Part 8: MONITOR - Dumping Plot Points While The Avatar Slowly Expires Part 1
Dumping Plot Points While The Avatar Slowly Expires
"So as much as I'd love to leave him in jail, any chance I can get Iolo out now?"
"Hmmm, yes. I understand thou hast spoken with this villain. Then explain to me thy friend's actions. Is he a sorcerer?"
"What, Iolo? He's an idiot."
"You're supposed to be standing outside, asshole!"
"We're like ten feet away and the door is open, what do you expect me to do?"
"Then how did he appear in the middle of the funeral? Doth he fly?"
"He was caught in a teleport storm."
"I see! And the urn which thou didst return to Caladin -- it was exchanged for thy friend! If thou wilt vouch for thy friend's future behavior, then I shall let him go free."
"Don't worry, he can't cause any more trouble with me than I can cause without him."
"Very well. Keep thine eye on him. We do not want people popping in and out of our city like this! Here is the key to thy friend's jail cell. Set him free."
"Look at the new Knight! Thou dost certainly look fetching with thy tattoo. Hah! I am Luther! I am a Bear and a trainer of unequalled strength. It is my destiny to become the next Knight Champion of Monitor!"
"What, you? I'm not totally clear on the standards for the job but I gotta say..."
"The Knight Champion is the bravest and toughest fighter in all the land. Now that Astrid hath met an untimely doom, the post is open for the taking! Actually, she must have been fairly addlepated to let the Goblins ambush her like that. When I am Champion, the Goblins shall quake in fear!"
"And that's your destiny, is it?"
"I am the greatest fighter in Monitor! But I sense that thou art uncertain. Dost thou disagree?"
"Strong and smart!"
"I shall gladly prove it to thee -- on the List Field! Meet me there in the morning,... but not too early. I like my sleep. The ninth hour should be sufficient."
Moving right along, I'll try to catch Templar, the sole survivor of the ambushed patrol, because I sometimes have a hard time finding him after he leaves the banquet. He's usually at his house, I just don't know where the hell that is.
"What can I do for thee? I am Templar. I am a Knight of Monitor, and a member of the Command of the Bear. I also serve Lord Marsten as his tactical adviser."
"Am I supposed to feel something towards Bears now that I'm a Wolf, or something?"
"We are by far the strongest of the three commands. The envy of the Serpent Isle."
"So, no. You made a pretty nasty accusation back there at the party. My party. That was ruined. By you."
"It was as if they knew our plans! They were lying in wait across our path, and were upon us in moments. What carnage! It grieves me to say this, but there must be a traitor in Monitor. Someone must have revealed our plans to the Goblins. As a Bear, I know that our Command is innocent. Caladin doth have many faults, but being devious is not one of them. The traitor is either a Wolf or a Leopard. Perhaps if thou dost ask around, thou mightest find clues in this mystery."
"What makes you think it's one of the other commands?"
"The Wolves have been disloyal to Monitor since Brendann took charge. He would have us guard the roads, not the city itself! If anyone is the spy, it must be Krayg. He is often out in the woods, alone -- and he never brings back booty or prisoners. What can he be doing? He says that he doth have an old injury, but he's merely a snivelling coward. And Marsten, the leader of the Leopard Command, officially runs the town and he doth have his hands full. Not only are there the Goblins to worry about, but there is also a thief stealing money from the treasury. Spektor, his right hand man, is in charge of that as well. Needless to say it hath made things unpleasant between the commands as of late."
"Gosh, I wonder if they'll ever catch... that guy."
"Nothing. Anyway, you knew the Champion Knight?"
"She was the greatest Knight that I have ever had the honor of fighting beside. Carrying on her standard is a challenge to which I will dedicate myself for the rest of my life. It shames me to say that I am the sole survivor from the ambush of Astrid's patrol. The Goblins left me for dead, but I was merely dazed. There was a heap of bodies where Astrid had last been fighting, but her body was not there. It is obvious to me that they took her alive. I managed to reach Knight's Test, where Shmed gave me shelter and sent for Harnna to bandage my wounds. When I recover, I am going there again!"
