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08 June 2016 @ 09:41 pm
Dorchadas Plays Baldur's Gate II, Part XX: Walking in Shadows  
I realize that I should have given that scroll of simulacrum to Chiyo. Now that she has elven chain mail, spawning another melee character who has permanent haste from boots, a +5 weapon with a chance of stunning and doing extra damage, and all the other spells that Chiyo already has memorized would have been great. Xan cloning himself is worthwhile, but I don't think it will help quite as much as another Chiyo will. Ah well--there will be more scrolls later!

Mook Squad
Down at the docks I have to look for a warehouse and a man named Mook, but I don't have any information about where either of them are, so I commence wandering around the district. On a set of stairs leading over a roof I find a halfling (or maybe a child) named Crazy Celvan, and talking to him produces a riddle:
Crazy Celvin: "There once was an elf so upset
He'd lament to any who let
He waited for death
With notable faith
But Fate let him down in the end."
Xan: "Did he become a wandering ghost, or did he die quicker than he could expect? Your blabbering prophesies nothing less dismal."
Crazy Celvan: "Teehee!"
I walk away for a moment, then I think that maybe I should go back and see what else he has to say...but when I do, he's gone. Mysterious!

After wandering around for a few minutes trying to find Mook, I consult the internet and find a sixteen-year-old forum thread with the answer. Sure enough, Mook is waiting there, and Chiyo walks up and speaks to her:
Mook: "'Tis a grand eve to be sittin' on the docks, rank with the smell of fish guts. You must be Chiyo, the one that Aran was gonna send."
Chiyo: "That I am. You must be Mook."
Mook: "I am. Bloody fine to have some backup. I've heard a bit about you. Been makin' a name for yourself as an adventurer."
Chiyo: "Thanks. I do my best."
Mook: "Aren't you a bit too heroic to be guarding shipments for Aran?"
Chiyo: "'Tis merely a path on the road to another heroic feat."
Mook: "I'm glad I could play a part in your little drama."
Chiyo: "Could you tell me what the situation is?"
Mook: "The situation is that I've seen the same man pass by four times. He looked a bit different each time but I knew it was the man."
Chiyo: "How did you know?"
Mook: "I'm trained to know, Chiyo. I've been watching him from the shadows here all day."
Chiyo: "Did you notice anything else odd about him? He may live here."
Mook: "He was casing the area and studying me. Now that you're here to stay with the product, I should be able to learn something from him next time he passes."
Chiyo: "That sounds like an excellent plan."
Mook: "If this is the man we want, it shouldn't be too long until he shows up again."
Of course, the man does show up:

Totally not suspicious.

As soon as he appears, Mook addresses him:
Mook: "Hail, friend! 'Tis a fine evening for a stroll, no?"
Lassal: "Mook...I've been looking for you."
Mook: "Who is it that speaks to me like an old acquaintance?"
Lassal: "It is fitting, Mook, for I have been watching you."
Mook: "Have you? What might your purpose be?"
Lassal: "Truly, my beauty, it is time for you to leave this life. Guarding the spoils of another man's crime is no way for a woman to live."
Mook: "You're welcome to your opinion. Perhaps I choose to stay right where I am."
Lassal: "Choose not the difficult path, weak one. You will come with me regardless. Expect no help from these dregs. Their deaths as written in the stars shall be fulfilled this night."
Mook: "To me, Chiyo! Treachery is afoot!"
Lassal: *casts disintegrate on Mook* "Hahahahahaha!!!!!"
Exclamation points in original. He's pretty overconfident for someone who's going to get utterly destroyed in moments.

Which is what happens. He barely does any damage at all, though because this is D&D, vampires don't actually drink blood, they punch people and suck their life force away through their fists. They also turn into mist when they're near death, so I don't actually kill him, but I do drive him away. Chiyo ends up several levels down and Minsc ends up a level down--here's where a simulacrum would have been handy--and I pop into the Temple of Oghma to get those levels back before heading to Aran Linvail to tell him what happened.

