Last time, I dilly-dallied with miscellaneous quests for the sake of completeness.
I’ve kept the obvious plot advancer waiting long enough, so let’s see what she has to say.
She turns around to face Dehl and asks him to come closer. He asks her if something’s wrong, and Fell segues into vague-but-impressive-sounding mysterious-plotadvancer-speech:
Old Woman: “Such regard in your speech. Not ‘what do you want’ or ‘who are you,’ no. To answer, everything is calm, and yet, everything exists alongside peril as well.”
Dehl: “I don’t understand.”
Old Woman: “It is all scope, Dehl. How far back must you stand before you can see ‘everything’?”
This is the central theme of the story, and personally, I think it’s a good one. So often I see stories that are all about EMOTION and LOGIC IS EVIL and what’s important is how you FEEL, but The Reconstruction espouses a different message. It’s dangerous to jump to conclusions and make uninformed decisions, especially to do so based on emotional impulses. Maintaining a distance of rationality and trying to take in as much information about the situation as possible is a much healthier outlook, I think, and this discussion is especially well-suited in a story about trying to solve the world’s problems.
Qualstio appears from offscreen and starts walking towards them.
Old Woman: “The Watchers of Past and Present share all that they see with me.”
Qualstio: “Past and present, huh? What about future?”
Qualstio: “Hey Dehl! Can I listen in?”
Old Woman: “Future as well, yes, yet such is a Watch that cannot be spoken aloud to anyone.”
This exchange feels a tad bit disjointed to me – Qualstio asks a question to Fell, then asks Dehl a question, then Fell answers his first question as if no interruption occurred. Maybe she’s just polite.
“Otherwise, should the outcome be known, it could be avoided, thus undoing the done.”
Hm. Does she intuitively realize that the “future” that Donz “sees” isn’t set in stone and can be changed by revealing it to those in the present? Or was this just an instruction that she’s following blindly?
Qualstio is not impressed and dismisses her as crazy. I suppose this is somewhat novel – someone is dismissing the mysterious plot advancer as crazy instead of hanging on their every word. And I will admit, she does sound crazy.
Fell ignores him and just says that a man nearby wants assistance from the guild.
Dehl: “Why him? Is this some sort of test?”
Old Woman: “Oh, you passed that long ago.
Well, that’s certainly different than the normal “you must pass this test to prove your heroism” nonsense.
She turns away and says that they will meet again, but later and in a different place. That’s…actually kind of amusing. She can’t know it for certain or she’d be breaking the whole future info thing. She must have simply decided that she’s going to meet them somewhere else next and is acting like it’s a sure thing. She talks like a serious, knowledgeable prophet but she’s really just playing it by ear.
I’m thrown back into quest mode, but there’s a new quest.
Oh hey, it’s the nondescript NPC from way back when! And he didn’t speak, so we didn’t see he had a character portrait, so we didn’t know he’d be important later! That’s actually pretty clever.
Anyway, this sends me to a point-of-no-return “are you sure” kind of prompt. It’s not actually that big of a deal, but it is the final quest of this chapter, so it is good to be prepared. I also won’t get to decline the quest or go back to the city once I’m there.
Dehl asks if there’s something he needs help with. The man admits there is, and we cut to a new scene with the full guild assembled.
His name is Hiu, and he’s a professor of zoology at the academy. I’m surprised he doesn’t notice there’s a kid cutting class who presumably goes to his school. Then again, no one else has so far.
Santes: “Whatcha want us for? Somethin’ daaaaangerous?”
If I have to read Santes’ dialogue then so do you.
Hiu appears to have studied the tchiitra. He mentions they have primitive class systems and heirarchies, much like ants. He’s about to explain more when he notices some new people marching in from the left.
“Attractive Female”, really? That’s her designation?
This guy’s name is Havan. He notices Ilganyag, and Hiu awkwardly admits that he got a bit impatient and called on them as well. Havan just asks to see their leader. Dehl has to be reminded that he’s the one who should step up, and there’s still an awkward pause before he steps forward and introduces himself.