"Well, you never know, she could be alive!"
"Being captured alive by the Goblins is a far worse fate than being killed by them on the battlefield. Survivors tell horrifying stories of torture, mutilation and things I should not even speak of."
"So you advise the leadership here? You must know a lot about how the goblins operate."
"Adviser for military matters, that is. Some consider me to be an expert in tactics. For instance, hast thou ever noticed that the Goblins tend to attack in patterns? By observing them, I can sometimes predict when and how they are going to strike next. I like to imagine what it must be like, to be huddled around the fires of their village as they draw their plans against us. The better I can understand them, the better I can defend against them."
"They are creatures of habit, to be sure. If thou dost know their customs, then thou hast the knowledge to defeat them. They always set their travel camps in the same pattern. The chieftain's hut is the largest, and is in the center. Each day ends with a drunken revel, and then the exhausted celebrants stumble to their huts and sleep until long past daybreak. When raiding a Goblin camp, strike in the morning, just as the sun is coming up. This is when the guards are fewest, and the chance for success is greatest. The Goblins do not seem to like the sun and their most favored time to strike their enemies is precisely after the sun hath set for the night. Many is the time when Goblin armies have marched to the edge of a city or encampment and then they have waited until nightfall. Often these sieges lasted all night long. The Goblins do not practice any sophisticated sort of military strategy or tactics. Mostly they rely on sheer numbers as well as the fear that they inspire in the hearts of men and women."
"Well, that's a lot of more or less useless information."
"What else dost thou desire of me?"
"What? Two friends can't shoot the shit about goblins? I mean it's just a fascinating topic."
"'Tis a bloody war we are fighting. That I am alive, today, speaking with thee is a miracle. The Goblins are foul but fascinating creatures. They are more intelligent than one would think. In a bestial way, of course. If only I could speak with their general Pomdirgun! Imagine what that mind must be like -- so calculating, so incisive, yet so utterly inhuman. Perhaps in my next life I shall see him again. But not for any prolonged period of time, I hope."
"He is the Goblin leader -- a king or a chieftain, depending on how one translates the Goblin tongue. Pomdirgun claims to be a direct descendant of Gurnordir. Having heard him curse us on the field of battle, I know that he speaks our tongue -- quite a feat for one of those creatures. We have been fighting the damn Goblins since our forefathers landed on these shores. This city was built on the site of a Goblin village. There had been a balance of sorts, until the ambush of Astrid's patrol. As Knight Champion, she wore the Helm of Monitor, and now the Goblins have it. The power of the Helm cannot be understated! With it, Pomdirgun can once again assemble the Goblin Horde, and invade the lands of Men. Somehow, we must regain the Helm!"
"No, somehow you must sit here whining while I recover the Helm. But do go on about all this expository Serpent Isle history, I'm new in town."
"The greatest battle of the Goblin wars took place in the days when Gurnordir was King of the Goblins. He was the mightiest Goblin who ever lived, and he led the Goblin Horde in the invasion which placed Monitor itself under siege. The Goblins stormed the walls, and fought their way inside the city. However, the Bears surrounded them, and Gurnordir was at last slain. From his dead body was taken the Helm of Courage, and his ashes are enshrined in Knight's Test."
"So the Helm is older than Monitor."
"We now call it the Helm of Monitor, and it is worn by the Knight Champion. But it first came from the Goblins. Whence it came before they got their hands upon it, no one can say. The Helm doth have mystical powers, which we believe are due to being imbued with the essence of Courage."
Actually, the Helm of Courage is exactly the same as an ordinary Magic Helm, although it looks cooler. Essence of Courage my ass.
"I thought about that... why cremate a goblin? Especially your greatest enemy?"
"As Renfry can tell thee, we Monitorians have a special reverence for the Ashes of the Dead. When a Knight dies, his body must be brought back to Monitor for cremation. The ashes are then placed in the Crypts. In the case of Gurnordir, his ashes have a strange power. Like all ashes, they are imbued with the essence of the living being. As thou hast seen, the ashes are used in the climax of the Test of Knighthood. Somehow, they have the power to summon one's totem animal."
