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I'm going to replay Avernum 1: Escape from the Pit, and describe the journey of my characters, fantasy story style, for the hell of it.


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Prologue: Into the Pit

 

Bruce was the son of a Druid in the wildlands of Valorim. His mother was killed in his youth in an ogre raid, but he harbored no ill will against the creatures. His father had hunted down his wife's killers himself, but after the deed was done, he told young Bruce "I have killed...but only to stop killers from harming others the way they've harmed us, my son. Those creatures who slew your mother had lost the light. After they died, I saw their camp. It was a place of squalor and misery. They ate rotting meat. They wore rotten clothes. Like most evil men and beasts who kill for shallow reasons, it was conditions that cursed them before their birth that put their wickedness in them. Their parents would have been wicked. Their culture would have been wicked. At worst, they would have been cursed with fool's minds as the source of their villainy...and fools are to be more pitied than hated. Never forget, my son, that each time we loose an arrow from our bow, whether for food we are hunting, or to dispatch our foes, we shed the blood of beings much like us...who feel the piercing of the arrow much like we would. Killing is to be done with care...and anger is to be tempered into a weapon if necessary, but never to guide our minds.

 

The first time Bruce had ever shed the blood of a man had been in middle age. He'd honed his skills with a bow hunting mindless, but dangerous beasts in his woodland home. He'd learned healing skills from his father, and wandered the little villages as a traveling doctor. The first man he'd killed had been an empire soldier.  He'd been nearly encased in full steel armor...aside from a missing helmet. The soldier, and others, had been in the process of exterminating a nephilim village. Bruce saw the smoke of fires while hunting, and heard cruel laughter amidst catlike panicked cries. He immediately understood that, regardless of what raids the nephilim may have engaged in, this butchery was not the seeking of justice of any kind. This was indiscriminate killing of young and old and everyone in between...so Bruce shot an arrow into the forehead of that helmet-less soldier, and that was the last thing Bruce remembered before he was clubbed unconscious and awoke in a place that was damp and cold and dark....

 

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There was once was a little boy named Zool. He'd given himself that name. He'd never known anything resembling parents. His earliest memories were of scavenging through the trash heaps in the outskirts of the poorest cities of a land he knew was called Aizo. He had been fairly hopeless as a child...living only to find a few scraps to eat, and to defend them from his fellow urchins...until one day, he snapped his fingers and a spark emerged from his hand. His eyes grew wide. He'd never tried to snap his fingers before, but he'd seen another little boy doing it, so he wanted to try it himself. He failed to make that snapping sound fingers can make that the phrase "snapping one's fingers" is named for...but he swiftly forgot about that failure and focused on his apparent, weird and eerie, spark-making skill. He silently attempted to snap his fingers a few more times, and each time the spark grew a little brighter, eventually becoming a flame.

 

After a few weeks of practice, he could hold the flame above his hand without his skin being burned (before that, he had burned himself quite often...his whole hand was covered in burn blisters and ashy scorch marks in different stages of healing) and as Zool held the flame before himself, he thought about how lonely he was, and so he started talking to the flame.

 

"Hello Flame," said Zool to the flame, hovering above his hand. "You're not much of a talker, are you?"

The flame (naturally) did not respond. 

Zool suddenly experienced a moment of insight.

"Well, of course you're not a talker. You're not a human. You have no interest in discussion...but I think you might be kind of alive...at least a little...just like me. You're hungry, aren't you? That's what you care about...sating that hunger that drives you. You know, if you grew big and strong, you could feed on as much as you wished."

And with that statement...or more specifically...that thought, the flame in Zool's hand erupted into a a high torch.

 

Over the years Zool found other ways of "speaking" to stuff that speaking to traditionally wasn't supposed to have much impact on. He could mentally "speak" to flesh and mend wounds. He could "speak" to people, without words, in ways that would freeze them in time. He could mentally "speak" to the rats in the streets, and in so doing gain allies.

 

Zool found a purpose in life beyond mere survival. He became fascinated, obsessed, and deeply in love with the weird and eerie forces of magic. He developed some skill as a priest too, but he preferred to think of that craft more as "soul-twisting" than anything religious. As far as he was concerned, any gods had abandoned him long ago, so he had no use for them. He preferred to worship himself. He was the source of his priestly power. He was the god he prayed to for divine might.

