Part 26: Cleopatra Jones and the Terrible TownsfolkCleopatra Jones and the Terrible Townsfolk
Last time on Tyranny, we discussed Verse's character and Servetus set me straight in the thread by pointing out Verse very well may have been lying about those animals to seem tough. Today we are going to do absolutely nothing to do with Verse's character and go do some sidequests for the people of Lethian's Crossing. You might be expecting us to help some kindly townsfolk, but - spoiler alert - this town is full of assholes.
I think this is the first time anyone has been actually happy to see a Fatebinder.
We just saw them storm the city and kill everyone, this is a reasonable request.
: I can find her killer, but how do you know it was the Brotherhood?
Deya's model gets really emotive and I love it.
: [Lore 29] Bearing false witness can lead to even more murder. Are you sure it was Sandro and not some other Brotherhood mercenary?
Some of these replies are hilariously dickish.
: I'll be back after I find Sandro.
: Kill Sandro and please... bring back the necklace. The thought of those thugs pawning it... She rests her head in her hands and sobs
: You can't let him get away with this! The Brotherhood's hideout is somewhere in Twin Rivers. Kill him and give me some peace!
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: FAAAAAATEBINDER! HELLLLLLLP! The Bronze Brotherhood killed my wife! I demand justice!
: How do you know it was the Brotherhood?
: The necklace! She was wearing the necklace I gave her when he... snif... a younger man... Sandro! He killed her while I watched! I was so afraid!
: Bearing false witness will lead to more murder...are you certain?
: Absolutely certain! They used to be friends but had a falling out over some trivial matter and that must have motivated him! Then he stole the necklace!
: I'll be back once I find him.
: Go to Twin Rivers and STAB HIM IN THE DIIIIIIIICK!
That is townsfolk number one. Maybe someone else needs help before we go to Twin Rivers?
How about you, fish guy?
We're a Fatebinder with a Scarlet Fury in tow, I don't think we'd give a fuck.
: I'm sorry you had to see that. Gino does a quick and apologetic bow. My brother Alagan normally runs the stall, but he's out getting supplies right now so I've been forced to endure the public while I watch over things. Alagan should return shortly.
: What was the settler talking about? Blood of the Tiersmen?
: [Lore 49] False rumors usually begin when someone has made enemies.
: A while ago I used to frequent an obscure part of the Twin Rivers where the fishing is very profitable. One day I saw something I probably shouldn't have and some Disfavored caught sight of me trying to escape.
"Shit, you heard that! Billy Bob said something not racist! Get him before he tells the others!"
: The Disfavored must be trying to discredit me in case I ever came forward with the information. But I assure you, I would never cross Kyros' armies. I would much rather wash my hands of this whole dirty business.
Oooh, cheap tasty fish? I love fish in real life.
: I'll look into it for you.
: Thank you Fatebinder. I'd speak to one of the other merchants first, or maybe Eldian. One of them is sure to know something.
: Why didn't I see you before the attack on the settlement?
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: Hey, Kyros lady! This man likes Kyros and is a big traitor, so don't buy his fish!
: Fuck you! Shut up or I'm going to go all John Cleese on your ass with my fish! Wow, sorry about that Fatebinder, everyone keeps spreading all these rumors. Usually my brother deals with these assholes but he's out getting supplies.
: Sounds like you've made some enemies. What was that about?
: Oh, you know, you see the Disfavored doing something shady once and suddenly nasty rumors spring up! Now, I don't want any part of this shit - I'd never act against Kyros' armies. I wish people would stop saying this stuff!
: I'll look into it. Who's saying this?
: Talk to the merchants, or Eldian.
: Incidentally, I've never seen you before and I explored the town.
: Oh, I was out getting supplies.
We go through the merchants.
We know Bronze here is a Scarlet Chorus agent, but he unfortunately can't or won't help us out.
Bullshit. We ask the merchants and we eventually get pointed to the one merchant with the right answer.
