12 Mirtul 1368

After clearing out as many hobgoblins as we can from the Trade Way, we travel to Nashkel on the outskirts of Amn. Verr’Sza reverts himself back to human form. Drake is happy to be closer to home once again.

Aegon: Have you ever been here before?

Drake: Once or twice. Always for business, never pleasure, though. My father – Prelate Durand, disapproves when I stray too far towards the borders on my own accord. Perhaps he thinks I might make a run for it.

Not that I haven’t considered it once or twice. There’s not much reason for me to ever come this far away from home otherwise. Too peaceful.

Well, don’t take my word for it, Aegon. Take us around, and you’ll see for yourself what the place is like.

I do as he says and lead the party into town. As we cross the bridge we are greeted by an Amnian soldier.

Aegon: I am Aegon, and this is my band of fellow adventurers. I hear that this is a troubled region of late. Allow me to put ourselves at your disposal during our stay here.

Bardolan: If you’re seeking to resolve troubles, welcome. If you’re seeking to cause them, kindly take it elsewhere… Things are not good here, Aegon.

Aegon: What things aren’t good? All I have heard are rumours and vague suspicions.

Bardolan: Aye, what IS good around here anymore? Our iron is rotten and there is talk of demons in the mines. The lower levels have been all but abandoned until this crisis passes. And then there is the question of Commander Brage… Ack, they have stripped him of that title, but I use it yet… He killed his wife and children in a rage one night and all who saw him. Then he tore himself away and headed for the hills. He is out there and still we mourn, much as for him as for those he’s taken… Fie on you now! You have brought tears to the eyes of a soldier!

Go on, move along.

Aegon: Listen, I want to help, but I need more information. Can we meet somewhere?

Bardolan: I am more than busy, with all the problems at hand…

I would be glad of an opportunity to… brief you on the current situation, however. Meet me at the barracks.

The extra dialogue here is from Bardolan’s Briefing by berelinde, and is part of the Romantic Encounters mod.

He continues his patrol and leaves us to explore the town. Nearby we see a man entertaining the locals with a martial arts demonstration.

Aegon: What exactly are you doing there?

Rasaad: Thank you for asking. My name is Rasaad. I am merely demonstrating some of the ways in which we Sun Soul monks reflect our spiritual light through physical activity.

May I tell you more about the Order of the Sun Soul?

Aegon: Please do.

Rasaad: The Order of the Sun Soul was found during the time of –

Commoner: Hey, what are you supposed to be then? Some sort of kickpuncher? Come on, take a poke at me. I dares ya!

Rasaad: I have come not to fight but to demonstrate a few –

Commoner: Oh, so that’s how it is is, eh? You prance about, pretendin’ to be some sort o’ hard man, but you’re just a coward, right?

Rasaad: I am not afraid to defend myself, but I do not seek out conflict without purpose. Instead, I wish to share the light of the Moonmaiden.

Commoner: Oh, I get it. You’re some kind o’ simpering priest, just pretendin’ you knows how to fight but really just beggin’ for coins, yeah?

Rasaad: A Sun Soul monk uses mind, body, and spirit in equal portions, but not to prove his martial superiority. Rather, he seeks to better the lives of those around him.

Commoner: Yeah, yeah. Save it for the temple school, boy. If you’re not going to fight nobody, I won’t waste any more time on you.

Aegon: Good for you, Rasaad. I admire a man who stands up for his principles, even in the face of ignorance.

Rasaad: I thank you. It is not always easy. In truth, I enjoy a good fight if it is to improve my skills or to defend a just cause. Fighting that man would have enlightened no one.

You seem like someone who would appreciate the tenets of my order. May I tell you more about Selûne and the Sun Soul monks?

Aegon: Tell me why you worship Selûne.

Rasaad: Of the inheritors of Amaunator’s power, Selûne is the most ardent foe of spiritual darkness. After all, she is the bright opposite of Shar, the Mistress of the Night.

The Moonmaiden’s reflected radiance inspires us to shine our inner light upon those in need. In the face of lies, we offer truth. In the face of hatred, we offer compassion.

Aegon: That sounds like a good philosophy.

Rasaad: What more would you like to know?

Aegon: Tell me more about the order of the Sun Soul.

Rasaad: The Order of the Sun Soul was founded in the days of ancient Netheril. Then it was called the Brotherhood of the Sun, and its members dedicated themselves to the sun-god Amunator.

With the fall of Netheril, Amaunator vanished. Some believe his power now resides in other gods. Different factions of my order turned to them: most to Lathander, some to Selûne, and a very few to Sune.

