Part 8Episode 1: Those Who Have No Name
(Pet the crow)
[You recruit the crow by either petting or ignoring it. You have to chase it off to get it to leave you alone.]
[I should point out that it's not possible to have a romance with the crow. Sorry guys. I believe that's just an odd translation choice.]
[We have a crow sprite on our shoulder now!]
Frida: I wonder what it's doing here.
[By clicking the talk button every once in a while, we can interact with our party. Sometimes they'll also initiate conversation. This is a case of the former. Each dialogue choice affects Approbation and Romance differently, which in turn gives you different benefits. We'll get to that shortly.]
Frida: I am myself a Volva.
Erja: (She smiles) Oh! Of course... But all children didn't have the chance to be lulled to sleep with these stories... Heroes, Norns... Norns, yes. All this is slowly disappearing, and yet, it is rooted in our daily life, you know. Everything we do, every day, everything brings us back to the Norns.
Frida: Very interesting.
Erja: You will understand when you are older! But pay it special attention. If you listen, you will see... Sometimes life is as indifferent as Skuld; sometimes it verifies us, as Verdandi does; sometimes it brings us to ourselves, as Urd does so well. If you listen, you will see... (She smiles.) So, good luck, young woman. Good luck.
[This conversation is garbled as hell, and that's with me making some slight changes. Part of me wants to think it was intentional, to show this isn't her native language, but alas, I think that would be lying to myself. The more likely reason is that this is part of a hasty DLC called Secret of the Norns (which is now included free with the game), and the rush job shows in places.]
[Also, now that the prologue is officially over, the entire skill snowflake is open to us. We can now take skills past the fifth ring (everything in color here is rings one through five).
[Here is what ours looks like at the start of episode one:
[So far we have tended to deal with our problems with Negation, Dispersion, and a little Metamorphosis. These are just thematic groupings though. You can take any mix of skills you want as long as you have their prerequisites.]
[Each of those little cottages are about a two days' walk for Frida. Thus...]
[She sleeps in this dingy, broken room, and somehow does not die of exposure. I imagine she has an unpictured cloak or something, but still. She also dreams...]
[You have to fight a random battle each time you rest. They're pretty same-y... I think the main reason for them is to get used to all the new skills you can take, and find combinations that work for your playstyle.
Also, so far, this is the only skill the crow gives us, but that will change]:
[These tiles reduce the Psyche points of anything that walks on them by 30. This includes enemies.]
[Almost every enemy in this episode has the title The Nameless, with an adjective before it. Disturbing ones mainly do damage.]
[Creepy ones mainly push you around the zone.]
Frida: I do not know why you have followed me here. Frida is dead.
[Betrayal now turns us into an Ancient Light, which is awesome. It also does an amusing little bounce whenever you cast a spell in its form. As for the benefit, the box is saying you get an extra movement point per turn... for one turn. There are skills to increase Betrayal's duration though.]
Frida: Look upon her ghost, shadows. Know that I speak the truth.
[For straight up Survive x turns battles, Chaos is an amazing skill.]
[After winning the battle, we get enough xp to level up. Realizing I don't have a healing skill, I kinda sorta rectify that.]
(Heeding Volva Inkeri's words, Frida reminds herself to be brave. Somehow, the presence of the crow sleeping on a pile of straw next to her makes it easier.)
(After a morning and afternoon's worth of walking, Frida and the crow finally reach an actual shelter. It appears to be empty, with the door wide open. She waits for a while, just in case, but then enters a fitful sleep that scares the crow up into the rafters.)
(Frida's body transforms naturally and easily. Exulting with power, she dons a grim countenance and does Skuld's work.)
[You don't have to do this. You can win the encounter just by reaching the tile with the door next to it. But by stepping on the glowing tile, you get a badass spirit form, and Repulsion is replaced with one of the very few damage spells in the game.]
[It also comes with a nice passive buff.]
(The nameless beings fall before Frida as she calls down light from the heavens. She is too tired to laugh, but a mirthless smile plays across her lips.)
[Whether you take the form of the Valkyrie or not... it's probably necessary to take the long way around the building, unless you have good healing, damage reduction, or a lot of HP. Doubly so if you're playing a Volva with as many points in Memory as possible, like I am.]
(Frida wakes up after a rest that only rejuvenates her body. Her mind is ablaze with questions, and the memory of something strong and terrible from her dreams. The crow moves quickly onto her shoulder again... Then immediately falls back asleep.)
(Another empty shelter, and another dream, only the surroundings are a little more familiar...)
(One enemy is different as well. Frida is thankful that her distractions work well, because the thing burns with dark energy.)
(Frida reaches the third shelter on the map. Her legs are burning, and her throat is parched, but it is... a peaceful pain. Very different from the words and looks of the villagers back home. As she approaches...)
Frida: You're tickling me! (Smiles and caresses the animal.)
