Frida: I am she who never has a place reserved for her anywhere. I am a Stranger.
Dusk Shadow: So be it, Stranger. May you learn to live among those who do not resemble you, in the company of your solitude.
(Frida closes her eyes and concentrates on the air around her. She lets the gusts scour and sweep away her body, until she is nothing more than a cloud and a breeze. The shadows are unable to find her.)
[In other words, I used Betrayal and ran north.]
Frida: Ven? Is the ceremony over?
Ven: The ceremony? There's another thing... Yet another nightmare to which you hold the secret?
Frida: I'm a stranger in my dreams too. You have to think that some things never change.
Ven: Really? It didn't seem any more pleasant than yesterday... Well, anyway, I think we've recovered enough from our earlier travels. As planned, we'll get on the road soon. The road is long to the foot of the mountain. Are you ready?
Frida: Yes, yes... Let's go.
[There is one final stop before the mountain pass.]
(The crow seems nervous, almost alarmed.)
Frida: What, don't you like being high up in the mountains?
Frida: Thank you. That's kind of you.
Fredrik: You know, I'm an old hunter who rarely speaks to anyone anymore. Company entertains me and I have nothing against human beings. What are you doing so high up in the mountains, traveler? Are you lost?
Frida: No, no. I'm following the mountain pass.
Fredrik: You're heading towards the pass? In the middle of winter? Wearing that? (He sniggers.) Are you kidding? The wind up there tears trees out of the ground every day. It's been snowing constantly for a month. I had to leave my house several times because of avalanches, even though we're in the lower reaches. I have been here three days, waiting for it to calm down.
Frida: I half-died crossing the tundra last week. The other half will be harder to take from me.
Fredrik: The tundra? A skinny thing like you? Ha... That's a two-week trip. You're still alive? You're determined, aren't you?
It's true that you'll reach the pass faster than by crossing the damned plain. You're there in two days, at worst three given the weather. But the climate is different up there than on the plain. There is no comparison. I lived in the tundra, once. You know, the blizzards on the plain are nothing next to the flurries up here.
For ten years I lived in the upper reaches with my wife. She died last year, during a snowdrift. She knew the place by heart, but, well, with age... I'm not used to village life, but I'll have to get used to it.
If you made it through the tundra then you have some experience. I wish you good luck, because this is not the season to be passing. You won't see many people on your way.
Frida: In two months, it will be worse, and I don't want to hang around forever.
Fredrik: That's quite an ordeal. I hope you'll make it out alive. (He rummages through the bags scattered around the room.) Here! This is something my wife used to wear. Put this on your back and you'll last longer. If she lasted ten years with it, you'll survive two days!
Frida: That's kind of you, but no thank you. I feel more comfortable in these clothes.
Frida: It's true, you're rather well-covered. You are more used to it than I am... Ok, I'll take them.
Fredrik: Not at all, traveler. It would make me sad to see such a pretty young lady die so stupidly. Well, there is only one bed. It's yours if you want to rest. I rested not long ago. Safe travels if I'm not here when you leave.
Frida: Thank you! I'm going to rest.
(To Ven:) I apologize in advance if my dreams cause you any trouble.
Ven: I can sleep on one of the furs or something.
Frida: Nonsense. We are about to climb a mountain. This is no time to be modest. Get in the bed.
Strange Shadow: Overwhelming. I can feel her breath right here. Right here I can feel her presence, constant, right here I can feel her blind gaze fixed on me.
Strange Shadow: (Whisper) Come. Come, traveler. I'm waiting for you.
[Nothing special about this battle, other than the traps having a great name.]
[You can hide at the entrance and wait until the Mountain does almost no damage... but fuck that. Frida marches up there in three damn turns, thanks to Courage either bugging out or working differently than usual in this fight (I prefer to think the latter, but who knows); almost every time I used it, the cooldown was reset, so I could use it multiple times in the same turn.]
Shadow of the Mountain: I'm going to devour you. In my sapphire veils and my diamond fangs, I will eat your soul. I'm going to suck out all of your melancholy until, exhausted, lifeless flesh and light extinguished, you look only towards the deep. I will eat your soul.
