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Chapter Five: The Underdark

As you enter the Underdark--either through Irenicus' portal or via the sahuagin city--you will get another little cutscene of Irenicus with some drow, and then Chapter Five will begin. Things should be starting to get a little clearer in terms of what's going on with Jon, especially if you read his journal in the Asylum...

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The NPC dialogues really broaden out in the Underdark. The characters seem to talk less often (they certainly have no more subplots), but their conversations are more extensive and they respond to each other's comments more. Viconia, in particular, gets a lot of special dialogue, though I was disappointed she didn't have a personal quest in the Underdark anywhere.

The goal here is basically to get out: find where Jon has gone, and follow. Don't be in such a rush to do that that you fail to enjoy all the nuances of the Underdark, though. There's a lot to do here, and most of it is worth doing.

The Underdark

The main cavern into which you are deposited is very dark and hard to navigate. Some may think this adds ambience; I just find it an annoying source of eyestrain. Turning the monitor brightness up does not help much, since the walls and corridors are essentially the same color. To help you out, here is a list of the exits from this map: unmarked exit on the western edge of the map, leading to the Kuo-Toa Cave; marked cave east of the smurf town, leading to Adalon; marked exit on the northeastern edge of the map, leading to the drow city of Ust Natha; and two marked exits on the far southeastern edges of the map, leading to the Illithid Cave and Beholder Cave.

If Aerie is with you, by the way, she will give you a whimpering little monologue about how frightened she is as you enter, and she won't stop giving your party headaches until she hits the exit. More on this in Ust Natha, below...

1) In the main Underdark cavern, in the south-central area, you can find three duergar peddlars hanging around. They are relatively friendly and will sell you gear and talk to you. Their prices are absolutely horrible unless you're disguised as drow (in which case items get added to their inventory, too--most noticeably high-level spells and good potions--so be sure to check them out after finding disguises.) They do have some information to offer about Irenicus' whereabouts--nothing you didn't know from the cutscene, naturally--and if you're polite enough to the second duergar he will give you a tip on a quest, The Imprisoned Wizard. The third duergar will chat with you and your NPCs a little.

And there's a lot of chatting to do. The NPCs have a lot to say in this little encampment. The duergar recognize Viconia as an outcast, prompting an exchange between her and Jaheira; the news about the imprisoned wizard causes priceless interplay between Edwin, Korgan and the main character and Valygar, the main character, and Haerdalis; and the third duergar, the one who says you're a bad omen, causes all kinds of conversation among your NPCs. If your party is disguised as drow, even more happens--Aerie acts very un-drowlike with the merchant and almost gives the whole game away, and you can do the same with the third fellow, causing Viconia to cover for you, Haerdalis to get a little carried away with his own acting, Korgan, Imoen, and Edwin to banter, and more. No matter what grouping of companions you've brought with you to the Underdark, you're bound to hear from at least some of them here.

2) The Imprisoned Wizard, once you free him, will ask you to help him finish his task of looting some elemental portals. Suspicious sort that I am, I cast 'detect evil' on him and, finding him evil, pickpocketed him. I learned two things from this exercise: one, 'detect evil' is useless in the Underdark (everyone is evil down here, even the decent sorts), and two, the wizard, Vithal, is carrying all kinds of high-level spell scrolls on him. I actually felt kind of guilty about this, since the wizard not only didn't betray me as I was expecting but tried to pay me a magic item for my services--which I'd already stolen from him.

3) In the northwest area of the map is a bridge to the svirfneblin city, guarded by two smurfs. This city is fairly deserted, with only two houses you can enter and three smurfs inside them to talk to. The first is Goldander, the leader of the town, who will ask you to do a quest for him, A Hole To Hell. (Viconia, Korgan, and Edwin will also have a hilarious exchange here... alternatively I've seen her have a funny exchange with Minsc, too.) Once you do this he'll give you the item you need to get into Adalon's cave. The second building holds an innkeeper, who has an item needed for another Underdark quest, and a blacksmith, who has wares to sell and also a quest for you, Free The Smurf.

