The Let's Play Archive


by TheGreatEvilKing

Part 23: Cleopatra Jones and the Lying Mercenary

Cleopatra Jones and the Lying Mercenary

Last time on Tyranny, we completely ignored the main plot to go dork around in Tunon's court and learn why everything was terrible. Today we're going to completely ignore the main quest and fuck around with Verse. Well, not literally. Get your minds out of the gutter, you pervs.

Having been out of the party for a lot of momentous events, Verse is going to be very chatty with us this update. Also I hit up the Spire to pick up some supplies, hence the unannounced transition.

: How'd you know where the bird came from?

: The Voices' birds have a certain... hollowness to their movements. Like puppets. Or the Fifth Eye. She chuckles, running a hand down her hair feathers.

: [Offer her the missive.] Want to read it?

: You can't read?

: I could teach you.

It's funny, I've been reading a lot of the Lost Kingdom books, and one of the recurring themes is that Alfred the Great is trying to encourage his subjects to read so he can give them orders remotely. Uhtred - the protagonist, a Saxon raised by Danes to follow the old gods instead of Christianity - is somewhat skeptical of this despite having the ability to read himself. There's a whole undercurrent of the primitive and brutal Danish culture contrasted with the heavily repressed Christian one that I don't have the time to go into here, but the important thing is that literacy is consistently portrayed as a means to a modern state.

Of course, illiterate people are exposed to less ideas and thus easier to control.

Verse at least has the good sense to not rant about book-reading NERDS.

: He says someone's been bragging about your sisters. Know what he means by that?

: There's something else, these strange symbols on the back.

: There's a lot to love about spycraft. The trickery, the blade work, keeping your senses awake, balancing on the edge between confusion and discovery...

Ooh, look, a primitive cipher! I have to hand it to Nerat, he not only devised a cipher but managed to make it so his illiterate commanders can understand said cipher. This problem could be solved by having literate commanders, but once again controlling the horde is more important than actually producing an effective army.

Harichand, huh? He's a merchant in Lethian's Crossing who sadly we have the least interaction with on the Chorus route.

Earlier in the game posted:

He's the gentleman on the far left.

: If you can read Nerat's notifications, I bet you'd take to writing rather quickly.

: Look, Fatebinder, if I need a reminder that I'm ignorant, I'll ask.

: The Voices gave us the pass phrases that will get Malphora to open up to us. When we find her, let me do the talking and everything should run smooth as seaglass. She rubs her hands together.

: The Archon's sudden interest in your revenge doesn't seem suspicious to you?

"Connoisseur of Perversions" certainly is a title.

: Let's go.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Hey, a bird from Nerat! What's it say?

: How'd you know the bird was from Nerat?

: It's acting all mind controlled and shit. What's the letter say?

: Here you go, want to read it?

: Maybe I could get the Cliff's Notes?

: You can't read, can you?

: It didn't seem very important because I had people to kill and it didn't seem to help my violence in any way.

: I could teach you?

: Uh...maybe after the war's over? Heh heh.

: Nerat says someone's been bragging about your sisters, what's that mean?

: My Scarlet Fury sisters! Nerat found the people who killed them? Let's go!

: There's some weird symbols on the back.

: UUUUUGH MORE OF NERAT'S DUMB NERD SHIT it says meet this chick Malphora along the road to Lethian's Crossing.

: If you can read that, you can read a book.

: Stop patronizing me, I know I'm ignorant. Anyway, we got all the spy shit, so just let me do the talking.

: You sure this is a good idea, given that it's Nerat's?

: Hell no, but I trust you to get me out of the fire. Let's gooo!

Unfortunately for Verse, we will not be doing that.

I completely forgot that once you clear the Edict, there are a few more artifacts we can grab if you don't destroy the library.

Old news, Verse.

: You think I made the right decision?

: Claiming Vendrien's Well and kicking everyone out? It took brass balls the size of the Gates of Judgment, but I don't fault you.

This gets us loyalty with Verse, unfortunately I screwed up the screencap here.

: If the siege was really that badly mismanaged, then I don't see that you had any other choice. It'll make you more enemies than friends in the long run, but friends are overrated.

