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03 July 2016 @ 08:44 pm
Dorchadas Plays Baldur's Gate II, Part XXIII: The Affairs of Wizards  
I walk up the stairs out of the maze and am immediately ambushed by kobolds with flaming arrows. This happened all the time in the first game and was probably the single larger source of my deaths in the first dozen hours of the game, but hasn't been much but an annoyance since then. Here, some of them are standing on pillars and should theoretically be inaccessible, but because Baldur's Gate II doesn't actually have a Z level Minsc and Chiyo are easily able to run over and splatter them. Aerie and Xan's spells take care of the rest, and as soon as they're all dead, a cloaked "apparition" appears and tells me that the Tests of Madness have begun:
Apparition: "Here begins the tests of madness, of sanity and clarity. Presented with nonsense how will you proceed?"
Chiyo: "You wish to test me? But this place is derelict. The directors are dead."
Apparition: "The procedures laid down proceed regardless of time or circumstance. Such is the nature of this place. Protests are futile. This area works on its own, allowing the directors to watch in safety. You are here, and there is no other way out. Comply or die. You are sane enough to understand that. Now, when madness beckoned, how did you answer? Now comes the judgement, when we decide your fitness for life outside."
Chiyo: "Very well, do as you must, specter. I will not protest if it is pointless."
Apparition: "Very good. Restraint is a good sign. Perhaps you are closer to release than I thought. We shall see."
The apparition waves a hand, and the party is somewhere else:

The apparition, or mushroom, or whatever it is, asks a riddle:
Apparition: " 'twas in the wood that I got it, so I sat down to seek it. I could not find it no matter how hard I looked, and so I took it home with me. What is it?"
There's a few answers, including telling the apparition off, but the obvious answer is "a splinter" so that's what I pick. It's right, and the apparition teleports me to another room. This one has several nobles sitting around a banquet table laden with foods, which I loot a cloak of reflection off of before talking to the assembled nobility.

The apparitions babble of madness amongst themselves, barely even noticing when Xan bursts out that Chiyo is dying and any delay could be fatal. They ask four riddles, I answer all of them without any trouble, and then the apparitions teleport me somewhere else.

Just to the north are three trolls, one of which is some sort of sorcerer and able to cast spells. Things turn a bit dicey when they charm Minsc--without my equipment, Minsc is back to being the slave of every two-bit hedge wizard who bats an eye at him--and paralyze Jaheira, but through judicious running in circles, I outlast the spells and bring down the troll sorcerer. It leaves behind its head, which I take and place on the altar to the north. The head vanishes, a mysterious voice speaks a word in an unknown language, and a bone club +2, +3 vs undead appears on the altar, which I take. There's an apparition standing nearby, so I talk to him and move on to the final phase.

In a ruined room, the apparition judges the party:
Apparition: "And now comes judgement. Have your thoughts been focused by your ordeal? Have you gained clarity? Who can say. It has been quite some time since the process has been refined. Really, I do not think you were intended to survive. But I will fulfill my purpose as best I can and use your own words to judge your fate. You will is satisfactory. You have passed what test I had to offer. This session is now done. You are free."
And it vanishes, leaving the party alone. I look a scroll from a nearby bit of ruins, level up Minsc, Xan, and Aerie, and then walk through the door in the northern part of the room.

The Army of Madness
In the next room is someone I definitely didn't expect to see:

Saemon: “Ah, there you are. I see that you have weathered the storms of this place with reasonable pluck and health. It does me a whole lot of good to see you alive."
Xan: "It will do me good to see your body hanging from the gallows, scoundrel!"
Saemon: "Your wrath is misguided, my friend, as I can well explain."
Chiyo: "I face treachery at every turn! Tell me why I shouldn't kill you?"
Saemon: "Such hostility, and I wager it is well earned. It is, however, misdirected. I do not wish to be your enemy here. Irenicus pushes ever forward, though I cannot see how I will profit. The blade he gave me is hardly compensation. Better that this place were free for the looting. I offer advice to foster a trust, and you may determine the value as you wish. It is simple enough for the moment, and may save you in the long run."
Chiyo: "Speak, then, and I will listen."
Saemon: "Irenicus is a power, indeed. I have seen no chips in his armor of spells. You would need an army to face him, and I suggest there is one to be had. The inmates of this place are a resource that can be tapped. Release them and their anger and frustrations will strike at Irenicus. That is my suggestion, and I leave the workings of it to you. Upstairs your army awaits. Use it, or you will perish."
Jaheria: "As much as I should not trust his advice, he does have a point, Chiyo. There are powerful mages above who may be the difference between life and death."
With that, Saemon vanishes into the shadows.