"So, as a goblin expert of sorts, would you be able to identify something of theirs?"
"Perhaps. Goblins have some pretty strange things. Jewelry made from human bones. Drums made with human skin. Much broken glass. Very macabre. I suspect their own village must be brimming with such little nightmares. They eat nearly anything, except their own kind. Goblins are especially fond of children. We had to build the city walls to keep their scouts from stealing our babies. Also, the Goblins consider the pelts of the Gwani to be great prizes -- thou canst recognize a Goblin chief by the pelt he wears. The chief always keeps the prize artifacts for himself. But he must lock them away in a safe place, or his followers will steal them!"
"Cellia mentioned the Gwani. Know anything more?"
"The furs are taken from the Gwani, a race of fierce warriors which live in the far north. They are said to be even more vicious than the Goblins. Gwani fur provides great warmth, but it is also valued for its great beauty -- it sparkles in the light."
"I don't have anything that pretty, just this hairbrush."
"A peculiar brush? I suspect that I already know what it is, but let me see... That is a Goblin hairbrush! Made out of the bones of their victims, or so the legends claim. Perhaps crafted from the thigh bone of one of mine old friends. Someday, thou or I too may be odd bits of furnishings in some Goblin hut!"
"Well, if nobody else is gonna eat this, dump it in the barrel."
"This seems incredibly white trash."
"Hey, it's my banquet."
The docks of Monitor. There's a ship here, but it's wrecked. The hold here is openable and can be used to store shit if you board the ship. It has infinite storage, but it's not really convenient to anywhere. I get the sense that you were meant to be able to sail around (more on that when we reach Fawn), but time crunches got them to make up the "teleport storms sink ships" excuse.
"My daughter Cantra is missing! I know she would never run away from me, but I feel certain that the Goblins did not take her."
"Yeah, somebody told me you were being hysterical about that. I saw her just yesterday, so I guess I'm helping now."
"Pray excuse my poor manners, stranger! I am Widow Harnna, the Healer of Monitor. I also sell vegetables from my garden."
"You must remember, Dupre!"
"My beloved husband was slain while doing his duty, so I should have no complaints. Though Goblins have taken his life, they too shall die. But it hath been hard on Cantra. A girl at her age needs a father, dost not thou agree? The Knights say that there is glory in the way that Cantra's father died, but they do not see the truth. He did his duty, not to earn their respect, but out of love for his family. This type of courage, and the source of it, is something the Knights of Monitor do not understand. And until they gain that understanding, there will be no winning this war with the Goblins."
"Well, that's suitably gloomy. What happened to Cantra? She was just here."
"Dost thou believe in magic?"
"It's not so much believing in it as having used it to kill the world several times in a row."
"That is good, for what I have to show thee would befuddle the minds of most of this town's inhabitants. Go to mine home. There thou shalt find a crystal ball. Gaze into it, and let thy mind be clear."
And so, that's precisely what we do. The vision that follows involves Cantra, Batlin, and... well, it doesn't make an awful lot of sense yet.
"Leave me alone, mage. I am but a little girl."
"I know what thou art, Bane of Chaos. That body is but a shell that thou dost wear."
"I can escape thee! My powers dwarf thine..."
"Thy powers have dwindled due to thine imprisonment. Thou art no match for me, now..."
"As thou hast now seen, the peril that faces Cantra doth go beyond merely being taken by the Goblins. Some foul thing doth possess her. The worst the Goblins could do would be to kill her and destroy her body. This new uncertain danger is nothing less than a threat to her spirit, the very essence of her being! I implore thee, please find her and rescue her. It is certain to be a perilous undertaking and I cannot blame thee if thou wouldst refuse the pleas of a simple woman. But none of the other Knights believe in the visions of the crystal ball. They believe that Cantra hath been taken away by the goblins, and that she is already dead. Thou art mine only hope! Wilt thou please find my daughter Cantra and return her to me?"
