Part 55: Cleopatra Jones and the Failed ArchonCleopatra Jones and the Failed Archon
Welcome to Cacophony! It's a barren wasteland full of trash mobs.
This is one of only two mandatory packs you have to fight.
The other is here. Once you kill them the bridge drops and you can fight Nerat. These guys silence the mages for a bit, but we're in no real danger aside from boredom. Moving on to the interesting stuff!
Cleo gets probably her last level.
Long time no see!
: We love to see an agent of the court shatter their bonds and declare their sovereignty, but you would have been better served wearing red. The gangs need more talent like yours. At least we can make an example of you that others will remember.
I recommend playing this part for the voice acting alone.
See, Nerat, when you say shit like this you reveal you're a sick fuck no one actually wants to work with, which is why you are fighting two Archons, your designated successor, and Barik by yourself.
: What are you saying, Verse?
: I'm saying that he pointed us at Krokus, he led us to Fort Squander, and that he wanted me to learn what I learned there. She counts her points off on her fingers.
Verse is probably as big a threat as we are, as Verse formed an efficient fighting unit of Scarlet Furies based not on fear but on comradery and mutual respect. They would have been an amazing tool if Nerat was smart enough to use them right, but he values controlling the horde more.
Then his plan is stupid.
: You presume we possess a more than passing interest in this trumped-up barrister. He taps his scepter against his bronze beard.
: Whatever our dear Adjudicator lacks for, his rationality has never been in question. How were we to know that one of Tunon's students would engage in such ridiculous folly?
: Your paranoia delights us, however. A stint in infiltration has complicated you delectably.
This is all DLC stuff. It just goes to show that Nerat is a petty, small-minded bastard.
: You think I didn't work out your little plot? That I didn't fathom why my sisters got all mixed up inside of me?
: Hesitation? This isn't the Verse I know.
: I don't waste a lot of time worrying about consequences, but this might be our last chance to think about what exactly we're about to do.
: Listen to her, Fatebinder. She shows wisdom beyond her years.
: If you're up to it, then I'm with you. I've killed my share of gang bosses, and it doesn't take a genius to know when a leader is flagging and needs to be replaced. No offense, Archon. She glances at the Voices of Nerat and frowns.
: Couched in its wreath of green flames, the Archon of Secrets' bronze head turns to you.
: You'd bow to me in exchange for Verse?
I have no idea how Nerat expects this to work. Kyros wants him dead and opened the game signing his death warrant. Does he expect to just return to the Northern Empire and triumphantly explain that, like, he totally failed, but he's got a bunch of worthless trash conscripts that are ready to not fight the Archon of Spires' insurrection? It's more evidence that he's not nearly at good at planning as he thinks he is. Mark pulled a scam on everyone and Tunon thinks he's loyal. Nerat is a dumb idiot leaving breadcrumbs everywhere who is tolerated because the Chorus is moderately useful.
: What do you intend to do with her?
So this is changed by Verse's DLC quest. If you didn't do the quest, you have to fight Nerat. If you did do the quest, you get this dialog where Nerat offers to withdraw in exchange for Verse.
This is the game's way of telling you that Verse is loyal enough to take over the Nerat hivemind. It's...strange, because we've spent the entire quest of Verse realizing she doesn't want to be a monster like Nerat and that she has to think for herself, and here she's gladly offering to sacrifice herself and become the monster she hates because we asked her to.
: There's no version of this conversation in which I give you Verse.
The next Fatebinder is going to be much crueler, trust me.
: Shall we end his miserable experience together, Verse?
: Sounds like a plan to me, boss. I'll sleep a lot better knowing that there's one less parasite in the world.
: Our little spy is right about one thing, you know. You're going to die screaming, but your awareness will live for eternity, suffering within our magnificence.
: Attend to us, darlings! There is more than one way to skin a Fatebinder, and we will show you as many as possible.
: The Voices of Nerat readies to attack.
The game helpfully walks us into an attack position while Nerat summons the entire Chorus.
The Chorus members start cheering and yelling, because how often do you get to see three Archons throw down?
