The Hero’s Journal, Entry Twenty-Three: The Graveyard Path

Age: 29
Alignment: determined
Family: unjustly imprisoned

I’m in Lichfield Graveyard searching for a secret entrance to the most secure prison in Albion. I’m only aware that this entrance exists thanks to a tip-off from the Archaeologist, and even he didn’t know precisely where it was or how to open it. Having no extraordinarily clever ideas for how to go about this myself, I decide to talk to the gravedigger.

Well I’m stumped, let’s see how much it costs to buy a hint. (enlarge)

But when I arrive, the gravedigger is talking to somebody about some grave-robbing he has been grave-doing. A set of arms and armor, apparently.

This guy is my favorite custom NPC yet. One look at him and you know everything you need to.

Not even some guy who might happen to be listening to our loud conversation outside this wide-open door.

The time seems right to introduce myself. Hello, sketchy fellow! I am here to search for a hidden entrance to the nearby prison in your graveyard. For um. Reasons. Legal reasons though.

Five bucks says I have them open in less time than you spend combing your hair in the morning.

How about you start by opening the regular cemetery gates, and we go from there?

This is what we call “visual foreshadowing”. That joke will make more sense by the end of this entry.

The gravedigger shows me this “Old Kingdom” gate. It is distressingly familiar in design.

Aw, shit.

One of these guys again. Wonder what hoops this one wants me to jump through. Can’t be easy if nobody’s opened it in so long.

Raid graves for Nostro’s armor. Got it.

Well, I guess I’ll have a look around for Vostro’s stuff. I mean, I was going to anyway, but maybe one of the components has some enchantment that acts as a key for this door. Or maybe it’s stupid enough to be fooled if I dress up as Costco. Get your shovel, gravedigger, we’re going shopping.

The gravedigger and I go around exhuming the graves of other people’s loved ones looking for loot. He tries to act remarkably surprised every time we discover a piece of Bosco’s gear in the wrong tomb or some pauper’s grave.

I’d feel worse about this if the dead weren’t rising to chop my shins off every two minutes.

Every step of the way we’re fighting the undead. I’m not sure what’s riled them up, but in close quarters (often springing up from the ground just as I step on it) they’re considerably more annoying than I remember from the Arena. One of them catches the gravekeeper by surprise and cuts him down. There’s not much I can do. I’m mainly sorry that I have to lug all this heavy armor around by myself now.

Eventually I find Vasco’s actual tomb at the top of the hill.

Here lies Nostro, winner of the First Annual Albion’s Dumbest Hero Name Contest.

Let’s have a look under the bonnet, shall we?

As I look down at the bones, a voice whispers in the air: “My armor. My helmet. My sword and my shield. Gather for me and the path I shall yield.” Appeasing the spirit of the dead gatekeeper seems like a much better plan than I had, so I awkwardly start to dress the skeleton in the gear I have collected. I hope that this act of kindness, setting right the disturbance of this old Hero’s mortal remains, will be a karmic wash for all the grave robbing I have done since arriving.

Here you go, Nostril.

I return to the door to report my good deed.

Nordstrom’s spirit is at rest or whatever. Open sesame.

I don’t get a gold coin, but the door does consent to let me through. Is this seriously the secret entrance has remained sealed for generations? Did anybody even try?

Any of you guys seen a secret entrance to a prison around here?

It’s not quite as simple as that, of course. On the far side of the demon door I still find myself in the graveyard, just now on an old and long-disused path. The main feature of this path is that it is crawling with undead. Or shambling, to be more accurate. And they love to spring up out of the ground like this is the least coordinated surprise party ever. Screw these guys. I gave Nordom his armor back, what do you zombies want from me?

This looks safe.

Eventually the path lets out into an clearing with some sort of ritual dais at the center. I decide to step into the green glow at the center of it, because I can’t think of a single way that could be bad.

This causes more zombies.

Timberrrrrrrrrr!

