Once upon a time, there was an ancient RPG series made by Spiderweb Software called Exile and it was great. Then, there was a remake series called Avernum, which added 3 additional sequels on top of the 4 remakes. Now, there’s a re-remake series also called Avernum and the third game of the era was recently released. Here’s me playing through the two early dungeons of Avernum 3: Ruined World and talking about what’s different from Exile 3: Ruined World
Tag: Avernum Series
As you might know, I’ve completed Avernum a while ago. Since then, I haven’t written much about it, but I did play it for a little while longer. I decided I want to finish up some of the simpler, quicker achievements and simply wrap up some loose ends.
One of the achievements requires finding at least 40 of the various hidden caches scattered around the underworld. It took me a while, but I managed to find the 40 I needed. I’m not sure if there’s more than 40 in total, but the achievement requires no more than that, so the map I created on my search should help others with the game. So here it is, the map with locations to 40 hidden caches across the caves.
Since I have the entirety of the game behind me now, I can also give you some quick tips on character builds, skills, and various other things. The game is not to difficult, so no amount of power play is needed, but for those who prefer to play that way, or even for those who are just slightly interested, the following advice might be helpful.
First of all, don’t worry about class choice if you’re playing on the normal difficulty. As long as you play remotely smart, you’ll do just fine with any class and any reasonable build. It’s only on higher difficulties that this becomes important.
If you prefer to play on the higher difficulties, or if you just want to feel powerful, here are some tips:
- Archer’s are weak. Seriously, ranged classes are the weakest characters, no matter the build. They will be good enough for normal, but you should probably not be taking them on hard unless you want a bigger challenge.
- Two melee and two spellcasters is the way to go. Spellcasters are by far the more powerful, but with more than two, you might have trouble getting enough money to learn all the important spells.
- Dual wield is better than a two handed weapon or a sword and shield combination. You will do more damage and you won’t lose so much on defence that it becomes a handicap. Likewise, melee weapons are superior to spears and ranged weapons.
- Teach some basic healing spells to one of your melee characters. It can help a lot to be able to throw an extra heal every now and then. It’s in no way essential, though.
- Get Adrenaline Rush for everyone. Each of your characters should pickup enough base weapon skills to get this discipline. It seriously boosts the power of your mages and can end most fights before the enemy even has a chance to act. Use training NPCs and items for those couple of extra points.
There are three different utility skills in game, which allow you to find more items, learn spells and get past certain points:
- Tool Use – You need an 8 minimum to actually finish the game. 11 is enough to get all the good and useful items. 13 is needed to escape from a dragon in late game and 14 is needed to get the loot in the final dungeon. I recommend you get to 14 on your first run, to get and see everything, but 11 is enough for all the future runs.
- Cave Lore – This one isn’t really needed at all. It’s required to get the hidden caches and 10 is enough to get all of them. This is why I recommend 10 points on the first run, and no points at all for future runs.
- Arcane Lore – Required to learn spells from books. 12 points is needed to be able to decipher every tome in the game. 10 is more than enough for future runs. Be sure to make use of the feat Sage Lore, which lowers the Arcane Lore requirement by 3 per point invested.
There’s plenty of combat skills in the game, but not all are as effective, so be sure to prioritize increasing the better ones first.
- The Melee Weapons skill is needed for everyone to get Adrenaline Rush, but especially needed for your fighters. However, you can learn two levels of each other weapon skill (Spear, Bow, Missile) at a trainer, so there is no need to invest more than 10 points here.
- Likewise, the Bow skill is needed by your archer, if you really want to use one. While both archers and missile weapon specialists are weak, bows are slightly better than missile weapons. I still recommend not using an archer, though.
- Hardiness should probably be maxed out for most characters by the end of the game. Fighters should do it sooner, of course.
- Increase Parry last, only if you have maxed out all of your other skills.
- For offensive skills, Blademaster is strongest, followed by Lethal Blow and Dual Wielding. Increase them in that order.
As for magic skills, you won’t have as many here, but for those you do, max all of them out.
