Part 50: Cleopatra Jones and the Weakness of KyrosCleopatra Jones and the Weakness of Kyros
Welcome back! Last time on Tyranny, Elia sold out her country and then committed suicide by Fatebinder after wasting our time slowly abandoning her men to death.
Fortunately, she gave us the location of the Oldwalls breach, where we can do a bunch of stuff that's only optional on the Anarchy path.
Oh dammit. Might as well hail the gang. We did hear about them in Verse's "Fuck Marry Kill" answer, where she was with Fine Ass before she killed him.
May as well help her fight them.
We don't actually get a fight, as we've apparently forgotten all our magic for some reason.
We can check in with Verse and get on with our life.
: She laughs brightly. Brilliant! Always nice to remember your roots... and then slice them to ribbons.
Life is cheap in the Chorus, don't sweat it.
Long story short, this guy is standing guard, we tell him we're just here for the artifact, he yells at us for cultural appropriation and attacks.
I'm not going to lie, being totally overpowered is kind of great because it means less time in Tyranny combat.
This sage is also hanging around.
: I was not trying to eavesdrop on your scuffle, but now that I've witnessed it, duty obliges that I record it. He rolls a sheet of parchment into a thick tube in his hands. Come and silence the record if you must, but I warn you, the Sages have long, written memories.
: I already know you as the quencher of flames and stamper of embers, though I take it the Burning Library was only one chapter of your legacy. Incidentally, how was the old Citadel? Ah, don't answer that.
Unfortunately we don't have any dialog options I like.
: No need for concern. I'm only here to kill Unbroken.
: Oh... I see. A little too nationalistic for my tastes, but they were decent travel company, at least. He scans the corpses again and sighs. They call Kyros' forces uncompromising, but at times I wonder if it isn't the other way around.
: What are Sages doing here with the Unbroken?
: Tell me about yourself.
: I'm looking for the Steadfast Insignia. Tell me what you know.
: Artifacts are a fascinating business, are they not? And Stalwart's decorated military history yielded so much intrigue around them...
: The Steadfast Insignia was prominently displayed in every Unbroken battle where Regent Aspison fought. Over the years it became something of a rallying marker, and its presence alone accounted for many notable victories.
: Though I take it you didn't need anything as ham-fisted as a Stalwart heirloom to fix matters in the Stone Sea, did you? Kyros' magic is built on such subtle wording that even this old scholar must respect it... from afar.
: While we're on the topic, I understand that Lethian's Crossing has a Scourge problem or two. You'll have to keep an eye on that if there's to be any stability in the region, won't you? Best of luck.
: Where is the soldier's body?
I'm not going to waste your time by asking about torchkeys, we've seen them too many times before.
: What are the next steps?
: Once you get the torchkey, you'll be able to venture past the first chamber. He pauses for a moment. Of course, given our aborted efforts, you can understand why I'd be hesitant to re-enter the Oldwalls. My scribe, Javala, didn't survive the trip... poor girl.
: He cuts off his speech to eye you with interest. I don't mean to pry, but...
: Is that the storied shield of Azure you have there? Let the ravaging Bane hurl themselves against that beauty!
: The Magebane will serve you well on the other side of the Breath, though it may not block out the horrors of those unsightly creatures.
: I hope that the Silent Archive has granted you the wisdom to navigate the Oldwalls with care. Such places are riddled with traps and pitfalls that can best even the most seasoned adventurer.
For some reason I ask him about the message, and he just says his birds are still out and he can't do it. Let's leave. This is going to be a long update.
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: Are you going to kill me? You can try, but if you do, we Sages are going to refer to you as "Cleopatra Poo Poo Head" in our histories!
: Nah, just here for the Unbroken.
: Oh. They were OK, I guess, if a little nationalistic. We were here on an expedition to get stuff from the Oldwalls.
: Who are you anyway?
: Just a super nerd who wrote some books.
: Tell me about the Steadfast Insignia.
: Oh, it's a powerful artifact that the Regents used to lead the Unbroken into battle. It was kind of like the Ark of the Covenant but for nationalism instead. It's in the Oldwalls, but it's infested with Bane. We lost a bunch of people, but the torchkey is over there. My poor scribe died too, alas. Also...Kyros, that's a ton of artifacts!
