Oct 26, 2023
Texas, USA
The newest episode just released, and it’s a whopping 51 minutes long. This post is expected to be long as well. A few people said it did help with reading by color coding my personal thoughts, so I'll try that again. Spoilers ahead.

This episode starts a few days after the last.

Alaric begins by talking about Ustilia, Thacea, and the older civilizations. He mentions that these great civilizations were built on the bones of another. Considering how the rest of the episode goes, this is very much some old fashioned foreshadowing.

Alaric feels his blood move with the sun as the days pass while he is imprisoned. It doesn’t seem all that important, but this gives a better understanding of the blood’s connection to the sun. When Alaric buried himself to avoid the sun, he was very near the surface. I assumed the blood had a hyper awareness of the heat and light. If he’s deep underground, the blood must have an otherworldly link to the sun.

Alaric complains about the ghoul’s poor hospitality and lack of food, and Falk responds by upchucking a key and throwing in a human prisoner. I think Calypso said that the ghoul would more or less copy Alaric by starving him in the Deadman’s Cage, and he pretty much did. Hilarious to me. Falk bringing a key out from within was interesting to me. In the last episode, Alaric (while sliding) noticed the other ghouls in the mound carrying mouthfuls of dirt and other materials. Some carried large handfuls as well. The ghouls are not only very physically strong in undead terms, but they must be able to call up swallowed items at will. I’m wondering how this may tie into the game. Could this be the ghoul’s inventory system? “What’s that vamp? You need me to keep this vial of blood very safe? No problem.” Or, ghouls will be second to the Revenant in handling heavier tasks, like moving an item for a game objective.

Alaric tries to talk to the man but sees him, gets scared and shuts down. Falk asks Alaric if he’s seen himself lately. From our point of view, Alaric looks more or less the same he’s always been, save for more angular features (maybe art style) and red eyes. To the man, he may appear more monstrous. If so, I’m surprised he does look that way already. Alaric is definitely young as far as vampires are concerned.

Alaric then attempts to directly talk to the man, and accidentally uses some kind of vampiric magick to force him to answer his questions. The man tells him he’s a dreg from Jelrass, and his name was in the tithe. The ghouls were forcing him to eat human flesh. After he did so, he went to sleep, woke up, and saw a smiling monster looking at him. Alaric just compelled that poor man. This confirms another ability that even fledgling vampires get: hypnosis. And man, that voice change was so dramatic and cool. Alaric compares the man’s reaction to this ability to the chimes he used before. Alaric has been doing vampire things for a while haha. The man is from the outskirts of Jelrass, and as part of the contract between Deadhaus and Jelrass, was offered up to the undead. Now what confuses me here is that I thought Deadhaus wasn’t welcome. Or did Bo mean that vampires were not welcome in the mound whatsoever? This mound may be on better terms with Deadhaus after all. The ghouls are feeding people human flesh? Like forced cannibalism? Like cannibalism, the way ghouls are made? I have a feeling that this is how more ghouls are recruited into the war effort. That smiling creature that appears only after consuming flesh must be something really bad (or in our case, really good) and related to the ghouls. CyanStargazer called it the “Spirit of Hunger,'' and I think that sounds about right. We see more of that thing later.

Alaric fights to keep himself from taking a bite of the prisoner, and prays that he can resist. And then he does. This is setting off some alarms for Falk, since vampires normally can’t “deny the thirst”.

The two enter a room of resin-like material again. This time, the material is darker and rigid. Falk-ghoul forbids Alaric from entering the “sacred bile” in the center of the room because it will eat him, and then enters it himself. I happen to know a little about bees. The older a wax comb is, the darker it gets. By that logic, this place must be the oldest part of the mound. This could be where the first ghoul of the mound was spawned. Also will the sacred bile eat Alaric because he is unwelcome, or because ghouls have acid resistant bodies?

The ghouls begin to let out a long guttural croaking sound. As they harmonize their singing, the bile starts to go from strange shapes and ripples to a rotating triangular spiral. Alaric’s blood begins to spin the same way, and he sees a smiling monster that the blood doesn’t recognize. So this is where I started getting excited in this episode. The sounds of the ghoul song is like this loud droning that acts as an interesting background for Alaric’s thoughts. It actually gets a little spooky when we see the “Spirit of Hunger” with their singing and Alaric says that the blood doesn’t recognize it and that it’s something older. Gave me goosebumps. If the blood doesn’t recognize this creature, it’s either it hasn’t remembered yet or a vampire (or this bloodline) hasn’t seen it before. The effect the ghoul song had on Alaric’s blood is weird, but not entirely surprising. The blood seems to react to a lot of things.

