Part 44: ARC IV: Part 6: Force of Un-nature.ARC IV: Part 6: Force of Nature.
When we last left off we'd set the Fairy Legislature straight again, and finally met up with Cole Marin in Artagel, who told us where he left the second copy of his manuscript. Also in Artagel, Gabriella reunited with Andau.
There's the sound of rain outside.
She's one of the most welcoming people I've ever known. Did you see all those beds she has upstairs? She is always giving people shelter.
She took me in even though she had no idea who I was at first. Cleaned this basement up for me, and found these clothes so I could blend in here.
I owe her a great deal.
During dinner, I kept thinking about how you were able to figure out who I was.
No need to be embarrassed. I think what you're doing is a great service.
I'm not... but it made me wonder how much you know about some other people I've run into.
Perhaps. Who are we talking about here?
What do you know about... The Sparrow?
There's a pause here, and an ominous track I couldn't find anywhere starts playing.
Hmmm... That's interesting.
His real name was Evander Till. A former Gallian officer who decided to join with the new government established by Sarnath Alleni and the rebels.
Ultimately, he couldn't cope with the stress and left the city seeking a quieter life... not all that far from this very town, in fact.
We've seen a fair bit of Evander Till lately in Clean Slate! He's the guy paired with Tor Lamorak as Lysanders current two right-hand men.
Evander Till... I know that name.
I suspect you do. He was a skilled earth mage and a respected captain in the Gallian army. During the final days of the Empire, he and Tor Lamorak were placed in charge of a special force established by General Lysander specifically to hunt down the rebels. Quite ironic that he joined their ranks after the conflict.
But what happened after he left town?
He could not escape his fame completely. There were many people wronged by Gallia who were just itching to confront him.
He married a single mother and adopted her children as his own... and they were all targets for his new enemies. He found himself in a very difficult position.
If he were to strike back at those coming after him, it would only reinforce the general animosity. He would be seen as a Gallian officer going back to his old ways. Yet he could not let his new family fall victim to them either.
I see what happened. He disguised himself to get rid of them without implicating himself.
But what have you heard about him recently?
Recently? He's been dead for a few years now, my boy.
Died in the collapse of his own home.
We've encountered Sparrow in the last few weeks. He was the one who stole that copy of your book.
What?! Can you be sure it was him?!
That's what he told me. He's not shy about giving his name out.
By the gods...
There were rumors that he was involved in some violent acts in Rellenia. No actual witnesses, though, so I assumed people were just thinking of the original and filling in the blanks themselves.
Nope, it's really him. Wears a black hood and orange trousers. Can cast spells from a bunch of different schools of magic.
What could that mean?
There are three distinct possibilities, young lady. The first is that Evander survived the destruction of his home and has now decided to don that costume again. But he would be so old by now... Older than me, even.
Well, what are the other possibilities?
The second is that someone else has taken on the persona.
And the third... The third is that we may have necromancy at work here.
A kobold staggers into Artagel.
"... Or did I fall?
Dah! I can't remember! I should be on my knees thankin' the mighty Arcadius that I even found my way to this here town."
Yarr... Be this the residence of the Heron family?
MAID: Uhh... Yes, sir. But I'm afraid they're at the hospital now.
Ah, thank ya kindly.
It surely is, Arshes!
WITCH HAT: You were supposed to be here days ago, Bubba!
ARSHES: Well Bubba, I'm afraid you've caught us at a really bad time. She was attacked by a vampire last night. We're still waiting to hear from the doctor.
A vampire? You don't say. We had one of them making a ruckus in Port Arianna a while back.
HILDA: Hmmph! If you had arrived on time, you might have been able to protect her!
The doctor enters...
DOCTOR: Mr. and Mrs. Heron?
DOCTOR: I have good news about Gloria. She is in no danger of succumbing to vampirism.
DOCTOR: Truthfully, I didn't do all that much.
HILDA: What do you mean?
DOCTOR: The bite itself barely broke the skin. It was mostly the shock of the attack that made everything appear so dire. We still looked over our notes to be certain...
But it seems clear that whoever this vampire was, he wasn't trying very hard.
Gloria got off easy... Not like her friend who also came in last night. That will be difficult.
Tis good tidings!
