The Let's Play Archive

The Banner Saga Trilogy

by FairGame

Part 17: 9-1: Quoth the Raven, "Shut Up."


I rewound a bit and did the waterfall fight on normal. It really wasn't any easier because Alette was already trivializing things.

As you can see, it's still broken--you only have 6 party members so we couldn't very well take 7 injuries. But I can at least live with losing 67 members of the caravan instead of 148. We go back to hard mode immediately afterwards. I'll forfeit the achievement, but whatever.

So...let's cross this giant chasm, shall we?

You voted we'd shoot dredge pursuers.

You watch as the floating stones nearest the land tremble and drop back into the chasm, taking all standing there with them. The sight is terrifying, but you turn and urge the others to keep moving forward.

Good choice. No casualties, and we gain 10 renown.

We keep moving. The other side is nowhere in sight.

No turning back now.

The edge of the far cliffside comes into view. But we're still far from safety.

I forgot about this one. So let's just get this guy from killing himself, shall we?
You grab a man by the tunic who's reaching out to his fallen wife, violently jerking him off a crumbling rock. "Keep going!" you shout at him. Your action and authority seems to jar others from their hopelessness and the caravan begins moving steadily again.

We're closer to the endpoint than the beginning, but that's not gonna help us if we can't keep the bridge up...

"We are carrying too much," Iver says. "We've got to get rid of something before that mender drops us all into the depths." You look around and see only people, food, and the massive cart the Ravens are hauling. Only two of those are an option.
You voted to dump supplies rather than the Raven cart.
: Dump the food!
The ones closest to the supplies look at you, bewildered. "We won't need food if we don't make it across!" you shout. Slowly a couple of carts are unhitched and shoved over the edge. Eyvind's relief is almost instant and the bridge extends giving everyone more room and time to move.
Good choice. Costs us 25 supplies, but that's fine.

Ormsdalr is in sight.

Since this is a screenshot LP you can't hear the background grunts and screams. Eyvind...he's not doing real well.

When Juno looks at you, her lips are trembling. "This is killing him," she says. "I won't let that happen." Her tone is dark and cold.
We could dump more supplies here, but...
: What's the alternative?
She says nothing but looks toward the rear of the caravan. Governor Rugga and many others from Boersgard are back there.
You silently nod your approval to drop the rear of the caravan. was a good try. Costs us 20 clansmen and 4 fighters, and Rugga is still with us. He...might know we did that on purpose though, and might not be so nice to Alette next time.

It's enough, though. We have reached the safety of Ormsda--

: It's hard to believe we made it across that chasm. Now we find what's left of Ormsdalr, once a great trade town at the fork of the Ormsa River. How many lives have been lost here?
: Looks like a few homes might've made it.
: Whatever caused that chasm completely destroyed this place.

All told, not too bad on the crossing. Definitely could have taken worse losses, even when you factor in the ones we lost from a bug.
So y'all know: if you talk to Eyvind and offer advice or your help, he gets distracted and starts dropping tons of you.

Gasping, you open your eyes to find your cloak still wrapped around you, no stone armor underneath. The caravan is still asleep, snoring more prevalent than usual. You're able to drift off for a bit more rest before facing the tasks of the new day.
Well that's...odd.

We go explore the ruins of Ormsdalr--let's see if Hakon's right that there were some survivors.

Oh, and by the way, this happened. Now we will see the true power of this fully operational battlemaiden.

Now that Iver has tempest, he can give as good as he gets. And if he can hit rank 10 (or even 8) he can tempest 3 or 4 targets. So let's get him there next.

I've been feeding kills to Aleo because he's going to be our willpower battery for Alette. Plus if we can get him to a high enough level he can completely shut boss units down.

The structure groans as you enter and you hear yourself whispering, "This isn't worth it." After a quick survey of the room, only two things stand out: a stone with strange etchings resting on the broken mantle and footprints in the dust near a small door in the wall. A gust of wind blows up from the chasm and the whole building creaks."
: I know you're there. I'm here to help.
The small door creaks open and a child looks at you. "Come here," you say. "This place isn't safe."
The child seems to trust you and tiptoes toward you. Others begin filling out, carefully choosing their steps. Each person is carrying a bag of food. As you're leaving the precariosu structure, the small child runs back in and grabs the stone off the mantle, handing it to you with a smile.