"And miss little girls fighting Batlin with lasers? What kind of Avatar would I be if I refused?"
"Dude, just shut up. I can be nice when I want to be. I just usually don't... ever."
"Oh, I thank thee from the bottom of mine heart for thy kindness and thy bravery! To find Cantra, thou wilt need two things. The first of these is Cantra's practice sword. I can give that to thee now. This is the very same practice sword that Cantra used every day."
"I'm not sure quite how this helps us."
"Now that thou hast my daughter's sword, thou shouldst find one of the legendary Hounds of Doskar. They will be able to sniff Cantra's essence from the sword, and then track her to anywhere in the Serpent Isle. The only dilemma thou dost face now is to find one of the Hounds of Doskar. I do not know where one may be found, but I foresee that thou must find the Hound before thou canst rescue my daughter."
"Well, I guess we can give that a shot."
Although we won't, not for a long-ass time. It's impossible to get to the point where you can even find a Hound of Doskar to help you until after completing the main quests in the three cities of the Serpent Isle. So you may want to keep this one in the back of your head, because it will come up, just way too late.
"I think we're forgetting something very important here."
"I am so grateful that thou hast taken on the quest of saving my daughter. If I can help thee, ask. I am not a magical healer. Monitorians are quite suspicious of magic. I use a natural healing method, which uses herbs. Art thou in need of a healer?"
"The Avatar is burning with fever!"
"I can temporarily restore thy body, but thou art suffering from an affliction that cannot easily be cured. Such a pox may wear off in time if thou art extremely lucky, but thou canst only be permanently cured by a special ointment made from Varo leaves."
"That doesn't sound like any ordinary poison."
"Thy suffering came from no accidental affliction -- the venom which mixes with thy blood is not common."
"Who did this to the Avatar?"
"I strongly suspect that the source of thine infection is the tattoo thou hast been given. I know that Lydia must have given thee this tattoo, yet I find it difficult to believe she would poison a stranger. Thou shouldst have words with her, I think."
"But all we have to do is apply these varo leaves, right? So let's do it!"
"These leaves are now scarce, as the Varo grows only with abundant sunlight, and we have had clouded skies for many months. Go thou and see Delphynia, the horticulturist in Fawn. Perhaps she will have a supply of leaves."
"Well that's just great. Alright, let's go bust Iolo out and kick some ass and go to Fawn."
"Don't we have things to do here?"
"Who's the one poisoned horribly here?"
"And who makes all the decisions here?"
"But wait... I feel the primal forces drawing near... I hear the voices of the Void... I have a prophecy for thee, Avatar. Thou shalt need three ancient and powerful artifacts to complete thy tasks. One of these is a helm. It seems very familiar to me... Thy quest shall be long and difficult. Many are the adventures that thou must undertake. Seemingly unconnected events shall prosper thee in thy seeking of my lost daughter. I see no more."
Harnna has other uses. In each town there is a person who is considered "knowledgeable" about people and things. In Moonshade it's the gossipy provisioner, in Fawn it's the grizzled bartender, and in Monitor it's Harnna, the wise woman. These NPCs can tell you about everyone in town (though it's usually not that useful, with one exception in Moonshade), and they can look at all your random teleport storm items and tell you what they think they might be from. They can't explain what everything is, but they tend to know more than other NPCs. In fact, you can't even bring up the items to some NPCs without asking the Information Guy/Gal first.
"What dost thou desire to know?"
If you ask too many things, the Information Guy/Gal will say something like...
"I must be about my duties. We must discuss this another time."
And not talk to you for about six hours or so. You can avoid this by only asking about a couple people or things, then cancelling out, and initiating conversation again. Since these raise conversation flags, you can't just read them here. I recommend exhausting the info NPC of everything they know before chatting up other people in town.
First, let's ask about people:
"The citizens of Monitor are all Knights, and they belong to one of three Commands: the Bears, Wolves, or Leopards. About which Command dost thou desire to inquire?"
The Bears: "The Bears are strong and brave, and known for their triumphs in the arena. About whom dost thou wish to inquire?"