DOCTOR: I had better assist the nurse. We'll keep Gloria here for a little while, just to be absolutely certain... but I'm confident she can return home tomorrow.
ARSHES: *sigh* What an ordeal.
Ha ha ha! Quite a scare, to be sure. Now let's go grab a pint and toast to a fast recovery!
Bubba walks into the bed below him.
HILDA: Bubba, what's happened to you?!
It's nothin', Hilda. Just a bruise is all.
HILDA: No! You used to be so brave! Now you're... you're...
I... uh... I suppose I'll come back in a few hours... when the girl's awake and can chat with this ole kobold.
ARSHES: That's a good idea... and you probably shouldn't have any more drinks.
... Just one. But no more than that!
ARSHES: It is... but given what he's been through... It's hard to blame him.
It's just something about the way he talks to me... like he's so much more experienced and knowledgeable about everything.
"In my day we didn't have costumed heroes to fight!"
Hee hee! Actually, I find it hard to imagine that a former captain of Gallia's army would take orders from Don Kovak.
Wouldn't he want to be in charge?
I was just thinking that.
I know. Sorry I stole it.
Do you think he could be a skeleton version of Evander Till, B-Man?
I doubt it. But it is hard to say for sure.
What kept you?
Everyone's talking about it! Two girls got sent to the hospital last night with strange wounds on them. Damndest thing... Holes in their necks.
It starts again...
Equipment King, isn't it?
I'd say that's a safe bet.
Let's check out the hospital! Probably should take care of anything else we want to do in town in case we run into trouble later.
I hope you do! And I hope you do give them a good old fashioned beatin'!
Well, we did everything in town already so, let's go to the hospital!
Cause she's over there.
Gah! What are you doing!
This is so stupid.
I have to insist otherwise. Spilling the beans to her... or to anyone with Equipment King... That's stupid.
But... But if I told her... Maybe that would be enough to get her on our side.
You know better, chum. She's one of them. If you're exposed, we're all exposed. It's just too risky.
But she... she always says... That she's looking for a way out. A reason to leave and start over again. What if...
Cade, I'm surprised at you.
"forth between them without thinking twice about it."
It's different. You've never felt this way about anyone.
Wha... Laurel, how many times do I have to tell you?! Mind your own business! I wouldn't read your diary, so have the decency to stay out of my head!
You have no right to poke around in there! No right!
There's a pause...
And Laurel runs away.
Finley goes after Laurel.
They'll get over it. Let's talk to the doctors and see what we can find out.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rWVrxNTuNEQ 'Nightfall' by Ed Van Fleet
ARSHES: He said Gloria can leave anytime. I was so relieved. Now he's talking with some other folks who walked in.
HILDA: A vampire attacked you, honey... But you're okay now. The doctor said you can go home when you're ready.
GLORIA: What... about Basilia?
ARSHES: She's... still being taken care of.
Yarr... It warms me heart to see ya, Gloria. You've grown so dern big since I last came around.
GLORIA: Bubba... Is that you?
GLORIA: ... Your breath stinks! How much have you been drinking?!
Ah... I try to avoid countin' if I can help it! At least it helped ye perk up!
GLORIA: What do you mean you don't count?! That's terrible!
HILDA: Gloria... Try not to upset yourself.
GLORIA: I remember... when I was a kid... the last time you visited. You went out to the pub for a while, and you came home and knocked over almost everything!
Hmm... Can't say I remember that part of the ole trip. Must have blacked out.
GLORIA: You swore you would do something about it, Bubba! Do you remember that?!
GLORIA: The stories I always heard about you... I used to admire you so much. Someone like you... You could have been a great leader... or created something artistic.
Instead you're throwing your life away for something that doesn't give you anything in return except a headache when the fun is over!
ARSHES: Gloria, that's enough! What's come over you?
Gloria jumps right out of bed.
HILDA: Maybe you should leave now, Bubba. She needs to calm down so we can get her home.
MAN: Oh, come on! I won't hurt you... Unless you're into that stuff.
Sorry, but no.
MAN: Woman, that ain't fair!
That one? But doesn't she work for Kovak?
I care not. I have watched her... She lacks any sort of humility... relies on her appearance to open all doors.
I don't have to know her. I have known enough like her.
You... I don't understand you at all.
