First of all this book really hit a spot. I imagine everyone that played a protective ronin got hit with the extra sneaky dagger in the back like me. At the end I felt like I could hear it. Glass breaking!
And man. It felt like foreshadowing since the first half of the game. When you duell with Sadao and let him go and tell Masa that even ronin deserve a second chance. Just to find him later without a face and mumble to yourself that it seems like there is no second chance for a ronin. Now your sweet ronin gets another chance at life by forgetting a big factor of his dark past. Smiling more and being overall a happier person. Then the last words of the Baron come to haunt the ronin faster than expected. With the ronin surviving while the young student Ige dies helplessly right infront of the ronin’s eyes. Living long in the time this fiction is displayed and doing the things our little group does means seeing everyone die while surviving and always asking if you could have done something to prevent it. A cursed long life you wish you never lived.
When I finished I had to sit back, take a deep breath and keep myself from screaming. I know a lot of people like to get the perfect ending. But for me… I play my CoG usually accepting my choices. I restarted only once since I felt it really hard to keep my attument at the end of the game. However, thanks to that I wasn’t caught by the endless loop of Ige. And also the failure of saving him felt like it was really my fault. Not a scripted event.
And since everyone is into theory crafting how about I throw my 2 cent of Fanfic into this (hopefully not getting denied after 3 sentences because my memorie of the first 2 books is a bit blurred):
FF Book 4 (contains spoilers for Book 3. You have been warned!)
How about playing from the start and for most of book 4th as Jun/ko? Who has regained his/her some sanity after the confrontation with the ronin. And it plays 2-6 months into the 1 year of peace brought to us by the one and only wedding of the emperor which was mentioned. I know we have a tight window to fullfill our quest but we can do it.
This is based around the assumpiont that the nice spirit animal of the wolf and Jun/ko’s companion in truth isn’t her spirit animal. Like someone could brainwash a person why not dominate them with your spirit animal even after death. What if the Jigoku Itto Ryo itself is the wolf. Or more so the lingering will of Gensai to find/force his technique onto a worthy successor which consumed Jun/ko slowly after the ronin slayed him. Jun/ko was already mentally unstable and now invaded by Sensei’s spirit animal he/she totally lost it. Her connection to the ronin grew even further because the ronin is the true heir while the obsession is coming from his/her love and Gensai spite for his killer. All while the influence of Sensei is slowly dripping away from his most precouis student.
At the beginning the ronin probably relished in the new found powers. Maybe even wanted to be the heir of the Jigoku Itto Ryo. However, after killing Gensai and years without someone that gave the ronin a real reason for all this killing, drinking, eating and late night adventures. He began to question his ways and the rest is history.
Jumping back to the end of book 3. The ronin has finally realised what the wolf is after losing his memories of Jun/ko and regaining them. Because the feeling of being dominated by Sensei is more fresh than ever after brushing off against the illusion by the Baron. And what happens in the confrontation is, that the ronin wins against Jun/ko after a brutal duell by accepting him/her and finally freeing them from the returning theme of being controlled and used by the person that should protect them the most.
However, since the ronin is wavering in his/her mind after the recent events Gensai’s lingering will whispers to him/her that’s their responsiblity to carry the spirit animal of the wolf. Tricked by this but not losing their sanity completly the ronin wanders aimlessly until finding a place where they can stay in peace. A particular mountain entangled in vines.
But lets go back to our actuall MC in this imaginable book 4. Jun/ko. After many years of having another spirit animal in their mind Jun/ko starts almost as a blank. Like the ronin did in book 1 just thanks to partial. This comes with the theme often picked up in the story: “Does a ronin deserves a second chance?” Our new MC starts to remembers most of what happened over the years. But it’s blurry and he/she feels that most of the decisions of the years weren’t clearly his/her own. And the goal of book 4 is redemption.
