Part 42: Cleopatra Jones and the Last Survivor of the Shadowhunter TribeCleopatra Jones and the Last Survivor of the Shadowhunter Tribe
Last time on Tyranny, we completed the DLC dungeon which can only be described accurately via lots of profanity. Now that that's over with, we can get back to the main game and pretending the Bastard's Wound never existed.
So it turns out I completely forgot to have a vote for our party for the Stone Sea, but in the meantime, Kills-in-Shadow is kind of the only party member we haven't done much with. We're chatting her up today to see what her deal is.
: So there are still some Beastmen living in the Stone Sea... I'd heard your kind was nearly extinct.
I don't know how the hell we even take option 1 after that fuckawful trash tier DLC where we established that, yes, they kind of are.
: [Lore 32] You're not a Stonestalker, right? So why were you leading a pack of Beastmen from that tribe?
: After tribe was slain, Kills-in-Shadow loped to Stone-lands, stalking on long hunt for Disfavored. But soon became needed by weak whelps. By Stonestalkers who had been slaves and had not learned how best to fight.
: [Growl and bare your teeth.]
: Her top lip peels back in snarl. [sic]
: Look, I'll try, but it'll be difficult if the settlers are out for blood. I'll speak to them and see what options we have.
: A massive, calloused palm cups the back of your neck as the Beastwoman drags you forward. Her sweaty forehead presses to your own, and her pungent breath assaults your nose.
I distinctly remember her calling us a Prima with her as Alpha. Huh.
: What can you tell me about Left-Claw?
: Left-Claw is good whelp. Hunts iron-clads for Kills-in-Shadow. Hunts for revenge.
: If you're going to follow me, I'd like to know more about you.
: Kills-in-Shadow puffs her hairy, naked teats out.
Yes, Tyranny writers, we know it's a boast.
: Am last of tribe - tribe who killed King-Vipers, Alerion, and Thornstags extinct. Am Alpha. Broodmother. Can smell earth-blood like mystic.
Huh. For someone complaining about the Disfavored massacring her entire tribe, it's rather unusual that her boast is of the three tribes the Shadowhunters exterminated.
: Kills-in-Shadow - that's an... interesting name.
Lady, you were named by internet voting. You can cast NO stones here, you were nearly named after a Stygian protagonist.
: How did you end up with the Stonestalkers?
You actually do get some more context here!
: Am not Stonestalker, the Beastwoman snarls. She bristles, flexing her back and shoulders before settling back on her haunches.
: Lost tribe. Left Haven-lands. Migrated. East. Was alone long time. Hunted many humans. Kill-kill-killed. Raged. Like undying fire. Then found pack of stone whelps - Caitiffs, outcasts of tribe, who needed Alpha.
Dammit Barik! We've been away from the Disfavored for a while (with the exception of Telesophia, who behaves nothing like your typical Disfavored) but as Barik is happy to remind us, they're a pack of obnoxious racists.
I took the first option. It repeats dialog we saw earlier. Moving on!
: Don't take this the wrong way, but you seem like a born killer....
: I'd like to know more about your tribe.
I'm not sure if we need high rep with the Stonestalkers or we need to push our Disfavored reputation into the pit. Oh well! Back up the tree!
: Had any good hunts, lately?
: Good, yep. And many more-than-five.
: The Beastwoman flexes and curls her claws in the air, the pitch blackness of them suddenly striking - a stark reminder of their power, their ability to kill.
We'll come back to this.
: I want your opinion on something.
: Fatebinder's smell weakens, dims as strength dies.
Bolverk is a beast tribe's second in command. The word itself is an alias used by Odin to trick people. I am ninety-nine percent sure it was chosen because of "cool word", as the pop up references that the Bolverk's role is to keep people in line on behalf of the leader, while Odin's role was to lie to giants and steal their shit.
: How would you assess our progress?
: On stealing territory of Beastwomen lands - lands humans call realms of Tiersmen? Know Fatebinder claimed territory of Vendrien's Well for self. Is good for pack. Should Kills-in-Shadow care outside of that?
: She crouches down and scratches the lower curve of her back.
: Fatebinder claimed horizon-rock called Mountain Spire at Vendrien's Well. Should claim more. Take power as own. Become stronger and stronger.
