Part 55: ARC V: Part 10: The Sixth Age.ARC V: Part 10: The Sixth Age.
Just copying my last post here for the sake of future readers on the archive.
I hadn't heard of Dobson and Focus on the Family before but it does add some more fuel to the fire of my idea that you could read vampires (maybe even all undead?) as Solest's stand-in for LGBT+ peoples. I just tweeted as much to Volrath since it's something I've been meaning to ask about. Ask if it's intentional, I mean.
THOUGH Solest seems tolerant of gay relationships from the one example I can think of.
Co(u)lter and Dasani were in a relationship in Gallia of all places. Co(u)lter went on to be a kobold slaughtering monster, but Dasani became a great leader and basically was an earthly angel.
Anyway! When we left off, Laurel had just warned us Enkur had broken free from the cave as we continued across the beach at high tide. If you don't remember why we've been doing this, it's because Enkur is too strong to fight directly, and we intend to jump into the cave from above to confront Solich and Rana.
First up is more pillar jumping.
This area has a couple branches. The first one, the path on the right leads to a healing item.
You can skip a large part of this area too, when the right path at the second branch lets you jump to this fairy if you time the jump to use the howling wind. Buuut...
You miss out on another healing item if you don't take the long way. Plus you get to have an actual short walk for once.
To the right, and then down...
This is just southwest of that fairy. You can walk to her from here, I believe. But to the left is a jumping pillar segment that's a bit more freeform than usual.
Because there's a reward on the other side! Finley's second shockgun!
Wow, looks like we're finally here. Only took like three updates!
"I'd suggest taking out the healer first or you could be in for a nasty shock!"
Thanks fairy. We wander over to the next screen.
No skipping ahead! You gotta start after the Rain of Fire!
Wow, The Baron's really particular about storytelling.
*chuckle* Because nothing's more important at this point than story flow.
The group of us who banded together during the Rain stayed together for some time afterward.
"Everyone who knew me as Zeno was long gone... I almost felt like I had no identity at all anymore."
I strongly suspect Knaak the minotaur is a reference to the Dragonlance novel Legend of Huma by infamous schlock author Richard Knaak, which features a main character, Kaz the minotaur.
DELGREN: I'm still getting over this.
KNAAK: That makes two of us. How does anyone deal with something so unprecendented (SIC)?
ZENO: I've been alive for quite a long time now... and this is unlike anything I've experienced.
But all we can do is go on. I've had several moments where I felt like my life was over... But I guess the world didn't see it that way.
So here I am... and as long as the gods see fit to keep me here, I'll do what I can to help others who need it. That's all I've ever wanted to do.
It's also a little hamhanded to phrase it like this!
"The woman who had been tailing us since the Rain turned out to be a writer named Jayna, who had written a great deal of storybooks for children.
At that point, she wasn't sure if any of her work had survived the catastrophe. She seemed desperate to chronicle something... so she followed us."
KNAAK: What news do you bring from your travels, friends?
CARLIN: It's incredible! The whole Nuntak region has completely been cut off from the world at large.
FAIRY: We're an island now!
JAYNA: There's no telling how long it will be before anything close to a shipyard will be built here.
DELGREN: So in the meantime, we're stuck here. I guess we'll have to make due.
FAIRY: You guys may be sticking around, but it's time I was moving on.
FAIRY: Our whole government is in shambles right now... if we don't get it fixed, all sorts of people won't get the help they need!
Fortunately, we have long had a contingency plan for this sort of incident. All of us are set to meet in Rellenia.
That's one of the oldest cities on Solest. Hopefully it has survived. But I've already delayed too long. You all take care!
Everyone watches FAIRY flutter away.
"Solest slowly shifted over a long period of time, until the land where I was began to resemble the Nuntak we know. Society began to get back on its feet.
But the peace didn't last. It never does..."
There's the sound of a crackling fire.
JAYNA: *gasp* By Arcadius...
CARLIN: Did you see that?! Some monstrous... thing just walked out from behind the wreckage!
ZENO: Hmm? What are you--
That dramatic bossfight music with choir track starts playing again. Still haven't found what it is.
