Saturday, October 1, 2011

Pool of Radiance - Graveyard and Storming the Castle!

Finally I have sat down and finished Pool of Radiance!  I left off after clearing out my quest log in the wilderness and was about to set off to Valhingen Graveyard.

As I approached the graveyard, the sky turned dark as if in perpetual night.  When I entered I was attacked by a group of skeletons wandering around.  The poor creatures were no match for me, and the clerics had no problem turning them.  I noticed there was a tower to the south of where I was standing that had a noxious gas pouring from the doorway.

I entered and climbed to the top of the tower.  I surprised a spectre who was in the middle of making skeletons.  If I could stop him, that would be one step closer to clearing the graveyard.  If I let him go, he would probably continue to make new skeletons indefinitely.  We all charged in and killed him before he had a chance to retaliate. 

Going deeper into the graveyard, we started to run across zombies.  Like the skeletons, there must be another spectre making these as well.  We spotted another tower and  headed toward it.  Sure enough, when we entered the tower we came across a spectre churning out zombies.  Like the last one, we charged in and destroyed it before it could do anything.  Another step in clearing the graveyard down.

As we left we noticed another tower in the middle of the graveyard and headed that direction.  On the way we started encountering wights.  These more powerful undead took a toll on us as we approached the tower.  When we entered the tower, we set off a trap that sent bolts of lightning through the hallway.  Upstairs we came across another spectre.  We interrupted it in the middle of summoning another wight.  This time we weren't so lucky and Cenia took a hit, draining her of two levels.  After defeating this spectre, Cenia used one of the scrolls that had been given to us to restore the lost levels.

With the spectres out of the way, we continued to explore the area.  We came across a crypt shaped like a cross, and inside was a lone coffin.  There were broken glass vials and broken holy symbols scattered about.  Knowing that we would eventually come across a vampire in this place, we sanctified the area and destroyed the coffin.  Hopefully if the vampire were to retreat from us, he would find no safety here.  Also inside was a scroll, which is recorded under journal entry 42.

Now we had to go hunt down this vampire, as he would most likely set up spectres to start creating undead again if we left for too long.  In the northeast corner of the graveyard, we found a set of stairs leading down into a pit.  At the bottom we were set upon by the lord of the graveyard, a vampire.

When we attacked the vampire and his wolf allies, the efreet from the bottle we had recovered joined in the fight.  A couple of well placed stinking clouds helped to keep the wolves at bay.  We left an opening wide enough for the efreet to charge in and attack the vampire.  With the combined might of us and our efreet ally, the vampire succumbed fairly quickly.

After finishing off the wolves, the vampire's body dissolved into a cloud of mist and blew out of the crypt, no doubt to recover in his coffin.  Since we knew were he was headed, we gave chase.  We found the vampire by his coffin.  Since we had destroyed it earlier he was unable to recover from his battle with us.  In his weakened state, he was easily defeated for good. 

With the vampire defeated and the graveyard now clear, we returned to Phlan to collect our deserved reward.  We were given a reward for clearing the graveyard, plus a bonus from the council for taking care of the problem.  After resting and recovering our spells, we headed back out into the city to take on Stojanow Gate, the entrance to the castle where Tyranthraxus was waiting for us.

Before we approached the gate, we saw a man hauling a cart of supplies.  We stopped him and he offered to sell us his cart.  Thinking this would be a good way to get behind the gate rather than taking the monsters on head on, we bought it from him for 250 gold.  He warned us not to talk too much to the bugbears patrolling outside the gate, as they were upset about being sent outside when the ettins took over the guard towers.

As we approached the gate, the bugbears came forward and demanded the usual payment of 15 gold to pass through which we happily paid.  They led us through both gates to the northern side and left us.  We had passed through the gate and now had the element of surprise.

We moved into the west tower first.  Upstairs we came across two humans and three ettins.  We charged in and took them all by surprise.  Our casters concentrated on keeping the mage of the group too busy to cast while the rest of us took on the ettins.  The caster never got off a spell, and with some stinking clouds, we handled the rest with ease.  During the battle, an alarm was sounded and we were met by a similar group when we left the guard tower.  Using the same strategy, we easily cut through this group as well.

We returned to the gate and approached the castle.  Around the outside of the castle itself, there are all of the support buildings and barracks required to support the residents.  There is a large wall with two large gates that lead into a hedge maze around the castle itself. 

As luck would have it, the first building we entered turned out to be a laundry room.  Inside were some women cleaning.  When they spotted us, they fled to a corner of the room until they realized that we weren't servants of Tyranthraxus.  One half-orc woman approached and told us that they were tired of Tyranthraxus sending their men off to die, and wanted to be rid of him.  She offered to disguise us and to keep quiet about our presence.  We accepted and went back out to find a way into the castle.

The disguises worked well.  We wandered around the outside of the castle without incident.  In one room that was converted into a makeshift cell, Cadorna himself had been chained to the wall.  He looked much different than when we had last seen him, his hair having been shaved from his head.  He pleaded with us to free him.  Regardless of his earlier treachery, we released him and sent him on his way.  He'll find no friends in Phlan, either with the council or with Tyranthraxus. 

