BI-ST-2: Winter Mountain is Coming

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Winter Mountain is Coming
Break the Ice: The Grand Ceremony
Previous BI-3 (Story)

Reality is more terrifying than fiction, and man-made disasters is more unpredictable than catastrophes.
Silverash Clan Warrior
Snowy Forest
Kjerag Street 2
Kjerag Manor
Gnosis bombs a railroad bridge. War is officially declared.
<Background 1>
[Ratatos followed Gnosis all the way to a forest road.]
Ratatos Hey.
Did you come all the way out to the boonies to dig up something good for me?
Gnosis For death and destruction, naturally.
Ratatos Keep running your mouth. Though, as long as I'm on the giving side of death and destruction, I'm alright.
Gnosis Almost here. Do you still remember anything about this place, Ratatos?
Ratatos ...If memory serves me right, this road leading out of Kjerag has long been abandoned since the wind and snow took down the bridge.
Blizzards are frequent, and even reinforced bridges are hard to secure. The people have all but given up on redeveloping the roads here.
Gnosis How many hands do you have at the Turicum pass?
Ratatos Enough to let me know who and what Enciodes deals with every day.
Gnosis Then, do you know how much military equipment and personnel have passed into Kjerag under your nose lately?
Ratatos ......
Are you saying that Enciodes bypassed Turicum and opened a railway out in a place like this?
...That's ludicrous.
Gnosis Look, it's coming.
Ratatos But that road leads straight down into a canyon...
Gnosis Not anymore.
[The sound of a drawbridge lowering can be heard close by.]
Ratatos ......
Gnosis Tools were used to enclose the bridges, tracks, and load-bearing structures into the cliffs on both sides.
To avoid prying eyes and ears, the structure extends from the mountain to form a bridge only when a train is about to pass...
Such a simple idea, yet incredibly intricate to implement. A pity that I didn't come up with it.
The fresh snow on the ground shudders imperceptibly, and a faint sound gradually grows stronger.
The bridge's bearings spring to life with sparks of light, just as the light of civilization shines into Kjerag.
The head of the train gallops over the bridge, segment after segment following behind it. Flames begin to dance, as if awakened by the weight of the train.
The youth turns to face the crowd and snaps his fingers.
Railbridge Demolition.png
The burning light suddenly expands, becoming brighter and warmer, engulfing several carriages in the middle of the train like a bonfire on a festival night.
Finally, unable to swallow what it had engulfed, the flames brutally split the carriage with a deafening roar.
Scintillating metallic objects splash forth like fireworks, clinking and clattering against the tenacious and resilient steel bars of the bridge before plummeting straight down.
A fur shawl dances in the flames' wake, but the sophisticated tactical suit seems indifferent.
Not a soul knows if all this happened too quickly, or if the spectacle simply paralyzed the senses. Everyone who witnessed the scene unfolding can only stare blankly, and wordlessly for a while.
Only the young man flourishes his Arts Unit nonchalantly, the snow rippling around him in waves.
He activates his Arts, letting a dazzling standard-issue military sabre gently slide down next to his feet. With but a gesture of his hand, the weapon is already in his grasp.
<Background 1>
Gnosis Victorian craftsmanship.
[Gnosis swings his swordstaff.]
Gnosis It's quite sharp.
This vague, wispy blue texture... I wonder if you've ever seen any similar metals in SilverAsh's quarries?
Ratatos ......
Gnosis Let's get to the point. You want to get information about Enciodes from me, and I want to use the Browntails' power against him.
As I said from the very beginning, I am not the only one here who needs to demonstrate good will. I am, after all, too familiar with how the Browntail clan does things.
Should you find yourselves at a disadvantage, or even realize you cannot deal with Enciodes at all, you'll capture me right away in an attempt to curry favor with him.
But time is short. Even I cannot estimate how many people Enciodes plans to bring in, or how many weapons.
I need to act now and destroy his transport route before he has enough power to bring everything under the sun into Kjerag.
And beyond that, I need to cut off your retreat, as you all are now my accomplices.
Even if you choose to surrender to Enciodes, you are all inextricably tied to today's explosion.
After I seal off this path, Enciodes may well lack the manpower to fight Arctosz head-on.
Now, you no longer have a choice.
Ratatos Come, arrest Gnosis!
[The warriors escorting Ratatos put Gnosis at edgepoint.]
Gnosis Easy now!
Ratatos, I take it that this is your answer?
Ratatos No, Gnosis, you got one of your premises wrong.
From the very beginning, I never trusted you. I'd never fall in that easily with a traitor.
I've always wondered how you were always walking around all high-and-mighty, even after getting kicked out of Karlan Trade.
I always believed that Enciodes let you go because the information you have means nothing to him, and he expected you to backstab him.
I assumed he was using you as an unwitting smoke bomb to mess with us, but that's no longer the case.
How could he allow you to go around doing whatever you want, disclosing secrets like these? How could such a crucial route not be guarded by any garrisoned troops?
Gnosis You're right, we're talking about Enciodes here. He'd never let his guard down.
Don't be so hasty. After all, their original mission was to cover up the traces left in the snow by the train.
[Suddenly soldiers wearing body armor and wolf helmet-mask reveal themselves.]
??? Don't get too ahead of yourself, Gnosis.
