HELLBOUND, History, Guide and discription Part 2 (cont.)
To eliminate the invisible barrier blocking access to the Battered Lands, adventurers have to go to the natives' village south-west of the Hidden Oasis. This is an important basis of the Resistance Movement and as such is often attacked by Beleth's demons. General Darion already has an inkling that the native resistance fighters are in the process of joining forces with adventurers from the mainland. Therefore he is sending his lieutenant Keltas with a large detachment of Enforcers and Executioners to the village every 2 to 4 hours, with orders to wipe out any resistance they encounter. Keltas and his platoon are executing this order to the letter: they are moving from house to house and killing anybody they see, no matter whether resistance fighter or civilian. Since the active resistance fighters are usually out in the desert, harassing Darion's troops, it is the women and children who stayed at home that get killed (which is the reason why there are now almost only men left on the island). There is especially one large building where the floor is strewn with corpses, but, although they are returning to their barracks after some time, Keltas and his detachment keep coming back. This is because they are searching for the valuables the natives have put by in better days. Of course, in a harsh environment like Hellbound there is not that much wealth that can be accumulated, but occasionally Keltas does find a treasure chest. This has also aroused the interest of the Caravan. Since the people at the village are dead anyway, it would be a shame to let those treasures fall into the hands of Darion's soldiers. Trader Jude will give a rich reward to any adventurer who brings him 40 treasure chests. In Darion's anti-insurgency squads, as in all armies, the loot goes to the commander. Therefore adventurers have to kill Keltas to obtain the treasure chests, which incidentally will also raise the level of trust they enjoy with the Resistance Movement by 100 points. Even killing Keltas' underlings will raise their trust level by 3 points for every dead Enforcer or Executioner. Being official members of Darion's army, those monsters usually carry the travel permits the Resistance Movement so urgently needs. If adventurers hand any of Darion's Badges they found on the killed monsters to Kief, the local area commander, their level of trust will go up by 10 points per badge.
When the adventurers have accumulated 1 million trust points, they should direct their steps again to the Ancient Temple Remnants. There they might now be able to find the ghost of Derek, a soothsayer of the First Age. Like Hannibal, Derek enjoyed a great respect among the natives, and if adventurers should succeed in laying his soul to rest - even after his death he has retained a lot of his former strength - their level of trust with the Resistance Movement will rise by 10,000 points. Then they are accepted enough to take part in real commando actions such as rescuing the slaves in the Quarry. This is not easy - the Quarry Foremen will Root any attacker, so that the Patrolmen with their Windstrikes and the Supervisors with their close-distance physical attacks can easily finish them off - but it will seriously undermine Beleth's economic basis and make it impossible for him to continue expanding his fortress, leaving him only his magic to defend himself. Once the guards near a group of slaves have been eliminated, one can talk with them and they will follow their rescuer. At the southern end of the Quarry there is a little road through the mountains that connects to the Caravan Encampment in the Sand Swept Dunes. This is the fastest way to lead them out. If the overseers notice that slaves are escaping, they will kill them without any thought to the economic loss, and the adventurers' level of trust with the Resistance Movement will go down by 10 points with every dead slave. But once a train of rescued slaves has reached the stone pillar at the southern exit of the mountain road, they are safe. (To express their gratitude, the slaves might even leave some materials on the ground). In the end, General Darion will have no alternative but to commence a tactical retreat, concentrating his forces behind the outer Enceinte of the Steel Citadel and abandoning most of the island to the Resistance Movement.
