Armed with Melissan's new orders--find and kill your two siblings Sendai and Abazigal--you can head south from Yaga Shura's war camp
into Calimshan to meet her friend Balthazar. You will have no choice about this path: the first place you have to stop is the Oasis.
There's little doubt about Balthazar being up to no good. The narrator even tells you so in your journal. His people are monks--the
souped-up munchkins with Quivering Palm, not the contemplative guys in brown robes from Candlekeep, so you may want to be a
little more careful of them than your average thug.
The people of Amkethran have reactions to you which will vary according to your reputation--if it's low, they will flee in terror or beg
you for mercy, whereas they will give you some general comments about the town and its current situation (including some useful
hints) if it is higher.
Things of note in Amkethran:
1) You cannot get into the monks' compound at this point, nor talk to Balthazar again.
2) There are several encounters you can have out in the streets of Amkethran. The mayor's daughter has been caught stealing bread
for the starving peasants; help her, or leave her to her fate. An old priest is being harassed by some pissy mercenaries; stand up for
him, or leave him to his fate. (If you help him, you will also get the opportunity to help the starving peasants.) A bunch of mercenaries are
practicing their archery on summoned monsters; bother the leader enough times and they will attack you. Finally, who should you meet
again but Saemon Havarian. Like Elminster, he apparently thinks anagrammed aliases are clever. To little avail, as even the stupid
mercenaries have figured out "Esamon" is really Saemon. True to his irritating form, Saemon will pull a trick on you which you have no
chance of avoiding, not because it's in any way a good trick, but just because your conversational options are severely limited so as to
let his trick work. It's best to just ignore him; it's obvious the game designers aren't ever going to let you actually kill or best him, so I
mentally filed him with the idiotic wiseguy sidekicks in children's cartoons and stopped paying attention to him.
3) The northern of the two caves, labeled "Cave of the Dead" on your map, is guarded by a forcefield and a nervous-seeming monk. The
little boy in the area has some information about it to volunteer; pursue this and you will get a quest, Devil
His Due, which has several different possible endings (spoilers here).
4) The southern of the two caves, labeled "Smuggler's Cave" on your map, has some smugglers and mercenaries in it involved in an
altercation. Interfere or not, as you see fit.
5) In the smithy is an odd gnomish fellow who can fashion... interesting... armor for you, something even Cespenar has
too much dignity to make. There's also a seller of scrolls and other magical goods whom you may recognize...
When you enter this map, you will meet a woodcutter who will direct you to a clearing where he says he saw some drow hanging around.
You may enter his house and poke around if you like. The most interesting way to proceed is to go to the clearing and see what happens
there. The first time I came this way, suspicious of the woodcutter, I cast Detect Evil, which told me nothing about the woodcutter, but did
return some interesting results about the local fauna. It's equally possible to cut to the chase by attacking the nearest woodchuck, either
on the suspicion that all is not what it seems or simply on the grounds that evil woodchucks should not be allowed to roam the forests of
Faerun. I did this with zero negative effects. But it's somewhat more interesting if you go to confront the drow first.
Once you've located the entrance to the drow tunnels, take a deep breath and plunge in. There are a lot of tough fights in here (near the end
of the dungeon in particular), but no puzzles or conversations of note. You will be treated to a cameo by Faerun's funniest beholder, the
Spectator from the sahaugin city in the Underdark. As you pass to each new level of Sendai's dungeon, you will periodically get cut-scenes
about Sendai and what she's up to. There will be one point where the path forks and you can take one of two open doors. It doesn't matter
which; they both lead to the same place. You can backtrack and explore the second tunnel if you care to, but there's nothing of note in
either--just some fighting. From Sendai's cut-scene you should even be able to surmise what kind of monster is in each.
Sendai herself has a bit of interesting information to impart and a final battle sequence which threatens to wear your party down by sheer
attrition, and once you've finally slain her, you'll be yanked back to your pocket plane again by your old pal the solar for another
heart-to-heart. Like all the others, this starts with some questions that you can answer however you care to, with your responses determining
whether this challenge will be won for good or evil; then entry to the challenge room, wherein lies a somewhat revealing chat
with an aspect of your psyche that ends in a battle.
There's one fight on this map, and it's a doozy, as you can probably guess from the telltale big stairs leading up to the entrance.
Win this fight and you can head inside the lair.
The lair itself is a maze of sorts--you need to go spelunking through some underwater tunnels to get to the various sectors of the
lair. There's only one order you can enter the tunnels in, though (only one of them can be entered without one special item, only one
of the others without the next special item, and so on), so it's really impossible to miss a section.
Section 1: Cave with ice salamanders, and a passage to a hotel room with the item you need for section 2.
