Part 66: Clean Slate Finale: A New Solest Struggles To Be Born.Clean Slate Finale: A New Solest Struggles To Be Born.
Wow, been a while since I've done one of these updates, the last was during ARC IV.
So a brief recap is in order. Evander Till and Tor Lamorack have fucked up big time and even their one gain, capturing Mina, has gone wrong since her friends managed to rescue her.
SOMEONE murdered Lynnia Barca. Volrath's constructed this so that the players suspicion falls on Seth, as he was missing at the time and is reluctant to say where he was.
In response, Lysander sends Leonard into hiding with Erva Ellester.
Meanwhile, the elves and the dwarves have formally allied with the Gallian Rebellion and have all managed to get a hidden dragon colony onside.
Arius, Seth and Shurikra/Dasani's parties use the dragons to quickly take the barracks in Western Gallia. Ariel makes an appearance but is driven off via the combined efforts of everyone, but not before striking down Felicia Stormblade.
Ariel, Lysander and the larger portion of the Gallian military hole up in a massive fortress in North Gallia.
Anyway, now that Arius and co. can fly around dragonback it's time for sidequests.
Stoic's very first appearance... He's a little out of character here in that he seems a little meek, but he does mention having been part of failed movements in the past. Arius assures him they'll win this time. It's basically a very short and simpler version of a scene we saw during Stoics flashbacks in Arc V.
Volrath says he went back and added this in when he was nearly done with the game and was already thinking about the concept of Master of the Wind, but didn't have a firm grasp on Stoic's character arc yet.
If you paid close attention and have good memory, you'd have already known Felicia Stormblade was not going to die so easily, since in Arc III she was listed as one of the people who attended Dasani's funeral.
Anyway, a ton of minor characters from across all the areas in the game have all made their way here, even from as far as Harrol.
The first sidequest Volrath does is to meet the parents of Griff, Nova's griffon guardian. They tell her a bit about her parents and confirm that Nova's father really was the leader of a prior failed uprising against the Gallian government.
Queen Arianna reveals her ongoing crisis of confidence to the party at King Terr's Memorial. She feels she's failed both her husband and the elves.
She winds up handing the Sword of Elven Kings over to Arius. If you remember, King Bane recently gave the same sword to Stoic after he saved Rellenia from Bardo Crag's earthquakes.
Galdar finally feels worthy of his grandfather's axe. He already had a high crit rate before this ridiculous thing.
Doing a favour for Dasani leads Turnus to openly wonder what the deal with Dasani's wings is. Since all she's ever said is that they're a gift from Arcadius, he wonders if Arcadius told her that or if she just found them on her back one day and made that assumption based on nothing really.
Turnus' rival has quit Gallia and returned to Rutul. He says he only walked all the way to Gallia with Lysander so he could part in the tournament Turnus won.
He wanted the prize money to help him start up a martial arts school where he intends to charge 40k gold per session.
Volrath says this is a joke about NYU costing roughly 40k per year once you factor in dorm costs and all that. Anyway, Drances says he hopes the rebellion taking over Gallia and reopening trade with the other races will improve business for everyone.
Since his school is referenced in Master of the Wind, and Rutul is said to be becoming one of the more prosperous places in Solest, I guess it worked out for him.
There's also a joke (non-canon) encounter and secret boss fight with Volrath Blacksteele and Thanatos is also there.
Here, Vorlath Blacksteele is very indignant, kind of over-the-top rude and sarcastic jackass. Volrath (author) says thats what his original characterization was in the game about the two knighthoods, and he was made much more thoughtful and subdued for Master of the Wind.
Thanatos/Thaniel Mortrus is characterised as a goofy and kind of dumb sidekick here... and Volrath says that's how he was in the earliest games too. He was always more a comic relief character and not a smart, charismatic type like Solik is.
Anyway, Volrath demands to know if humanity has finally learned to live in peace with non-humans during his centuries long rest.
He flips out when told that's not the case, and flips out even more when Arius informs him Gallia has gone the extra-step of attempting genocide. Then Volrath and the party have a friendly fight. Afterwards, Gwyneth and Dalton show up to tell Volrath off a little for messing around in the wrong time period, and then they all go.
