May 28, 2011

Let's Play Baldur's Gate - The Belated Part 21: "Call To Power"

We're in the home stretch of the game now.

One of the underlings of the nefarious Iron Throne, Sarevok, has successfully framed us for murder of his superiors (if by "framed" you mean "orchestrated the exposure of us killing his superiors"), and is now aiming for the leadership of the organization and, eventually, Baldur's Gate, and as an educated guess I'd speculate that the logical next step would be world domination. In the meantime we escaped incarceration in the Great Library of Candlekeep, fumbled through some catacombs, narrowly escaped petrification at the hands (or, erm, claws) of a pair of basilisks, and are now making our way towards Baldur's Gate to, once again, thwart the Iron Throne, because that's what we do.
After a brief stop to sell all the baubles we have accumulated at the general store of Beregost, we embark on a journey north, to the 'Gate.

At the Wyrm's Crossing, which is the unnecessarily long bridge into the city, we are greeted by a shifty smuggler, who asks for 100 gold to help us get into the city unmolested by the Flaming Fist, which allegedly has already put up Wanted posters for our party all over the region. I can tell from his dialogue that something isn't quite on the up and up, but 100 gold has been chump change for quite a while now and I don't have enough patience left to try and expose any bullshit attempts, so if it's a sham or a trap - so be it.

The smuggler employs an illicit and cunning tactic of just leading us across the bridge at a leisurely pace and in plain sight, but, strangely enough, we encounter no resistance and safely get to the end of the bridge, whereupon our guide says he'd come through on his end of the deal, and walks away with his 100 gold. Whatever.

Getting into the town itself, I am presented with a small problem: where are, exactly, we are supposed to go? I formulate a crude plan: Check the palace where all the Grand Dukes hang out, if that brings nothing storm the Iron Throne compound again, and if all else fails - try to reach Duke Eltan in the Flaming Fist barracks and explain our side of the story (and hope it holds up).

As we enter the city, we are greeted by a thug named Marek, who very politely asks us to leave well enough alone and stop bothering the Iron Throne, lest we want to have an encounter with him and his buddies. I tell him to shove it, of course, and he walks away as, sadly, no "attack now" option comes up in the dialogue.

A pair of guardsmen we encounter approaches us and demands surrender. I question them and find out that Scar the guard captain died and has been replaced by some bloke named Angelo, who, in turn, issued the order to apprehend us. I try to reason with the guards, but they say they can't disobey orders "suspect as though (they) may be", and urge me to choose to surrender or fight them. I have long since stopped caring, and tell them to shove it too. We throw down and I fully intend to pound them into the ground, but Xan manages to incapacitate them all with the "color spray" spell and we leave as if nothing happened.

We make our way to the Palace District, where we are approached by another guardsman - Sorrel, who I don't remember meeting but acts as if I did. Still, he has a name so he must be somewhat important. Dialogue with him confirms our suspicions: Duke Eltan has fallen sick, Scar died in a "robbery", to be replace by Angelo who is a crook of the Iron Throne. He advises the party to keep low and try to get to the Duke or poke around in the Throne's tower, so I decide to skip visiting the palace and move on to the second stage of my master plan.

The party moves to the south-western part of the city and hides in an alleyway. I get Xan to cast an Invisibility spell on Imoen, who, armed with the Boots of Speed for extra expediency, should serve as an infiltrator/messenger and get to Duke Eltan at the heart of the corrupted Flaming Fist.

Is now the wrong time?
She quickly reaches the Duke's quarters on the upper level and, skipping any attempts to find the guards loyal to him just goes to speak with the man himself, unseen by his personal guard. Eltan appears to be very sick indeed, and having eerily specifin delusions... is the wrong time, isn't it?
Looks like I've gone off the rails by actually taking a stealthy approach to a stealth mission, and now the story train went a bit backwards. Having imparted his wisdom, from the parralel universe where I don't even bother, the Duke... jumps into Imoen's inventory?! He's pretty heavy too, but luckily I can load a quicksave and give her a bag of holding she happens to have a bag of holding handy to stuff him into, and slips away with the guard none the wiser... well, no, actually the "personal guard", who turns out to be another doppelganger, notices her when she loses the stealth spell, but she runs away into a sideroom and uses the class-ability stealth to slip away.

With Eltan quite literraly in our hands, we take him to his chum - the Harbor master, for safekeeping.
With the streets teeming with guards, Imoen continues to do the heavy lifting. Having dropped off sir Eltan, we decide to barge into the Iron Throne building again, since it's right there by the harbor and the dorrs are hospitably widely open.

Enterting the complex, we encounter a trading rep fleeing the sinking ship. After a short questioning, she mentions that Sarevok has used his postition as the head of the organization (and the sole provider of quality ore) to get himself appointed a Grand Duke (which hasn't happened yet, but for all intents and purposes it might as well have), and is now cutting it loose and getting ready to enjoy his cushy new position and pursue a course for a war with Amn, because he's evil like that.