4) The iron contraption with "lost souls" trapped in it holds six souls, not four. It's hard to see two of the windows in the overly dark picture here. Three of these prisoners have been driven mad by their imprisonment, and will attack you. (Another is sane but will attack you anyway, just because that's the kind of guy he is, and the other two will thank you and go their ways.) It is, as your journal suggests, possible to cure one of the crazed prisoners of his madness (it does not work on the others).

Adalon's Cave

Once you have the Light Gem--either by means of thievery or as a reward for completing the Hole To Hell quest--you can use it to enter Adalon's cave. There is nothing of interest there but Adalon herself, who will give you a new quest-- Scrambled Eggs--and the means to enter the drow city of Ust Natha. Adalon herself is rather abrupt, pissy, and full of herself. There is no way to avoid her yelling at you to be silent at one point in the dialogue--on the other hand, there's no way to goad her into attacking just by being rude to her, either. (She does comment on it very disapprovingly if you stole the Light Gem rather than earning it legitimately and/or killed smurfs on your way in, but she doesn't withhold her quest.) It is possible to attack and kill Adalon, though there is little to gain by doing so. If you're really determined to fight with her, you should at least wait until after you've done everything you wanted to in Ust Natha, because if you kill her before you go there you won't be able to do any of the quests originating in that city. (You'll still be able to escape the Underdark, it just won't be as fun.) The girls (Imoen, Aerie, and Nalia, at least) will fawn all over Adalon, incidentally, even when she tells them to shut-up.

From here you're to go to the entrance to Ust Natha, where you now will be able to talk to the guards. Take care in what you tell them, for acting too un-drow-like will give your game away and make it impossible to complete Scrambled Eggs or any of the drow city quests.

Ust Natha

The drow city of Ust Natha is perfectly rendered, peopled by an interesting and disquieting society, criss-crossed by spiders' slow and graceful movements, and littered with subquests, events to watch, and more ambience than you can shake a stick at. For some reason the conversations held by people on this map do not show up in your dialog box, instead floating across your screen in text-over. I found that a minor annoyance--I like to be able to go back and read spoken text, and the text-overs fade out fairly quickly and can't be accessed again--but otherwise couldn't fault this very rich and engaging area.

The usual way to exit the Underdark is with Adalon's help; complete her Scrambled Eggs quest and she'll send you to the surface in hot pursuit of your man Irenicus. It is also possible to side against Adalon in Scrambled Eggs and still escape from the Underdark (see here for a bit about what that entails). If you blow your cover and have to slaughter the whole city by hand, you may still be able to escape and fight your way up to the surface--although sometimes the drow may close and lock the gates, sealing you into the city. I don't know how one would get out of that predicament, if at all, so I advise caution when dealing with the Ust Natha natives. Remember that you're undercover. Too many stupid-tourist comments will get you caught, and so will attacking one of the drow or spiders under any circumstances other than a formal duel, so even when they're fighting each other, don't interfere. It's easy to reload if you screw things up, but I think it makes the chapter more enjoyable if you get into the spy mentality a little and keep that certain unease about continuing to ask questions when it's clear you're starting to seem suspicious. Along the same lines, unlike the quests in the rest of the game, you will need to get the Ust Natha quests done in particularly timely fashion (three days if you're not told otherwise, twelve hours to meet Solaufein for the Missing Daughter quest and one hour to meet Phaere in her quarters a few times). If you are late, the drow will start looking for you, and they will learn your true identity.

Aerie, incidentally, does not understand the concept of being 'undercover' very well, and she will wander around in her cute little drow disguise asking every dark elf in sight naive and ignorant questions until it seems like the whole Underdark is suspicious of you. (The nadir was when the drow priestess Phaere asked us to do one of her quests and Aerie, still somehow failing to understand that we were >pretending< to help the priestess and >plotting< to defeat her, exclaimed "But she's evil! We shouldn't help her!" RIGHT IN FRONT OF PHAERE, who was understandably a little worried about our loyalties at that point. I wanted to throw her to the spiders myself just about then.) However, though Aerie will push the town to the brink of attacking you, she will not push it >past< that brink without help from you. If you have her in your party and do not make any missteps yourself, you will still be able to complete these quests and escape with your lives.

