Part 39: 21-2: End of the LineUPDATE 40: END OF THE LINE
: What about you?
The Serpent speaks. You don't understand its words but you get the tone. Juno shouts back, and you understand her perfectly well.
: You've failed again and again! You won't succeed this time!
The Serpent rears up as it responds, until only wildly coiling loops of ragged monstrous scales can be seen in the light.
: It means to shatter the ice! Go!
Juno somehow weaves patterns with broken arms. The ice beneath you bucks. Suddenly it occurs to you that Juno has taken control of something deep beneath your feet and it's approaching fast.
Eyvind freezes. You throw him over your shoulder and run, just as the ice groans and splinters from another impact, snapping like bear traps. Ravens scatter in terror.
For the third time in Iver's life, he flees from the Serpent.
For the first time in his life, though, he gets to watch over his shoulder as a warped whale gets mind controlled by Juno and tackles the Serpent.
Which seems to do a pretty good job, as the Serpent falls down throwing up a huge cloud of warped dust.
: Gods, the ash...
: I can't see a damn thing!
: Just keep going!
Without Juno, and with only Eyvind's lesser light spell, the party flees largely into the darkness. Hopefully in the right direction.
: Is everyone here?
Ravens rub soot from their faces and cough into their hands. Thick black dust haunts the air, kicked up by the leviathan's thrashing.
: I can see her!
A globe of light detatches from the convusling silhouette of the Serpent, blazing through the air and crashing like a meteor in the far distance. Eyvind darts ahead with his own light, which forces the rest to follow.
You crawl through curtains of dust for what seems like hours, days. Perhaps it is. Who can tell, down here? It's suddenly dark as a moonless night. Juno's light dims, and winks out.
I don't know how much time we have left. Like the "flee from the Serpent" events in both preceding games, the counter disappears while you run for your life, but it's still going. I think we need to comb back and forth though. Splitting the party seems a bad idea, and this will eventually get the job done with brute force.
You sweep the area, leaving markings as guideposts. It's frustratingly slow. "Hold!" Oli puffs after a long silence. Shapes ahead shamble towards you.
Juno is dead behind a wall of warped. Dead dead. Not "she'll be back on her next turn" levels of dead.
There's not much to this fight other than the reinforcement waves being hard because they come from ALL sides. And there are two such waves.
But two waves really just means "more time for Iver to power up to truly absurd levels."
This is a neat little item. Level 15, but gives its wielder the horseborn "hit and run" passive--meaning you can get in something's face, attack, and then run away.
: No coming back from that. If the Serpent and the fall didn't kill her, the slag did.
: Not to mention she's just been laying out in the darkness. Who knows how long? This is the end, isn't it? We failed.
: We finish what we came to do.
: This is not the end.
Eyvind's face and voice are expressionless, but tears streak his cheeks.
: We can still take her to the white tower. Iver. Please pick her up.
It doesn't sound like a request.
All that running, searching, and fighting, though...it took a toll.
We're out of time.
...but miraculously, Arberrang is not fallen! It's just in danger of falling and we can delay the inevitable a bit longer!
: This really is the beginning of the end, isn't it?
: The longship's finally sinking, so to speak. All that's left to do is bail, until our arms grow weak.
You feel those old, nagging survival needs scratching at your thoughts: food, water, shelter.
Well, we're not dead even though we're at 0 days. Let's see what we can do.
The market is still out of supplies, but has this neat little item. We're going to put it on Hakon. Eventually.
Hakon needs to hit level 14 to use it. But once he can, he'll be able to charge through human characters and start messing warped up.
Aleo puts his hand on your shoulder. His eyes are red, some combination of drinking and grieving, but there is a smile on his lips.
: I never had the privilege of meeting your father, but I've only heard incredible things about him. I think he would be very proud of you right now.
: Right now? Why?
: Where I look, I don't see the dead. I see all those who live on, instead.
He stands quietly beside you, deep in thought.
: You can't help yourself from rhyming, can you?
Aleo looks slightly embarrassed, as if you caught him indulging in a vice.
: I'm sorry. I hope I didn't come off as disrespectful with what I said. I have a hard time putting it to bed. When I was a boy, my grandmother was a famous seer in our small town. I was in awe of her. She claimed the gods never died, that they still spoke through her. Others would come from far away to hear their fate or feel close to them. Sometimes I would listen through the wall to the amazing things she told these people, even though it was forbidden. She knew. Before she died, she told me a secret.
