Part 10: Cleopatra Jones and the Choice of AssholesCleopatra Jones and the Choice of Assholes
When we last left the lovely Cleopatra Jones, she was deciding the fate of the Vendrien Guard commander Pelox Florian. He offered to turn himself over if we let his men go.
: Surrender, and the rest of your crew may leave.
This is a subtle warning by the game. I'll get to it in a second.
: Nothing personal, but I can't come back empty-handed. That said, I only need you - the rest are free to go.
: None will forget your sacrifice. The brothers lock arms, and press their foreheads together. Worry not, I'll take up the rudder.
Thus our takedown of Florian does nothing at all to hinder the rebels in the short term, but screws them over in the long run.
Our status with the Vendrien Guard literally doesn't matter anymore. We are told to report to Fake Limp, and...
: More on the way... his words roll out between labored breaths, patrol from this morning... coming back.
: If you can tackle the incoming patrol, me and the gang will see florian is brought to camp. The warrior salutes you with a wicked smile Oh, and I'm to tell you to report to the Disfavored camp. The two Archons are gathering for another meeting and demand your presence. With any luck, maybe our fearless leaders are finally ready to deal with these oathbreakers once and for all.
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: The Peacebinder from the war? Well, I'm still gonna fight my way out of this!
: I'd like to talk. You should know my name and I'm just trying to save lives. Please, surrender.
: Listen to her, bro! She's never done us wrong!
: All right.
: If you surrender, I will let the rest of your men go free.
: I'd rather get fucked up the ass by a stone penis than surrender to Nerat!
: You should accept, brother! It's no different from standing in front of an enemy army to buy time to escape, and I know you'd do that!
: I accept, but just an FYI you can't do the rebel path any more.
: Come along.
: Hey! You got the prisoner! Well, we got owned by the Vendrien Guard!
: The second patrol should be returning...now
: Anyway, we're taking the prisoner and running off into the sunset leaving you to deal with the Vendrien Guard patrol before we get owned, kthxbye!
Is anyone surprised that the Scarlet Chorus left us in yet another damn ambush?
The patrol doesn't last very long against our magic. We butcher everyone and loot the map.
Anyway, I mentioned a rebel path in the dialog summary. If you let everyone go here, and let Sybil and the gang go as well, you get a message from the Vendrien Guard commander asking you to go to a meeting and we get a new spot on the world map to go to. The rebels have a plan to swear allegiance to you and then claim the tower in the name of Kyros, telling both the Disfavored and Scarlet Chorus to go fuck themselves and ending the edict. Maybe we'll see that on another runthrough if people are interested.
This, of course, shows us the truth of the rebels - they're not fighting for equality, they're fighting to bring back the old status quo where the nobles were on top and the peasants were down instead of the Kyrosian status quo of Kyros, then the Archons, then everyone else. The tipping point between a recruitment attempt and the message we're about to receive is literally two nobles. The 10 infantrymen we killed have no effect on whether or not the Vendrien Guard like us, and all of the wrath we gain from killing Vendrien Guard troops is reset to zero as soon as we sign onto team rebel. It's the Bronze Age, life sucks and technology is bad.
Anyway, off we go. Let's go to another war meeting with the Archons. How bad could it possibly be?
These assholes are arguing.
: [Just walk away.]
I think it is fair to say Cleo has had enough meditating between all the wonderful members of this clown car.
It is signed "Tarkis Arri, Captain of the Vendrien Guard, Patriot of Apex". As much as I rag on the rebel nobles, they certainly have demonstrated a willingness to take care of their followers even as they stand above them, something which we have seen from none of Kyros' forces save maybe Graven Ashe.
One more thing before we go to the awful meeting.
The thread wanted me to show this off.
It is important to note that despite Ashe sacrificing his own son for the glory of Kyros, Kyros still mistrusts him enough to put him under the Edict of Execution. Once again, the game is commenting on the nature of evil. Evil is inherently self-destructive. Kyros has no regard for Ashe or Nerat or any of the Overlord's loyal followers except insomuch as they can bring power and glory to Kyros. Kyros does not deserve their loyalty. How many young men and women of the Northern Empire eagerly signed up with the Disfavored for the glory of their Overlord, and how many are betrayed by their leaderships' ineptitude?
We can't put this off forever.
: If there's any pattern to my strategies, it's one of relentless victory. The Tiersmen excel at deception, but falter at a fair fight. Probably explains why you surround yourself with them.
This is telling.
Sun Tzu, an actually great general posted:
All warfare is based on deception.
Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.
Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him.
This is exactly what the rebels did at the river. Graven Ashe is a "great" general who can get heavily armored troops to the battlefield, put them in formation, and throw them at the enemy. Now, he used to be a freedom fighter who fought well enough that the Archons asked Kyros to recruit him instead of kill him, and now he's an old man who sacrificed a son for Kyros and is getting outgeneraled by the sad remnants of a dead nation. Hell, actually good generals like Genghis Khan used the feigned retreat all the time. The Disfavored aren't even that disciplined, the second interaction with them has them betraying a superior officer because they were too racist to obey and they act like petty thugs towards anyone they consider inferior.
: What's your plan for dealing with the walls now? Standing pyramid?
