"It seems like destiny will not be forestalled."
- 4. Field
Streets of BluselleEdit
- 9. Streets of Bluselle 1
- 10. Streets of Bluselle 2
- 11. Streets of Bluselle 3
- 12. Streets of Bluselle 4
- 13. Streets of Bluselle 5
- 14. Streets of Bluselle 6
- 15. Town Square
Optional Boss Encounters
Clear nodes 1, 2, 5 and 6, then fight the boss Graslau at node 8.
If you crafted the Boots of Water Walking you can skip nodes 5, 6, 7, and 8 by walking across the lake but you would have to fight node 16 instead.
Now go through the town, clearing nodes 9, 10, 11, and 14, and fight the final boss Talmec at node 15.
Sidequest: Dangerous GamesEdit
- Common Craft: Grimoire of the Flame (Dragon's Breath)
- Special Craft: Severed Head (Drax's Demise) (Obtained from Dangerous Games)
- Set Craft:
Your way continues north, roads and paths ferrying you through Rhynhart's countryside like rivers rushing towards your next destination -- drawing you onwards with their inexorable pull.
Primeval forests rise before you, verdant woodlands so ancient they might have looked upon humanity in the days when man was little more than another beast, a ferocious savage untamed by the ways of civilization. They encircle you, the trees pressing forward on each side of the road like a crowd of well-wishers come to witness your march, and off you the soothing coolness of their shade. Then they fall away behind you, as the road leads on.
The path takes you through farmland, where nature has given way to cultivation, and man's ingenuity has brought forth the fruits of the earth in accordance with his will. Bucolic scenes line your way, fields of swaying crops and pastures of grazing animals stretching to the horizon.
It's a journey that feels almost unnatural in its serenity, a world away from everything you've witnessed since you landed upon West Kruna's shore. It's hard to imagine that the idyllic landscapes drifting past your gaze could be part of the same country where packs of beastmen and kobolds raided and murdered, where people trembled at the unknown evil that lurked within the Black Tower. The forests and fields roll on, ignorant of, or unconcerned by, the troubles and turmoil that grip so much of the kingdom.
As forest gave way to fields, so do the field sin turn give way to the ultimate expression of man's existence -- a settlement. Beneath a darkening sky the road brings you to a small market town, one of those Jaren spoke to you of.
The shadowy streets are deserted, relinquished to the encroaching night. But light glows from the windows of one of the town's largest buildings, and you make for the welcoming oblongs of brightness. A half illuminated sign hands above its door, bearing a rather artistic depiction of a blue and gold helmet. Words beneath the painting, glimmering in the same shade of gold, name both object and tavern as the Chevalier's Casque.
"Could get beds here," Hugh observes, and unmistakable note of suppressed anticipation in his voice. "And maybe an ale or two..."
You look to Tessa, and the two of your smile. Hugh has kept his grumbling to himself since you set out from the Black Tower, perhaps wishing to ingratiate himself to his new companions lest he be left behind. But it's no secret that long marching and sleeping beneath the stars is disagreeable to him, and over the past days you occasionally looked back along the road to see him plodding along in your wake -- his face the very image of misery until he met your gaze and replaced it with a passing imitation of cheerfulness. And yet he kept on, matching your pace as best he could.
Sleeping in a proper bed will do him good, and there's no sense in marching on for a few more hours tonight. Besides, it's a prime opportunity to spread the Kasan name a little further..
So you open the tavern door, revealing an almost oppressive rustic barroom. Vines have been arranged along the walls, bearing bunches of wax grapes. Strings of onions and garlic dangle from the ceiling and hand down alongside the blazing fireplace, as though to ward off vampires or alliumphobes. Ancient horseshoes, a shepherd's crook, and other hallmarks of rural life decorate the room, giving you the impression that its décor was contrived for the benefit of visiting merchants and other travelers who might be charmed by such a façade.
Half a dozen men and women sit at wooden tables thick enough to serve as fortress walls. They're clad in rough peasant's grab, the colors of their jerkins and breeches indistinguishable from the dirt and stains which adorn them from the day's labor. A burly man wearing an apron leans against the bar, one hand twisting the end of a ginger moustache that listens with absorbed soup or ale, the other slowly pushing a grey cloth around the surface of the bar -- causing the dirt to migrate in lieu of cleaning it.
