Part 42: Hopper Rouley and the Unreliable NarrationHopper Rouley and the Unreliable Narration
When we last left Hopper, he was grappling with the revelation that this was a divine plan as opposed to a completely pointless mystery box.
: You take one final look around in case Adna's been hiding somewhere in the ruins. You step onto the bridge, stoop down and touch the menhir's wet edge. You feel a rush of exhilaration and strength, but your hand remains black. The Water Menhir can't cure everything, but at least it's not full of poison.
: "I take it we're not resting here?" Ake asks, as he mounts his horse. "It's a fine spot, but spooky. My ears are ringing, I've never cared much for sorcery, personally. Shall we get going?"
: "You cannot see me, but I'm still here," she hisses. "I have a message for you from that witch. 'Find those loathed by all and you will know all that was and all that will be; all that could have been and all that can be.' That's all she said, which, in turn, I tell you-purely out of curiosity. The unknown entices me."
Someone, somewhere has tried to hit on Adna by eluding to an unknown in their pants.
So now that that's done with, I feel the need to mention another franchise that had a mystery box divine plan.
That franchise is, of course, the new Battlestar Galactica reboot (spoilers). The ending of the series reveals that all of these events - the human-Cylon war among them - were put into motion by God and that the wacky Number 6 Cylon lady that lived in Baltar's head was actually an angel sent by God. I have never before seen an angel that horny. Nevertheless, it was received not as a masterful stroke of plotting but as a desperate attempt by the writers to conceal the fact that they were making crap up as they went.
I will leave it to the discerning and impartial reader to determine which is true of Ash of Gods.
Back on the road again...
Give in, weaken stats, blah blah blah.
Get ready for idiocy!
: Approach the mob.
: You easily catch up to the captain, introduce yourself and present the papers bestowed by Prince Treeg and the Temple. At your request, Jordin reviews them and sighs. "Your papers are in order. Go on, have your little chat. Should you try pulling something-no magic's going to save you!"
: The girl's ropes come loose and you're buffeted by a freezing flurry. Awesome power is no doubt concealed within her! All but you and the witch are petrified like statues. Thusa smiles. "Don't be afraid. I won't do anything to you. For now, at least. I've merely something to ask. Deal? Just promise to speak truthfully."
: Accept her trial.
What Hopper fails to understand is that this is a cutscene and he's gonna get owned if we don't take number 1. What I fail to understand is this game's witch fetish. Did a Wiccan lady have a one-night stand with the lead writer that was so amazing he fell in love with her and keeps putting powerful witches in this game so he can hear from her again, maybe?
Now there are plenty of answers to this. "Gleda" comes to mind, as she has shown no magical ability whatsoever. "Liki Brenin" is another possible answer.
Come to think of it, Hopper doesn't interact with women much does he?
Oh. Now, you might be tempted to pick "Unda" because she's Philia's alias...or Chila's...or some stupid shit. The correct answer is "Philia." You don't remember Philia? How could you?
Earlier in the game posted:
We went to her house and she spouted mystical bullshit at us. She's gonna become super important depending on our endgame choices!
Earlier in the game posted:
: If you'll keep quiet, I'll tell you this-there is no Unda. Never has there been one. I did all the healing. "Unda" was a kind of... scarecrow. I fed the citizens rumors of the witch, so most people avoided my house. That's all I really wanted.
Philia has been deliberating encouraging people to conflate her with a witch. If this is still a Christian allegory, this is like Aslan asking Edmund about the diet of lions before he'll agree to get on the Stone Table.
You should join our party so you can avoid being tied up by random men and because that hour-long mass paralysis spell is amazing.
Unless you're into that, but Mushom is into some kinky shit and wouldn't take much convincing.
I take the wolf track, because I know we won't get attacked by wolves. The developers are on record as saying it was too expensive to animate wolves (apparently all the combat animations are motion capture) and that's why enemy diversity is so awful in this game.
