Part 18: Cleopatra Jones and the Hunt For ArtifactsCleopatra Jones and the Hunt For Artifacts
Last time on Tyranny, we cleared out the Burning Library and were stuck trying to figure out the fate of the Silent Archive. The goonmind decided to just leave it for now, go find a new artifact, and swap that for the Archive.
This convenient entrance will take us back to the Archive when we get our hands on an artifact.
Somehow this jerk survived our initial assault on the Censor. We end his life.
These guys were hiding out in a corner and we also butcher them. Unfortunately they don't drop anything good.
There was some discussion in the thread about the map, so I wanted to show off the entire section that is just labeled with Kyros' insignia.
This is the only detour we can make, unfortunately.
Meet Welby. She might be important later.
: She salutes you. My name is Welby, First-Axe for the Bronze Brotherhood. Though, I'm not sure that title matters anymore.
: She pauses to gather her thoughts, then opens her mouth to continue. Instead, she exhales slowly and shakes her head. Never mind. You needn't be burdened with my problems.
: While I appreciate you coming to me before speaking to Raetommon, you will need to be careful - he has, of late, been acting out of sorts and any perceived slight can become a problem for the one who offends him. Choose your words with him carefully.
: How could talking to you offend Raetommon?
: Tell me about the Bronze Brotherhood.
: Welby laughs a little. We're mercenaries - plain and simple. I'm not going to pretend like it's anything more. While it's true we have, in recent years, been a little more stationary than your typical crew, it doesn't change the fact that our services can be purchased if the price is right.
Wait, mercenaries for hire? We are desperately in need of troops right now. At the very least we could pay them to stand around the Spire and prevent Nerat from trying to steal shit.
: The Voices made an offer to assure our cooperation and we took it. If I had known Kyros would try ot have us thrown out of our home afterward... Well, I probably would have still taken the rings, but I would have been a little more prepared for the inevitable conflict.
: Raetommon will try to sell you on our 'long and noble traditions', like we're some kind of altruistic saints who can do no wrong, but that story is as old and smelly as Gramma Beastman's tail hairs.
: What does it mean to be First-Axe?
: She sighs. I wish I knew, Fatebinder. The First-Axe protects and consults with the First-Brother. I am supposed to be Raetommon's advisor, confidant, and guard.
: Lately his behavior has become erratic. He's acting paranoid, manic, and distrustful.
What Welby is not mentioning here is that the Bronze Brotherhood worship the Bane. You can tell this if you go to their relationship meter.
: What do you think has happened to Raetommon?
: How would you run the Brotherhood?
: True. Acting like a child when you don't get what you want is not the behavior of a leader.
Cleopatra is having flashbacks to a certain war tent.
We end the conversation here.
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: Hi, Fatebinder! I'm Welby, second-in-command of the Bronze Brotherhood, though I'm kinda upset right now. Never mind, I just have some stuff I'm working through. Anyway, I like that you're here but you kinda pissed off my crazy boss Raetommon.
: What? Why?
: He thinks you and I are planning a coup or some shit. The man is nuts, be careful.
: Who are you guys anyway?
: We're the Bronze Brotherhood, a regiment of mercenaries. We're not saints and our services are for hire. Hell, we just got hired by Nerat and then Kyros fucked us over by evicting us from our home. Raetommon and I agree that we weren't treated fairly, but he's kind of nuts.
: You said you were second, how's that working out?
: Pretty badly! I am supposed to advise Raetommon, but he's kind of nuts right now and to be honest I'm thinking about removing him because he's gone fucking nuts and dragged us into a war against Kyros. I would not do that. I want my friends back, not some paranoid atmosphere of nuttery.
: Yea, acting like a child is bad leadership. Take care.
So, what have we learned? The Bronze Brotherhood is tearing itself apart staring into the abyss of Kyros. We'll be seeing more of them.
Do either of you have permits?
: He notices you standing nearby and turns to speak.
