And then have to deal with the exterior guards all over again, because the lovely Dynaheir manages to warp into an inaccessible part of terrain and get stuck right after I quicksave, and the closest normal save is at the start of the location.
|The second mage just gives up and teleports offscreen.|
But, of course, on second attempt everything goes tits up. Drasus doesn't get charmed and starts pummeling Lexter, the tank player character, Genthore fails to get hit by Jaheira and starts annoyingly chasing my mages and the enemy mages manage to cast confusion on half the party before they fall unconscious, and lead everyone into my newly created cloud of toxic vapours.
A few more tries and a few more annoying mishaps later, we finally take down the evil tag team and shift through their stuff. For our troubles we get a pile of enchanted items: Plate Mail +1 (very useful for my physically-challenged, fullplate-impaired PC), a club, a pair of mage robes and the nifty Boots of Speed. Oh, and a contract saying that these losers were hired by one Rieltar to protect Sarevok from "anyone foolish enough to attempt a direct assault on the mines". That would be us. Guess we aren't going to take them by surprise.
We rest up, behind enemy lines, and continue exploring the fort by going into the nearest structure, which turns out to be barracks. Two guards inside, apparently too distracted by idly staring at walls to hear the fighting outside or the subsequent camping, pose no threat, we loot the place and go to the second floor. A scared lackey divulges the location of the entrance to the mines in exchange for us not killing him - now that's an attitude I could stand to see more often! We sift through the footlockers on the second floor (which has six beds - I suppose the mooks sleep head-to-toe), take all the cash and leave the building.
The lackey said that the mine entrance is "in the bailey to the east". Now if only I knew what "a bailey" is. Still, the wooden wall doesn't leave much choice in terms of direction and we follow it until we find the only other building in the fort. So much for useful information. We deal with the two guards inside, find a ladder and descend into the depths below. I just hope it's not the fucking kobolds again.
As we enter the sprawling mineshafts below the fort, we hear someone scream and another Iron Throne lackey initiates conversation to tell us how much he is going to kill us. And this time it's not even a miniboss, it's a random guard! Now you're just wasting my time. We waste the lookout and proceed further, where we find a couple of miners. I get ready to don my abolitionist hat as one of the miners approaches, and tell him the bad people are dead and it's okay to go home now, but he just tries to tell on his colleague deviating from the party line, notices that we're not the guards and starts screaming for the real guards, which literally materialize out of thin air. The guards inside the mine are much weaker than the soldiers we've faced above and go down faster than I can order switching targets, but their scalps appear prettier and more delicate, so Lexter decides to take some for his private collection. Unfortunately the second slave miner tells me that he'll never know the light again and dematerializes before I can retort. The exit is right there! Whatever, he's probably into this new-fashioned emo stuff, so it'd be better for everyone if he stays there.
We keep moving. One of the hostile thugs hiding in the alcoves all over the mine rushes us, but initiates conversation before we can fill his body with arrowheads. I'll just show you this:
|Aloe Vera and Seahorse Liver Balm really help... I, um, heard.|
I try to get him to leave, but he recognizes us and tries the patented 100% adventurer-proof mook bumrush. Guess his "maypole" will be the least of his wife's worries.
We head into southern tunnels, curbstomp more idiot mook guards, talk to more captive miners, one of them even tries to get me to flood the place. The place is full of long, winding shafts and dead ends and I start to get a little bored. We find another entrance and we move from boring mineshafts into boring well-furnished tunnels full of the same Iron Throne elite we've seen topside. These guys can't do much damage, but they are decked out in plate and killing them can take quite a while. We unlock the prison block (the slaves there also seem unimpressed with my heroic rescue attempts), stumble into some traps (this game has the worst trap detection system I've ever seen), marvel at the perfectly empty loot containers...
|Why, level designers? Whyyyy?!|
We find what appears to be a secret passage, find some Ghasts in there to kill and follow it until it leads us to another wing full of holding cells. One of the slave miners, Rill, walks up to me and initiates what must be the first productive conversation I've had in this area. He introduces himself as the de-facto leader of the slaves, tells me he recognizes me as the man who has been causing Iron Throne so much trouble and asks if I can help the slaves escape. He wants to bribe the captain of the Black Talons (which, I assume, are the crap soldiers we've been fighting on the level above, in the mine proper) and asks for 100 gold, which, at this point, is pocket change to me, so I agree. We also meet the unfortunately-named Yeslick, a dwarf who offers me to help take on the thugs with his cleric powers. Unfortunately my party is still all booked up, so I turn him down, but he is nice enough to offer some information before he leaves. Apparently, this mine used to belong to his clan until they tapped into the river and flooded
Again with the flooding, but now that the slaves are out of the way I'm starting to seriously consider it. Well, it's still two levels to go before we can get the key.