Aran says that the new guild is more dangerous than he thought:
Aran Linvail: "What have you to report?"
Chiyo: "It went as you expected though I regret to report that Mook was murdered."
Aran Linvail: "That is... unfortunate. She was a friend. I had hoped your support would prevent any deaths. Too many of my people have been killed or gone missing recently."
Chiyo: "They seemed to know her, though she did not know them. "
Aran Linvail: "These events prove what I feared: this rival guild knows our actions well, likely due to the traitors that joined them. We must stop any more from leaving us. Two of our men, Jaylos and Caehan by name, are planning to leave our little community and join with our enemies. Greener grass and all of that, I suppose. They are to meet their contact on the second floor of the Five Flagons Tavern in the Bridge District. Go there and pose as one of our enemy's new recruits. I want to know where our enemy's lair is. We have yet to find it. This recruiter could arrive at any time so I suggest that you go to the Five Flagons now. They may prove unreasonable, so prepare yourself for hostility. Return when you have the information we need."
Yoshimo: "Now we are sure to step on some toes. Be careful, Chiyo."
Chiyo: "I intend to be. Have you additional concerns?"
Yoshimo: "I... I do not mean to complicate things. I simply worry who we might find ourselves in conflict with. I do not mean to delay you. We will all do what we must when the time comes."
Notably absent is the option for Chiyo to yell they're vampires, you idiots even though it's trivially obvious at this point. They attack at night, they kill with impunity, they turn into mist when defeated...you'd think that the Shadow Thieves would have figured this out by now. We're not exactly dealing with anyone who cares about upholding the Masquerade here. Even if I hadn't gone into this game knowing that the other side were vampires, I'd absolutely know it by now.

But off to the Bridge District.

Traitors Never Prosper
Just outside the Inn, we find another group of Shadow Thieves beset by vampires. When they notice Chiyo and her companions, they cry out for aid and attack, and Chiyo answers.

She answers incredibly well, actually. This seems like one of those battles where the Shadow Thieves were going to lose, but Minsc and Chiyo both lay into the vampires and Jaheira casts false dawn as her first action. Not a single one of the Shadow Thieves dies and none of my party even gets hit. Three vampires are cut down in moments, one of them runs in terror from Jaheira's blinding light, is surrounded by Shadow Thieves, and cut down, and the last one runs down the stairs to the docks until Minsc and Chiyo end her miserable unlife.

None of them turned into mist, so maybe I actually killed killed them?

Inside the inn, I have Jaheira cast negative plane protection on Chiyo and Minsc and then go upstairs, skippnig the rooms and heading to the end of the hall. In the room at the end is a man named Ercias, who isn't one of the thieves I'm looking for but I talk to him anyway:
Ercias: "Eh? Yoshimo? I thought ye were dead, I did!"
Yoshimo: "Dead? I? I don't know where you get your information, friend, but it's obviously not from a reputable source."
That ends the conversation. What is going on with Yoshimo, anyway? He's really cagey around the Shadow Thieves, he showed up in Irenicus's prison having apparently broken out on his own, he ran into trouble with the Shadow Thieves, and apparently he was dead at one ponit? What game is he playing?

Anyway, Ercias doesn't have anything else to say, so I start opening the inn rooms to check them. The first room I bust into has Jaylos and Caehan, the thieves I need to check in on:
Jaylos: "Who are you? Damn, I knew we'd be followed!"
Caehan: "Ease up, Jaylos. Maybe they is just here for the same reason we are. Lots were talking about making the switch."
Jaylos: "Could be, I suppose. You there! What are you doing here? Speak, and be quick about it."
Chiyo: "You... you here to meet with the contact too? I was worried you were here to kill me."
Caehan: "You too?! I thought we'd be..."
Jaylos: "Keep your damn voices down! Cripes, you'd think the whole guild was going. We've just got to sit and wait then. You keep your mouths shut and stay still!"
Caehan: "Sorry, Jaylos, I was just glad to see someone else doing the same thing."
Jaylos: "Stop using my name, dammit! Maybe they are, maybe they aren't. We'll just have to see. All right, friend, just who is it you think we are going to meet?"
Chiyo: "Why? Don't you know? You trying to pry information outta me? You a spy?! Huh?!"
Jaylos: "What? No... no, I know it. I ain't no spy! Shut up or they'll just kill us instead of taking us!"
Caehan: "Aw geeze, they think we're spies. We're gonna die!"
Jaylos: "Alright, everyone just calm down!"
Chiyo: "Listen to your pal, friend. You are in big trouble."
Jaylos: "Oh, you are funny. Think we'll just lay down and die?! We're getting out and we're doing it while the getting is good!"
Caehan: "Kill 'em before Gracen gets here or they'll never take us!"
Jaylos: "Caehan, you are such an idiot!"
Now I have a name, and then they attack and die easily without even hurting the party.

