Part 21: Wow, This Got Shitty Fast
Alright, can't put this off any longer, it's time for Abraxas's tower.
I'm pretty certain those statues are stolen from something, I just don't know what it is.
As we approach, the camera zooms up in a way that's supposed to imply great height, but really only implies copy-pasting to me.
Well... my castle is bigger!
I sure hope we have enough healing and blood potions! This is going to be tough!
When we're in trouble, we can use the refuge spell!
I'm sure that's a well-meant hint, but in my case, there's a bit of an issue with this line of thought that I only find later. So in keeping with the timing of that discovery, I'll only explain it then. For now, time to head into the tower.
Alright, strap in folks, we're in for the long haul here - sixteen floors.
Now, you might have noticed a blue bar at the top of the previous shot, and that's not going to let us through unless we find a way to deactivate it.
Very good! There was a pressure plate here!
And I pretty much instantly step on it by accident. Works for me! Don't wonder how we stepped on something in bat form, just go with it.
The enemies around here are rather rough, and start dropping strong souls as opposed to medium ones, so you know you're really in the endgame now. These "dark lords" are quite beefy, and are capable of causing Bleeding and Confusion. Not fun. We move on and head down the stairs to level zero.
So yeah, technically, we have seventeen floors to go through, not just sixteen. Fun! This floor doesn't have anything interesting. There's a few different ways we can go up - two go back to where we came from, one goes to the area at the top where you have to dodge traps to get to a chest containing two save stones, and one goes to where we need to go to reach the second floor.
We also find the second kind of enemy, "death knights". These guys are also quite beefy, and can cause Bleeding. Lots of Bleeding here, which is fitting, given the way this dungeon works. Everything is designed in such a way to bleed you dry and completely exhaust your resources - which includes save stones - before throwing you a curveball and murdering you.
So we make it out of level zero and get up to level two.
Level two is a teleporter maze. I hate teleporter mazes. Thankfully, as you can tell from the map, there is a secret passage going right past that stupid mess.
Fuck yo maze.
En route to level three, we run into a third enemy type, "shadow mages". These guys can cast a poison attack spell, an instant death chance spell (by default, it apparently has a 50% chance to hit Asgar or Alaine, 40% for Valnar - thankfully, our vampire mantles and magic shields nip that in the bud pretty hard), can raise the enemies' Defense, and have a shadow attack spell that can cause Blind. Not fun.
Level three is just a whole bunch of walking, though there's also a few traps - those pink squares laid out in patterns in the middle of the map and at the top left deal 20 HP damage when we step on it. We come in at the bottom left, and first of all, we need to make our way to the top left to level four.
I have to say, the interior design of this tower is somehow... fascinating!
There's even flowers here...
There's not a lot going on up there, but we need to go here first.
Here, we also run into another new enemy, "flying dragons". Pretty beefy, again, and have a strong ice attack spell. Again, just more attrition.
The reason we're here is because of this pentagram.
Now what's going on?
We should be careful!
Suddenly, the screen flashes green, and then... combat!
A god damn succubus!
What a waste of her beautiful body... now she will bleed!
Surprise! Miniboss! The succubus has 1000 HP, can paralyze the entire party, and has the powerful attack spell that Aysha's third form had. She's also immune to all spells apart from pure poison spells. She's definitely not a pushover. However, with all our good equipment and high level, she doesn't provide too much trouble, and she goes down without too much effort.
That was easier than I expected...
Sounds like something moved...
Indeed, this removes a wall that would otherwise impede our progress on level four - there's a blocking wall in the top right that has now been removed, so we head down to level three again and make our way to other staircases.
First off, we go to the one in the lower right, because we find a book!
Strange... there's a book just lying around here!
Be careful... it might be a trap!
It says: "...and blood rained from the sky as evil awoke. It spread like a plague. But it was worse. Plagues have cures. But the evil that awoke that night was an apocalpyse. One final scourge of humanity! And it created more of its own. Fed by blood, controlled by death, it found its way through all countries and all cities. Unstoppable. Invincible. Born to kill... and the humans called it a vampire!"
Very dramatic writing!
But why is it just laying around here?
Abraxas probably goes up this tower himself regularly...
Hm, the writer of this book is... Vincent Weynard!
Vincent Weynard... a truly great and noble man... for a human. If only he knew...
YOU knew Vincent Weynard?
Yes... he almost saved me many years ago.
Well, as you can tell, he couldn't prevent me becoming a vampire. But honestly, I'm almost... grateful for that now!
