Enderal first time, impressions

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dyslexicfaser
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- Okay, went back a little ways in order to get my husbando on lock. Restarting from balloon lift-off, basically.
A few things.
First, Arantheal’s kid, whose necklace I’m now wearing? His name is Narathzul, a name I’ve somehow gone through the entire game up to this point without hearing. Honestly the name belongs on an orc necromancer, but what do I know about names, I named myself dyslexicfaser.
Second, the moon down in the hold? Still ominous as shit. I didn’t quite grasp the… halo, the corona of power around this thing until I got a closer look.

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That’s like, end-boss-of-a-JRPG levels of ominous right there. Third stage, at least, right after the ‘normal’ and ‘one-winged angel growing out of the prow of a biological airship’ levels.
Third:

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I cannot escape the mushrooms even here! That can’t be good for the pipes.
I think that’s dirt the ‘shrooms and the pipes are nestled in, actually. This ship is far more biomechanical than I expected, even considering the jungle nightscape down in the cargo hold that’s powering it.

- Anyway, talked to Jespar again, and selected the ‘Only friends, tho?’ option.
Surprising no one, our favorite free spirit doesn’t want to put a name to this thing we have.
Actually, first he tries to friendzone me, and look. Nothing doing, okay, pal? I gave up monster-paladin snuggles for this, and I will have it.
I mean you. I mean whatever.
I don’t care.
This girl? Cool as a cucumber, yeah.

- Actually, he wants to make sure that if we’re going to do this, he doesn’t want to call it a relationship. He doesn’t want to get locked down, to deal with jealousy and possessiveness. He stresses that I’ll be free to play the field as long as he’s the one I always come back to, and vice versa.
SureAI, it’s not nice to tease my Prophet-Jespar-Calia OT3 like this when you have no intention of following through, okay? Not nice at all.
Anyway, so Jespar talks about freedom and stuff for a few minutes, which appears to get him hot enough to share a kiss out under the Aurora Borealis.

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… Jespar, hon, I think you have a… you have a little fire in your hair. Jespar, you okay? He’s okay.
Look, it’s night time, all right? I carry a torch. I like being able to see.

- Anyway, sexy times back in my room. Except...

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Jespar, look, I know you probably took philosophy as your major in college, but there’s a time and a place, okay?
Nevermind, he’s off and speechifying, anyway. Jespar, don’t ever change, but sometimes it’s a good thing you’re sculpted like Adonis, man.
He recognizes me as ‘a woman of dark gifts’. I assume that’s not a crack about my skin tone, but rather all the entropy magic I’ve been throwing around? Or he knows more about the ‘probably a lich’ situation than I’ve been led to believe. Interesting!
More quality voice acting, of course. The amount of pathos the guy can put into a tortured whisper of ‘I’m a winner’ is astounding.
For a while we talk back and forth about how his sister Adila – that’s the one who went nuts and became the Bone Judge – deserved happiness like this more than he does. Because he’s still traumatized, of course; it was really just a few days ago that he found out his sister was murderin’ dudes as Enderal’s answer to The Punisher. And she actually factually killed him. And then he got brought back to life by that annoyingly vague god-woman who appears now and then.

- There’s this bit I like a lot in particular. The tone of his voice says he’d despair enough to throw himself off the goddamn skyship if he wasn’t so completely frustrated by the whole thing:
“‘Bone Judge’... Such lunacy. Such idiotic, fucking lunacy. I mean, are we so easy to break? Is placing some magical stone in our hands all that the High Ones need to do for something like that to happen?”
Signs point to yes, unfortunately.
It’s probably just how people are, though. Given infinite power, some break harder than others (Adila), but anyone would go a little screwy.
Probably healthier in the long run for him to be angry than depressed, although depressed Jespar just gets naked, hits the cat houses and gets high off glimmerdust. I’ve heard of worse coping mechanisms, like staging elaborate, ironic murders.

- Finally managing to get vertical (and pants on), we pick back up where we were before, with the empty Star City spread before us.
One new bit is Yaela noting it’s nice to see people ‘finding ... common ground, even in these times.’
You sassy old person, maybe we’ll make a Constantine Firespark out of you yet.

- This area is called the Valley of Clouds, because the Ancient Fathers were apparently very, very literal.

- Kurmai pulls his runner act again, but we catch up to him in a minute to find him shouting at a door sized for giants: “Father Yurelai! Father Jotanax! Father Raijimon! He is here, he has found you, just as your prophecy foretold. Now open the gates!”
It’s interesting that he has actual names, people from the passed down lore of the Starlings, that he was expecting to still be there waiting for him. Those old legends are surprisingly specific.
Also, something about a prophecy? Those never go wrong, amirite guys.