No, not this guy.
Convenient, we're here now!
Back to Geno.
: Greetings, Fatebinder!
: Alagan is the one spreading the rumors.
: He says you paid off the occupying army to look the other way when you killed some men.
: Why should I believe you if I don't know your side of the story?
: [Show him your map] Where are these bodies?
Well, this got interesting fast.
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: Hey how's it going?
: It's your brother who's spreading the rumors. He says you paid off the occupying army to kill some dudes and get away with it.
: That's bullshit! It was the Bane!
: I can't trust you if you don't tell me your side of the story.
: Ok! It wasn't the Bane! It was the Disfavored burying some of those Scarlet Chorus wizard assholes! The bodies are at Twin Rivers, maybe now people will listen to me.
Off we go to Twin Rivers.
: Calm yourself and explain.
This is of course reflective of Raetommon leading his men through what seem like really bad ideas and his followers either deserting or being destroyed by what he's proposing.
: Shouldn't you be holding the line and not crying for help?
: [Join him] Then prove you're not a coward. Lead the charge and I'll follow.
: I think you'll find few things bring folk together like a common threat. Eb smiles with a satisfied nod. Without our help, they're probably doomed. With your help, they'll most likely live and maybe, just maybe, even thank us. Oh who am I kidding? I'd wager my rings on copious claims of 'well we would have won without you'.
We fight the Bane. It's not very interesting. Spam magic and abilities to win.
: You fight well. Remind me to always stay on your side of the battlefield. The soldier loosens the bindings on his gauntlets and flexes his fingers.
: By the Brotherhood, who knows how much worse that might have gone without your help!
In case you needed further proof that Raetommon is a worthless idiot, here it is. He's abandoning his soldiers - who are currently his entire power base - to the care of the woman he personally insulted and dared to come after him. He's throwing away what he has now to chase a pipe dream.
: What happened here? What are Raetommon's plans for Lethian's Crossing?
: I wish I knew! Raetommon said he was going to carry out the 'next part of his plan'. He unsealed the door and went inside with some of our Brothers.
: A few minutes later, the Bane came pouring out of the entrance and overwhelmed us! I saw Raetommon standing at the entrance wearing a strange helmet.
Bad leadership is a recurring theme throughout this game. There's a clear tie between Nerat treating the Chorus like crap and everyone deserting to join the rebels, and here we see it play out with Caelus and the Brotherhood men deciding that Raetommon's plan is dumb and they're going home.
: I need to get inside the Oldwalls. Can you point me to the entrance?
This isn't a trap or anything. Raetommon has pissed away tons of men with this stupid plan his men aren't in on and instead of trying to convince them of his plan fed them to the Bane while smirking like an idiot.
Look at this! Remember, we slaughtered two entire garrisons of Brotherhood troops, and yet Caelus and the Brotherhood men prefer us to their own leadership! This is the lowest possible bar to clear! We even called the man a coward before the fight, yet he's bowing in salute!
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: Shit fuck help! Bane! BAAANE!
: Shouldn't you be fighting?
: I'm not a coward!
: Prove you're not a coward by fighting these Bane with me!
: You'll help us? Yaaaaay!
: Ah yes, nothing like a common enemy to unite a bunch of people...just like my time in the rebellion. Well, I will bet money we don't get any credit.
: That was great! I'm glad you're on our side, otherwise we'd have been fucked! I'm Caelus, thank you on behalf of the Bronze Brotherhood.
: Ok, seriously, what exactly is going on here?
: Raetommon said something about a plan, went into the Oldwalls, and then we all got attacked by Bane. He smiled while they killed us! What the fuck?
: Can you help me get inside the Oldwalls?
: Yea, go find Welby, those Bane are fighting her up there and sabotaged the bridge.
: *salutes* Gee, you sure would be a better boss than Raetommon.
With that bit of unpleasantness settled we are free to go back to putting off the main quest and checking out these bodies Gino told us about.
Time to dig!
