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11 December 2015 @ 08:17 pm
Dorchadas Plays Baldur's Gate II, Part XII: This Mae'Be a Bad Idea  
After a hiatus, I'm back! And thanks to my extensive record-keeping, I can pick up right where I left off.

I know I've been trying to get to Mae'Var to see how terrible the Shadow Thieves are, but I have a couple loose ends to tie up first, so I head back to the Copper Coronet and walk into the back rooms. Upstairs, I find a dwarf named Llynis, who starts when I enter the room with a mutter that he thought I was that damn ghost again:
Llynis: "Aaah! Oh...me pardons...I thought ye were that bloody ghost again...!"
Chiyo: "Again? You have been visited by a ghost before?"
LLynis: "Oh, aye...unfortunately. A, uh...ghost is sometimes hauntin' me. Terrible, frightenin' thing, that is."
Chiyo: "Your name wouldn't be Llynis, would it?"
LLynis: "Well...yes it is. How did you know that?"
Chiyo: "This ghost you mentioned...it wouldn't be a little halfling boy by the name of Wellyn, would it?"
LLynis: "What?! How...how did you know about that?! Well...you'll not take ME alive!!"
Six against one, and I take the teddy bear off his corpse and leave his room.

On the way out I stop to chat with a man named Yarin, who tells me that he used to be a great thief in his day and that "the Way" treated him well, but that his thieving days are behind him, and Rumar, the man who Tiana is looking for. He's with a companion, and he asks that I not tell his wife where he is. Chiyo has better things to do than getting involved in domestic disputes that don't even give me XP, so I take his advice, leave the inn, and head to the graveyard. When I find Wellyn, I give him the teddy bear and he vanishes in a swirl of light:
Wellyn: Sobs. "Mama? Is that you?" Sobs. "You're not my mama! But...but you have my bear! You have my Littleman!! Oh, please...I cannot sleep without my Littleman! Can I have him...can I have him, please?"
Chiyo: "This stuffed bear? Er, certainly...here you go..."
Wellyn: "You have him! You have him! Oh, thank you, ma'am, thank you! I can go to sleep, now! Thank you!!"
One more graveyard-based loose end.

In Over His Head
I still have the bit of red cloth given to me by the man I found buried alive in the graveyard, so I head to the Bridge District where I was told that the kidnappers have their base to look for a man in red. As soon as I walk in, a man named Wilbur runs up to me, tells me that his father is dying and he needs money to pay for a cure, and would I like to buy a scimitar:
Wilbur: "State 0: Travellers, adventurers, mercenaries--whatever you be--stop a moment, for I would have a word with y..."
Chiyo: "You look out of breath. What have you been doing?"
Wilbur: "I have not the time for questions. I will pitch my offer, and you must take it or leave it. Even as we speak, my father lies on his deathbead. One of the cowls is able to cure him, but only for a price that I can scarcely afford. I have but one item which might raise such a sum quickly. Please, look, and see if it interests you."

Reduces THAC0 by 1 per consecutive hit, too. It's pretty great.

I have plenty of money so I do, and as soon as I do he thanks me and runs off in a manner that's not at all suspicious. I'm sure that this act of charity won't prove to be a terrible idea.

I wander around the docks looking for a man in red. There's not much at the northern end other than Rose Bouquet, who I had to interrogate for the bridge murders investigation and who is wearing a red skirt, but I doubt that she's secretly running a kidnapping and murder ring. When I reach the southern end of the Bridge District, a girl dressed in blue runs up to me and says:
Girl: "Transcendent misdoing compells vexatious travel. You play a dangerous game, prime."
Chiyo: "What in the--"
I've played Planescape: Torment. I know who talks like that, so I'm not surprised when she immediately transforms into a marilith and demands that I give the sword back:
Demon: "You taint my blade with your touch, filthy mortal. I sense you are not the thief, so I shall spare your life this day, but you will return what is mine."
Chiyo: "Hold, demon. At the very least, tell me of what has transpired here before you cut me down."
Demon: "Yes. Beg, as is your place, and perhaps in return I will feed you a morsel. Or perhaps not, for my patience grows thin. Hand over the weapon at once."
Chiyo: "This strange red scimitar? Certainly, here you go."
Demon: "Wise, prime. Your life is spared, and I depart to seek bloody vengeance."
And it vanishes. I don't get any XP, but at least I didn't have to fight a demon in the middle of the Bridge District. There's enough that's happened here already.