Kills-in-Shadow is the character with most diverse perspective and quite frankly it's great to keep her around because of stuff like this. None of the other characters have any reason to believe it's possible, but without the baggage of Kyros or second-hand Kyrosian culture, Killsy has no reason to believe we cannot do it. The standard Kyrosian orthodoxy is that only Kyros can do this. Can Cleopatra learn to create Edicts? Keep reading to find out!
Back up the tree!
: Fatebinder wants you to bathe.
: Don't simply drag your fetid tongue over another matted patch of fur. Stand under a waterfall or kneel in a stream. The crying statue in Edgering Ruins comes to mind.
This is actually a bit of foreshadowing for the remains of Barik's quest. It also seems like Barik is just being an asshole here, but you have to remember he'd love to be able to take off his armor and clean his own shit off himself.
I would also bet real money Barik smells worse than Kills.
Killsy is also able to trivially dunk on Barik like it's nothing.
: Let's play a game.
: Immediately, the Beastwoman perks up, back straightening as her red eyes rove you with interest.
You read that right, we're dragging the party into fuck-marry-kill.
: I'm always down for a game. Unless it involves throwing and catching...in which case... eh....
: Is easy. Packmate chooses one for each - rut, mate, slaughter. If prey is chosen, pack joins ensuing hunt. If packmate is chosen, and both agree to game, then pack gets to watch.
We haven't had Verse in the party, so I was unable to turn off her hat. Sorry!
: Oh I get it! Ok, I'd rut Barik since Kyros' forces need a little pillage and rape in return, I'd mate with Verse, mostly to take half of whatever lands she's going to someday conquer. Obviously, I'd kill Lantry. Who wouldn't?
I don't even know how that's supposed to work with Barik.
: What? I'm old enough to be everyone's father! This is disgusting.
: Barik looks at you and simply shakes his head in horror and disbelief.
I'm not even sure how to respond to this, save with gratitude that we don't get to pick an answer.
: [Kills-in-Shadow Loyalty 1] I'd like to spar with you.
: Beastwoman gets to play-fight with Alpha?
: She immediately perks up, salivating and snarling happily as she rises on hind legs and swipes several practice swings to limber up. She splays her dark claws wide and pins you with an eager, blood-thrilling stare.
Well, we need to assert dominance and I don't want to stab her.
: [Lore 32] [Blast her off of you]
Shit. I'm pretty sure you're supposed to head-butt her here for loyalty, but I'll be honest, I usually go with either all mages or all mages and Barik.
On the plus side, 5 free Lore points is nothing to sneeze at.
Not pictured: I try to ask about her tribe again and get rebuffed.
: Never mind.
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: The Stonestalkers are still free, but even with the earthquakes Azure is getting worse for them. The humans will adapt even to the earthquakes and kill Beastwomen even when things are worst for them.
: Oh, there are Beastmen in the Stone Sea? I thought you guys were nearly extinct.
: The Stonestalkers are weak. They starve and die to humans, unlike me, the best hunter who protects the pack.
: You're not a Stonestalker, right? Why were you leading a pack of that tribe?
: I'm the last Shadowhunter. After my tribe was slain, I murdered the shit out a lot of Disfavored. Then the Stonestalkers needed me because they were ex-slaves who had no idea how to actually fight. Maybe you can help my old pack, so I don't stuff you into a dumpster.
: Awkward dominance display.
: My friend Left-Claw was captured by humans. He's chained in Plainsgate. Please help, they're going to kill him.
: I'll try, but I can't promise anything if the settlers are determined.
: Don't fail me.
: Tell me about Left-Claw.
: He's a good kid, helps me kill Disfavored assholes. You're going to help him, right? You don't want me to get angry, right?
: Tell me about yourself.
: I'm the best hunter. Last of the Shadowhunter tribe - the tribe that exterminated the King-Vipers, Alerion, and Thornstags. Can do magic stuff!
: Interesting name.
: That's me! Silent and swift to kill!
: So what's with you and the Stonestalkers again?
: I lost my tribe, left my home, killed a bunch of humans, then found the Stonestalkers who needed my help.
: All you Beastmen look the same to me, because I am very racist.
