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Released in December 1999, Planescape: Torment tells the story of The Nameless One, an immortal man who awakens on a mortuary slab with complete amnesia, and his struggle to discover his identity and recover his lost mortality.


Best time, normal difficulty: 0:20:15 by Mark 'ExplodingCabbage' Amery on 2010-10-22, done in 49 segments.

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Author's comments:

I started this run purely because when niebezimienny's run was accepted in July, I found a shitload of tricks and glitches while verifying that I knew would allow his time to be smashed. niebezimienny didn't have the time to do a new run to incorporate the new tricks back then, so I decided to whip out a run that included them and submit it before niebezimienny's run reached the site. I didn't plan as carefully as I normally would, or optimise as painstakingly, but hopefully the result - which is a few seconds shy of being 10 minutes faster than niebezimienny's run - is still enjoyable and good by most people's standards, even if there's a handful of mistakes that make me cringe.

In these comments I'll go through everything I do in order and explain the tricks and glitches as they appear. I've typed out all the dialogue since it goes by way too fast to read in the video, and where I've skipped large sections of the game I'll try to briefly explain what would've happened in normal play to put the skip in context. I'll also try to explain where I can why I made certain decisions regarding minor things like camera positioning or inconsequential dialogue choices, and, of course, I'll point out any mistakes that I'm aware of.

Okay, let's start.

I begin by putting as many points as I'm initially allowed to into Strength and the rest into Wisdom. Strength I need throughout the run to be able to kill stuff quickly. Wisdom gives me a percentage boost to all earned XP (I don't honestly know whether this had any impact on the run or not) but more importantly I'll need high Wisdom at the end of the game.

The initial dialogue with Morte has a handful of reply choices, but they're only choices between a polite option and a hostile option and are inconsequential. I choose the first option each time since this allows me to shoot through the dialogue by just mashing both '1' keys on the keyboard.

Morte - "Hey chief. You okay? You playing corpse or you putting the blinds on the Dusties? I thought you were a deader for sure."

Nameless One - "I... don't know. I can't remember."

Morte - "You can't remember your *name?* Heh. Well, NEXT time you spend a night in this berg, go easy on the bub. Name's Morte. I'm trapped in here, too."

Nameless One - "Trapped?"

Morte - "Yeah, since you haven't had time to get your legs yet, here's the chant: I've tried all the doors, and this room is locked tighter than a chastity belt."

Nameless One - "We're locked in... where? What is this place?"

Morte - "It's called the 'Mortuary'... it's a big black structure with all the architectural charm of a pregnant spider."

Nameless One - "'The Mortuary?' What... am I dead?"

Morte - "Not from where I'm standing. You got scars a-plenty, though... looks like some berk painted you with a knife. All the more reason to give this place the laugh before whoever carved you up comes back to finish the job."

Nameless One - "Scars? How bad are they?"

Morte - "Well... the carvings on your chest aren't TOO bad... but the ones on your back..." Morte pauses. "Say, looks like you got a whole tattoo gallery on your back, chief. Spells out something..."

Nameless One - "Tattoos on my back? What do they say?"

Morte - "Heh! Looks like you come with directions..." Morte clears his throat. "Let's see... it starts with...

'I know you feel like you've been drinking a few kegs of Styx wash, but you need to CENTER yourself. Among your possessions is a JOURNAL that'll shed some light on the dark of the matter. PHAROD can fill you in on the rest of the chant, if he's not in the dead-book already.'

Nameless One - "Pharod...? Does it say anything else?"

Morte - "Yeah, there's a bit more..." Morte pauses. "Let's see... it goes on..."

'Don't lose the journal or we'll be up the Styx again. And whatever you do, DO NOT tell anyone WHO you are or WHAT happens to you, or they'll put you on a quick pilgrimage to the crematorium. Do what I tell you: READ the journal, then FIND Pharod.'

Nameless One - "No wonder my back hurts; there's a damn novel written there. As for that journal I'm supposed to have with me... was there one with me while I was lying here?"

Morte - "No... you were stripped to the skins when you arrived here. 'Sides, looks like you got enough of a journal penned on your body."

Nameless One - "What about Pharod? Do you know him?"

Morte - "Nobody I know... but then again, I don't know many people. Still, SOME berk's got to know where to find Pharod... uh, once we get out of here, that is."

Nameless One - "How *do* we get out of here?"

Morte - "Well, all the doors are locked, so we'll need the key. Chances are, one of the walking corpses in this room has it."

Nameless One - "Walking corpses?"

Morte - "Yeah, the Mortuary keepers use dead bodies as cheap labor. The corpses are dumb as stone, but they're harmless, and won't attack you unless you attack first."

Nameless One - "Is there some other way? I don't want to kill them just for a key."

Morte - "What, you think it's going to hurt their feelings? They're DEAD. But if you want a bright side to this: if you kill them, at least they'll have a rest before their keepers raise them up to work again."

Nameless One - "Well, all right... I'll take one of them down and get the key."

Morte - "Well, before you do that, arm yourself first. I think there's a scalpel on one of the shelves around here."

NOTE: Search the shelves in the room for a weapon to attack the zombies with. When you find one, go to the inventory screen (the backpack button in the lower right) and arm yourself. If you wish to examine any items you find, right click on them in the inventory screen.

Nameless One - "All right, I'll look for one."

Morte - "One last thing: Those corpses are slow as molasses, but getting punched by one of them is like being kissed by a battering ram. If they start getting an edge on you, remember you can RUN, and they can't. Use it to keep some distance if you need to recover."

NOTE: To RUN, either toggle run on in the Options screen, or hold down the SHIFT Key and left-click on the area you want to run to. If you are in danger of dying, use running to keep your distance from the zombies while you recover.

Nameless One - "All right. Thanks for the advice."

As soon as the dialogue is done, normally the camera slowly moves to centre on The Nameless One (who I'll refer to from now on as TNO), and I run up against one irksome quirk of the Infinity Engine: you can't give move orders (or any orders that involve clicking a target on the game screen) while the camera is moving. Fortunately in Torment, you can immediately stop all scripted camera movements by moving the camera manually (which is why I positioned my cursor at the very bottom of the screen before dialogue began), so this only costs me a fraction of a second.

I don't bother grabbing the scalpel from the shelf as the tutorial text suggested, because that would cost time and with my 18/00 strength I can consistently take down a Zombie in one hit anyway. I head straight to the Zombie, kill it and loot the key while Morte waits by the door. I have Morte open the door for me as I approach and then position himself where I need him.

Right in front of where I put Morte is a trigger on the floor which, when touched by anyone in the party, starts a cutscene of Morte and TNO walking slowly into the next room, and then another introductory/tutorial dialogue with Morte begins. However, the trigger won't fire if Morte isn't in your party. I don't want to get rid of Morte altogether, though, because he'll save me time later. My solution is to position Morte on one side of the trigger, kick him from the party so that the trigger won't fire when I touch it, cross it, and then talk to him from the other side and add him back to the party, thus avoiding firing the trigger. The positioning is tricky, and the trigger will still fire if I touch it after this, so Morte is trapped in the starting room until we reach the next area. (In Torment, when one character goes through an area transition, the whole party gets teleported to the next area with them, which is far less irritating than the infamous 'You Must Gather Your Party' messages of other Infinity Engine games, and also quite useful for us speedrunners.)

It's probably worth noting that the first significant mistake of the run already creeps in at this point, when removing Morte from the party. I didn't realise back when I did this segment that both the 'Reform Party' button and the 'Remove' and 'Done' buttons on the Reform Party screen have hotkeys ('r', 'r' and 'd' respectively) so I lose what I'd guess is almost a second clicking on them instead.

Morte - "I knew you'd be back, chief! Finally realized you needed me, huh?"

Nameless One - "Yeah, let's go."

With Morte back in the group, I run straight to the exit to the top floor of the Mortuary, where I need to go to get the Sanctum Key.

This is probably a good time to comment on the movement mechanics in Torment. Like in all Infinity Engine games, you can't order a character to move into unexplored terrain. Also like all Infinity Engine games, after you give a character a move command they stand still for a fraction of a second before moving. Unlike other Infinity Engine games, the delay when giving a move command is massive - one fifth of a second normally, and occasionally, for no reason I've been able to discern (though it happens more often in cramped spaces), significantly longer than this - sometimes the delay is around half a second. This means that over the course of the run these delays add up to several seconds of time, so trying to minimise the number of clicks it takes you to make any given journey is important, and really if you're running properly you need to plan your movement path click by click and not make it up as you go along. It also means that the fastest path between two points may not be the shortest in terms of distance; in particular, it's generally a good idea to take corners slightly wide to get a better view around them and be able to get around in fewer clicks. I think I handle the movement fairly well here (and through most of the run).

I wait until the last possible moment to give the order to climb the stairs, because in Torment whenever you give one character an order to go through an area transition, it automatically orders ALL characters in the party to do so, and sometimes Morte's pathfinding would miraculously actually send him in the right direction - and straight onto that cutscene trigger I mentioned earlier. If that happens, TNO goes up the stairs and changes the area mid-cutscene, leaving you in the next area in a never-ending cutscene and requiring you to Alt-F4 to get out of the game.

In the next area, you see the first exploitation of an unbelievably retarded glitch which will feature regularly throughout the run. Once a character has been given an order to go through an area transition, certain things that cancel the order and stop them moving get treated by the game as if they had reached the area transition and stopped, resulting in you immediately getting teleported to the next area. The (possibly complete) list of things we know so far that do have this effect are: being forced into dialogue, being encumbered and unable to move, and hiding in the shadows (or attempting to). Obviously this doesn't cut ALL the walking out of the run because you still need to give someone an order to go through the area transition, which requires you to have scouted it, but nonetheless it saves significant amounts of time as you'll see later.

Here, I use the glitch (by talking to Morte after giving an order to leave the area) purely to immediately trigger an autosave at the start of the second area, which I use as the start point for my second segment. The reason I decided to do this instead of saving manually is that this way I avoid the half-second penalty for manual saves in save-anywhere games at SDA. Whether deliberately triggering autosaves in this way to bypass the half second penalty is perfectly legit or a cheap and unfair exploit that is outside the spirit of the SDA rules is a question I will leave for the reader. Regardless, it turns out doing this was actually a miscalculation; I somehow didn't notice it until a few segments later, and decided it wasn't worth going back to fix, but actually it takes me far more than half a second to trigger the autosave - meaning a manual save would've been better. Part of the reason for this is that, as you can see in the video, when you trigger a quicksave or autosave, for a few frames the frame on screen at the time is just repeated before the 'SAVING' screen (which I've cut out of the video, along with all saving and loading screens) appears, meaning there's effectively a penalty on Quicksaves and Autosaves in this game when compared to saves made through the menu (since under SDA rules timing stops the moment you enter the menu). It would be fair to say that SDA rules on timing around saves have slightly perverse consequences for this game, but it doesn't really matter.

In the next area, I need to gather three items: some Junk, which I'll need later to activate the portal to the Trash Warrens, a Prybar, which I'll need in the Alley Of Lingering Sighs, and the Sanctum Key, which I need right now to get to the bottom level of the Mortuary and leave. I have TNO and Morte split up so they can gather the items quicker. Good camera positioning is needed here in order to be able to micro both characters at once at opposite edges of the screen, since unlike an RTS there's no minimap to use for quick camera positioning. (There is a hotkey to centre the view on a character, but the time it takes to scroll the camera far enough after doing this to give a move command at the edge of someone's line of sight is quite long, which means swapping the camera repeatedly between characters is an inefficient way of microing two characters at once.)

Once I've got the items I need, I take advantage of the fact that I can just see the stairs down on the other side of the wall and use the transition warping glitch to get down them without even entering the next room.

Morte - "What's eating you, chief?"

Nameless One - "Nothing at the moment, Morte. Just checking to see if you were still with me."

Obviously, whenever I talk to Morte to use a transition warp, the dialogue is the same as the above so I won't copy it every single time. By the way, if you're familiar with the game and exceptionally observant you may notice that my response in the dialogue above was the only one I had available - this is because the other dialogue options you'd normally have with Morte at this point only get added during the dialogue I avoided triggering in the first area after leaving the first room.

On the bottom floor, I kill Soego, loot the key to the front gates and leave. To kill him unarmed, you need either 18/99 strength, a good damage roll, and a critical hit (crits have a 1 in 20 chance, of course), or just 18/00 strength and a crit. The fact that having 18/00 Strength reduces the amount of luck you need to kill Soego in one hit is the only reason I chose to start with 18/00 instead of going for 18/99 with one extra point in Wisdom.

One curious thing I noticed is that damage rolls in this game are seriously broken. Fists are meant to do 1d3 damage (plus strength bonus), and indeed at low strength that's exactly what they do, but at high strength (18/00 and above) you roll a 3 on your damage roll every time. This isn't restricted to fists, either - other weapons are similarly affected, though I haven't tested anything beyond what directly affected my run so I don't know whether the level of strength needed to always roll max damage varies between weapons, whether it happens for characters other than TNO, or whether there's any intermediate stage between rolls working normally and always rolling max. I also have no idea why this bug exists (if indeed it is a bug and not a very queer intentional feature), or whether other Infinity Engine games behave similarly. Regardless, it works in my favour and makes the luck manipulation in this run much less painful than it would've been otherwise.

The flash of black you see when I enter the Hive is a movie which I immediately skip. (For the sake of clarity, in these comments I'll always refer to these skippable pre-recorded videos as 'movies' and to in-game cutscenes rendered in the engine as 'cutscenes'.) Once in the Hive I head to the Trash Warrens; you don't need to have been told by anyone where Pharod is for the game to let you go there, and I don't need anything along the way so I just go straight there. I use the transition warping trick wherever it's possible to bring both characters along without one of them snagging on anything or falling behind.

Once in the Trash Warrens, I use Morte's Litany Of Curses (cast from a hotkey) on Anamoli to turn all the collectors there hostile (credit goes to niebezimienny for this idea). For reasons I won't even pretend to know, the collectors only all turn hostile if you cast Litany Of Curses as soon as you arrive in the area (if you save as soon as you get there, then reload and then cast it, only Anamoli will turn hostile) and only if Anamoli's saving throw succeeds. No speedrun of an Infinity Engine game would be complete without a mysterious glitch the runner doesn't understand, I guess.

Anyway, they kill me quickly with some help from Morte, which respawns me down in the Buried Village and saves me a walk. You're obviously supposed to go and talk to Pharod, now, and get sent off after the Bronze Sphere, but the game doesn't do anything to stop you heading straight into the Weeping Catacombs, so that's what I do. While Morte is heading to the catacombs entrance, though, I have TNO scout the entrance to Pharod's Court and open the door, so that when I return to the Buried Village later I can transition warp straight into it.

Down in the catacombs I once again save myself a little walking by talking to Morte to transition warp through a doorway on the other side of a wall. The dialogue also serves a second purpose - breaking a cutscene. Let me explain. Upon arriving in the next area, the Dead Nations, the game immediately goes into 'cutscene mode' (this is the actual term used in the scripts of Infinity Engine games, as I learned when Smilge looked into some of the scripts for BGII) which takes away the interface and your control. Then TNO and the party walk out into the horde of Zombies and you get forced into dialogue with Hargrimm. The important thing is that the game goes immediately into cutscene mode upon loading the area even if you have a dialogue open, but the dialogue stays active. Closing the dialogue then restores your normal interface (like it usually would) and breaks you out of cutscene mode, letting you skip the cutscene. This lets me skip the confrontation with Hargrimm completely.

More importantly, it means that I can go straight through to the Drowned Nations. For some reason, the door there starts unlocked, but gets locked after your conversation with Hargrimm, regardless of which dialogue options you choose - meaning that it will always be locked during normal play. Skipping the dialogue by breaking the cutscene, however, leaves the door unlocked, so you go straight through instead of having to fight and die to unlock the door and then return to the area. (niebezimienny used the latter method in his run, since cutscene breaking hadn't been discovered yet.) Skipping the dialogue also means that Hargrimm never turns hostile; if he did, I would've needed to get thief training from Ratbone back in Ragpicker's Square, since a hostile Hargrimm will instakill you with Call Lightning unless you have Stealth.