In time-honored fashion, the sound of pleasant banter dies away the moment you enter. It's replaced with an interrogative silence as all eyes turn to scrutinize the newcomers. It occurs to you that the town must receive very few outsiders when it's not a market day. And the sight of a band of armed men and women is perhaps somewhat perturbing to them.
There's a metallic clink as Tessa taps the shield on your back. Understanding her meaning, you pull it free from its resting place and display its crest to the room before you.
"I believe Jaren Malcarius Tullian may have sent word of me."
The denizens sat at the tables continue to stare, though now at the shield instead of at you. If any of them recognize it, they gave no sign. But the barkeep's exclamation draws all eyes to him."
It's an oath you recognize, though you've only ever seen it written down before now. The word is from the regional language, now eclipsed by the common tongue for most purposes -- but enduring with unshakable tenacity for curses, profanities, and other such things. It marks the man as a former chevalier, a member of Rhynhart's knightly class. The most famous of those chivalric orders used the word as a war cry, a reference to the resplendent blue panoplies their wore in battle. It occurs to you that the helmet you saw depicted on the tavern was in their colors.
The man ducks down behind the bar.
"When they do that," Hugh remarks, "they usually come back holding a club with spikes on it. In Titar we call that closing time. Either you sod off quick, or your head gets split open.
But instead of remerging brandishing a weapon, the barkeep remains out of sight for several moments. There's a sound of stone scraping against stone, a grunt, and a thud. At last he rises, a triumphant grin on his face.
"He's the Kasan!" the barkeep says.
The men and women turn to you, and stare at your shield once more -- as though seeking some hidden epiphany there. Then a dozen awestruck eyes rise from the emblazoned crest to your face, and the spectacle is so comical that you only just managed to suppress your laughter.
"That I am," you reply.
You pass your shield to Tessa, stride over to the nearest table, and reach into your pack.
"My companions and I have come from the Black Tower."
The widening of eyes confirms that even this far north people have heard of the tower and the malevolent presence which festered therein. Good... It means what's coming next will have more impact...
You pull a small bag out from your pack, undo the string, and upend it over the table. There's a collective gasp from your audience as its contents come tumbling out.
"The demonist who dwelled there is dead, and I offer these as proof of the deed."
The townspeople crowd around the table, gazing in fearful wonder at an imp's hand, a hellhound's jaw, and other such grisly trophies.
Tessa gives a quiet yet pointed cough, no doubt relishing the success of her stratagem. It was her idea to take pieces of the demons, treated with magic to render them harmless -- something to show people what you met on your travels. An artifact is worth a thousand fine words, she told you. And from the reaction you're witnessing, she was right.
One of the men leaves to spread the word, his face wreathed with excitement. The moment the door closes behind him, you hear his voice bellowing as he shouts the news of your arrival to his neighbors.
Within a few minutes the tavern is filled with every adult in the town, and many of its children as well. Some have turned up in their nightshirts, shunning sleep in favor of meeting you. It's with a combination of pride, embarrassment, and amusement that you realize this is likely to be the most exciting thing which will ever happen to these people in their entire lives - something they'll speak of from now until their dying days.
"Drink for everyone, courtesy of my friend here!" Hugh says.
A cheer greets his words, and you manage a smile as you place your coins on the bar to pay for the cost of the generosity he's thrust upon you. Soon every man and woman has a tankard in their hands, and even the children are given little goblets of wine. In Rhynhart, little time elapses between the mother's breast and the heady milk of the grape.
Once the locals and your companions have been served, you reach out for one of the tankards on the bar before Hugh can annex it and slide it over to the little army he's building in front of him. But the barkeep pulls it away.
"No, milord. You deserve something finer."
He ducks down behind the bar once more, and this time you're close enough to lean over and see what he's doing. There's a small recess in the floor, next to a stone slab which must have concealed it. Within lies a bottle, nestled upon a bed of straw as though it were a newborn colt in a stable. The barkeep takes hold of it with a gentle, almost reverent grasp. Then he stands up and sets it down on the bar.