: The Archon of Stone was punished for his actions! If you want to talk guilt by association, I would be happy to hold you accountable for the collective crimes of the Chorus.
The Archons aren't even trying to pretend like they're getting along. Remember back to when we first met them in the war tent, and the prodding and plotting was somewhat subtle? We're about to watch everything blow up in our faces.
Remember, a huge part of Ashe's reputation is that he cares about his men.
Rather than working with Nerat to have the conscripts neither of them value eat the brunt of the losses, Ashe is going to throw them at the rebel fortress head first to salve his pride and personal issues.
: The best the Chorus could accomplish would be leaving a ramp-shaped pile of corpses propped against the walls for my warriors to use. Their fortifications are not a concern. Even under-staffed, my Earthshakers could breach the masonry in short order.
Remember how the rebels had Eb and a bunch of Sages? I remember.
Nerat is that stupid kid on the playground who won't shut up about how he's totally smart because he read a thousand page book once.
: I trust them more than I'd trust your circus of rapists, sellswords, and turncoat Tiersmen!
: Archon Ashe turns his head, and, upon seeing you in the tent, relaxes his posture.
: Our operations in Echocall Crossing and Tripnettle Wilderness were successful, why aren't you two marching toward Ascension Hall?
: Now that we're all assembled, I want reports. The Scarlet Chorus was going to resolve the oathbreaker presence in the outer valley. What became of that?
: Yes... what DID become of that? We should know already, yet we do not... If we are not mistaken, the Fatebinder played a pivotal role in this operation. Fifth Eye, shed light on this baffling question.
: The oathbreaker raiders were broken, and most importantly, their captain was taken, and he has told us-"
That is Pelox Florian temporarily taking over. Despite being absorbed and supposedly subservient to Nerat, he manages to break free to call Ashe and Nerat motherless fucks.
It's also a testament to just how unstable Nerat has become playing so many roles as Kyros' spymaster, much like a person who pretended to be insane to get out of a sentence and then drove themselves actually insane.
: Ugh, suffering doesn't really capture the nuance of what we've done. Apologies, we have been savoring this one's defiance. We know much of their inner workings, their desperate allies, their foolish hopes. This is our battle to lose.
Even as Nerat tries to push Ashe over the edge they are losing control.
: Pelox Florian was a boastful leader from an influential family. His recruitment will demoralize the enemy.
: Securing the Matani was a gruesome affair. An agent of the School of Tides still lives, and the river was turned against us. Despite our losses, the day ended in success at Echocall Crossing, though victory came at great cost.
Funny, I remember Cleopatra, the Scarlet Furies, and The Quipster doing all the work.
Antio is a dumb fucking moron who is fortunate toilets haven't been invented yet so he can't drown in one.
You want to give Nerat leverage or something, goons?
: I let her go.
Nerat is officially not in control of this situation or himself. He is fucking up here, because he has a perfect opportunity to let Ashe hang himself by insulting a member of Tunon's Court, and he blows it. Big time. For the Archon of Secrets he needs to stay in the spotlight at every opportunity.
Again, it's in Kyros' best interest to promote commanders with obvious weaknesses so are easier to control. If Ashe and Nerat teamed up they might have a real shot at overthrowing Kyros, especially if they started winning enough battles that other Archons joined them. We can't have that, and Kyros staying in power is more important than Kyros' regime being able to do anything competently.
: [Remain silent]
: You conspire to rob us of our-
: The Archon of Secrets halts abruptly, his body freezes for a moment as his bronze masks[sic] rotates, a new face turning to meet you.
Remember how Nerat and Fifth Eye had the whole reasonable man act going? Nerat just shot it to shit because he's a paranoid egotist who cannot resist the compulsion to rub it in Ashe's face.
I cannot think of a single person who would not understand a father's anger when confronted by the murderer of his son.
: Explain this madness.
: So that is what became of my son Brennix? I knew the oathbreakers didn't kill him in captivity. You will pay for this... but you knew this already didn't you?
Earlier in the game posted:
It's almost like Ashe's disregard for the Tiersmen is biting him in the ass yet again! If he'd been able to bring this up earlier, he could have made a case before Tunon and had Nerat punished. Of course, Kyros has sealed Tunon out of the valley and that is going to bite us in the next two minutes.
Incidentally, there are several triggering incidents. The last time I played this game, Ashe and Nerat erupted in a quarrel about Ashe having a deal with the oathbreakers to exchange prisoners. I've never seen Nerat mimic Ashe's dead son before, this game's reactivity is amazing.
Alright. As a Fatebinder of Tunon, we enforce the law. When we speak it is with the authority of the Overlord. We don't have time for this shit.
: You will march on the Vendrien's Well Citadel together or not at all.
I'm sorry, what game did you think we were playing? This is Tyranny! Sure, we might be better off if the Blood Chanters and Earthshakers worked together to bring down the fortifications, or combining our troops for flanking maneuvers to counter the superior generalship of the rebels, but let's be real - our authority only goes as far as the Archons acknowledge it, and right now we are only useful to let these two stupid assholes one-up each other.
Note also how far Ashe has fallen, from a resistance fighter to the self-proclaimed true disciple of Kyros.
Decisions lie before us
Which of these two wonderful organizations deserve our support?