Coming around the building where the demon found me, I see a man named Am-si dressed in red from head to toe.

Chiyo approaches him and compliments him on his choice of clothing, and when he asks what I want, I ask if he's been in the graveyard recently. He realizes the jig is up and asks what I want, and I demand that he give up his kidnapping spree. The man gibbers that he can't because his companions will kill him, and then flees into the house. I enter to find Am-si's companions berating him for leaving the victims alive, because apparently he was supposed to just kill them. He begs forgiveness because he can't stand blood, and then everyone notices me and in a moment of cutscene stupidity, the companions kill Am-si and stroll right past the party and out of the house.

Well, I can't let that stand. I leave the house, kill both of them and loot the corpses (and the boots of avoidance that one of them is carrying), then go back into the house and look around. Upstairs is a woman named Lady Elgea who demands that I free her:
Lady Elgea: "Who's there? What do you vermin wish now? The guard will hear of this outrage! Who...You are not my captors. Who are you? I demand to be freed!"
Now here's where I do a bit of metagaming because there's an item I want--the silver pantaloons, and releasing her now won't get them for me, but paying the ransom reduces my sterling reputation. So I say that I haven't decided yet:
Chiyo: "You demand? You do not seem to be in a position to demand anything."
Lady Elgea: "I am a prisoner, not a victim! Answer me! Are you to rescue me or are you to ransom me?!"
Chiyo: "I have not decided as yet."
Lady Elgea: "No answer is also an answer. You are a villain that profiteers off of the pain of others. Get out of my sight, I will not look upon my captors!"
And then I search the room. In the cupboard is a ransom note that says to meet in front of the Copper Coronet after midnight, so I head to the slums and wait.

As the party is waiting, Xan approaches Chiyo and asks her why she's spending so much time in Athkatla instead of going after Irenicus:
Xan: "Chiyo, what will lingering in Athkatla give you, except for more enemies? Imoen is long dead, but Irenicus lives. Until you face him, you will never feel safe. If you stay, he will face you on his terms, and, believe me, you will not like it. Think on it... please. I, on my side, will try not to overwhelm you with my... attentions...in the future. You have enough on your mind as it is."
In response, Chiyo reaches out for his hand, only to find it slick and clammy, and she instinctively yanks her hand away. When she looks at Xan, he sighs and says:
Xan: Sighs. "Such is life. Some of my spell components are not nice at all."
As night falls, Lilarcor asks Minsc to ask Jaheira to show him her "weapon," leading to an uncomfortable conversation:
Minsc: "Minsc and Boo and Larry have a favor to ask you."
Lilarcor: "Shhh, quiet, you blockhead! Don't give it away!"
Jaheira: "Minsc, I will not speak with hamsters or weaponry. If you wish to speak, speak."
Minsc: "Well, then I am asking a favor for a friend you may know. This friend wants to meet other friends of Minsc's friends."
Lilarcor: "Ohboyohboyohboyohboy I can't wait!"
Jaheira: "Yes, Minsc? What does your friend want?"
Lilarcor: "Comeoncomeoncomeoncomeon let's see her!"
Minsc: "Well, this friend tells Minsc and Boo that he has been watching you when we fight, and he wants to meet--"
Lilarcor: "Showmeshowmeshowmeshowme! I am SO ready!"
Minsc: "Larry would like to see your weapon. Can you hold it out for Larry so he may say hello?"
Jaheira: "This is a ludicrous waste of my time."
Lilarcor: "Stop flappin' that lip, lady! Just point her out to me!"
Jaheira: "Minsc, I--"
Minsc: "Please, Jaheira? Larry has very few friends."
Jaheira: "Here you are, you metal reprobate. Now I suggest you hold your... tongue, before you find yourself in the bottom of some older, danker sewer."

Minsc: "Be polite, Larry. Introduce yourself like a gentleman."
Lilarcor: "Be polite, Larry. Introduce yourself like a gentleman."
Jaheira: "I am leaving now. If that thing ever speaks to me again, Minsc, I swear I will find a suitable gag."
Lilarcor: "Minsc, buddy ol' pal of mine, I saw EVERYTHING! It was so totally worth it!"
I'm kind of tempted to follow Jaheira's advice and drop Lilarcor in the sewer now. I can see why it was down there originally.