: Fatebinder, surely you, of all people, can help me. My name is Aster, and I must get to Lethian's Crossing. I have goods to deliver! Tell this... man I will not be paying a tool - to him, or anyone - and he is to let me through! He folds his arms over his chest and nods with a pronounced finality.
You should be getting flashbacks to the Disfavored shaking down Sterling Hagnon outside their camp. The Bronze Brotherhood under Raetommon is the classic example of a resistance movement that has become as bad as the tyrant they hate.
: If this 'gentleman' would like passage through our land, a simple donation is required.
: He holds out his hand. These funds help our cause and keep Ironhaul a safe place for all travelers! Clearly you both can see the value in that?
: Aster speaks, his arms swinging about again, emphasizing his words. And who, exactly, is keeping it safe? You, standing there, with your weapons at the ready against me? His arms drop and he turns to you again
: [Pay 50 ring toll for Aster] Here is payment for the merchant to pass unharmed.
We can't actually order the mercs to let the merchant through. Aster will turn back.
: Will makes an exaggerated flourish and moves out of Aster's way. But of course!
: He raises an enormous hammer and stops Aster, pressing it against his chest. Though, merchant... do be sure to have some rings of your own for your trip back. I doubt your friend here will be around to pay your way through these lands twice. He smiles, moves his hammer, and gestures for Aster to continue.
: While I appreciate your help dealing with that merchant, I'm afraid I can't let you pass until you have spoken with our leader, Raetommon. Personally, I thought he was crazy saying you'd be visiting Lethean's Crossing. Looks like I owe him a few rings.
: He shakes the pouch around his neck, making the rings inside jingle melodically. Not that there's a shortages of those out here!
: What can this humble servant of the Brotherhood do for you, Fatebinder? And don't ask me to let you through, because that isn't happening.
: Thanks, but I can handle this myself.
This is the kind of shit Tunon executes people for trying to pull on his Fatebinders, but here we are. Let's just talk to Raetommon and get this over with.
: Where can I find Raetommon?
: [Leave] I will speak with Raetommon.
: He laughs. I'll be counting the seconds until you return.
: But I'm sure you already know that. I couldn't help but see you over here, talking to Will and that traveling merchant. Only here for a moment and already sticking your nose where it doesn't belong, aren't you?
: I don't appreciate others invading my territory, Fatebinder.
You guys don't think you can actually take Cleo in a fight, do you?
: Watch yourself while you are a guest in my land. If you have come to stir up more trouble, we are well equipped and will not back down in the defense of what is rightfully ours! He sweeps his arm in front of him, gesturing to the surrounding countryside.
: Welby and I might not always agree, but that is one point we see eye-to-eye on. If you step out of line, we will both correct you.
: His eyes narrow and he leans toward you.. You are not welcome here.
: Tell me about the Bronze Brotherhood.
: Sounds like you're up-standing citizens.
: Tell me about Welby.
: He shoots a look to the north. I had such high hopes for her as my First-Axe. The continued success of the Brotherhood should be the single most important goal for anyone who is a member. She seems to have forgotten her place. She is not the head of this band - I am!
: I need to get to Lethian's Crossing.
: Raetommon considers your request for a moment. If I let you through, you must promise to behave. I have enough problems dealing with everyone else, I don't need to[sic] the hassle of keeping an eye on you, too
: So watch yourself. This is my city and I have eyes everywhere. If you intend to stir up trouble, go somewhere else. I don't need it here.
I suppose this is one way to save on payroll expenses.
: Who put a contract on me?
: Thanks for the warning.
: [Leave] We will speak again soon.
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: Fatebinder! Help! I'm being robbed!
: It's just a toll we're collecting to um, commit treason against Kyros and keep the roads safe.
: Safe? I have important goods the people in Lethian's Crossing need!
: I'm gonna guess you don't have the approval of an Archon or Kyros to do this... but screw it, I'll pay his toll.
: You rule, Fatebinder! People in Lethian's crossing loved that!
: You better be ready to be extorted next time, merchant! Anyway, what can I do for you, Fatebinder? Extortion is good lately. I can't let you through until you talk with my boss.
