Part 59: On the Road of Revenge (Part 1)Part 59 - On the Road of Revenge (Part 1)
We once more find ourselves in front of Feuerstelle at the start of the mission, but in today's excursion to the ~Non-Canon Zone~ we will plumb the compound's grimy secrets with a somewhat more forceful hand than before.
In the main run we prioritized saving the brainwashed cultists and purifying the Adversary-corrupted spirit at the cost of letting Harrow himself get away, and though we ultimately concluded that it was likely a wise course of action due to the man having lost the support of the spirit he had grown so reliant on anyway, letting a scumbag like that get away definitely didn't make for a very satisfying ending.
And so today's update is dedicated to showcasing the opposite approach where we make stopping Harrow and preventing any more kids from coming to harm our top priority over trying to save his current victims. This'll also be a very abridged version and we'll skip over the vast majority of repeat content and dialogue due to much of it remaining unchanged from before.
You wanna compare notes, make sure that we're both on the same page?
Any suggestions as to how we should approach this?
Yeah. We're going to take out the shrine that Harrow uses as his power focus. We can't touch him while that thing is standing, but after we bring it down, he'll be vulnerable.
This is getting too complicated. We should just gun the bastard down.
Rosa no like when plan take many words, Rosa want magic punch bad man brain go boom boom
That won't work, Rosa. If we try to face Harrow with that thing intact, he'll tear us both to shreds.
The shrine is more than just a statue... you need to understand that. Harrow bound a malevolent entity - a toxic spirit - into the stone, and that's where its power comes from. It is, in many ways, the heart of this place.
"One stone", huh. Presumably that was accidental or else the spirit's influence here is such that it can even cause Glory to crack jokes which'd be a display of power far more frightening than any cliché self-duplication trick.
I want to hash out a few more details before we head inside.
That makes sense. If you have any questions, it'd be best if you asked them now.
So we make our way to the shrine, and then... what? Take it out with explosives?
Rosa want boom! No boom, plan dumb dumb!
I can't tell you exactly how this is going to go down, Rosa. The spirit itself will have a good deal of control over that. But you'd better prepare yourself, because I think that this is going to be one hell of a fight.
What about the other cultists?
We'll save any that we can. But the energy released when the spirit dies will hurt them, too... anyone whose mind it touched will take a hit.
Everyone partaking in mind-touching and taking a hit could also describe a Friday party night at a psychic college.
Doesn't that mean that the backlash will hit us, too?
Sounds like this is our best shot, then.
Kill the spirit, cripple Harrow, then take him down. Got it. Let's move.
[She nods, and the razors flick out of her fingertips.]
I'm with you. Let's do it.
We enter Harrow's cabin of curiosities, discover the shrine door which previously gave us the ol' spicy doorknob, and conclude that we need to find the key for it.
Unlike last time we'll do what most people not equipped with foreknowledge would do and don't arbitrarily skip one of the generic-looking doors before confronting Marta. Behind it we hear some cultists and also a person pleading for their life.
We should keep moving. Whatever's going on in there, we don't want to get involved.
One of the cultists in there could have the key that we need.
Maybe, but that's a big "if." I can guarantee you that if we open that door, they're going to attack us, key or no. And then we'll have no choice but to kill them.
Search, smearch, like we have all night to rummage through every bread basket and underwear drawer while people are getting cut up.
[Put your ear to the door.] I'm not leaving without knowing what's going on in that room.
You're wearing a uniform. That makes you a tool, and a pawn, and our enemy. Harrow said so.
I'm just a park ranger! I'm... I'm only here to do a wildlife survey! I didn't even know that you people were OUT here!
But now you do. And if you leave this place, others will find out. You brought this on yourself.
We're not really in the business of helping law enforcement ourselves, but getting tortured to death is a little too disproportionate a punishment for counting magical German hedgehogs.
[Kick open the door.] Sorry, Glory. We can't let this happen.
Since Marta isn't around to throw her weight around this time, negotiation is not an option and we jump right into fighting. In combat the Acolytes are no different from the ones we've already seen in the proper run, there's just one less of them here than in the lounge.
As before they're decently dangerous spellcasters but if we can beat three, we can certainly beat two. And so we do.
Even without the local creepy cult crashing the party, you'd imagine doing wildlife survey in the vicinity of Awakened Lands were unpredictable enough a job that you'd want to at least bring a buddy with you.
It had to be done, Glory. They would've killed him.
Back when I lived here, I would have, too.
[She looks away.]
All that we've done is trade two innocent lives for one.
