Last time, Stockholm syndrome and LOL women be crazy. This time,
…Wait a minute, did Dehl ever learn her name? I don’t think he did. Last chapter she was just an “old woman” and never properly introduced herself. Bit of an oversight, that.
Dehl recognizes her as the speaker of the telepathic message. Wait a minute, augments can allow telepathy? Why do we not see any of that in IMTS?! I wanna see Ros tele-chatting with her buddies! (Ros is hardcoded as “female” in my brain because that’s what I chose for my first runthrough and also because otherwise the cast lineup is a sausagefest.)
Anyway. Fell says some more weird stuff.
Fell: “Dehl, has anyone ever mentioned time to you? That it flows as a river does?”
Dehl: “I am familiar with the notion, yes.”
Fell: “It is a lie! Time is motionless. Stagnant. With bounds, and ends, as a sheet of paper. It is you who is in motion! Drawing your quill of fate towards the edge of the page…”
Okay that sounds impressive but I have no idea where she’s getting it from. Why does she think this? Because time is cyclical for her? Is this how the other Watchers describe time and she’s just riffing off that? Or is some of the stuff she says just legitimately nonsense? That could actually be pretty clever if it’s the latter. RPG players will automatically assume that everything the plot dispensers say is important no matter how insane it sounds, but Fell really is going nuts.
Dehl asks what she wants from him.
Fell: “Yes, yes! Time shall not be wasted! Nothing may hinder your guild’s progress further! It is time you uncover another truth! For better or for worse, and thus for all people.”
Dehl: “That sounds excellent. Your guidance before may have saved all of Wadassia, after all.”
Just look at this. Look at how desperately hopeful he is. He must know it can’t always work out but he wants so badly to believe because he believes that’s the only thing that can give his life purpose. He’s just like Hilbert from Last Scenrio. The mysterious plot lady is telling him exactly what he wants to hear – no, not even. He’s interpreting everything she says in the way he wants to hear them, because he’s just that desperate.
Fell: “Mmm. A truth, AND a lesson about truth, to be granted together for your guild.”
And of course, Fell uses it to play him like a fiddle. She could hint that something bad’s going to happen, deflate his optimism beforehand, anything, but she only gives him more vague nonsense. She knows what’s coming will break him, and she doesn’t care. I don’t think she’s even amused by the irony – it’s just business as usual for her.
Although I have to wonder why this specific task is part of the procedure? How does it benefit the experiment for the test subjects to see the wires? Unless that’s part of being “chosen” – they have to see the artificiality before they can rise above it, perhaps?
Fell gives her instructions: tomorrow, the guild must help a woman of local garb and foreign stride. What…does that even mean? Is she supposed to be Wadassian, or at least upper-class? Why is she wearing Nalian clothes in that case? Fell’s dialogue is so weird.
Dehl: “Well, I’ve no choice but to trust your judgment again.”
Oh, Dehl. :(
I’m back in quest mode. A new NPC has appeared.
I get an “are you ready for this” prompt, just in case it wasn’t already obvious that this was the final quest.
The three awkwardly wonder if this is the right person, and finally decide to walk forward.
The woman asks why they’re staring at her. Dehl says she looks troubled and upset. She says she hasn’t slept in months. What, literally? That’s physically impossible, she would be dead by now. Probably she means she’s only slept fitfully and hasn’t been getting full sleep cycles.
Qualstio: “Yeah, I bet it’s hard to get a decent night of sleep in a place like this.”
Wow, Qualstio’s a dick.
Desperate Woman: “It’s my husband. He’s a wreck! He’s been obsessed with ‘getting away’, he says.”
Qualstio: “So go on a vacation! Ever been to Wadassia?”
And wow he just keeps going.
Desperate Woman: “He means getting away from…everything. It’s terrible. He’s been talking in his sleep.”
Fortunately Dehl speaks up before Qualstio can make a snide comment again. He delicately asks if she means he’s suicidal, but she says no – “He wishes to escape the world itself.” That, uh, still sounds pretty suicidal to me. But she means literally, the known world.
The guild members are confused as to why he’s so concerned with this – Santes even asserts that “There’s nothing else out there!” Dehl asks if they can speak to him directly, and the woman directs them to a park he stays at. “He’s been staying longer and longer recently. Sometimes beyond nightfall.” Isn’t that…really dangerous in a place like Nal? Has he been mugged before? That’s probably why she’s so worried.
Dehl: “Lead us to him. We shall speak at once.”
Desperate Woman: “Yes… yours is a soothing voice.”
She leads them towards the park. On the way there, though, there’s an interruption:
Dehl and Ques just look at each other and keep walking. Seems pretty flippant for Dehl, but I guess they are busy with something else.
He gets a portrait but his wife doesn’t. Disappointing.
Fain tells him they’re a guild, and they want to talk with him.
Desmon: “Gawkers? Now you’re bringing complete strangers to laugh at me too? Is that it?”
Dehl says he wants to help. Desmon just says he wants escape, “From everything.” He hastily amends, “It’s not like that! I’m not crazy. I know how it sounds, so let me show you…”
He brings up the map.
Desmon says he wants to look at the whole world.
YES, the full map! Translated, too! I’m pretty sure this is the only time in the game when it appears. I couldn’t get a screenshot without the text box, unfortunately.
Desmon says that the world is stagnant. There hasn’t been any expansion in centuries, and people are starting to feel the pressure of overpopulation. I’m…not really sure how feasible that last part is? The population was just devastated a decade ago, I don’t think they’d repopulate that fast.