We gain 9 supplies, 23 clansmen, and the Jokullhallr, a Rank 6 item that gives +2 to all talent ranks (you have to have at least +1 in a talent for it to apply.) It's good, but we'll find better.
Also, that event goes VERY different for Rook. The child has red hair, and Rook calls runs to the child thinking it's Alette, in his grief. Which spooks the child. Who runs away. And collapses the building. Killing everyone but Rook.

: It took a lot out of him.
: I never want him doing something like that again.
: I'll let you tell that to the man who can pull lightning from the sky and lift rocks to form bridges.
Impressive as his strength may be, you notice how the use of power taxed the mender. He looks...older.
: Where's Juno? I figured she'd be by Eyvind's side.
Just as Iver shrugs, Oddleif abruptly enters the room.

: What? Why?
: We nearly went over a waterfall in ships and lost a lot of people following some Valka across floating rocks. I'm not saying any of that is your fault, but people are scared.
: If they've made up their minds to go, they'll leave whenever you're not looking.
: And the Ravens have been hoarding supplies this whole time and they're trying to take off with them. Juno and Hakon are trying to talk sense to Bolverk, so it's desperate.
As you make your way to the door, you turn to look at Iver.

Alette heads outside, where Hakon and Bolverk look as if they're about to come to blows. There's a cutscene here but I can't find a video of only it. It's short, though.

That's about it. Nice snot rocket, Bolverk.

Anyway, "about to come to blows" has become "actually fighting."

Hakon gets rocked by both axes.

Alette is having none of this shit.

Hakon breaks Bolverk's armor. Oddleif and Alette should be able to take care of him next turn.

Or not. Folka runs adjacent to Bolverk and casts...something. (We'll see it in a moment.)

But Yrsa runs in before anything else can happen.
: This will get his attention.

She slag-and-burns both Hakon and Bolverk.
: What've you done?
: It worked! Bolverk, HEAR ME.

: Get ready for a confusing conversation.
He motions to Yrsa, one of Prince Ludin's bodyguards, who is wiping her pitch-covered hand with a rag on her way over to you.
: Clever trick, witch. This time.

: However you knew to do that, thank you.
: You don't have to be a scholar to learn what others fear, girl.
She gives you a curt smile before returning to the prince's tent.

: Strange is how much effort it took to stop Bolverk.
: I suppose no one told you he's a berserk. Probably the last of his kind after Einartoft.
The varl king laughs at your blank expression.
: Berserks lose themselves in the fight. They're as strong as Cold Bears and just as wild. Hard to say if they're friend or foe in a fight.
: King Hakon, do you--
: Enough with the "king" formalities. I've been "Hakon" since before your Amma was alive and it works just fine.
: Sorry, Hakon. Do you mind telling me why two varl leaders just tried to kill each other?
: I wasn't going to let him take our supplies without a fight. Caught him trying to take off with supplies he'd tucked away. Couldn't let it happen.

: Why does he want to leave?
: Says you've been bad luck ever since arriving in Boersgard.
: I can't say I blame him for that.
The two of you actually laugh for a moment.
: I'd bet his main reason for leaving is just to be in charge again; run jobs and keep his Ravens in line. Like most of us, he's looking for something normal to grab on to.
: Whatever his reason, I hate that some of ours are going with him.

: We've got a lot of mouths to feed. The Ravens can make do with a couple of days of food and live off the land afterwards.
: That sounds about right. You've got a better head than me for these things.
: Now let's see what we can find in what's left of this place.

And that ends the chapter. We'll POV switch here.

Except unlike in The Banner Saga 1, where 2 parties were coming toward one another from opposite ends of the map...

This is where Bolverk and Alette part ways. Bolverk is our second POV for this game.

: Everyone'll be ready to leave as soon as you start walking north.
: I won't fall for that stupid fire trick again!
Folka ignores your comment.
: The new members from the other caravan will probably need a beating or two.
: Think it was stupid of me to challenge Hakon?
: Not my place to say.
: Since when has that stopped you?
The shieldmaiden grins.

: Their plans almost took us over a faen waterfall.
: That waterfall surprised us all. Of course, it'll be nice to be on our own again.
: We make it to Bindal, get a job, and things get back to normal. We always survive.
: And what about all those dredge?
: If they make it across that chasm, it'll be war. War's always been good for business.
Folka smirks but her face hardens as Juno approaches.

