The Let's Play Archive

The Banner Saga Trilogy

by FairGame

Part 40: 21-3: Juno and Eyvind


: The walls are yours, Ludin. Your father would be proud.

: I'll send word to loyal men and keep the menders standing.

We made some pretty good decisions, and Iver gets back almost a week.

Good thing, too, because we have no idea how much further we have to go.

: Rises like teeth from the hunger'd wolve's maw. Swallows brave men and the bright doom star.
An old song, from before the gods died. Fitting, ambling through tall pillars like teeth, an obsidian forest wreathing the great black godstone.

: Eyvind, can you do anything about this? This place is tough enough without seeing ghosts.
Eyvind shakes his head slowly, and you notice his ragged appearance.
: But I can be certain no harm will come from it.
He says it loud enough for others to hear.

We approach...whatever it is.
: We push on, despite hope being lost along with Juno, to something black and heavy ahead. Did the dredge build godstones of their own, or...
: They did. And hope is not lost yet, Iver

Not dead yet.
: Well done. You can put me down.
Nerves get the best of even the bravest.
: Stop. Not another step!
She pushes her way to Juno.
: You died. Not another damned step until you tell us what is happening. All of it!
A chorus of voices concur, echoing off the pillars themselves.

: They're right, Juno.
Juno sags.
: You're right. It's time you all knew.

: This will be more easily shown than told.

: The valka were the first to discover a world within our world: the inner earth. With its own lands, people...

: ...and sun. A source of power far greater than our own.

: I studied in secret to heal those wounds, and...

: In time, we grew to love each other. But meddling with minds is forbidden, for reasons already clear to you. The council sentenced me to death.

: They agreed to spare Eyvind the same fate if I went willingly. So I did.

: In his grief, he drained the black sun of its energy, hoping to restore my life.

: The sun fell from the sky, ripping chasms through both worlds.

: I had become the new vessel for its power.

: When we reach the white tower, and Eyvind releases my energy, the sun will move again and the darkness will return to where it belongs.

: Eyvind carried me all the way back to Ridgehorn before he could go no further.

Hakon's approach to Ridgehorn, way back in The Banner Saga 1 posted:

: That's where Hakon's warriors found us. They understandably believed I was dead and left me there. Eyvind lived still, if only barely. By the time he awoke, the varl had taken him most of the way to Einartoft. When I realized what had happened, I traveled by ship down the river to meet Eyvind at Sigrholm, but the Serpent's chasms prevented this. I believe you know the rest. I'm certain you have many questions. I will answer them. Clearly.

: This goes back all the way to the time of the gods?
: This can become long and complicated. I'll keep it simple. The Loom-mother first discovered weaving, and with it created this world and those living on it. The other beings in the tapestry, other gods, reacted in many different ways. Some wanted to learn weaving, and they took the creations she made and changed them, forming varl and horseborn.

: When the Loom-mother learned of this, she became furious. As she had discovered creation she had also unwittingly created death, and accidentally killed the jealous god in anger. The other gods were terrified. They had never imagined not existing. They turned on each other out of fear. The gods died, but their creations continued on. The Valka were the Loom-mother's favored few. She taught them weaving. Eyvind and I are descendants of those first people.
: If the dredge were taught by the Valka, why are they attacking now?
: The stonesingers believe we have betrayed them. Early on we discovered that the black sun was a far greater source of power than our own. After the worst of the great wars, everyone believed the Valka utterly defeated the dredge. In truth, we offered them peace.

: So you created the stonesingers?
: In a way. We only shared knowledge. It has always been a difficult question of how much control to exert. But now they believe we caused this destruction on purpose. They think that we wish to wipe them out, and like anyone would, they fight back. They're scared and frenzied, and will not listen. We have failed them as much as we have failed everyone else.

