Part 29: Thorn Brenin and the Pointless SuspicionThorn Brenin and the Pointless Suspicion
When we last left our heroes they were exchanging awful dialog around a campfire.
Now they can exchange awful dialog on a road.
: Turn off the road and go around.
: You noticed Belei staring at Foshta during his speech. "Well, yes, I know this captain," she says with a shrug. "He didn't like that I worked for that maggot, but he liked everything else. We've always gotten along, so I can speak to him, if the need arises."
: "I know that guy," Andra whispers. "And about some of his affairs. I can turn the heat up on that pipsqueak, if you need me to."
: Dip into your purse.
I don't trust these women (or more accurately, the kindness of the devs) so I just pay the bribe money because I'm sure trying to flee gets some character killed or some stupid shit.
I guess this event sets the tone that this fantasy world is garbage and so are all the people in it. The question is, why do we care?
Very funny, game.
Another random encounter!
: Dig under the boulder.
It's another odd theme of this game that listening to random people we should have no business listening to is usually the correct decision. I think it's supposed to be a commentary on having faith? It's very odd contrasted against the faithlessness of the church, but more on this later when we get further into the plot.
: A peasant approaches you. Drawing closer, he bows and introduces himself. "Forgive me, kind master. Would you mind me taking Loore home? I am Stoorn, from the ironmoners' village just a couple of leagues to the west. This fellow here is our village fool. Likes this boulder for some reason-just cannot stay away from it!"
: You regard Loore with a mixture of frustration and pity. Next, you face the peasant. "My name is Thorn Brenin. Go ahead, take him wherever you want. But, dare I say, you're not watching him closely enough, Stoorn."
: Stoorn gestures helplessly. "He's cunning, this one, never mind his sanity! Just like his father. He was a captain of the guard, and came to our village from the city when he retired. His ailing son came with him. We look after Loore out of respect for his father. A very good and decent man."
See what I mean? Listening to the witches and the crazy people gets us free stuff. This isn't even like a Shakespearean fool where the "crazy guy" is actually one hundred percent correct and is saying the stuff no one wants to hear, this is just a madman rewarding us for going along with his wacky obsession. If you are feeling generous, it's a commentary on a world without God - what else is there to have faith in, besides the words of madmen and witches? - but that's a theme this game has awkwardly danced around and is going to contradict itself on later.
: Check for an ambush.
Press X to not die.
: You dismount and slink into the brush-the perfect place for an ambush. As expected, you find several highwaymen lying in wait. You disrupt their attempted ambush with a surprise attack.
I'm not even showing this fight. I use the same buff Fisk -> everyone gets counterattacked to death. It sucks and it's not interesting.
Same shit, different day. It's a bright open field beating up a bunch of subsistence farmers turned bandits and stealing their money instead. Same tactics, same enemies, et cetera. If anyone is really insistent that I give a blow-by-blow account of this fight I suppose I could, but it's just not interesting.
We get a cutscene after this.
Oh look, it's Vai! Remember him? We ditched him in Ursus to get the lowdown.
: (Surprised) Well I'll be... Feels like you're everywhere, Vai. What are you doing here?
: When I heard that you'd been sentenced to death, I pleaded with the Temple abbot for clemency. I guess I got on his nerves, because he sent me off to the Burial stockade [sic] with the wagon... But how did you escape death? Were you pardoned?
: Our execution was... postponed, due to our absence. We intend to cross the Wasteland and reach Friga. Fate has, yet again, linked your path with ours. Will you come with us?
: Let's lay your companions by the roadside. Sorry, but we haven't time for a proper burial. Don't worry. We'll help you deliver the wagon to the Burial stockade. We shall become its guards. Since you've all the necessary papers from the Temple, we'll easily pass the stockade.
: First we collect everything we can, and then we move on.
We make it to the stockade without incident.
I buy some crap at the market, mostly attack boosting items.
