Part 58: ARC VI Part 2: Into Trouble.ARC VI Part 2: Into Trouble.
To start with for this update, as is now almost the custom, we'll start with some Volrath words.
Seraphic Neoman posted:Is there anything you'd wish to rewrite or change? I wrote about this in the thread previously but the change in real world political atmosphere probably changed the outlook of certain pieces of dialogue. Any specific parts you would want to change or keep since making this game?
Volrath posted:ArtBane and I have theorized about what a remake of this game would be like, although it would have to be commercial to be worth the effort and would likely be prohibitively expensive. I'd restructure some stuff, introduce certain characters earlier, that kind of thing. But it sounds like we're really talking about the big picture themes.
One of my bigger regrets about the story is that I didn't communicate Cade's character arc as well as I wanted to. A lot of people played and assumed his ranting was the totally unfiltered author's point of view, which they found too blunt and over the top. And while I do generally agree with the heroes on principles, Cade's story is about him learning how to be a really effective advocate. I think as we get through more of Arc VI, you'll start to see that, but the people who turned it off in Arc II because they were sick of him obviously didn't. Twitter wasn't around when we started this but it illustrates a trap that people fall into, which is just scolding people constantly and thinking that makes any significant difference. That stuff isn't a substitute for voting, organizing, etc.
I'd also want to get into the idea of "stochastic terrorism," which refers to the way that leaders demonize certain people without saying anything that would open them up to legal trouble, predicting (often correctly) that other people will hear them and carry out the dirty work. It would also be interesting to explore how almost nobody applies the concept of freedom of speech universally. For example, the people currently exercising their right to cry tyranny because they can't go to Olive Garden are the same people who lose their minds if a black guy kneels during the national anthem. The Hand is out to revive the Gallian way of life but I can't imagine they would respect the right of the rebellion to fight for their own values back in the day.
There's not really a Trump equivalent in Solest - and there won't be in any future stories, the people of that world have suffered enough. But the closest is probably Ariel, at least if Ariel was a senior citizen with early stages of dementia. They share a ruthless opportunism. I don't believe that Trump has any sincere concern that white guys are being oppressed by political correctness or whatever. He just knows that white resentment stuff has worked for him in the past so he keeps doing it. He has no cause except for himself.
The rest of Arc VI and VII might give me a few more ideas on this topic, we'll have to see.
Anyway, when we'd last left off, Ketsu was 'earning' his wings, Kovak and Vec were plotting how to ensure a not-guilty verdict, and Cade was leaving behind the rest of pur heroes after reading something shocking in the manuscript Auburn had left for him.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uWMhz_t2f_E 'Harrol' aka 'Twilight Street - Ambient Mix' by Yasunori Mitsuda
I've never played the Shadow Hearts games. Are they any good?
The first NPC you run into helpfully relates the story of the attempted assassination and ascension to Cade, as well as mentioning Ketsu's subsequent Gallian ranting. He then laments the town may have sold its soul by accepting Ketsu's help.
There's not much in the inn but a kobold who mistakes Cade for someone else and tells him to knock four times.
Ancient history... that's not even completely accurate because it's so simplified! It's not really important, but I believe in the Clean Slate VLP he did, Volrath says he wrote a short story about Mina killing a necromancer harassing Harrol, and that was her motivation to join Seth on his quest to destroy Gallia, since the Midnight Guild was doing Gallia's dirty work in lands far from Gallia at that point.
After she left, that necromancers birdman apprentice revived him as a lich (apparently a really weak one though). Early in Clean Slate proper they had resumed harassing Harrol until Arius and co. rallied the people of Harrol to help defeat them and their undead army. That was the Battle of Harrol.
The south side of Harrol has a pair of long residential streets. Most of the homes are locked but we can see Violet here on the southmost street. I'll ignore her for the moment though.
I cross-referenced some dates and worked out that the best episode of the show being referenced was pretty old by the time Arc VI came out.
Unfortunately, we cannot go down to see Kovak ourselves yet. The guard does mention three people have been caught attempting to bribe the jury though, so lol.
Further east past the court/guard house is this... empty little area with just one chest, unless I've forgotten something.
Back to the town proper.
We can enter the house next door to the one we're in front of. Wonder how annoying it is to have the bulletin board right by your front window.