: Haven't you said enough?
: Folka's right. We're done talking.
Juno looks both calm and perturbed simultaneously. She stares at Folka for an extended moment before the shieldmaiden turns to leave.
: I'll finish packing.
: What do you want, Valka?
: I know your Ravens need work. Without work and coin, that banner of yours is useless.
You step towards her, towering above the tall Valka, though she stands resolute.
: In Boersgard, we made an arrangement for you to protect this large cart until we were away from the dredge threat.
: They're across that damn chasm! That job is done.
: Agreed, but the cart you've been hauling has become too troublesome. It needs to be sunk into the deepest waters around.
You grunt in disgust.
: Valka secrets.

: Where's the coin?
: Payment upon completion. You have a Valka's oath. The Blue River to the northwest will be your best option.
: And if I just leave it in the woods somewhere?
: I will know, as will the other Valka. Besides, the Ravens always finish their jobs. That reputation means everything to you.
You growl, but she's right.
: Fine. The Ravens' Oath: it'll be done.
Juno nods and walks away. Folka watches her leave and returns to your side.
: Now what?
: Now we have a job.

And so the Raven caravan splits off from the Skogr caravan, flying the black Ravens banner. No civilians in this party, and only 4 varl. All playable. We'll see who left from the Skogr caravan in a moment.

Here's the other thing about Bolverk. He's a monster. Loyal to the Ravens, and that's about it. Play him as such if you want renown.
: Take what they have. If they resist, kill them.
A dozen Ravens set out, a mix of veterans and new recruits. They rejoin a couple of hours later with supplies. You hear one of the fighters muttering, "Takes the fun out of things when they give up their goods so easily."
We gain 5 renown and some supplies. Much needed since we don't have any civilians to scavenge for us.

The Ravens' camp is different, too.

With a different trainer.

This is also bugged, and if Bolverk enters the fight with an item equipped, it'll stay permanently stuck to him. So I make sure to unequip Bolverk before any training fights.

Mechanically, Bolverk is really weird.
He attacks twice with his normal attack--one for each axe.
The first attack is like any other attack--you choose the target, you choose armor or strength, you apply willpower up to your exertion max as you see fit.
But then he swings again, doing a strength attack to a random target within melee range. Friend or foe. If he's only next to enemy units, great. If he's only next to a single enemy unit, he attacks it twice. But if you're not careful, Bolverk will start cutting down your own men.
The only one immune to this effect is Folka. She's been with Bolverk since she was a little girl. Even in his battle rage, he recognizes her. And on the off chance he doesn't, Folka is nimble enough to read his movements and avoid damage.
In other words, the two should always be joined at the hip.

Folka, meanwhile, pairs EXTREMELY well with Bolverk. Her ability, Champion, gives her temporary armor. Unlike Egil, it's not damage resist. If she gets 3 temporary armor and has 2 consecutive attacks to 3 armor damage, she'll end up -3 worse off than she started.

But the other thing that Champion does is split incoming damage, rounded down, with adjacent units. So if Bolverk is next to Folka, is protected by Champion, and takes 4 damage, he instead takes 2 damage. Folka takes the other 2 damage.

Which is further improved by Folka's passive, Shieldmaiden. She cannot take strength damage until all her armor is depleted. That doesn't mean she can only take armor break damage. It means that the damage of a strength attack will be applied to her armor until such time as she doesn't have any.

Eyvind unfortunately is with the Skogr caravan so we can't keep her topped off that way. But I brought the +2 armor/turn regen item to this caravan, as we'll see shortly.

Anyway, we complete the training and get 14 renown.

Mogun defected. Hogun did not. The twins are split apart.
: Felt like a good time to introduce myself. Mogun.
: Thought you were with Alette's clan.
: Bah! She's even worse than her father about trying to save everyone. She didn't appreciate this chaotic gift of no gods, no rules, and plenty of chances for fighting.

: Of course! Yeah. But what about this giant cart that Valka has us lugging around?
Something in his tone signals a primal warning inside you.
: That has nothing to do with you.
: Well, the way we see it...
He motions to the fighters around him.
: She's no longer around. Let's break it open and look at our riches.
: We're mercenaries, you idiots. We're paid to run jobs, not steal from who hired us.
: Is any of this getting through to you?

