The Let's Play Archive

Master of the Wind

by Fleshwit

Part 67: ARC VII Part 4: The Midnight Guild.

ARC VII Part 4: The Midnight Guild. 'Volrath's Castle' aka 'Caught in a Web' by Epica.

We're in the courtyard of a very familiar castle. We can't turn back and enter the gatehouse behind us, so let's speak to everyone here.

ZENO: Hello!
Has Volrath returned from Rellenia?

FIONA: Yes... He got in late last night.
If you're looking for him, you should hurry!
He's set for another trip... This time to Flint Hollow.

ZENO: Ah... So he may be coming back with some dwarven recruits.

FIONA: That's what we're hoping!

If you speak to here again, she comments that she saw Zeno practicing his Bull Rush 'last night.'

KNAAK: Nah... I'm not an old timer like you, buddy! Now would you help me with this rock?
Knaak vanishes. He was the minotaur Stoic befriended in the aftermath of the Rain of Fire, in case you've forgotten.

Stoic. I couldn't be an ambassador for my kind like you, but
Gabriella can. I know you owe me nothing, but please protect her.

ZENO: I... I will.

The sun is rising. Time for me to go...

CLARENCE: Zeno! Good to see ya.

ELEA: Oh, I thought I would come see what my boy's been up to! Nice place!

ZENO: ... What?
No... I never saw you while I was at the knighthood.

ELEA: I always wished for you to become a great knight... and I suppose you did!
Would you like some tea?

She vanishes too.

Beautiful here, isn't it?
Listen, Bones... You look after the others.
Especially Finley. He's gonna need his friends.

... Gino too disappears, leaving his tent behind. We cannot enter it. We also cannot enter the chapel to the right or the barracks on the left side of the courtyard, just the building ahead of us.

ZENO: ... Hello.
How goes your training?

DAPHNE: Some good, some bad.
You know how it is.

By the way, I wanted to thank you for showing me that little pond out in the forest yesterday. It was a nice spot.

ZENO: Yeah, I found that place by accident while I was on patrol. I thought it was a waste not to share with someone.

DAPHNE: Can we go again?

ZENO: ... Sure. That would be really nice.

DAPHNE: I... I'm really happy we found you at that tavern.

ZENO: I am too.

DAPHNE: ... Okay then.
Back to my errands!

Zeno's fairy friend vanishes.
Something I've been meaning to ask Volrath for a while now is who did that bandana originally belong to. I used to think it was Dalton's but Zeno got it before Dalton even made his name as a hero.

DELGREN: What did I always tell you back when we lived together, Bones? You have to take it easy on yourself. Some things we just can't stop... As hard as we try.

And I know you tried.
You always try... And we appreciate that, we really do.

ZENO: ... We?

DELGREN: There's a lot of us!
We should get together sometime!

Are these... really the people who have passed on, maybe? Some of them? Anyway, Delgren was the elf Stoic befriended in the aftermath of the Rain of Fire. And he and his family were ultimately slain by Gallian soldiers.

We start to go upstairs, but someone comes down before we can.

VOLRATH: I thought we were done with all of that "sir" nonsense. Rellenia was satisfying.
The elves have been around a long time, so I appreciate their wisdom.

All the divisions we humans are dealing with... They have seen the same thing with
their own race several times over the centuries.

It was encouraging... and I may have gotten a few new recruits out of it.
I just had to be careful not to mention Sandahar. He's not popular there.

But I can't talk long.
I need to leave for Flint Hollow.

"It may be because more and more people are settling at this castle,
so they think they have more potential victims."

VOLRATH: I appreciate the concern, but I'm not so worried about that.
Maybe I could even talk them into joining our ranks. This has to be more satisfying work.

But even if something did happen...
I hope you all would carry on. I've been meaning to give a speech about this, actually.

Sometimes it can feel like this whole thing is about me... But it isn't.
This is a movement far beyond the scope of one person.

I hope we can realize our dreams in our lifetime, but we may not.
It may take centuries... But as long as one of us is able to keep it alive...

... Well, you get the idea.
I will be seeing you soon, Zeno.

Well, that was something I'm glad I didn't address earlier. I forgot Volrath apparently brought it up himself! Anyway, let's go upstairs.