- Mage Spells should go to 17 in order to get all the important ones. Priest Spells should go to 6-16, depending on which spells you would like. Of course, you should get them higher on first run, in order to be able to get the achievements.
- Spellcraft should be maxed out soon. Put points into it while still increasing your Mage/Priest Spells skill.
- Resistance is almost as good as Hardiness, so everyone should max it out eventually.
There are many different traits/feats available, but most are not worth taking. The notable ones are Improved Strength, Ambidextrous, Mighty Blows and Dual Blade Mastery for your fighters. You should probably prioritize taking all of those. For your magic users, get some Sage Lore, but prioritize Improved Intelligence. Your mages especially should get Elemental Focus, which is even better than Spellcraft.
Everyone should take a point in Negotiator as soon as it’s available (at level 8, I believe). This improves your income significantly. A good idea for power gamers would be to delay selling anything until level 8. As for other utility traits, Negotiator can be useful, but not much else. Good, Robust and Perfect Health traits are a must for all your characters.
I entered the Black Spire fortress and started with the procedure. I used the Royal Seal on the north wall, which removed the trap on the switches, but also summoned a bunch of demons. After the fight, I turned the wheel and the way through the first tower was open. At the second tower, I had the option the remove the barriers using the ritual Koth taught me, but I decided to fight instead. It was a tough battle against two very powerful eye beasts, but I managed to defeat them. The second tower was clear as well.
I continued through the passages, fighting several hosts of demons along the way and avoiding various traps. Eventually, I’ve reached the augmenter and summoned Erika. She used the brooches I collected and activated the portal. I stepped through it and I was at the Royal spire, with alarms activating all around me.
I fought my way through the halls, climbing up the spire towards the royal chambers. After every step, there were more and more royal guards running after me. Eventually, I got to the chambers of the royal wizard. I fought him and his lackeys, but once he realised I could kill him, he stepped aside, agreeing it might really be time for the crazed king to die. I rushed on to the royal throne room and found the king there, behind an unbreakable shield and guarded by several sentinels. No matter how hard I would hit him the shield would block my every attack, so I started focusing on the sentinels instead. This was also in vain, as every time a sentinel would almost be destroyed, Hawthorne would use his shield to restore it completely. However, each time he would do this, his shield would noticeably weaken.
After several rounds of this, Hawthorne’s shield completely dissipated and my archer shot a single arrow at him. It was enough to kill him outright. His sentinels shattered instantly upon his death and his guards started running away in a panic. The portal in his room changed colour and I decided to try my luck and enter it. I made the right choice, as it brought me back to the augmenter, with Erika waiting for me. My mission was finally over.
With my mission complete, it was time to focus on the tasks of killing emperor Hawthorne and finding a way to leave the caves. For this, I had to go to the Abyss, to Spire. I already had the Onyx Scepter, but I still needed the Silver Circlet and I remembered the mayor of Spire has a circlet she treasures greatly. I talked to some shady guy there who had a beef with the mayor, and he told me how to get the circlet.
With both the circlet and the sceptre, I returned to Sulfras. As promised before, I decided to try and kill him first. He was much, much tougher than Pyrog, but as he died, he whispered something, making me think he was important later somehow, so I decided to reload my game. I took a screenshot with me killing him anyway, just so it’s official. I gave him the sceptre and the circlet, and the way was open for me.
After a series of long passages, I’ve finally reached some sort of facility filled with strange looking giant creatures. Room after room, I was faced with different physical and mental challenges, but eventually, I’ve reached the end of it and then I saw it. Grass! Light! The Sun! I’ve found an exit to the surface. I’ve spent a few hours wandering around and exploring, but then I returned. My job was not yet done. The emperor is still alive. The way out is here now, and it won’t go away anytime soon.