Gnosis Allow me to introduce you to the squad Enciodes has been training in secret, codenamed "Tschäggättä."
Ratatos You, what did you say?! ...Tschäggättä?!
Gnosis They shall be as the Tschäggättä of ancient legend, not baptized in the glory of Kjeragandr, challenging superstition with pure strength.
The Tschäggättä of legend that hide in the depths of the highlands' snow-capped mountains.
The wear disconcerting masks, tie huge bells to their bodies, and wrap animal pelts around them. Kjerag children cry at the mention of their name.
But they are nothing more than legends.
The outfits worn by the troops in front of her bears little resemblance to the equipment scattered from the train. Seeing the masks on their faces, Ratatos cannot help but shiver.
Tschäggättä The tolerance that the Master afforded you was graciously repaid with betrayal.
Round them up!
Gnosis Ratatos, it is your turn to show your loyalty.
Ratatos Grr... I'll remember this!
Gnosis There is about to be an accidental avalanche caused by a lightning strike.
The subordinates secretly dispatched here by Enciodes are, unfortunately, about to disappear.
<Background 2>
[Sharp reports the current development of the railbridge's destruction to the Doctor.]
Sharp The name of the squad was something like "Tschäggättä." There weren't many present, but seem to have all been taken alive by Ratatos.
The other two 'Tschäggättä' in charge of the freight train survived, but were also locked up.
That's the extent of what I saw. I'm confident I wasn't seen.
Enciodes certainly would not see this as a simple natural disaster either.
Ensia Doctor, over here!
Sharp To avoid drawing the Silverash clan's suspicions, I will back out for now and await the Doctor's further instructions.
[Sharp leaves as the Doctor goes to see Ensia.]
<Dialogue branch starts here>
Doctor Cliffheart!
Ensia Heeey, I'm glad to see you're still kickin', Doctor! Sheesh, they told me I wouldn't be able to see you because you'd be tied up with official business or something.
I was real worried that you'd be stuck with the Paleroches until the ceremony was over.
<Dialogue branch>
Doctor ......
Ensia Doctor, how come you're not talking? Are you okay?
Don't tell me the Paleroches did something to you!
<Dialogue branch>
Doctor Long time no see.
Ensia It hasn't even been that long...
I guess so much stuff has happened since you were invited here that it really does seem like a long time has passed.
<Dialogue branch ends here>
Ensia Oh, but I heard that you're getting along well with Mr. Arctosz?
Eh... Not sure why that would surprise me though. After all, you're really popular around Rhodes Island.
Oh right, is there anything I can help you with, Doctor? I feel bad that it's been one thing after another since you came here, so I was thinking I could maybe run some errands for you.
<Dialogue branch starts here>
Doctor Can you help me protect Mr. Enciodes?
Ensia Huh? But with Degenbrecher there, why would my brother need me mucking things up?
But if that's what you want, I'll keep an eye on him.
<Dialogue branch>
Doctor Can you say hello to the Saintess for me?
Ensia My sister's been awfully busy lately. Even I haven't had a chance to see her.
But if you really need me to, I can climb up the mountain and pay a secret visit.
<Dialogue branch ends here>
Ensia Ugh, I just wanted to help you out, but I just made you worry even more about me...
Doctor Hmm, can you tell me some Kjerag folk tales then? Like, about the Tschäggättä?
Ensia Woah, where'd you hear that word?
Well... It's actually an old legend that goes way back.
Thousands of years ago, when Kjeragandr was protecting Her people from the wind and snow, a group of mountain savages rejected Her blessings. Among them––
<Background 3>
Silverash Clan Warrior We've confirmed that several segments of track suffered similar damage. The losses have been tabulated, and repairing them will take some time.
But more critically, of the points of access between Kjerag and the outside world, several of the routes that were completely under our control have been cut off.
Enciodes In other words, outside forces will no longer be able to enter Kjerag without great effort.
Silverash Clan Warrior But we still have a relative abundance of various supplies and materials in our reserves, enough to hold out while the tracks are being repaired...
Enciodes That's not the important part.
Silverash Clan Warrior Additionally, we've confirmed that Gnosis and Ratatos have been in contact and have been lingering around our borders.
Enciodes Of course.
And what of the Doctor?
Silverash Clan Warrior The Paleroche clan is no longer keeping a close watch on the Doctor. The guards are so discreet that we're unable to track them.
Enciodes Very well. You may go now.
Silverash Clan Warrior Yessir.
[Degenbrecher talks with Enciodes.]
Degenbrecher Well done.
Enciodes I must admit, this came as a bit of a surprise, but Gnosis indeed has the capacity to pull off something like this.
Degenbrecher Your idea of trust is rather twisted.
Enciodes He bore the burdens of Karlan Trade for so many years, so it's only natural that he would have the ability to exceed my expectations in certain areas.
This is not trust, but rather a base requirement. A requirement that the Silverash clan has of its associates.
I always thought I would have the right to shoulder Kjeragandr's burden only when I was prepared to shoulder all of Kjerag.
It has been too long since the Tri-Clan Council and the Vine-Bear Court left this burden.
Degenbrecher Don't tell me that's why you and the Saintess have to shoulder all of Kjerag.
Enciodes She may eventually come to make the same choice.
And I need to prepare for the next step.