: Where is your boss?
: He's over there playing with corpses because he's fucking nuts. Don't tell him I said that, shit!
: Hello, Fatebinder. You suck! Suckity suck suck! Suck! Are you plotting with Welby to overthrow me? I'm gonna beat your ass if you don't behave.
: Tell me about the Brotherhood.
: We are a group of heroes who fight injustice!
: Sounds legit, you sound like great people.
: Yes! That is true!
: Can you tell me about Welby?
: That awful power-hungry woman! This is my band! Me!
: I need to get to Lethian's Crossing.
: You can go, but there's a big contract on your head and I'm gonna sit back and watch as my men jumped you. Maybe if you hadn't fucked everyone over like a dumbass you wouldn't have this problem.
: Thanks, bye!
So Raetommon is kind of nuts. We avoided a fight here, but rest assured, the Brotherhood is going to find some annoying way to mess us up. Onwards to the Crossing!
Unfortunately to carry out the will of the goonmind, we do need to come here.
: [Athletics 43] (Intimidate/Attack) I suggest you go - now - before this gets ugly.
Raetommon is completely full of shit. If the guards wanted us for a bounty offered by Nerat or somebody they would not offer us the option to leave - they'd attack on sight. I'm not sure what the hell he's playing at.
We now have a new quest - eliminate the entirety of the Brotherhood's garrison here.
The guards are obliging enough to wait outside aggro range while we drop every buff we have.
The Bronze Brotherhood really don't have a lot of tricks like the Vendrien Guard's endless teleporting assholes.
They're quite flammable.
I take the opportunity to show off one of Eb's combo skills.
It's very silly.
We can use Athletics on the bridge to force it down and get to the last Brotherhood soldiers.
This won't end well for them.
We have enough nasty magic that we can just keep these guys from acting ever and blow them all up.
We have now single-handedly removed the Bronze Brotherhood presence from Lethian's Crossing. A pity, we really could have used some mercenaries.
We get this message and the screen fades to black. Now we can run around and hit up all the merchants and whatnot.
Lantry continues his mad quest to get all of the Lore.
The merchants don't have any artifacts. You can get the Fire, Frost, and Lightning sigils if you missed them, and we pick up a few sigils from Harichand Bronze (the sigil of bleeding and the sigil of rooting, which let you upgrade certain spells to inflict bleed or root respectively) but nothing major. We also dump all our excess inventory because we are going to need a lot of cash very soon.
Hello, Sirin. What are you doing here?
Kid, you can't go around mind controlling randos.
: Well, look who's here - and what brings you to Lethian's Crossing? I can't imagine it's the scenery or the quaint locals. Have you come to spoil my fun? She frowns a little, momentarily lost in thought.
: Tunon probably insisted you find me, didn't he? Because we can't let Sirin have any fun, can we? Let's control her. Let's tell her what she can and can't do. Let's use her to destroy nations! As she speaks, the crowd around her appears agitated and the air in the room grows heavy and warm. Suddenly, she smiles.
: You shouldn't be doing this, Sirin. These people don't truly love you. You're manipulating them.
Kids these days.
: Besides, who doesn't love having a legion of adoring lackeys? She smiles and the tightness releases your mind. The heads turn again to face Sirin, adoration shining in their eyes.
: You can keep your followers for all I care. Just don't let it get out of hand.
: [Add Sirin to your party] Okay, Sirin, you may join me. You need someone watching you.
This is your obligatory reminder that Sirin is fifteen.
: Well, then let's go. If you're going to teach me the wonders of the world, it's not going to happen here...
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: Oh, look, the Fatebinder. Have you come to spoil my fun too? Tunon sent you, didn't he? Let's fuck over Sirin again! We can even turn her into a weapon! Oh well. What do you think of my new not-a-cult?
: You can't just run around manipulating people. That's very rude.
: You're not my REAL mom! Are you going to take them away?
: I...you know what, do whatever, just don't get out of hand.