I forgot to grab his quest to fetch something from the Oldwalls, but that's all right. We can grab the item and get it to him.
We are going to be picking up a lot of unique weapons this update.
A bunch of Bane show up. We can slaughter Bane trivially now. I forget to screenshot it, but we grab a red "Garn" torchkey too.
We also get this unique staff that we don't care about because you really should never be staff attacking.
Into the dungeon!
So I've mentioned before that Bane represent exposure to ideas outside of the Kyros-controlled education systems.
In Lethian's Crossing we learned that Kyros' laws are incoherent bullshit made for the purpose of control, rather than the guide to morality Tunon presented them as.
In the Bastard's Wound we had to grapple with the idea that maybe the Beastmen actually built the Oldwalls and that Beasts are equal to humans. Maybe. That DLC made absolutely no sense, but I think that's what they were trying to go for.
Here we're looking for an artifact that lets us straight up deny the power of Kyros' Edict of Storms.
This requires coming to terms with another extremely heretical idea.
Kyros is fallible and can be thwarted.
Before, everything we did was in the name of or at behest of Kyros. We claimed Vendrien's Well for ourselves, sure, but we did it on the terms of Kyros' Edict of Execution. Even Tunon seemed to accept this outcome, and we received support from within the Kyrosian hierarchy.
We ended the Edict of Fire by removing forbidden knowledge from a place that non-Kyrosians might be able to get to by following Kyro's instructions. We defeated Raetommon's plot to rebel against Kyros by entering the Oldwalls, and while the laws might not be a good system, ultimately Kyros is still powerful enough not to be challenged. Who else wields the Edict? In whose name do the legions march? Sure, maybe the harvests don't bloom and blight by the will of Kyros, but from our vantage point there's not that much difference between "god" and "tyrant in full control of the state". You don't work directly against Kyros, you fight for Kyros' favor to cast down the other Kyrosians. The Archons can maybe make some demands like promoting Graven Ashe, but they can't just...rebel outright, can they? Look at Cairn! He was a powerful Archon who shook the land in death, and ultimately Kyros just made an example of him. Sure, maybe Sirin nearly killed Kyros, but she didn't and ultimately got slapped in chains for it. Kyros' power is still unchallengeable.
Thus, getting this artifact that can directly defeat the Edict of Storms - even if just for a limited time, or in a limited area - is a massive deal because it shows some small hope of defying Kyros.
Anyway, we need to gather four keystones to unleash the Big Bane again here.
Each of these stones raises the central floor a little. Yup, it's another Oldwalls dungeon. Yawn.
There's a keystone here. You take it, the bridge retracts and all the Bane pop out of the glowing Bane Seals on the wall there. The pile of rubble in the corner has a rock you can give back to the statue. It's not very interesting, so I'll try to speed through this dungeon.
The dungeon is also trap infested.
We've got two goals, find the Spire and grab the artifact. There's also another artifact hidden here that we are going to grab, because why not?
There are three whole maps of this, but at least we don't have to do water puzzles or other garbage.
Cleo levels up again.
I give her this talent. It turns out to be a +2 to each attribute. I'd ask why the designers were so averse to including numbers, but then I remember Pillars of Eternity exploding into numbers that you could mostly ignore.
This is weird, are they recruiting Tiersmen now? It's also evidence against Graven Ashe because he's sending men into the Oldwalls to break the law. Ignore what we're doing.
I think this is used to make an artifact spear?
More torchkeys! You need the blue key to open the blue door!
Or, in this case, to unlock the button that collapses the stairs.
There's a little puzzle where it turns out you need to send a party member through the door while at least one stays to push the button so others can get out. You get the Sage's quest item and this sigil...we can't read because Lantry's not around. We'll be doing an Oldwalls Loot Run in Act 3.
Second keystone down...
Sirin is supposed to be a petulant teenager but she kind of echoes how I feel about this dungeon. Now, in the game's defense, we're only going to four areas in Act 2 because we're on Anarchy. Any other path we'd be done with Act 2 by now.
Grab the Spire symbol so I don't have to google it.
I cut out a LOT of wandering. You're welcome.
