The Let's Play Archive

Winter Voices

by Klingon w Bowl Cut

Part 2

The Saga of Frida, the Princess of the Pyre:

Veikko: (A man is standing at the doorway) Frida? It's Veikko... May I come in? I... I came to tell you that I will help Kaleki. In a few hours, we will carry your father's body to the funeral pyre. You have some time left, if you want to hold a wake for him.

Veikko stays quiet for a moment, undecided, then leaves the room without a word.

(Frida slowly makes her way to her father's room.)

They make the moonless night, and the new moon as well.
They make the North and East. They make the South and West.
They harvest in the Dead, all that is left to take.
They make the Ancestor and the Wolf, which we call hydromel.

Frida: The Voluspa – 9, 10, 11... Who are you?

Dusk Shadow: When you were little, you used to look out the window in search of new images, of new lights—of useless things. What do you look for today? What is left to search for, in this cold, misty landscape, bound by lassitude? He went away, taking all the light with him. He took all the light, do you remember?

Frida: I don't understand. What are you implying?

(A shadow blocks the way. Calling upon her training as a Volva, Frida mouths words halfway between prayer and plea.)

“Thence come maidens, much knowing, three from the hall, under which Yggdrasil stands; Urd hight the one, the second Verdandi,—on a tablet they graved—Skuld the third. Laws they established, life allotted to the sons of men; destinies pronounced.”

(She raises her arms and wills the creature, whatever it may be, to move. The shadow slams into the wall and away from the door. Before it can recover, she runs. Just as her hand touches the knob, the shadows at the window speak again.)

Dusk Shadow: Do you find him frightening now? Yesterday he was a mountain, a demon, a threat; today, reduced to a state of refuse, what could he do? A pale, inert, already cold, skeleton; his eyes dead, his body still... He doesn't expect anything from you any longer.

Frida: Leave me alone.

Dusk Shadow: And now, you leave. Without any respect for the one who made you the way you are, you flee his useless corpse, you flee the sight of his empty azur-circled eyes, you flee his room where nothing holds you back. Unfazed, you forsake him to the shadows. To the claws of the night.

Frida: That's the way it is. I can't be responsible for all the ills of the world.

(Then, the shadows gently evaporate, leaving you alone, alone in the freezing room where your father's corpse lies. You leave hastily.)

(The shadow's shape looks vaguely female. She addresses you with a soft voice, both insidious and terrifying.)

Mocking Shadow: You are trembling, my daughter. Are you scared? What are you looking for here? What are you looking for, my daughter, in this salon void of all things?

Frida: I just want to cross the room in peace.

Mocking Shadow: Where will you go? You can't even stay up... Frida, why do you have to be so stubborn? Your knees are quivering, you're just about to collapse. How long has it been since you last slept?

Frida: Will you just go away!

(She screams, and the scream echoes amidst terrifying stillness. Is it the sound that will cause the avalanche?)

Mocking Shadow: Yes, my sweet. I know. Come. Come with me. (The shadow smiles.)

[Repulsion again. These first few "battles" are just tutorials, really. Plus, pushing your problems away always works!]

(While you take a moment to breathe a little, you hear footsteps coming up towards your house. The silhouette emerging is one of a man in his forties. You were not expecting a visitor at this hour, but talking to someone may do you some good.)

The Father: I stepped into an avalanche... it covered up my soul.

Frida: ...Dad?

(Frida recognizes some of what is around her. She does not realize it yet, but this is one of the things for which she has been trained. Reaching out to the Norns—or reaching in?—she senses the buried pain in the landscape that threatens to destroy her mind before she can get to this thing that calls itself her father.)

[In the majority of battles, the first thing you should do is take a page from a Dungeons & Dragons adventurer and SEARCH FOR TRAPS. Your ability to detect traps depends on your Intuition score, but the threshold is quite low at this point. Later on in the game, you should periodically cast Detection throughout the battle as you move, because the range on it is limited by your attribute, and the difficulty of detecting them goes up. They also have various awesome and evocative names, like the Buried Pain here.]

The Father: You should leave. I am... too old to leave. Only one destination remains open to me. One possible journey. I have wasted too much time.

Frida: The dead don't speak. Who are you?

The Father: It's true. But his appearance, his memory, you own all that. He is dead. He is lying down in his bed, in the room that you fled. He never talked to you as long as I talk to you now. I am only... an image. I am only a regret.

Frida: I see. But... why should I leave?

