The Let's Play Archive


by TheGreatEvilKing

Part 5: Cleopatra Jones and the Quest for More Party Members

Cleopatra Jones and the Quest for More Party Members

Last time on Tyranny we met the Archons and learned that we were kind of fucked. Unfortunately the game won't let us, say, figure out that Nerat is screwing Ashe and warn him. We've got two assignments: report to the river of obvious traps, or go down to the Chorus camp and help them out.

If you're playing along, trust me, you want to go to the Scarlet Chorus camp. We'll get there, but right now Verse has some things to say to us.

: Do what?

: Well, I've done it before.

: [Conquest] That was me, all right.

There's been a running theme in this LP about how any of Kyros' servants who prove themselves too capable are a threat to Kyros. Keep this in mind.

We've impressed a Scarlet Fury - Verse isn't just some peon, she has her own command in the Chorus, is an elite fighter, and reports directly to Nerat. Now, she is assigned to spy on us so perhaps we shouldn't take it at face value, but...

: If you say so. I have some questions about you.

: If you insist. I'm a Scarlet Fury. That should raise some flags for you. It means that I'm good at killing, and - more importantly... that I enjoy it.

: What I won't enjoy are the pleasures of funerary rites packed with weeping mourners. Some day I'll fall in battle, and then they'll roll me into a mass grave or heap me atop a shit-stained wagon. One more anonymous, knife-riddled piece of meat.

: Tell me about your life before the Chorus.

: Life - what life? As far as I'm concerned, I didn't exist before the Chorus. There was some girl in a farm wearing my face and talking with my voice, but she wasn't me.

Cruelty to animals is one of the defining traits of a psychopath.

: What of your parents?

: My mother ran a successful farm and I worked it for a number of years before I found the Chorus. She was a hard, bitter woman. Acted like the world owed her something.

: She never talked about my father, though I figured out a thing or two about him later on. He was a merchant from the Northern Empire who took a liking to her, and she him. He stayed around only long enough to get what he wanted.

Oh, a psychopath with daddy issues. Great.

: Do you ever wish you could do things over, and end up somewhere other than Kyros' army?

: That's as naive a question as I've ever heard. Kyros is everywhere. If you aren't in the Overlord's army, you're being trampled by it.

: Of course, I could have labored on the family farm into my maturing years, married some dolt and littered him a nursery of squealing piglets. Having my body torn to pieces by smaller versions of me sounds like fun.

Verse honestly comes off as nothing more than an angsty psychopathic teenager given license. We'll come back to this.

: You're a killer - better to stick with the Chorus.

People in the thread have been arguing the Chorus is a Khorne knockoff but I'd argue they're more Slaaneshi. More on this later.

: How did you get conscripted?

: How did I... I think you have the wrong idea about me. The Chorus didn't take me as a sobbing maid. I strode into their camp and enlisted. Someone tossed me a dented blade, I lived through initiation, spent a week butchering my neighbors, and moved on with my new kin.

: What is the significance of your feathers?

Aww, she likes us!

: My mother kept a messenger bird, Widderbeak. He was an angry old bastard - spoiled from living the high life. Squawked in my window every. Single. Night. Pecked my fingers while I feed him only the fattest, juiciest mice.

I'm coming back to this, the bird is important.

: Farewell.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: How did you do that? You just cast one of Kyros' edicts like it was nothing!

: I've done it before.

: Yeah! You helped Kyros destroy the Vellum Citadel with a volcano! That ruled! I'm gonna glue my lips to your ass! Seriously, though, not too many people could do that.

: So, tell me about yourself.

: I'm a Scarlet Fury, so I like to kill people and I'm really good at it! Kind of a red flag, there.

: What did you do before joining the Scarlet Chorus?

: Well I never self-actualized until joining the Chorus. There used to be some girl on a farm with my name. She used to love mutilating animals, ha ha! Then the Chorus showed up and gave me permission to murder my neighbors if I joined so I joined up to kill people! Boy, I sure love killing!

: Tell me about your parents.

: Well, my mom was a TOTAL BITCH who ran a farm I used to work on. My dad was a deadbeat merchant from the North who hit it and quit it, but I bet he sucked because my bitch mom had no taste. I don't have daddy issues at all!

: Do you ever wish you could redo your life and not join the army?

: Ha ha, no! I get to be the boot instead of the face! I could have gotten married, but I have the mental age of a teenager! Ew! I would have just murdered my husband.

: Yeah, stick with the Chorus. How'd you get conscripted?

: I don't think you get it. I volunteered so I could murder everyone I hated. Fuck em!

: So what's with the feathers?

: So my mom had a messenger bird. I had to take care of him. He hated me for reasons I'm sure had NOTHING to do with my stated love of mutilating animals. So when I joined the Chorus I killed his ass! Tee hee!

