The Let's Play Archive

The Banner Saga Trilogy

by FairGame

Part 21: 11-1: Black Blood of the Earth, Part 1


Per your vote.

: We'll save the families in the houses.

We get Iver to rank 8. We still haven't seen any of the amazing rank 10 items which is a bit frustrating. But We max out Iver's willpower.

Not a terribly difficult fight, but then again nothing is when you have Alette apparently.
: We fight to protect the people of Lundar! Stop these horseborn! The people of Lundar need our protection!

Honestly I know I'm a little shy on battle screenshots, but there's not much to show. Horseborn run in. Get destroyed by Alette. Eventually I break ranks and finish them off. Yay.

He composes himself before saying, "You saved them! The families of Lundar are alive because of you." The old man's smile fades. "Our fighters are dead, and most of the grain stores are gone. Never thought I'd say this, but near two hundred of us would gladly follow you wherever you're going."
We have the option to refuse, but I can't imagine why we saved all of them only to consign them to starvation, so...
: You're welcome to join us, but it's not an easy trek.
"We're used to hardships, have no doubt," the man says. "And here, to show my thanks."
We get an artifact (we'll see what it does next chapter) and also +120 supplies.
Ro'Ech, Derdriu, and Scathach catch the man's attention and he sneers. "Do these three belong to you? I reckon the people around here would pay good coin to see them gutted."
: Belong And no one is gutting anyone! They just helped save your town.
: Well, my dog bit one of the attackers too, but I don't let it in my shop. Keep those pets on short leashes.
It's all you can do to keep Oddleif from arguing with the man. She storms off, muttering things best not repeated.

: I'm not sure how so many of us made it through that.
: I never expected to see horseborn in my life, let alone fight them. And the dredge seemed desperate.
: Fighting like us, you mean. Like they've got nothing left to lose.

: That name was a lifetime ago for Iver. Let it go.
: A human lifetime or two, but don't forget how long we varl live.
: Longer than we know what to do with, in most cases.
You look at Iver, wondering what is going on in his head.
: Damn, Yngvar. If you're always like this, I'm glad you left the varl towns when you did. As for me, I believe it's time for a drink and rest.
Juno walks up to your group unexpectedly.

: Lundar, or what's left of it, is defensible and will allow everyone some greatly needed rest.
: I won't argue with the Valka on that front.
: And I'm in no hurry to enter the Old Wood. I've heard strange things about that place.
: I'm sure it will be fine.
You watch the Valka as everyone moves on. She looks less confident than you've ever seen her before.

Whatever horrors await in the Old Wood, however, will need to wait. It's time for more Bolverk and the Ravens.

Alette's gonna catch her breath in Grundar for a little while.

And if you recall, when we last left Bolverk, he'd met Zefr and Nikels, a Valka and her apprentice, in Bindal. Zefr informed Bolverk that Juno was dead. Which, as y'all pointed out, isn't necessarily this great revelation since she certainly appeared dead to Hakon and Mogr once upon a time.

We're immediately given a scene of the Ravens wandering around in a snowstorm.

Which makes Bolverk angry. Everything makes Bolverk angry.

: Probably rumbling of that paunch of yours again.

Or not.
: Ambush!

And so we're immediately thrown into combat. No opportunity to reposition or level or anything. Just fighting. And Bolverk's group isn't nearly as strong as Alette's. The 2nd strongest fighter in the group is Krumr, and we weren't given him in this fight.

So we're going to rely a lot on Bolverk's "cull the weak" to thin out the enemy ranks a bit.

Here, Bolverk got surrounded by stalkers--they're invisible and don't unstealth when you trip over them. But since they're pretty clearly dead-set on attacking him, I use Bear Rage so that he'll counterattack anything.

Which means this stalker eats double 6 strength hits when it hits Bolverk.

Folka's champion is pretty important to keep Bolverk from getting maimed. At full strength he's really good. The minute he starts taking strength damage he becomes a liability.

I'd been hoping to get more kills for Oli or Sparr, but it wasn't to be. Bolverk destroys all.

: I want every one of our fighters ready to move. Now! Set a post inside these gates for them to wait for me.

: Where's that faen Valka?
: Maybe up on the wall.

: Valka Zefr! I've never heard you speak like that.
The silent appearance of the two menders surprises you.
: You were outside the walls. What did you see?
: Dredge scouts. I'll wager my axes there's an army of them coming this way.
The younger mender's eyes go wide as he stares at Claw and Fang.
: And if that's true, they'll level this place. The storm must have hidden their approach.
: Or kept them at bay. But why are they here? Why now?
: I don't care. We're heading for the mountains.