From crevasse to crevasse, you will forget your sickness. Think only of survival, because I'll spare you nothing. The slightest error, traveler, and I'll rip your bones out. You will feel the snow. You will feed the silence. You are my sustenance.
I am your ordeal. I am that which you must kill to earn your name, that which you must kill to earn your face. I am the travelers' crown. Declare yourself in front of me. Declare yourself before dying.
Frida: I am no one. I will walk through you, and there will not even be a memory of my passing.
Shadow of the Mountain: Come! Come! Since you are prepared, come kill your enemy! Paint your cheeks black and with snow! I'm waiting for you! I'm waiting, traveler, and my shadow is real!
Shadow of the Mountain: Come! Come to where only your will can conquer, to where your soul takes rootthere where your spirit finally, declares itself, I await you! I will burn your body and your memory in the same exhaustion, at the same temperature, until you can only tell them apart through trickery.
Shadow of the Mountain: I await you at the frontier.
[Our sprite has pants and a hoodie now. Probably better than a dress, though I do wish I had refused the offer. That would have been epic. And harder.]
[A nice skill to have in emergencies.]
Frida: Well... That makes me want to go.
(A more and more violent blizzard is sweeping the mountainside. At times it becomes difficult to keep going. Some gusts of wind almost make you fall. You are forced to move forward while constantly shielding yourself from the wind.)
[The Blizzards have long range and can push you back very far, reducing your Willpower in the process, but they're relatively easy to avoid. The key to this fight, and pretty much all subsequent fights, is a feature of the system I haven't mentioned yet. If you end your turn with Movement points left over, they will stack on top of the amount you automatically gain every turn, up to a maximum that is based on how many +MP abilities you have. Ours is seven, allowing Frida to hunker down behind a rock for a few turns, then dash to the next rock.
[Also, we finally meet the enemy whose form Betrayal gives us this chapter. Sadly, Betrayal doesn't make us immune to their knockback effect.]
(This takes you by surprise, even though you know mountain roads well. Fortunately, the snow does not collapse. It was probably a small hole in the rock face. You will have to watch where you put your feet.)
(The blizzard has increased in intensity and the climb is becoming exhausting. You will no doubt have to rest regularly, which could slow your progress. It has been two hours since you started to reach the high ground and you are already exhausted. The need to find shelter is becoming urgent.)
[Loose soil is another trap type which reduces our movement, leaving us easy prey for the Blizzards. We can regain our movement and Willpower safely by hiding on cover tiles:]
Frida: I feel like we'll never reach the top at this rate...
Ven: I have to admit, it's harder than I thought. These conditions are really impossible. But we have to hurry, otherwise it'll only get worse. Crossing this mountain pass at the beginning of the year is not really a good idea. One wrong step and you'll end up in a ravine.
Frida: It may not help us survive, but it makes us tougher. It's not so bad. For me, anyway.
Ven: The warrior has spoken. (He laughs.) No, I don't hate that side of your personality. It's brave. It's not entirely expected.
Frida: Don't worry, I'll protect you. I'll carry you on my back if you can't make it. I never leave a young man in distress.
[This conversation gives us another skill from Ven. ]
Frida: Here, make yourself useful. Come under my clothes. Instead of becoming food reserves you'll become a little heater.
(The crow shivers under your clothes.)
(You finally end up finding a shelter. It has half-collapsed, but it seems to still be standing, despite the violent winds, avalanches, and falling trees. You will probably be more or less safe here for a few hours, just enough time for the wind to die down.)
[Here, we have to step on a series of green tiles to simulate shoring up the roof.]
(Frida recites a rune-charm to help strengthen the wood. She can barely even hear her own words, but it is enough to say them.)
Frida: As Bone-sprain, so blood-sprain,
Bone to bone, blood to blood,
Limb to limb, as though they were glued."
[Not actually from the Eddas. This is part of a Germanic poem from the 9th century. The Germans and the Norse were very similar at the time though; the rest of the poem mentions Odin/Wodan and other gods from the same pantheon.]
[The final skill of the Negation branch. It's great, but it would be nice if it didn't also make the targets invisible.]
[This encounter is basically the same as the first few.]
(Frida ponders if the lack of dreams is a good omen or not as the ascent continues...)