Part 62: Governor Boris and the Vicious BeatingGovernor Boris and the Vicious Beating
Last time on Tyranny, we rolled up a new character and visited our favorite two fuckup Archons. Today we're going to be wandering around Act 1 and doing stuff.
Verse's conversation from last time procs (where she wants to know how we casually dropped the Edict) and it's the same save for the reference to the Edict of Storms.
We can actually try to chat up Ashe, though!
There are all these little hints as to the true characterization of the Archons. It never crosses Ashe's mind we knew about the Disfavored combat units he sent after Amelia, or that us delaying would have given him time to pull them out. Of course, now that the Edict affects him he whines like a punk.
Alas, Ashe's quest to see Kyros naked is never getting anywhere.
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: BAWWW! You delayed the Edict and warned everyone so my troops wouldn't be hit, but you issued the execution order immediately! Now go away, I have to go fight people to impress Kyros so I can get to third base.
Not sure if he has time to chat if he likes us more?
We haven't seen Ceveus before in game so we get this (no hugs) but we still get the quest to retrieve the three Earthshakers who could be spared from Colonialism Treason Fort.
This guy gives out the "recover the iron Graven Ashe covered up" quest. He's got a bit to say about iron and bronze. Basically iron is more plentiful and easier to smith.
Boris is gonna show off some of the dialog we didn't see before.
: It was mentioned you're short on warriors and need help. What's the situation?
TheGreatEvilKing whiffed the screenshot and is using the prior playthrough posted:
: The Disfavored need my help?
This is the reason we're going through this dialog again. I'll be honest, Act 1 is extremely samey across all four playthroughs, with only the rebel route changing the ending (you fight against the Disfavored/Chorus as they take the tower rather than with them).
: Trying to pour salt on my pride? We left Fort Resolution with a hundred on hundred and there have been no reinforcements or reservers. I keep throwing warriors back into battle before they're properly rested. So yes, I need to rely on all our allies - especially since most of our allies are conscripted Tiersmen - worse than useless!
You can ALMOST see Erenyos putting two and two together, and failing. Now, I'm not sure what she means by a hundred on hundred - I assume that's multiplied, or ten thousand men. That sounds like a lot, but some googling indicates that was about a third of Caesar's gallic invasion force or half the size of Ramses the Great's "advance guard" (per Britannica) at the battle of Kadesh. Of course, because of the Disfavored's idiotic racism, they can't actually recruit more soldiers, even though they have the exclusive use of the Forge-Bound's iron production capacity and trainers like Erenyos here.
This is also true!
: She has a point. The Disfavored constantly mock the Scarlet Chorus.
This is the correct answer, incidentally.
: What you're seeing here is Disfavored bigotry at its finest. I'm sonehow at fault because my country wasn't conquered before I was born.
Charming, you racist bitch.
This is of course ironic in the Disfavored ending where you rally the Disfavored against Kyros. We may or may not see that.
From here on out the dialog is the same, Erenyos tells us about the absolute failure at the Matani river, she assigns us Barik to assist, etc.
Based on your decisions in Conquest you can start the game knowing Barik. We tried to save you, buddy.
I know Barik is a brainwashed fascist guy, but I can't hate him because he's as much victim as villain.
He even thanks us for arbitrarily picking the legion in Conquest. I'm omitting a lot of dialog because we've seen it before, perils of a second playthrough.
Given the Iron Marshal just told Ashe a few minutes ago that Barik's band was being drilled to attack the river, I'm not sure what she's talking about here. I have an idea based on her prior dialogue, which I'll repost below:
Fascism at its finest posted:
The Tiersmen aren't "really" a threat in the fascist mindset, because as Umberto Eco points out, the fascist mindset usually runs head first into reality and falls flat on its face. Northern Disfavored >>> Tiersmen, therefore the assault on the river will be a success despite the last minute command change. Nevermind that the previous commander failed to capture the river, nevermind that Erenyos is complaining that the Disfavored are constantly low on troops and are very near the breaking point, the important thing is winning the political battle with the Scarlet Chorus. I know I made fun of the infighting and incompetence earlier, but it bears repeating.