I returned to Erika and told her of my discovery. Now it was time to kill Hawthorne. To do this, I needed to find Aydin, so I returned to the northern waters. I kept thinking about that imperial tower with the trap, so I decided to go back there. Upon some exploration, I realized it was possible to get through the trap by drinking from a magical pond nearby. As it turns out, it wasn’t an imperial tower at all. It belonged to Aydin. As it turns out, he was an imperial mage, but got exiled. Even worse, the Empire want’s him dead, so they are constantly sending assassins after him. This is why he wants to help me kill Hawthorne.
Apparently, there is an imperial fort with a teleportation augmenter in the area. Using the right rituals, and with the help of a mage casting the spell, it could be possible for me to teleport anywhere, including Hawthorne’s chambers. The problem is, the augmenter is guarded by two towers. One of them was warded by the dragon Koth, though he might not have issues with removing the word, now that I’ve returned his scroll. The other contains a magical trap which requires a Royal Seal of the Empire to disable. There was a seal that came with the First Expedition, so Rone might know something about that.
Koth was nearby, so I went to visit him immediately. He was more than willing to teach me the ritual which removes his wards, after what I did for him. With that out of the way, I returned to Erika to update her on the matters. She told me that, apart from the Royal Seal, I would still need four out of five magical brooches belonging to the First Expedition. They are required to recalibrate the augmenter, in order for me to be sent close to Hawthorne upon use. Luckily, I already found four of those on my travels. However, it would be optimal to get all of them, so that’s what I’m going to do. According to Erika’s notes, the last one should be in Pyrog’s lair, so I must have missed it somehow.
I went to the castle to speak to Rone. He told me the First Expedition seal should be in Akhronath, the shattered fort west of the Tower of Magi. Patrick already told me how to access the back chambers of the fort as a token of gratitude for helping his wife, so I went there directly. I soon found the seal in one of the back rooms, guarded by a host of demons. With the seal in my possession, all I needed were the two brooches. I returned to Pyrog’s lair and soon realized I missed a hidden switch on my previous visit. It revealed a room where the brooch was kept, guarded by a bound haakai demon. With this, I had everything I needed to complete my mission. I wasn’t ready just yet, though. I still had to decide what to do with the Freehold of Kyass.
I decided to let them be. True, resources are limited. True, unity would be preferable. True, they Kyass might have secret intentions, but the fact remains – the Freeholds has done absolutely nothing wrong yet. Instead of eradicating them, I helped them with their various recruitment tasks and then left them to themselves. There was just one last thing for me to do. I went to the Lost Bahssikava colony and descended to the depths, to find their lost expedition. I soon found most of them dead, but their warrior was still alive. He said their singing stone was lost and the way to it was barred by a lock. I’ve soon found what he was talking about and figured out the lock requires 6 triangular objects. The first three, I already had, while the last three were on an altar nearby. After getting those, and fighting some undead guardians, I’ve found the gate to the depths the Slithzerikai were banished from. It was still locked, and a voice said they have yet to redeem themselves. With the key in my hands, I opened the passage to the singing stone and brought it back to the colony.
It was now time to kill Hawthorne.
I got stuck for a while, trying to find a water route to the northwestern caverns with one of my boats, but then I remembered a locked gate near the giant’s castle. As expected, the key I got within the castle unlocked the gate and opened a way to the castle docks, where two new boats were waiting for me. I started exploring the new area and very soon found the sage who was in possession of the last piece of the password.
Slowly continuing to the west, exploring every possible area, I’ve stumbled into a hidden tower with the only approachable way blocked by an energy barrier. I tried passing through it, but I died instantly. Thankfully, the game saved automatically just before I made this completely uncalculated choice.
Other than that, the exploration was rather uneventful, with only a bunch of minor encounters and nothing of real importance. As I was approaching the abyss, I again stumbled into a concealed Imperial base called the Black Spire. I explored what I could of it, but parts were inaccessible or hidden behind impassable traps. From what I could tell from the documents I’ve found there, the fort is used as a protection for the Empire. What kind of protection and from what, I have no idea.
Eventually, I’ve sailed my boat all the way back to Erika’s tower. The problem is, I’ve never found the man she wanted me to find. I either didn’t look well enough, or there was some sort of a misunderstanding.