I wonder if Abraxas is connected to Vincent somehow?
No idea. I might be able to give you an answer when I finally get to see Abraxas face-to-face. But for now, I can only imagine an utterly disgusting vampire that dared to harm my beautiful Alaine when I think of Abraxas!
We'll just have to beat it out of him... so, let's keep going!
Next, we head to the top right staircase and make our way down to the next pentagram on the bottom left.
And once again...
We can deal with this too!
What a massive thing!
Well, this massive thing is about to get some massive pain!
And now we're fighting a giant bug, which is also a pain. 1300 HP, can cause Poison and Bleeding, and can heal itself, healing both HP and removing status effects. However, since Valnar has the vampire sword and can deal about triple digit damage, and Alaine/Asgar can heal when necessary, we just wail on it until it dies. These minibosses would be a lot more problematic if we were around the regular expected level.
What a disgusting beast!
Well, I'm sure that there's worse out there!
And doing that removes another wall that would have prevented us from going to level five. However, first, we need to find something special. You might have noticed on the level four map that there's a red chest hidden behind a long secret passage. Well, there's something rather important hidden in there - well, relatively important, given that it won't really help us that much, but it's a lot more important than the regular trash items strewn about here:
It's the sacrificial dagger we were supposed to find for the Children of the Apocalypse! Yep, it was hidden in Abraxas's tower behind a long secret passage. And really, the reward isn't worth it, but we'll get there once we return this. For now, level five.
There's a couple traps on this level, but we just avoid them.
First, there's some pressure plates around here that trigger some rocks that roll to crush us, Indiana Jones-style, but since we're in bat form, we just fly over that shit.
And then there's this big maze of traps that teleport you back to the start of it - you can see the right path on the map, it's everything that doesn't have an event on it - but we just avoid that shit with the secret passage. I love these secret passages. Now, on to the next level.
Level six doesn't have a lot of interesting stuff.
The main trap here is that we have rocks rolling back and forth that deal 20 HP per half second that it touches our party. Not too shabby. Now, to really work out this level, we need to look at the next two levels too:
And level eight:
There's a lot of up and down going on between these three levels, and a lot of it is just to get treasure that we don't need. In the end, what we do is go down to the bottom right of level six, past the flame traps and up the stairs. Go up and to the right, up the stairs to level eight, then follow the hallway to the west and north to find the staircase that goes up to level nine. No real traps or anything, largely just getting lost in the maze of stairs going up and down, running into dead ends and all that shit. I'm quite glad I have maps. You know what else I'm glad I have maps for? The next few levels.
Damn, why is it so dark here?
Strange, I can't see that far either!
This darkness is of magical origin! After all, regular darkness is no problem for a vampire!
So yeah, this isn't fun. We can't see shit, and there's nothing we can do about this. This goes on for levels...
There's nothing tough about these levels once you have the maps, albeit getting lost is still an option given that everything looks the fucking same. It's around level twelve that I finally realize the predicament I am in. Remember what I said about Refuge way back at the beginning of the update? Well, remember how Refuge works:
A: Allows you to return to one of four places in the castle and marks the place you teleported away from.
B: Allows you to teleport back to the place you teleported away from earlier.
And, well, right now, I'm in the B state, with the place it brings me back to being the place where I evacuated the pyramid after getting cursed. Or in other words, if I need to use Refuge to restock items or something, the place I exit from will not be stored and instead I will be put back at the pyramid again. Or in other words, if I use Refuge, I need to go through all this shit again. This dungeon has taken me about an hour so far, and I won't even imagine going through it without maps (or having to make my own). There's not a lot of stuff that is easier on a second time around - only the minibosses are already dealt with, and they weren't really a problem.
The real issue really is the bonkers encounter rate. We run into so many god damn fights, and it gets really tedious. I'm in bat form constantly just to try and keep them limited, but even then, there's so many, and they can all be a pain in the ass.
Thankfully, due to being richer than God, we have a great supply of recovery items, so I'm in no risk of having to leave. However, I was honestly fearing that I would end up getting deadlocked fighting Abraxas and having to choose between either grinding in his tower or leaving and fighting somewhere easier. It wouldn't have been an easy choice, let me tell you.
Anyway, we slog our way through these next four levels and make it to level thirteen.
This is a surprisingly simple level. No real traps or gimmicks around here. However, the enemies that we started running into on the darkness levels start becoming more plentiful here, and they really start being a problem.