: Um, let's get going.

As Verse directly tells you, this conversation should set off a lot of red flags. The first is that people surviving casting Edicts is not that common, especially two Edicts. As we've covered with our kind of capable subordinate is a threat to Kyros. Verse wants to tag along with us so she can get more power by association. Keep this in mind.

The more pressing part of the conversation is Verse, her love of killing, and her love of torturing animals. This is a pretty obvious red flag and Verse even calls this out. However, all of our party members are representative of a faction in the Tiers, and Verse is obviously the Scarlet Chorus. She's got obvious parental issues and is probably a psychopath. Put that aside for now and let's take a look at the sad tale of Widderbeak the bird. Widderbeak is a messenger bird, and birds are extremely intelligent animals. It's highly likely that he reacted the way he did to Verse because of her love of mutilating animals, and Verse doesn't put two and two together because she's immature and selfish. However, this little incident is highly symbolic of the relationship between the Chorus and the Tiers. Widderbeak is described as an "angry old bastard" who is "living the high life" while Verse labors. Once empowered by the Scarlet Chorus, Verse kills him. This is the great appeal of the Scarlet Chorus to the common man - you get to take revenge on anyone more well-off than you or whom you think has wronged you, and be "free" to do whatever you want. Of course, because the Scarlet Chorus recruits are angry teenagers/young adults with a teenage mentality, they are easily sated by settling petty grudges instead of questioning the established order. Widderbeak is not a noble oppressor who does nothing, he's a hard-working messenger bird who presumably flies around with orders for new livestock to replace all the animals Verse tortured. He does not have a quarrel with Verse because he's an asshole, he is probably mobbing Verse because he's terrified of her torturous tendencies. Much like Verse leaves a trail of dead birds and neighbors in her wake, ruining the community behind her, the Chorus leaves a trail of destruction behind it making it hilariously unsuited for use as an occupation force.

The ultimate irony is that the Chorus's "freedom" makes them easier to control. Verse herself says this when she points out how useless most of the recruits are and yet is hilariously self-unaware that Nerat is keeping her away from his throat by letting her off the leash. The Chorus is constantly pit against itself (promotions come by killing your superior officer) for the purpose of keeping them barely in check. I'll talk more about the Chorus later, for now we have a new party member to meet!

Hello, marshal!

: It was mentioned you're short on warriors and need help. What's the situation?

By Kyros! You're sending three whole brigades to Trap River? Are you insane?

: This is the second major attack on the river, correct? What happened last time?

: Defeat in detail. We carved a bloody path up the river, but at that point, everyone who charged ahead was lost. We had no Chorus backup - it was just a few Disfavored squads. I can't tell you exactly how they were defeated, but we lost the whole assault team.

: She shakes her head, letting out a long, pained sigh We found bodies washing up the river for days. It's not often the Tiersmen put up such a good fight - it's certainly made us reevaluate the number we'll need to take this valley.

: We can pass out blame after the war. Only the oathbreakers matter now.

: I will assist.

Obligatory bitching about how she's holding her gauntlet in the portrait but we get a redundant description. Unfortunately, we can't warn her about Trap River.

Yes, Barik is our new party member! He's literally a sack of shit fused into iron armor. Do I need to explain the symbolism for this one?

I'll hold off on the Barik analysis until a few scenes occur.

: An honor.

Barik is much more loyal to the Disfavored than Verse is to the Chorus.

: I know him as well as I knew anyone during the Conquest.

: That can change. When the Tiers are fully under our command, I'll take you to whatever passes for a watering hole in this forsaken country. We'll drink the local swill to honor the fallen.

I like how Erenyos straight up says that the internal politics are more important than our help on the mission. Can you guess who is going to be doing 99% of the work?

: [Disfavored Favor 1] Better to work with the honorable Binder than some Chorus children. He nods to you, his armor creaking as he bends his neck

: I ask that Barik accompany you there to arbitrate the cooperation between his company and the Scarlet Chorus.

: Barik regards the Iron Marshal in oppressive silence

: I'm honored to have a member of the iron legion at my side.

We'll talk about Favor/Wrath and Loyalty/Fear in a future update.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Hey! You! Stop swordfighting shitty! Oh, hi, Fatebinder! Just training some troops here.

: You needed help?

: We're throwing three brigades at that river Nerat told us not to worry about. We need help, are you in?

: Wasn't there a previous attack? What happened?

: Oh, we got completely owned and lost a ton of troops. It's those dang Scarlet Chorus assholes, they didn't give us intel.

: No u.

: Can we please assign blame after we've dealt with the Edict?

: Yep!

: I guess I'm in.