Well, we're a bit richer now! There's a guard near this house too, saying something about a thief in the area.
A bunch of people mention the firespinner spiders in town. They're to produce the strongest silk in the world, and someone mentions the local smith could probably make fire-resistant armour with some.
To head towards the spider's nest, Cade changes into his costume.
Nothing for us to do for now...
Backtracking back to Harrol and then out the north exit... leads us to our target. But we can't enter The Palm so directly. Cade's not THAT reckless.
The northeast corner of Harrol has a little outdoor cafe. The area where Ketsu got his wings is just offscreen to the west.
Around here there's a guy who says he never would have expected minotaurs to be wise and intelligent until he met Galdar, and that Galdar is -not- an exception that proves the rule.
There's also some talk about a shady merchant in the inn but I couldn't figure out what to do there yet.
Cade! What in the name of Arcadius are you doing here in Harrol?!
Were you at that event in town where all that crazy stuff went down? You know, with The Hand?
You bet I was! My aunt's still recovering from what that bastard did to her!
Can I talk to her? I've got a lot of questions about that.
I guess... but why?
Because I'm Shroud and I'm here to take those Hand guys down.
Well, why not just tell everyone that knows you at this point. Everyone's figured it out except Equipment King and The Hand because they have little to no knowledge of Cade and co.
There's a long pause here.
Wow... You know, that makes a lot of sense.
But you're crazy to think you can fight them alone!
Finley was the only character perceptive enough to figure out Shroud and Stoic's identity without being told, or having major context clues (like Rana did) or just straight out unmasking someone.
Why don't you let me worry about that part. For now, I really would like to talk to her... to both of you about all this.
She says she'll unlock the door and we can come in whenever.
They're upstairs, and when we go up, Mina immediately leaps out of bed.
Aunt Mina! You still need to rest!
Oh, Violet, I got knocked around much worse than this during the wars.
Yeah but you're like over twice the age you were then. Oh yeah, come to think of it, Mina got captured by Tor Lamorak and Evander Till. Evander Till would become the original Sparrow after the war.
Wait a minute... You knew my father?
Father... Are you Rayne or Cade?
I haven't seen either of them since they were babies.
Wait a minute, what's going on?
I'm a little confused myself.
Violet, my mother... your grandmother... before she got married, her name was Greta Mistral.
Her brother, Edward Mistral, was Cade's grandfather.
So we're... related?
... Sheesh. No wonder we fight all the time.
We've lived in the same apartment building without even realizing that we're family?
I... This is ridiculous.
What a wonderful surprise! Let's go downstairs where we can sit and have a real conversation.
Damn... Even you couldn't beat him.
If I had Galdar with me, things might have been different. But he's been preoccupied with the trial.
Seems you were right about Kovak, Cade. Galdar told me all the evidence you and the others gave to that author... It's disgusting what he's done.
I hope it works... but don't underestimate the power of his money. It may yet get him out of this.
But he's not my target right now. Ketsu is.
But that's crazy!
Still has to be done. Just like Kovak had to be stopped.
That may be, but why does it have to be you? Maybe it could be someone with an actual plan!
You know, that kind of crap is what got us into this mess! Everyone wants to stay comfortable and wait for someone else to do the right thing, but eventually at least one person has to take up the call. If we don't put an end to this now, it will become the next Gallia!
Enough! By Arcadius...
... I should be honest. There's a personal part of this.
I have reason to believe The Hand was involved in what happened to my father.
What? I thought your father died in a landslide.
Cole Marin's book made it clear that he felt The Hand was responsible, but he didn't have anything concrete.
My brother always told me that I would eventually hear the "real reason" behind his death... but he never had the chance to tell me.
Aunt Mina, don't tell me you're going to go along with this!
Violet, our family's honor is at stake here... to say nothing of the peace between the races we've had since Gallia fell.
But you're not quite ready, Cade. Not just yet...
"As a result, you've learned many techniques on your own. They're effective, but you have not reached your full potential."
"We can't spare much time, and I'm not so cocky to think I can teach you all you missed out on in one session.
However, I hope I can at least put you on the path to discovering the full extent of your own capacity."
