Part 163: A Fight Against Tyranny
Music: Stolen Dreams, Lost Light
Today we're visiting Riverford to find Werner, the man responsible for the fall of Hornburg, and bring him to justice so that he doesn't ruin more lives.
...Though judging by the state of Riverford, we may be a bit late on that.
Regardless, he's dangerous and must be stopped.
...Queue? Ah, beg your pardon.
I'm looking for a man.
Indeed? I take it this is your first visit, so let me give you some free advice.
There's a toll?
Not a toll, as such. You see, the lord here...
Wh-what? That ain't mine, I swear on me mother's grave!
Of course it ain't. I'd suggest ye confess yer crimes here and now... Unless ye'd rather tell it to the master-at-arms.
But the law...
No doubt that potion was the guard's own. Defy them at your peril. A pretext to toss you in their gaol is at the ready.
Does no one bring them to task for their deeds?
Not I, I can tell you that. I do exactly as they tell me...as should you.
A handful of leaves, sir, is my advice. The more you can spare, the better. I only pray that poor traveler has the wits and means to give the soldiers what they seek. Else...
And what of the lord of this place? He does nothing to stop this mummery?
Another scruffy vagabond. Let's see what rubbish yer totin' in that bag.
Will this do...?
Oho. Quick on the uptake, this one. Keep that up an' ye'll do all right in this town, mate.
Might I ask a question, good sir? About this man Werner...
What business could ye be havin' with his lordship!?
No business, friend. Just wondering what kind of man Lord Werner is.
Now piss off, we got work to do!
By your leave...
(A sellsword captain turned provincial lord. This Werner has certainly moved up in the world.)
After all that, we've made it into Riverford. Before we explore and search for information, let's get some banters done.
Still, it will be no small task getting at Werner.
A difficult foe, to be sure. If there was ever a time when I was in need of a scholar's wisdom, it is now.
Then it's most fortunate I am here now. I do have some thoughts, as it happens...
I suggest seeking out the victims. Find those who are most downtrodden, who are suffering the greatest. They will tell you what you need to know.
I see. I shall do as you counsel.
I trust your knowledge and insight. Else, I would have not asked.
Cyrus is so happy that someone's actually taking his advice. In fact, Olberic asks advice from his companions very often, and always factors their words into his decisions. For a man that's such a mighty warrior, Olberic is also wise enough to trust in others and heed their words in matters he's unfamiliar with. If nothing else, it's what has gotten him this far!
Indeed. He must have been very fortunate...or exceedingly clever.
Don't be naive, Olberic. In this world, corruption and dirty dealing are the only way a man can rise that fast. Mark my words, his path to fortune is littered with the bodies of men with knives in their backs...
Yours is a most cynical outlook.
Trust me. I speak from experience. I know his type when I see it. You'd do well to know what you're getting into, if you're picking a fight with him.
Fear not. When the swords are drawn, a corrupt man is cut down as easily as any other.
It's pretty obvious Werner had to have done some underhanded things to get control of this town. After all, this is the man who brought down Hornburg!
As for the town, there's a rather disturbing sight in the town square...
What is this?
Four this month. Four last month. An' four the month afore that, too. The law of the land, it is.
But it weren't long afore it were drunks an' beggars up there for their slightest crimes.
...And thus the pall that oppresses this place.
No one knows who'll finger you for what, so we creep about like mice doin' our best not to be noticed. Try to scarper, too, and poof! Jus' lookin' guilty o' summat'll seal the deal.
Now if you'll be excusin' me...
So when we did Chapter 3 and it turned out the final boss was not going to be Erhardt, there was concern in how they'd handle the big baddie being some last-minute addition. Turns out they simply ramped Werner up to the sort of evil bastard to burn people at the stake for petty crimes.
Hey, let's see what our party thinks of this!
It is a dreadful way to die. The final moments are agony... But that makes it all the more effective as a lesson to others. Those who would rule with terror must embrace terror.
I grow so sad, thinking about the poor people who live here. This cannot be allowed to go on. We have to do something.
Agreed. Yet if we act too hastily, we shall lose all hope of saving them. We must have patience, if we are to prevail.
So we just stand by and watch, is that it?
Ophilia is sickened by what's going on, understandably, but Olberic is right. To act now would simply get us thrown in gaol. There must be cracks in Werner's iron grip that we can exploit...
This damned Werner thinks of people's lives as nothin' more than firewood!
...Tell me this, Alfyn.
Huh? What kinda crazy question is that?
I have taken the lives of more men than I care to remember. Each time, I told myself that it mattered not. That it was insignificant.
Not to get too poetical, but I've always thought that the fire--the life--in our bodies goes cold too soon. So when I give folk medicine, I try my darndest to keep that fire alive. So do I value life? Damned right I do. And so should you.