Hmmph. That means nothing to me. Leave at any time if you do not approve. I do not expect you to get far.
I don't expect you to come back in good shape if you try and bite her. She looks pretty built.
Allow me to prove you wrong.
An intermission save screen comes up here but I don't need it!
He was right... It isn't my business... and I shouldn't blurt out his feelings with everyone there. I'm just... stupid sometimes.
But the way he said all that... That tone of voice he takes when he gets that upset... you don't deserve it.
Well, he doesn't fully understand.
He compared it to a book... He said that he wouldn't read my private diary if I had one. But... sensing someone's thoughts and feelings isn't always a choice the way reading is.
Hmm... Maybe that isn't totally right. A lot of times it is a choice... But think of it this way.
If you saw someone walking down the street with a big bleeding wound, would you do nothing?
No way! I would get him a bandage or something!
That's how I feel whenever he's around. With both of them, really... Except Stoic has been dealing with it for so long that it doesn't show nearly as much.
They're both hurting... And they refuse to talk about it.
I would never have noticed. B-Man maybe... He's always been grumpy. But Cade... Before all this started, he was really carefree.
He just liked working at Torto's shop and going out to the pub once in a while.
In some ways... that side of him might be just another mask.
Nah, I don't agree. I think that's the person he could be if he could just catch a break once in a while.
You're still so concerned... But it's not necessary. I just need a few minutes alone, that's all.
Finley gets up to go.
Oh goodness. I don't want a costume!
And Bubba makes his way over to Laurels table from where it was at the bar!
Yarr... You recently moved into Port Arianna, if me memory serves.
Oh... Of course. Do forgive me. I know who you are now. Bubba, right?
That be me name! And you were just talking with ole Finley Donner. I known him for a few years now.
I was thinkin' of walkin' over here and chattin' with you folks, but sometimes the Finster gets on me nerves, and I had enough hardship for one day.
Yes... It seems that way.
Yer one of them people that can look into a bloke's mind, are ye not?
Indeed. I'm a telepath.
I would like ye to help me with something... It if (SIC) ain't too much of a bother.
I won't lie... I'm not in the best mood right now... But what is it?
I been doin' a lot of thinkin' today... Probably more thinkin' than I usually do in a whole week.
I been lookin' back on me life... Trying to remember when I first started going to the pub a lot... and I can't recall when I first made it a habit.
Ye can look into my head... Can ye help an ole kobold remember?
The telepathy sound plays.
Oh goodness... What a mess.
You have something tucked away here... Hard to see still...
This is... during Gallia's time... You recall ships everywhere... villages in flames... your people running scared.
Gah! The wars... They all came so suddenly. That witch Colter... and her minions.
This Colter is the same person as First Sorceress Coulter from Clean Slate. The woman that's meant to be a dig at Ann Coulter. Dasani's ex-girlfriend. During that scene in Clean Slate Volrath even talks about -this- scene and says he dropped the 'u' from her name to make the reference less blatant.
Of course! These are the raids on kobold settlements that First Sorceress Colter led back then!
She was... a demon! Killed everyone in sight. Humans... non-humans... It didn't matter.
But you kept fighting. It cost you so many friends and loved ones... Not to mention your eye.
Nothin' we did made a dern bit of difference! There would always be new ships full of those Gallian bastards!
Those raids were only a few months before Gallia's reign ended... but the end of the Empire brought you no peace.
Can't fix everythin' with just a treaty or some new bunch of people in charge.
Now I have some inklin' as to why I became so fond of ale.
You wanted to forget... And it seems like it worked.
Yarr... That it did. But at what cost, I wonder...
There's another intermission save screen but let's press on for a bit more.
Oh... sorry. No, I'm not going to buy anything tonight.
"Run for your lives!!"
A lot of people immediately flee. Except for Auburn.
Andau lunges at Auburn and she leaps atop the stall.
There's a scene where Andau pursues Auburn across the top of the stalls with both his floaty powers and teleportation, but she eventually manages to boot him across the marketplace.
Then she throws a barrel at him.
Enough! You are only flesh and blood... Soon you will begin to tire... and then you will feel my bite!
Auburn boots the barrel at Andau again but misses and he retaliates with dark magic.
Auburn blasts Andau with fire magic.
You're insane! Kovak was foolish to think he could control you!