: Huh. I'd forgotten about that.
Nikels' eyes light up.
: It was you, Fjorinn, and a handful or Ravens tracking down the bandit who called himself the Draugr of Denglr. The river--
A warhorn blares across the town. The army of dredge you suspected is real.
: Nikels, find Gudmundr. Have his guards try to calm the people, but bring him to meet us at the barn with the cart.
The young mender follows orders without question. Not a bad quality.
: The cart's not your business.
: I disagree. A dead Valka gives you a cart to hide in the deepest recess of a river and suddenly an army of dredge appears? If you haven't already tried, I doubt you'd be able to open the cart. If it's woven shut as I suspect, I'm the only one here who can open it.
: We told you: Juno's not dead. We were just traveling with her.

: You killed one of your own?
: It's a very rare sentence for only the worst offenses. Altering people's minds, their thoughts, is one such offense.

: ...
Zefr notices the silent exchange but does not question you.
: Regardless, Juno was put to death and Eyvind was imprisoned. In his grief, he escaped and stole away with Juno's body, but for what purpose is anyone's guess. So, no. You will not be paid by the council for a job issued by a Valka whose life we ended.
Your irritation is rising when another war horn sounds. Two horns means a large force approaches.
: Collect what you need and hurry to the barn! It's time to discover why you're really here.

We have the opportunity to mess around in town a bit, but it's not really worthwhile.

And the market doesn't have anything we want, either.

So we'll head to the barn.

What's in the cart?

Whatever it is, it's big.

And shocking.

And Bolverk doesn't like it.

Oh. Yeah, that makes sense.

You see a strange tower of white stone. Lightning. Fear. Confusion. Distrust. There is a wrongness about it all.
: Bolverk. Hey!
Her voice draws you from the dream and she's shaking you by the straps of your cloak. Everyone is watching. "Another dream?" she asks. Your eyes finally focus on hers.
: A white stone tower. Lightning.
: What are you talking about?
: I saw a tower. Lightning. I...I don't know what I saw.
The Valka pauses briefly before shrugging.

We will never be rid of Bellower.

: He's dead. Who cares if they take him?
: He cannot die. His immortality is more than rumor. Dredge lives have no natural end, but they can be killed. All except the immortal Sundr, Bellower.
: They live forever?

: The Sundr looks dead to me.
: My guess is that arrow is somehow keeping him asleep.
: So if I pull it out?
: I do not see that being to anyone's advantage.
: I've used threats to my advantage for years.
Zefr looks at you and her face drops. She changes the topic.
: The storm to the south and the dredge army to the north leaves us with one way out: the mines.
: Wait. Our way out is to sit in a hole in the ground?

: The families will only slow us down. Leave them.
Zefr's face hardens and the air around you thickens.
: That attitude may work in your company of mercenaries, varl. But not with me. Only I know the way, so we will leave here with the families of Bindal or not at all.
A growl begins in your chest, but Folka breaks the tension.
: If we go with you, what is required?
: We only have a couple of hours to move food and people to the mine. I'll be at the opening preparing the way. Help load carts near the gates or warn the families in the houses of our immediate departure.
Without waiting for a response, Zefr hurries away.
: You know, we could always take Bellower's cart and make a break into the mountains.
The two of you reseal Bellower's cart.

: I'm not playing nursemaid to these people. Let's go.
The shieldmaiden follows you to the Ravens' post without another word.
Bolverk's not a good guy. Why play the hero?

"Faen idiots!" Folka screams. "Wrong time for any of that!" Your thoughts exactly. She looks at you. "What do you want to do?"
: It's no good. By the time we round up the others, we'll miss our opportunity.
Folka's shoulders droop and she nods.

Oh, looting? Well that's good at least.

Screw the houses. We're going to check out the Great Hall.

: We'll try it your way. Mogun, you're up.
You practically toss the man onto the snow-covered roof, and he slips a few times before making it under an eave. Time passes without any sign from him, but one of the Ravens warns you that a group is coming out the front. "Let's go!" you order, and all of you return to the Ravens' post, minus Mogun. A short time later, you're surprised by who approaches.

: You and your fighters could've really helped us today, but you don't do anything without payment. In different times we'd have killed these pathetic thieves, but we need fighters for whatever's coming. We should all get to the mines.

We'll see it momentarily. It's...not great. At least not in this caravan.