Bellower/Bolverk's Dream posted:

: What does the serpent have to do with any of this?
: I'll admit, even I was uncertain until recently. But the easiest way to understand it is to imagine an egg. The Serpent's egg was made inside this inner earth, a black sun mirroring our own. Within it, a Serpent would grow slowly over the ages. It was put here to eventually swallow the Loom-mother's creations. A cruel trick to destroy them in secret. When the black sun fell to the earth, it cracked. The Serpent and its power spilled out, well before its time.

: In a way, Eyvind unwittingly did us all a favor. If the Serpent had grown to full size...well. At least as things are now, there may be a chance to reverse it.
: I'm not exactly bursting with gratitude at the moment.
: Understandable.
: I've heard enough. What now?
: Now we return to the source of the power. I am not dead, but neither am I alive. This energy within me was stolen. Eyvind will place me within the black sun. The celestial spheres will circle again, the darkness will be absorbed, and without that, the Serpent will wither.

: You'll be trapped within the sun?
: I have come to terms with it.

So, that's it. Depending on how much of that you believe. Eyvind isn't Juno's apprentice; he's the disgraced former leader of the Valka. Either because he let Juno play with his mind in an effort to deal with madness, or because he wanted something else, Juno was put to death. He went nuts, stole her body, snuck into the inner earth, and caused all of this. Just to revive her.

Think long and hard about whether you believe this story, and which parts you choose to believe if not all of them.

And, technically, this "nearly the end of the world" is going to prevent "unquestionably the end of the world" because Eyvind accidentally woke up the World Serpent too early--early enough that it can be defeated. As Iver says, though, it's not really much of a bonus, given everything.

We press on, though, to Godstone Dredge.

An enormous bell hangs from the carved stonework. Even untouched it hums with a strange, deep resonance.
: The sculptors built this godstone to themselves. They raise bells made of those who have passed. It's said that a part of them lives in the sound of these bells, and they can visit their ancestors this way.
Sparr crosses his arms.
: That would explain the spooks.

...come on. You know I'm gonna. Nothing can stop Iver.

This is an entirely optional fight. We don't need the Dredge Clapper. But I'm far more worried about running out of time due to travel than I am due to mandatory rest. Might as well gain some additional renown.

Sparr's forced into our party for this fight. And honestly, it's really not worth it. The Dredge Clapper isn't that good, even.

I think it's time to have a 3rd varl who can tempest.

: Agreed.

This battle has a gimmick. There is no reinforcement counter, but anytime a melee dredge gets to the bell, it rings it. Which summons more dredge. After a while, it'll break the bell and no more reinforcements can come.

We're not remotely in trouble (though Sparr did take a nasty hit before we could get him out of harm's way). But I can't hold off the warped dredge from ringing the bell.

I can, however, absolutely wreck their reinforcements.

I know, Iver. And you kill them all each time, so what's the problem?

No problem.

Iver finishes the cleanup.

: How about we don't do that again. We're lucky that's all we faced. At least now we know there aren't any other of those things around.
You find Oli at the edge of the light, staring at the godstone.

: Just keep your voice down. That vicious, wrinkled fifl wont' share any of his drink, and my head hurts.
In the distance Sparr takes a moment from lazily tuning his langspil to throw Oli a wildly inappropriate gesture.
: Ran out of your own brew?

: Sober is no way to live, Iver.
: What's your drink of choice?
: What's yours, yox milk? Who cares? Ah, never mind me. You know how some men can't handle their drink? I can't handle being dry. Makes my head hurt.
: That seems like a problem.
: Never has been before. Who would want to take in all this majesty clearly? I haven't been this sober since I was thirteen, locked up in a Boersgard cell.
Oli gets a far away look in his eye.
: Rhum's my poison, to answer your question. Believe it or not, I can't even throw these axes worth a damn, dry as I am. But get a few drinks in me and I see bright ribbons in the air.
: Wait, you see lines of light?
: Damn right. Showing me exactly where the axes are going to go.