Yes, this is sure to be a moral dilemma that people with far more wisdom and spare time than us love to chew long and hard on from the safety of their homes, but on the field you gotta make these calls based on the immediate circumstances which in this case were pretty clear-cut.
...In a manner of speaking.
Maybe so. But they were the ones holding the knives.
[After a long pause, she nods.]
I don't know who you are, but thank you.
[He grimaces and claps a hand on his left forearm. Blood oozes between his fingers.]
Those monsters were going to bleed me out. They took turns cutting me - carved up my arm like a holiday roast.
Can you patch him up, Glory?
[She kneels beside him to inspect the damage.]
I can fix this. He'll need a trip to the hospital, but I can get him on his feet.
[He struggles back to his feet.]
I... I think that I can make it out of here on my own. My truck isn't far from here.
When you get to the hospital, people are going to have questions. What are you going to tell them?
[He stares at Glory for a moment. Then his eyes flit to you.]
What do you want me to say?
Tell them whatever you like. By this time tomorrow, this place won't exist any more.
[He nods.] If that's what you want.
[He limps a few steps forward, then looks back at Glory.]
I owe you my life, Fräulein. I owe you both.
[Glory steals another glance at the dead cultists. She looks back up at the ranger and gives him a curt nod.]
When they took me, they confiscated my gear. I saw them stash it behind a vent in the garage before they dragged me in here. I don't need it. It'd only slow me down.
What did you need an ambulance's worth of medical supplies for to begin with anyway, doubt the local wildlife is going to sign up for first aid lessons anytime soon.
We'll take it. Thanks.
Afterwards we proceed the exact same as before, we check the tri-vid player, examine the manifesto, look through the gross fridge (and subsequently deduce that the spirit has largely taken over the business here), check the garage for some reminiscing and the park ranger's stash, kill three more acolytes in the lounge to which Glory never especially objects for some reason and find the bloodstained shirt, the portrait, and the ring.
We overhear Marta talking to the initiates, convince them we're just here to visit her, and proceed to confront her in her room.
The old lovers have their reunion which takes a turn for the heated. And so we step in and try to calm Glory down before she takes matters in her own razors.
Why are you listening to her? She's just telling you what you want to hear. That's her whole purpose here, remember? She's *bait!* Why should we listen to *anything* that she has to say?
Reminding Glory of the ring is the simplest way to make her stand down, but we didn't sink a million Karma in Charisma just for some bauble to render our well-honed oratory skills obsolete.
You need to hear what she has to say. If you don't, this is going to gnaw at you for the rest of your life.
No. I don't think so.
[Her frown turns into a snarl.]
What'll gnaw at me is knowing that this bitch is still alive. Still *hurting* innocent kids. Still too blind to see Harrow for what he really is.
All right, Glory. I didn't want this, but you win.
[Her hands begin to glow.]
Let me show you what our husband has taught me since you disappeared.
Er, let's just call that one a warm-up run and try again.
Now obviously what we as a veritable master of mediation meant to say was
The cultists aren't responsible for their actions, remember? That's as true for Marta as it is for everyone else.
She was here long before I was. Before Harrow started using the shrine. She made her own decisions, just like I did. No excuses. She's here because she wants to be. She brought me here because she *wanted* to. *Her* choice.
That might have been true then. But she's been living under the shrine's influence for a long time now. She's no more in control of herself than anyone else here is.
Maybe she's being compelled to lie to us. I'll accept that. It doesn't mean that we should trust her.
[She fidgets in agitation.]
We're wasting time, and we *need* that key. If Harrow gets back here before we've dealt with that shrine, we're fucked.
I want to know everything we can about this place. If she wants to talk, let her.
[Glory stares at you for a moment, naked hostility on her face. Then the razors slide back into their housings with a click.]
All right, Marta. Convince me.
There we go. Also instead of the "If she wants to talk" line, using the Street etiquette is also a valid option:
(Street) I've spent enough time on the street to learn how to read a person. And I'm telling you, Marta loves those kids.
Bullshit. You're falling into the same trap that I did.
[Marta holds her silence. She looks at you with wet, lustrous eyes.]
I don't think that she *wants* to hurt anybody, Glory. Some part of her doesn't understand what this place really is.
A bit more back-and-forth about how Marta sleeps at night and all that later, Glory asks her to hand over the key to the shrine.
Now it should be mentioned that convincing Marta to cooperate is based on a point system, with each correct argument adding a point (evidenced by her showing signs of doubt) and each wrong one losing a point (evidenced by her calling us a fucking idiot). We start from 0 and at least 3 is required for her to join the party.
