Thursday, 28 November 2013

Witcher II: Chapter II

Last time I stopped with joining Roche and his merry band of Blue Stripes. And now, the plot thickens. Love of Geralt's life was taken by Letho. The Witcher Assassain who killed King Foltest, and got Geralt involved in all this, is the one who forced Triss Merigold to teleport the two of them far from Flotsam. After I dealt with the massacre that the corrupt Commandant Loredo started, and put the the town of angry mob to rest, I finally set sail and went after the mysterious man that seemed to know more about me than anyone else. Or at least he was willing to talk about it, in his own right that is.

We came to the Upper Aedirn in the Pontar Valley. This is where things got interesting. Every so often you would play as someone else beside Geralt. This was only a brief sequence that served the story, in order to make you experience what the game would otherwise tell you. I found it interesting. Although, because I joined with the Roche, I was put in the boots of King Henselt. A berserker king of Kaedwen.

This would be all well and fine, if they had not pit him against Saskia, the Dragonslayer, the shining beacon of hope for all elder races. As I sympathised with Dwarves and Elves, I tried to lose the duel against her. But soon I realised it was not possible. She would barely attack, and even when she did, the King parried most of the blows. Now that I think of it, this might be due to the mod, but in the case I lost, I would probably have to replay until I would win.

This unto itself interests me enough to give Witcher II a second play through that will actually differ than the first one. When it comes to replay value of an RPG I am horrible. In most cases I will do exactly the same things I did through the first play through, because I still find them the best solution, and anything else would just be bad thinking. Witcher II on other hand, gives you a valid reason for second play through that goes in a different path. The decisions you make have a validity to it. And they have consequences.

In Mass Effect for contrast, you might decide to do things with a kind word, or with coercion. The results are always the same, your goal is always the same. No matter if your choice is to be Paragon, or Renegade, this is only flavour. There is no choice in it. The grand plan remains the same, You are still saving the galaxy, only now you are hitting people instead asking them nicely to help you.

Let us get back to Witcher. As I travelled with Roche, I had to save the king Henselt from the curse he released in his fit of rage when one of the priests interrupted his duel with Saskia. With rescuing the king, I proved I was at least not out to kill him, so he let me run loose and solve some of his problems. For which I am yet to receive any payment.

A sorceress put a curse on king Henselt. From the first chapter it could be glimpsed that the Sorcerers are plotting something, but it only seemed the usual plotting, where they scheme for their personal gain. Yes, that is bad, but once you consider it a default setting for all the mages, if the word can be used, you can deal with it, and apply proper measures.

I set upon solving the problem with the mist that erupted full of wraiths of soldiers that died under the rain of fire that Henselt's sorceress unleashed on men three years ago. An act for which Henselt had her burn at stake. You would think a rightful punishment, but as you go, you discover this was not something only one woman did by herself. Number of sorceresses helped her in conjuring the spell that cost Henselt a victory, as well as many of the best soldiers he had.

It is interesting to see how my end goal shifted ever so slowly from finding the Foltest's killer, to dismantling all the power that these witches have. This became my personal agenda for some reason. I thought it dishonourable for someone to meddle in war, and an honest fight with magic just for his own gain. Yes, war is brutal, merciless, and unrelenting. But the attitude knights had in past for archers, the makers of Witcher managed to transfer to magic. That it is a weapon of cowards.

It seems this comes from understanding the simple motives of everyone else involved in this mess. Scoia'tael wants freedom, Letho wants kings dead, Roche wants what is best for Temeria, Henselt wants to strengthen his rule. Only thing you never know, is what those sorceresses want. They say peace and all that, but they always work in the background, always scheme, always plot, and never work alone.

As I solved the problem with the mist, the king invited me for a cup of red. A cup of wine I was never able to drink as the assassins tried to finish Henselt. Fortunately I was able to thwart their plans, One died, while Síle de Tansarville drove off the second one, conveniently so.

While I thought her reasons dodgy, I could understand her disapproval for meddling in necromancy. I can only say from this point onward things started to go bad really fast. It looked like a start of a Greek tragedy. You have a hero on peak of his power and then he loses everything. As I failed in my walk through assassin's last memories, I knew only about their hideout.

While I worked my way through all the traps, I realised Síle de Tansarville finished the assassin who managed to escape. I presume she was the one who hired them. How would she otherwise know of the hideout. And why would she otherwise disapprove of necromancy so vehemently.

When I finally returned to the camp king's assistant Dethmold was taking names and hanging everyone he though to be involved in another plot against King Henselt. This was something I investigated only briefly, as I stumbled upon a group of plotters who were not ready to cooperate with me. So I killed them,, and thought little of it.

The one behind the second plot was Roche. It was something he and late king Foltest brewed up three years ago in order to prevent Kaedwen's alliance with Nilfgaard. Dethmold had all Blue Stripes killed, when he lured them into a trap, telling them to come to feast. Ves, the only soldier-woman in Roche's company was raped by Henselt. Although, at this point I do not trust anyone any more. It might end up, Ves was Dethmold's spy all along. it certainly would not be the first surprise in this political game.

With Roche out for vengeance, and my own wish to save Saskia and her bandits, they could not be called an army in comparison to Henselt and his men, we ventured through the mines, in order to emerge in the heart of the Dwarven bastion that would fall soon enough. Dealing first with mercenaries, and clearing the escape for soon be defeated elves and dwarves, we met Zoltan.

He was putting quite a fight. He told me about Iorveth being cut off from the main force, and where Sile hid herself. As the fate in form of a destroyed bridge tore me away from Roche, I decided to go and save the grumpy elf. Finding out Saskia was dead, I went on, and tried to stop Sile, who just escaped, and had to deal with Henselt and his men instead. Soon enough Roche caught up with me, and I left the two of them alone.

I set on to my journey with Roche, our destination being Loc Muinne. There was to be summit of Kings, organised by none other than sorcerers, in order to "bring back the order" that was lost in all the chaos of the dead kings. I look forward to this. If luck would have it, I will be able to deal with the cursed sorcerers and damned Letho, all in own fel swoop. And this is how the second chapter came to the end.

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