Afterward, a man walks up the stairs and into the room where Jaylos and Caehen were waiting and confronts Chiyo. Fortunately, writing everything down in this chronicle means I can easily pick the right answer:

Unfortunately, all three answers afterward are obviously leading to a fight, so Chiyo goes all in:
Gracen: "I see. Well, a necessary commotion then, though we should not wait here long. Your new berth is beneath the graveyard district, behind the blue stone doors."
Chiyo: "That's all we needed to know. Now you shall feel the wrath of the Shadow Thieves."
Gracen: "You'll not live to tell what you have learned!"
Then the guild contact's AI bugs out and he doesn't do anything, so I kill him, loot his plethora of potions and his two-handed sword +2, sell most of it at one of the merchants outside, and head back to Aran Linvail again.

Linvail reveals that while the party was off dealing with the contact, the vampires attacked the Shadow Thief guild hall:
Aran Linvail: "What have you to report of Jaylos and Caehan?"
Chiyo: "The contact and your defectors are dead. They spoke of the Graveyard District."
Aran Linvail: "The Graveyard District? Undoubtedly they have made their lair within the crypts below. From what we have seen of their dark nature, I am not surprised. You were not the only ones who were busy last night. The leader of this rival guild, Bodhi by name, made a daring attack upon us. She can only be a vampire and I suspect many of her servants are as well. The time has come to strike back to protect our people, and the city she has invaded."
Xan: "The mysterious vampire the Council was in such ferment about! Not only shall you reach Imoen and Irenicus, but we will also perform an important task for my people. If we ever return to Evereska, I may even tell them about it." Sighs. " 'If' is an important word here, of course."
Aran Linvail: "Go to the Graveyard District and find their hideout. There is a network of tombs beneath the graves where another spy tracked one of Bodhi's servants. There you shall find a set of blue doors just north of a spider den. The doors are too heavy for any mortal to open, but the vampires likely pass with ease."
Chiyo: "I assume you have some plan other than me banging my head against it?"
Aran Linvail: "I shall send a mage to meet you there and arrange for the doors to be opened. Here, you shall need these stakes if you are to truly finish these creatures. When you have destroyed their evil, return to me and I will fulfill our bargain. Do this job well and you may see Imoen by the morning. What say you?"
Chiyo: "I'm on my way, but you had better come through with your part of the bargain."
Aran Linvail: "You have my best wishes, Chiyo. I wish you well."
He hands over a bunch of stakes as well, and so I head off to the graveyard. Though first I go sleep in the inn, because negative plane protection or not, false dawn or not, average party level twelve or not...I'm not walking into a vampire stronghold at midnight.

Dead Reckoning
The party arrives in the graveyard under a stormy sky and, accompanied by a crash of lightning, enters the catacombs below the graveyard. After killing a few spiders there, I meet up with Haz, the wizard sent by the Shadow Thieves, and the flesh golem he brought to smash the doors down. Haz says the spiders were making him nervous and sends the golem forward to do his bidding, only to be met by an obstacle:

Oh, hey Lassal.

I put negative plane protection on Chiyo and Minsc, but Lassal just teleports away. I still have to fight a vampire, though. Her name is Tanova and she poses no threat whatsoever, and after putting her and the random meaningless undead there, enter the formally-sealed doors, now smashed in by the golem.

Yoshimo goes first, looking for traps, and when he walks in, Lassal is standing there and taunts him:
Lassal: "Come, then, come to your doom! Dare you breach the inner sanctum? I think not!"
I ready for a fight, but Lassal runs straight past Yoshimo and through the door on the west side of the room. Well, time to check the east side, then.

After killing the fledgeling vampire and the greater ghoul in the room, I check the eastern doors. One of them leads to a stairway down, which I mark for later. The other has another fledgeling vampire in a corridor and then an extremely impractical room that only a group of Chaotic Evil beings would even bother creating. The blood pool spike room:

This room is filled with undisarmable, undetectable traps that do ~25 damage or more if you step on them, which leads to a couple reloads while I'm exploring it. Finding nothing, I head back west and take the lower corridor. There's a vampire in the hall who Minsc and Chiyo casually dispatch and a clay golem in a small room off the corridor which meets a similar fate. This room has several coffins in it, and opening them, I find Tanova, recuperating from the earlier fight and totally helpless. Chiyo rams a stake through the monster's heart and then I head through the secret door to the north. In the corridor is a vampire named Durst, who tries to overpower Chiyo's mind several times before giving up and attacking. I kill him, stake him in his coffin, and head north, where I find an elaborate chamber full of cushions and a pool of blood. Chiyo searches the pool and finds a mace of disruption in the pool, which I give to Minsc to hold on to, and then head back out and to the furthest south room, which has a few stakes and gold and no enemies. You'd think vampires wouldn't leave the means of their ultimate destruction lying around their lair, but apparently you would be wrong?