How... how did someone like you gain such monstrous strength?
I eat a lot of fruit and vegetables.
Hmmph... I have simply been out of action too long. I shall not lose to you!
Andau casts some kind of screen wide effect?
The bats fly around Auburn like a tornado and she just... spins slowly in place?
And Auburn incinerates the bats.
You know... Part of me hoped you would try something like this. I've heard the stories about what you've done to other women.
I'm glad I could be the one to strike back for all of the others. The sun might not be out, but I've got the next best thing.
Don't just stand there!
Ha ha ha! Now join us in oblivion!
Auburn STILL evades Andau.
This is our way of life. You can not afford to be so weak if you wish to survive.
I'd listen to her... if I were you.
Gabby's gasping here as...
I -think- Gabby only narrowly protected herself and Andau from Auburns fire spell. Then Andau goes after Auburn again, pushing her back, teleporting behind her and then dodging one more fire spell from Auburn.
*pant* Don't you... come any closer. I'm still... strong enough... to break your neck.
You should worry about your own neck, woman. Gabriella, do what must be done!
Do not hestitate! She has cast too many spells and will not be able to fight you off. Do it!
Arrgh! You are hopeless! Fine, I shall do it myself!
That's a holy spell effect... Andau hops around before vanishing.
Laurel begins another spell.
And Gabby's teleported away just before it lands.
Thanks for the save. Now let's go before they get too far away!
Auburn starts to run off but...
I tried to tell you! I cured your wounds, but you're still exhausted. Let's find a place to sit for a few minutes.
Alright... But not too long. They've got to be stopped.
That man is backing away from the right (which is the direction of the marketplace) when Shroud and Stoic leave Cassie's shop.
He runs off and our heroes follow him briefly but give up.
Right now it seems like whatever it is started at the bazaar on the other side of town.
Let's get over there.
Well now. This I did not expect. A little far from home, are you not?
This is impossible! How in the name of Arcadius did you survive the holy water?!
It is none of your concern. I am in no mood to deal with you now. We shall settle our business another time.
The good people... the decent people... they stay dead...
But the monsters like you... always come back!!
Stoic begins to charge Andau, but...
What's going on?!
Ah, Gabriella. This is Shroud and Stoic. They're... old friends of mine.
Andau... How could you?
I assure you, it was simple. Behold the fate that shall befall all of her kind! Before she was nothing... just another vapid waste of space.
Now I have to admit that I almost enjoy her company.
Pompous ingrate! Let's see you come back after your head is split in two!
There's a bright flash and the two vampires are gone. A blind spell?
Ugh... Same tricks.
It's all my fault...
She must have left the monastery after I told her about Kovak.
She's lost everything... and I have nobody to blame but myself. I'm supposed to prevent people from harm, not send people towards it.
"Speaking of Kovak... I think we both know he has something to do with this."
Yeah... It's always the same pattern.
I suppose we should find the others.
Not just yet. We'll catch up with them eventually. What we need to do now takes experience.
Shroud and Stoic head into Equipment King, but we keep panning up.
Eh? What do you mean?
An old lady comes along...
The two vampires jump down...
What? Begone old woman. I have no quarrel with you.
OLD WOMAN: You don't recognize me... But how could you? We haven't seen each other in nearly sixty years. I've grown old and frail, but you still look like a young man.
You know this person?
ALLIE: I'm his older sister.
Gabriella, we must withdraw. Lingering here any longer is dangerous.
You wait just a minute!
ALLIE: I thought of you when I heard the rumors of vampires in town... But I thought the chances of it actually being you were slim to none. Yet here you are.
You know... I never had a chance to tell you this... I did not want to leave. I begged them to stay. But they would not listen. They forced me to go with them.
I didn't want to leave you! You needed help! You still do!
Enough! I don't need your help! Get out of my way, Gabriella! We are leaving!
Fine! I don't need you either!
"but you suffer perhaps more than any other creatures on Solest. I always hoped for a chance to see my brother again... To try and undo the damage to our family.
But... It seems that is easier said than done. Arcadius only knows what he has been through these past six decades. I'm too old to chase him, but perhaps you can get through to him. You must make him understand."
I... I can try...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZhpXXvaWQiE 'Laurel's Theme' -- 'Baby's Lullaby' by Ed Van Fleet.
