Part 16: Thorn Brenin and the Soldiers who Absolutely, Positively, Will Not Shut UpThorn Brenin and the Soldiers who Absolutely, Positively, Will Not Shut Up
Welcome back! Last time on Ash of Gods we wandered around like a drunken dipshit taking obviously ominous sorcery at face value and were rewarded for it! Now we're back to Thorn Brenin and his merry band of...whatever we are.
We have one path, and we will take that path.
We throw money at the problem, because we're not taking this baby with us on our murderhobo adventure.
You know, I'm not sure how much money 100 gold is for your average peasant. If he raises this kid there's a good chance he's out more than 100 gold.
I pick the bottom option, and it does not go well. I missed the screenshot here, but people get pissy and worry about the fate of the family and our morale goes down to 0. We'll have plenty of ways to raise it later.
: (Turning to Sopp) I figured he'll find out sooner or later. This is not your clueless Krieger. We should tell the truth. It's long overdue.
: All right, here goes... You see, Captain, the young Prince Ho is headstrong. He quarreled with his grandfather, the King of Jerana. As a result, Prince Treeg-that is, Prince Ho's father-sent him off to a young soldiers' regiment.
: The King of Jerana? Who's Prince Ho? Who's whoses father? What are you blabbering about, damn you?
: I'm telling it as it is! Not leaving anything out. They made Prince Ho a young Albius warrior to get him some discipline, and me-his bodyguard. His name was changed to "Hode" but mine stayed the same. I'm not so important, I guess.
The game never bothers to explain why a Jeranan prince is put under Odalan command, and it bugs the shit out of me.
: Captain, you said yourself that it was time for a serious talk! So, we're telling you the truth!
: What do we do now, Hode? I mean... Prince Ho?
: (Squinting sarcastically) Let's drop the titles, shall we? I've been Hode to you, and Hode I shall remain. I prefer this name. No need to flaunt my princely status. Safer this way. It won't make much difference.
: Won't make much difference? Do you have any idea what your family will do to us all if you die? All of your companions will face the gallows, not just Sopp.
: It's not so easy to best me in combat. What do you suggest? I'm not going back to my grandfather, that's certain. Not until he apologies. You won't drag me to court by force, will you?
: That's a lot to take in. For now, Hode remains Hode. Everyone tries to stay alive. We travel as planned. If anything changes, I'll let you know.
Yea...these two have Thorn by the balls. He can't just abandon Hode (and isn't the type of man to abandon a subordinate), Hode is figuratively spitting in the eye of a king, and he can't do anything Hode disapproves of or Hode can go running to Daddy at the slightest whim. We've met Prince Treeg and he's a certifiable dumbass. The one good thing about all of this is that Hode isn't interested in challenging Thorn for leadership of Gleda and 8 dudes, because that would make things worse.
Anyway, I take the opportunity to click the camp icon and realize I've made a terrible mistake.
The game gives you no indication that people at camp want to talk to you, so you just have to check frequently. This is the same button that just opens the level/stats screen, so sometimes you'll get that and sometimes you'll get this.
Let's start with Krieger.
: I don't recognize you, Krieger
: (Gloomily) I don't recognize myself either. I've looked for something inside to hold on to, but have found nothing. My past is in ruins.
: Trobbel liked to say: "Don't grease my brains with silver-do that to my palm." You should stop digging into your soul. Undo your collar and feel the scar across your chest.
Holy shit, Krieger punched a bear in the face! And didn't die! That's a lot more hardcore than I expected from our local fuckup.
: I must remind you how you saved the boy.
: Yes, I pulled him out of the lair, but couldn't draw my sword. That's how the beast grabbed me. I hit him with my one free hand. You finished the beast off.
: You shouldn't forget about the regiment.
: (With hope) That's all that keeps me going. I ran from Albius for a reason, isn't that right, Thorn? I was saving my lads. I mean...Flitt, Sopp, Hode, Brett. They're my regiment, right? The others simply went mad!
: They weren't mad, Krieger. The Reaping turned them into animals. Perhaps they came to their senses, but you did everything right. You shouldn't have stayed in the city.
: (Longingly) I don't know about that now. Barricading ourselves in your house could have been the right thing to do. But who knows, maybe Albius has already burned to the ground.
: Whatever happened next-you did everything right.
: Maybe it burned out. You have three rooms in the barracks, and I have a home. Think about those four lads. Even one of them is a sufficient excuse.
Notice that nobody gives a damn about Fisk. Fisk has a fairly tragic story we haven't touched on very much.
: Do you remember the incident with the king of Odalah?