"For all of your spells, your process is calling upon the wind, aiming it at a foe, and then allowing it to go its own way. Is this correct?"
... Yeah. What else would I do?
Heh. Allow me to tell you. The technique I will introduce to you allows a user to summon the wind and maintain its presence for a long while.
The wind will swirl in a circle around you, slapping any enemy who attempts to harm you. They may land their hit, but they'll pay for it.
*Pant* No, it's not. But you seem to have figured out the basics. Nice work.
I'm also grateful for my dark wind spell... Even though I was surprised I was able to pick it up.
You've spent so much time around Stoic, whose very existence is maintained by dark magic. You've been slowly and quietly exposed to that energy.
At any rate, I think... I...
I... I'm fine. Just exerted myself too much, I suppose. That's enough... for one day.
"I wish I could help, but too few people witnessed how Ketsu behaved after his transformation. Representatives from the town like myself and Galdar can't get away with participating in any kind of attack on his compound... Not after we advocated for it in the first place."
It's still lunacy! He's in over his head already.
... I just have to rise to the occasion, I guess.
One more thing... My spear was destroyed during my fight with him... But since you have experience in a blacksmith shop, you may be able to create another one. It would be a great asset.
Hmm... I mostly stick to armor.
Well, the recipe for the spear is upstairs if you want to make an attempt. I'll start by giving you this.
She gives us obsidian.
That piece of obsidian is said to give the spear extra force when used. I managed to salvage it from the old one.
How are you planning on getting into that compound, anyhow? They spent a ton of money on the security.
Yeah some guy in town talked about this vaguely. He said lots of spikes were involved.
I suspect I'll have to get the Toutens to help out with that.
They're the ones who attacked Ketsu, judging from your story.
They'll help me... I hope.
Ugh... I shouldn't have asked.
Once I'm all set here, I'll head into the forest and try to root them out. They tend to hide out in the wilderness.
I... I just want to thank you...
For all you've done. You know, I'd forgotten what it was like. To have a family, I mean.
You were alone for a long time... While I played politics all around the world. I wish I hadn't fallen so out of touch, perhaps I could have helped back then.
Gods willing, we'll have many more years to spend time together.
You be careful. As careful as you even can be with something nuts like this, at least.
*Chuckle* You never stop, do you? But thanks.
Yeah, that's a bit of a list.
I head out the west side of town, past the path blocked off by webs.
There's a click as you step here, and then Shroud leaps back in time to avoid exploding. One of Morias' traps. Shroud notes he must be going the right way. When you try to go that way again, you get point of no return warning. We're not quite ready though!
A lady in the local bank... but nothing we need is here...
Do get a lead at the local armor store that -nearly- became an Equipment King. He only wants 150gp for the tool steel, which is pennies for us right now.
He says no, and directs us to ask at the trading post, which is near the courthouse.
Also this guy is here.
LIZZIE: Money? Trader Lizzie doesn't do money, my friend. That stuff's evil! It corrupts our entire society!
Well, she's not wrong,
Okay... Does that mean I get it for free?
She says no, she just trades for what she needs at any given time. And right now she's in the mood for dessert.
A very confused Cade asks if she wants anything specific and she says nope! Just sweet!
We get our leather. Now... to find the last few things.
We buy some planks off this guy for 200gp. Now to somehow turn our Stolen Gold Bars into a Gold Bar. Let's go to the courthouse.
This guy complains for a while, before noticing we have the bars and asks for them back.
He's hesitant but says he might be able to get one of his rich buddies to fill in the blanks. We get our gold bar. Just the firespinner silk left.
Not a huge upgrade, but it's something! NOW we're ready to leave Harrol.
"divine intervention, but there's no evidence to support his ludicrous claims!"
They used to say the same thing about Dasani of Boreal.
Maybe they both lied.
There's a noise and both Tyranda and Douglas jump up and move.
Other guy? Oh, not that again. Come on Tyranda, there's nobody near the camp!
So what brings you here, Shroud? Do you intend to try and drag us all to jail by yourself?
No, nothing like that. Actually, I've come to ask for your help.
Is that so? Where are your compatriots?
They don't need to be involved in this.
Start talking, man. What's going on?
I'm out to dismantle The Hand once and for all, and I figure the best way to do that is to start at the top.