To the north is the experimentation room where Irenicus drew the power from Chiyo, and I open the door and walk inside. Except Irenicus is still there and uses a wish to instantly kill the entire party. Oops! Reload.

Leaving the central room alone, I head east and check out the smaller rooms along the corridors. Most of them are locked and for the moment I leave them that way, but in an unlocked room on the northern side I find a crate full of ammunition and the first journal of Jon Irenicus. The Suldanessellar, if you couldn't tell from the name, is an elven city, and Ellesime is the queen of that city. What is it that Jon did to get himself exiled? Consorting with vampires? Foul necromancy? Or are those a result of his "curse" and not its cause? There's not enough in that journal entry to tell.

There's a room next door that has a staircase leading up, and that's where I go next.

As soon as I arrive upstairs, a man named Lonk the Sane confronts me and demands to know why the party is out of their cells:
Lonk the Sane: "What? What are you doing here? You should be in your cells with the rest of the wackos! Lonk the sane takes care of you, but you had better show respect! Everyone gets locked down tonight. Too many people getting agitated. Always happens when the boss experiments. Makes them angry, I guess."
Chiyo: "Makes them angry, does it? What would happen if they got loose?"
Lonk the Sane: "You're one of them, what would you do? Individually they can be bullied around, but all together? They get too excited to control!"
Chiyo: "What would it be worth to get you to release them?"
Lonk the Sane: "Worth to me? How much is a life going for these days? That new director Irenicus would have me quartered in his experiments. He's done it before."
Chiyo: "How about 2000 gold. Is that worth it?"
Lonk the Sane: "2000! That's... that's a fortune! I could get pretty far on that... yes sir...hmmm. Alright, if you want them out so bad, I'll let them out. I'd better head straight for the docks and get out myself though. Irenicus is going to be incensed."
Lonk the Sane opens the doors and immediately walks out to buy passage somewhere very far away.

The Army of Madness assembles:

Dili: "Tonight I am someone free? What face should I wear for this?"
Tiax: "You will wear what face Tiax orders! Today he rules all!"
Dradeel: "Silence yourself, diminutive one! Do you not hear the howling! around on all sides they are!"
Tiax: "You will regret the day you crossed the will of Tiax! My conquest of all is not something to be mocked!"
Aphril: "Is that the rule of all you survey, or beyond? What of those that walk inside, and around, and through? That stand where you stand now?"
Tiax: "None stand where Tiax stands, lest he walk atop them!"
Aphril: "As I see you do now, and beneath others. Do you not see? See them inside and behind and beyond!"
Naljier Skal: "N-no... you speak too much of what can be seen... I wish to see only my pretties again... I won't look too far, I promise..."
Tiax: "Bah! Tiax is surrounded by fools and madmen! Who is to blame for this outrage? Whom shall Tiax smite!"
Chiyo: "Why, there is only one man that stands between you and your rule. Irenicus."
Dili: "Irenicus? I... I took his face once. His punishment was... "
Naljier Skal: "To look at him is to see too far... I cannot look to him..."
Aphril: "He is cold through all the planes... none walk where he does, though they see him not."
Dradeel: "I would prefer to face the dogs of fire themselves! This Irenicus is surely a tool of the Gibbering Twelve!"
Wanev: "Heheheeee... he did this... He did this! I will... We must find him! He is the cause! He is the one that brings the tests! I will not rest until his head is mine and mine and mine alone!"
Chiyo: "He has tortured the lot of you! Aid yourselves and help me defeat him!"
Tiax: "Tiax shall face him alone! Tiax judges you not worthy of helping him! Though you may watch if you wish!"
The Army of Madness heads downstairs and I loop around to explore the room near the front, which has a stone golem guarding a table that has all of the party's stolen equipment on it! I spent around twenty real-life minutes picking things up, moving them to the appropriate character, equipping, picking up more stuff, and so on--this is why any game that takes your equipment should remember who had what and give it back to them when you get it back--but eventually everyone's loins are girded. There's also a locked cabinet with a staff of thunder and lightning in it, and the next room has a key labeled "Jon's key," and a horn of silence. There's also the second journal of Jon Irenicus, which has some nice gloating but not all that much that tells me what his plan is or what the curse he mentioned in the last journal is.