: Oli, I think you may be spellweaving...
Oli straightens back, as if startled.
: What are you talking about?
: Like the menders do.
: Weaving? Like this nidingr who farts lightning and raises the dead? ...but only when I'm drunk?
: And you're just using it to throw things better.
Oli erupts into laughter, loud enough to make even Sparr frown.

: I'll drink to that.
: Don't tease.
You pass Oli your mead horn and his hands shake as he gulps from it greedily.
: "Oli the spellweaver!" My mum always said I was special. Maybe you're not as bad as they say, varl.
: Who says that?

Suddenly Alette's affinity doesn't seem so impressive, eh?

We can rest here, if we're feeling particularly foolish. We should press on.

: As you all know, I don't drink.
He smirks, to a couple laughs.
: But I knew a place back in Boersgard that'd make you glad to be sober.
: Then you haven't tasted Bjorulf's Blessing, Oli. I'd kill anyone here for another swig...
: Didn't you already get three Ravens killed over it?
: What about you, Folka?
: Me? I want to go to that place Oli was talking about.
More laughter.
: Bunch of animals. Me? I'm going to put Strand back together. See who finds their way back. I had a home there. Friends.
He gives Oli a stern look.
: I have a brother in Arberrang. My twin. Didn't have a chance to leave things right. Now I'm regretting it.
The Ravens toast to regret.
Sparr notices Krumr's stoic silence and starts shouting random guesses.
: I know what mighty Krumr needs. A feast! A longship! A throne made of fallen foes!
Krumr snorts at the last one.
: No, but if you wrote a song about that, I wouldn't correct you!

Dytch manages to slip in an opinion between the bawdy chatter.
: I always wanted to...
He quickly gets drowned out by others and slowly mumbles to a stop.
: Give me a pile of coin when this is all over. Big enough to sleep on. Been working for others my whole life, and it's wearing thin. Think I've earned some easy living.
Several Ravens toast to this.

Bak says nothing. Everyone can tell he's thinking about spears. Folka looks at him with something like pity.

: You all know why I'm here and what I want.
: Nobody wants to die alone, eh? Even if you're far from home.
Sparr smiles. Satisfied, the caravan continues on, the tower growing ever closer.

Gotta say, it's pretty impressive making me care about this group of misfits and hangers-on to the story. The Unkindness of Ravens aren't good guys, but they've got a camaraderie that's enviable.

: And why does this part look different from the rest?
: This is...hold on.

: Great. I didn't think I could hate this place more. Now there's six of Dytch.
The nauseating, sweaty warmth still radiating from the fragments has everyone eager to pass through except Eyvind. He has stopped at one, with his hand pressed against the glassy surface, looking at his own reflection.

: I hardly recognize myself.
: Could be worse.
: Oh. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to compare...the reality of what I must do is sinking in. We're getting close.
Eyvind stares out into the distance.
: Now's not the time for second thoughts.
: It was always such a long way off. There was more time...
: Time for what, exactly?
Eyvind sighs heavily.
: Juno revealed it already, but there's something you may not have fully grasped. Something she forbade me to tell you.

: No more secrets.
: The only way the black sun will return to the sky is for Juno to seal the darkness within. So she has to stay there...trapped. For eternity. A fate worse than death, and it was my fault. All she's done since is fight tooth and nail to make things right. All she's ever done...
You can see anger spreading across Eyvind's face. He almost looks as if he's drawing energy from the sun shard.

: Even with the sun broken, there must be energy enough here to destroy the Serpent!

: And it might not.
: Why shouldn't I try? Why should I be listening to any of you?
: Eyvind. Think of your friends in Arberrang.
Eyvind's mouth becomes a thin line, and some of the fire in his eyes goes out.
: I know.

: When she had a boy, the council was worried. The males of our kind have always had a touch of madness, to varying degrees. My father couldn't contain his own.
: I suppose that kind of power would be hard for anyone.
: It is a curse. I am only alive at all thanks to Juno, and she has kept this power within me from spilling out. When she spoke to me in a dream at Einartoft, I wasn't even sure if it was real. I had gone so long without her help, I was starting to lose control again...