- Well, Kurmai’s pretty much broken. He’s convinced that he should never have taken us here, and yeah, I can kind of see his point. Yaela takes charge, sending people out in groups to find a way in, Jespar flirts a bit (“This place is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen – no offense.“) and in no time at all we’ve found a side door.
Of note: going the other way reveals a single, solitary skeleton on a lonely lookout, with a book on Rhetorics and light magic. Which is the opposite of promising.
Lejam and Calia have to stay with the ship, and be prepared to cast off if we’re not back in 12 hours. Not a call I would have made, considering all the crazy things we could run into down there up to and including time travel, but I unfortunately wasn’t consulted.
Not to mention leaving Calia behind with the redshirt! What if we need something demon’d? You know we’re going to need something demon’d before this is done.

- The city itself is overgrown, and the only thing we find are empty workshop after empty workshop, occasionally filled with rats. Mad Rats are not particularly threatening to me anymore, but I also notice Jespar isn’t really pulling his weight anymore. I have to step up and kill most of them for him and Yaela.
It’s okay hon, I’m sure this happens to a lot of rogue companions!

- Not a whole lot to talk about in this section really. There’s some cool lighting effects...

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The Ancient Fathers seem to go in for a mix of cool blue laser-y light and more traditional candles that have a similar but different greenish glow to the old Pyrean Doom Train.
Some nice statuary…

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There’s also some of those mother goddess type statues, which have a pretty hilarious exaggerated sneer on their faces, like they just smelled the worst thing they’ve ever smelled in their statue-y lives.

- The workshop where the Ancient Fathers met was apparently called… the Sureai. Heh. I guess I’ve been pronouncing that wrong the whole time, huh? Sure-ay, not Sure-A.I. like Artificial Intelligence.

- We eventually make our way to the ‘tower of memories’, and the elevator kinda… screws its way down deep into the earth. Each layer seems to tell its own six panel story about a civilization, of which the Ancient Fathers have seen… let’s call it ‘a lot.’
We head down to the Pyrean level. We see them:
1) grow (‘life emerges from nothing’, as Yaela puts it, I wonder if that’s significant?),
2) thrive,
3) develop a theocracy (sun-priests, in the Pyrean’s case),
4) kill their gods (apparently Arantheal’s kid and something called the ‘shadowgod’ did for the Light-born, the pyreans had a general called Jakil go rogue and wipe them out),
5) then the Cleansing, madness and death orchestrated by the High Ones who sit far above,
6) and finally everyone starts floating upwards like the Rapture is happening.

- Yaela has a ‘Eureka!’ moment that feels only slightly unearned. Here’s how this goes down:
The Cleansing is the process of killing a civilization and harvesting their memories to form a new High One.
(Does the resulting High One have traits of the civilization that composes it? I suspect it’s (child of the 90s that I am) like a vampire from Buffy the Vampire Slayer; the resulting creature has the human’s memories, but feels completely differently about them. Otherwise, at least a few of these High Ones would have presumably been very, very angry with the others for murdering their entire civilization to use their corpses to make a smoke-monster.)
(... I wonder what civilizations made the three High One Furries? Like, when the dreams and secrets of your entire race congeal into a single form, and that form goes ‘Yanno what, Imma be a bear’... or even worse, the guy who decided to be a giant spider for all eternity and then expected us to be able to take him seriously.)
The Numinos is less ‘a macguffin you find’ and more ‘a macguffin you make.’ Basically, we need to use the Word of the Dead scroll we got from the Aged Man to go inside a High One’s memories, find some kind of essence there, and stick it in the machine. The Word of the Dead can visit the memories of the dead, the High Ones are the dead given form into some higher being, this hangs together pretty well. Good Chekov’s Gun!
The machine uses the essence you stick inside it as a kind of pattern or homing device so it can aim it’s bomb or disintegration ray or whatever in the right direction. Also pretty logical.

- Damn it, does that mean Coarek is kinda right about the Cleansing being about advancing humanity to a higher plane of existence? I mean, he’s still wrong, but he’s closer to being right than I first thought.
That’s just good storytelling, though; making your villain understandable to the audience is the first step to making him relatable, which is how you get people to care about him.
It’s really human to want something to be true really, really bad and then twist everything until the thing you want seems (to you) to be the only possible choice. But there also needs to be some truth (or some lie) buried in there to get twisted, or Coarek’s just fucking crazy. And crazy people can make good villains, but usually not relatable ones.

- Does that even make sense outside my head? I dunno, I’m going to split this one up here, this is getting long.


The Takeaway:
The romance isn’t exactly blowing me away yet, but I’m always down for Jespar’s voice actor to wind up and go. It’s not like we’re done yet, presumably, so there’s still plenty of time to wow me.
I do appreciate the Word of the Dead coming back into the story again. It’s a great plot device. Not exactly something you get to use every day, but it’s a really cool power particularly for these ‘search for knowledge’ quests. It does get undercut by Prophet’s schtick, I guess. Like, you have this scroll that can visit the minds of the dead, but also your protagonist can just throw up visions of stuff that happened without it, so whatever.
I do wonder if the Aged Man himself is going to be involved again at some point. ‘Mind meld with a High One’ is a tall order, if he turns out to be a High One that went back down to slum it with the mortals or whatever that would be super handy.
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this is getting long
Not really. Long is good! More long more good!
Buccaneer
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Long is good, esp. in how well it is written.