Sending Morte back through the area transition when I arrive in Drowned Nations was actually a misclick - I only meant to put him close to the door for later, and didn't intend to end a segment here at all. It doesn't cost much time though so I decided to just use the autosave as a segment break and roll with it.

Down in Drowned Nations, I run straight for the sphere, stopping only to pick up some Charms Of Infinite Recall which I'll need later (I believe I owe shoop credit for finding these; with so many containers in this game and no way to find out if something is a container besides moving your cursor over it, exhaustively searching everywhere near your route to try and find sources of common items is a massive pain, and I'm grateful that people had done this grunt work already before I started the run.) Then Morte leaves, and then we transition warp repeatedly to get straight to Pharod's Court. We don't need to run anywhere when travelling to the court, since all the area transitions we need to use are already scouted.

In the dialogues with Pharod, wherever possible I choose to just mash both '1' keys, even if that means going through a couple more lines of dialogue, because this will always be faster than having to keep track of what you've pressed and hit the keys in the correct order. Anyway, here's the dialogue:

Pharod - Before you is an elderly man leaning heavily upon a crutch; his left leg is twisted, as if he tried to walk two directions at once and paid the price. His maggoty-colored skin is bunched heavily upon his skull and is flecked with liver spots. He is mumbling and smacking his lips as his eyes make a circuit of the room.

Nameless One - "Greetings."

Pharod - "Aha!" The man's eyes light up as he hears your voice. "Tisn't my steady crop of jink come to Pharod's waiting arms again! Greetings, corpse." He smiles a wicked grin. "Have you come to ask Pharod for another jaunt into the Mortuary walls?"

Nameless One - "No, I'm here to ask you some questions that only you can answer."

Pharod - He studies you, mumbling slightly as his eyes flicker up and down your frame. "Tisn't a mummer's fair, corpse. No time for games, no time for Pharod to play the wheel... who are you? What are you asking such questions for?"

Nameless One - Truth: "I have forgotten myself, and I was told to seek you out. That you would know something of me."

Pharod - "Eh..." Pharod licks his lips; they make a rasping sound, like dry parchment on sand. "Now who told you such a thing, corpse?"

Nameless One - "Who needed to tell me such a thing? Are you not Pharod?"

Pharod - "Ah... so little said, so much told..." Pharod falls silent, and suddenly, you have a feeling that Pharod is dissecting you, like a corpse on a Mortuary slab. "I know much you would know. Much, yes. Much, indeed..." Pharod smiles slowly, the folds of flesh on his face peeling back like a curtain.

Nameless One - "What do you know of me?"

Pharod - Pharod licks his lips, then settles himself upon his crutch like a vulture. "No, no... not free, the question you ask." His pasty-white hands tap the edge of his crutch. "Much I can tell you, but the telling has a cost."

Nameless One - "Go on, Pharod..."

Pharod - Pharod taps the flagstones with his crutch and sneers. "This village is not all that lies buried beneath Ragpicker's Square."

Nameless One - "Yes...?"

Pharod - "Chambers, vaults, corridors... filled with the dead, all a-sleep in their coffins. Somewhere in those halls, somewhere there, lies something miss-placed. Something mine."

Nameless One - "What is it?"

Pharod - "A small thing, a trinket, such a trifle..." As Pharod speaks, his words start echoing, as if two people were speaking... you know you've heard them before... from your own lips.

Nameless One - "'s a sphere. Made of bronze. Ugly. Feels like an egg to the touch, and it smells of rotten custard. Am I right?"

Pharod - Pharod falls deathly silent for a moment, then nods. "Yes... how much do you hide from me, corpse?" He chuckles. "Did you return to see if I remember what it is I want?"

Nameless One - "Do you know where this sphere is?"

I'll just interject here to say that there's no option in this dialogue to tell Pharod that I already HAVE the sphere. The developers obviously didn't plan for the possibility of players going into the Weeping Catacombs and recovering it before they even speak to Pharod. This is one of many oversights in the game's dialogue where stuff doesn't make sense unless you do things in pretty much exactly the order the designers intended; for instance, in a couple of lines I ask Pharod a question about his Collectors despite TNO not knowing at this point what a Collector is.

Pharod - "Ah..." Pharod's sigh is like shifting sand. "And why do you suppose I ask you to look for it, corpse? I do not know *where* it is. I know it is buried deep, far deeper than any villager has ever gone." Pharod *tsks.* "It may be in the catacombs where the waters run deep, deep..."

At this point in the dialogue, all the responses I need to conclude the conversation are reply '2'. I wasn't counting the number of times I pressed '1' to get here, though, so I (inconsequentially) swap from pressing '1' to pressing '2' a few presses later than I the first opportunity to and loop the last few lines a few times. (Most characters in this game never get tired of answering the same questions over and over.)

Nameless One - "Why don't you get one of your Collectors to search for it?"

Pharod - "Because the corridors need no more dead from this village." Pharod *tsks.* "Strong, fast, clever... these are qualities my villagers do not have. They go below -- they do not return." Pharod glances at you. "Perhaps the dead will welcome their own, hmmm? That is what *I* think, corpse."

Nameless One - "Do you know where this sphere is?"

Pharod - "Ah..." Pharod's sigh is like shifting sand. "And why do you suppose I ask you to look for it, corpse? I do not know *where* it is. I know it is buried deep, far deeper than any villager has ever gone." Pharod *tsks.* "It may be in the catacombs where the waters run deep, deep..."

Nameless One - "Why don't you get one of your Collectors to search for it?"

Pharod - "Because the corridors need no more dead from this village." Pharod *tsks.* "Strong, fast, clever... these are qualities my villagers do not have. They go below -- they do not return." Pharod glances at you. "Perhaps the dead will welcome their own, hmmm? That is what *I* think, corpse."

Nameless One - "Do you know where this sphere is?"

Pharod - "Ah..." Pharod's sigh is like shifting sand. "And why do you suppose I ask you to look for it, corpse? I do not know *where* it is. I know it is buried deep, far deeper than any villager has ever gone." Pharod *tsks.* "It may be in the catacombs where the waters run deep, deep..."

Nameless One - "Very well... I'll do it. But I want to know what I'm buying with this trinket."

Pharod - "There's a lot of knowing rattlin' around in my brain-box, corpse." He holds up a withered finger. "One of them is this bit of wisdom: everyone *wants* something, whether they know it or not. There is much I know about you... much that you would *want* to know..."

Nameless One - "Very well, I will see about finding this sphere for you... in exchange for what you know."

Pharod - "Very well, a deal struck, a deal made..." Pharod *cracks* his crutch sharply against the flagstones. "A sphere for a peek inside my brain box. Now, corpse -- there is no time to waste. Go to the gate at the south and east and tell those slumbering fools to open it for you -- make haste, make haste."

Nameless One - "Very well. I will go to the gate now and enter the catacombs."

That ends the first conversation. Now I have to talk to him again to hand over the Bronze Sphere.

Pharod - "Ah, corpse..." Pharod turns as you approach, his crutch *clacking* on the cobbles of the Court. He licks his lips and smiles expectantly. "Have you brought me what I asked for?"

Lost Item

Gained Experience: 15000

Nameless One - "The bronze sphere? Here it is."

Pharod - Pharod's eyes gleam as you hand him the bronze sphere -- he touches it gingerly, almost reverently. "You..." He chuckles. "Ah, corpse, such a gamble you were, and paid off handsomely, you have..." Pharod studies his reflection in the sphere and *tsks.* "The years have been cruel to me, I see..."

Nameless One - "I did what you asked, Pharod. Now I want some answers."

Pharod - Pharod doesn't even look at you as you speak... his attention is swallowed by the sphere he holds. "Yes, yes, ask you questions..." Pharod turns the sphere in his hands. "Very important, your questions..."

Nameless One - "What do you know about me? Why was I told to seek you out?"

Pharod - Pharod studies you with a critical eye. "Stay your weapons for what I'm about to say, corpse, for it could be your ears'll take offense..." Pharod smiles wickedly. "My ears no longer care, but yours are still fresh for the burning, it seems."

Nameless One - Vow: "You have my word that I'll stay my hand, Pharod. But I need to know what you know."

Pharod - "The truth..." Pharod's tone softens, as if cajoling. "The truth was stretched a bit from my mind to my tongue when we first spoke, corpse -- in all terrible honesty, I know little about you." He raises a withered finger. "Yet, hear me out..."

Nameless One - "Pharod, this better be *worth* hearing."

Pharod - "You're a cutter who plays at being dead, as I see." Pharod squints at you. "Some time ago, you came to me, like you are now, but not, just strolled right into Ill-Wind Court and said you wanted an 'audience' with me."

Nameless One - "An audience with you?"

Pharod - "Aye, an 'audience.'" Pharod chuckles, like whispering sand. "Like I was royalty..." He seems amused, but there's an edge in his voice. "You knew the right things to say, you did, oh yes. You spoke the chant like a Guvner, born and true. And I listened."

Nameless One - "What did he... I... want from you?"

Pharod - Pharod gives a mock bow, his crutch creaking as he leans against it. "'Oh, Pharod, great Collector King,' you says. 'I have come before you to request a boon.' 'A boon?' I says. 'What could I offer a man of such obvious strength?'"

Nameless One - "Enough with the false pleasantries, Pharod. What did I want?"

Pharod - Pharod wags his crooked finger. "And you asked for a strange thing: You says, 'Lord Pharod, I ask for *courtesy.* Your Collectors roam throughout the Hive. If they should find my body, I want it kept safe. That is all I ask.'" Pharod shrugs. "A simple boon."

Nameless One - "I see. And is that all you know?"

Pharod - Before you can speak, you suddenly feel a prickling in your skull as Pharod speaks the word 'boon' and the smell of blood and fear rushes through your nostrils... Pharod is hiding something, something that happened in the past, involving you -- and it scares him. The boon he granted you was no simple matter.

Nameless One - "Uh... I see. And is that all you know?"

Pharod - "All I know? Nay... but it's all I know about you, corpse."

Nameless One - "Fine. Next question... what did you take off my body after I died?"

Pharod - "I?" Pharod licks his lips. "Why, *I* took nothing, corpse." His face splits in a grin. "Then, I wasn't the one that found your body..."

Nameless One - "Who did?"

Pharod - Pharod's smile widens, pulling the pasty folds of flesh back from his face like a curtain. "My daughter, the rose of my eye, the sweetest of my family, and the sharpest wit of them all..." He licks his dry lips and sighs in mock sadness. "Such a cruel tongue on her..."

Nameless One - "Your *daughter?* Who?"

Pharod - "My darlin' girl, Annah. She found you, dead as deader can be, in a place where most Collectors wouldn't go for a *mountain* of coppers. Could be she plucked something off you, could be not...?" He leans in, shaking his head. "You'll have t'ask her, for it's not her Da's place to say."

Nameless One - "Annah? All right, I'll ask her. Where is she?"

Pharod - "Where's Annah?" Pharod shrugs. "She's hiding in the shadows here, I expect, listening to us trade the chant. I called for her after you went below... had to ask her if you were *really* in the dead book when she found you or not..." He chuckles dryly, then takes a deep breath and calls out to the darkness. "Annah! Stop mithering in those shadows and come greet our guest!"

Nameless One - "She's here...?"

Now, during the above dialogue I was holding down the hotkey for the 'Formations' menu. The game immediately goes into cutscene mode for the cutscene where Annah comes over and talks to you when the dialogue ends, but if you bring up the formations menu at exactly the same time, then by leaving the Formations menu you can break out of cutscene mode and regain control, in the same way that I did with the dialogue with Morte when entering the Dead Nations earlier. I do so.

I have Morte exit the area, then we transition warp back in, which puts us right next to Annah, who I now talk to.

Annah - "Ah, what now?" You turn to see a striking red-haired girl dressed in leather armor... you didn't even hear her enter the chamber. Her right arm is covered with a series of interlocking plates that look as if they were taken from the skin of some creature, and a horned shoulder piece protects her left arm. Oddly enough, she has a tail... that is flicking back and forth as you watch.

Nameless One - "So you're the one who's going to show me where you found my body?"

Annah - The girl ignores you and turns to Pharod. "What's this about, then? I'm not playing the leash-pull with this scarred dog, so I'm not. Get one of your other gullies to do it."

Now things get fun. Because we've broken the cutscene and spoken to Annah early, before she could walk over to Pharod and TNO, Pharod is too far away to join the conversation at his cue. Instead, the game spawns in a Zombie to speak his dialogue for him. The Zombie is Torment's equivalent of Biff The Understudy who would be spawned to speak dialogue in Baldur's Gate whenever the intended speaker wasn't available.

Zombie - "Annah, rose of my eye - have I not taught you to *respect* the dead?" A thin smile worms across Pharod's face, and he makes a slight bow towards you. "This resourceful corpse needs to know where you found him."

Annah - "Eh? What are yeh on about?" She squints at you. "'Ee's not a deader."

Zombie - "Ah! Yes, my mistake..." Pharod nods, then his voice drops dangerously. "Yet, my darlin' Annah, that still makes it YOUR mistake... for this one only had one foot in the dead book when you brought him to me." He taps his crutch against the flagstones with a light tap. "He woke up, sought me out - MOST embarrassing."

Annah - "So?" Annah glances at you, then shrugs. "He shouldn't be playing deader on the Hive while I'm about, or he'll wake up in a Dustie's arms, he will."

Nameless One - "Enough of this - where did you find my body?"

Zombie - "Show him where you found his body, Annah." Pharod taps his crutch again for emphasis. "Take him to the haunted alley." Pharod studies Annah for a moment, then grins and turns to you. "If yeh happen to lose my darlin' Annah on the way to the alley, corpse, you come back and see Pharod. I'll guide you..."

Annah - "Tchhhh..." Annah sneers at Pharod, then throws a glance at you. "C'mon, then. And keep yer steps quick, jig? I've little time tae waste on the likes of yeh."

Nameless One - "Very well. Let's head there now."

This teleports us to the entrance to the Tenement Of Thugs. It's actually possible to skip talking to Annah entirely if you kill her in the Hive, but even before it was known that you could skip her entry cutscene, the little time saved by killing her wouldn't be worth losing out on the teleport, which saves far more.

Annah - Annah points at the door in front of you. "Through there's where we want ta be."

Nameless One - "All right, let's head on in."

At this point, I can finally become a thief and get all the benefits of Stealth, by asking Annah to train me.

Annah - "Aye? What is it yeh want then?"

Nameless One - "Annah, can you train me in thieving skills?"

Annah - "Eh?" She frowns. "What are yeh on about?"

Nameless One - "I want to give up weapon craft for a while and take up stealthier pursuits."

Annah - She looks you up and down - once - then looks at you with a queer expression. "Are yeh *serious?*"

Nameless One - "Yes, I want to learn how to be a thief. Can you teach me?"

Annah - She looks at you for a moment, then shakes her head. "Nay, yeh're too *slow,* yeh are - yeh move like a sack of stones." She frowns. "Yeh'd need tae be quicker on yer feet and quicker tae strike for me to be able tae teach yeh *anythin'.*"

Nameless One - Lash out, grab her arm.

Annah - "Hssst!" As you lash out, Annah immediately dodges back with a hiss. "Aye, I saw *that* comin' 'cross' the SPIRE, I did. Slow, yeh are, and ye'll need tae be a LOT faster tae catch me, yeh will." She relaxes slightly. "Still - yeh *do* got some whip-quickness in yer limbs..."

Nameless One - "So will you teach me?"

Annah - She looks skeptical, then rolls her eyes. "Aye, I can... but to do it, yeh'll need to shut your trap and lissen to me... and follow my lead, jig?"

Nameless One - "Very well..."

Annah - "There's a few things yeh'll need to pick up on if yeh want tae be hard to catch... yeh'll need to know the ways of staying hid when yeh don't want no one else t'see yeh."

At this point, I have the option of telling Annah I know the basics and skipping the tutorial on thieving skills. However, it's simpler and therefore quicker to just keep mashing '1'.

Nameless One - "All right."

Annah - "Yeh got to know where yeh are, and how quick yeh can become PART of where yeh are." She flicks her tail after each word, as if for emphasis. "When yeh have the way of that, yeh'll be like a shadow, yeh will."

NOTE: If you choose to hide in darkened areas, you will gain a bonus to your chance to hide in shadows.

Nameless One - "So how do I do that?"