Nothing else to do upstairs, so I take the stairs down to the lower level.

Past two greater ghouls--one of which drops a scroll of simulacrum which Chiyo immediately scribes--is another room filled with pools of blood and fledgeling vampires, all of which die easily. One of them gets a charm off on Yoshimo, but a remove magic from Aerie takes care of that. The door to the northwest has a small room, containing a lot of odds and ends and a single chest with a katana +2 and the Ashen Scales, and the northeastern door has Lassal:
Lassal: "One ambush you have survived but the battle is far from over. Find me upstairs in the room of blood and blades."
...and then he teleports away. Back upstairs I go.

Lassal is waiting in the eastern room, and he taunts Chiyo when she approaches:
Lassal: "Think yourself brave enough to stand before me? Perhaps bravery is not enough!"
Chiyo: "You are on the defensive and yet you taunt! Such gall!"
Lassal: "The gall is yours to think I am on the defensive when I have led you as a mantis does her prey! You will fall here, and your death shall be...delicious! for mistress Bodhi I will eviscerate you! She shall have tapestries of your sinew and bone! Come! Come to your end!"
And then Chiyo and Minsc tear him to shreds without him ever being able to land a hit, after which the group heads to the coffin room and drives a stake through his heart. I may be a bit overleveled here.

As the stake is pounded home, the room thrums with the tell-tale hum of a teleport spell, and the vampire mistress appears:

Bodhi: "Hmm...I had hoped it would not come to this, but you are set in your path, aren't you?"
Chiyo: "What would you know of my path?"
Bodhi: "I know about many things, about you, your employers, what they intend. Can you say as much? Do you truly know these people cloaked in shadow?"
Chiyo: "You must know I will view anything you say now with great suspicion."
Bodhi: "You may believe what I say or not, I have little concern about the matter. It would seem you are determined to make a nuisance of yourself regardless. Tell me, have the Shadow Thieves done more than promise? Have they delivered anything, or have they simply made certain you are always within reach? I imagine they are confused as to what their goals are. Have they said why they sought your service? Why they offered to help you?"
Chiyo: "Perhaps they have some sympathy for my plight. The rescue I wish is a worthy cause."
Bodhi: "Perhaps it is worthy. Perhaps your goals are golden, but I doubt very much they are as much a concern to others as they are to you. Ask yourself what you bring to the equation. Gold? Gold is never in short supply for long. Service? Possibly, but there are others that would serve as well."
Chiyo: "And what would you suggest? That I join with you instead?"
Bodhi: "Oh, no, I am quite sure this will end in violence. You are too volatile for my purpose, I merely wondered if you knew the extend to which you are being used."
Chiyo: "No one uses me! The Shadow Thieves know as much as I choose to tell them!"
Bodhi: "Do they really? Are you certain? What if their interest in you was more than simply mercenary? What if they knew full well who you are...and what you are? You look surprised. I know what you are, child of Bhaal. Irenicus told me. He might have learned more, awakened your power, but the Thieves interrupted him."
Chiyo: "What do you know of Irenicus? I owe him a debt for what he has done!"
Bodhi: "I know more than your brain could hold in a lifetime. There is so much beneath your nose, so much you do not see. Why, even Imoen escaped your notice."
Chiyo: "What did he want with us? What power did he speak of?!"
Bodhi: "Perhaps you are asking the wrong person these questions. It is irrelevant now, of course, as you will not be leaving here alive. I grow tired of this conversation. You have asked your questions and made your threats, and I have indulged them both. Now this will end."
Chiyo: "Fine with me! Let it end with your blood! And then I will move on to Irenicus!"
Bodhi: "There is much to be learned under duress. Such a curiosity you are. Come, let us learn a thing or two."
And battle begins, and ends in moments. Bodhi doesn't have any special defenses, any special attacks, or really anything that makes her a threat. All she does is charm Yoshimo--I really need to get him something to let him resist that--and attack the nishruu I summon instead of Minsc and Chiyo, then when she gets to Badly Injured she speaks again
Bodhi: "Well that certainly was...educational. I have seen enough, and I am done with you for now."
Chiyo: "What manner of creature are you? Is this all a game to you?"
Bodhi: "Perhaps, but games can be deadly serious, especially when I keep the rules to myself. Fight on, and seek your lost Imoen. I have seen what I came to see."
And she teleports away, which was too bad, because if she turned to mist I was going to see if a gust of wind spell could trap her. The coffins are empty and the tomb has been thoroughly looted, so I head back out of the cemetery and off to see the Shadow Thieves.