The music cuts out as we ascend the stairs, and

Uh. And the growling sound normally used for Enkur plays over this sudden appearance of Elissa.

Nightmare, huh?

There's the sound of crashing waves. Seems our heroes have boarded a ship.

... Yeah.
Thank Arcadius for that.

Bet you wish you could dream like Finley.

Huh? What do you mean?

You didn't hear about that?
Oh, you've got to get him to tell you.

I dreamed about...
My time in Volrath's knighthood. Right before his trip to Flint Hollow.

Flint where?

It's an old dwarven city.
Doesn't even exist anymore... Gallians destroyed it.

But it was odd...
Some of my dream was real... but other parts just didn't make any sense.

Yeah, dreams are like that. They don't follow any rules.
I've had some weird ones since Cari messed with my head.

Well... Sorry to wake you.

Don't sweat it.
See you in the morning.


So this is the island that houses the Altar of the Abyss...
I have heard of it many times, but being here is a first.

Is that so?
I figured you had been everywhere.

There were always other places higher on my list of priorities... I'm sure it's hard to imagine why.

It couldn't have always looked like this.

"I suppose centuries of dark magic experimentation have taken a toll.
But enough of that.
The temple is north of here. We must go quickly!"

"But if you can survive long enough and find some other way to
make him lose his motivation, that could be a victory in itself!"

I think this is our first random encounter of this Arc. Yes, really. Anyway, I believe these guys are probably failed resurrections of the regular resurrection necromancers do, rather than the Forbidden Spell of Rebirth.

There's also these ladies. I wonder if we can take this as confirmation that Perditia definitely exists. Anyway, they're really nasty debuffers but mostly harmless otherwise.

Sparrow hit level 50 and learned her ultimate fire spell.

Anyway, only a short way further north...

"If you truly understood the potential of what I am attempting here,
perhaps you would not seek to impede me.
Predictable maybe... But still disappointing.

Your skills are so impressive, and now they are going to waste."

Enough! I didn't want to have to do this, but you left me no choice!
You are a threat to your own cause and you don't even realize it!

Pff. Did you come up with that bilge on your own
or did the guild leader give you a note to read aloud?

I don't care about any of these...
Personality conflicts within your dark magic guild. It's time you answered for Overmoss, Solik.

From my point of view, I already am.
But perhaps we can discuss that later.

Where is Enkur?!

He is otherwise engaged.
But I have another guest who you may recognize.

It can't be...

Ah, but it is.
Your "Mother," to use the analogy Enkur seems to prefer.

Wait wait wait... is this...

Elissa Brightwey, who created both Stoic and Enkur.
She was... is... a legend among dark mages.

Elissa who?
I'm lost.

You missed the stories.
But I've had enough of this. Both of you are coming with us!

Shroud rushes forward, but there's a flash and a crackling sound as he's thrown back.

What the hell was that?!

"But there is work to be done.
Feel free to wander around as you please.
You may learn something."

The duo reenter the temple.

This is crazy!
Resurrecting Ariel is one thing, but that chick's been dead a long time!

Rana, is he telling the truth?

If she's the real deal...
And Enkur is in there too... Can we even pull this off?

I hoped to reason with Enkur.
But if Elissa really has returned, he won't listen to anyone else.
Against the two of them, all of us are outclassed.

Ah, we've heard that before.
But first things first, how do we get past this barrier.

We would have to access the controls.
It will be challenging, but we don't have much other choice.

Shroud and Stoic upgrade two of their Hit-All spells.

And Finley gets a nice buff!

There's nothing to the sides of the temple... So we have to backtrack.

There's this path and another to the south that Rana wouldn't let us go down before.

""When Perditia's eye and the moon are aligned the path to her power will be opened."

Some kind of instructions are written here too, near the bottom..."

If one of them is missing a piece though, we may have to go look for it first. Let's check out the other path.

Spend enough time in here and you will know a great deal
about the Guild and the history of the altar.

I would like that a lot.

What's that picture you're looking at?

That is just sad. What you are looking at is the symbol of Perditia.

Looks kinda like the moon...
Or an eye... or maybe an eye stabbing the moon. Kinda cool.