This silence is wide open to interpretation. Does Barik realize that Erenyos is bullshitting but is too obedient to criticize his superior officer? Who knows! Moving on!
Hagnon has the Sigil of Guarded Form, which I really want but I have no money after blowing it all on sigils.
People in the thread wanted to see Ebchat, so here it is.
Truce flag, yadda yadda yadda.
: In accordance with ancient customs north and south, I abide by this truce.
: As is our custom, we are ready to kill to defend our lands, but we kill only in fair battle, we don't slay our prisoners. We know this isn't Kyros' way, but we must have hope.
I didn't notice this on the first playthrough, but Eb refers to the captains as "my kin", confirming that the rebellion is just one big happy family.
: Tarkis Demos is with the Chorus now.
: Pelox Tyrel is dead.
: She nods slowly, saying nothing for a long moment,
: My apologies Fatebinder, I had a terrible feeling this errand was in vain from the start.
Now, the ability to interrogate Eb was patched in post-release, if I remember right. Let's pump her for information about our enemies.
: I have some questions for you.
Shut the fuck up, Barik!
: How did you and your friends overthrow the garrison?
Cleopatra's playthrough posted:
: Were there prisoner swaps in the past?
: That is our way, Binder. Here in the south, only thugs and bandits kill prisoners. The Younger Realms may be guilty of constant fighting, but we never slay each other when the battle's long over. We're not about to change that now.
Hmmm, has Graven Ashe been, as Barik put it, "socializing with the oathbreakers"? (Spoiler: yes)
: Who's in charge of this insurrection?
To be fair, this is my usual reaction when people start talking about how they're a collective and no one's in charge, but in this case it's a military organization. Yes, the Sages showed up and are nominally aligned as auxiliaries, and Eb married into the upper echelons, but it's still military. Everyone we see from the Vendrien Guard is some kind of military aristocrat who can afford expensive custom bronze armor, and it's a movement less about removing Kyros and more about putting the old nobility back on top again. Go back to what Eb said about understanding being their only hope - on the rebel path, the rebels reach out to the Fatebinder and offer to join the Court of Tunon for a better deal and higher positions in Kyros' organization. You can even take them into the stupid loyalist ending.
: I assume Tarkis Arri and Tarkis Demos are relations.
: Why do you resist Kyros? What are you trying to save?
: Only your daughters are really free in the Tiers. Why fight against Kyros' equality?
Eb is going to continue to shoot her cause in the foot here.
: But a mage like you would not be the subject of such superstition and fear under Kyros' reign.
: Doubt life is any better sworn to some mad Archon. I'd rather stand with my fellow Tiersmen... or I suppose, stand immediately behind them in the event of an attack.
Later in the game, on another playthrough posted:
Bonus points: Eb, and the rest of the Tidecasters, were sworn to the service of Occulted Jade. Jade doesn't seem like a bad person, but it's very hard for me to take Eb whining about swearing allegiance to Archons seriously.
: At that remark, the soldiers flanking her exchange shocked looks. Eb turns her focus to her compatriots.
: The Younger Realms were beset with constant battle. You'd prefer that to Kyros' order?
On first glance, it's easy to say that Eb has a point about how Kyros' guys are coming in and brutally slaughtering everyone in a way that the peaceful-yet-warlike denizens of the Tiers find absolutely unprecedented and appalling, but it's absolute horseshit.
Eb, on the treatment of Beastmen posted:
Now, one may reasonably argue that this is "just" generations of slavery which isn't quite butchering Beastmen tribes, but luckily we actually have a source for the latter.
Reef-Talon, on Beastman slaughter posted:
: Was less-than-seven years ago. Reef-Talon awoke to nest beset with humans. Human tribe answering to Prima Straydus overwhelmed Reef-Talon and kin. Likely survived only because humans desired captive muscle, not roasted beast.
