At this point, It’s about time we head south. I could likely explore more of the eastern gallery but The game’s been somewhat insistent that Castle Avernum is the place to be and it’s about time we stop goofing off and advance the main plot already
Actually, to be honest we don’t really have much of anything right now plot-wise. There’s been a good bit of world building and general information, what with the first expedition and the warring with the nephil and slith. But as far as a main plot is concerned? Not much has happened yet. Since being exiled we’ve mostly been wandering around semi-aimlessly, looking into various leads and performing odd jobs in the name of gold, EXP and the occasional useful piece of equipment. This isn’t a bad thing mind, but a little more direction would be nice. Hopefully reaching Castle Avernum will give us just that.
There’s also the matter of Lagran, that lunatic who tried to kill us at the start of the game, last we heard he went somewhere south, it’s possible we’ll run across him on the way, or at least get some more information on we exactly he is..
Finally, we know the Tower of Magi is on the way to the castle. The game has been hinting that that’s another super important place to get to, plus we might be able to learn to use those pillars I’ve been finding down there. A little fast travel would certainly help in exploring the caves.The text makes it sound like it’s a long, dangerous trip to Mertis, but in truth it’s gate isn’t that far away. For a game with such a large world, Avernum can feel surprisingly small at times.
In fact I get attacked by a few shortly after passing the gate. We should probably look into doing something about this.Mertis is kind of interesting in that it’s not a small, walled in settlement like the previous towns and forts we’ve visited. you can see here how the place just sort of sprawls out to cover a chunk of the overworld. You can enter the town proper in the middle of of that group of buildings.The area of Mertis you can properly explore is essentially a market center, should be a good place to get some shopping done.There’s a silo in town, sadly it’s suffering a bit of a rat problem.
The center of town is full of merchants, however they’re all gearing up to head to other parts of the caves so they don’t have time to trade with us. Nearby is an auction house.Elmer is the glue that holds this place together. He’s the local mayor and while he can’t offer us anything for that group of undead we put down outside, he does have a job for us. He believes the undead are coming from a place called Spiral Pit to the northeast, and wants us to break whatever curse is on that place that’s making all these undead appear. Sounds like a plan!
He also runs the auction house. but it’s mostly for livestock, noting we can make use of.
Finally, it’s worth noting that Mertis does not have a seat on the council, which might explain why Mertis has no job board.Across the streets are the markets proper. There’s a few shops all crowded into one place but I don’t need anything from here right now. all of my money is still being tied up in spell training, and we’re finding enough decent equipment through quest rewards and enemy drops hat I don’t feel a strong need to buy anything right now.Nearby is a temple. The woman inside can’t train us, but she has a need for energetic herbs and will gladly buy them off us if we can find any. Sadly I think I sold mine off in Formello to raise money for training in Ward of Thoughts. If we find more though, we know where to take them.
Finally, there’s an inn The person to talk to is Gypsy here. She’s a traveling musician who’s going to head north to play for Motrax soon. More importantly she mentions another dragon. Athron lives in a maze-like section of caves called the honeycomb. it’s apparently a maze of twisty passages, all alike – yes, the game actually makes a Zork reference here – which few have managed to escape from. Also unlike Motrax, Athron is… not so much on the playing nice with people thing, expect a fight if we ever meet them.With all that out of the way, We should do something about those undead.Compared to everywhere else we’ve been to, the spiral pit is a bit weird. The pit seems to be a single long winding corridor.It leads to this narrow section, where burning fugus blocks our way. They can shoot at us, but aren’t too dangerous and unlike the undead that fill this place, aren’t cold immune.
We pass by some sarcophagi a few can be opened to reveal some items, though it’s mostly useless stuff like bones.The path winds down to this dead end with a single greater shade waiting for us… this can’t be it, right?
Ah! Behold Spiral Pit’s first major gimmick: hidden doors and switches. We’ve encountered some of these before, but usually it was just a secret area containing a few goodies for us. Here? most of the dungeon is hiding behind them.The area we’ve discovered leads to this wheel. turning it seems to open something somewhere else in the Pit.There’s also these magic barriers, There is a mage spell to get rid of them called Dispel barrier, but we don’t have it right now. We’ll have to come back for that chest.I’m not sure what that wheel did if anything, but some backtracking leads to me finding another switch that opens another hidden area.fighting off some undead, we run afoul of the Spiral Pit’s other major gimmick.It’s dark, our surroundings go black as if they’re unexplored and our map is blank. From here on in, we can only see a small area around our party, including on the mini map itself.There’s no way to counter this either. I try using a lantern, nothing of interest happens. We won’t be able to notice enemies until they’re right on top of us. to make matters worse, enemies with ranged attacks can try to hit us from outside our field of our vision. The good news is most enemies only have melee attacks, and they’re not many of them.
The real annoyance is moving around with the mouse is a pain since you can’t really see anywhere to go to. Fortunately, you can use the numpad instead, though it’s still slow going as a fumble around in the dark.I find another wheel. Still no idea what this does.To make things even better. We still need to locate hidden switches to progress. Even better? This area is a maze.and because navigating a maze in the dark isn’t bad enough, there’s undead in here, and the narrow passages make fighting tricky.A hidden area in the maze leads to a dead body, on the body is a crystal that can dispel barriers. Hmm…I get a little lost in the cave and decide to go back and try that first wheel again. I try the crystal while I’m at it and oh hey it works! sadly there’s just a helmet and some coins in there.Another switch in the maze opens this area, leading to a pit we have to carefully move past. and more undead.