"Altar Island has been tied to necromancers and The Midnight Guild for the entire history
of dark magic. It still houses the first ever human temple of Perditia.

In the Second Age, it was referred to as "Sill Island." After humans built the
Altar to harness the area's abundant dark energy, the name was changed."

"Originally, the island was a place where scholars experimented with advanced dark magic spells.
Though this research, the possibility of a "Full Rebirth" emerged.

The Forbidden Spell of Rebirth is the most difficult technique for a necromancer to
master. The sheer amount of dark magic required was always beyond our reach.

However, the altar has the ability to call up dark energies from deep beneath
the island's surface, power which is said to originate from Perditia herself."

"In the Third Age, the burgeoning Solendian Knighthood declared war against
the practice of necromancy, referring to it as a crime against Arcadius.

Knights actively captured active dark mages, causing outrage in dark magic circles.
The necromancer Thaniel Mortrus had an extreme solution.

He inspired a wave of violent campaigns designed to raise an undead army to fight
the knighthood. For him, it was time to force the ways of Perditia onto the populace at large
or else be wiped from the earth. Many prominent dark mages endorsed the acts of war, a decision
future leaders would deeply regret.

The necromancers enjoyed a series of victories against the knighthood, but the emergence
of General Mephesto turned the tide in their favor.

Both he and Mortrus fell in the war's final battle."

"Thaniel Mortrus made a surprising return during the Fourth Age. A young
necromancer named Volrath Blacksteele successfully restored him as a lich.

Adapting the name Thanatos, he was determined to exact revenge on Mephesto.
After a failed skeletal resurrection, he went further.

Thanatos became one of the few dark mages to master the Forbidden Spell of Rebirth,
though it proved to be his undoing when he used it on Mephesto.

Well, yeah. He was a dumbass.

He relished the idea of his old foe becoming his slave, but the magic used to
control his mind was not powerful enough and Thanatos lost control.

Mephesto destroyed Thanatos and was able to enjoy another lifetime of derailing
the plans of necromancers."

"Thanatos became an icon for aspiring necromancers, but other dark mages viewed
him as a painful embarrassment to their craft.

Leading dark mages withheld the location of Altar Island to any necromancer who had
not proven their worth.

This was the birth of The Midnight Guild.

The Guild hoped to guide necromancers in their pursuit of Perditia's secrets and
prevent misuse of the altar's power.
The altar's location, and the precise method of using it, became a secret passed
down through generations of guild members."

"The Guild would face its ultimate challenge during the rise of the Gallian Empire.
Like their Solendian forebears, this knighthood deemed necromancy sinful.

An untold number of necromancers and their undead servants were massacred during
the Empire's reign, and the discipline has never fully recovered.

Eventually, the Guild realized that some sort of compromise with Gallia was essential
if necromancy was to survive. This led to the Treaty of Thanatos.

In return for mercy from the Empire, necromancers helped them maintain control over lands
far from the borders of Gallia itself.

The Empire's leaders boasted that this was the moment when Arcadius finally took over
Perditia's power and used it for his own divine ends.

Unsurprisingly, Guild members objected to this interpretation."

"The long-slumbering altar had a sudden wake up call with the arrival of Anna Sanora,
the leader of the fanatical Wyvern Fang cult.

Shortly before the fall of Gallia, Sanora became an apprentice to the notorious dark
mage Ariel D'eleficient. She fled after stealing Guild documents which revealed the
location of Altar Island and the details of casting the Forbidden Spell of Rebirth.
The cult pushed its violent agenda onto nearby areas, and it became routine for Sanora
to use the altar to restore fallen cult members. Her reign was finally brought to an end
by vigilantes from Guardia.

A powerful elven mystic named Ivory Aleska deemed the altar too dangerous and placed
a magical seal on it."

Whew. That's the last of 'em.

It may not look like much at first,
but there is powerful magic at work here.
These arches work a bit like... like a training exercise for your mind.


"The Midnight Guild had nothing but scorn for the Wyvern Fang cult, and felt deep
shame that the altar had been used for such despicable ends.

For many years, guild leaders declined to remove Ivory Aleska's seal. The main goal
was to try and undo some damage done by Gallia and recruit new members.

