Part 31: 18-1: Ruin Beyond the WallUPDATE 32: RUIN BEYOND THE WALL
Even in the time it took for Iver to reach Strand, the darkness has expanded. Manaharr is gone now. I hope Zefr managed to figure out how to cast the light shield.
BGM: INTO THE HURRICANE
Death is on our very doorstep now. Alette and company don't know what the darkness does, but they know full well it's extremely bad.
And the men manning the walls of Arberrang...they also know they're in deep trouble.
Because damn near every living dredge is laying siege to the city. The dredge want the safety of Arberrang's walls, too.
: Are we much better off?
Petrus shakes his head.
: Not really. There's still bad blood about the refugees situation, and it's more than it seems. Speaking of which, Rugga's talking. I think it's time you took a crack at him.
: Not without me. Even chained to a wall, that man is a threat.
: And our best hope for maintaining order is the king's safety. We need that antidote. Go with luck.
Arberrang is almost out of supplies now. And with as many mouths as we have to feed, 27 units of supplies wouldn't do us any good anyway.
: You look pleased with yourself, considering you failed.
: Why shouldn't I be? What was it the king said? I'd never set foot in Arberrang?
: Chained to a wall? I wouldn't call this a win.
: But that's exactly what it is. Look, it's obvious why they trotted you in here: save the king from Rugga's nasty poison trick. Curious that the menders can't do it.
: Is this going to turn into some trite metaphor?
: Probably. Not the one you're thinking of, though. The secret to Skaktafl is that pawns and kings are just details. It's about being able to see further ahead than your opponent. You know that sinking feeling, when you're looking at the table, and the game's not over yet...but you know it's over. You've just got to sit there and keep playing?
: Tough words from someone rotting in a prison cell.
: Think harder. While I wait safely in this cell, my loyalists gather strength and numbers. They're preparing. Meinolf's life is mine to save. If I let him die, his support crumbles, his control of Arberrang is over. And if he martyrs me, my men snarling through the streets, wolves amongst your sheep. Who will prevail?
: I think you'll find us far from sheep.
: The truth is that not everyone wants to be swaddled and told everything will be fine. My people are not willing to put their lives in the hands of a weak king trying to make sure we all die, equally, fairly. See, to them you're not just wrong, you're the enemy of freedom. The freedom to make their own decisions. Believe this: anything you throw at me will come back to you, twice as hard.
: Is that a threat?
: Looking at things backward as usual, Oddleif. It can work for you, if you'll just be reasonable.
: What do you want?
: Just the throne. Tell Meinolf if he steps down, he lives. It's that simp...
: Alette! We need to go! Now! At the walls, it's...
Whatever it is, it's worthy of a cutscene.
The walls of Arberrang are breached by a giant harpoon.
Wielded by an enormous dredge.
Who looks like the Pringles man.
Welp, time to defend the walls of Arberrang against every living dredge.
I'm bringing Gunnulf on this one. Hopefully he can dodge a strike or two and get some good tempests in. Ludin, Yrsa, and Petrus are here to represent Arberrang. Alette and Egil give the battle some Skogr flavor.
C'mon, kid. You can do this.
He's not wrong, though. There are too many. The stonesinger in the corner is going to be a pest if it casts umbrage--he'll take forever to get to and remove the buff. And the dredge scourge destroyer with 24 strength? That's a tall order even for Egil to tank.
To make matters worse, we have 28 turns to wipe them out, and the stonesinger has already started casting umbrage.
Couldn't do anything about it. He's too far away.
Gunnulf, at least, laughs at dredge who just had their armor reduced in exchange for a strength buff.
But he's quickly maimed into uselessness by a 17 strength grunt. 50% dodge chance is great when it procs, but when it doesn't against a blow this heavy...now I have a pretty useless varl in the field.
Ludin impales the destroyer, and Alette notices that impale moves him back: she fires overwatch on him, knocking him back further and doing impale bleed damage. It's a rather impressive combo.
By the time it gets back in range of Ludin, it's a shell of its former self.
We're down to just the stonesinger, but we can't kill it before it'll get a turn.
Which means Egil, Yrsa, and Petrus' summoned ally all get diseased.
Not a great finish, and I wish we'd been able to keep Gunnulf healthy. You can't swap items when you swap characters.
Gunnulf tags out for his king. Ro'Ech swaps with Yrsa. Less armor break potential, but we can mule kick things into lots of turns being skipped.
This is not the final wave, either!
This wave is a lot less dangerous--more time to handle it, and other than the slingers there's not really a huge threat.
2 games later, slingers still get absolutely destroyed by impale.
Sadly, I couldn't do anything about the other slinger. If Egil survives this wave he's gonna have to go to the bench.
A fresh Hakon lays down the pain.
Which in turn clears the way for Ro'Ech. Everyone's pretty exhausted now, though. I should have had Aleo in the field so I could get willpower back.
Strategy for this wave: use Eirik to rally willpower over to Alette. Try and kill EVERYTHING with Alette while Aleo's in range to give his +willpower buff to the team.
This wave has both a stonesinger and a direguard. And I don't have Egil available to tank for me. I do still have Petrus' little buddy, but he's about dead.
Again: deal with the slinger and the stonesinger and you're golden.
Aleo buffs Ludin with Tale Worth Telling. That'll let him walk up and maim the direguard.
Or maybe Hakon will get an opportunity to do it beforehand.
Ludin is a surprisingly capable unit. I guess that means Tryggvi is too. And Bak.
