Part 43: Cleopatra Jones and the Town Full of RacistsCleopatra Jones and the Town Full of Racists
Last time on Tyranny, we chatted with our Beastwoman companion Kills-in-Shadow, who asked us to rescue her friend Left-Claw from Halfgate. We promised to do what we could. Today we're about to see the consequences of that decision.
Anyway, goons decided that we should go from our extremely powerful all mage party to Cleopatra and the...less magically talented party members. I will just say this: I am grateful to the thread for giving me the overpowered party for the dogshit section of the game.
Unfortunately because Lantry is leaving the party, this means we need to delete all of Cleo's spells to avoid the phantom spell glitch.
Now we can tell Killsy it's time to hunt and she'll come along with us, along with Verse and Barik.
So normally I've been trying to take a conciliatory tone with some of the factions in the game.
Oh, FUCK no. Anyway, this is one faction we're about to meet that I'm about to piss off, and you'll see why because they're all worthless assholes who have nothing to offer. Fuck em.
The game immediately railroads us into conflict with the Scarlet Chorus.
Granted, the Chorus themselves have every right to be pissed at us, even though plausibly we could make the argument to Nerat that he benefited from our using and discarding the Disfavored. Whatever! These guys are all assholes anyway.
: I've only just arrived, and already you test my patience.
: Well, shit, I think I've gone and upset the mewling canker-wit. No don't hurt me, Fatebinder! I'm trembling! Can you believe this one, strutting about like this town isn't already ours?
: [Conquest] You would attack the Fatebinder who reduced the Vellum Citadel to ashes? How very brave.
: The soldier pales and grips for the hilt of her blade, but hesitates to draw it.
: A joke's a joke, eh? We were just having a bit of a row. No need to be so eager to die.
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: Hey, everyone! It's a bitch! CLEOPATRA JONES IS A LITTLE BI-
: I'm sorry, did I hear "please kill me with fire raining from the sky, like you did at the Vellum Citadel?"
: No, Fatebinder, not the belt! Run away! Run away!
So, funny story about Halfgate - if you come here during Conquest and make the right choices, it's called "Plainsgate" because Cairn didn't slaughter half the town.
: Have anything noteworthy in stock?
: This place sure has been wrecked.
: And by a Fatebinder like you no less. No offense to you, of course, your good Justice. But if I ever get my sights on who did this, I'll give him a ripe piece of my mind. This city lost everything to the Edict. Her homes, her people - even her name. You can't imagine what it was like to watch her quake and burn.
You're a goddamn idiot. The Scarlet Chorus works for a dude called "the Archon of Secrets" known for scheming and enslaving people. What exactly do you think you're going to get out of this?
: I hear the folks of Halfgate feel the Disfavored are causing problems.
: Halfgate's townsfolk sympathize with the Scarlet Chorus, is that so?
We'll get back to this in a minute, but let's just say these assholes never did any farming in their lives.
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: Careful, Fatebinder, it's slippery around here. I got nothing to sell despite being a merchant, nope.
: Geez, this place was wrecked. Did an Edict go off or something?
: Too soon! If I catch the Fatebinder who did this I'm going to give them a piece of my mind! Anyway, those Disfavored jackasses are protecting Cairn while the Chorus wants to finally kill him, so we're all Chorus stans. Fans? Except not really. We're kinda iffy on the whole thing.
Whatever. Into the town!
This ends about how you'd expect.
We rain down fire upon these dumb idiots.
This is poor Left-Claw, and we can't do anything for him until the Chorus assholes are dead.
We break into this random house to learn the first level of Bounding Bolts. We already got the turbocharged version from Trash Mob Dungeon, but this one is low enough we can combine it into our existing hypercharged spells once Cleopatra reads enough books.
This is just a weird encounter.
: If I'm going to order your death, I'll need to hear what crimes you've committed to warrant it.
We have a fair amount of options here.
I take option 2, because that is a slow and painful death and I'm not sure it's freeing anyone from any torment. He's going from being chained to a wall in some guy's house to being slowly crushed by a big rock. I also have no idea if he's actually telling the truth or if he's nuts enough to make up some crazy crap instead of just asking Cleo to free him. Is he feeling guilty? Probably not from that smile. He is clearly being tortured on a regular basis, so who knows?
: For the crime of willfully breaking Kyros' Peace, I hereby sentence you to be crushed by the weight of a rock until dead. The punishment shall be carried out no later than a span from now.