KNAAK: More importantly, why are we hiding and letting it get away with what has happened here?!
Enkur departs northward.
DELGREN: Are you... familiar with this creature?
KNAAK: Nothing is invincible.
ZENO: Well, then he's about as close as you can possibly get.
ZENO: No. She's been gone for some time.
CARLIN: So why is he here? Why is he doing this?
ZENO: That's... my fault. We fought each other long ago as humans, and I struck him in the head. His mind was never right after that.
He's bloodthirsty... and totally irrational. Any trace of sanity he had was gone when he was resurrected. Now he's nothing but a killing machine.
I helped create him... but last time we fought, I could do nothing against him.
KNAAK: Yet we can not sit idly by. This creature a threat to everyone we have been trying to protect.
ZENO: You're right... But I don't know what to do.
I made it so easy for myself to forget about Enkur... but he's my responsibility.
Fiona, Volrath, Dalton, Gwyneth and Mephesto appear... in Zeno's minds-eye?
ZENO: Let's follow him... and hope that we can find some way to stop him for good.
"As it turned out, this was where he had made himself at home. Thankfully, it was nearly devoid of civilization. Perhaps that was what he liked."
DELGREN: For Arcadius's sake! Keep your voice down or we're done for!
JAYNA: You're yelling at me to make that point? I think I missed something.
JAYNA: What's he doing?
ZENO: It looks like he's just... watching the sea.
DELGREN: He looks... peaceful.
JAYNA: Maybe we ought to just leave him here.
ZENO: Can't risk that. But there is clearly something about this place that appeals to him... explains why he seems to have settled here.
Maybe it's part of the reason why he's stayed quiet for all this time since we beat Elissa.
"Thankfully, Delgren found such an inspiration."
CARLIN: Chances are he will jump right back out!
DELGREN: I know that. That's why getting him into the hole is only the first half of the plan.
ZENO: Then what happens?
DELGREN: Look up there. You see that enormous rock?
KNAAK: Yes! An impressive boulder, visible even from here.
DELGREN: This is what we'll do. Carlin will stay in here for now. We find Enkur and I will draw him inside this cave.
I'm the fastest here, so I'll be able to stay out of his way long enough to get him near the hole. Carlin can use his ice spells to freeze the area near the edges.
Enkur slips and falls in. Knaak and uh... Bones will be up there. When Enkur falls in the hole, I'll signal.
Then you two will push the boulder through the hole at the top of this cave. It should land right on top on Enkur, and he'll be stuck in there.
Well, kind of. Delgren's idea was well thought out... But things didn't go according to plan.
KNAAK: Of course! We are not babies! Just be careful.
Delgren dashes into the cave.
Enkur rams the bottom of the cliff they're on.
He rams it again, with enough force to make the screen shake and everyone jump.
ZENO: He's after me... We'll have to use that as best we can. Let's go!
KNAAK: What?! You should be part of the cliff after a blow like that!
ZENO: I told you! You can't fight him!
Jayna casts some sort of buff on Zeno.
Zeno zips around, dodging Enkur's blows.
And then uses his good old bullrush to knock Enkur into the cave.
DELGREN: You better believe it worked! Right on top of the bastard!
CARLIN: Ha ha ha! Great job, guys! He's never coming out of there!
JAYNA: Well... I'm hardly an expert. It was just something I learned quickly years ago. Helps me write quicker when I have to meet a deadline.
KNAAK: You made out pretty well. You shall be leaving here with quite the story.
JAYNA: Don't I know it! Your names will go down in history! Though I still don't know yours...
https://youtu.be/mtKQzzi82yY?t=118 'Stoic's Theme' aka 'Jean Jacques Burnel - Desire (Revenge Is Mine)' at the 2 minute mark.
It took a while for Jayna's account to spread... especially in those days after The Rain of Fire, but over the years, more people seemed to know of me.
But she was only able to make so many copies... there weren't exactly ample resources in those times. To be honest, I didn't think any had survived.
But that must be what Solik read. It's the only way he would have been able to figure out Enkur was here.
Well, you know what? You beat him once... and you can do it again. This time, you have our help.