: Back away or I kill you in front of your friends.
Nervous glances bounce between Mogun's posse. A couple of fighters step away, followed by a few more.
: Pathetic. But not a bad test to see what your new recruits are made of, right?
: Challenge me again and you're dead.
: Just keep us busy in all this chaos and you won't have to worry about me again.
The axeman walks away. Either brave or insane, you could use more fighters like him.

You can fight Mogun there. If you fell him, he takes an injury. Or you can just kill him outright. I wanted to do the battle because we need the renown. Unfortunately, that is also bugged now and it treats the "beat him within an inch of his life" option as "kill him." So the only way to keep Mogun in the caravan (even though we don't really need him; he kinda sucks) is to intimidate him into backing down.

We barely get moving again before we run into dredge. Thought they were on the other side of that chasm.

Fairly obvious how this ends if we keep watching, so we rush into battle.

Bolverk promotes to level 6 and gets this unique ability. We will never ever use it.
Not when his first ability, Cull the Weak, is so good.
Cull the Weak lets you do a single attack to an enemy at STR -2 (or -1 or 0 depending on how much willpower you put in). If you kill the enemy, you get to move again. Immediately.

If you hated the turn order issues of this game, Bolverk is your man. He can just clean up an entire battlefield by himself, provided he has the movement and the willpower. We'll see to it that he has both.

The other members that defected? Bersi and Krumr. The guy in yellow is named Sparr; we'll talk to him shortly. He's another bard--the official bard of the Ravens.

By the way, the Ravens take battle super seriously. Religiously, almost. They chant before and after every fight.

Like so:
BGM: Blades Yearn for Courageous Blood

I'm probably not going to be able to save the axe thrower.

Yeah, definitely not. If I'd known that scourge was going to get first move, I'd have moved Folka up in the turn order to tank.

There's a new slinger type. It knocks you back a ton when it hits you now.

Like this.

Remember how in Banner Saga 1 I'd put Krmur behind Eyvind in the turn order and have the ability to double up lightning strikes?

Now I will put Krumr in the turn order behind Bolverk and double up Cull the Weak. Once Bolverk is in the enemy backranks, they are in deep trouble.

Bersi hasn't seen action since Hakon's chapter. Knocks some of the rust off that sword and gets a kill.

Which Sparr, the skald, celebrates. Everyone gains +1 willpower.

The problem with the Raven caravan, by and large, is that Folka takes a beating and once she goes down you're in trouble. Here, it happens late enough that we're fine, but Folka herself falls. And that's a problem since she's 1 kill shy of being able to use the +2 armor/turn item.

Still, we clean up without too much trouble.

: That was...well, I appreciate the help. Need a drink?
Oli extends a small flask that smells of potent spices and wood smoke. You wave it off.
: Where'd you learn to throw like that?
: Taught myself. Too many close calls face to face. Seems to soften people up a bit...when I do it right.

: Name's Oli, if you were interested. Grew up in Boers--
You walk off, but give Folka a quick look--letting her know you're impressed by Oli's throwing.
And with that, we have a drunken axe thrower in the party.

Sadly, he's injured.

: Split and attack.
With practiced ease, the Ravens split and rush the village from three angles. Arrows miss their marks at the unexpected charge and soon you are upon the battle-hardedned villagers.

Alright, so. Here's Bolverk's reconstituted Ravens.
Bolverk and Folka we know already. Bersi, Krumr, and Sigbjorn were all in the previous game.

It's just Oli and Sparr that need an introduction.

Sparr's an original Raven. He's been with them for decades, but since he's a human, he's probably not gonna be around much longer. He's old.

He has the same passive as Aleo. His active, though, is "Insult," and is the exact opposite of Krumr's forge ahead. He bullies an opposing unit so hard that it goes all the way to the back of the turn queue. Provided the enemy has as many or more live units as you do, you can use Sparr to completely prevent a unit from ever taking a turn.

Oli's a raider, but a new subclass: axe thrower. He can attack at range, so he can form a shield wall with people and still be useful in combat.

His active, "Axe Storm," is interesting. He attacks, dealing strength damage, until one of his attacks gets deflected OR it kills the enemy. Unfortunately, Lucky Shot doesn't work with Axe Storm. And each successive throw suffers a 10% chance to hit penalty.

His flask is a pretty decent item too, especially in this item-starved caravan.

Oh, and Krumr hits level 6 and now he can tempest too.

If we hadn't split up, we'd only be able to start this fight from outside the barricades. Given how many archers there are, that's...bad.