After the fight with the ronin Jun/ko’s sword arm took an ugly hit and left him/her with a scar, reoccurring phantom pain any time he/she holds a sword and his/her old, rusty sword which perfectly reflects the current situation. The near death experience of the fight and the shock of being freed of Gensai’s influence leaves him/her with partial amnesia. All of Jun/ko’s memories after the ronin kills Sensei become foggy and the first memorie to be restored are those of the end of book 1.
Because even thought it took Masa more time to follow after his/her unreliable bodyguard it is time for the kid to truly show mercy for the first time. They come to the place of the final battle just before our Kondo ninja can take the head of the ronin’s childhood friend. Even thought Tosh had a headstart he/she had to make sure the emperor’s wife is save. And so was also late to see the ronin leave the battlefield.
To gain inside on the whereabouts of the ronin they keep Jun/ko alive. But like mentioned before his/her memories are jumbled and blurry. So far the childhood friend doesn’t even really knows who Masa is despide the fact knowing they gave the kid a scar on the neck. The worst part about this is that Tosh can verify that Jun/ko isn’t lying because the wolf is gone and a new (true) spirit animal has taken it’s place. After a week or two of giving Jun/ko time to remember and recovery in imprisonment the duo of the closes companions can’t stay any longer and have to go to escourt the wife of the emperor to him and ask him for advice.
After another month of imprisonment and questioning over and over again by Kohaku since Hatch can’t reveal his face (and let’s be real. Hatch wouldn’t be good at interrogating someone). Our new side member of the crew starts to bring up the argument that they should release Jun/ko and just let someone follow him/her. Furthermore Kohaku feels it’s not right trying to break someone broken even more. At first Hatch is against it but since Kohaku is also his advisor and he should put some trust into her. He accepts.
Now the book would skip through a few character building scenes. Most of which bring memories back and slowly ignite the fire in Jun/ko again. Until he/she him/herself decides to search for the ronin and starts to gathering clues and hints. (Maybe a chance for more awesome detective scenes!) Also the new Stat “Redemption” is intreduced. On the way Jun/ko walks into a lot of old trouble. He/she hasn’t lost completly their edge like the ronin did in book 3. However, the scar of the battle keeps him/her from using the Jigoku Itto Ryo. (The ronin could hold his own against average and somewhat above opponents so as long as Jun/ko doesn’t picks a fight against a bunch of enemies or a way too powerful one it should be a good preset.)
In the search Jun/ko meets/creates their own group of people (the samurai/ninja charged with watching him/her or maybe even people from previous books which had not much interactions with Jun/ko. Nishi/Daisuke/Keiko etc. pp.). And when they finally find a hot lead it’s a small village close to a mountain. Rumors tell of a giant beast/punishment of the gods in form of a giant wolf holds the village under his wrath and kills anyone stupid enough to challenge it.
In the village Jun/ko would learn about the new cult that is forming around the wolf since even thought it kills anyone that enters the mountain it also protects the village from bandits and other invaders as long as they bring sacrifices to a little mountain shrine every 3 days. And they know this because the wolf can talk and understand human language.
After one futile try to interact with the wolf and a possblie even worse fight Jun/ko realises he/she needs help. Because in the time he/she was imprisonent the information of the ronin’s quest came up unexpectedly. And with that the now (maybe redeemed) ex-psychopathic MC has to visit two people that probably want him/her still 6 feet under.
Now comes the Redemption stat into play. Masa and Tosh will be easier to convince by Jun/ko for their quest by the new and old companions or storys of deeds preformed by the new MC. Here would be the decisive point for a perfect/good/bad ending. They won’t 100% trust Jun/ko no matter what but either the two of them will help immediately, come late to the most crucial moment or never appear.
So as Jun/ko and company goes back to the mountain he/she finds the ronin after a fight with the wolf in an abandoned cave and has to dance again. And depending on stats and decisions the end of book 4 would start. An Epilogue where the ronin regains his consciousness and sees the result of Jun/ko’s road to redemption.
Thanks for reading… puh
P.S: Sorry for the mediocre-bad english and the wall of text. Have fun enjoying this Ffic. Also sorry this must be a huge mess since I wrote this sleep deprived since I was unable to sleep after a nap in the middle of the day.