Part 11: 6-1: YngvarPART 11: Yngvar
Man, I don't know what Jorundr was so upset about. Most of the bridge is still there! Can't cross it, but if you wanted a monument to the varl it's still quite useful!
Two days out from Einartoft, this happens. I'm even more convinced that good/bad events are tied to morale. We've got the supplies to party it up. Which costs us 10 supplies, but gives a HUGE morale boost and also (and more importantly) +15 renown.
Before he's even finished his sentence you have your weapons out and rush forward to attack!
This is...a less-good random event, but it's not as if bandits should be a problem for me given how much armor Iver has. I mean, unless it's a group full of nothing but archers who can puncture me into oblivion.
Krumr hits rank 3, which is important becuase now he can use Forge Ahead on units within a...4, I think?...tile radius. Doesn't have to be adjacent anymore, in any event. Also look at that armor break.
Human enemies are more dangerous than dredge because they always have HUGE willpower reserves, huge exertion, and in the case of archer bowmasters, can use their "bird of prey" special to attack from well outside normal range. Poor Eyvind never even gets a chance to move.
This is...getting really dangerous tbh.
The trick to fights with archers is to kill the archers first before they use armor break + puncture to ruin you. But if I kill an archer here, just...that leaves the remaining archers more turns to ruin my day!
I let Egil do some fighting because I need this fight to END, and look at the fucking armor break on these things. A natural 3 break + 2 exertion.
Thankfully they've largely ignored Iver.
I win, but Eyvind, Alette, and Krumr take injuries.
Still, overall, things are looking up, because...
: Greetings, Iver. IT's been quite a while since we talked, hasn't it?
: I know you. Ubin? Never imagined you be one to defy the king. What made you leave?
: Someone had to.
: What do you mean?
: Bellower is headed this way.
: Already? How is that possible?
: A group of varl from Wyrmtoe showed up around the back of Einartoft. The long way. Bellower and his army chased them across the Summer Path, they said.
: Past Wyrmtoe? That doesn't make sense. Bellower was at the bridge.
: He must have doubled back after the serpent appeared. While we fought on the bridge he led half his forces around to approach Einartoft from behind.
: The attack on the bridge was a feint?
: Don't let anyone tell you the dredge aren't clever. Einartoft will fall within a day.
: Maybe not. He's following you. I thought one of you might know why.
You exchange nervous glances but nobody speaks up.
: Must be me, then.
: Is there something I don't know? That's quite a grudge he's holding if he's coming for you, Iver.
: It doesn't matter. Our only chance is to get to Sigrholm. Juno will know what to do.
: We'll join you. I bring supplies and warriors,a nd my friend Gunnulf here bears a heavy sword. I believe he'd be happy to swing it for you.
Ubin (still non-playable) and Gunnulf join, along with the rest of the tax collector band--some renown, supplies, and fighters for our trouble.
But we don't get too far before this. Ubin thinks we should go around, but if Bellower is chasing us we need to get to Sigrholm as fast as possible. We will try and cut through the dredge.
Rook's party didn't fare well in the last war battle. Let's see how it goes now.
Well...we're badly outnumbered, to start.
We'll fight in formations. It'll cost us a few fighters that we really can't spare, but if we manage to win both waves it won't be so bad and can save us some time, hopefully.
Iver becomes the first natural level 5 character in the caravan and puts on the Namejs' Ring. His strength isn't great and I wish that weren't the case, but if he manages to survive into the next game when the level cap is higher we can fix it. For now he's a tank with decent strength and great exertion.
We'll bring Gunnulf, too; Krumr is too beat up to do a 2-wave fight.
Fortunately, it's melee-heavy. Very few slingers. Unfortunately, Gunnulf's movement still sucks. He'll just hang out in the corner for a bit.
I need to level Egil up. He can't fully tank the toughest dredge anymore.
The first wave is pretty easy, but everyone is a little wounded. Remember how Iver started with 16 armor? Well now he's down to 5. Some of the others aren't much better off.
Then again, the enemy AI doesn't realize that thanks to Iver's Namejs' Ring he will ignore 2 points of strength damage and now it's wasting its turn attacking him.
Which it does for a while once we're in PILLAGE! mode.
But here's the thing. While it keeps wasting turns, everyone else in the party is resting. You get +1 willpower back when you rest.
Oh, and Eyvind has the Calabilla equipped--that rank 5 coin I got for saving all the civilians outside Frostvellr. That gives him back +1 armor and +1 will per turn.
Eyvind can heal armor using his "mend" skill. Half his current willpower, rounded down.
So we rest. A lot. And Eyvind gets all his willpower back. And he mends the entire party. Now everyone is back to full armor, full willpower, and only Alette took any strength damage to speak of in the first wave. We all move to the center before Egil kills off the lone slinger to start the second wave.
We're properly prepared now. This should be a cake walk.
The only real threats are the 2 blue-pants slingers, and Gunnulf immediately moves to maim one.
Rook and Alette go down--enemies with turn advantage are a pain--but the battle is under control. Gunnulf crits the hell out of this poor slob for 24 damage.
Eventually Eyvind and Iver succumb, too. Having 3 enemies on the board is a HUGE pain if they're at full health.