So Straydus Herodin basically wiped out a Beastman tribe and enslaved the survivors. Reef-Talon even alludes to Tiersmen killing and eating Beastmen. I'll leave Kills-in-Shadow bragging that the Shadowhunters exterminated two other tribes out of this, as Killsy is not part of this little rebellion, but everything Eb says is bullshit. Sure, the Tiersmen never cast an Edict, but they've never had the opportunity and ability to do so. We haven't seen them make prisoners fight to the death, but we have seen the denizens of the Bastard's Wound slowly torture Telesophia.
We can't even back up Eb's assertion that "it was never this wholesale slaughter", because the history of Azure is constant invasions to the point where the country became known for fighting off invaders.
It all ties back into the greater theme that incompetent leadership allows for the rise of tyrants. It's really hard for someone like Kyros to come to power when citizens are fed and happy and enjoy the status quo because they can have nice things. It's not a coincidence you get people like Hitler in governmental disasters like the Weimar Republic, or Lenin and Stalin after the Tsar/Kerensky's idiotic continuation of World War I.
Tiers Leadership Explains How Bad It Is posted:
Eb doesn't really have good answers to Boris' questions. It's telling her reply to "Kyros will end sexism" is to reply that sexism is good because men are dumb morons, because I guarantee you that attitude drove a lot of men to join the Scarlet Chorus. Her response to the mage question is basically agreeing with Boris that she was treated like shit, and her response about Kyros killing everyone is less a defense of the Tiersmen's attitudes then their capabilities. The problem with the Vendrien Guard is that they are fighting for the old status quo, and the old status quo was bad!
: What makes you think you have a chance?
Ok, and then what? You all die, losing the Tiers a competent military organization and a bunch of mages that take literal decades to train per our adjudication with Bitter Quip. Eb never gives an answer to who the "others" are, and no one really rises up to take on the exact mantle of the Vendrien Guard. The Unbroken are fighting each other to end the Edict. The Stonestalkers just want to be left alone. The Bronze Brotherhood is following the delusions of a mad clown. The Earthshakers and Forge-Bound remain loyal to Kyros if you do not recruit them. There are no other uprisings in the Tiers to defend the old status quo, because it was shitty and bad! The Unbroken are probably the closest, and even then, they're struggling to define their identity as "Stalwart to come". These guys aren't liberators, they're just angry reactionaries.
: Let me ask of something else.
: That's all.
: Fair enough, but now a question for you.
: Such details are for Kyros' warriors only.
People who can't defend their crappy rebellion don't get answers!
: So you will not say? I expected as much. Can it be worse than endless storms or fire pouring from the earth? Not that you'd answer that either.
: I've another question for you, if you will entertain it.
Verse is a spy. She's smart enough to recognize that we are not getting any more useful intelligence out of this.
: Ask your question, Eb.
: I'm done answering questions.
What secret, that Nerat will steal it for you if you promise to help him on the DL?
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: Yoo! It's truce time! Are any of my rich family members available for a prisoner swap?
: Nah, you wanna answer some questions?
: We shouldn't be talking to the oathbreakers. I don't wanna reveal I can't get naked in front of the bikini lady.
: How did you defeat the garrison?
: Oh, Nerat let us do it.
: Were there prisoner swaps in the past?
: Yea, we traded with Ashe all the time!
: Who's your leader?
: We're all, like, free and equal, MANNNNN! But our leader's totally Tarkis Arri.
: Oh, like that Demos guy whos now Nerat's slave.
: Her brother, yes.
: Seriously, why are you fighting Kyros?
: We're fighting for our freedom! We'll die so our children can rule themselves!
: What are you talking about? Men were second-class citizens until Kyros came along.
: I think those damn men are stupid and should get back in the kitchen.
: But you're a mage, and under Kyros' reign you would be free and honored instead of hated and feared.
: Fuck, uh, Archons bad! Please ignore that my order was sworn to the Archon of Tides, or that in an hour of gameplay I'll be begging you to let me live in exchange for servitude. Otherwise, wow, you're right! These guys really did treat me like shit!
: You guys were constantly at war until Kyros brought peace.
: Why is that bad? Only Kyros does poopy mean war like Edicts (which we can't use) and mass slaughter of Beastman tribes (which, uh, OTHER Tiersmen do), but, like, our constant ineffectual warfare was cool, mannnnnn!