Previously we used the Academic etiquette here which actually netted us an extra point unobtainable in any other way, but for the sake of showing off as much as possible we'll opt not to take it this time. Unlike Harrow, we surely have no need for such crutches.
What if I could convince you that it *wouldn't* be wrong to question him?
[She crosses her arms over her chest.] Go ahead. Ask your questions. We have nothing to hide.
Alright, let's get to convincin' then. Now what did Aljernon say about the nature of the Adversary again? It's been so long... It was something about the Adversary being the literal Satan? Yeah, that was probably it.
Harrow is *evil.* You get that, right? I mean, he worships the *devil.* What else do you need?
The fact that you live in Berlin but hold the Adversary in contempt proves one of two things: either you're ignorant, or you're a hypocrite.
From what I've seen here tonight, Glory was right on the mark when she said that the Adversary was evil. If anyone here is ignorant, it's you.
Tsk tsk, you really should've known better than to walk right into our I'm-rubber-you're-glue defense and yet here you are. Honestly, this is why we hate wasting our talent arguing with amateurs.
[Her lip curls into a sneer.] Harrow warned us about this kind of backward thinking, but I wasn't expecting to hear it from you. I'd always assumed that you shadowrunners were savvy enough to know that good and evil don't exist.
Nine times out of ten I'd agree with you. But Marta... the Adversary is a special case. Somewhere, deep down, you must know that.
It's funny because we know she's wrong about this, something of a rarity in the field of virtuous "just look in your heart and you'll see the truth" -speeches used to convince villains of their villainy since time immemorial.
In fact we're cheating a bit here for completionist LP purposes as this entire line of conversation is normally only available if you never talked to Aljernon and therefore never learned what the Adversary is actually all about.
I'm done with this. If you want to go on slandering the idol that I serve, do it somewhere else. As for you... you can either change the subject, or you can get ready for a fight. I won't hear any more of your blasphemy.
As one might expect this loses us a point, so in a way bringing up the topic with the talismonger also has the practical benefit of making a positive outcome here more likely. Some Witcher-level long-term consequences right there.
Well, let's try something else.
Harrow is hurting the runaways that you bring here. You can see that, can't you?
[Her smile shifts into an expression of mock concern.]
He's corrupting you all. How many of them has he taken as his "wives" - yourself included?
We tried this before but ultimately backed down, this time we'll stick to our guns.
[She rolls her eyes] A lesson in Puritan values from a shadowrunner. How quaint.
I can see that he has you brainwashed into thinking that this is okay. But Marta - it isn't.
[Marta takes a deep breath. Strugglers to calm herself.]
If you have more accusations to hurl at my husband, go ahead and do it - I'll tell you how wrong you are. I'd prefer to keep this conversation civil, but that's up to you.
There's also a more neutral response which neither loses or gains points:
I'm not making a value judgment. Just an observation.
Sex is a pleasurable function of biology. There's nothing wrong with enjoying it... Harrow is only doing what everyone would do if they could. It's a sign of how twisted society is that you think this is even a problem.
And a somewhat less neutral one:
[Attack her.] I don't care if you're under some spirit's influence. You're a sick woman, and I'm going to put you down for everyone's good.
Anyway, let's move on. This time we visited the room with the tri-vid player before coming here, so we can bring that up too.
When Glory lived here, he had her kill a man for his tri-vid player. How can that be right?
Justify it however you like, Marta. I can't any longer.
You're confused, Glory. Lost. But go on. Tell me how else Harrow is "hurting" us, and I'll tell you why you're wrong.
Hey, that actually seems to have worked! We're definitely well on our way to repeating our previous success.
I've read Harrow's manifesto. It looks like he spends a long time talking about charity?
[She nods eagerly.] Yes. Of course. Charity. The kind that I practice when I rescue young people from the streets.
You have a funny definition of "charity."
No, I mean it in the same way that anybody would. We provide these runaways with food, shelter, and a sense of purpose. We set them *free.* If that isn't charitable, I don't know what is.
That meanwhile didn't seem to do much either way. Bah, enough of this already, this is taking all day. Math is for nerds but I'm pretty sure we've enough points to have convinced her.
Give us the amulet, Marta. It's the right thing to do.
[She nods eagerly.]
I'll give it to you.
[She fishes the amulet out of her blouse. It dangles on a golden chain, glinting in the firelight.]
Here. It's all yours.
