Part 9: The Hangover
CUTSCENE: The Aftermath & The Mission
Everyone gathers around the somehow now completely repaired throneroom to review how much they all absolutely fucked up last night. But, oh, hey, at least Orrens back. So that's something. He doesn't get to do anything but stand there by that pillar for the whole scene, so it's not like it's any real cause for celebration anyway.
But like seriously though, this place was ON FIRE the last time we saw it. Does NOBODY remember that?
So anyway, Cyrus approaches the flag-draped coffins of King Valtos and Archduke Dalam
Cyrus: It cannot be! The King cannot be dead!
Yulie: Ah, yep.
Yeah, you keep hanging your head in shame, you twatstick.
Cyrus slams his fist on the carpet. Just for emphasis.
And you shit has gone really wrong when Sarvain is the only sympathetic shoulder you have left to cry on.
Sarvain: Sir Cyrus, I share you pain, but we must accept this. Sadly, we are the only ones who can hold this kingdom together. Think of Balandor.
Cyrus: Sarvain, you do NOT share my pain. The King was like a father to me. He cared for me since I was a child
I love how Sarvain turns away when Cyrus wheels out the WHAAAAAAmbulance. You can practically see him rolling his eyes at how melodramatic Cyrus is being right now.
Cyrus: There is no Balandor without King Valtos.
Except that there was probably a Balandor before King Valtos, I mean I dont think all this was built over the course of one mans life time, was it? Oh I keep forgetting, the worldbuilding in this game is the shits, so there probably literally was no Balandor before King Valtos because nobody at Level-5 put any thought into things.
What Im trying to says is, Christ, Cyrus, grab your balls out of your purse and act like a soldier. Cisna didnt cry this much over her fathers death. (Make your own Cisna the Hun jokes here, Im too tired).
Sarvain: Ours is not the only leader lost. Do not forget, sir, that Archduke Dalam of Faria is also dead.
Sarvain: It is very likely that Faria will hold Balandor accountable for the Archdukes murder.
Sarvain: Plus were kind of being dicks holding on to his body like this
Sarvain: Presumably, their governing Council is still dominated by the War Faction. We must prepare the city for an almost-certain invasion.
Yulie: Ho-lee-shit. I let him sneak into ONE party, and suddenly were going to war with Faria.
Also, who willingly and proudly proclaims their political organization to the War-anything? I mean the name of their party broadcasts their intent to go to war with anyone for whatever reason. Why would ANYONE put such a party in charge of anything related to governance? Usually you only turn to war as a last resort, not as a mission statement.
Sarvain: Though it pains me greatly to say it, we have no time for grief.
Nolan no-like this.
Sarvain: For now, we have two priorities: rescue Princess Cisna and restore the Kingdom. Put your sadness aside and remember, your duty as Captain of the Castleguard comes before your personal emotions.
Youre clearly evil, yet youre the only one saying anything that makes a lick of sense. White Knight Chronicles! Where virtue and intelligence are mutually exclusive factors.
Also Jim Ward is playing this scene 100% straight too, so it even sounds like Sarvain is the most rational and cool-under-pressure person you could ever want in charge at this very moment.
Cyrus, on the other hand, just sobs some more at the foot of Valtoss casket. They probably just used hot mic outakes of Nolan North remembering he got to play Nathan Drake and Deadpool, and got to be in Halo, and now hes playing a guy with a pube beard and a rattail haircut dumber than Leonards who sucks at being a real knight just as badly as Leonard sucks at being a fake one.
Sarvain: As for the boy Leonard, if Im not mistaken?
Sarvain: You hold the Knights Ark, and know how to control its power.
Orren: 50% of that statement is demonstrably false.
Sarvain: That means you have made a pact with the Knight.
Leonard: Me? A pact?
Stop doing the fucking Shion already, dumbass.
CUTSCENE MUSIC: Sincas Children (Disc 2, Track 15)
Sarvain: It is said that the Knight is a weapon of war crafted long, long ago by our predecessors, the Ancients.
From here we cut to some nifty hand-drawn artwork for some much-needed exposition on what exactly the Incorruptus is.
Sarvain: In their writings, they refer to it as an Incorruptus. When the great Cataclysm seventeen years ago opened the ground, long-buried ruins were uncovered. Among them was the temple in which the Knight was found.
Sarvain: We recovered it, and brought it here to the treasure vault.
Again, more cool little details showing that some thought was put into some things by somebody down the line here or there. I love that you can just barely make out Sarvain at the top of picture, yet your eyes arent immediately drawn to him, so youre liable to completely miss that hes even there before the image fades out back the live cutscene.