: Damn, not you too! I have the stupid helmet of censorship on! I can't actually unmake the empire or anything!
: But...I'd be willing to let these people go if I can join your party?
Let's boot Eb for now. Don't worry, I plan to have a vote for the party in the next segment.
Anyway, Sirin. We've talked a bit about her, in that she's kind of representative of how Kyros tramples art. Her complaints about her constantly being asked to release her followers are somewhat symbolic of Kyros and Nerat systematically (but not always successfully) removing any emotional sentiment from her performances to avoid people rising up.
Sirin is kind of like a D&D bard or a chanter from Pillars of Eternity. If you leave her alone she'll passively sing the song of your choice which will grant buffs to the part and debuffs to your enemies. If she gets through enough stanzas you can have her use an active ability that will do things like confuse or stun people.
Of course, Sirin being rather resentful of Kyros and the rest of those assholes, she knows a few songs that the Kyrosian establishment does not approve of. One of the other ones we can have her sing is literally the Vendrien Guard marching song.
The other thing her talent tree slightly hints at is that Sirin is mage #4. She can in fact do magic while handing out tons of passive bonuses. Her lore is low right now but as soon as we can get her to a lore trainer we can fix that. It won't be for a while, but we can still load her up with stuns and whatnot. Shit, Barik is a better mage right now, and he's...not exactly the smartest.
Anyway, the other thing you should be taking away from Sirin? Even the Archons have it bad under Kyros. This is going to be more evident when we discuss her tragic life, but she took the flimsiest excuse to ditch Nerat and is literally acting out for attention right now. We've seen three of these master-servant Archon relationships - Ashe and Cairn, Nerat and Sirin, and Tunon and Bleden Mark - and every time the servant absolutely hates their service and tries to get out of it. Cairn rebelled and forced Kyros to deploy an Edict to put him down, Bleden Mark is working with us to break the laws, and Sirin is desperately trying to get away from Nerat because he's a crazy monster man. Being an Archon just gives you shiny gold chains instead of lead ones.
This is Eldian. He can give us a history lesson. He's not happy we took out the Brotherhood, but he's not exactly displeased we're taking Sirin away.
He tells us the Forge-bound are here because there's iron in the hills and the town needs to be vigilant against the Bane but it's mostly fine if no one goes in the Oldwalls.
This is one of two reasons why we're here. We want to get Lohara to "examine" Barik's armor in a totally legal way, and we want to claim the Spire that's in this town.
: Noted. She clears her throat and wipes her blackened hands on the canvas of her smock.
: I am Lohara, Master of Tempering and Forgemaster of Lethian's Crossing. My tasks exceed the hours left in the day, but there is no harm in pausing my work if it means speaking with the Fatebinder.
: Why did you want to know if I kill with my right hand or left hand?
: Can you make something for me?
Come on, free artifact, come on...
Sigh. We tried.
: [Subterfuge 40] I did not realize the request was so thoughtless, my apologies.
: Forget I asked.
: I'd like to talk to you about Barik.
: I hoped you would examine Barik.
The mage options let us try to invoke Magician's Folly.
: [Diplomat] I have the utmost respect for the work of your guild and would do nothing to jeopardize its standing with the Overlord. Yet you must admit Barik's armor a magical marvel[sic]. Surely an examination wouldn't run afoul of the law.
: You forge words like a courtier, and I have little doubt that you would twist any argument to your advantage were we pressed to answer for a crime...
: Allow me to state this in no uncertain terms, Fatebinder. The Forge-bound swore our allegiance to Tunon the Adjudicator, Archon of Justice. We do not easily forget that oath, nor do we rush to circumvent it. Our fastidiousness is not limited to our craft.
You be quiet Barik. Remember when I said Barik's personal quest was about how Kyros and Graven Ashe fucked him over personally? Here we go!
: [Subterfuge 40] I don't supposed that you know any skilled smiths who lack your ironclad sense of loyalty...
: You ask me to be an accomplice to your crime?
: I appreciate it, Lohara.
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: Which hand do you kill with?