I send Yoshimo over to the Copper Coronet, where a man named Welther dressed in noble's clothing is waiting, and here's where the metagaming starts. I don't talk to him at all, I just have Yoshimo stroll by him and ruffle through his belongings, stealing the silver pantaloons, then I head off back to the Bridge District with no one the wiser. Lady Elgea is not very happy when I come back and tell her I've decided to release her:
Lady Elgea: "You return! Have you come to your senses or do you still intend to hold me here?"
Chiyo: "You are free and I beg your forgiveness. A madness overtook me."
Lady Elgea: "It has come too late for me to respect you, but I thank you nonetheless. I was to suffer a much grimmer fate in the hands of those others, despite your selfish games. I have nothing to offer you, nor do I think you truly deserve it for your games. But at least I am free, now, and this horrid ordeal is finally over. I thank you. I will find my own way out."
I don't blame her, but I've accomplished all my objectives and justice is done.

Now, to the docks to see this Mae'Var character.

Mae'King a Good Impression
When I get to the docks I enter his perfectly legitimate business establishment and talk to the shopkeeper there. When I tell him I'm there to see Mae'Var, he says of course, and I must have some kind of proof of my legitimacy, so Chiyo hands over the note she got from the Shadow Thieves and is shown to the back. Near the stairs, I talk to a thief named Gorvin:
Gorvin: "Ach, what is it? Is there a fire? What's the trouble?"
Chiyo: "I'm looking for Mae'Var."
Gorvin: "Well, he's gone down to the cellar, he has. Workin' on poor old Lin, he is. Mighty shame, that. Hmm. Gotta be a bottle 'round here somewheres."
Chiyo: "Might I ask who you are?"
Gorvin: "Me? Name's Gorvin. I don't suppose you have a bottle o' rotgut stored away in there, somewhere, do you? Ahhh, I suppose not. Who are you, anyway?"
Chiyo: "I'm Chiyo. I was transferred here."
Gorvin: "Transferred, eh? Well, that was bloody quick, Lin not even bein' cold or nothin'. Ah, well, good t' meet ya, Chiyo."
Chiyo: "Yes, well, I'll be on my way."
Gorvin: "Well, I didn't miss ya before you talked to me, did I? Or did I? Terrible thing, losin' your memory. My medicine's gotta be here...I just had it, I'm sure..."
I see I'm working for an upstanding organization here.

Downstairs, past cages with prisoners, is a torture room with a couple guards, a man on the rack, and Mae'Var. Chiyo introduces herself and says she was sent to work for him:
Mae'Var: "Hello then, I certainly hope you've got a reason to be bothering me, because I'm quite busy, as you can see. Ah, poor Lin passed out. I've a few minutes to spare then. Who are you and why shouldn't I kill you?"
Chiyo: "No need for that; I'm here as reinforcement. Renal Bloodscalp sent me."
Mae'Var: "And I am sure you have letters of authorization or that sort of thing. Irrelevant. How about we throw you on the rack and make sure you are who you say you are?"
This prompts an outburst from Xan:

Especially don't meddle in the affairs of wizards who can cast domination.

Mae'Var: "Ah, perhaps you wish to writhe under red-hot pincers next to her? Or perhaps not. Scared you did I? Fear will keep you honest. You don't want to end up like Lin here, with me having to test your honesty. Difficult to do with certainty."
Chiyo: "I assure you, I am here as a member of the Shadow Thieves in good standing."
Mae'Var: "Hmm. We shall see. For now, I will dispense some pissant task to keep you out of my hair. I shall test your worth with a good old-fashioned self-serving errand. I suppose I should make the task something you wouldn't balk at completely. How about a little petty larceny amidst the stuffed robes over at the Talos temple? I require...the amulet worn by the Weathermistress. Yes, it looked lovely on her, and I've a beautiful sheltie-spaniel cross that it will adorn just as well. You need not kill her to get it. She likely removes it in the night. As pleasing as it is, it would leave a welt the size of a melon if slept upon. Now get moving! I've told you the mark, you do the rest. Pick it from her in her sleep if you must, but do not bother me again without the goods!"
Yoshimo: "Stealing into the temple of the Storm God is unlikely to earn you the gratitude of the Talassan priesthood, Chiyo. Best we proceed carefully with this endeavour."
This reminds me of something that I hope happens, but it's not entirely relevant so I'll stick it under a spoiler tag. Also, it has spoilers: <[Plot spoilers for Vampire: the Masquerade: Bloodlines]In Bloodlines, you play a fledgeling vampire who was Embraced without permission from the Prince, which is an offense worthy of Final Death. And in the opening cutscene, Prince LaCroix has your sire killed but spares you after an outburst from the Anarch Nines Rodriguez, because his grip on power is tenuous and he wants to appear magnanimous. But he doesn't actually want you to live, and so he summons you and gives you a task. There's a warehouse in Los Angeles that a Sabbat pack is using for its lair, and it's your job to take it out. Clearly a suicide mission.