: I got upset, called her a fraud. But she explained that just because she made it up doesn't mean it wasn't real. "The stories we tell are just as real as all the things we see and feel," she said. And then she died. I remembered those last words clear as a bell, and I began to make up stories of my own. Eventually it became hard not to see the world as a story.
: And you're always writing one in your head.
: When I felt afraid or upset as a child, it helped to imagine myself as someone else reading my story. Like the gods were looking down and seeing that I can create things as well. Anyway, I'm sorry abou all the rhymes. I'll try to keep them to more appropriate...moments.
: I guess it's time we moved on.
: I suppose we must. The menders shouldn't be left alone on the walls, and there's already a murmur spreading through the clans of not enough food to go around.
: Sometimes it feels like too much.
: Though we move on now with shuffling feet, our hearts will forever be incomplete.
Well, that's the funeral. Let's see what's happening on the outskirts.
You overhear grumblnig among the clansmen. Those most happy to feast to the dead are the ones feeling remorse now.
: We join together and give Iver some more time. I still believe in him.
Trust overcomes. Some are relieved to place that burden on you, others insist on keeping a watchful eye on the stockpile.
Alright, that takes care of that. There just aren't enough rabble-rousers left in Arberrang, and Rugga is a bad memory.
On to the menders.
: They're starting to scale over the bodies on the other side of the wall.
As if to prove the point, a mender yells when more warped rise into view.
We're out of time. Our walls are now being breached as menders fall along the wall.
The defenders of Arberrang are brave, but they're only delaying the inevitable.
A tentacle creeps out of the darkness, wraps around this poor bastard, and pulls him beyond the wall.
In an instant, we're down a fighter and the darkness has 1 more warped soldier to throw at us. We have to stop them here or they'll overwhelm our menders.
Zefr is now playable. I don't really want to use her.
However, this is...awful. We're on a narrow causeway and don't really have enough room to maneuver. To make matters worse, warped slingers have extended range and can rain down pain on Alette. Overwatch does us little use here, as knocking something back only works if it can be knocked back. We're fighting in too tight a quarters.
We have 27 turns to finish this wave, and Hakon is just kinda stuck in the back. My heaviest hitter can't bring his power to bear.
Bastion does a great job with a well placed shield slam to mess up everyone's armor.
And we push forward in order to get Hakon in melee range, but we're still adjacent to the enemy. That means they won't move. That means Overwatch is useless.
Captain Petrus is the first to fall to the warped. We're being overwhelmed and only have 3 more turns. We're not gonna make it, which means we don't get reinforcements. But the warped do.
Egil has reached his useful limits here. The enemy is just too strong for him to reliably tank.
Enemy reinforcements appear and surround Hakon and fell Ubin while they're at it. We're down to 3 defenders. I guess 4--Petrus' little summoned dude is still alive, but barely. And he's not helpful from a damage perspective.
However, if there's one saving grace it's that because Hakon never got into battle, he's at full strength. And PISSED OFF. And he'll get a ton of turns since his allies are dead.
Hakon is single-handedly saving Arberrang right now.
Down goes the summoned dude.
That just means more time for Hakon to be a hero.
Alette falls next. Down to Bastion and Hakon.
Hakon takes care of the last 3 attackers with a mighty tempest. It's a minor miracle.
We forfeit the item from this fight since you only get it if you beat each wave within the time limit. But frankly I'm just happy we survived.
: Captain, my menders need more protection on the walls.
: Arberrang isn't worth saving if only killers and thieves remain.
: Even if my father were here, he'd have little control over the city by now.
: Are you certain? I can guarantee no safety here.
: If there is a time for me to lead, surely it is now.
We're out of time and now it's just a matter of triage and hoping we can limit our losses while Iver carries Juno's broken body to the white tower. Someone has to help keep the warped off the walls--and off our menders maintaining the shield. Who should lead?
A.) Ludin: This is his moment. He's gone from thinking he's entitled to lead to asking for leadership to help serve the greater good. He knows Arberrang and he knows its soldiers, and he's not half bad in a fight.
B.) Petrus: The guard captain is a veteran. He's not accustomed to war, but rather street brawling, but he's respected and the surviving fighters will certainly listen to him. Would be a blow to not have him keep the peace if things get worse in the streets, though.
C.) Scathach: He's a horseborn, and horseborn are best in open fields. He's also not particularly trusted. But hey, he's brave and fast and can rally the horseborn to patrol the walls faster than any human can. And if we lose him, well...he's more expendable than the other two.
D.) An obviously bad choice