With that silliness and all the other things done, Arius and Sarnath begin to prepare to take the fight to Lysander but are interrupted by...
A priest telling Lysander to keep faith in Arcadius, and then leaving him alone in a funeral home.
After a moment, Lysander apologises to the scummy looking pianist for crying in front of him and the pianist sort of commiserates. But that doesn't keep him from dropping his illusion, revealing he's Seth and he's here for revenge.
Lysander accuses Seth of killing Lynnia, Seth denies it. Lysander demands to know why he should believe him, when Seth murdered all his friends on the Guardia Council. Seth hits back with Lysanders own murder rampage on the Gallian rampage and then both insist they did what was the best for their people.
Then there's a long pause here, where Volrath says they both come to a moment of understanding due to how alike they are.
Seth summons an array of beasts and Lysander easily bests them all.
Lysander somehow conjures up this supposedly impenetrable armor we've only seen once in a flashback. Apparently Ariel made it and he tells Seth as much.
Seth manages to cut through the armor after enduring a slew of spells and attacks but Lysandrer cripples him with the Black Wound (the same thing he nearly killed Arius with), and flees the now-burning building.
Seth accidentally let slip that Arius survived the Black Wound though.
But even with the Black Wound and a burning building collapsing on him, Seth keeps going.
Seth manages to destroy Lysanders armor, but Lysander retaliates and...
He leaves. Seth has a vision of Villea, and collapses.
Galdar and Turnus are the ones who find him. Seth dies.
And as we know, Zala takes Seths passing pretty badly. She never really seems to move on from it, honestly.
Anyway, during this sequence Volrath is talking about what I posted in the update after Gino died. Seth and Gino were both killed off to... give the player an emotional loss. It's one thing to be told the Gallia and The Hand are bad because they've killed people offscreen and in the past. That can be effective in its own way but it's another thing entirely for the player to also feel loss because a character they (hopefully) cared about died.
Arius gives a rather lengthy speech to the troops. It comes up that the Great Gallian Fort that Lysander is holed up in is where the Gallian Knighthood was founded. How appropriate it should end there.
Dasani gets in on the hot speech action too.
Zala outright refuses to fight now, and Alko tries to give her a bit of a nudge in the right direction, but it doesn't go as well as he hoped.
Also... I think this is meant to be a memory of Seth?
... melting down.
Erva shows up to remind Lysander of her vision of two Lysanders, one of whom kills the other. She doesn't know which is which but she recommends Lysander flee since thats the only way he'll survive for sure.
Something to add here is that she's (trying to) intervene like this because Lysander's the only one who didn't treat her poorly because of her unusually strong psychic powers.
She then goes on to say that even if Lysander wins, Gallia's time is over.
Lysander admits she may be right, but...
Zala decides to fight in the end.
Ariel's not very good with the troops.
As we've seen, Ariel doesn't mind pretending to be whatever she thinks Lysander might like.
For his part, Lysander tells her to keep her mind on what's important.
Then he gives a speech about how Gallia is a city blessed by a god and so on and the burden of fighting off the rebellion must be a test by Arcadius.
The rebels show up and stand like only a couple dozen metres away so everyone can yell at everyone else.
The battle begins. One of the first things that happens is Queen Arianna and her retinue casting a slew of spells on Lysander to very little effect. Lysander returns the favour by slaying Arianna with a single spell.
Anyway, the party realises that if they just let Lysander cast from atop the fort, they'll have no chance of victory, so they bust their way inside to fight their way up to him.
And eventually the party runs into Ariel, and while she's bragging about the glorious future she'll build with Lysander, Arius straight up says Lysander is too family orientated to ever be with Ariel as a couple. And then Ariel lets slip she was the one who murdered Lynnia.
Nova tells Ariel she doesn't even know what love means if she'd hurt someone like that.
And if you remember from the last scene of the last update, Ariels farewell to Lysander... she was talking about how she loved him because he treated her well, and gave her his trust and loyalty and friendship when so many others scorned her.
Yet she betrayed that trust in one of the worst ways possible, because of whatever warped feelings she has for him. Does she really love him or does she just want to possess him? Who knows.
The first part of the Ariel fight is just beating on her as she stands alone.