: Uh, right?
: Noted. I'm Lohara, the local forgemaster. I'm super busy, but I can take a little break to talk to the Fatebinder.
: What was that about?
: Just checking to see which gauntlet will wear out first.
: Can you make something for me, like maybe an artifact that could power a time stop spell? Pleeeeeeease?
: Nope! I'm busy and every stupid asshole keeps trying to bribe me to make their stupid crap!
: My bad, I didn't realize.
: No worries. I wish I could make cool art stuff instead of the same fucking hat over and over. Damn that hat. It grinds my soul down, it's apprentice work. I have a nightmare abo-
: Can you investigate Barik's armor in this totally legal way?
: Tunon explicitly said not to do that. He even sent me a note. It says "do not take off Barik's armor, no matter how much candy Cleopatra offers you, if Cleopatra says its not a crime, if Cleopatra says please, or if Barik promises to do a sweet tap dance."
: Right, and I would never do anything to get you in trouble, but he said not to take the armor off...can you just examine it and tell me if say, we could test a spell of armor disintegration?
: Some of us actually respect the intent of the law. No.
: It's my shit and I can wallow as much as I want!
: Know anyone who would?
: ...Here. On the map. We never had this conversation.
That part is done. It's time to straight up violate Kyros' laws and just..enter the oldwalls.
We're already going after the forbidden knowledge of the Silent Archive, what's an Oldwalls violation?
Welcome to the Oldwalls! We don't have much to do here for the time being, but we just kind of go through them and go grab our Spire.
For Oldwalls connected to Spires like this one, you want to track down these engravings. They're either needed for something we'll see in a few seconds, or they're sweet, sweet sigils which we can use to create even more overpowered spells.
The rest of the dungeon is sadly blocked off, but we can go into this room.
: What do you know of the Spires?
: What do you recommend?
We press on. There's an engraving on the wall that I take a rubbing of.
Sirin and Barik shout out what you have to do - make the lights on the floor match the pattern on the rubbing.
Having done this, we can teleport to the top of the Spire.
This gets us an animation of the Spire powering up.
: Your awareness stretches beyond the limits of this Spire, pulling in many directions at once. The light you saw arcing through the sky remidns you of the tether you feel to the top of Vendrien's Well. This too is a point of connection, and you are an inextricable part of it - bound as surely as the Spires are to each other.
: The Sunset Spire in Lethean's Crossing feels burdened by its age, as if a central linchpin somewhere in its core has weathered the centuries of oppressive weight, and longs to topple.
: The surge of energy that courses through you, forming a link with Vendrien's Well, strengthens the very stones beneath your feet. The structural weakness you detected vanishes, replaced by confidence that could keep this tower standing for millennia.
Translation: Thanks to our existing powerbase, we can support this power as well.
That's our Lantry!
: From here, even the Oldwalls seem paltry. This sovereign view was not intended for the likes of us.
: Barik shakes his head slowly
Guys it's an allegory for how power elevates.
: Who knew that all of this was up here while I sat below, wasting my time trying to gather a group of followers from the refugees in Lethean's Crossing. The untapped power in this Spire is astounding! I must find out how to get some.
: [Listen closer.]
: The whispers themselves seem to travel down the tether between you and your Spires, conducting heat that feels at times unbearable. They speak of your actions, your choices - everything that led you to this place. Your name is known, your banner recognized, your deeds reported across the Tiers and the Northern Empire alike.
: [Lore 47] Unlocking this Spire seems to have opened some deeper connection.
We have more power now. Granted, we also have the services of the Archon of Song, but we're still not strong enough to go up against Ashe or Nerat.
When you're powerful a few words can reshape a situation.
: I feel it too. The air is...thick up here, isn't it? Exactly the opposite of what you'd expect. The magic up here is almost a physical presence!
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: THE POWER!
Normally I'd go for the Infirmary to get the master lore trainer...but she was a Sage, and we kinda killed her when we blew up the Library without warning. Oops! We also need an artifact, and here's how we're going to get one.
