Monday, March 20, 2017

Pawns of Fate

  Fair traveler, I know that you must have a story. Why else would you visit such a place?

By it's own admission, Dark Souls II is murky, i've seen many struggle to make sense of the lore, but one thing i noticed, every single person misunderstood what was going on between Creighton and Pate.

The conclusion i come across over and over again is the yawn inducing, "Both are bad." It seems the words of a strange cartographer and an assumption that Pate is another Patches have lead players astray. Seeing that Patches is my favourite character in both Demon's and Dark Souls, i can say, nay, must say, Pate is no Patches.

To settle this, let's go back to the beginning.

I mean, a man's got to make a living, right?
In Demon's Souls you have a completely unspoken rivalry between Patches the Hyena and Yurt the Silent Chief.
When you run into Patches he'll try to get you into some of the most obvious traps in video game history, but more importantly when you find him the Shrine of Storms, he's surrounded his trap with Augites of Guidance. The only other time you encounter those in the game is in the Tower of Latria, where Yurt is trapped inside a cage...
Now if you're a kind soul, and have spared Patches even after his ruse, he'll momentarily get dead serious and warn you of Yurt.
"Yurt's a mercenary; he'd kill his own kin for the right price.
Now, I'm not a saint, but compared to Yurt I'm as saintly as they come.
So I implore you to stay away from Yurt, the assassin in black."

Now in Dark Souls, you'll meet Lautrec first, most likely, another brooding and quiet knight in strange armour, locked in a remote cage...

Hmm, what business do you have? If you have none, then stay silent.

Surprise, surprise, releasing him is bad news. Not that Trusty Patches doesn't try to warn you.
"Oi, have you met Lautrec the Embraced?
Believe me on this one, bruv…He's completely mad.
He wouldn't think twice about cutting somebody down.
So watch out for him, especially if you've humanity to spare."
You and me, we're jolly Undead outcasts, aren't we?
And that is one of my favourite characteristics of Patches, if you don't kill him, he comes to respect you in his own weaselly way. In Dark Souls, especially, he'll start to dish the dirt on all the other chumps around Lordran:
"Oi, have you met Petrus, that self proclaimed cleric?
Believe me on this one, my love…The man is scum.
Don't you be fooled by his claims to do good.
They're all the same, those rotten clerics."
"Here, have you met that sunbathing Solaire? Believe me on this one, my love...He's a complete idiot. But he happens to be an awfully strong idiot. Just nod your head and keep him on your side! Nyah hah hah hah!"
"Here, have you met that backwood Shiva? Believe me on this one, bruv...The man is trouble. I can see it in his eyes. I just can. Hmph, no doubt about it. Watch him"
Not that he was shy about giving you his thoughts in Demon's:
"You see that priest and his disciples over there?
They still don't trust me after that little incident behind the altar.
Shouldn't they believe in forgiving and forgetting and all that?
Well, I have news for them. Praying has not put food in my mouth, nor anyone else's."
So there was this expectation built up in the previous games, of a trap setting weasel and a psycho killer in armour.
But it seems most are afraid to move past that expectation...

Which is especially odd, because Pate never once tries to trick you.

What misunderstanding could have caused this?
"Oh yes, you be cautious if you go any farther.
There's treasure in there, for certain, but the entrance locks from behind."
"There's treasure this way… But I've a bad feeling about it.
I don't quite have the guts myself! Hah hah…"
Now Creighton, our brooding knight, may or may not be a psycho killer, but it does seem for sure he's losing his mind.
"Who are you?
I thought you were that bastard for a moment. "
"Heh heh…Just wait, you dirty rat…
Hm? Oh…Oh! I-I remember you?!
Don't you scare me like that. I thought you were him."
The story we can get from their dialogue is that they were traveling together, at some point Creighton decided Pate was untrustworthy and devised a trap. However, by his own admission, he fell for it instead. Pate truly believes Creighton was being careless and fell for a trap.
"Oh yes, you be cautious if you go any farther.
There's treasure in there, for certain, but the entrance locks from behind.
I saw the same design earlier, and it's the same contraption, I'm sure.
I was with this warrior, you see, and he insisted that he go inside first.
The rather brusque fellow tried to swipe the loot for himself, but it trapped him inside.
I still have the gent's ring. I do hope he wasn't harmed. " - Pate
"I've heard this land was full of danger. I thought it would suit me perfectly.
I joined forces with a man on the way, but he was no more than a back-stabbing knave.
He took the first chance he had to try and off me.
I decided to set a trap for him here, but then I got trapped myself.
I can't believe that I was so dense. Thank the stars that you came along.
You be careful of him. Pate, I think he said.
He wears this rather unusual ring. You know it when you see it." - Creighton
Now an interesting thing to note is the ring, Creighton assures us we'll know Pate on account of his unique ring, Pate however, insists it was Creighton's ring.

Ring of Thorns 
Ring granted protection by Kremmel, god of Struggle.
The ring's spikes drive into the wearer's skin,
so that each blow taken fuels spite toward the perpetrator.