When she speaks to Aran Linvail, Chiyo demands he explain what's going on:
Aran Linvail: "So you have returned. My advance spies said that you confronted Bodhi in her lair. It must have been a bloody affair."
Chiyo: "You still keep secrets! Bodhi said it was you that attacked Irenicus in the first place!"
Aran Linvail: "Such a tone will not help anyone in this matter. You have proven reliable and I am quite willing to explain what happened. It was the Shadow Thieves that attacked Irenicus in Waukeen's Promenade. We have followed you ever since then."
Chiyo: "You were in league with him? No, he was fighting hooded figures."
Aran Linvail: "I am sorry I have not been fully honest, but we had to be sure you were not working for him. I assure you that we are still on the same side. We knew of your capture almost as soon as it happened. Very little occurs in this city that we are not aware of. We paid little mind. Even though it was done outside of the Shadow Thieves, we thought that a simple kidnapping was nothing to be concerned of. But soon after that we started losing people. That was when Bodhi appeared, though we did not know her name at the time. Members were threatened or seduced into her guild. None were seen again. We still don't know where most are. Even her cadre could not have fed on them all. By chance a body was found in the sewer, leading us to Irenicus and his strange dungeon. We battled and lost, but the Cowled Wizards took him, as you saw."
Chiyo: "I saw your efforts. It was a slaughter."
Aran Linvail: "We must take partial responsibility for your loss of Imoen, but our chief concern was Irenicus at the time. We still don't know why he killed our guild members. So we followed you. You were the only living thing to emerge from his prison. We watched your every step and made sure you would be close to us."
Chiyo: "I showed no love for him. You must have seen that."
Aran Linvail: "We had to be sure. We could not let an enemy into the guild when we are so weakened. In truth, your gold was much needed as well. We thought you could lead us to him, and you can. You seek Imoen and Irenicus, and we seek answers. They were taken to the same place, you see. The Cowled Wizards took them to the one place mages in Athkatla truly fear, a place where their power is stripped and examined, their minds laid open for study. I have heard it called a 'Residence for the Magically Deviant,' but mages just call it Spellhold. It is an asylum, where people are sent to disappear."
Chiyo: "What sort of place is this that no one knows of it?"
Aran Linvail: "You must realize that it is not as simple as launching an assault. Spellhold is a fortress asylum, designed to hold mages and other...talented people."
Xan: "I do not like it in the least. Chiyo, are you sure? To the Abyss with Irenicus, I do not want you to perish as you will undoubtedly do. How do we travel there, in any case?"
Yoshimo: "I am certain many are there deservedly. Yes, of that I am certain. Some must deserve it."
Chiyo: "Perhaps, but that does not mean Imoen should be confined there, does it?"
Yoshimo: "I did not mean to suggest anything contrary to what Mr. Linvail is saying. Just that some must deserve it. It seems such a brutal place. Not that I have ever been, but I have heard of some of those confined there, not unlike your Imoen. Can it be so cruel a place?"
Aran Linvail: "The island it is located on is under its own rule, and even the Cowled Wizards are not certain what becomes of those sent there. No one wanted to be associated with it once it began. It is difficult enough just to book passage. That is what your gold was for. Once on the island you will be on your own to contend with the asylum defenses and the pirates that run the place. Return with Imoen as you wish. Kill Irenicus if you can."
Chiyo: "If Irenicus is in the asylum, isn't he no longer a danger?"
Aran Linvail: "We are not sure. Spies within the Cowled Wizards tell us that they have not had direct contact with the isle for some time. It is truly a place where the troublesome are forgotten. The incident with Irenicus was to be ignored, lest people demand more sanctions against mages."
Chiyo: "I will go very soon then. Just wait a moment for me to restock my supplies."
Aran Linvail: "Return to me as soon as possible. The captain of the ship may take a different job if left to wait. He is not exactly thrilled to be going to the isle."
Ready to go? Not quite yet.

