Part 41: 21-4: The Last Stand of ArberrangUPDATE 42: THE LAST STAND OF ARBERRANG
Sorry for the cliffhanger there, folks.
Eventually we will run out of ways to triage a dying Arberrang. But it is not this day.
Not everybody survived the scramble to safer ground, and you can see the lurching bodies of the fallen, just beyond the black veil. Gone, but not dead.
Lots of things to check out, including Hogun, who we really haven't heard anything from for a while.
: Don't stand on my account. You're looking rough around the edges.
He looks a little embarrassed about snapping at you, and looks back into the distance.
: We're either very lucky or very unlucky.
: Aye, that about sums things up. It could have all gone a lot of different ways. If you're just checking on how everyone's doing, I appreciate the concern. Nothing to worry about here, though.
Hogun goes back to staring quietly into the darkness.
: Nothing you want to talk about?
: Tired of talk. Tired of fighting. I'm just tired of survival. Couldn't the gods have done this differently? Why make us eat and fear and hate? Nothing stopped them from taking it all away.
: Smarter people than me haven't answered that one.
: Feels like being stuck in a bear trap. And I'm tired of it.
: How is your family, Hogun?
: Hanging on by a thread, hunter. Hanging on by a thread. Who isn't? All I can do is make sure they eat, and don't get killed in their sleep. If I can't keep them safe, what kind of man would I be?
: I know what you mean.
: Ah, listen. I know what you've been through. Your father, Iver, the whole damned banner on your shoulders. All my words are coming out wrong...don't take it to heart.
: What do you think is on the other side of that darkness?
: It warped everything coming out of it. I doubt the land's any different.
: You're worried about Mogun.
: I didn't want to talk about it, but there it is. What a damned fool I am. I never should have let him leave. I love my family. But not like I love my brother. Ashamed to say it, but it's the truth. It's killing me. I keep watching the darkness, expecting to see him walk out of it, twisted and bloated. Cant' sleep. Can't stop thinking about it. Dammit, I should have said something instead of being a prideful idiot.
: Nothing. Mogun's still alive.
: Sure he is. Just like Iver and the rest. Maybe it would help if I could pretend like you. But so far, it isn't working.
: I'll let you have your peace. Take care of yourself.
: LIke I said, don't worry about me. Maybe I look rough like you said, but I'm not going anywhere. Not while I can still stand.
We'll check out the houses next.
Rugga loyalists? Have fun burning to death, assholes.
This is beyond your control, and you're starting to learn how to live with that. Even Rugga's men give up and cut their losses. Flammable debris is dragged out of the fire's path and eventually it burns itself out, but not before taking whole streets with it.
So...this is good example of what happens in Arberrang as the doom timer runs out.
We can make decisions that will gain us more time, but typically at the expense of one or more of our heroes. Had we tried to put the fire out we would have succeeded and gotten a bit more time added to our doom counter, but it also would have gotten someone killed. Typically it's Griss, but since he's dead I'm guessing it kills Mogr. Or maybe Egil; who knows.
: What's going on here?
The crowd panics. Horseborn trample anyone in their way as they beat a path. Amongst the bodies left in their wake is Derdriu, poisoned by her own blade. You never find out what happened.
Well...shit. I didn't see that coming. RIP Derdriu, you were...largely inconsequential.
I've been delaying a visit to the wall because that's when we have our check against Ludin. Did he succeed? Did he fail? Did it cost him his life either way?
: Where is...
You stop, noticing a pile of dead guards and a panicked mender holding his light against the approaching warped.
Ludin yet lives. And he's done a great job at the wall, even.
Here's the other problem with triage in Arberrang: your injured heroes remain injured since there's no time to rest. Meaning we'll have to swap out chunks of our roster. Alette and Egil can stay because Overwatch is that broken and Stone Wall doesn't need strength. But Ubin and Petrus have seen their last battle.
The children of King Meinolf will defend Arberrang's walls, or die trying.