The bad news is there’s two ghosts here. They’re hard to hit, have a mass slowing spell, and can charm people. Plus you have undead closing in on both sides while your stuck single file.
The good news is it tuns out I was a bit wrong before: your party members do have some ability to swap places and move past each other. but putting a front line fighter at either end, we manage to survive. The good news is the lights come back on just past that fight. The bad news is the end of the dungeon is blocked by a magic barrier and oh hey! Guess who used up his piercing crystal like an idiot? Good thing I had a back up save!So reloading and doing the dark part of the dungeon again This time without wasting the crystal. I’m met by these guys.This fight took several attempts. There’s a lot of undead. They’re all cold immune so Cordelia can’t use Icy Rain on them. They hit for a good amount of damage and they get to attack twice per turn. Mycroft is too busy healing to bother seeing if Call Storm would work. So area attacks are out of the question and just to make it worse…As you damage the commander, he calls more buddies in. Fortunately, I eventually come up with a plan.I take the fight back to the room’s entrance. It’s difficult. you have to get near to the crowd to start the fight, and depending on how your surrounded, you can only move a short distance away from an adjacent enemy before the game stops you. Still, once I’m in position, the narro passage keeps damage to a minimum and the commanders summoned buddies always appear in side that room, so no worries about them getting behind us.With him dead it’s just a matter of cleaning up.. We didn’t fully break the curse, but it’s good enough for a quest reward I’m sure. Sadly the Spiral pit isn’t done with me, as somehow there’s a crowd of Undead waiting near the entrance. It takes a couple attempted to deal with them, but it’s not as bad as the commander.We go back to Mertis to hand the news in, and surprisingly, that’s it for Mertis. Let’s head to the mage tower! I explore the south a little on the way to the tower, near Mertis is a field of spiritual herbs, and you can even pick a few! Maybe someone has a use for them?Following the road south leads to the tower itself. This is probably a good place to get some training done.
These two near the entrance are willing to sell us stuff. Most of what they have is junk we’d never need, like rolling pins and scales. But there is some usable equipment mixed in, I’m still more focused on spell training though.The books in here teach us some interesting things. The blade might be good for Marion, I’ll keep an eye out.I’m not surprised Hawthorne keeps a tight leash on magic. With all the mages and priests down here though, I have to wonder how well those oaths work.Ambrin here has a job for us. We need to take out some ogres to the north west. He’d go do it herself, but in true wizard fashion he’s too busy doing wizard stuff to deal with it. He also mentions keeping something called the Haakai lord bottled up and……interesting.He’s also a spell trainer. I immediately buy lightening spray. Finally we have an area of effect spell that should work on cold immune enemies. Knowing my luck, we’re probably finished with undead anyway. Still, we’ll likely get some mileage out of it either way.The book next to him doesn’t offer much.There’s a couple magic barriers in the tower. We’ll get to these eventually I hope.Kelner here is one of the more important people to talk to.Well now. Seems that after all that wandering about we’ve stumbled into something big! We’re going to want to find that tunnel, and soon! Linda Here is one part of the Triad; a trio of mages who run the tower. We could ask why they thought summoning a demon would be a good idea, but given Kelner’s paranoia it’s probably best to keep quiet for now. She mentions another triad Member named X, and that the third is missing.The third is likely Solberg who got mentioned earlier. From the look of it he’s not welcome back, assuming he actually left and didn’t “disappear” if you follow me.There’s storerooms here, but nothing much of note inside them. mostly junk we cant use or sell. You can steal in the game. Items that aren’t yours are marked with “Steal” in the inventory screen and you get in trouble if anyone sees you take something that’s not yours. I generally don’t bother with robbery.Reading this gets you attacked by a cave demon. Fortunately he’s alone so it’s a quick fight. Kind of annoying, but you get a magic scroll and a valuable platinum band from him.Apparently this guy was involved in the ritual that summoned the Haakai lord. Despite his claims, I’m pretty sure that no, they can’t control the demon, and we’re probably going to have to fight it eventually.The library isn’t very useful to us on our own, but we were told X is in here.X is working on research. Of interest, if we can tell him about the library at Bargha he’ll let us in on some powerful spells. We’ll keep an eye out. As for what he’s been researching? Of course! The ancient spell of Lun’nee Tuun! More seriously, he mentions the library was made by Erika Redmark but “The less said, the better” as he puts it.Zanthia here will give us potions in exchange for herbs. Though there’s no option to hand over the spiritual herbs I got earlier, maybe someone else needs them?Throndell is the towers priest trainer. More importantly, he knows mass healing and mass curing, which are group healing and condition curing spells, and unshackle mind, which cures mental effects like daze. I’m broke now, but I’ll definitely put a priority on learning those.
He’s also working on a ritual, and will teach us some more powerful spells if we can find him a very large anvil, and there’s likely one far to the north. surprisingly, I either never noticed or forgot, but there’s a large anvil in the forge at Fort Draco. Fortunately, while I might not have noticed, the game did and gives me the option to tell him.Those sound nice, but actually learning them is a ways off yet. I’m assuming we’ll unlock something like this with X when we find that library for him.Finally, let’s go to the portal room. Surprisingly, this is all very simple. There’s no quest, no fighting to deal with. Just talk to Newbry about the portals for a bit……and you get fast travel unlocked. She mentioned the pillars are kept in plain sight but away from the general population. They’re usually put beneath settlements to shield the locals from all the magic being pumped out of them.We’ve reached a good stopping point for now. The tower of Magi has given us a lot of information, including the whereabouts of an important message we need to pick up, and Castle Avernum is closer than ever. The Next update should see us finally reaching it.