Are you feeling any better?
Yeah... I really owe you one.
Oh... Don't mention it. Just doing what priestesses do.
You moved from Boreal to Port Arianna recently right? I think you might have been on the same boat as me.
I thought so. How are you liking Port Arianna? I love that place.
It's pretty nice... Very warm. I haven't been there too long yet.
Yeah... On that note, what are you doing here? Are you on vacation or something?
Not really. We're just... doing a quick errand.
"We?" Are you here with your boyfriend or something?
Boyfriend? No, I don't have a boyfriend.
Glad Finley's not here to hear this.
You kidding me? A cute little blonde like you? Get outta here.
Anyway... It's not really a trip for fun. We're just taking care of a few things.
*sigh* Well, since I can see you've already figured it out, I might as well tell you. I'm here with Shroud, Stoic and The Baron.
Ha! A telepath, eh? Well, I can see why they would recruit you! Never heard of this "Baron" character, though.
I always wonder... Well... nevermind.
I already know what you want to say... so you might as well say it.
"They walk around in their costumes and say they're going to fight all evil and make sure everything is good. That just seems so... futile.
You know, it's one thing if they fight off a vampire once in a while, but they've followed Kovak from town to town trying to get him in trouble.
Kovak won't ever win any humanitarian awards, but he's just a drop in the ocean. One day, the way he does business will be the way everyone does it.
And now you're fighting alongside them... What's your secret? How do you ignore the reality of just how unfair the world is... and how unfair it always will be?"
"Equipment King is strong... but they're not like Gallia. Trying to take them down during their reign must have looked even more futile.
People used to say that Mayor Dasani was crazy... But she helped unite people around the world and they made a real difference.
If the odds are really so stacked against us... to me, that only shows how much we have to succeed, even if it tests our faith."
I bet you fit right in.
Well... not always. You would be surprised.
In any case, there's still those vampires out there. Let's find your buddies and take the fight to them.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtKQzzi82yY 'Stoic's Theme' -- Desire (Revenge Is Mine) by Jean Jacques Burnel
He must have returned to that strange castle. He's been spending more and more time there lately, after all.
Almost too well, in my opinion. It may be wise to delay the opening of the store if people are afraid to step outside.
Shroud begins casting...
... Pity. Why not?
I have too many questions I need answered.
You are already trespassing. Don't add harassment to the list.
"Andau was destroyed the last time we encountered him. How did you pull that kind of resurrection off?"
Resurrection? What nonsense are you peddling now? I don't know what you're talking about!
I imagine having an armed skeleton run up to you is pretty intimidating.
Especially when he does this.
Try again, ingrate. Explain why Andau is here and not at the bottom of that Gallian church.
Ugh... He... The fall had not finished him off... Vec was doing a... preliminary check of the surrounding area. A quick survey before we moved in.
We already... had found his coffin in Fort Drake. Took him there... allowed him to recover. Now... he is repaying his debt to us.
What about Gabriella Robin?! Did you have anything to do with that?
What? The young holy mages? What does... gah... What does she have to do with any of this?
He made another vampire out of her, that's what!
... That is a problem.
What... What was she even doing there in the first place?!
As if that matters. Whatever the reason, you have a lot to answer for now. I'm sure her father at the monastery will be delighted.
You've always been slime, Kovak, but you've never been reckless. Andau is like a force of nature! He can't be controlled!
What in the name of Arcadius made you think you could?
Arrgh... I... understand your point. Now please put me down... and we'll settle this matter like gentlemen.
Stoic puts Kovak down and backs off, only for Kovak to immediately hit him with a water spell.
You dirty bastard!
Water magic?! Since when?!
And Shroud's so surprised he doesn't notice Vec buffing up and then hitting him.
Shroud misses his own wind spell.
As have I. Now you will see that I can both sell and use weapons better than anyone else.
We got a modest one here.
Yeah, a real gentleman.
Ready when you are, sir.
Have at you!
Pretty simple fight. It's not too easy but not too hard. They can do a lot of damage and Kovak occassionally heals. They also seem to resist blind and bleed which are the two status effects our current party can inflict. So just focus on doing lots of damage. Shrouds wind spells kick Vecs ass since he's a tanky earth mage, but his spells brutalise Shroud in turn. They both can take a lot of damage too.