Nothing about this encounter makes sense. Apparently you can talk him into giving us our last core Sigil, the Sigil of Stone, but we're about to get that in a few updates anyway.
: I would have prolonged it myself. Each of those villagers had a life to live. The rest of his miserable existence should be spent paying for their deaths.
Verse, he's about to be slowly crushed to death by a big rock. I think you'll get your wish.
Then he just...disappears.
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: Help! Fatebinder, I am being tortured and it hurts, so you must kill me!
: What crime have you committed, that I should execute you?
: I, uh, murdered an entire village. It ruled!
: For breaking Kyros' peace I sentence you to be tortured to death.
: For some reason, we approve!
: You should have tortured him harder - think of all the wasted lives!
: I will disappear now. My home planet needs me.
I'm really not sure what to make of Scovik here. Is he just saying what he is because he's being driven mad by pain? Does he feel guilty? If a mage is sentenced to death, then disappears into thin air and is never seen again, do we care? It's more interesting to see Verse's facade crack - by showing empathy with the unfortunate villagers - than this crime committed against people we've never met or heard of. If this mage is so powerful that he could destroy an entire village with one blast of his magic, why have we never heard of them? How did these random people manage to keep him in chains if he could do that? Even Sirin never demonstrated that kind of power, and she's an Archon. We'll never know if he's telling the truth or not, and the game doesn't give us the opportunity to investigate. Whose house is this? Clearly it's not Scovik's, there's a bed right there. Who is holding him captive? The Chorus?
It doesn't make sense, but it doesn't matter either. I think this is trying to say something about the uncertainty of justice when you don't have all the facts, but we can't get the facts. On the surface it seems open and shut - Scovik killed a bunch of people to see if he was that powerful. He told us as much. It's just not clear at all if he's in his right mind to make these confessions.
Whatever! On with the game!
More Chorus members feel the might of Cleopatra Jones. It's fatal.
We have, in fact, slaughtered so many Chorus members we unlocked the Wrath ability, which protects us from certain common Chorus-infused status effects.
While breaking into people's houses hunting for Chorus members, we get this statement from one of the inhabitants. It's not wrong! We've been hammering over and over in this LP that Kyros' Peace is a complete and total lie. It's the big lie used to convince ideologues like Tunon to do horrible things for the supposed greater good. These people got caught up in a civil war which is literally sanctioned by Kyros. Just wait, it's going to get worse.
This woman is a complete idiot.
If you needed more confirmation that the motivation of the Kyrosians is entirely personal power, here you go.
: [Diplomat] How about a truce?
No point summarizing this one.
Now, you might think this would just be another standard Tyranny battle, but there's a twist!
One of these guys brought a silence ability to the battle, and they hit Cleo with it.
Things are looking a bit hairy here, as all our party members with revival skills got voted out of the active party. You all know what you did.
I start spamming artifact active abilities waiting for the silence to wear off.
Then it does, and Cleopatra resumes her standard overpowered slaughtering. I also forget to loot Misery's unique spear. Oh well, I can't remember what it does and we'll be back soon enough.
Verse and Barik immediately start bickering.
: If the Scarlet Chorus lack for provisions, they should stop expanding beyond their means. Short of that, you can eat each other for all I care.
Barik, that is the dumbest thing you've said yet today. There aren't any waterways around here, so Bronze Age armies are going to have to resupply off of the land. Unless Graven Ashe has some kind of magical food conjuring I don't know about, you also starve.
: I'd rather snap that lobster shell around you and skewer the fleshy bits underneath.
Enough of this. Let's go talk to Mark's agent so we can get on with this.
: What do you do in Halfgate?
: A little bit of everything, really. I'm decently handy with tools, and the buildings here are always in need of repairs.
: Why is there a Beastman being held here in Halfgate?
So, yeah! Fuck all these people! Eb told us the fields of Azure were worked by Beastmen slaves, and this guy is the equivalent of Jefferson Davis bawling in his boring book that mean ol' Abraham Lincoln took all his slaves.
: You assumed the Beastman's guilty? How do you know he was hunting a human?
I wonder what you did to deserve this?
: Humans kill humans. Is what humans do. Even now, Kyros' packs hunt each other - while also hunting humans called Tiersmen to extinction.
: What can you tell me about those who would defy Kyros in this realm?