I decided to clear out my quest log for a bit, so I started roaming around Avernum finishing up minor tasks. Once the log started to look decent, it was time to go have some fun with Grah-Hoth. I spoke to Rone, the castle mage, who told me the demon is trapped in a bottle, in his fortress. In order to kill him, I have to first free him and I need a blessed athame to do that. If there is one in Avernum, someone at the Tower of Magi should know about it. The tower has its own problems, though. It seems that Linda has an unhealthy infatuation with demons and is keeping a haakai lord captive at the tower. Since Solberg, the responsible member of the Triad is away, this could be a problem. Luckily, Solberg left a message embedded in a crystal in a cavern nearby, saying if there’s any trouble, to contact him at his tower near Formello.
I’ve already been at Solberg’s tower before, but I needed a password to get in. Now that I had it, that wasn’t an issue anymore. Solberg explained what was going on. The mages at the tower are being slightly power hungry. They want the haakai lord to lead them as a chieftain. Of course, dealing with demons never ends well, so this needs to be stopped. He gave me a key I needed to access the place where the haakai is held and sent me on my way. I returned to the tower of magi and started going through the central, yet unexplored area.
The place was filled with minor and greater demons. Speaking to one of them revealed the trapped haakai lord is Adze-Haakai. In a room nearby, after killing a couple of demons, I’ve found the Blessed Athame. Adze-Haakai was on the top floor, waiting for me with the Onyx Sceptre next to him. Mostly in thanks to Demonslayer, he wasn’t impossible to deal with. The battle lasted a long time, but I emerged victorious. I’ve reported the events to Linda and, as expected, she wasn’t very happy about it. With the Athame in hand, it was time to go to Skarragath, to free Grah-Hoth so I could kill him.
Skarragath was southeast of Erika’s tower. In order to gain access to it, I had to open the gate at the guard post before it. When I did that, the defences activated, causing a host of undead guardians to attack me. Once that fight was over, Grah-Hoth prison was open for me. I went there and used the Athame on the vessel containing the demon. There was an explosion, and he was free. Now it was time to find him in his fort and kill him.
His fortress was to the north. I had a hard time even getting to it, fighting host after host of demons. Eventually, I got to the entrance, where I killed one of the demon king’s lieutenants. I got a key from its body, which allowed me to enter through the service gate. It seems Grah-Hoth’s imp slaves really dislike him, because they’ve pointed me in the direction of a secret passage to the inner area.
After a long series of battles with tough demons, I’ve finally found Grah-Hoth’s throne room. He started summoning waves of demons and undead, but I kept my focus on bringing him down. Eventually, thanks to Demonslayer and some powerful spells, he fell and it was over. I’ve gathered all of his treasures and left the fortress. King Micah was pleased that this great threat to Avernum is finally gone for good.
I had the choice of giving the spellbook from the dragon’s lair to either Avernum, the imperial agent under Formello, or to a sage in Kyass. I picked Avernum and was immediately given another task, to find another spell book in the tomb of Drath. I was already there earlier, so I remembered I needed a key from Mothrax’ lair. He was willing to give it to me, so that part was over quickly. I also visited Erika to ask her for one part of the password for the exit from the caverns. She gave it to me willingly, and also listed a few powerful denizens of Avernum, who might hold the other pieces. Patrick had one piece, and the dragon Athron had another. The last part should be in the possession of the dragon Koth, or a sage to the north, both of whom I haven’t met yet.
With all of this done, I went back to the tomb of Drath. I didn’t remember the location correctly, so I took a wrong turn and ended up near the aranea cave. This turned out well, because I managed to kill the aranea queen, which got me a very nice shield for my archer. I also eradicated a village of giants nearby. Among the rubble, I’ve found a bow belonging to the First Expedition.
Drath wasn’t difficult to dispose of, but he had plenty of health, so the fight lasted a while. I was even given the opportunity to let him escape, but I don’t have any mercy for the undead, so he died soon after. He left me the Robe of the Magi, which I believe is another item from the First Expedition, and in his coffin, I’ve found the last piece of the Demonslayer. I immediately went to Draco to restore it and now I’m holding the most powerful sword in the game.