 

Over the years  Zool's growing skills earned him quite a bit of attention. He even created his own cult. This wasn't the evil sort of cult...not a cult of personality worship or one which demanded blind obedience to the authorities in charge of said cult...nothing like that. It was, rather, a cult that revered above all else individuality and exploration...both mental, internal exploration and external worldly exploration, and discovery. Within Zool's cult every presumption was challenged and every social norm was questioned, debated, and critiqued. There was a great sharing of knowledge, and a constant bickering, so prevalent that It was like a harmonious droning of mosquitoes that can sometimes be heard just before nightfall in some lakeside wildernesses far away from the domain of man.

 

The cult continued mostly unnoticed by empire officials until one day when one of the members summoned a demon. Most of the cultists viewed this act as more intriguing than alarming. They hungered to learn and explore...and sooner or later, if such hungers are strong enough, summoned demons tend to be the end result.

 

And that was how Zool, and most of his friends, ended up tossed into Avernum.

 

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There once was an Empire soldier named Jonathan, and his brother, and fellow soldier, named Hiccus. Jonathan had always known there'd been something wrong with Hiccus's mind. He didn't have the reservations about violence most people did. In battle Jonathan had seen Hiccus go berserk and slaughter his foes without concern for himself...diving into piles of enemies, leading the charge with Jonathan rushing behind trying to keep up. 

 

Once, the two brothers had been scouting about on a mission in the young continent of Valorim. A giant approached them, coming out from behind a hill. It roared. Hiccus roared back. 

The giant spoke in a booming voice, "Little one want fight? Aha! I like little man! We fight! We fight hard, but we not kill! If little man wins, I, Crugo, owe little man a boon. If little man win, little man owe Crugo a boon."

 

Hiccus, without hesitation, rushed toward the giant, and pulled out his sword, trying to sever the leg tendons of the massive humanoid. The sword bit deep into the Giant's flesh...but not long before the giant's fist came down upon Hiccus's head, knocking him unconscious in one hit. 

 

"He owe me a boon," said Crugo. 

 

After checking his brother's pulse, and being reassured of his survival Jonathan spoke to Crugo: "More humans will be coming here. My brother and I will pay our boon by treating your wound. In return, try to avoid them if you can...but if you can't, don't cause them harm unless they try to harm you first."

 

Crugo looked down at his bleeding leg, and felt himself limp.

 

"It is a good deal. I don't like humans anyway. I avoid them now. I like the little fierce man though...if he is a man. He has the courage of beasts," said Crugo.

 

Hiccus soon awoke. After the brothers washed the giant's wound, and wrapped the cleanest of the rags the giant possessed around it to halt the bleeding, they returned to their camp and Jonathan told his commander about their adventure with Crugo. To Jonathan's surprise, his commander was furious, shouting, "You're not supposed to befriend these beasts! We're here to kill them! Now it'll have fled off somewhere and we won't be able to find it. 

 

After several days of protests of the newly discovered ultimate goal of the leaders of their encampment, followed by Jonathan assaulting a superior officer...and, for once, Hiccus   

being the second to join the fight, the brothers were hog-tied, taken all the way back to the continent of Aizo, and thrown through a portal into the dark, wet, cold, caverns of Avernum.

Edited by Clintone
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Day 1: Into the Darkness, into the Cold

 

Bruce was the first to awaken. There was dim green light, oddly sourced in the ceiling and the walls themselves. He squinted and looked closer. Green algae appeared be giving it off. 

 

His awareness heightened as he spent more time in the waking world, and he noticed in the dim light that there were three bodies of men in this cavern. He swiftly checked the pulse of each. Then, finding them only asleep he gently coaxed them all awake.

 

"Where are we?" said Jonathan. Hiccus only grunted.

 

"What part of hell's anus is this? It's both cold and wet," said Zool, groggily.

 

"I don't know. I awoke from unconsciousness, just like you. Did you three also anger the Empire?"

 

"I think I'll wait to tell about myself until I know you three better," said Zool.

 

"The first step to building trust is openness.  Fine. I'll go first then," said Bruce. "I fired an arrow through an Empire soldier as we was slaughtering noncombatants in a nephilim tribe, and I'm proud to have done so. I'm surprised they let me live for that. They probably shouldn't have. If I get the chance I'd like to teach a few more of those men a lesson."