The crow: (It slightly shakes its head, flaps its wings, then goes back to sleep.)
Frida: Good little bird...
(She gently strokes its feathers, causing it to stir and look around.) [Actually, I pressed the Talk button.]
Frida: (Laughs) Looks like you don't really like me...
(Letting the crow return to its slumber, Frida walks up to the building. The door is closed this time, so she knocks. A man invites her to come in.)
Eevert: You come at the right time! Me and my rifleAse, that's its name, it's mighty beautiful, innit?we gonna look after you all night long. You couldn't be safer.
Frida: Ah... Err... Okay, thanks.
(The crow perches on the headboard of one of the beds as Frida gratefully sips some water Eevert offers. She closes her eyes, and again the dreams come. Are they perhaps following her father's ashes? Or are her memories still too strong? This and more she wonders as the shadows speak.)
Trail Shadow: Do you have a choice anyway? Going back is a failure, going forward is a painful ordeal... It is a very straight path. It is a very straight sentence. Did you ever have a choice? You could only ever choose the default option.
You live by default.
Trail Shadow: These people who pass by, whom you don't see. These people who pass by, and whom you can't understand... Who are they? They don't have the same outlook on things, the same habits, they don't speak the same language...
Are you afraid of them? They are violent, they are shut down, shut down like the door of the village; shut down like the silence, which slips between the words of the old weavers. Anonymous passers-by, lost drunks from other latitudes, they cross your path, they cast long glances towards you, they spy on you. They are solitary. They are enemies.
Trail Shadow: Are these the people you had hoped for? Is is the snow you had dreamt about? From one encounter to another, you dwindle; from one encounter to another, you tire. You worry about those men you don't know, you don't recognize, who are tough, unreadablewho watch you eagerlywho threaten you.
They have no name. They barely have a face. They come and go. They hide. You never know when they'll come back, when they'll take you.
Frida: It... it is better than where I was.
Trail Shadow: Did you ever have a choice? Run, little girl, run... They are hungry. They are strangers.
Trail Shadow: You are always fleeing, forward, again and again, like a criminal, since you don't know anything else... Where do you want to flee like this? They are everywhere.
You are in their kingdom. You have to live with them. You have to endure them. Did you think it would be simple?
[A new enemy that waits at the end of the forest.]
Frida: Thank you for your hospitality. Good day.
(Again, Frida does not manage to make it to true shelter before night falls. She wonders if it's better that way, based on the last one.)
(In the next shelter, Frida sees someone she vaguely recognizes.)
Frida: I am not a girl anymore!
Nikolai Lisakki: So because you grew some legs, you think you're a woman? Silly girl... Bah, for what it's worth, anyway.
Frida: Of course I am a woman, and a Volva! And... nevermind. I am going to sleep.
Nikolai Lisakki: Yeah, that's right. Run. Go hide in your dreams. Try to sleep, and forget cousin Nikolai. You seem to be pretty good at forgetting, just like the others!
Frida: Nikolai... So you're a cousin of the Lisakkis, is that it? I thought you were... well, you had disappeared.
Nikolai: You've got quite a lot more to learn before you become a woman, young girl. To begin with, don't ask questions when it's none of your business. Or without discernment. Do you think I live away from the others to grow poems? Ha ha ha!
Frida: Well then, good night.
(Frida scowls as she clutches the fur blanket around her, ignoring Nikolai as he stays up late into the night.)
Frida: Dreaming of the village again... Are you afraid I will forget? Are you that insecure?
Frida: She saw a hall standing, far from the sun, in Nastrond; its doors northward turned, venom-drops fall in through its apertures: entwined is that hall with serpents' backs.
Nikolai Lisakki: Ooh, scary poem, little Volva.
(Frida storms away, the crow cawing as it circles around her.)
[Another -10% to our attributes!? This is totally worth it though. Movement is king in the vast majority of battles. Plus, the name.]
[At the next makeshift shelter, another relatively simple battle for Frida to flex her mystical might.]
[Which pays off with another level. This isn't bad, but I mostly took it for what comes after it.]
Frida: Pardon me?
(The crow suddenly looks agitated.)
Frida: Yes, yes, it's ok, it's ok.
Uuno Matkustava: Don't change the subject! What kind of creature are you, having so little compassion for other peoples' sorrow? Go away! (To Allti) Come on, Honey. Forget about her.
Frida: Hmm... they lost their dog, or something? In any case, I will sleep elsewhere. Sorry to have disturbed you. (To the crow) What was that about?) [You do actually have to sleep here in the game... I imagine Frida sleeps in some other room, or outside.]
Frida: (Dreaming) It's been a while. I haven't had a bath. I should take one, one of these days.
(The crow stares at you for a brief moment, turns its head, then returns to rummaging under its wing.)
Frida: Back in the village... Back at the bridge. Hel.