Part 20: Cleopatra Jones and The Chat With Bleden MarkCleopatra Jones and The Chat With Bleden Mark
Last time on Tyranny, we tried to help our good friend Barik escape his armor, only to learn that he was literally trapped wallowing in his own shit by his loyalty to Graven Ashe and Kyros.
Another missive from Myothis!
Fatebinder Myothis posted:
Greetings Cleopatra Jones,
You are correct, there are Spires all across Terratus. The exact distribution of these monuments fuels all sorts of debate and speculation, but two facts seem commonplace: most Spires are built near Oldwalls (your Mountain Spire is a notable exception) and nearly every culture that predated Kyros has some local myth to explain the builders of these Spires - I believe the Tiersmen cite the "Older Realms" as their local name for the Spire/Oldwalls architects... but nobody knows for sure.
And of course, where Kyros has brought proper civilization, the origin of the Spires simply isn't discussed in good company...
Here's what I think you need to know...
First, the Spires behave as arcane lodestone - there is a constant field of magical strength around a Spire. If you imagine a mystic sea resting atop our world, the Spires seem to spin and churn this magic - creating a spell cast with even modest effort will materialize with powerful results.
Second, and I'd say most tellingly, Kyros has laws against entering the Oldwalls, but there are no laws against the Spires. You could infer from this that means Kyros has no issue with the lay folks messing with the Spires but wishes to keep us safe from the Oldwalls. Or you could think like an Overlord and know that if you place a rule against something, you make it forbidden and desirable... now I find it telling that Kyros forbids the hallways that leads to the Spires but does not paint a target on the Spires themselves.
Last but not least... as a young Fatebinder, I once had to oversee the case of a man who had built a shrine to Kyros around the base of a Spire in the far south east. I could find no evidence of falsity or slander - his shrine was a most reverent and loving tribute as I've ever seen. At one point though, this man claimed he had evidence that 'Kyros was here back in negative fifty.' He had merely uttered those words and my senior Binder swung the axe then and there. Being the new girl at the Court, I said nothing, but I have long wondered why such a comment should require death instead of the traditional removal of the tongue.
Myothis is the game's peek into what's really going on - but remember, this is Tyranny. Myothis so far is honest with us, but you should take every character in the game with a grain of salt.
That said, Myothis lays it out clearly here. The Spires are the power that sets us far above the common man and lets us impose our will from above.
Let's reply and ask about Edicts, it's kind of refreshing to have some real answers.
Time to go back to our Spire! Astute readers will note that we forged the Plate at the other Spire, but we can teleport between the Spires pretty much instantaneously.
Fatebinder Myothis posted:
Salutations, Cleopatra Jones
It is difficult to separate fact from superstition when it comes to Edicts, as it seems only Kyros knows how it all works, the rest of us are left to live in fear and ponder it all.
Kyros Edicts are a sort of magic above and beyond even the Archons - I daresay the Edicts are STRONGER than Kyros as there's no evidence Kyros can willingly stop an Edict once set into motion... which is, in part, why Kyros' Edicts seem to have an 'until' or 'unless' clause in their wording.
I know the Edict, as powerful as it is, requires a human voice to complete the casting - thus the Overlord has people like you proclaim Edicts cast far from the Imperial Throne - the magic is Kyros' magic, but the human voice is the final carrier or trigger to complete the magic phenomenon.
And here's what's most fascinating - at least as far as you're concerned. There have been dozens of mortal agents who have been made to proclaim Edicts - two-thirds of them die within a decade, and many gave reports of lingering mystic scars from the ordeal.
And there have also been a handful to resolve or break an Edict - these 'until' and 'unless' clauses get fulfilled from time to time, and we see a similar pattern in history - those who resolve an Edict often live short lives, and many speak of arcane side effects of the shattered Edicts.
Here's where you're unique... to the best of my fact-finding, you are the first to proclaim and break the exact same Edict. Whatever mystical power is involved in the creation and destruction of such magics, you're the first to stand at the terminus of both.