"Look!" he says, tapping the yellow-brown parchment that adorns the bottle.
Upon a label discolored withe age like an ancient scroll, beside the barkeep's grimy fingertip, is a blue dragon. And below it is a pitchfork. Your family's crest. Now it's your turn for your eyes to widen.
"Do you know what this is?" he asks. Then he continues, before you can answer. "This wine was bottled on the day of the Dragon-Rider's ascension, when King Jamus proclaimed him a noble before all the court."
Some of the townspeople roll their eyes, and you catch one woman mouthing along to his words. It seems that the barkeep has told this story before, reveling in the antiquity and importance of his prized possession. But most look on with bated breath, and once again you feel the surging tides of history and destiny crashing around you. However many times he's told the tale, this is the one which will be remembered.
"It's been in my family for generations, hidden away ever since the Seluthas ordered all surviving bottles destroyed." He gazes around the room, and you sense the indecision within him - the uncertainty about whether he should continue. But after a moment he speaks. "When Crenus dissolved the chevalier orders, and demanded that my brethren don his uniform instead, I decided that if I outlived him I would drink this on the day he died."
You look from face to face, keen to see the townspeople's reaction to his words. A few appear shocked that he would dare utter such treasonous words. But other heads are nodding in agreement.
"Have you ever tasted it, milord?" the barkeep asks.
"No. My ancestors took some into exile with them. But the last was opened and drunk on the day of my birth. Your bottle may be the only one left in all of Tor'gyyl."
The tavern's atmosphere shifts as though it were a living thing. A sense of anticipation, of magnitude, of marvel radiates from each person present.
"Then what better occasion for it to pass from the world?"
He draws a little knife from beneath the bar, grips the bottle with the other hand, and sinks its edge into the blue wax that's sealed it shut for two hundred and fifty years. With a deftness born from years of practice, the seal is severed in a single smooth twirl of bottle and blade.
The barkeep grabs the stopper, its azure bonds now broken, and looks to you as if for consent. You nod your head, and he pulls it free.
A puff of blue mist shoots up from within the bottle, bringing a collective gasp form those around you and causing the barkeep to take a quick back-step. It hovers in the air for a second, before coalescing into the shape of a winged reptilian creature. A blue dragon. Like that on the bottle, and upon your shield, but so much more lifelike - each scale, each tooth picked out in exquisite detail by the illusionist's art. It's a perfect simulacrum of Solus, the Dragon-Rider's mount.
The wyrm flaps its wings, swoops around in a spiral, then explodes - returning to mist once more. The little blue cloud falls in a shower of sparkles, each mote vanishing before it reaches the wood of the bar beneath.
For several seconds all are silent, each tongue stilled by the spectacle they've just witnessed - the sight of magic cast a quarter of a millennium ago, by a mage now long dead. A piece of history that's reached out to stroke the surface of the present.
"A preservation spell wrapped in illusory magic," Brachus says. "Most inventive."
"Just as well," replies Hugh. "Otherwise it'd be vinegar by now."
A dozen surprised faces turn to him, and you see the knowledge of their collective blunder dawning on Hugh's face.
"He's got two voices!" a young girl yells.
"Can always rely on kids to state the bloody obvious." Hugh sighs.
"Our... friends... here were cursed by the demonist we slew," you say.
"He merged their bodies together," Tessa adds.
"Is that why he's so fat?" the little girl asks.
"Yes," Tessa replies. "Yes, it is."
Hugh glares at her, but his discontent evaporates when some of the town maidens gather round him to express their sympathy at his plight.
The barkeep begins to pour the wine, and it transpires that its eldritch properties go beyond its preservation and the illusion. For though the crimson liquid splashes into one goblet, then another, and then a third, the bottle remains almost full.
By the time the last drop falls from its mouth and the bottle stands empty, there are more filled vessels than people int he barroom.
"I hope you're thirsty, milord!" yells one of the peasants at the back of the room.
There's a smothering of laughter that becomes a cheer when the barman begins to pass the goblets out. Hand after hand conveys them through the tavern, until each drinker is gazing on what might be the last of this wine in all the universe, and stands poised to take part in its extinction.