BGM: FEET AND SHIELDS PLANTED
Another close-quarters fight. But this time we have an advantage: Hakon can walk through allies.
This battle would be scarier if it was something like "prevent the enemy from reaching a certain tile." But since it's just "kill everything or be killed" we can stack everyone up on one side and start tempest/overwatch comboing them to death.
And nothing is going to get past the wall that is Bastion.
Yrsa would get one-shot by basically anything here, but her ability to do splash damage and completely melt the armor of one opponent is invaluable.
Ludin puts down the last attacker, a warped horseborn. Poor bastard must not have made it to higher ground while we retreated to the next wall in.
I don't really care about the item, but I *do* care about repelling as many enemies as possible to get more time for Iver to save us. We continue.
Do NOT mess with Hakon, folks.
Despite being relegated to back bench for a while, Hakon is rapidly approaching the kill lead for team Arberrang, this time smashing another warped horseborn to end the fight.
We won't be using this. It's bad.
Despite the victory, the writing is on the wall.
: We bought some time. But this is not sustainable. We're going to have to fall back before long.
In case you were wondering: our timer is measured in hours, so while the "Arberrang Spared: 1 Days" counter uses a floor function, we do get credit for all 45 hours we got back.
But more importantly, you can see that we're getting back tiny chunks of time. Last time we got back nearly a full week for Iver. Now it's not even 2 days.
: Yes, as before. Why do you ask?
: Because I'm starting to see a lot of movement ahead.
We don't have any time to waste with clever tactics. I know we can win a battle, and if charging gets someone killed, so be it. Better that one person than all life remaining.
: What are we waiting for?! Push through!
Not a particularly threatening group.
Nor is it a particularly memorable fight. My tactics haven't changed. Apostate umbrage, Krumr forge ahead, Eyvind mends armor, Iver (and now Bersi) start spinning around and mangling everything. Repeat.
: Seems to be more and more of 'em.
: Must mean we're getting close.
Indeed, we are getting close. But 2 days crossing that bridge means we're back to Arberrang. This time for the 3rd return. Eventually we'll hit a point where the timer hits zero and we don't get pushed back to Arberrang. That's when we'll know we failed.
Things are getting truly desperate now. We've fallen back to the final ring of Arberrang, though the one that's most defensible. Nothing has ever breached the black walls, and they're reinforced with magic.
Basically imagine this as the Louisiana Superdome during Katrina--we can fit all the remaining hundreds of thousands of dredge, men, varl, and horseborn up top. But it's not sustainable and people are going to start dying if Iver doesn't stop the darkness soon.
You wonder how many families sewn upon your banner are just memories now. Then you note how strange the silence sounds. The clans have lost their taste for trouble-making, and even the warped have withdrawn. Maybe you're safe up here. Maybe the menders are right.
Spoiler: there is no safe. But we'll take the reprieve where we can get it.
Fatigue draws you into a stupor.
: Feels weird to be doing...nothing. Spirits are low. Maybe this would be a good chance to see how everyone's holding up?
Three conversations. We'll save Egil for last.
: I've heard more about you since coming to Arberrang. Seems like these people owe you a great deal.
: I didn't do it on my own.
: Close enough, though. I wish I had supported you better, at the gates. And I also heard you traveled with a varl named Yngvar. That seemed like quite a coincidence...at first.
: Yngvar. You know Iver?
: He is well known, especially amongst the dredge. They say he once slew a Sundr called Raze, who carried Bellower's child. Ruin was Raze's sister. It's my believe that Ruin probably came to Arberrang hoping to find Yngvar. In the face of this darkness the other Sundr have scattered to the wind, but Ruin wanted revenge. Even if it meant killing everyone in the way.
: Are you saying all the people who died in the siege was because...of Iver?
: And I can only imagine it is why Bellower chased you all the way to Boersgard. I suppose there's no point in secrets anymore. After the Great War, the Valka tried to broker a peace with the dredge, and mostly succeeded.