Now that I know the Spires can be awoken, it makes sense that if anything can or would wake them from slumber, a shattered Edict seems the likely culprit.
Kyros has other Edicts in place throughout the Tiers. If you truly wish to learn more, perhaps you should take it upon yourself to shatter those Edicts. After all, if Kyros did not wish for the Edicts to be broken, why include a termination clause?
Now this is interesting. Remember when we discussed that pronouncing two edicts was basically a death sentence? We were not supposed to survive. The narrator at the beginning calls out that we're the youngest and least experienced of the Fatebinders - we can even confirm this with what Bleden Mark told us when he congratulated us in Tunon's Court.
Now, before we wander off too deep into the fantasy weeds, does Kyros sending her subjects to pronounce the Edicts have any meaning? Yes it does!
Macchiavelli, The Prince posted:
When the duke occupied the Romagna he found it under the rule of weak masters, who rather plundered their subjects than ruled them, and gave them more cause for disunion than for union, so that the country was full of robbery, quarrels, and every kind of violence; and so, wishing to bring back peace and obedience to authority, he considered it necessary to give it a good governor. Thereupon he promoted Messer Ramiro d'Orco,(*) a swift and cruel man, to whom he gave the fullest power. This man in a short time restored peace and unity with the greatest success. Afterwards the duke considered that it was not advisable to confer such excessive authority, for he had no doubt but that he would become odious, so he set up a court of judgment in the country, under a most excellent president, wherein all cities had their advocates. And because he knew that the past severity had caused some hatred against himself, so, to clear himself in the minds of the people, and gain them entirely to himself, he desired to show that, if any cruelty had been practised, it had not originated with him, but in the natural sternness of the minister. Under this pretence he took Ramiro, and one morning caused him to be executed and left on the piazza at Cesena with the block and a bloody knife at his side. The barbarity of this spectacle caused the people to be at once satisfied and dismayed.
Dune fans will recognize this as Baron Harkonnen's plans for his nephews. Remember when Nerat addressed us as the Firestarter, or how Kill-in-Shadow wanted to join us because our voice rained down fire upon our enemies? This is why. Kyros can use all of these Fatebinders as scapegoats. Notice how they all disappear? Ramiro became a threat to the duke, and the duke executed him while claiming it was for his subjects. In our case, executing these Edicts shows our power, which lets us use the Spire like Ramiro taking power from the Duke.
It's also more confirmation that the office of Fatebinders is a trap to ensnare the intelligent and capable. Left unattended, any one of these men and women could rise to challenge the empire as we're doing now. By using them as scapegoats for Kyros' edicts, Kyros can destroy the ones who are too smart to openly indulge their curiosity and get killed by Tunon.
Oh well, let's solicit Myothis' advice. She seems to know what she's talking about.
Finally! It only took us what, three updates?
Along the way to the Library we spot this cart. It's an ambush and I sneak off. I'll show this off in another route, but at the time of recording it was super late at night. Sorry goons!
Myothis gets back to us.
Fatebinder Myothis posted:
Dear Cleopatra Jones,
Based on what you've told me, it seems a stretch to believe these events are mere coincidence or circumstance. Kyros' Edict of Execution was a setup for SOMEONE to claim Ascension Hall... to think that Kyros did not know what would happen is a massive underestimation of the Overlord's long view.
You have been thrust into the arena of the mighty, your options are: retreat into obscurity, suicide, or rising to the occasion - I suggest the third option.
If I were you, I would use my connection to the Spires to see if they will all awaken to my presence. Every Tiersman sees the Spires in the horizon - if they know YOU are the master of the Spires, they will see YOU each time they look to the sunrise or sunset.
Foster a reputation for power, make others fear you. This is what I've seen Kyros and every living Archon do for as long as I've lived and there's reasons for this... there's the practical case that power and a reputation insulate you from threats, but there's the lesser-known element that I can't prove but I know in my heart to be true: the fear and love of others will strengthen your magic.