: After I rip your dumb ass out of that armor I guarantee you're not going to confuse me with anyone else.
: So, uh... kill a lot of people?
: Nobody is born a killer, but I killed people before I was a year old!
: Can you tell me more about your tribe?
: Ha ha nope!
: So, uh...had any good hunts lately?
: Yeah! A whole bunch! There was this one time I dragged all these Disfavored into the river, and they couldn't swim because their armor was too heavy! It ruled! They didn't even figure out what was going on, and I kept dragging them into the river where their dumb asses drowned!
: So, what should we do next?
: Take more Spires. Also learn to cast Edicts like Kyros, even the Archons fear those and if you could do that we would destroy absolutely everyone who opposed us.
: Please take a bath.
: I am! Right now!
: Instead of licking yourself why don't you stand under a waterfall or something?
: Oh, is that how you got stuck in that armor? Don't worry, I'll pull you out!
: Want to play a game for no reason?
: Fuck marry kill! Fuck marry kill!
: So long as it doesn't involve sports I'm in!
: Here's how to play!
: Oh yea! I'm gonna nominate one guy for all three: Fine Ass! He used to be my old gang boss, we had sex, were a thing, and then I killed him. Those were the days! Did I mention I am very hard core?
: Fuck Barik because Kyros' forces need a little pillaging done to them, marry Verse so I get half of the lands she conquers, and kill Lantry because I still can't let this go!
: I'm way too old for this!
: I'm way too young for this, and you're all perverted weird fucks.
: Barik is too traumatized at the thought of having sex with someone who is not from the North he can't reply.
: I'd fuck Eb super hard, marry Cleo, and kill Barik slowly and painfully.
: Want to spar?
: Here I come! Git gud, scrub!
: Taste overpowered magic! Get off me!
: You win! Ow! Ow!
There's quite a bit going on here. Despite claiming not to respect the Stonestalkers at all, it's pretty clear Kills-in-Shadow cares for them enough to risk threatening Cleopatra - a woman whom Kills describes as tearing fire from the sky - into going to rescue her friend Left-claw. This conversation is a lot more awkward and disjointed than the other companions for the simple reason that the Beastmen tribes are the only culture remaining that isn't directly twisted by Kyros. As Cleopatra pointed out earlier, the Tiers use the same language and currency as Kyros and swear by his name. We're stuck with such awkward questions as "did you have a good hunt" and "let's play a game" because our Fatebinder has no real frame of reference for interacting with Beastmen at all! It's highly likely that before Kills-in-Shadow accosted us on the road our Fatebinder had never met any Beastmen, and all we seem to know of them is that they're nearly extinct. Eb seems to believe that they're treated terribly in the North (we'll get into that in a few updates - they are!) and everyone else Cleopatra has met is basically indoctrinated into Kyrosianism. The Tiersmen think she's bad and don't want her to be in charge, but they do cleave to the tenets of swearing in Kyros' name and believing him nigh-omnipotent. Thus we get awkward dialog options like "let's play a game", which is something we don't offer to Sirin (a literal child), Lantry (who would probably have some word puzzles or something) or Verse and Barik who could probably compete with us in an athletic event. We have something to talk about with the rest of the party members, but here Cleopatra flounders like a fish out of water.
We also learn a lot about Kills-in-Shadow and she's definitely one of the more intelligent and dangerous party members. Now, she's not educated either by human standards or as a human mystic, but she's very good at solving problems and thinking outside the box. Go back to her story about dragging the Disfavored into the water. At first glance the intent is to show that she's a scary lady who does a lot of murder, and that's true - but look at her tactics! She doesn't simply overpower the Disfavored with raw strength, she picks them off one by one and uses one of their greatest strengths against them! Even if she's making this up, we know this tactic works well against the Disfavored because it's simply a variant of what Eb did with the Matani river! Kills is not going to solve your geometry problems and won't get your joke about the tangent, but if you ask her to solve something practical like "how are we going to attack this fortress" or "how should we deal with Graven Ashe" you will get an intelligent and useful reply. Despite coming across as a violent brute who only respects brute strength, she is actually loyal to people like Left-Claw despite Left-Claw being "the pack runt", and feels protective of the Stonestalkers rather than treating them as a bunch of useless idiots who deserve to die. I also suspect she's using the view people have of her as a primitive imbecile to get away with shocking people like Lantry and Sirin. We might not know Beastmen, but Kills-in-Shadow knows humans.