You wish to challenge the one they call Ketsu?
You're nuts! I assume you heard about what happened to us when we tried that... Didn't go well.
Let's not mince words. We got our butts kicked.
I think if I could just get a shot at him, I could take him down. Wouldn't be easy, but nobody's invincible.
Maybe we could get you in there... but what's the point? He'll mop the floors with you!
Don't make hasty assumptions just yet. You all seem to have forgotten your own defeats.
Haven't you underestimated him enough?
So we're going to help?
Once a Touten, always a Touten, right?
Right. Come Shroud, let's discuss this further.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-F85XEb1PXk Apocalyptica - 'Coma'
Heh... Perhaps they intended for Arcadius to be able to see their logo. Still want to go inside?
Of course. But how do I get over there? A bit beyond one of my wind jumps.
What did you have in mind?
In my days as a general in the orc army, I always felt it was best to try and take as many foes as possible before the official "battle" began.
I see... and you do have a few archers on your team.
So we make our move at nightfall?
No. I think that would work against us in this case. We will make our move tomorrow morning.
At night, it seems certain that all of their agents are gathered inside the compound. During the day, however, many of them will likely be out in town conducting various errands and pursuing Ketsu's warped plans. The less infantry you have to deal with on your way inside, the better.
And just how am I getting over there?
My clan formed an alliance with numerous griffin tribes during our wars against Gallia.
Pilc will take their form and use their call to action. He will be pleased to show that off. It required of him a great deal of practice.
*Chuckle* I went to the right guy, that's for sure.
There is one thing I am curious about, however...
"I respect the decisions a warrior makes... But I do wonder... At this point, why are you still bothering with that silly costume?"
*Chuckle* Good question.
But at this point, it's only fitting that he has to face me in this mask.
After all... He created me.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CPgPxGX6nNo 'Mombasa' from the Inception soundtrack.
Morias and Shroud each take out a man...
The fourth, though...
"Ah... She can't hear me. Oh well. Quick and easy, just like Cyneric planned."
Even so, that was much easier than I thought. I suppose they never expected to be attacked from above.
Yeah, but there will be a lot more inside! Remember what we talked about. If you get in there and you feel like you're outnumbered, see if you can get back up to the roof. I'll be standing by for a while, and Tyranda and Shadehorn are back on the mountain with Douglas waiting for a signal.
They see that signal, and the griffins will get them over here for backup.
Thanks, but I have a feeling I can fight my way through there.
I have to say, I really admire you for doing this. You're a human, so you wouldn't have all that much to lose if the Gallian way of life came back.
... I couldn't live my life in peace knowing so many others were suffering for no good reason.
A lot of people could. Anyhow, take these. They're meant to disable magic users. Actually, some of the others were talking about using them on you in case we ever had to fight again. But now they should come in handy.
We get 5x Mute Bombs. Morias tells us we can get more from him if we come back after running out.
Thanks, I really appreciate it.
Good luck, buddy.
Don't be fooled by the stubby digits, the roof is HUGE and mostly bare. There's a chest with a miracle ether in one corner.
Random encounters too. This'll be interesting with one party member. Nearby there's a hall leading south lined with rooms.
These guys cast holy spells to attack and also buff their defenses (and their dark resist) but are otherwise weak.
The Hand banner has two fingers...? Also the food is a onetime HP heal.
I get this guy for a random encounter. A single cast of Malevolent Wind (Shroud's dark spell) wipes the casters out most of the time. It also has a chance to silence, sooooo.
In a room with a caster, I have to move these shelves to reveal this banner.
Each room also has an 'equipment type'.
The last room has a healer. They go down even more easily to Malevolent Wind.
The stairs down are actually directly across from the first ones.
And another set of Hand banners!
One time SP refill!
The Hand Fighters are red and can actually take a spell.
Great. I'll need to go look for it.
"We are not allowed to talk to each other about the code, but I've noticed all The Hand posters have different numbers of fingers. I think this is meant to be some kind of silent communication. The Hands only have five fingers, but some of the code numbers are higher than five. You would need two hands to count that high..."
It trails off there.
All of the hall posters have all five digits, so...