: Yay! Usually we don't work with non-Disfavored, because they suck, but Tunon's Fatebinders are generally competent, so we'll make an exception. Antio will be attacking Echocall Crossing, and I'm assigning you Barik as your party member. He has a backstory where Kyros' Edict of Storms fused his armor to his flesh and now it can't come off.

: Please don't let her notice that I smell like shit please don't let her notice that I smell like shit I will protect you, Fatebinder!

: An honor.

: Likewise.

: Is that Barik? Do you guys know each other?

: A bit.

: When this is all over, we'll go get drunk to honor the fallen!

: Fuck the fallen, let's get hookers instead!

: I'm so glad the Fatebinder is here so she can tell Daddy Tunon about those mean Scarlet Chorus poopyheads! Oh, and the mission too I guess.

: Fatebinder rules! Chorus drools!

: Barik, join her party. You don't have anything better to do. Don't look at me like that! That's an order!

: It would be my honor.

: Yaaaaaaay!

Just as Verse represents the Chorus, Barik represents the Disfavored. We can't say too much about him yet, but you can see the vaunted Disfavored elite discipline in action as Barik sullenly stares at his commanding officer like a small child him a very important assignment the future of the legion depends on. We also have the obvious symbolism of Kyros encasing him in armor permanently and his transformation from a man into a walking pile of piss and shit. It's not subtle, putting on the Disfavored armor in the service of Kyros makes you a worse person.

More later as we adventure with Barik!

Aw, shit.

I'll spoil it right now: Eb's voice is the narrator from the opening when the propaganda art shows the insurrection against Kyros. Eb is also the mage Nerat warned everyone ineffectually about.

The flag of truce is one of the few clear laws of Kyros and we are sure as hell not risking capital punishment for this.

: Did the Voices of Nerat send you to gather my head and complete his collection? If so, we'll have to save our tussle for another time - today I have business, vengeance can wait.

Remember in conquest when we turned the Tidecasters over to Nerat? Those were all Eb's colleagues. She's kind of upset about that.

: You may have consigned my School to a fate worse than death, but you have done well by the Vendrien Guard - many of them are alive today thanks to the truce you forged years back. They seem to think you have a trace of nobility in you... here's hoping they are right.

: In accordance with ancient customs north and south, I abide by this truce.

This sounds really appealing, but remember everyone in this game has an agenda.

They have some Scarlet Chorus prisoners and Barik gets pissy if you try to negotiate for them. Tarkis Demos is the man we told the disfavored to execute and they impaled.

: Tarkis Demos is dead.

Yes, Eb is a future party member, I don't even consider that a spoiler.

This was the guy we promised safe passage to only for the Disfavored to murder him while screaming racist shit.

: Pelox Tyrel is dead.

: She nods slowly, saying nothing for a long moment

: My apologies, Fatebinder. I had a terrible feeling this errand was in vain from the start.

: [Bow deeply] Sorry you did not find what you were seeking.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Stop right there, Fatebinder! First, fuck you for turning all my water magic friends over to Nerat. Second, I've got a white flag right here.

: Under the law of Kyros, it's death to violate the white flag.. All right, truce. What do you want?

: Well, I hate you, but my allies all remember you as the peacemaker. We'd like to do a prisoner exchange - we have some trash Scarlet Chorus guys for those two captains for the prologue.

: Unfortunately, they are both dead.

: Thank you for your honesty. I appreciate it.

: I am sorry you did not find what you saught.

: Thank you for your time. Let us part ways in peace.

Alright, there's a lot going on there. On the surface it's just a meeting for a prisoner exchange, but like Inception, we have to go deeper.

First it's pretty clear that Eb had no intention of actually getting those two men back. The entire purpose of the Scarlet Chorus is to collect angry peasants and throw them at the enemy for a win-win. You either get rid of angry potentially dissident peasants, or they kill the enemy and are bound to you by shared atrocities. Nerat actually doing anything to get the prisoners back is laughable and not happening. No, this was an intelligence gathering operation - Eb wanted to size us up so she'd know who she was dealing with. We're new but we have a reputation for fair dealing, and perhaps that could help the rebels.

The second thing is that this should make clear that someone in the Disfavored war camp is working with the rebels. We told no one where we were going, and we were told to report to Echocall crossing for the operation or the Scarlet Chorus camp. Somehow Eb was able to intercept us on the way to the Scarlet Chorus camp despite Cleo not breathing a word about where she was headed. The Disfavored have three brigades massing along three different river crossings, as the Iron Marshal just told us. Now, Eb IS a water mage, so maybe she had some magic to cross the river away from the Disfavored. Fine. They still have to find us in the wilderness between both camps of Kyros' army. Remember, we immediately went to the Disfavored camp, which had two archons and an entire legion of soldiers, some of whom are probably patrolling the Wilderness. Nerat is a mind reader with nebulous power over "secrets". Are we to believe that Eb and her men just kind of hung around outside this camp, avoiding two Archons, the Iron Marshal, the Scarlet Chorus mind mages, and Disfavored and Chorus patrols for hours before we came out, or is it more plausible they were tipped off? The rebels don't have Archons like we do.