Sarvain: The Kings scholars and scientists spent years studying the artifact. But for all their poking and prodding, they were never able to unlock its secrets.
The chilling, unspoken rationale behind bringing the Knight to Balandor of course being to keep it out of Farias hands and to most assuredly try get it operational to use as a weapon against Faria itself. Make no mistake about it, they werent examining it for peaceful purposes. According to the backstory of the game, which was only published online and in japanese, removing the Knight from the ruins depicted above was actually the event that sparked the War of the Two Kingdoms between Balandor and Faria. And while Valtos might have turned into an altruistic idiot in his waning days, back then he was a warrior canny enough to beat back a Farian army which had pressed its way right into Balandor Castle itself; dude knew his way around really specky weapons.
Again, however, the game doesnt have the presence of mind to make the connection, so its lost in the shuffle of information.
Sarvain: What we learned was that only people the Knight deems wrothy have the right to wield its power. These are the Knights Pactmakers. The ancient books would tell us no more than that.
Again the implication being that quite a few people lost their lives trying to activate the Incorruptus, only to be deemed unworthy by the Phantom and most likely subjected to a horrific death of one kind or another.
Cyrus: Sarvain, hes just a boy!
Leonard: Hey, dont ask me how I unlocked it
Leonard: I just did.
This, in essence, is a variation on the somehow explanation, a narrative trope trotted out with some regularity by JPRG writers (and, honestly, writers in general) when Big Things happen for no other reason than the Plot needs them to happen. To quote the great Ursula K. LeGuin on the somehow explanation:
Ursula K. LeGuin, Steering the Craft pp.61-2 posted:
Somehow is a weasel word; it means the author didnt want to bother thinking out the storySomehow she just knew . Somehow they made to the asteroid . When I teach science fiction and fantasy writing, I ban the word. Nothing can happen somehow.
That said, while we might not get a how explanation at any point in this tale, we at least get a why later on.
Sarvain: Then the Knight has chosen you, lad.
Sarvain: Im at a loss as for why, given all your companions have told me about you since I called you here, and yet
Sarvain: There must be a reason. But that is a question for a later time. Right now, I have a far more important task to set before you.
Sarvain: You must hurry after the Princess at once, and use the Knights power to rescue her from her captors.
Sarvain: If only to prevent her from co-opting them from within and using them to drag the entire continent into all-out war.
And of course, Leonards eyes light right up at the prospect of possibly touching Cisna again.
Cyrus: Are you mad?!
Yulie: Just a darn minute! Leonard isnt part of the Royal Army.
Yulie: He cant even make simple deliveries without screwing something up!
Yulie: Why send him?
Sarvain: The circumstances demand it! The villains who attacked us are part of a group who worship the Ancients.
Sarvain: We call them the Magi, because it is ancient magic they use to summon forth their vicious beasts.
Sarvain: They are powerful, but not powerful enough to stand against your Knight.
Orren: How about smart enough?
Sarvain: Oh please, whats the worst that could happen?
Orren: Youre looking at it, Im guessing.
Yulie: So what?
Yulie: Solve your own problems!
Leonard may have the White Knight, but Yulie has Balls of Steel. Its not every day you see a female JRPG deuteragonist with the gumption to get right up into an authority figures face and call them on their own bullshit.
As much as I hate defending Leonard, shes completely right here. Sarvain has no right to pressgang Leonard into doing anything. Sure, you could throw down the Spider-Man clause about great power and great responsibility but Leonard is the anti-existence of responsibility and a desire to help does not necessarily translate to being capable of helping.
Leonard: Yulie, its okay. Ill do it.
Yulie: What?! But!
Leonard: She needs me.
And there it is: Leonards world begins and ends with Cisna now. Its not enough that she simply needs to be rescued from the Magi; in Leonards mind she needs him like she needs oxygen.
His self-delusion is complete now that Cisna isnt here to refute him. Its full steam ahead into her pants, as far as hes concerned. Hes already thinking about what his crown is going to look like after he marries her and becomes King Consort.
Leonard: If I can help, I want to.
An otherwise admirable sentiment shot to shit because, well, look at him.
Sarvain: Im glad. Your Kingdom will be grateful.
Leonard: See! He said MY Kingdom. Im totally gonna marry Cisna when this is all over.
Sarvain: Well cross that bridge if we come to it, lad. (Honestly, I just want you out of the city right now, because with you possessing that Knight Im worried you might accidentally transform and level a few houses.)
Orren: Have at it, folks. Ill show myself out if thats all settled then. Try not to get anyone else killed while you rescue Princess Genocide.