This last part I've inferred from my discussions with Bleden Mark. In the few times he has spoken of his gruesome work of slaying those who might rise to threaten the Overlord, he has hinted that it's easier to kill the 'rogue elements' before they become famed and fearsome. In my lifetime, I saw Graven Ashe change from an unknown militiaman to a fearsome general - and I can assure you, he did not have the power to shield his warriors in those days when he was without title or reputation. The Archons will never, ever discuss the origin of their power (because such knowledge might be used against them) but I have known ALL the Archons to be obsessed with the presentation of power...
Your connection to the Spires will all but guarantee the Archons will want to control and destroy you - it's a question of if, not when. Start thinking and acting like an Archon... as far as I'm concerned, you ARE an Archon - the Archon of the Spires. We are quick to place labels on powers we easily spot - and history is replete with Archons of Fire and Ice - it is foolish to think that there must be a word for a thing before an Archon can control it. Other way around - the Archons show us what is possible, and we must step to their dance.
Now this is kind of bleeding into fantasy bullshit, but the gist is clear. A reputation for power becomes power as people believe in it. This confirms how Ashe and Nerat became Archons - everyone believed Ashe was a great general so he got super regeneration powers. Note that this doesn't mean that Ashe could go head to head with Sun Tzu and win, merely that everyone believes he's a great general who cares for his men. We, the reader, can surmise that he promotes inept officers and relies on the superiority of equipment and unit cohesion rather than being good at tactics - but in Terratus, everyone believes he's an invincible general whose men never die and thus it becomes true.
Thus the subsequent revelation that we are an Archon should surprise no one. We've been slowly building a reputation as the woman who broke the Vendrien Guard, defied two entire legions, and executed the Iron Marshal with impunity. We wield the Staff of Hours, the legacy of the School of Ink and Quill, whose wisdom was so great kings and queens begged them to teach their children. The game has been telling us that our power is rising every time we equip an artifact or claim a Spire - for now, this is what it means. What can we do with this power? Keep following the LP to find out!
Let's ask about Archons, seeing as we might be one.
Once we get into the Citadel Barik wants to chat.
: Well now you know.
: That the Archon's protection - the very thing to which I owe my life! - keeps me imprisoned in this shell... He shakes his head violently, throwing sparks where his helm meets his cuirass.
: I'm sorry, Barik. I'll keep seeking an alternative way to set you free.
: I appreciate the sentiment, Fatebinder. But truly, pursuing this further is folly.
: No choice exists here. This armor remains my cage, as Kyros willed.
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: NOOO! I can't believe Graven Ashe would screw me like this...after all I've done for the Disfavored...
: I'll keep trying to get you out.
: No. I must stay here. I can accept the will of Kyros, can you?
Alright! Now we can grab the scroll!
: Swap the Silent Archive with an artifact.
: I doubt you'll be able to recover anything you swap out... be sure that you're confident before you sacrifice an artifact.
: Place the Commander's Plate on the pedestal.
: You delicately remove the Silent Archive from the central pedestal, careful to replace it with another artifact in the span of a few seconds. The lines of energy flowing through the platform's center warble and distort disconcertingly for a moment, accompanied by faint tremors that unsettle the molten liquid below.
: After a few seconds of uncertainty, the spell's magic refocuses upon the newly placed object, its lines of energy once again resuming their stable flow upward and out to the rest of the Burning Library. The swap appears to have worked, and you have earned yourself the Silent Archive for your trouble.
The Silent Archive is a good artifact, and it also unlocks more weapons at the Forge when we get a Library. Those stat buffs will make our spells hit harder and CC longer. Ballin! Out we go!
: The air surrounding you begins to thin, and the smell of embers begins to diminish. The clouds of smoke slowly[sic], revealing the sky beyond them.