Honestly, other than some bad luck with Gunnulf, that went great. Alette and Ludin combined to manage the biggest threats, and the rest of the team whittled down the annoying small fry.
All waves down, we're awarded this item that nobody on the team can actually use.
Along with a hefty enough chunk of renown that we could get someone capable of using it pretty quickly.
Sweat rolls down your face. You knew the dredge would eventually become a problem, but the reality of it is worse. You need a plan.
: Hero, I just imagined you'd come this way, then you did! I could tell by your face it was you.
: Tryggvi, what is it? This is a poor time to chat.
: Oh, don't worry. I got nothing to say.
: OK, then help me find...
: Quickly! What's your question?
: Have you seen the moon?
: The moon? Tryggvi, there are dredge destroying the walls right now!
: I am definitely going to need my luck. Have you seen it?
: Are you talking about your moon necklace, Tryggvi? Just speak clearly.
: What's clear is that the sun never brought anyone luck.
: I could certainly use one right now.
: Now you're making sense. Mead solves all sorts of problems! Big ol' burly barrels of mead, solving delicious problems. Then only problem it can't solve is that once you've drank it, it's gone.
: Profound. Come on, help us fight and we'll share a round.
: You've asked three or four already, why stop now?
: Are we already dead?
You sigh, defeated by his line of questioning.
: If so, I am going to rest my feet. They say "walk in another man's shoes," but what if they don't fit? These sure don't, and they're my shoes.
: It's just an expression.
: Oh, like "Do the right thing, especially if it gets you killed."
: That's definitely not right.
: It definitely is. I've been told that one a few times.
: I'm not sure you understand what's happening here.
: I do, actually.
Tryggvi, had we met him back in The Banner Saga 1 posted:
: Have you always been this way, Tryggvi?
: Have I always been Tryggvi? Dumb question, Rook. Look, I hear what they say behind my back. "Tryggvi's handsome, Tryggvi's brave." But you're the right man for this job. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
: Those are the words I say to myself...someone should say them.
: I just...can't see through the dark and the fog sometimes, in my head. That's why I carried around a moon. Do you know what I mean?
: I think so.
: Hah, liar! I don't even know what I mean...but I'm happy you finally answered my question. Oh, look at that. My necklace was right here the whole time. Huh. Looks different than I remember. Must be my imagination. Now let's go stab some dogs to death.
: Dredge, Tryggvi. Dredge.
This is perhaps my favorite conversation in a series full of great character interactions. There's no mental health support at the end of the world. Or even before that. Tryggvi's just another guy doing his best, and he knows full well he's not "normal." It's never stopped him from being a hero, though.
Oh, and his necklace?
It's powered up to hell now. Anyone can use it, but I'd really feel badly taking it off of Tryggvi. Plus since spearmen rely on crits, it's pretty much the perfect item for him.
: Grim tidings. I've heard stories of a Sundr called Ruin who could do such things. It tore down the fortresses of old varl kings.
: It pulls that anchor thing back? Toward itself? Come with me!
She takes off at a full sprint toward where the varl are gathered.
: For this to work, we need to cooperate!
: Slow down. Stop shouting at me, woman.
: You've been around them too long, Hakon. Why are we even listening to this?
: Gods, you're all starting to sound like Rugga. Don't you get it?
: Hear her out, she's earned that much.
: She expects the varl to be her beasts of burden.
: I'm not asking anyone to lower themselves, just to work to our strengths. Look, Ruin's shredding the walls with some kind of thrown anchor. We can't reach him from here. It made me think of something Rugga said: "Everything you throw at me comes back twice as hard." If the varl gathered every oil barrel we can find in Arberrang and bring them here, we can wrap them up in netting. The next time Ruin hurls the anchor into the wall, horseborn race along the top and drop the netting around it.
: Ruin is Raze's sister. Ask Yngvar about it if we survive all this.
: Yrsa and the other archers can organize a volley of flaming arrows down on...her, and BOOM.
: Will that be enough?
: I don't know, but it beats standing here measuring our loyalties.
: The varl are not great lovers of fire, if you've forgotten. Why haul barrels when we could meet the Sundr on the field of battle? Would Jorundr have lowered himself like this in the great wars?
: I won't lie, the battlefield calls to me.
: Why are you varl so obsessed with rushing off to battle? Ever since Fasolt showed up you've been acting like you have a death wish, Hakon.
: Bah, this one! You think we are just large men with simple minds. I have been alive for hundreds of years! You rush around fearing for your short lives, like babies calling for their mothers! How we live is more important than how long! You destroy our faen bridge, then act like it's nothing?! Like you did us a favor! You short sighted, arrogant...
: Einartoft was the last evidence of our existence. That bridge should have outlived the varl who made it. I do not want to eke out a few weeks, a few more days, cowering behind a wall. I do not want to carry barrels, when I could die with a blade in my hand. We are the last of our kind!
Hakon and Fasolt have given up. And justifiably so: even if Iver succeeds and we don't all die in Arberrang, there's no future for the varl. They're doomed. All they have left now is a glorious death. But the rest of the caravan--the rest of all living things--shouldn't have to go along with that plan.
On some level, this is no longer about "the right decision" and "the wrong decision." There are no good decisions left for Hakon. What should Alette say here?
A.) : Just do us this favor and you'll have your fight, I promise!
B.) : Idiot! Use your head, don't throw your life away!
C.) : Help us and you'll have half our remaining supplies, for your varl. We'll manage with less.
Whatever the outcome, we're gonna have to deal with Ruin. It's just a question of who's available to fight her, and how we handle the approach.