The seal was finally broken by a young necromancer named Rana Amni, apprentice
to Solik Darmanus. The Rebirth spell was successfully cast.

However, the identity of the restored person remains unknown as of this writing."

Well, look at that.
You're famous.

The person who got resurrected was Ariel!
Should I write it in? I think I've got a pen here somewhere...

Stop it!
Only guild members can contribute to these journals. One of them will get around to it soon enough.

Nice. Got the 'Eye Piece.'

Anyway, before we head back to the statues, lets take a look at the most southern path.

Dead end! Great! All the way back, we go!

After some pushing around and rotating statue pieces, we... open just the cave door? But not that main one or the other forcefield door?

Welllll all the way back we go, again!

Oh dear.

We're heading towards the core of the island, where only
the most elite guild members are allowed.
Hence... this security system.

So how does it work?

"This crystal here will briefly reveal the colors and the sequence,
but only after the right spell is cast on it.
Thankfully, Solik once taught it to me."

Sounds easy enough!

The Guild puts a lot of effort into protecting our secrets, so it
won't be so simple. After the colors are revealed, the switches will revert to a gray shade.

It's up to you to remember which switches are associated with which colors.

Blargh... Shouldn't have opened my mouth.

The crystal will help somewhat. It will show you
the color of the switches you need to press. When the color changes, you'll know that a group
is done.

And if we forget the color groups.

The crystal can show you the colors and the sequence
an infinite number of times, but each time will reset the system.
So you will have to do the whole sequence in one attempt. Oh... and the system also gets
reset if you make too many mistakes. I think four misses does it.

Those orbs in the back of the room will keep track of that.

This is going overboard. Cast that damn spell already.

This is real simple.


Ah, hell. Another one! As Rana says, this is the same idea but harder.
Guess the necromancers really wanted to keep someone from trial and erroring
their way in.

But still not that hard. Might take a couple attempts.


Ah, FUCK the rule of three!

This ones actually much easier for me than the second one, probably because of the layout.

There's little blue sparkly light things floating upwards in this room.

Damn, son.
That hole looks like it goes down forever!

This is the core of the island.
All of the dark energy that the Guild has used for so long is harnessed here.

This dark power...
Was it always here? Or did the early necromancers create it?

Good question...
Each necromancer you talk to will tell you a different theory about that.
We don't really know for sure.

I don't like it in here.
There's something in the air that's just...
Ugh. Let's hurry this up.

And now we have to deal with this... Enkur thing
that I've never personally seen but is apparently massive and unstoppable?

Don't forget the most powerful dark mage in history...
And Solik isn't exactly a pushover either.

Man, you guys sure know how to pick enemies.
How the hell did I get mixed up in this?

Oh, stop it.
We're not pushovers ourselves.

I suppose since they know we're here,
we might as well just walk in. But I would be lying if I said I wasn't nervous.
I never did have to face Elissa in battle.

I left that to the others... and even then, I didn't see how they managed to defeat her.
I just knew she had lost.

Maybe we could use some backup.
Baron, you have that mind connection with Laurel. Can you get her here?

Yeah, I could try...
But she would be coming from Boreal. We would have to wait a long time.

We can't wait for someone to come from Boreal! We have to deal with Solik now!
There's no telling what he'll do!

Though I hate to admit it, I think she's right.
A delay like that could be irresponsible. I suppose we just have to face the music.

But let's make a detour first.

That it will, Finley. However, it's also probably a real bad idea to equip it right now, due to the fact
that it's dark element and we're going up against a skeleton, a lich and a necromancer.

Here we go... 'Solik's Theme' aka 'Cohkka' by Apocalyptica.

Impressive, eh?
Shame you had to turn on me.

That's a... human skeleton!?

What are you doing to him?!

Mother has returned...
And I must honor her wishes. You should do the same, Zeno.

This is bizarre.
What the hell kind of weird mischief are you guys up to now?

"for untold centuries.
After I used it to help The Hand resurrect Ariel D'eleficent, I knew my next
attempt would be Elissa.

With her to guide Enkur, we now have all the power and resources we need to move
closer to a society that has no need to fear death!"

You have accomplished so much, Zeno.
More than I could have dreamed of when I created you.