A far as romance, Jespar is Jespar and will always be arrogantly cool. Calia was fire. ;)
dyslexicfaser
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I’ll get the complaint out of the way first:
This whole Star City quest is brought down somewhat by bugginess. Enderal is built on Skyrim, and that basically guarantees some bugginess, but usually I don’t have to restart the game at least three times during the same quest.
At times Yaela will bug out when trying to get on a lift or move through a secret passage or whatever, and I’ll have to restart the game to get her un-stuck.
I need to get used to moving at old person speed more, I suppose.

- Oh, did I mention Kurmai wandered off again? Yeah, he wandered off again, back in the workshops. Yaela had us split up to search for him (which horror movies conditioned me to think was going to be a lot more fatal than it actually was), it was this whole thing. Luckily, my Prophetess can tell when a lift lever has been used recently, so she knew that somehow he got out ahead of us.
This is going to be important in a minute.

- So anyway, Yaela has dropped the exposition bomb on us. Find High One, go into High One’s brain, stick High One essence in The Machine, win forever.
The elevator begins corkscrewing its way back up the Tower of Memories. Yaela and Jespar trade a little witty banter as they do that juddering bounce Bethesda characters do on lifts all the way back up to the main floor.
They do bring up the Coarek thing (that he’s kinda right about the ascension, if you turn your head sideways and squint), which I appreciate. Always nice to see us on the same page. Jespar, in keeping with his more optimistic turn lately, Jespar suggests that if all goes bad at least humans will have some kind of continuation of consciousness as the resulting High One.
Yaela is the one to crush his hopes, pointing out that just because the resulting High One would come from us, didn’t mean it would be us. Maybe High Ones just eat memories or something.
It’s a fair point, if a depressing one. If you build a ship using people as lumber and nails, that doesn’t mean the guy at the helm is those people.

- And then… damn it Kurmai, come down from there! You look really silly up there.

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- So yeah, he thinks it’s our fault the Ancient Fathers won’t come out, surprising no one. Well, maybe Yaela; she seems more of the ivory tower academic type, she probably hasn’t experienced the myriad betrayals that come with trying to get shit down here in Enderal.
Hm… when was my last betrayal? Disappointed Order Dad Jorek’s betrayal wasn’t really focused on me, I just happened to be in the city he was betraying. Jespar’s sister Adila being the Bonejudge and Ryneus being the local God weren’t personal either. They were just, you know, gifted with ultimate power, wound up and sent on their way. Calia’s demon form never carved me up like hamhocks… heck, is it going all the way back to Pahtira getting me to stick a hand in a black hole? And before her, Constantine getting Cthulhu’d by the Living Temple?
Heck, that was ages ago! I guess I was due. I’m kind of feeling nostalgic for it, even. There’s been far too much camaraderie around here lately, even accounting for somebody in the Order murdering Lishari and pinning it on Jorek.

- Anyway, I can’t really say Kurmai’s wrong. I mean, the Ancient Fathers are the kind of assholes who have watched civilizations rise and fall from their floating sky-fortress, and did nothing. They would totally be the sort of people to refuse to come out until we go away.
I’d still rather not be murdered to get them to show, though! We were leaving anyway, jackass. Give us five minutes and we’d be back on the ship!
No reasoning with a crazy person, I guess.

- Random thought:
I kinda wonder about the sequence of events vis a vis the Starling crash landing. I mean, did something happen to the Ancient Fathers and that’s why the Starlings came down, and the prophecy was just some way to hold onto hope?
Or was some of them coming down the way the High Ones clued in about the race living up in the clouds, and that’s why Star City is empty?

- Anyway, he claims he regrets what is about to happen. Then he immediately and gleefully turns on the defense systems. Pahtira is still one up on this joker, since she kicked off her betrayal by getting me to stick my hand in the fusion reactor and turned it on, which is pretty quality as betrayals go.
Plus he’s started calling us ‘Soil-born’, which might actually hurt my feelings if I hadn’t spent the last 30 hours fielding a wide range of insults against my race, gender, foreignness, personal character and sexual preferences. So he’s way behind there too compared to the average Enderalean peasant.
On the upside, he does have a giant mechanical bird or dragon or something that shoots lightning, so that’s something at least.

- Yaela throws up a magic barrier and tells Jespar and I to go go go, which I’d feel worse about if we’d shared more than half an hour of screentime. Gonna have to do better than that by now, Sureai! Considering how many of my friends have died by now, she might not even crack the top ten! Hell, I cared more about Sigil Leader Jorek’s death than hers, and he was the kind of Order Dad who told me to my face that he liked Calia better.
Goodbye, Magistra Yaela. For a while there you looked like an adequate replacement for Constantine Firespark, and no one can take that away from you.