But the Sabbat aren't there at the time. It's just a few gang members with shotguns, and even a fledgeling vampire can deal with those, so you plant explosives, blow up the warehouse, and return to the Prince in triumph. Most of the rest of the game is LaCroix trying to deal with you with increasingly improbable missions, from figuring out why everyone vanished on the boat that drifted into the harbor to going to Chinatown and killing the leader of the 鬼人 there, and you keep accomplishing them and eventually lead to the downfall of Prince LaCroix.

That's pretty much what I'm hoping happens here with Mae'Var.

On the way to the temple, Chiyo asks Xan about his dreams, since he often talked about them during their relationship in the first Baldur's Gate:
Xan: "Many things, none of them pleasant. Do you wish me to tell you?"
Chiyo: "Please do."
Xan: "I saw my father, once. He was...accusing me of our relationship."
Chiyo: Sighs. "I should have known."
Xan: "Before you start accusing anyone, I'd like to remind you that my dreams are, mostly, what they are - vague visions, produced by my tired imagination. Therefore, all the words said are mine and mine alone. There is a dark path in your future. What if you rule the Realm of Murder yourself? The fault will be mine - ours. I do not feel it as such: anything is better than to see you die. But the figures in my dreams do, my long gone parents among them. They demand that I leave you to your fate, or...or stop you."
Chiyo: "Do you intend to heed their warnings?"
Xan: "Do you want me to? I should think not, and your word matters to me more than anyone's. No, I am worried, but my choices are made. I shall stay with you."
Oh Xan.  photo Emot-loveheart.gif

On the way out of the docks, a man named Habib Khalid Achmed Allafif appears, yells that he will not be captured thanks to his trusty scimitar, and stars hurling daggers at Jaheira:
Habib Khalid Achmed Allafif: "No! My name is Habib Khalid Achmed Allafif, and I cannot be captured! I will throw my mighty scimitar at your head rather than suffer the indignity of prison! Hiiii-YAA!!"
Two of them hit, doing two damage, after which he nervously declares that that usually works and then flees. How odd.

I enter the temple of Talos, which is mostly filled with a strange mechanical contraption:

Probably a lightning machine.

In the southern part of the temple is a room with the door blown off its hinges, and sleeping in that room is Weathermistress Ada. Yoshimo strolls in and then demonstrates complete incompetence. On an empty street, he was able to walk up to a Welther had steal a pair of pants undetected, but here he's trying to steal a necklace from a sleeping woman and he fails roughly a dozen times in a row. Then I check the chest next to the bed because I remember that Mae'Var told me the necklace was too big to wear when sleeping, and there it is. Oops.  photo emot-sweatdrop.gif That's a lot easier, and Yoshimo steals it right under the noses of the storm knights, who don't react at all to heavily-armed vagabonds strolling into the high priestess's room, and we head back to the docks.

In front of Mae'Var's guildhall, I come upon two Shadow Thieves talking to a woman named Salia, apparently about some kind of offer to join her vampire covennew thieves guild. They're waffling, but when I show up, they yell at Salia to run and attack me. Being thieves, pre-d20's worst class by far, they die almost immediately even with their potion consortium haul, and I loot the remaining potions and scrolls they have--as well as a note saying that the Shadow Thieves can't even protect their own members in the night, so they might as well join the new players in town or else. You know, these encounters are really shaking my resolve to join the vampires.

After reading the note, I go next door. This is Cromwell's house, where you can go to forge existing items and materials into new ones. I knew it existed, but I hadn't figured out where it was until recently. He rummages through my inventory and I have a lot of individual parts of items, but the only complete set he could make involves the Spear of the Unicorn a gem, and a bunch of gold, turning it into a more powerful throwing spear. I don't really have a use for that, so I decline, and take note of the other ingredients I'll need--various rings and amulets, mind flayer birthing fluid, the other parts of the Equalizer and the Short Bow of Gesen, and so on. There's one that specific catches my eye--with a mind flayer control circulet and Lilarcor, he can forge a way to shut Lilarcor the hell up. I'll have to come back later, but for now it's time to report to Mae'Var.