It's odd that Krieger is using a euphemism. These men have been shown before as vulgar soldiers, it would make sense to just talk about being stuck in the shitter or whatever. "Having a digestive trouble" reads like something a blushing Victorian lady would stammer.
: You were promoted to Captain because of that day.
: Yeah, Trobbel kept yelling that I owed him a barrel of wine for my captain's badge. He wouldn't let me go until he got what he wanted. That said, he came to his senses really quickly after that!
: Man up, Krieger. If it gets too bad, set your jaw. Time is a river that carries away happiness and sorrow alike. You did your duty as best you could. You didn't cower in a hole, trembling!
: I should have hidden though. Would have been easier. I could have pretended to be a madman.
: You can still pretend. It's a kind of way out. They can chop you into pieces though. Just like you did with the madmen.
: You'd better go to sleep, Krieger.
: (Alarmed) Maybe... There is something else. You know, there's something moving inside me... a terrible thing. Or maybe I'm terrible. I want to take a sword and stab everyone-or maybe myself. Maybe the madness is taking its toll...
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: You want to leave and see your fam?
: They suck and my wife hates me. Anyway, I gotta ask, am I a fuckup?
: Stop being emo.
: Hey remember that time I punched a bear, and I was awesome?
: Yes. If you hit me like you hit that bear I would be very sad. Also, you saved those four guys and that owned. Fuck Fisk, we're not talking about him. Remember that time the King visited and Trobbel was too busy shitting himself!
: I had to dress fancy and talk to people, it sucked!
: They made you a captain for that. Anyway, you did good, stop worrying.
: Also, I have an inexplicable urge to murder you guys.
: Please don't do that.
Hode is up next, and yes, I'll be doing summaries for the many of you who don't want to read all this shit.
: Why did you chose [sic] Albius?
: Yes, quiet as it gets...
: You aren't the one who drew the Reaper to Albius, right? Come on, don't be angry. They say the Reaping covers all of Terminum in darkness, no other way...
: Was it said or written? You're a warrior, Thorn Brenin! Since when have you read old manuscripts? I'm not a big reader myself, but I'm certain that the last Reaping happened about seven hundred years ago!
It always annoys me when fantasy warriors are assumed to be idiots, because mythological warriors were usually well educated and well spoken. Beowulf comes to mind, Hercules also gets an excellent education. Remember, these people are not usually drawn from poor peasants, but from wealthy nobles who can afford warhorses, armor, and weapons that need to be individually bred or crafted. The Dumb Smashman is a Dungeons and Dragons invention from back when fighter was a class you got stuck playing because you didn't roll good enough stats to play literally anything else.
: Did the Burgomaster know about you?
: Son of a whore...
: (Calmly) I had no mother myself, nor was she a whore. She died giving birth. My father raised me.
: So does it happen to kings, too? I'm not talking about death...
: (Calmly) Yes, it's clear. You mean love. My grandfather was like that, too. That's why my father was the only heir-like me.
: How does it feel to be the only heir?
: Until they throw you on someone else's blade.
: This is the heaviest burden to set upon royal shoulders.
: It's good if the king remembers it, Hode
: I will remember, Thorn Maybe that's why I'm here.
: Alright, sorry for bothering you...
: I'm sorry for bothering you. You have a daughter to save-a precious jewel.
: You'd better not tell her that. She won't care that you're a prince. Comparing her to a fine blade is another matter!
Here lies Hode. He never scored.
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: So, you're a prince and supposed to be in charge of things. What do we do?
: FUCK NO! I'm here because I don't want to take responsibility. You're in charge!
: Why Albius?
: Daddy made me do it, why else?
: Did you summon the Reaper?
: Uh, no, and you must be some kinda nerd for knowing anything about the Reaping.
: I used to be a nerd. It got me laid. Now my wife is dead. Did Trobbel know you were a prince?
: Yup. Is that guy relevant? He got like two lines before Dorpkhal kicked his ass. Also, Daddy dragged you into this. He loved Mommy and that's why I'm here.
: How's the prince life?
: I'd rather be a soldier.
: War is bad. As king, you should remember this.
: War is bad. I will remember this. Also your daughter is hot and I will be sure to describe her appearance in a manner respectful of her tomboyish nature. Bye!
Oh god, MORE? May as well talk to Brett, the Boringest Man Alive.
: Not at all, Captain. You can get used to anything, and I've already grown accustomed to the fact that something's not right in this world. Besides, I'm hardly alone. I'm in good company. You didn't just come to ask how I'm feeling, though, did you?
: Arent' you the son of some nobleman?