Instead, we immediately close ranks and begin chopping them up.

But Bolverk is mad about barricades and gives us a mission. We need every little bit of renown we can get, so we're going to suffer some injuries while we clear barricades.

Some time later, Folka, Sigbjorn, and Bolverk himself are all down. But I've knocked out all the barricades.

Bolverk's not a good person, but he's also not going to kill people for no reason. Not when we can press-gang them into the Ravens instead.

Sparr points out that there's a shop here.

It kind of sucks, though. The rate of exchange is also shitty, but keep in mind we're feeding a much smaller group than before. If you think about it in terms of "renown spent per day of survival" it's roughly equivalent to what we'd get in Alette's caravan.

So we buy a few days of supplies so we can sleep off the injuries. All told, it was not a good trade breaking those barricades.

I like that Bolverk is so big he obscures "Heroes". He's also not really particularly heroic.

Another random event. We can kill these two but again, Bolverk's not "chaotic evil," as it were.
Folka looks at you with amusement and confusion. None of the other Ravens seem to know how to react either.
: Are you two addled?
"Not the nicest way to say hello," Nokke says, extending his hand in greeting.

"And if we were addled," Jut adds, stepping forward and swatting Nokke's hand, "would we even know it?"

Nokke says, "Well, you wouldn't, Jut, but I'd know." The spectacle continues and most of the Ravens are now laughing at the absurdity.

: I'm not sure what you're after, but we're not sharing food.
Jut shakes his head. "We're not after food, are we Nokke?"

Nokke says, "No, no. Well...yes and no.

Jut agrees. "Yes and no. That's right. We'd fight with you--"

Nokke interrupts. "For you, he means."

Jut looks annoyed. "Nokke, we'd fight FOR food, but we'd fight WITH this lot."

: You can join if you'll shut up.
"Thank y--" Nokke says, but Jut slaps a hand over his brother's mouth. Several mercenaries snort trying to hold back laughing. The two varl smile like fools and fall in line.

+2 varl. Weird varl.

As we approach another godstone, Bolverk muses to himself.


"Think the ghost of this dead bird has forgiven you for that wing yet?" Sparr asks. The other Ravens, including Folka, look from the broken stone to you in shock.

"Aye," the old man says. "We were here nearly forty years ago. Same spot as now. Only a dozen of us left to the unkindness then. Better men by twice than all of you." There's rumbling but the Ravens keep listening.

"We'd run a job for a man - Fefr or Finner...Faener more like," he says, spitting at the memory. "He set us up to take the fall for some of his other deals gone bad. We got surrounded here and this bear of a varl loses his mind. Grabs a tree - a whole tree! Starts swinging!"

Sparr starts coughing, but recovers. "Nearly killed us all, but ol' Irynx took a hit like no other, and there you have it." The excited Ravens start asking you questions, but Sparr is all too happy to answer.

You inspect the damage you caused...

A layer of ice shatters underfoot along with a wooden box, probably left as some token of faith to a dead god. "Leaving anything behind for the dead is a waste," you say, immediately prying open the box and pocketing the small item within.

We gain the Pipe Plant, which gives a lot of willpower on kill, turn, and rest. It's handy, but there are far better items out there.

Rising from your sleep, you begin pacing, occasionally drumming your fingers on the top of the large cart. A motion in camp draws your attention. Walking toward it, you hear groans, and see Folka's shield rising and falling erratically among some furs.

"Humans," you snort. But the shield flips away, revealing a dredge grunt staring up at you. Stepping back, you bump into another dredge. Looking around, the entire Raven camp is a swarm of stone-armored bodies desperately reaching for you.

When your axes lash out though nothing, you realize you were dreaming. An unexpected sadness swells in you, like you've let everyone down.

A few of your Ravens are watching you, smirking, but your growl makes them look away. You decide to walk the perimeter alone while everyone else slowly awakens.

Bolverk has weird dreams.

A few days later we run into this event. Can't have things go uninvestigated in case they turn out to be dangerous! Or profitable!

: Charge!
The man's confidence melts away and he and all his fighters flee from your assault. You give chase for a time, but soon return to the wagon and peasants.

"Thank you," the woman who was punched earlier says. "I'm Sefa. I know you don't want us around, but if you're heading toward Bindal, we'll follow your path."

: Fine, but your food is ours. Payment for saving you.