After all that preparation, I head downstairs to confront Irenicus.

Mages: the Gathering

Irenicus: "What is this? You have released all my test subjects? How wonderfully mad of you. I did not expect this in the least, so dangerously risky it is."
Chiyo: "I am glad I amuse you. Now I will end your plans and your life!"
Irenicus: "As over-eager as ever, but your boasting is wasted on me. You are no threat, not even with your army of madness. Your fate has been sealed with the curse I transferred to you. I have the souls from both you and Imoen, and they have healed Bodhi and myself. You will die in our place, or worse. Bodhi tells me that you have exhibited a...transformation. With your will slowly fading perhaps the essence of Bhaal will rise to take you. That would be a sight, I am sure."
Wanev: "I'll take back what is mine now! I'll take it back! You perverted this place and I'll take it back!"
Irenicus: "You tortured those here long before I arrived. I merely had more purpose to do it. Bah, I speak with madmen when I should be at my revenge!"
Minsc: "Yes! Revenge! Revenge for precious Dynaheir! Tremble, wizard, for the mighty Boo will have your eyes! RAAAARRRRGHH!!"
Jaheira: "What revenge do you have, wizard? You killed my Khalid with no more thought than one would give to a fly! I shall have my revenge! Nature's fury shall strike you down!"
Imoen: "You...you used me! You tore apart my soul and then you ripped it from me!! I'll kill you for that, Irenicus! I'll kill you!!"
Irenicus: "Bah! Your pathetic mewlings mean even less to me than Chiyo's! Die! All of you! I have restored my soul and will work my revenge without your interference!"
The text there says "restored myself," but the voice says "my soul," so that's what I went with.

As the time for words ends, Xan triggers his Simbul's Spell Matrix, hitting Irenicus with two Melf's Acid Arrows before his protections go up. That triggers a chain contingency due to Irenicus being damaged, and he simultaneously gets spell immunity: abjuration, protection from electricity, protection from magic energy, spell turning, improved mantle, and stoneskin. So that's going to take a while.

Except it doesn't. Wanev at one point casts time stop, which lets the acid arrows count down on Irenicus through their whole damage pool--apparently putting them on before his protective spells went up means that they're not affected by any of them. Irenicus summons a bunch of clones of the party, but Jaheira immediately casts insect plague and Xan casts chaos, which throws enough disarray into enemy ranks that I'm able to annihilate them without taking significant damage even though Aerie and Imoen are disabled because they tried to cast Melf's Acid Arrow on Irenicus but it hit after his protections went up and rebounded on them, ruining their chances of spellcasting. And clone Jaheira got off an insect plague on the party, but that didn't stop Minsc and Chiyo from running around and carving people up.

After a few moments, as Irenicus is looking haggered, he shouts:
Irenicus: "Damn you all, why do I fight over this place when my plans may be laid anywhere! I must start anew! Have your victory here then, but know that you are dying on the inside even now! Many will join you before I am done! My home will feel my wrath! Here! Fight amongst the mindless assassins I would sacrifice! I shall find others to serve my needs! This place is yours! I hope it is your tomb!"
And he teleports away as in walks Yoshimo.