Cleopatra does her Super Saiyan powerup again, which is the game's visual shorthand for us gaining renown for using our political capital to save the library.
: The air around you begins to settle, and the particles of fire and ash that moments ago stung your eyes dissipate with a chilly gust.
: With the Silent Archive removed from the Burning Library, the Edict of Fire is extinguished, and its warmth feels pulled into your very chest - a sensation similar to the weightlessness when the Edict of Execution broke at Ascension Hall.
: So much knowledge turned to smoke and ash. Ending the Edict can't undo the damage, but perhaps now this place can be rebuilt. I hope future scholars can unearth whatever remaining books and scrolls are still buried within.
I'm sure this won't come in handy in the future.
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: Hmm, time to swap artifacts.
: The writers wanted me to remind you no take-backsies!
: No worries, I've got the Commander's Plate, which buffs abilities I will never, ever use. Alright, spell stabilized, let's go outside. I HAVE THE POWER! EDICT DOOOOWN! WOOOOOO!
: The Sages are going to ask us for so many fetch quests...
: Well, hopefully future nerds can dig a Book Hole and rescue the books.
: Maybe if the Sages weren't book hording dicks they wouldn't have been obliterated by catastrophic magic!
: Hmm...the Edict is a part of me...how does that work?
Time to go back to Ashweald and hang out with Bleden Mark.
Dammit Nerat! What do you want?
He hates us. That's not a good sign.
The Voices of Nerat posted:
Dearest Fatebinder, Champion of Tunon's Gavel, Slayer of Choirmen!
We hope you recognize that we bear you no ill will. Who understands treachery if not the Archon of Secrets? We've always held the very highest esteem for other specialists in the arts duplicitious. Make no mistake, dear Fatebinder - after your little performance at Vendrien's Well, and with such a flair for theatrical illumination, you have ascended in our estimate! We trust you will understand that when we peel the flesh from your bones and squeeze the bile from your quivering innards, it's strictly out of artistic integrity and the courtesy owed a true professional.
Nothing personal at all.
But enough about our friendly rivalry. Do you enjoy the company of our little spy? Her dance never fails to inspire in us the most pleasant quivers. We have a gift for her, delivered through you due to the girl's questionable faculty with letters. We've learned from one of our birds that a mercenary in Haven has been absolutely gloating about slaying her sisters. His boasts even secured him work defending some Crossing merchant.
Show her the sigils on the reverse. She'll know what they mean.
-The Voices of Nerat, Archon of Secrets and Master of Cacophony.
[The opposite page contains several rough, ink-scratched symbols that look like nothing more than a child's pictographs of their favorite animals.]
This starts Verse's personal quest. We'll be nice and thank the Archon.
: You're not dead yet - good. Keep this up, as I've no interest in searching the shadows for your corpse.
Silly Bleden Mark! I have the reload button! I can't die!
: Not sure what you mean.
: You don't? Hmm... from my vantage point, the torrents of arcane fire didn't just vanish, they roiled and billowed like smoke. I could have sworn you were channeling that energy - perhaps the magic was seeking you.
: Whatever the case, you seem a little different - you smell of brimstone and crisped parchment. You are different than before you broke the Edict - I will leave it at that.
: Either way, you've filched the Silent Archive and can benefit from its influence. To be honest, even I don't know the full extent of what knowledge it can offer you, but I do know the Sages poured lifetimes of effort into it.
: I imagine the Archive was at its most useful when it was still a part of the library - before the Edict did a number on it - but even know, it has a myriad of secrets to share. Can you hear its whispers? No? Then listen harder, kid.
I couldn't resist the middle line.
: [Longingly stroke the scroll] But it whispers such sweet nothings to me.
Come on, guys! That was funny!
: You need to be a lot more threatening than you are now - and a little study and practice won't suffice. You'll need to aim bigger - you'll need to track down the relics of Tiers that escaped capture in the war.
I'll let you guys vote on the next one, but I am exercising my LP prerogative to go to Lethian's Crossing.