Also, I'm pretty sure those other Shadow Thieves were ingredients for the gigantic pool of blood. Just saying.  photo emot-psyboom.gif

Odds and Ends
There's a couple more things I need to take care of. First, I head over to Cromwell and see what he can make. I take his offer to forge a Ring of Wizardry, Ring of Acuity, Amulet of Metaspell Influence, and Ring of Protection +1</i> along with 20,000 gold into the Sorcerian Ring: +1 to all saves, +1 to AC, and the ability to memorize an extra spell of levels 1 through 7.

That goes on Xan. Xan also suffers from fatigue now,so I head to the slums and the Copper Coronet to rest. Just outside the inn we run into Dermin Courtierdale, Jaheira's old mentor in the Harpers:
Jaheira: "Der... Dermin? Is that you? It has been some time."
Dermin Courtierdale: "Indeed. It has been a very long time."
Jaheira: "What is the matter, Dermin? You would not have let me walk on by, would you? I know we did not always see eye to eye, but I assure you the respect..."
Dermin Courtierdale: "I may well have let you pass, for there is no joy in my visit today. Jaheira, do you remember the lessons I taught you?"
Jaheira: "Of...of course, you were the one that introduced me to the Harpers."
Dermin Courtierdale: "Yes, yes, but the lessons?"
Jaheira: "What...what are you getting at, Dermin?"
Dermin Courtierdale: "I am not here to rehash our friendship. Jaheira... I have been sent to kill you, or otherwise seek your downfall, and I do not relish the duty."
Jaheira: "I see. And what power has decided that I should be killed? I serve nature and protect the good of the land through my work as a Harper. Who have I offended?"
Dermin Courtierdale: "Who...? Jaheira, you travel with a killer of Harpers. I do not wish to think you had any complicity in those acts, but here she is and she is still alive."
Jaheira: "I have washed my hands of the incident in the Harper Hold. Galvarey was in the wrong and brought his fate upon himself."
Dermin Courtierdale: "We know nothing of this. There is only the fact that you...you and your friend were the cause of many deaths. This cannot be ignored."
Jaheira: "He was in the wrong! Of that I am certain! Galvarey sought to imprison Chiyo for his own gain and I took the side of right. I could do no other!"
Dermin Courtierdale: "It is not seen that way, Jaheira. Exact the necessary justice. That is the only route to redemption for you. The others... will not accept you otherwise."
Jaheira: "This is wrong, Dermin. This is not the right solution."
Dermin Courtierdale: "I cannot see this ending otherwise, Jaheira. Your own have died. What do you intend to do about it?"
Chiyo: "This is an unfortunate situation they have placed you in, Jaheira. I trust your judgement though."
Jaheira: "Dermin...I... Dermin, I cannot do as you ask. You are in the wrong, as was Galvarey. I was right to choose Chiyo's side, and it is your loss if you cannot see this."
Dermin Courtierdale: "Consider carefully what you are saying, child. You have a duty to justice."
Jaheira: "This is not justice. This is revenge for a lie, a falsehood that none seem bothered to find the truth behind. If this is Harper justice then I..."
Dermin Courtierdale: "What are you saying, Jaheira?"
Jaheira: "If this is the justice you represent then I...I renounce you. I renounce...I renounce my life as a Harper."
Dermin Courtierdale: "Jaheira, you cannot mean...Think this through."
Jaheira: "It would seem I am the only one that has thought any of this through. You do not, Galvarey did not, and now the Harpers out for blood do not. I mourn many fellows of the Harp, but they died fighting for balance and truth. Galvarey did not, and this matter cheapens their loss. I will not be party to it."
Dermin Courtierdale: "So be it then. I will take your words to those that will listen. Do not expect your life to be peaceful with this choice."
Jaheira: "It shall not be peaceful, but it is clearer than the course you are on. Goodbye Dermin."
Chiyo: "Are you certain of this? I did not want to be a burden, Jaheira."
Jaheira: "Do not concern yourself. This was the only course open, even if...I...I wish to not talk of this. This matter is...is behind me. Onward, we have much to do."
Dermin leaves. This is probably not the last we've heard of this.