As it turns out, Gino was telling the truth. It's not hard to speculate why he'd be afraid of Ashe.
There's that too! Fun fact, if you're on any other route this goes in the quest log as evidence against Graven Ashe. These aren't just conscripts, either, these are mages who have special privileges under Kyros' law, and they're not easily replaced (as Cleopatra points out defending Bitter Quip, it takes decades to learn how to use magic). We won't know for certain what they were doing here, but odds are the Disfavored covert operations were aimed at weakening the Chorus in preparation for the civil war. Ashe talks a good game about honor but can be just as deceitful as Nerat. Remember the slaver?
More Bane! They go down, but not before Verse and Killsy. It's Tyranny combat. Sorry!
This Bane is a "Malice" so it can use shadow magic, but it also dies to our spells.
We cross the river to find...more Bane menacing the Brotherhood! The bridge is trapped and I eat a bunch of damage from failing to find them. Oops!
Eb and Cleopatra cast their magical spell of "fuck this" that kills all the Bane and heals the team while making them immune to damage.
I'm sorry, Welby, what the fuck are you talking about? Your troops attacked us after Raetommon gave us permission to go to the Crossing.
: You're here for Raetommon, aren't you? Welby nods as if she's answering her own question. I won't waste your time. He's gone - as is the keystone you'll need to get to him. That half-wit brute Myrek took it to Deserter's March. She spits when she says Myrek's name.
: He went to gather more support for Raetommon's maddening plot...
Ah, so Raetommon deliberately brought all the disloyal troops so the Bane would kill them? Except he's an idiot, so he never bothered to rally the loyal troops before hand?
What a failure.
In other words Raetommon just handed his men to the command of someone he views as an enemy. Genius!
: What is Raetommon hoping to accomplish here?
Oh, so his plan is to control the Bane and have a big purge to convince the town he's trustworthy. I don't even know.
: I will return.
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: Wow, you killed two of our garrisons and that is very bad! On the other hand, fuck Raetommon. He sent that stupid cocaine enthusiast Myrek to Deserter's March with the key you need to enter the Oldwalls. Fuck him. Everyone here despises Raetommon.
: What exactly is Raetommon trying to accomplish?
: He's going to lead the Bane and do a big purge of the town, but he's a goddamn moron and they're just going to kill everyone.
This is all very tragic but we have the siren song of sidequests!
Sandro the murderer of wives is just over this wall!
There's a big hint in the user interface. Do you see it?
Take a look under Sandro's portrait. That insignia isn't the Bronze Brotherhood insignia, it's the Lethian's Crossing insignia. Go back and look at Welby, they're very different. Lethian's Crossing is the rings of trade, the Brotherhood's symbol is a bronze hammer.
: You're somewhat oddly dressed for a Bronze Brotherhood mercenary...
This is a big hint that Mrs. Stanislavsky might not be telling us the whole truth.
: You seem nervous, not ill...
He's not talking like a guy who murders women over petty disagreements. Out with it.
: I know you killed Deya's wife...
: [Subterfuge 48] Just tell me what you did, Sandro. I swear I won't tell anyone.
What a twist! Look, it's obvious Sandro isn't with the Bronze Brotherhood and that casts doubt on our angry widow here.
: You saw Phaedra die?
: Why would Deya kill her own wife?
: If you and Phaedra were friends why would Deya frame you?
: He takes a long, deep breath. Because I told Phaedra not to marry Deya, and she has always hated me for that.
: Phaedra and I have been friends since childhood. We promised to always be honest with each other, even when it hurts. When Phaedra left to live in the Bastard City, I stayed in Lethian's Crossing to keep an eye on things for her.
: [Lore 29] If you're lying by omission, I'll personally toss you into the dungeons at Bastard City.