The woman nods her understanding, but to her surprise, the wagon is nearly empty. "We'll keep our distance. But we'll be behind you."

Not long after, we get this. Bolverk takes the lead and approaches the refugees.

: My name's Bak and this is Lofn. You're Bolverk of the Ravens this your wife?
You are as confused by the question as by the fact that no one is with the man.
: Varl don't have wives.
The man gets a distant look in his eye.
: That's too bad. A wife can make you twice the man you were on your own.

: Nice to meet you, Folka. I'll get to my point. I'm leading this large group of trained fighters and tradesmen from Ormsdalr. We're looking for a new home. We've done what it takes to survive out here, but they're starting to lose faith in me.
: You want us to reinforce your control?

: What do I get in return?
: For one? We won't kill you.
He smiles, but there is no humor in his eyes.
: We'll share the food we collected and fight alongside you should there be a need.
He stops and confers with his spear.

: We'll take you as far as Bindal.
Bak kisses the metal of his spear and smiles.
: You have my thanks. Oh, Lofn thanks you as well.

Hey, why not? This caravan needs a crazy spearman since Tryggvi stayed in Alette's.

We gain Bak, 80 fighters, 83 clansmen, and a decent amount of supplies. A pretty good deal.

Bak, meanwhile, is massively underleveled. But if we can manage to get his level up a bit, he's pretty good. Higher armor and strength caps than either Ludin or Tryggvi.

As a slaughterer, he gets the ability "Pig Sticker" which attacks (either from 1 or 2 squares away) with a higher chance to crit. If he's adjacent to allied units he gets further bonuses to crit. I've never really had much luck with it. It makes a weird noise and has a cool animation though.

Perhaps more importantly, getting Bak unlocks the next training mission. Even though...Bak isn't in it.

In this mission, Bolverk is on the opposing side. We have to keep him from taking a turn before we kill him.

Which is done by Sparr insulting him every turn.

Anyway, we just whittle Bolverk's armor down to the point that Oli can kill him with a single axe storm. Took two tries; he deflected the 2nd axe on my first attempt.


We head out again, and while Bindal is originally in gets real white real fast.

We're forced to make camp for the night.

And Bolverk starts having even weirder dreams or visions.
: Darkness. Lightning? Someone's...pulling the energy. Painful!

We don't get to see more of the dream though, because he's awakened by Bak in an emergency.

Nothing we can do about this. Unless we could've ignored Sefa, but I'm pretty sure she ambushes you anyway.

We're immediately thrown into battle. No chance to change items. No chance to reposition. Hell, no chance to field anyone other than Bolverk, Folka, Bak, and some generic Ravens who are really just there as fodder.

This is one of the hardest fights in the game, though it seems like either they toned it down or I got very lucky.

My original plan for this fight was to give Folka the +2 armor regen item--when the generic Ravens die, Folka starts getting a LOT of turns and regens armor faster than the opponents can chip away.

But she kept getting knocked down--I couldn't level her to 5 in the Mogun battle because bugs prevented me from doing the battle without killing Mogun. So she's still only level 4 and as such I thought this was gonna be awful.

Like...this thrasher veteran ruins my generic's day before he even gets a turn.

And this backbiter kills my generic archer.

And Sefa, the enemy leader, has Oddleif's "rain of arrows." And the game won't tell me which tile is trapped so I don't dare move.

Folka, with Champion, is tanking a lot. And Bolverk doesn't even take 2 strength damage because of his Namejs' Ring.

Which means he's free to go on a Cull the Weak spree and thin out the enemy ranks a bit.

This was helpful. His double attack wounds two characters instead of killing 1 and giving everyone else more turns.

I tried to use Pig Sticker on Sefa to crit her to death, but it failed its roll.

Folka can only take so much punishment before she goes down. She really needs a mender or some regen.

Bak gets a second chance at Sefa. He doesn't miss.

And Bolverk cleans up the rest.

I'm not sure why that battle went so much better for me this time around than usual. I lost that battle both times I tried it--once when the game first came out, and once a few months ago when I played the whole trilogy on PS4. But as I've seen, it's not quite the same game. Maybe they toned it down because it was absolutely brutal with Sefa running roughshod over everyone.

Unlike Alette's caravan, where there's good reason for Alette to hit level 10, Bolverk doesn't get all that much stronger at 10 than he is at 7 or 8. His second skill kind of sucks. I mean, I'll still level him to 10. But I also want to get the supporting cast up to 6 or so.