: We searched, but never found him.
: They never said anything about it.
: And then they just happen to take Iver with them to the white tower? That is concerning. I just wish I knew their intentions.
: More than completely.
: Then you were right to let him go, and that itself gives me hope.
: How did you discover this light spell?
: Not easily. Things went...bad, at Manaharr, and I was the only one left in the aftermath. I spent days trying anything I could think of against the darkness. I nearly gave up, but...what Juno and Eyvind must have done! Nobody thought it was possible.
: When you become a Valka, are you all forced to take an oath to be as vague and mysterious as possible?
: I'm sorry. It would be hard to believe if I told you.
: Try me.
: I believe they have pulled down and shattered the black sun that resides inside the earth.
: OK. I can see your earlier point. So what's your plan now?
: To keep this light lit as long as I can. In the early days, the Valka had nearly godlike powers. They spent generations obsessed with immortality. IT has become diluted over time, of course. Did you know that the Valka raised the black rock plateau we're standing on, pulled straight out of the earth?
: Me, though? I've learned a few tricks but all I can do now is share the same blind hope that if we just hold out...well. Maybe this will be of more use to you than me.
The Valka retreives an item from the folds of her cloak and hands it to you.
: Not long now. Make the most of your time.
: I'll let you focus, then.
: I only wish I could have done more.
We're reaching "Gandalf telling Pippin that there was never any hope, only a fool's hope, and talking about how the afterlife isn't so bad" levels of grim. The Clasp of Kyn, by the way, is a great item but we don't need it in this party. Would've been nice to have it in the Iver caravan, but
Also, worth noting that the dredge attacks were possibly just motivated by revenge lust on the part of Bellower and Ruin. It's fair to wonder if Iver--even as he regretted killing the dredge child and Raze--could have saved more lives had he consigned himself to death rather than gone into hiding. Or if Bersi hadn't chosen to respect his choice and ratted him out.
Scathach halts whatever conversations he and Ubin were having.
: Something like that.
: The eye of the storm, as the poets say. You start predicting the weather when you've been around long enough. Or maybe you just talk about it more.
The old varl stops scratching notes to talk.
: I've been curious for more detail about Dalalond, the horseborn homeland.
: Why don't you ask them yourself?
Ubin says a few words to Scathach, who nods. Ubin translates the best he can.
: I am a trader. I've traveled more than most and never seen the ends of our lands. Maybe they are endless. Men have said it is empty, but they are wrong. They only think it is empty because they move too slowly. When the sun stops, we celebrate. It is a blessing. It is warmth and freedom. But then the shattering split our land into pieces. Now each piece is small and empty.
: Maybe they are still running across the Dalalond. I like to imagine this. Your city is heavy and cold, and made for men to walk slowly in circles but go nowhere. I will be glad to see the sun again.
He looks a little wistful, and nods his head to say he's done.
: Ever seen anything like this before in your many years?
: Well, the fall of Skrymirstead was something to behold, half a city sinking into the Silverstone. And Grofheim was even bigger. But something like this? No. No it was not. Funny how our memories measure worth, isn't it? I remember my companion Gunnulf telling me I look like an eggplant better than I recall a city sinking beneath the waves. That's why I like to write these things down.
Scathach says something in his own tongue and Ubin laughs
: He says I don't look like an eggplant.
: What have you been writing in your book?
: Stories, mostly. But not like the menders and skalds, no. The menders write about what's in the past, and the skalds stretch fantasies about what happened. The historical writings are mostly useless if you ask me. Even a perfect record is only as good as the man reading it, and most of us aren't that good.
: You mean we remember things the way that suits us best.
: You can spin a dozen different morals from the same yarn. Indeed, we're all a bunch of liars at heart. I write stories about people. When someone reveals their own hopes and fears? That's the truth of things, even if it's a lie. Understand? One of the reasons I learned to talk to people, like the horseborn. I'd like to speak with the dredge, too, one day. If they'll have me.