Another textbook performance in the art of negotiation by yours truly, hope everyone reading took notes.
What! Such unforeseeable treachery, evasive maneuvers!
And so our slug-like reflexes ruin the day once more.
Aw man not our blood, we still have plans for that stuff!
[The razors flick back out of Glory's fingers. She locks eyes with Marta.]
So in the end it came to this after all, huh. And it felt like we were doing so well too...
Also in case you've ever wondered how many points of damage is the equivalent of getting stabbed in the neck with a razor, the answer is 10 points. We could take surprisingly many of those before it actually got hazardous, really.
We already know what Marta is capable of, therefore we also know she stands no chance against the two of us in a fight. Glory extinguishes her old flame a mere turn later.
You okay, Glory?
[It takes her a long time to respond. Her voice is choked with long-dormant emotion.]
No. I'm not.
Well, get your game face back on. We still have Harrow's shrine to deal with.
Wow, she wasn't kidding when she said she only needed a moment. Essence loss is a hell of a thing.
[She nods in the direction of the door.] We got what we came here for. Let's go finish this.
As we're leaving the scene, the nearby initiate speaks up as before.
You *monster!* You KILLED Marta!
It couldn't be helped.
Harrow is going to get you. You'll see!
Well that was kind of bummer of an outcome, wasn't it. How about we roll the whole conversation back and take the successful dialogue path this time, see if we can't keep Marta around while still sticking to the plan.
One victorious match of Konvince Kombat later...
So you'll give us the amulet?
No. I can't go against Harrow's wishes. He told me never to take it off, and I won't. But I *will* come with you. If I can help save these kids from what's happening here, that's what I have to do.
Actually, we're here to kill Harrow. It's the only way to stop something like this from happening again.
[Her eyes go wide.] *Kill* him? *No.* I won't let that happen. You need to make a choice. If you want to help the children here, I'll help you. But I won't let you raise a hand to Harrow, and if you try, I'll stop you.
Oh, er, did we say "kill"? Haha sorry we meant "bill", see he's uh, late on a couple of payments. Big candle expenses apparently.
[Lie.] Alright, don't worry. We'll make sure that he isn't hurt.
In that case, let's move on to the shrine room. I'll get you through the door. I won't let any more children come to harm.
And so it's back to the shrine door with us, where Glory applies the orichalcum and explains that we'll protect our spirits from getting snatched by wearing magical talismans.
I don't know what's going to happen when we step into that room, Rosa. We're playing with forces outside of our control. Are you ready to do this?
I've been waiting for this since we got here.
[Marta smiles. Her eyes glitter with anticipation.]
Glory what the hell, we literally told that lie about three minutes ago, do you realize how awkward you've just made things?
[Marta's eyes go wide.]
...But from what we've seen here tonight, I suspect that he isn't the real power here any more.
[Marta goes from looking shocked to aghast. Then her cheeks flush red.]
Feuerstelle belongs to Harrow, Glory. You know that. Everything here is *his.*
[She shakes her head from side to side.] No. No, you're wrong, Glory. You... you don't know how wrong you are.
If you want to save Harrow's life, stop arguing with me. What I'm trying to say is that I think we should change our plans. If Harrow isn't the real threat here, then we shouldn't prioritize killing him - we should try to rescue the cultists instead.
What are you basing this on?
What we saw with the initiate, and the fridge.
[She jerks a thumb at Marta.]
Her general mindset, and what she said about the sacrifices. Lots of little things, but they add up.
All right. So is there a way that we can deal with the shrine *without* hurting the cultists?
[She nods.] Yes. Rather than killing the spirit, we can attempt to purify it. That will clear its influence from their minds without hurting them. I think that if we purify the spirit, Feuerstelle will die. We'll save all of the kids, and the nightmare will end.
That's swell and all but there's a pretty critical downside to this particular plan.
But if we do that, Harrow will get away.
Yeah. Harrow will get away.
You promised me that you'd let him go. You *promised.*
We promised no such thing, we simply said we'll make sure he isn't hurt and that just sort of happened to be the exact opposite of what we were actually planning to do.
Look we had a clear plan, a plan we know is guaranteed to work, and now you want to muddle things up based on a hunch? Nuh-uh, we're not going to risk that bastard getting away with everything he's done and might still do in the future.
It's a great theory, Glory, but that's all it is. We don't know for a fact if any of what you just said is true.
No. We don't. I think that it's likely, but we don't know for sure.
I can't justify letting a man like Harrow go free on a hunch. We need to take him down, and we need to do it tonight.