"As of last week, the new teamwork door initiative has begun. Each class of soldiers has been given their own number. To open the door a representative from the fighters, defenders, casters, and healers must be present to input their part of the code and it must be in that class order. Do not attempt to cheat by sharing your number - Mistress Cari will know and you will receive demerits!"
I am unclear how this is supposed to help teamwork.
But the answer should be clear. Just add the two banners from the two rooms for a given class.
What the?! Evrind? What the hell are you doing here?!
What do you think? I'm part of The Hand now. What difference is it to you, anyhow?
I... I can't believe this. What... would your friends at the monastery think?
What do you care?! You killed my brother, and now you act concerned for my welfare? You're the reason I'm here, idiot.
Dican accomplished great things because of the guidance he found within this group. Now with their help, I'm going to avenge him!
I've been waiting for this. As soon as I heard you were here, I made sure I would be the one to put a stop to whatever you're up to.
As soon as you hear... how did any of you know?
You would like to know that, wouldn't you? Well, too bad. All I'll tell you is that when you combine the security here with the powers of the officers, this fortress is almost impenetrable.
Your fate was sealed the moment you stepped foot in here.
I've told you before that I didn't kill your brother. We wanted him alive to learn about what The Hand was doing, but then that rubble suddenly fell.
Pfft... You'll say anything. It's too late for any of that. I've done nothing but train since I arrived here.
I've mastered my brother's techniques and then some. See for yourself!
Four Evrinds training different techniques...
... Ah, god damn it.
So... First I put up Vortex. Evrind puts up Counter-Attack while his clones try to wail on me.
On the second turn, I put up Counter-Attack too, which Evrind himself taught us way back in Arc III. The combo of both destroys one of the clones.
On the fourth turn, they're all down. Evrind uses a defense lowering attack at this point, and starts hitting a little hard.
And just a couple turns later...
Strong enough... But you went a little overboard in describing your powers. They were different than Dican's, but not necessarily stronger.
You can make more duplicates of yourself, but as individuals, they were weak. Dican's copies were almost as powerful as he was.
You've come far, but you aren't going to keep me from putting an end to Ketsu's madness. I don't want to hurt you. I never did.
My clones might not be strong enough... I'll have to rely on my own raw strength!
Evrind charges Shroud, who nimbly dodges around him.
A little bit. But it was from the best.
Evrind leaps at Shroud repeatedly, who leaps back in turn each time.
Shroud dodges, Evrind hits the wall, but then...
He moves incredibly quickly to hit Shroud against the wall.
Hah! If that bothers you, then stay still!
Evrind zips back and forth, hitting Shroud in the process.
Evrind's super punch is dodged again.
And a brick falls on his head.
A lot more bricks nearly fall on his head.
Huh? You... you saved me. But... why?
Because you're better than this. You're not like the monsters that run this cult... and maybe your brother wasn't either.
The reason we went into that mine in the first place was to look into reports of kidnapped children. When we got there, we saw the kids put to work.
But I noticed your brother kept them fed and sheltered... despite the circumstances. Not that this is an excuse or anything... but it was a shock.
A small bit of compassion in the midst of this horrible scheme they were involved in.
Maybe if he hadn't been so wrapped up in all of the extreme nonsense that gets preached by these Gallian morons, he could have been great.
We'll never know now. And I'm not to blame for that. If I was as skilled then as I am now, perhaps I could have saved him too.
But it was The Hand who put him down there in the first place.
It was The Hand that squandered the potential he had to do something better with his life. And I don't want to see them do that to you.
Who... Who are you?
... I expect you'll know before too long. Enough other people do. But for now, I have to deal with Ketsu.
You... You're just going to leave me here?
I'm done fighting you. It's time to take the fight to the top.
That's... You can't expect to win.
There's a pause here.
... The odds seem bad. But I have to try... and if I fail... That's that.
But you... Get outta here. I'm sure those you left behind miss you very much. More than these self-righteous fanatics ever will.
We leave him there.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-F85XEb1PXk Apocalyptica - 'Coma'
"life and death.
The books on the tables have likely been read recently, so they may be the most useful to check out."
Shroud runs us through which shelves have which letters.
"Wow. Seems like the construction of this tower nearly bankrupted them... Especially because they were paying so many local craftsmen around here to help out. And with Kovak out of the picture, they've lost their major source of revenue.
