About Time I Finished This: The Answering Stone (Avernum: Escape From the Pit pt 17)

20161024113545_1So, last time we fought our way to a dragon, said hi, then ran before anything terrible could happen.

We’ve done more or less everything we can in the eastern half of Avernum for the moment, it’s time to start pushing west again. Namely we want to start pushing north west towards the freehold of Kyass to see what they want.

20161031094920_1The freehold isn’t too far form the water, so I can hop back to Cotra and take my boat up towards it.20161031095019_120161031095029_120161031095032_120161031095419_1On the way north, I remember there’s a fight I couldn’t handle earlier and stop by to deal with it. There’s a couple close calls with me almost losing a party member, but I manage to pull through. 20161031095538_1My reward is a cap that would be a bit more useful if I had a dedicated archer. That said Mycroft is running out of magic skills to sink points into so He’ll likely be starting on archery soon.20161031095635_1The freehold is Noth and west. however, there’s a chunk of unexplored land just east of the Freehold. It’s wedged between the Westen rver thatl eads up ot the Freehold, and the eastern river that sections off the eastern Gallery and north eastern Avernum from the rest of the Avernum proper. I decide to explore it before hitting up the Freehold.20161031095640_1This part of the caves seems to be where the various “monster” races have set up shop. 20161031095658_120161031095835_120161031095847_1Namely, there’s a lot of giants here. While you have to fight the shepherd off. I decide to leave the settlement alone for now.20161031101214_120161031101202_120161031101220_120161031101224_1There’s also an aranea cave here, like the one that’s near fort Draco.20161031101305_120161031101347_1As it stands the bottom floor of this cave is pretty easy. We’ve fought aranea much earlier in the game and at this point we’re more than well enough equipped to handle them.20161031101456_120161031102150_1Even the center of the floor is nothing to worry about. Though it’s holding something interesting..20161031102327_120161031102349_1You can gain 1000 coins, as well as several battle, purging, and wisdom crystals this way, but you get hit with what’s called a dread curse. We’ll get to that later. For now I reload and decide not to take the crystals until I’m on my way out of here.20161031102428_1The second floor is a simple chamber that’s home to an aranea queen.20161031102434_120161031102504_120161031102514_120161031102520_1She’s also not much of a talker. The queen is a fairly tough opponent. Not only is she good at hitting the party with terror spells but she has an annoying gimmick.20161031102530_120161031102548_1The queen can teleport random party members over to one of the alcoves in the room, which also spawns 3 spider hatchlings in front of them. The hatchlings are fairly weak but it still takes a couple of turns to get rid of them, to say nothing of running all the way aback across the room to the main fight.20161031104942_1A good strategy I found for this fight was to have the spellcasters call in some summons. They can’t do much against the queen herself, but they can keep her distracted and more importantly, can end up teleported over to the hatchlings rather than one of your party members.

It’s also good to keep buffs active. Namely, keeping hast up is very useful The spell lets you occasionally take two actions instead of one, and with the queen both capable of throwing out some decent damage and terrorizing my front lines. Having Mycroft able to cast curing or unshackle mind and healing spells on the same turn goes a long way to keeping things under control.20161031105115_120161031105346_1With the queen dead, we get our hands on a very nice shield. 20161031110034_1With the dungeon cleared out I take those gems from earlier, getting cursed in the process, and run back to fort Draco to sell off all the fangs I’ve found. It turns out she doesn’t want the giant fangs, but she knows someone who might be interested.20161031110130_1Remember this grumpy customer?20161031110143_120161031110146_1Turns out she’s who you sell the fangs to, which nets you a new piece of armor. 20161031110202_1And what armor! While the magic damage bonus isn’t the best thing for heavy armor, it’s got a better armor rating than anything I’ve encountered so far, has mental effects resistance, and a dodge chance in place of the usual to-hit penalty. Nice!20161031110448_1I also stop by the tower of mages to get the curse dealt with. From what I can tell, the curse acts’ as a penalty to everything, and paying the priest here 500 coins is the only way to get rid of it. fortunaty that altar we defiled netted us 1000 coins and some useful crystals, including two wisdom crystals that can give a party member free xp. so for that instance at least? It’s worth dealing with the curse.

