carefully-concealed hallway for general access? Did Batlin add the traps? If he did, what was the point of the secret passage?
These are questions which perhaps we should not be asking.
Earthquakes rock the city periodically, which your party members ascribe to Batlin's meddling. I don't see how they have any idea what opening the Wall of Lights does or doesn't do, considering they've never actually seen it happen. I guess earthquakes are just a general fantasy thing for bad shit going down.
Another apparent dead end spoiled by one of Batlin's men in a secret passage.
The "larger face" trick turns out to be pretty handy. I hadn't noticed that about Ophidian wall textures before.
After all that, we're finally into the actual city of Spinebreaker. This must've been a major pain in the ass for people making deliveries (although see Cheater's Corner, there might be a slightly more annoying service entrance).
The City of Order, like the City of Chaos, is a dwelling place. However, it's more regularly laid out, with regular-shaped buildings with multiple floors. Yet this place too has been largely abandoned. Didn't Order win this war?
Perhaps their writings will start to shed light on where they went.
Library of the Hierophant
The Great Library of the Hierophant contains all the history and knowledge that defines and guides the followers of Order. Though it is hidden away within the bowels of the mountain, a student of Order may enter it through the portal in the Temple of the Hierophant.
In times of disaster and of war, the Great Library was sealed to prevent its valuable works from being destroyed, or from falling into the hands of Chaos. Entry into the Library meant first opening the door to the Temple of the Hierophant.
This could only be achieved by a student placing the correct symbols of Order on the pedestal before the door to the temple. Since only true followers of Order would have the understanding of the symbols, this was the first test to prevent those of Chaos from desecrating both Temple and Library. Only those who have studied the writers and poets of Order will have the wisdom and knowledge to open the door.
Once the door opens the student doth need the Sceptre of the Hierophant to gain entry into the Library. Since the Hierophant keeps it in his charge, only by asking his permission can one gain access. Should the Sceptre be lost, or the Hierophant killed in battle, the Library will remain forever closed, away from the corruptions of Chaos.
With Sceptre in hand, the student must stand in front of the blue pedestal of the temple. He must place the Sceptre atop the pedestal. The student will then gain instant access to the Library. All knowledge of Order is held there as a bastion against corruption and Chaos.
"Nothing here, really."
"Maybe this library of theirs will have something of value."
"Aren't we supposed to be stopping Batlin?"
"At this point, I think we're willing to just let Batlin dick around. He probably won't even start until we show up, just to be a prick."
"Ah yes, hubris. I love it."
"I hear that grows with experience."
Order's dining hall is, well, ordered. Kinda reminds me of an actually well-made Dwarf Fortress.
The serpent gate actually has a place of honor in Spinebreaker, atop a dais in the middle of town. Too bad we don't have a tooth for it... yet.
"This seems to be the dwelling place of the Order Hierophant. The way is blocked..."
"This plaque reads, 'Order Symbol That Doth Speak of Principles and Wisdom.'"
"Well it's not this book, I put it on the pedestal and nothing happened."
"Maybe you should try reading the book."
"I'm not sure how that will open the door."
"I think Mr. Iolo means that it could provide a hint."
"Or it could just be more preachy Ophidian bullshit that doesn't tell us what actually happened."
True follower of Order do not despair! The Hierophant hath led us to a new world via passage through the Wall of Lights! Though thou wert not here to make the passage, fear not. Some day thou too wilt join us. If thou wishest to enter into the Temple of the Hierophant thou must merely place the symbols of Order upon the pedestal indicated by the plaque. Once the three artifacts have been placed one at a time, the door will swing wide. If thou art a true disciple thou wilt have read the scrolls that contain the words of wisdom that thou needest to decipher the plaque's meaning. The sacred Library of the Hierophant shall remain secure from those who art not of Order. For if thou art not true, thou wilt never enter into the Hierophant's temple.
"...or is it?"
So there we have it. The reason for the Ophidians' complete disappearance. After defeating Chaos in the war, the forces of Order were left at the mercy of the growing Imbalance. Knowing in the end that they had committed a grave mistake in the war, the remaining followers of Order used the Wall of Lights to flee into the Void. Perhaps to another world... or perhaps they all died. From the look of things, nobody ever came back.