Chiyo: "Yoshimo, how could you do this? We had traveled so long together."
Yoshimo: "I can't fight it Chiyo, I can't. I was in his service first, and all those that follow him must undergo a Geas. I was willing at the time... but now..."
Xan: "You will touch her over my dead body, rogue! You have caused enough harm as it is!"
Yoshimo: "I...I am sorry. I have no choice in the matter. No choice... Do...do you know what happens when you try to defy a Geas? It hurts...it hurts and then you die. His spells are powerful, Chiyo, so powerful."
Chiyo: "I will help you. It does not have to be like this."
Yoshimo: "I believe it does. I can wither and die for failing to kill you...or I can fall in battle, and pray that my heart will find purchase with Ilmater. No redemptions or second chances! Let's get this over with! I stride into the hell Irenicus promised! Ilmater take my heart, I have no choice!"
And then I cut him down like a dog, because like Irenicus, I too have taken precautions.

It's not just that I took all his equipment before he betrayed me and so he's flailing away with his fists, though that's part of it. Oh, no. There was a second, deeper step I took that requires a bit more explanation.

In AD&D 2e, there's a mechanic called dual-classing that only humans have access to. It allows them to switch to a second class, advance at normal speed, and then use the mechanics of the class they switched away from once they have more experience than they gained as their previous class. Until that time, though, they're stuck with only the abilities of the new class. Imoen is dual-class--she was a thief in Baldur's Gate and is a mage now, and still has high enough find traps and open locks that I won't need another thief in the party.

You can probably see where this is going. Just before Yoshimo betrayed me, I dual-classed him to fighter. As such, he has the damage potential and accuracy of a first-level fighter, with the only advantage of his previous experience being his ~80 hit points. He couldn't drop traps, stealth, or do much of anything except punch. When treachery is afoot, all's fair.

Of course, the group of "murderers" who chain-chug potions of invisibility are a bit more competent. It's a good thing I had Jaheira cast true seeing as prep for the battle with Irenicus. They do manage to kill Imoen as I'm running my wizards around, but a quick raise dead from Aerie brings her back after the battle.

As the last of Irenicus's assassin squad falls, Aerie walks over to Yoshimo's corpse and picks up his heart, as well as his katana. All of the prisoners of the asylum are gone, dead or teleported out when Irenicus left and his wards collapsed, so I quickly check out the now-open cells only to find that they're all barren. With nothing else on the bottom floor, I head for the stairs up.

I'm Sailing Away
Just at the top of the stairs, Saemon appears out of the shadows again.

Chiyo: "Why would you encourage me so? You were in his service!"
Saemon: "That I was, but only for the favors of Mistress Bodhi. Powerful people cast of powerful things, and a blade of novelty to them is a fine sight to such as I. But she has no doubt fled with her 'brother' and master, leaving me to deal with the mess they have abandoned. There is no profit in this for the likes of me. Besides, I know a little of his plans through a peak or two at his journal. It's little enough, but I figure we're all in trouble if he isn't stopped."
Chiyo: "What plans does Irenicus have? He has proven tightlipped so far."
Seamon: "No doubt he feels a villain is always undone in the exposition. I cannot say I blame him. I have many a dead friend that boasted when silence would have served. From what I saw of his journal and from overhearing chats with Bodhi, I know his destination to be an elven city in the Forest of Tethyr...Suldanessellar. What he plans on doing there, exactly, I don't know, but he seems to expect to become more powerful than anything...than the gods even, and that can't be good. So I will offer my service to you, in the hopes that we can benefit one another. I'm sure you can understand the motives of self-preservation."
Chiyo: "So you propose an allegiance? I only see a benefit for you in this."
Saemon: "Of course I would not impose this upon you without a proper offering of peace. Let me first inform you of the ways you may escape this place. Irenicus left by a magic portal...it could be trapped, and it may even lead into the Underdark. Not a safe place to go. He sealed the doors, but I think I can get us to the surface. I suggest we go back to my ship. I know where he's headed...we may even cut him off."
Chiyo: "And what will you require in return? I suppose gold or the like?"
Saemon: "There are no secret conditions on my help. I merely seek your friendship, or at least your pardon. I require allies if I am to survive.
Xan: "The Underdark, or a sea voyage. Under your command. Why, thank you. A perfect offer."
Aerie: "The...the Underdark? No...no! I cannot go there! You do not understand, it is death for my kind! No Avariel has ever traveled the depths! Please, Chiyo, let us take the ship! But...Irenicus must be stopped, too. If...if you think it best to go into the Underdark...Baervan protect me, I will go, too..."
Imoen: "I don't care which route we take. I want my...my soul back. And I want Irenicus to suffer for what he's done!"
Saemon: "So, will you try the portal or accompany me to the surface? Perhaps I will throw in the blade I was paid, to show you my good intent."
Chiyo: "Very well. Lead the way out and we shall take your ship."
Saemon: "A sensible choice. Allow me to use my magics to penetrate Irenicus' wards, and then teleport us to the surface and sun."