: You know you can't win this, right?
: We're all gonna die heroically to inspire others! Yea!
: Can you name anyone who might potentially be inspired by your actions?
: Uh...shit...what kind of Edict was that?
: Fatebinder, I get you wanted intel, but now she's just wasting our time.
: Can Fatebinders really sense lies?
: I'm sorry, answers are for people who don't piss their lives away on stupid shit. We're leaving.
With the context provided by our last playthrough we have a clearer picture of the rebellion and it's not pretty. People got mad at me when I questioned whether the rebels were any better than Kyros because Kyros is very bad. Kyros is still very bad, but the rebellion is a literal joke. We'll start with the basics - Nerat orchestrated and abetted the entire rebellion. We know this because Catorius told us, but Nerat is also the guy responsible for losing Kyros' iron - on every non-anarchist route, the player can corner Harichand Bronze and threaten him until he tells us he delivered the iron to the rebels on Kyros' behalf. Why? Well, Nerat wanted to be King of the Tiers over Ashe, and what better way to do that then by creating and arming a rebellion infiltrated at the highest levels? All he had to do was sit back and watch as Ashe's own racism and stupidity led to shit like losing legions of elite troops doing frontal assaults over a river. This wasn't even a particularly novel precedent to arrive at, as Nerat also got to watch Ashe's adventures in losing elite troops in a storm that Nerat's team explicitly asked us to warn everyone about. When Ashe and the Disfavored had finally shown themselves for the inept fuckups they were, Nerat could dismantle the rebellion at his leisure as he controlled the supplies and had the entire thing infiltrated from the beginning. Then he could go to Tunon and lay down a convincing case for being Archon of the Tiers.
Last playthrough posted:
An easily defeatable rebellion requires contemptible rebels. We're certainly not going to use a popular peasant uprising, that was the justification for inviting Kyros in the first place, and that would probably fold to Disfavored heavy infantry. Hence Eb and the Apex nobility. It's kind of important to note that while Arri draws legitimacy from her service to Queen Vendrien Alata, the Queen is nowhere to be found and is certainly not leading this rebellion! If Essa is anything to go by, the Queen was actually fairly popular and beloved by her subjects, to the point where she could get them to agree to surrender to Kyros. That's a real threat. Arri, Eb, and their followers are just dumb reactionary idiots no one likes. If Kyros is the equivalent of Lenin and Stalin promising rights for the workers and peasants while killing tons of workers and peasants, the Vendrien Guard are the equivalent of the rich aristocrats fighting to bring the tsar back so they can go back to looting and enslaving the workers and peasants. The Romanovs were so incompetent that Grand Duchess Marie repeatedly emphasizes in her memoirs that the Tsars - at the time of deposal - had no real education in governing. The rebels glorify the old bad status quo, with constant pointless warfare, casual sexism, and mass enslavement and extermination of Beastmen. This brings us back to our old friend Umberto Eco and his essay on Ur-Fascism, which I'm sure you're all sick of by now. Sorry! It's a game about fascism, and we can unfortunately apply several facets of Eco's Ur-Fascism to our unfortunate rebel friends.
Cult of Death: Eb straight up tells us the goal of the rebellion is not to win, but to die glorious and heroic deaths so that some "others" may be inspired to rise up against Kyros. As Eco puts it, the ur-fascist "hero" is so eager for death he sends tons of other people to die before he does, and that's what Arri is doing here. Eb is at least on the front lines doing water magic, but Arri never gets off her ass until the Fatebinder gives her no choice, and her speech rallying the troops at the last minute is very reminiscent of the cult of death.
A Life Lived For Struggle: "You make conflict sound like a bad thing". Stalwart literally defines itself by its constant struggle with its enemies, the relics of Azure is not something like a scepter but a shield, Vendrien Alata is revered by Essa not because of her wise laws or infrastructure building but for her skill as a war leader. The little we see of the pre-Kyros Tiers leadership suggests they value constant warfare against their neighbors.