- So we leg it down the tower, killing a few centurions and Starling spiders and stuff. No big deal.
And, well, Jespar said it best, so:

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The ship is gone when we get out, because why should anything ever be easy?
My first thought is ‘damn, how long were we down there?’ but Jespar’s brain leaps to ‘mecha-dragon got here ahead of us.’
Lijam is definitely dead. More dead than anyone. Deader than disco.
Calia… I wonder? I mean, on the one hand, nobody gives a shit if Lijam eats a lightning bolt off-screen, but if one of the romanceables bites it you expect her to only go down in like, a cutscene thing with the dragon attacking the ship and Calia and you sharing a Significant Look across the distance as the ship goes down, all afire – perfectly placed, of course, too far for you to help in time but not too far to watch.
On the other hand… I wonder if Calia stays back with the ship if you pick Jespar, and vice versa? So whoever you don’t pick gets a Kaiden-and-Ashley moment-on-Virmire moment.
We’ll find out before too long, I guess.

- So we trudge back into the tower, fight some mechanicals, you know how RPGs do. We can’t just go from one place to another without dudes to murder, t’wouldn’t be natural.

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If anything has shown me how far I’ve come, it’s being able to Entropic Blood a Starling Centurion into fighting for me as the three of us (me, Jespar and mind-slave) duke it out with 6 other mooks and another Centurion in a mildly frantic melee. But at no point am I particularly worried for my health, just chaining end-game talents into one another like Entropic Blood – Timestop – Rock Solid – Devour Soul.

- There’s some nice biomes throughout the tower, surprising no one by now.

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That last one is especially nice. The smoke from one end mixing with the red crystals. Great set design too, since it draws your eye to the left, where you have to go and run the gauntlet of security features.

I’d say my last Starling doom fortress has the edge though, old Agnod from the Apotheosis questline. More harsh colors, more crazy designs.
The orange trees and moss growing through the Starling tech is a nice touch; there are pools and topiaries and stuff that suggests it’s the Ancient Fathers grew their food in neatly-maintained gardens that have since all gone to pot.

- Wait a tic. Why is there Riverville Mead in this chest?
I’m stuck with the mental image of one of the Ancient Fathers loving a particular bit of Sun Coast moonshine, and buzzing on down in his UFO to pick up a batch of the stuff twice a month.
Everyone ignores the crazy herb lady from Riverville when she claims to see lights in the sky while that nice Starling man pays for his bi-weekly order with ‘your human moneys’ and praises ‘soil-born ingenuity’ in getting the hops just right and so on.

- Anyway. Jespar has deduced that the big pulsating crystal giving off alarm-like red light is setting off the alarm – despite this not being the same room as where Kurmai turned them on. And I mean, yeah, red light and klaxons sounds like the right alarm-stuff to us modern people, but how often does this come up in the fantasy world of Enderal?
So I shouldn’t be very upset when it turns out he’s wrong, and trying to disarm the alarm – or whatever I just did – set off some serious lightning-based defenses.
Jespar notices and shouts 'RUN!' before the lightning turret even warms up.
That Pyrean expertise comes and goes at the whims of the plot, huh? Enough to drive an ancient Pyrean Doomtrain or to notice the purple lightning shooters, but not enough to figure out how to shut off the alarm system.


The Takeaway:
Yaela and Lijam might well be the least impactful deaths of the story. This is less of a complaint than it seems; Enderal’s death game has been really strong up to this point (Constantiiiine), they didn’t get a lot of screen-time, and they just didn’t have very impactful personalities.
Lijam in particular was just a nice-ish young man. How much more impactful would it have been if, say... he was your dogged nice guy defender against the unending tide of Endralean racism? Out in the courtyard, when half the Keepers are sneering as you walk by, he could be like ‘Wow, heard about that thing with the Aged Man. Good job!’ or ‘SOME PEOPLE appreciate not succumbing to Red Madness, okay?’ and then the nay-sayers could sniff and that would be the end of it. Until now, when he got to go on a mission with The Prophetess, and BAM! Dead.
I would be hungering for that mecha-dragon’s death.
Just a thought.
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- Conveniently, Calia pops out of a tunnel nearby. Conveniently, this tunnel leads out of here and to where we need to be. Conveniently, Calia thinks she knows where we can find a map to lead us to the capital of the Pyreans (we needed one of those?).
At least Calia recognizes that this is all very convenient. If you can’t hide the hand of the GM, at least hang the lampshade on it.
Basically, she was investigating another way into the tower that we hadn’t noticed (these access tunnels we’re walking through now) when the mecha-dragon lightning-breathed the ship. Lijam is totally fucking dead, though. Good thing we don’t have to break the news to Mistress Yaela, huh? Small blessings.
I mean, it’s nice that Calia’s still alive! But I was pretty sure she was gonna be (and also I’m not 100% sure any of we Three Amigos can die, considering the various powers involved in our various resurrections), so.

- Got some nice landscapes along the way, other towers in that signature overgrown-with-greenery Aztec chic style the Star City likes.