: (Smirking) No, Captain. Well, some bastard maybe. I never knew my father, but I've been looked after for all of my-admittedly short-life. They're always concerned about me. They help my mother, and see to my education. However, I know neither my benefactor's name, nor motives.
: And you never yearned to learn more?
: Of course I did. But either my teachers didn't know anything, or got enough gold to keep mum about it. My benefactor also convinced my mom that I'd be better off in blissful ignorance.
: Where did you get your training, apart from the Albius regiment?
: Couldn't remember all of it, even if I tried. I don't settle anywhere for long. The moment I learn my way around and make some progress-I get transferred elsewhere. Seems like Albius is the longest I've stayed in one place.
: Someone may be deliberately preparing you for something. Didn't you consider that?
: I've been entertaining the idea. Even thought maybe they want to mold me into some sort of spy. I mean, at the end of the day, I'm best at making connections between what I see and what I know.
: Have any surprises in store for me?
: (With a hint of a smile) Same as everyone else, Captain. I mean, our squad's full of peculiar characters. As if we've been gathered here by the gods for some higher purpose.
: Agreed. Everyone's got their strengths and weaknesses. Since you're so perceptive, mind telling me about my weakness?
: Gleda is your strength-and your weakness. None of us come close to that. Something about her elevates her above most folk. I don't mean her looks, either-but something on the inside. A kind of spark, or a flame... I don't know how to put it, exactly.
: (Smiling) You're right about that. Gleda's also exceptionally stubborn-always wanting it her own way. Got that from her mother.. or maybe from me.
: I guess that's all I wanted to know.
: Then allow me a question, too. Do you think we'll survive the Reaping?
: I do. Otherwise, all we do is pointless. I'll push onwards with all my strength. Hope you'll do the same.
: I'll try. Sometimes I lack the necessary fortitude. Everywhere around me I see signs of the end of the world as we know it. However, with you by my side, I'm seeing this in a different light, Captain. Maybe my logic isn't sound and we do have a chance. Whatever that might be.
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: You display intellectual curiosity and use big words. Are you Batman?
: I never knew my father, but a mysterious someone who may or may not have left genetic material with my mother has secretly provided me with an education and free stuff all my life.
: Maybe they're training you for something...like Batman.
: I am a very smart man. Maybe they're training me to be a spy? Like James Bond?
: Got any surprises I should know about?
: Don't we all? We're all oddly peculiar characters, part of a divine plan, hopefully not one involving robots and nuclear weapons. Even though Six is pretty hot.
: Since you're so smart, what's my weakness?
: Gleda. The writers haven't figured out how to make her character stand out, so I want you to know she has a mysterious special quality not reflected in her words or actions OR in our artistic and linguistic depictions of her. On an unrelated note, are we all gonna die?
: What are those enchantments about?
: (Vacantly) About healing. About leg weakness. About a clear mind and sound memory. About fuzzy heads and forgetfullness. Cowardice and weakness. Bravery and strength. My grandmother knew many spells.
: It'd be great if it were easy to grasp!
: I don't know the right words to explain. You can't see it-but I see magic in different things, like grass blowing in a powerful wind. It's like a web of smoke coming from different fires, viscous and thick!
: Are you a spider? What web? I can't see anything!
: Did your grandmother teach you much?
: Are you talking about the gift that only a few possess?
: Why didn't your grandmother protect herself when Enses came to her village? She could have sung the right tune. She could have at least weakened their stance.
(I'm pretty sure I didn't skip a screenshot here).
: She was very old. And almost blind. She must have not seen them. Probably stayed at home until one of those...Enses... killed her with a flying blade... maybe just for fun.
: So you need to weave the enchantments?
: It's done differently. You can sing, brew potions... dance like a mad dervish. You can dress the wounds with stones. Everyone does it differently... I'm a weaver, but some things I can do by snapping my fingers.
: Are you talking nonsense? I mean dressing wounds with stones.
: Eikons do that. They say that it's the way strength and bravery are passed to warriors of the present day. My grandmother told me about this, too.
: Your grandmother was wise, Ramlin. Did she have a hard life?
: My grandfather brought my grandfather here from the Vandil Islands. She told me that when he died, she started building a house. She mixed clay with manure and straw-she dragged stones around. It kept her from going mad.
People build houses out of shit?
: My grandmother used to say that even if you don't know where to go, just keep moving. If you don't have a clear goal, you need to take steps that don't lead you into the abyss.
: Well, it'll be time to go soon.
: Maybe my enchantments will be useful to you?
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: What are you muttering?
: Oh, just enchantments. Do you want to hear about the magic system in this game? It's suspiciously similar to Wheel of Time and/or Banner Saga. Anyway, I can do a whole lot of cool stuff, but not inside combat for reasons.