We have "hell hounds", strong monsters with fire spells, also immune to a lot of spell resistances...
..."dragon zombies", which have a party-attacking spell that can cause Blind, Mute, Confused or Paralyzed...
...and "hell lords", who have strong attacking spells and can inflict Curse. Assholes. We slog our way through this level, getting to the next staircase, and then, we find the most wonderful place...
...level fourteen. The unavoidable teleporter maze. So yeah, as if the previous shit wasn't bad enough, now we have this. Essentially, the way this works is that every time the path splits in two, leading to two events, we have a 50%-50% shot. Either we get teleported to the next split, or we get teleported all the way back to the beginning. And there's nine decisions to be made. And you're going to be going back quite a few times, and will be retreading a lot of ground. And the random encounters will gladly fuck you in the ass while doing so. UGH. Thankfully, there's only one real level left...
...level fifteen. The level that requires you to find several secret passages to advance, and has plenty of them leading off the beaten track just to fuck with you. DOUBLE UGH. Let's just move on.
And finally, we've made it. Level sixteen, Abraxas's lair. And you better be ready, because if you only make a few steps forward, you're instantly launched into the cutscene before the fight.
Well just look who's sitting there!
Now he's going to pay!
THAT is Abraxas!? Oh no...
Ah, you've finally arrived. And it seems like I'm seeing an old friend again...
What's that supposed to mean?
He... it's been so long...
What, Asgar? WHAT'S been so long?
If I may cut in, it's been about 400 years now. Well, your friend, he became a vampire thanks to me.
He's right. I remember... his bite made me a vampire!
How can that be?
Well, actually, I wanted to kill him. But then, a certain Vincent Weynard got involved!
Why did you never tell us this?
What does it matter now. It was quite amusing seeing you fight your way all the way up here. But now your time has come. Oh, by the way, I do have to find some fault with you. You seem to be quite the thieves - just plundering my chests like that. I just can't tolerate that. But I'll just gladly loot your corpses, and then we'll call it even. And your heads will bring me enough money to completely redecorate my tower anyway! Such an incredible interior design costs quite a pretty penny, I'll have you know.
You're wiping out the vampires just so you can redecorate your damn tower?
My motives are none of your business! You're just disgusting scum.
Alright then, let's show him our power.
HARHAR! You don't know a thing! A vampire can't destroy his sire. He can't even attack him!
Surprise! Did you remember that little plotpoint that got dropped, like, once, way back at the beginning of the game? Well, here's where it comes back to bite you in the ass if you forgot about it!
This is the nature of vampires. It has always been that way, and it will always be that way! I've never seen a vampire strong enough to destroy his creator...
Then me and Alaine will just have to cut your head into pieces!
Asgar, will it harm you if we destroy him?
No, not as long as I don't attack him myself...
Then you'll be a blood ghost soon, Abraxas!
Time goes by... blood goes dry... and Abraxas's foes always die!
The original line goes "die Zeit verschwimmt... das Blut gerinnt... und Abraxas gewinnt... immer!", which can be roughly translated as "time blurs... blood clots... and Abraxas wins... always!". I'm kind of surprised I got a rhyming translation together without having to think about it that much.
A stupid saying like that fits perfectly with you, you scum!
Die, you whore!
And the fight is on!
Of course, we need to get through some more pre-fight talking first. It's great how Marlex stuck a good part of this talking into the actual fight so that a summoned monster that you called before the fight wouldn't go away again before the fight even started. As somebody who summoned a skeleton mage and mashed through that first part, I appreciate that.
Now you're going to die!
Like your girlfriend Molana?
You god damn bastard! What did you have to do with her?
HARHAR! She was my plaything! A trap...
YOU turned her into a monster!
What rubbish. Your miserable, failed spell turned her into what you ended up destroying. But she was my slave. Always! Until you killed her.
Wrong! We loved each other for many years!
HARHAR! Yes, in the year in which I assume you met her, she stupidly ran away from me. What a fatal mistake of hers!
Did she never tell you? Molana and I were a couple. For many decades... she was my property. I turned her into a vampire. She was my bride! But it seems that one day, she had enough of me, and she ran away...
That can't be! She would never love you!
Who says that she loved me? She was just my property. My plaything. My object of lust! Created to satiate my desires!
Hm, did I not wonder whether or not vampires had sexual drive in this world at some point? Guess that answers that.