My sect of the order reveres Selûne, the Moonmaiden.

What more would you like to know?

Aegon: Actually, I want to ask you to join me.

Rasaad: I have had trouble making ends meet since coming to Nashkel. If doing so gives me the chance to help others find their inner light, I would be glad to join you.

The kickfighter introduces himself to the rest of our party.

He talks about being a Sun Soul Monk.

As a Sun Soul monk he can move quickly, and he can summon a Sun Soulray.

He has no worldly possessions on him, except for his boots.

Drake decides to take a break. He says he will be drinking in the Friendly Arm Inn if we ever want to hunt down the Cyricist.

There will be several more new NPCs here in Nashkel as well.

Nashkel is one road along a river. Opposite the river is a line of buildings. The first building is the Nashkel Inn. It’s a good place to start if we want to know more about the troubles in this town. Outside we meet a well dressed lady.

Aegon: I’m sorry, I can’t help you.

I doubt she’ll find him if she’s giving such a vague description. We go inside the inn. As soon as I walk through the door, I find that someone is waiting for me.

Aegon: I will defend myself, if I must! If you wish to die, then attack as you will!

Neira: By all means, defend as you wish. If you were to simply lay down and die, there should be no intrigue in this profession at all.

I launch a Magic Missile at the assassin, while Morwen tries to Command her to sleep.

She resists Morwen’s Command, but my Magic Missile strikes true.

Morwen manages to interrupt her casting, while Helga Dooms the assassin.

Rasaad summons a Soul Ray and sets Neira on fire.

Not as much damage as I hoped it would do, and it takes a while to cast. It’s probably better used against undead opponents.

Cat gets close and claws at her.

I cast a white Chromatic Orb at her. It doesn’t seem to hurt her much.

The assassin creates a magical Sanctuary and disappears.

Morwen tries to create an area of Silence to prevent the assassin from using her magic.

She Vocalises herself as we wait.

She attacks Cat, breaking her Sanctuary.

Morwen finishes her off with an arrow of piercing.

I search the body. The assassin was wearing splint mail and had a club. She also wears a magical helmet that Morwen tells me is a Watcher’s Helm.

Helga takes the helm. She says it will be useful since ogres like to strike her from above.

This is MUCH better than the Helmet of Infravision that we usually get here. Infravision always seemed useless to have in Baldur’s Gate – especially since you usually have at least one character who has it because of their race.

The assassin also has a note on her. Another bounty notice, same as the other assassins I’ve come across so far.

680 gold now? Whoever wants me dead has a lot of resources at their disposal. They’ve found me in every town I’ve visited since leaving the Keep. I though if we kept moving it would throw them off. Maybe I’m not moving fast enough. Another strategy seems to be working though: kill anyone who comes after me.

I talk to the innkeeper before we do anything else.

Aegon: Small towns like this have their own stories, don’t they? Nashkel isn’t an exception, is it?

Innkeeper: Oh, there’s always something, hehe. It’s mostly about tavern fights – like the one the girl started, let me apologise for that. Sometimes it’s about virile boys and those usually end with some toddlers and much trouble.

…and sometimes it’s about something very different, though.

Aegon: And that would be…?

Innkeeper: Well, there’s one story. Some people say they’ve seen some ghosts. I’ve never seen them, I don’t care about them, much. But if I got a coin each time I heard stories about a boy and a girl, wailing and flickering in lunar light…

But maybe that’s just another way to get the attention of the local girls. You know, the trick of some lonely boys; maybe they want to be considered romantic, maybe that’s their bait.

Dunno, but why don’t you check it on your own? I would try at night, if I were you.

This is the start of another Romantic Encounter, this time it’s The Honest Lies of Two Riversides by Lava Del’Vortel.

There aren’t many other interesting people in the inn, but we do meet a noble couple in one room.

He’s annoyed at my intrusion, but his wife is more concerned about their son.

We sit down to rest and I try and talk to Kagain.

Aegon: You’re a close-mouthed fellow, Kagain. Any thoughts on things in general?

Kagain: No.

Blunt and to the point. Typical dwarf.

The locals here also have complaints about the iron.

Maybe Braegar’s rants are justified. We leave the inn. It’s time to go shopping. The next building here is the Nashkel Store. There is a strange-looking gnome saleswoman just outside.

Karaea Harfurthock: Would you like some bread and jam?

Aegon: I would enjoy that. Thank you.

Karaea Harfurthock: Ooh good. What kind do you want?

I have blueberry, blackberry, raspberry, strawberry, goodberry and some apple spread. No gooseberry, though. I haven’t had gooseberry in a long time.

