Part 40: Old Friends, Old Foes
Say what? I wasn't going to say anything.
Look what the cat dragged in.
He said he was looking for you. I think. Not sure he's all here.
...bring him over.
Rex, can you hear me? Where's the book?
Rex. Wake up. Tell me where the book is. Wake up.
Do you know what you did, Rex? Do you know what happened to me? Everyone in the town thinks I'm a traitor. The king threw me in prison. I was going to be executed. I don't care how sorry you are. I want to know where the book is.
The witch. The old one. She took it.
Here. Found this.
So sorry. Please forgive me.
Where'd you get this? Are there any others?
Did you hear me? Where did you find this? Was it in Rhoan?
Hey. Calm down.
You mind your own business!
Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you the rules in Lauca's house. One: Do not yell. Two: Do not grab and shake unconscious people.
Three: Do not talk back to Lauca.
I remember when I used to sleep in this bed. Good times.
So can I eat this guy or what?
...I was kidding.
You're going after the book, right?
And there's no way I could talk you out of it, right?
So you'll have to learn how to fight, right?
Or you could just scowl everything to death. I could see that working for you.
Are you saying you'll teach me?
I figure I owe you two. One for the book, one for your gut.
Also, you'll get to punch me.
You owe me seven. One for the book, one for hitting me and one for every friend I lost.
And for getting me thrown in prison. And banished from my own town. Nine.
And you also put the entire world in danger. So there's that.
So, like I said. You'll get to punch me.
Holy shit, right? Say what you will about Matrix Software, (lord knows I do) but when it's time to kick off the second act, their balls be out.
You probably thought everything would work out and we'd get the book back somehow. Or at least that we wouldn't have to do any fighting until we did.
Nope. This is the lower screen now. No more book. No more spirits, no more map, no more weapons, items, scanning, gifts. A core gameplay mechanic is gone, and we're punching our way out of this forest.
You have to admit, that's a bold move.
Heath subscribes to the Pai Mei approach of not actually teaching you, instead giving you some wood to punch and laughing as you thump your hand into a gnarl of bone and scabs.
It is possible to attack empty-handed before this point. You may have tried it. You won't have tried it for long, because it's arse. Two-hit combo, pitiful damage, and attacks with all the reach and breadth of a dick joke. And right now you're thinking "My god, I really have to fight like this from now on? This is going to be miserable."
And then you get Dragonball Z powers.
Yes! You can shoot energy beams from your hands now. Want an explanation? Apparently the energy is called "Plana."
That's it. That's your explanation.
I think this is worse than having no explanation. If they'd not acknowledged it at all, most of us would have said "Fair enough, it's obviously just a gameplay thing, I won't think about it too much." (I wouldn't, but I'm determined to leave no nit unpicked.)
But no. They give you this hint, this inkling that people in the world of Avalon Code can control this mysterious energy, that it might have some bearing on the plot, and then they never bring it up again.
Plana is a charged attack, though it works differently from the others. Rather than you holding the button, Plana will charge automatically when you aren't attacking. The longer you let it build, the bigger and more powerful the beams will be.
This makes it awkward because there's no sound cue to tell you when you're fully charged. You can check your HUD...
...but your HUD only appears when you take damage or have the game paused.
Now that fist fighting has been "unlocked", we can start gaining levels in it. Also, unlike other weapon styles, our maximum level is 15, rather than 10. This is our reward for going independent in the tournament. Had we chosen a school, we'd be able to reach level 15 in that weapon instead.
Despite all this, fist fighting still isn't great and I'd much rather have chosen swords. But hey, it was for the story.
Now guess what our final test will be. Go on.
Wow, Heath. You want some ice for your pride?
I don't hit kids.
No louder than a whisper, but still coming from afar. I thought it a waking dream at first, but I held my eyes wide until the tug of sleep subsided, and it called again.
Come, Yumil. I need to see you.
Come where? Who is this?
A friend. Follow my voice.
It didn't sound like one of the spirits. But then it didn't sound like anyone. It sounded like syllables coalescing in the air.
Suspicious. So of course I had to investigate. "No need to wake Heath or Lauca," I said, disguising my haste as courtesy.
Hello, Yumil. Thank you for coming. I am here to help you.
With what? How do you know me?
I know you as the chosen of the Book of Prophecy. I know you for what you have endured, and for what you have sacrificed.
And I know that your fight is at an end. I know that you have lost, and that you suffer. But you need not suffer more. You deserve better.
I want to repay you for your courage, chosen one. I want to take you away from this twisted, broken world and into the one you deserve. Come into my arms. Let me free you.
Yeah, "Come here so I can kill you." No thanks. You're just one of Kullervo's monsters, aren't you?
Death is not the end you believe it to be, Yumil. There is a life beyond this one. A better life. I am proof.
You don't recognise me?
I am the Chimera.
By your hand, I have walked among the dead. I have seen what lies beyond. And in seeing, I gained new awareness, new purpose...and, through the Book of Prophecy, new earthly life.
And already I know you're full of it. The book can't raise the dead.
How do you know that?
The spirits told me.
That is why you believe. I asked how you know.
What reason do you have to trust the spirits? Did they not have their own ends, their own purpose for you? They spoke to you of things you could not learn for yourself. All you would ever have was their word. And so they were free to lie, because they would never be discovered.
I trust them because they're my friends.
Yes. They are hand-crafted to make you think that way.
The spirits are constructs. They do not know friendship, but manipulation. They harvest trust. They evoke obedience without resentment or rebellion. That is their purpose.
So I'm supposed to trust you instead?
I don't ask for your trust. I ask only that you consider those whose care is genuine.
...if you're talking about Fana, I-
No. Though let us not set that aside. Fana awaits you, if you will let me bring you to her. She does not blame you for what happened.
Nevertheless, I was speaking of your family.
You're making all this up.
I swear on my soul that I am not.
What are their names, then? What do they look like?
Do you even remember?
No. You were too young, and it's been so long. Answering those questions would prove nothing.
Let me tell you instead why they left. It was-
I don't need to hear it! They abandoned me! They didn't care!
No, Yumil. They cared for you more than anything in the world. That is why they had to go. If they had taken you, you would have died with them. They knew this.
But they watch you, even now. How they ache for their little boy. They weep daily for your pain.
I wish you didn't think that. I truly do. I would love nothing more than to see you reunited. It would bring tears to my eyes.
There is so much that awaits you, Yumil. So much happiness, so much fulfilment. The love of a family. The love this world could not give you.
Shut up. I don't believe you. Go away.
Please, Yumil. Be still and let me take you to them. You will see. Just one touch and you will see.
Shut up, shut up! Get away from me!
Please. Don't fight me. Don't hurt me. I am defenceless. I am weak. Let me help you. Let me save you. Let me help you.
Let me. Let me.
He never stopped. To his last breath he pleaded with me in his horrible parody of a child's voice, begging me not to harm him, whimpering his innocence and good intentions as his claws sought my throat.
I'm not sure how long he'd been dead when I stopped hitting him. When they found me, I was slumped over the corpse, watching my knuckles turn purple.
Yeah, hi, don't wander into the forest, at night, by yourself. Kinda dangerous.
Are you alright? What was that thing?
I'm leaving now.
I have to go now. I have to get them back.
I want my friends. I want Mieli. I'm sorry. I can't stay anymore.
Uh, hey. If you're gonna run off, fine, but let's at least take a look at those hands first. Make sure nothing's broken.
Come on home. I'll make a poultice or something.
Thank you, Lauca.
S'alright. Come on.