Still, Darion's army will do everything possible to defend the Steel Citadel's energy source. The general will dispatch his staff officer Hellinark to the Enchanted Megaliths, who then uses his considerable magical powers to summon Naia Failans, cactus-like crystalline beings who can cast evil curses on anybody whom they feel is threatening them and their master. In addition to that, Hellinark has a great number of Failan's Guards at his disposal. But now the united front of the natives, the "newcomers" and the Caravan is strong enough to attempt an attack on the Enchanted Megaliths. Once those are taken, the invisible barrier isolating the Battered Lands will fall and the Chimeras
living there can be eliminated. For this purpose one first needs a magical bottle which can be obtained from Kief, who has now set up his command post in the central building of the village, for 20 Scorpion Poison Stingers. When a Chimera has been beaten almost to death and only 1/10 of its life energy remains, the magical bottle can be used to capture its life force: Dim Life Force or regular Life Force from the lesser Chimeras and Dim Life Force, regular Life Force or Contained Life Force from Celtus, their leader. If an adventurer has captured 80 units of regular Life Force and 20 units of Contained Life Force, he or she can exchange the Life Forces with Hude at the Caravan Encampment for a Premium Caravan Certificate. The owner of such a Certificate can then purchase from Hude recipes and parts for truly excellent equipment. The monsters on the island will upon their death occasionally drop an old book, the famous "Ancient Tome of the Demon". If one opens such a book, one will obtain, purely at random, a Demon Contract Fragment, a Hidden First Page or a Hidden Second Page. Hude will exchange his recipes and equipment parts against those pieces of paper, similar to the Luxury Shop in Giran, which takes D- and C-Grade Crystals. Thus well equipped, the resistance fighters will in their now unstoppable march sooner or later reach the outer gate of the Steel Citadel. Again, defeating the Enceinte Defenders is not easy. Some of them can take out single attackers over a long distance, both with magical and physical methods, while others can wipe out whole groups with one single strike in close-hand combat. But well-trained adventurers with good experience in coordinated fighting will eventually prevail. Once the Outpost Captain, a fierce horned devil using dual swords, is killed, the gate will open and the resistance fighters can proceed to liberate the slaves Beleth keeps at the oasis within. But everybody should be aware that Beleth's forces have very good intelligence. If adventurers have not yet forged strong enough bonds with the native Resistance Movement, the Outpost Captain will know it. While he, being an example in discipline to his soldiers, usually firmly stays at his post and pulls any attackers to him by magic, he might then rush out at a single enemy, trying to drive a wedge in the fragile front of the resistance fighters while at the same time satisfying his own personal bloodlust.
Turning south after the gate, one soon arrives at a little lake, with two trees and tents put up in their shade. The slaves living there are far from home. For their dangerous journey back to the west of the island they absolutely need those travel permits general Darion has given out. If adventurers donate five of Darion's Badges to a slave, this will help a lot to ensure his safe return, and it will also raise the level of trust they enjoy with the Resistance Movement. This oasis is the place where the legendary blacksmith Shadai
can sometimes be met. He visits only occasionally, staying in one of the tents, but since he can change the armour adventurers have acquired from caravaner Hude in a way that best fits their needs - making it stronger but a bit heavier for Dwarves, lighter for archers etc. - it is worth waiting for him.
After talking to Kanaf, adventurers can then enter the market town that was supported by the oasis before Beleth arrived, getting both its food and its drinking water from there. Now this once thriving center of civilisation has changed. People who have been there have described it as "more like an instance of hell" - which is why Kanaf will only permit groups of two or more adventurers to enter the town. The natives there are being kept under control by Torture Expert Amaskari,
a classical, red-skinned devil. Most of them are heavily traumatized; if one tries to talk to them, they just disappear, screaming that guards would be coming. After the victory at the Enchanted Megaliths a native commando unit of the Resistance Movement had tried to sneak into the town and free their brethren. But within a short time they were discovered and fierce fighting ensued. The major part of the commando was killed, while the rest were taken prisoner. Amaskari has succeeded in terrorizing the prisonerss to a degree where they will instantly do his bidding, no matter what it be. If adventurers are courageous enough to take him on, he will tell a great number of the broken men to attack those who have only their well-being in mind, even if it should cost them their life. As soon as Amaskari is dead, however, they are free and will run away. Once the natives in the town have been liberated, the Resistance Movement can start taking possession of the Steel Citadel itself.