Be sure to talk to the drow with both male and female characters; they will often have different responses to different genders.

1) The first place you arrive is the bazaar, a landing with three drow merchants hanging around on it. They're polite enough to you and offer a few cultural insights along with their wares. I took their comments about having taken their goods from less deserving races as the perfect philosophical excuse to steal everything I wanted from their stores. After all, if they can be stolen from, they're weak and less deserving, right?

The first time you enter this area, you should get a brief event between a drow, a duergar slave, and an angry priestess. Their lines are in text-over, not the dialog box, so hang out near them until their little plot is done. There is nothing you can do to alter this story at all-- the duergar will die no matter how much you heal him, and none of the participants will talk to you.

To the south of this platform are two githyanki who do not speak very good drow-elven. They will tell you about their broken skyship if you pester them enough, but I was not able to find any way to either help them or take their skyship for myself--in fact, I couldn't find anything to do with them at all. You can't give them the piece of the silver sword, either. (Not that you'd especially want to, but I would have traded it for the skyship!)

2) On a side platform to the northwest of the bazaar is a drow selling monsters as slaves. You can buy one or more, and they will follow you around and fight for you, but you cannot talk to any of them, whether you have them in your party as slaves or not.

3) On a side platform to the east of the bazaar is a drow overseer and several torturers alternately tormenting and healing a captive djinn. It is possible to free this djinn: pay attention to the text-over conversations between him and the torturers to figure out how. This won't make the city attack you if you're careful with what you say to the overseer afterwards.

4) To the west of the bazaar is a tank with a big ugly fishie thing in it. He will be asleep when you first arrive in the city, but will have a quest for you once you've completed a couple of the drow quests: Pinky and the Brain. This quest can be resolved in two distinct ways.

5) The tavern, on the platform north of the bazaar (it is marked on your map), has two different fighting pits in it: one to the east where you can fight monsters, and one to the west where you can battle other drow. In the monster pit, you can kill five monsters of increasing difficulty for cash rewards and strokes to your ego. In the duelling pit, you can fight five drow warriors and wizards, one on one, for some hefty experience and their equipment as your prize. There are also several drow customers hanging around the bar and partaking in drow storytelling customs. One of the first ones you meet is a jokester who tells you a shaggy dog pun. (If Haerdalis is in your party, he will chime in with the punchline.) Either way, an angry priestess of Lolth will come over and get into a fight with him. She will win this fight easily without your interference, and even if you do interfere (by repeatedly healing the jokester--remember that you can't attack either of them!), he won't have anything to say but a generic comment about the drow thief god before disappearing. The other patrons will share stories and information about themselves, their city, and its history, and you can pump the oldest one for some information about Adalon's history and why she's as bitter and driven as she is nowadays and, once you've met them, the backstory between Solaufein and Phaere. On the small platform overlooking the monster pit is the bartender, who will offer you a place to rest, a bar to pick rumors up at (basically useless, but they may help you to orient yourselves,) and some tidbits about drow society.

There is a second level to this bar, and up there are the "lust chambers" and "exploding rune" areas the bartender told you about. There's a horny female drow hanging around the lust chambers looking for a studly mate. It's possible to sleep with her, but only if you have a high charisma and no relationships. (A few of the NPCs may also get lucky with her if you boost their charisma, though I haven't seen this myself.) In one of the other lust chambers is a masseuse who will give members of your party such a good massage it will heal them of their wounds. (It wasn't quite clear whether sexual activity was accompanying this, but the romance partners didn't get upset about it--even Aerie--so I'm assuming not.) The "exploding rune" game turns out not to be much of a game. Just go there and take a look for yourself. If you pay the guy in charge $100 he'll repeat the 'game' for you a few more times. You will lose a reputation point each time, and well you should. I'm surprised any drow over the age of eight finds this amusing, but hey, different strokes for different folks... Finally, in a holding cell up here are drow prisoners being taunted by other drow. This conversation was quite unnerving, really, especially if you talk to the prisoners afterwards. It was disappointing and odd that Viconia had nothing to say about it, though, given her family ties.