Cult of Tradition: Eb and Arri will not shut up about the mythology of Free Tiersmen, even when it turns out to be a complete fabrication. As Eb says later, "the only thing free about the Free Cities was the name." Thus like many fascists waving a vaguely incoherent syncretic tradition around, Eb and Arri wave around a vaguely free Tiers that kind of draws on some ancient history that makes no sense when critically analyzed.
Contempt for the Weak: Did you notice that Eb straight up tells her escort they're most useful to her as human shields? It's not just Eb either, Arri has a similar response when the Sages choose to leave the final stand against the Fatebinder:
Arri's Great Leadership Skills posted:
: Get back here! Arri shouts at the fleeing Sage, but to no avail. What was I thinking, bringing cowardly scribes to a sword fight. Eb was right about the lot of you!
It dovetails nicely into contempt for intellectuals, seeing as Arri and Eb have absolutely no objections to shitting all over the Sages at every opportunity.
I could go on, but I think I've made my point. The rebels don't have all the tenets of Ur-Fascism. They don't traffic in Newspeak, for one thing, and their elitism is strictly aristocratic rather than than Hitler's weird ethno-populism or Stalin's cult of personality. There's still enough there to be sufficiently worrying and show how much the status quo failed the people of the Tiers.
TL;DR: The rebels are just a bunch of reactionaries trying to revert to the garbage Tiers status quo and trying to use Nerat while Nerat uses them to humiliate the Disfavored.
We've seen this before, we thank Tunon for the advice.
The kid encounter pops up again and instead of telling stories we go fishing. Fatebinder's gotta eat!
Boris levels up in the Chorus camp and I go to grab him some Defense talents. We want the taunt aura to actually tank, along with the damage boosts against stunned and proned opponents.
Death Knell gives us the conscription quest, yadda yadda yadda.
The Fifth Eye is a lot happier to see us as we never had to sacrifice either army to the Sages.
: I trust you are getting your warriors ready for battle.
: [Remain silent.]
: I don't belong to Archon Nerat. What's my help worth?
It's nice to see Fifth Eye enjoys his job.
: My price is knowledge - the Archon of Secrets knows a great deal of magic, does he not.
So, something I neglected from Cleopatra's playthrough. This is the ONLY way to get the Blood Magic sigil, and it's a 30% damage boost in the accent slot. The caster takes damage, but you literally don't care because you have shit like regeneration auras and life stealing attack spells. It rules!
Translation: you won't get it until Act II. Fifth Eye is on the level and not just screwing us over.
The scene continues as we've seen it from this point, we interrogate Variah, have her kill the other prisoner, recruit Lantry, do a blood arena challenge for Lantry, he teaches us the life sigil, yadda yadda yadda. I considered showing off his death but I don't have the heart to do it.
Salveros is still mad that he has to work with the Chorus and they hate him. He is ironically stationed here because he tried suggesting being less racist, making him among the smarter Disfavored. Incidentally, if anyone cares, I got Lantry to tell us about the Life Archon.
Lantry on teaching the Life Sigil posted:
: Didn't realize you gave a care about your history. Well, the Orphan Midwife was born in 160, bowed to Kyros in 201. They say where she walked, plants would sprout, the sick would grow vigorous... she'd also send most folks into fits of rage and animals into heat - she sounds like quite a riot.
Just another reminder that Kyros ruins everything.
We'll close out this grab bag update by showing off what happens if you don't happen to have the Subterfuge to convince Bitter Quill to stop fucking around.
Trap River goes as expected.
: Your plan has been a rousing success. Most of our troops, dead. A bridge, destroyed. And the Vendrien Guard push us back to where we started. Ladies and gentleman, the finest the North has to offer. And for your next act?
: This is a disaster.
: Fatebinder? Where were you earlier? You could have stopped this colon mite from deviating from the plan.
Oh no, you fuckers don't pin this on Boris. You don't need his help to fuck up.
: My gang serves at my pleasure, not yours... and your plan failed to please.
Barik is the guy who was actually trained for this trying to figure out what these dumbasses did.
: We tried to rush the western bridge. Blow for blow, we had them running but, his gaze drops, a long sigh escapes, but halfway across...
