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.
The freehold isn’t too far form the water, so I can hop back to Cotra and take my boat up towards it.On 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. My 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.The 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.This part of the caves seems to be where the various “monster” races have set up shop. Namely, there’s a lot of giants here. While you have to fight the shepherd off. I decide to leave the settlement alone for now.There’s also an aranea cave here, like the one that’s near fort Draco.As 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.Even the center of the floor is nothing to worry about. Though it’s holding something interesting..You 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.The second floor is a simple chamber that’s home to an aranea queen.She’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.The 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.A 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.With the queen dead, we get our hands on a very nice shield. With 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.Remember this grumpy customer?Turns out she’s who you sell the fangs to, which nets you a new piece of armor. And 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!I 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.
Getting back to exploring, I find another settlementI also find a place called Lost Bahssikava Interestingly, this is a slith colony, one that doesn’t want us dead.Sss-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.
Sss-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.Sss-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.The settlement winds around to a series of caves, full of hostile lizards and even a drake or two.The second floor is perhaps even worse. On top of lizards, there’s various undead and spiders, including a few aranea for good measure.There’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.The 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.Signs 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.There’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.We find more of those triangles, thought taking summons some slith avatars we need to fight off. Speaking of…This triangles open this gate nearby.This 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.This 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.More 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.The 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.We can also learn what the stone is for.Finally, we had down to the second floor one last time. We 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.With 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.