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We run into a circular arena-y area on the way, and I’m not especially shocked when Calia is like ‘Holyshitdragon!’ It’s like if we were in a cover shooter and we started running into evenly-spaced chest high walls.
I pop Timestop and give him a few power attacks, and chip about a twentieth off his health bar. I appreciate that they didn’t make him immortal, just really really tough. Like, I could hypothetically kill this guy if he held still long enough! Which is nice, since I’ve already killed real actual dragons and I feel like I’m kind of a badass by now.
(Admittedly, the dragons killed me back like 3 times, first, but their deaths stuck and mine didn’t, so.)
He takes off long before we can make a proper fight of it though, doing that circling thing dragons like to do in Skyrim. I turn around and notice Jespar and Calia have long since shouted ‘Run! Into the tower!’ and ran into the tower. Whoops.

- So into the tower we go. It’s covered in papers and escape pods.
Which is good, because the dragon starts headbutting the tower – WHAM. WHAM. WHAM. – and a little timer pops up with three minutes or so on the clock. The plan: Find the map, jump in one of these suspiciously bathysphere-from-Bioshock-shaped escape pods, and GTFO.
Pretty effective timed puzzle, really. I got down to around 100 seconds running along the outside of the circular tower checking tables and dressers and escape pods and such, which still left me enough time to run around the inside pillar and find the map without having to restart the game or anything. Calia and Jespar pretty much just checked some suspicious rubble the entire time, but I’m not sure I would have felt better if Calia was like ‘okay here, have a map’ after leading us right to the escape pod tower. Gotta pretend like I’m the protagonist on which the world turns, now and then.
Then it’s into the escape pod we go.

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I’d rate the escape sequence better than Agnod’s, which had the tense music and blaring red lights but was basically just a leisurely float to the top of the crashed ship.

- So I screw the hatch closed and we jettison off. I wonder how this works? The bathyspheres probably aren’t ships themselves, considering the way it crash landed.
Although it’s possible I just have no idea how to pilot it. I mean, Starling tech sometimes seems to run on ‘asking nicely,’ if Kurmai’s Gertrude is any indication. For all I know, the Ancient Fathers could be controlling this stuff with their minds. I don’t know.
But let’s assume these things aren’t full-fledged ships. That one Ancient Father with a fondness for Rivervale Mead wouldn’t be using these things to pop round and get his fix, these things seem to be one-way rides.
Does that mean Star City is an actual spaceship? I mean, no reason why it can’t be, I guess. The line between ‘get your city to float’ and ‘piloting your city like a spaceship’ is probably pretty slim.
And the name of Enderal’s capital is ‘Ark.’ You know, the boat Noah used to save the survivors of the flood. And it is getting all kinds of Old Testament up in here.
I guess what I’m saying is, if we don’t pilot Ark into the stratosphere at some point to escape the Cleansing or to take the fight to the High Ones, what are you even doing with your narrative, SureAI?
Fingers crossed.

- So, we crash land back down to earth. The fact that we land back in Enderal instead of some random continent or the ocean argues that the Valley of Clouds is just hovering up in the stratosphere somewhere instead of on the moon. On the other hand, we’ve managed to cross the entire continent in the time we were up there, so maybe Star City is orbiting around the planet and we just got lucky?
Hard to say.

- Jespar is fine, bitching about how hard the seats were, you know, like he do. I appreciate somebody in-universe finally noticing that the Dwemer/Starlings made their chairs out of metal and their beds out of stone. What technologically advanced race hasn’t invented the fluffed pillow? Barbarians!
Jespar posits that the Ancient Fathers had asses made of metal, which. If they all stuffed their consciousnesses into giant Centurion bodies the way Pahtira did, might not be far off?

- Also, I accidentally managed to lock Jespar back in his pod, which I have now nicknamed ‘the doghouse’ for that hangdog look of his.

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He just… he just looks so sad.

- Calia is… less well.

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Jespar diagnoses her as having minor lacerations (seems like a lot of blood for a ‘minor laceration’, to be honest), and maybe a broken rib, probably from her pod hitting a rock on the way down and getting thrown against the side of the pod.
And yeah, there’s a rocky outcropping her pod is resting against, but… Jespar, we came down from the upper atmosphere in metal balls! We should all be dead as doornails.
I guess we should just all be grateful we didn’t pop the hatch and find the Demon waiting for us, pissed off at its host body getting mangled again.
Well, teleport scrolls work again, so we’re not going to have to schlep Calia back to Ark the hard way, but we also dropped down on the doorstep of another Pyrean ruin, so let’s check that out first.
She’ll be okay.

