53 Technically Correct, Ethically Questionable
[Quest Success Rating: A – You completed this mission well within all set paramters. Though you couldn't appease the target baby on your own, you demonstrated sound judgment by accepting outside help during the return journey.
YOU PUNCHED A BABY.
Nova Protocols deemed this an imperfect tactic for determining the Changeling's identity, given the danger presented to poor Baby Lugh. As such, your final success rating is A: Technically Correct, but Ethically Questionable]
[Quest Reward: +1000 EXP; +500 Reputation among Tuatha de Danann; Unquantifiable Good Will and Personal Gratitude from Biróg and Gavigan the Blacksmith]
Why the AI gotta be so damn sassy?
"I'm sorry for the punching the baby, okay!? I have regrets!" I apologize-yell at the system screen.
"You punched the baby?" Taliesin gasps, shocked, and Biróg clutches Lugh even closer.
"Jeez, no, I didn't punch the real baby." Great. Now a literal stalker is looking at me like I'M the monster here.
It takes a hot minute to chill Biróg out and get back on the good side of that "unquantifiable good will," but eventually she acknowledges I'm her baby's savior or whatever, and I claim my Secret Rich Lady Loot.
To Equip: Stealth Level 5 + Charisma 5
|| Why be you, when you could be someone else? This roguish cowl is more than just a fashion accessory; imbued with Changeling magic, this hood can alter your entire appearance. +10% Defense, Lessens Headshot Damage Received by 20%, +3 Intelligence, +1 Perception
Passive Skill: Secret Identity - Your name, level, and HP will remain imperceptible to others, unless you choose to show them or they have a higher-tiered perception skill/item
Active Skill: Disguise Self - Changes appearance and voice. You determine race, sex, and age; the system randomly creates avatar. Gear, equipment, and skills remain unaffected.
Note: Once a random avatar has been created, future uses of Disguise Self will allow you to create a new avatar or use one already created.
Active Skill: Copy Change - Impersonate a particular NPC or PC; the system will automatically change your avatar to match the target's. Lasts 2 Hours; Cooldown: 12 Hours
Warning: As with real Changeling shifts, no Copy Change will be exactly perfect. If caught, skill will be forcibly cancelled.||
Not only does this hood have the coolest special skills, it's also beautifully crafted, fly as all hell, and perfectly aligns with my roguish aesthetic!
I immediately equip it, because duh, and I thank Biróg for the amazing swag.
She must appreciate my effusive thanks, because then Biróg up and admits she's misled me, and Lugh isn't actually her kid.
She takes off her raggedy cloak to reveal a pretty green elven dress, nature tattoos winding across her chest and the gorgeous boobs spilling our of her dress (gods I love video game artists), and elaborate elven jewelry. Turns out, she's actual Biróg, uber powerful Druidess who's essentially a lady version of Merlin (but less of a dick. ugh, wizards are the WORST.)
Also, apparently annoying womb gremlin Lugh is a Celtic mythological King Arthur-type character, and I've just hit Main Storyline Quest (MSQ) jackpot.
I can tell the VR equivalent of a super vital cutscene is about to start, so I go to tell Taliesin it's time to fuck right off...
...but he just looks SO EXCITED and SO INTRIGUED and he keeps telling me how I am SO AWESOME AND SO COOL AND SO MYSTERIOUS...
...and I cave.
I'm not proud.
But I also do kinda owe the little stalker fanboy for convincing me not to punt Realm Savior Baby, so I let him tag along as Biróg takes us to a secret hut / blacksmith forge.
My goodwill doesn't extend further than that, of course; I make him stay outside while I go in to get the MSQ deets.
If he wants the deets, he needs to do this quest on his own. Let's see HIM beat the Changeling bastard without punching a baby.
Inside, a giant, burly shirtless guy in a leather apron nervously fiddles with swords and battle axes spread out on a counter. He's even more jacked than Village Chief Tarabu, covered in burns and scars, and so grizzled and hairy I wouldn't be surprised to learn he's half-bear.
[Legendary Blacksmith Gavigan] shines quest-orange above his shaggy head.
Then he sees Baby Lugh, and he immediately stops fussing with his weapons to take the baby from Biróg and start fussing over it instead. He makes the same cooing sounds Taliesin used earlier, and doesn't stop smiling even when tiny hands claw at his wiry beard and pull hard enough to bring tears to his eyes.
It's like watching Hagrid babysit Harry Potter. Odd, but endearing.
Gavigan turns his happy, watery eyes on the Druidess. "Biróg, you found him! Thank Danu you found my son!"
Biróg easily sidesteps out of Gavigan's reach as he tries to hug her. "Not at all. You should thank young Erebus here; he's the one who rescued Lugh from a Changeling."
"Erebus! Thank you!" Gavigan cries.
"It was nothing–oof!" I start to say, before I'm crushed in a hug by a sobbing half-naked giant.
What is with this game and burly crybaby NPCs? It's Chief Tarabu all over again.
Sighing, I awkwardly pat Gavigan's bicep and wait it out.
Finally, he releases his death grip of gratitude, and we can get down to business with this duo explaining what the heck's going on.
"You've asked me about the Tumult in the Realms," Biróg says in a deep, trancelike voice.
It's mesermizing, and I answer her even though I can see Gavigan's eyes harden in suspicion and his fingers reach for a hammer.
