Part 79: Consumed by FirePart 79 - Consumed by Fire
Our expedition into the depths of Harfeld underground continues, and we now find ourselves in a rather ominous hallway surrounded by more medical facilities but only one accessible way forward.
We proceed through the doors into a large chamber, and there, behind a window, at long last...
Haven't we all at this point. It was yours we followed to get here, actually. Wasn't a short walk either.
That's on you, Doc. You've got some explaining to do.
*I* have explaining to do? This is my *home.* You are the intruder here. If anyone needs to explain herself, it's you.
Right off the bat here - this is going to be a very long and rather complex conversation, with a large number of dialogue choices of which some don't matter at all and some matter a great deal. In fact what we're about to engage in here can in some ways be considered the true climactic battle of Dragonfall, and it is not necessarily an easy one to win either. Heck, it can well be literally impossible depending on certain past choices and actions.
It's also not strictly necessary to win, poor conversational choices don't lead to a game over here or anything, but our goal is definitely to give it the best we've got. Towards that end we'll strive to keep things calm and diplomatic, to the best of our ability.
Let us out of here, Vauclair. We need to talk.
I believe I can hear you well enough from *this* side of the glass. Now.
[He fixes you with a level stare.]
I want to know why in hell you've so violently interjected yourself into my business. First, you break into my estate... which you didn't even know was *mine,* apparently. Then you spend what must have been a small fortune to track me down.
You locate my AI, *destroy* it, then drive all the way out to the countryside. And finally, you shoot your way into my laboratory.
[He leans forward, hands on the table, his eyes narrowed into a piercing stare.]
So I have to ask you, shadowrunner - who are you, and why in God's name are you here?
It was obviously the warm and welcoming attitude of the service staff during our last visit which keeps us coming back. There was one hard-working ork in particular who left such an impression that we simply had to come see him again, really express our true feelings in person.
You first. Tell me what's going on here. Now.
I do not have time to explain myself. Nor are you in any position to make demands. But know this - what I do, I do for the good of all. I don't expect you to understand.
I understand that your men tried to destroy an entire kiez full of innocent people. I understand that you've got a lot of funding and a heavily modified virus designed for widespread dispersal. Something big is happening here.
Ah... so you have pieces of the puzzle, but not the whole. Interesting. It must be vengeance, then. That is why you are here, vengeance for your friends and the attack on your home. You believe I've been hunting you, and now you are bringing the fight to me.
Well, haven't you?
[Vauclair covers his face with his pale, nicotine-stained hands. Groans.]
...You are correct. I was the one who sent APEX and Audran after you.
You're going to pay for that, you bastard.
Why attack the Kreuzbasar, Vauclair? Why kill Paul Amsel?
The "greater good" -type, huh. Funny how the "all" part always seems to come with some significant terms and conditions attached.
[Vauclair collects himself. Continues.]
I don't expect you to understand. Nor do I have time to explain it to you.
[He straightens, glances back at the screen to his side, and nods curtly.]
Now, I must know - how did you learn that I was still alive? How did you even know to look for me? Did someone send you?
We found out about you from your brother, Vauclair. He was trying to find you. Right up to the end.
So that's how it is. Quite the sorry tale you've gone and penned for us all here, "Dragonslayer".
Oh... you mean, you didn't know? You killed him too. Just like Paul and Monika.
[He clutches his chest.]
I should have never trusted that... thing.
[He closes his eyes, and a tear traces its way down the gaunt hollow of his cheek.]
Oh, Hermie... the things I've sacrificed... All for this... all for Panacea. All for tonight.
You killed my friends, asshole. And now I'm supposed to feel *sorry* for you? Just tell us what the hell is going on here!
[Vauclair's eyes flare with anger. He lunges towards the glass with surprising speed, despite his age and fragile frame.]
Hermie was my BROTHER, damn you! My *only* brother!
Okay, that maybe wasn't super calm and diplomatic of us. Just couldn't help it.