- Turns out this particular ruin (Old Hatolis) is crawling with Nehrimese soldiers. Because when I’m out at the ass end of nowhere, in Enderal’s snowy white North, I think ‘This is definitely a key strategic stronghold, we must take and hold it For Rationality!’
Inside, there’s a few dead Order and Nehrimese, including one of the Order’s Keepers in full plate and red cape. Turns out the Order had a hold of this ruin first, then got their asses kicked by the Nehrimese. Not totally surprising, since these two or three Order corpses are the only ones we see in the entire dungeon.
And then in the next room… spiders everywhere! Frost Spider Queens and such. Ahh, Enderal, I missed you and your irrational love of evil spiders.
The plan, according to a handy note I find later, was for the Nehrimese to kill the Order and blame it on the giant spiders. Which, yeah. How’s that been working out for you guys?

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Mm hmm.

- Honestly, I’m surprised these Nehrimese are even in what passes for their right minds. Turns out Old Hatolis is basically the back end of that Living Temple where Constantine got mind-whammied by a crazy old Pyrean soul they stuck in there.
With a thing like that nearby, ‘the poor dumb humans called up something they couldn’t control’ is a natural narrative, but… giant spiders? When you have a perfectly good, murderous Elder Being up in the temple proper?

- The last interesting bit of Old Hatolis is in the last room, after killing a soldier and a Nehrimese Scientist (I just put together that the Nehrimese call their mages Scientists. How perfect is that?) you find the Ice King’s Hall.
Complete with (I’m assuming, going by the naming schema of Old Miskamuhr) Old Hatolis himself, a corpse clad in ice armor sitting atop a throne. The light from a door-sized cut-out falls perfectly upon him, and I’m a little surprised when he doesn’t get up and pick up his hammer to greet me.
It’s a little hard to tell with the throne on a raised dias, but the Ice King’s corpse looks fairly gigantic. Not as giant as the Grotesque Lost Ones, which are actual Giants. Just very large.

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Non-human, perhaps? I don’t think it’s just that Pyreans are naturally larger than modern-day Endraleans, since I don’t remember Old Miskamuhr being particularly big.
But this fellow was clearly in a position of power at some point. They don’t hand out titles like ‘Ice King’ for collecting bottlecaps.
I mean… probably. Who knows, maybe the Pyreans had a rich culture in which bottlecaps feature prominently.
The Living Temple probably took care of itself, so I’m not sure what they would need the big guy for. He doesn’t look much like an administrator. Security detail, maybe? Some kind of living companion to keep the Living Temple grounded?
On the other hand, between the Living Temple complex having three or four zones (included the flooded housing down below) and Old Hatolis itself having five (two of which were outside), this place was pretty huge and it probably wasn’t all empty space and frost spiders back in the day. You’d need more than just a heavy mallet and a strong arm to keep all that running.

- Anyhow, ruin survey complete and everything alive now quite thoroughly murdered, I head back and Jespar and teleport Calia home.
Looks like the game is giving us a cooldown period with plenty of sweet, sweet talking.


The Takeaway:
Star City was pretty solid, barring some bugs. I feel like it could have been a bit tenser; there was a fair amount of wandering back and forth both before Kurmai’s heel-face turn and afterwards, but not as much lore as I’d like to fill the empty spaces. We never meet an Ancient Father, or even know what one looks like, or find out what happened to them. We know that, like the Pyreans, the Starlings can put their consciousness into items. Wouldn’t it have been neat if we’d met talking Centurions or workshops or something?
And the trees and shallow pools of the botanicum interspersed occasionally by clockwork horrors kind of ratcheted down the tension. I think you could have had more of a running battle with the mechanical dragon instead of having it kill Yaela -> kill the boat offscreen -> fight for twenty seconds before running away -> headbutt the tower as you fly away. That would be significantly harder to code and balance, I imagine.
Old Hatolis is what I’m coming to recognize as standard for Enderal’s non-quest content: generally atmospheric, usually interesting, but a bit of a missed opportunity (heading back into the Living Temple to beard the statue that killed Constantine could have been amazing!). Ah, well.
Buccaneer
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I'm not saying nothin'. ;)
dyslexicfaser
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- We’re back to sitting around that long-ass wooden table strewn with Interesting Stuff.
Archmage Lexil is distracted almost to the point of catatonia. He mumbles an agreement to Tealor about something-or-other and shambles off. I assumed it was because of Ancient Father stuff (he seemed really excited about this Star City stuff before we left), but apparently Yaela was his mentor in magic stuff? So, you know, mourning and all.
Sorry SureAI, still don’t really care about Yaela. I mean, it’s great to connect your NPCs to the world around them, but I feel like this needed to happen before she died.
Poor Lejam, though; he didn’t even get that much. At least Yaela went out like a hero, saving my life (maybe).