And so we head underground, with a shitload of civilians.

We're barely inside before things start going haywire, though.

: We're mercenaries, not volunteers.
: And no price will cover the cost of us all dying in this mine shaft! I'll head back there if you won't, but if I die up there...the torches will burn out, the food will run out, and then the real horror will start.
: We'll do it. But we'll talk price later.
: Yes we will. We need to talk about many things.
: Ravens! Back to the top!
Heading up the mine shaft is like swimming against a current. Frightened villagers push forward and you barely have room to get past the yox and cart.

The Ravens are a bunch of lunatics, but they're our lunatics.

Here's the problem with this item that Mogun stole. There's literally only 1 ranged fighter, Oli, in the whole caravan. And the only reason you'd really want to use him, since he doesn't get Puncture, is for his axe storm. Which means you'd never be using Armor Break with him. Then again, there's a break talent for puncture so maybe you could make him a poor man's archer with exceptionally high strength...

Let's check out our new additions.

Zefr is a Valka--a mender, but different from Eyvind.

Runic Gale is an interesting ability, but I don't particularly like its randomness. Her second ability that she gets at level 6 is amazing though.

She also mends. We know how that works.

And then there's Nikels, who is worse than Zefr in every way. Lower level, lower willpower (which means less mending), and the only skill he gets is mend.

Gudmundr is new too but I forgot to screenshot his stat page. He's a raidmaster, like Egil. Only with a lower armor base, unlike Egil. He sucks.

Anyway, we end up in batle and for whatever reason Folka calls attention to the Gloomwarden, ignoring the fact there are two stonesingers who can Umbrage the enemy up to insane strength levels.

This is a VERY tough fight.

So we'll open it by having Folka act as a tank, granting as much armor to her as we can. 20 armor is really good for a human!

The Gloomwarden casts thorns. Next dredge I attack in melee range will do some chip damage to me. Not a big deal.

Here's Zefr's Runic Gale in action.

We get 4 random spots that have bonuses. Unfortunately, we rolled 3 +3 willpower spots and 1 +3 armor spot. And the +3 armor spot is largely out of the way. Not great for this early in the battle.

Yes, btw, enemies can collect the powerups too.

Still, I guess it's better than nothing so Bolverk dashes forward to mess up the Gloomwarden.

The stonesinger immediately flees and starts casting umbrage.

So does his buddy. We're in a LOT of trouble.

Now this...this is more like it. It's not +3 strength, mind you. It's +3 strength DAMAGE per tile. You don't gain any more HP, as it were, but you become a lot more damaging.

Stonesinger 1 gets off his umbrage.

Bolverk maims the Gloomwarden thanks to his attack boost, right before it has a turn.


In earlier versions of this game, killing a stonesinger would remove umbrage. So we make the stonesinger a priority target. It doesn't work, though.

And Folka takes 7 armor damage while absorbing a hit that would've done 14 damage to Krumr.

Krumr takes out a scourge, but those slingers are still really strong.

Oli does some decent axe storm chip damage but it's not enough.

Folka's on her last legs, with her shield shattered. But she tanked the necessary hits so that Krumr could get off a full strength tempest.

The nice part about umbrage going off so much is that the enemy ends up with like no armor. Easy pickings for Bolverk.

We can't move fast enough to save Folka, though--poison damage from the stonesinger drops her right in the middle of PILLAGE! mode.

We get the last laugh, however.

But more big dredge arrive on the scene. We're in no shape to continue fighting, and we don't even get the option.
: Fall back! We're closing the mine!

You turn and look at the grey sky, the snow, Bindal, and the dredge walking toward you. With a hefty swing, the timber snaps and rocks begin to fall. You drop the hammer and race down the shaft toward the light of the torches.

Nowhere to go but down.

Zefr's probably not real happy about our being a huge jerk.

So let's go see.

: What are we doing down here?
: Staying alive and keeping Bellower from the dredge. I thought that was obvious.
: But we keep heading down like we're hunting dwarves.
The Valka gives you the ghost of a smile.
: Until today, no one but a few on the council knew about these tunnels, not even menders. We didn't create them, but we have used them a great deal over the years to travel far distances quickly.

: Where do they lead?
: Practically everywhere. Arberrang, Voe, Grofheim...or what's left of it. I'm not sure anyone knows the full extenet of these underground paths, but we are about to enter a corridor, one of the main tunnels.
: Where are we headed?