: I'm headed to Lethian's Crossing - is there something there I should look to acquire?
: Tunon has sent a Forge-Bound Master to the Crossing, and this mage-smith has just finished work on a masterpiece dubbed the Magebane. It's an iron helmet infused with wards against the Bane. While this is intended to help keep the settlement free of the scourges from the nearby Oldwalls, it would be of great use to you personally.
In order to gain power we are going to sacrifice the town. Hooray!
: The Crossing is by a junction in the Oldwalls - so you'll have a chance to put the helmet's Bane-ward to the test.
Whoa, hang on! You're one of the few people who has a bird's-eye view of the empire.
: Wait, I have questions.
: Well? Make it quick.
: I want to know more about the other Archons.
: Tell me about Tunon.
Bleden Mark is being honest, but remember, everyone in this game has their own view and agenda. Tunon's dream is of a better world through law.
: What's the story with Tunon?
: Tunon's been with Kyros even longer than I. Story goes that Kyros starts marching toward Tunon's little village - course, he wasn't named Tunon then. Anyway, our masked master to be gets it in his head that the only way to save his villagers and himself is to adopt the Overlord's laws BEFORE the troops arrive.
This reveals much to us. Not about Tunon, Tunon told us his story, but about Bleden Mark.
Earlier in the game posted:
Remember this? We didn't have to pass a lore check or anything. It helps to make Tunon love you if you talk about how much you love the law, but Tunon will tell you his story if you just ask for it. We're not even a particularly favored servant or anything, we're currently causing a hell of a lot of problems for the court (though we do have a reputation for high favor) and Tunon just told us his entire life story because we asked. Bleden Mark could not do this, and resorted to asking Calio for some hearsay. We know Tunon saw the adoption of Kyros' laws not as a means to save his people, but as an end in itself to bring peace and end hunger. He told us this. Bleden Mark, however, is the ultimate cynic who is utterly self-interested and cannot believe other people aren't as cynical as he is. He cannot understand Tunon's idealism, so he concludes that Tunon MUST have been acting out of self interest, or maybe to save his friends.
: What exactly is your duty to him and vice versa?
: Truth be told, it's been a pleasant working arrangement for a couple centuries now. Tunon does most of the talking. I live in my shadowy corner until someone needs killing. It's not like I want to be the figurehead atop a dais - the only attention I want is folks whispering my name in fear so I'm left alone.
This implies that Mark doesn't have an ego or crave adulation. We will disprove this in approximately five minutes.
: Old man? So there's some affection for him?
It's pretty easy to gain favor with Mark for asking questions. Back up the dialogue tree!
: What do you know about the Oldwalls' Spires throughout the Tiers?
Dammit Mark stop stealing my job. I'm trying to analyze this game and you confirm my metaphorical interpretations.
: Tell me about Stalwart's Ocean Spire.
: A couple centuries ago, the Regents of Stalwart were of a mind that greatness awaited them, should they reach the top. Of course, they lost so many engineers in the process, that they eventually abandoned the task for a fool's errand.
: Tell me about the Sunset Spire in Haven.
: Tell me about Spires in the Stone Sea.
Back up the dialog tree!
: That bracer your wearing is rather... eye-catching.
: Mhm. I bet you're thinking something like it'd look even better on you, right, kid?
You did tell us to get artifacts.
: Damn straight, I do.
Hell yeah, free artifact! Yes, we could have used this to get the Archive, but that's just rude.
: I want to know more about you.
: I've known you for decades but don't know a thing about your past. Where'd you come from?
Cleopatra is at least in her twenties, good to know.
Yup, we can't ask about that again. Mark is very good at concealing things.
: What do you know about Kyros?
: He shrugs.
: How did you come to serve the Overlord?
I love option 2 but I suspect it pisses him off. My guess from talking with Tunon and Mark is that Kyros is, in fact, a woman.
: Why'd you try and kill Kyros?