I scoff at the political worldbuilding because it doesn't matter to the story, but the religious stuff seems like it's necessary for understanding the plot.
: Try to explain.
: You smile. "No, the Triune doesn't have a special sign. Some call it 'three corners' or 'a zigzag.' Some don't have a name for it. You simply press three fingers-symbolizing the triple menhir-first to the forehead, then to the lips, then to the heart. It means 'I remember, I praise, I love'. Or: 'I think, I preserve, I keep'. Whichever you prefer.
This sounds suspiciously not like the Calz gods.
: Ake shakes his head in frustration. "Don't muddy the waters! Who do you remember, praise, and love? What do you think about, preserve, and keep? What in blazes does it all mean?"
Huh? Is Miketh an Umbra, or some native angel dude?
It's funny because Ake's dumb, see. Also it's funny because it doesn't jive with literally anything we've been told.
What's the point of this little digression? Is there someone out there playing a visual novel inspired game who doesn't want to read? Is this just trying to convince the nerd audience that they're special and cool for opening a damn book?
Oh no. I don't like where number 2 is going.
: What use, you ask... Listen, then.
: (Angrily) In the year ninety-three, during the Battle of the Southern Isles, the Isanan king held his fleet back and didn't finish off the Pallians. Do you want to know why? The king had studied the Battle of Datter and knew the Pallians' secret signals. They planned to lure the Berkan navy into the sharp reefs!
: (Even angrier) Compare, then! Look for clues-discover and study! Otherwise, don't complain when you're served a pile of bullshit on a silver platter. When will you finally learn that your memories are like roots? Without them, the tree falls. I'll never understand humans.
FOURTH WALL BREACH! ALERT! BATTLE STATIONS!
: Can you trust in books? No more than you can trust people.
: (Firmly) Trust no one but yourself. Books are like people. One may lie-another may speak the truth. Verify for yourself. Kings always glorify themselves, criminals hide their crimes, and commanders hide their cowardice. There are so many books, and by comparing them, you get closer to the truth. Read!
...How are you supposed to do this in a medieval society without a printing press? This is a wonderful message for our modern industrial society where you can grab books from stores by the armload, but rare books aren't just out of print after making 20,000 copies, there may only be one Necronomicon in existence.
There is also the interpretation that this is a meta-commentary and you need to carefully scrutinize all the characters' dialog to figure out what the hell is going on.
The funny thing is that Ake being able to read at all sets him head and shoulders above your average medieval peasant, but it's being portrayed in the very modern tone of "the dumb sports man doesn't like books."
: I need your story, Ake.
: (Irritated) I noticed that you don't like people, Hopper-even when you help them. It's like you're watching it all from a carriage window, covering your nose with a handkerchief when the stench gets too thick. Who are you, damn it?!
: (Lowering his voice) What's to like, Ake? The fact that you kill each other? That you whip your children to death? Beat your wives? Crowd in to watch your brethren being tortured? Grab everything you can, just for the sake of having more? Tell me, what's there to like?
"I only murdered children to enable mass suicide while killing people so I can possess their bodies!"
: Let's end this conversation.
: You know the answers already. You're mad at yourself, not me-no matter who I really am. You're right about one thing-I've no reason to like people. But that doesn't mean I want them dead.
: (Smirking) Well, I don't wish the piglet dead either, but I do enjoy my pork roast! A word of warning, Hopper; mercenaries are the first to desert.
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: Why do you read books like a nerd? You're a fuckin nerd Hopper. I bet you never got laid cuz you were reading books like a nerd!
: Actually, I'm gonna give you some worldbuilding. Who's the nerd now, huh? Who's the nerd now?
: Books are fuckin stupid Hopper! I have to read some dumb monk's shitty handwriting! I hate it!
: Let me tell you about unreliable narrators, Ake! Literally anyone could be lying to you right now! All of the characters in this game could be spewing bullshit! That's right, player! If you don't nitpick every word and interaction in this game, you'll have no idea what's going on! Any of us could be lying! I COULD BE LYING RIGHT NOW! And you'd never know this without books cuz you're dumb, Ake!