Get away from me!

Why do you need Enkur to use the altar?
I thought his job was to scare the people of Solest into submission.

You've been paying attention!
Well, I have altered my plans... though he still may be useful for that purpose depending
on the resistance I encounter.

For now, his power will assist me in further mastery of the spell.

The Rebirth spell?

Yes. It took an enormous amount of time and effort
the first time I cast it. The amount of dark magic required is still beyond my means.

I had to call upon the altar to assist me, but that scenario is not efficient for the long term.
People are murdered too frequently in Solest for necromancers to be making this trek to the altar
for each full resurrection. We must move beyond that. The only way to achieve this is through practice.

As Elissa can attest to, a large amount of dark magic went into Enkur's creation. He is like
a walking power reserve. As a necromancer, I can tap into some of that power to augment my
own spells. As of now, I have only cast the spell... twice... so even using Enkur's power will
not be enough.

I will still need the altar.
But with each successful resurrection, the process will become easier, the way any task does
with enough practice.

Soon, I will not need the altar.
Eventually, I will not need Enkur's power either.

Still not sure I buy this.
Why is she letting him do all the talking?
He should be fetching her tea or something if she's such a legend.

... Yeah.
Something is off about this whole thing.

So that was your goal.
It's... not what I expected.

I must master the spell soon...
Because Enkur does not have an infinite amount of time left.

... What?

Come ow, Stoic. You are well aware of his
size and strength. He burns up dark magic far quicker than you do.

I suppose in the end, you were the more efficient model.

Nothing lasts forever, Zeno.

Something doesn't... sound right.

So you want to master the spell. Then what?

"complement my ambitions so well with their destructive games, but they certainly have.
There were plenty of victims I can attempt to restore.

So you could... bring back Gino?

There it is.

Is this... a friend of yours?
Yes, if I could get a hair sample. We had best hurry. Do you have a sample with you?
If not, we can examine the corpse.

Guys, if we look over his gadgest, we might find--

I'll have you know I took a hair sample from each one
of those people. In time, I can restore them all.

Oh, is that so?
And I don't suppose you asked them if they were okay with being murdered and possibly
resurrected at a later date?

It is far too late for you to expect our trust. You are way too dangerous to be roaming around free.

... Thank you.
Perhaps I can give you another chance.

But the problem isn't your plan.
It's you. He's right, Solik. It's just too hard to trust you.

Such insolence!
You would be nothing without me, you ungrateful little brat!
Solik swings a blade...

But Rana avoids it.

Get lost for now!
We'll handle him!

That's a very poor decision, Zeno.
Don't make us destroy you.

Oh, we are in for it now. 'Enkur's Battle' aka 'Sign' by Susumu Hirasawa

I have no real idea how this fight works. He's not overpoweringly strong and we still do a lot of damage to him.

He says this after about four turns of us beating on him to the best of our abilities, all buffed up and everything.

Then you shall have it!

Take out Elissa!

So we beat on her for a turn, and Enkur inflicts bled on everyone but Stoic and then...

Soon there shall be one less.

He uses an attack named Shatter Crush on Shroud which I believe is meant to be a OHKO, but Shroud evades it due to his buffs.

The next turn Elissa gets upset again and he nails Sparrow with it, though. He does this in addition to his normal attacks.

The turn after that, Elissa cries out and leaves the battle.

That was... a little too easy.
Something is amiss.

Whereever she is, Elissa uses a skill named 'Manipulate'.

Zeno has betrayed us!
You must punish him!

Now it ends, Zeno!

Then he does a LOT of damage to Stoic. It would have been survivable at full HP, but oh well.

Three more turns of sustained beating...

I shall not fail you!

His heart is not in this, but he
won't ignore her urgings.
We have to shut her up!

If Elissa manages to get a manipulate off, she can beg Enkur to shield her, and he does, to my great dismay.

Also she can make him go berserk... which is very bad, since it increases his attack power by a ton.

Anyway, I chase her off a second time, upsetting Enkur, and Stoic ponders why Elissa Brightwey would keep taking cover.

A few turns later, including one close call where only Shroud was left standing...

Oh, you ffffffffffffffffffffff

I... shall!