Leonard: Youre not coming with us?
Orren: Ive known you a day-and-a-half and in that time Ive nearly been killed by a troll, an army of faceless goons, and a hellbeast from some wizards nightmare. Ive dealt with cults before, Ive dealt with armies before. A cult army? Thats a line too far for me. If Pyredaemos was their opening act, Im betting theyve got a lot more in store for you out there. Bird-hair here is sending you to certain death, even with that Incorruptus. Im out.
Mysterious Man: Then its settled, is it?
Orren: WHERE THE FUCK DID YOU COME FROM?!
No serious, where the fuck did you Aw the hell with it. PLOT CONTRIVANCE!
Mysterious Man: Wed best hurry.
Mysterious Man: The longer we tarry here, the further away theyll get.
God, and I thought Yulie had balls. Maxwell here just co-opted this whole rescue mission by just walking into the room. Im assuming at least. He clearly heard everything leading up to this point in the conversation, and judging by everyones shocked reaction to him announcing his presence, he was not just hanging around in plain sight.
Sarvain: And you are ?
Good question, Sarvain.
Eldore: The names Eldore. Just a humble traveller.
Eldore: And Broadway producer.
Eldore: I can swing a sword and cast the odd spell or two
Orren: Youre not really selling yourself there, old man. Any one of us in this room can do some combination of the two. Its a buyers market.
Eldore: Id wager I could be of help. Surely you werent going to send him alone?
FORESHADOWING that wont be touched on again until the closing minutes of the second game!
Cyrus: Then allow me to join you!
Fuck yeah! Two new party members! Lets do this shit, Drake!
Sarvain: No! Impossible!
Sarvain: Your place is in the capital.
Sarvain: I will need you and your men to help control the populace. People are frightened. With both the King and Princess gone, you must be there to reassure them.
I dont mean to keep harping on it, but Balandor must have some really good masons on call, because they patched up the giant gaping hole Leonard made in the floor with Pyredaemos like it was nothing.
Cyrus: And leave it to strangers to decide the Princesss fate?
Orren: Your reservations are warranted, Sir Cyrus. Leonard couldnt protect a wagon full of booze. Your Princess is fucked, pardon my Farian.
Sarvain: Whatever must be done. War with the Magi began the moment they beset the castle. Sir Cyrus, we must prepare to defend the Realm.
He sighs in resignation.
Cyrus: Very well.
Eldore: We leave on the morrow. Tonight, we rest in town.
Orren: So much for that whole wed best hurry spiel.
Leonard and Yulie nod approvingly. While Orren Fuck Orren, the Avatar doesnt get a say in whether or not they come along for the ride because the Avatar is a propan automaton with no agency who will follow the party wherever they go for no reason whatsoever.
Sure, you could maybe spin it as the Avatar being moved by the same goodhearted altruism that prompted Leonard and Yulie to ultimately kowtow to Sarvains cynical appeals to duty and patriotism and Leonards penis, and simply agreed to come along out of a sense of loyalty to their friends and a duty to Balandor. But I am not going to take this games narrative conceits at face value.
Ergo, with the aid of the artistic stylings of Blind Sally I present to you:
Why the Avatar is Still With the Party Despite There Being No Reason For Him To Be Here Anymore
Orren: Best of luck to you all then.
Sarvain: Excuse me?
Orren: I dont have any reason to join them on this little quest.
Leonard: Not even our friendship?
Orren: Im pretty sure I hate you right now.
Eldore: Im sure you must have some skills that might be of use to us.
Orren: Oh, Im gangbusters at killing stuff, I just usually dont do it pro bono. And dont try to push the patriotic duty angle on me, eaglehair, Im not from Balandor.
Leonard: Where are you from, anyway?
Sarvain: I see then. Are you a member of the Bounty Hunters Guild, lad?
Sarvain: Well then, let me put it to you this way: if you aid in the rescue of Princess Cisna, I will see that you are rewarded rather handsomely for your efforts.
Orren: Define handsomely.
Cyrus: Sarvain! You dont have that authority!
Sarvain: Oh, Im more than certain our dear Princess will reward you upon your triumphant return to the capital with her. (And by that I mean shell have you executed, most likely). Im willing to offer four.
Orren: Four what?
Sarvain: Four million guilders for the safe return of Princess Cisna to Balandor.
Cyrus: Gods! Madness!
Orren: Ten. And a lordship.
Sarvain: And why would I agree to that?
[Orren pulls out his axe and hovers it about Sarvains head.]
