Part 4: Cleopatra Jones and the Growing Realization We Might Be Totally FuckedCleopatra Jones and the Growing Realization We Might Be Totally Fucked
Last time on Tyranny, we had to intervene when a bunch of racists pulled over a merchant. Said merchant turned out to be scavenging iron weapons off the dead to resell, which pissed off the Disfavored and forced us to render judgement according to Kyros' laws which were somewhat...unclear in this situation.
: The Disfavored will tolerate your presence, but you will pay them handsomely for such charity.
We had a thread vote and asked people to refer to the laws of Kyros, and the dirty little secret of that enterprise is that the laws of Kyros aren't so much a codified set of things to do as much as a collection of gotchas we can use to eliminate fuckups. This does mean we get some discretion to help ourselves out as long as we remember to do our best to uphold the status quo.
Sterling also went and told everyone in Lethian's Crossing how awesome we are with psychic crystals or some shit. This might come in handy later. We also saved him from being turbofucked, as the previous dialogue options indicated the Disfavored were within their rights as Kyros' warriors to just murder him and steal his cart.
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: Don't mind us Fatebinder, we're just cleaning up some trash.
: What the fuck? I can't trade? I'm not selling weapons to the rebels, what do you mean I can't just show up and trade stuff?
: The Overlord regulates all trade. Do you have a permit?
: A what now?
: A trade permit. Otherwise I get to confiscate all your stuff.
: What? This is the first I've heard of this and I've been a professional merchant for a long time. Where do I get a trade permit?
: I don't care, now fuck off. Go pester Tunon.
: As a Fatebinder, I can also adjudicate this.
: Oh look, the nos - er, you know, you can do this, but you're being a total bitch
: You could kill me now and steal all my stuff, or you could let me live and I could sell you cool things like booze and healing potions.
: Hmm....a supply caravan went missing recently....
: Wow, I would never interfere with any supply caravans headed this way.
: I never said where the caravan was going. Start talking.
: So...I may have looted the battlefield...just a little...but look, I'll give back any weapons that belong to the Disfavored, and honestly they're spread thin and need these weapons!
: You can stay, but you must pay the Disfavored. A lot of money.
: Wha - uh, yeah! A slave! I've always wanted my own slave!
: Thanks for the save. I have to grovel a little, but that's life!
We have to meet with the Archons next. I put this off because hoo boy is this going to be unpleasant for Cleo. I start clicking on the blacksmith before I realize he's not just a merchant, he has a quest for us.
There's a shipment of iron missing. Now, Tunon is responsible for all iron production as a means of keeping the legions loyal. Guess what?
Graven Ashe is covering it up! We agree to find the iron (as a member of Tunon's court, it is our job and it never hurts to curry favor with the boss) and mentally chalk it up as yet another thing that has gone terribly wrong in the land of the incompetents.
We can't really avoid this any longer. Let's go in and get this over with, shall we?
Oh, this is a great sign! It's left unclear whether or not the PC has interacted with these Archons before, but the blue man with a big mace is Graven Ashe, and the guy with the scepter and mask is the Voices of Nerat. Let's get this over with.
We can see the that from the portrait, game. More importantly, we can take away a few things. We know the avalanches were caused by Kyros trapping all these guys in the valley. Graven Ashe is too racist to consider the Tiersmen a real threat, hilariously dismissing them as "being unable to count past nine" while promoting illiterate dumbasses to lead his troops. What we didn't know is that Kyros trapped two detachments of Disfavored troops outside of the valley, hilariously screwing us over in our attempt to suppress the rebellion.
Graven Ashe has a really flangey voice like the Go'auld from Stargate.