This is an interesting bit of dialogue, as the reader is tempted to bring up how if you follow the laws of war you don't have to compromise - but even in a just war you have to determine who to save, who to have your soldiers kill (unacceptable in any other circumstance) and whether or not you can justify civilian casualties to attack the enemy's support base. War is hell no matter how moral you are.

We leave.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Man, the Disfavored and Scarlet Chorus are finally at it huh? Well, we all saw it coming, but maybe the Archons could have suppressed the rebellion first? Anyway, it took massive balls to tell them to go fuck themselves. Sure, you don't make friends, but friends are overrated. War is all about moral compromise, and it's unpredictable to boot. At least we're not bored!

I missed this sage. If we spare him he gives us some sigil research at the Library. Remember, sigils rule and you want more of them!

After a lot of backtracking, these Bane stand between us and our goal.

Verse wants to chat with us some more.

: I'm exposing myself to powers I don't understand.

: War is about taking risks, and you're putting yourself out there more than anyone. I can't help but respect that.

: I'm here if you need me, but I don't have a mind for arcane wisdom. I'll do whatever I can to get our little gang through this war. And if it ever looks like your strength is flagging, I'll put you out of your misery and take control. Cheer up.

I take the opportunity to ask one single question.

: I would like to discuss your apparent connection with Barik.

I spoiled it in the thread, but as a reminder...

Remember what I said about Verse symbolizing the Scarlet Chorus as a whole? Much like the army itself, she's half Northern and half Tiersman, and much like the army itself she's not devoted to Nerat once he can't harm her.

: I've heard enough, though I'd like to return to this topic when both of you are present.

: Whatever you say. If it makes Barik uncomfortable, I'm game for anything.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Damn, you're breaking Edicts faster than Kyros' troops can possibly fuck up. How's it feel?

: I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing.

: It's cool. I admire your willingness to take risks, and I'm here if you need me.

: So what's the deal with you and Barik anyway?

: His dad fucked my mom so I'm his half-sister.

: Let's come back to this when Barik is here.

: I'm always down to troll Barik.

We've had a few hints before. Remember when Barik got really uncomfortable when Ashe suggested killing Verse? This is why.

Time to fight the Bane! The Bane teach me the hard way that the party you guys gave me is NOT my traditional Tyranny party of "Barik and 3 mages".

I don't get Rocket Healing Time off fast enough and Verse and Killsy go down. Verse is a lightly armored dodgy fighter, and Killsy is a high HP berserker. Neither are great tanks, though Killsy will absolutely wreck idiots if given the chance.

This is a Havoc Bane, the next tier up from Wisps. The other two Wisps apparently decided not to contribute to this fight, so Eb and Cleo are slowly able to grind it to death. It's incredibly boring.

Killsy is able to get back up but I guess Verse is too close to the Wisp or something. Oh well, we murder the remaining Bane offscreen. It's Tyranny combat.

This is why we're here! It's an artifact hammer that knocks people down on crits. Kills-in-Shadow deals extra damage to prone enemies. I think you all see where this is going.

We also get this guy, which reduces all incoming damage by 75% for the entire party for the first 8 seconds of combat. Baller! The wiki says it only appears if you spared the Sages, but it's wrong. We throw it on Cleopatra to turn her into even more of an overpowered engine of destruction.

Cleo has artifacts in everything except head, chest, and boots. We can fix that.

Verse has one last chat for us as we leave the Library.

: Why doesn't the Voices like strongholds?

: Because there's no point in standing still. The Voices prefers to keep his forces busy and on the move, with the only restful hours between dusk and dawn.

First, that's bullshit, we found tons of people loafing around the Chorus camp in act one. Second, plenty of armies have erected strongholds as a means to wage offensive war (such as the Romans or "Mad Anthony" Wayne against the Native Americans) and they provide plenty of advantages for the offensive army, such as a place to store provisions or a securable retreat.

This is more like it. Charlemagne famously had a problem with his counts building castles, as a count in a castle can defy the king. The part Verse is missing is that the gang boss might just decide that his forces aren't fighting today or use the stronghold to rebel against Nerat.

: What do you think of these Spires?