Annah - "More important is how yeh NOT do it - yeh can't stay hid when someone's got an eye for yeh, yeh're attacking someone, nor when yeh're trying to fix a lock t'open, so be sure tae be careful WHEN yeh take to hiding, jig?"

NOTE: To Hide in Shadows, select the Stealth icon from the Special Abilities button of the quick menu. When selected, you will have a chance to hide in shadows. Any action you take against another person or object will nullify the Hide in Shadows.

Nameless One - "So what's the point of hiding in shadows, then?"

Annah - "BECAUSE..." Annah corkscrews her tail for emphasis. "When yeh step outta the shadows and give someone that extra TWIST o' the knife in the back, it HURTS a lot more. It's a special trait of being unseen, it is."

NOTE: When you strike someone from the shadows, it can double, triple, even quadruple your damage.

Nameless One - "Oh."

Annah - "Next thing yeh'll learn is how to nick something from someone's pockets. It's a small matter, but it's like being part of the shadows - yeh got to choose yer mark carefully, jig? Clippin' coins off hivers is easy, but more powerful and knowing folks are harder to pull the sheet over. Angry berks yeh can't even try to nick anything from them - chances are if they're on to yeh, yeh'll be drawing their gaze, yeh will."

Nameless One - "Sounds too risky to be of any use."

Annah - "Well..." Annah smirks. The purses of a lot of townsfolk can add up, they can. And sometimes, they've tucked away something more than copper, and that's a find, it is." She smiles. "An' merchants - yeh can nick something from one of their stores, if ye're quick enough."

NOTE: To pick pocket, select the thief skills icon from the Special Abilities button of the quick menu, then drag the cursor over a target. It will change to the pick pocket icon. Stealing from stores is done through a button on the store screen.

Nameless One - "What if the merchants keep their stock locked up?"

Annah - "Well now, yeh got to the way o' how tae coax a lock that won't open tae open, aye? It's a hard thing oftimes tae do, but anything's that's locked up is worth snapping open..." She frowns. "Well, mosttimes."

NOTE: To pick locks, select the thief skills from the Special Abilities slot and drag the cursor over a locked door or container. It will change to the pick lock icon.

Nameless One - "All right."

Annah - "An' that brings us to the next thing, it does. If anyone's locked up something they don't want yeh to have, then it's copper-sure that they might have left something *else* fer yeh to find with the lock - usually a one of them spinnin' beheadin' blades, a tear-paper bag of death-ants, a spray of baatezu backwash..." Annah ticks off all the traps on her finger. "Or a nasty spell. Or two. Or three."

Nameless One - "So how do I spot these things?"

Annah - "It's like the 'being a shadow' bit - yeh need tae pay *mind* tae yer surroundings. When yeh step into an area, take a look around - anythin' out-of-sorts? A draft in a sealed corridor? A section of floor with a weird design? An important-lookin' chest that's put squat in a middle of a room?" Annah jabs her tail at you. "That's when yeh look fer traps, yeh do."

NOTE: To look for traps, turn the 'Find/Remove' traps icon from the quick menu Special Abilities "on." When it's on, you have a chance of detecting trapped areas, which will be highlighted with your cursor.

Nameless One - "So how do I avoid these things?"

Annah - "Avoidin' it? Well, it's *skinnin'* the trap off the place yeh want to open or be that's the trick - unless yeh're really sure, yeh have about the same chance of removing a trap as yeh do finding it - but if yeh found it..." Annah shrugs. "Yeh should have a good chance. Mosttimes."

NOTE: To Disarm traps, select the Thief Skills from the Special Abilities button on the Quick Menu, then drag the cursor over a trapped area. Click on the trapped area and you will have a chance of disarming the trap. If you fail, you have a chance of setting off the trap.

Nameless One - "Anything else?"

Annah - "Nothing more I can say - it's all a matter of trial an' error, it is. I wish yeh luck..." She gives a wicked grin. "But not on any mark I've chosen, aye?"

Gained Experience: 2500

Nameless One - "All right."

Annah - Annah puts you through your paces. At the end of a short while, she takes a step back and nods; she seems impressed. "Aye, yeh've got the hang of it. Quick to catch on, yeh are."

Nameless One - "Thanks. Let's move on."

Now that I'm a thief, it's time to head on to the Alley of Lingering Sighs. Now that I've got Annah I can open the door to the Tenement Of Thugs (you can't do it without either having Annah with you or speaking to Pharod, or else I would come straight here upon leaving the Mortuary).

Painted Door - What you first took to be a door in this archway is actually a painting. The artist has made use of the shadows of the overhanging arch and some subtle texturing effects to give the door the illusion of substance.

Nameless One - "Are you sure this is the door, Annah?"

Annah - "Aye... it's been smeared with barmy paints from the Starved Dogs, it has - it's a real door until yeh look at it, then it turns into a painting."

Nameless One - "How did they do that?"

Annah - Annah shrugs. "There's stranger things in th' Planes." She suddenly frowns. "You might as well ask how yeh got yerself out of the dead book after I was SURE yeh were dead."

Nameless One - "So, this door... I just don't look at it? And *then* open it?"

Annah - Annah glances at the door, then nods. "That's the dark of it, if chant be true."

Nameless One - "All right, then... I'll do what you say. You just -"

Annah - "Houl' on!" Annah stops you before you reach for the door. "This is the only path I know ta reach the place I found yer corpse, but it's not the safest road, aye? Yeh sure you're ready? I'm not here to play yer minder, no matter what ol' stutter-crutch says."

Nameless One - "What's beyond this door that's so dangerous?"

Annah - "Chaosmen," Annah whispers. "Barmy as they come. Barking wild into th' day and night, ready to either paint yeh colors or crack yer brain-box with a chamber pot. Dangerous bloods, they are."

Nameless One - "If they're so dangerous, then how did you get through?"

Annah - "I crept in nice and quiet-like. Can't pain yeh or kill yeh when they can't SEE yeh." She looks you up and down with a frown. "Doubt I can pull that twice with yeh around. Yeh look right clumsy, yeh do."

Nameless One - "Just stay behind me. Now let me open the door..."

Painted Door - You close your eyes, reach for the door and fumble around... to your surprise, you find a handle. With a slight tug, the door opens. A narrow passage leads into the building, and from within, you can hear distant howling.

Nameless One - "Time to head on in..."

Once inside, I send Morte to scout the exit because he seems to have the best chance of dodging the trap you hear go off at 5:14 (or maybe everyone is equally likely to dodge it and it's just my imagination. At any rate if I don't know whether your chance to be hit is based on Armour Class or Saving Throws, assuming it's based on either.) The damage you take if it hits you is insignificant - what matters is that you lose a second as the character's 'taking damage' animation plays.

When Morte scouts the exit, you see me use Stealth to transition warp through it instead of using dialogue. Now that I have Stealth, Stealth warping will replace talk warping for the rest of the run. Out in the Alley Of Lingering Sighs, I send Annah to scout the exit while TNO and Morte kill the Dabus (he needs to be dealt with somehow so we can complete the quest for the pregnant alley and get access to the Wards, and since we can kill him during the downtime while Annah is travelling to the area exit, that's automatically the fastest solution.) On the way, Annah opens a door so that we can transition warp through it later.

The second significant planning error of the run that I'm aware of happens here. When Annah is approaching the gate, enough of the bottom-left of the exit trigger is revealed for it to be possible to transition warp through it without opening the gate at all, which would've saved a few seconds. For some reason I didn't even think to try this until after I'd completed the run. I would've needed to kill the Dabus quicker to get any benefit out of this strategy, but that's okay; if I'd levelled up TNO earlier to make his Stealth ability usable he could kick things off with a crit backstab which would make the Dabus die far quicker.

Upon entering the next area, there should be a cutscene in which Annah talks to TNO and then TNO approaches the talking wall, and then dialogue begins. I break it by talk-warping through the area transition and then ending the dialogue when I reach the new area, same as I did when entering the Dead Nations.

Of course, I do need to speak to the wall - that's the only reason I entered this area at this point. Fortunately, just approaching the wall (like you normally would to speak to it) will trigger its initial dialogue that would normally happen after the cutscene.

You stare in awe at the bizarre spectacle before you. What had appeared to be an ordinary, unremarkable bricked wall now throbs and pulsates with movement. The wall expands with curious elasticity, heaving outward as if some unseen force were trying to push its way through the barrier from the other side. Slowly, the undulating mass begins to settle, its curves becoming more and more pronounced, and you find yourself at eye-level with the stony caricature of a human face.

Nameless One - "What is that?"

Annah - "I donnae know." Annah stares at the face in disbelief, her hands nervously fingering her daggers. "But I'm fer leavin' 'fore we find out, aye?"

Nameless One - "Not just yet. There is something..."

Suddenly, a strong breeze begins to blow around you and the air is filled with an eerie sighing. The rushing wind grows stronger and you can make out other sounds as well: the creaking of boards, the rustling of leaves, and the grinding of stone upon stone. After a few moments, the clamor ceases to be a cacophony of individual noises and begins to blend into one articulate sound. You can make out a voice, a voice that speaks softly, yet seems to come from all around you at once. "YOU? IT CANNOT BE YOU."

Nameless One - "Greetings."

The wind around you has stopped, but the voice is still somehow present. "YOU ARE RESTORED AGAIN? I SAW YOU DESTROYED."

Nameless One - "Destroyed? Where?"


Nameless One - "Do you know what happened to me?"

"THINGS THAT CAST NO SHADOW... WERE SHADOW. THEY ROSE AROUND YOU. TORE YOU DOWN. DO YOU NOT REMEMBER?" You concentrate on the strange voice composed of sounds around you. Somewhere, in the deepest recesses of your mind, there is a brief glimmer of recollection. You feel as though there is something vaguely familiar about the sounds.

Nameless One - Close your eyes and try to remember.

As before, the black flash is me skipping a movie - this one the one where you're killed by shadows.

"YES... YOU REMEMBER." The voice of the Alley rings in your ears, scattering the images from your mind and returning you back to the present. "DESTROYED. AS SOON I SHALL BE. I CANNOT DELAY DIVISION MUCH LONGER. PRESSURE BUILDS. SOON STONES WILL CRUMBLE AND THE FLOATING ONES WILL REPAIR ME TO DESTRUCTION."

Nameless One - "I don't understand."


Nameless One - "Divide?"

Annah - "Uh, it must be in the 'way.'"

Nameless One - "What are you talking about?"

Annah - "I think it's pregnant."

Nameless One - "Oh."

Morte - "Freaky. So where are we technically standing right now?"

Nameless One - "I really don't want to know the answer to that, Morte."

Now for some reason the wall is considered to be out of range of the conversation and a Zombie is spawned in to speak its lines. This doesn't always happen; it happened for me on roughly half of my attempts at this segment. I need it to happen, because it saves time later; when I return after reversing the dabus's repairs, I can talk to the Zombie (who is closer) instead of the wall to get teleported to Lower Ward.


Nameless One - "What do you need to divide?"


Gained Experience: 1500

Nameless One - "The dabus back in the Alley? Yes, he is gone... I killed him."

Zombie - The voice of the Alley is silent for a long moment, as if contemplating your words. "SHOULD NOT HAVE DESTROYED THE FLOATING ONE. YOU DRAW THE ATTENTION OF THE BLADED ONE. PAIN-BRINGER SHE IS."

Nameless One - "I had to kill him... it was the only way I could get him to stop repairing."


Nameless One - "You want me to undo the dabus' changes? How?"


Nameless One - "Very well. I'll find and reverse the repairs for you. I'll probably need some tools... a hammer and prybar should do the trick."

The option of reversing the dabus's repairs will now appear when I inspect the two repaired buildings. I go back to the previous area and reverse the first set of repairs using the prybar from the Mortuary.

This dilapidated structure seems on the verge of collapse. Several boards have recently been nailed into place to reinforce the sagging building.

Nameless One - Examine the structure more closely.

It appears as if the Dabus was in the process of repairing this building. Several newer and sturdier boards have been nailed into place over the old ones. With the right tool, it may be possible to reverse the repairs.

Nameless One - Use the prybar to loosen the boards.

One by one, you pry loose the fresh boards from the face of the building. As the last board comes free, the building emits a loud groan as its weight shifts unsteadily upon its now unsupported frame.

Nameless One - Leave.

Next, we warp into the house Annah opened to door to earlier. This puts us much closer to the second building we need to unrepair. I still haven't got a hammer, but conveniently there's one on the floor of this very building, which I grab. I step out and undo the next set of repairs.

This rickety dwelling looks as though it has stood for centuries. Its wooden walls are weathered and worn with age. A number of planks on this side of the structure appear to have been recently pried loose.

Nameless One - Examine the structure.

It appears as though the Dabus was attempting to tear down this ancient structure. Several boards are loose upon the building's frame, their nails nearly pried all the way out.

Nameless One - Use the hammer to nail the boards back into place.

You hammer the boards neatly back into place. Taking a step back to examine your handiwork, you notice that, strangely enough, the building no longer appears quite as old as it did at first glance.

Nameless One - Leave.

Now I head back to talk to the Zombie, though I take a moment to level up first in preparation for Lower Ward, where I'll need to backstab someone. (I can't backstab prior to leveling because my initial 9 Dex means my Stealth skill is minus 3%, so I can't hide.)

Zombie - As you approach the stone face, the various ambient sounds of the Alley once again assault your ears, and through them the voice speaks. "YOU HAVE RETURNED."

Nameless One - "I have reversed the repairs as you have asked."

Zombie - "YES. ALL IS IN ORDER. I AM GRATEFUL." Again the wind begins to blow around you, this time with fierce intensity. The omnipresent sounds of the Alley begin to increase in volume until the soft murmur of the voice is nearly drown out by the ensuing racket. "NOW YOU MUST GO. DIVISION BEGINS. THE WAY IS NOW OPEN TO YOU."

Gained Experience: 16250

Nameless One - "Farewell, then."

Zombie - The stone face before you begins to transform once again, its mass shifting and roiling as you look on. The entire wall seems to melt before you eyes, exposing a narrow passageway beyond. The ground underfoot suddenly begins to rock violently and the soft sighing of the wind intensifies to a more urgent, almost human-like moaning. You can hear the sounds of crashing stones and snapping boards all around you as dash into the passageway.

Nameless One - Leave.

Now we arrive in Lower Ward. Again I use the Formations menu trick to avoid the cutscene in which Morte gets kidnapped. Amusingly, this leaves the clothes salesman from that cutscene in the area (he would normally be deleted at the end of the cutscene). He's not a very interesting fellow; his creature name is 'Sensate' and if you talk to him, all he has to say is "I am one of the 'generic' sensates in the Civic Festhall. Pleased to meet you." to which your only response is "Pleased to leave you." (Of course, I don't talk to him in the run.)

In normal play, the main plot in the Wards would involve learning about Ravel from Lothar, visiting Ravel's Sensory Stone in the Society Of Sensation, as well as visiting Deionarra's father, to eventually get a receipt that can be traded in at the Great Foundry for the portal to Ravel's maze. You would buy Quell a Chocolate Quasit and get him to tell you that the key to the portal is a piece of Ravel. Then you would visit the Brothel Of Slating Intellectual Lusts and run errands for various girls before eventually learning Kesai-Serris is Ravel's daughter and convincing her to give you a drop of her blood to activate the portal.

Note that the only two objects you ultimately need in this process are the portal and the blood. The blood we can get by killing Kesai-Serris (without even talking to anyone in the brothel), and the portal we can get without a receipt by just killing Nadilin (the guy you'd normally trade in the receipt to to get the portal. The only obstacle to this plan is that you can't get the guard to open the gate to the Foundry without a legitimate reason. Furthermore, it can't be picked or broken, and so far nobody has discovered any short-distance teleport glitches for Torment like the polyporting in the Baldur's Gate games that we could use to get to the other side. Nor is it possible to scout the door to the Foundry from outside the gate in order to transition warp through it. The best we can do is to use the unrelated message delivery sidequest from Giltspur as a way to get let into the Foundry - an idea I believe was originally shoop's.

So, when we arrive in Lower Ward, I head straight to Giltspur while Annah heads off to scout the entrance to the print shop where we'll need to be in a moment. Morte has no purpose any more and I just leave him sitting around until I reach a convenient point to drop him from the party later.