This one requires some context. If we'd made different choices in the Conquest, we would have met Cairn, the Archon of Stone. Cairn goes on a rampage because he's had enough of Kyros' shit, and it's bad enough that Kyros sends us in with an Edict to destroy him. This leads to a hilarious choice where you can make everyone hate you by throwing both the Disfavored AND Scarlet Chorus troops to certain death to buy you enough time to read the Edict and win the fight. Anyway, the Earthshakers are the Disfavored's mage corps, and they use Cairn's stone magic to fight and help the Disfavored siege fortifications. You might be asking "do the Disfavored have any other mages?" The answer is no. Now, the Tiers are full of backup mages, but unfortunately Ashe has no faith in their math skills and thus has to leave himself wide open to this shit.
Nerat also talks telepathically with us and I'm honestly impressed by just how much use the developers get out of these little hyperlinks. It's really clever!
Now, this is good advice. We nominally have the authority to force these two to get along. In practice, our actual authority is that we are here representing Tunon. We can snitch to Daddy if things get really bad, but this might piss him off as he expects us to handle it, and he will not appreciate us wasting his time on anything he views as frivolous. In theory they can't touch us. In practice one of them could have us assassinated and blame it on the Vendrien Guard. It would be a very audacious thing to do but things are breaking down.
: [Remain silent]
: I always know you've run out of things to say when you resort to mocking my vassals. If we are to speak of treachery, why is it that my scouts see Scarlet Chorus warriors defecting back to the Vendrien Guard? Your fearsome reputation has gone flaccid, for it seems you cannot control your soldiers... or perhaps you simply choose not to.
This also has the advantage that one or both of the Archons might incriminate themselves in front of us, which is when we can call in Tunon to deal with it. No wonder this campaign is going to shit, they're both on the brink of accusing each other of being actual traitors. Did you notice how the only mention of the Tiersmen was to dismiss them and accuse Nerat of working with them? This is supposed to be a strategy meeting, and yet no one is actually discussing the capabilities or characteristics of the enemy!
You poor damned soul.
: [Cough audibly]
The poor Iron Marshal is ignored. Remember, Tunon is these guys' direct supervisor and we are here as his emissary. Nerat has acknowledged us privately because he believes he can get Ashe to incriminate himself and wants us to watch.
In other words Nerat wants us as a witness to Graven Ashe supposedly being a stubborn asshole. The irony is, of course, that all we see here are two equally stubborn assholes and Nerat fantasizing about ruling the Tiers during an ongoing insurgency that neither Archon is capable of putting down.
: [Remain silent]
There's no reason not to play along honestly, we don't have the full picture but the outline we have is quite disturbing.
: If I could trust the information I get from you and your conscripted mouth breathers, perhaps I'd order my cohorts around a bit more aggressively. But last time I trusted your 'all clear' report, my troops failed to come home.
The irony of Ashe insulting the Chorus troops after bitching about Nerat insulting his men is not lost on me.
Sirin is the Archon of Song, and she'll become important later. In the meantime, Nerat has another message for us.
: You hear the Voices in your head.
: Take care that you don't learn too much, Fatebinder. An excess of knowledge - of curiosity, even - can earn unwanted attention.
To borrow from the Dark Id, Nerat is loving this shit so much he could be a McDonald's spokesperson.
Fifth Eye for the save!
Ok, I can't type that with a straight face. Something should be bothering you about the characterization here if you've been paying attention to what the game is saying. The game has been taking great pains to portray the Disfavored as disciplined combat troops and the Scarlet Chorus as an undisciplined trash mob. Here we see Nerat manages to push Ashe and Erenyos' buttons in about five seconds while snarkily giving us the down low that we're about to see something entertaining. Now that Erenyos has finally lost it that Nerat is mocking the deaths of her troops, the Fifth Eye is able to step in and restore the gathering to something like order and tries to forward Kyros' agenda. On the first glance it might seem like the Fifth Eye is heroically stepping in and pissing off his boss to restore order.
This is a blatant lie.