Thaynks for Nothing
Mae'Var expresses surprise at Chiyo's return and reluctantly says he'll cancel the order to have her killed:
Mae'Var: "Well, you're back at last. I'll cancel the order to kill you then. You have a few skills we might find useful after all. Now, let's have a look at that amulet. It's a mystery how they walk with a dinner plate around their necks. I'll file it with the other garbage sent to Calimshan. They like jewelry big, I hear. Now, let's put you to some real work. I haven't the time to piddle around with you, so my right hand man will keep you busy until you can work for me personally. His name is Edwin. Bloody good spellcaster, but he likes his luxuries. Usually happens to adventurers that hate the road. He's on the third floor above us. Get going.
Edwin the Red Wizard! I remember him from Baldur's Gate, though I never used him because I always went with Minsc (and Dynaheir, once I realized she existed), but he lived and he's on the third floor, so up there I go, past the room filled with doors to practice lockpicking on. He greets me with:
Edwin: Greetings. I am Edwin Odesseiron. You simians may merely refer to me as 'Sir,' if you prefer a less...syllable-intensive workout.
Minsc reacts to this about as well as you'd expect:

Edwin: "Ah, the feeble protector of that Rashemaar witch. Have you finally misplaced her for good, ranger? Does she linger amidst the worms where she belongs, now?"
Minsc: "You will not speak of sweet Dynaheir in this fashion! Terrible hamster justice will be wreaked upon you!! GO FOR THE EYES, BOO, GO ---"
Edwin: "Silence! You joined Mae'Var's guild with the rest of your party, ranger. Will you spoil your plans so soon? Do you think your leader would appreciate that?"
Minsc: "I... no. No, our cause must not be disrupted. Righteous fury will wait for now, but one day the wizard shall pay for his words with blood! So swears Minsc!!"
Edwin: "Oh, we shall see how long your sword lasts against my magic. Enough of this drivel. You there, elf, you seem to be in charge. Let's get this over with."
Chiyo: "I remember you, Edwin. As I recall, you should be dead."
Edwin: "Death is often nothing more than a momentary inconvenience for one such as I. My ultimate mission is too important to suffer distraction from simpletons. The past hardly matters. The company you currently keep now limits your use. No matter, I shall make this transaction as quick and bloodless as possible."
Jaheira: "Your memory is selective, Red Wizard. Why do you now work with Shadow Thieves, and what is your connection to our capture by Irenicus? Khalid is dead and I will have an answer!"
Edwin: "If your whining husband is dead, druid, it is nothing to do with me...and as for answers, you must go much higher than I to be satisfied. My association with the Shadow Thieves has been accomplished for reasons of my own, none of which has anything to do with you. Hear me. It seems my prowess as a mage has captured the eye of the Cowled Wizards. I'm certain they are envious, though their actions are not fitting tribute."
Xan: "Envious? Why, of course they would be, with such a magnificent example before their eyes. Why do you work for the Shadow Thieves at all, Edwin? I would have thought that you'd move on into the Council of Six at the very least."
Edwin: "Pathetic rulers of this forsaken city do not concern me. The Cowled Wizards, however, are another matter entirely. They have dispatched an agent to investigate my activities, something I don't appreciate. This insult must be punished by killing the Cowled agent. Rayic Gethras is his name. His house is a gray three-story behind a fence along the westward wall of the Docks District. If he is home, his door will be open. When you find Rayic Gethras, kill him. Question him beforehand if you like. Any insight into the Cowled Wizards is useful. A little torture would soften him."
Chiyo: "Murder? Torture? We have no desire to commit such acts."
Edwin: "Odd. Given your lineage I would have thought you capable of anything. (Damned, I wish they would just do as I say.)"
Chiyo: "Lineage? What do you know of my heritage, Edwin? What are you privy to?"
Edwin: "(By the shabby look of it was a pairing of barnyard proportions.) I meant nothing, I assure you. I merely ask that you reconsider."
Chiyo: "We've little else on the go, so yes we will undertake your mission."
Edwin: "Good. Don't linger about then, get going! (Ugh, motivating these sloths is like pulling teeth.)"
Aerie: "We're...we're just going to go and kill someone? Because he tells us to? This...this doesn't feel right, Chiyo. We're not really going to do this, are we?"
Yoshimo: "Are you not concerned about arousing the ire of the Cowled Wizards for such a deed, Chiyo? Let us hope the blame falls on the Shadow Thieves and not upon our own heads, eh?"
I only do this after I find out that refusing enrages Edwin and causes him to attack. So after that but thou must, I go to Rayic's house.