We already have this one, it's the line expression that for some reason I'm not using this playthrough.
None of this stuff is a threat or something that requires a change of tactics. Just do your DPS rotation! I just learned you can queue up commands if you hold shift, so do that and then go make a sandwich or something.
Barik tries to get philosophical on us.
We finally make it over to the Spire chamber and get the second rubbing.
This lets us solve the puzzle and get the last Spire in the game.
: The Ocean Spire in the Blade Grave feels weathered and batter, like a flag that has whipped in the high winds beyond its intended duration. Perhaps in spite of this, the connection formed with Vendrien's Well is strong - almost overwhelmingly so.
: I was at the front lines during the devastation of Stalwart. From on high, the realm feels... less significant.
: I knew the world was huge, but you never really understand the extent of it until you see it from this high. How far does that ocean reach?
: At least we're spared the worst of the grit from up here. War kicks up a lot of dust, if the Blade Grave is any indication.
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: The Spire joins your collection eagerly, like a battered nation trying to join some kind of freedom alliance.
: Wow, power sure insulates you from the consequences of war.
The infirmary is our last upgrade.
It sucks! While the other Spires build you artifacts and unique equipment or let you train super hard, this one makes consumables. You can hire a master lore trainer... if you warned the Sages, unlike us. Oh well! Cleopatra keeps gaining a ton of Dodge and Parry ranks because we keep resetting them, and we can flip those directly into Lore. We can hopefully get her to 300 or something stupid for the final boss fights.
We go to the Forge and grab the Staff of Cairn. I give it to Sirin. It has a once per day AoE petrify power that boosts our armor by one, and it increases her Wits by 2 aka 10% more spell damage. I'd give it to Cleo but we are full out of weapon slots.
I queue up this artifact for future forging, why not?
Unfortunately I get trolled by the Library and we get the Focused Rain sigil which...is sold at the Library. Tyranny. Tyranny, no!
Back to the dungeon!
Keys and Bane! Thankfully this is the last of the Oldwalls dungeons.
Sirin levels up. I don't think I mentioned this, but her War and Peace capstones are both summons. Her Peace capstone (which we have) summons an image of her that taunts people in an AoE.
Both of the Oldwalls dungeons in the main game have sections that respond to torchkeys from the other dungeon.
That sigil on the wall is the only sigil in this dungeon we don't already have, but it's a good one. You can apply it to any lightning spell to stun. Sadly, it's incompatible with the focused rain sigil (and the other lightning spell we do have stuns without extra sigils) or else I'd be running upstairs to get Lantry.
These go right on Cleo. There is a strictly better artifact version we can research at the Spires, but honestly the Spire research system isn't that great and the game is not long enough to really build up a stack of stuff.
This, uh, exists.
I'm cutting out a ton of crap here!
The trap detection amulet in the trapped chest is pretty funny, I'll give them that.
There's also this Sigil of Passion. It's mechanically the same as Sirin's Sigil of Emotion, so we can't learn it, but I suspect it's the sigil of her predecessor as Archon of Song or something - the legacy of an ancient Archon who possibly predates Kyros.
Just a nifty little touch. Back to the game!
Unique item for Eb I will probably forget about.
Masterwork named shield, nice.
The last torchkey! By this point I'd found three of four of the keystones (offscreen) so all we need to do is track down the last one.
The only place it's used is in this room with the three stands. The Bane bust out of the wall if you choose the wrong color and waste your time.
There's a ton of unique loot in this passageway, including the last keystone and...
A unique masterwork artifact bow! We give it to Verse.
The floor rises up to reveal a button we can press to release the Bane.
Remember the first time we fought one of these things, and it was a massive ordeal that required me giving up at the end of an update after a bunch of reloads?
It doesn't last long. We've been getting a lot of evidence all game that Kyros is not as omnipotent as she pretends to be.
It's still trying to queue up Havoc Strike and we've pasted two dots off its health.
This fight took maybe 20 seconds of Cleopatra and Sirin unloading their heavy spells into it.
Sadly the Sage reputation ability we get sucks, while the Wrath one is literally +6 to lore. I feel like that should be reversed. Oh well!
We got the insignia, let's head out to the ruins.