- Tealor considers this a success; the tidbit of info we got will lead us to the City of a Thousand Floods, the old Pyrean capital. Where… something something use Word of the Dead on a High One?
Presumably it will all work out once I get there.
Natara (i.e. Disappointed Order Mom) is counting the cost. She also seems to suddenly regret Jorek’s death, which is… not really how I remember that going down. It’s been a while I guess, but I definitely remember thinking at the time that Natara could turn out to be throwing Jorek under the bus to disguise some wrong-doing of her own and I wouldn’t have blinked.
Tealor tells her to sit down and shut up, and I’m paraphrasing only slightly there. She does, but she is Not Happy About Things. I’m not sure if Natara is ever really happy, but… more not happy than usual.
On the one hand, I kind of get why these wild tales of the world being locked into cycles and fighting pre-Pyrean smoke monsters made of civilizations is hard to swallow for Natara. Tealor is kind of ignoring the army blockading his capital city in favor of focusing on this ‘go to the moon to find the map to go to the Pyrean capital to find the gew-gaw to finish the machine to blow up the evil gods’ plan.
(To be fair to Tealor’s lack of worry on that front, I actually walked outside the capital and visited my old buddy the Hunter vendor with no legions of non-believers in sight. I’m not sure where they’re camped, but it’s definitely not on our front doorstep. The local farmers don’t appear to have been put to the sword. There’s one crucified corpse that I saw, that’s it.)
On the other hand, if a guy as cold as Coarek travels halfway across the world to land an invasion force on your shores, blockades your capital and starts crucifying your men until you give him this machine your boss made to save the world… odds are good there’s something to the machine thing, right? Like, just giving him the savior machine starts to sound like a bad idea.
Out of spite, if nothing else. Coarek is one half Spanish conquistador, one half militant atheist and one half smarmy jerk.

- After the meeting, Tealor explains that she’s just afraid. Natara is another Pathless like me and Calia, and she’s afraid of all that hard work fitting in and toeing the company line to be for naught if the Order falls. You just know it was a lot of hard, thankless work getting up to the second-in-command position of an Order that hates you. A lot of rough edges probably had to get sanded off to fit herself into that hole.
Of course she dislikes me, because I’m some asshole Pathless who got into the Order without having to study their history and ape their mannerisms and practice their xenophobia until they have it down pat and so on and so forth.
Tealor also plays coy when I ask him if they were sweethearts back in the day (or perhaps a bit more crudely put). He says something like ‘What do you think?’
Oh yeah, they were fuckin’. No doubt.

- So I’m on the back-burner again for a day or two while they decode the map. The game gives you a few bits of optional content here, visiting people and such, so I’ll go do that.
But first, look, did Jespar move into my house in the Noble Quarter when I wasn’t looking? Did I always have all this… this in the cubby hole next to my bedroom, closed off by partition screens?

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Some kind of red velvet chais lounge/fainting couch thing, a violin, and piles and piles of scrolls?
I don’t know, just seems like a weird thing to have when the rest of the house is like, Viking mead hall sized for 10.

- The first tidbit (by dint of being closest) is visiting Calia in the infirmary (or ‘Curarium,’ because Endraleans like to fancy stuff up). She’s up at the top of a winding path that takes me up past the chapel where she and I got ordained, because up three flights of stairs is where you want to put your injured, amirite?
It’s the same room they put us in after our initiation thing, currently only occupied by Calia, a nameless Apothecarius, and bloody bandages on the table. I wonder where the moved old what’s-his-face from back then? Coma guy.

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There’s something about being curled up, sitting up, in the middle of a bed that looks very vulnerable. The knees up to the chest and the bare feet, maybe. Calia’s model really nails that.
She looks like she’s thinking deep thoughts. Or is trying to avoid the monster under the bed. It could go either way, really.
She sounds surprised to see me visit, and our conversation is brief. She says she’ll be up and around in a few hours, ready to defend the temple. The damage – that’s ‘coming down from the moon in a metal rocket ball, hitting the ground like the fist of an angry god, and landing on her head, on a rock,’ for those of you keeping track at home – apparently ‘wasn’t as bad as it seemed.’
Lich buddiiiiiies.

- There’s actually a nice bit of prayer I get to hear in the chapel on the way out. Very spiritual sounding, but nothing I recognize, which is probably as it should be.

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This little one-line monologue is very well voice-acted, actually. It sounds rote, but the actor imbued it with deep meaning. Like the 20th or 30th Hail Mary working your way through a rosary. Very nice.

- On the way out, there’s a random line from one of the Keepers that suggests ‘that Peghast woman’ (that’s Lishari, pretty sure) looks like a Skaragg. It’s not pronounced how it looks.
More importantly, I kind of love Skaraggs. They’re maybe-evil barbarians that wear skull masks and the heavy armor I’m wearing right now and keep bad spirits trapped in cave-paintings. You cannot just give me a tidbit like that in a throwaway line on a random NPC, SureAI! I’m serious. I want to know everything about Lishari’s background now, and I can’t, because she’s dead and none of the Nehrimese mages talk about themselves.
Shit, did we ever find Lishari’s killer? I feel like Sigil Leader Jorek got fingered for that, but that seemed like such an obvious frame-job. I mean, who leaves an obvious clue like a capdust bottle at the scene of the crime, when you’re a capdust-addict? It should be instinct for Jorek to grab any and all capdust to go home and snort it or whatever you do with that.
Not to mention that now that I know Lishari is a Skaragg I kind of feel like no aging Keeper like Jorek should have been able to get one over on her. I guess that could be the bias talking. I don’t know, maybe she and Jorek got naked and did drugs together on Thursdays, and he stabbed her while she was high and in her 0-armor rating wooly underpants.
Maybe it’s for the best that we never got a questline to follow on that one.

