We were going to find that Niklas fellow and clear our names. We were going to be goody-two-shoes who do everything according to the law. Then we got lost.
See, it all began as we left St. Rehlins. We bought some implants, which left us skint, then picked up some bounties, in the hopes of not being skint in the future. There was one bounty for Juiced Maules in the treacherous tunnels, one for a bunch of monster in Varghaala and one for the finding someones wife who had “gone a bit crazy” and bounced. Said wife, called Saxhand, had apparently found a grotto “on the the way to Hesselby, rim-wise” and we were asked to search it. Problem was, the directions weren't that good.
We started our search around the rim of the Krater, this was a bad idea. Apparently, since the Krater is the center of the civilized world around here, all the worst of the bad-asses collect there. We ran into all manners of mean bandits who wanted nothing more than to take our cash and shoes. Fortunately, we're pretty bad-ass too, but not bad-ass enough to take the punishment they were dishing out indefinably.
The bandits around here rely on these dudes called Fetsluggers. They're these big dudes wielding big clubs. They don't look too threatening, but looks can be deceiving. Apparently, someones been juicing these guys up something fierce, because they could soak up mostly anything we threw at them. Explosive grenades, check, Zappers, check, chemical grenades, check. While we managed to take some down, at a heavy cost, we quickly figured out that we were going to need bigger weapons to stay competitive. So we left the rim of the Krater to look elsewhere.
At the dead South end of Krater, we found something magical. A place, seemingly untouched by the horrors of the end of the world. We found, Farsta Strand. A dirty pit ruled by monsters and bandits, so exactly like it was before the end. The only trouble was that the gate was sealed shut. Something that royally peeved our band of mercenaries. How dare they close the gate on us? The most prestigious dungeons clearing crew in the business! So we continued onward, going back towards the center of Krater.
Another thing that collects at the center of the Krater, like hair in a drainpipe, are “mysterious traders”. We ran into 6 of these guys on our relatively short walk. By visit number 4, we started to figure it out. Seems like there aren't multiple of these guys, it's just one guy, who's really good at disguising himself. Too bad for him we saw through that ugly fake mustache. Too bad for us that he managed to escape before we could question him.
Feelings slightly despondent, we decide to clear out the dungeons closer to St. Rehlins. Both Treacherous tunnels and Varghaala are close by, and the friendly länsman has marked Nattkvart mines on our map, so we don't have to worry about that. Varghaala, is like the name implies, a haven for Vargs. Well, it used to be, before our visit. We clear it out, post haste. Most Vargs posing little resistance against the triple-headed axe/club wielded by Börje. Treacherous tunnels are another thing entirely. The bandits in there have been juicing vigorously and our only means of dealing with them is the ancient honorable tactic of the Kite. Pull one, kill him, pull another, kill him, repeat. The juiciest of the juiced bandits are called juiced maulers, and it is them that we need to kill. Some of them had crawled out of the tunnels and harassed an acolyte of St. Rehlins, and he wants payback. Battered and bruised we emerge victorious. With two out of three bounties in the bag, we head to Nattkvart Mines to finally do what the länsman asked. Another fetch quest and we're free.
Nattkvart Mines is located in between St. Rehlins and the jewel of Krater. Solside city is just a stone-throw away from the mine, and, being responsible upstanding mercenaries, we couldn't help ourselves. We just had to have a peek.
Solside city truly is the capital of the world. Not only is it big, not only does it have the largest market in the Krater, but it has TWO BARS. Who would have thought? A city big enough to support two drinking holes? The possibilities are staggering and even put Ola off balance. He can't decide where to start. “What would happen if we drink at that place, and then when we get thrown out, go there?” He asks, no one in particular. It's just his head making up grandiose plans. But we have to work before we play. Besides, where not rich enough to drink at two bars, let alone one. So we leave for Nattkvart.
The mine is dark, damp, brown and filled with monsters. So, like every other place not inhabited by bandits in the Krater. These monsters, on the other hand, glow. Much like our earlier encounters with irradiated beasts, it's a messy and greasy affair. The blighted björns have developed a new defense mechanism, the dreaded vomit. While the greasy substance tingles on the skin, it relies more on the smell than anything else to chase off would be predators. Good thing for us that we have a big stash of flowers that we can shove up our noses, just for situations like this.
Börje isn't particularly pleased with the treatment of his best friends/food, but Ola reassures him by promising him all the nose-flowers as desert after the cave is cleared.
At the bottom of the cave (as usual) we find Niklas. He has dragged two innocent and pretty angry looking acolytes with him. He explains that he's down here looking for some holy documents of St. Rehlins. He absolutely refuses to leave, nor even Börjes imposing visage will move the man. So Ola and Gunde quickly come up with a plan. They grab some scraps of paper from their packs and explain to the acolyte that the torn pieces are what's left of the documents. “Hunds ate it.” they explain. Niklas, to our amazement, buys it. Not even questioning why Hunds would eat a holy document deep in a cave filled with nothing but björns and boars. We take the victory and leave.
Coming out of the cave, we spot something else. Another cave, in fact, THE other cave. Saxhands Grotto. Those directions were indeed pretty crap. Since it is neither close to Hesselby nor the rim of the Krater. Regardless, we enter to finish off the last bounty.
YES! More ghasts! Good thing for us, these guys are nowhere near as bad-ass as those in the tunnels underneath St. Rehlins. We take is a cathartic experience. Stomping down these weakling really does help to lesson the pain from our previous failure. We find Saxhand, the wife, deep in the cave. Or what's left of her. The “gone a bit crazy” turned out to be a full-blown ghast infection, and she has now fully transformed into one. Having no other choice, we put her down humanely, by having Börje stomp on her til she stops moving. Picking the brains out of his boots, we return to St. Rehlins.
Länsman Gunilla officially pardons us on the spot. A good deed done, payment for a bad deed blamed for. Justice is served. After the little ritual, she confides in us that she knew we were innocent, she just needed some help. To quell our groups imminent rage, and to save her face from Börjes mighty fist, she offers us information. The killers went to Solside City, and she implores us to follow them, and leave her in peace.
Just this once, we abide by her and leave. Solside City does have two bars.