: Geez, man, why do you hate humans so much?
: Humans are bad because they are mean to each other.
: Fuck you! I know you're one of those assholes from the prologue! That stupid suicide explosion killed 9 out of every 10 households on the planet! You killed a guy and are riding him like a meat puppet! You're so full of shit you could be used as a prototype sewage system from Ursus!
: You're still dumb.
We get another curse power check. I omit it because you've seen it far too often.
Hopper Rouley: incredibly full of shit.
: Talk to the Ense.
I have no idea how this stupid spell mind controlling the Enses works anymore, and I don't care. I'm willing to buy Hopper knows more about it than Reet does (he was probably there when it was made), so sure.
: "I recognize you too, Blance the herald-though you've changed," Harlow immediately responds. "I see that you have a body now. I don't know what happened to Calz, but fire doesn't turn all things to ash. I'm serving a cause. You know what that means. You, too, are a servant, or aren't you anymore? Will you let us pass?"
: You nod and step away from the road. "I let you pass only because you talked to me," you tell Harlow as the squad goes by. "He who listens, will one day hear."
I guess we don't need Thusa if Hopper can cast AoE sleep too.
Why can't he do this in combat, again?
: Ake raises himself in the stirrups-arms skyward-and exclaims, "O blessed Opacum! Never have you been conquered by the enemy! Never was your gate smashed asunder! Never have you greeted a Reaper within! We've made it, Blance! Frisians are not yet here!"
Ake's no longer on board with pretending Hopper is in any way a regular dude. Good on him.
: Ake can't seem to calm down. "Let them! When I don't have my full strength, nor my armor, I'm not too good a fighter. Could it be the same with Reapers? Do they look like normal humans and live normal lives between Reapings?"
: You smile, alertly. "If only you knew how right you are, Ake. However, Reapers can easily change themselves before you can put on your armor and ready your sword. So, let's first get inside the fortress, shall we? Hope we can manage that."
This is Brann and Liki's father and Thorn's father-in-law.
: Yes, Your Grace! Not exactly sure what the cardinal told you. We've been sent after Thorn Brenin. Been in hot pursuit since Albius. I'm not squad commander, though. Here he is-Baron Hopper Rouley of Raydona.
: We've been following him, Your Grace.
: He dropped by Friga looking for your grandson, but we don't know if he succeeded. There're many ways to Opacum from there. Perhaps we managed to outpace him.
: Is Coronzon waiting for your granddaughter in the fort, too?
: Why would he? What would a Temple servant need from my granddaughter? As far as I understand, he's here waiting for the newly-crowned Treeg. Although, I've no idea why a Jeranan ruler would come here at all.
: I am sorry, Your Grace, it's just that Cardinal Coronzon has been quite upset over her fate.
: Will you let us stay in the fortress?
: Well, you can stay, if you're not afraid of the three legions of Frisians coming here from the Berkanan highway. Though keep i mind, the food and water supply's only meant for the fortress' defenders.
Insert tired joke about lack of editing here.
: I think we're all ready to defend your fortress, Count. You should know, I'm quite a skillful healer-and I can handle a sword well.
Incidentally, "Your Grace" is a form of address for dukes, not counts. The correct form of address for a Count appears to be "Lord X".
: The only thing for us to do is await your orders.
: Less talking, healer. Don't rely on me to find you a job. Look for something to do. That applies to you too, Ake.
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: Cool fort.
: Aww, I thought you guys were my family.
: Is that Coronzon guy looking for Gleda?
: Uh, no, but we are waiting for Prince Treeg!
: Can we stay in the fort?
: Sure, but if you don't work, you don't eat!
As you might guess, Opacum is the endgame site where all three of our parties come together for the thrilling conclusion.
I'll break the update here as Thorn's misadventures are gonna get special.