"To the Kasans," the barman says, raising his goblet.
"To the people of West Kruna," you reply, raising your own.
Both statements are echoed by dozens of voices. Then you bring the goblet to your lips.
You feel a flash of disappointment when no further magic occurs. The wine doesn't fill your head with visions, or send your senses swirling. No dragons swoops before your gaze, and the universe maintains the even tenor of its way. But the soft, sweet, flavorful liquid is beautiful enough. And so you drink, and allow your mind to swell upon the glorious day when the wine was bottled - perhaps the greatest day in the Dragon-Rider's life. The day your family was born, and its name was cheered across the kingdom.
"It'sh fate," Brachus says.
He staggers over to the table where you and Tessa sit, and collapses into a chair.
The barroom is almost deserted now, the townspeople having returned to their homes at long last -- heads swimming with the gentle inebriation of an unparalleled vintage that may have taken its final blow. Only you and your companions remain, while René, the barkeep, prepares your rooms upstairs.
"Fate," Brachus repeats, his lips twitching as though in distaste. He frowns, the expression making his red face look like that of a pantomime ogre. "You drank too much."
You're about to reply, when you realize that his last comment wasn't directed at you.
"Didn't see you complaining," Hugh says, appearing to address the comment to Tessa's bosom.
Her hand closes around a tankard. And since the vessel is empty, it's clear she's contemplating its use as a makeshift bludgeon.
There's a perceptible resistance as his face turns back towards you, and you can almost see Brachus wrestling control of his body from Hugh's leering mind.
"Fate?" you ask, replying more out of instinct than any genuine curiosity. For you suspect that the demon's thoughts are akin to your own.
Brachus takes a deep breath, as though steeling himself against his inebriation. And when he speaks again, there's only the barest hint of a slur in his voice.
"You arrived in West Kruna, and found yourself face to face with an invasion of kobolds and beastmen -- the very same foes your ancestor fought. Then you stormed a wizard's tower, and encountered a man who walked alongside the Dragon-Rider. And tonight..."
He gestures at the empty goblects on the table. Then he opens his mouth, before clamping it shut to capture a burp. He glares at you, though again you realize that his displeasure is aimed at his host.
"Of all the taverns in Rhynhart," he continues, "we enter one where a man possessed centuries-old wine bottled to celebrate the birth of your family."
"There's no need to regale me with tales of my own exploits. I was there."
"The demon's right," says Tessa. "Unless you've taken Luck as your lover, these things didn't happen by chance. Fate is on your side."
"Perhaps." Brachus shrugs, sending Hugh's fat wobbling. "The gods are watching you, Kasan. Watching as fate draws you onwards. Perhaps guiding you with their own hands as well. Whatever lies before you, the weight of destiny is upon your shoulders."
In the morning, you come down to the barroom to find a substantial breakfast and an even more substantial bill waiting there. You devour the former with pleasure, before seeking out René to question him about the latter.
The appetizing scent of freshly baked pastry lures you to the kitchen, where you find the former chevalier. He and Hugh are standing over a table, on which lies a tray laden with round and oblong pies. Each man holds a half-eaten pie, and judging by their munching jaws and bulging cheeks there's a sizeable quantity of meat and crust in their mouths as well. The barkeep is passing his pie from hand to hand. But Hugh seems untroubled by the heat of his own pastry, and you notice a faint glow around his hand. It appears that he's found a good use for Brachus' magic.
René nods a greeting to you. Hugh, who lacks the breeding and training of a chevalier, opens his mouth and speaks in a cascade of crumbs.
"Morning." He gulps down whatever's in his mouth, and gives a satisfied sigh that evolves into a soft burp. "Thought I'd put together some food for the road. Cooking and eating the things Tessa shoots is all well and good, but you can't beat a nice pie."
You defer to Hugh's gastronomic expertise, and hand over some of your coin to pay for his ingredients. Then you join your companions in the barroom until they've finished eating, before setting off on the road once more.
The town of Bluselle lies further to the north, nestled in the middle of countryside beset by bandits. It's to that destination that you now march, to bring justice down upon highwaymen and robbers -- and to further spread word of your name and deeds across Rhynhart.