- I can go to Yaela and Lejam’s funeral.
Their funeral is attended by a dozen nameless NPCs. Yaela gets a few titles, but Lejam is just called ‘Lejam, a novice.’ There’s also a third name being read off (Stalwyn Willowsong), and I have no idea who that guy is. Was there a third Keeper on the Gertrude when it went down, or did they just shove him in with Yaela and Lijam to save space?
Nobody gets up and tells stories of the deceased, and it’s not like they have bodies to do the ‘pose the body for one last sunset at a place significant to the deceased, then ash it’ thing. Just another unmarked grave (mass grave?).
One Keeper in the back is getting a little shout-y in her crisis of faith (she thinks the High Ones are a punishment for letting Malphas the Lightborn down). She is removed, and the service continues. Business as usual, nothing to see here, pay no mind to the specter at the feast.

- Jespar does take me to the Dancing Nomad. He notes that the Nighthawks are playing, a band all the way from Duneville.

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Woah, woah, woah. Hold on. Duneville has a band? A five-man band with a bagpipe-player and a guy on lute called Nikolaos the Archaic One? Where were these guys when I was, you know, in Duneville?
Mind you, ‘the Nighthawks’ is a cool-ass name that sounds like the sort of faux-gang punk rock aesthetic I’d expect from a Duneville band. They’ve probably got hits on the Endralean Top 40 like ‘Grave Digger’ and ‘I’d Fight the Law (If We Had Any)’.
Still, you can’t just drop this stuff on me out of nowhere, SureAI!

- Oh yeah, Jespar told me to come to his room after I’d listened to enough of the Nighthawks.
… Is this the room Lishari got murdered in? I think it is. Jespar, dude. Spring for the master room next time, okay?
Anyway. So it seems a new continent was discovered, a full year and a half’s voyage east of Nehrim. And Jespar is thinking about being on that boat. With me, preferably. After all this stuff with the apocalypse, anyway. He likes the idea of something to look forward to.
Sounds like a sequel hook to me, I can dig it. But I mean, but how could I possibly leave Enderal, Jespar? There are so many nice people! Hahahahahaha
I guess we could pack Calia onto the ship too, if she survives.

- And then we fuck. To a soundtrack with bagpipes from the band downstairs. It’s weird.
It’s also kind of weird that unlike our last encounter on the Gertrude, when I wake up this time Jespar is in his full outfit, asleep on the bed. I’m in my undies, so I’m still pretty sure I got laid, but…

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Is this some high level play I’m not familiar with? I’ve heard Mandaloreans do it with their boots on, but this seems excessive. Where are those weirdly slick abs from that night on the Gertrude?

- Anyway, I’m still on downtime before the next story mission, so next time maybe I’ll check out Dark Valley and look for that painter’s missing mother.


The Takeaway:
Natara’s backstory is solid. Especially compared to Jorek, who was a jerk just because he’s a bitter old capdust-addict. I like it a lot when NPCs in some way hold up a mirror to the protagonist, and Natara nails that.
I kind of liked the funeral, simple an event as it was. Bit of a missed opportunity to flesh out the dead pair, though. Have some named people in the audience, let you talk to them about the dead, stuff like that. Even I feel a little bad that Lejam’s last moment wasn’t even about him and instead used to world-build the Cleansing, but I guess he died as he lived.
badgesareus
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Woah, woah, woah. Hold on. Duneville has a band? A five-man band with a bagpipe-player and a guy on lute called Nikolaos the Archaic One? Where were these guys when I was, you know, in Duneville?
You've seen Duneville. Wouldn't you rather be from Duneville than in Duneville? They were probably out touring on custom myrads.
maybe I’ll check out Dark Valley and look for that painter’s missing mother.
Do it, it's rather interesting and odd, takes you around the block a few times. Other side quests of interest, if you haven't done them, are "Lost Hearts" (the wishing wells) & "Like Newly Born" which starts in Goldforst by reading a note on bench by a dungeon entrance.
Buccaneer
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While I agree with you (about doing the side quests), I think she's past or right at the point of no return. She didn't mention the big warning message but it could be the next action she takes that triggers it.
Xandariel
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25.09.2018 00:07Buccaneer hat geschrieben:
While I agree with you (about doing the side quests), I think she's past or right at the point of no return. She didn't mention the big warning message but it could be the next action she takes that triggers it.
[+] Spoiler
The point of no return appears right after the 2 days you have to wait for the map to be deciphered. The very next quest will be the one to block access to all others.
Not really a story related spoiler but I figured Id still put it in spoiler tags, just in case.
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