The Father: Isn't that what you should do? Don't you want to anyway? It is in your nature. It was in your mother's nature. It is in mine.

Frida: I don't understand. What should I do? I am exhausted. Can you not leave peacefully? Does it have to be so hard?

(Your father turns his eyes away from you and stares at the horizon. It appears all of a sudden that he is no longer interested in you. He stays like this for a moment, then gently fades away and disappears.)

[Here, there are traps to the north, named Buried Sadness.]

(The memories are insistent, and even though Frida can predict what they are doing to her, they still wear down her psyche nearly to the point of collapse, but then...)

(A woman approaches. Frida nearly flinches at the sight, but forces herself to remain calm. After all, there is no crow nearby. This must be real...)

Frida: Oh. Hello, Volva Inkeri.

Inkeri: What's happening, my love?

Frida: I was... out getting some air.

Inkeri: Well, the bonfire is ready. The cremation will take place in less than an hour. Kaleki and Veikko will come and get your father. Are you ready?

(Frida pauses for a long moment.)

Frida: Yes.

Inkeri: Follow me.

(Two men from the village come in carrying your father's corpse. As your eyes wander on his discolored face, your strength seems to fail. You tremble, your mouth opens slightly.)

(You feel your legs collapsing under you. As you fall on your knees, the voice of Old Inkeri rises in the cold atmosphere. The Volva begins the first strophe of the Voluspa, by which, as an ancient and a prophetess, she will guide the defunct into the Kingdom of the Dead.)

Inkeri: Every Thing in silence, Every God within oneself;
Every being as difference, born of the same belly;
For those who were killed, and their Father at their core;
For those, I must sing the oldest of poems.

His Spirit was dead; His body fell to earth.
The murder was consummated, the childhood came undone.
They sat down, dreadful, atop the walls of dust.
What will the worms do with this intangible flesh?

They make the moonless night, and the new moon as well.
They make the North and East. They make the South and West.
They harvest in the Dead, all that is left to take.
They make the Ancestor and the Wolf, which we call hydromel.

(Frida's eyes widen as she recognizes the words, and she instinctively backs away from the sound, as if the shadows are waiting behind it.)

Inkeri: And they make the Horse; and they make the Tempest,
They make the hollow magic and the burning desire,
They are workers defined by their patient outlook,
and all things they have made are flawless creations.

All that can be found, all that can be grasped,
All the songs of sorrow, all the crumbled towers,
The cold and salty wind, the pale and chapped hands,
All that rapes and murders, all that gives and cures.

Every thing was calm; Every thing is battle,
Thus goes the power of these man-eaters.
From the house that burns for being made of straw,
To the rose that is picked during a massacre.

(The Volva becomes silent. One can only hear the sound of the wind in the pine trees, and your heavy, numbed breathing. As a man approaches the bonfire with a torch, you do not move a muscle.) is fascinating how much I have hoped for your death as fiercely as I hoped for mine, and how naked and useless I feel in this moment. It is fascinating how, even arrogant and lonesome, I can still long for your gaze, your black, busted, cracked eyes, that turn toward the sky, and that don't look at me, and don't look at me any longer.”

People pass by, but you don't hear them. Progressively, your father's silhouette crumbles, the flames abate. You remain standing, immobile, eyes lost in thoughts, watching the wind as it caresses the red ashes, waiting.

Until the morning comes.

(Frida now has an inkling of what form her enemy takes, and she has already begun to ready her mind to oppose it.)

Frida: I am my enemy. If I am to overcome this, I must become that which is other than myself.

[Betrayal is a great ability, mostly because it changes what exactly you turn into, as well as what stat bonuses it gives, depending on where you are in the story. It changes at least once per chapter, maybe more. I know the text is a little garbled, but that happens when translating games sometimes.]

[Here is Frida's starting character sheet. Of note: 45 is the maximum you can have in a base stat at this level, and 10 is the lowest. She remembers much, but is not a very humorous or light-hearted person.

Every level, you gain 15 attribute points to distribute, and one skill point, like so:]

(Frida decides to begin by seeking out the advice of her mentor.)

Frida: Hello, Inkeri. I haven't slept. Thank you for your reading and your presence tonight.

Inkeri: Don't exhaust yourself, my sweet... (She has a sad smile.) Have you visited your father's friends? It is hard, but it could do you some good.

Frida: Not yet.

