Frida: Yes. I found several things that might be of interest to you. But... I think you should look at this.
Elif: (He reads the different notes quickly. After a moment he stops, obviously preoccupied.) Did you read this?
Elif: Oh. Please don't talk about it... It could cause a lot of problems for everyone and my wife would never get over it.
Frida: I already found it unpleasant enough to read.
Elif: Well... I'm going to think about it... Thank you for your help, in any case. I'll remember to tell Teemu good things about you.
Frida: Thank you. Do you want me to explain the purpose of the rest of it?
Elif: Yes, show me.
(After telling Elif the names of the various herbs she found and their uses, Frida departs. As she stands on the road, her mind is calm, but in a numb kind of way, as if she had ingested a painkilling medicine.)
[Not that great a skill, but necessary for ones I really want later.]
Frida: If it's not indiscreet, how did you happen to get on the road? [This is a conversation the player triggers, rather than the game. I just put it here to help Frida change the subject.]
Ven: What? Well, I didn't really have any attachments nor reasons to say. And also, I'm attracted by travel. I would like to see other lands, farther away, more varied, one day. I was a competent hunter, not very strong but with a lot of endurance... There weren't enough resources to feed everyone, anyway.
Frida: Attracted by travel? Or by solitude, perhaps?
Ven: Haha, touche. Yes, there is a bit of that, I suppose. I'm rather solitary. I get along well with people, in general, but I don't feel at home anywhere. I think that walking in the tundra better suits my character.
I was less adventurous when I was young. Time and experience made me bolder and less patient, I suppose... Anyway. Yet another long story. Another day, perhaps. (He smiles.)
[The first skill Ven gives us.]
Frida: He wanted answers, and my answers were not what he hoped for.
Teemu: (He sighs.) These things happen. I'm old enough to be able to figure out what you might have found. Here, take your rations. You deserve them. Have a safe trip, young lady.
Frida: Thank you for your hospitality. I will remember it. Goodbye!
[We still have to rest a total of three times to continue our journey, and we've only rested once, so back to the communal house we go.]
[All the villagers have transformed into shadows, but they do not attack. Even the reindeer have become shadows!]
[Except for the reindeer, they all speak of this ceremony. To learn more, we need to find the big ones, like this guy:]
Elmo: The ceremony does not lead to forgetting, no, no... But the ceremony is frightening. I won't go this year, yet again. I won't go because I'm afraid, yes, yes... The ceremony is like ice breaking, you know? I've already lost too much, I've lost too much in the ice that breaks...
But you, you are not afraid, no, you are not afraid of the ceremony. I can tell, I can tell, it's too late, too late for you to be afraid of this kind of ceremony. May the wind be at your back, traveler.
Essi: You want to know more about the ceremony... My darling, no one knows much about the ceremony. You see, I'm the keeper of the ceremony and still... Aahhh... The ceremony begins in the flames, yes, yes. The ceremony burns you, the ceremony consumes you the entire time. You must burn during the ceremony, aaahhh... Yes. That is the way of the ceremony.
The ceremony immolates, the ceremony cauterises, yes, yes... In the wound of our separations, cultivated and recultivated, on the blistered wound of our lack, the ceremony cauterises until a scab, a thick, twisted skin appears.
The ceremony... Aahhh... The ceremony starts in flames and ends in solitude. That is the way of the ceremony. I am the keeper of the ceremony, small, yet... Aaahhh... Yet I know very little about the ceremony.
Klaus: I'm preparing the wood for the ceremony. You need a lot of wood, lots of wood for each ceremony. It's nice work. Sometimes I'd like to be the wood that is being worked for the ceremony.
In the end, the ceremony is above all a question of wood. Without wood, there is no ceremony. You have to feed the ceremony. Yes. We perform the ceremony where we get the wood. Sometimes it takes years to find the wood for a ceremony.
Oh, but the air is dry and hot this year. Yes, I think we will have a beautiful ceremony. See you soon, traveler. At the ceremony.
Frida: A pyre! Yes... a pyre. We must burn, yes, yes...
Ven: That makes no sense... What are you saying? Are you awake? It's getting worse and worse...
Frida: (Still half-asleep) Ven? You are not a shadow... are you?
Ven: No... You, on the other hand, are scary. (He smiles.) Are your dreams so difficult?
Frida: There are shadows, often. Either people I knew, or who I can't recognise. They file past me, they talk to me. I don't always understand what they're saying. It started after the death of my father.
Ven: Really? It's rare that the death of a parent causes such a shock... I don't know what kind of relationship you had with your father, but... it's a little out of proportion, isn't it? I've only known you for a week, but it seems like there are some pieces to the puzzle missing.
Frida: It's true. I loved my father very much, but he was distant. I can't say I had a very close relationship with him. But no matter how hard I think about it, I can't understand it.
Ven: Excuse my curiosity. I don't want to force you to talk about things you don't want to. We can talk about it another day, if you want.
Frida: Thank you. I am going to try to get some more sleep.
(You toss and turn for hours. Finally, worn out emotionally rather than physically, you fall asleep.)
Strange Shadow: Yes. Welcome to the ceremony.
Strange Shadow: Daddy? Is that you that I hear, still, beyond the snow? Is it you that I hear, behind the curtain of mist? Is it for you or for me that I am here today?
Strange Shadow: You are here for the ceremony.
Strange Shadow: Images are coming back to me. I can see you again at the back of the house. I watch you from afar. I am in the forest. I see you from afar and I cry and I don't know why. I think that something is wrong but I don't know why. It is not important. It doesn't matter anymore.
Strange Shadow: It's the ceremony.
Strange Shadow: Do I need to forget? Are you leading me to forgetting, is that where the night is bringing me? Must I forget to move forward? Must I forget in order to be able to cross this mountain? Must I forget so that I may finally be free?
Strange Shadow: The ceremony burns lest we forget.
Strange Shadow: Yes, yes, the ceremony burns to remember.
Strange Shadow: The ceremony is so. Let the ceremony begin.
[These enemies can do a lot of damage, but they will sometimes walk right onto the fire tiles without our interference at all. There's a Steam achievement for winning the following encounter without any of them burning, but achievements aren't worth that aggravation.]
Strange Shadow: We grow old. Sometimes in a day, sometimes in a sentence, we grow old. We don't need much.
Strange Shadow: Such is the ceremony.
(Frida pushes the last of the Vivacious Memories into the grey fire and watches it burn, her face devoid of expression.)
Strange Shadow: You are a traveler. When all that made you dead disappeared into the snow, so you became. You became a traveler.
Strange Shadow: You are a traveler. You were born in the snow, you were born in the shadows; our shadows, in our shadowy hands, you were born a traveler.
Strange Shadow: You can still become so many things.
(Frida does not react to the reappearance of the Dusk Shadows either. She impassively watches each of the three speak in turn.)
[So, are we a Deserter, a Stranger, or an Adventurer? Our choice here changes a few encounters in this episode, and it also gives us a different bonus to an important plot skill we'll get later. Also, I will use the choice as a bit of a roleplaying guide for Frida. I'll probably cut this vote off tomorrow night.]