This idiot jumps us outside the Oldwalls.
: Who are you, and more importantly, why should I care?
: I don't know if you got such a smart mouth in Tunon's Court or from spending too much time away from a respectable legion. From where I'm standing, I'd think you would show more remorse for the pisspoor decisions that led you here.
We have single-handedly executed half of Ashe's subcommanders - Radix and the Iron Marshal. What exactly are you going to do?
: [Throw a handful of dirt at his face.]
: The Disfavored commander watches as your projectile harmlessly scatters into the wind. You might try that again when we're standing closer together. Here, let me show you. He moves to attack.
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: Huh, you went into the extremely dangerous Oldwalls and didn't die. I guess me and my five guys here are gonna kill you unless you give us the artifact.
: Who are you again?
: Wow, clearly you got that smart mouth from not hanging around disciplined legions like us, the people who kill for sport and brag to enemy commanders about taking them as sex slaves. Now give me the artifact. Oh, cute dirt throw! You missed! Nyeaaaaaaah!
Killing these idiots gets us the Disfavored's first Wrath ability! This is also the name of the game's regular battle soundtrack, which is kind of hilarious.
Wow. They brought rare and valuable iron craftsmen who are literally magic and wasted them on ambushing Cleopatra. It's kind of a sign of desperation at this point. At least we can sell all their possessions for respec money.
We have a very good reason for returning to this man.
: I have questions for you.
: What are you seeking in the Oldwalls?
: My research suggests that within these nearby Oldwalls are a set of stones carved with ancient script. For lack of a better term, I call them Stones of Elucidation. His hand darts to his satchel, producing a hand-drawn sketch of an ordinary circle.
: I know this sketch doesn't capture the wonder and, frankly, we don't really know what they do. We have found spheres of identical size but differing glyphs in over a dozen disparate regions of the Oldwalls.
: What's in it for me?
I really should have wiki'd this quest.
: I want a copy of one of your arcane texts.
Sweet! Our own custom magic book signed by the author!
: I found the Stones of Elucidation.
So, guess what? We already have this sigil from the Burning Library. Nuts. Still, I can't fault the guy. It increases spell range, if you're curious.
: [Lore 38] What have the stones taught you?
: I'm not a young man, and if I keep getting sent on missions like these, any research I carry will be lost. Take a copy with you. I hope you find it useful.
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: Holy shit you didn't die - uh, I always believed in you!
: Got any siiiiidequests?
: Can you get me this from the Oldwalls?
: You drew a circle.
: It's a magic rock. Please?
: Sure, but I'll need payment in sigils.
: Yay! A fellow nerd! I'll even custom bind you something!
: Here you go, I had the rock this whole time. Oh, I know this sigil already. Learn anything from the rock?
: Not yet, but take a copy of my notes in case I die of old age.
Anyway, here's where the actually interesting part of this update begins.
Um, I'm sorry?
: Neither of you will remain here long.
Yeah, fuck you too.
It might not surprise you to learn that there are a bunch of trash mobs. We dispose of them.
I see the remedial classes have assembled.
Also considering how much the Disfavored love Ashe I'm pretty sure at least one of them would be into that.
: I'm not reporting to Ashe unless we take Sentinel Stand, and that goes for everyone in my unit! We don't see Iron Hearth and we don't see home until our mission is compete! She pumps her fist twice in the air, and her soldiers reflexively mirror the gesture.
There's a little problem with this.
Neither one of these idiots has the Steadfast Insignia, and thus they can't get in! Symbolically, the Steadfast Insignia is the political power in Stalwart as it was worn by the First Regent. I guess Rumalan could know we were coming because the flammable gentleman outside the Oldwalls Breach could have sent a bird, and then the Unbroken followed them, but I don't know what their plan was going to be if we didn't show up.
Nothing about this reveal makes any sense either. Janos told us to go to Captain Agathon knowing that we were extremely skilled at killing people and looking for an artifact Agathon would never give up. As a result of Janos' advice the Unbroken lost two entire forts full of people and Elia killed herself.
Of course, we're somehow claiming Sentinel Stand with the garrison army of ___ and ___. On every other route you have troops who can hold these locations, be they the Disfavored, Chorus gangs, or your personal Rebel army. If we had the right background we could have taken over the Stonestalker tribe, but I think asking them to uproot from their homeland to hold this castle won't end well.