It's a metaphor for the US and the Native Americans!
: Ever since Cairn fell and the Edict devastated the land, the Beastmen have started to reclaim the Stone Sea.
: If you find yourself in their presence, tread with caution. The Beastmen are territorial and resort to violence with little provocation.
Before anyone goes off on how Beastwomen should learn that words can never hurt them, "cutting words" is probably a euphemism for "blatantly racist shit".
: She curls her elongated, wickedly curved claws as she rumbles her warning.
: Do not blame Beastwoman for lacking patience. Do humans not also swat at buzzing-biting, swarming flies?
Kills-in-Shadow risked her life to liberate this idiot's town from the Scarlet Chorus. This idiot hid in his house like a coward. I really wish we had the option to point this out, because if it weren't for her this idiot would be conscripted right now.
: Bleden Mark sends his regards. I'm looking for the Azure Shield.
: Oh, Bleden Mark also wanted me to tell you, this is your chance to see your wife again.
Does he not get that Mark is also an Archon of the Court? Granted, we report directly to Tunon, but I would imagine if Mark needs a Fatebinder for something Tunon would approve.
: What use would the Beastmen have for an Azure relic?
: It's a matter of pride, Fatebinder. To them, the Stone Sea is theirs. And if a shiny shield of iron is found, well, that's theirs, too.
Even the narration is clumsily pointing out what an idiot this guy is.
: How should I got about acquiring the artifact from Hundred-Blood?
: Spilling her blood would be the most direct solution, of course. No easy task there. He taps his finger against his lips. It also might be possible to arrange for a trade, but who knows what a Beastman could possibly want.
You know game, you're not helping your metaphor of "Beastmen as Native Americans" by having them rip out and eat each other's livers. Yes, the Aztecs practiced cannibalism, but their imperial practices pissed off enough people that when Cortez landed a bunch of the locals joined his team to kick their asses. The real problem is that we don't see any kind of mitigating factors of Beastmen culture that would indicate that yes, this culture has something to offer other than being weird social darwinists who yammer on about being predators. It is entirely plausible to me that the reaction of the human cultures to Beastwomen talking about how tasty humans are is to go grab all the weapons and wage a war of extermination because they don't want to be eaten. The Stonestalkers are a weird case because they adopted the traditions of the Shadowhunters, who seem to value martial superiority and wars of extermination until the Disfavored one-upped them.
: So what's going on with your wife?
: I'm sorry. If there's anything I can do, I will.
It's not a lot of wrath, and it might even be as simple as telling Mark he held up his end of the bargain so could we release the unfortunate Elaine now? The guy obviously doesn't want to do this and he's been sabotaging us the whole way. Maybe we could just pay a dude some money for reliable information? No? Oh well.
: That's all I needed to know.
Now we fuck off before we piss off everyone. Don't worry, we're going to be despised by the denizens of this town by the end of the update.
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: Oh, it's that Fatebinder! What can I do for you?
: What do you do here?
: I'm a handyman! People need me to fix their houses because they keep breaking!
: So, why is there a Beastman being held in chains over there?
: Back in my day, the Beastmen were slaves and they knew their place! Then Cairn showed up and said "Hey, maybe you guys could do a slave revolt, I've got your back" and the next thing you know they were mad about all the beatings we gave them! How could they? So this Beastman got dragged into town by settlers and the Chorus, covered in blood. I guess they're hunting us now!
: Do you have any proof at all?
: Yes - I am very racist.
: You kill each other all the time. Kyros' armies are killing each other right now, and they're hunting you all to extinction.
: Can you tell me about any rebels here?
: The Beastmen are the rebels. This land used to belong to the Beastmen, but then the realm of Azure rose up and turned them all into slaves! It ruled! Now with the Edict and Cairn's earthquakes, the Beastmen are taking back their ancestral lands. You should be careful, because the Beastmen hate humans for some inexplicable reason that I'm sure has nothing to do with us working them to death.
: Are you fucking serious? You guys attack us all the time! Do you just sit there and take it?
: Isn't my racism justified?
: So Bleden Mark said you knew about the Azure Shield?
: Go fuuuuuuck yoursel-
: He also said to tell you that this is your chance to see your wife again.
: Oh, that Bleden mark! That shield! The Stonestalkers have it.
: What are the Beastmen doing with a shield?
: I don't know, maybe they like shiny things. Did I mention that I am very racist?