Giltspur - You see a florid, boisterous man. He's shouting and carrying on like there's a war that's about to come through, like he's got something lodged in his intestines, like... well, like he's too excited about something to talk in a normal tone of voice. His rapid-fire delivery makes it difficult to understand him. "You, sir, you there! You look like you could use something! I'm not quite sure what it is yet, but give me time, give me time, and I'll have it figured out on the spot! You need rooms? I've got rooms! You need supplies? I've got supplies!""

Nameless One - "I'd like to sell something to you."

Giltspur - "Then you've chosen the right man to talk to! I buy, I sell, I lease rooms! I can get you nearly anything! What do you have?"

Nameless One - "Do you have any jobs that need doing?"

Giltspur - "I certainly do, friend! I have a little errand for you to run, if you'll take it! It'll net you fifty coins! All you need to do is run this handbill down to the printshop, and ask Scofflaw Penn to print up one hundred copies for me! Here! Take it!" He shoves a crumpled piece of paper into your hands.

Nameless One - "Thanks, I guess. Farewell."

The task we want from him is the second job he gives out, which gets us into the Foundry, but there's no way to get given that one without finishing this one first, so that's what we'll do. While Annah continues on to the Print Shop, I have TNO open the door next to Giltspur (so I can transition warp back here later) backstab a commoner who's in my way (for some reason, this doesn't turn anyone else hostile), and then head over to Lenny, crit backstab him dead, and loot his Punch Daggers Of Zar'Anun, which are the one weapon I will use throughout the run. I can't afford to delay getting a decent weapon because Kesai-Serris can only be damaged by +2 weapons or higher, and I need to kill her.

Next, I enter the print shop and deliver the handbill.

Scofflaw Penn - You see a thin, stooped man hunched over a desk, scribbling on a piece of paper. His hair is thinning and drab, drawn back into a ponytail, and thin spectacles adorn his hooked nose. His age could be anywhere from his early twenties to his late forties. He doesn't look up as he speaks to you. "What do you want? Make it quick."

Lost Item

Nameless One - "Yes. Giltspur asked me to deliver a handbill to you so you can print up a hundred copies."

Scofflaw Penn - He takes the handbill from you, looks it over, and says, "I'll have it for him later. Go tell him." He turns back to his desk.

At this point, I could end the conversation and transition warp out of the shop, but it's probably a few frames faster to just keep mashing '1' and get teleported out by Penn, which I do.

Nameless One - "I had a few questions..."

Scofflaw Penn - "Do they have to do with work?"

Nameless One - "Well, no..."

Scofflaw Penn - "Then you're wasting your time and mine. Good day." He turns down to his desk.

Nameless One - "Don't you ignore me."

Scofflaw Penn - He waves his hand... and you find yourself outside his shop.

Nameless One - "What the..."

Now back to Giltspur by way of transition warps. For some reason, the commoner I killed in the earlier segment has respawned, which it didn't even occur to me might happen. (I didn't test whether scaring him away without killing him would've prevented this - that's something a future runner should look into). Anyway, I kill him again and talk to Giltspur again.

Giltspur - "Once again! Once again! You come to me once again! There must be something I can do for you that my brother Deran cannot, eh? Ha!"

Gained Experience: 6000

Nameless One - "That handbill is printed."

Giltspur - "It's printed? Terrific! I knew you were the man for the job. Here, take this message to Keldor of Durian at the Foundry. I'm sure he'll be glad to receive it, and you'll be glad of the hundred coins you get in return."

Nameless One - "Thanks, I guess. Farewell."

Now at last I can enter the Foundry, which is all I needed this quest for - Keldor of Durian certainly won't be getting his message. I transition warp as close as I can get, then run to the gate and talk to the guard.

Godsman Guard - You see a burly, bored-looking guard. "State your business, please."

Nameless One - "I have a message for Keldor from Giltspur the auctioneer."

Godsman Guard - "Thank you, sir. You'll find him in the Great Godsman Hall." He opens the gate for you.

Nameless One - "Thanks."

I head inside, kill Nadilin, take the Unfolding Portal (currently labelled as a Curious Ironwork because it's unidentified - the Charms Of Infinite Recall I grabbed in the Drowned Nations are purely to identify this one item so I can use it), then transition warp my way to Clerk's Ward and the Brothel Of Slating Intellectual Lusts. I equip the punch daggers and charms, use the charms (via hotkey), then crit-backstab Kesai-Serris for her blood and take the portal to Ravel's maze.

Ravel's maze is probably the most complicated part of the run. At the southwest, northwest and northeast corners, you have portals that respectively teleport you to the northwest, northeast and southwest corners, but these only open after you trigger one of the cutscenes where Trigits pop out of the ground and attack you (which you can trigger by running in any direction from your starting point). Ravel is in the centre of the maze. If you die in the maze, you respawn in a small room labelled on the map as 'Ravel's Secret Garden' in the southeast of the level with a portal to the centre of the maze. The exit from the maze is in the northeast corner, but can only be used once you have learned the key from Ravel AND killed her. (It's possible to kill her without talking to her and without losing the game if you save and load immediately after killing her, but even if you do so you still won't be able to enter the portal so the game will be unwinnable. Both being told the key and killing Ravel are necessary conditions in the script to make the exit portal usable.)

Ravel's dialogue itself is also complicated because it is broken up by multiple mid-dialogue cutscenes. All of these can be broken with the formation menu trick, but you can't save after breaking any of them (because the game still thinks it's in cutscene mode) with the exception of the last one, where the shadows arrive in the maze. I confess I don't know why you can save immediately after breaking some cutscenes but not others.

After finishing the dialogue with Ravel, you have control for maybe half a second before a cutscene plays showing you and your party getting into position to fight and Ravel summoning Trigits to attack you. Because this cutscene doesn't immediately follow a loading screen or dialogue, it can't be broken with the formation menu trick. When you kill Ravel, there is a further cutscene showing more shadows arriving in the maze.

However, I found an alternative cutscene-breaking method that can be used to skip both these cutscenes. In the half second of control you have after talking to Ravel, if you give an attack order against Ravel and also order a party member to attack YOU, then, assuming everyone hits, hits in time, and does enough damage to kill you, Ravel will die before when the pre-battle cutscene kicks in, you will die at the same instant, and when you respawn you will regain control and break out of cutscene mode (because the way TNO's death is handled in the game is simply entering cutscene mode, teleporting you to a respawn point, resurrecting you, and then exiting cutscene mode.)

So, upon arrival in the maze, first I trigger the opening of the portals, then jump through the southwest one to scout the northwest one and have Annah backstab me to death with Lenny's punch daggers to teleport us to Ravel's Secret Garden. From there I activate the portal to the centre of the maze (no conditions to do this, just a dialogue that triggers when you approach) and go through it.

This arch is made of a gnarled tree limb that has grown from the floor of the maze, then fallen in an arc. As you step up to the arch, the space beneath the arch glows softly... it seems to lead to some strange black-barbed garden.

Nameless One - Examine the archway.

As you examine the natural arch, you notice the left side of the trunk is scored, as if someone took a knife blade and cut several notches into it. The scorings, however, don't look like they came from a knife blade... they look like slash marks, as if from someone's talons.

Nameless One - Scratch the trunk of the tree with your fingernails, see what happens.

You sink your fingernails into the bark, and to your surprise, the wood gives way beneath your nails, like porridge. You dig your nails through the side of the brambled tree, and in response, the glow beneath the arch glows brightly, beckoning you to step through it.

Nameless One - Step through the arch.

Upon arriving at Ravel, I have Annah backstab me to lower my HP for later. I kick Annah and Morte from the party - Morte for good, Annah only temporarily - I still need her, but for now I want her out of the party so that I get all the XP from Ravel's dialogue. Then I begin the LONG conversation with Ravel. I hesitate slightly before saying anything during my first conversation with her because I'm holding down the formation menu hotkey and waiting for it to start repeating. To clarify: if you press the button and hold it down, the game tries to bring the menu up once (failing if you're in a cutscene, dialogue, or whatever), then there's a delay, and then it tries to bring the menu up repeatedly in quick succession. In other words, the game handles you holding down a menu key in basically the same way as a word processor would handle you holding down a letter, at least in this context.

Ravel - The plump, hook-nosed crone before you doesn't look much like a myth; she is outfitted in a simple (if dirty) brown shirt and leggings, with a number of pouches hanging from her frayed belt. She seems oblivious to your presence, more concerned with the tangled black roots woven together to form the floor of the maze than anything transpiring around her.

Nameless One - Study her for a moment.

Ravel - A tangle of jagged gray hair juts from beneath the crone's hood, spreading down her shoulders like a mass of twisted gray roots. Sickly blue-gray flesh hangs in loose folds from her face; her narrow chin, long and sharp, juts forward in an extreme under-bite, and two filthy yellow canines protrude from her lower jaw, like small tusks.

Nameless One - "Ravel...?"

At this point in the dialogue comes a brief cutscene in which nothing happens, and then Ravel talks to you. I break the cutscene with the formation menu glitch and talk to her manually instead, to speed things along. As always, wherever possible I just mash '1' in these dialogues, giving other replies only when strictly necessary.

Ravel - "Ah... visitors." The crone's voice is thick and scratchy, as if trying to force its way past layers of dust. Her eyes are a dull, bloody red, with black veins running through them like tree branches. As she gazes at you, a strange crawling sensation passes through you, like snakes burrowing beneath your skin.

Gained Experience: 90000

Nameless One - "Greetings... Ravel."

Ravel - "Well, now, my pretty thing, have you returned at last?" Ravel's face splits in to a grotesque smile, displaying a row of chipped yellowed fangs. "You were a-gone so long, I a-feared you forgot poor, lonely Ravel."

Nameless One - "I did forget for a time. Now I have returned."

Ravel - "Have you? But WHAT has returned?" She squints at you with her black-veined eyes and hisses softly. "Let Ravel see how you've a-fared in this life." She reaches out, as if to caress you, and you suddenly notice her fingers are talons, each fingernail filthy and wickedly sharp.

Nameless One - Let her touch you.

Ravel - Her ragged talons trace their way across your skin, and in their wake you feel the same strange tingling sensation you felt when Ravel first looked at you. Her eyes dim somewhat, and her talons slide gently along the contours of your face, lingering on your scars.

Nameless One - Wait...

Ravel - Ravel's finger withdraws, and she looks at you sadly. "Oh, sad, sad, broken half-thing. All-a-pieces." She squints at you again. "No longer the one Ravel knew are you... are you still a-broken, after all this sad, sad time?"

Nameless One - "Broken? What do you mean?"

Ravel - "A body you possess, but a body of knowledge you do not?" She points her ragged talon at your chest, at your scars. "Many and such, such scars you have, all a-scrawled on your skin. Many tales does your skin tell."

Nameless One - "What are you talking about?"

Ravel - "Your scars and tattoos shout to me, 'here is a man in confrontation with the world.'" Ravel makes a crooning noise, not unlike a dying bird. "Yes, such tales as would shrivel even a *hag's* ears..."

Nameless One - "Tell me these... tales. I would know them."

Ravel - "The tales are many. They echo of balance imbalanced, trials of war, battles with fiendish elements, and a creature that feeds on others from a-far to sustain itself... and of torments. Such *torments* flesh has never known..."

At this point in the dialogue, you have to go through each of the four dialogue paths available, asking about each of the 'tales' on your skin, before the fifth option appears allowing you to continue.

Nameless One - "Balance Imbalanced?"

Ravel - "Divided in two you were, when your mortality was peeled from you. No longer balanced, much a-broken in the separation... both a blessing and a mistake... but more mistake than blessing, Ravel thinks."

Nameless One - "You *took* my mortality? How?"

Ravel - "Forgotten the how of it, I have... have I?" Ravel's gaze dims for a moment, the black veins swimming in her eyes. "And even if I a-membered it, I would never do it twice. Not forgotten the moment have I, after the *break,* a-seeing the pain stream from your veins, your cries like a wailing child, every bit of your being filled with *emptiness.* Terrible, even for these eyes."

Nameless One - "So... that's why I feel hollow inside? Because my mortality is gone? Very well... what are these other tales my skin tells?"

Ravel - "The tales are many. They echo of balance imbalanced, trials of war, battles with fiendish elements, and a creature that feeds on others from a-far to sustain itself... and of torments. Such *torments* flesh has never known..."

Like back in the dialogue with Pharod, I keep mashing '1' a little too long and go through the 'Balance Imbalanced' branch twice.

Nameless One - "Balance Imbalanced?"

Ravel - "Divided in two you were, when your mortality was peeled from you. No longer balanced, much a-broken in the separation... both a blessing and a mistake... but more mistake than blessing, Ravel thinks."

Nameless One - "You *took* my mortality? How?"

Ravel - "Forgotten the how of it, I have... have I?" Ravel's gaze dims for a moment, the black veins swimming in her eyes. "And even if I a-membered it, I would never do it twice. Not forgotten the moment have I, after the *break,* a-seeing the pain stream from your veins, your cries like a wailing child, every bit of your being filled with *emptiness.* Terrible, even for these eyes."

Nameless One - "So... that's why I feel hollow inside? Because my mortality is gone? Very well... what are these other tales my skin tells?"

Ravel - "The tales are many. They echo of balance imbalanced, trials of war, battles with fiendish elements, and a creature that feeds on others from a-far to sustain itself... and of torments. Such *torments* flesh has never known..."

Nameless One - "Trials of War?"

Ravel - "Great, great trials of war... much too much to be born by any, any mortal thing."

Nameless One - "What war? Where?"

Ravel - "This war touches ALL, my precious half-man. There is no place where its caress is not felt... did it touch you?" Ravel's voice drops, almost bitter. "To this, Ravel says 'aye.'"

Nameless One - "That would explain the scars... what are these other tales my skin tells?"

Ravel - "The tales are many. They echo of balance imbalanced, trials of war, battles with fiendish elements, and a creature that feeds on others from a-far to sustain itself... and of torments. Such *torments* flesh has never known..."

Nameless One - "Battles with fiendish elements?"

Ravel - "Two fiends butt heads..." Ravel sniffs, as if in contempt. "Their tiny heads filled with ideas of how the Planes *should* be, yet can *never* be or the Planes they would be no longer. Such foolishness!"

Nameless One - "I'm not certain I understand,,, what are these other tales my skin tells?"

Ravel - "The tales are many. They echo of balance imbalanced, trials of war, battles with fiendish elements, and a creature that feeds on others from a-far to sustain itself... and of torments. Such *torments* flesh has never known..."

Nameless One - "A creature that feeds on others from afar?"

Ravel - "No base hungers do you feel, but far, far more terrible ones boil beneath your skin. And *such* a cost..."

Nameless One - "Hungers? What do you mean?"

Ravel - "I know not... knot? Knot the nature nor the cause of these hungers. But heed this: Coming events cast their *shadows* before them, my precious half-man... there is no a-saying of what these events will be, not even with *Ravel's* eyes."

Nameless One - "Uh, very well... what are these other tales my skin tells?"

Ravel - "The tales are many. They echo of balance imbalanced, trials of war, battles with fiendish elements, and a creature that feeds on others from a-far to sustain itself... and of torments. Such *torments* flesh has never known..."

At last I get the option I need to continue.

Nameless One - "And these torments... what are these torments you speak of?"

Ravel - "A lodestone pulls iron to it... and so do you, my precious half-man, but it is not iron, but tormented souls. As others suffer, they are drawn to you, and your path becomes theirs."

Nameless One - "Why is this so?"

Ravel - "Why, my precious, precious half-man, you carry the greatest torment of all... life forever-more. Can it be life a-cares for you as Ravel does?" She gnashes her yellowed tusks with a horrid *clacking* noise. "One so brave, so passionate, so terribly lost, sad, sad."

Nameless One - "Ravel, *why* did you make me immortal? I must kn-"

Ravel - "A puzzle of bone and skin were you, always, intriguing, and the most beloved of all who came to me, petitioning, requesting, pleading... pleasing? Pleading for help." Ravel stares hard at you, her black-veined ember eyes narrowing. "So *hard* to see a-past the scars, to dig up the man-who-once-was underneath..."

Nameless One - "Ravel, can you tell me anything about who I once was?"