Alaric asks what the purpose was with the singing, and Falk tells him that it's difficult to explain in Slowspeak. This will likely be something explained more in the game, as players with ghoul characters will definitely understand Ghoulspeak.

Bo, Falk, and Alaric go down some caves that turn from resin to dirt and stone. They come upon a hole and Bo knocks Alaric in. He falls for a minute and lands softly, Alaric thinks to himself that he must be safe falling from any height, and questions why he didn't turn into mist. Nice to see this trio. I'm thinking Vampires will be 100% immune to fall damage within the game. The mist form must be triggered instinctually when the blood senses danger. Maybe the blood knew about Jelrass and wanted to keep Alaric safe and didn't sense danger in this case. Or, now that it's been used once, Alaric must trigger it manually.

Alaric then looks around and see ash all around him, so much that the landscape looks like a desert. He remarks there's no dunes because of no wind, but odd shapes and ridges in the sand. He turns and looks at the wall behind him and notes it too large to be natural and too smooth to be made by man. I did not expect ash to be down here at all. What is it from? This place is really deep, and later we see that there's structures that are remnants of an older civilization. My assumption is that the place burned down many many years ago, and the ash hadn't gone back into the ecosystem. It was sort of spelled out but still. The writing here includes an amazing detail. There's no wind here, but shapes in the sand. We later learn it's from a large creature that resides down here, so if you put two and two together you'd figure it out before then.
The wall being unnatural makes me think about how much of the world was previously sculpted.

The ghouls are hesitant to join Alaric, and their reason is that this place is dangerous for ghouls. They explain vampire footsteps are light, so they are undetectable by the creatures down here. Alaric taunts them, and they eventually join him. The ghouls tell him that he must travel to protrusions in the ash and guide them there as everything smells like ash to them. Bo upchucks a spleen (large red bean) and says to squeeze it when he arrives to safety. If we visit this place in game, will it be safe for vampires traveling solo, and impossible for the ghouls? Will they just be invisible to us ghoul characters in-game? So many questions. Yet again, a ghoul throws up a valuable item. It'll happen one more time this episode.

The ghouls tell Alaric to just come back to the World Gate if the ash starts to move, because the creature won't go near it. Alaric is shocked. That unnatural wall is the World Gate. The ghouls say that it goes all the way down. It was built by something whose “bones are dust and voices are whispers”. So my earlier estimates were more than wrong. The World Gate is unfathomably large. Miles. The doors of the gate were shut relatively recently, so the doors must have been constructed in the last thousand or so years, and the gate itself was built many thousands of years before that. Built by something whose “voices are whispers”? Deadhaus Whispers? Built by Calypso and Mike??? Kidding. This could be interpreted as the long dead, built by man thousands and thousands of years ago. Their bones are dust, and what's left of their legacy is just whispers. The problem with that is that Alaric believes the walls are not man-made. The Pillars could have built them, which is the house of Malorum and the Gate is all that’s left. We really have no idea what they were like.

Alaric goes to the first protrusion in the ash then squeezes the spleen. He realizes the protrusion is a chunk of stone masonry. The ghouls smell him, then Falk spits up something into the ash far from them and takes off towards the stone. Something moves under the ash towards the spit up. Falk tells Alaric it's called the Clatter-Clack and it clearly disturbs Bo. They have no idea what it is. And now Falk uses his ability to spit things up to distract the Clatter-Clack. I'm certain this will be a mechanic within the game. Ghouls use spit to attack from afar or create a distraction. The Clatter-Clack sounds like a funny name, but whatever it is freaks out ghouls. When I first watched it, I thought the name was based on the sounds it makes. Reckoned bones, stone or metal would make that sound.

Alaric considers betraying the ghouls, Falk points out he won't get the soul prism. Alaric decides against it because he doesn't want to cut ties with Amarax and lose the knowledge he gets from him. I feel like this kind of breaks down the walls between him and Falk. After Alaric's imprisonment, they're now even.