6) North of the tavern is a high tower around which are cages full of human slaves (well, and one halfling). The slave-seller will not sell them to you--however, there is a way to purchase (and free) these poor guys. The slave-seller gives you a good hint as to how. I was thrilled to finally find the solution, even though it was easy; this was the thing I had most wanted to do in the city.

7) In the hall between the tavern and the Female Society is a side platform on which you can witness a conversation between a couple of illithid ambassadors and a drow liaison. This conversation is nicely mysterious in tone and will be made entirely clear by the very first mission the drow ask you to go on, The Missing Daughter. There is nothing you can do to change or affect this scenario at all. (You can pester the drow liaison afterwards, but be careful about it or she'll attack you.)

8) As you approach the Female Fighter Society, you'll bump into a fleeing elven woman who gives you a text-over, something like "Oh god, get out of my way!" Unless this was some kind of bug I got mired in, trying to talk to her makes her freeze in place until the drow who are hunting her come ambling over and kill her. If you don't talk to her or block her path, she will keep on running and the drow will come up to you and ask you where she went--tell the truth and they'll follow her and kill her, lie and they'll go the wrong way and you'll never see any of them again. I believe that's all you can do with these guys--if anyone has found a way to talk to the elven woman or help her in any more substantial way, please let me know about it.

Later in the game, after meeting with the Matron Mother, a handmaiden will meet you here and give you a small quest to complete for her, Kill The Heretics. I'm not sure whether this quest is timed or not, but it certainly is less timed than Phaere's demand that you meet her in one hour, so go see Phaere first and deal with the handmaiden's quest later.

The Female Fighter Society itself is empty and lonely, serving only as a meeting place for later quests. The door to Qilue's house, also for a later quest, is here, and so are stairs leading up to #8, the "upper levels."

9) The upper levels, accessible from stairs near the Female Fighter Society, are largely devoid of activity. On the topmost level I found a small interaction between duergar slaves and drow, but it was very hard to follow because it was all in text-over and took place on the far right side of the screen, so the words scrolled off the edge. There was also a drow skyship captain on the top level who offered to take me on as crew aboard his ship, but I couldn't find any way to make anything of that situation at all. Apparently he was just there as a tip of the hat to Spelljammers. A pity, that.

10) Your contact, Solaufein, is standing in front of the Male Fighter Society. In your brief conversation with him, you will have the chance to make a first impression on him: please him and he'll speak better of you later, displease him and he won't. This is an interesting dialogue because there is an additional conversational option that you only get if you're stupid... telling him the truth when he asks for your real name. (-: It doesn't really matter if Solaufein respects you or not, but he'll confide in you a little more later on if you've earned his trust a couple of times. Either way, he'll start you off on your first drow quest, The Missing Daughter. You have twelve hours to meet Solaufein (he tells you as much when he leaves.) The conversation with Solaufein and the Handmaiden will go slightly differently depending on which of the two you talk to first and whether Solaufein likes you or not--also, when he asks you if you know what "devourers" are, your potential answers are limited by your intelligence. If you're dumb, it won't affect the plot, really, just your friendship with Solaufein. Once you have saved the missing daughter you will get a succession of four Phaere Quests from the young priestess Phaere: slaying a beholder, slaying some svirfneblin, slaying Solaufein (no one ever said drow politics were nice), and, er, entertaining Phaere. (You only get this last quest if your main PC is male.) Don't dilly-dally, especially when she tells you to meet her in one hour--she'll turn the whole city hostile if you're not punctual. In between these quests you will have the chance to chat with Phaere and Solaufein, and they are worthwhile chats to have. Solaufein will confide in you more the more he likes you, but this isn't important for quest purposes, just character enrichment. Once you're done with all four Phaere Quests you will get a new quest from the Matron Mother, Underdark Blood Drive, and when that's finished with you'll have the chance to go about the business of the Scrambled Eggs that you came here for in the first place. You can resolve this main quest in several different ways.

The Male Fighter Society itself looks exactly like the Female one and has nothing in it of any importance other than a place to meet people.