Really now, that's what the doctor's prescribing here? Dragon genocide? We got some hints pointing in that direction, like that mention of "genetic similarity to our targets" in relation to the salamanders they keep here for example, but to think he's genuinely going for it...
Oh, why didn't you say so? That plan doesn't sound crazy at all.
And yet look at all the death and destruction, all the money you've spent on your errand of vengeance. You... you do not get to pass judgment over me.
Let me get this straight. You had a bad experience with one dragon, so now you're going to wipe out an *entire species?*
The Firewing burned and murdered and caused untold damage in her bestial rage. Until the Dragonfall. Until I stopped her. But that destruction was merely a symptom of a greater cancer.
Oh yes... dragons are a cancer. One that will conquer, or worse, *destroy* all of humanity if we do not stop it. One that metastasized when the world Awakened. An ironic metaphor, since it was the failing of my own body that allowed me to see it.
Something uncomfortably familiar about this rhetoric... Also the man definitely looks like his best days are behind him, and the ones ahead really aren't much to look forward to either. We originally thought he was malnourished as a result of his imprisonment, but it would seem that was something of a misdiagnosis.
Let me guess. You have cancer.
Late stage, too. If I had to guess, I'd say leukemia.
I'm sorry, Hermie... I'm sorry you won't be able to see it for yourself. I'm sorry I failed you.
[Vauclair turns his attention back to the computer, stubbing out his cigarette. He grabs a fresh one from the pack and lights it.]
Tonight I will release my Panacea to the world. And how absurd that the instrument of dragonkind's destruction...
...Will be carried by Feuerschwinge herself.
Whoah. Even having known in advance she'd probably be down here somewhere, it's still kind of shocking to actually see a bona fide Great Dragon with your own eyes like this. Hell of a sight.
Sonofabitch. Look at that.
He found her alive in the SOX, after all.
Tonight, the Firewing will fly again. Infected with Panacea, she will slowly be destroyed from within. But before that happens, she will provide the catalyst for global transmission of the virus.
Catalyst? What catalyst?
When a critical mass of carriers is achieved, my Panacea will become unstoppable. It will spread across the globe in a relentless tide. However, if it does *not* reach this critical mass, it will fizzle. Die out. Become inert.
Whoa whoa whoa, what are you saying? Berlin? But our dog's in Berlin!
Hang on a second. You're going to sic the Firewing on *Berlin?*
[He continues his work, filled with a feverish energy.]
To save the world, yes. For Panacea to work, Berlin must burn. A sacrifice. One for the greater good. Feuerschwinge will breathe her infected fire upon Berlin. Thousands will die... and through that destruction, the virus will take to the air.
A critical mass of Berlin's metahuman population will be exposed, but no one will even *think* to quarantine the city until its too late. The Flux State lacks any centralized authority. Corporations will evacuate their own. Thousands will flee the city. Infected.
[He mutters, his voice growing more detached.]
Oh, yes, Hermie... Berlin is the perfect flash point. It wasn't supposed to happen tonight, no. But this little "intervention" of yours leaves us no choice. So let us see...
[He squints at his screen.]
Tonights wind patterns dictate that ground zero be Tempelhof-Schöneberg. Highly populated... the virus will spread quickly enough from there.
Thats only a few kilometers from the Kreuzbasar.
Dont do it, Vauclair. I swear, I will make you hurt if you do. And I'll make it *last*.
[Vauclair sighs. Shuts his eyes tight, brings a shaking hand to his temple.]
We all know that is not going to happen. You are trapped here, impotent to stop this from happening. And it *will* happen.
[When he turns to address you again, his voice is level. The shaking in his hands seems to have subsided.]
Security will be here soon, and they will take care of you. Do not worry - you will not be harmed. The sacrifice that I'm making tonight is a necessary evil - it cannot be helped. But so long as you remain confined, I see no reason to kill you too.
Well aren't you a regular saint, really making us feel bad about your burden of "sacrificing" the people of a city you clearly don't even fucking live in.
How are you going to get Feuerschwinge to go along with this plan of yours?
