Our first trip was very much a quiet, in-and-out operation inside the backdoor of Valencia. However, with the cliffhanger ending in the Marleybone and Aquila expansion, the promised return to Valencia seems to be close at hand.
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Prisoner Number 42391At the end of Aquila, we get an important few pieces of dialogue that I'd like to repeat.
El Toro: Now we hold three pieces to Kane's two - in the race for El Dorado, we have taken the lead!
Bonnie Anne: Captain, look at this! The markings on this stone - they're just like the ones in the Mechanical Birds! What is this thing?
Ulysses: That? The Rosetta Stone, an ancient heirloom. It once stood in the port of Rosetta, in Krokotopia, at the height of the Old Empire. The inscription praises Emperor Squakius Maximus in three languages: Old Aquilan, New Aquilan, and Krokotopian.
Gracie Conrad: Bishop said the symbols in the Birds were Aquilan - we could use this to translate them!
Ulysses: Is this Stone of use to you? Take it! All that is mine I have again because of you. May it bring you fortune and wisdom.
Bonnie Anne: Right, let's get this thing to the Admiralty back in Marleybone. Hawkules, come here!
Bonnie Anne: Marleybone.
Hawkules: Whatever. ...
Mycroft Bones: The clockwork birds have been bedeviling our cryptographers for months. The markings are Aquilan Linear B, but nobody can read Linear B! But we have scholars who can read Linear A and Krokotopian, by Rover! This stone of yours is just the ticket! ... I fear there are only two minds in all Marleybone that could decode this quickly. My dear brother is not available: he's under retainer for the Crown, dealing with the fallout of that business with the Krokonomicon. The other is in the Glass House Prison. Go there and tell them you need to speak to Meowiarty. Give them this - they'll let you in. ...
Meowiarty: Please. A substitution cipher, feeding a transposition cipher and keyed off an asymmetric grid. Child's play. It translates to... interesting. Oridinarily I never work for free, but the conquest of Marleybone is hardly in my interest. Here's how it works: Decoded, the message is a verse of Classical Aquilan epic poetry, but some of the words are wrong. Subtle. Designed to foil a machine, I expect. Taking sequential letters of each wrong word, the message is this: I know how to defeat Kane. Find me in Valencia. Seek Caligostro. G.
Mycroft Bones: Defeat Kane? This is either the most crucial intelligence of the war, or it's a trap. You will find out.
After THAT, it would certainly make sense that we're returning to Valencia, but for what? Intelligence? Or will the showdown for Kane's two pieces play out this early? I have some theories about Kane, but first, it's important to know the true state of Valencia.
Valencia is a monarchy, run by a unicorn king. Kane is indeed the supreme commander of the Valencian military, and he answers to King Casimir. Anything else you've heard about figureheads or powers behind the throne is nothing but seditious rumor.
King Casimir, huh? I got inspired and put together an image to the right.
This begs the questions, however - who's really in control in Valencia? Is it Kane? The mysterious female clockwork? Or King Casimir? Who's manipulating who?
Watching With Ten Thousand Eyes: Back to the BeginningThe mystery of the clockwork birds leads back to the Toymaker, who's been watching us carefully and spying on the Armada for quite some time. Destiny has a lovely theory that he may, in fact, be a play off of Leonardo da Vinci. After all, some of his designs are strikingly similar to the clockwork machines and forts, as she illustrated in her posts.
Da Vinci had no children, but he did adopt a boy as a sort of apprentice. His name was Gian Giacomo Caprotti da Oreno, better known as Salai, which translates to "The Devil" or "The little unclean one." Suppose for a moment that this brilliant Toymaker had an adopted son as well...
Leonardo, terrified at the idea of losing one of his closest companions, attempts to use his expertise to "fix" his son. A half-man, half-robot creation. And thus, his son is restored. Of course, he is now very different-looking, though he retains at least a portion of his skin-colored face.
Bigger problems existed at a personal level. Da Vinci soon realizes that his creation is TOO good. It has begun to affect the actions of his son, causing strange thoughts and habits that he didn't have before. The son he once knew became a body for his father's creation to harness. He had become a real puppet.
Now free of da Vinci's guidance, Kane used what he knew to save others who suffered similarly to himself - they become his court of elite clockworks. And so Kane, with new-found power in the Valencian monarchy, took to creating a world by his standards. One where no one would ever experience what he had had to. One without pirates, so that the fateful day on which he was wounded would never find itself repeated.