Cadorna where he belongs.
In another building we ran across some files and records about what has been happening around here.  We sifted through them a bit, learning that the Red Wizards of Thay were allied with Tyranthraxus.  His ultimate goal is to conquer all lands south of the Moonsea.  That's a lot of area, including all the Dalelands!  It all stops here today...

We had another encounter in a kitchen.  Inside there were three slaves being watched by a gnoll overseer.  We attacked the gnoll, but he took off trying to get away through the door.  One of the slaves tripped the gnoll on the way out the door and we quickly rushed in to silence him for good.  One of the thankful slaves reached into one of the gnolls pouches and gave us a slip of paper.  This, he said, was the password to the gates around the maze.  With that, they left.  Now we had the info we needed to get into the hedge maze. 

We headed towards one of the gates and entered using the password.  Once inside we wandered around, trying to keep our bearings as to where we were headed.  Many times we thought about bashing through the hedge, but doing so could have been deadly as the hedge is made up of poisonous plants. 

We wandered until we came to a building in the northwest corner.  Inside was a middle aged man who presented no threat to us.  He said he had come here seeking knowledge and was captured by Tyranthraxus.  He was forced to work and just wanted to leave.  We released him, hoping that he didn't alert anyone to our presence as he left.

After hours of wandering around the maze, carefully mapping our way through, we finally came to the keep in the center.  When we entered, we came into a room that really had nothing remarkable about it save for one thing.  The south wall was an illusion, and behind the illusion was a set of stairs.  We climbed the stairs and came to a room at the end of the hallway.  The room was apparently kept as a waiting room or reception room.  A man was sitting inside playing with his dagger as he waited.  A voice from the adjacent room shouted for him.  We sat and waited as he went inside.  A few minutes later he emerged, shoving some papers into his pouch as he left. 

We went inside the office and came face to face with Tyranthraxus' second in command.  Genheeris was his name.  When he saw us a look of panic crossed his face.  He told us that instead of us killing him, he would make us generals and help us kill Tyrantraxus himself.  We declined his offer and slaughtered him at his desk.  Funny how all these evil people turn on their friends at the slightest hint of danger.

Loyalty is not on this guy's resume.
With only one option left, a set of stairs leading downward, we prepped ourselves for what could only be our final confrontation with Tyranthraxus.  Cenia cast bless and prayer, and Minelrie cast haste on all of us before heading down.  At the bottom of the stairs, we came into a room without a ceiling.  In the center of the room was a glowing pool, the Pool of Radiance.  In the other corner a bronze dragon lifted itself from the floor.  It looks to a group of warriors approaching us and tells them to get rid of us.

Finally!  The Pool of Radiance!
The guards set upon us in a fury.  Thankfully with the haste spell we were able to gain the upper hand.  The clerics all cast hold person on as many as they could as quickly as they could.  The rest the mages went after with fireballs and stinking clouds.  Eventually all the guards were either frozen in place, or laying on the ground, coughing and wheezing. 

As we killed the last of the guards, the dragon came over to speak.  He was impressed by our combat prowess, and promised anyone whop joined with him that they would be generals in his army as they swept across the Moonsea.  His gaze passed from person to person, each refusing the offer.  As the last of our group refused, the dragon set upon us. 

Immediately, he reared back his head and from his mouth flew bolts of lightning, Thanalis was the only one caught in the blast, but managed to survive the bronze dragons breath.  To minimize the dragons breath weapon, we all encircled the beast, each attacking the best we could.  In the end, Naemissa was able to sneak around to the backside of the dragon, avoiding the slithering tail as Shargralar kept its attention.  With a powerful stroke, Naemissa was able to find a weak spot in the dragons hide and dealt the final blow.

As the dragon collapsed, the fire subsided around the dragon and coalesced into a spirit floating above the pool.  This must be Tyranthraxus' true form.  It spoke to us, telling us that he could never be defeated.  Just as the spirit lunged at us, it seemed to be stopped by an invisible force.  Tyranthraxus shouted to the skies.  Bane was displeased with his servant and pulled him back into the pool from where he came.  The glow in the pool dimmed, until the pool looked like normal water. 

Tyranthraxus was gone.  We walked triumphantly back to town, the remaining humanoids loyal to Tyranthraxus gave us a wide berth as we walked.  Most ran away as we passed, others cowered in the shadows.  We returned to the council building and received our reward for freeing Phlan.

Our quest over, and weighed down with all the money we could ever need, we retired to the local inn to recover from our ordeal.  All we needed to do now was rest and find a place to spend our hard earned money.

It has taken me about 38 hours of playing to get through this game.  It took a long time, a few months to journey through it.  Much longer than I thought it would, though mostly it is my fault.  In the end, I only played a few hours a week.  I think since this was my second play through of the game in my lifetime, the last being about 18 years ago, slowed my progress.  That, and my attention span has diminished in recent years. 

All in all though I am glad I went through this.  It is still a wonderful game.  I do look forward to getting into Curse of the Azure Bonds, though I probably won't for a little while.  When I do, I doubt I will transfer many, if any, of the characters from this game.  Curse has different classes that I want to incorporate into my party. 

I'm not sure where I will go from here.  I am in the middle of a post about Borderlands, and I still need to write one about Breakthrough which I also finished today.  Maybe I'll let fate decide and use my collection program to choose one I haven't finished at random.

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