Caladin: "He is the leader of the Bear Command, and the commander of the Pikemen. A good, decent man and a hardened veteran of many a tough battle. He doth hate Goblins with a passion."
Luther: "Luther is one of the Bear Command. He is a proven and respected fighter on the battlefield, but off the field he is somewhat of a bully. Best to stay clear of him, I say. 'Tis said that he doth have a terrible temper. Luther loses control and simply begins swinging."
Simon: "He is the innkeeper of The Sleeping Soldier. He is a quiet man, and the oldest person in Monitor. He enjoys his drink -- especially an unusual type of ale from Fawn. I have told him to cease drinking that swill, but he insists. From a healer's point of view, that ale should be banned!"
Flicken: "He is the guard at the south gate of Monitor. He hath a keen eye, despite his getting along in years. Flicken is one of the Bear Command. He may seem argumentative, but he is simply a good fellow, doing his job."
Templar: "Templar is a virtuous knight of the Bear Command and oftimes a winner of our local tournaments. He also is our local expert on the Goblins."
Lydia: "She provides the Knights of Monitor with their tattoos, which they receive upon completing Knight's Test or carrying out some difficult quest. 'Tis simply beyond belief that she would have poisoned thee... It must have had something to do with that older sister of hers. Selene was taken by the Mages of Moonshade when a mere child. Lydia was so happy when her sister visited last month, after all these years. The two were inseparable. Selene must have ensorcelled her! How else could one explain how Lydia would commit the dishonorable crime of poisoning a stranger?"
The Wolves: "The Wolves are known for their cunning and stealth, preferring dexterity over brute strength. Brendann is their leader. About whom dost thou wish to inquire?"
Brendann: "Brendann is the leader of the Wolf Command. He is a cunning fighter, a clever strategist and a bit of a rogue. He considers himself to be a ladies' man, and not without justification."
Lucilla: "Lucilla is the barmaid and the owner of the local pub. To tell thee the truth, she is also the town flirt. I do not mean to be catty. She doth have a good heart."
Renfry: "He is a most unusual person. Renfry operates the Crematorium and is the undertaker of the town. He is a pleasant enough fellow, but he doth enjoy his work too much."
Krayg: "Krayg was a fighter, but his arm was mangled in battle a while ago. He is now the Provisioner of the town. He is still haunted by his fighting days. He doth go for long walks alone."
Cellia: "Cellia is the furrier, tanner and tailor of the city of Monitor. She buys her fur from a trapper who passes through town on occasion. Cellia is a hard-working, earthy woman."
Shmed: "They say that Shmed was the traitor who sold our secrets to the Goblins. Mine heart tells me that they were wrong. Shmed was a coward, a fool, and a reprobate -- but not a traitor. Shmed hath retired early from his career as a soldier and now operates the Knight's Test -- The dungeon where would-be knights test themselves. He is a good man for that job."
The Leopards: "The Leopards are the glue which holds this community together. We keep the Bears and Wolves from tearing each other apart. About whom dost thou wish to know?"
Lord Marsten: "Marsten is the commander of the Leopard Command. He may be a bit small, but a more tenacious fighter thou shalt not find in the Serpent Isle. He is rough and tough, but gregarious."
Spektor: "A very intelligent man who is part of the Leopard Command. He is the town's treasurer and I understand he doth have quite a collection of books at his house. He suffers from insomnia a great deal, and doth have a nervous digestion. When he cannot sleep, he comes to me and I make him a special elixir. I think he is worried about the thief. After all, Spektor is the town treasurer, so when money starts disappearing, everyone suspects him."
Standarr: "Standarr is the armourer and blacksmith of our town. He is an honorable fighter and skilled craftsman. He also sells weapons and armour."
Andral: "Andral is not a fighter, which is a good thing since as I hear that he was miserable at it. Instead, he is an artist. Many of the knights hire him to create statues of them."
Shazzana: "Shazzana is a trainer in the fighting arts and also a knight of the Leopard Command. It is said that one day she may very well become a Champion Knight of Monitor, which would suit her fine!"