One-Third or Dark Corner?When we visited Valencia the first time, it seemed a lot like some of the other worlds. It suggested to me that Kane and the clockworks are the essence of Valencia, which we now know is not true. It also seemed to me that there'd be maybe two or so more skyways surrounding the machine, and then the interior of the machine itself. Similar to the way that MooShu is set up. Blind Mew suggests that this might not be the case:
I won't confirm anything at this time, but I will suggest that the situation in Valencia is pretty complex. Note that when you saw said destruction and Clockworks out of control, you were in a pretty remote part of Valencia. The situation is very different in the shining center of Valencia.
This lead to a follow-up question asking if the machine is the geographical center of Valencia as the skyway makes it appear, but I did not receive a direct answer. He states that "the visual metaphors reinforced the story nicely." If you notice, the other side of the machine has a much stormier sky. Does that mean that as we near the center of Valencia, it's even darker and more littered with clockworks? There certainly seems to be potential for future Valencian areas.
Perhaps, then, the machine is actually in a smaller part of Valencia. It's taking out any non-essential pieces to Kane's idea of a perfectly harmonious world achieved in an ironic way. And who knows... perhaps that's his mother or a much more persuasive being filling the role of the female elite clockwork. Is she calling the shots? And so what else is this machine for, anyway? Blind Mew has a few thoughts.
The Machine... It is the testament to Kane's vision, the manifestation of his genius, and the instrument of his will. In terms of Kane's Grand Design, The Machine is both means and end. We will reveal what it's for in good time.
Power Corrupts...Something wasn't making sense to me. How was it that Kane could operate on such a vast scale and even have treaties with MooShu? Did someone miss the whole "remaking the Spiral" thing? And what of Valencia? If it is as Blind Mew says, and Kane does, in fact, answer to King Casimir, why isn't he making some changes?
Perhaps Casimir is working with Kane. Their visions could hardly be the same, however. Casimir would surely desire a much wider range of influence for himself and Valencia. Kane has his "Grand Design" idea already in play. And whatever it is that's in El Dorado, it's going to solidify his plans and bring the Grand Design into full swing. However, secrets of El Dorado are a discussion for another day.
... And Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely
These thoughts lead to one logical conclusion that Blind Mew seems to confirm, if only just through hints - Valencia's politicians are even worse than... expected.
Trust me, when we go back there, by the time you leave you will have seen Valencian politics up close and personal - indeed, you may know more than you wanted to learn, or more than is safe to know.
It seems that there's more than one enemy here. But can we fight a whole world of corruption when what is perhaps our only form of support is being destroyed by a massive sky-machine?
Defeating the Ultimate Enemy: A Question of Morality
Blind Mew confirms that our next skyway begins with "C" - Cadiz, perhaps? Wherever it is, it must be in search of Caligostro, who must be a person and not a place, considering the fact that Cagliostro was a real Italian explorer. Plus, in the world of DC Comics, he's described as an immortal and descendant of Leonardo da Vinci (this'd have to be a lot of coincidences at this point). And so "G" must be da Vinci, or whatever he may be called in-game (and based on Kane and the puppet show, my guess is that he's human). Or perhaps "G" simply knows the story of da Vinci and Kane.
Avery describes Kane as a being very much superior to any human. He would not be so easily destroyed by the slice of a sword or firing of a bullet, especially not after his first encounter with pirates. No, the best way to beat Kane is by using what remains of da Vinci's son inside to overtake the machine-controlled being he has become. This will be very difficult with Kane, but perhaps more easily accomplished with wild cards not so perfectly converted, like Phule. Is there any hope for him? (Political references mastered right there.)
When we go to defeat Kane, what will da Vinci be thinking? Is he hoping to save his potentially lost son? Will the future of the Spiral depend on the defeat of this individual? Perhaps the question of good and bad and morals and lack thereof will finally come to the forefront of Pirate101 in what's sure to be the showdown of the arc.
If we are to destroy the Armada and the machine, Valencia's entire navy will be gone, leaving it defenseless, but not free of corrupt politicians. Is there any hope for this dark world? And what could possible be so powerful in El Dorado that it would allow Kane to rework the worlds of the Spiral?
Thanks for reading. And as for that Spiral, I'll see you there! Note: Illustrations here are for entertainment purposes only. Endorsement or denouncement of political parties should not be inferred. Credits: Thanks to Destiny for ideas on which this post was built about Leonardo da Vinci. Read one of her posts HERE.