[He continues to work.] Oh, that. That's simple enough...
[He gestures to his left.]
She has no choice.
Well that's incredibly eerie.
So, the stories Green Winters found were true. Feuerschwinges astral form *was* separated from her body when she fell.
You trapped it somehow.
Yes, yes. But that came later.
In 2012, we took down Feuerschwinge with an experimental weapon. This device... suffice it to say, I couldn't fully predict how it would affect her. In 2036, I led a search team into the SOX. I had to know what really happened to the creature that I had "slain."
We found her alive, in a way. The dragons astral form - her spirit, you might say - had been ripped from her body by the weapon. It was trapped inside a young woman living in the SOX. A mob of glowpunks revered her. Treated her like a goddess. I transported the young woman and the dragons body here, where I could study them.
And from what we heard from his brother on those DVDs, being hit by that stuff would've been incomprehensibly painful to the point that we speculated it to be whole reason behind this mess, that her traumatic experience would've driven her to plot revenge on mankind. Funny, really. We actually got the idea right, it's just that the actors involved turned out to have been playing the opposite roles.
You mean that shes been in that cell for almost twenty years?
[He nods absently.] No choice. A creature separated from its astral form cannot live more than a few hours before both die. It was the high-intensity radiation of the SOX, combined with the magical creature inside her, that allowed the woman to live for as long as she has. So.
[Vauclair seems almost eager to explain.]
The environment within her containment chamber mirrors that of the SOX. It has allowed us to keep Feuerschwinge alive all these years, while her bestial shell remains chained up below.
This all kind of reminds us of the MKVI, and you know you're dealing with something pretty questionable when you're drawing parallels to that horror show.
Id go insane if I was trapped like that for twenty years.
[He shakes his head.] Misplaced empathy. That beast blazed a path of fiery destruction across Germany.
But no matter. I have more important things to do than to debate the morality of this with you. Feuerschwinge must fly, Berlin must be sacrificed, and it must be tonight. Now... where is that damned Audran?
This plan is thoroughly mad for a great number of reasons, something he would surely see as well were he not blinded from having basked in his own isolated brilliance for so long. For as consumed by this project and its supposed righteousness as this man is, he's clearly not a complete raving lunatic. We have to try and make him see reason.
You dont burn a city and call it a "sacrifice." You call it what it is: mass murder.
[The old man is trembling now.]
I do the same, for the good of the world.
(Academic) You know that America was pretty divided on the morality of that act, right? Some even considered it a crime against humanity.
We are not talking ethics here! We are talking... parallels. What I do will prevent a greater evil from taking place.
I'm not buying it, Doc. Ending a war and exterminating an entire intelligent species are two very different things.
Dont be so self-righteous. We drive new species to extinction *every single year* on this planet. Dragons, at least, we have cause to destroy.
Humanity was born to reproduce - to multiply. But dragons... dragons were born to acquire, to accumulate. To *hoard.* Both strive to bend the world to their will. Humanity has conquered the air, land, and sea through sheer numbers. Dragons, however, employ different means altogether. Throughout history, they have allowed *us* to do the heavy lifting, while they pull the strings.
There are seventeen great dragons in the world today. Seventeen ancient wyrms, millennia old, slowly dividing the planet into seventeen piles of gold to nest upon. In front of our eyes. Once upon a time, they burned castles to steal the treasure we collected. Laid waste to entire armies. But here, here in the Sixth World, it is no longer about tooth and claw and fiery breath.
[The old man's voice seethes with hatred.]
Perhaps not in this cycle of the world. Perhaps not the next. But one day, one wyrm will stand alone - triumphant. With all of humanity as its cattle. With all the world as its prize. And that...
[He trembles, his voice dropping to a whisper.]
That I will *not* allow.
We can't frankly pretend to know much of anything about the true nature of dragons, but even we know that this cannot be the correct way to go about this matter. One man whose views are colored by hate for what happened in the past and fear for what he thinks will happen in the future simply cannot be the sole arbiter of something on this scale.