Nerat starts with a move called Awaken Power. I have no idea what it does, because if we're being honest, he's a piss-easy boss fight.
If you wanted confirmation Catorius was on the level, here you go - Nerat ate Red Geyser. The Archons are all immune to disabling statuses, but they're not immune to Frost's stupidly high slow or Magefire, so you should keep that up at all times.
He can shoot this volley of flaming arrows that I legitimately don't care about, because the DoT isn't fast enough to bring down a character and I have tons of health potions slotted along with the entire team having lifesteal magic.
The Voices of Nerat's big gimmick is that he can use Fragmented Mind to summon personality aspects that we sent him. Kirim here is a School of Wild Wrath member from us giving him Nerat during Conquest. Oops!
Unfortunately for Nerat, his echoes are vulnerable to all our chain CCs and we lose nothing by targeting them as our spells bounce between targets.
That's it! Look, I would appreciate the option to make Verse become the monster more if Nerat were actually threatening. It would be like original Vampyr where the moral dilemma was whether to eat people to become stronger to fight the plague demon thing.
Nerat can teleport. He proves he's an idiot by teleporting next to his summon against foes who have demonstrated a love of AoEs. Especially Sirin. Sirin is motivated to waste his ass. He does have a paralysis wave, but I grabbed Cleo an AoE status clear from her leadership tree, so no one cares.
Seriously, we're just wailing on Nerat here while his own army cheers us on.
Fittingly, Sirin has Nerat ride the lightning.
As we talked poor Pelox Florian into surrendering himself to Nerat earlier, Nerat can call on him now.
It doesn't help.
Nerat continues his one way trip to the dumpster while Florian takes his sweet time wandering over.
The girls stun him with lightning spells that bounce to Nerat next. If you notice, we got the quest completion message because Nerat is fucking dead.
: Say what you would, creature.
: Whatever the thoughtless rabble may whisper about this moment, don't delude yourself into thinking you are powerful, that you matter, or that someone out there isn't greater still.
Nerat is projecting so hard I'm expecting to see "Personality Fragment: Sigmund Freud" pop up on the screen.
This is all blatantly false. Bleden Mark told us Nerat was a nobleman - that is not nothing, especially in an Iron Age society like this one! Nerat is trying one last desperate gaslight because he doesn't want to accept the reality that Cleopatra - and Sirin! - pushed his face in. No, perhaps Nerat was not always a flaming crazy multiple-personality man, but he always was a monster when he sold out his own family to be tortured to death. Cleopatra has done awful things in the service of Kyros, but throughout the game the Fatebinder is given the opportunity to show a limited amount of compassion. Ultimately when free to make the choice, she saved Amelia's daughter. Nerat would not do the same.
: I could never become like you.
: Couldn't you? How much you've changed since this war began... imagine if you subjected that same pressure to centuries of time. We don't have to wonder, but you do! You have all the time in the world!
This is the defining moment of Nerat's death right here - he immolates himself laughing because he's so satisfied that he's mentally sabotaged Cleopatra. He died as he lived, a stupid egotistical asshole too obsessed with proving his own superiority to realize he was shooting himself in the balls.
There's a nifty animation of Nerat exploding into flame that I completely fail to capture in screenshots.
: Is he truly dead? Can I hope that the monster that tormented me will never torment another?
Sirin, you fried his ass.
: Good riddance, asshole. Shouldn't have screwed with me and my sisters. She kicks the smoldering pile of ashen rags.
: Is that thing finally dead? I'm actually asking, because it was difficult enough to tell that he was alive.
The Chorusmen continue clapping and cheering.
Then they realize that no one is paying them any more and they have no real loyalty so they just... go home. Look at the minimap. There are no more enemies in Cacophony. The Scarlet Chorus, as an organization, is destroyed.
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: Oh, no! You may have killed tons of people, including Cairn the Archon, but you're not going to kill me! You should have served me instead!
: Fatebinder! This is all part of his evil plan!
: Hmm, perhaps you're right. If you give me Verse, I will withdraw my army from the Tiers and, um...I guess go hang out with Kyros? Who hates me, and has already tried to kill me once for failure? Wait, what am I gaining from this? Shit!