Saemon teleports the party outside.

Saemon: "Good to see your person well and sound. As you can see, the way is clear and we are free. Now to the business at hand. Go about the town and get what supplies you need. We shall meet at the tavern and make our plans for the voyage when you are ready."
I metagamed a bit with my choice, since I know that taking the ship allows access to an additional area that you can't get to otherwise and you end up in the Underdark eventually no matter what. But after Aerie's plea, I probably would have gone with the ship regardless. Chiyo is an implacable enemy but a fast friend.

I head back into town, stopping to kill a few lizardmen who inexplicably hang out outside the asylum, and go to the shop to sell off some of the cruft I found in the maze dungeon. That done, I head to the inn and get a good night's rest before I talk to Saemon again.

That night, Chiyo dreams:

Imoen: "You came too late. Didn't I say you would come too late? You will learn to trust me. Don't be afraid. You are safe here...if you behave. I will show you what fills the void. What is now free."
Chiyo: "You are not Imoen. She said she has not had any dreams like these."
Imoen: "I lurk behind your soul, in the very fiber of your being. I am the only thing left when mind and reason are stripped away. I will show you what you can be, what you can do...if you simply let yourself become what you are. I can show you all of this, because I am within. I am what fills the void. I am you."
Imoen transforms into the Slayer and rampages among the surrounding corpses before Chiyo find herself somewhere else.

Imoen: "You worry for your comrades, perhaps? Leave them, abandon them, and become what you must. There is great power in your heritage. Use it, and you will become closer to what you are..what you could be."

She transforms into the Slayer

Imoen: "Feel what is in the void. Use the tools that you are given. Become part of something greater. I am in you, and I know what is best. Each time you use it, each time you accept it, you move a little closer to the evil within. Perhaps you lose yourself in the end, but you will go to greater reward than you can know. After all, what does an eternity of nothingness matter, when you can destroy all that would oppose your development as easily as one-"

The Slayer kills Sarevok

Imoen: "-two-"

The Slayer kills Bodhi

Imoen: "-three-"

The Slayer kills Irenicus

Imoen: "-four-"

The Slayer kills Chiyo

Imoen: "-five."