 

Zool was grinning like a Jack o' Lantern. "Well...I suppose the look on my face spilled the beans about me a bit. You already know I'm not working for the Empire. I was arrested for practicing illegal magics mostly. All the illegal narcotics, banned sexual activities, and the fact that I ran a cult may have had something to do with it too. I'm no rebel...but I dislike being told what to do."

 

"You ran a cult?" asked Bruce, concerned.

 

"It was a nice cult," said Zool. "Now how about you...stoneface...and you...the scowler. What's your background?"

 

"My Brother and I were Empire soldiers. We assaulted a superior officer for planning just the sorts of things you mentioned," said Jonathan, looking at Bruce. "My name is Jonathan. This is my brother Hiccus. He doesn't talk much."

 

"I'm Bruce," said Bruce.

 

"I am Zool. Do we have anything on us that might be of use?"

 

"I have a few coins I had in my pockets, when last I was conscious," said Jonathan.

 

"Well, we have some money then...assuming that's still used here. I have a dull dagger...not much use for fighting, but maybe useful as a cutting tool."

 

"They gave us all these little knives, it looks like. Bruce, you have one?" said Jonathan.

 

"Both rusted and dull," said Bruce.

 

Hiccus had dropped his knife to the ground in disdain and picked up a sturdy rock in its place.

 

"If you don't want it, I'll take it. Maybe we can sell it," said Zool, picking up the discarded knife. "There's a door. I bet we're supposed to go through it. I think one of you muscle-men should be first...rather than me."

 

Alright. Let's go, said Jonathan, and they walked to the door and opened it, cautiously entering into into another, higher-ceilinged, slightly larger room.

 

"Hello. Is anyone here?" asked Jonathan.

 

At first there was nothing, and then they heard light footsteps.

 

"We mean you no harm. We awoke here just recently. My name is Jonathan. What is yours?" said Jonathan.

 

A knife in the dark sped towards Jonathan's heart. Bruce was faster though, knocking it aside.

 

"Be still," shouted Zool, and the new form froze in time, along with two of its catlike brethren, knives held out, emerging from around a pillar of stone.

 

"They're nephilim," said Bruce in surprise.

 

"Kill them quickly, one at a time, before the spell fades," said Zool

 

Hiccus did not hesitate, rushing forward to bash the first nephilm's head in with a rock...then the second, and finally the third.

 

"That one seems to have more sense than you two. They wanted to end our lives...based on our looks. Isn't that the crime that you two opposed when others did it? Next time, don't hesitate. My spell doesn't last long. If we'd have let them live, maybe they'd have stuck knives in our backs rather than our fronts," said Zool, speaking to Jonathan and Bruce. 

 

"Why did the Empire put nephilim and humans together in the same caves? Why not just kill us all, rather than taking the trouble of sending us down here?" questioned Bruce.

 

Jonathan spoke up: "If they do that...then they look bad. Their public relations will go better if they just drop us all into this other world together. They'll say we got what we wanted...freedom from the rule of law and order. Then we can just all kill each other down here in the dark and solve a problem for them."

 

 

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The four walked further into the caves.

 

"Who's there?" came a quaking woman's voice. "We'll kill you if you come any closer. We have weapons. I have a spear."

 

"We're human, not nephilim," called out Bruce.

 

"Oh thank God! I've been hearing them hissing and snarling in the dark for the longest time! I thought they were going to come for us eventually!"

 

"The three nephilim are dead now," said Jonathan.

 

"Thank you! I'm Brissa. I have a spear...but these three are too scared to move. We've been hostages of some thugs up ahead, led by someone named Lagran, with delusions of grandeur. There are people up above these caves...lots of them. They have wealth, and Lagran wants to barter our lives for some of that wealth. I think he's a dead man walking...he betrayed them...broke their trust. This isn't like the Empire's lands. Down here, there won't be many places for Lagran to run. I just hope we live longer than he does."

 

Zool broke in. "Don't worry. We'll free you from these caves. I know magic, and these three are competent brawlers. Now, what gifts are you willing to give us, in return for us risking our hides for you?"

 

"Gifts...I don't have much..." said Brissa.

 

"Anything will do. Have any jewelry perhaps? Maybe a little food?" said Zool.

 

Bruce gave Zool a sharp look. "What are you doing? This isn't the way to gain allies."

 

"You think it's not...I think it is. I think she wanted help from us for nothing. I think she'll respect us more if we insist upon some form of payment. We may be wounded. Some of us may even be killed...not me...but perhaps one of you three, and she's just going to stick here, perfectly safe," said Zool.