Ravel - "A shadow with substance, a-seeking that which casts the light. I know you more and no... know..." Ravel pauses, here eyes dimming. "No more than I know the nature of ANY man. Crossed pasts have we... a man tainted with un-death, still feeling the pangs of separation, and an old withered crone, now all-imprisoned."

Nameless One - "Crossed Pasts?"

Ravel - "Seems it that we are a-meeting for the first time? No, no, not, not... knot?" Ravel seems confused for a moment, then shudders, as if throwing off a weight. "Knot at all. An echo of a future meeting this is... or a past meeting, depending on which way time is facing."

Nameless One - "So this... this meeting echoes a meeting in the past?"

Ravel - "The now and then - very... similar? So tangled the now-and-then is, both mirrored in each other... once and again, you come a-fore me with a problem, to challenge me for a solution to an IMPOSSIBILITY." Ravel hisses at you, and her eyes blaze. "Beautiful, *ungrateful,* beloved man."

Nameless One - "What was this impossibility I asked you to solve?"

Ravel - Ravel doesn't seem to have heard you - she still seems to be in the past, for her eyes dim, as if looking far away. "Such fire in your eyes, enough to stir a Gray Lady's heart... passion to be free, but when freed, the fire in your eyes guttered out. With the separation, your life has shed all meaning, I fear." Ravel smiles with her yellowed fangs, then *clicks* them together, as if laughing. "Mayhap you should sit on your hind legs and limp your forepaws -- mayhap Ravel will give you a another scrap of knowing."

Nameless One - "If begging will bring me answers, then I beg you, Ravel: Tell me what you know. I need your help in remembering what happened."

Ravel - "Ah... a gentled heart, now?" Ravel's black-veined eyes glint, and the corner of her mouth twists upwards, like a snake. "Has life a-softened you... ah, but once can hope."

Nameless One - "Ravel, I have many questions I wish to ask you..."

Ravel - "Oh, MORE questions do you have?" Ravel croons softly, but there is an edge to it, as if she is reprimanding you. "Tchhh-tcchhh. But you have already asked *soooo* many." Ravel's black-veined eyes take on a curious gleam. "The time for MY questions is now, half-man."

Nameless One - "Very well, Ravel... ask your questions."

Ravel - "Know this and know Ravel's law: if you do not answer my questions, no more of *your* questions will I answer, my precious man. Step a-lightly with the answers, or the asking shall TEAR you apart..."

Nameless One - "Understood. Ask your questions, Ravel."

Ravel - "I would know why you stand here a-fore me, all-alone... why do no others stand with you?"

Note that one other advantage of kicking my party members out is that Ravel won't ask me questions about my feelings for my companions, which saves a lot of button presses. In particular, the question I would get about Annah if I hadn't kicked her would require me to slow down and stop just mashing '1', because Ravel's response to the first reply option about Annah (which is to say you could fall in love with her) is bugged if you don't have Fall-From-Grace in your party: Ravel immediately gives her speech about 'these two fiendish whores' that's supposed to happen if you profess love for both Annah and Fall-From-Grace (and makes no sense with only Annah in the group), and then attacks you, making the game unwinnable.

Nameless One - "I have no wish for companions. My path is my own, and I have no desire to walk it with others."

Ravel - "Is that why you told them to wait elsewhere in my Black-Barbed Maze, my precious man? You travel alone in word only, for you have brought *others* with you. Yet mayhap still you speak true... though Ravel is not inclined to believe your honeyed words." She sniffs. "Now, another question..."

Nameless One - "Go ahead..."

Ravel - "My NEXT question is this..." Ravel's voice drops, almost whispering. And suddenly, you have a strange feeling she does not want to hear the answer. "Why did you wait so long to *return* to me? Ravel grew a-lonely without you, precious man."

Nameless One - "The way to this place is... difficult, Ravel."

Ravel - "Is the way so hard?" A hint of a smile plays on the corners of her mouth. "Then your visit is precious, and I give thanks."

Nameless One - "Have you another question for me?"

Ravel - "Ahhhh, yessss. The third and last question... is *this*..." As Ravel opens her mouth to speak her final question, you are suddenly gripped with the terrible realization that this final question has murdered many others to whom it has been asked. You know what it is, and you feel it welling up with you, and you feel compelled to ask it.

Nameless One - Echo: "What can change the nature of a man?"

I break another mini-cutscene here.

Ravel - "I see you have not forgotten..." Ravel smiles, her yellowed fangs gleaming. "What is your answer?"

Nameless One - Truth: "I... don't know."

Ravel - "And that is your answer...?" The veins in Ravel's eyes begin to shift slightly, and she gives an evil smile. "Be certain before you say."

Nameless One - "It may not be *your* answer, but it is *my* answer."

Ravel - "And that is all I wished for, my precious man." Ravel's smile relaxes. "A simple answer, and in the end, many are the men have I laid low while they sought MY answer."

Nameless One - "That's it...? I thought..."

Ravel - Ravel cackles. "Countless times has the question been asked, and not ONCE did the pathetic shells who came a-fore me answered with THEIR answer, but always sought to creep inside my mind and find what *I* thought... tchhh! There is no truth in that."

Nameless One - "I... don't believe you. In fact, I don't think they ever could have answered you true, even if it was true to them."

Ravel - Ravel falls suddenly, strangely, silent. She is watching you warily.

Nameless One - "You *never* cared about any answer other than mine. Ever. Did you? Yet still you asked the question, knowing that no matter what the answer they gave, they would die by your hand."

Ravel - Ravel hisses. "Of COURSE your answer was the only one I sought, for you were the ONLY reason I asked the question! Did you think I cared for them...? Tchhh! Did you think I even cared a *fraction* of the amount for them that I cared for *you,* my precious man? Answer me that!"

Nameless One - "I'm *through* answering your questions, Ravel. Now you'll answer *mine.*"

Ravel - "Of course... ever questions, ever questions..."

Nameless One - "Why did you make me immortal, Ravel?"

Ravel - "It's what you *wanted,* seedling, and you asked so sweetly... now how could Ravel say 'no' to one such as you? Immortality was *your* solution and your challenge to me."

Nameless One - *"My* solution? But why?"

Ravel - "I don't know, seedling. Time has chipped away at my memories as well, it would seem... seam? If you remember, tell me... I'm a-curious myself. It must have been something important... isn't it in the nature of a man to want to live forever?"

Nameless One - "Ravel... this is VERY important: do you have any idea why I asked you to do it?"

Ravel - "Death was a thing you needed to dodge. An easy thing to say, mayhap, but to DO, it is not! Immortality, even with its flaws, was the best solution this withered mind could untangle..."

Nameless One - "Yet..."

Ravel - "Lead is not easily a-changed to gold, but it is possible, thought the unwise... un-whys? ...Ravel. If water can be drawn from blood, mortality can be taken from a mortal, peeled back like a sticky film...."

Nameless One - "So you pulled it off?"

Ravel - "The gulf between man and unman is great. You traveled the distance. I provided the means, but you crossed on your own." Ravel slaps her head and rakes her hand through her hair. "Bad Ravel! Mortals are too flawed to be made to last. Still they break! They must be dragged kicking and screaming into an unhealthy new mold."

Nameless One - "Unhealthy...? So the ritual was flawed?"

Ravel - "Shortcuts must be made, and they can *break* the molded... for it is not always the mold that breaks, but the substance poured within it. Force something into a shape it was not meant to be, and it breaks! I thought the material was of stronger stuff, but you have been broken."

Nameless One - "But I *am* immortal - surely that was a success?"

Ravel - "You have survived long, immortaled one, but you have become the prey of the creature that is life." She cups her hands, then reverses it, forming a canopy with her hands. "The body is but a hut for the soul. But now no one dwells in your hut."

Nameless One - "What went wrong with the ritual?"

Ravel - "Puzzle-fleshed broken, beautiful, beautiful mortal man, the ritual was not... knot? Knot... not a finished thing." Ravel's brows wrinkle, and her talons pick at her hair, tugging on a lone strand. "The ritual gave you what you wanted, but ..."

Nameless One - "But..."

Ravel - "The ritual gave you what you wanted, but *great* were the costs... the casting of shadows, the quiet, violent deaths of the mind, and the pain-taking emptiness... these things, a-dangerous were are in such a fragile vessel, no matter how strong a mortal man. Regret them and the ritual do I."

At this point, I once again have a series of dialogue branches that all have to be explored before I can continue.

Nameless One - "Casting of Shadows?"

Ravel - "Ungrateful shades... but ungrateful without cause? The shades... they hate you, Nameless One, for they are fathered by you, your children, once forsaken, they will never forgive. They will do everything they can to destroy the parent... such is the way of children."

Nameless One - "How do I father shades... these shadows?"

At this point comes another cutscene, in which some shadows arrive, which I break. A couple of observations about this cutscene: it deletes the portal at the southwest of the area when it begins, and only recreates it again when it ends. That means if you break the cutscene, that portal is removed completely and permanently (which is why I had to go through it earlier to scout the northwest portal instead of only doing so after killing Ravel). Secondly, a helpful fellow called leftside (who signed up to SDA back in 2008 just to make one post in the Torment thread, and then vanished) found that it's possible to avoid the cutscene completely if, instead of asking how you father shades, you say "I've heard enough. I had other questions." This throws you way back to a much earlier part of the dialogue, but it counts as you having done the 'Casting of Shadows' branch of the dialogue even though you didn't finish it.

leftside's way and my way of avoiding the cutscene are probably about equal timewise, but my way gives me an opportunity to save so that I'll only have to do a small part of the conversation in the same segment as killing Ravel, instead of all of it, which is useful.

Before continuing the conversation with Ravel, I level up with all the XP I just gained to increase my backstab multiplier. Then, since levelling has increased my current HP, I have Annah backstab me again to get me down to low HP so she can kill me with her (pathetically weak) default weapon later. Then I have her give me Lenny's punch daggers which I use to backstab Ravel to reduce her HP. Here I exploit a glitch where, if you save immediately after attacking someone who is neutral to you, after reloading they will have forgotten that you attacked them and won't turn hostile. I hit Ravel to bring her HP down low enough for me to kill with a crit backstab with my current strength (I don't crit her this time around because the crit animation is treated like a spell effect and you can't save immediately after it happens. There's a workaround for this issue which I found later with Annah and Cassius but I hadn't discovered it yet when I made this segment.)

With the preparations for killing Ravel all done, I talk to her again.

Ravel - "You cast shadows on existence, Nameless One. With every death, a shadow arises fresh from the fields of your flesh. They a-wander for a time, but always they a-return, looking to murder their parent. Such is the way of many offspring..." Ravel purses her lips in disapproval, then suddenly pokes you in the chest with a talon. "...and thankless young men such as yourself."

Nameless One - "Tell me more about this ritual..."

Ravel - "The ritual gave you what you wanted, but *great* were the costs.. the casting of shadows, the quiet, violent deaths of the mind, and the pain-taking emptiness... these things, a-dangerous were are in such a fragile vessel, no matter how strong a mortal man. Regret them and the ritual do I."

Nameless One - "The quiet, violent death of the mind?"

Ravel - "A thousand deaths, and you recover from each. No so the mind, the mind is much more fragile. Its scars run deep and do not heal. The brain is encased in a hard bone shell, difficult to breach, but with no defense against that which eats at it from within."

Nameless One - "Tell me more about this ritual..."

Ravel - "The ritual gave you what you wanted, but *great* were the costs.. the casting of shadows, the quiet, violent deaths of the mind, and the pain-taking emptiness... these things, a-dangerous were are in such a fragile vessel, no matter how strong a mortal man. Regret them and the ritual do I."

Nameless One - "Pain-taking emptiness?"

Ravel - "You have a whole where... wear? Wear your mortality once lay within your shell." She makes her hand into a fist and shakes it. "*Rattle-rattle* goes the hollow man, a baby's plaything, with naught but a tiny stone that a-clatters and clacks in your frame."

Now I can finally progress the conversation.

Nameless One - "Tell me more about this ritual..."

Ravel - "The ritual gave you what you wanted, but *great* were the costs.. the casting of shadows, the quiet, violent deaths of the mind, and the pain-taking emptiness... these things, a-dangerous were are in such a fragile vessel, no matter how strong a mortal man. Regret them and the ritual do I."

Nameless One - "Despite these problems, it seems like the ritual worked..."

Ravel - "Do you doubt Ravel? Of course I delivered on what was promised! Not long after the spell a-drew to a close, I killed you to see if it had worked. You struggled so, but I kept my grip *tight* and watched you die your first of many deaths." Ravel *clacks* her teeth. "Then was I a-learned in its flaws..."

Nameless One - "What flaws?"

Ravel - "Ego enwraps us like a prison. Forgot I did that it ofttimes serves as a shield." Ravel clicks her tongue. "My pretty, pretty thing, there is much wisdom and understanding in the truth that life is a preparation for the ultimate goal: death. Our life is a means by which we learn *how* to die. If we FORGET such things..."

Nameless One - "So that's when you discovered I lost my memories when I died..."

Ravel - "Yess..." Ravel nods. "Unfortunate... without the mortality to hold such memories tight, the shell a body is..."

Nameless One - "So you took my mortality from me... is it still intact?"

Ravel - Ravel seems surprised, then alarmed. "Yes, yes, *yes!* Fear not for a broken mortality... if you are here... hear? Hear a-talking at me, intact your mortality must be. Such a thing can not... knot... not be destroyed as long as you exist. You are an *anchor* of your mortal soul. As long as *you* are intact, so shall it be. Made to last are you..." Ravel smiles and gives a wheezing laugh. "For life swallowed you and spit you out!"

Morte - "It swallowed him, but I don't know if he came out of *that* end."

Note that game just checks to see if Morte is nearby, not to see if he's in the party, when deciding whether Morte should speak his line. Anyway, it's inconsequential.

Nameless One - "Enough of this -- look, Ravel, you took my mortality from me, and it has caused more harm than good. I would take it back now - you have had it overlong, I think."

Ravel - "Ah... you make a demand...?" Ravel's black-veined eyes sharpen and twist, taking a disturbing *awareness,* and she bares her yellow fangs. "No, no, no. That, Ravel, I, will *not* do. What is undone cannot be done."

Nameless One - "Ravel... I tire of your word games; I am not playing with you any longer. Give me back my mortality or I shall kill you."

Ravel - "Kill me you will, your will shall kill me, it is no matter. It is difficult to tell in which of time's many directions I am facing. Mortals face in the opposite direction, looking to the future, and I am facing the past, for I do not like what I see in the future."

Nameless One - "Cease this nonsense-speak, Ravel. I tire of bandying words with you. Give me back my mortality... *now.*"

Ravel - "Ravel *cannot* give such a thing to you, my precious man, for Ravel has *nothing* to give... I never possessed *you* or your mortality... though I wished to keep them both in my garden as selfish affection's keepsakes, trace the patterns of your flesh... but such things Ravel could not bring herself to do.

Nameless One - "Why not?"

Annah - "Yeh *loved* him!" Annah breaks her silence - she sounds astonished. "Yeh *loved* him, yeh did!"

Ravel - Ravel gives a low, wide smile. "Is that so hard for you to believe, fiendling...?" She cackles softly to herself. "Does Ravel being Ravel, and thus, a myth, not *deserve* to carry such a feeling in her black-brambled heart...?"

Nameless One - "Then if you don't have it, Ravel... where is my mortality?"

Ravel - "*I* don't know, sweet thing. But if I were you, I'd get it back quick-quick. No telling what horrible things someone could do to you if they held your mortality for RANSOM." Ravel *clicks* her talons together. "It would like be holding someone's sweet, succulent soul... a puppet dancing on someone's strings, would you be, and a most sad puppet, too... two? Know where it is, I do not."

Nameless One - "Well, it would have been too EASY for you to know where it could be found... looks like I'm off on another hunt."

Ravel - "Ahhh... not so quick to rush off, you should be." Ravel gives a horrid smile, her tusks gleaming. "*I* do not know where your mortality lies, my precious man... but there is *another* may carry the knowing of such a thing..."

Nameless One - "'Another may know?' Who?"

Ravel - Ravel's eyes dim, as if she staring at something in the distance, and her voice slows. "A... fair-skinned one... must you ask. An angel, a deva, one who soars on the wings of morning and with his hands, is the architect of horizons. He lies, lies beyond my keeping, in another cage, in another prison... in his knowing is the knowing of what you wish to know. Ask him your questions, listen to his answers, use them as guides."

