The Let's Play Archive

The Banner Saga Trilogy

by FairGame

Part 29: 16-2: An Unstable Peace


I never actually closed the vote, but the choice turned out to not be that close.
: We will protect you, but you must do exactly as I say from now on.
She trots nervously in place, then exhales through her nose and frowns.

: I have to hope this is all going to be worth the trouble, Oddleif.
: Me too.
Alright. We probably can't get away with that again, but for now we've still got Canary and the horseborn with us.

We continue our march to the great hall of Arberrang. It's a long march. We may not be travelling the land anymore, but navigating thousands of people through a city of hundreds of thousands and not equipped to handle it is...slow.

A familiar face glares in your direction as he speaks.

: The berserker? Hard to forget.
: I thought I did some hard marches in our day, but not like this. Bolverk went his own way. Lucky we arrived when we did. I wasn't sure Arberrang would still be here, or where you went. Have they treated you well since we parted, Hakon?

...I suspect this could have gone otherwise had we made a different decision at the end of Banner Saga 2.
Fasolt gives you a cold stare.
: Don't think I've forgotten why Einartoft fell, little one.

: For what it's worth, I'm glad you made it Fasolt.
: And I'll be glad to watch you fall to the dredge, in person. Returning the favor. Where is your tamed one-armed varl, anyway?
: Gone to the north, into darkness. Juno and Eyvind claim they can solve this.
: Is that so? Juno and Eyvind? Makes you wonder who started the trouble in the first place. Grofheim is gone. Einartoft is gone. Jorundr...gone. The dredge, on the other hand...Bolverk said he ran across Eyeless near Bindal, and Bellower's probably on his way here right now.
Editor's Note: This is odd. Fasolt was in the party when we killed Eyeless for good.
: We defeated Bellower at Boersgard. I saw it myself.
: Bellower doesn't die. And what of the others like Walker or Seethe? We don't know where they went. Is Ubin around here somewhere to write these things down, at least?

: Of course he did. Then I guess we're the last varl, Hakon. Let us bring ruin to the dredge like the old days! Of our bones, the hills!
Hakon breaks into a wide grin, clasping forearms with Fasolt, a strange gladness about them.

So...Fasolt's back and still blames the humans for destroying the bridge. And he's kind of gone full "we're gonna die; let's let it be glorious."

Rugga shuffles beside the guards who carry his chains. He has been unusually silent, but now he speaks softly in your ear. "Careful, hunter," he says, even before you hear the shouts. "Looks like trouble ahead."

Rugga you dope, you could not have possibly telegraphed this any more obviously. We'll stay close so that we can repel the inevitable "Alette went to go help and Rugga had an escape plan as soon as he was unattended" event.
It's lucky that you do, as the guard holding Rugga's chains topples from an unseen axe. Before Rugga can slink away you knock him off his feet, just as assassins approach from the flank!

I'm trying to get as many characters as I can to level 10 so that when it comes time to vote, it's easy enough to figure out how to handle distribution of heroic titles.

Plus I like the idea of Ludin defending his kingdom. His points go into dodging armor and dodging strength, and I give him an item that boosts talent ranks. For spearmasters to stay alive in battle at this point, they need to dodge some hits. They have a natural affinity for critting things so DPS isn't their problem so much as it is survivability.

/Rugga easily slithers way out of jam
Ah! Well, nevertheless...

Rugga's would-be jailbreak crew isn't anything we haven't faced before. Some mid-tier raiders, and dangerous spearmen. But we have Alette so it's not like this is going to be remotely hard.

A few rounds into the fight, a familiar face from the sidelines erroneously claims that we look like we need help.
Gudmundr joins the fight.

Yrsa just completely destroys enemy armor now. It's great.

In case y'all want to use Yrsa I make sure she gets a few more kills this fight.

Hey, it turns out Petrus can take care of his own shit. There's not even a downside to staying next to Rugga.
You quickly repel the ambush with his help. Wiping his blade clean of blood, Petrus then leans into Rugga hard with fists and feet, until the man is curled in a quivering ball on the ground.

