Part 75: Governor Boris and the Great Blame GameGovernor Boris and the Great Blame Game
Last time on Tyranny, we helped Nerat get his spike on again and then received a message from Tunon asking for his status report. While we could ignore it and piss Tunon off even more, we're on thin ice already so we may as well go see our boss about whose fault it really is.
I don't know if I've shown this off yet, but this is the game's load screen. I think it works really well!
We tell Tunon we're going to show up so he doesn't get even angrier than he already is, and make our way immediately to the Bastard City so we can deflect all the blame away from ourselves.
Tunon's reply arrives as soon as Boris and Friends make it to the court. I can only assume Mark hits us with a paper plane or something.
This is pretty important if you're not on anarchy. Showing up impresses Tunon and if you have evidence (you should have at least something just from doing the main plot) you can avoid the wrath hit from blowing off doing your actual job.
: It should come as no surprise that your activities are closely monitored. As an extension of Kyros' law in the frontier, your progress is a topic of some interest. Tunon pauses to regard you with an intense stare.
: I sent you on a mission to bring order to the chaos of this civil war. Not enough time has passed for me to expect any significant progress, but I am curious about your findings all the same. I want to make sure your time outside of the Court's shadow is being used effectively.
There's actually a lot here that's being unsaid. Tunon is telling us that he is constantly monitoring us and that we face his judgement...but on another level, if Tunon was actually watching us all the time, he wouldn't need our report! His agents could have been there when we spoke to Amelia, or when Nerat put all those guys on spikes, or any of these other things. Hell, Bleden Mark is always watching (as he gets pissed off if he's not there) and we know Tunon is checking in when we adjudicate cases...but Tunon either doesn't know what we've found or doesn't trust us to report it accurately.
The other thing of note is just how powerless Tunon is in the face of civil war. Tunon is a personally powerful entity, who, on paper, has the authority to declare that Nerat and/or Ashe violated enough of the law and sentence them to death in absentia, as Archons may be convicted of sedition or incompetence, which can mean whatever the magical judge people want them to mean. Tunon's actual response has been to send out a lone guy and his 5 hobo friends to investigate by actively taking a side in the civil war and either going under deep cover with Nerat or just joining Nerat's side. This isn't even a fair investigation, we are an actively biased party who liked the Scarlet Chorus well enough to award them the credit for Vendrien's Well. Tunon is nominally in charge of both of the warring sides, but lacks enough power to bring them to heel despite being the second in command of the entire Empire.
: I am happy to be an asset to Kyros' forces, and to pull chaos out by the root.
: That is all this court has ever demanded of you. You do well to recall your duties with such exacting precision.
Now you might be looking at this talk in confusion, as literally nothing Boris has done has mitigated chaos in any way, shape or form. We got Graven Ashe's daughter impaled on a spike, giving him every reason to continue fighting, we've put down the Unbroken rebellion that was three minutes from collapsing for the greater result of screwing over the Disfavored - and thus Team Kyros, we had the greatest craftswoman in the Empire executed so Nerat could arm the Scarlet Chorus with iron weapons they're legally not allowed to have - oh, and we're basically helping the guy who started the rebellion in the first place look good so he can become King of the Tiers and do... why does he want to rule the TIers, again?
So like much of Tyranny, there are two things going on. One is the surface level of Tunon, the player's superior, asking for a status report on the investigation into why the Vendrien Guard's rebellion was successful. On the deeper level, Tunon is revealing that he's completely disconnected with reality. Why are the Archons playing this game? Because the system demands they struggle against each other so they can't rise to challenge Kyros. This is completely at odds with the Kyros-as-Abrahamic-God concept Tunon is stuck with, so we get the ultimately meaningless question "Which of the Archons is at fault?"
: I believe Graven Ashe is the guilty party.
'It exists!' he cried.
'No,' said O'Brien.
He stepped across the room. There was a memory hole in the opposite wall. O'Brien lifted the grating. Unseen, the frail slip of paper was whirling away on the current of warm air; it was vanishing in a flash of flame. O'Brien turned away from the wall.
'Ashes,' he said. 'Not even identifiable ashes. Dust. It does not exist. It never existed.'
'But it did exist! It does exist! It exists in memory. I remember it. You remember it.'
'I do not remember it,' said O'Brien.
Winston's heart sank. That was doublethink. He had a feeling of deadly helplessness. If he could have been certain that O'Brien was lying, it would not have seemed to matter. But it was perfectly possible that O'Brien had really forgotten the photograph. And if so, then already he would have forgotten his denial of remembering it, and forgotten the act of forgetting. How could one be sure that it was simple trickery? Perhaps that lunatic dislocation in the mind could really happen: that was the thought that defeated him.
Now, we have actually a lot of evidence against ol' Ashey here, and let's be honest - number 6 is true of every single character in this game not named Tunon.
: Graven Ashe exchanged prisoners with the Vendrien Guard, and willfully prolonged the siege.
: The Adjudicator weighs your statement with interest. The space between the eyes of his mask narrows, though the change is too gradual for you to follow.
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: Thank you for returning on time. The Court appreciates you actually doing your job correctly.
: Anyway, we've been watching you for a while and everyone is waiting on the results of your investigation into the Archons. Despite my omnipresent authoritarian spy network, I need you to give me an update.
: The Scarlet Chorus loves you! You must have terrorized a lot of peasants, in a way totally consistent with Kyros' Peace. It's impressive, but please keep an eye on Nerat so we can figure out if he's the traitor or not.
: Always happy to help.
: Anyway, we have one big question - which Archon do you believe is solely responsible for everything in the Tiers?
: How the fuck am I supposed to answer this? Isn't Kyros supposed to be all powerful? Why the hell aren't pacification armies being dispatched from the capital? Can Kyros even stop this? If Kyros can't stop this, why not? How is allowing this to continue consistent with Kyros Peace?
