Part 22: Thorn Brenin and the HARD CHOICESThorn Brenin and the HARD CHOICES
There was a fairly big consensus last time that we should just touch the monolith and read it. Let's do that.
: You unweave the spell obscuring the inscription. Before they fade, the runes on the stone shine brightly and clearly-etching themselves into your memory. "Take into yourself that which you can take, for there is no one else to take it."
This is the third of the seven pieces of wisdom, and I'm gonna be blunt - it's about the curse. I'm having a re-vote at the end of this update on whether we resist or not.
: You smile. "These days, everyone has warnings for me, but every other warning is a threat. I'd best get used to it. Let me bid you farewell, Vegen. I've tarried here more than I intended.
: Vegen, however, takes the reins of your horse-a clear signal that the conversation isn't over. With a sigh, you dismount.
: What do you remember, Vegen? Spit it out. It's bad luck to muddy farewells with talk.
: She may have been raving, but this is what she said. "The wise will take to heart what the foolish won't hear. There are holes and holes; one bites, the other brags and moralizes. Talk to those eager to talk. Sometimes, the tongue knows more than the head." What's it all supposed to mean?
I don't fucking know. The first is presumably obvious (wise people listen), the other seems badly translated from Russian but might be advice about which organs go where, and I can't even justify the last sentence.
: I don't know yet Vegen, but I'll think about it. Good luck to you know. Don't be too quick to judge your friends, old or new. The day for that has yet to come.
: *touches monolith* Yo dawg don't resist the curse.
: Hey be nice to my man Thorn because he's cool and my friend.
: Ok I'm leaving now
: No, wait, I have plot to exposit that I just remembered now. "The wise will take to heart what the foolish won't hear. There are holes and holes; one bites, the other brags and moralizes. Talk to those eager to talk. Sometimes, the tongue knows more than the head." Is that a sex thing? I think it's a sex thing.
: Hell if I know, it's not like I'm an immortal wizard baron or anything. The time hasn't come to be a judgemental asshole my dude, I'm off!
We are going to follow up on that crossbow event which I usually forget about. Last time the SInvicta brothers left a murder crossbow trap with a sign for us.
We are going to visit them and see what they have to say for themselves.
That's what you want to know? Not the fucking crossbow?
: Mark reveals that he and his brothers got the notorious tavern from a strange hag who called herself Chila. She sold it to them for a single gold coin, on the condition that the sign is not cleaned or changed. When the brothers gambled the deed away in Albius, it was mostly a relief.
We ask what the brothers normally do, though shouldn't we know this?
Everyone and their mom hunts sacred manuscripts of old. Have you guys noticed that no one talks about writing new books? I'm not sure if this is intentional, but Terminum is super stagnant even by the standards of crappy genre settings. I love that the advanced technology of the ancients isn't a laser cannon or an assault rifle, but a primitive steam engine. The "smart" characters aren't smart because they apply new ways of thinking to old problems and come up with solutions, but because they can regurgitate ancient manuscripts on command and hew to the wisdom of the ancients.
Now i suspect that this is just another pale imitation of Tolkien. Everything in Middle-Earth is better the older it is because the older stuff is closer to God's original creation, and the story of Middle-Earth is very much one of the divine gifts being stuffed out by evil. It works because Tolkien is working in a very Catholic framework with the majesty of God. It works less in the cargo culted fantasy settings because people are copying Tolkien and they don't know why ancient things are better, only that they are.
Anyway, let's ask Mark what happened the first time.
Why is this our first question? We don't think he stole it, he just owns a tavern. Why not ask to see the deed.
We...want to buy a tavern now? Why? Thorn is a rich nobleman currently on the run from a disease with a bunch of randos in tow.
Offer something valuable, sure.
This seems like a terrible idea, so I'm going to do it.
: Mark takes his pay and briefly disappears into the house. He returns with a scroll. You take it and bid him farewell. Later, after leaving the house behinds, you unroll the document and discover that Mark accidentally gave you two scrolls wrapped into one.
Did we just get scammed? It's our inn, right? We bought the deed?
Read this fukkin scroll
So...we got the name of the Reapers. How many do you recognize?
Fuck it, return the scroll.