: They're big, but make no mistake - a determined army could knock one down if they got enough shovels and picks together. Don't be so quick to assume that you're invincible.

This ties back into our power metaphor, where if everyone is against us our power comes crumbling down.

We end the conversation there.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Fuck yea Spires! Nerat never liked strongholds, though.

: Why not?

: Fatebinder, literally every stupid inefficient thing in this game is for the purposes of controlling the populace. I've said this a million times.

: What do you think of the Spires?

: They're big, but you're not invincible. If everyone wants you gone, down you go.

Alright game, if you're going to keep killing my frontliners I'm going to make this stupid mirror image spell. Big defensive numbers! This also synergizes really well with Verse, who has a talent that jacks her damage when she gets missed in melee.

On our way to meet Verse's spy contact we run into this encounter I've never seen before.

Wow, holy shit. Our options are:

: Thank the woman for her service and give her some rings.

: Execute the woman for illegally destroying potential war assets.

: Torch the entire village for being complicit in these murders.

Wow. This is a straight up clusterfuck, isn't it? I choose to execute the woman, because she burned four people alive that were considered guests. Murdering guests is a huge no-no in virtually every ancient culture, you can see it in myths like Baucis and Philemon where the people who safely harbor the disguised gods are rewarded while people who mistreat guests are destroyed. Of course, because this is Kyros' empire, we have to phrase it in the legally acceptable way.

This is the part that's weird to me. Yes, the lady did it to curry favor with Kyros, but the smarter thing would have been to detain the Sages to hand them over to Kyrosian forces instead of whatever this idiocy is. Betraying your guests is portrayed as evil in everything from Greek myth to Norse myth to even Shakespeare where Macbeth murders Duncan in Macbeth's own home. The settlers being universally horrified at the summary execution because we're so brutal is...incredibly ahistorical, because by every single standard of the ancient world she had this coming. We are legally empowered to judge and execute the law. I get what the writers are trying to do here, and we get favor with Tunon for doing this, but within the Bronze Age cultures we're aping people would understand. Remember, people in ancient times were exposed to a lot more daily violence than we are now.

Ah, of course. There was some complaining in the thread about how Tyranny assumes the Fatebinder's motive and you can't be a good person deluded, and I just want to reiterate that ultimately you are a servant of the tyrant who got this position by doing extremely horrible things. Oh well, we got a cool hat. What does it do?

This hat rules! We can add more spells to Cleo's rotation of death, and if we find a hat with better stats Eb or Lantry would love this thing. Sirin would love it too, but that's a little too soon. Kailor disappeared after the Edict, but he left us this great hat. Pour one out for Sage Kailor.

I give Cleo this sleep spell. The Ball Lightning spell unfortunately glitches out for me, and I'm not sure if it was mistakenly assigned or what, but Cleo can't cast it and I'll have to fix it in the next update. Oh well.

We finally make it to Verse's spy contact.

: Soft and well-fed, this one - but look at her stance. She can handle herself. Verse takes the woman in with a long, appraising gaze.

Verse explicitly told us to shut up, so...

: [Glare silently.]

: You must have me mistaken for someone else, I assure you-

: Oh, fine. The road to Stalwart is paved in iron. Verse sighs.

Interesting. The Disfavored are currently in Stalwart. Remember this for later.

: [Say nothing.]

Picking any other option gets Verse to yell and call us a dumbass.

: Yet their papers aren't aflame.

: Sorry about the formalities. If word got back to the Voices that I was cutting corners on security... Let's just say I prefer my tongue in my mouth and my bowels in my, er, well, bowels I guess. She shakes her head.

: You're the Fatebinder of the Mountain Spire, correct?

: So what does the Voices of Nerat want us to know?

: Right. Malphora glances between the two of you before her eyes settle on Verse.

: The man you're interested in calls himself Krokus. No idea whether that's what his mother named him. Showed up in the Crossing a few months back picking fights and looking for rings.

Keep this in mind.

: Not a smart thing to brag about.

: Very stupid, in fact.

: You'd think a story like that would scare off any potential employees, but Aesa's never been the brightest ring on the rope. She shakes her head.

: Who is Aesa?