At any rate this is where the real deal begins. As with Marta back at Feuerstelle we can now try arguments of all kinds, and just like back then having a big brain gives us the opportunity for an extra shot.
(Intelligence 6) What if this virus mutates into a strain that can kill *us*, too?
An intelligent question, from the shadowrunner? Surprising. Unfortunately, I don't have the time to explain it to you in detail. And since you are locked in that laboratory with no chance of escape, I dont really need to.
It will work.
[He looks down.]
I promise you, Hermie... it will work.
Even with enough smarts though, this is normally a dead end:
Ah, the "because I said so" defense. Very professional of you, Doctor.
[He shoots you an icy glance.] Say what you like - it matters little to me. My Panacea will change the world. In the end, you will thank me.
The only way to successfully continue this line of argument is to also have enough knowledge in the good ol' dialogue skill masquerading as a combat one.
(Biotech 5) Your Panacea is built on the back of an RNA virus, and yet you aren't worried about the possibility of mutation?
It had to be an RNA virus. No choice in the matter. If Panacea is to work, it must be robust. Untreatable. A DNA virus wouldn't fit the bill.
You aren't listening, Doctor. she's right - RNA polymerases are *notoriously* prone to replication errors. Any first-year biology student could tell you that. You have no way of knowing *how* your Panacea will mutate once you let it go. You're playing with fire, in every way imaginable.
I am *not* a first-year biology student. I am at the forefront of my field, and I have told you, it *will* work! I've spent decades on this, studying it, *proving* its effectiveness!
[Another spasm wracks his chest. He leans against the desk, gasping for breath.]
You *will* respect that.
"Because I said so" doesn't cut it, Doc. Not when the stakes are this high. What Rosa is sayin' makes sense, and you know it. You may be crazy, but you ain't stupid.
So we had the brain smarts and the medical smarts... but this is STILL a dead end even with both of those two. That's right, to actually drive this thing home, we also need to possess a specific etiquette. You can probably guess which one.
(Academic) Are your findings peer-reviewed, Vauclair? Or are you so invested in this idea - of exterminating dragons - that you're acting on faith?
[Vauclair stares at you through red-rimmed eyes for a long moment.]
And acting on faith makes for bad science. That is your point, yes?
If the draconic threat could be stopped by the "scientific community", we wouldn't be having this conversation. I won't deny the risks. But this... This is my *life's work*.
[He spits out the words.]
And it is a risk *worth taking*.
Phew, that's as far as we can hope to get on that particular road. Let's try a more personal angle next.
This plan of yours killed your *brother*. Was it really worth it?
[He runs a hand through his unkempt hair, blinking through a haze of sudden tears.]
Damn it, Hermie... why couldn't you just let me go?
This is one of the spots where a wrong choice will end the conversation right away. Again, you can probably guess which one.
You dont have to add to his loss, Doctor. This doesnt need to continue.
[He covers his eyes.] No... no. I'm afraid it does. I loved my brother, more than you can know, but...
[He wipes away the tears. Looks you in the eye.]
This this changes nothing. My brothers death only strengthens my resolve. Were I to stop now, his loss would be in vain... he would want me to continue.
Here too we face a potential dead end:
Maybe he would. But that doesn't make it right.
[A dry chuckle turns into a rasping cough.]
I'll take your opinions on what is right with a grain of salt, shadowrunner. When viewed through the lens of history, my Panacea will be remembered as the key to our species' salvation. I won't live to see it, but it will happen, regardless of your beliefs to the contrary.
The condition for succesfully continuing this particular line of argument is to have watched through all the DVDs back at the Kreuzbasar. Luckily for us we've never been anything but almost obsessively thorough.
I've watched hours of your brother's video footage, Vauclair. I probably know him better than anyone alive, excepting yourself.
[His face twists into an ugly sneer.] You've watched *footage.* And that makes you think that you *know* the man. You know *nothing.*
I know that he wanted you to stop all of this years ago. He *begged* you to, and you promised him that you'd try.