... If they want to stay afloat, they will probably have to do something drastic. I suppose it's a good thing I came when I did."
"But this page is really worn. People here are really interested in that... For whatever reason."
"Hmm... This author claims that the first group of humans who learned the various elemental schools of magic still have descendants living in Solest. Supposedly these families have more potential for mastery of their particular element than any other sorcerer without a history of it in their family. Do the Mistrals go back that far? *Sigh* There's so much I never had a chance to learn."
"Laurel's mentor, that Dasani lady, was the last recorded holy mage to gain that winged form before Ketsu. Makes sense they would look at this now. Everyone who achieves this transformation tends to cast themselves as a favorite of Arcadius. Who knows... Maybe that's true. But how could Arcadius favor both Ketsu and Dasani? They're polar opposites... Makes no damn sense.
The mages who get to this level get a lot of new skills as a result. The "cocoon" technique is usually found almost immediately after the transformation. The user wraps themselves in their wings and goes into some kind of... brief hibernation? Weird. Anyway, while they are asleep, they immerse themselves in holy magic and when they emerge, they attain even greater strength than before. Ketsu only got his wings recently... He may be in this cocoon state. If so, that's my best chance to take him out."
Hmm? What's this? Some kind of index sheet... This will tell me what's in each bookcase. I recognize most of these topics... Whoa, wait a minute. What is the Great Awakening? Anything with a name like that has to be trouble."
Hoo boy, thats a phrase with a lot of baggage.
"Hmm... More stuff about the Rain of Fire. What is their fascination with that?"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tlrG9fzrlX8 'Ariel's Theme' aka Ninja Gaiden 2 'SongofChaos' OCRemix by Daknit, Bard of Tarot
"Now I see... We weren't the only ones."
May I see your library card?
Yow! Who the hell are you?!
You don't know who I am? Hmm... From the looks of it, you're too young. No matter.
I'm Ariel D'Eleficent... And I take it you are the intruder. Time to come with me, you little runt.
I don't think so, lady.
... That's so cute. He thinks he has a choice.
You better back off or you're going to get hurt.
Heh heh heh heh...
Ah ha ha ha ha ha! You want to fight, do you? Fine with me!
Shroud dodges a lightning bolt...
And uses the wind to hit Ariel with a book.
And then a second book.
She dodges the third, though.
The animation for her next spell is screen wide, so...
Ketsu removes Shroud's mask.
The name's Cade Mistral, jackass!
Mistral? Ha ha ha! What a brilliant stroke of luck!
What are you talking about?
I've had so much trouble tracking down someone I could use from his family, and it turns out one of them has been bothering my subordinates for months under that mask! Who says Arcadius has no sense of humor?
And how nice of you to come right into our headquarters and save me that wretched task of trying to catch your brother.
I never even knew Garrett Mistral had a second son... They all did an impressive job of hiding you from me.
But now... Thanks to this surprise development, we can bring about The Great Awakening much sooner than anticipated.
That Great Awakening plan of yours is insane! There's no way I'm letting you go through with it.
Cade tries to cast a spell but...
In the short term, the plan does appear drastic. However, we will never bring about a resurgence of Arcadius's teaching without a powerful divine symbol.
But it's not divine! You're doing it! How can you be so heartless?! Have you ever given a thought to how much suffering you people cause?!
You can't hope to engage me in any sort of ethical debate, Cade. Your generation has been tainted by the moral relativism preached by Sarnath Alleni and all those other cowards who seek political support from the other races at the expense of time-honored values.
They tell you that blasphemy is just a "different belief" and that it deserves the same amount of respect true worship of Arcadius would receive.
They place everything on the same moral plateau just to avoid hurting the feelings of any particular group, but sometimes truth is just truth.
This is what all of Solest's unbelievers will be learning very soon.
... Wow. They really did a number on you.
I suspect we will see things the same way soon enough. Ariel, find him a holding cell.
Then we shall be ready.
Well. Uh. At least Cade learnt some stuff even though he said the one thing he definitely should not have said. Anyway, thankfully that dungeon and Evrind didn't do anything that'd be annoying with only one party member. I didn't even use any of the mute bombs. Also I guess Cade not being dead is a big plus too. And everyone knows where he was going.