Section 2: Cave with kuo-toans and the item you need for section 3. You can talk to the captive monk in here for information, assistance,
and a few comments from your fellow NPCs (Imoen, Viconia, sometimes Sarevok).
Section 3: Cave with lots of floating eyeballs. You can talk to the somewhat deranged eyeball-loving wizard Iycanth (prompting an amusing
conversation between Imoen and Anomen, if they're around), then get the next item you need
either by accepting his quest, Eye Of The Beholder, or just killing him. Minsc, Korgan, and Keldorn have
a few comments about the mundane nature of this quest. It is possible to help the petrified guys in this room, in the usual way. Eye Of The
Beholder can be completed either straight (go where told, kill some beholders, and
retrieve requisite body part) or funny (reverse roles and play questgiver to the neophyte adventurer's PC).The funny way really is pretty
darn funny. The metal jockey shorts you find on this quest, by the way, are part of an Easter Egg quest to build a very weird magic item. They
will only be useful if you have the metal pantaloons from both BG1 and SoA. After finishing your dealings with Iycanth you can choose
to attack him for his evil ways or not, your choice. (Valygar gets a comment in there if you press Iycanth on his dealings with Abazigal enough.)
You may also click on the eggs a few times to kill all the eyes hidden inside. These eyeballs
have a boggling amount of experience for things that are so easy to kill. Eventually the eggs run out of eyeballs, and clicking on them further
will have no more effect. There are a mess of extra pools scattered around this level. Besides the ones that lead to the beholder's eye and
Iycanth's lab, there are several that lead back to other parts of section 3 (parts that are normally accessible by walking, so there's no point to
taking a pool here) and one that leads on to Section 4. You don't need to search around for the Section 4 pool, as the fourth pool back in the
main room leads you directly there as well.
Section 4: Cave with the geased dragon. Free him and see what happens. Then go through the door helpfully labelled "Abazigal's Lair"
on the west side of the map.
Abazigal's Lair: Once you've fought and killed Abazigal, you will get a cut-scene of Balthazar and Melissan, and then another visit from
your guardian solar. As usual, answer her questions, your responses giving you another mark in the good or evil column; then go into
the newly opened challenge room for a combat.
After this you'll get the requisite cameo from Elminster. He has nothing to say of any value whatsoever as far as I can tell, since you
already know the two pieces of information he has to impart if you've bothered talking to anyone else thus far in the game. Steal another
ring of protection +2 off him (this guy has a seemingly endless supply) and head on back to Amkethran for the last brother.
Back in Amkethran, you are faced with the question of how to get into Balthazar's monastery. There are two solutions to this quandary;
simply by asking about town you should learn about both, but here's a spoiler about both of them for
There is no dungeon in there. Get in, talk to Balthazar, and fight it out. You learn some very critical information here (though to
be honest, I'd been suspecting this twist since Saradush). Balthazar turns out to be a very interesting individual with a
not-entirely-psycho motivation, but there is still no way to avoid violence. Kill him, and then the solar will grab you back to Hell for
your last challenge. Once again, an interesting talk with the solar (this one is especially informative), and a brainless fight (this one
is especially tough to win).
From here, though, you can only continue in your main plot by destroying the pocket plane. There is no apparent way to release any
poor extra NPCs you might have stored here (an extremely frustrating flaw in the game--there is no reason you couldn't return these
guys to one of the wilderness areas, from which point any of them could easily have made it back to Athkatla). At any rate, if you've
stored anything in any of the receptacles here, be sure to take it back, and if you haven't finished
Watchers Keep yet, do. All that's left
is the endgame, and once you enter that, it will only end in your finsihing the game or dying.
Once you destroy your pocket plane, you enter the Abyss to face your final foe. You will need to defeat her a grand total of four times
(the same number as Irenicus and Bodhi, I guess, if you count the battles with them in your challenge room), after which you will get to talk
to the solar one last time and then choose your final destiny. Imoen, Sarevok, and your love interest all pipe up with their opinions beforehand
and their reactions afterwards (Sarevok's is especially interesting if he has reformed). The game is over at this point, and you get a movie and a
nice little wrap-up for each of your NPCs telling what became of them after your return to society. (You will get an alternate wrap-up for a
character if he or she is your love interest, but not, annoyingly, if you have changed his or her alignment. I really don't think that would have
been too much work.) The conversation with the solar can go in one of three different ways depending the answers you've been giving her
during the chats before each challenge room, and there are also three different end movies based on those same answers and on your final
decision about your destiny.
And that's all she wrote! Bask in the glory of having completed a really cool game. (-: If you want my thoughts on it all, you can click
here. Until the next game...