But Gunnulf takes care of things to win wave 2, and...
That's a pretty decent trade, if you ask me.
Unfortunately, the road is just too choked off with dredge. Pushing any further is a bad idea with Iver (and to a lesser extent, Rook/Alette/Eyvind) injured. We'll have to go back to the main road.
You order the caravan back around and head back to the main road before any more casualties are had. At least the dredge may think twice about following too closely.
: Who are you and what are you doing out here?
"Call me Unnarr or anything else you like," the old man says. "A man goes where he pleases, doesn't he?" His stern look is more comical than intimidating, but you stop looking for answers.
: You're welcome to join if you can keep pace.
"Keep pace?" The old man puffs through his moustache. "No fleeter than old Unnarr! And husbands, mind your wives! I'm cursed with the golden tongue. Not silver." The caravan enjoys as good laugh as they start moving once again.
Weird old dude gives us a morale boost.
We hit a random village on our way to Haukstorp. I'm pretty satisfied with our ability to maintain a caravan at this point so I encourage them to join.
+112 clansmen is...a lot. I hope we can manage it.
Certainly this'll help, and we can probably even rest a day or so to recover a bit.
But first we'll stop to talk to Gunnulf, now with Rook's party instead of Hakon's.
: Don't talk much, do you?
You approach the massive green-clad varl who is sitting quietly by himself, eating bread.
: Just wanted to know anyone who can cleave a dredge in two like that a little better. I'm Rook.
: What to know? Ubin asks me to chop a dredge in two, I chop him.
: You like that sword, huh?
: No. I love this sword. Given to me by old Skrymir, himself. When I start working for Ubin, he says, "I protect the king's collection, I protect the king."
Gunnulf makes an expression somewhere between pain and frustration.
: I couldn't save it, though.
He makes a hand motion like an object falling from a tall height and exploding.
: Mattered a lot at the time. I think it doesn't matter now. Skrymir is dead, anyway.
: Traveled with Ubin for long?
: Yes, long time. When I was young, I fight for another varl. It did not work out. But I learn to swing a sword. Ubin pays well, gives me plenty of things to kill. To be honest, maybe too many things these days.
: I'll let you finish your meal.
: Want to be friends with Gunnulf, Rook?
He pops the last bit of bread into his mouth.
: Keep food in the cart.
...I'm trying, man!
Also, he's referring to the tax cart that went splat a few chapters ago. And Skrymir was the king before Jorundr was.
Not even a day goes by after we leave the village that this happens.
Hey, neat. Let's go back and see if there's anyone else.
The warriors complain as they ready their weapons. "Nid," you say, "Come with us if you can keep that up." She smiles and joins the fighters getting ready to head back to the village.
Thanks to Oddleif training the women, we now have a new hero unit: Nid. She'll join us in this battle (offscreen) and that might be it. She's very good, and her special allows her to attack units from SUUUUUPER far away. But although she starts at rank 2, she also starts at 0 kills meaning she needs to get the full 14 to hit Rank 5. And even 5 kills for Rank 3 which is sorta the minimum to make her useful. I'm not sure I've got the time to do that given how little renown I've got to spare.
Nothing we haven't seen before. Biggest threats are the slingers, as usual. The big guys will be cut down to size before they can reach melee distance.
Abridged version: they're no match for us.
This gets us 21 clansmen, though the delay costs us a day's journey.
"I think you just ruined her dream of marrying a varl boy," you say, timing your smile just right. The giant grins, then throws back his head with booming laugher. Other varl join in the mirth and the caravan feels a bit uplifted for it.
The giant explains, "We live in the North for its space. Endless miles of snow, ice, mountains, fields. Space to be alone. But here there is no time for such things." Understranding slowly trickles through the caravan, relieving some of the tension.
At long last, we get clear of the endless snow and see green grass for the first time since crossing the wastes.
We arrive at Godstone Dundr, which looks more impressive when played in real-time.
"I almost wonder if we should rest here for the night," says Iver, who seems to have noticed the same thing. With all the snow around it, dredge might not even be able to find us.
Godstones haven't steered us wrong yet, so we stay overnight.
You walk around camp before settlng in. Along each strand of Dundr's massive beard is carved a different part of his story, and you turn your head to and from to read it. While the Loom-mother was the first to create, she soon found a counterpart in Dundr, who embodied her ideals in a masculine form. Dundr took some of her creations, gave them beards and showed them the secrets of smithing, though many remember him just as fondly for teaching them games and songs of mirth.
As the camp settles in you notice a group of boys huddled around something. They show you an offering box, carved into the godstone itself. The box is an elaborate construction of interlocking pieces which slide around when touched. "We can't get it open," they tell you. "It's like a puzzle."
: Let me take a look at it.
The boys take turns working out the puzzle and give you tips when it's your turn, though you don't seem to make much progress. Eventually they leave to sleep until it's just you and a couple of other determined youngers.
: This is too much for me. Skal.
Instead of spending all night on a silly game, you go to Alette and huddle together to keep warm. You wake up with a thought so profound it strikes you like lightning. Rushing to the puzzle box, your fingers move with purpose until you hear a click. The lid springs open!