Enough of this! We've got to get her
out of this fight!

A few more turns of brutality endured later.

... What?

Uh oh.

That would be Sparrow's Dispel.

She is not here.
Now pay the price for your deception.

Damn. I believe that's an altar shaped hole. Enkur starts to leave.

To be frank, that worries me.
I don't want to see you responsible for more slaughter like you were back then.

I have not forgotten what I said the last
time we met. Killing does not interest me anymore. I must find some other purpose.

It seems you have found one.
That... encourages me. Perhaps I can learn from that.
For now... I bid you farewell.

That makes two of us.
That said, aside from us and Solik, he has not hurt anyone since his return.

If we hadn't revealed Solik's trick, I'm not
sure we could have won. I'm grateful that he seems to have renounced violence, but if he ever
changes his mind... Is there anything we could do to stop him?

All it took last time was a rock and a big hole... We could
probably come up with something, right?

Perhaps. But hopefully Enkur will surprise us all.

Baron notices the woman trying to sneak out.

She squeals.

You're lucky that this whole charade didn't go beyond this temple.
You ought to be more careful about the company you keep, lady. Now take off.

Almost perfect.
The physical appearance was just like the genuine article. You clearly did
your research... However, there was one thing you could not replicate unless
you were there... Her voice.
It took me a while, but I realized the woman speaking to us was not Elissa.

I'm impressed you deduced that without that sanctimonious little pyschic(SIC) friend of yours.

Hey, you better watch what you say about her! Now
that she has wings, punks like you are helpless!

... What? Her too.
That's amazing.

Yeah, it seems like Arcadius has been
generous with that lately.

Ha ha ha!
Oh come now, you can't still believe that Arcadius personally selects people to
receive those little accessories!

Surely the inherent contradiction of both her and Ketsu reaching this plateau
has occurred to you?

What are you getting at?

Then what's your explanation?

That transformation is a rough equivalent
of a dark mage's transformation into a lich. It represents such mastery of
holy magic that the user's body evolves and discovers new abilities.

Holy and dark magic have always been mightier than the other schools of magic
and these powers are proof!

I can't believe she managed it.
She seemed... weak.

But throughout history, there have been
many more liches than winged mages.

This is true, but remember how the balance
of power has been for most of Solest's history. Dark mages have always been a minority,
shunned and sometimes even persecuted by the holy mages who claimed to have Arcadius's blessing.
Our struggles forced us to push ourselves.

We dived deep into the possibilities of dark magic while our holy counterparts sat in comfort.
That is why we have fully mastered the art of becoming a lich, while holy mages are still
baffled by their wings and try to explain it away with outrageous claims.

In the past, holy mages discovering wings was a very rare phenomenon, usually once every one
or two hundred years.

But now... Ketsu and Laurel reaching this level at approximately the same time... Grouped with
Dasani, that is three in the last century alone!

Holy mages are finally starting to catch up with us!

You don't sound worried.

Not in the slighest.
In fact, I'm excited. At some point in the future, there will be too many winged mages
for them to keep claiming that each is an act of Arcadius.

When that day comes, all the zealots who used that transformation to force their will onto
the public will be exposed for the frauds they were!

It will be glorious comeuppance. Some several centuries after the fact... But still.

You know... That does make some sense.

Tell me, were any of you present for Laurel's ascension?

Yeah, I was.

Let me guess... She was dealing with intense trauma at the time?

You could say that.

And she emerged rambling about some miraculous
vision she had seen?

... Yeah.

"They lose touch with reality. It's always the same story.

Still... You are right, Stoic.
There are certain unknowns I face when looking at it from my... adverserial(SIC) perspective.

Perhaps dealing with those unknowns should be my next project."

I think that project is going to be counting
the bars on your prison cell, pal. You're coming with us.

LEADER: What in the name of Perditia has happened to the altar?!

You missed it.
It was quite a show!

Solik leaps out of the way of a paralysis spell.

And one of the necromancers rushes after him.

Solik swings back with his blade.

You just missed him!
Given your past dithering, I'm surprised any of us are still here upon your arrival.

Solik dodges another spell but the second necromancer teleports behind him and nails him.

LEADER: Take him back to the ship.