But I treated her well, gave her nice presents. Jewellery, beautiful clothes... but then, one day, she had enough, and fled secretly. And then it seems she landed with you... and then she hid with you. At least until I found her again and gave her the proper punishment for fleeing...
You brutally murdered her!
HARHAR! No, that's what you did. I didn't kill her. Just abused her a bit... HARHAR! That was quite fun!
You disgusting bastard! She was already dead! You're lying!
You know, Valnar is kind of dumb. I know, controversial opinion, but seriously, how in the fuck has he not picked up on Molana being a vampire meaning that Abraxas indeed did not kill her by shoving a sword through her, because that's not how vampires die? This is some basic shit, man!
Wrong. She was alive. She was only paralyzed from the sword stuck in her heart. And your spell failed because of that and turned her insane!
All that's missing is Asgar shouting "TOLD YOU SO, DIPSHIT" from the peanut gallery.
Liar! You had contact with her!
How does that disprove anything he said?
Oh yes, I did! After she ran away from you, she came back to me. She came crawling back to me! And the way she begged me! Oh, how she begged me! Begged me for mercy! She wanted to come back to me! She came crawling on her hands and knees, crying like a mutt... but in my infinite benevolence, I took her in again. And told her to lead you into a trap. I showed her that crystal cave. She destroyed Tradan and prepared everything for you. And of course, you fell for it. It's just too bad that that little whore didn't have the power to take you out. Because that was what she would have had to do to stay with me. But she failed. Sadly, you also managed to get the code for my cave. But when Molana didn't answer, I already worked out what happened, and I retreated to my tower and waited for you.
You know, I'm not entirely sure I buy this version of the events, but I'm also not buying that Marlex actually wrote something next-level like the villain embellishing his version of the events in order to sow seeds of doubt. Not to mention, this is going to be a fight to the death, so I guess there's no real reason to lie.
You really are the most disgusting, revolting scum I've ever met!
Oh, you flatter me. Nobody can say these things as well as you, little whore.
And why did you retreat to your tower and didn't wait for us in the cave?
Good question... I would say that's because this tower is enchanted, and I feel more at home here. It's just the right place to take care of you. Not to mention that the magic of this tower makes me stronger... just by the way!
Now, you will die... for what you've done to Aysha.
Aysha... sounds... cute. A nice name that she gave herself.
Enough talk, your time is up! DIE!
DIE? HARHAR! I should have killed you back then, and your corpse would have rotted in that cave!
Why do you think your're still alive? Because I was so merciful!
Mercy, my ass! There's more behind this!
HARHAR. You're not completely braindead after all.
I beg to differ.
Well, you're still alive because I figured that in your shocked state, you'd spread the story of what you've seen all over the place. And with that, you'd instantly become a massive threat for all vampires, because you'd bring about a new crusade against them. And that means that you'd become the #1 target for all vampires. And while they're chasing you down, I would have simply picked them off one by one.
You rotten bastard! Your disgusting games are at their end!
And FINALLY, we're in the actual fight. So, we've got a bit of a problem, that being we're one man short. That's always a problem. We did get a skeleton mage, but how much does it tip the scales? Well, let's look at Abraxas's stats:
Attacks: Normal attack (3/7 chance), spell that can cause Confusion on one party member (1/7 chance), attack spell that can cause Blind, Mute, Confusion and Paralyzed on the entire party (1/7 chance), attack spell that can cause Bleeding (1/7 chance), attack spell that deals a flat 150 HP damage to every party member (which is a lot by the way) (1/7 chance).
Elemental resistances: Takes normal damage from regular attacks, takes reduced damage from fire and light spells, takes no damage from any other spells.
Status effect resistances: All of them. ALL OF THEM. You are not hitting this fucker with status effects.
So, what does that mean? Well, the skeleton mage is a questionable help, given that he's got about a 1/3 chance to deal any actual damage. However, Asgar would have been even less help, because all his spells are useless and his sabre would deal reduced damage because it deals light element damage. The real scenario where you're fucked is where Asgar is your dedicated healer, but thankfully, that's not a problem for us.
To start things off, Valnar spams White Power to beef up our spell defense and agility. Alaine's attack spells aren't that great here - she's really striking out over these encounters, I haven't found one place yet where I'm really saying "thank God for those fire spells".