: You return to Mark's hose, but nobody's home. Rather than waste time waiting, you shove the extra scroll under the door and leave.
With that bit of idiocy over with we head to Ursus.
I know we're on a timer, but I want to do some kind of good deed to raise our morale. Bad things...happen at low morale.
Let's offer to help him.
We'll haul your stupid cart I guess...then maybe we can buy something?
We lose a whole day, and see that strix number in the corner? Bad things are about to happen.
Now we get a cutscene because we don't have enough strixes for everybody.
Wow, they made a new portrait for Thorn and I have to give them credit here. That look of anguish on that face is PERFECT for a man faced with the unenviable decision of who to sacrifice.
: (Whispering) Share them. Share them equally with everyone! It's the only way!
: How can it be equal? Some are stronger, others are weaker. Some can help, others can't. Some are indispensable in a fight, others are a burdern. If I'm meant to take care of everyone, then it's not possible.
The art really sells this as less of a "I'm a TOUGH MAN making HARD DECISIONS" and more of a "gods, how can I choose?"
: (With surprise) What do you mean? You expect me to divide the strixes equally and watch you suffer? If that happens, I'll give you my strix!
: Your strix, Dad. Only your own. Not one that you didn't give to someone else.
: (Frowning) No, Gleda. Any commander would do what I'm doing. Buying victory at a very high price. You're a clever girl, but we'll do things my way.
So I'm not sure if we get this bit of dialog because low morale (which makes Thorn "evil") or because this is just Thorn, but what the hell do we mean by victory? We can't cure this plague and we have no clear goal. Survival IS our victory. What do we gain by throwing people aw- fuck it.
It leaves us with the Sophie's Choice here. We CANNOT deselect Gleda, we get a message about "you cannot let your daughter die". RIght now I take Gleda's advice and have Thorn take one for the team, but we will have 0 strixes when we get to Ursus.
I totally meant to show this off I swear, I'm not bad at this game.
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: We're out of magic rocks. Someone's gonna get TurboEbola and die.
: Dad no we gotta share them all equally
: How should I choose? I know! I'll create a utility function for each person.
: But that's wrong, Dad. That way lies Eliezer Yudkowsky and rambling about friendly AI.
: I am a TOUGH MAN making HARD DECISIONS, young lady!
: Your daughter distracts you from your thoughts. "Dad, why do you look at the city as if it's new to you?"
: You look to the city as you answer her. "I'm trying to read the flags on the steeples. They tell you which rules are in effect, and what's going on in the kingdom. A Berkanan flag, for example, would be sign of a large-scale war [sic]."
Wait, I thought Berkana was a continent. Why does it have its own flag?
: Hode buts in. "The flags were the first thing I saw. From what I can tell, I'd do well to remain 'Hode,' for now. My grandfather's in town and we've had a... a disagreement, to put it mildly."
: You turn to Hode. "Adventure and peril are tempting until you face them in real life. It's one thing to listen to stories in a tavern, but living through a tale of wounds and blood is entirely different. The smart thing to do would be to find a safe hideout and lie low."
: Hode chuckles. "And this coming from a man who has more scars on his body than I've had drunken revels."
: You interrupt the soldier. "Enough talk. Hold your tongues while we're at the gate. I will speak with the guards. And Hode, try to be as unassuming as possible."
: (Turning to Hode) And you, boy, you'd make a fair bit of coin at the court of the Jeranan king. You're the spitting image of his grandson.
: (Smiling) I hear it quite often, but I'm afraid I must decline. It would be unwise of me to rely solely on a monarch's grace. What if I happen to fall out of favor? I'd rather avoid the courts and throne rooms as much as possible.
Insulting the commander of the capital guards seems like an awful idea.
: Thank you, but we're not looking for any trouble.
: You may not be looking for it, but trouble has a way of finding people. Such are the times we live in. When trouble does strike-I'll be at your service.
: In that case, I'm happy to be of service to you, Commander.
: He's having a rough time. Masked warriors are launching attacks on the stockade-happened twice while we were there. We helped Vegen to push them back, but he won't hold out much longer if help isn't sent.
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: Hey, Prince Ho. That's not a great disguise. Want me to let you back in court?
