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Part 4: Upgrades, Upgrades, Upgrades, and lots of other stuff...
Now I play on and off in some bits of time that I manage to get, and nothing too spectacular happened. Instead, I got a lot of small things done. Let me list them in no particular order.
First, I finally took a ship to the Evenmorn Island(s). The whole quest with the map is probably supposed to be done way earlier than now, because skeletons and shades die pretty much in one or two hits. (Gargoyles in 2 or 3.) I also got a quest to desecrate the altar in the Temple of the Moon, so I did just that. (However, the first time I came in, I wasn't exactly prepared for being welcomed with Shrapmetals, so I had to run. Then I returned with full spells and cleaned the whole place. And by the way, I quite liked the "telekinesis trap" where you're suddenly dropped into a cell that has a secret compartment in the wall with a telekinesis scroll, which you can use to lift the bars using the lever on the other side.) After this, my priest could be promoted to the Priest of Light and grand-master the Body and Spirit magics (so far). Especially the grandmaster Regeneration is awesomely useful.
(And I also played Arcomage on the island, and visited a stone circle, so there is only one Arcomage left now — The Pit, I believe.)
When we're talking promotions: I also finally cleaned the Red Dwarf Mine and sabotaged the lift, and visited the three stone circles. Moreover, I took my revenge on the Mercenary Guild in Tatalia — now they won't harm anyone any more. They had the Heart of the Forest stashed in one of the chests there. (However, The Oldest Tree wanted the heart only after I got the ranger promotion quest! That cost me quite some wasted time.) And from my wanderings about the Nighon tunnels, I had the Zokarr's skull, so after visiting the stone circles, I just could drop the skull into his tomb. And I visited William Setag and killed him and the two knights that I found in his otherwise pretty empty tower, and of course saved the beautiful girl from the hands of the villain... The experience from these quests made it possible to jump from level 27 to level 36 (great!)
(And by the way, when I was in Tatalia, I also paid the final visit to Lord Markham, depopulated his manor and robbed it blind. That'll teach him, hopefully!) (And by the way, I also looted the Clanker's lab, but I must have missed something in there because the Wizard's Eye was still showing some treasure off the map. I'm not sure that I will return though — I obtained the artifact that seems to be always there (according to some people — I got a Scholar's Hat, which is pretty useless).)
Next, I finally learned about how to get into Arena. (It looks like I never tried to use Harmondale coach on Sunday before...) At last, I could start to fulfill my champion promotion quest. I already have the 5 victories that I need, but all of those were truly some heroic fights. (And some others were good for a reload, for instance one batch of some Lich Kings that first dispelled all my magic and then fried the whole party with I don't even know what, maybe Dragon's Breath. Or a band of Wizards combined with Angels.)
And let's not forget a big achievement: I've finally completed the Walls of Mist. I resorted to Flamestryke's website once more though (that's when I tried various combinations of pushing buttons and pulling levers in the western archway. Then I realized that I was going to brute-force all the combinations on both sides, and then I just determined that I can look it up and spend the time with something better. By the way, is there any way to know what to push and when to pull the levers? Did I miss anything?) I also had to make most of the trips twice because I found only quite late that the keys disappear after use and the Walls of Mist reset every time you enter, so in the end, I was quite glad to finally get rid of it.
This gave me access to some useless Light spells, and of course to the four "advisors" of Gavin Magnus. (Too bad that I didn't play the early games very much. I had to look them up to understand the context a bit better. But I definitely like how this game ties in with maybe all the previous ones. As a MM6 player, I like the Temple of Baa with the same Zenofex that was plotting for the world domination in MM6 (just now in hiding and with an initial X instead of Z).)
In this way, I got also the quest to investigate the Wine Cellar in Tatalia. So I did... and I met a Queen of the Dead. The first time I was fried so fast that I even didn't notice what was it. Reload. I tried again, and there wasn't a queen in the cellar proper, but there was one in the hallway that led further down. So now I could at least make sure that it's she that fries my party. Later I learnt that the spell is Dragon Breath. I wonder if I had such a miserable luck on rolls or what, but it was pretty ridiculous — one Dragon Breath wiped out my priest and wizard, and the second wiped out the knight and the thief too.
Reload. I was determined to try again and maybe devise a way to get rid of her safely... and there was no Queen at all in the whole cellar! The rest of the enemies became mincemeat pretty quickly and the Cellar is clear now. However, I have a bit of a bad feeling. Soon I will need to enter The Pit. As the city of the necromancers, it will be probably full of... ehm, necromancers, and some Queens of the Dead among them. To be able to combat them better, I would like to have my archmage promotion, but I can get that only when I battle through and recover the Divine Intervention book. Looks like a bit of Catch 22...
And by the way, I also found and cleared up the Temple of Baa in Avlee, so that's another promotion up my list. After all those arenas, promotions and quests, I will be able to advance by a sizable amount of levels once more. And of course I will get my Champion promotion, which will make my knight into a real tank. So that will alleviate the problem at least a bit — now the Champion will be able to carry around the three other characters when they're fried dead with Dragon Breath!
So the plan for the next session is to get the promotion, get Grandmaster Spear, Sword and Armsmaster, visit the Master Dagger and Water Magic teachers in Nighon that I missed for the first time, train a ton of levels and then... descend into the Pit!
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