We're going to have a lot to say about Deya and the Lethian family when we get back to town, but this just shows how shortsighted Deya is. The land itself is tremendously valuable, but the town is valuable because it attracts merchants. Tax them to the breaking point and they won't show up! We also have the little issue of the Law of Sharing and whether she's actually allowed to gouge the merchants without the Archons showing up and demanding she ease up or fork over a bigger cut.
: You're saying Deya married Phaedra for her land?
: Why should I believe any of this?
It's entirely possible we're being played, but Deya's story does not add up because this guy is not Brotherhood!
: Why are you wearing Phaedra's necklace?
: It seems Deya and I need to talk.
: Speak with your blade, not just your words. Sandro scowls, making a slashing motion with his hand.
: Thank you for hearing me out. She's never been the friendliest person, but I didn't think Deya would do something like this.
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: Stay back! I'm armed! And, uh, I've got coronavirus! Yeah!
: You don't look like a Brotherhood soldier...
: I'm not one, I just used it as a disguise to get out of town. Deya was trying to find me.
: You don't seem like you've got coronavirus! You're just nervous!
: Yup! So many people have died in Brotherhood raids...I just had to get out.
: I know you killed Deya's wife.
: What? No! It's a lie!
: You can trust me to be silent, I'm a Fatebinder.
: It was Deya! She did it! I saw it! During the last raid, when the bandits attacked!
: Why would she kill her own wife?
: I dunno! Phaedra and I were friends! She hated that!
: I told Phaedra not to settle for that cruel gold-digging woman and not to marry her!
: Did you know lying by omission is the kind of thing Tunon would be very interested in?
: Oh. Shit. Well, Phaedra actually owned Lethian's Crossing - she's the female heir of Lethian, who founded the settlement. Deya wasn't happy and wanted to extort more money from the merchants, because owning an entire town wasn't enough for that greedy woman.
: So Phaedra married Deya for her land?
: Yup. Phaedra fell for Deya hard and got exploited to the fullest. Deya was always sweet to Phaedra but vicious and cruel to everyone else.
: Got any proof?
: Nope, just my word, Fatebinder.
: So why are you wearing Phaedra's necklace?
: Um, this is mine. Phaedra gave it to me to celebrate our friendship.
: Time to talk to Deya.
: WHOOP THAT TRICK! I mean, uh, thank you, Fatebinder!
We could go do the main quest, but we have some sidequests to resolve so we can get XP before going into the Bane-infested Oldwalls.
Pictured: the face of an asshole who tried to invoke the power of the tyrant to solve a petty dispute five minutes from getting what he deserves.
: Where is Gino?
: He is out fishing. He didn't want to speak to me, said he needed time to think. He scratches his arms. You didn't say anything to him did you?
: I know you've been spreading false rumors about your brother.
: I saw the bodies myself. They are Scarlet Chorus Blood Chanters - killed by Disfavored.
Your brother knew. They dress pretty distinctively and throw fire around.
Get back here you coward!
Gino runs in in an animation I completely fail to screenshot.
: Alagan is working with the Disfavored to smear your name.
: Gino eyes [sic] glaze in a bitter rage. "Why Alagan, after all these years, why?!" His shout echoes throughout the settlement.
: Alagan shrinks in place, his knees wobbling in an increasingly difficult effort to keep him from toppling over. "F-Father always favored you, always pushed me around. I just wanted a chance to run things for once!"
Of course, this will never happen because Alagan is a coward. Rather than facing his brother, he worked with Nazi analogues to spread baseless rumors and destroy the family business. It's a recurring theme in this game that evil is self-destructive and we see that on even the micro level. Deya would tax Lethian's Crossing and thus destroy its trade value, and Alagan would ruin the family business to spite his brother.
: Gino's face grows still while his lips remain as the only thing in motion. "...And you never will. Begone from here, Alagan. Never show your face again."
: Alagan's lips tremble in a failed attempt to mutter a reply but eventually falls victim to the weight of his head as it droops down. He picks a small sack nearby and slowly scampers off.