Inside is...nothing. "Oh no," says a boy who was watching. "What a waste of time." To your surpirse, when you close the lid the whole box detaches from the stone. With a shrug you take it with you. You're suddenly glad you didn't spend all night working on this.
I'm glad too, because if Rook doesn't go to sleep he isn't granted the epiphany he needs to acquire the PUZZLE BOX OF THE TWIN RIVERS, a level 4 artifact that gives +1 will per turn and +3 willpower in general. It's AWESOME for Eyvind.
Alas, my good luck doesn't hold. Right before Haukstorp, we catch fire.
We take a hit to our morale, and we're damn near out of food again. Thankfully Haukstorp is a stone's throw away.
Bet you can't guess what comes next!
: I hope others would do the same for me. Dredge are nothing we haven't faced before.
: Besides, it might throw Bellower off the scent a bit.
We immediately have to fight upon getting into town.
I've had enough of low-armor Alette getting maimed. She gets both her points in armor as she promotes to Rank 4. She also can use Iver's old belt with +3 armor break now.
I fucked this battle up. Completely forgot to move Alette out of the lower half when I positioned everyone.
With predictable results.
Otherwise, the battle's a cake walk. Annoyed that I let Alette get injured, but it's only 2 days.
We get a whopping 1 clansman and also can raid his market stall for the last 50 supplies in the town. It only costs us 5 renown.
Let's meet Nid.
: I don't know if we've ever spoken. I'm Nid. You're Rook, I know. We've actually been traveling together for a long time. Isn't it strange how you can be so close to people and not know them?
: Every day I pass peopel I swear I've never seen before.
: I wanted to thank you. For letting me join you.
: Where are you from? I don't think you're from Skogr. I knew most of the people there.
: No. I had a house in Frostvellr. But we were driven out when the dredge started to show up. My husband...died trying to protect our home. My sons and I were thrown out into the fields.
: I'm sorry.
: Ekkill's men killed my husband. When we left I was angry. Why was I the one who had to leave their home? How do I deserve this?
You look away momentarily, not sure what to say.
: But I've let it go. I have three sons. And I don't want them to grow up with hatred in their hearts. That's why I wanted to thank you.
: Have you always been such a good shot?
: Honestly? I never even tried before Oddleif made me. I spent my whole life making clothes, cleaning.
: Oddleif's good, but I don't think this is all her doing.
: It feels right. I just look where I want it to go...anyway, I feel better. The caravan, the people worrying all day and making problems...sometimes they really stew in their misery. I'm glad I can do something helpful.
: You're welcome. I should be going.
: Don't think anything of it. We all have our own problems to deal with. Let me know if you need to put an arrow in something.
She returns to her tent where her boys are waiting for her.
Nothing left beyond that, so we head out again.
I don't remember getting this many random events before. Anyway, I think (hope) we've got time to stop and heal her.
As the caravan's tents rise, a fire is built beside the girl who is covered in furs and ointments. Progress is slow, but soon you see the girl alive enough to swallow water and some heated broth. When you wake the next day, the healer tells you the girl should be fine in time.
Not long after healing the girl, we arrive at this godstone.
Godstones always give us an item, seems like, so let's see what's at Godstone Ingrid.
As you're readying to depart, you hear screams from near the main godstone. The same boys so curious about the dead dredge before are shrieking and pointing. For a moment you think it must not have been dead. But then you see that they have opened a wrapping that was in the dredge's hands.
: Wait. This shouldn't be seen, Rook. Get everyone away...
Alette rushes past and gasps.
But it's too late. The curious onlookers have already seen it.
On the ground before the dead slinger is a small stony figure, its hands searching for something it can't find.
: That's a...baby.
: That dredge is a woman?
: We've been killing women...we've been slaughtering women and children this whole time? Leaving them to die?
: In a war it's only the males who fight.
: We've been fighting these dredge the whole way. WHy are women with children on their backs attacking us?
: They're not invading. They're running.
Everyone stops dead in their tracks. The entire caravan is gathered around, aghast.
: When I spoke to Juno, she told me something was coming. She didn't know what. A darkness. Something black is covering the world, and the dredge are running from it just as we're running from them. The serpent. The quake. It's all the beginning of the end.
: Iver, you knew? Why? Why didn't you say something?
: When I was young, I killed one of the Sundr. During the second great war. We called it Raze. Every time we would build our defense it would flatten them, and push us back again. I became separated from the rest of the varl, and stumbled upon Raze deep in a snowstorm. Alone. She was nursing.
: I threw my axe, it twisted in the wind...her son died in her arms. She was so pathetic, kneeling in the snow. She didn't even try to stop me when I took her head. That's how I killed a Sundr. When I found my way Grofheim, the varl wanted to make me kendr. Next to be king.
: I left. Walked until I ended up in Skogr.
: Where no one knew what I had done.
The only sound is the wind blowing through the trees.
VOTE TIME! Do we:
1.) Let the caravan decide
2.) Demand we take the dredge baby with us
3.) Demand we leave the dredge baby to die
4.) I don't even know what this option does it seems like a cop out. Let's just vote on 1-3.