Cross the river to the north to exit the Wilted Forest and enter Cursewood. To the south-west the land trends uphill, to the north-east you’ll find the Sulfur Saurian-infested beaches where a Snakeskin Purse can commonly be found… which was already covered when you explored the Deos Hills. There’s a triangle of forest (as seen on the ‘Area Map’) east of the north/south running road that runs through the Cursewood, south of the east/west running road through the Deos Hills, and west of the Sulfur Saurian beach that will be explored quickly. These grassy, wooded hills have little in the way of loot, and during the day you might spot a few scattered groups of female Bandits lurking around. Not so interesting, it’s time to try your luck by heading west, next.
Leave the cave and continue west until you hit the cliffs that mark the western extent of the Cursewood. Follow them north and keep your eyes peeled for various bits of loot: Grandgrapes, ore veins, etc. After a while you’ll find another Bandit camp atop a hill. These poor guys have no cave to keep them safe, however, just a pair of tents. They vary more in strength, but include a rather rare Magick Archer in their ranks… which is more noteworthy for being unusual, rather than for being dangerous. Once they’re dead, explore up a grassy ledge south-west of the camp to find some apple trees. South-west of these trees lies a scalable rock formation, upon which sits a rounded chest.
|Sectional Iron Plate|
Cyclops, Chimera and Lady Bandits
Now, as fun as all this Bandit-slaying, forest-exploring undoubtedly is, it’s time to leave it behind and head due east, until you find the road again. Nothing stops you from wandering into the forest and searching for goodies. For now, though, your path lies along the road. Head north until the road running north/south through Cursewood intersects with the east/west road running through the Deos Hills. At the intersection you’ll find a smashed wagon. Get close to it and you’ll trigger a cutscene showing the carnage in detail, before showing a gray creature flying off towards the mountains. After the cutscene ends, search around the wrecked wagon to find two Parcels lying on the ground. A quick note about the foes here-female Bandits stalk around, and will continue to be a pain for a while yet. Keep in mind that, although they’re of moderate potency, they shun the Fighter/Warrior classes, so expect to find only Striders (bow or daggers) and Mages. There are also Wolves aplenty lurking about, and, at this intersection, usually an armored Cyclops… although while this quest is active you shouldn’t see one.
Continue north along the road. If it’s night out, veer off the road to the east for a bit of a treat-a new foe, the Skeleton Lord. Dispatch it and continue north. The road heads uphill sharply, and gently rolling hills are briefly replaced by rugged cliffs. The road switch-backs up the mountain, turning south-west for a bit before twisting again back to the north.
Monster Info: Skeleton Lord
Ornately armored, bearing a tower shield, wearing a crimson cape, Skeleton Lords are tough, tenacious foes, masters of the skeletal caste of undead. They are Mystic Knights, and will often cast various elemental counter spells on their shields. Failing that, they’ll use various sword attacks (like Blink Strike), hit hard, and block often. Getting behind them is the key to damaging them. They’re not terribly sturdy, and are weak to all the traditional skeletal scourges-fire, holy, bludgeoning.
Continue north until the road turns north-east again. Where it turns, a large boulder lies just north of the road, crawling with female Bandits who just so happen to have a sparse campsite atop it. For a brief, profitable, and dangerous detour, head west from the large roadside rock and follow the cliffs north of you as you go. Eventually you should come across a Chimera, who prowls around up here. Exterminate it and search its lair-a rocky, desolate, debris-littered northern projection near the cliffs, where a rounded chest sits. If it’s night, you may also encounter another Skeleton Lord stalking about these woods.
|Gran Soren Shield|
The Mountain Path
Return to the road near the big rock and follow it north-east. The road will turn north briefly, then bend sharply to the west. If you veer off the road to the east at this point, you’ll likely encounter another Skeleton Lord (at night) and, if you continue east you’ll discover a ledge, down which lies the ‘Soulflayer Canyon East Entrance’. Don’t get too excited, however, it’s not the time or the place to enter Soulflayer Canoyon.. Instead, this is where you’ll exit after exploring Soulflayer Canyon from a different vantage. Just keep it in mind… and kill whatever female Bandits are around, if you feel like it.
Head back west until you reach the road again, which you should follow until you reach your destination: Heavenspeak Fort. No more detours. The path is trivially easy to navigate-a sheer cliff falls in the south and rises in the north. These cliffs will bound your travels for a while yet. Follow the mountain path as it meanders… in a more or less south-westerly trend. Along this mountain path you’ll have to find groups of female Bandits at various points, which vary from trip to trip, day to night. You need to worry about the archers shooting you (or your imbecile Pawns) off the ledge, which will of course result in massive damage, if not death. A more troublesome encounter occurs along a long southern run uphill, where an armored Cyclops blocks the path. A Cyclops isn’t a terribly dangerous foe anymore, but the fact that it can knock you around-at any level-means it’s capable of knocking your (or your Pawns) off the cliff. There are often female Bandits lurking on the rocks beyond (south of) the Cyclops, which can complicate the fight a bit. Once the Cyclops (and possibly Bandits, if there were any) climb on the rocks they were camping on and loot a square chest.