But when Vec goes down, Kovak automatically goes down. Stoic's theme also stops with the end of the battle.
You should rest for a bit, sir.
Yeah, Don. You're exactly right. We hate business so much that we just can't get enough of harassing you.
What a... What a brilliant way of assessing the situation.
Sarcasm is a weapon of the weak-minded.
All right then, how about this. Get something straight once and for all. We don't hate business. What we hate is kids getting stolen and buildings getting set on fire and vampires being unleashed on towns full of innocent people! Stop oversimplifying everything and at least consider that your methods are making people suffer! That makes you our target, not your wealth!
Phew. I needed that.
You can't prove that we have done any of those things!
Enough! Who do you think you're fooling! You already admitted that you turned Andau loose... Why wouldn't you do the rest?!
Now you're going to tell us where he is right now before any more good people lose their lives!
Hmmph. You and your "good." You think everything is so black and white.
My sister and her husband were "good" by any definition. They hid elves and other non-humans in their basement durign Gallia's reign. But after the Empire fell and the rebels took over, Sarnath Alleni and those other idealists decided to make a show of them... giving out medals and such.
But not everyone was moved. The new leaders called them "good" and look where it got them. Dead. Cut down like wheat.
Gallia... No Gallia... Doesn't make a difference. This is a rotten world we live in, and the only way to find success for yourself is to play along.
If they were as good as you say, they don't deserve to be used as an excuse. Sooner or later, you're going to have to take responsibility for your actions.
The 'telepathy sound' plays
Who is he talking to?
Okay... Good job, Bud. We'll meet you there.
What's going on?
Andau almost took a bite out of Auburn... But Laurel happened to be there at the right time.
What?! How dare he!
"Is this what it's going to take?! The lives of your friends before you can end this insanity?!"
*sigh* You are right. This plan was flawed from the start. If we had lost Auburn...
Now I suppose it is time for you to do what you normally do.
We'll clean up this mess... But the hammer is coming down, Kovak. We're closer to proof than you know.
Auburn also told her that Andau's made his home in an old castle further into the mountains.
I knew this wasn't going to be easy. Let's go.
Me? No, not too bad. I think you got the worst of it.
*chuckle* Yes, it seems that way. We haven't fought together for a long time. We really need more practice.
Ha ha... Yes, that was driven home rather painfully just now.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-F85XEb1PXk 'The Hand' -- 'Coma' by Apocalyptica
Just... Just in time. I was about to ask him to go find you.
The vampire we recruited has proven to be... unreliable. He attacked Mr. Kovak's bodyguard and now has taken refuge in that nearby castle.
Shroud and Stoic were just here... Blows were exchanged, and now they are going after Andau. The situation is quite grave.
Hmmph... Vampires. Disgusting scum. It's no surprise to me that he has put you through this.
Still... It now seems like a win-win situation. If Shroud and Stoic destroy the vampire, then he will no longer be a concern.
If they perish, then we no longer have to worry about them.
Ugh... Not quite as simple as that, I'm afraid. He has another vampire with him. A vampire that was once Gabriella Robin.
Gabriella Robin? Daughter of Gabriel Robin?
Shroud and Stoic will likely capture her alive... and then return her to the monastery in order to turn them against us.
You will have to intervene.
Arrgh... Put your ego aside for just one moment and listen! Somebody has to get the two vampires out of there before Shroud and Stoic get them!
With your powers, you are uniquely qualified to do so.
Given the potential risks, I suppose you are right.
But to me... this is yet another indication that our alliance with you causes nothing but grief. I will make sure our whole arrangement is given a serious evaluation when I next see Master Ketsu.
Do as you will.
Danika uses her electrical(?) teleport spell.
Not exactly sure, but once this whole mess is over, that should be our next order of business.
Well now, wasn't this quite the update. Had everything! Drama, violence... Drama!
Anyway, you could plausibly figure out what The Sparrows deal is at this point of the game. Most all the clues are there. I didn't figure it out now though. It clicked with a later clue not too long before the reveal (which is still pretty far off), and even then, my friend who was playing it at the same time as me said I couldn't possibly be right even though I was. And the game does do one pretty misleading thing that'd keep you from figuring it out so easily...