Part 9: 10 years laterOK, so Act I was a bit of a downer. Simon lost his father, was torn away from his home, and was thrown into child slavery. As an added fuck you, he learned that his mother is still alive, but there's nothing he can do to try to find her. The one consolation is that little shit Henry has been suffering right alongside Simon this entire time, so at least there's some justice left in the world. In any case, we rejoin Simon in the middle of yet another identical day of drudgery.
: Yeah, yeah. I know how to haul rocks. I've only done it about a million times.
: Slaves aren't supposed to look alive! Their eyes have to look dead... Gah, you give me the creeps! Get back to work, now!
: Whatever, I'm going on break. You have a problem with that?
: Seriously, how are you not broken yet? Ugh, if you weren't the only reason we're still reaching our quota...
Yeah, Simon's pretty much grown into that prisoner that's such a hardass that even the guards won't screw with him.
Even though a stiff breeze could take him down at the moment. (Somehow, a 10 year time skip doesn't count as a rest for getting HP back.) Check out that luck. That is matching the game mechanics to the narrative right there.
Everyone copes with adversity in their own way.
: Please, don't get in my way. I don't want to be flogged.
: If you don't stop your whining and bring me the next rock, I'll snap you like a twig... you hear me!?
: Here's your damned rock, man, now leave him alone.
: You'll get what's coming to you sooner or later, slave...
: Why yes. Yes I would. It's important to stay hydrated when working a twenty hour day.
: Here you go. Whenever you get thirsty don't hesitate to ask me for water.
This isn't healing water or anything, in case you were curious.
: *sigh* More and more people are just giving up. Sometimes I feel like giving up, too. I just have to remember...
: Bah, you're not going to kill me that easily.
: ... That's the spirit, I guess?
: Our Lord High Priest is anxious for the completion of the great temple!
: Eh, it's an excuse to get some fresh air.
Upstairs, we get a slightly better idea of what the slaves' labors are producing: a large temple! No one's talking about what entity the temple is being built FOR, though...
: That means that one of these days, we're gonna have to destroy that descending staircase too...
: The catch is, though, that you'll have to join the Order of Light. Still, it isn't that bad of a deal.
: I'd rather die.
: Yeah, pretty sure that'll also be an option.
: It is all due to the great power of the High Priest.
: But what kind of man is he that he'd use slaves to construct this temple of his...?
: I've got to do something, but I can't just go up against the High Priest...
: I suppose I could keep an eye out for her...
: Heh... what use is it to tell a slave like you my story...?
: Or you could be a dick about it, that helps...
: Being able to work for your entire life under the High Priest and all.
: Yeah, it's great. Want to switch?
: I know more than four people have died under this infernal temple, but we are rarely allowed to bury the bodies...
: Heh, when I was a child, this would have infuriated me into a tantrum. I miss the days when the worst thing in my life was not being able to get into every room.
: Anyway, I think I saw Henry upstairs. I'd better go see how he's holding up.
Finally, Henry! We're all looking forward to see how time and hardship has punished that little brat.
: Or are you planning another escape attempt? God... it's been over ten years now since... I really do feel terrible for what happened to your father... I'm sure that you took your father's last words to heart, and want to get out and go find your mother. You're lucky though... Even if I got out of here, back at the castle my little brother's the damn King...
Oh. Or it could turn out that Henry's matured over 10 years, and is actually Simon's anchor in this hellhole. That works, too!
: Ah well... no use in dredging up the past. I'm heading back to work.
: Stay safe, bro.
Simon putts around the temple a little longer, until the call to end the workday comes.
: Tomorrow we start bright and early, so hurry off and get some rest!
Apparently, the slavedrivers here are progressive enough to realize that fed and rested workers are more productive!
The next morning, Simon sleeps in as long as he can.
: You seemed really troubled... were you having a bad dream or something? But man, you've got such fight in you... You've never gotten used to being a slave, have you...?