Gained Experience: 180000

Nameless One - "Where can I find this angel?"

Ravel - "In a-leaving this prison, to *another* cursed prison will you arrive... though it may not appear as such to casual glances. Step a-lightly, and find the golden link in the ever-shortening chain. The light shall give the dark of the matter, and new paths shall open to you."

Nameless One - "Delightfully cryptic... though not surprising. Thanks."

Ravel - Ravel cackles. "Of the past I am not held to particulars... you are fortunate to receive *anything,* o caustic one!"

Nameless One - "Oh, am I? It's just that the chain of who knows what and where they are never seems to be a smooth series of links."

Ravel - "Ahhh..." Ravel smiles, holding up one of her talons. "And that is why you must keep each link safe, for if they are not smooth now, imagine what the chain will be like when MORE links shatter... time and death are not as *patient* with others as they are with you."

Nameless One - "That better not have been a threat,"

Ravel - "Not a threat of mine, but a *very* real threat nonetheless. What if one of your precious links was to *die?* And what if you forgot yourself again? What would you do then? Where would your stolen mortality be, then... it would be LOST forever, for there would be no one left to ASK how to reach it. Tracing your path would become harder... mayhap IMPOSSIBLE..."

Nameless One - "True enough. In any event, I had other questions for you, Ravel..."

Ravel - "Of course... ever questions, ever questions..."

Nameless One - "Thank you for the information you have given me, Ravel; I must leave now."

Ravel - "Hold..." Ravel's voice drops to a low hiss, like that of a serpent. "The most important question you have YET to ask, my precious man. Has it occurred to you yet?"

Nameless One - "No... what question are you speaking of?"

Ravel - "'Ravel, do you know how to leave this beautiful garden of yours,' must you ask - ask this, will you?" She prompts you with one of her talons, her bloody eyes gleaming. "Go on, go on."

Nameless One - "Ravel... how do I leave this beautiful garden of yours?"

Ravel - "I know the branchings of this place, the twistings and bendings and burrowings. Though there are no leaves here, one may take their leave when they wish it."

Nameless One - "So you DO know how to leave?"

Ravel - "Wrap your hands about you like branches, make them encircle your chest like a cage. Step from the edge of the maze into the darkness, and into another cage your body shall go - a simple leaving, but there is NO return when that final step is taken, so TAKE heed and TAKE what you need before you take the step."

Nameless One - "Which of the edges of the maze do I leave by?"

Ravel - "Which, a question posed to the witch... which? One of the edges knows, not I. The remembering of which has failed me, and the edges of the maze have had little to say on the matter."

Nameless One - "You've known how to leave? All this time? Then... why don't you leave?"

Ravel - "Why stay when one can leave is your question to me?" Ravel breaks into a crooked smile, displaying a row of fangs. "I turn the question upon its head and send it a-scurrying back to you. The answer lies not in the staying or leaving, but in the causes and reasons, my precious half-man."

Nameless One - "Don't you *want* to leave?"

Ravel - "It is *a* want, a once-want, but not a now-want, and more and more a not, naught, knotted-want. What do I need that lies beyond my brambled walls? It is a cruel, jagged world beyond the edges of this maze, and Ravel has pulled *enough* of its shards from her skin."

Nameless One - "Very well... thank you, Ravel. I must bid you farewell."

Ravel - As you are about to utter your farewell, you suddenly feel a crawling sensation in your skull - and you notice that Ravel's black-veined eyes have taken on a strange, predatory fire.

Nameless One - "You're not going to let me leave, are you Ravel?"

Ravel - "A perceptive question - yet it not the real question." Ravel's voice takes on a strange whisper - very sad, that sends a faint echo through your mind. "The question is do you *wish* to leave me, half-man?"

Nameless One - "I have to. It's important that I find out all I can about myself, and there is much more I need to know."

Ravel - There is a terrible *shimmering* in the air around Ravel - and the sound of snapping twigs and cracking tree limbs, and the horrid sound of the trees *bending* and *splintering*...

Nameless One - "Wh--?"

Ravel - Ravel's lips peel back and her voice becomes shrill, like a howling wind. "What do YOU know of KNOWING, half-man?! KNOW this: KNOW you will stay here until the END DAYS in my brambled garden, never to leave, and you shall LOVE me, as you were MEANT, as you PROMISED!"

Nameless One - "I will not, Ravel. Do not threaten me... I WILL leave this place."

Ravel - "I shall NOT let you leave -I have the power to KEEP you here, and I shall USE it. My black-barbed maze shall NOT allow you to travel beyond it while I LIVE, my precious, *precious* man..."

Nameless One - "Ravel, I don't want to fight you... don't do this. Allow me passage, and I shall return to visit you. You need not be alone in this place."

Ravel - "RETURN?! RETURN as you CLAIMED you would so LONG AGO?! No... no, you shall not LIE to Ravel TWICE! No more CENTURIES will I WAIT for you..." Ravel's lips peel back, and her talons seem to grow, grow into fiendish claws. "Here in my garden you will STAY, and a-wander the Planes you will NO LONGER...!"

Nameless One - "Ravel, calm yourself, there's no NEED for this..."

Ravel - "You have forgotten your PLACE, HALF-man. Humility is in order."

Nameless One - "Ravel, don't DO this..."

After the dialogue, I backstab Ravel and have Annah backstab me, killing both. I respawn, and then we transition warp into the northwest portal to the maze exit and leave.

The space beneath this brambled arch seems to show a large desert city surrounded by great walls... this must be the prison Ravel mentioned.

Nameless One - Fold your arms around you like a cage and leap through the portal.

There are several mistakes I made with the route through Ravel's maze that I only discovered or thought about afterwards. Firstly, it turns out that it's possible to break the two-second cutscene where the trigits attack you and the portals open in a similar way to how I break the cutscene at the start of the battle with Ravel - by death. In this case very precise timing is required; if you die during the cutscene, the cutscene breaks and the portals never open. Instead you need to step on the cutscene trigger, then be backstabbed and killed before the game enters cutscene mode. When the game then tries to start the cutscene, all the delays in the script will for some reason misfire because TNO is dead, resulting in everything in the script firing at once - the portals opening, the Trigits emerging, and cutscene mode ending, giving you back control of the party with TNO still dead. You have enough time before he respawns to scroll down and transition warp someone into the southwest portal. This should save 2 seconds over my run if done right.

Secondly, it was obviously stupid to have Annah attack me twice to get my HP down before the fight with Ravel instead of just luck-manipulating a crit from her to achieve the same result.

Thirdly and finally, it would almost certainly have been better to pump my attribute points at level-up into strength in order to be able to kill Ravel with a single crit backstab. More on levelling later.

The cutscene showing the fight between TTO and Ravel is over two and a half minutes long, which is massive in a run this short. I tried everything I could think of to skip it but sadly didn't find a way.

One interesting thing about that cutscene is that if you pause right after it ends and select TNO, he'll still be back in Ravel's maze, in a small room at the bottom-left of the map where the cutscene involving Ravel and TTO takes place. What's more, if you save, the timer for TNO being teleported to Curst resets to a second or two. TTO for some reason has a green circle and is controllable, like a party member or a summoned monster. You can even talk to him to start the final "SO YOU HAVE COME" dialogue you have with him in the Fortress. You don't have any valid responses after his first two lines, though, so I can't imagine a way to abuse this.

Once in Curst I run straight to the prison by the fastest route. Once again the game doesn't require you to gather any information about where you need to be and why before letting you go there.

When arriving on the main prison map, I'm able to save because it takes a fraction of a second after the map loads before the terrain in your initial line of sight gets revealed, and until that happens you can't see the enemies which are there. This means the game doesn't throw up a 'hostile creatures nearby' message if you hit the options menu key the moment the map loads and then try to save.

I send TNO straight to Trias (keeping everyone stealthed as much as possible, naturally) in order to have TNO learn the arcane syllables needed to open the door to the main prison area. I leave Annah a way behind so I can centre my view on her later to skip some scrolling or a trip to the map screen.

The conversation with Trias is just a matter of mashing '1'.

Trias - You see a being with skin of the purest ivory and hair of blinding white. His wings are charred, the feathers destroyed, yet he still radiates peace and love. He stands as if in meditation, taking no notice of your presence, holding his arms out to either side. Chains hold his forearms tightly, attached to the dais on which he stands. Though you do not recall having ever seen a deva, you know in your heart that is what this is.

Nameless One - "I've been looking for you, deva."

Trias - The deva raises its head and rests its gaze upon you. His voice is pure and melodic. "What is it you wish of me, mortal? Speak your mind and leave me to my memories of paradise."

Nameless One - "Ravel the hag told me to seek you."

Trias - "Ravel... Ravel... her name strikes sparks in my memory, but... no, it is gone. These chains are like the murky waters of the Styx - the longer they remain, the less I remember. Should I be freed, I could answer your questions to your satisfaction."

Nameless One - "How can you be freed?"

Trias - "An act of kindness done to me shall set me free. My sword - my soul - is an agent of such kindness. Fetch the blade for me and strike my chains off. It is kept somewhere in this prison, in a locked and guarded chamber. I know the combination to the entrance." He speaks three arcane syllables that burn into your memory. "Free me, and I should be... in your debt. Perhaps I can aid you in what you seek."

Nameless One - "What do you know of what I seek?"

Trias - He smiles, sadly. "You wear the marks of it upon your face and carry it within your heart. Should these chains be lifted from me... then I should be able to divine your purpose more deeply, guide you more truly. Until then..." The deva shrugs. "Until then I cannot even give you the benefit of good advice. These chains smother memory and instinct."

Nameless One - "Very well. I'll find your sword. Farewell."

At this point someone needs to go and get the sword from Cassius. The unavoidable first step of this is opening the outer door to the cells area. This involves a dialogue, so TNO needs to go. Annah goes there too, because she will ultimately be the one to go and get the sword (for reasons I'll explain in a moment).

This gate is held in place by massive locks and barbs. It looks like it would be impossible to open by any means you have at your disposal.

Nameless One - Speak the syllables Trias gave you.

As you intone the first syllable, the gate creaks and groans. The metal barbs twist and pull on the second, and on the third, the gate springs open.

Nameless One - "That's that, then."

Once the gate is unlocked, I send TNO back to Trias. This is because the next step after getting the sword is to speak to Trias again, and if TNO is already there, he can do so instantly. If I instead sent TNO to Cassius, I would be able to get the sword sooner (by pickpocketing his bandages and then presenting them to him in dialogue to make him give you the sword), but the time lost by travelling back to Trias would outweigh the time saved by getting the sword faster.

While TNO is heading back to Trias, I have Annah advance through the prison to Cassius. The guards turn hostile as soon as they see you, but they start neutral, so it is possible to pickpocket them if you approach them with Stealth on. I have Annah snatch the key to the first door, then open the second (which is unlocked), then run to the floor trigger in the next corridor that unlocks the third door, then head in to Cassius.

Cassius is killed by way of five consecutive crit backstabs, and I abuse the same save trick that I used with Ravel to avoid turning him hostile. Because you can't save immediately after a crit because of the special effect, I have to leave the game paused for about a second after each hit before saving. Unfortunately Annah doesn't have high strength and doesn't benefit from the bug I mentioned earlier whereby high strength characters always roll maximum on damage rolls. Consequently, killing Cassius in five hits with Annah requires slightly better than average luck with damage rolls; with exceptionally high damage rolls he could in theory be killed in just four hits, but I didn't have the patience to do so this run. It's an improvement any future runner should definitely make.

As soon as Cassius dies, Annah grabs Celestial Fire from his corpse and TNO frees Trias.

Trias - "What need you, mortal?"

Nameless One - "I have your sword."

Trias - He looks shocked for a moment. "Celestial Fire? You have recovered my blade? Will you free me? Then strike a blow against the chain!"

Nameless One - Strike a blow against the chain.

Trias - The chains sunder easily under the blade, and the sound of a thunderclap resonates between your ears. Everything goes black for a moment, and you feel the blade vanish from between your fingers.

Nameless One - Wait...

Trias - "I thank you for freeing me. I owe you much." His charred wings flutter. "What would you ask of me, mortal? I'm afraid I can offer little in the way of boons."

Nameless One - "I have many questions for you..."

Trias - "Do you seek power over the minds of your fellow mortals? Do you hope for wishes to be granted? Do you want wealth? Do you seek more souls to torment?"

Nameless One - "I seek knowledge, not power or wealth."

Trias - "Then speak your desire."

Nameless One - "My mortality has been stolen from me. I wish to reclaim it."

Trias - "You speak foolishness. Yet... there is one who might be able to help you with what you seek. It is a fiend, named Fhjull Forked-Tongue. He shall aid you." The deva's lips quirk in a small smile. "He is under an obligation to do charity."

Nameless One - "How do I reach him?"

Trias - "There lies a portal to the north of this prison. Its key is a broken chain link." He looks meaningfully at the shattered links around his feet, stoops, and presses one into your hand. "An appropriate key for one who seeks to leave Curst."

Nameless One - "My thanks. Farewell."

Trias - "Farewell, mortal. I have... business... to attend to." He looks meaningfully at the ceiling of his prison, and leaps into the earth above him like a diver into an ocean.

Nameless One - Leave.

At this point I use a transition warp to trim down the distance I have to run slightly, and head to the exit to Outlands (which I couldn't open prior to my latest conversation with Trias, but can now).

"Barbed Door" - As you approach the door, the link of chain Trias pressed into your hands begins to heat. There is a tell-tale flickering around the edges of the barbed gate - a portal waits here.

Nameless One - Activate the portal.

Upon arriving in Outlands, I head straight to Fhjull's house. I can't scout out the next area transition before using it like I did in the Buried Village or Ravel's Maze, because the portal to Baator (and later, the portal to Curst Gone) doesn't open until you approach it after talking to Fhjull.

Fhjull Forked-Tongue - "Feh! Who goes there?! Have you come to kill me?! Torment me? If so, know I still have much power at my disposal!"

Nameless One - "Are you Fhjull Forked-Tongue?"

Fhjull Forked-Tongue - "Feh! Of course I am! You must have known that if you came barging into *this* particular monster skull, of all the monster skulls scattering the endless Outlands... or is it just chance that sent an idiot barging in my front door?" A thought seems to strike him. "You must swear to tell NO ONE that you know where I am!"

Nameless One - Truth: "I swear."

Fhjull Forked-Tongue - He relaxes visibly. "And how did you find this place, heh?"

Nameless One - "The deva Trias said you could answer some questions for me."

Fhjull Forked-Tongue - He stiffens. "Trias? Trias the *Betrayer* sent you here?" His claws clench and unclench. "This is the final indignity! That self-righteous bastard! Kill him, and I will reward you with all that I have at my disposal! Flay his skin and bring it to me so I might wear it as a cloak... hurkkk!"

Fhjull Forked-Tongue - "I mean... no, no... do not harm the deva. It would be wrong to do so...I was mistaken. Mistaken, I was."

Nameless One - "While that was entertaining, I have some questions I'd like answered."

Fhjull Forked-Tongue - "Oh, WONDERFUL."

Nameless One - "I was told that you would know of my mortality. It has been stolen from me."

Fhjull Forked-Tongue - He scrutinizes you closely for the first time. "Memories run like hollow canyons through my mind, almost-human. Many creatures have I met in an immortal's time... though I do not believe you were among them."

Nameless One - "Go on."

Fhjull Forked-Tongue - Forked-Tongue shrugs. "You all look alike to me... and I think I would have remembered the scarred flesh of your body... it is much like the breathing paintings that bedeck Bel's gallery of skins in Baator, except with less grace and more passion in the scar strokes."

Nameless One - "Let's ignore the scars and start talking about my mortality again, shall we?"

Fhjull Forked-Tongue - "Very well, very well." He scratches his head. "If I recall correctly - and there is so much I do not, thanks to that accursed deva! - I have heard of a case such as yours. It makes you immortal, does it not?"

Nameless One - "Yes."

Fhjull Forked-Tongue - "If so, then death itself is no longer sacred. Feh. In my day, mortals remained so and knew their place... now everybody and their mother has the disease of eternal boredom. We should have a gathering and invite everyone across the Planes and offer them immortal contracts... it would save all of us hard-working baatezu a great deal of effort. Feh."