Continue uphill to reach Heavenspeak Fort. Here you’ll have to be wary of boulders. After dodging them, search around a rock formation south of the larger one the Bandits were squatting on to score a hidden Large Coin Pouch (3500 G). After that, just continue to the south-west to reach the gate leading to Heavenspeak Fort. Sadly, the portcullis is lowered, so you’ll have to find another way around. Fortunately, a perfectly obvious path to the south-east exists. Follow it uphill until it loops around to the west, where you’ll find a camp full of female Bandits. Don’t worry, though, like the male Bandits at Aernst Castle, these ones aren’t interested in gutting you on sight… yet.
Before you go exploring this area, some information that might come in handy. The leader of the female Bandits here is a woman-warrior named Ophis. She is, simply put, into women. Furthermore, she’s a rabid misandrist. Her banditas are cool enough, but if she spots anything that stinks of the maleocentric maleocracy, she’ll turn hostile… and then so will her bandits. There are two ways to avoid trouble here; play as a female, and hire all-female Pawns,. or… well, you can buy a ‘Set of Lady’s Garb’ from the Black Cat for about 6200 gold. Cross-dressing for the win! Doing this will get you the achievement/trophy ‘A Queen’s Regalia’.
A Queen's Regalia
Dressed a male party member in women's clothing.
There are two towers calling out to us; one to the west of the clearing in which the Bandits have set up their tents, and one to the north. Go through the doorway to the west and head up some stairs to reach the top of a small, squat, intact tower, where you can find a square chest waiting for you to loot it. It should be noted that the chests in Heavenspeak Fort contain some of the best armor available at this point in the game… if you’re playing a female character, and is worth save/loading to make sure you get something decent from each chest.
Once that chest has been suitably looted, head north-east along some battlements to reach another, more impressive tower. Head up the ruined stair case beyond as far as you can go and climb atop the crumbling exterior wall along the stairs. Once up there, turn west to see a mostly-collapsed level of the tower with an ornate chest lurking on it. You’ll need to jump from the ruined wall to the floor upon which the ornate chest sits to peruse its contents.
|Red Over-Knee Boots|
Drop down onto the lower level again (be careful not to drop down into a hole in the floor below, which will result in an extended, painful, fall.) Once back on the lower floor head down two flights of stairs to reach a fully interior room with a table and three chests-two square chests filled with junk, and an ornate chest containing goodies.
Head through a doorway to the south-east to reach the walls over the gate impeding your progress. If you turn to the south-west you’ll find a ladder that will safely take you down to the Barta Crags-beyond the lowered portcullis. On the other hand, if you turn north-west you’ll reach a ruined square tower where Ophis resides. Ignore it for now and activate the lever on the outside wall of the tower to open the portcullis. You can now simply walk through Heavenspeak Fort for the rest of the game… although why would you opt to ignore all the loot here?
Now, one more thing to do before you bug Ophis. Note the doorway leading to the interior of the square tower she resides in. It’s ruined, and the north-eastern section of the doorway is easily scalable. From there, jump to the more elevated south-western side of the door, and from there, jump onto a rounded-chest-bearing ledge further to the south-west. Loot it and down down into Ophis’ tower, where another junky chest resides.
|Thick Fur Greaves|
Thick as Thieves
Talk to Ophis, who, if your Arisen is female (or is cross-dressing) will admire your feminine wiles. Being the poon-hound that she is, she will offer you a position with her thieves… if you complete a task for her. Yeah, this is just like Maul’s Southron Bandit quest, you have two options; kill a bunch (10) of Maul’s male Bandits. You know where they are-you don’t actually have to kill the ones in Aernst Castle, but you should try to kill the ones outside of it, at least. Or head back along the wall to the south-east, then turn south-west and head down the ladder.
Welcome to the Barta Crags. But just pretend you’re still in Heavenspeak Fort so another section doesn’t have to to start just to expand a side quest. Follow the road to the south-west a short distance and find another she-Bandit, named Betiah, on lookout. Note the quest marker and talk to her. She’ll mention one of Ophis’ pets - a Cyclops - that Betiah is supposed to feed. Problem is, the thing is kind of stupid, and liable to eat anything it gets its hands on, be it proper food, or human being. She’s understandably wary about performing this duty, and wishes somebody would do it for her. This updates ‘Thick as Thieves’, giving you the option to either feed the Cyclops or kill some Bandits. The latter should be simple enough, if that’s how you want to go, but feeding the Cyclops takes more doing… and hence, more explanation. It’s also local to the Barta Crags, so it’s the method which will be described in detail when you reach the appropriate area. Again, feel free to run to southern Gransys and take the easier (Bandit-killing) route, but it won’t be discussed in any depth.