When Alaric asks what happened here, he gets this answer from the ghouls.
“The Writhing Dark. An end of reign, where sleepless lie great stones unmade. The broken bones of cities slain, the ashes of a House betrayed.” This House was a Great House, “long, long ago.” Glad that even ghouls know the poetry that's so prevalent throughout this world. I forgot to mention that this area is called the Writhing Dark. Though I don’t know if it’s everywhere beneath the surface of Malorum or just this specific place. What the ghouls are saying sound to me that there was once a Great House here on Malorum. They ruled until they were betrayed and all of their cities were razed. What does “where sleepless lie great stones unmade” mean? Sleepless implies not dead, so what remains of this House is underground. Great stones unmade maybe means the stones of their civilization are breaking down. I have no clue.

Alaric moves onto the next stone. He signals the ghouls, and Faulk throws out his bait. The clatter clack doesn’t move. They start to head towards Alaric carefully. After a third of the way to the next stone, the Clatter-clack starts chasing them. They run very quickly towards Alaric but the creature starts catching up to them. Bo turns towards it and charges. Falk makes it to the stone with Alaric. During their fight Bo gets his face mangled. He bolts towards the stone. Before he could make it, his legs got caught by the Clatter-clack. The Clatter-clack quickly wised up and baited the ghouls out. Bo bravely charged towards the Clatter-clack despite it making him shiver. I think it makes the most sense, because he’s armored. When he got caught I audibly said NOOOOOOOOO! I actually thought he was going to be killed off.

Falk pulls on Bo and with Alaric’s help, pulls him free of his own legs. The Clatter-Clack then furiously causes the stone to start sinking. Falk tells Alaric to make a break for the center while he carries Bo. Alaric does his best to distract the creature by running with his hand in the ash. It works and he jumps away, only for it to start chasing the ghouls again. He gets between them and starts running with his hand in the ash again, only for his hand to get caught by it. He sees the creature and describes its shell as shimmery like oil on water. Falk spits towards his hand, which melts away his wrist and frees him. He runs away and sees the center they’re after. The creature is still after the ghouls so Alaric joins them. It bites down on Falks claw and he bites his claw off. Then it bites onto his arm. Alaric reaches out towards them and feels power run through his body and out of him, crashing into the Clatter-clack and freeing Falk. Alaric jumps up and does it again, defeating it. I really like how they work together here. Alaric tries protecting the ghouls and they help him. The youtube illustrations doesn’t show the Clatter-clack exactly how it's described, but this is how I imagine the shell looks.

I’ll repeat it again because I think I’m funny. If Alaric had a silver coin for every time he lost his hand, he’d have two…and he would be dead. Falk using acid spit is very much a possible weapon. I’ll talk about weapons more in this next part. So… what was that power? I’ve been playing LoK: Blood Omen, and this reminds me of Kain’s Energy Bolt. This is much more powerful so it may not be the same, but damn did it remind me of spamming it at bandits in the first few hours playing.

Alaric falls into the center, and Falk narrowly catches him while holding Bo. He tells Bo he needs a hand and bites off one of his and eats it. Falk’s hand regrows. He then eats both of Bo’s arms so that Falk can grow two more on his back. He then climbs down the wall safely. When he said he needed a hand I thought he meant he needed Bo to hold Alaric while he climbs. NOT EATING HIM. This brings me back to the weapons thought. This makes me think less and less that ghouls will get literal weapons but instead get upgrades to their bodies. Bone armor, +3 attack to claws, etc. If they need to become more deadly, they simply eat something to grow two arms on their back and now they have double damage.

The ghouls and Alaric have an exchange of words. Good job, you took my hand off, Amarax forgot to mention a big scary monster. All three agree on one word “Liches.” They descend into a deeper area where an enormous dead city is revealed to them. After trying to mostly avoid the area, they get close to an etching that Alaric can see. He notes that they’re extremely similar to Amarax’s circle. Falk says they have to pass over the magick lines. According to him they’re not dangerous because “magick cannot speak among them”. Alaric crosses them and feels as though a blanket came over him. He notes that etchings must’ve protected them from magick, Bo says “or keep them from using it”. The interaction between the ghouls and Alaric here are ALMOST friendly. I specify almost because I am certain the ghouls would trade Alaric for some rib meat. But perhaps nothing less. If the etchings are similar, this could mean a few things. Amarax is from the time in which this city was alive, and used these etchings himself. They’re not the same because Amarax has changed them to suit his needs. The etchings could be a universal thing and all people experienced in magick uses these etchings. It’s also likely that Amarax has visited this area before in pursuit of knowledge and learned about this etching. It’s not clear why they were added, but a lot of speculation can be made depending on what you believe. If they did it themselves to keep themselves from doing magick, then it was for control. If they did it themselves to protect themselves, what magick were they keeping out? If someone else did it, it was to suppress them.