: You want us to drag him to bloody Manaharr, don't you?
: Manaharr is the safest place to secure Bellower's body. Whatever drew the dredge army toward us in Bindal, the council can find a way to stop it.
: And what about my Ravens? So far, helping Valka pays less than a Bloodshed Coin.
: And that is why I am talking to you alone now. The corridor will lead us to Manaharr in a week's time. See us there safely and I give you a genuine Valka oath: you will be rewarded well enough to never need work again.
You look around at the cave walls and back the way you came.
: We'll go to Manharr. We were heading there after the Blue River anyway.

I'm not going to Manaharr with this many civilians and this few fighters. We train up 200 fighters from our stock of peasants. This also gives us 4 days of rest to get Folka back on her feet.

I've really been struggling with Folka this game and I don't know why. Anyway, I level her up. Maybe that will help?

Deeper. Darker.

Don't know what a lot of these events do; I've only played this once. We'll push ahead.
With large strides, you clamber over slick rocks and get in front of the others. You stop at the sight of long blades of pale grass blowing as if on a windy plain, but there is no wind. The sound is just like running water. "It's just up here!" a young man says, rushing past you.
Vines lash out like whips from beneath the grass and grab the man's legs, sinking thorns deep into his skin. You reach for him, but his body falls lifeless almost instantly. A few more cracks of the vines sound out down the row. "Get back!" you roar, and everyone obeys, falling back to the path.
"This is terrible," Zefr says, taking the deaths personally. "We should stick to the paths as much as possible. Too much can go wrong down here." The faces of those passing you are frightened.


Soon after, we have this encounter.
The man's sudden appearance makes you tense.
: I didn't mean to sneak up on you. It's something I do. I's something I've learned to do.
: Something that will get you killed if you do it to me again.
: Under...okay, yes. Understood. But, it does have its uses. Just allow me to fight alongside you in a...well, a fight. You won't regret it.
You scoff and turn away fromt he man only to see Gudmundr approach.

: Then you fight next to him. People near me tend to get hurt, but his injuries won't be an accident.

So...let's meet our new guy after we talk to Nikels.

: Bolverk, I was thinking. Well, wondering. About what it takes to become a Raven. I've never heard stories about a test or trials to join. Is there a test?
: What do you care? Aren't you Zefr's lackey?
: Well, apprentice, yes. I'm a full mender training to become a Valka. Part of our training requires world experience.
: Couldn't you work with a blacksmith or something?

: Would you kill someone for coin?
: Kill for...
The mender's face pales a bit.
: I mean, I guess. If that was the job.
Folka walks up and clamps a hand on one of Nikels' now sagging shoulders.
: Most of what we do never makes it into the skald songs.
: I guess I need to think on this a bit more.
: Let us know in Manaharr.
Nikels nods as you walk off.

Well, that was...honest, at least.

So...Dytch. The tracker. He has the same passive as Eirik and Rook which allows him to move in and out of allied units freely.

But the real attractive thing about him, besides the beard, is his "Track" special ability.

You know how stalkers can stealth? Now we have a unit that can do it too. And when he attacks from stealth, he ignores a portion of the enemy's armor. Meaning we can stealth him to block paths to steal enemy turns. Or we can sneak him up to someone and maim them with a 14 (11 strength + 3 exertion) damage strike. Maybe more if we crit.

Dytch is awesome, but needs a LOT of leveling up.

So we'll level him up a bit, as recruiting him unlocks a new training battle.

We have to pick up 4 runic gale powerups, and then backstab things to death 3 times. Not too hard given how many varl there are on the map that get in one another's way.

Piece of cake.

And now Dytch is level 5. On his way to 6, when he'll get Rally (like Eirik). You can use Rally from stealth, so Dytch can become a stealthed willpower battery.

Dytch is also super interested in some new woman in the caravan.
: Who is she?

Not sure. Maybe there's a part two to this event?

: We've lost a few families. We need to stop and find them.
We lose 44 clansmen.

To hell with it. I'm sure I know what this does...

Yeah that's about what I expected.

Meet the Vile Skulker, a tougher and varl-sized cousin to the regular skulker. Otherwise no real difference.

I should really level up Bersi or Sigbjorn, because Tempest is just outrageously strong.

Zefr falls (4 day injury) in this battle when she gets swarmed by invisible skulkers.

On the whole, though, it's pretty easy.

We'll camp for a bit to get Zefr's strength back. She doesn't need strength, but she at least needs to not die in 1 hit.

<Cutting here because of character limits on SA>