: A cloth dealer originally out of the Azure. Runs a circuit from the Crossing to the Brothers and down into the calmer edges of the Blade Grave.

: How do we find him?

: Luckily for you, I'm very good at what I do. Malphora smiles and produces a scroll from her pack.

: He usually goes to Stalwart by way of the Ocean Spire, but he's cutting east to make time and avoid Beasts. She taps a knuckle on a thick, black line.

: What can you tell me about Hunter's Respite?

: A small stretch of wilderness far enough off the trade road to dissuade raiders, but near enough to avoid losing much time. The isolation recommends it, but not much else.

: I'm supposed to wait for him and hope he shows up?

We know who she is, she's a Chorus spy masquerading as a merchant. Time to leave.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: I'm just a humble merchant! Nothing to see here!

: Oh, yea, look at that stance, she'd be good to f- er, good in a fight.

: I'm sorry?

: Spy password!

: SPY PASSWORD! Hi Fatebinder, I'm Malphora.

: What does the Voices want us to know?

: Stop ruining our spy stuff!

: Anyway, guy calls himself Krokus. He shows up in the Crossing, picks some fights, got into it with the guards, got owned, and then he started bragging about killing Scarlet Furies to get a job.

: That was stupid.

: Anyway, he got hired to protect Aesa the cloth dealer and his daughter. Go to Hunter's Respite and wait, he'll show up and you can ambush him. It's out of the way and isolated, so this should be easy!

Of course, this is Tyranny, so nothing is ever at face value. They could have included a disclaimer like at the beginning of Age of Decadence, where the game warns you that the NPCs will all lie to, cheat, and steal from you.

Here's Krokus!

Here's Cario, rather.

: [Point to Verse] I'm Fatebinder Cleopatra Jones, but more importantly, this is Verse.

: And I'm about to adjudicate your head open. Justice for my Fury sisters. She grins hungrily.

This fight isn't as easy for me sadly.

I try to use Eb and Cleo's buff lifedrain combo which imbues everyone's weapons with the power to drain 30% of damage as health, but they're not having it.

Can you see the anomaly in this screenshot? Check the combat log.

Cario has Ashe's Aegis. That's the regenerative ability of the Disfavored, granted by Graven Ashe himself. It's unusual, because Cario is described as speaking in "a Tiers-accented growl" and the Disfavored are extremely proud of their Northern heritage. This must be some kind of Disfavored covert operation, no wonder Nerat wanted us to break it up.

When you beat the "experienced warriors" the screen fades to black.

: Hold like you held when you and your friends killed my fucking sisters? For the love of Kyros, indeed! Her words escape her clenched teeth in a half-hissed breath. She slips a small knife from her boot, and in a flash of bronze opens the fallen man's cheek.

Oh no! A family man! A classic moral dilemma - do we let this family man go if he repents for his evil ways? At least it's not a trolley primed to run over a space dog.

: You're not proud? You've been boasting about it all over Haven.

: What? No, no, you don't understand! I couldn't find work otherwise. I thought maybe I could win a few fights in the Crossing to prove my mettle, but the fucking guards there jumped me as a group.

: So I HAD to tell people about the Furies! It was talk about your sisters or starve and let my wife starve! He looks to Verse.

: I... Overlord help me. I never wanted to hurt anyone. It was my damn job. I swore an oath to an Apex lord because I wanted a bed and food - not because I thought Kyros would ever come to the Tiers! He sobs.

: That oath didn't just dissolve when your armies passed the Gates of Judgment! I had to kill conscripted Tiersmen by the gang! And yes, I helped kill your friends. His head droops, a pink froth of sweat, mucus, and blood dripping from the tip of his nose.

: Not friends, asshole. Sisters.

: You said Catorius cooked people?

: I never actually saw him EAT someone, but I'm sure he did. You could see it in his eyes when he looked at you, that hunger. He was a Sage, so maybe that explains it. Overlord knows what those scrollfuckers do in their libraries.

: We took one of you alive, you know.

: What? What the fuck are you talking about? Her eyes widen.

: After you disappeared, we realized that one of your Furies was still alive. The big bald one. Catorius took her! Never saw her after! He's silenced by Verse's fist.

: Where is Catorius now?