She's right, Vauclair. Your brother was a miserable bastard, but he did die trying to save you. If you don't turn back from this, his death will have meant nothin' - nothin' at all.
Nothing at all, Vauclair. Nothing at all.
That's enough. Hermie's death was a tragedy - I will *NOT* let you use it to manipulate me.
Good, a calm mind is more likely to listen to reason. Next let's try...
Even if you succeed at this, eliminating dragons will create a dangerous power vacuum.
[He laughs.] A pointless argument. Any power vacuum created through dragonkinds extermination will be filled by metahumanity. Any backlash will right itself over time.
I am playing the long game, shadowrunner. One that has played out over thousands of years. When you think on that scale... everything seems possible. Humanity will endure, and the dragons will perish.
Mm, doesn't seem to have done it and we don't really have a follow-up either, damn. Alright, instead let's try an angle which is available to us because we read the messages regarding hazardous working conditions in the facility on one of the laboratory terminals earlier:
Look - you're not infallible, Doc. You've already made mistakes here, and people died as a result.
[He looks amused.] Mistakes?
[He uses the tip of his cigarette to gesture at the glass.]
So says the career criminal trapped in the containment room.
Oh we've made some mistakes alright. Hell some days feel like just getting out of bed was already one, but ours don't threaten to fuck up a whole city, or a an entire species. At worst like, one neighborhood or so. At worst!
I've read some of your inter-office communications. There have been a number of deaths here over the years, haven't there?
We have suffered losses, yes. They were tragic. But the people here accepted that there would be risks. They made their own choices. I won't take the blame for that.
No. Of course you won't. Admitting fault might undermine the hero myth that you've built up around yourself.
You think that I *like* watching people die? That I've *enjoyed* spending the better part of my life locked away in this lab with a creature that I *hate?* You think that I'm doing this for *me?*
Yes, actually. I think that you've gotten used to playing the role of the long-suffering hero. I don't think that you remember how to be anything else.
[He glares at you through the glass.]
Is there some point that you're trying to make? Or are you just trying to anger me?
My point is that everyone makes mistakes - even you. And yet, you want to roll the dice with a biological weapon.
It will *work*. I'm telling you--
Bet you told your researchers that their lab would be safe, too. Look how that turned out.
[The muscles at the corners of his mouth tighten.] Why am I even talking to you? You're trapped in there, and I've still got work to do. Audran will be here for you soon enough.
On and on we go. Our next argument is available because of our continued talks with Absinthe who eventually revealed the existence of the Horrors.
There are worse things out there than dragons, Vauclair. Exterminating one threat could open the door to another.
[He grinds his teeth in exasperation.] Another pearl of wisdom from the shadowrunner.
The Great Dragons represent an incalculable threat to our survival as a species. To spare them for fear of some unknown, nebulous danger would be absurd. Besides which, there is *nothing* that is worse than a dragon. I am in a position to know.
Another grand opportunity to throw all our progress away:
I know what's worse: having to sit through another of your lectures. Seriously, you're just about the preachiest son of a bitch I've ever met.
[He sneers at you, parchment-thin skin sliding over his bony face.]
Well, in that case, perhaps I should get back to work. I wouldn't want to *bore* you. It's past time that this conversation came to an end.
You're wrong. An astral entity told me about... things... that exist out on the metaplanes. Horrifying things that we can't even hope to comprehend.
We swear no drugs were involved in the making of this story. Probably?
[He lets out a startled chuckle.] What does that matter? Even if your spirit's stories are true, the *dragons* are what threaten us now.
But dragons don't exist in a vacuum. They're a part of the Awakened world's ecosystem, and they have been since the beginning of time.
Let's agree that this is true. What does it matter? Smallpox was with us "since the beginning," but I don't see anyone crying over its eradication.
(Academic) That's a false equivalence, Vauclair. You're an intelligent man - you know the dangers of what you're proposing. You just don't want to acknowledge them.