With the sword in hand, I returned to further explore the area near Erika’s tower. There was a ruined fort there built by the Empire. Among the rubble, I’ve found the commanders log, describing how they stole a scroll from a dragon’s lair to the north. They transferred the scroll to a base in the east, but the dragon came and destroyed everything. I assumed they were talking about Koth and the scroll I already recovered from the chasm fort.
Near the ruined fort, I’ve found a mysterious cavern blocked by barriers. A set of runes at the entrance indicated it was a Vahnatai crypt. It seems the Vahnatai aren’t really extinct, as it has been several times now that they have been described as “sleeping”. I’m not sure if I’ll encounter any that are awake, but they seem like an interesting race.
Pretty soon, I’ve found Koth’s lair and returned him the scroll. He didn’t give me anything for it, but I’m hoping it will pay out later. I also asked him about the final piece of the password, but he said he didn’t know. I guess the sage on the northern islands has it. I’ve also found a tome which taught me the third level of the Dispel Barrier spell, so it was time for some backtracking, as I’ve encountered unbreakable barriers several times already.
Doing this made me an official member of the Scimitar. I could enter the base of their cell in Baghra and speak to their leader. I immediately asked about finding the exit to the surface. It seems they’ve already been working on it. They know for sure an exit exists and they know it’s located somewhere past Fort Remote. They also know it’s in imperial control, meaning I need to find a way to take that control room them. A password is involved to gain access to it, and Erika already knows at least a part of it. It seems I’m going to have to help her to be able to expect anything back. For now, I need to deal with those demons in Fort Remote.
I went there, and was soon greeted by a Haakai messenger shade. Grah-Hoth, the demon who ruled the underground, and was imprisoned by the early Avernites is back. He is influencing other demons from his prison and was the one who ordered the attack. I’ve fought back some of his lackeys and then returned to the Castle to file my report. The king was not happy. If Grah-Hoth has such powers even from his prison, then he needs to be permanently disposed of somehow. The problem is, the king is old, Erika is in exile, Rone, the king’s wizard is pretty much crazy, and the Triad is mostly scattered. I will have to find a way to do this without relying on the people who have done it in the past.
First, I needed to go explore past Fort Remote. As I was going north through the maze of passages, it was becoming more and more apparent that Imperial presence is in the area. In one of the northernmost passages, I’ve found the lair of Sulfras, one of the five dragons of Avernum. He was guarding the passage further, demanding payment. It was outrageous, really. He wants two artefacts of the First Expedition in order to let me through. Even more outrageous, he’s obviously cooperating with someone, probably the Empire, because he refuses to tell me what’s beyond the passage. I will get the two artefacts anyway, but I probably will not give them to him. As soon as I’m strong enough, he’s going down.
In the southern part of the maze, I’ve found the lair of the Chasm drake. I couldn’t say it was a very easy battle, but since I’ve delayed exploring this area for a while, it wasn’t extremely challenging. Among his loot was Smite, a legendary magical spear. Sadly, no one in my party uses spears, but I decided to take it with me as a collectible anyway. With the pass explored, I decided to check out that dragon’s lair in the Honeycomb.
The lair belonged to Arthon, a female dragon not to fond of humans. She was willing to talk, but there were no pleasantries exchanged. However, thanks to some of the damage I’ve done to the Empire, she has decided to reward me by giving me access to one of her spellbooks. After this, I went north, to explore the area where the giants lived. I used Thralni’s Orb to enter a cave beyond a huge chasm. As expected, it was an Imperial base. I killed pretty much everyone inside and found a scroll they stole from a dragon to the west. I’m guessing the dragon in question was Koth, since Sulfras had no issues with cooperating with the Empire.
I also decided to visit another dragon, Pyrog. She was a feisty one and wanted to fight me from the start. I agreed to a duel and defeated her relatively easily. For one of the rumoured stronger dragons, she wasn’t very impressive. I’ve found some stuff in her treasure, including the spellbook several people in Avernum are looking for.