: It's OK, Fatebinder, I think I can take control of him from inside!
: Absolutely not. Let's beat his ass.
: EVERYONE! I'M GONNA FIGHT THE FATEBINDER! COME OVER AND WATCH ME FIGHT THE FATEBINDER!!!!
: Damn, they thought I was going to permanently sacrifice a party member to skip this easy boss fight so I could maybe gain the services of a bunch of untrustworthy deviants?
: Fuck! You got me! I'm, uh, gonna neg you, Fatebinder! Yea! You're gonna become a big poopy head! Look at me, I became a monster, it's totally inevitable and -
: Please shut up.
: Ha ha ha! I am laughing as I literally burn to death and everything I've worked to create is destroyed! I've totally gaslit her! She's been negged! She's been - FUCK IT BURNS!
: HA HA NERAT IS FUCKING DEAD!
Having killed Nerat, we loot his stuff.
We even get his artifact scepter that's implied to contain the tortured souls of Nerat's family.
Nerat even left us this elixir of quickness! Thanks, Nerat!
Anyway, I suspect I owe the thread a bit more on Nerat's death. Nerat likes to talk about how he made it from nothing, but that's absolutely untrue. Nerat was a noble who was rewarded for betraying his family to Kyros. I haven't made it through the Chorus path due to usually slamming "betray alliance" every time I try, but my guess is that the reward for his betrayal made him start a lot higher up the totem pole than someone like Verse who started as a lowly conscript. Nerat is completely useless for anything except using his power to bully people, and his value - as can be seen from his artifacts - is that he has absolutely no moral compass that would inhibit him from carrying out even the most vile of Kyros' orders. What he lacks in competence he makes up for with a ruthless sadism and an intimate knowledge of how to use his power to bully others - something that fails him utterly when confronted by an equal like Cleopatra, and manifests itself as a compulsion to show how superior he is to others even in situations where it's actively detrimental, such as when he taunts Graven Ashe over murdering Brennix, Ashe's son. The Voices' record of failure isn't even new, the Kyrosians had to offer Graven Ashe amnesty because the Scarlet Chorus was having so much trouble beating an incompetent general who marches legions of ironclad warriors into a magically deadly thunderstorm. Kyros can safely keep him around until he's a liability, and because he's such a monster eliminating him is actually better for pacifying the empire.
Machiavelli, The Prince posted:
He, therefore, judged it necessary to give them a good government in order to make them peaceful and obedient to his rule. For this purpose he appointed Messer Remiro d' Orco, a cruel and able man, to whom he gave the fullest authority. This man, in a short time, was highly successful in rendering the country orderly and united, whereupon the duke, not deeming such excessive authority expedient, lest it should become hateful, appointed a civil court of justice in the middle of the province under an excellent president, to which each city appointed its own advocate. And as he knew that the harshness of the past had engendered some amount of hatred, in order to purge the minds of the people and to win them over completely, he resolved to show that if any cruelty had taken place it was not by his orders, but through the harsh disposition of his minister. And taking him on some pretext, he had him placed one morning in the public square at Cesena, cut in half, with a piece of wood and blood-stained knife by his side. The ferocity of this spectacle caused the people both satisfaction and amazement.
Just look at the reactions of our party members. They're all glad Nerat is dead, and tellingly, none of the Chorus members go and enlist in Kyros' armies or anything. Nerat failed so utterly at creating genuine loyalty that his own lieutenants stood by and literally cheered as he burned to death. I suspect this was Kyros' plan all along with Graven Ashe and Nerat. They're both absolutely terrible at being an occupying force, so Kyros can give the Tiers to Tunon or somebody and people will be grateful for Tunon's "justice" instead of being a sex slave or Mad Max gladiator.
As far as the stuff he said to Cleo, it's just Captain Hook from Peter Pan gleefully yelling "Bad Form" as he is killed by a literal child. He doesn't want to take responsibility for his actions and he doesn't want to admit Cleopatra is stronger than him, so he resorts to sad gaslighting which fails upon his death.
Next time: We beat the ever loving shit out of Graven Ashe.