The etiquette is not needed to proceed this time, but obviously we'll flaunt our intellectual goods every time we can.
I will *not* just sit back and let them take over the world. I must act.
[His bony hands clench into fists.]
I *will* act.
You may be right, Vauclair. But this isn't the answer.
This is about all we can muster, and it doesn't look like he's up for much more arguing either. Time to go for the finishing blow and hope for the best.
If Hermie were here with us *right now,* listening to this conversation, he'd tell you to stop this. Deny it if you want, but you know that it's true.
[Her voice is soft, but firm.] You're what, Doc?
I'm not... If Hermie were here... Oh God.
Yeah? If your brother's name wasn't on the ever-expanding list of corpses this senseless quest of yours has produced, what'd he do?
[Vauclair's jaw clenches. The muscles of his throat tighten as he forces himself to swallow.]
...He would try to stop me.
You still have a chance to give him what he wanted. You can put a stop to this before more people get killed.
Thank you, Doctor. I'm still going to kill you, of course... but thanks for listening to reason.
[A bitter half-grin spreads across his face.]
You still plan to kill me? Good.
[His hands curl into fists, and he slams one down on his control panel. A hollow ringing sound fills the air, and Vauclair winces in pain.]
I have nothing more to live for anyway. You'd be doing me a favor.
I wouldn't listen to them because I knew that I was *right.* I *knew* what had to be done... what they were all blind to. I was Hermie's big brother. I was the great and celebrated dragonslayer. I knew better.
[He makes a sweeping gesture, a look of contempt on his face.]
You see this lab? The complex you're standing in, and the plan that it was built to serve? I sacrificed *everything* for this. My job, my health, my family... I was prepared to sacrifice *Berlin.* To feed those people to the same fires that I spent my youth trying to extinguish.
Unquestionably some of the worst life choices we've ever seen anyone make, and we're quite the expert on the field at this point. And so?
And all the while, Hermie was trying to tell me that I *wasn't* right, and I refused to listen. My refusal killed him - my little brother. The person I loved most in the world.
[He covers his face with a withered hand.]
If only I had heard him... none of this would have happened.
I'll be damned. I think you've talked him out of it.
My cure... the Panacea... it isn't ready. I was ready to turn a blind eye to the flaws and deploy it anyway. But my eyes are open now, and I do not like what I see.
We get 2 Karma for convincing the man not to scorch Berlin and kill all dragons forever. Whoever doles out this stuff sure has an interesting set of priorities...
I know that this is a hard decision, Vauclair. But it's the right one.
[He stares at his trembling hands, a sad smile on his face.]
More than four decades of planning, all undone in the span of a single conversation. My brother's words, delivered through the mouth of a criminal. I finally listened, Hermie. Forty-two years too late.
You. Now that we're best pals and everything, can we throw this guy into a volcano, and maybe launch the volcano into the Sun while we're at it?
[Vauclair looks up at the ork. His voice trembles slightly.]
There has been a change of plans.
No time for that, Doc. We're waking up the dragon's physical form *right now.* Everything is ready for the procedure to begin. You should see to it.
There will be no procedure, Audran.
[The ork pauses.]
You're gonna have to repeat that.
The plan - *my* plan - is flawed. Fatally so. The dragon will not fly tonight.
This must come as a shock to you. I am sorry for that. Your belief in our cause was second only to my own.
If that's the way you feel. It's been an honor, Doctor.
[He smiles weakly.] The honor has been mi--
Oh come on
You trigger-happy motherfucker, can't something for once just go our way without you showing up waving a gun and making everything terrible again?!
You shouldn't have made me do that, asshole. The Doc was like family to me.
I didn't "make" you do anything. You murdered him.
He was going to put a stop to it. The plan. You think I'd just stand by and let that happen?
He was *stopping* it because it *won't work!*
It will. The dragons will die. I've seen what Panacea can do - the Doc showed me tissue samples. It melted them.
The dragons will die, yes. But there's no telling what else might happen. Unleashing that shit could have deadly consequences for all of us.