: Are you serious? It's a trophy that shows their leader took it off a powerful foe.
: The joke's on you! I'm still racist!
: How would you recommend I get it?
: I dunno, murder her? You could trade for it, but lol, those wacky Beastmen, amirite?
: You could kill her, or just leave her alive or help protect the tribe. Those latter two are pretty good.
: So Bleden Mark has your wife, huh?
: Yes, asshole! Just do what he wants so I can see her again!
: I'm sorry. If there's anything I can do to help, I will.
: Screw you, Cleo! If I let Elaine go, who will read me a bedtime story??? Did you even think about that? Who will make those tasty chocolate chip cookies I love so much???
We didn't piss him off that much, fortunately.
Oh, what's this?
Oh this ends well.
: What's happened? What's all the excitement about?
So there's probably a bit more to this story than the surface level, but we'll get into that soon enough.
: And you're sure he's killed a human? Someone witnessed it or otherwise found proof?
: You soft on the Beastmen or something, Fatebinder? That why you got one following your heels? You'd rather side with them than us humans, is it?
: That killer was found with blood all over his face and paws - right at our gates! Who else you think he ate if it weren't one of us?!
: For justice to properly be served, he deserves either a Fatebinder's arbitration or a fair trial.
: By my authority as a Fatebinder of Tunon, I will act as adjudicator in this situation. Attempt to disrupt my duty to the Court, and you will suffer the consequences.
I won't lie, I was very tempted to pick the second option.
: With the lack of physical evidence, I will hear the people's testimony and judge the Beastman in accordance with Kyros' customs.
What an unbiased town. We can ask people about poor Left-Claw and they'll provide some commentary.
This pisses off Kills-in-Shadow because no one is giving Left-Claw a fair hearing. Granted, if we ask her what justifies killing humans she has this to say:
This person believes Left-Claw is guilty.
Taking the first option yields this:
There is, of course, no proof they actually died.
: This is how I would see the miserable creatures - humbled and instructed in their place. To offer them anything more invites anarchy.
Goddammit Barik! This is why people don't vote for you! Stop being racist!
: She has a point. Shut it, Barik.
: The Beastman snarls and snaps at you, drooling tiredly as he strains against his bonds. His eyes are wide with fear, but his limbs droop tiredly and his whole body trembles.
: Back away or lose both life and limb. Left-Claw still has killing-teeth. Can still maim, human!
: Hush and lie still. Do not snap-snarl at Alpha. Kills-in-Shadow has come to help Beastman.
: Calm down and tell us what's happened.
: You shouldn't have hunted so close to town, but I don't believe you killed the missing settlers.
: The Beastman nods and licks at a dark patch of dried blood on his upper lip. Then human will free Beastman?
: Before I make my decision, I'd like to hear more evidence on the matter.
: Proof? Proof of Beastman's mistake? Of Beastman's shame - of being caught like prey? Left-Claw cannot show boar's carcass to human. Rot-smelling Chorus pack burned carcass to earth-blood and ash. But human can see where trap gnawed into Left-Claw's ankle. Yes? Can see how Beastman was tricked.
Earlier in this very update posted:
Merisa is a liar. Either it was a mixed group of settlers and Chorus or it was the Chorus alone. Unfortunately, we can't call her out on this and tell the settlers either the witnesses present themselves or face Kyros' justice, so we do this instead.
: How many villagers have disappeared within the last span? Were any bones found from their bodies?
: The Chorus? You mean the ones you watched me kill while you cowered from the shadows? No, I don't think they'll be offering testimony on the matter.
: All any of you have is hearsay - on either side.
This guy is unironically the smartest man in the settlement.
Now, I could put this up to a vote, but why?
: I've decided to free you and decree your innocence. Leave here, quickly. The settlers will kill you if you linger.
I'm honestly not sure if Tunon was mad because he hates Beastmen, or because under Kyrosian justice there's the presumption of guilt instead of innocence. The more I think about it, the more sense Tunon being racist makes, as we can point out that the crime Left-Claw is accused and we do catch Merisa lying her ass off even if the player is arbitrarily not allowed to comment on it. It turns out that if you sentence poor Left-Claw here, you actually GAIN favor with Tunon despite it being a blatant injustice.
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: It's lynching time!
: Wait, what? Why?
: Well, we caught - with some minor help from the Chorus - this Beastman just outside town. He was covered in blood from hunting humans! Look at him! He's a murderous people eater!