There's nowhere Alagan can go now. The Disfavored won't take him, he's not of Northern Heritage and they'll deny all involvement. He's burned his bridges with his own brother. It sucks for his family, but he did this to himself.
: I will talk to him right away.
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: AAAAH! It's the Fatebinder! Uh, hi, Fatebinder!
: Where's Gino?
: He said he had to go think. Did you tell him anything?
: I know you and the Disfavored are spreading bullshit lies about him!
: How did you know they were bullshit?
: I found the bodies! Those were Scarlet Chorus Blood Chanters?
: What's going on here?
: Gino! Your asshole brother is working with the Disfavored to spread lies about you!
: Daddy didn't love me enough! I wanted to run the fish stand for once, instead of collapsing in panic every time I interacted with a customer!
: Thanks Fatebinder! Could you talk to Eldian for me?
Let's talk to Eldian!
: I was hoping you could clear Gino's name.
: I have seen the bodies myself. They were Scarlet Chorus members butchered by Disfavored soldiers. Gino is innocent of the claims against him.
: Alagan was working with the Disfavored to run Gino out of town for witnessing them bury the bodies.
: You have done something wonderful here, Fatebinder. The needs of a small, weak man placed before your own. You truly are a wonderful person, and a force of change for the Tiers. I will tell the other merchants and settlers the truth of the matter and clear Gino's name.
Sometimes it helps to be reminded that even in a fallen world full of evil like Kyros' empire you can still do some good.
Anyway, remember how Phaedra owned the town? Maybe Eldian can tell us what she was like.
: Can I ask you some questions about Lethian's Crossing?
Uh, none of those are about Phaedra.
: I'd like to ask you about the Crossing's History.
: Who was Lethian?
Wait, hang on! Lethian is Eldian's mother, right? So that makes Phaedra either his niece or his daughter.
: But Kyros gives, and Kyros takes... the next year, Lethian was stripped of her trade rights. Suddenly she had a large staff but no goods to trade and no means to pay anyone.
: But she was a stubborn one and knew if she just kept at it, eventually things would turn around for her. She figured the trade goods could come to us - the location was good enough. It's crazy how that would happen.
Not really. You're near a waterway and an iron mine in a preindustrial society, that turns you into an economic engine.
Being the only way to get over the Oldwalls doesn't hurt either.
: Lethian was your mother?
: Of course! How did you think I became the Reeve of the Crossing? It's certainly not my story-telling or charm?
: I may be the oldest living resident here, but that's certainly not a good enough reason to make someone a leader. Though, come to think of it, neither is just being the offspring of the former leader. He laughs.
I'm just going to cut this off here. Eldian doesn't mention Phaedra at all. We're not given the option to ask about her. It's really weird! Tyranny is usually very good about showing relationships and consequences!
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: Fatebinder! How's it going?
: Can you clear Gino's name?
: I'm the respected elder of this town, but I need evidence before I go talking about this.
: I saw the bodies. The Disfavored murdered a bunch of Scarlet Chorus wizards, then Alagan helped them lie to discredit Gino because he witnessed it.
: Wow! You're a good person, Fatebinder - you stood up for a small weak man instead of letting him get trampled. I'll tell everyone the truth about Gino.
: Anyway, who's Lethian?
: Oh, she was my mother. She founded the town and made it a trade powerhouse. That's how I became reeve. A wonderful woman, though a little fond of dalliance - but who isn't? May she rest in peace.
: How about Phaedra, is she related?
Let's go get the truth out of Deya.
: You killed your wife and tried to frame Sandro.
: How dare you accuse- Her tear-streaked eyes widen with surprise. That's so absurd I can't even- She clutches her head in her hands, bawling.
: First, I have a few questions.
: Why hail a Fatebinder when you were the one who murdered your own wife?
That's not the whole story. Literally no one in the village was talking about this. Eldian apparently didn't know anything about it. No, this is entirely Deya playing games in an attempt to show just how smart she is and gratify her ego that she can match wits with a Fatebinder and win.