Nobody was going down, Gudmundr. I know you spent a lot of time in the reject caravan of losers, but we had this under control the whole time.

Anyway, this is why it's important to take proper care of Bolverk's caravan. ALL the survivors of the death march now join our caravan, swelling our numbers.

Petrus and Gudmundr chat as you continue to the great hall, kindred spirits.
Guard captain recognize guard captain, I guess. Anyway, we get about 360 clansmen, and 150 fighters. 0 varl, though--I guess the remaining varl were following Fasolt.

We continue through the overcrowded city.
: No doubt the stairs are why Meinolf feels safe watching from above.
You finally approach the black stone walls, deep at the center of Arberrang. Petrus instructs you to head up the stairs while he hauls Rugga away.
It's worth noting how Arberrang is constructed. The stone walls at the center of Arberrang were the original walls of the city. Ludicrously strong and probably built with mender assistance. As the city population got larger, outer rings were formed. The richest and most powerful live closest to the center--high up and well-defended.

Arberrang is a city of hundreds of thousands. In theory they could all fit, uncomfortably, in the center ring and great hall of Arberrang. But it'd be like going to the Rose Bowl or whatever. You can be there, but you can't live there. Not enough space to actually live. Enough space to hang out there for a bit.

So there's going to be a lot of scrambling to get closer and closer to the city center the worse things get.

: It's your call, Oddleif. I trust your judgment.
: I'll do what I can. But up on top of that hill is where we ought to be. Maybe if you had the king's ear?


At last, we're in the inner ring of Arberrang--and approaching the Great Hall.
Eventually you come to stand beside rich and powerful men with long names and banners, called before King Meinolf as you were. Hakon is here, as well as Canary, both given a wide berth.
From where you stand at the back of his enormous hall, King Meinolf looks small and withered upon the throne. He speaks slowly, as if stepping carefully through cobwebs of old memories. You only hear bits and pieces about "changes of heart" and "protecting the weak." Eventually you give up trying to make out the words. Suddenly the hall goes silent. Everyone has turned to stare at you. The King beckons, and you approach.

The first time Alette met King Meinolf, he blew her off entirely. Let's hope this time goes better.

oh god what's wrong with his faaaaace
: You are to be thanked in person for bringing my son home to me. Now I'm afraid I must selfishly beg a favor of you. The road between Boersgard and Arberrang is long, especially shared with a man like Rugga.

: Rugga made things difficult, but we had an understanding.
: Good. If you don't understand a man, you don't understand his actions. And you end up surprised when he puts a dagger in your back.
Meinolf knowingly pats his own shoulder with a weak smile.
: I suspect you already know this, but the man has poisoned me. He did it when we met in good faith, to negotiate peace. My menders have been unable to find a cure. Rugga and I have something of a long and miserable history. He would gladly watch me wither on the throne. But perhaps you can coax an antidote from him.

: Am I truly the best hope for this?
: You're not my only. But if I know Rugga this is all part of a game, and I will use every option I have. Succeed and you'll know my generosity.
The king calls for Petrus, and you soon hear his hard boots echoing off the high ceilings.

: Captain Petrus, our friend Alette has agreed to speak with Rugga. And Petrus...follow young Alette's orders. You are now hers to command as she needs. Alette, see that this gets resolved as soon as possible.

And with that, we're sent back outside, one guard captain stronger.

We can talk to Petrus or Oddleif. Let's see about Odd, first.

: Something about putting aside our differences. And he wants me to try and wring an antidote out of Rugga. Since Meinolf's dying, everyone's been let into the city under his protection.
: I wonder if I'd change my mind like that if I knew the end was near.
: Is it not?
: Shut up. You know what I mean.
: So how are you feeling about all of this?
: "All of this?" Care to narrow it down?