Lastly we should discuss the Shadowhunters. It's a very blink-and-you'll-miss-it line, but Kills-in-Shadow introduces them as the tribe who "killed King-Vipers, Alerion, and Thornstags extinct". The wiki makes the assumption these are Beast tribes, but it's not really clear, and Terratus doesn't have a whole lot of animal life. There aren't horses, we don't get attacked by roaming wolf packs, we don't seem to hunt any wild game, and there's an encounter where people talk about antelopes existing in a mythic past. It's a perfectly valid assumption to say that the Shadowhunters hunted so hard that they wiped out all the King-Vipers, because those were giant poisonous snakes that nobody liked and they tell everyone to remind them that they should be thankful there are no more giant poisonous snakes. Alerion refers to a heraldric bird, and Thornstags are presumably some kind of deer, so it's a plausible interpretation. If we go with the interpretation these are Beast tribes then we end up with a weird shades of grey deal. The Shadowhunters exterminated three other tribes and are now outraged that the Disfavored are paying them back in kind. Does this justify the Disfavored's actions? No, but it does address the uncomfortable reality that the world is not divided into oppressed saints and evil oppressors. We've seen with Eb and the rebels that the Tiersmen elite's problem is not that masters exist, but that they are not the masters, and a similar sentiment exists with Kills-in-Shadow here. When the Shadowhunters hunt their enemies to extinction, it is a laudable act worthy of song. When their enemies pay them back in kind, Kills-in-Shadow merely adds them to the list of people to be exterminated. Unlike Eb and Tarkis Arri, Kills-in-Shadow doesn't spout rhetoric about freedom or vengeance or how Kyros' forces deserve to be pillaged, she just adds them to her enemies list and exterminates them.
This is where the weirdness begins. The game obviously wants to talk about the colonial expansionism portion of authoritarianism and resorts to the tired old fantasy trope where <fantastical humanlike species> is a standin for gays/black people/whoever and they are being oppressed by the bad people. Fantasy authors tend to fall into one of two traps while doing this: the oppressed minority has some kind of dangerous uncontrollable superpower that makes a solid case for killing them all (Dragon Age mages, Broken Earth orogenes, X-Men) or they make the minority stand-ins something weird like Beastmen or something. The Beastmen seem to be a Native American stand-in as far as I can tell. The developers cite "American exceptionalism" as an influence, and the extermination of the Beastmen tribes via Kyros' iron-clad armies is roughly analogous to the US Cavalry displacing Native Americans with industrial weaponry. A lot of people will argue over whether it's a tale of a peaceful people being displaced by invaders or the now less common view of exterminating "merciless Indian Savages" (Thomas Jefferson's words) but the truth is that both sides did pretty fucked up things to each other! The Disfavored are racist assholes in the service of a tyrant. We've spent pages discussing how awful they were. Their opposition here is... a woman who gleefully threatens to rip her allies guts out slowly and painfully as a game and describes herself as "Hunted many humans. Kill-kill-killed."
Thus it's completely unsurprising that Kills-in-Shadow is attracted to Eb. They are extremely similar - sure, Kills-in-Shadow is more open about it, but we can see the parallels from one conversation. Both Eb and Killsy choose mates based around who they think will wield the most power - Eb Verse for her conquering ways, Killsy the Fatebinder for obvious reasons. Both Eb and Killsy begin by fighting Kyros' conquest, only to swear allegiance to the player character because they want to be on the winning side. Both women were at the apex of their respective societies, with Eb as a noble and a Tidecaster and Killsy as her tribe's Alpha (minor spoilers) only to lose it all to the new Kyrosian world order. Both women are perfectly willing to resort to violence to get their way, and even both joke about violence against Barik! Eb picks him as her "rut" choice to give "a little pillage and rape in return". They have extremely different cultural perspectives but think very similarly.
Anyway, I promised a party vote and here it is.
Decisions Lie Before Us!
By LPer prerogative, Kills in Shadow is going to be in our party for the Stone Sea. Pick two more of Verse, Lantry, Sirin, Barik, and Eb.