Another trading rep expresses a similar sentiment when we encounter him down the hall, saying that we are free to loot the place and he's blowing this joint. And another one on the second floor does the same. Indeed it seems that every member of the organization is packing their shit and leaving, cursing Sarevok for his bloodlust and bad business decisions ruining the profit margins.

On the third floor, a woman demands us to stop and explain what in the hell is going on. She is a representative of the central branch of the Throne (whith the local chapter apparently just being one of many), who has so far been unable to catch one of the fleeing merchants long enough to get a straight answer out of them. I blame Sarevok killing the regional leaders (carefully sidestepping the fact that I was the one doing the actual killing) and she, as well as the rest of the Throne "Washes (it's) hands of this place", as the second storm of the Citadel of Evil manages to be even more underwhelming than the first.

On the fifth floor, a feisty mage and an alleged consort of Sarevok, Cythandria, engages us in another annoying mage battle, but gives up after her health gets low and divulges the location of Sarevok himself - the ominously named Undercellars, which can be "reached through the Sewers", which is about as specific a direction as you can ever hope to get in this game. Minsc bites the dust in this fight, so we are faced with a lovely prospect of trying to get the personnel of one of the local temples to raise him before they call the guards. Thankfully we have done a few favours to the members of the local clergy a while back, so we manage to get to the temple of the luck goddes and raise our ranger, no questions asked.

With nothing else left to discover, we get down into the gutters and start looking for the "Undercellars", our search not aided by the fact that every hall in the sewers looks the same.

Finally, after clearing out the city's entire population of sewer ghouls, ghasts, annoying spiders and gelly monsters of all shapes and sizes, we manage to find the right entrance and get to the Undercellars (which, turns out, are a massive underground whorehouse).

Along the way, I discover that I have Sarevok's journal in my inventory, no doubt given to me by his fleeing consort. Reading through it sheds some light on his agenda with the whole war thing. Apperently, the prophecies of Alundo speak of Baal, the local god of death, leaving a whole bunch of corrupted children to be raised in the mortal realm (just roll with it), only five of which were to ascend to godlike power. Sarevok is, of course, one of them, and so is the Player Character. The prophecies also spoke of Baal's return, which would be heralded by a gratuitous amount of death, which is where the plans for the war come in. It would seem that Sarevok aims to bring Baal back into the mortal realm to... shit, I don't know. Share in his power?

Anyway, in the Undercellars we are greeted by a pair of Sarevok's assassins, which the sick Duke warned us about, who likely were the ones who did Scar in, and were now plotting to take out the other Dukes once Sarevok's coronation goes through.

After a scuffle (and a loaded game and another scuffle due to one of the assasins being a fucking mage) we find some more incriminating evidence against Sarevok, in the form of his orders to help assassinate the other Dukes at the coronation ceremony, together with an invitation to said ceremony.

Unfortunately, Sarevok himself is nowhere to be seen. Looks like his lover suckered me into coming right into the paws of two master assassins (although why she also gave me his journal remains a mystery). Still, we were going to pay them a visit anyway, and have gained a valuable invitation into the Duchal Palace.

Now, where should we look for Sarevok? Why not try his own coronation! We get out of the gutters and march right into the palace, after showing the single guard at the entrance (who apparently haven't received the memo about the marauding gang of escaped convicted murderers) our papers.

Later, historic reconstructions will show a full contingent of palace guards, all of which were already onto Sarevok's machinations.

We rush in to crash the ceremony, but a cutscene triggers, rendering us unable to deal the first blow. In it, Sarevok in his Lord of Doom armor stands beside the surviving Grand Dukes - Liia Jannath and Belt, - as they try to calm down the crowd complaining about the iron shortage and other problems caused by Iron Throne black ops. Before he'd even been inaugurated, Sarevok starts towing the party line by blaming all the troubles and misfortunes on Amn and Zhentarim agents, and proposing an immediate war, before finally noticing me standing in the doorway and impatiently tapping my foot, whereupon most of the nobles attending the ceremony turn into Greater Doppelgangers and attack the Grand Dukes, the palace guards engage them and we join the clusterfuck. And then hypnotize a doppelganger who accidentally attacks Belt, thereby making the good guys hostile, fucking the storyline in the ass and making me load an earlier save and watch the ceremony all over again.

After the fight, Belt compliments us on our timely arrival and I give him the incriminating papers. Sarevok goes hostile and attacks, but after a while calls a mage lackey forth and teleports away with him. Belt, who I guess is a priest, teleports us close to him, to the Thieves Guild, without letting us pick up the stuff Dynaheir had when she perished by Sarevok's blade. A thief says Sarevok went downstairs, into the cellar, and advises us to pick up some equipment and rest before we head after him.

Finally, after getting our potions, our arrows and our gear straightened out, we are ready to descend the ladder into the final dungeon of the game...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yeah final dungeon!