[Palette swaps? Really? Well, at least they're not orbs.]
Great Mystery: To accept. A difficult word, for certain. Accept what? Accept whom? What is mourning exactly? Doesn't mourning only exist with acceptance? Can one rebel? Can one rebel for a long time against the unacceptable?
Are there different ways of refusing? To rebel against time, against life, against history? Must we necessarily be on bended knee, head bowed? Must we necessarily bend and let people leave, let emotions go, and let things depart? To age, to matureit it about learning to let go?
Frida: Disturbed? No, I am serene.
[Betrayal is the best skill. This form makes us completely immune to damage for one turn, in addition to its normal effects.]
Frida: Just as well. A little walking along the bank will do us some good.
Ven: It's true. Let's go.
[I'm pretty sure this pier right under the waterfall is just for fishing.]
Frida: What kind of services are you talking about?
Katariina: (She laughs frankly.) Is this the first time you've seen a prostitute? I sell my body, sweetheart. For a little money, you can do a lot with it. (She smiles.) Are you interested?
Frida: Oh. Uh. I'm not interested, no.
[Ooo, the city even has a fancy market! And it is actually fairly large. There are a number of screens I didn't even show in this update. If I have one complaint about it, it's that no music plays. At all. There are just occasional wave sounds from the river. In a game where mood is so crucial, that's a pretty big mistake. Luckily, I can easily rectify it by giving you some now:
Olga: You are stupid, Herman! Stupid!
[Kids these days.]
Frida: After you.
[Wow. That one interaction was enough to get Chichi's active skill. She must really like us. It increases our health regeneration rate.]
Frida: Good day! I am looking for transport to Sapphire Bay. Could you tell me where I might find it?
Elena: I see. You are out of luck. A barge left for the bay yesterday. Well, don't worry, there is one every two or three days. Sometimes more often, but most of them stop at Boreale. The next one is leaving tomorrow night. You want a ticket?
Frida: Uh... A ticket?
Elena: Yes, a ticket. It's a piece of paper that confirms that you are allowed on-board. You buy it from me for thirty coins and you can embark by presenting it to the captain. (Her look seems to say: Oh, these country rubes...)
Frida: Ah... I don't have any money.
Elena: (She raises an eyebrow.) You don't have any money? And how were you planning on paying for the voyage?
Frida: Well, I can cook, and I learned how to take care of rigging.
Elena: (She seems to be making a concerted effort to stay friendly.) Ok, listen... There's no bartering here. Barges don't take your furs. I don't know how you're used to traveling, but here we only take coins. Round pieces of metal.
Frida: Very well. How can I get some money?
Elena: You could go to the market to sell something of value. Otherwise, you could always work in town, but you'll have trouble finding work that will pay you anything more than a couple of coins a day.
Frida: I have nothing of any value. I'll probably look for work.
Elena: Well then, I wish you luck...
Frida: I was wondering. What's the Ministry of Inner Seas?
Elena: It's a relatively recent ministry created after the attempted coup by chief Gallo at the beginning of 1812. You haven't heard of it? You really are a country bumpkin, eh? Gallo was the queen's warleader and an old Gallican. He must have developed delusions of grandeur, I suppose, but what's certain is that he managed to sneak a large number of Gallicans into the treasure... and the army.
[Pull up a chair and have some tea. It's time for a condescending background lecture! ]
Meanwhile, the queen survived. The coup d'etat was pretty much foiled thanks to the quick reaction of Aster, the first secretary, but she lost her life along with a large number of civil servants, militia members, and soldiers. Deprived of her main ministers, the queen decided, two or three years ago, that it was time to put in place a large overhaul of the administration. (She laughs.) And trust me, there is not a single Gallican left! Anyway, the Ministry of Inner Seas manages the territory of the Kingdom. It was the former administrative arm of the secretariat. River transport, provincial borders, upkeep of the territory, roads, railways... We manage daily life and commerce, as it were. The country suffered badly during the warit's up to us to put everything straight.
Frida: The war?
Elena: You haven't heard of the war? (She laughs, discouraged.) That's puzzling. You know the principle at least? I'm not trying to take you for an idiot, but you wouldn't be the first to not know! The northern locals are a strapping bunch, but more innocent than children! There was a war in 1802, that you must have heard of. Well, a war... that's easy to say.
[Man, these dates. Are they using our calender? Is it a translation thing? It is a mystery. Regardless, I bet it's mainly an easy way for the player to ascertain the approximate development level of the rest of the setting.]