This entire thing is a show orchestrated for our benefit. Remember, our lone party member explicitly admitted she was spying on us for Nerat. While we haven't let Verse out of our sight since, other members of the Chorus saw us with her and you can be damn sure some of them went to Nerat. I will bet actual money the Fifth Eye and Nerat coordinated this, either on the spot with telepathy or ahead of time, to provide the show that Ashe is working with traitorous earthshakers and is a fuckup as they deliver their accusations in a calm manner while Ashe goes off the handle.
: [Diplomat] [Bow and salute each Archon]
Of course as the youngest Fatebinder we get the shit assignments.
Everyone liked that!
As much shit as I give Graven Ashe, he does legitimately care for his men. Ashe is trying to salvage the situation here by pointing out that he appreciates teamwork unlike that total asshole Nerat.
: I require no thanks for doing my sworn duty.
We can't win. These assholes have us by the sensitive anatomical portions. Oh, and by the way we are from the North, meaning that the Disfavored aren't racist against us.
: I come bearing an Edict of Kyros.
We kind of want to stay in the Archons' good graces. You can fuck up horribly here if you choose to, and I will be doing a fuckup run after this one if there's interest.
The important thing to take away from this conversation is that both of these guys see you as someone who can tell Daddy to put the other child on time-out. We have the paper authority - but not the real power - to tell both of these guys to shut up and sit down. However, we can report to Tunon, and he can make these two shut up and sit down, so Nerat and Ashe are going to lay on the flattery to avoid the belt.
: The Overlord's loyal servants must hold Ascension Hall by Kyros' Day of Swords, or all in the valley shall perish.
If you're not proclaiming an ominous Edict with a bunch of SFX, what's the point?
: The Overlord means to compel us into action, no doubt the avalanches in the mountains are part of this ultimatum. We must conquer the oathbreakers or die in failure. There is no room for error, and no other way out of this valley alive.
...are you telling me the Disfavored's siege engineer corps are locked out of the valley where we're supposed to take a stone fortress?
Unfortunately Ashe's flash of competence doesn't work with Nerat's plan to discredit him and become King of the Tiers, so Nerat is going to try to push all his buttons to discredit him again.
A smarter manipulator would not say this shit, but Nerat's weakness is his huge ego and his assumption he can charm or coerce anyone. As much as he's trying to come off as the calm cool one confronting the angry traitor with something to hide, he comes off as a bickering asshole more concerned with cementing his future rulership instead of crushing the insurrection.
: [Subterfuge 20] They call you the Archon of Secrets, but you certainly don't seem to know anything remotely useful.
Ashe is happy we might be putting the bad man into the time-out corner.
: The Archon of Secrets turns his head to the side, until the face of his mask has turned around and a new facet of the mask presents itself as facing forward. When next the Archon speaks, the booming voice of an older man can be heard.
: "Cowards! If I were still alive, I'd freeze the blood as it runs in your veins! You may take the river, but you'll pay for it with your lives!"
: The Archon slaps a hand against his mask, rotating his mask until a new facet looks forward.
Yea, uh...we did that.
: [Conquest] I know that voice... Master Hagrivar of the School of Tides?
It keeps getting worse. Nerat is a weird amalgamation of personalities not completely in control of himself, and did you notice how despite having a master Tidecaster on tap, he was "unable" to tell us what exactly was planned for the Matani river? The one Ashe just stated he wanted to march over? Kyros just told us they were going to kill us all, and Nerat set Ashe up to fail.
: Then enough talking, there's work to be done.
: My Lord, Barik and his band have been drilled on the Echocall assault plan. The Crescent Runners should be briefing him as we speak regarding the latest enemy movements along the river. I will dispatch him at once." The Iron Marshal salutes, clapping her gauntlet to her breastplate.
: And I will ensure the Chorus stands ready to march. If the Disfavored can take the river, the Chorus has the manpower to secure the outer ring of the valley.
The important thing is that the Disfavored lose a ton of troops securing the river so Nerat can make himself look good.