The first floor is filled with mephits and the second floor has stone golems, but the third floor has Rayic alone, and because of Sword Coast Stratagems this fight takes quite a few attempts. He has a list of pre-exiting buffs as long as my arm, and I have to retool Xan and Aerie's spell lists for anti-caster duty and pre-buff before I can strip him of enough magical protection to successfully take him down. Someone managed to set up his AI so that he notices if I start casting spells right next to him, which denies me the chance for pre-buffing, but in the end Xan's chaos and Jaheira's insect plague do their work. More like Sword Coast Stratagem, amirite?

(Seriously, that's the combo I use against every mage so far. I'll be screwed if it ever becomes ineffective!)

I head back to Edwin, who after many insults muttered under his breath gives me the next mission:
Edwin: "(My lackeys return, and none too soon.) Has the Cowled fool been disposed of?"
Chiyo: "Yes. He's pushing up daisies as we speak, Edwin."
Edwin: "Well done. An inconvenience that needed to be dealt with. I've another mission for you then, one that does not necessarily involve any bloodshed at all. This task is the simple retrieval of some crucial documents, and you must be as discreet as possible. (As if these club-footed fools will manage.)"
Chiyo: "What are these documents? Why so secretive?"
Edwin: "The contents of the document are not your concern. Ask no questions you do not need to know answers to."
Chiyo: "Fair enough. I'll be on my way then."
Edwin: "You will find the documents on a merchant named Marcus. He may be found at the Sea's Bounty. Retrieve the document in any manner that you wish. I would suggest using guile (but such subtle means are beyond these monkeys, I am sure.)"
On the way, I happen to break into the building next to Mae'Var's headquarters, kill the minotaurs guarding it, and go downstairs, revealing an elaborate tomb complex! Inside the tomb is a skull, who speaks as Chiyo reaches for him:
When Chiyo touches the skull, its eyes blaze with an eerie light and it begins to speak.

Kangaxx: "At last! I return to awareness. Who is it that has awakened me?"
Chiyo: "Who are you? What are you?"
Kangaxx: "I am Kangaxx and I have been cursed. I am dead yet not dead. Cursed to eternal entrapment in this tomb by cruel enemies! Cursed to a fate worse than death!"
Xan: "But what you have done to deserve such punishment?"
Kangaxx: "I was subjected to eternity of torture! No crime deserves such a curse! But the curse can be reversed! With your assistance, I may live again. I have suffered for so long...will you help me?"
Chiyo: "I will do what I can to help."
Kangaxx: "The fiends that did this to me keep me from returning by tearing apart my mortal form and keeping the pieces separated. You must find my body that I might again take mortal form."
Chiyo: "Where might I find these parts?"
Kangaxx: "They are very close! I have no doubt that they lie within the city in tombs such as this. My enemies are predictable if nothing else. Seek my arms, legs, and torso. You will be well rewarded for your efforts! Hurry! Find the pieces and return!"
I do notice that he didn't actually answer Xan's question, though, and I fully expect that this is some kind of ancient sealed evil that I'm going to have to awaken and then destroy.