And on an unrelated note, just where is that missing iron?

Lastly, I want to point out that the rebels are inquiring about the noble captains (who we know are noble because they can understand written orders) but have little care for the common Vendrien Guardsman. It's a little thing, but it ties back into why people are, at least initially, signing on with the Scarlet Chorus.

Oh. Shit. We better take this.

This is Tunon telling us to be careful and that we're working with one of the two future rulers of the Tiers. For this run we're going to curry favor with Tunon, because we're a diplomat and Tunon is our most effective shield against Ashe and Nerat's collective bullshit.

This is thanking Tunon for the advice. God, it's so sycophantic, isn't it? Welcome to the wonderful world of currying favor with the powerful. Tunon could have us killed for any reason whatsoever, and we need him or the Archons will destroy us.

We choose to investigate.

These innocent fishing kids will also be fried by the Edict. We can threaten them, but I choose to speak.

We're going to tell a story. Yes, we are probably within our rights to kill that kid for contempt of Tunon's Court or whatever, but why?

Hell yeah, free food and the Vendrien Guard respect us more. Pox, incidentally, is another Archon who doesn't appear in this game.

You get this little buff on the entire team for being under the Edict of Execution. Snazzy!

: I am Cleopatra Jones, Fatebinder of Tunon. I am here to help vanquish the oathbreakers.

:2bong:: You know... I think I was told to expect somebody but... you seem too ugly to be her." Her lips crumple into a smirk. "Why exactly should I let you in?"

: [Athletics 30] [Step in close, push her down]

So yes, beating the shit out of a Scarlet Chorus guard gets us favor with the Chorus.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

:2bong:: Who the hell are you?

: I'm the Fatebinder, I'm here to defeat the rebels.

:2bong:: Oh yea? You're ugly! Also, you have literally the shittiest Disfavored I've ever seen!

: Ka-pow!

:hist101:: Ha ha! That ruled! I can't believe you were stupid enough to sass the Fatebinder! Come on in Fatebinder, and don't take any crap from these morons!

What's this? It's just the Illusion Core Sigil. It's just lying out in the open for free! Thanks, Scarlet Chorus!

There's a nonzero chance it's a deliberate bribe, but who turns down free Sigils?

We can create this spell which makes us harder to hit. I teach it to Barik and Verse as they are going to be in melee.

This spell knocks people prone. This is one of those videogames where prone is basically a stun, so we put that on Cleopatra. It also deals unresistable damage. Score!

I literally just compared the Scarlet Chorus to a bunch of teenagers, and here the text directly compares FIfth Eye to a teenager.

He's kind of mad at us we sent the trash mob army in to die.

: Not here to follow your every order, but we all need to work together to stop this Edict.

: But of course, you are Tunon's concubine, not mine. I envy your long leash and hope you will grace us with your prowess - if only to set an example for the rabble.

: [Remain silent.]

: I will speak with the prisoner.

: I will meet you there. She is waiting by the other prisoners.

We have to wait for the Fifth Eye to walk over.

I'm really not sure why the game describes it as makeshift armor when all the Vendrien Guard armor we've seen is heavy bronze hoplite attire.

: This one, he flippantly waves at the prisoner, was hollering earlier that she knows the location of the Vendrien Guard encampment - but she isn't being entirely honest...

We know which one you're talking about, you don't need the narration, game.

: You claim you would disavow your people for the Scarlet Chorus... why the change of heart?

: Why should I trust the words of an oathbreaker?

: Tell me what you know and I can see to your release.

: [Subterfuge 30] You're lying. Why don't you tell me what you actually know and I'll see about saving you.

Now, this is an interesting moment of characterization. Despite the Chorus appearing as an undisciplined rabble, Chorus commanders can actually read. It's a subtle clue that Nerat and the Chorus command is much more elitist than they let on.

Unfortunately they can't code break. Fun fact, Julius Caesar actually invented a cipher so his communications couldn't be read if intercepted. This idea does not seem to have occurred to the Fifth Eye.

: I heard her say she'd swear fealty to the Voices of Nerat. An initiation rite would be in order.

Decisions Lie Before Us!

In the true spirit of the Scarlet Chorus, I'm making goons complicit in Cleopatra's crimes. What shall we have the Fifth Eye do with Variah Kel?

Remember Kyros' law applies!