: Why did you kill Phaedra?
: Living with Phaedra was insufferable. Always so happy and smiling, like nothing bad had ever happened to her in her entire life. It drove me crazy. I was happy with her at first, but over time it wore me down, and I couldn't take it anymore.
More egotistical horseshit. It's all greed and ego. This is the justification of a psychopath who thinks she's won because now she can buy her way out of this.
: Why kill Phaedra now rather than earlier?
: I wasn't originally planning on doing it myself, at all. Phaedra was supposed to die when Kyros' armies came to Lethian's Crossing. That was the only reason I actually married the little half-wit.
: I met Phaedra in the Bastard City. It didn't take long to learn that she owned a sizable piece of land. I courted her for a while, and then Kyros invaded the Tiers. By that time, I had Phaedra right where I wanted her. She was desperately in love with me and wanted us to be together forever.
Ego, ego, ego...
: But she wasn't willing to marry me just then. So I stayed with her as we traveled around and eventually settled here. Kyros' forces followed soon after. Her armies quickly occupied Lethian's Crossing and subjugated the town.
: But obviously she recovered.
Deya is actually terrible at this planning thing. The easiest way to get rid of the unfortunate Phaedra would be to manipulate her into breaking Kyros' law somehow and then have the Kyrosians do the work so she could legally inherit. Deya being a vainglorious idiot needs Cleopatra to recognize how great her plan was and obviously Cleopatra will just...take the bribe.
: So you had to change your plans.
: Wait. How do you know Kyros is a woman?
This is the narcissism speaking. Yes, Kyros is a horrible tyrant - but Kyros can shatter nations and armies with an Edict, or order the Disfavored Iron Legions into combat. Deya has nothing. Technically, she inherited Lethian's Crossing, but Eldian still holds the real power and respect in the community, and she's stupid enough to believe she has lasting leverage over a Fatebinder because she has money. We're super rich! We own two big magic fortresses as well as have the power of the law and personal magic.
: Sandro told me a rather interesting - and different - version of events.
: She scoffs at you. You are a persistent one, aren't you?
: Fine. As you probably now know, Phaedra was the granddaughter of Lethian. Which means she essentially owned Lethian's Crossing. Every month, she would collect from the merchants and use the rings to maintain the market areas for their use.
Well, yes, those merchants have real jobs and you leech off your wife.
: With Phaedra gone, you've inherited the Crossing and can charge whatever you'd like.
The theme of both of these sidequests is the opportunity to abuse the tyrant's state to perform petty personal acts of evil. Both Alagan and Deya tried to get assistance from Kyros to unjustly solve their petty disputes - Alagan tried to get the Disfavored to help him steal his brother's fish stand, and Deya tried to use Cleopatra to kill Sandro and eliminate the evidence for her. This crops up in real life as well, such as the many instances of people calling the Gestapo to solve petty bullshit. Want your cheating wife and that jerk guy she's having an affair with gone? Tell the Gestapo they made a Hitler joke! It's your word against theirs and you're a 'trustworthy' Gestapo informer! Even on the lowest rungs, Kyros is able to get people to betray each other for that sweet, sweet feeling of power. Do you think it's a coincidence that Deya admires Kyros and wants to fuck her? How long do you think it will take for Harichand Bronze to figure out what happened and blackmail her senseless? This is a world that stands for nothing ruled by a distant monster who stands for nothing. The law of Kyros is a half-enforced bald-faced lie and no other beliefs are permitted. Why not murder your wife? Why not slander your brother? Why not step on that man's face, if you can rise a little higher? Eldian has principles, and look where it got him - constantly stepped on by idiots like Raetommon. It's the world of Nietzsche's madman - when God is dead, and there is no good or evil, what is left to stand for? There is no tyranny where the common people are left alone in relative peace while the elites fight it out. When the leaders promote vice and selfishness, the entire land suffers.
Decisions Lie Before Us!
Render judgment upon Deya.