: Half way across, the whole damn river just, the Blood Chanter gesticulates, flailing for words, lurched up! The cursed Matani swallowed the bridge and most everyone on it! Only real soldiers we have left are the Scarlet Furies that I, quite wisely, directed into a flanking position.
Was Bitter Quip in on the plan to sabotage the Matani assault? We may never know.
: A member of the School of Tides is alive and working with the Vendrien Guard. I assure you, she's the culprit.
: That would explain it. I saw a woman dressed in blue at on [sic] the other side of the river - didn't seem like she fit with the others.
: Had we focused our strength into one perfect lunge, we could have crossed the bridge before the enemy knew what was killing them. But it's not too late, we can use the Scarlet Furies to -
: If Antio's plan isn't a good one, what would you suggest instead?
: There is a time for initiative and a time for patience. We should try a different part in the river, or come back later. The enemy is too wary of us now.
Bitter Quip is smart. Antio is dumb.
: Well we can sit and wait for Kyros' Edict to kill us, or we can do something.
: [Athletics 32] [Strike him.] What was that?
The wonderful thing about being a Fatebinder is that legally Quip cannot hit us back or he gets put to death. This doesn't make the Fatebinder any more in the right - Bitter Quip is absolutely correct that the first idiot plan got all their troops killed. It's not clear whether or not he was actively sabotaging, and frankly, I don't care.
: [Strike him again.]
: [Strike him again.]
: [Strike him again.]
So, yes, Barik is freaked the hell out because you are a cruel scumbag.
The lesson here is that it didn't work and we gained nothing. Sure, Verse liked it, but we humiliated ourselves in front of our subordinates, scared Barik, and basically vindicated Bitter Quip. It's reflective of the game's stance on cruelty as a whole.
: How about you just tell me what you'd like in exchange for your cooperation.
Cleopatra could use her wits. Boris is significantly worse at lying.
Quip basically played us like a fiddle.
: This bickering is ridiculous. There must be another answer.
: Perhaps if you had help covering the cost of enticing replacement warriors to your gang...
Look, you're gonna make us do most of the work anyway.
: What if I offered you and your Furies first pick of the spoils?
Yeah, neither of you idiots deserve a bribe.
: This is a waste of my time.
We eventually end up back in the loop where Bitter Quip wants Antio to grovel.
: You heard him. Beg, grovel, do whatever it takes to salvage this mission.
Well, Barik, I don't see you stepping up to bribe him. Maybe if the Disfavored hadn't all fallen for an obvious false retreat they wouldn't be in this situation, now, would they?
Then they give us the spiel about how we need to get to the bridge.
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: How could blundering into an obvious trap have failed? We need to get our remaining men and do it again!
: Lol no you stupid dumbass.
: What a fuckup.
: Shut the fuck up. Antio, report.
: We rushed the bridge, and we almost had them, they did a feigned retreat and then the river rose up and everyone drowned.
: That'd be their water mage, yep.
: Ok, so here's the plan, we take Bitter Quip's remaining troops, and do the same plan that fail -
: Go fuck yourself. Let's just wait.
: Ok, that's it, punching time!
: Aw, yes!
: It's time to punch out!
: Enough! Fatebinder, what the FUCK?
: Damn, nice foreplay. Good job looking like a dumbass that even Antio can tell is one. Anyway, you can either bribe me or order Antio to grovel.
: You're not getting shit. Antio, you're a god damn dumbass who flunked tactics 101, grovel like a bitch!
: Do we really need to feed Quip's ego?
: Fuck...uh...help me Bitter Quip, you're my only hope.
: Alright Fatebinder, are you ready to do all the work again????
So, yes, that's the no subterfuge way to solve the conflict. Either Antio grovels and you eat Disfavored wrath, or you have to bribe Bitter Quip with your own money to do his damn job. Quip fucks up later when you're called in to adjudicate with Salveros, and while the Tunon-friendly way is to exonerate Quip per Magicians Folly, you can rule that said use of magic was aiding the enemy, which kills Bitter Quip and doesn't incur Tunon Wrath.
Next time: Matani Sybil dies. Sorry goons!