Great, just great. All that trouble and the only thing we accomplished was switching gears from deluded crazy to full-blown nihilistic "fuck it all" crazy?
Oh, you son of a bitch.
Look who's talking. For all of his faults, Vauclair was a hero. And now he's dead, and it's *your* fault.
What is this all about for you, Audran? Why the hell are you doing this?
Why am I releasing the dragon? Spreading Vauclair's Panacea to infect the world?
So you want to change the world, but you don't care what it changes into. That's insane, Audran.
Yeah, maybe. But it'll be interesting, and *I'll* be the cause of it. Not a dragon. Not a megacorp. *Me.* All by myself, changing the world.
[He pauses for a moment, considering.]
You probably shouldn't count on that, though.
One moment it looked like we'd won it all, and now we're stuck in a cage match against some high temperature lizards with an even more unhinged guy running the show than before. Goddamnit.
Firedrakes can basically be summed up as the fire version of Gargoyles, they're hard to bring down, have a nasty claw attack, can launch fireballs from range and explode into the same upon death.
Despite what their name might imply, Flamethrower burns them just as well as anything else, and there's a Heavy Leyline in the dead center of the room we'll happily make use of to turn up the heat even further.
From our perspective dealing with fire is a lot less of a pain than dealing with acid since there's no AP damage component involved, and while it's hard for Glory to avoid getting singed by the death explosions, even just her base armor mitigates the damage down to single digits.
And, well, that pretty much covers it for this battle, despite Audran's claims about the place "overflowing" with test subjects it's just a matter fighting off four Firedrakes entering the area one at a time each turn. There's even a medkit we can pick up from a medical cabinet here, which we do, using one of our current ones to patch ourselves up.
The last two enter from the opposite side of the room behind cover which is kind of a pain, but all in all they're just not that much of a threat despite all their buildup.
We're still stuck in this chamber however, though it appears we're sharing the space with someone who has been here for a whole lot longer still.
So you're an ancient dragon, huh?
Help... ...please... ...help.
You don't look much like a dragon.
Free me... ...please... ...you must.
Let's think this through, boss. Be careful.
Actively trying to free Feuerschwinge was just about the last thing we were planning on originally, but now it seems like she's just another victim of Vauclair's machinations. The biggest victim of all, even. Except now Audran is planning on freeing her too, kind of, so maybe we need to kill her after all? Man, things sure got complicated somewhere down the line.
Is that girl still inside you, Feuerschwinge? Are you alone in there?
Alone... ...alone on the wind.
[Her yellow eyes lock on yours. Focus hard.]
FREE ME, VAUCLAIR. FREE ME OR BURN.
Okay. Kinda at a loss at how we're supposed to deal with this... person?
I'm not Vauclair.
[He turns to you, conflicted.]
Nothing deserves this, Rosa. But all the same... we can't just set her free.
[As quickly as it appeared, her energy drains away.]
Must stay aloft... ...help you... ...grant you release from here... ...and you will repay in kind yes yes yes.
We uh, we'd love to take you for your word but we'll have to get back to you about this whole freeing a violent and highly agitated dragon into the world -deal, okay? This is all a little sudden, and we need to focus on Audran for now anyway.
No promises yet, dragon.
[A voice roars out of her, from somewhere deep inside the frail woman.]
FREE ME! FREE ME, OR THE FLESH WILL BE RAKED FROM YOUR BONES! BURN YOU TO CINDERS BURN YOU TO ASH BURN YOU TO NOTHING!!! THIS I SWEAR, LITTLE WOMAN!
...Right, these seem like very reasonable terms and we'll be sure to take them into consideration.
I'd better be careful when I talk to dragons.
Well. That was a lot, wasn't it? For a while it even looked like this might be it, that we might've actually reached the finale and would bring it all home. But of course it was never going to be that simple, and while processing everything that just happened, we begin our dive down into "the guts of this place" and resume the hunt with a different monster in our sights.
(And yes, there are other potential outcomes and such here, and we'll come back to them eventually.)