Mister Ployer
In the Sea's Bounty Tavern, a man named Baron Ployer addresses Jaheira, asking if she remembers him:
Baron Ployer: "Jaheira, my darling, so good to see you. Won't you come sit and chat a while?"
Jaheira: "I...I am sorry? Do I know you?"
Baron Ployer: "You do not remember? Ahh, but this is understandable. It has been years since we last spoke. Far too long, really."
Jaheira: "Forgive me, but I will require a little more information. Your name again?"
Baron Ployer: "Ahem. My name...is Ployer, Baron Ployer? Of the Calimshan Ployers? Come now, you must have some inkling?"
Jaheira: "No...no, I am terribly sorry but your face is unfamiliar. Perhaps if you told me what you do..."
Baron Ployer: "My name means nothing? Nothing?! I am Baron Ployer! PLOYER! You ruined me! Not remembering is an even greater insult! You are why I am destitute today! You and your Harper kin accused me of breeding slaves in Calimshan! My businesses in Athkatla were taken! I was made a pauper and you do not even remember?!"
Jaheira: "I remember well, but I wanted you to say it, and I wanted others to hear. Quite the outburst, Mister Ployer, I assume you are still at odds with your new life?"
Baron Ployer: "You...you...This is the type of insolence I was talking about! It is not enough that you ruin a man, you must also berate him!"
Jaheira: "MISTER Ployer, I wanted you dead instead of merely humiliated! The courts did not seem to think death was warranted, so they claimed your assets instead. That you live in poverty is gratifying, if you must live at all! I would suggest you change your tone. I am not in a mood for giving charity to old slavers!"
Baron Ployer: "Haven't lost your fire, I see. Still a Harper? This scrawny lout one too? That fellow Khalid you were once with was a better compliment. Is he here as well?"
Jaheira: "He is none of your concern. If you value your teeth you will not speak that name again. You dirty it."
Baron Ployer: "Er, yes. Very well. How about your companions, Jaheira? Do they count themselves among the Harpers as well?"
Chiyo: "I bear them no grudge, beyond that is my business."
Baron Ployer: "I see. Well, if you travel with the one that harmed me it becomes my business. The 'friends of my enemies' and all that. Jaheira, you and your claims brought me shame and suffering, and today I am going to exact payment. For your slanderous accusations I am going to..."

Baron Ployer: "That is beside the point! What matters is that you ruined me, and now I'm going to ruin you!"
But to no available, as in another burst of cutscene stupidity, a group of wizards teleport in, curse Jaheira, everyone stands around while Ployer laughs and gloats:
Jaheira: "What have you just done, Ployer?! Speak!"
Baron Ployer: "It is my gift to you. You will be slowly destroyed, just as my family was. It is my curse, my nasty, nasty curse. A little something I had made just for you. I may not see your lingering death, but I will smile, knowing it will happen. Tonight I sleep beneath rags so I could afford this wasting death for you..."
Jaheira: "Nobody made you a slaver; you just loved the profit! Now you blame those that caught you because you cannot take responsibility? You are a weak, weak man!"
Baron Ployer: "Ah, but I am a weak, weak man that will live, while you are a strong woman that will die. Give my regards to Belgrade when you see him. Hmmheheh...heheha..HAHA!"
And then they all teleport out. Awful railroading.

Well, I can't let Jaheira waste away into nothingness, so at her suggestion I head to the Government District to look into these wizards, who are clearly licensed if they're using magic in Athkatla. She also mentions that if Ployer is so poor now, he probably lives in the slums, and there's a friend in the Copper Coronet who's a Harper that might know more. But first, I grab the document that Edwin mentioned. That's easy enough--I pay 250 gold to the man holding them and he hands them over. That's chump change at this point. I also spot a secret door on the north side of the common room that I unlock and prop open so I'll remember it for later.

In the Government District, Corneil proclaims that the Cowled Wizards are not for hire by anyone and orders us out:
Corneil: "What is it you wish? You are obviously out of place here, so unless you have pressing business I am very busy and do not wish to be bothered by such as you."
Chiyo: "I wonder if you might help me? Has a Baron Ployer sought the assistance of any of your members lately?"
Corneil: "We are not an employable organization. Ours is a mandate given by the state. All other interests are those of individual members, not the group. You will not find what you need here. Begone."
But when we leave, a man walks up to Chiyo and says he has information she may be interested in. It turns out he works for the same wizards Ployer hired, and since that contract expired, they're willing to take a counteroffer from me to avoid accepting Ployer's second contract. Chiyo does one better and suggests they help her kill Ployer, an offer they accept after a moment's musing. SCS wizards on my side? That'll help!