Havan: “Sikohlon. I see…
Wait, that’s weird. No one except Ques and that ensign in the prologue seemed to recognize the name so far. How the heck does he know it? And it’s paired with a creepy “I see…” too. Is this yet more foreshadowing for cut material?
Dehl apologizes for getting involved, but Havan’s a good sport and agrees to cooperate.
Havan: “Excellent! Success is ensured.”
He turns around, slowly and theatrically.
Havan: “My life…for Wadassia.”
I have to wonder, does he truly mean this? It’s so ridiculously over the top. I mean, just compare this with Dehl’s own, much more natural “my life for Wadassia” vow last update.
Speaking of that, Dehl is not one to be outdone…
His first act of truly asserting himself, and it’s this…
Havan immediately declares their guilds to be in an “alliance” and tells Hiu to continue his explanation. As he said before, the tchiitra have a rudimentary hierarchy structure and even, he believes, a chain of command. His plan is to decapitate it. My knowledge of entomology is limited, but I’m pretty sure that if the queen of a hive dies, another female will eventually arise to take her place. Killing the tchiitra’s hive queen will cause a temporary disruption, but she’ll eventually be replaced.
Oh, and also, our Guard Incompetence Excuse of the Day™ is “Too much paperwork. Too messy. This, I believe, will require a mark of utmost care.” Uh, why? His plan isn’t exactly delicate, it’s to hack tchiitra into tiny bits. And it’s something of utmost importance to the city’s well-being, so why would he want to keep it secret? All he’s doing is potentially sabotaging the city if this happens again and they don’t remember how to deal with it because someone decided to keep his breakthrough a secret for no reason. The only reason I can think of to do this is if the whole thing’s a trap and he plans to profit off the queen’s existence somehow. But it’s not and he isn’t, so…why?
Anyway, conveniently there are two locations that need investigating. One’s in an abandoned mine in a southern mountain range. Apparently there has been a recent surge of Tchiitra activity and woah wait what? I thought the emitter was inactive? Plot hole. The other’s a muddy area near a great lake. Reportedly, One of my apprentices claimed the ground itself called out to him. That sounds awesome.
Hiu: “Both areas are quarantined by the Nalian Officers, by my command.”
Havan: “The Officers! You are certainly acting of desperation to trust their sort, my friend!”
Hiu: “They are quite enthusiastic in assisting their Wadassian peers, you know.”
Zargos: “It’s a bit out of their jurisdiction, don’t ya think? What’re they up to?”
Santes: “Yeah! And the Guard don’t want anything to do with it? What’s up?”
So wait, is this supposed to look fishy? He refuses to go through legal channels for flimsy and suspicious reasons, yet he outsources to a foreign company that has a reputation for corruption. The characters even call him out on it!
Hiu: “The Guard only worries about the city itself. Too much trouble to watch the outlying areas.”
Maybe it wouldn’t be too much trouble if you idiots believed in taxes.
“It’s a mutual operation. If the Tchiitra harm Wadassia, then Nal will suffer as well. Have you even seen the soil in Nal? Little will grow. Wadassia provides their food.”
Wadassia isn’t just filled with fertile farmland, it’s also the breadbasket for the rest of the world. Kir’Ssha is completely dependent on them. Frozen volcano Fortifel and desert tundra Do’Ssha probably aren’t self-sufficient either. The politics of this world must be awful. Everyone is utterly dependent on Wadassia, it looks like. If they do something Wadassia doesn’t like, all Wadassia has to do is say “haha no more food for you” and they’d be helpless. They’re already morally gray if they’re still supporting Kir’Ssha despite the holy war going on. …This would explain why virtually all the outsiders we’ve seen are so irreverent towards Wadassia, come to think of it. Our America parallels continue.
Hiu warns them of the dangers, but Havan reiterates his promise of defending Wadassia at any cost. Dehl mentions that the guild is ill-equipped to investigate the mine since they have no tools or explosives wait what they have bombs? Then why do they not have guns?!