This is fortunate, it turns out. Killing the zombies (Is that the right term? Can you “kill” the undead?) seems to fuel some sort of ritual. Eventually I throw enough wood on the fire to trigger a door to open.

Gotta admit, I was expecting the secret entrance to Bargate Prison to be harder to find.

So maybe not as straight-forward as I thought, but still a damn sight easier than I was led to expect.

Pack your bags, mom, you’re coming to live with me.

Try not to breathe too deeply.

The secret entrance in the tomb leads to an improbably grand sewer system for the prison complex. Seriously, what is the inmate population of this place? Bowerstone doesn’t have anything approaching this level of sanitation sophistication.

So how many bodies do they flush down the toilet in this prison?

Even here, the undead remain a nuisance. I don’t even want to ask how they got down here. Or why there are so very, very many.

I am so very sorry you were cursed to an eternity without rest down in this awful sewer. This time, maybe consider staying dead.

Soon enough I find my way into the prison proper. If I can sneak through here unnoticed, I might be able to spring mom and-

Oh. Hi guys.

So much for stealth. But hey, it’s at least a relief to be killing live humans again. That sounded less weird and creepy in my head.

I’m sure all these guards are the corrupt, evil kind.

I cut through them easily enough. They weren’t expecting me to come up out of the basement smelling like Skorm’s septic tank.

I see your paperwork’s all in order. Carry on, men.

A peek at their records tells me that mom is currently logged as being in the torture chamber. Any misgivings I may have had about murdering these guards is immediately dispelled.

This place must be a bitch to heat in winter.

This place is pretty massive. I hop I can find my way back in a hurry. I supposed the breadcrumb trail of dead bodies ought to help.

If Jack was going to play a trick like that on you, why would I look like a grown man you should barely recognize?

I can scarcely describe what it’s like to see my mother’s face for the first time since the Oakvale raid. She’s an old woman now, scarred and wizened by two decades in prison. What has this life been like for her? Who is she now? And who am I to her?

Well, I was thinking “Gee, I haven’t called mom in a while” and now I’m remembering why.

Nevermind. There’s no time to find out now. We need to get clear of this place.

Let’s bust out of this joint.

I open the cell and we make a break for it. Twenty years of confinement and torture haven’t left mom in Hero shape, but she keeps up as best she can. I’m more than willing to clear the obstacles in our path after seeing what they’ve done to her.

In the unlikely event that you were the one nice guard who brought her extra scraps of food or maybe a book now and then, I’m sorry stereotyping you.

We’re almost back to the sewers when I see the some of those red barriers used by Jack’s minions pop up.

Aw shit!

Allegedly.

OK yeah, that is probably really him.

It was a trap. Jack knew I was coming and he waited until I could smell freedom (unpleasantly similar to sewage) before he sprung it, the sadistic jerk. We find ourselves surrounded by minions while the greatest, evilest Hero in history taunts us from above.

I am cool and collected in all situations.

Please don’t tell my mom what went down at Orchard Farm, I will be so grounded.

Mom protests that I don’t know anything. I get the impression I’ve been dropped into the middle of a conversation that’s been ongoing for the better part of two decades.

Come on, that’s not… entirely… I mean, I know SOME things.

AW SHIT!

Jack heard everything. My conversation with Theresa. My schemes to sink Lady Grey. The Archaeologist’s information. No wonder he knew to expect me. I only got this close because he willed it.

You weren’t, uh, listening when I went home to visit my wife, were you?

Because sometimes the Oakvale Theater Company puts on a play called The Naughty Hero Likes to Be Spanked and it’s often pretty loud and I could see how, if you were just listening in, you could mistakenly think that it was coming from IN the house, which it definitely was not.

The struggle I put up means nothing. We’re immediately overwhelmed. The last I see of my mother is her being dragged in the opposite direction as I’m taken by the guards for processing.

Bargate Prison has a new inmate on the books: the former Hero, Hood.

Next time on The “Heroic” Adventures of Hood…

They take away all of Hood’s beautiful hair.

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