In game all it means is that anything that attacks you takes damage back, but the wording of the ring implies that it makes the wearer of the ring hit back harder from the pain of the thorns constantly driving into the skin. You could guess that Pate removed the ring from Creighton, thinking he was doing the man a favour, or perhaps Creighton trusted it to him. What's important though is the ring gives great insight into the mind of Creighton, the pain of any slight felt would be doubled. The slight being real or the figment of a failing mind is what we'll never know.

 As for the exploding chest, after you help one kill the other, or just watch Pate beat the snot out of Creighton, well, there is an explanation. Creighton says Pate lives up ahead when you meet him in the Shaded Woods, Pate himself tells you of his "pied-à-terre" ahead if you help him. If you help Creighton on the other hand, he'll contradict his earlier statement about Pate living up ahead, and now says it's his place, and this comes after a long line of maniacal laughter. Normally in a Souls game that'd be pretty typical of any character, but it's rather rare in II.

You make your way to the twice trapped house and after the explosion, in another moment that's quite unusual for a Souls game, you hear taunting a line of dialogue from either Pate or Creighton. Neither character is actually there of course and I don't think Drangleic has answering machines. So what we end up with is an instance where Pate for once forgot to warn us about trap. One he had likely set knowing he was being hunted by Creighton. So i don't believe there was any malice in giving the key, and the voice we hear harkens back to the ring (which you likely now carry) and Creighton's problem with Pate in the first place, an imagined slight.

Creighton might be unhinged and brash, but he's not on the path of total destruction, just revenge. So it's worth looking at where we get information he might be a killer from.

Oh, I'm sorry. I was just…daydreaming, I think.
Cale is a self proclaimed cartographer and like most of the cursed, has no real idea what he's doing or how he got there.
"When I first came to this forsaken land…
…It was…um…hmm…?
Err…A curse…? Err…Something about a curse…
Hah hah…How embarrassing. I seem to be losing my focus these days."
After freeing Creighton, Cale will give you a rather ambiguous warning you about a killer, a distorted echo of Patches warning you of Yurt or Lautrec.
"Ah yes, there is something I wanted to tell you.
I was born in the land of Mirrah.
Mirrah is also the home of an infamous killer, a 'knight' in name alone.
He was locked in the dungeon for multiple murders. But shortly before his execution, he managed to escape.
And the other day… I saw a fellow with a striking likeness! And then!
And then…Wait…
Well…I think he looked rather similar…
N-no, it's true! I saw just such a man, I swear!
I believe his name was…Cr…Cr…err Cray-something…I believe…
They shared…some resemblance, I…I think..."
 We're going off the a resemblance of a killer, perhaps glimpsed by a near-hollow.
Now i'm not saying there isn't a "knight" from Mirrah that escaped execution, i'm just saying it's not Creighton, it's most likely Cale.
When you first find the cave Cale is oddly digging in, he nearly kills you with a boulder, he doesn't acknowledge this of course, perhaps he's already forgotten he's done it, but more than that there's the haunting words of an actual cold blooded killer.

I don't have anything against humans, but how is it that you go about defining good and evil?
"Your target will be Cale, the man who's drafting that map.
While I was trapped in here, he touched me, that maniac, like I was some rare specimen."
The deal you make with Navlaan is to kill a select few to stop him from killing countless more. And it seems he sends you after those that in his eyes have sinned; Gilligan, a loudmouth scoundrel,  Felkin, an uncursed man in love with darkness.
(If you want to dispute that Felkin is uncursed, i only point to him knowing exactly why he's in Drangleic, all those truly cursed are unsure.)
And lastly the "Muse" for being a lying liars of lies.
But Cale's hit is very personal. Whether you believe Navlaan just has a split personality, or is in fact a man possessed, that he is so disgusted and outraged by Cale is quite telling of the man's nature.

Lastly, their helmets are of some note:

Creighton's Steel Mask
Atypical steel mask.
Belonged to Creighton the Wanderer.
Its design resembles that of the knight order
of the eastern land of Mirrah, but with some
odd differences that catch the eye.
Perhaps it is a finely-crafted imitation.

Cale's Helm
Helm of a light Mirrah foot soldier.
Belonged to Cale the Cartographer.
Apparently Cale procured this inexpensively
second-hand, but it's surprisingly well made.

Now, Creighton having a custom helm is somewhat suspicious, but having eye catching differences is not a very good disguise. Cale's on the other hand, is the typical Mirrah "knight" helm, and him getting it second hand sets off all the alarms. Very unlikely he bought it off Patches.

So at the end of the day, Pate is kind and oblivious wanderer, Creighton is a spiteful soldier losing his mind, and Cale is now, and always was mad. Murky indeed.

For what it's worth Patches is my favourite for a few reasons, firstly that he's a gleeful dude, everyone else is morose, held hostage by the dark world (whether they simply be crestfallen or literally caged) but Patches is just loving it. With a smile and chuckle he leads chumps to their end so he can take their shiny gear.
He's basically an NPC that behaves like a player character, and i dig that.

"Heh heh, this is what I do, my friend.
The trinkets I'll be stripping off your corpse; that's the real treasure!"

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