The giant’s castle was next. I could only approach from the front, so I expected an ambush or a trap, and it turned out I was right. As soon as I passed the gate, the floor opened up and I feel to the level below. I didn’t let that stop me, though. I cleared room after room, climbed back up and killed the chieftain. The citizens of Baghra were happy, but not all giants followed the chieftain, so the war wasn’t really over; the battles will just be a bit easier and less frequent.
I approached the fort from the secret entrance on the southern wall. The ground floor was easy to clear, apart from the main room. Technically, I could have avoided the fight against the majority of the slith force in the main room, but I decided to clear them anyway. The throne room was on the second floor. Again, it was quite simple to clear. The fight against Ssss-Thsss was challenging, but not too challenging. I looted his corpse, got his mark of leadership as proof of kill and return to the castle.
As I was leaving the throne room for my well-deserved break, someone barged in saying Fort Remote was attacked by demons. Me being the most appropriate for the task, I was immediately sent on this mission. However, as it’s been made apparent by now, I don’t prioritize well. I decided to go to the Freehold of Kyass first, for some investigating.
The Freehold of Kyass is, unsurprisingly, run by a guy named Kyass. He basically proclaimed the untamed north the sovereign territory of this new state and wants nothing else but to be left in peace. It’s really hard for me to pick sides on this. On one hand, it would be hypocritical for Avernum to not tolerate another state, seeing how Empire was acting this exact way on the surface. On the other hand, underground resources are severely limited as it is. Sharing them between two different nations would not be a good thing. In any case, I gathered some intelligence, helped with some minor issues to gain trust, and then returned to the castle.
During all of this, I went to explore the drake cave near the Slitzerikai fortress that I skipped earlier. It turns out it isn’t really a drake cave. Two thirds to the north were actually occupied by an ancient crypt, and haunted by another lich. The thing is, the undead here weren’t human before they died. One of the friendly spirits there told me they are Vahnatai, an ancient, nearly extinct race of humanoids living in the deeper caves.
I returned to the Great Cave, and then moved to the area near the Tower of Magi, to deal with their ogre issue. It was easy, as expected, since I’ve been delaying this mission for a while now. After that, I decided to pay a visit to the Abyss, since I had a few delivery jobs to complete in that area. The first town to reach was Spire. Spire is the bad city of the Abyss. It’s basically run by criminals, with Meena, their mayor, being the biggest one. There was an arena there, however, so I managed to become champion while I was there. The final fight was a bit lengthy, but not really too hard.
Baghra is the good town of the Abyss, so it really sucks Avernum isn’t at all helping them with their giant problem. By giant problem, I don’t mean big problem, I mean literally giants. They are constantly being attacked by giants from the west and Avernum has done nothing to help them with the fight. I decided to take it into my own hands, but I don’t think I’m ready for it yet.
After completing some minor tasks, I went on to fully explore the area. There were a few minor events here and there, some fights of various difficulties, but eventually, I managed to explore most of the area. More importantly, I’ve found Erika’s tower. To gain an audience, I had to go through a testing ground, with both mental and physical challenges. Eventually, I’ve found her quarters.
She’s a cold and calculated person with a large amount of hate for the Empire. She’s also very direct, almost instantly making her intentions known. She wants revenge on the Empire, the emperor and his right-hand wizard Garzahd, who cursed her with her affliction. If the sun would ever to touch her skin again, it would burn her instantly. The curse cannot be removed, so even if Avernites one day do find an exit from the caves, she can never leave.
She wants to assassinate Hawthorne, but not just for petty revenge. The emperor is paranoid and psychotic. Anyone would rule better in his place. Hearing her reasoning, I agreed to let her use me. In order to kill the emperor, we need a portal to the surface, to some place near him, preferably. There’s a man named Ayden somewhere on the islands north of her tower. He knows the location of such a portal, as well as the rituals needed to use it. I’ve also spoken to her about other things. She agreed to teach me magic, for a price. I made use of this immediately, learning a couple of very powerful mage spells. I also asked about the possibility of finding a physical route to the surface. She said this was possible, but I’d better off working with the Scimitar group on this matter. I’ve already met their members in Baghra, and I’m in the process of joining them, so I’ll get to that later. I explored the rest of her tower and activated a transport pylon in the southeast corner. It was time to leave.