The entry to the House of Jae'llat is also here, though it is warded against your entry until you finish the Magic Rope quest, at which point you can enter and loot it of its treasures.

11) Beyond the Male Fighter Society is a platform where a drow is feeding slaves to the spiders. I did not find any way to prevent this besides attacking, which, of course, blows your cover and brings the whole city down on you like a ton of bricks.

12) South of the Female Fighter Society is Deirex' Tower (this, too, is marked on your map). A wizard hanging around outside will speak only to a male mage. Aggravatingly enough, I do not yet know what, if anything, he would say, because Edwin, was, er, well, he wasn't available for this role at the time I brought him through with me, if you know what I mean...

Later in the game, once you've spoken with the Matron Mother, a drow named Visaj will appear around here and offer you a quest, The Magic Rope. Viconia and Korgan have a bit to contribute to this conversation, and Viconia and Jaheira help the subsequent conversation with Jarlaxle along. "Jarlaxle" is apparently drow-elven for "Saemon Havarian," but this is still a worthwhile quest despite Jarlaxle's annoyance factor and you do get paid for it in the end. It's rather hard for a low-level party and you can't back out once you accept it, so keep a savegame from before you agreed. Several of the NPCs take part in the final conversation with Jarlaxle, most entertainingly Nalia and Viconia. It is possible to kill Jarlaxle, but you have to pick the right conversational options--threaten him as soon as you get back from killing the lich, and don't back off. He's a tough fight but easier than the lich, which should teach him a little lesson about jerking around people you send to kill liches you can't kill yourself: they can probably kick your ass too.

13) Further south of Deirex' Tower is a huge empty platform. There is nothing of interest here; you'll just need it as a meeting place for a future quest.

14) Finally, in the far southeast corner, is the Temple of Lolth. No one in here has anything useful to say; you'll just need to come in and out of here in the course of your quests. There's a handmaiden of Lolth in here, but don't bother her too much or she'll attack you.

Beholder Cave

There is no one to talk to in this cave, nothing to do but mow through beholders and take their loot. The eyestalk and artifact piece are on the very first beholder you slay, so if you don't want to deal with the rest of the tyrants you can leave after the first fight. There are some other races, drow and illithid, fighting beholders in here, but they are all hostile. If a charm spell hits a drow, oddly enough, they become green but cannot be moved about by you, instead staying put and giving you Ust-Natha-commoner lines. (I only noticed this little oddity because I was, like most sensible adventuers, wearing my mirrored cloak in here, and a charm spell bounced off of me and onto a drow.) I left the charmed one alone, but he never did anything else of interest, so I guess it was just a bug, not a rescueable drow.

Illithid Cave

Upon entering this area you will quickly be subdued by the psionic mindflayers. If you're here for the Blood Drive quest, it may by now be occurring to you that wiping out the drow city would probably have been easier than taking these guys out. Don't worry; allies will appear quickly enough.

After the obligatory arena fight, you'll meet a pack of githyanki--an interesting reunion if you came here on Saemon's boat. (I wanted the option to >give< them their damn sword piece back, but apparently the programmers couldn't believe anyone might not want the vorpal sword.) Haerdalis made the mission for me with his funny reactions to the githyanki. (-: More exposition, more waiting around, a few more NPC comments (Anomen and Korgan), and we were all ready for a jailbreak.

1) There is a place that looks like it should be a door, west of the arena (where the kuo-toans came from), but I was utterly unable to get through. I don't know if this was a bug or intentional, but I was forced to go the long way around.

2) The ogre servant and other gladiators in their cells were all hostile and I couldn't get them to talk to me, much less free them. I guess they really liked working for the illithids, or something.

3) The slaves on the lab tables, on the other hand, can be freed in an optional little mini-quest, Slave Revolt. This was a disappointing quest--the slaves are attached to mysterious machines that "could be filled with fluid," and if you wander around the complex enough, you'll find the one fluid which clicking on it will let you take some of, at which point you can come back and put it in the machines, which frees the slaves. Nevermind that your characters would have no bloody clue that this fluid in that machine would do anything of the sort. They're the two clickable-on things in the dungeon, so obviously they go together. I really get the idea the game writers were starting to run out of gas by this point. The last few drow quests were simple and uninspired, the kuo-toa place was just plain embarrassing, and now this, a quest that could have been compelling, and was nothing of the sort. Oh well, click on the two things it's possible to click on, and let the slaves go. At least you'll get a "thank-you" out of them at the end, and some assistance getting out (you don't need it, but it is helpful.)