: Uh, no, that's nerd shit.
: Eikons have magic rocks they use to heal people that contain strength and bravery. Good thing we don't know any Eikons, ha ha!
: How come your grandmother didn't use her magic to kill all those Enses if she was such a powerful sorcerer?
: Old and blind. She had a rough life - my grandfather brought her here from our native country, then when he died she built a house out of shit.
: Sounds like wisdom to me. Anyway, we might still be fucked. Cool magic though, later!
Back into the land of !
: So what's the Reaping, anyway?
: What makes you think the Reaping is nigh? Someone told you? Or was it your own idea?
: Obviously it's the Reaping. Those Enses were the first sign of trouble. Who else would be wearing those masks? Then there was the Reaper's mark. Haven't seen the Reaper himself, but I recognized his rune right away. The Reaping is divine retribution. That's what everybody says, at least...
: And how long will the Reaping last?
: The Temple servants usually don't know much-and when they do, they prefer silence. When does a dog stop eating? When it's full. Same with the Reaping. Once it's sated with corpses-it begins to fade.
: Sated? You talk about it as if it's some sort of beast... Maybe it's got a maw or something?
: The menhirs are basically the Reaping's mouths. All the healings are like tree sap. A tree gets its nutrients from the soil, while a menhir's soil is death and pain. This is converted into healing energy that helps others alleviate their pain.
: Are you sure that this stuff about the menhirs isn't a kind of heresy?
: (Confused) Not that it's heresy. It's just... The Temple isn't really fond of such talk amongst its servants. Not many draw that conclusion, anyway. You have to dig up some really old scrolls to learn anything about it, after all...
: (Interrupting) Say you're right, then what? It implies that for each person healed during peacetime, there are hundreds - if not thousands-exterminated during the Reaping. Isn't it too much? If the menhirs are really like trees, where does all their "sap" go?
Since when is Thorn an expert on magic energy?
: (Shrugging) There must be something else, but I didn't learn anything from the manuscripts. The high-ranking Temple servants don't tell you anything-just point their fingers skyward and say that only the gods know.
: I don't like it one bit.. What kind of retribution exterminates the guilty and innocent, alike? And if it's supposed to be a shared plight, what kind of gods would wish death upon all our kin?
: (Growing gloomy) It's not the gods who wish for our demise. We call forth the Reapers and plague with our misdeeds.
: Alright, I won't pester you any longer.
: It's all right. Of course, all the stuff in the books is quite dreadful. They say the Reaping is akin to a harsh winter-every creature should hibernate, and all the grass should perish so that they can be rejuvenated in the spring. Well, what if I am not a creature, but grass? Should I perish, too?
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: You seem to know about this Reaping. Why?
: I'm a monk and this is part of theology.
: How do you know it's the Reaping?
: You mean aside from all the Reapers running around? Well, there's the plague and the Enses from the prophecy literally every other character has mentioned. Anyway, those sacred healing stones? Those are actually evil.
: Slow down, Alex Jones. I used them to try to heal my wife and never heard about this.
: Seriously, the old temple books say this stuff. They feed on pain and death to recharge healing energy. You know how the save points in Chrono Cross were evil? This is kinda similar.
: Wait, more people die then are healed by menhirs. Where does the excess energy go? How do I know there's excess energy, and it's not just lost to entropy when I'm not a sorcerer and could barely keep up with Ramlin?
: Hell if I know. Maybe it's a plot point later?
: Let's talk about the problem of evil. Despite all evidence to the contrary I keep assuming the gods are benevolent in this setting. Why are they so mean?
: Because we have sinned.
: WHY IS GOD MEAN???
: Uh...Reapings are bad...I don't want to die.
: Pfft we're not gonna die ancient texts are for nerds.
: So, what do they have to say about Frisia?
: I don't understand. What does "nearly infinite" even mean?
: (Scratching the back of his head) Yeah, right. By the way, our Temple servants keep saying that the power of the Temple can be only limited by the power of the gods.
: Why didn't you stay in Odah?
: Are you asking me why I left the archives again? I really wanted to become a warrior. I still do. But it's a different kind of a choice. Not whether to be a scribe or a warrior. More about being a warrior scribe, not a weakling scribe.
: What did your father think about that? He was a royal scribe-you said so yourself! Too bad I never visited the royal archives in Odah! No one would have let me inside, anyway.
This is an unintentional pun when you consider that it's like to the crazy spoiler I posted earlier
: That's why I had the feeling that we've met before!
: Yes, my father and I are like two peas in a pod. He's gone completely gray, though. He was a ginger once.