: Where can we find Irissa?

: After that Fatebinder negotiated peace, Irissa refused to let that truce apply to her - the crazy bitch couldn't lay down her spear.

: Last I heard, she was down in the Blade Grave. Joined up with those Stalwart shitheels, killing Disfavored in the Overlord's endless storm. Here. He fumbles with a case at his side before offering a well-soiled parchment in his blood-slick fingers.

: How do you want to play this, Verse?

Oh no! Verse is going to kill him despite his reformation!

: I've sworn loyalty to Kyros! Go hunt Irissa, go kill Catorius - they're your true enemies! They're the ones who deserve your justice! He tries to push himself away from Verse, but his heels skid uselessly, plowing furrows in the bloody muck.

Is this pitiful man even worth killing?

Who am I to deny Verse?

: Do it, Verse.

This is quite the brutal execution of a pitiful man begging for his life.

Are we taking our party down a dark path from which we can never return?

: Thanks, Fatebinder. She proffers you a curt nod.

: Tell me about her.

: Seeking was all dynamo. Short, with hair like moss on a stone and skin the color of the night sky. Laughed at everything, even insults. She smiles wistfully.

: She never stopped moving. If we camped, she paced the tents or palisades, always pushing us to get on. She lets out a low chuckle.

: [Laugh] She sounds amazing.

I'm not going to even try to apply the law about disrespecting the Overlord.

: Crazy thing about Seeking? It wasn't raw talent. She practiced that shit, the spear work and the javelins. Practiced every hour she wasn't sleeping or on assignment.

: I thought it might be a sex thing.

: That too! She laughs.

: Her name meant more than the spear-play. Seeking always sought. Always looked for new things. New experiences. New stories, new men, new bits of lore.

: In summer she'd collect stinging insects, fill thin clay jars with them, and smash them against her foes. No fight was ever even for Seeking. You either got the drop, or you got dropped.

: Thanks. You know, for listening. She shakes her head roughly, as if clearing the fog from it.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Who are you?

: I'm Cleopatra, and this is Verse.

: I'm gonna beat you like you're a Gorn and I'm Captain Kirk!

: Attack, men! OW! Ow! Ow! You beat me! Please don't kill me, I have a wife! I'm a different man!

: Bullshit!

: Please! I have a wife! I'm just trying to make ends meet as an honest protector of caravans! I serve the Overlord! You want Catorius the crazy cannibal wizard and Irissa the zealot, not me! Look, here they are! Spare meeeeee!

: Should I kill him?

: Dew it!

: I am dead!

: Thanks, Fatebinder! Anyway, Seeking-Sheath was cool and good and my friend. She liked fighting and life. Thanks for listening, let's go kill Irissa.

Cleopatra has murdered a repentant man, furthering her decent into darkness.

We should probably let the wife know.

Captive? Huh?

Yea, Krokus is completely full of shit. This is the wrong way to handle the encounter. If you spare him you can't talk to the girl here, so many players have been tricked into letting the "repentant" man go. A lot of his shit wasn't adding up - if he's a poor mercenary, how does he know how to read? Would a man who wanted only to support his family fight the garrison of the Bronze Brotherhood, a mercenary unit presumably looking for new members? Why is this girl acting like she's drugged?

She's not even asking after her "husband".

Two things: first, Verse isn't completely incapable of empathy. Second, it's clear something very bad happened.

: We'll leave her some supplies. Enough to get her back to the Crossing.

Sometime the game gives you Stupid Evil options, and I really don't understand why. You can easily roleplay a selfish power seeker embracing division and fear to turn people against each other, and that's a more compelling evil than wantonly murdering NPCs.

: There's fruit and grain in the cart, too, and cloth to carry it, assuming she has any appetite after seeing this slaughter.

Ugh. Tyranny, you do a lot of things right, but I'm beginning to think you didn't QA this section. Observant players might be asking "what cart, and what are you talking about?" Keep reading.

This is kind of out of context.

Hey! Free upgrade for Verse! Pity the only stance we want her in is her dodge stance.

Let's try this again. There's a right way to do this encounter. Instead of going north, go southeast.