Ah for the love of... you're a real volatile one, aren't you? Alright fine, seems like our only option is to give it one more rewind and give her the only answer she'll actually accept.
What you're saying makes sense to me. All right, we purify the spirit, rescue the cultists, and bail. We can worry about Harrow later.
Agreed, nothing we'd hate more than ending up doing the wrong thing tonight.
Also this update went over the character limit so we will be splitting it in two here and get into what is sure to be an all around cheery conclusion in the second half.
A fair bit of alternate dialogue this time. Starting from the Marta confrontation, the outcome of asking her to hand over the amulet with exactly 1 point as opposed to 0 likewise ends in violence, but with less open hostility about it:
[Glory shifts into an attack posture. When she speaks, her voice is unsteady.]
I'm sorry that it came to this, Marta... but you're too far gone to save. If what you want is a fight, we'll give you one.
I didn't *want* this, Glory. I wish that we could have come out of this friends. But you haven't convinced me of anything, and I made a promise to protect this with my life.
Best of luck with that.
I won't need luck, outsider. Harrow - my *husband* - taught me how.
[She stares at Glory, and her eyes are sad. She raises her hands, and they begin to glow.]
See for yourself.
The outcome of the same but with a total of 2 points leads to Marta fleeing rather than either fighting or joining the party, at a hunch the most common outcome when going into the mission blind:
It isn't you. It's this place... it gets into your head. It took a lot more than this to wake me up to it.
I... I don't know what to do.
[Slowly, she fishes the amulet from between her breasts. She holds it out to you with a trembling hand.]
Take it and go. Do what you need to do.
Thank you, Marta.
[She holds her head clasped in both hands. A tortured expression has overtaken her face.]
Please. Just go.
The brief exchange with the initiate outside Marta's room for this outcome:
You said that you just wanted to talk to her! She ran out of here in tears!
Her mother died. We're going to go calm her down right now.
Oh, no! Poor Marta! Take care of her, okay?
And the post-run conversation about her fate back in Berlin:
We didn't see Marta again after she ran off. Do you think that she's okay?
[Her expression clouds.] I don't know. I don't even know if I want her to be. She was the first person I ever really loved, but that doesn't make up for all of the pain that she's caused.
Harrow did a hell of a job on her... if she is alive, she probably still thinks that she was *saving* the kids that she lured to Feuerstelle. I feel sick just thinking about it.
[She looks away.]
Let's talk about something else, Rosa. I'd rather not dwell on this if I don't have to.
Now moving on to the conversation in front of the shrine door, if the setup is almost the same as the one covered in this update, namely
1. Being on the "kill Harrow" path
2. Having lied to Marta about not planning on killing Harrow in order to keep her from going hostile, but
3. Without having examined the fridge and subsequently never having deducated that Harrow is overreliant on the spirit
then the ensuing conversation does not involve Glory trying to convince us to spare Harrow, but rather us having the option to convince her of the same:
All right. When we engage the spirit, Harrow will come rushing back here. And when we kill it, he'll be crippled. Then we kill him.
[Her gaze shifts to Marta, and her lips curl into a smile.]
Sorry about misleading you before. I was just telling you what you wanted to hear... but you're no stranger to that, are you?
[Her eyes go wide.] What?! You said that this was about the children! You said that Harrow would live!
I lied. After all of the lies that you've told me, I think it's only fair.
Seems to be a minor continuity error here as Glory herself doesn't directly lie to her at any point.
Glory... I think that we need to change our plans. The cultists here... they're just a bunch of poor, brainwashed kids. After everything I've seen tonight, I can't justify putting their lives at risk.
[She stares at you.] But Harrow...
We can worry about him later. Marta, calm down - nobody is dying here tonight.
[Marta takes a deep breath, then slowly releases it.]
All right. I'm going to trust you, outsider. Please don't betray that trust.
Glory... I'm sorry that I made you feel so terrible that you needed to lash out. It's my fault, and I accept that.
[She sounds hurt and confused.]
I just want to make things right.
[Glory turns to you, a conflicted expression on her face.]
Are you sure that you want to do this?
Yes. If we sacrifice these people because we're afraid of what *might* happen, then we're no better than Harrow is.
[Glory takes a deep breath. Releases it. Finally, she gives you a slow nod.]
I didn't want to admit it to myself... but I agree with you. I'm here to make amends for my misdeeds. I can't do that by committing another.
Let's put an end to all of this. We heal the spirit, and then the cultists. We shut this place down. Harrow lives.