The Let's Play Archive

Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer

by Lt. Danger

Part 25: Love Means Never Having To Say You're Sorry

Act Two Chapter Seventeen - The Traitor In The Wall

There's a switch hidden in your brain which controls your gross motor functions - standing, sitting, walking around. When you sleep, the switch is turned off. This stops vivid dreamers from walking right out of their houses and into the middle of the road, as part of the dream.

Of course, sometimes it doesn't work... especially if you've been boozing it up beforehand. Some people (and I think it's a genetic thing) are sleepwalkers - their brain is asleep but their body is not, so the body responds to the dreaming brain's instructions without the conscious control of the dreamer. For others, the switch malfunctions the other way: the body sleeps, but the brain is awake.

It's not a pleasant experience. You're conscious but you can't move. Your arms, your legs simply don't respond to commands. So the brain goes a bit crazy and you hallucinate. Your brain makes something up - and when your body finally catches up and wakes, you remember it as though it was real.

This is where ghost stories come from. Aliens too, for that matter. The sensation of paralysis is constant. No one who is visited by ghosts walks up to them and waves a hand through their face; no abductees bust out of their restraints and take over the mothership.

I don't believe in ghosts or aliens, so when I had sleep paralysis once I didn't see dead relatives or wide-eyed Greys. I am, however, afraid of spiders, so I got to experience the sweating terror of a massive arachnid the size of a dog, with long spindly legs and a fat shiny body, hovering directly over my head. That was something I could have gone without, I think.

In the Middle Ages they didn't have aliens or ghosts - well, certainly not aliens. Instead they saw other superstitious phenomena. Succubi, witches... hags. Old women, who'd sit on men's chests (paralysis again!) and suck the souls right out of their bodies.

This is where the word "nightmare" comes from. "Mare" and its cognates refer to the spirits in Germanic folklore that cause sleep paralysis. The most relevant example to Mask is the nocnitsa, or 'night hag,' from Polish mythology.

* * *

Coveya Kurg'annis Dreamscape

This is the first dream we have in the Coven's dreamscape, before we've even met any of the thralls. We're backstage at the Veil.

: Don't you remember? We composed the play for you, like you asked. It's a fine work, and an old, old story - The Betrayer's Crusade.
: There is something deeper in her request, an undercurrent - we should follow its pull, and see where this play leads.

How well do you remember the conversation we had with Kaelyn?

: Tales are messengers of sorts, though they bring different tidings to all who hear them. If a tale is persistent, then you have not yet heard all it has to say.
: Now... weren't you about to tell me that you've forgotten your lines?
: Yes. That's right.
: Of course. The forgetting's in the script, too. I'll set the stage, and you can make up your lines as you go along.

This dream is genuinely quite chilling.

: The dark god Myrkul is close at your heels. You must make these orders count... they shall be your legacy... perhaps all that shall ever remain of you.
: All right. I'll play along, and maybe this dream will start to make some sense.
: Not a dream. A play. Or perhaps there's little difference.

I see the critics are out in full force for opening night.

: What? That isn't in the script!
: You're right. That isn't how it goes at all.
: Forget that last order. We flee, and finish this battle another day.
: No, wrong again. I told everyone you knew this part, but you've made a fool of me...

: Something is wrong with this dream... it is not coming from you. But...

Magda, Vesper and the audience members all attack. The hezrou in particular is a right pain but otherwise we survive unscathed.


: That dream was powerful, and there was much truth in it, I think.
: The portal will lead us onward...

* * *

The second dream takes place after we've freed one thrall from the Slumbering Coven. This time, we're in the lower levels of the Death God's Vault in Shadow Mulsantir.

: That black portal before us... it is not something native to our world, or even the realm of dreams.

: I stood at the Betrayer's side - at my brother's side. They were gathered around us... celestials, dragons, mortals both alive and dead.
: Did the room expand to hold such a host? Or is my memory too small?
: You're Araman... a Red Wizard of Thay. You're the one who usurped Safiya's Academy.
: I was not always a Red Wizard. The last time I laid eyes on that door, I was nothing but a younger brother, the shadow of a better and wiser man.

Heads up: Araman is voiced by Fred Tatasciore. That's right,

this mammer-jammer is one of our enemies.

: [Wisdom] I met three generals who said they would 'await the opening of the Gate.' This door... is this the Gate they mean?
: Yes. My brother's generals await his return, as he commanded them. They wait in vain... my brother cannot return, he is... gone.
: That door has an unnatural... solidity. Like the bones of a god.

