Doctor Frog's Pontification Pad

things to do, people to avoid.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The Arx Diary: Day 2

Arx Fatalis: The Arx Diary

An excerpt from my first attempt at this immersive, atmospheric game.

(day one has not been written)

day 2: visited a human outpost, in the mouth of a huge cave, on the border of the goblin domain. i was shocked to find at the entrance, two dead men, men like myself, only clad in what appeared to be uniforms, covered in a tough chainmail. The doors to the outpost were flung open, and a badly wounded man, barely holding onto life, had only one message for me: go upstairs and see his commander. As I searched for the commander, I found no living soul, only more dead soldiers, or their body parts scattered about, and everywhere, the splatters of blood — fresh, not like the caked-on blood on the walls of the goblin prison.

The commander was in little better shape than his underling, with an apparent wound to the chest. He told me of an attack by beings called Ylsides, warriors who could move at high speed and with strange armor, and that they were responsible for the slaughter that I beheld.

He thought I was a mercenary sent to help. I suppose I might have looked it, with this leather armor, and the buckler that I found. But all I want to do is figure out who I am and get out of here… that is, if I’m not supposed to be here.

But he insisted that I help, that my mission was of utmost importance. The king of these humans must be warned that the Ylsides have committed an act of war. He would not accept no for an answer. He gave me a gemstone license, to pass myself off as a merchant, so I could travel freely through the goblin realm. It’s a rather plain piece of paper, and I hope it convinces the goblin lord at the gated entrance to the prison area to let me through. After scouting the area for supplies, and leaving the man, who is apparently the captain of the king’s guard, some wine, bread, and fish, I went off.

On my way out, I noticed a man impaled directly into the stone wall of the fortress. The message of disdain and violence was quite clear. I also noticed a small vegetable garden, lit by a strange looking gemstone in a sconce. Some sort of magical growth device, perhaps?

Before leaving, I scouted the area for supplies, finding a few gold coins, which I took, and a mortar and pestle. These latter objects strike me as being particularly useful. I also noticed some objects on a natural stone shelf some distance away, far out of reach, a few chests, locked beyond my meager ability to open, and an artificial section of wall with no apparent means of opening it, on the second floor of the outpost.

The captain had mentioned a tavern of useless folk nearby. I found it down a corridor, past large locked metal doors. I tossed a scrap of fish to a dog, milling about outside, and went in.

From deep within the walls I heard a strange music, of some sort of wind instruments and the hollow pinging of wooden blocks. The barmaid was friendly enough, but refused to serve me, as she was cleaning the tavern dishes. Apparently, she runs the place alone. She said she thought I was a member of this Traveller’s Guild my fellow prisoner claims to belong to. A barfly was tossing back a mug of ale, but he was generally as useless as the captain had said, knowing only a few vague rumors about goblins and Ylsides. Polsius, on the other hand, was more helpful. Yes, the goblin was sitting nearby, not yet drunk. He told me what I had already learned from the goblin captain’s note: that the human priest of a god named Akbaa was purchasing humans from the goblins for the purpose of sacrifice! To his credit, Polsius seemed to be somewhat disgusted with the practice, although he seemed more afraid of the growing power of whatever cult follows this Akbaa, perhaps a fear of the growing power of the god itself. I left him there to enjoy his drink, and his freedom.

The upper floor of the tavern housed another drunk, who muttered of a missing friend, or enemy (perhaps a victim of Akbaa?), a seedy gambling wheel where I lost some coin, and a self-assured, well-weathered man sipping from a bottle of wine. He also mistook me for a member of the Traveller’s Guild, and upon informing him that I had no memory (something he seemed surprised that I would be so foolish to disclose so easily), he told me about the cold world above ground, and the necessity for tough, well-trained men to travel between cities, bringing news, and who knows what else. I thanked him for the information, and moved on, back toward the goblins’ realm.


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