Part 51: ARC V Part 6: Volrath Blacksteele, The Dark Knight.ARC V Part 6: Volrath Blacksteele, The Dark Knight.
Yeah, yeah. Few days later than usual. Just didn't feel like working on this update till now! We're still in the middle of Stoic's backstory, which was being recounted as we pursued Rana and Solik... or Solich as I like to call him at this point of the story.
"between myself, Daphne, a knight named Fiona, and another person... whose name I can't recall right now."
Zeno turns to face Daphne and Fiona. Now, Fiona is that blonde knight, and in the video that wrapped up the last update, she was shown to often stick close to Volrath.
ZENO: You can?
DAPHNE: Ha ha! You aren't so good at disguising your feelings.
ZENO: No, I suppose not. Hopefully I'll get better at that someday.
DAPHNE: What's on your mind?
???: You don't?
FIONA: Of course you don't need to use it. It's not a mandate. This knighthood's mission is to welcome people with different specialities.
All that matters is that you're committed to helping others.
???: Yeah... I can't understand why the Solendians have always been so rigid about that. I mean, the exclusion of women and other races makes sense from an idiot's point of view, but even looking through that lens, I can't find any logic behind the "No Magic" rule.
DAPHNE: They do it that way because that's the way it's always been done. Back in the Second Age, when humans were still new to the world and didn't trust magic, the early grandmasters thought it was dangerous.
FIONA: Do it because our fathers did it.
DAPHNE: Exactly. Never mind if the world changes around you. Being resolute is more important than being right.
???: Ha Ha Ha!
FIONA: But you would want a healer nearby to back you up. It's just smart tactics.
What about TWO healers and a guy that can shoot healing bullets?
This 'Sandahar' says "Good day" without stopping. He was shown to hang back on his lonesome in the previous updates video.
FIONA: You know... I try with him. I really do.
DAPHNE: Well... not everyone has an easy time talking to others.
???: He's someone who could do it perfectly well, but chooses not to.
Sandahar was Volrath's most trusted advisor. According to the others, he was the first one who realized Volrath could really teach the Solendians a lesson.
He was an elf who had been exiled from Rellenia for worshipping Perditia rather than Arcadius.
He'd fit in a lot more with the present day elves...
They used to be very strict about that.
Indeed... though they calmed down over the years.
But to Volrath, he must have looked like a victim of discrimination.
Exactly. He took pity on anyone who had been marginalized by society because of their ideas, even if in some cases the ideas were... a little scary.
I don't think anyone there trusted him, but Volrath swore by him... Said he would never have been able to learn magic and start the knighthood without him. It never seemed like Sandahar was especially passionate about the knighthood's ideas.
He had his own agenda, and nobody knew what it was at the time.
So what was it?
He'll get to that. Don't ruin the flow of th story.
Laurel, will you read his mind and tell me what happens.
I don't think Stoic wants that.
As I was saying...
Eventually, the real world began to creep into this hideaway we had created for ourselves. I still remember one afternoon when we had a visitor.
Everyone's standing around when a sound startles them.
A man climbs off the griffon...
If Stormblade sounds familiar, then you're recalling Felicia Stormblade from the Clean Slate summary updates. She's a descendant of this guy, and even though the Stormblades were an ancient noble family, they and Felicia were shunned by the Gallian nobility because the fall of the Solendian Knighthood occurred on Miles Stormblades watch.
FIONA: Did you get lost?
STORMBLADE: Quite the opposite. I'm glad to have found my way to your establishment. I request a private audience with your leader.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OshTocyMPIQ Epica, The Alleged Paradigm. Volrath The Author gets a lot of mileage out of this track, for Volrath The Characters theme.
"However... we are all concerned about the falsehoods you are spreading about the Solendians."
VOLRATH: Falsehoods? Can you name any?
STORMBLADE: The Grandmaster would not appreciate me getting distracted by petty details.
We humbly request that you tone down your rhetoric.
VOLRATH: I'll do no such thing. Now get out.
STORMBLADE: What is this crusade of your really about, boy? Anyone can see through this ruse of giving out knight status to any fool who asks.
But that's not the reason you've done this, is it?
One of Volrath's knights steps forward.
KNIGHT: Hey, just wait a minute--
The knight steps back.
"You can't create a knighthood simply out of rage."
VOLRATH: You're out of your element, Deputy Grandmaster. Here, "anger" is not a dirty word. We do not view emotions as an inconvenience the way you people do.
But that doesn't matter... because you're wrong. Someone so covered in the corruption that seeps through Solendus could never hope to understand our goals.
STORMBLADE: Don't do this. You may be misled, but you are driven.
You could go far in the right environment.
Leave this crowd of misfits and return to the city where you were raised. You could do great things.
If not... Things could become very ugly.
Sandahar is the only one that doesn't form up.
VOLRATH: We are one.
You insult them, and you insult me!
"You will regret this, Stormblade. You haven't even begun to see what we can do."
STORMBLADE: Young fool. You have no idea how the world works.
VOLRATH: Oh, I do. And it's a disgrace.
Stormblade climbs back on his griffon as Volrath says that, and the scene ends.
Those of us who knew Volrath as our leader... or our teacher... saw mostly compassion. However, Stormblade was not entirely wrong.
There was also anger there. Anger that ran deep. His expression wasn't some dramatic grimace... Totally the opposite.
That cold stare made everyone uneasy... even though it wasn't directed at us.
Once in a while, I would hear bits of conversation between others talking about how unnerved they had been in similar situations.
So far he had been able to hold all of that anger inside... but if he ever lost control of it... nobody wanted to think what he might be capable of.