At one point Ariel claims she'd be a great mother to Leonard and Galdar just says she'd kill him for taking too much of Lysander's attention, which she denies. I wonder if she actually would kill him...
Ariel melts down over losing, and refuses to give up so she summons some help, making for a fight that Volrath says was notoriously difficult amongst his friends, and Clean Slate already is in general a much more difficult game than MOTW.
But she eventually loses, refuses to back down when she's so close to her dream, so she and Nova have a last showdown where Nova shoves a staff through her chest, avenging the death of her parents at Ariels hands.
According to Ariel, no, there's not much of North Gallia left even 30 years on.
Mina, Zala and Alko are challenged to a tough rematch by Tor Lamorack and Evander Till. Without Seth this party has lost a lot of its oomph, unfortunately.
Anyway, first Mina tries to talk these two down and make their troops surrender but they both vigorously reject the notion.
After the fight, Tor wants to rush to Lysander and ask him what to do but Evander dismisses the idea and says Gallia's time is over. Tor's kind of outraged but Mina then jumps in and says they kind of need the help of leaders like Tor and Evander after the rebellion is over, to help rebuild and reassure the citizens that the rebellion isn't going to just kill everyone.
Then it's Zala's turn to be outraged over letting these guys live which wouldn't be what Seth'd want, but Alko tells her off saying that while Seth taught them to stay strong, he never knew when to stop fighting. Couldn't wait, couldn't think of anything but fighting. And that's why they lost Seth.
While this is going on, Sarnath Alleni and the rebellion leadership is guarding the way into the fort pretty successfully.
And while THAT is going on...
Dasani, Shurikra, Ivory and Britsus face down First Sorceress Co(u)lter and First Sorcerer Zain. As Volraths mentions, these two are complete zealots that can't be reasoned with unlike Tor and Evander.
After the fight, Dasani demands their surrender but Coulter is defiant and just kills a random dude with a spell so Dasani disintegrates her. Then Shurikra melts Zains skin off with her corrosive dust move. So that's that.
Back in the fort, Arius and co. make it through element themed illusionary rooms while fighting tons of bosses along the way.
At long last.
Lysander expresses some regrets after Arius tries to remind him of what their mother taught them.
But the fight begins, regardless. And of course, it eventually ends.
Lysander demands Arius and co. finish him off, but they deny him that and Galdar even goes so far as to say that they've been fighting prejudice and hatred, not to kill people.
Lysander demands to know what they have planned for Gallia after this is over.
Lysander then starts the whole 'You'll treat anyone different from you as violently as Gallia did' kind of thing and then reveals Warrick de Cafer's assassination of Marcus Gallius.
Arius counters by saying 'Our world is one land, and people of all races share it... Humans turned against the others... because of the vices you describe.'
Lysander then does the whole 'Arcadius said so!' thing but Arius tells him off and says he can tell that Lysander doesn't even believe that anymore.
Nova finishes off this part of the conversation by saying no one knows what Arcadius wants so everyone should live as they think is right and Lysander basically goes, I used to hate that kinda thinking but now I agree.
He demands a one-on-one duel with Arius, to let men, and not Arcadius, settle things.
A way into this duel, Lysander begins to fear he'll lose and wonders what'll become of his son.
That's when Arius decides to reveal who killed Lynnia.
But before Arius can say who, Lysander said he never thought it could be Arius, what with Arius having all his memories of Lynnia... and when Seth denied it, he believed him for some reason. He even, and he honestly seems confused himself, goes as far as to say he felt respect for Seth after he died.
And when Arius manages to get a word in to say it was Ariel, he's in denial for a moment, but as Arius says, Gallia is all about killing to take what it wants. To own. Why should Ariel be any different?
This is a man at the very end of his rope.
Arius offers him a chance to surrender, but Lysander basically wants to die now.
After the fight he calls for Lynnia.
In a normal game, this'd probably be a happy ending? This one... I don't know. Volrath even says he's had people say to him it's not a happy ending because Lysander died.
I kind of agree? If I didn't know better from Master of the Wind, I'd have been hoping maybe from everything that'd happened, Arius could maybe get through to Lysander. He himself is proof that it's very possible, after all.