4) There are three doors here which can only be opened by godly power. Illithids, with their 25 intelligence, qualify, so you can either get an illithid to open the doors for you (you'll need the slaves' help for this), or think of another source of godly power that might be available to you. (I was really quite pleased to see that this worked, even though I'd just been trying it out of frustration. A good illithid is hard to find, sometimes. Especially if you've already killed some of them.)

5) Once you breach the doors, the githyanki will come back and chat with you some more, then leave. If you have their silver-sword piece, they will be much more aggressive during this conversation, but either way they will neither help nor hinder your escape. (It isn't possible to peaceably hand the sword over at this point.)

6) Then you find some more strange illithid fluids, so naturally you gather it up and drink it, because that's what clicking on it does this time. Happily it's not poison, but a useful potion to protect you from psionics. Yay. Go kill the illithids and the Elder Brain and get out of this stupid level before you get more intelligence-drained than your characters.

By the way, you can find those githyanki again, resting in a cavern north of the entrance to the illithid cave. If you came here on Saemon's boat they will basically try to kill you. A friend told me that he was able to return their sword to them and they thanked him and went their way, but when I tried to return the sword, they attacked me anyway (despite a high reputation and charisma). Their loss.

Kuo-Toa Cave

This is an even more poorly-thought-out and frustrating area. There's a quest, of sorts, in it, but it's never explained, you get no XP for it, and it's not even clear what you've done. In one of the pools you can find "tainted tadpoles". What are they doing there? Who knows? But if you pick them up and bring them to another room, you can put them into the pool there, and the healthy tadpoles in that pool will die. What does that accomplish? Have you just poisoned the kuo-toa well, slaying their women and children? If anyone knows, please mail me, because I'm at a loss. It certainly doesn't affect anything else in this dungeon one bit, because I played the whole thing through both ways.

Anyway, this dungeon is basically just slaying things and admiring the pretty caverns. A couple of notes:

1) In the southeast tunnel is the infamous altar to Demogorgon. You have to wonder what this is doing here, too, since the kuo-toa worship the Sea Mother, but how can you complain about an altar that gives you one of the better fights of the game and the last ingredient for Crom Faeyr? Sadly, tadpoles do not count as an animal sacrifice, but summon something and walk it onto the altar to let loose the hounds of war, baby.

2) In the northwest tunnel is the exit from the Underdark, guarded by drow. There are two ways to open this door: talk the drow into opening it for you (you can only do this if you are still disguised), or use the opening rune you get from Adalon. As you can see, you cannot leave the Underdark without talking to Adalon (though you can help her, betray her, kill her, or steal from her; take your pick). The drow can be convinced to let you pass, but you have to be very careful with your conversational choices.

Escape From The Underdark

Once you've left through the exit in the kuo-toa cave, by whichever means you've chosen, your disguise will be dispelled and you will no longer be able to do any quests in Ust Natha. You can still come back to the Underdark to do any other quests you haven't gotten to yet, though, and you can still go back and wipe the drow city out if they pissed you off enough last time.

For now, you will find yourself in a tunnel to the surface, witnessing a few skirmishes between elves and drow. The elves will call to you to quickly flee to the surface so the drow don't kill you. Hey, elves: my party isn't the one getting its people killed in a fight with a few stupid drow fighters. Finish off the drow, run away, or hang around till the elves finally win and then loot their dead, whatever floats your boat. You could probably kill the elves if you really wanted to, too, but I don't know what happens if you do this.

Once you reach the last door out of the Underdark, you'll get a cutscene and Chapter Six will begin!

Chronicles of Ataniel * Sioux * American Eskimo dog * Wolf totem * Central America

Go on to the Baldurs Gate II Walkthrough: Chapter Six
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