War is the confrontation of two groups of armed men. The one who kills all the others wins. (She makes a face.) Yes, it's rather nasty, but it seems that some conflicts cannot be resolved any other way. The rifles that you use up north are old Gallic weapons of war. The Gallicans spend their time making war. Mostly amongst themselves, it seems. Technically they're very developed, but luckily they're poor warriors. After the betrayal of Gallo, three years ago, war broke out in the south. All the territories south of the rivernot this one, but the one that flows farther southwere annexed by the Republic of Rosa Gallica. Some even crossed the river and started settling there. The south of the country was infested with Gallicansand for that matter, the skirmishes haven't stopped even though the war is over. We had never seen anything like it. In 1803, over ten years ago, there were barely three thousand men who took to the capital and we were able to repel them easily. But two years ago, more than twenty thousand men laid siege to Port Ellen, the third largest city in the kingdom.
We forced them to flee last year, after more than six months of siege, but we paid a heavy price in terms of resources and human life. We are still working hard to rebuild the kingdom today.
Frida: Well, thank you very much for that history lesson. It was interesting.
Elena: (She smiles.) You are welcome. Can I help you with something else?
[Frida knows exactly how to make this bureaucrat happy: give her a chance to set an ignorant country hick straight.]
Frida: No thank you. Goodbye!
[We actually have to go back to bed to continue the game, but first, let's hit up the market for more backstory and a possible lead.]
Frida: I'm curious. Who are you, and what do you do?
Arja: Curious, are you? (She smiles.) I'm recruiting. I work for the Ministry of Tranquility and Majesty. The army, in other words. I'm a veteran of the second war. The conflict continues in the south. We're looking for more people, and the risk is low. The Gallicans are stupid and bad warriors. They've retreated to the foot of the mountains.
Frida: I thought that the Gallicans had a huge army...
Arja: Ha! They don't know how to fight. They're used to gentler climes. In the mountains they shiver like little girls. So, you interested?
Frida: I must decline. I'm sorry. I have other engagements.
Arja: Pah! Nevermind. You don't have the build for it anyway.
(Along the way back to the common house, Frida catches a familiar scent coming from a large building slightly off the main road.)
Frida: What is this place?
Mielikki: Mielikki's Boutique, young lady. I sell and buy all sorts of rare or hard to find products. Plants, herbs, mushrooms, barks... If you're not a volva I doubt that you'd be interested in my merchandise.
Frida: I am a Volva, but I don't think I'm interested. I have nothing to sell.
Mielikki: Don't hesitate to take a look while you're here. It's free.
(Finally, you decide to get some air.)
[Aaaaand Frida heads for the bar. Uh oh... A bit later on, it's referenced that we've definitely been drinking at least a little bit here, but I don't know how. Did the bartender set up a generous tab for us? Did Chichi or Ven lend us some money? Have we become rum thieves again? ]
Mira: (The waitress passes by you, taking other orders.) I'll be with you in just a minute.
[Oh, a light mechanic. Yay. Actually, this one isn't that annoying, and it makes thematic sense. Unlike a certain other new mechanic which we will be introduced to in a few updates. Basically, any spell that has a range has its range cut off by light if you're in darkness, and vice versa.]
Great Mystery: We don't have much room to maneuver. We live, we impose upon, but most of all, we are imposed upon. We obey, forced and constrained. Are we forced to like this? Must mourning come through the love of our defeat, slow, continuous, painful? We are more serene when we love losingbut are we more honest? Rebellion, refusal, vengeanceisn't it just another form of honesty? Must we always submit? Should we die standing or lying down?
...You have so much mourning to do that you don't know where to start.
(The cool air is good for you. You are happy to rest your legs, tired from the long march you have just completed. Without even noticing, you fall into a heavy sleep, barely frayed by a few disjointed and fugitive dreams. It's maybe the first time that you have dreamed of things of no importance for yearsbut you don't notice.)
[I don't actually know how helpful this will be mechanically, but Frida's tired of being a fool. Anyway, yes, you read that Goals box in the Volva's shop picture correctlyone of the penultimate epic quests in this game is finding a temp job. Actually, I think that's pretty awesome. Most people can relate to that. It's just not what most games do during their climax, and I love this one for it. Let us see how Frida's heroic adventure continues tomorrow! (In-game. The update might take a little longer, but hopefully not.)]