Orren: Because I think youll like Lord Orren better than King Orren. The throne IS up for grabs, if Im not mistaken. And, well
Orren: Im pretty sure Id make a better King than the last guy did.
Sarvain: Deal. (Ten million guilders worth of Chromium Pearl Lv. 1s coming right up. My Lord .).
Eldore: Then hurry up and come along, Niles. We have much work ahead of us.
Orren: What, what did you just call me?
And what a better way to end this chapter than with the image of the empty throne.
CUTSCENE MUSIC: New Allies (Unreleased Track)
Fear not, Princess Cessna! As long as your cheque clears, your saviours are on their way.
Or so I thought at the time. In retrospect, no amount of money was worth the ordeal these people and would end up keelhauling me through. Yes, I made enough to start my own town with, but it will never fill in the hole cared out of my soul by their collective incompetence and stupidity.
Some things really are priceless
LEONARD'S ADVENTURE JOURNAL, ENTRY 2
ORREN GOT REAL MAD AT
IT WAS SCARY.
ORREN GETS MAD AT ME SUMTIMES OR HITS ME WHEN I TALK ABOUT PRINCESS CINSA. BUT THATS OK.
BECAUSE I LOVE PRINCESS.
SHE IS SO NICE.
I LOVE HER SO MUCH. I AM GOING TO SAFE HER WITH YULIE AND ORREN AND OLDMAN.
Blind Sally posted:
Also, I'm really beginning to like Sarvain, even though he might as well be wearing a glowing neon sign on his back that says: I'M GOING TO BETRAY YOU!
Sarvain: What exactly is everyone looking at? Is there something on my back?
Further, Id be remiss not to point out how I have a hard time taking Sarvain seriously as an authority figure thanks to his haircut. It looks like Ethans stupid bird hair from Ctrl-Alt-Del.
Dont believe me?
Sarvain: I am sorry for your loss. But now is not the time for grief. Put your sadness aside and remember your duty to your kingdom.
I̱̲̮͇̬̺ a̱̝m̦̼͉̣͈ ͔̬͈s͖͖͓̤o̜̭ͅ ̼s̪̟̝͓o̭͓rr͖̖y̩̼.̥̯͔̹̜̗
̻͓̣̻I ̯̖̜̰̜̥̤am̗̗̰̠̙͚ ͎͙̹͖̭͍̗s͓͙͍͚̱̖o̬ ̼̥sͅo͔͇͍r̟r̪̩̞y̼.̞͔͎̬
̘W̧͙͈̖̲͎̞ͅì̱̼̗ͅț̶̫̟̰̫h͇̞̜̳̮̜͞ ̖̳̟͓͞o̗̞͙͙̱̲u̥̤͠t̰͎͔̟ ͏̤͉̰̖͇̫͖o͇͓r̼̰͖̹̥̞̖d̶e̪̬̻̝͉̫͙ŕ̤̤̫̲̜.̶̜͕͖̯
͍T̺̲͈͖h̫̰͇e͕͎̱̭ ͉͚̮̜͖N̹ẹ̰͈̳͕ͅz͍̥͇͍̰͜p̰͜e͓̦͇̖͓r̨̪̤̳d͉͕͉̗i̯͓̜͇͟a͔͚̦̭̰n͕̼ ̭h̰̟̜͚͍i̸̥̗̯͙̜̝ͅv̘͓̜̹͍e̦͞-̖̕m̼͖͚̕i̷̹̪͎̠͖̗ͅn̫͈͙ͅd̻͓͇̭͍͇̥ ̧͉͖͙̮o̠̖f͇̘ ̜̣̯͍̬c̴͍h̯̮̪̺̣̤͜á̙̟̝̥͔̹͖o̴s̺͝.̟͚̞̱͟ ̜̙̞̘̮Z̯͔͉͓à͍̠̬ĺ̞̩g̹̻͇͉͙̟̹͘o̫.҉͇
̯̼͍̹͚H̩̮̼͝è͚̣̩̲̹ ̴͎w̟h̳͚̘̲̯̲͕͘o̶̱̤͈͔̪ ̡̜̝͚̫̰W͚̣̟̻a̖͎̠͚̘͜i̺̬͜t̤̥͉͎͞s̰̭̼ ́B̵̠̖e̯̯̟͘h̯̜̠̺͕i̤̝̣͙̼̳ͅņd̡̮͓ ̵̬̯̖͙͔̩ͅT̩̗̺̻̖͎̤h͉͞e͙͉̱̫̺͜ ̮͚W̮͡a̠l̼̞͍̭̳̳͚l̢.