(For the uninitiated, K Constantine is cited by the devs as helping with the translation, per https://steamcommunity.com/app/6916...05894144117744/)
We also grab this cursed ruby because attack boosts are good. Amusingly they also increase self damage when using abilities. Not pictured: me grabbing the Inspiration fragments. We may need them later.
May as well talk to Foshta again.
: And what do you think, Andra?
: How else then? A detour? We'd lose a lot of time that way. Besides, they've surely sent someone to give chase. I sensed your desperation from the start, so don't go disppointing me now, Thorn.
: I don't care if I disappoint you. I only care about saving my children. The Wasteland is the shortest way to Friga, so you'd better muster some courage.
: And I will! My resolve strengthens by the moment, as a matter of fact. Given this swell of bravery, would you mind telling me where tonight will be spent?
: Going to the wasteland. You girls sticking around?
: Yup! Do we have a destination?
: Ha you're funny.
Oh boy, what's this?
: Sopp spots you, yelling enthusiastically. "Thorn, can you believe it? Your horse went completely lame, so I'm at the market looking through the rows for a fresh one. This hag is selling one, so I ask the price. She then vanishes and only the horse remains. I've got the deed right here in my hands."
Would an elite royal guard trained to protect the prince with his life really be this trusting?
: Sopp shrugs. "I didn't have the money on me, but I still have the deed. It was in your name, Thorn. And can you guess who sold me the horse? It was Unda! What do you say to that? And no one even saw Unda at the market, except for me. No one even knows how that horse got there. Must be witchcraft, Thorn.
Seriously, how is this not suspicious? We know Unda is a fake identity created by Philia because she told Thorn's party this.
Ha ha. I would be a lot more accepting of this game's attempts at humor if the writing was better. As is this just makes everyone look dumb, and is a tonal whiplash from "the hole in my heart " to an elaborate don't look a gift horse in the mouth joke.
This is peak bad writing. Why is Helm suspicious? What makes him worse than the twins who used to work for our enemy, or the drunken murderer we have with us who was stalking our wife?
: You're Thorn Brenin, aren't you? You've grown older, but you're still tough as nails. We used to travel together when I was younger. You've probably known thousands like me in your lifetime. I saw you and thought to myself, "Who else but Mad Thorn would dare cross the Wasteland? Perhaps he could use a hand?"
I'm going to spoil it right now, Helm here is completely on the level and he knows Thorn from the military where Thorn saved his life.
"Scoundrels" is such a mild word compared with Thorn's blasphemies and rivers of shit.
: What's there for you in the west?
Again, Helm is a mercenary, but so are Foshta and Andra and we don't hear Thorn complaining at all.
: Have you even made the effort? You hardly look like a schoolboy.
Thorn is a professional soldier, not a craftsman. I don't even know.
Again, Thorn is a professional soldier who earned his living and impressed his wife by being good at fighting wars. Where the fuck is this coming from?
: And just what are you doing here?
: I'm helping the sergeant with some errands. They actually trust me to do things around her. [sic] Although, pay's pretty bad, and recent news has been even worse.
: Troubling but curious, right? You've heard of the coming war and decided you want a piece. Go ahead, tell me I'm wrong.
The Frisians have already invaded though? How is this a "coming war"?
: Aye, you could say that. Being a mercenary isn't the same as being a thief though. I'm still so far from the war-on the opposite side of the Ashen Wasteland. There's nothing for me here. What should I do?
: What do I need you for?
: You don't visit the Wasteland often, do you? I know a guide who goes there regularly. He's not all there, but no one else dares so much as glance in that direction.
: What makes you think I'll be able to trust him?
: Don't think I would if I were you. But I've seen him take people to the Wasteland, and bring them back alive too. Couldn't you use someone like that?
: Through the Wasteland-just the two of us? No thanks. I'd be avoiding it altogether had I not run into you.
: Well then, I guess that's settled.
