Ven: Tell me, Frida, I thought a little about the question of the route, and... Excuse me for bringing this up point blank, but would it bother you if I accompanied you to Sapphire Bay? I've been meaning to go for a long time. It's rare to find pleasant travel companions and it's a long voyage. We could do it together, if you want.
[We get an option to tell him no here, but I figure that vote would go pretty much the same, so I chose one of the yes options.]
Frida: Really? Yes, of course! I also enjoy your company. It's nice not to travel alone.
Ven: Ah, very good! (He smiles.) I thought you'd agree but I wanted to make sure. In that case, let's go to bed. We'll have to find provisions for the climb tomorrow.
Frida: Thank you.
Old Pakkasta: This here is the communal house. I've been keeping it clean for forty years at least. You can stay to sleep as long as you want. Think about going to see the volva tomorrow, or before resting. Our new volva is... (he grumbles.) She is enthusiastic.
Ven: (He smiles slightly.) Enthusiastic? She might be chattier than a lumberjack... That's not necessarily to reassure me.
Old Pakkasta: (The old man smiles.) You haven't reached the end of your troubles yet. Right, well, I think I've told you everything. Oh, and if you're hungry, go to the hunter's lodge. They'll find something for you to do. Right then, I'll leave you to rest. Call me if you need anything.
(Frida says goodnight to their host, Ven, and the crow, and then is out like a light.)
[Dark Wood village master]
(The chaos of Frida's mind litters the road with copies of herself, and the shadows speak to all of them.)
Strange Shadow: How exciting! It's a traveler! A traveler!
Strange Shadow: Look, just look at her! A traveler!
Strange Shadow: You don't see those very often anymore, it's true.
Strange Shadow: Yes indeed.
Strange Shadow: She has come for you-know-what! No doubt about it.
Strange Shadow: For the ceremony.
Strange Shadow: Definitely! She has come for the ceremony!
Strange Shadow: The ceremony, the ceremony! Yes, yes! The ceremony is soon!
[I love the second option.]
Frida: Whoa, whoa, gently... I'm getting up.
Ven: Ha. There you are. (He smiles.) Do you always talk so much in your sleep? It's a little unsettling. Actually, quite worrying, in fact. What were you dreaming about?
Frida: Ah, hmm... I... I have always had a little trouble sleeping, since... Anyway.
Ven: Seriously, it doesn't seem easy. You seem much more fragile when you sleep than the impression you give from the outside. It's unexpected.
Frida: I never pretended to be strong. Anyway, let's go.
Frida: Frida. Indeed, I have only just arrived. My village is several weeks away by foot, to the north. [Uh... it's actually to the east, unless the map is oriented so north is to the right, but okay.]
Sinto: Aha. An adventurer, an artist perhaps! It's a joy to meet you. Sinto. Sinto Kapinallinen. Hunter by day, poet by night. Well... put that way, it sounds bad, but in truth is is only the rabbits who listen to my songs. And I have the vague suspicion that were it not for the snares...
Frida: Oh, is it really that bad? Forgive me, I mean... could you read me a little?
Sinto: That is to say... We barely know one another. It is, nevertheless, rather intimate.
Frida: I understand. Forgive me. I will leave you to your solitude.
Frida: Uh, I'm not Essi. I was just looking...
Teemu: I understood. You think I don't recognise the voices of everyone in this village? I saw them all at birth! And I've seen more than one die. Now go! I'm very busy.
Frida: I'm sorry, but you're Teemu, right? Essi and Elif sent me. I'm looking for food. May I work a little in return for food? I have exhausted my rations.
Teemu: Work? Ha! Do you at least know how to do anything? I'm not going to send you off to hunt if you don't know how to hold a bow the right way around...
Frida: I am a volva. I never learned any other skill.
Teemu: (He chuckles) A volva? As if we didn't have enough of one! Bah... Maybe you'll be more useful than the other one. Go talk to Elif. Essi is too proud to make you work, but Elif might have something for you.
Frida: Thank you. I'm off.
Ven: I could hunt, you know.
Frida: Thank you, but I think this is something I should see to personally. You have already done more than enough for me. I want to earn my keep.
Ven: It's no problem, if you change your mind.
[Yes, the game doesn't give you the option to have Ven hunt for them. Is it just a case of writing so the same story events still happen if you chose not to travel with him, or something else? Instead, it has three different tasks for you to do depending on your class.]
(As the party walks back to the volva's house... [I clicked the talk button to see what Ven has to say.])
Frida: Hmm. You seem very cultured for a simple itinerant hunter. It makes me curious.
Ven: Very cultured? Ah, yes, it's true, I have a weakness for myths and legends. I learned how to read and write when I was very young. My village is to the north, but not far from the river trade route. We often had books from Sapphire Bay. I write a little to pass the time. Tales of old ladies, so I can remember. When I travel, I like to remember these kinds of stories. They're similar from one place to another, but always slightly different, as if they were marked by the people who read them or heard them.
Frida: And you probably modified them a little yourself. It's a little as if you created yourself, differently in each place.
Ven: (His gaze seems to shine for a moment.) Ah... I never looked at things from that point of view. Yes, in a way, I'm probably also looking for something of myself in traveling.
Frida: My father traveled, before I was born. He also liked to read, but... I don't know if he was looking for something.