No way, let's go all the way, baby!
Damn! Volrath must have really gotten under their skin!
That's what we thought as well... But it was more complicated than that.
Of course, none of us knew much about it at the time.
All we knew was that we had to pull together and do what we could to survive.
Shortly before the battle, I happened to find Volrath taking some time for himself not far from the castle.
ZENO: No... I wouldn't do that.
VOLRATH: I've been foolish, Zeno. I've let my emotions force me into hasty decisions... and I've brought down terrible things on all of you.
ZENO: I don't understand.
It starts to lighten...
"And that one day, Arcadius... or Perditia... or whatever force is behind all this... would correct that mistake.
And I figured I might as well put up a fight until it did.
I never cared if I died... I expected it at some point during all this. But things are different now...
All of you have put so much on the line for my sake. Never in my wildest dreams could I have expected such companionship. For the first time in my life... I belong."
VOLRATH: Oh... very good. I have real friends... people who admire me for the very traits I thought would always alienate the rest of the world.
The scene lightens some more...
VOLRATH: I sent her away... On a very special mission. She really fought me on that one, too. Wanted to stay beside me...
Isn't that wonderful?
"I'd get a simple job. Probably something to do with planning buildings or construction. I always was good at that... and that was the only thing I was really proud of during my time with the Solendians. I spearheaded a project to build a dam on a river near the city. I hired some dwarven craftsmen to help out. They did a great job... but was I ever scolded.
But I know I would regret not following through on my plan."
The sky lightens yet again...
ZENO: What do you mean?
VOLRATH: I feel it... someplace deep inside. The mistake will soon be corrected.
ZENO: But you're not a mistake!
There's a short pause here...
"But it won't always be this way. There will be day when we are all forced to put aside these false divisions.
There will be a day when things are so bad that coming together is the only hope we have...
And on that day... we will be united as one."
We're abruptly dropped into the middle of a battle scene.
Zeno takes care of his opponent, and saves a mage from another knight and then they both head northward, where the mage heals some guy and Zeno runs over to...
"Daphne... you... you can't die. Not yet..."
ENKUR: Of course I am, you fool. Ivito and Wisel are here someplace, too.
ZENO: I don't want to fight you... But I couldn't have done things any other way and been true to myself.
ENKUR: You haven't changed. Always that starry-eyed dreamer nonsense. Look where it's gotten you, Zeno!
These upstart crusades like Blacksteele's do nothing but pave the way to certain death.
ZENO: What are you trying to convince me of, Enkur?! That it would have been easier to do things your way?! Yes, it would have. But easy isn't always right!
ENKUR: Then you will die just like that pitiful woman there.
They start fighting, but I think Zeno is avoiding using his blades? Since the punch/blunt force animation is used for his attacks and...
Enkur chrages and takes out Zeno's eye. And then he counters with his own blades.
Enkur tries to walk away and then collapses.
"I didn't think it could get any worse... but I was wrong."
"I looked around and saw my companions drop their weapons. The Solendians looked quite relieved.
I had written off our conversation the night before as just nervousness... but he knew... somehow.
For all the things we said about the Solendians, they were not total barbarians. They knew enough to realize the conflict had done enough damage to their reputation, and they weren't about to make it worse by striking unarmed soldiers.
Once we surrendered, they brought the fight to an end. Our weapons were taken from us, and we were sent away like children who had misbehaved.
Completely humiliating, but we had more to worry about than pride.
Something inside all of us died that day. We believed that if we just trusted in the inherent strength of our ideas, that would be enough to get past all of the obstacles in our path.
Now we all knew how foolish that was. All of the virtue in the world didn't change the fact that Volrath was dead, that too many of our comrades had joined him... and that we had failed."
Damn! Your eye! That must have hurt like crazy!
To be honest, I forgot it even happened when I heard the news.
It was his advisor... Sandahar.
He had manipulated Volrath from the beginning. Saw his anger at Arcadius and fanned those flames to suit his own purpose.
I see Dasani made sure you were well-read. Yes, that was the situation. Sandahar convinced Volrath that if they combined their skills, they could cast a powerful spell that would draw upon Perditia's dark strength. He promised Volrath that this power would help him crush the Solendians for good.
Volrath had been inside the castle for the entire battle... fighting off a group of warriors who had teamed with the knighthood.
One of them was a childhood friend. In that way, it was almost like Enkur and me. But they didn't want him dead, they just wanted to stop him from casting that spell. They feared what Sandahar would do after Volrath's goal had been reached.
Did they cast it?
They did... just as it was complete, Sandahar turned on Volrath. He wanted the power for himself.
Somehow the others in the castle were able to defeat him. I didn't even find out any of this until almost a year after the battle.
It goes to show... Pick your friends carefully!
Is this necromancer trying to get his hands on whatever power that elf found?
Believe it or not... I hope that's what he's doing. But if it's what I fear, then it's much worse.
... And this isn't even the last of the flashbacks. There's still a lot of Stoic's story to go. But we have some gameplay to do before that. That'll be the next update though! I've always really liked this sequence and Stoic's story as a whole though. I actually tear up during it, everytime, but its not that hard to make me do that.
Anyway, one last note is that Shroud's discussion of the events of the castle makes it clear that the game that would've been about Volrath was intended to feature him as a villain (albeit a sympathetic one) and Sandahar was the final (?) boss or close to it.
This is backed up a reply I got from Volrath some time back when I asked if Volrath was intended to be the protagonist or villain of the game featuring him (he also said Volrath gives a long speech in every game he shows up.)