: Sentinel Stand will go to neither of you. I claim it as my seat of power.
We don't even need it. We have the Ocean Spire, but here we are.
Now nothing this character does makes any sense. Was this guy just using us to eliminate his rivals for control of the Unbroken? If he hadn't conveniently shown up when we arrived we'd just be stuck wandering the wasteland.
Oh shit! An actually halfway competent commander? We gotta kill her! We gotta kill her before she spreads moderate intelligence to the rest of the Disfavored!
: Face me now, rather than run like a coward.
: Rumalan bristles at the notion, moving toward you before suddenly catching herself. While I would love to bury you in the dust myself, I'll not risk our position for matters of pride. I have Disfavored defending the wall to the northeast, and an advance unit patrolling the southwest...more than enough to take one Fatebinder.
The Fatebinder is accompanied by a Scarlet Fury, a Stone Shield commander, and an Archon. You're going to be dead in five minutes.
: You're not an opponent worthy of my time if you can't get past them.
: She turns to fall back across the bridge.
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: Don't let the Unbroken across, or we're going to have a sexy whipping hour with Graven Ashe!
: Get her! We will take back Stalwart for the power!
: Wait, what? You're not a random scout?
: No! I am secretly an elite assault force commander! But why would I reveal my true rank to a servant of Kyros?
: You literally gave me the information I needed to slaughter two whole forts of your guys... fuck it, none of this makes sense. I'm taking the fort now.
: Stalwart belongs to the Unbroken!
: Wow, I just had a sudden rush of brains to my head. Why don't I let you two fight each other while I go prepare our assault?
: Buck buck buck bawwwwwk!
: I'm not a chicken! I'm going to prove it by revealing advance positions of two of my squads, instead of just pulling everyone back behind the bridge! You can't possibly defeat two squads with the help of a Scarlet Fury, a Stone Shield commander, and an Archon! Bye!
We put the bizarre paradox of Janos' betrayal or whatever the hell it is to rest by electrocuting him.
We have to climb down to find the Disfavored squad one.
I am super confused as to why the Bronze Armiger, an Unbroken member is with the Disfavored until I figured out Rumalan had us attack Disfavored units who were actively in combat. I keep wondering how all these eugenics-loving fascists never realize that they meet the qualifications for sterilization they so desperately want to impose on others, and then I reread Eco.
We climb back up Mount Typo to kill the other squad.
They are also locked in combat with the Unbroken and die horribly.
You might be asking how we get across the bridge.
We just bait Rumalan! This isn't as stupid on her part as it appears as she can't actually attack the fort without the Insignia which we have. Instead of preparing the battlefield or anything she just kinda fucked around behind the bridge. She doesn't even try anything clever like trying to trick us into throwing over the insignia.
: Face me, Lieutenant. I'm ready for more.
It's a miracle this woman wasn't killed in some kind of ambush.
She's even nice enough to gift her unique blade to Barik.
Not sure what this well does, to be honest.
We make it to the windwall. This is the magic of Kyros herself, whom all the Archons fear, who can rain fire from the sky, whose followers call him omnipotent.
Up to this point there's been room for doubt. Sure, we found the item, but everyone says it's a rumor that might work.
It works, and we defy Kyros himself.
The game's prose is dull realism, but the actual achievement here is that our power met Kyros' and triumphed in this instance. This shouldn't be possible!
Oh, we've had hints from Myothis that Kyros isn't in full control of the Edicts, but Myothis never framed the Overlord as someone who could be outright defied. The symbolism is obvious - the people of Stalwart awakening to their power can defy the might of the Overlord.
We'll loan this to Sirin for now, but this is the equivalent of Arthur pulling the sword from the stone and all the lesser kings fighting around him.
These guys challenge us, but we intimidate them while pointing out that they can leave the fortress for the first time in years.
It probably helps that our carrying the insignia marks us as the rightful heir to Stalwart with - again - such power as to defy Kyros himself.
Anyway, due to the character limit I'm breaking the update here. We'll meet the man who burned his country to defy Kyros...next time.