Fhjull Forked-Tongue - "You know that if everyone was immortal, this entire petitioner system would be up the famed fecal creek. Feh. Immortality is not a trinket to be given to unruly children such as you."

Nameless One - "Be that as it may, but tell me what you know of my mortality."

Fhjull Forked-Tongue - "Feh... as I was saying, I recall hearing somewhere about a place called the Fortress of Regrets." He thinks for a moment. "Yes... yes, that's it."

Nameless One - "How do I get there?"

Fhjull Forked-Tongue - He smiles widely. "I am pleased to inform you that I do NOT know. Not at all! I cannot help you to get there, and that chills my heart in such a delightful way. No. I. Cannot. Help. You. Oh, how I have longed to say those words. How sweet they tas-"

Gained Experience: 350000

Nameless One - "Do you know someone who does?"

Fhjull Forked-Tongue - "Eh? Enough of your cross examinations! Yes, yes, I know *somebody* who might know... on Baator lies a pillar of betrayers, liars... and sages. Despite their nature, their knowledge is considerable. They might know where you can find this Fortress of Regrets."

Nameless One - "How do I get to Baator?"

Fhjull Forked-Tongue - "There is a portal outside my home. It lies in the hand of this giant creature. Go through the arch formed by the left arm of the creature and you will be taken to the Pillar of Skulls. The portal will be active for you now."

Gained Experience: 100000

Nameless One - "How would I return from the Pillar?"

I need to ask this now or else I'll have to ask the Pillar Of Skulls later in order to be able to return from Baator, which would take longer.

Fhjull Forked-Tongue - "Eh? Return? Why, I hadn't thought of that. To return from Baator, you need knowledge and a piece of jagged obsidian to cut your tongue. That knowledge you will gain from the Pillar. But there is no reason for you to return here. And no desire on my part to see you again."

Nameless One - "Farewell."

Now I head to Baator. As soon as I arrive, I have Annah backstab me to death. This makes me respawn in the Pillar Of Skulls area, skipping a long run.

I leave Annah at the entrance so I can centre the view on her before talking to the pillar to allow me to leave as quickly as possible afterwards. Then I go talk to the pillar.

Pillar of Skulls - The sight of this thing - this horrible, towering, pulsating *thing* - fills you with nausea, unfounded loathing, and a faint sense of familiarity. The innumerable rotting heads which make up the vast pile seems to constantly shift and throb, alternately bickering, weeping, conversing, shouting and whispering to one another. Heads constantly bubble to the surface of the stack from somewhere within its foul core, while others sink back into the grisly pillar.

Nameless One - Get the Pillar's attention.

Pillar of Skulls - You take another cautious step towards the pillar, and all their conversation abruptly *stops.* The dozens of heads that line the pillar's surface suddenly turn to face you in unison. They regard you silently, their breath fetid and moist upon you.

Nameless One - "I had some questions, Pillar..."

Pillar of Skulls - The heads shift sluggishly across the face of the pillar, nodding and murmuring before speaking in its ghastly voice: "ASK A QUESTION OF US, THEN, AND BE PREPARED TO HEAR OUR DEMANDS - YOU SHALL RENDER UNTO US A SERVICE FOR YOU ANSWER."

Nameless One - "How do I reach the Fortress of Regrets?"

Pillar of Skulls - The heads gurgle and croak their reply through rotted lips: "WE WOULD ANSWER THAT QUESTION FOR A SERVICE..."

Nameless One - "What's your demand, Pillar?"

Pillar of Skulls - The pillar leans towards you, the eyes of its heads narrowing. "THERE IS *KNOWLEDGE* YOU POSSESS THAT WE WISH FOR OURSELVES. WHERE DOES THE FIEND, FHJULL FORKED-TONGUE, RESIDE? TELL US, AND WE SHALL ANSWER YOUR QUESTION." The stench of the pillar's hot breath surrounds you as it awaits your reply...

If I give up Fhjull, there'll be a fairly lengthy cutscene when I leave the area showing some Baatezu coming and sacrificing Lemures to the Pillar in exchange for his location. I haven't found a way to break the cutscene, so obviously this isn't an option.

Nameless One - "I won't say. What *other* gifts would you accept?"

Pillar of Skulls - The mouths of every head on the pillar's face split in depraved, sickly grins; they chortle and burble, laughing at you. "YOU HAVE *NOTHING* FOR US... SAVE YOURSELF. COME, IMMORTAL... GIVE US A TASTE OF YOUR UNDYING BLOOD. THEN, WE SHALL ANSWER YOUR QUESTION." The heads clack their teeth together, drooling and smacking their split, pus-covered lips in anticipation...

Choosing to pay the pillar with my blood means there's a short fadeout later in the conversation which costs a second, but I have no other way to pay so it has to be done.

Nameless One - "Very well. I agree to your demands."

Pillar of Skulls - "APPROACH US, THEN... YES, COME CLOSER..." The heads seem to draw back within the Pillar as you approach it...

Nameless One - Step closer.

Pillar of Skulls - Though you draw only a single step nearer, you suddenly find yourself much closer to the pillar's writhing surface than you had imagined. Before you can react, it presses forward into you like a wave of broken bone and rotten, worm-infested meat. As the rancid darkness envelopes you, the pillar's heads begin to consume you alive...

MaxHP decreased permanently

Nameless One - Fall into darkness...

Here the fadeout begins. I can't progress past the next line of the Pillar's dialogue until it ends. Incidentally, the loss of 15 max HP actually saves time later in this run by letting Annah backstab me to death in one hit upon our return to Sigil.

Pillar of Skulls - You find yourself standing before the Pillar of Skulls, aching and unsure of what, exactly, has just happened. What you are certain of, though, is that your body is somehow *weaker* for whatever ordeal it just suffered through. The grotesque heads leer down at you, grinning and smacking their lips...

Pillar of Skulls - The pillar savors your gift for a time, its heads cooing and whispering to one another.

Nameless One - "And my answer...?"


Nameless One - "Regret?"


Nameless One - "And the portal... you say you *don't* know where it is?"


Nameless One - "The third...?"


Nameless One - "Who is it?"

Pillar of Skulls - The heads remain silent for a time, giving you naught but smug smiles. Finally, it speaks: "YOU HAVE *MET* THE LIAR -- AND NOT FOR THE FIRST TIME. THE LIAR KNOWS... BUT DID NOT TELL YOU. A *PETTY* BETRAYAL BETWEEN IMMORTALS..." Some of the decomposing heads roll their eyes and snicker at you.

At this point, I have to guess 'Trias' to progress. However since I've been hammering '1' and once again don't stop at quite the right moment, I guess wrong a few times first.

Nameless One - "Fhjull Forked-Tongue?"

Pillar of Skulls - The heads chortle with sickly glee. "NOT THAT ONE, TO BE SURE. GUESS AGAIN..."

Nameless One - "Fhjull Forked-Tongue?"

Pillar of Skulls - The heads chortle with sickly glee. "NOT THAT ONE, TO BE SURE. GUESS AGAIN..."

Nameless One - "Fhjull Forked-Tongue?"

Pillar of Skulls - The heads chortle with sickly glee. "NOT THAT ONE, TO BE SURE. GUESS AGAIN..."

Nameless One - "Fhjull Forked-Tongue?"

Pillar of Skulls - The heads chortle with sickly glee. "NOT THAT ONE, TO BE SURE. GUESS AGAIN..."

Nameless One - "Trias?"

Pillar Of Skulls - "OH YES... THOUGH WE KNOW HIM BY HIS *FULL* NAME: TRIAS, THE BETRAYER!" The pillar shakes with mirth, the pile of rotting heads tottering back and forth as it laughs at your distress. A few of the heads chant mockingly: "Betrayer... Betrayer... Trias, the Betrayer..."

Nameless One - "That's all I wished to know. Farewell."

At this point I leave and head to and use the exit back to Outlands. There are tons of enemies along the way, but nothing in this game can see invisible so just being stealthed guarantees my safety.

There is a cleft in the rocks here. It looks like you might be able to squeeze into it -- barely -- but it doesn't seem to lead anywhere. You notice the ground here is littered with shards of obsidian, most likely caused by the occasional fireball you've seen streak through the air here blasting into the great boulders that line this vale.

Nameless One - Pick up a shard of obsidian, place it into your mouth, and bite it so that it cuts your tongue...

As the jagged bit of volcanic glass bites into your tongue, there is a strange tingling in your mouth. The area around the cleft in the rocks shimmers, and suddenly a portal is there...

Nameless One - Leave.

Back in Outlands I can immediately warp into Fhjull's house. I need to set a variable that allows me to open the portal to Curst Gone. Curiously, I can do this either by talking to him and asking where the portal is, or by killing him - but if you kill him, it has to be after going to Baator. If you kill him beforehand, the variable won't be set, so you'll just end up unable to ever open the portal and the game will be unfinishable.

I talk to Fhjull because it's faster than killing him.

Fhjull Forked-Tongue - "Feh! So you've returned! And what did the Pillar speak of? Did it answer your insipid questions?"

Nameless One - "I just had a few questions..."

Fhjull Forked-Tongue - He grits his teeth. "How may I serve you further?"

Nameless One - "How do I get out of this crater?"

Fhjull Forked-Tongue - "Feh... does this mean that you shall leave me to my solitude once again? Then I proclaim, with as much delight as possible, that the portal lies under the arse end of this creature's bones. It will return you to that groveling hovel town of Curst, from whence you came, and I can think of few more befitting ways for you to travel."

Nameless One - "Farewell, then."

Once done with Fhjull, I head to the portal to activate it, then arrive in Curst. You don't have to talk to the skulls here, and I don't - I head straight on to Carceri. Once in Carceri, first I level up to increase my backstab multiplier to x5 to help with the fight against Trias. I don't bother with any of the sidequests to weaken Trias; I head straight to the Administration Building and transition warp my way up the stairs to the top floor where Trias is.

There's a trigger when you approach the door at 17:14 which makes TNO run over and talk to the dying guard on the ground. However like many floor triggers in Infinity Engine games (including, I think, all traps), the game only checks if you're touching it once every second or so and it's possible to simply run over it without it triggering if you're lucky (which I am here).

It's worth pointing out that in the north of the room with the dying guard, there's a chest containing the Mark Of The Savant, a pair of punch daggers with a max damage of 18 (compared to the 12 max damage of the Punch Daggers Of Zar'Anun). I skip them in this run, but a future runner might well see fit to get them. (I totally screwed up my planning of levelling and acquiring items for combat in this run, and an improved run should replan that stuff from scratch - more on that later.)

I make another mistake here which is not positioning Annah by the spot where the portal back to Sigil will appear before I go in to fight Trias. This means that after I defeat him, I'll lose over a second scrolling to the portal instead of being able to just centre the view on her.

With my current stats and weapon, it takes two crits to take down Trias. I again use the save trick I used with Ravel and Cassius to get the first one in without turning Trias hostile or triggering his dialogue. Like many bosses in Infinity Engine games who need to give a speech after being beaten, Trias cannot be killed in combat but when reduced to 1HP he will give his yielding speech. Because I reduce him to 1HP before triggering his pre-fight dialogue, I skip the pre-fight dialogue completely.

In the post-fight dialogue, you have to get Trias to tell you how to reach the Fortress of Regrets so that you can take the portal back to Sigil (if you kill him first, you lose the game). Also, if you haven't killed Fhjull, it costs time to kill Trias because then you'll get a cutscene of Fhjull realising he is free when you step through the portal back to Sigil, so once I have the information I need, II have to either let Trias go or redeem him.

Trias - "I yield to you this hour, mortal. My imprisonment has weakened me... in my state, I am no match for you."

Nameless One - "I still require knowledge from you, Trias. Tell me how to reach the Fortress of Regrets."

Trias - He coughs bloody spittle. "Before I tell you, I must exact a promise from you. You must vow to spare my life."

Nameless One - "I will spare your life if you give me the knowledge I seek."

Trias - "The portal to the place you seek lies within the torus above the spire, in the city of Sigil, the City of Doors. In that city, there is a place where the dead of your kind are taken..."

Nameless One - "What is the key?"

Trias - "The Fortress of Regrets is mortared with tears, and like calls to like. To enter the Fortress, you must contribute something to it. When you pass near the portal, should you carry regret in your mind, you will feel the presence of the portal, like the cold embrace of death."

Nameless One - "And?"

Trias - "While this chill bathes you, you must tear off a scrap of your own skin, and write a regret upon it with blood from your left index finger. The portal will open, and you can discover the truth behind the Fortress of Regrets - and perhaps meet its keeper."

Nameless One - "How do you know this?"

Trias - "Many alliances have I sought across the Planes. My search brought me to the Fortress, where I spoke to its lord and keeper of its shadowed halls. No doubt you should wish to return to Sigil now. The blood you have on your hands shall act as the key to this portal; simply step through the door by which you entered, and you shall return."

Nameless One - "What will you do when I have left you, Trias?"

Trias - "I shall once again attempt to levy a host against the gates of Paradise. They will not have me back, and there is no other purpose to my existence."

Nameless One - "Good luck with it. Farewell."

Back in Sigil, Annah backstabs me (and kills me in one hit thanks to the HP I lost at the Pillar of Skulls), and I respawn in the Mortuary. I can't enter by transition warping because the front door of the Mortuary is permanently sealed after you return from Carceri.

Inside the Mortuary, I kick Annah from the party because having party members in the Fortress will mean extra cutscenes, showing TTO killing them and later showing TNO and TTO walking over to their corpses together on the fortress roof. (Even if I were to kill Annah myself before entering, I'd still get the latter cutscene, so even corpses need to be removed from the party). Then I head into the portal.

There is something about the arch in front of you... something hauntingly familiar. A bone-numbing chill blankets the air between these two black pillars, as if the arch itself bordered on some other, colder space. For some reason, you KNOW this is the portal to the Fortress of Regrets... now all you need to do is open it.

Gained Item

Nameless One - Grit your teeth and peel the skin from your left forearm...

You clench your teeth and dig your fingernails into your left forearm; with a dry, tearing sound, you peel off a strip of skin. The chill between the pillars becomes stronger, almost hungering, as if the portal has opened a crack...

Nameless One - Examine the skin...

This scrap of skin has been peeled from the back of your left forearm. Its scarred, gray surface reminds you of a zombie's hide; it feels more like a piece of cured leather than a strip of skin.

Nameless One - Prick your left index finger, and inscribe a regret on the scrap of flesh with your blood...

You prick the tip of your index finger; before the wound can heal, you squeeze forth several drops of blood. As you prepare to scrawl your regret, a series of images float across your mind...

Nameless One - Regret: "I regret my actions..."

You whisper the words to yourself, but the regret echoes through your mind: 'I regret...'

Nameless One - "... having to slay Ravel."

You scrawl the regret onto the scrap of flesh... but your rapid healing forces you to stop often to re-open the cut on your finger and squeeze forth more blood. Several moments later, you have finished, your blood glistening on the scrap of skin... a combination of your flesh, your blood, and your regret.

Gained Experience: 250000

Nameless One - Watch the blood dry...

As you watch the bloody regret dry, a wave of cold washes over you. You look up; the black pillars to either side of the arch are glowing softly, motes of misty blue light drifting from their sides to form a shimmering curtain between them. Beyond the curtain, you can barely make out a weathered stone causeway leading into darkness.

Nameless One - Hold the scrap of skin with your regret upon it, then step through the curtain.

I arrive at the Fortress Entrance and head straight to the door to the Fortress Interior. There's a floor trigger in front of the door which starts a cutscene of you walking towards the door, followed by a movie of it opening. I transition warp into the door to skip this. Interestingly, the cutscene triggers at exactly the same moment as I warp into the door, something that has never happened to me before or since. This means I am still in cutscene mode when I arrive at the Fortress Interior, but this is inconsequential because the cutscene involving Ignus and TTO triggers within a second of arriving anyway (and its triggering is unaffected by me already being in cutscene mode) and when that ends I regain control as normal.