South of the slith colony, I’ve found an Aranea lair. This seemed to be their primary lair, because there queen was on the second floor of it. I tried to fight her and failed, so I might return to that later. For now, she is definitely too powerful. The rest of the lair, however, was cleared completely and easily.
My next objective is to gain entry to the Slitzerikai fortress. In order to do that, I needed a key, which can be found in one of the minor bases. I’ve tried one located upriver of a large waterfall. The slith dabbled in demonology there, so I had to fight plenty of demons to clear it out. Eventually, I’ve found the chamber of the shaman leader and killed him. In one of his chests, I’ve found an onyx key. I’m not sure if this is what I need, but it’s something.
To the west of the minor base was the network of waterfalls where the Orb of Thralni was supposedly lost. I decided to try my luck and search for it. It didn’t work out. The wrong turn would take me to the Great Cave, while the right turns took me towards groups of enemies I couldn’t defeat yet. This is another one I will have to do later. There was also a drake cave nearby, but I decided to go to a town and recuperate.
After some rest, I returned to the great cave to tackle the gremlin menace to the south. On the way there, I stopped by Patrick’s Tower to heal Patrick’s wife with the graymold salve I procured. As a token of gratitude, he taught me how to access the ruined keep of the demon lord who once ruled Avernum, but I won’t be going there yet. As for gremlins, Lord Chuckles was a pain and exploring their castle was even more of a pain, but eventually I cleared it and got access to their treasure. This gave me a nice sword with a poisoned blade. I’ve gone out to complete some other minor task and then returned to the Castle. I’ve killed the demon trapped in the cells there, as the guard captain asked, so he gave me a mission. I have to go to Kyass and find out what their intentions are.
Of course, I already decided to focus on the slith for now. I went north of fort Emerald to clear out one of their bases there. It was an easy task. In one of the rooms in the base, I’ve found another set of plans which someone will definitely want. To the west of the base, there was what looked like a regular gremlin cave. After some exploring, I’ve realized it was a secret Imperial outpost. I’ve killed the empire soldiers there and gathered their equipment. Whatever it was they were planning, it failed. In the opposite direction, to the east, there was a tomb of some person named Drath, which I tried to explore, but I couldn’t get past a locked gate. According to an abandoned journal I found there, a band of adventurers hid in the tomb, found the key and took it with them to the dragon Morthrax. For now, the area was as clear as it could be, so It was time to move on.
Taking the absolutely longest route to the slith fortress, I decided to take care of the bandit problem north of Saffron. In the eastern lair, I’ve found letters from someone named Meena. This person was obviously giving orders to the bandits, but was also very clear they should avoid killing anyone if at all possible. Also, the leader of the lair claimed he was Empire, though that might just be misplaced loyalties. The western base was in ruins when I got there. A bunch of eyebeasts have completely destroyed the place. After clearing all of the ground floor, I’ve found a way to the floor below, where a group of brigands was still hiding. Their leader was my old friend, Lagrand. It seems his experience in Avernum was just as eventful as mine. I offered him a chance to leave, but he wouldn’t hear of it, so I had to kill him. It was a tough fight, but it was finally over.
With the bandit issue taken care of, I tried my lock with the Orb of Thralni again. This time, I managed to kill the pack of vengeful shades easily. After a couple of attempts down the maze of rapids, I’ve finally found a way to a basilisk infested cavern. In one of the final rooms, I’ve found the orb and the monster responsible for killing the First Expedition. It was a lich. The battle was easy and the spoils were decent.
Finally, I decided to go to the slith fort. I took a brief trip to Fort Emerald to recuperate and then landed my both on the island where the fort was located.