Here we see Young Mark at least had a pretty damn big ego. Guy is an Archon, after all. This is also telling as to what motivates Mark - getting shit for himself and proving he's the best damn killer. Gank tyrant, get laid.
: What's the Overlord like in person?
: Enough questions for now.
It's telling that even someone who is basically Kyros' left hand is terrified enough to not tell us personal details about the Overlord. After all, if we knew she had gas when she ate strawberries and liked long walks on the beach, she'd be a person, and not an infallible living legend.
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: Hey, you're not dead! Good job! So did you mean to steal the power of Kyros' Edict to become more powerful, or...
: Um, what?
: You're looking more powerful, and weirdly fire-themed. Maybe the Edict was set to do that? Huh. Anyway, you've got the Silent Archive, and you can gain a ton of knowledge from it.
: I was never allowed to see it, but people who worked with it said it taught them in their dreams. It's probably safe.
: It whispers such sweet nothings to me!
: I guess it is filled with 300 years of porn.
: Despite my anger, I'm really trying not to laugh right now.
: You need to not look like a wuss. There's three artifacts - one in Stalwart, one in Lethian's Crossing, and one in the Stone Sea. Where you headed?
: Lethian's Crossing, of course. What am I looking for?
: A magic hat made by a Forge-Bound master. It stops the Bane! Anyway, it's supposed to protect the town but you should steal it for yourself. Bleden Mark OUT!
: Can you spare some exposition for a poor Fatebinder? Tell me about the other Archons. Like Tunon!
: Tunon is just a mindless drone executing the laws as laid down by Kyros. There's nothing there.
: So where'd he come from?
: He's been with Kyros even longer than me! Supposedly he heard Kyros was marching on his village, then he decided to convert to Kyros' law to save all the villagers! Then Kyros was like "that's cool!" Keep in mind, I never bothered to ask Tunon this, so this is all stuff I heard from someone who very definitely isn't Calio!
: What's your relationship with Tunon?
: Well, he used to be my jailer, until we realized I wasn't completely nuts and I execute people on his behalf. It's pretty great, I get to kill people and be antisocial.
: So you're friends?
: Lol nope.
: Know anything about the Spires?
: They're a metaphor for power that places you above others.
: That's a cool bracer.
: You want it? Here you go! It's kind of dangerous, though.
: So tell me about yourself...where'd you come from?
: I killed a lot of people, don't ask me about that again.
: What do you know about Kyros? How did you join her? What's she like in person?
: Well, I tried to kill her, but failed, because I thought it would get me money and sex. In person? I can't tell you that, you better worry about her wrath from afar! Bleden Mark OUT!
Bleden Mark is the cynic to Tunon's idealist. It's easy to write him off as a two-dimensional character, but there's a blink-and-you'll-miss-it reference to people he regrets killing. Where Tunon believes that Mark considers himself a "slayer of the unjust", Mark is just an executioner because it's convenient and people leave him alone. Tunon wants to use the law to provide for the common good, Mark cares about no one except possibly whoever he regrets killing. Mark is brutally honest about who and what he is, but he is also blinded by his cynicism - despite this, he is loyal enough to not divulge the Overlord's secrets.
We'll see more of Mark as we complete missions.
Anyway, let's equip our new artifact. It's technically heavy armor, but I don't care. It slows us a bit, but it reduces all incoming damage by 10% (score!) and we can turn into a shadow version of ourself that deals bonus Arcane damage with each attack. I think this applies to spell attacks, but I will keep an eye on the logs when I use this.
Oh shit! He's asking if we have the forbidden knowledge! Umm...
We'll close out the update by noting we got a lot of Favor with Bleden Mark.
Decisions Lie Before Us!
We need a party. Verse is mandatory so we can do her quest, but I need you to pick two of Eb, Kills-In-Shadow, Sirin, Lantry, or Barik
Who are we talking to? Sirin, Barik, Eb, or Kills-In-Shadow?