Stoic's Theme stops here.
Are you... scared? I never thought I would see that.
Yes... I am. Because I have no idea what to do. He's back... and we're all in deep trouble.
It seems like Solik wants chaos... something to shake up the foundations of society. With Enkur, he'll get that.
Well, we gotta do something! Let's pulverize all of them before this gets too crazy!
Were you listening at all?! We can't defeat Enkur! None of us! Not even me... I just got lucky.
Even if that's true... We can't sit around and do nothing. This could cost lives all over the world.
Hmm... During my first battle with him, I survived because he lost his bearings after Elissa was defeated.
Without a master to help direct his rage, he's generally less dangerous. His mind has deteriorated to the point where he'll just lash out wildly without orders to follow. If we could take out Solik, we may be able to get Enkur into another trap.
I don't think Enkur will fall for the same trick twice, but maybe we can come up with something else.
There's another hole down there, so we have to be extra careful.
Good. Let's do this.
Yep. I'll use a wind spell to guide our drop so we miss that other hole.
No time to be squeamish. Everyone get ready.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YkYcjNTL0Ms 'Solik's Theme' aka 'Apocalyptica - Cohkka'
No, we have to wait until the rain stops.
Why's that so important?
I can't stand it, that's why! It gets in my skull and swishes around. Drives me nuts.
I think you're there already.
You went too far this time. All of this should have stayed in the past.
Heh... The past is prologue, as they say.
Look, you maniac! We are not going to let you start some kind of massacre. I don't care what sort of monsters you throw at us!
Impressive bravado, but I'm sure by now Stoic has told you about Enkur's strength. You can't win.
"Not Volrath, not General Mephesto, and not Stoic. In fact, you don't even deserve to be anywhere near the places where these guys risked their lives for what was right! Now get ready, cause I'm gonna put some dents in your skull!"
I don't deserve....
Ah ha ha ha ha!!
That laughing again...
I think you three fools have quite an unreliable narrator in your midst! What rosy version of the history has he been telling you?
Volrath Blacksteele is one of my heroes!
Did Stoic ever explain exactly how Volrath acquired the resources to build a knighthood from scratch? A rogue knight who nobody trusts suddenly becomes a revolutionary with seemingly endless resources? Ha! Exercise your critical thinking skills, my friends.
What are you going on about now?
Volrath was a necromancer! He learned the fundamentals from the dark elf, Sandahar. Spent years honing his skills before he began the rebellion.
The two of them came up with a plan that was quite brilliant. Volrath cast only one necromancy spell, but it was a wise one.
They returned the necromancer Thaniel Mortrus to life as a lich, and then gave him the task of amassing a small army of undead warriors.
Thaniel, or Thanatos, as he preferred to be called after that, joined with Sandahar to gather resources for the campaign ahead.
While Volrath appealed to potential members of the new knighthood, they committed various crimes in order to gather some quick funding.
Kidnappings... robberies. Volrath knew this was going on, but ignored it! The ends justified the means, I suppose.
Oh, that's crap!
It isn't... is it, Stoic?
It is true... He was desperate.
Thanatos eventually got out of control, and was killed by General Mephesto. Volrath made no attempt to save him.
He had realized his mistake.
That wasn't his only mistake, was it, Stoic? Tell me... did he ever tell you exactly why the Solendians attacked the castle when they did?
Heh... Didn't think so. Perhaps he at least mentioned the argument Volrath had with Miles Stormblade?
After that confrontation, Volrath was livid. Anger was his greatest weakness, after all. It was easy for Sandahar to talk him into accelerating the plan to destroy the Solendians and tap into Perditia's power.
He suggested that they have Grandmaster Drake Ramzad killed.
Sandahar had summoning skills, and sent a creature to carry out this assassination. Volrath approved the plan.
That was why he felt so guilty before he died...
He realized all of his mistakes a little too late. But I can forgive the man his flaws... considering everything he did for my predecessors.
By the time Volrath began his campaign, the necromancers were nearly gone. The wars the Solendians waged against us almost wiped us out.
He did what none of us could do. He began a chain of events that ultimately destroyed the knighthood that made our lives miserable for centuries.