20161031110926_120161031110940_1Getting back to exploring, I find another settlement20161031111004_120161031111006_120161031111027_120161031111041_1I also find a place called Lost Bahssikava20161031124842_120161031124901_1 Interestingly, this is a slith colony, one that doesn’t want us dead.20161031124903_1Sss-Voss is the leader of this group. She’s hopeful that our arrival means that their sacred stone is going to be recovered. It’s somewhere in the caves directly below them. Apparently they previously had a vision saying it was time to get the stone, and sent an expedition down to go get it, but it didn’t end well. All but one, a warrior named Legare, were slain, with Legare himself likely stuck somewhere down there.

20161031125005_120161031125007_1Sss-Bahss runs a nearby temple, he’s not a trainer but he does have some information for us. It turns out the ruins of Bahssikava are where the slith entered Avernum from. It turns out the slith are also exiles, though not from the empire. The slith it appears, are a peaceful race, That is except for a corrupt group founded by Sss-Thsss. Remember him? He’s that leader we killed a few updates back..

We don’t get the details on what happened exactly, but we’re told  that for his barbaric ways, Sss-Thss and his kind were exiled to Avernum. While Sss-Thiss and many of his followers went on to rampage trough the caves and start a war with the Avernites, this group stayed behind to atone, trying to reclaim their peaceful ways.20161031125203_1Sss-Tass nearby fills in a few more details They’ve been here for about 200 years, trying to redeem themselves. Sadly, their population is small and must remain in hiding. They’re afraid of the humans nearby and understandably so, as Sss-Thss’ warmongering has likely ruined any chance for diplomacy.20161031125602_120161031125656_120161031125832_120161031130840_1The settlement winds around to a series of caves, full of hostile lizards and even a drake or two.20161031131711_120161031133037_120161031133218_1The second floor is perhaps even worse. On top of lizards, there’s various undead and spiders, including a few aranea for good measure.20161031134650_120161031135016_1There’s also these odd triangles throughout the cave. We even found one hiding in a refuse pile in the settlement proper. We’ll get to what their for later.20161031135539_120161031135627_120161031141016_1The third floor throws more fighting at us, including some rats. It’s actually kind of interesting just how many different enemies are down here. Eventually however, we stumble across something interesting.20161031141337_120161031141356_1Signs of actual civilization, and slith made as well! Until now, all of our slith encounters have had them playing the “primitive barbarians” trope to the hilt.20161031141811_120161031141817_1There’s even a book for a spell I haven’t found the trainer for down here. It’s enough to make one wonder just how far removed Sss-Thss and his followers are form typical slith society.20161031141844_120161031141936_1We find more of those triangles, thought taking summons some slith avatars we need to fight off. Speaking of…20161031142138_120161031142140_1This triangles open this gate nearby.20161031142157_120161031142158_120161031142417_1This fight is difficult. The avatars can take a beating and readily disk one out, and as soon as the fight starts, a haakai pops up behind the party to get at the back line. with some luck. I manage to get Aldous between the avatars and the rest of the party, and Cordelia takes down the haakai before he can cause too much trouble.

With the fight over, we can approach the other gate.20161031143103_1This is where the slith came from We don’t really know anything about the slith homeland, though the Slith we’ve talked to claim it’s better than here. Fleeing to there would get us out of Avernum, which is one of our long term goals, but the gate is closed to us and not likely to open anytime soon. Besides, the slith home is more caves. We want to reach the surface.20161031143504_120161031143516_1More importantly, we need to find that answering stone. but how? It looks like a normal rock and we’re in a cave. Fortunately, a hidden doorway leads up to an alcove on the second floor, where we find Legare. Apparently he’s the one who had the dream that led to the expedition down here. He also teaches us a chant that activates it. Which should make finding it a lot easier.20161031143720_1The stone is in a pile of refuse in a small area branching off from the room where the gate was. With the chant, we can actually find the stone here now.20161031143937_1We can also learn what the stone is for.20161031144041_1Finally, we had down to the second floor one last time.20161031144332_120161031144340_1 20161031144403_1We can now access a chest we couldn’t open before. inside is a bow with a bonus to healing. Perfect for a cleric that’s starting to take archery skills.20161031144604_1With that done. I decide to stop things here for now. This section of the caves is almost fully explored, and the Freehold is nearby. We should be going there soon.

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