Ven: He found it, it seems. One day I met an old man on the other side of the river. A seidmad. [I believe this is a typo of seidman, the male version of a volva in the old Norse tradition... or maybe just a guy who spent too much time in the Seid.] He performed the most impressive ceremonies I've ever seen. It was as if he were sculpting the space around him. One night, he said to me, smiling: I don't seek, I find. It took me several years to understand what he meant. To content oneself with finding. It's a beautiful way to live. But I didn't know your father. Mine, well... it's a long story. Another day, perhaps. Let's get back on the road.
Frida: I'm sorry to disturb you, but... I'm looking for work. (Smiles.) I'm a volva.
Elif: Oh! You're a volva? Incredible! And you're looking for work? Yes, I imagine you must earn your keep. Well... Hmm, yes, I might have something for you. My wife is wonderful, you see, but... she's a little sensitive. The old volva was very old and very wise, but she and my wife often disagreed. When she died, Essi had the house closed and never wanted to set foot in it again. There are many useful, or at least interesting, things at the old volva's house. But I think that only a volva could sort it out. I myself don't understand a thing. Can you go to take a look? Bring me back anything you find useful. I hope you're not afraid of spiders and rats! (He laughs.)
Frida: N... No! Not at all! I... I'll take care of it!
Elif: That's perfect! There is a door around the back of the volva's house. Look around a bit, you'll find a passage. I'll wait for you.
(Essi walks by, and they greet each other.)
(To your surprise, there are numerous books. The volva, it seems, was a woman of culture. This collection surprises you for such a remote village. Rummaging through the shelves, you find a book that is very similar to the one Olov gave you a little while before you left the village. The cover is slightly different, as is the title. It seems like the sequel from the same series. Probably the second or third volume.)
(Frida takes the book and puts it in her bag.)
Frida: I don't think this book is of use to anybody. It'll be used to make a fire if I don't take it.
Ven: (He smiles.) I was kidding. I think it'll be better off in your hands than rotting here until a fire destroys it. But I didn't know you liked reading. It's true that more and more people know how to read, even in the most out of the way villages.
Frida: I'm a volva. It's normal that I be interested in books, isn't it?
Ven: Not every volva is interested in reading. There are even some who don't know how to read either runes or modern writing. The oral tradition is still very strong in the isolated villages of the north. For my part, I like books very much. I write a lot, almost as much as I read. This place is really interesting. Let's see what is on the other shelves.
(Frida takes a few of the objects that are still usable.)
(Frida leafs through the diary.)
(The diary says nothing of interest. It deals with Kaari's daily life. As you read, you feel a certain sadness. Even though nothing in the old volva's fine and consistent handwriting hints at it, you have the impression that the old lady didn't really value the life she was leading. Then, something finally hits you: certain pages have been ripped from the diary. It was done cleanly and you didn't notice it at firsta few pieces of lodged paper confirm what deconstructed or never finished sentences had made you feel. There is no trace of the missing pages on the table, however.)
(Frida reads the pages.)
[A warning: reading this next part of the diary is not critical to the plot, and it contains some squicky sexual-abuse-based triggers. You can safely skip the rest of this update and not miss anything crucial. I'm sure most of you have caught on that the story as a whole is kind of going in similar directions, but this little bit sneaks up on you.]
Volva Kaari's writing: ...At the time, we wouldn't have wanted to get to this point. Henrik, perhaps, could have been saved. But I was young and I could not forgive. I could not understand what he had done. If I myself, with age, had not become so pitiful, perhaps I would never have understood. But with time, what is left of my youth? I am tired....
...It was stupid, but Erika's mother was crying, crying and nothing could stop her. And then, one day, she disappeared. She was found at the foot of a cliff. At least it wasn't Henrik who killed her too. But maybe it would have been better that way. I don't know. I never killed anyone. But sometimes, out of disgust with myself, I think I preferred myself with blood on my hands than with blood on my heart....
...Essi had just been born. We didn't know who would take care of her. Her mother had just died and Henrik, Henrik was there, somber, silent. He didn't open his mouth, he didn't defend himself, he didn't seem sad, and he seemed to have no regrets. He wasn't like that, but I sensed, despite myself, that he had destroyed his own life and he knew it. He was already no longer there. No one wanted to forgive him. I didn't want to forgive him. I did not like that side of him that brought me too close to myself....
...It had to be done and we did it. Essi was entrusted to me. We took Henrik into the woods. He closed his eyes when I recited the Voluspa. He did not tremble. When the axe fell, I closed my eyes. I closed my eyes because, in the end, that is how I am and I also educated Essi that way. I taught her to close her eyes. I taught her to close her eyes when blood flows. Close your eyes, Essi, when the blood...
(Frida holds tight and keeps reading.)
(Frida bends her mind and warps her body desperately. In the desperation, she becomes something new and alien.)
[In this episode, Betrayal turns us into this blue, swirling cloud thing that we haven't encountered yet.]
Volva Kaari's writing: ...She will close my house, she will not even enter before closing it. That's the way she is. She is the way I made her. She will close her eyes. She will never learn anything. Close your eyes, Essi, when you grow up. Close your eyes, you will never grow up....
Frida: I don't know. It disgusts me. That woman wasn't wicked, but...
Ven: No, it's true. She was simply human and weak. Many children endure that kind of thing and forget about it, you know. It's not excusable, but it happens a lot. Not all children suffer, necessarily. I don't think they always realise what is happening.
Frida: No, I don't especially have a problem with that. It's just physical, after all. I don't know why I'm crying. I must be tired. Let's leave.
Ven: Really? Very well, let's go.