: The gray city, and its wall of screaming souls. Some call it the Fugue Plane, but its names have been many, and the priests of the Death God remember them all.
: Passage to that forlorn realm is granted only by death, but this Gate provides another way, a forbidden way... a way that my brother opened with his silver blade...

: Safiya? No... wait, it only seems to be her. But so close... so...
: You? Make him see? Araman, you flitting shadow... you were nothing but a leaf borne by a great storm.
: You are not Safiya... are you?

Ooh, blanked by the Goddess!

: Yes, I was a feeble, flitting thing when I passed through that door. I was borne by my brother's storm, but I learned from his folly. He set mortal love above the gods, so he paid the price.
: And we paid with him. You and I.
: Be cautious - I think choosing one over the other will lead to bloodshed in this dream.

: Yes. I faltered once, for love of my brother, but the lesson of the Crusade - and of my brother's suffering - has reforged my will and my faith.
: Understand this - I cannot betray my god again.
: And Safiya... or whoever you are. The Betrayer would have wanted you kept safe?

: You are both suffering, but the fault is not your own. Would the Betrayer have wanted this strife between you?
: No. He wouldn't.
: What my brother desired... how can that matter? My brother wanted to uproot the planes and tear down the gods from on high.

: No. Some choices... they are simply wrong. Love may make them more difficult to resist, but they are still wrong.
: My brother's quest was selfish. He did not consider the consequences to those who followed in his wake.

: Thank you...

The lines if you side with Araman are also intriguing:


: You cannot ask a man to forsake his god. The order of the planes must be respected, and the commands of the gods obeyed.
: {astonished at start - she didn't expect the player's response} You... stand with him? Make no mistake, the 'order of the planes' is the source of your suffering, just as much as ours.
: But your eyes will be opened. At the end of your road lies a groaning waste of dead faiths and sundered dreams... and there, you will see the twisted thing whose side you take.

It doesn't matter, though. Onward.

* * *

The last dream we have comes after freeing two of the thralls. This is nowhere in Mulsantir, or Rashemen, or even the Forgotten Realms.

This is the Wall of the Faithless.

: Is this a dream? It seems...


: [The sound of your name is hoarse and distant, yet it cuts through the din of voices... coming from a twisted but familiar form that lies embedded in the Wall just ahead...]

Of all our former companions, Bishop was the closest and the most distant to us. His healthy disrespect for authority was charming at first, but took a darker turn when we became Knight-Captain of Crossroad Keep. In the final battle against the King of Shadows, Bishop betrayed us, and we killed him.

And yet here he is. Sort of, anyway, because NWN2 and Mask had different sound production companies and the voice actors for one game are from an entirely different coast to the actors for the other. Instead of Asa Seigel, we get Dave Walsh - who's good, but doesn't have the same aggressive quality to his voice.

: So you did. I made a stupid mistake... threw in with the losing side. Gloat if you like... I would, if the tables were turned.
: Who is this one? He speaks as if he knows you.
: And where's dear Casavir? Have you already traded up for this hag-spawned wretch? Or did you leave the paladin under a pile of rock, as well?

Bishop was also our sort-of boyfriend. Suffice to say it was a messy breakup.

: [The smirk leaves Bishop's face, replaced, for one naked moment, by wide-eyed fear.]
: Can you hear it? In the screams... underneath the screams? The reason you're here... they all know.
: I didn't come here for any reason. This is a dream.
: No, listen... to the shrieks, and the moans. It's not in the sounds themselves, it's in the pattern... lurking in the echoes, hidden behind their words.

: The Betrayer's Crusade? What do you know about it?

A different voice now - not Bishop's, and not not-Bishop's either.

: [For a moment, Bishop's eye seems to clear. He looks at you, takes in your face, as if for the first time.]

: You saw me? Are you certain?
: No... it was someone else. You're a mask. Nothing but a mask.

: Again, the God of the Dead. There is some game being played here, with ancient rules.

A Pit Fiend and a Horned Devil.

We're feeling the strain here - I haven't rested since Gulk'aush so Gann is useless, but Calliope's Hide in Plain Sight provides enough Sneak Attacks to get us through.


: [You dig into the mold around Bishop's hand - the surface is soft, feathery like moss... but underneath it becomes firm, with hidden barbed edges, capable of tearing flesh, or holding it fast.]

: Another mask fragment. These are important indeed and are taking on a greater significance.
: [Bishop has been almost completely absorbed into the Wall. Only a faint outline of his body remains, buried beneath a feathery blanket of mold.]
: I think there is little here left for us - we should return to the Chamber of Dreamers.

We've seen a lot this update. The Betrayer's lost generals... Araman and the Red Woman... Bishop and the Wall of the Faithless.

But how does it tie together?