Oli: Good at booze, axes, and mushrooms. We get some supplies. They're fine.
Oli stumbles a bit while hoisting the basket up into the cart and grabs another mushroom for his efforts. Others clap him on the back to show their appreciation.

As we approach Bindal, Bolverk talks to himself again.
: The miners of Bindal are a rough crowd. Not a bad place to recruit new blades.

: I don't remember there being much to see here.
"Way things are going, might not be much of anything left to see before long," Sparr says. "End of the world or not, I'll be dead soon, but you might come to miss these mountains and mines." A grunt is your response as you both try to make out shapes in the distance.

We approach the gates of Bindal, but it's a familiar sight: tons of refugees camped outside a city walls.

It's Frostvellr and Boersgard all over again. This scene is likely playing out all over the world in whatever cities have not fallen to the dredge or natural disasters.

Snowstorm or not, we're not getting in unnoticed.

From the wall, two menders look down on you, then recede. Soon, the gates open enough for a half dozen well-trained guards to greet you. Their one-eyed captain points and says, "Just you."

Folka steps to your side. "Not alone," she says.

: She comes with me.

The captain takes a moment to assess the situation and nods. Before following him through the gates, you bark commands to other Ravens to stay close and vigilant.

: Valka is the Raven banner!

: Just passing through on our way to the Blue River, but this blasted storm caught us. Planned to come back this way afterwards for more work, but now we need some food and a place to hole up. We brought some people with us. They need a new home.
: I'm sure it felt like the right thing to do, but we're already beyond our capacity here.
: Are you Bolverk? Bolverk Bloodaxe?

: What do you know about me, boy?
: I've heard all your tales. I can't believe your Cold Bear cloak is real! Is it true your axe handles are made from your own horns?
The older mender places a hand on the young man's shoulder.

You ignore her.
: Are you in charge here? Where's the governor?
: The governor left for Arberrang a while back with most of the fighters to settle a dispute. The Mender Council sent me to bring the people of Bindal west as we've heard too many rumors of dredge.
: More than rumors. We were in Boersgard. Saw Bellower.
: The immortal Sundr! How did you escape?

Nikels' eyes go wide in awe, but Zefr looks pensive.
: What about the great rift that opened between Boersgard and Ormsdalr?
: We managed.
Zefr looks like she wants to press you for more information.
: Enough. Open the gates for my Ravens.

: Open the gates. Or they'll have reason to panic.
The guards in the room draw their weapons and aim them at you.
: Bolverk Bloodaxe. Even your renowned strength would fall against walls protected by a Valka and her apprentice.

You snarl at Folka for saying too much. She shrugs in response.
: I'm not aware of another Valka being out this direction. Who has tasked you?
: Juno.
Zefr steps back at the name and studies your face for a moment.
: Nikels, you and the guards see what you can do outside the walls for the people.
: I'll see to it and make sure the Ravens are comfortable.
The young mender nods respectfully to Zefr and grins at you and Folka before leading the guards through the gate.

: And separate us from my Ravens? No.
: Suit yourself, but your mistrust is unnecessary.
: Maybe. But I shouldn't have to tell you about my job from your superior just to get an invitation.
: My, you misunderstand. You have no job.

Shows what you know, lady.

And that's the end of the chapter. Back to Alette! Briefly, because you'll have a vote.

Bolverk is in Bindal, though he only left Alette's caravan about a week ago. What's she been up to?

Oh. She's still in Ormsdalr. Wonder why.

: I'm not sure I thanked you for the time to recover. I...I've never woven a spell that strong before.
: Are you sure you're ready to move on? You look..."
: I know. I caught my reflection earlier. It's a more mature look.
The mender grins and a hint of his former youth shines through.

: We're all people in need of help here, so...
: You've grown up to really care about everyone here, Alette. It's a gift, and I hope you never lose it.
He weaves a bit more on the armor.
: Have you given any more thought to my offer? I think some mending could really benefit you.

Rook never got this choice. Interesting.

Do we:
A.) Become an apprentice mender? Alette's already ludicrously powerful thanks to Overwatch. And Eyvind could pretty clearly use some help; this is literally killing him.
B.) Improve our skills as a hunter? Alette's already ludicrously powerful thanks to Overwatch. What if we made her...even MORE powerful? And mending is dangerous--it's literally killing Eyvind.