: I'll leave you to your work.
: No worries. If you want to talk I'm glad for the company.
: Out of curiosity, what are you planning to do with your writings if the darkness overtakes us?
: Leave it for someone else to find...
Ubin's smile suddenly falls from his face as he realizes it'll become warped.
: Would you believe I hadn't thought of that? Maybe a horseborn could...no. Not without a mender. Maybe we could spare a mender to...
: We'll have to live. There's no way around it now.
: How are you? Are you holding up? I see you going around, making sure everyone else is alright.
: Don't worry, Gil. I'm doing alright.
: I never was worried, you know. Even back in Skogr I always thought we'd be ok.
: So many people didn't make...ah.
: Just keep being yourself, Gil.
: Yeah...alright. I assume you mean just keeping my spirits up? I can do that. If I had...
Egil hesitates, sweat hanging on his brow.
: What is it, Gil?
: I'm sorry about what happened to your father. I told him, when this all started, that I would...I'd do anything to protect you. But I didn't protect him and that's the worst thing. The worst I could have done.
: Gil, it wasn't your job to protect him.
: I know. I know that. But I never had a chance to tell you. And well...this seems like the last chance I might get. Gods, I'm such a...that's not what I wanted to say, Alette. What I'm trying to say is...you know how I feel about you.
: I care about you, too.
: You did? Do?
: I mean, I haven't had time to really consider...
: Oh. Right. I shouldn't have said anything.
Gods, Egil. It's like pulling teeth with you. Does Alette really have to do all the work here?
: You're sweet.
Egil's face goes bright red.
: Get to know, er...
: Talk, Gil. We should spend more time together.
: That's what I meant too!
: That sounds good.
Egil waves, as he stumbles back into the Great Hall. You smile to yourself.
Let's check out the tower.
Trying to be egalitarian is going to get someone killed. The people able to fight should fight. The rest need to stay back. It's why Petrus and Ubin are done fighting.
Had we tried to keep everyone fighting, we'd have gotten some more time, but Hogun would have died of exhaustion. You can only push a man so far.
However, after doing all those events, it opens up this "Basement" option.
Well. That's why we hadn't heard from the warped--they really can cross the black wall, but they can go under it.
We'll save the supplies--they're too valuable to use as weapons.
: Leave the mead alone! And send some real help if you're going to be useless. Quickly!
More warped drag themselves up into the basement. An eternity later, backup comes clomping down the stairs.
: What took so long?
: It's not just here! They're coming up all over the plateau!
: Then we send them back into the dirt quickly!
We get Tryggvi as a bonus unit in this fight. He's drunk off his ass, mind you.
His being drunk means he can barely move, though he does gain 1 strength resist. All told, not bad, I guess.
No major issues. Yrsa takes out the last attacker of the wave with time to spare.
We'll face the second wave here. No worries.
If we hadn't killed Eyeless with Bolverk at the end of Banner Saga 2, she'd show up here. Warped and dangerous as hell. But she's dead, so instead we just get a generic warped stonesinger.
Nothing major to report. Ludin has really come into his own nicely, though. He works pretty darn well if you can come up with a way to keep pressure off of him.
Let's take out a 3rd wave and get even more time. We drop Egil for Canary; he's too beat up to continue.
Ah...whoops. Should have moved everyone further back. The warped scourge gets first turn and one-shots Alette.
Alette was already injured, though, and my DPS is coming from Hakon along with DOT effects from Ludin, Yrsa, and Canary. It's fine.
Another crummy item we don't need.
You're suddenly glad you saved the mead, because you could use a drink right now. Someone is telling Zefr that only half the menders have survived.
Crap. That's going to hasten our demise.
Rather than try to hold the outer wall, we'll pull back into the great hall. There, we'll cram the remaining few hundreds of thousands into the building and pray Iver comes through. Because if the great hall is breached, we're doomed.
5 days left. Go swiftly, Iver.