Havan heroically swoops in and declares that the Blue Guard can investigate the mines, so I guess they’re lugging around tons of explosives on the off chance they needed to do something like this? That…would be fitting, actually. All three of them march off cheering “For Wadassia!”
Well, at least they’re enthusiastic. They march off. That leaves Ilganyag to deal with the swamp, which to be honest sounds cooler anyway. Dehl tells Ques to make preparations and declares that they should leave as soon as possible. Then he walks off.
Tehgonan: “Wow, he sure got bossy in a hurry. Maybe he wants to one-up that blue guy.”
Qualstio: “They’re just serious ’bout keeping the city safe. You will be too, when you get older.”
This is another instance of something that makes no sense for Qualstio to say given what we’ve seen of him so far, but which is consistent with his later characterization. I guess I can peg this as more evidence that his plot and character went through some major revisions throughout the game’s development.
I get a save prompt here, in case I didn’t notice the ominous “are you sure?” thing earlier. Then I get the quest summary message – there’s no time limit or special objectives.
I can talk to him again, but he just criticizes me for wasting time.
If I talk to Hiu, he mentions that the employing the officers was pricey. “Good thing I can write it off as ‘research.'” Yeah he’s looking shiftier by the minute.
Oh boy. This quest is a doozy, and it’s for precisely this reason. What’s irritating is that the game cheerfully reminds you of the charisma mechanic and tells you to use it, so I just end up clumping everyone together before triggering a battle anyway. It’s a time-consuming annoyance, but I guess the developer really wanted people to use his multiple-groups mechanic.
While I’m down here, I occasionally hear the “cries” that Hiu mentioned earlier, sometimes with a dramatic screen-shaking effect. It’s nicely spooky.
There are some firefiends to the north. They don’t use Phospho Spray on me, so I’m fine. In the chamber they were guarding is this:
I take it.
I go back south, then right, then north again, killing tchiitra as I go.
For some reason Qualstio can’t just burn it with his magic.
On the other side, there’s just a dead end. Looks like I’ll have to investigate the path to the east first.
Occasionally, quests will have puzzles like this that involve the characters’ weights and heights. It doesn’t come up very often, though – I think this is the only one that uses height. I only have six party members in the first place, so effectively this is just to bar the eastern part of the area from Zargos, Fero, and Qualstio.
Oh look, there’s a hatchling here. I may only have half my party, but I’m sure it’ll be no big –
It’s a nasty surprise, but I dispatch them nonetheless.
To the north of the lake is an area guarded by a pair of soldiers. After I dispatch them, I investigate this sack. They’re practically treasure chests at this point.
This whole room appears to be some sort of crude Tchiitra ‘treasure hoard.’ There are things stolen from aboveground all over. This bag, however, seems to house all sorts of things. It was probably stolen and dragged down here as well. It’s well made. Pawing around through the bag, you see that the rest of the contents are old liquor bottles in various states of consumption. Being a reasonable and clean individual, you choose to respectfully pour them out onto the ground for those lost to the Tchiitra. It’s a typical Nalian Human tradition, after all. When the last one is empty, you take a moment to reflect on how far we’ve come… A sense of justice resonates through your guild. All allies receive 2,000 Health, Clarity, and Piety essence for further training.
Aw, that’s nice. I’ve always liked this kind of thing – a level up that stems from emotional maturity or something similar in the story, rather than just from killing stuff.
This looks familiar.
A big pile of…well, dirt, you assume. Maybe someone who’s pretty strong can push it out of the way.
This is another instance of using characters’ stats as checks to solve puzzles, only actual gameplay stats this time. Santes and Tehgonan both have the strength of a wet noodle and have no reason to improve it, so Dehl is the only one strong enough to push the dirt.
And for some reason it turns into a nice neat bridge. Okay.
And for some reason I can’t cross it normally, I have to do this.
And then I take like three steps and reach the end anyway, making it rather pointless.
This is getting long, so I’ll cut it here. Next update will be the end of chapter 1.