And there's a recurring theme in both this game and Master of the Wind that you don't have to go as far as -killing- just for the sake of it. I mean, if you're protecting yourself or others, sure. But if they're no longer a threat?
Arius begins pondering how to handle raising Leonard too, and ultimately settles on pretending to be Lysander for a time, as we know from Master of the Wind.
"I will not pose any threat to whatever plans you have for Gallia now. But you are not my friend. Goodbye, Arius."
Just how sad and lonely this woman must've been to do what she did to create Ketsu like 20 years later.
Later, everyone begins to part ways. Sarnath and the other rebel leaders promise Arius that they'll do their best to try to get through to the Gallians and ease them into a relationship with the other races.
Mina and Alko ask Arius and all if they can come to Guardia with them. Mina and Galdar will ultimately wind up in Harrol as we know, but that's not that far from Guardia. Meanwhile, Zala's already gone off on her own, telling Alko she needs time to make peace with everything. Both Galdar's brother Zarr and Sarnath's sister Shirley come along to Guardia too.
The proper epilogue begins, with Arius speaking over scenes to an unknown person.
As promised way back at the start of the game, the local dwarves build a house for Arius in Guardia. And the towns old walls have to be knocked down to make space for all the new people flocking to Guardia.
As of this ending, Arius found it hard to get used to a quiet peaceful life at first.
Alko and Mina were living together in Nova's old home, Mina being happier than Arius had ever seen her living such a quiet life. Alko, however, was restless and wanted to visit the elven kingdom.
Galdar became a much revered leader of Guardia. Turnus and Shurikra spend all their time fighting (Turnus thinks its because she doesn't like his hovel, Arius thinks its because Shirley's living with him)
Ivory becomes a popular fortune teller when she'd had little business before, because the story of how she predicted Arius being nearly killed by the Black Wound months beforehand got around.
She gets so popular she employs Britsus for crowd control.
Arius says he can't imagine trying to erase centuries of inbred hate, but he's heard she's had a little bit of success.
A concern Lysander had raised before the duel was what would happen when all the soldiers stationed outside Gallia that he had tried to recall in time for the battle returned to find a different Gallia.
Well, they do come back and are very surprised but do not declare war or anything.
Arius is concerned though, because from the letters Sarnath sends him it all seems very tenuous. And he's torn between feeling a sense of responsibility to both Leonard and Gallia. He just can't relax.
Turns out Arius is telepathically communicating with Dasani. Dasani says it's a beautiful day out, and then they say their goodbyes.
Arius' friends and family show up and he talks about how his life had been constant turmoil until recently and... Leonard says he wants to go to the park, and well, Molly says that'll be a great way to spend the day and feel better.
So they go.
Zala wanders the countryside...
Ivory has to get over her crush on Arius... She winds up going to visit the Rellenia ruins with Alko. And thirty years later the half-elf still hasn't made his move on her. Guess you can wait that long when you're talking about elves and half-elves.
Dasani gets a new girlfriend.
Zala visits Guardia.
Arius and Nova marry. Mina catches the bouquet.
People from all over visit Seth's grave.
Theese, the old man who once killed Galdar's grandfather, Arius, is introduced to an ogre by his son. Hopefully a sign of a reborn Gallia?
And that's Clean Slate. The second half shows a lot of promise, honestly, I can see why Volrath's still pretty proud of it. That first half though. Eesh. It has its moments but... if Volrath ever wanted to remake Clean Slate, the first half would need a pretty drastic overhaul. The second half really just needs a lot of polish in every department, but there's a good foundation to it. The LP goes from a bit of a chore to watch to being pretty interesting when the VLP hits the Elven Lands. It's still pretty awkward and the pacing is off, but there's some good stuff that could be -great- stuff.
It's kinda curious, because the tone of the game is so different from Master of the Wind that it feels like someone else made it. Solest was a pretty bleak place in that time period. Kind of interesting that the Midnight Guild never gets dealt with in this game too. Almost like Volrath forgot about them, haha. Some liches were mooks in the Great Gallian Fort, and one lich was used as a boss at the West Gallian Barracks, but yeah, besides the one at Harrol in the first half of the game, the story never really does anything with them?