...Of course. Sometimes, in my line of work, a man can grow confused. Forget what's important. That is why I asked you. To remind me. I'm most grateful you are here, Alfyn.
Olberic's got blood on his hands for sure, but killing to protect your kingdom or the defenseless is a wee bit different than killing civilians to rule by fear. Alfyn, as usual, has simple convictions, which is why he's usually so confident in them.
Here's the other side of Riverford, and further down...
Argh! Listen, mate, you never seen me, all right?
He can't have gone far! Sniff 'im out!
That must be him! C'mon, we'll corner the rat yet!
...They're gone. You can breathe easy now.
Tell me. Why were they after you?
Couldn't rightly say...
Listen. I came to this place in search of this Werner.
Gods' teeth, are you daft? I can't be introducin' strangers what I barely know!
Then let me tell you more about me. I know how to swing a blade, for one.
Reckoned as much. You've got that air 'bout you...
There's a man back in the square what wears a red hat. He's with us, the strongest we got. If you can beat 'im...then I'll introduce you to the boss. All right?
If that's what it takes.
But you promise me summat, all right? You lose, you make yourself scarce, and never come back 'ere again.
You have my word.
Looks like we may have our in. We just have to beat up some random villager, which...well, it's Olberic. That's his hobby.
So back over at the main square...
He is. Wanna see if he can use that sword of 'is.
Before we get to things, we can talk them up again.
Turns out that guy with the fancy scarf is named Reggie.
Indeed we are. Red Hat can poison us, but otherwise he goes down as easily as anyone else foolish enough to fight Olberic.
I did my part. Now it's your turn. I would meet with your leader at once.
I understand that you are Sir Olberic?
Word of your deeds in Wellspring reached me some time ago. Captain Bale and I speak quite often, you see.
He's a good man.
Music: Creeping Dread
As the saying goes, know thine enemy... Let it suffice to say I've taken a great interest in the man's past...
Very prudent of you.
He accused the former lord of these lands of larceny and pillage, and won the support of the common folk. Even the burghers were persuaded to make common cause, and soon enough he had them proclaim him the new lord.
The populace initially hailed the new regime. Many were happy to see villains and blackguards get their comeuppance.
But it did not end there...
Just so. How many murderers can one town harbor, after all?
In time, mere accusation was enough to land a man on the pyre. Even the clearest calumny. And yet...
Some had, early on. But when they appeared tied to the stakes at the next burning, the rest understood that in silence lay their only hope for survival.
But you resist this despot. And so do others like you.
...I am one of them.
And so I have taken it upon myself to restore his honor and name, and to free the people of this domain from Werner's tyranny. With each passing day, our ranks grow. At long last, we are poised, ready to strike back.
Even if this tyrant were not the man I seek, I'd have reason enough to join you.
Fair befall you, sir. Your presence gives us all courage.
First, we shall launch a diversionary attack in the square, and draw as many of Werner's men as we can.
Then our best swordsmen shall infiltrate the lord's mansion, by way of a secret passage known only to me.
It is a simple enough plan, but such are the best in revolution and war. Prepare as you will, then come to me again when you are ready to fight.
We have the support of Harald and some of the other villagers, so now we have our best chance to strike against Werner and end his evil machinations.
Before we prepare, banter.
Music: Stolen Dreams, Lost Light
He thinks he can intimidate people into obedience. And he's not wrong, either. But it doesn't work on everyone. Some people don't scare easy.
Yeah, like me. When I was a kid, I had my share of beatings from people who thought they could break me. But I'd shrug it off, and vowed that no one would ever tell me what to do.
You are saying Harald and his friends are also such men.
The more men we can recruit to the cause, the better our chance of success.
It's going to take more than just numbers.
Agreed. But there are many ways to win a battle.
It's fortunate Harald is so stubborn, as it's going to take such stubbornness to bring change here.
Here's my party. H'aanit and Tressa for banters, Therion for loot.
Let's do this.
Never did I dream I would one day use it to break into our home.
We must move quickly.
Music: Beneath the Surface
We've got another sewer dungeon. But first, banter.
What's troubling you?
It hath been too easy. Something is not right. I knowe the plan is sound. I believe that it should succeed. Yet still...
We would do well to listen to our instincts. They oft speak the truth. Is there anything you recall that gave rise to your suspicion?
No. 'Tis just that...I feel like we aren deer being drawn into a hunter's trap. But our foe is a soldier, a man of war, and thou knowest his kind better than I.
Soldier or beast, a hunter's instincts should never be ignored. I am grateful for the warning.
Whatever may be, I shalle standen by thy side until this quest is complete.
And I by yours.
Well, thanks for the spoilers, H'aanit.
Next time, things go off without a hitch and everything ends up just fine.