This is only temporary!
Until next time, Stoic!
The two teleport out.

I'm sorry, sir.
We couldn't save the altar.

LEADER: It's not your fault, Rana.
You shouldn't have had to face him alone... or recruit these people to do the Guild's job.

Unfortunately, his dangerous approach to our discipline still has many adherents within our ranks.

"... I'm going to blame you, and you'll be seeing more of us."

LEADER: Duly noted.

Do you guys think... that what he said about
Laurel's wings was true?
That they're just part of some... historical trend and not even special?

I don't think anyone said they weren't special... Not even him.

A few things he said made sense... But in the end., he really doesn't
know any more than we do about her wings or her connection to Arcadius.

Laurel might not even know for sure. Maybe we ought to just be thankful for it.

That's a long trip straight from here. Might want to
stop in Artagel just to rest and break it up a little.

... Guys, I don't feel so great about this whole thing.
All those people in Guardia...
He might have brought them back... but now the altar's gone and we won't have another chance.

I've been thinking the same thing. Solik's a creep,
but he might have been right this time... and I'm not sure we were. What say you, Blondie?

... I don't like to say this very often, but... I'm not sure.

What's done is done.
The altar may be an unfortunate loss, but personally, I was afraid the longer Enkur believed Elissa was
back, the more likely he was to do something terrible at some point. Neither outcome is ideal, but
I guess this whole business we're in is not exactly tidy.
Stoic looks over at Rana and then back at the others.

Give me a few minutes and then we can get going.

... Not yet.
I would like to do some research here.

You know, I've been doing this for a long time now and I still don't feel like I've really accomplished anything.

I got the sense that the Guild looked upon you quite favorably.

Maybe... But I wasn't looking for praise when I joined up.

Why, then?

I... wanted to understand death.
*Chuckle* You might have figured this out already, but I'm not very good with people.
From you, I learned I'm not so good with skeletons either.

... You lost her.

Roof collapse.
It seemed so unfair that something so... random could cause so much pain.

Once I learned more about magic, I started to see what dark magic could do...
And I realized that maybe death didn't have to be the end.

When I finally found out about the Guild... They all seemed so wise and so welcoming. Not many
young women seek them out, so they were excited.

I always thought I would bring Charlotte back as soon as I knew how, but I got... nervous. I got so afraid
I would mess it up or something.

I was afraid to try any resurrections... until you all killed Solik and I was forced to give it my best.

You did well. *Chuckle*
Although I can't help but wish you had botched that one somehow.

Ha ha ha!
I've always admired your honesty.

Rana... I once said you would find your place, and now I think
it has happened. It was not with Solik, but you seem to fit well in this Guild.

In the end, you even got them to stand with you against him.
It's impressive, and you have come a long way.

... Yeah.
You know, your wisdom makes a great argument in favor of necromancy.

Oh, don't over do it.
I've just had a lot of time to screw up and learn from it.

Are we... still friends?

... Sure.
But you don't need me or Solik or anyone telling you how to do things anymore. You're past that, believe me.

... Maybe I am. Thank you.

Bane... as in...?

The King of the Elves.

Not really that surprising when you remember how he spoke about Arcadius way back in Arc IV. And it explains how he knew about Solik's activities back then.

I allowed you to use the tunnels under Rellenia for your research,
and how did you repay me? You began to resurrect the war dead without so much as consulting me.

I sent Stoic and the others down there to teach you a lesson, but unfortunately that only played into your hands.

*Chuckle* It certainly did.
But don't tell me you would prefer all those elves remain dead.

You refuse to understand the times we live in. We can no longer dig up corpses on a whim.

Most of those fallen soldiers still have family in the elven kingdom. Our obligation is to teach
them the basics of necromancy.

Then... when they are educated... they make the decision. Whatever they decide, we respect.

Weak-willed nonsense.

The public still views necromancers as mass murderers.
You took it upon yourself to uphold that judgment by rampaging through Overmoss.

Once that incident becomes more widely known, I'm sure it will do wonders for our already sparkling reputation.

Solik slams himself against the cage door.

Simple talk will never do! Decisive action is needed to--

"They have been over since The Third Age!"

Solik walks away from the bars.