The Slayer collapses and Chiyo awakens.
When the party wakes up, I get a message that Chiyo can change into the Slayer at will, so of course I save and try it out. It buffs her Strength and Dexterity to 25, her Constitution to 18, a pile of resistances, +6 to hit with her massive claws, and a +4 AC bonus. It also reduces party reputation by 1, leading to a hilarious juxtaposition as the reputation change triggers party comment. As Chiyo unleashes the power of Bhaal, shedding her mortality for a horrifying monstrosity, Imoen says:
Imoen: "Now I remember why traveling with you was so much fun!"
After a bit of running around and murdering pirates, I reload, talk to Saemon, and it turns out that he was shockingly not entirely honest with the party:
Saemon: "I am glad to see you, though our meeting is colored by the unfortunate events I must relate. I had hoped them settled, but I am denied. I have no ship with which to offer passage. It has been scuttled in an act of the purest malice. Such villainy I am subjected too!"
Jaheira: "You think us fools?! You knew your ship was scuttled when you first spoke to us, didn't you?! You seek to use us somehow!!"
Saemon: "It does my spirit harm that you think I would try and cheat you of your rescue. Perhaps I did not have my ship on hand, but my intentions were well and true. My sole purpose is to find you transport, and by the luck of the draw, it is best done by procuring me a new ship. We should hurry, lest enemies return."
Chiyo: "And what would this plan of yours entail?"
Saemon: "Well, the obvious course would be to exact a revenge of sorts to procure another ship, and it just so happens that I have the perfect mark in mind. The Pirate Lord, who so maliciously disabled my vessel, has a perfectly serviceable ship of his own. If we could make off with it, we would be set for sure."
Chiyo: "Tell me more."
Saemon: "His ship is moored at the docks. Under cover of night we could take it most easy. We simply have to make sure the sea gate is opened for the bay to be clear."
Xan: "And, of course, the ship is well guarded, and you need some artifact to steer it. Do you think we can do it, tired as we are?"
Saemon: "'Tis a matter of importance, but I am willing to wait for a day, if you agree to my proposal. If you could get the horn that signals the gateman we could blow it at night and be gone before anyone is the wiser."
Chiyo: "The plan could work. I agree to do it. Tell me the details."
Saemon: "The matter is simple, though stealth will be required. The horn is ornate and beautiful, and the Pirate Lord lets his lady, Cayia, keep it safe. Had I the luxury of time I might try to woo her for it, as she is of suspect morality. So I have heard, at least. During the day the horn is in the care of the well-guarded Pirate Lord, but at night it hangs in Cayia's room. Retrieve the horn from her abode under cover of darkness and come to me aboard the ship by the docks."
Chiyo: "Won't her pirate lover be there at night?"
Saemon: "Possibly. You may wish to step lightly once inside her home. A risk, yes, but not as risky as the dark of the portal beneath Spellhold."
Chiyo: "All right, I'll do it. You get that ship ready though."
Saemon: "Yes, for your good, I shall add it to your incentive for a quick and stealthy action. We shall be away with all haste, and you shall take this blade from me for services rendered. Go now, and do what must be done."
He departs to make the ship ready. After waiting until nightfall I head to Cayia's house and bust in to find her lying in bed with someone who is not Desharik the Pirate Lord.

Cayia: "Mmm, do you sleep? The time to rise comes soon."
Algor: "Must I go so early? The morning is far away."
Cayia: "Stay for a moment then, but know you must go come the dawn. The risk of you being discovered here is too great, then."
Algor: "Aye, I know, but it was not I that made it so."
Cayia: "That was uncalled for. You are my choice of the moment. The past does not matter."
Algor: "It does if we are caught. Desharik is suspicious of you, ever since he caught you with that Saemon."
Cayia: "Ugh, speak not his name."
Algor: "You thought well enough of it to take him as a companion."
Cayia: "A foolishness of my youth. His words were pleasing to hear. He is very good with them."
Algor: "That is what you said about me."
Cayia: "Then go if you are so offended."
Algor: "I am not. I know where I stand."
Cayia: "You stand where I tell you to. If that is not enough, I will seek companionship elsewhere."
Algor: "You will anyway. Ah...forgive me, I... I did not mean to offend."
Cayia: "I am beyond offense. I live with the mighty Desharik, Pirate Lord of the isle. That offends me well enough."
Algor: "He does seem to care for you though. Look at the guard he provides you with."
Cayia: "They watch over his possessions, including me. My own guard keeps them at a distance."
Algor: "Then let us forget I brought it up. Cayia?"
Cayia: "zzzZZzzz..."
Algor: He sighs. "Message received... sleep then..."
Unfortunately, I'm not quiet enough, and they awaken and call for the guards before fleeing. I quickly dispatch the guards and search the room. The horn is sitting on the table, and I take and leave.