Necromancers throughout history owe him a great debt, including Elissa Brightwey.
You see, Stoic? This is what I have been trying to tell you all along. You were too close to all of these events to properly understand their significance. You're good for quotations, anecdotes, those little details that are hard to find. But you don't see the whole picture.
But I spent my entire life looking at the whole picture of Solest's history, and eventually I came to a surprisingly simple realization.
Want to hear it?
"So many people look to Arcadius, when it is Perditia that holds the key to the future. Think of all the hate always directed at the dark arts.
What if it was gone? What if people understood the true possibilities of necromancy? It wasn't easy to find out the secret to the Forbidden Spell of Rebirth, but I did it... and it was spectacular.
Imagine if doctors all over the world were assisted by highly skilled necromancers.
There would be no more reason to mourn murders... or sudden accidents. We could return these people to life, and if someone grew old and wanted to see their descendants live on, they could enjoy centuries of additional existence as skeletons. Perditia has always wanted us to have that control over life and death... Control that would lead our world into a new age! But the forces of Arcadius have worked throughout time to keep it from us!
But now I shall bring about what she always intended... A glorious new era. The Fifth Age has gone on long enough, don't you think?
It is time to usher the Sixth."
You would say that, wouldn't you? You little dutiful stooge.
Hey, you better watch it!
The Sixth Age, eh? And your name would be in all the history books as the one who brought it on. That's what you really want.
It's... a nice perk.
It is a bloody road to my goal... that is true. But there is no other way to break the stranglehold Arcadius has over the people of Solest.
The people must behold the full destructive power of Perditia before we can shape the society I seek... but who are you to lecture me on methods?
Were Volrath's methods justified? Or is it easier for you to just ignore them?
He made grave errors in judgment. I won't run away from that, but that doesn't diminish my admiration. Without him, I wouldn't be who I am.
Once your remains are strewn about this cave, you might want to ask yourself if you still owe him such gratitude.
Ha ha ha... Just try it. I have not had a chance to test my new abilities in combat. Come Rana, let us crush these idealists once and for all!
Not gonna lie, I can see why Stoic had a thing for Rana.
Anyway, I have Shroud blind both of them right off the bat, and Stoic and Baron buff themselves. Laurel starts pumping out holy damage which is super effective on these two.
After that, since Rana's the healer, we focus fire on her, not counting the fact that Laurels holy spell gets both of them.
Solich also has a paralyse spell he uses on Laurel, which I quickly have Shroud heal.
Rana wilts on the fourth turn.
And Solich goes down two turns later. Didn't even need to heal!
Then Enkur groans as he barges in. There's no music for this part.
Uh oh... Not good.
Stand your ground, guys!
*sigh* I guess in the end it was foolish to think I wouldn't have to confront you again.
Well, come on! What are you waiting for?
It... can talk?
I will do no fighting.
... Excuse me?
You do not control me. Only my mother ever could... and you are not as strong as she.
Your mother? You mean Elissa?
Yes. You look surprised, Zeno. You were ready to be crushed, I suppose.
... Is that really you in there?
I'm told I have been under that rock for a long time. All I can remember is anger. Anger at you especially.
But then I walked otuside. The world seems so different. Things in the past... seem pointless now.
Solich moves in front of Enkur.
... Nice. I think I like you!
I am not here to fight. I heard him go on about things that have happened since I was trapped here. All the violent things people have done.
I feel... outdated. At one time, all I wanted was to crush everyone and everything I saw. I wanted to get back at the world.
But that world is over. These centuries have given me time to collect my thoughts... to regain some kind of control.
You and I have never seen eye to eye, Zeno. But you are the only connection I have left to this world. Getting rid of you seems... wrong.
But... what will you do? You know I could never let you terrorize the world the way you used to.
I am finished with that. I remain on this world... and so do you. Perhaps Elissa had more complicated reasons for creating us the way she did.
We have been given the chance to live through the ages... and sometimes that felt like a curse. But perhaps... it does not have to be.
The only thing I can do is try to find out how I want to spend the rest of the time I have here.
