When we last left Curse of the Azure Bonds we were set on something of an introductory railroad, as we were given a little time to get some gear in town, before being thrust into a series of combats, followed by a flight to the Thieves Guild after our party discovered that a variety of dark conspiracies had tattooed us with some marks that let them control us.
The sewers are more or less a straight shot through. There isn’t much articulation for this area, with a couple of exceptions. First off, if you’ve got enough XP to level up again, there is a training hall in area 9 in section 3 to let you train. Additionally, there are three encounters with Otyughs, one at 4 in section 1, and then another at 5 and 6 in section 2.
Of those, the ones in Section 2 are somewhat of interest, as they’re the first situation where we can get a straight-up sidequest from monsters. The Otyugh in 2-5 want 2-6’s garbage, and if we kill the Otyugh’s in 2-6 and bring their garbage to them, we’ll get some treasure in return (mainly in gemstones).
We also have some multiple sets of encounters with Trolls. By this point, the party is high enough level that you can handle them without too much issue, so this makes for a nice little marker – at this point in the last game Trolls was the mark to beat in order to progress, now they’re just another step.
Other than that, this portion of the game really shows the utility of Fireball (fairly obvious) and Stinking Cloud (less so), and Magic Missile. At this point in the game Sleep has unfortunately lost its utility as most enemies can resist it, so Stinking Cloud has somewhat become the best way to shut down part of the battlefield to enemies. On the other Magic Missile is at this point able to put out enough firepower that you might be able to rename it Itano’s Magic Missile Massacre, dealing on average about 15 HP per shot – more than a wizard can do with their normal Darts or a Fighter/Magic-User can do with bowshot.
Also, as we make our way through the Sewers we have several checkpoint encounters with bands of Fire Knives, until as we approach the end, we find more destroyed checkpoints, and finally, a Paladin who, if we don’t act like we’re Fire Knives, will pass along that there’s a Cleric of Gond whose gone ahead of us into the Fire Knives base. Speaking of which…
Fire Knives Base
The Fire Knives base is the first full-size block we’ve had thus far – and it’s also the most actively plot-heavy – though the plot details here have a little more weight if you’ve played Pool of Radiance.
First off, that Cleric of Gond basically plowed through here like the Juggernaut, starting at 1, and proceeding to 4 and 5 before finally being taken down and held prisoner at 7. Freeing him would have him join your party or anything, but it’s generally a nice thing to do.
However, if we go through secret passages to the southeast corner of the base, in addition to being able to make our way to the main boss (and also getting a place to rest in the secret passage) we have additional information.
Specifically, we find the chambers of the guild’s mage, who is now very dead, and with his library and laboratory having been torched. Clutched in his hand is paperwork that reveals that the Fire Knives had been working with Tyranthraxus, with the strong implication being that the mage was killed because Tyranthraxus didn’t want this information getting out.
We finally reach the Fire Knives Leader, where we learn that the man in the carriage was King Azoun of Cormyr’s body double, but they’d also captured Azoun’s daughter and were going to use her to draw him out. However, before he can rope us into fighting the actual King, Azoun’s daughter (unnamed, but I’m assuming its Alusair, considering the location and other information), slips her bonds and clobbers the leader of the Fire Knives over the head to free his hold.
This leads to a massive fight with the Fire Knives, made more manageable due to careful application of Fireballs (again, Slayn is a full mage, and Deedlit is a Fighter/Magic-User, so we’re covered there), and buffing the crap out of the party before we get into the fight.
After defeating the troops, the Alusair holds the leader of the Fire Knives at knifepoint until he releases his Bond, right as Azoun himself shows up, coming through the goddamn ceiling. Alusair tries to argue on behalf of the party, but he does notice the other bonds and consequently exiles us from Cormyr, at least for now. We do get a ton of cash though, and we got enough XP to level up Deed again.
However, that evening the masters of the other four bonds taunt the party – as the world has now opened up, with the question now being, where do we go next.