Inkeri: I think Veikko and Anna-Liisa would be happy to see you. Grandpa Einari as well. What's more, it seems your father knew Olov pretty well... Among foreigners, in a way, they may have discussed things which are... unusual.

Frida: Foreigners?

Inkeri: (She smiles.) Your father hasn't always lived here. But he may never have mentioned it to you.

Frida: My father didn't talk much.

Inkeri: Indeed. He never talked much to anyone... (silence)

Frida: Anyway, thank you for your advice, Inkeri. I may come back to visit you later on.

Inkeri: You are always welcome, my dear.

(In fact, Frida thinks to herself, it would be wise to speak to as many villagers as I can. I must show them that even in a crisis, I can still lead. Hopefully Inkeri has many years left in her, but I have to be sure I have earned their trust, before she too is gone... Listening to them speak is also a good way to lose myself.)

[Talking to more than just the four people Inkeri names also nets you a lot of experience points, which are especially crucial when playing a Volva.]
(Village Classique)
(Frida heads to the town's small market, spending several minutes staring at the frozen brook that runs through it. She closes her eyes and focuses them on an imaginary point above her head, then slowly lowers them back to a resting position. It is not a particularly deep method of entering a meditative state, but it is all Frida feels she can do at the moment without passing out.)

Frida: Charming. I just remembered why I usually avoid you.

(Sygg does not say another word to Frida, nor acknowledge her presence.)

Frida: As you wish, Eini...

Frida: That was... an inauspicious start. What did I do to them? ...I will go see Veikko and his family instead. They may not be my friends, but at least they were friends of my father.

(Along the way, a familiar sense of dread makes its way up Frida's spine. The demons spring to life around her again, but this time she is ready. In her mind's eye, she envisions herself as one of them. It is enough to fool the shadows far away from her, sparing her a great deal of damage to her mind.)

[At this point in the game, Betrayal turns your sprite into an Insistent Memory (like so: ), and its additional effect is to increase the rate our EP (hit points) regenerate each round.
Quite useful.]

[Whatever you do, don't end your turn next to Sudden Memories. They do a lot of damage, but they only have a range of one square (hovering the mouse over an enemy displays their attack range, psyche points, and movement points. Luckily, Sudden Memories can't move.)]

(Frida weaves among them, reciting prayers, songs, and mantras until, at last, they disappear. The way to Veikko and Anna-Liisa's home is clear.)

[The way to a level up is also clear. I chose Minor Oblivion from a previous level gained from talking to people (which I will include more of in the next update), and this time I chose Emptiness. Both are a gamble to use, but I feel they really fit the way Frida is trying to deal with her problems.]

(Almost without effort, Frida slips back into her minor meditative state, trying to empty her mind of thought, both good and bad.)

Frida: Hi, Veikko...

Veikko: I was worried... You want something to drink? How are you feeling?

Frida: I have seen worse. I am ok. (Smiles.)

Veikko: You have to rest. We are very worried about you. I would have offered for you to come sleep here for a while, but... (He glances at the little girl in the corner)... We don't have enough beds.

Anna-Liisa: What are you going to do now? Do you have any projects, some ideas?

Frida: I don't know. I would like to keep living a normal life, but it doesn't look like it's going to be possible.

Anna-Liisa: I know it's hard. But you must hang on, and be courageous. Things are going to get better soon. It's only a bad phase. You know you can always count on us, if you don't feel well.

Veikko: Anna-Liisa is right. You can't let it overwhelm you. Have you slept? No, I am sure you haven't slept...

Frida: Indeed, I have not.

Veikko: I know you well. You look tired, and you were still here last night when I left. You must sleep, you know. Things aren't going to get any better if you don't.

(Frida slowly stands up from her seat and turns away from them. She grips the back of the chair hard, so hard that the wood creaks a little.)

Frida: I can't. Every time I try to rest, I feel like the shadows are going to... swallow me whole. When I walk through the village, I am terrified. I almost fainted twice before I reached your doorstep.

Anna-Liisa: Is is that bad? You were always... fragile. (Her look is evasive, almost guilty.)

Veikko: Did you talk about this with Volva Inkeri?

Frida: Yes. For the moment, she said I should get some fresh air. It's not really working so far...

Veikko: Well, she's probably right. Get some air, and rest if you can.

Frida: Yes. And I am going to stop bothering you with my problems.

Anna-Liisa: No, no, you are not bothering us...

Veikko: Come back any time, Frida.

Frida. Will do. See you Veikko. See you, Anna-Liisa. Farewell... child?