: Our soldiers clamor for battle, and at last we shall have it! Verse, we command you to continue guarding the Fatebinder - Tunon's chosen is our honored guest, and must be shown our finest hospitality.
: I won't let you down, boss. She'll get through the campaign in one piece, as long as she doesn't do anything too stupid.
Nerat and the Fifth Eye leave, having deposited their spy with us for the foreseeable future and sabotaged the Disfavored's attempts to cross the river.
Graven Ashe is having a terrible, no-good, rotten bad day.
: Though the Edict threatens the Scarlet Chorus just as it threatens us, I cannot shake the feeling that our 'allies' will work against us.
They just did! They gave you information that Eb the last Tidecaster was going to do "something" at the river that was going to be "ineffective" and then happily let you march to the river! Now, this might be going over the player's conscious attention right now because that was a lot of words and most people are going to take away that Ashe and Nerat are both incompetent fuckups distracted by bickering (which is true) but Ashe is doubly fucked here. Kyros took away a pile of his troops and all of his mages. Then Nerat fucked him over by giving him bad intel, and Ashe is perturbed enough to openly question Kyros.
: You've shown your worth in war, and your name has been known to the legion since the very beginning of this long conquest. So I'd ask that you join us this one last time, and help us wrap up this last objective.
: If you wish to be counted among the glorious, speak with the Iron Marshal - she will direct the order of battle until we are ready for the final push into the Citadel.
: I would be honored to help.
Erenyos is actually trying to be professional, bless her heart.
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: Avalanches all over the mountains? Well, it can't be the Tiersmen, they're stupid morons who could never figure out how to cause an avalanche despite having multiple orders of wizards. Well, that leaves two whole cohorts of my troops trapped outside the valley.
: Or it's your earth mages. Who used to work for a traitor. Now, I don't like traitors, but maybe you do! Psst. Fatebinder. Look at this dude lol.
: Hey, be careful - we don't want to be anywhere near this fight.
: No u. You're a traitor with a very small penis!
: Excuse me, but the Fatebinder's right here, and maybe we could listen to her?
: You ALSO said we didn't need a large garrison in the valley and completely underestimated the enemy! What a fuckup! Psst! Fatebinder! Cough if you can hear me making fun of this fuckup!
: *coughs loudly*
: Aren't you supposed to be the spymaster? Why didn't your spies warn us? Either you're a fuckup or a traitor!
: Oh yea? Well I'm gonna tell Tunon and he's gonna get the belt, and I'll be king of the Tiers! Psst! Fatebinder! Watch me own this dumbass with facts and logic!
: The last time I listened to you all my men got killed! Fuck you!
: Ha ha what a pussy you care about your disposable troops. Fatebinder! Isn't he a little bitch, unlike me, a crazy man who thinks making ornaments out of dead family members is cool!
: Fuck you Nerat! I should stab you!
: Hey, it's me, reasonable man! Hello, Fatebinder! Look at me, the reasonable man from the Scarlet Chorus, unlike that crazy stabby lady from the Disfavored. I would like to hear what you have to say, because we at the Scarlet Chorus are reasonable people who listen to the will of Kyros and don't fly off the handle and threaten to stab people in the dick.
: Fuck you, dipshit!
: Please accept my polite and respectful greetings, Archons.
: Welcome! I heard you used that cool Edict to destroy all the enemies of Kyros. Do you have another one? Anyway, thank you for saving Commander Drastus! It was really great of you to value teamwork as much as I do, and unlike a certain crack loving mask wearing piece of poop whose name rhymes with "Blerat".
: No thanks is necessary.
: Perhaps not, but that teamwork was REALLY COOL!
: Are you two done jerking each other off?
: I brought an Edict from Kyros.
: Wow, you are really cool for doing that! Here, let me tell you how great you are. So what's in the Edict?
: Us loyal servants of the Overlord need to take Ascension Hall in eight days or everyone in the Valley dies. Special effects!