: Do you have any proof of this? Any witnesses?
: Are you a Beastman lover? Are you a race traitor? He was found with blood all over his face and paws right at our gates! Obviously he ate a person, DUH! Kill him! For justice!
: If you want justice, I will have to give him a trial.
: Oh yea? Well, why don't you ask around town?
: We are racists! Fuck Beastmen!!! We don't need no proof!
: Fuck these fuckers! Stonestalkers don't eat humans.
: Hey, Left-Claw, what's up?
: I enjoy watching this Beastman chained up and tortured, because I am also a big racist!
: Shut the fuck up.
: Don't touch me or I'll rip your face off.
: Don't snap at the Fatebinder, I brought her here to help.
: So what happened?
: So I found a boar, and was trying to bring it home so the tribe could eat, but then I got caught by a trap near the city. I was going to chew my own leg off, but then the humans came and found me, snarling threats.
: Got any proof?
: Well, I'd show you the boar carcass, but the Chorus burned the boar. Look, here are the trap marks!
: KILL HIM ALREADY REEEEEEE??? Look, the Chorus dragged him in. They saw his guilt first hand!
: Hmm...she said it was the settlers with help from the Chorus...do I want to call her out on it and dignify this idiotic farce? Pretty sure lying to a Fatebinder is a crime.
Fuck it. Did you actually find any bodies?
: Well, uh, everyone's disappearing! I don't even keep count anymore, we keep taking unsustainable population losses and keep on truckin, yep! Aren't I plausible?
: How do you expect me to interrogate the Chorus I slew on your behalf when they're all dead?
: Uh...play it cool...I'm not lying! I'm not lying!
: All I have to go on is hearsay. From both sides.
: Are you calling me a liar? Are you? Huh? Wanna f-
: No you stupid dumbass! This is the Fatebinder that blew up the Vellum Citadel with an Edict, do you want us to all get killed? Shut the hell up!!!!
: Fatebinder's supporting me, you idiots want some of this?
: What are you going to do with me?
: You're innocent. Get out of here, these racists will kill you if they catch you.
: That verdict fucking sucked! I'm racist too!
So, there's a bit more going on here, and it all goes back to the Scarlet Chorus and their nebulous capture of the unfortunate Left-Claw. Merisa's story shifts from "we captured Left-Claw with the help of the Chorus" to "it was all the Chorus" which implies she's up to something (and the settlers aren't dead, the Stonestalkers captured them for trespassing). The Scarlet Chorus is known for rolling into towns and enslaving all the adults, but they seem to have been relatively well-behaved. Why?
Earlier in the game posted:
Take a good look at the Censor's forces. Notice anything special? There's a Stonestalker Beastman with them, right in front of the tent. The Scarlet Chorus have a ton of random Tiersmen with knives they can throw at problems, what they don't have are a lot of powerful werewolf warriors whose culture is tailor-made to be integrated into the Scarlet Chorus. This entire operation is a setup to recruit Left-Claw in the hopes he can lead them to the rest of the Stonestalker tribe, who can be integrated into the Chorus and sent against the Disfavored. This is the stick - by hauling poor Left-Claw out here and torturing him for days, the nice Scarlet Chorus people can come in and offer to recruit him on the grounds that it's better than the constant torture and they can protect him from the villagers. The Chorus further angers the villagers against the Beastmen so they can divert attention from their own unsavory activities and prevent a villager-Stonestalker alliance which might actually succeed in retaking the Stone Sea and it lets them step in to "protect" the villagers by enlisting them to help enslave the Beastmen, and now that we've helped you, can we use your town to quarter troops and supplies? This entire thing is a sham set up by the Chorus to reinforce prejudice and keep the Stone Sea divided because, again, when the Tiers are divided, Kyros wins. We've even seen the Chorus step in and try to be "reasonable" before. Remember back in Graven Ashe's tent, when Nerat and Fifth Eye kept goading Ashe and Erenyos so they could turn to Cleopatra and point out how reasonable and non-traitorous they were?
Also, if you're on the Chorus path, they explicitly ask you to conscript Left-Claw anyway.
Fortunately for us, that's not enough Tunon Wrath to get him to throw us under the bus yet. Remember, the entire Fatebinding gig is a trap to get rid of intelligent and capable people who would be capable of challenging the system.
Next Time: Meet the Stonestalkers!