I did, however, find a major timesaver here after I'd finished the run, which a future runner should definitely work in. If you kill yourself as soon as you enter the Fortress Interior, the Ignus cutscene will start while you are dead and the variable marking it as played will be set. You can then transition warp back into the Fortress Interior when you respawn, and the cutscene won't play - effectively, you skip it. The only complication is that killing yourself with no party members to attack you isn't particularly easy; the only way I know of to do any damage to yourself here is to have previously acquired the cursed scroll from Elobrande in Clerk's Ward and using it as soon as you arrive in the Fortress Interior, but perhaps there is another way I haven't thought of.

Anyway, back to my run. In the Fortress Interior, you're supposed to track down and use four war relics (in any order) which each teleport you to somewhere else on the map, and once they're all done, a portal opens at the north to the Trial of Impulse. However, I found a way to use one machine four times instead.

First, I run straight to the north machine because it's nearest the portal, and kill the nearby shadows with backstabs, because I'm going to need to save and won't be allowed to with enemies nearby. Then, I use the first machine.

"War Relic" - This ancient machine looks like a forgotten war relic. Most of the machine is covered in dust, except for the strange panel with levers at the front of it. Oddly enough, the ground around the panel is disturbed, as if someone walked there 'recently' - perhaps in the last few years.

Nameless One - Examine the panel.

"War Relic" - The panel has a series of gears and levers - beneath each one are a series of scratch marks that look like they were hastily carved there with a dagger. Some bear no marks, other bear a single slash beneath them, and one has an 'X.' Without knowing why, you know the 'X' lever will somehow help you leave this place.

Nameless One - Pull the lever marked with an 'X.'

"War Relic" - It gives way easily beneath your touch, and to your surprise, disintegrates into mist... then spreads to your hand, which also begins to fade, then your arm, then you are overcome with dizziness, and the walls are fading out around you...

Nameless One - "Wh-"

At this point the game immediately increments the counter variable tracking how many war relics have been used, but, crucially, the machine-specific variables tracking whether a given machine has already been used (to stop you reusing them) only get set after you are teleported. Also, if I save and load now, it breaks the script and I won't be teleported. I have to pause first and wait a second because if I try to save immediately after finishing the dialogue, the game will tell me I can't because the game is in 'dialogue mode' (and if I wait more than a frame without pausing, the game will go into cutscene mode and, again, I won't be able to save).

Once I've saved and loaded, I simply do the same again until I've used the machine four times.

"War Relic" - This ancient machine looks like a forgotten war relic. Most of the machine is covered in dust, except for the strange panel with levers at the front of it. Oddly enough, the ground around the panel is disturbed, as if someone walked there 'recently' - perhaps in the last few years.

Nameless One - Hunt for the panel, then the lever marked with an 'X.'

"War Relic" - You quickly find the 'X'-marked lever and pull it. It gives way easily beneath your touch, then disintegrates into mist - you take a deep breath, and the wave of dizziness overtakes you again as the walls fade out around you...

Nameless One - "Where am I going *n-*"

"War Relic" - This ancient machine looks like a forgotten war relic. Most of the machine is covered in dust, except for the strange panel with levers at the front of it. Oddly enough, the ground around the panel is disturbed, as if someone walked there 'recently' - perhaps in the last few years.

Nameless One - Hunt for the panel, then the lever marked with an 'X.'

"War Relic" - You quickly find the 'X'-marked lever and pull it. It gives way easily beneath your touch, then disintegrates into mist - you take a deep breath, and the wave of dizziness overtakes you again as the walls fade out around you...

Nameless One - "Where am I going *n-*"

"War Relic" - This ancient machine looks like a forgotten war relic. Most of the machine is covered in dust, except for the strange panel with levers at the front of it. Oddly enough, the ground around the panel is disturbed, as if someone walked there 'recently' - perhaps in the last few years.

Nameless One - Hunt for the panel, then the lever marked with an 'X.'

"War Relic" - You quickly find the 'X'-marked lever and pull it. It gives way easily beneath your touch, then disintegrates into mist - you take a deep breath, but unlike the other times... nothing happens.

"War Relic" - In the distance, you hear a roaring sound, as if *something* just opened, and a howling wind is rushing through the vaults. As you try and figure out where the sound is coming from, you suddenly realize you are disintegrating and becoming part of the wind...

Nameless One - "*Now* what's happening...?!"

Now the portal to the Trial Of Impulse opens, and I hop through.

The Trial Of Impulse is the ugliest part of the run, because it's here that my failure to plan my levelling and item gathering properly comes and bites me in my proverbial arse. With my 20 strength and the Punch Daggers of Zar'Anun, I need two hits to kill Ignus - indeed, with 20 strength I would need two even if I had the Mark of the Savant. This means one of two things: either I should've grabbed the Mark of the Savant and put more attribute points into strength in order to kill Ignus in one crit; or, I should've luck-manipulated a Dirty Rat Charm on Soego's corpse way back in the Mortuary at the start of the game, since these turn you momentarily invisible when you use them and allow you to get in a backstab. As things were, I had to backstab Ignus once, then run away to get out of his field of view so I could hide again, and then return to backstab him again, which costs an embarrassingly huge amount of time (almost 10 seconds). I wouldn't normally tolerate such a huge mistake in one of my runs, but since there's nothing to be done about it besides restart the run, and my run was nonetheless a massive improvement over niebezimienny's accepted run, I reluctantly lived with it.

As far as the question of levelling and allocation of attribute points goes, there are a few points to be made. I level up to level 13 in this run because at this level my backstab multiplier increases to x5. I finish the run with on 25 wisdom, which is one more than I need. I could also have gained an extra point at no loss of time by merging with the Good Incarnation in the Maze of Reflections. Thus I could have levelled up to 13 like in this run and still had two extra points in strength at no time cost, putting me on 22 strength, which with a x5 multiplier I think would be enough to kill Ignus in one crit backstab with the Mark of the Savant and a good damage roll. Taking the Mark of the Savant nearly pays for itself instantly anyway by letting you kill Trias in one hit instead of two, which can't be done with the Punch Daggers of Zar'Anun no matter what your strength. This is what I expect would be the optimal strategy, and is certainly one that whoever tries to obsolete this run should look into. It would also be preferable to pump points into strength first and wisdom later, so that Ravel can be killed in one crit rather than wasting time predamaging her like I did.

The only other reasonable alternative I can think of would be to stop levelling at level 9, when your backstab multiplier increases to x4. This would save maybe six seconds on levelling screens, at the cost of having to spend two hits on Ignus and probably Trias too, and having to backstab Fhjull to loot Kassegs from him to boost your wisdom for the final boss. Even with a Dirty Rat Charm, I can't see this being faster than levelling to level 13, so I think going up to level 13 is the way to go.

Anyway, with Ignus dead, I progress to the Maze of Reflections.

This huge crystal radiates a pulsating, spectral light as it hovers above the crater in the middle of the room. The rhythm of its pulses remind you of a heartbeat, but slow and sickly. Light from the crystal touches the edges of the room like fingers, each ray of light casting a glow on the ruined faces of the statues surrounding it.

Nameless One - Touch the crystal...

There is a moment of dizziness as you touch the crystal; then a slow chill passes through your body, and you discover that your muscles have locked, your hand frozen to the crystal's surface. There is a moment of silence, then sharp pains splinter through your body like fractures - you feel as if your very BEING has been turned to ice, then *shattered*...

Nameless One - Fall into darkness...

Upon arrival in the Maze Of Reflections, I again break a cutscene with the Formations menu, skipping in the process the dialogue where the three incarnations introduce themselves. I backstab Good and Paranoid. I had meant to backstab practical, too, but it turns out this would require two hits, which I hadn't expected - another failure of my planning. I assimilate him instead, which takes about the same amount of time as a backstab. Thankfully, the conversation just involves mashing '1'.

Practical Incarnation - The man before you resembles you, but he carries himself more like a force than a man. His eyes are watching you carefully, and as you study him ,you feel him studying you. "So... it has come to this."

Nameless One - "Who are you?"

Practical Incarnation - "I will not surrender my name to you or any man." The man's voice is rough, like yours, and it rings strangely in your ears. "As for 'who I am,' you should be asking yourself that - you are one of *my* incarnations. You made it here, with my clues to guide you."

Nameless One - "We - we are separate incarnations? How is that possible?"

Practical Incarnation - The incarnation is silent for a moment, then his expression changes to contempt.

Practical Incarnation - "If there is anything I have *hated* about you, it is your countless questions - your desperate fumbling for meaning and answers." The man's voice is like a hatchet, and anger flickers across his features. "The time for questions is past. Now, you will *listen* to me. I was the first to breach this Fortress, and whatever it is that awaits us here was somehow able to defeat me. It will not best me a second time."

Nameless One - "You... sound as if you intend to fight whatever it is that lurks here."

Practical Incarnation - The man gives you a strange look, then studies you. "Of course. That's the only reason we're speaking now. I'll need you to be the shell - but your mind must be *my* mind. Do you understand me?"

Nameless One - "You mean you intend to possess me?"

Practical Incarnation - "Yes." He glances around at the spiked walls, then turns back to face you. "We cannot leave this place in pieces. Only one may leave."

Nameless One - "What are you talking about?"

Practical Incarnation - "You must surrender your will to me - your knowledge and skills: whatever little you've managed to accumulate in your life may prove useful." He sizes you up again. "It ultimately will be but a fraction of my power, but it might have its uses."

Nameless One - "And if I choose NOT to surrender my will to you?"

Practical Incarnation - "You have no choice in the matter. You do not know how to escape this place. I do. If you refuse to surrender with me, I will refuse to surrender to you - and neither of us will ever be able to leave this place. Only one may leave, and it will *not* be you."

Nameless One - "I could *kill* you."

Practical Incarnation - "You could try." The man seems amused. "You do not have the power to best me, nor do you have the will to force me to merge with you. I would prefer *not* to kill you to escape this place, but it is a small price to pay for our freedom. It makes no sense that one of us die, when by merging, I could be strengthened."

Nameless One - "Why won't you merge with me?"

Practical Incarnation - "With you?" He gives a short laugh, almost like a bark. "Because there is no gain in such a thing. You have lived a fraction of the life I have. I will not entrust my will to a neophyte such as yourself."

Nameless One - "How do I surrender my will?"

Practical Incarnation - "In simplest terms, we simply lock gazes, and you surrender yourself. You will merge with me, and we shall be as one, with my mind dominating."

Nameless One - Truth: "Very well... I shall surrender my will."

Note that there's absolutely no difference in effect between the 'truth' and 'lie' options here; both allow you to take over and possess Practical as long as you have enough wisdom. The 'truth' option just happens to be option '1'.

Practical Incarnation - "So be it, then." His eyes become gray like mist, and he gives a slight smile, as if in anticipation. "We shall see what your mind has in store..."

Practical Incarnation - You lock gazes with him... his eyes are like stones, and they start to drag you down...

Nameless One - Lock gazes with him, try and force him to merge with you.

Practical Incarnation - As you swim in the corridors of his mind, the first emotion you encounter is surprise - and his eyes widen. He is not absorbing you; your will is stronger, and it is consuming *him.* You feel him desperately trying to pull back, but he cannot - he is too weak, and your will blocks his retreat while drawing him deeper into your sub-conscious.

Nameless One - "This is the last time we shall ever speak. Return to death, where you *belong.*"

Practical Incarnation - He looks incredulous for a moment, then he disintegrates, and you feel a RUSH of knowledge pouring through you, fighting to the surface... it's almost too much to absorb at once, and you find yourself disoriented. So much knowledge - so many experiences, that -

Intelligence increased permanently

Wisdom increased permanently

Gained Experience: 96000

Practical Incarnation - ...and as quickly as it occurred, the rush subsides, and you steady yourself. The bits of knowledge swirl about in your mind, and you will make sense of them later. For now, only one piece of knowledge is important - that the incarnation did NOT know how to leave this place. He lied, to trick you into surrendering.

Nameless One - "Dammit..."

With all the incarnations defeated, Deionarra spawns to teleport me to the Fortress Roof. I talk to her and choose option '1' for everything, as usual.

Deionarra - You see a strikingly beautiful ghostly form before you; she has long, flowing hair, and her gown seems stirred by some ethereal breeze. Her eyes rest on yours, and you feel a strange, disjointed sensation, as if you are looking at several pairs of eyes at once.

Nameless One - "Are you Deionarra...?"

Note that in normal play, you would never get to this part of the game without Deionarra being mentioned like I have in this run because you have to get the receipt off her father to collect the portal to Ravel's maze from Nadilin. I just killed Nadilin instead, of course.

Deionarra - "My Love, at last I have *found* you... I searched for you after you were divided by the crystal - this Fortress spans hundreds of miles, and I feared you were lost to me." Her ghostly eyes take your measure, searching your bodies for new wounds. "Are you well?"

Nameless One - "I think so - the crystal divided me, but I am one again. Now I am trapped here, however."

Deionarra - "I suspect trapping you here was the crystal's true purpose. But it poses no barrier for one such as I." She closes her eyes. "Much do my eyes see, and the halls of this Fortress are well known to me."

Deionarra - "If you are trapped here, my Love, I shall see to it you are set free. Where is it you wish to go?"

Nameless One - "I wish to find my adversary and defeat him."

Deionarra - "As you wish, My Love." She stretches out her hand. "Touch my hand, and the walls of this Fortress shall be walls no more."

Nameless One - Touch her hand...

Oddly, I had no luck breaking the cutscene after this by the usual method (the Formation Menu glitch). You can get out of cutscene mode after Deionarra's dialogue, but then you still have to wait to be teleported to the Fortress Roof, and upon arrival you get put into cutscene mode again for a couple of seconds - and it seems that mashing the Formations hotkey during the loading screen for the Fortress Roof doesn't work and can't be used to break the brief cutscene there, for reasons I don't know. Perhaps the game puts you into cutscene mode again just before you leave the Maze of Reflections and then instantly teleports you?

At any rate, I have to wait through the brief cutscene, and then it's just a matter of talking to The Transcendent One and ending the game.

The Transcendent One - SO YOU HAVE COME.


Nameless One - "I know you for what you are - you are my mortality. Your armor - it is twisted like tree branches. Such things speak of Ravel's magicks."




Nameless One - "Freed from me?"


Nameless One - "We were not meant to be separated. And the Planes have suffered because of our separation."



Nameless One - "Then there is something I would know, spirit - I have traveled far, and there are many questions you can answer."


Nameless One - "Then my questions are these..."


Nameless One - "Then this is my final question: What can change the nature of a man?"


Nameless One - "Nonetheless, before there is an ending between us, I will hear your answer."


Nameless One - "If there is anything I have learned in my travels across the Planes, it is that many things may change the nature of a man. Whether regret, or love, or revenge or fear - whatever you *believe* can change the nature of a man, can."


From here on, it's just mashing '1' to end the game.

Nameless One - "Have I? I've seen belief move cities, make men stave off death, and turn an evil's hag heart half-circle. This entire Fortress has been constructed from belief. Belief damned a woman, whose heart clung to the hope that another loved her when he did not. Once, it made a man seek immortality and achieve it. And it has made a posturing spirit think it is something more than a part of me."


Nameless One - "I think it can. I think belief could even unmake me, if I believed it *enough.*"


Nameless One - "So you admit it's possible."

The Transcendent One - DO NOT TRY MY *PATIENCE,* BROKEN ONE.

Nameless One - Focus your will inwards, center yourself.


Nameless One - Keep focusing.

It's at this point that your failure or success is determined. You succeed if and only if you have 24 or more wisdom.

The Transcendent One - *STOP.* YOU KNOW *NOT* WHAT YOU DO.

Nameless One - "I know what I do. You have tormented me enough, and now it ends."


Nameless One - "As I see it, I have two choices - either I kill us both, or I let you kill me again and again, losing what few pieces of my mind I have left. I think I'd prefer we both die - UNLESS you have a THIRD solution."


Nameless One - "I think there is - we can become one again, as we were meant."


Nameless One - "It is better *that* happen than the multiverse continues to suffer because of us.


Nameless One - "No, I know very well what I do. And I think this is the only answer. Prepare yourself."


Nameless One - "I can live with that - and so can the planes."


Nameless One - "Very well. I am ready to become mortal again."

And so it ends. I hope you enjoyed the run, despite its flaws, and I hope that some day, somebody (whether niebezimienny, another Infinity Engine runner, or someone completely new) will redo it and correct my mistakes - and maybe find something new too.

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