First the prospective demon slayers must find a Keymaster in the town - he is often hiding inside of a building - and kill him, which should not be too hard. If they are lucky, he will have carried a Key of the Evil Eye, engraved with words in an ancient, dark-looking demon script. Walking to the northern end of the town, the adventurers must then insert this key - one for each group will be sufficient - into the little keyhole at the bottom of the Moonlight Stele they will find there in front of the Citadel's gate. After five minutes the whole group will be teleported inside. There might still be monsters in the town, intent on killing anybody they perceive as an intruder. So it pays to be carefull during those five minutes and occasionally look back over one's shoulder. Right after they have entered the Steel Citadel, a Body Destroyer wielding a double-bladed axe will be waiting for the intrepid adventurers. The name "Body Destroyer" is fully justified: he can curse attackers, predicting their death, and if he is not killed within 30 seconds thereafter, the cursed person will suddenly have only one single drop of blood left. Therefore it is necessary that the members of the group concentrate all their forces and eliminate the Body Destroyer as fast as possible, while those who got hit by his curse should immediately retire to a safe corner, sit down and try to recover their strength. There is a reward: Body Destroyers frequently carry on them a Forgotten Scroll where it is recorded how to call up an intelligent Cubic, a skill many knights and summoners are interested in learning. Apart from that, these particular officers often also carry other spellbooks.
Of course, defeating the Body Destroyer and the Soul Dominators under his command is not easy. It should only be attempted by really well equipped fighters and mages. Anybody who has not yet acquired top-grade weapons from Merchant Hude should, before they enter the Steel Citadel, direct their steps back to the Hidden Oasis. There they will now find the caravaner Jude. Unlike his colleagues, Jude is not only interested in commerce, but also in producing things, in adding value to raw materials. Jude is especially fascinated by the so-called "Evil Weapons" used by Darion's soldiers. He has already seen some samples and was really impressed by their excellent quality. Now he plans to study those weapons in detail, hoping to find a way to refine them, remove their evil aura, so that he can sell them in Aden at a great profit. For this purpose Jude needs in particular the weapons carried by the Lesser Evils and Greater Evils roaming the grounds of the Anomic Foundry, at the eastern end of the island. For 200 Evil Weapons he will give an adventurer a recipe to craft a truly excellent Icarus weapon, and for every 5 Evil Weapons he will pay with 3 Icarus parts. Only the best Warsmiths can craft weaponry of that level. They need 2 recipes and 18 parts as well as an enormous amount of material, and then there is still a chance of one out of three to fail. In addition to that, Jude gives out his recipes and parts at random, so an adventurer might end up with 3 Icarus Trident Pieces and 3 Icarus Wingblade Pieces. But since Hellbound is only suitable for groups anyway, everybody can combine their resources and together craft several weapons. Entering the Steel Citadel without the very best equipment is tantamount to suicide.
On their way back to the Steel Citadel adventurers might want to talk to the Dwarven architect Matras at the oasis behind the Enceinte gate. Matras was responsible for several of the buildings in the market town, but then, when Tully came and built the Steel Citadel, he was confronted with a whole new dimension of architecture. Matras' curiosity was aroused. After doing some research he came to the conclusion that the Steel Citadel might possibly have been built by several, independently working parties. That sounds certainly strange, but Matras was not able to find complete blueprints of the Citadel, and this was the the only way he could explain that phenomenon. At the moment Matras is searching for additional information. He has already found out that the Demon Prince and Ranku in the Tower of Infinitum might have blueprints of the Citadel, but the Body Destroyer and his Soul Dominators in the entrance hall won't even let him into the Base Tower, which has to be crossed to get to the Tower of Infinitum. Matras promises a rich reward to anybody who will procure the blueprints for him, and since Ranku and the Demon Prince have to be defeated anyway to reach Beleth, adventurers should by all means agree to help the Dwarf. Continues on part 3