: Oh hell no my grandpappy's gonna get the belt.
: Yea, I know who you all are. I'm Commander of the Guard and I'm willing to help you guys out. Seriously though, you guys are probably turbofucked walking in here so I'm at your service. How's Vegen?
: He's getting attacked by male members of the Free the Nipple association.
: Damn them! I'll send reinforcements immediately!
: Sheck's already noticed me! What could bring the commander of the guard down to the gate, I wonder?
: I didn't even understand what you were talking about.
: I think Sheck offered to lend us a hand, and Hode thanked him. We don't need any help right now. One good thing at least-Sheck didn't give us any.
We are at 0 fucking strixes Thorn. 0.
: Refusing would be unwise. But you're right, we'll have to deal with it ourselves. I hope we don't attract any unwanted attention.
: How'd you manage to get into a fight with your grandfather?
: Same as all his other grandkids. Stepping out of line gets you more than you bargained for. Even my dad tries to stay out of grandpa's sight. That's why he hid me away and is lying low himself.
Your dad led troops into a foreign country
That is the exact opposite of lying low
: (Angrily) I kept to myself until I was seventeen! Then they got the idea to marry me off to a Gebonan princess? She was fifteen years older and ugly as a Reaper! I don't want to spoil the Jeranan bloodline with generations of hideous heirs!
Did they just...write some moderately amusing dialogue? Damn, clearly their editor was drunk that day.
: The Reaping is upon us. Shouldn't you get back to the palace?
: If my father were here, maybe I would've risked it. I won't be going in front of my grandfather alone. I've been sent to join the Albius company to sort myself out and learn to respect my elders. Can't exactly get up and leave, can I.
Nope, same inept editor.
: Oh, I'll be off the hook, but if my grandfather realizes it was you who got us out of Albius, and then dragged us from one end of the kingdom to the other-your life's on the line. My pleas to the king will fall on deaf ears. We need to get through to my father if we want to sort this out.
: Won't you get us into trouble?
: Why would I? I don't want any trouble. I'm good at following orders and keeping my nose clean.
: I'm concerned your father might send a search party or two. Since you're not home yet, he might think that I'm holding you hostage.
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: I think he recognized me.
: I'm a strong independent man who doesn't need help! Why is your grandfather pissed at you anyway?
: I didn't want to marry an ugly princess. Anyway, you need me or my grandfather will kill you all, and if you try to return me my grandfather will kill you all. So we're stuck.
Picking that last answer boots us out into town.
May as well check this out. I bought 22 strixes at the market offscreen...we'll need a lot more soon.
: Gleda also looks around. "Why do you think there was a battle? A broken door and some shattered windows? Seems pretty normal during a fire."
: You chuckle. "And why would the firefighters besiege the house? See the arrows stuck in the walls by the windows? And all this blood on the pavement? They didn't even try to wash it off. Ursus may be less safe than I thought."
: "It's already over," you correct her. "Otherwise they'd not have let us into the city or ordered to seal our weapons[sic]. We need to ask the locals what happened."
Remember, Thorn doesn't know all the menhirs are busted yet. Let's check this one out.
: Vai pulls you aside. "Perhaps we should ask the local monks about this? Who knows, they may grant us passage in return for a favor. Though they might request that I remain at the Temple."
We tell Vai to go to the abbot because if he leaves the party that's more strixes for everyone else. The Temple won't let him die.
: "Keeping it hidden is a wise choice", you whisper. "Not everyone's prepared for the truth. Guess that means the sacred stones cannot save us. We've only our strixes to rely on now."
: Vai nervously interrupts you. "I'm returning to the temple. The abbot said I've got an important job to do. I have to go. Don't tell anyone about the menhirs. May the gods have mercy on you."
And now, we have an actually important choice.
Decisions lie before us!
Given what we know about the curse, do we want to change our strategy of always resisting? Include a new strategy, please!
Do we visit our old friend Teek, or listen to the witch and tell her about the source?
Lastly, how do we handle running out of strixes? Who gets sacrificed first?
As always, choose wisely!
P.S. Which choice of whom to visit could cause us to get rid of Thorn. Forever.