: When you start believing that being treated like this is normal, you may as well lay down and die. Fuck that.
: On the other hand, take a look at me! I'm all reformed, and stuff! Wa ha ha!
: No, but seriously, I am getting the hell out of there at the first opportunity.
: I owe your father so much. Even in death, he taught me so much... I've changed, Simon... Ten long years... God, time passes so quickly...
: Yeah, yeah, pull it together you sappy fuck. Don't show weakness in front of the guards.
Oh, hello conspicuous pot, let's see what treasure is in here...
: I heard that you were brought here when you were just a child, and that you've been working since... It must have been so rough for you... if there's anything I can do to help you forget that pain, just ask...
: Goddamnit, if you're going to be a creepster you can't be in my next escape attempt.
: Poor guy's been lashed too many times.
: Without hope... without dreams... I don't want to live my life as a slave... I just want to die...
: Sometimes your dreams are all that keep you going. I know that my dream is to escape and find my mother, but what's Henry's dream?
: You're way too gullible, you know that? I don't know who you heard that from, but you know that it's just some bull to make us work harder! But you're not lying, you say? Yeah, yeah, whatever! You just keep dreaming, okay!
: Yeah, this isn't exactly breaking news.
: Don't you ever forget the pain you felt during that one moment. As long as you have that drive, you'll be able to conquer any ordeal...
: Seems like she went and broke a very valuable artifact of the High Priest's.
: Ha! Girl sounds all right by my book!
: Maria's elder brother is a guard here, for the Order... God, what a horrible life it must be for them...
: Besides, something happened recently that made me unable to follow the beliefs of the Order anymore... And now this. I had no idea that so many innocent people were being enslaved by the Order.
Yet another day, exactly like every day for the last ten years... When he gets to the work area, Simon discovers some sort of commotion, and rushes to investigate.
: Stupid girl, dropping a stone on my foot! I'll drop something on you!
: Please... Please... forgive me...
: No way! You're one of those new "recruits" aren't you? Well, let me educate you about being a slave! It's my way... my way... or MY way!
: No... please!
: Well, whatever, we can't just stand here and let them do anything to her!
: You go left, I'll go right.
Even unarmed, Simon is more than a match for these slavers. This fight does require a bit of caution, though, since your primary damage output is the Gale spell and these guys can strange dance your MP away, and heal to prolong the fight.Make sure to save enough MP to heal a couple times, even if that means getting in there and mixing it up with your fists.
: Is that all you've got!?
: These... these two fools thought to start a rebellion!
: And... this girl.
: Uh, yes sir, she was being difficult, so I had to... discipline her...
: ... No matter... Someone, take this girl up to the healer's! And throw these two in the cell!
There are too many guards, and too well-armed, to fight. Simon is brave, not suicidal, and reluctantly allows himself to be taken to the cells.
: Heh, nothing we can do about it. Ah well, why don't we take it easy, then?
Henry lays down for a quick nap. So, maybe he hasn't COMPLETELY changed...
: Hmm... I wonder just how long they plan on keeping us all here. Hmm? Someone's coming!
: Hmm? What's going on? Let's go check it out...
: I thank you greatly for saving my sister's life... I am her brother, Joshua. I've been curious about you two for some time now...
: Hey now it's not like that!
: *ahem* you just aren't like the other slave... your eyes are still full of life! And that's why I have a favor to ask of you. Will you help me out?
: Look, sorry, man, but I have no way to know I can trust you.
: Come on, don't say that before you've heard me out... It's just a rumor, but I've heard that when this temple is completed, they're going to destroy any evidence of its creation... including the slaves!
: Look at me, this is my surprised face.
: If that happens, my sister Maria... She'll... Please! Take my little sister with you and leave this foul place! I've prepared your things for you...
: But if you hide in this barrel, you'll probably be able to get out alive. Hurry! Get in the barrel before someone sees you!
: Feeling a little woozy.... unh...
