Part 5: Have you seen my cat?Last time, I explored absolutely everything I could explore before advancing the plot even a single step. We're almost out of optional dungeons! But the fun can't last forever, and eventually we have to go back and face the music.
Speaking of which...
These are the tracks that play around the beastmen's caves, which we avoided last time. They're pretty good.
Decked out in magic armour and having killed dragons somewhere in the double digits, our party still can't get over their irrational fear of this bridge.
Seriously, I don't get it. We're level six. Nothing on this side is remotely threatening any more.
These are new, and utter pushovers; HP in the single digits.
So let's head into those caves we found.
As you can probably imagine, this is a short fight.
This is what we're here for. Actually, there are several artefacts that can be found in the caves, but it appears you can only obtain one of them.
This cave is pretty small, but there are several of them, and we're going to explore them all.
"More in the next room" are swiftly taken care of and Merlin picks up a scroll he doesn't really care for, but it's at least better than nothing and he sure as hell isn't going to let Questor have it.
Light and Darkness do the same thing as the priest spells, but arcane casters have better things to do with first-level slots (read: Magic Missile) so I'll never use them. Same goes for Shield, which is shit. (If you must know, it's a temporary AC bonus for the caster, but your casters shouldn't be in a position where they get hit anyway so if you find yourself needing this spell you are pretty much doing it wrong.)
There are three levels to the beastman caves, ground and two floors above it. The second cave on the ground level is a passage that leads up to the first floor, but it's pretty useless since there is a ladder just a screen or so away.
This dagger appears to respawn every time you enter the cave, but it's only a regular knife and nowhere near worth the effort. That 1 HP everybody is missing is from the pit with sharp rocks. Probably the worst trap ever, but at least it did some damage, unlike the beastmen we've encountered...
Here's something new!
She looks awfully blonde for an Aztec warrior. Still, it doesn't matter much since she dies like all the rest.
On second thought, maybe we should have captured and interrogated her... oh well, too late for that now.
That's a paltry reward, but better than nothing I guess.
This cave's pretty small, too.
(Also pictured: evidence that we fell in the pit... again.)
Here's another one. Those 1HP hits might be annoying for a lower-level party, but a lower-level party has no business being here. Let the adults handle this.
This must be the tribe's shaman, and he's a pushover.
I'm not sure if this can be moved with a sufficiently high natural strength, but...
...since we have no one with STR 18 in the party, we have to use the Gauntlets of Ogre Power. Which are awesome, by the way.
There's some loot behind the rocks and I let Questor keep that; it's a first level spell that isn't Magic Missile, and therefore, it is useless.
There's another room in here that holds very little of interest...
...and that's the entire cave.
On to the next, the last one.
These would probably be tougher than the others, but... you know, we're awesome.
This is important.
This, not so much. Uklangor manages to hit Thor for 1 damage before he goes down, and then we take his stuff. He doesn't even get a unique sprite - he looks just like any other beastman.
There's a +1 spear and a couple of shitty scrolls in the pile but here's the important part.
Fucking finally we have a second-level spell for Merlin! And it's really good.
I'll get into just how good it is another time, but for now, let's take those charts back to Marmaduke in town.
The guards have new lines! That's probably a good sign, but we still can't get to that passage. I'm not sure what would happen if we could, either. One day, I may even find out.
We've been there. We will return there. Not today, though.
In their base. Killing their dudes. Relax, you seem to have come out of it just fine.
Been there, too.
I'm sorry I can't just magic all your troubles away but no one has dropped the scroll for that yet.
I killed a red dragon without taking damage. At level 5. So yeah.
Well I don't like to brag but CHECK OUT THIS FUCKING SWORD IT IS ALL GREEN AND SHIT AND MY BACKPACK IS FULL OF DIAMONDS and if the IRS asks you didn't hear me say any of this do you comprehend?
That's okay, I don't think anyone likes them either.
Uh... I haven't found any allies, but we have a whole lot fewer enemies, so that's almost the same thing?
...can't say that I have.
Perhaps it is this infernal sun or the feeling of imprisonment in this strange valley. I do hope you will find some allies soon. It may be just what the people need to lift their spirits.
The artifacts from the beastmen are patterned from items made by an ancient race known as the azcans. It's amazing that art lost for centuries has remained unchanged in the beastmen culture.
The creatures you describe are long extinct outside this valley. I feel like we're in a giant museum. I have an item that may help you pass the tangled vines you found in the beastman caves.
It is a withered vine that repels normal vines. I only have one, so guard it well.
Please hurry. I fear we haven't much time.
Marmoset is kind of gloomy but at least he's helpful; the withered vine will indeed allow us to pass the vines in the caves, although I wonder why we couldn't just cut them down.
I am afraid the people plan to revolt. Beware of that scheming Marmillian. I do not trust anyone anymore.
The stress is finally getting to the poor duke; honestly, it's a wonder he hasn't cracked sooner.
He's not the only one, either. The storekeepers are touchy and I'm pretty sure he would have offered me more for that +1 chain a few days ago.
Nevertheless, we have mad cash and the stores are offering some really awesome gear, and that's a great combination. I buy +1 gear for Thyra and Merlin, as well as a +1 bow and +2 sword for Questor.
The armoury has new stuff as well, and holy shit expensive! Still, I get a +1 plate for Thyra, who only had +1 chain before, as well as a +1 shield for her and Thor. Questor sticks with his +2 chainmail for now; it's still pretty good.
Finally, the scroll shop has obtained some more stuff and I get Questor Entangle, and Merlin Web although he probably won't use it much.
All in all Thor hasn't really benefited from this trip at all. All his loot is better or equal to the stuff in town, he doesn't need any spells, and he didn't gain a level.
Questor on the other hand, did benefit quite a lot. His lesser DEX means his AC isn't as good as Thor's, even if I got him a +1 plate armour, but Thor is going to soak up most of the hits anyway, so it's all good.
A combination of DEX and better armour makes Thyra even tankier than Questor and she's pretty happy about that, I imagine. Also, shiny new blue weapons.
Merlin is never going to be good at fighting, but every plus to his equipment helps. Still, the important part is that he can finally entangle bitches, which is awesome. (I hope the next scroll is a Fireball or something flashy though.)