On the way down to the docks is a pirate captain, waiting with some guards. He threatens to take the party as galley slaves and Chiyo tells him to stand aside or he will regret it. And he does regret it, especially when Xan and Imoen both cast chaos and cause the pirate crew to fall to murdering each other. I take the magical set of leather armor and keep going.

Just before we reach Saemon, Jaheira and Imoen have a conversation:
Jaheira: "Stop squirming, girl."
Imoen: "Ow! I don't see what good turning my eyelids inside-out is doing me. I'm fine."
Jaheira: "You are not fine. You are weakened, and you need to be observed. You have lost a very important part of your humanity."
Imoen: "...not that you'd know anything about it."
Jaheira: "What was that?"
Imoen: "Nothing."
Jaheira: "Good. Now be still."
Imoen: "Jaheira?"
Jaheira: "Yes, Imoen?"
Imoen: "How did Yoshimo betray us?"
Jaheira: "I presume you mean, how was it that we did not recognize his true intentions?"
Imoen: "Yeah, I was only with him a short time, and he seemed nice, but you...well, you don't trust anyone you don't have to."
Jaheira: "He fooled us because he was quite skilled in his chosen profession, Imoen. He ingratiated himself with his quarry, and lowered their guard. And when times are dark, sometimes it is easier to believe that you have a friend, rather than believing that the whole world is aligned against you."
Imoen: "So now we...eww, we have his heart. I still don't quite understand that."
Jaheira: "I believe it was Yoshimo's hope that Ilmater might forgive him his crimes and cleanse his heart and soul. I do not know the details. If Chiyo feels it is important, an attempt will be made. It will change nothing for those Yoshimo's actions have harmed, however."
Imoen: "Do you think he was telling the truth? About not really meaning to betray us, having no choice?"
Jaheira: "No one can answer that besides Irenicus and Yoshimo. Yoshimo is dead, Irenicus will hopefully soon join him. I will not stay my hand long enough to ask him."
Imoen: "No. I don't blame you. Khalid...Jaheira, you know that I-"
Jaheira: "Yes, Imoen. I know."
Chiyo gives Saemon the horn and he leads the party to ship, saying that he has convinced the sailors to accompany him and that they'll be gone before the Pirate Lord realizes what's wrong. It is Saemon who is wrong, though, and as they make ready to cast off, Desharik appears and challenges him:
Desharik: "Saemon Havarian!"
Saemon: "Aw hell. Uh... I-I'll be below deck securing the... um... s-something, ah..."
Desharik: "You'll stand where you are, Havarian! You've gone too far this time!"
Saemon: "If I have wronged you in some fashion I am dreadfully sorry. I was not aware of any offense..."
Desharik: "Your pretty words are wasted on me, cur, I have seen your like a dozen times over, and buried them all! I am Lord of this isle, and yet you have undermined my authority at every turn! Trading falsehoods, cuckoldry, and now my ship suffers your touch!"
Cayia: "Kill the scoundrel, Desharik! His mouth will spew nothing but lies!"
Desharik: "Your mouth is no better! How else would he have got the gate horn if not by taking your company again!"
Cayia: "B-but... Desharik, dear, you know my feelings for you..."
Desharik: "Madam, you are a ravening ditch-pig."
After those words, Desharik turns and casually murders Cayia:

Desharik: "You have brought me to the brink of madness, Saemon Havarian, and now I will repay you!"
Saemon: "Sir, you must believe that I am totally sincere when I say Chiyo! Get him!"
You don't have to tell me twice. The crew goes hostile as well, so Chiyo, Minsc, and Jaheira carve them to ribbons. As they fall, Desharik curses Saemon and Saemon casts off. As the ship leaves, he apologizes for ordering Chiyo around:
Saemon: "Cast off the mains! We are away! Set sights on the mainland! As for you, Chiyo, I know you are not one of my henchmen, and I should not order you about so. As much as I do not want to give it up, I have possessed this blade too long. It is yours, to cement our friendship. Payment for a battle well-fought, and for many more to come!"
Chiyo: "I have no need of your sword."
Saemon: "Nonsense! It is a fine blade and you are more than deserving. I will take no other answer than yes. Now let us cast off and go! We are free!"
The ship sails for the mainland for three days, during which Saemon remains belowdecks, but on the fourth day another ship is visible on the horizon. It seems to be outpacing the wind, and Saemon orders a change of course. It is to no avail, and the crew readies weapons as the strange ship pulls up alongside:

Saemon assumes that they'll be willing to parley, but as the strange invaders leave their ship they start murdering the crew and more of them teleport in. Saemon wonders aloud if they are Desharik's men:
Saemon: "Ready yourselves! I know not who these ruffian pirates are! Desharik's men, perhaps?"
Simyaz: "The Githyanki demand! You have the relic of holies!"
Saemon: "Pardon? I am sorry, but I do not know what you are talking about. Speak clearly that I might understand."
Simyaz: "Understand! We see all that you do! Say mon HaVaran, you have trespassed and taken what is not yours!"
Saemon: "Please, the name is spoken with more of a flourish, and a good deal less spittle."
Simyaz: "Your name will be spoken with blades for tongues! You took the relic of holies! We will follow as we must!"
Saemon: "Now who would be foolish enough to steal from the Githyanki... er... if that is what you are. I plead innocence, and demand you search me that I might prove it! Search all aboard if you wish!"
Simyaz: "That is the intent! Inside and out!"
Chiyo: "Just a minute, here! I protest!"
Saemon: "Now, Chiyo, you'll have to trust me on this matter. I will provide for all those concerned. Search away, Captain! You'll not find any such object on me. Although I don't know about these ruffians on deck! I don't like the look of them. Give them a thorough look!"
Chiyo: "Saemon!"
Saemon: "Just providing for those concerned... me. My apologies, Chiyo."
Simyaz: "The Blade belonging to the Githyanki is aboard! Detection does not lie! All will perish for this insult!"
Saemon: "But you can search and take the true thieves! Take the whole crew if you must!"
Simyaz: "Examples must be set! None must tempt such a crime again! Destroy them all!"
Saemon: "This just isn't a good tenday."
The battle doesn't go on very long before the ship starts shaking as though it would break apart and as the sahaugin leap aboard, the pirate crew, Saemon, and the githyanki all abandon the ship:
Simyaz: "Sahuagin? I did not anticipate this. Back to the ship!"
Xan shouts "We're doomed!" and the ship lists heavily to one side, throwing the party overboard. Saemon fleeing through a magical portal again is the last thing Chiyo sees before the undertow drags her down.

Game time elapsed: 96 days, 22 hours.

That may be the most pictures and conversation I've had in any update, but this is definitely another plot-heavy section. And that wizard battle went a lot better than I thought it would. Other than Imoen getting killed by assassins, everyone came through it unscathed. No one else came close to dying, even when the spells were flying when the party was cloned. I think it helped that Wanev cast time stop and blasted the clones with a ton of attack spells. I was expecting another tough bunch of battles like what happened with the time I wiped out all the liches in Athkatla. I won't complain too much.

I knew about the Slayer because I once loaded up a game of Throne of Bhaal to see what the beginning was like. I had no context for anything so I didn't play very long, but I did notice that the Bhaalspawn had the Slayer ability and it turned her into a cool looking monster. One of the mods I have lets the Slayer form scale--it normally is powerful but static, so it quickly becomes useless as the game progresses--so I might actually be tempted to use it. Even with the reputation decrease, I do enough good deeds that judicious use could turn the tide of important battles. And of course, that's how power gets you, right? I'll use it just this once under these circumstances, and pretty soon the pool of possible circumstances widens, and eventually every battle Chiyo is turning into the Slayer and her name is feared all up and down the Sword Coast.

The sahaugin city is something I know absolutely nothing about, so that'll be a fun section to play through! As long as it lets me rest without having to go through shenanigans to do so.

Next: Part XXIV: City of the Sea-Devils.
Current Mood: rushedrushed
Current Music: Super Mario World - Ghosts of the Marble Hall (CrimsonZeal OC ReMix)