: What's your deal with the horseborn, anyway?
: M-my deal? What do you mean?
: Oh, come on. I heard you giggle the first time you saw one...
: I don't giggle.

: I promise.
: When I was a girl, I remember my father showing me pictures of horses. They looked amazing. I wanted one so badly. Then he told me they were all killed, totally wiped out. Do you know this story? Legend says the Loom Mother made horses, and another god created the horseborn from them. But there was a time when both horseborn and horses existed. They'd see people use horses for farming and carrying goods, and wouldn't know how to react. Was it slavery? Were horses like children to them, or some living reminder that they're just dumb beasts?
: You could ask the same about varl...
: Come on, it's not the same. Varl look pretty different from yox. No debate how the horseborn were made. Anyway, rather than let anyone "own" horses, the stories say the horseborn went crazy and slaughtered them all. Then they fought the humans a bit, but eventually retreated far south. They say the horseborn felt such shame about the massacre, they just never returned. Who knows what the truth really is? Up 'til the moment I saw one, I was never even sure the horseborn existed!

: And they're causing us all kinds of problems.
Oddleif's beaming face and wide grin deflates.
: Tell me about it.
: What would you do in Meinolf's position?
: That's a tough one. You know me, I want everyone to live. Maybe even not hate each other. Rugga's men are bastards, but...I don't think they deserve to die. I'm just glad the varl are on our side. But I'm not the king, so I guess there's not much else to say about it.
: What should we do about Rugga?
: Gods, I wish he just didn't exist. You know he's not going to just hand over a cure. Not without a high price, anyway. He's gambling with people's lives for his own benefit.

: I don't know.
: Me neither, but it feels deeply unfair. You spend so much time and effort trying to do the right thing, and here comes Rugga. He may as well be stabbing children as he goes and people love him for it. But anyway, what can we do? Threats and beatings don't seem to work.
: The man can take a punch. I'll give him that.
: Can't kill him yet, either, for Meinolf's sake. What does he even want? The throne? What's the point of ruling Arberrang for a couple days before the darkness takes it back? Ugh, I'm sick of thinking about Rugga. Let's change the subject.
: We should get back to camp.
: Yes, I suppose we should.

: What choice do we have?
: Leave? Go south. See what happens. I'm just thinking out loud. Some people are talking about ships.
: After what we saw in Fiskivik? The serpent's blood was eating at the boats, and it killed everything living in the sea.
: I know it's not a real option. Now we've got to rely on each other. Just remember you've always got a shoulder here. Don't try to carry this all on your own.

I feel like a lot of the Oddleif interactions here don't work as well and they weren't properly tuned for Alette instead of Rook. Anyway, let's see what's at the market before we talk to Petrus.

A couple of interesting items, the Sewing Dart perhaps the most interesting. It gives extra move radius, +15% dodge chance, and +3 to exertion talents. On a character who already has 3 ranks in Dodge, it effectively gives them a 40% chance to dodge incoming attacks. That seems...pretty useful on someone like Hakon or Gunnulf, who need to move into the thick of things in order to maximize their tempest.

So that's exactly what we do with Gunnulf.

And then there's Petrus. He's...awesome. More armor and strength than any human in the game other than Egil (who has 2 armor on him.)

His biggest weakness is that his movement radius SUCKS and you'll never get him in range of anything if you don't do something to boost it.

He comes with 3 abilities: Bloody Flail (it still sucks), Run Through (the backbiter skill that Onef and I guess Dagr had), and...

The ability to summon a mini-Egil at will. Great for forming up a shield wall or having someone to take the heat off of you.

Because he's so useful even at low strength (when bloody flail is actually useful), we're going to give him a 50% chance to avoid deathblows.

We can always slap a +movement heroic title (I have those now, I think) on him if we choose to level him beyond 10. That way we can give him a +3 all talents item and really have a great tank.

For now he's using the +movement, +break item we picked up at the start of the game.

Egil hits 10 now too. One more level until he gets a heroic title option.