You think that you are helping the cause, but it's clear
to the rest of us that you've become an obstacle. This is why you must be confined.

Even your apprentice no longer trusts you!

I expected that.
Rana has great skill, but her conviction can be inconsistent.

Well, I shall do my best.

ELF: *Sigh*
Not these crackpots again. Can't a girl just eat her lunch in peace?

SPEAKER: By now you have surely heard of the fall of Guardia, and the other towns who barely
escaped oblivion! Arcadius has punished Guardia for their role in turning (I believe 'Gallia' is missing here) away from its divine destiny!
And the other cities have been warned!
If humans do not answer the call, the calamaties will return and show no mercy!

The Speaker is dressed up like one of The Hands thugs.

"I just got back from Artagel!
The lightning storm there was caused by a mage, not Arcadius! People from the other towns are saying the same thing!"

SPEAKER: Do not insult the intelligence of the great people of Gallia! No mere mage can conjure such catastrophes!

DWARF: I saw the whole thing!
A kobold and a hooded warrior chased the mage off and the storm died down!

ELF: Yeah, he's right!
My sister told me it was Stoic the skeleton who stopped an earth mage from crushing Rellenia!

SPEAKER: Your lies disgrace Arcadius!
Real Gallians know the truth!

DWARF: "Real" Gallians?
I've lived in this city for twenty years!
Just because of I bother to be informed makes me not "real?"
Go back to the funny farm!

Oh, right. This reminds me of how Clean Slate has like 8 NPCs or something (Like 3 in Gallia alone) that say 'If you don't like how Gallia is, then get out!'

This is from that silver hair guy above the redheaded elf at the table.

ELF: Excuse me?! What did you just call him?!
I guess that'd be a slur for dwarves. I mean... A slur is an insult. But they don't have to mean anything either. Shorty is a bit general though. If you called a human shorty would everyone tell you to chill the fuck out?

"Everybody take it easy, unless you want to cool off in a jail cell!"

GAIL: Present.

Well. I forgot he makes a very brief appearance. Made councillor too huh.

TOR: Present.

CLERK: Councilor Annette Keller?

ANNETTE: Present.

CLERK: Vice-Chairwoman Felicia Stormblade?
She's done well for herself.

FELICIA: Present.

CLERK: Chairman Sarnath Alleni?

SARNATH: Present.
This special meeting of the Gallia City Council is officially called to order.

SARNATH: There. All done with formalities.
Welcome back, my old friend.

Good to see you, Sarnath.
I wish I was here for happier reasons.

FELICIA: Please accept the Council's deepest sympathy for the horrific events at Guardia.
We will do what we can to help.

SARNATH: ... Ariel D'eleficent is dead.

I said the same thing when I first heard the rumors...
But we have now seen her firsthand.

The only possible explanation is the Forbidden Spell of Rebirth.

GAIL: By the gods... The Rebirth spell... and elemental mages with powers thought to be beyondthe
reach of mortals. How has The Hand managed to accomplish this?

ANNETTE: More importantly, what do they hope to accomplish now that they have these dangerous resources?

The situation is not without some good news.
With the exception of Guardia, the other towns were saved by Stoic the skeleton and his allies.

The elemental mages are now in the hands of three of Solest's best psychics, who are working to undo years of mental damage.

Unfortunately, the outcome of their attack is still playing into their hands.
Though most of the towns were saved, their goal was to spread mass fear, which is happening as we speak.

TOR: The guards have indeed reported a surge in race-related violence.

SARNATH: These conniving upstarts won't stop until the whole city is tearing itself apart.

FELICIA: We ended the Empire's reign by inciting rebellion... Now we face it ourselves.

There is one more thing you should be aware of. The one
leading them is... my son, Leonard.

FELICIA: What?! But I thought...

No matter who leads them, they must be stopped. Where are they now?

We do not yet know.
They have vacated the compound they constructed in Harrol.

So... We finally knocked Solik out of the game, but, while it seemed like The Hand was down, they certainly aren't out of the game. Even only a partial success works in their favour, even if it's not as effective as a full success would have been.

Anyway, next time we take a break in Artagel. And then when we're done there, I believe we'll be on the very final leg of the story.

the end