As the trio gets nearer to their objective, a wraith appears. It points at Alaric. Falk says that he belongs to the mound. The wraith teleports to Alaric. Bo hisses at the wraith. It teleports to another side of Alaric. Falk moves toward the wraith, and it responds by backing away and preparing an attack with chains. Falk tells the wraith that it should go after Amarax, and it backs off. This must have been an assassin from the Darklight Enclave. I hoped that Alaric and Amarax had shaken them, but I guess not. Finally we get some wraith abilities!! Teleportation, chain manipulation, and maybe a shadow form? Wraiths must be insanely powerful to willingly appear in front of a vampire and 1 ½ ghouls with confidence. Also, was their magick still being suppressed or was the wraith’s abilities essence based?

They descend further until they come across a dark green pillar. Alaric wonders if these are the Pillars of Malorum, and Falk confirms saying “they are the first, we are the last.” We find out this is a Pillar of Souls. Each pillar has it’s own magick. Falk warns to be extremely careful, or risk joining this Pillar of Souls. He says, “not even the weaver can unstitch you then”. Access the pillars for more magick, more power. If Alaric failed his task, that means not even Allalmawt could save him? Spooky.

Alaric finds that the top of the pillar is thin enough to break off, and he does so carefully. It wasn’t quiet enough, and the floor began to open up. He begins to transform into mist as he’s falling, and lands on a rope. His transformation is suddenly stopped and finds himself stuck in the rope. He sees a massive spider and realizes that he’s in a web and the pillar was only part of the spider. Now, does his mist form get interrupted because his physical body got stuck before it could complete? The way it was described, it sounds like the web has anti-magick properties or something.

The spider’s abdomen had a symbol that looked like a face in agony. Alaric starts to realize his place in the world as this massive spider with glowing green eyes gets close to his face. This Pillar is badass because I love spiders and I love the color green. I would like a spider to guard my phylactery please and thank you.

The spider begins to speak to him, saying “lie still in the cold stream”. This causes his blood to slow down. I think this is some kind of magick. It said six words and completely weakened the captured Alaric.

Alaric is almost eaten by the spider when he prays to El’Sabayoth, and is suddenly teleported in a flash of golden light. He finds himself in a grassy field in front of an angel. The angel tells him not to be afraid. He tells Alaric that he’s prayed three times and has answered three times. He prayed to not attack the child, he prayed to not attack the prisoner, and he prayed not to be eaten by the Pillar. The Messenger tells Alaric that the All-Fire hasn’t died yet on Malorum, and that it will come back. It’s hidden by followers of El’Sabayoth. He says “It is thy destiny, of thou flesh shalt give to the gold and thus shalt the dawn come.” The angel then says “When the serpent swallows the seed, when the fountain swallows the sun, I will return and bear thee to thy fate. Amen.” So much information here. We now know that Alaric didn’t attack the child. Amarax implied that he did so Amarax is willing to lie to Alaric. What else is he lying about? What else will he lie about? It sounds like the angel wants Alaric to throw himself onto the fire and bring it back. When the serpent swallows the seed. S’sa-Naraj? When the fountain swallows the sun. Ourou? But the title of the serpent is the Sun Eater.. This doesn’t make much sense to me yet. Here’s another question, is Allalmawt even aware all this is happening? Are they just watching Alaric pray to El’Sabyoth? My thoughts are that the ancient gods are extremely powerful but only so much can leak through at once. If Allalmawt wanted to stop Alaric from working with angels or humans or dragons, someone would have to specifically tell them “dear Allalmawt, Alaric is going to betray you and all of us. Strike him down. Amen.”

Final thoughts. Episode was long but exciting the whole time. The sound of the spider was awesome.

For the next episode. I predict Alaric will make his way back to Amarax and get more information on the world after this ghoulish adventure, as a treat.
Very, very good analysis overall, Mortis. You had many sagacious insights.
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