Speaking of Petrus...
: I didn't even know it'd be necessary. Are you comfortable with the king's orders?
: It's not a matter of comfort. I was given as much warning as you were. That is to say, none. But if these are the king's orders, I will follow them. Is there anything you wish to know?

: How did you become the guard captain in Arberrang?
He looks uncomfortable and unaccustomed to talking about himself.
: I won't bore you with the details. I was an orphan. When I was young and impetuous, I overthrew the vicious bastards who were selling children in the slums. I did it without killing a man. King Meinolf made me an honor guard. A few years later, after an attempted coup, I became captain. You may have a guess who incited that attempted coup.
: Fast rise to power.

: What help can you provide?
: Several hundred trained fighters, weapons and armor, and access to the king. Should you need it.
: Several hundred fighters? In a city of several hundred thousand?
: We're lucky for that. Look at Frostvellr, or Boersgard. The wealthy buy control. Any upset of balance and the wealthy families hack each other to pieces over it, innocent people get caught in the fray. The king is trying to change that in Arberrang, but it's slow going. Traditions die hard. And in my experience, many would just prefer to hack each other to pieces in the first place.
: Why did Meinolf put me in charge? I'm an outsider.
: It would be above my position to assume. my opinion you just answered the question yourself. The king knows the other clans in Arberrang. Too well, I think. Schemes and secret plots flourish in a city like this. But your banner speaks for you.
: Who better than an indebted outsider to handle the other outsiders? So he can expect me to do as he says, and take the blame if things go wrong, too.
: That's one way to look at it.
: Aren't the wealthy families in Arberrang going to be upset about this?
: Without a doubt.
: You probably have things to do.
: As you say. My men were spread thin already. I'm almost more worried about the clans than the dredge.

: Please do.
: Rely on me to understand this city. Sometimes men who come from the countryside see things as a straight path. Arberrang is a circle. If you try to change directions suddenly, you risk being flung over a cliff. And we are dangerously close to a steep drop.
: I appreciate your counsel. Thank you.
: Of course. If you need me, I will be nearby.

Quite literally he's nearby; we have to click the "Petrus" event on the map to go interrogate Rugga.

: I know King Meinolf asked you to speak with Rugga at once, but after his men ambushed us, I may have been too...he's not capable of speech, for the moment.
: It seems like you two have some history.
; I will bring you to speak with him as soon as possible. For now, I would suggest rest. It has been a long day for us all.

: Where is everyone?
: Celebrating! For the first time since we left Skogr we can just...stop. We made it. Thanks to you.
: I don't feel done, yet. The dredge could easily tear through that flimsy outer wall if they wanted to. And as far as I can tell, we've still got no answer to the darkness.

: Whatever it is, I'm sure he can handle it.
: I'm just not a "let someone else handle it" kind of girl. If feels strange, this sudden calm. Nothing to do but wait.
: You're right. I can't even work on Rugga, yet. The guard captain went wild on him.
: Good. On the other hand, what if Meinolf dies? Between Rugga's loyalists, the horseborn and the power struggle, this city may turn on itself.
: The harder we try to grip this world, the faster it seems to slip from our fingers.
: We can't stop the world, Alette. All we can do is try to hold on. Come on, you deserve one night of happiness.
Oddleif fakes a brave face, and leads you to where the rest are already celebrating.

...and we'll stop there for now. We've reached the end of the chapter.

Meinolf is poisoned, Rugga's beaten too badly to give an antidote if he were so inclined to bargain for one, and pretty much everyone we've ever met in the Saga is now in Arberrang. Oh, and we've been given Captain Petrus as a new unit. He's really powerful (other than the terrible movement ability) and seems to know Arberrang pretty well.

It's inevitable that we'll eventually run up against a situation where Petrus offers advice about how to handle something in Arberrang. He's explicitly said to rely on him to understand the city.

When that time comes, do we:
A.) Listen to his advice
B.) Screw his advice! Other than Krumr who has ever given advice that turned out to be correct?