: You've been unconscious for three days now, and we were all worried that maybe you wouldn't wake up at all! But gee whiz, I was so surprised to find people in a crummy old barrel!
: Ah, the comforting serious of a nun that I remember from my childhood...
: Your friend told me that you escaped from some horrible place, or something like that... Oh well, this is a nameless nunnery by the sea... so take your time to rest and get better! You're safe here!
: I appreciate it, but I want to go search for my mother as soon as possible. So I'll just get dre... Wait, why am already dressed? And whose clothes are these?
: Oh yes, I found that set of clothes tucked away in your belongings. The clothes you were wearing recently were so raggedy, I took the liberty of changing you. *blush*
: Ah, the more I speak to Maria, the more I am humbled by the beauty of her soul. Surely she was sent to this Earth to serve our God...
: Um, yeah... So where is Maria, anyway?
: ... Wow. You, uh, clean up real nice.
: Thank you so much for hearing my brother out and for helping me to escape. But... when I think of my brother and the people who are still enslaved there... I cannot bring myself to truly be happy... The reason I stand here this day, is surely due to God's good grace. Sir Simon... This was given to me by my brother, but I believe it will be of much more use to you.
: Actually, I don't have any immediate need for cash, but every adventuring instinct in my body refuses to let me turn down free money.
A Mother Superior version of the save priest, which is a nice little touch.
: Our God watches over you... do come back anytime...
: Nice recap.
: Rest assured that no one will ever give you orders again. With your father's passing, where you go and what you do will be entirely up to you. But please, don't ever give up. Because this freedom is what it truly means to be alive. For the first time in your life, you are truly walking with your own two feet.
: Hmm? Where did you run away from? What a coincidence!
: Look, I don't want to trivialize domestic violence, but out situations aren't quite the same.
: Listen! If you go all the way North of here, you'll get to a huge city! It's a really fun place!
: Sounds like as a good a plan as any...
: Oh, hey, Henry, how's it going. What're you doing out here?
: You, Simon! You finally woke up, huh?
: Dude, three day coma isn't the same as oversleeping! Can't I get a little sympathy?
: Nope! Oh? You got changed and everything? Oh yeah, you had baggage and stuff, huh? But look at me. I still look like a damn slave. Ah well, what can I do? Let's see now... What should we do now? Anyhow, when you're about to leave, gimme a holler.
: Yeah, I'm ready to move on. I'm not going to spend my freedom cooped up in a nunnery!
: That's right. you have a quest... you have to go find your mother, right? Hey, whaddaya say I tag along with you on your journey, huh?
: Only if you stop making passive aggressive comments about how your life sucks even worse than mine.
: I make no promises. Alright then, let's get out of here! I'm gonna go and tell the others that we'll be leaving, so just wait here a sec!
: You might be able to gather some valuable information in the city North of here... Do take care...
: I don't know how to thank you for all you've done... I will stay here and pray for the souls of the many slaves... And also... I'll pray that you find your mother, Simon... Please take care, always.
: Jeez, Simon, why do the girls always ignore me while you're around?
: Well, you do look like a hobo right now.
: Simon, you're an adult now... From now on, only you are in charge of your destiny. Only you can find your own path. But never forget that God is watching over you from above. Oh Mighty God! i beseech you! Bless Simon on his journey!
: What about me? ... nothing? Okay then, let's get a move on!
For the first time in his life, Simon's life is in his own hands. He doesn't have much, but he has his life, his freedom, his best friend, his quest, and his weird purple scarf thing. The story of Simon the child has ended. The story of Simon the man begins.
A quick look at our friends. Henry's not much to look at now, but he'll be just fine when we get him some decent gear and a couple levels under his belt. Also, it just occured to me that Henry gets the Prince of Reinhart title while he looks like a raggedy beggar, and Simon still gets labelled a Runaway Slave while sporting a nice new tunic, heh.
Next time: North to the big city!