The Forge actually lets us craft artifacts!
First, however, we have a missive.
My dear Cleopatra Jones,
The Court is all abuzz with the news of the civil war. Representatives from the Chorus and the Disfavored are having little shouting matches in front of Tunon, the petitioners to the Court seem swept up in talks of who will crush whom and if and when Tunon will bring down the gavel and stop the fighting.
What has me more intrigued is the OTHER story out of Vendrien's Well... Tunon sends you on what I thought was going to be a one-way trip to the Well and not only do you live... you somehow claimed the Mountain Spire. And you broke Kyros Edict too! Such things make a little civil war seem so trivial in comparison... at least to those who can separate the message from the noise.
Tell me, what was it like to break the Edict? And how it is you took control of the Spire?
We will of course explain.
Our reply posted:
Kyros' Edict simply said that an agent of the Overlord must claim Ascension Hall before Kyros' Day of Swords. The only thing I consciously did was take charge of the battle to claim Ascension Hall.
My 'claiming' of the Spire happened just moments after I felt the Edict's grip release. The floor of Ascension Hall gave way, unearthing a glowing pattern buried beneath the chamber floor - Kyros only knows how long it's been buried under the tile.
As for how I actually claimed the Spire - it is, perhaps, a mutual bond. Atop the Spire is an old structure, a twin-tined edifice - I'll include a sketch on the back of the parchment. This structure spoke to me in sensations and images - and it seems to respond to my presence in some limited capacity.
That is what happened, as best as I can think to describe it. Does any of this sound familiar or bring to mind any old stories or rumors?
Now we can build our forge!
This guy lets us forge stuff!
Alright, we've got three artifacts. The Alchemists Gloves let us do an AoE healing blast, the Commander's Plate lets us swap people around in combat and buffs a bunch of leadership effects we are frankly never going to use, and the Nightwalkers Boots let us teleport behind people. We are going to forge the Plate for the purpose of yeeting it into the Sages' spell.
Unfortunately I need a lot more cash than I currently have, so it's time to run around and steal everything not nailed down. In the meantime, Lantry wants to chat.
: I've studied at Tunon's feet, proclaimed Edicts, broken them too. I'm sure I've been exposed to all sorts of arcane powers.
: I always want to know what you're thinking.
: [Subterfuge 47] The Edict of Execution was pushing for someone to claim Ascension Hall... can't be coincidence.
: Do you think the Spires are connected to Kyros in some fashion?
: If you're asking if Kyros built them or controls them... not, they predate all mention of Kyros and I'm sure if Kyros COULD control the other Spires, that fact would be shamelessly flaunted.
: Are there stories of 'awakened' Spires elsewhere in Terratus?
: Let's get going.
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: So, I was thinking about the Spires, and realizing I've never seen those glyphs light up. What's your secret?
: I did a lot of weird magic shit with Tunon and Edicts, maybe that's it?
: If you've got something to say I'm happy to hear it.
: If Ashe or Nerat had claimed the Spire...would it be doing this?
: The Overlord's Edict did order someone to take the hall...I doubt that's unintentional.
: The Overlord never carelessly words Edicts.
: Do you think Kyros has anything to do with the Spires?
: Nope, if the Overlord commanded the Spires she'd be real blatant about it. You might be offering her an in though. I haven't heard of anything like this happening elsewhere in Terratus.
Now, the clear implication is that Kyros wanted us to take the Spire so we could do something, and that ties in with how a lot of people interpret the game. It's not my interpretation, but we'll get to that in time.
Do note that the scenario where the Spire stays unclaimed is the complete victory for Kyros. At best, elevating a random person to having the Spire gives Ashe and Nerat a new target to go after instead of being pissed enough at Kyros to get their forces together and march on the Northern Empire. Now, this was never happening anyway, but Kyros seems to subscribe to the Saddam Hussein school of paranoia.
I put the forge order in offscreen and now we have to kill a bunch of time before the Plate is ready.
To the illegal forge!
Next Time: Barik is screwed.