Once again, Valnar's vampire sword helps massively - when regular weapons are the only thing that the enemies don't have resistances to, then these supreme weapons really help. Critical hit for 300 damage? Yes please! At this point, the fight devolves into a simple punch-up - Valnar attacks, Alaine heals, the skeleton sometimes helps but usually doesn't. Thankfully, since Abraxas is just one enemy, even his powerful 150 HP attack spell can't cause any real trouble, since Alaine can just top everybody off next round.
And eventually, Abraxas goes down.
Burn in hell!
Oh, by the way, the skull effect was our summon running out.
Enough, you two! He's dead... if you can call it that!
...I just can't believe it... Aysha and Abraxas a couple? It's just so terrible...
I'm so sorry for you...
There will be time for grieving later. Let's take a look around here instead. He's definitely got some chests filled with treasures somewhere.
Maybe we'll also find a clue towards his financier.
Now, there's a few areas up here on the sixteenth floor that are of interest.
First, we have Abraxas's private torture chamber or something like that. Only one interesting bit here.
He doesn't even shy away from the faithful...
Why would he, really?
Hm, she seems to be holding a quite ornate cross.
Take it, I'm sure it's worth quite a bit...
You don't really want to steal from the church, do you?
Why not? They're just humans...
Hm, I guess you're right...
I'd say... 1) ...we take it! 2) ...we'll leave it there.
There's a bit of a missed opportunity here - we're on a quest to find an ornate cross that was last in the possession of a nun from Asdion. That definitely should have been brought up here. So now, when we take it, we take a -3 hit to Humanity. However, we do get a +3 when we give it back, so I guess that's alright.
"Obtained 1 Cross!"
Next stop is this treasure room. The pentagram thing is a teleporter to the outside, but before that, we have some chests to plunder. One has a blood elixir, one has a healing elixir, one has four save stones, and one...
There's a strange emblem in this chest. And a... er... something!
That emblem looks familiar somehow... damn, I can't remember.
That other thing could be a strange sort of key. But I've never seen a key like that before. A strange pyramid-like form...
"Obtained 1 Emblem and 1 Key!"
Alright, so now we've got a key and an emblem... that's not exactly something that helps us right now... and how are we going to get out of here?
The pentagrams in the middle of this room could be a teleporter. After all, Abraxas had to get out of here somehow.
But before we leave, we head through a secret passage to the west and make it to this secret room! There's some money, which is useless, there's some equipment, which is useless because it's not the vampire mantle, and finally, there's...
This is probably Abraxas's coffin... I'll open it...
Well, what did you expect?
We then take the teleporter and make it outside. Fade to black.
And so now Abraxas is dead too... I have to say, your story is quite brutal...
It's life that's brutal... not my story...
God DAMN. I don't know why, but that line hit me like a brick. That could have come straight from some 13-year-old emo's Livejournal.
Oh, grandpa, was your life that hard?
Well, I have at least experienced a LOT. Good and bad things. But that's not important right now.
Did the girls always run away from you?
Sadly... hang on, that's none of your business, you cheeky little brat!
Now, you probably want to know how the story continues, right?
Of course, grandpa! So the three are now looking for a castle.
Exactly. The key they found is a crucial piece in finding Abraxas's financier.
Oh, by the way, I wanted to mention something else... I have to say that Aysha and Abraxas being an item was quite a surprise. But somehow, it does make sense, even though it is quite the coincidence that Aysha got together with Valnar.
Why coincidence? After Aysha, AKA Molana, ran away from Abraxas, she had to hide somewhere. And she thought that it would make for a good disguise to act like a normal human, change her name and take a human as a partner. What kind of vampire would expect a vampire to live with a human? Vampires only see humans as food - they're a step below on the evolutionary scale.
You've got a point... now all we need to find out is who Abraxas's financier is. I'm quite excited for that!
Don't worry, we'll find that out quite soon...
I wonder what will happen when they find him? They'll probably kill him... but what then? Will they retreat again? Or let the "race" of vampires live again?
You'll learn all of that quite soon, because our story is nearing its end.
Alright then, grandpa! Keep telling the story!
Don't get cheeky... I'm getting to that! Anyway, the three took a break for one day to think about everything, and are now ready to finally reveal the secret...
And there we go! Abraxas is dead, we've found some crucial bits and pieces, got a lot of story dumped on us, and are now pretty much ready to find the last few puzzle pieces! Also, there's the paintings we had made in Shannar!
Next time, we'll tie up the final odds and ends, get some more information on Mr. X, and make our way through the old pyramid in the desert! And then, the time after that, it'll be the last dungeon and final boss! We really are racing towards the endgame!