"Yes. I would like to know what's causing the unease in Gael."
"What are you playing at, Biróg?" Gavigan's voice is cold now. "How far are you willing to trust this outsider?"
"He is the hero who saved your only child," she reminds him.
Gavigan bows his head to look at the bundle in his arms. "And for that, I owe him my very life." He looks back up, fierce and determined. "But that does not mean I owe him the power over the lives of all our People."
"We need help, Gavigan," Biróg argues. "Our People will not survive if we do not act."
"Our People will not survive if we trust too freely!" Gavigan bellows. "Or do you not remember what led to our current downfall?"
The air is literally crackling between them, sparks of magic in response to the fierce emotions they're both experiencing.
I'm afraid to even breathe.
But then I hear the faint sound of wood chimes, and I have to know, so I breathe in through my nose.
The air smells like black licorice.
'No no no, not now, I don't have time for this nonsense,' I think, frantic.
I look around for a clue as to what craziness is about to strike now, and I just so happen to knock into a display stand.
As luck would have it (of course), the stand is overfilled and too heavy on one side, so the whole thing crashes into a worktable, which in turn causes a box of tools to tumble off the table and crash to the floor. One of the tools bounces off the floor into the roaring fireplace, causing one of the burning logs to roll out of the fireplace onto a braided rug.
Then the rug catches fire, and I realize I'm about to burn down the house of the guy who already doesn't trust me, and I'm never going to trigger the friggin' chain quest.
Like a whirlwind, Taliesin barges through the door with a bang, sword drawn,
then he trips over one of the fallen hammers, crashing into the kitchen table,
and knocks a pitcher of mead onto the flaming carpet,
immediately putting out the fire.
Without thinking, I'd drawn Zen, ready to fight whatever monster my fickle fortune was going to throw at me. Now I wave it at his head and berate him, "What the hell were you thinking?!"
"Sorry!" he yelps. "I was waiting like you said, just practicing my sword forms, but then I heard a crash, and there was smoke, and I thought you were in trouble!"
Before I can decide whether to smack some sense into him or just stab him, Gavigan speaks up.
"A Pu`ca!" he exclaims. "Erebus, you travel with a Fae of Good Fortune?"
The blacksmith's all giddy and gaga-eyed, so obviously I say, "Yep. Sure do. He helped carry your baby, even."
If possible, Gavigan gets even more excited, like he can't believe how wonderful it is that a weirdo stalker carried his demon kid.
Then his eyes hyperfocus on the swords in our hands, and I hastily sheathe Zen so he won't think we're trying to attack.
"No, please," he says, "may I examine your blade?"
I have no idea what's going on, but I'm not about to rain on this possible goodwill parade. Except, I'm a little worried the sword's gonna give him the ol' Zap of Justice.
"I should warn you, Zen is very particular..." I caution as I hold out the blade.
"The Sword of the Worthy Soul," he whispers reverently.
"I guess?" I shrug. Sounds like a name Zen would like. In fact, I hear Zen hum happily at the recognition.
"Such a sword would not align with an unworthy individual. I owe you an apology, Hero Erebus."
"Nah, it's cool, no worries," I say, carefully backing up in case he goes for another hug.
Biróg clears her throat. "And of course, the majesty of the young Pu`ca's blade needs no close examination. There is no better fortune than his own. Can you trust them now, old friend?"
Gavigan closes his eyes and sighs. When he opens them again, I can tell he's made a decision.
The little happy *Ding!* confirms it.
[Congratulations! You completed Part I of this Chain Quest with an A Success Rating. However, Player Taliesin contributed greatly to triggering this Chain Quest; as such, the parameters for the next quest have been altered. You may attempt Part II as a Two-Man Party, or as a Party of up to 6 Members.]
[Quest Item: Group Teleportation Scroll - This is a quest-specific scroll that will teleport up to 6 Players to the location of your next quest. Whoever is with you while you use this scroll will automatically become part of the Quest Party.]
Shaking my head in disbelief, I look over to Taliesin, and see him reading his own invisible screen, face bright with excitement. Then he catches my eye and he beams. He's so bright he practically burns my retinas with all his bubbly happiness and shit.
"Isn't it great?! We're going to be able to work together again!"
I pretend to smile back, so Gavigan won't get suspicious. As much as I hate to admit it, I know my fickle fortune had been about to ruin my chances to trigger this second quest, and this weirdo fanboy somehow accidentally undid the bad juju. If I don't pretend we're besties in front of the blacksmith, he might just have Taliesin do the damn quest by himself.
Fuck my life.
It's not until we're a ways from the blacksmith's hut that I think to ask the Pu`ca about his sword. Clearly, the legendary blacksmith was able to tell our weapons say something positive about us, so I'm curious what's special about Taliesin's.
"They were probably just excited because my sword's a little famous," Taliesin replies nonchalantly, as if he's commenting on a nice cloud. "I found it by lucky accident in my Foundation Village."
I nod, because so did I. "But you think yours is famous? How come?"
He unsheathes the sword, and I notice it does seem to gleam extra brightly in the sunshine.
"Ah, well, Excalibur's pretty well-known," he says.
I nod again, because yeah, of course it is–
"WHAT?! ARE YOU SAYING YOU DREW FUCKING EXCALIBUR IN YOUR FOUNDATION VILLAGE?!"