: The Overlord wants us to move faster, and the avalanches are part of Kyros' plan. Victory is life, and if we screw up we all die. Well, we need to cross the Matani river because we die if we wait, and unfortunately my siege troops are locked outside the valley by Kyros, so we are going to have to storm the fort. Good thing I had a plan for this.
: Oh, wow, you're acting less like a bitch! Last time you lost 13 men! Maybe if you'd waited for the Chorus that wouldn't have happened! Ha ha!
: Well, if you're some kind of spymaster, don't you have any useful information?
: Yeah! Do your damn job for once in your life.
: Fine. Personality switch!
: I WILL SLAY ALL OF YOU KYROS LOVING FUCK - er, ha ha!
: Master Hagrivar, of the School of Tides! I turned him over to you so you could learn his magic, and now he's part of you?
: Yes, he was a powerful wizard who nearly escaped the entire Scarlet Chorus. Another wizard who used to train at his school is working with the rebels, a lady named Eb. I'm sure, however, that this powerful mage can't do anything to hurt the Disfavored, so go to the river, Ashe! Do it! You'll be fine! It's just some kind of weak trick!
: Let's get to work.
: I'll prepare our plan to cross the river!
: I'll prepare our plan to be nowhere near that river!
: Verse, you keep guarding the Fatebinder! We must describe her in the most flattering terms!
: On it, boss!
: Smell ya later, Ashe you dork!
: Finally, the asshole and his puppet are gone. What was Kyros thinking to make that thing an Archon? If Tunon favors him we're all fucked.
: I can't shake the feeling he's going to fuck us over somehow, but I can't quite put my finger on it...
: Anyway, you're a skilled fighter and all the Disfavored respect you. Could I ask for your help? Erenyos has the details, as she's running things until we hit the Citadel.
: We're short on men and we would all be very grateful for any help you could give us.
: I'd be honored to help.
: Come find me when you're ready. Also, those losers at the Scarlet Chorus could probably use your help as well - look for the big garbage dump, you can't miss it!
This ends the gameplay portion of today's update, because it's fairly long but this is also a very important conversation to the narrative. Remember when we went through the tutorial section and everything was bad? Now it's worse!
-We've met the Archons and the infighting goes straight to the top. Nerat wants to leverage this campaign to have Tunon and Kyros make him lord of the Tiers, and Ashe distrusts him so much he openly questions Kyros' judgement in front of a Fatebinder.
-This entire argument is a show by Nerat to make Ashe look bad while snarking to us about how awesome he is and how stupid Ashe is, which culminates in Nerat setting up Ashe to fail the assault on the Matani River.
-Kyros has further screwed us all by sealing two cohorts of Disfavored outside the valley along with the Earthshaker mages that Ashe depends on to destroy fortress walls, and has demanded we take the fortress of Ascension Hall or die in eight days. We are thus reduced to storming the fortress with infantry against a well-equipped and motivated force fighting for their home in a fortress they know well. We took the fortress once, sure, but we didn't have time constraints and we had the Earthshakers as well as an additional Archon.
-Nerat is a master at pushing Graven Ashe's buttons and is using this to goad him into making bad decisions. He is also feeding Ashe bad intelligence to get Disfavored troops killed.
-Ashe is so undermanned he is asking us, an emissary and a diplomat, to get out on the front lines and fight.
-Despite coming off as the more honest of the two Archons, Ashe is hiding that a shipment of iron weapons was stolen even though the iron is Tunon's responsibility and is being honest with us because he wants something.
-Nerat is a crazy unstable person who, as Kyros' spymaster, has adopted so many different personalities it's hard to tell which one is real, including some outright treasonous ones, and nothing he says should in any way be trusted.
-Despite Nerat telling us there's totally not a trap at the river and having the Fifth Eye remove Chorus troops from the river assault, Ashe fails to see the trap at the river despite realizing Nerat is going to fuck him over somehow.
Next time: We're in the shit now, and somebody's got to shovel it!