Part 15: Hopper Rouley and the Lack of Common SenseHopper Rouley and the Lack of Common Sense
By popular request we hit the Coal-Burner's Track first.
: You look at the tower and notice a rider silhouetted against it. By his stature, he's an Ense. This is their time, after all. "Looks like the abominations are keeping watch now," you say with a smirk. "According to ancient manuscripts, masked warriors always appear during the Reaping."
The game does this every time with Hopper. Ake, Mushom, and Stein are party members, but they find more and more creative excuses to not help you fight. I believe Bijou is on record stating the writer put them there so Hopper would have someone to react to, but they wanted to have the challenge of only fighting with a single character.
It's not a challenge at all.
Anyway, we attack the Enses for XP and maybe loot.
: "You don't like the idea of smoking the Enses out of the tower and you don't want to risk having to replace your horse. Once the Enses get further away from the river, you slink after them. The abominations don't notice you until they reach the edge of the wood. When they do, they turn around and attack you in silence.
It's not a very interesting fight. Remember, Hopper has an AoE he can spam every other turn that does ~30 damage and these losers are showing up with 28 hp or so? He kills them all.
: After the skirmish, you return to the tower and clean yourself up with a simple spell-no need to reveal your talents just yet. Ake comes back looking smart, indicating the Ense scout is as good as dead. You nod to the giant and mount your horse. It's time to continue the journey.
To the Dead Spring!
Note that the "Dry Riverbed" is the wrong place without water, and I believe if you go that way it drastically alters the ending. I would not blame you if you picked that route.
: Ask the girl if she needs help
: You squat in front of the girl and ask where her parents are, and if she needs help finding them. The girl just smiles and offers you her bucket of water.
: Accept and drink the water.
This is clearly the clue left for us by that witch, and the thread wanted to see what happened if we followed the witch's advice.
: You squat and hold out a hand for the bucket. The girl smiles and slushes the water at you. You [sic] eyes shut instinctively, but water never touches your face. Ake lets out an audible sigh. When you open your eyes, there's no trace of the little girl with the bucket.
: You're surprised to find that your arm feels better. When the girl smiled at you, it seemed to make the blackness retreat a bit.
Look at that curse power! It's down a whole 4%!
We have only one path we can take, and it takes us to Dynford village. Rest assured, I will make you all vote on the next riddle.
: One of the guards recognizes Ake and waves. "Ake? Is it really you? Going to Ursus, huh? Is it a special assignment? Or are you just heading home?"
: Ake leaps from his horse. "Where I'm going shouldn't concern you, friend. Let's just say I'm escorting someone important-a scribe... and mage licensed by the Temple."
I choose to inspect the menhir.
: You give Ake a node and dismount. Glancing at the graves, you approach the menhir. One grave is slightly older and smaller. The other looks fresh. The stink of decay hits you like a hammer. The Reaper's sign on the menhir seems to glow from within.
: The guard trails behind you. "This is where we buried the villagers-parts of them, I should say. I've never seen anything like it. It's like they were hit by a rain of steel. We found the watchmen assigned to this post in the other grave. The grave was here already when we arrived, and we had to exhume them to find out. The fellows lying there have barely been wounded, but their blood has been drained. I think Thorn Brenin buried them. Nobody else from Albius traveled that way. He couldn't have killed them, could he? Cause he went to the trouble of burying them."
: You shake your head. "I haven't met this Thorn, but it's the Enses who drain the blood from corpses. Some people call them "abominations". Didn't you find their bodies? I guess not-they'd be hard to miss. Thorn must have run into them on the bridge. There's blood, but no bodies. He probably tossed them into the Mannaz.
: You inspect the menhir once more. "A mark like this won't come off no matter how hard you scrub it. It will glow-however faintly-until the Reaping is over. It's stronger than a sign on a game. The sacred stone..."
: The guard throws up his arms. "So what do we do? Prince Treeg won't have this. He'll take this road back to Ursus. Seeing the job unfinished is bound to get him all steamed up. Then we'll have our asses in a sling."
Let's touch it goons.
: You walk right up to the menhir and touch the sign with your hand, despite Ake's warning. There's a flash of blinding light, and a powerful force knocks you down. It feels like you're only out for a few seconds... but judging by Ake's swearing, maybe not.
: With difficulty, you rise to your feet. Your arm is somehow less black. "It was foolish of me. I agree. And the sign didn't disappear-it's just lying in wait. Let's hurry up, Ake, otherwise we'll never catch up to Thorn."
So that SHOULD drop our curse further and let us use Hopper's full stats to make combat feel less padded sumo.
This looks like a good time to break the update.
Character development! Magic! Vegans! Abominations! A crippling lack of Lo Pheng!
Also, wait, didn't we just finish Chapter 3? You'd think chapters would finish on a PoV switch...fuck it.