Visitors: "I doubt that we shall have as many visitors as memorable as thou art come through town for quite a while! I cannot keep track of all who come and go in this place. Thou shouldst talk to Simon, he is the innkeeper here. Visitors who do not reside in our inn can usually be found in our prison. For instance, a mad enchanter who was captured in the crematorium recently. Marsten will know more than I about him."
And now places!
"Of which type of place wouldst thou have me tell?"
The Cities: "There are three cities in the Serpent Isles, and a small hamlet. Of which can I tell thee?"
Moonshade: "Moonshade is a city filled with mages who look down on any who are inexperienced in the ways of magic. Moonshade is ruled by a MageLord and a council of sorcerors. It is an excellent place to learn magic, however."
Fawn: "Fawn is a city of sailors. As thou canst well imagine these teleport storms have grievously harmed their livelihood. Fawn is also a city that worships beauty."
Sleeping Bull: "This is an inn along the Serpent Highway. It is said that one could obtain passage on ships from there."
Monitor "Why, it is the city thou dost find thyself in now! It is a city of fighters and knights. Here in Monitor is where the Pikemen that protect the highway are trained."
The Wilderness: "The wilderness is the place in which a warrior can test himself against fearsome beasts and challenges of nature. Of which place wouldst thou learn?"
Furnace: "This is a dungeon located to the east of here that is said to be so hot that humans cannot survive within its cavernous depths."
Gorlab Swamp: "Follow the Serpent Road north and thou shalt come to it. But thou mayest not return."
Great Northern Forest: "It is said that this forest lies beyond the swamp, but we have precious little contact with the people there."
Finally, the real thing we wanted to know, the weird stuff we're carrying around.
"What sort of items art thou inquiring about?"
Pinecone: "'Tis a pinecone! They are not normally found anywhere near here. They come from pine trees in the great forests to the north."
Apparatus: "That strange apparatus doth look like nothing I have ever seen before! Could it be some kind of statue, or mayhaps a magical implement? Fawn is known for its statuary, while Moonshade is the City of Mages. Perhaps thou shouldst inquire there. That sounds as if it may be some sort of instrument of mages. They may know of such things in Moonshade, but not here I fear."
Pumice: "This type of rock is not common around here. Now if thou didst speak with Krayg, perhaps he could help thee... He is fond of long walks, and sometimes he discovers odd rocks and plants. He brings me mandrake roots sometimes."
Lost Ring: "That looks to be a special ring, although it doth not appear to be magical. Lucilla is more interested in such baubles and trinkets than I. Perhaps she will be able to tell thee more."
Fur Cap: "Cellia here in town is a tanner and a furrier. This hat looks like it could be her work."
Slippers: "Surely, these belong to no one in this city. Krayg the provisioner might know who would sell something like these slippers."
Breastplate: "Thou shouldst ask Standarr the armourer about that."
Blue Egg: "It appears to be an egg from some kind of bird. The shell appears to be thick, yet it is not exceedingly hard. The shell seems to be intended to protect the baby bird from the cold. I would surmise that this egg came from a bird that lives in the north."
Bottle of Wine: "Simon is the barkeep at the inn. He knows more than anyone in town about exotic beverages."
Strange Coins: "They appear to be coins from another town. Spektor would recognize them, I am certain. He is the town treasurer, and exchanges foreign coins for the good coins of Monitor."
Bloody Hand: "It seems it was lost on the field of battle, so whoever lost it probably did not survive. Yet there are no signs of decay -- a recent injury... Thou mightest ask Renfry if he hath encountered a body with such an injury lately."
Plain Shield: "That shield could belong to anyone in this town. Green and white are the colors of Monitor and its warriors. Thou shouldst inquire if anyone is missing a shield."
Glowing Rock: "This glowing rock must have come from some strange, unnatural place. I have never seen such a rock in any sort of place near here. I sense that it doth have unusual powers... incredible energies... hidden abilities..."
Fish-Net Stockings: "There is a knight in town by the name of Brendann. He hath had more experience in removing these from ladies than I have ever had wearing them, I am afraid."