Aegon: Why no gooseberry?

Karaea Harfurthock: Nobody’s brought me any gooseberries this year, and I haven’t been able to find any, either.

And I do so love gooseberry pie!

Aegon: I have some here, would you like them?

Karaea Harfurthock: Ooh! Wonderful! Now I can make my favourite kind of pie!

Um… Do you want me to pay you for them?

Aegon: Just look on it as a gift. Now, about that jam…

Karaea Harfurthock: Ooh, thank you!

Um, let me give you a jar of jam to say thanks.

Would you like to buy anything?

I have boots, and jars of jam, and pies and things.

I mean, those are for sale, but I have good prices!

Aegon: Wait, aren’t you a svirfneblin? What’s a svirfneblin doing on the surface?

Karaea Harfurthock: I, um. I like it here.

I mean, I came with my brother, at first. To keep him company.

But it’s pretty up here too. And I like to explore and meet people.

Aegon: What brought your brother here?

Karaea Harfurthock: He, um, says he’s under a curse.

Aegon: A curse? What kind of curse?

Karaea Harfurthock: I don’t know. Tomthal won’t say. He, um, gets really crabby.

I mean, he’s always crabby, but he gets *really* crabby when I ask. He’s in Athkatla now though.

Aegon: So why did you come with him?

Karaea Harfurthock: Oh, I love it here! There are so many flowers, and fruits, and the sun is so bright!

Aegon: You said your brother was in Athkatla? Isn’t that rather far from here?

Karaea Harfurthock: Oooh, yes.

But I go there, sometimes, and we can send letters.

That’s where I get the boots, too, from Aurora. My brother says she talks too much, but I think she’s nice.

Aegon: Yes, show me what you have.

Karaea Harfurthock: Here’s my wares, then! I hope you find something you like!

She sells many stylish boots, as well as some jams holding special properties. We don’t buy anything for now. The jam she gave us is a lingonberry jam, a flavour that gives a feeling of warmth.

I think this characters is from the Aurora’s Shoes and Boots by Bookwyrme, but I can’t be 100% sure as this is a Baldur’s Gate II mod.

We enter the Nashkel Store and browse what they have in stock.

They have a good selection of weapons and armour which we don’t need right now. We do, however, purchase an argent potion case.

Back outside we spot a squirrel that’s making an odd sound.

I can’t help but watch this strange squirrel. It seems to be getting annoyed.

The squirrel can talk!? I need to see what it has to say!

I just want to talk…

Have what?

The squirrel gives us a wardstone.

Even Morwen can’t tell what it does. Rasaad says he will hold on to it for now. He says it feels like a good luck charm.

This squirrel seems to be added by the Dark Side of the Sword Coast mod by Sir Billybob. This is one of the earliest big mods ever created for Baldur’s Gate.

We keep moving south past a graveyard. Here we meet the mayor of Nashkel.

So the mines are producing tainted ore. That would explain why Braegar is so frustrated all the time. It’s also why Xzar and Montaron were in such a rush to get here. Couldn’t it just be that the mine is running dry, though?

A nearby mage who overheard our conversation has some questions for us.

Aegon: What do you know of the troubles in the mines?

Valerie: I’m sure you know about the iron contamination. Something is attacking the miners, though. Rumours say demons.

Aegon: Do you believe there are demons in the mines?

Valerie: I hope not. Personally, I doubt it. *Something* has invaded the mines, but I’m reluctant to jump to demons when it could be something more mundane, like kobolds or goblins.

Aegon: We will be heading to see the mines for ourselves. If you’d like to join us, your aid would be welcome.

Valerie: Join you? As in, be an adventurer? Uh. Well… I was told to investigate this, and you’re investigating this… Uh. Okay, I guess. My name is Valerie Lysander, by the way.

Aegon: And I am Aegon. Welcome aboard!

Valerie joins us on our journey.

She is a sorcerer, who can cast Identify, Magic Missile, and Sleep spells.

She carries a sling and a quarterstaff, as well as a few potions of healing. She wears a robe of cold resistance.

This is Valerie by Tempest and K’aeloree.

Kagain tells us he has some business to attend to in Nashkel, and will meet us at the Inn when he is finished.

Rasaad shows Valerie the ward we got from the chirping squirrel. She uses her magic to identify it as a Lucky Rune Wardstone.

We walk through the graveyard and find a temple to Helm. They must know more about the troubles here. If there really are demons in the mines, they’d be the ones to know what to do. Or perhaps they know something about the ghosts that haunt the people that drink at the Nashkel Inn.

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