This is important - you have to butcher all the guards here. They tell you to go and talk to Krokus, and even let you pass. I think it's bugged, because something is obviously wrong if you talk to them.

They tell us to fuck off, but they seem pretty suspicious.

Here's the cart Verse was talking about earlier.

: No wear or tear... has to be freshly woven. Aesa peddles cloth, right? So where is he? She frowns at her fingertips, then rubs them together.

: Dried blood. Keep on your toes. This stinks higher than the Spires.

Back to Krokus!

: [To Cario] You must be the merchant Aesa, and this your loudmouthed daughter.

: I brought a few of my people to make sure that the clearing was as clear as he claimed. Which it clearly isn't. His head lilts to the side.

All these options start a fight. While we're a little closer, you unfortunately need to slaughter those guards to get the full story.

They go down like chumps.

You need to kill the guards AND find the cart.

NOW we can ask about the guard. I don't know why all those guards had to die, were they supposed to attack you on seeing you walk past?

: Speaking of down the hill, let's talk about that cart full of cloth we found.

: What about it? It belongs to the merchant we're guarding. He glances askance at Cario.

This is interesting. It seems to imply Cario is secretly running the shots here.

: And the merchant is where, exactly?

: Er, emptying his bowls. He wanted some privacy, so most of us stayed back. With the camp and the cart. He scowls.

Before, Verse was buying his repentance but vowing to kill him anyway. This is your reward for investigating - or it would be, if the quest wasn't bugged.

: Do you not have someone else you can go harass?

: [Athletics 47] [Shout menacingly] I'm here for Krokus. The rest of you have this one chance to leave with your guts still inside you.

This makes the fight considerably easier.

I hate when games show things and then include unnecessary text descriptions.

We've seen the top option, so let's see the bottom.

: [Attack] I'm your slow, painful death, Krokus.


: You know how to make a girl's day, Binder. Verse licks her lips as they split into a hungry grin.

This starts the fight. I'll spare you most of it, but...

There it is again! Cario IS Disfavored! What the hell is going on here?

Krokus starts in on his same line of bullshit.

We have a new dialogue option!

: Your wife slept through this noise?

: She's a heavy sleeper, what do you want from me?

Incidentally, if you spare Krokus he runs off with the girl.

: [Lore 42] To sleep through that fight, she's either heavily sedated or complicit in all this. Start talking.

: I thought you said he was off answering nature's call.

It's blatantly a lie, along with Verse explicitly calling him a liar in this version.

: It's the truth! I swear it by my wife, by my daughter! I mean, by his daughter!

The game is not even trying to hide how guilty this asshole is.

The rest of the sequence proceeds exactly as we say. He lies and begs, Verse wants to kill him, we agree, Eb and Killsy do the wave. We rescue the girl and give her supplies, all is well.

We got some loot, I guess? The quest isn't over, but I'm stopping here due to the character limit. We will learn a bit more as the quest unfolds, but right now we have a weird Disfavored covert operation. Here's what we know:

Krokus was hired to guard Aesa and his daughter Ptolia. He murdered Aesa, hid the cart, and took Ptolia captive. We don't know to what end yet, but he obviously didn't marry her. He confesses to murdering the Scarlet Furies because he was defending his country, and blames a cannibal Sage we haven't met along with a nationalist zealot named Irissa. We have yet to meet either of these individuals, but we should not take Krokus at face value

The Disfavored are using Krokus and his mercenaries to do something, maybe related to the girl? It's not clear, but Krokus keeps glancing back at Cario for support. The entire group is obviously not Disfavored as they have a Beastman with them. Cario is benefiting from Ashe's Aegis. I have no idea what's going on there as far as what the Disfavored are doing, but as far as Nerat is concerned? He wins! We come in and bust up whatever the Disfavored were going to do with that girl of our own free will entirely because we want to in a way that can't be traced back to the Voices of Nerat! Ashe is going to blame Cleo for this (he knows Verse isn't under Chorus orders) and Nerat can go back to pretending he doesn't know the Disfavored spy units exist. This quest is DLC, so it's weird to see Ashe being vaguely competent at skullduggery and Nerat not fucking himself over with his own ego.

Tune in next time as we finish Verse's quest for revenge!