: His name was Flitt, like yours. A bit younger-everyone saw him as a boy. You shall give him my deepest gratitude, if you can...
: What are your plans for after the Reaping, Flitt?
Fun fact: I think Flitt has died on both my playthroughs. We missed an event that would have cutscene killed him already.
: You're wrong, Flitt.
: What is it then? Aren't heroes the ones overcoming adversities and escaping battles unharmed? Or recover from their wounds and bathe in glory? Only these kinds of stories are written in the books. What happens in real life?
: Heroes die even more often. Only the lucky survive. It doesn't really matter if they fight bravely or hide in ditches.
: Whatever you say, Thorn. I will accept it.
: You should put the reading aside and rest.
: (Hiding the manuscript) I might erase these scribbles and start describing our journey. May be a way to leave a mark behind for future generations.
: Just try to avoid leaving a mark with your blood, Flitt.
: (Smiling) Nice one, Thorn! It's hard to joke about death, but you're quite good at it.
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: What are you reading, nerd?
: It's a history of Frisia, that country that just invaded us and that usually provides troops to support the Reapers. This might come in handy, just like the time when I told you all about the Enses. Anyway, I want to be a badass warrior scribe.
: Your scribe father OK with this?
: Yea, he knew you in one of your many offscreen exploits we may or may not discuss later. He sends his regards.
: Oh, that guy! I love that guy! I knew you looked familiar!
: Anyway I'm probably gonna fuckin die and I've made peace with it. Bye.
: You're not a woman to be comforted...
: Not really...
: At least you can understand me. Jokes aside, I was selected from the best two hundred warriors of Jerana to guard the prince! Prince Treeg himself was choosing a defenseman! Well, there were about five other lads, but Hode decided to keep me.
: Why did Hode like you?
: Sopp, how old are you, exactly?
The fuck? Let's choose the complete non sequitur option here.
: Poisoning yourself is stupid, Sopp.
: Thorn, you don't even know what poisoning means. We're not in Frisia, obviously, but the king's executioners have so many ways to deal with you that you'll beg for death. If anything happens, Treeg won't forgive us. Just want, people will remember the old king of Jerana kindly.
: The King of Jerana is old. So you say the next ruler will be a cruel and heavy-handed slaughterman? Why did Treeg let his son go to Albius?
"Slaughterman", ugh, just say butcher.
: Who are your parents, Sopp?
: You have great family, Sopp.
I thought you grew up on the street!
: Pride in your parents is misguided, Captain. Were I born a bastard, it would change nothing. Take Hode, for example. You can sense royal blood, but he's an ordinary lad!
: Diamonds are more precious than gold-even before they're cut. They're indistinguishable from other stones found near the mouth of a river-but they're extraordinary.
: (With a sigh) Sure. That's why his guards bear such responsibility.
: Alright, keep your chin up. Things will work out...
: Well, don't let him down then, Sopp.
It's an asshole answer but I find it funny.
: I'm trying, Thorn. I also put my hope in you. And your daughter. I think that Hode likes her, even though he keeps his distance. Maybe all of this will keep the prince safe somehow, dont'cha think?
You'd think Thorn would be taking this more seriously. If Hode gets Gleda pregnant there are all of two people on Terminum who can force him to pay child support, much less marry her.
: I don't know, Sopp. There's nothing worse than guarding noblemen. No armor can save you from a well-fired arrow. No valor can save you from a rival army.
: There are worse things, Thorn. Dragging your daughter along... Haven't you noticed your companions all trying to protect her during battles? There's your diamond... and it's already been cut.
Go on, goons, speculate on why Gleda's special.
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: Confusing, maybe phallic idiom!
: Well, I'm boned. Did you know I'm actually a highly skilled warrior disguised as a teenage moron? It's true, that's why I have the same stats as Krieger, a man promoted to Captain for his political ability, and look like a palette-swapped version of every generic warrior enemy in the game.
: Let me bring up poison because I think the devs fucked up the dialog tree.
: Better to drink poison than be tortured to death.
: Whoa, that's fucked up? Are you saying Treeg is nuts?
: Treeg is actually cool and good, and I've met all the kings, so you should listen to me, despite Treeg's earlier characterization as a dumbass who makes rash decisions and threatens torture on a whim. Also I'm a street child or raised by rich commoners, not quite sure myself.
: Hode is cool.
: You know who is also cool? Your daughter. She is so cool that Hode wishes to have sexual intercourse with her, and everyone tries to protect her in combat despite this not being supported by game mechanics.
Finally, the storm of is over!
I do have more to this update, but it's really late over here. There will be a vote tomorrow!