: Can you imagine feeling so powerful, and so weak at the same time?
: I can imagine.
Eyvind nods, as Folka approaches the two of you in a huff.

Eyvind steps away from the sun shard with a scowl on his face, returning to where Juno awaits.
: That one's got problems. And that's coming from me.
: It's still hard to imagine those two falling for each other.
: You think so?
: You don't?
Folka laughs as she punches your shoulder.
: I can see why you wouldn't get it, varl. It's not just the arm and eye you're missing. Every girl in the world wants a boy to promise he'd give her the sun and stars.

Folka almost looks embarrassed with herself as you head back to the caravan.

If nothing else about their story is true, the love between Eyvind and Juno almost certainly is.

Running out of time again.

The stonesinger seems to understand though you've never seen it eat anything before, scraping a hard, bell-shaped object from the cliff walls and handing it to you with a motion like opening a book.
: Huh. I thought that was just more craggy rock.
It has a hard, obsidian shell. But once cracked open a strikingly bright pink plant resides within, squishy to the touch.

It tastes like a mushroom, but slightly sweet. A couple minutes later you're actually feeling stronger, a bit more energized. The others cautiously gather handfuls and eat as much as they dare. You swear the caravan moves a little faster than before.

So...good news for those of you on the "everyone is going to starve even if we stop the darkness" front. Not all flora is warped and tainted. It'd be hard for a while, but if the land can eventually produce food again we can probably scrape by.

: Many sculptors are my friends, and you are who they tell their children to fear. But I don't hate you. The more about you I know, the more I like you.
: Is that really what you wanted to talk about?
: Straight to the point. Eyvind and Juno, they trust you, don't they?

: Do they have yours?
: Of course not. Now, Juno...she may be weaving little truths. But step back. Look at the whole tapestry. They wield terrible power. Perhaps you've noticed? It's exactly why they made the order of menders. Ah, look over here! We're only healing the sick, building houses.

: I've considered it.
: Come closer. Eyvind created a faen immortal. Can you comprehend? Juno cannot die. But that wasn't their goal, was it? What is immortality without power? Misery.

: I do.
: Then wake up. There's no more room for ignorance in this tiny bubble. Say nothing now. I'm not asking you for promises. But a time will come - and soon, I think - when you'll see the truth unfolding before your eyes.

: I will make certain what they claim to be doing is what is actually done.

She has a point. What we've seen so far and from previous conversations with Alfrun. It's rather likely that the gods were just really powerful Valka. Or at least similar. After all, every godstone we've seen other than Radormyr (the serpent never seen by anyone but said to live inside the sun) was human in form.

And we've met Unarr (the weird old guy who magicked food out of thin air) in Banner Saga 1. And a woman slipped into Alette's tent after Godstone Aselei and suddenly we had a god-blessed artifact.

What if Eyvind and Juno really do love one another, but they were also trying to turn Eyvind into a new god? Valka Dusi was guessing that before dying in the calamity at Manaharr. And if they were trying to make a god, to what end? To save the varl? To rule?

So much unanswered. And we'll never know the answer. We just have the official story from Juno and Eyvind.

12 hours until doomsday.
Violent shaking peels rock sheets off the nearby cliffs. They crash around you in great billowing clouds of dust. "Is everyone alright?" you shout in the aftermath.

: What is this about?
: Oli murdered a warlord in Strand, back when I was guard captain! I never got a chance to thank him for all the good friends who were killed as a result!
: Liar! I've never even been to Strand!
: You're both lying. Oli traveled to strand where he did ignite the war, but no one was pushed toward falling rocks. And if you both wish to keep your history in the past...
Both men pale from Juno's icy words, realizing they can keep no secrets.
: That earthquake was no coincidence. Same as when the Serpent carved chasms through the earth above. Be on your guard.

Our doom counter hits 0 before we can cross the bridge, though.