 

Brissa broke in, "I would fight if I could. There are nine men up ahead...and I've never even trained with a weapon, but you're right...you deserve thanks. I have thirty coin. It's yours'."

 

"Thank you," said Zool, with an approving nod. "Let's go end a few lives then. They're double our number...or more...it sounds like...but you have me. Do what I say, and you'll be more likely to live than otherwise." 

 

The four walked deeper into the caverns.

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"Halt! Lagran says all hostages are to stay back!" came a voice in the dark.

 

"We won't hurt you. We just want to talk," said Bruce.

 

"We want to join you," said Jonathan.

 

"Not an option. Lagran isn't taking more followers. We have archers. Stay back or we'll fire."

 

"Then freeze," said Zool. 

 

The four slew the five one at a time, as each watched their allies die, but could do nothing, frozen from Zool's spell. It lost its power as soon as the afflicted was touched, so lives had to be ended quickly, before the victim could strike back after the first blow.

 

"Well that was refreshingly easy," said Jonathan, as Zool began looting.

 

"Hopefully the remainder of our fight continues to be so," said Bruce, and the four moved on.

 

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Rolan, is that you? said Lagran into the dark as he stood near the steps leading out of the pit. A gate kept them locked inside, and kept the warriors above out. Lagran wore the key around his neck.

 

"Be still," came Zool's voice from the dark, and the three men around him took on glazed looks and stood still as statues.

 

"Kill them quickly," said Zool.

 

Lagran remained very still as the four approached out of the dark. He knew how some of these wizard's tricks worked. You could fight them with your mind. It was easier if you understood what was happening to you. He behaved as if frozen, and watched. There was a lanky, dirty man in what looked like a robe made out of an old bedsheet. There was a scowling, scarred, hulking brute holding a shield in one hand, and a rock in his other. There was a taller man, and a shorter one, both muscular, one holding a javelin, and the other a knife. Lagran waited until they came very close, then lunged out his sword at the javelin-holder.

 

Bruce's gauntleted arm knocked aside the blade headed for his ribs. He then held up the javelin like a spear. 

 

"I see you're a quick one...and your friend is a magi. This should be fun," said Lagran.

 

"Kill the others before they awaken!" said Zool.

 

"No...wait...let's just talk. I could use soldiers like you," said Lagran.

 

"He's buying time! Kill them all now!" shouted Zool.

 

"Fine then...I guess you'll die first," said Lagran, pushing past the confused Bruce and aiming his sword at the mage.

 

"Feed my flames," said Zool, and lifted his hand to jet a firebolt at Lagran's face. Lagran held his harms up to protect himself, and Zool backed away, readying another firebolt.

 

Hiccus and Jonathan began slitting throats and crushing skulls of the paralyzed, and Bruce stabbed his javelin at Lagran. It was knocked aside by Lagran's sword. 

 

Despite both the firebolts, and Javelin stabs Lagran stood his ground. It wasn't until Hiccus and Jonathan were done with their butchery that Lagran began looking nervous. 

 

"It's four on one now. Now...don't do anything rash. I'm beaten. I surrender. Just don't hurt me and I'll let you tie me up," said Lagran, putting both hands behind his back...but then he pulled one hand out in front of himself, holding a green globe. He smashed it against the ground.

 

Horrors ran swiftly through the minds of Bruce, Hiccus, Jonathan, and Zool. Zool remembered back to his early youth...to his oldest memories of being a lost, alone, scared little boy. Bruce remembered the anguish of the death of his mother. Jonathan remembered the trauma and guilt of many battles...more from doing the slaying, or even surviving while his comrades had not, than from the risks to his own life. Finally Hiccus...Hiccus became bored. Nothing could frighten Hiccus but monotony...that gray clouded horror that forever haunted him, that he was always trying to escape. He feared the anguish of dullness...of feeling nothing. He sunk into a depression, and stared into the ground, still as a statue.

 

When the four warriors came to their senses, Lagran was nowhere to be found...but the gate was open.

 

"All's well that ends well, I guess. We're alive. We have a way out." said Zool.

 

"Let's go get Brissa," said Bruce. 

 

The four warriors, and Brissa and the three terrified civilians moved past the open gate and up into the light. 

 

"I'm going to take a nap now. I don't care where. I don't care if when I awaken I've been robbed of my shoes and all my clothes," said Zool

 

 

Edited by Clintone
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