In the Copper Coronet, we talk to Bernard, and it turns out that Jaheira's friend is dead:
Bernard: "What can I do for...Jaheira? Jaheira, no games now, you look like you've seen yer own ghost, or are about to. Young lady, you look about ninety! Are you ill?"
Jaheira: "I'm...I'm fine, Bernard. I just need..."
Bernard: "The hell you are! These louts you traveling with running you ragged? I'll have them fishing for shark in the bay with no net if they..."
Xan: "And, of course, our demise will miraculously heal her." Sighs. "Impeccable logic, no doubt."
Jaheira: "Bernard, I'm FINE. I just need...need some information. I need to find Belgrade."
Bernard: "Oh, I'm sorry, Jaheira, but he's not around anymore. I ain't had the pleasure of his company in nigh unto..."
Jaheira: "BERNARD! Bernard, this is important. I need to contact him. I know you can connect with the network when you need to so..."
Bernard: "Ohh, Jaheira, you misunderstand me. Belgrade, he's...he's dead."
Jaheira: "D...dead? When?"
Bernard: "A while back. He got sickly just like...oh my, just like you. What is it, a plague that only affects Harpers? I knew your lot would anger the wrong god or..."
Jaheira: "Bernard, please. I need to know where they found Belgrade. I also need to know if you have seen Baron Ployer."
Bernard: "Found Belgrade in the east slums. Too many tracks to tell if he was dumped there. And Ployer? He ain't welcome here. Damn glad you exposed him, Jaheira."
Jaheira: "I see...Thank you, Bernard. I...I really must be going now."
Bernard: "You take care now. Please."
Since Belgrade was found in the eastern part of the slums, that's where I head next. In a derelict house I find Mister Ployer, and he says that he'll gladly cure Jaheira if she grovels at his feet and begs for forgiveness:
Baron Ployer: "Ah, Jaheira. I see you have dragged your sorry soon-to-be carcass here to see me. Are you here to beg? Perhaps to grovel? I don't mind. I have even cleaned my shoes."
Jaheira: "Despicable..." Coughs. "...despicable wretch! You knew I would come here?"
Baron Ployer: "Of course! I am your only link to life, so what choice do you have. Come now, grovel for your life before me. I haven't got all day!"
Xan: "No, you have a minute, perhaps less. Honestly, do you expect Chiyo to let you live after all you have done?"
Jaheira: "I am...I am not here to grovel, Ployer. You would sooner get that from my corpse!"
Baron Ployer: "And I will, unless I get the satisfaction I want now. Come now, I can cure you if you drop your pretense of dignity and get your sickly carcass on its knees!"
Jaheira: "I-" Coughs. "I AM NOT HERE TO GROVEL! I may be weak, even dying, but you WON'T get that! I have come to take what is mine! I (ehrm) will be free of you... of your..."
Baron Ployer: "You are about to collapse, and cannot even speak. Now, of course, you will have to grovel in pantomime. What could be more degrading than that?"
Chiyo: "She may be ill, but I am not! You WILL end this curse, and you WILL leave her be! Am I understood?!"
Baron Ployer: "Your threats are nothing. You came expecting an old man in hiding, but I hoped Jaheira would come, because by the time she did she would be utterly crippled! I would enjoy crushing her, but I will settle for you! Meet my hirelings! My last favors paid for them, and they are well worth it! Kill them!
His wizards appear...and promptly kill him. The last thing he sees is Jaheira's smirk before he's sucked down to the Nine Hells. On his body is a lock of Jaheira's hair, and with that, the curse is broken. Jaheira says that she needs some rest in order to really be back up on her feet again, so I head to the Copper Coronet and check into a room. I can head back to Edwin in the morning.

Game time elapsed: 33 days, 11 hours.
Imoen rescue fund: 18,984/?????????

Almost three months since last time! My extensive notes made it easy for me to pick things back up, though. And I doubt it will take quite so long this time. I had two games I wanted to play in the middle, one of them time-sensitive, and now I don't have anything I need to finish before the end of the year and a couple weeks off coming up, so I should be able to do at least one and possibly two more of these, even though I want to start playing Last Dream. I've had the JRPG urge for months now.

One thing I should mention is that I installed the Item Upgrade Mod so I can do something with all the magical weapons I have. That's why Cromwell had so many extra recipes, though I don't have the materials to make any of them at the moment. I'm sure I will eventually, which is why I still have all these items in my inventory. I really need to find some place to store all this stuff.

And like I said, I'm wavering on my decision to go with the vampires. What with playing Chiyo as the sunny happy optimist that I am, and what with D&D vampires not being tortured poets forever denied the light of the sun but rather gleefully evil masterminds who murder for the hell of it, I'm not sure I'd be able to actually play through their quests. I usually can't go through the evil playthrough in games because I feel too bad doing it, and this will probably be no exception, so I may go back on my conviction to join the vampires. We'll see.

Next: Part XIII: I Finally Advance the Plot.
Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished
Current Music: VHS Glitch - Jaw Breaker