The Tower of Magi is enveloped in fear. The higher-up mages are hiding something and it shows on the various students there. I talked to X, one of the Triad, but he wouldn’t say anything. However, he promised me to teach me some spells if I get some notes from the Library in Baghra. The Triad consists of X, Solberg and Linda. They are considered the most powerful mages in Avernum, and they run the tower. The Tower itself was built by Erika, the actual, most powerful mage of Avernum, but it’s unknown where she is at the moment. Solberg is also on some expedition, so Linda is basically the one in charge for the time being. In one of the chambers, I’ve found an experimental portal which connects to the various pylons I’ve found in the cities across Avernum. The mage in charge taught me how to use it, so I can now quickly travel to most areas I’ve already been to.
After exploring the tower, I decided it was time to help the town of Mertis with their undead problem. The nearby passages soon revealed a cave which seemed to be the source of the undead. After a series of spiralling hallways, I’ve reached the central chamber, where a number of human and slith bodies were frozen, perfectly preserved. Through a vision, I discovered what happened. The Slitzerikai chased a group of Empire soldiers to this place, and both sides got trapped by a cave in, forced to die of starvation. Their mutual hatred created the curse. I killed the ghost commander, but the curse was not gone, only delayed. At least for now, Mertis will be safe.
After emerging from the cursed place, I realized I never actually visited Mertis. I simply followed the rumours and acted. It was a small farming community, with very little to offer. I’ve found the mayor, told him of what I did and moved on.
Since I was much stronger now, it was time to start dealing with the Slitzerikai problem. The first target was the newly built tower on the island close to Cotra. It was relatively easy to clear, and I’ve found some plans there I couldn’t read, as well as one of the missing crystals from that cavern nearby. The crystal was behind a hidden switch in the central lake.
I went to do some deliveries in the area of Formello and discovered a couple of new quests on the job board. I also managed to get past the barrier underneath Formello and discovered an Imperial mage there. Apparently, she was there with permission of the king and has a task for me. Her golem defenders seemed tough, so I decided to cooperate, for now. There’s an assassin hiding in the bat caves to the south, probably past that switch I didn’t know how to handle. The mage wants me to kill him. I also found a hidden passage in Formello, leading to a couple of treasure chests with strong magical defences. I don’t know who put them there, but for now, I can’t do anything about them.
I’ve done what the mage asked of me and was offered a second job. I am to find a man named Kyass and help him. I don’t think I’ll be completing this one. The name Kyass already reached my ears several times before. The last I heard of him, he is calling himself king of Avernum and is operating from a settlement in the north. Aiding him would mean betraying the real king, so I’m guessing I’ll have to do something else.
I’ve continued dealing with the slith and decided to invade the temple where a piece of the Demonslayer was held. It was a tough place to clear, but eventually, I recovered the sword piece and managed to fight my way out of the temple. Next up was getting the Slithzerikai Arcana for that mage in Fort Dranlon. This was much easier compared to the sword piece. As a sign of gratitude, she taught me how to dispel magical barriers. I guess I won’t need any more piercing crystals from now on.
I decided to take a side trip and deliver some blacksmithing supplies to Silvar. This made another job available, which required different supplies. I paid a visit to some of the dungeons I’ve already cleared, including the early Nephilim cave. I noticed I missed a few things there on my first run, including a room guarded by two crypt demons. It was somewhat of a tough fight, but I managed to defeat them and realized they were guarding the pommel of the Demonslayer. Now I just need to find someone who can reassemble the sword.
I went to Fort Draco to do just that, since I remembered they have a huge smithy there. I was wrong, though. I still need a few more pieces of the blade. I moved on to explore the rivers to the north and found a secluded monastery. The clerics there taught me how to cast the Return Life spell. Slightly to the south was Lost Bahssikava. It is the place the Slithzerikai were banished through from the lower caverns. There was still a peaceful tribe living there, hoping to uncover what they call the “Speaking Stone”. It’s their sacred artefact, but the expedition that went to retrieve it hasn’t been heard of. This place is still slightly above my level so, while I agreed to help, I won’t be doing it any time soon.