With that, I bid you all farewell.
Whoa whoa, don't cause trouble now, Shroud!!
I think all that time under the rock was enoufh, don't you?
Do not follow me. Do not try to find me again.
Well, yeah! What else would you do under there?
I don't like it.
He will keep his word... I hope. Someday, we may have to deal with him. But for now...we have other priorities.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JozVfR-XavQ 'Rana's Theme' aka 'Silent Hill 2 OST - Theme Of Laura (Reprise)'
You've been awfully quiet during all of this, Rana.
A lot has happened in a short time, Bones. You never told me...
I thought about it. But I have to be honest. After everything that happened, I am glad I didn't.
This all has changed. He's not the mentor I remember. This new power... It changed him.
I never became involved in this to hurt people.
Well, you didn't put up much of a fight did you?! You sat by and let him massacre those people, all in the name of that horrible goddess!
I am not going to have a theological debate with you, priestess.
She has a point, Rana. You're an accessory to murder.
Stoic quickly looks back at the party and then back at Rana.
"You and I are very similar, Rana. We always have been, and I suppose that's why we became friends. You grew up feeling out of place.
Because of how I felt, I was willing to throw my lot in with anyone who seemed to appreciate me. Sometimes these people were honorable, and sometimes they were not. Stephen Farmast did things that contradicted what I stood for... and yet it took me some time to realize it.
... Go, Rana. You will find your place eventually, as I did."
Wait! We're just letting her go?! We can't do that! Right, Shroud?
There's a pause here...
... Sometimes justice has to be merciful. I'm not positive it should be in this case... But Stoic's been around a lot longer than I have.
You're... really going to let me leave here?
... Thank you.
And... I'm so sorry.
... I know.
Rana's Theme stops playing.
"people make when they are experiencing emotions. To assign a word to one of these codes, society must be in agreement on its meaning.
But the word can only transmit the meaning if it fits within the grammatical structure of a society's language. Dissecting these codes adds shades of connontation (SIC) to numerous aspects of life!"
"But I still don't get why you care."
How can anyone not?
Yes! Yes! And then seeking to understand why our mind connects certain reactions to these situations!
For example... When I see Pilc talking, I become bored.
Douglas the tiger roars.
What's going on, Douglas?
Well. This can't be good.
Yeah. You weren't all that quiet, not like that the other guy (actual in game grammar) who skulks around here. He's light on his feet, but I can still tell he's out prowling around.
I haven't been here very long, but I've heard a few stories about a group of outlaws who take mercenary jobs. Have I been misinformed?
You have not. We are the Touten Corps, but we do not just take any job. The details first.
Oh, I think you will want this job.
If you've been living near Harrol for any significant period of time, you must have heard about The Tower of Arcadius.
Have you ever heard of a group of Gallian sympathizers called... The Hand?
The Hand?! You bet we have!
Wait... So they're the ones using the tower?
Yes... of course. The descriptions I heard of the intent behind the tower were always... vague. No doubt this is a major effort to assimilate humans who might not otherwise be swayed by their rhetoric. They come to a municipality which has dealt with economic struggles for decades, and suddenly provide jobs and income to the desperate populace. The townsfolk will then begin to associate the group's values with the force that has lifted them out of poverty. Quite brilliant, really. Their membership should increase dramatically.
Wha... You figured all of that out just now? That's... arrgh!!
Huh? Why are you shouting?
Ugh... Forget it. Just having some.. Stomach problems.
Our friend Pilc is quite intelligent, but this strategy isn't new. In the wars, we called it "Winning hearts and minds."
Haha, that's not subtle at all.
"Still, this concerns me greatly. I hope the job you are about to propose involves putting a stop to this enterprise.
I don't feel like being targeted by these overzealous fools so soon after relocating to this area."
We should crush them all!
No need to go that far. For now... A change in leadership will suffice.
Alright, let's cut it here for now! I think the rest of ARC V is mostly just cutscenes, maybe not even all that many, but this update's long as it is. The next one probably will be up before too long, so look forward to that. Ariel's already making a move before she's done an ounce of work for The Hand. She's a real damn go-getter.