Desmon: “Everyone’s feeling the squeeze nowadays. Especially Humans. But, there is little we can do. To put it simply, we have run out of room in this world!”
Except they haven’t. Just a few quests ago I saw an empty housing district that’s going unused because the plague killed so many people. I get the impression that he’s talking about this because overpopulation is an issue in our world, but it doesn’t make sense for it to be one in his, at least not at this point in time. I suppose it could be a hint that he really is crazy, but the characters never bring this up. Their only counterargument is that there’s plenty of room – all that unexplored ocean.
Desmon: “Is there? Look closer.”
Desmon reveals that, though they pass between Wadassia and Berylbrine, they can’t actually pass through to the west. Dehl reveals why: “There is a coral reef between the islands. It is too shallow for ships to pass through.”
Desmon: “Very good, Shra! How did you know this?”
Dehl: “I… have seen it once before.”
??? That pause feels significant but it isn’t as far as I can tell. When would he have seen it, anyway? Did he take a marine guard patrol? Or was the Sikohlon island close to the reef and he could see it from there? Like so many things, this feels like foreshadowing for something that was planned but never came up again.
…You know, that’s actually more evidence for my escaped slave theory. The slaver ships pass between Berylbrine and Wadassia, so it’s possible one could have sailed close to the reef while he was on it.
Santes says well okay but what about the northwest? Desmon says that’s not an option either. “Unfortunately, the sea itself begins to freeze beyond here. There are large shelves of ice.” Uh, really? Even on the southern edge? The lowlands are tropical!
“A few slaver ships have been lost attempting to traverse this passage in the last century.”
I wonder if this is an oblique reference to the Northwest Passage.
The same roadblock applies to the northeast. A few decades ago, some Fortian scientists set up an outpost and tried to break through the ice using heated boats, but they failed.
Dehl: “Could they not establish a port on the coast at the far side of this mountain?”
Ah, finally someone’s thinking outside the box. Why didn’t anyone bring this up when they were discussing the west, though? It should be possible to make a port on the western edge of the lowlands, on the other side of the reef, unless it extends past the shra lowlands as well. I guess it’s not an option because the Indigo Swamp hasn’t been fully explored at this point, but still, people should at least mention the possibility. No one wonders if they can go over the north pole either, though in fairness if they believe that’s the top of the world they may not think there’s anything beyond it.
But anyway, setting sail from Fortifel is a no-go. Qualstio explains that the whole island is surrounded by sheer cliffs – they have very few ports, and none on the eastern side. The Bridge of Foyonder (southeast) isn’t an option either: Desmon explains that it’s built on a shallow shelf that used to be passable on foot. The shelf flooded, but the water is still too shallow for ships.
Qualstio: “Yeah, I see. Huh. Never thought about it before, but I’ll be damned…”
Qualstio: “This is it, huh? This is everything we’ll ever see. We really are trapped.”
Desmon says all is not yet lost, though. Dehl, ever on the ball, realizes what he’s talking about: the southern mountain range.
The mountains have long been impassable, but with the Nal-guard’s trailblazing efforts, it may finally be possible to cross the summit. This is Desmon’s master plan: he wants the guild to help him reach the summit so he can see what lies beyond. This causes freakouts.
Qualstio: “Wait wait, you want us to climb that mountain range for you? You crazy? It’s called ‘No Man’s Range’ for a reason you know! No one’s ever crossed it before!”
Desmon: “You would forego this opportunity? To preserve the future of Humankind?”
Someone’s a speciesist. Although I suppose the fih’jik probably wouldn’t be too interested.
Dehl: “Desmon, you must understand, it would surely end in tragedy for us all.”
Oh Dehl, if only you knew…
Why are they so certain that it’s a bad idea, though? I guess it’s just really treacherous and everyone who’s ever tried to pass it has died horribly?
Desmon starts piling on the crazy, vowing to go alone if he has to, regardless of the dangers.
Desmon: “I must see the wonders that lie over that mountain! There must be a wondrous expanse of undisturbed land! A world for my children!”
Fain: “Desmon, you are working yourself up again. Please calm yourself! You’re frightening me.”
Poor Fain. She’s really such a depressing character. And, naturally, Desmon steamrollers over her: “Alone or not, I’m going.”
Somehow, this finally convinces Qualstio to hitch his horse to the crazy wagon. Dehl is boggled.
Qualstio: “It could be big for us! We might be the first people to found a new land. A new city!”
And of course it’s for selfish reasons. Darn it, Qualstio.
Dehl: “Qualstio, we would be acting for Desmon’s sake, not for ours.”
Thank you, Dehl. Qualstio relents with a grudging “Yeah, I guess.”
It must be so awful for Fain to have to watch this. She begged these people to talk sense into her husband, and instead they’re going along with him and just making everything worse.
Fain: “Desmon, please…”
Desmon: “Not every man can claim his life had purpose. This act shall justify my very being!”
She turns to the guild.
Fain: “Please…please look after him. Keep watch over him. Aid him. Guide him. Cure him.”
Sorry Fain, I can’t. Railroad plot. You know how it is.
Dehl: “Of course, Fain. We were hired to serve you, and we shall abide by your wishes.”
Dehl is the best character and deserves to be in better company.
Desmon says he knows a trail that’ll lead them most of the way there, but it ends before it reaches the summit. He plans to camp at the end of the trail and make the final push in the morning.
This post is getting pretty long, so I’ll cut it here and do the quest itself next time.