: Great! I'll go tell Skoor, our guide. With you by my side, this trip will be as easy as falling off a log.
: You're not the first to assume I can get someone out of trouble. But I'm not your father, and I'm not going to do your fighting for you.
: Hey, can I join you on your trip across the Ashen Wasteland?
: The narrator said you are a bad man, and I hate bad people. Who the fuck are you?
: We used to work together and you're still as tough as you were back then. I'm just trying to get across the wasteland so I can get a mercenary job fighting the people who are invading our country. Or something.
: You look very untrustworthy, unlike the people I travel with, like those hot mercenary twins who used to work for my enemies or the drunken murderer man who stalked my wife.
: What the hell? I'm just a mercenary who works for our country. I just want to get across the Wasteland and I know a guide and I remembered you from when we worked together.
: I can't believe you make a living by fighting, unlike me, a professional soldier. Well, I don't trust you at all despite blindly accepting a magic horse from a witch I met once, but you can come along because of that guide dude. But I'm not gonna carry you, do your own fighting.
: That's ok. I just need some trustworthy people to watch my back while we deal with all the magical bullshit.
: THE NARRATOR SAID YOU BAD REEEEEEEE
That's the Thorn Brenin we all know and dislike!
Anyway, let's leave.
: The mercenary scratches his head and looks at you apologetically. "The madman's already gone ahead. We'll catch up with him on the road, once we get to the Wasteland."
: You have to set out, guide or no. "Well, all right," you say to Helm. "But you're riding in front and to my right."
Holy shit! Helm's sins to date are:
-being a mercenary
-daring to ask his old commander who is a legendary swordsman if he can come along on a trip they both want to go on
We get a little animation of everyone mounting up and riding into the wilderness.
: Helm is visibly nervous. "Everyone and their mother would be scurrying about if it were that easy to cross without a guide. Finding a road's easy, but making it through is the tough part. Besides, we can't just send him away now, can we? Look, there he is. We're catching up."
: Everyone needs some protection.
Always use protection so you don't have to pay child support.
: (Nodding begrudgingly) Aye, right. It's not really clear who's defending whom here. May not even matter when worse comes to worst.
: (Attempting to remain polite) We're not acquainted, but that's easy to fix. My name is Thorn Brenin, and I suggest you join my squad.
: (Taking a moment to think) That's a good suggestion. I need to cross the Wasteland as much as you. I wouldn't want to do it alone, and you're in need of a guide.
But Thorn is a murderer.
: The fact that we're no murderers should be enough.
: (With one eyebrow slightly raised) I guess so. Knowing that I can take you through the Wasteland should suffice then.
: (Attempting to remain polite) Well, since we're both not ready to share our life stories, perhaps you can tell me about the Wasteland itself? I've only ever heard what the Temple servants say about it.
: (Squinting) I see that you still do not understand. It's as if a foreign realm-foreign to mankind-has begun seeping into this place, displacing what was here before. This new realm isn't meant for our eyes, which is what makes it so dangerous... Still don't get it?
God, the irony.
: That's quite reasonable. It's as if the filth here is attracted to the vermin coming from the outside. Can't quite describe it any other way. Time flows differently in the Wasteland, so let's not waste any. Stick together. Follow me and don't deviate from the path. Got it? Then off we go.
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: Who the fuck are you?
: I'm about to cross the Wasteland. You look like a party member, get on my team.
: I know your friend Helm, but I have no idea who you are or if I can trust you. How do I know you haven't, say slapped an old man to death in a fit of anger?
: We're not murderers, that should be enough. Can you tell us about the wasteland?
: It's a silly place mutated by space aliens or some shit, like a crappy extradimensional bullshit thing from some comic book.
: Wow, the writing in this game is really bad.
: It's like the sheer ineptitude of the translation makes everything more difficult than it has to be.
Next time: We meet the worst enemy in the game, along with the world's worst Banner Saga cameo!