: Ha ha, fuck me, I can't say that shit, as challenging the system not only gets me into trouble with Tunon but undercuts my authority as a Fatebinder I desperately need to thread the needle. Nerat has done a lot of sketchy shit, but I'm also using his army to prop up my own powerbase, so... Graven Ashe did it. He sucks!
: The Archon of War is literally Kyros' most loyal general. The intro said so, and Kyros keeps asking me to get him not to send her any more love letters. What makes you believe Graven Ashe did it?
: He did make a truce with the Vendrien Guard to swap prisoners. Like a traitor.
: THAT MOTHERFU - uh, please include this in the full report.
Tyranny really wants to remind you that the system is its own worst enemy, and here we see the snare of ideology which has gripped Tunon. Tunon stays in this palace all game, constantly looking down on the player save when you get the audience to investigate the Archons or when he descends from the pedestal to make his last stand against the Archon of Spires. Tunon's only reports are, for the most part, people who have to play along with whatever Tunon thinks is going on in the world, and if you don't comply, well...
The Other Run posted:
I wrote earlier that the Order of Fatebinders is effectively a trap for the smartest minds who would challenge Kyros - they get rewarded with power for obedience, and if they fuck up they're under the direct supervision of Tunon, Calio, and any Fatebinder who hopes to advance by ratting out wrongthink. Thus this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy - Boris is bringing order to the Tiers on his many adventures getting people impaled on spikes, orphaning babies, and turning urban areas over to a mob of trauma victims with poor impulse control and the legal authority to do whatever the hell they want. However, Tunon believes this is order, Tunon is not going to leave the palace to go see what is actually going on in the Tiers, and everyone around Tunon is encouraged to tell Tunon what he wants to hear both because this is how you survive Tunon's court and how to maintain your own powerbase. It really doesn't matter whether you believe the Communist Party is the party of workers and peasants killing all the workers and peasants because Lenin said that will magically make communism happen or whether you're cynically parroting this shit so you can have the Cheka investigate that traitor Jenny who unrelatedly rejected all your romantic advances, Tunon is surrounding himself with his own feedback loop that the system totally works and that the problems must be according to Kyrosian theory. We as players can see that the civil war is the intended result of the system, and both Bleden Mark and Myothis tell the player this if they're not paying attention. However, in Tunon's wacky ideological worldview, Kyros is not having the Archons fight to get rid of them because they're liabilities! Such a thought is beneath all-powerful, mighty Kyros:
Tunon on Kyros posted:
Kyros can never fail, Kyros can only be failed, and that's how we come to the conclusion that all of the nonsense in the Tiers is the result of one bad Archon and when that Archon is removed all the problems will magically go away - never mind that Tunon's entire career has been removing all the bad people and yet the same problems keep recurring no matter how many people Tunon sentences to death while the system remains constant. It's the problem with these authoritarian ideologies that inevitably they clash with reality and reality starts winning, and the most fanatic ideologues double down while stuffing their fingers in their ears. Even if we kill Nerat or Ashe, that leaves the other one free to screw up, piss off the locals and provoke either outright rebellion or sabotage - which leads to more work for Tunon, and the promised land of free shared food and peace never arrives because its a lie sold to allow the Archons to steal and kill.
Of course, we aren't in any position to point this out, as all of our power as a Fatebinder is tied into this fiction of Kyros' laws. Our power comes because the Empire has to pay lip service to these ideals, because ultimately it's what makes Kyros and Tunon happy, and while they don't have all the power they've woven the lie into everything the empire does. The Archons can't just loot and steal openly, they have to at least pay lip service to the idea they're doing it for the public good and do it through the proper channels of being the regional trade authority, and this conveniently lets Kyros direct the loot and use it as a carrot to get the Archons to do what she wants.
Bleden Mark explains the law posted:
There's a hilarious scene we didn't see where, if you go to the Burning Library, the Censor takes the forbidden scroll and is promptly brain devoured by Nerat. The player has the option to call him out on the law against forbidden knowledge, where Nerat counters by pointing out that he didn't actually read the banned book, he just kinda saw what was in the Censor's brain, it wasn't illegal, and that you're not the only one who can bullshit the laws. The actual crimes an Archon can be convicted on are the crimes where you upset the applecart and threaten the system - fucking with the Oldwalls and coming up with original ideas, incompetence (aka not delivering the loot for the rest of the gang), sedition, and actually challenging Kyros' authority openly. Thus the laws function both to create the legal system of privileges and as a constant loyalty test - by following the law and playing the game, you prove to everyone that you won't knock over the loot train today. There's a third bonus as well, which is that you can use any minor infraction to destroy or blackmail your enemies to advance your own position - which helpfully allows Kyros' subordinates to keep infighting so no one rises to the level of Kyros.
Bitchslapping Barik back in line posted:
: [Conquest] We both know you turned your weapon against the Chorus in Stalwart. I could tell Tunon you were the first blood of this war... he would not be amused.
Once again, the game confronts us with the idea that, far from the trains running on time, the authoritarians are too busy playing stupid loyalty games and it effectively blinds them to the real problems that their system creates. Ultimately Kyros made the decision to send both Nerat and Ashe into the Tiers, despite Ashe only being an Archon because he badly humiliated Nerat and Nerat killing and eating Ashe's son in retaliation, and the system is designed ultimately to continually produce these enemies as everyone constantly infights both for survival and more loot, but we can't mention this because it breaks the official line, puts a huge target on our head, and undercuts our own authority.
I was going to finish up the Stone Sea this update, but this got a bit longer than I'd planned, so we'll pick that up another time.
Next time: Hundred-Blood, no!