After sleeping in the inn and buying a couple scrolls, as well as talking to the moneylender Surly and telling him that Hendak doesn't appreciate his business and to get out, I head to the Planar Sphere and drop off the enormous amount of random treasure, gems, and other stuff I've been carrying around for multiple in-game weeks. Packs unburdened and potions picked up from Chiyo's apprentices, I head to Waukeen's Promenade and check the merchants. There's not much I want, even in the Adventurer's Mart--I buy a ring of air control and a scroll of Mordenkainen's Sword for Chiyo and then run out of money--but when I talk to Galoomp the Bookkeeper, he seems down. Chiyo asks what the problem is, and he says someone is stealing his wares and he suspects a halfling that he's also seen hanging around the Bridge District, so that's my next destination.

Just near the north entrance is Kram the halfling, and when Chiyo talks with him he immediately confesses
Kram: "Argh! Uh, hello. You startled me, I... I... I saw you talking to Galoomp earlier. I know why you're here. I stole from him, there's no point hiding."
Chiyo: "You'd better be able to explain yourself."
Kram: "My name is Kram. I... I wasn't born here, I, uh, we... We used to live in Gullykin, far North of here... Ma and Da and I. Then Ma died, Da, he... he blamed me. He beat me and scarred me, left me looking like this. I was only young..."
Aerie: "Oh my, that's terrible! Is... is there anything we can do, Chiyo?"
Kram: "So I ran. I... I had heard that all sorts were welcome in the great city of Athkatla, thought I could fit in, get work, a new life... But it's all a lie. I have lived on the streets countless years. I've never had any friends, nobody trusting, no-one to look out for or look out for me. I am... alone. I know it's wrong, but... I stole from the bookkeeper after I heard of magic that could help me. A wondrous spell called Friends! I didn't want to do him any harm, I just wanted to fit in. With the magic, I could talk to others. It was everything I ever wanted. But I suppose it... couldn't last forever. I am a criminal, I know. I ask just for your mercy."
Chiyo: "I am moved by your story, Kram. But you should learn that stealing isn't the solution. You had confidence when you used the magic, and you can get by without it."
Kram: "But I am hideous! No... you're right. I have to work this out myself."
Aerie: "Please, Chiyo, we must take pity on this poor soul!"
Kram: "What... will you do with me now?"
Chiyo: "Promise me you'll never steal again, Kram. You can turn your life around."
Kram: "I... ah. Thanks for understanding, ma'am. Nobody has ever shown me kindness... until you. I can change my life. I need to have a think about what you said. Goodbye..."
Aerie has a good heart. Also, this is fictions, where situations like this have happy endings. When I return to Galoomp and tell him the story, he doesn't berate Chiyo for losing his stock, he takes pity on the halfling as well and says maybe he'll pay him a visit.

All tasks I wanted to accomplish completed, I return to the Shadow Thieves, talk to Aran Linvail, and set sail. Spellhold awaits.

As Chiyo and her group get ready to set sail, Irenicus is planning something:

Cutscene here (until 10:45, spoilers past that point)
Imoen: "Please...I can't take this..."
Irenicus: "Patience, Imoen. Soon it all will end."
Shadow Thief: "No...don't do this...I don't want to die."
Irenicus: "Silence, dog! You have no purpose but to die by my hand."

Irenicus casts a spell on the others.

Irenicus: "You are nearly ready for her, Imoen. She will be pleased."
Game time elapsed: 85 days, 8 hours.
Shadow Thief Tasks Completed: 3/3

That took a lot less time than I expected. I figured the Shadow Thieves' tasks would be much more complicated, or that I would have to do more of them, but I suppose that most of that was already accomplished in Chapter 2 when I was gathering the gold. After the time that took--admittedly extended by me because of all the sidequest stuff I did and how I kept buying more magical items--they wouldn't want to make you wait too much to really get into the action.

I know a little about what's coming. I know it's a long time until you go back to Athkatla, which is why I emptied out my inventory. I know that you end up going to the Underdark at one point. And I know one other thing, which I'll keep secret for now but which will become relevant later. I still don't know what Irenicus's goal is or how he intends to accomplish it, though. I've stayed unspoiled on it these sixteen years and I don't intend to look it up now.

Next: Part XXI: The Way to Spellhold.
Current Mood: worriedworried
Current Music: Sonic Adventure II - Chao Cave Rave (Air3s OC ReMix)