7# Once upon a time in Tibet
7# Once upon a time in Tibet

7# Once upon a time in Tibet

What is happening in the game?

After the fight against the morph demon, Ark collapses weakened and finds himself in a comfortable bed. After all this time, he can finally see someone else’s face again. This is the beginning of the third act with the German title “Light and Shadow” and the English title “Resurrection of the Genius”.

We leave our small, quaintly furnished room and find ourselves in something like a cave city within a mountain. Snow lies on the ground, the residents are wrapped in thick furs and tell of their life in harmony in Lhasa under the watchful eye of Lord Kumari. In the English language edition, we also learn that Ark was in a coma for three years after he was found unconscious. Lord Kumari seems to know a lot about us. From him we learn that we can no longer communicate with plants and animals. He invites us to stay in Lhasa until we regain our strength. In general, Kumari seems to be more than just a spiritual leader, since according to a citizen he should also have healing powers with which he heals every disease and injury.

But before we can relax any further, Master Meiho, a disciple of the (former) Lord Kumaris, appears. He worries granddaughter Meilin, who is still suffering from the death of her parents. Endowed with the gift of creating illusions, she returns to her family’s disaster. This begins our quest to save Meilin’s peace of mind. So we travel to Louran, the city wiped out by the war, which does not appear so ghostly to us when we arrive. We talk to the over-friendly residents and also meet the traveler Hedyn. We find the Meilin we are looking for, who seems to lead a peaceful life with her parents and her dog Turbo. But after an overnight stay in Louran we notice that none of it is real and we find ourselves in the ruins of Louran overcrowded with zombies. With the help of Meilin’s abandoned crimson scarf and her dog, we manage to track down the girl, even hidden in an illusion. Now finally her mother speaks to her and announces the imminent rebirth of Meilin’s parents. Life will go on, just as she should live her life free from hatred and grief. As a thank you for the support, Meiho gives us the advice to turn to the nomads on the edge of the desert. They can show us how to cross the desert to the west. Hedyn expresses himself similarly, although of course we did not offer our help simply on the basis of advice.

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What is happening in the book?

In the retrospective, almost everything is different here and I don’t really want to reveal too much, but I will summarize it a little. We wake up after a long, deep sleep in the house of Yangchen (Meiho), who together with his granddaughter Mei-Lin found us in the wilderness and brought us to Shigatse. Our near death and the coma that followed have robbed us of our memories. So we cannot tell our rescuers and the people of Shigatse who we are and what brought us to their land. this leads to an argument between Yangchen and Mei-Lin, as the latter is suspicious of strangers and therefore doubts our sincerity.

After we have recovered, washed and changed our clothes in Yangchen’s house, we are taken to the Trashilhünpo Temple to see Tendzin Gyelpo, the Penchen Lama and Shigatses spiritual leader. We learn a lot about him, Shigatse and the faith-driven way of life of the Tibetans. With no memory or destination, we inevitably get stranded in Shigatse and become more and more of them over time. As a nameless person, we are given the name Tamche. The day comes when Mei-Lin is tasked with taking Tamche to the place where she and Yangchen once found him, although she is reluctant to accept it in the end. So it comes that Mei-Lin and Tamche embark on a journey through the Tibetan highlands, during which Tamche learns a lot about them and their tragic past. When they reach the location Tamches, the latter falls not far through a hidden opening into a cave in which something is found that arouses an unexpected and incomprehensible emotion. Although the memories are still hidden, the incident in the cave and the journey itself seem to have changed something in the relationship between Tamche and Mei-Lin. But on the way back to Shigatse, they meet a person who is of great importance to both Tamche’s future and Mei-Lin’s past.

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Why the differences?

I should have already mentioned the main reasons in the first article. Transfer from game to book, historical context, less fantasy and magic, no time lapse or time jumps from act 3, etc. For me, the game here has a plothole that I can hopefully handle with my plot. In the game we wake up in Lhasa, as complete strangers help a man bring his underage granddaughter to her senses, only to then travel west for no real reason, where we spontaneously walk into a throne room, where the game kindly takes us back into the action.

But there are also reasons that are not immediately apparent. On the one hand, Louran’s fate is too similar to Stockholm, but what is even more important is that we will not return to Asia later and therefore I would like to consider the character of Wong and his contribution to the main story at an early stage. Mei-Lin’s childhood and the processing of her loss is already behind us. We meet her as young adults and witness the complicated relationship that develops between her and Ark. In the further course of the plot, she will not pursue us to France, ambush us in Swedish forests and certainly not deceive us in a dungeon in Spain.

Even Lhasa and Lord Kumari are a good reason. The game-Lhasa doesn’t quite fit the real Lhsasa and a Lord Kumari doesn’t have much to do with the Dalai Lama either. Treating him and Lhasa correctly in the historical context also turns out to be not entirely trivial. Therefore, with all due respect for the position of Penchen Lama, I have found a wonderful, less prominent alternative in Shigatse, in which our Ark and its adventure could at least be better imagined for me.

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Sources of inspiration and research

As described in the article on the Spain section, I enjoy the inspiration and research for which I use books, films and, if possible, video games. In the case of Tibet, I looked at one or the other documentation and read the books by Heinrich Harrer (seven years in Tibet), James Hilton (The Lost Horizon) and Markus Braun (the last Buddah) or Hermann Hesse (Siddhartha), even if the last mentioned was read long before the Tibet section was written. For the video games, Nepal in the form of Far Cry 4 was used as a rough source of inspiration. It is always a great pleasure when I can combine the hobbies of video games and the Terranigma book and pay even more attention to the many small details that might have been lost with normal gameplay.

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Extract from a Terraeterno chapter:

The small cauldron wobbles threateningly and spews fine steam up into the air. Yangchen quickly extinguishes the fire and carefully places the kettle on a free space. He now inspects the contents of a few small cloth bags and between his delicate fingers he grinds some of the tea leaves that he holds in front of his nose, bag by bag. The knock on the door was so unexpected that he clumsily dropped the last bag and all of its contents were scattered on the floor. A loud cursing penetrates the door outside and when Yangchen finally opens it, a very frightened-looking Tamche stands in front of him.

“Yangchen … was that your voice just now?” And without knowing what happens to him, Yangchen, still in old age, turns red for the second time in his life. The first time was already 60 years ago, which he still kept a secret about.

“Ahh Tamche, you have to forgive me but the whole day is …” and in the middle of his sentence he kneels and begins to pick up the tea leaves, while he conscientiously recites one or two mantras. “Wait, let me help you,” says Tamche and carefully collects the leaves in his immediate vicinity.

“I would have thought that only butter tea is drunk here in Shigatse”, Tamche remarks casually.

“You’re not wrong about that either, but you can’t get rid of old habits completely.”

“Are they all from your time in China?”

“No, where are you thinking. Such a good tea is there to be drunk and not to collect dust on a shelf. I buy it from the traders who are coming from India and are moving towards Lhasa and stopping here. Incidentally, the dealers themselves come from Bhutan. I tell you, the world has changed a lot.”

After each of the larger leaves has returned to the bag, Yangchen returns to his tea kettle and is pleased to note that smoke is still rising from it.

“I would invite you to join me with a good sip of tea, but we both know that it is not me who takes you to my house. Especially since the butter tea in Trashilhünpo tastes great.”

“I think I still haven’t got used to the taste.”

“But you keep that for yourself: neither do I and I’ve been drinking their tea since I still had my full hair on my head.”

“Is there a connection?” Asks Tamche.

“There really is no doubt about that”, replies Yangchen and bursts out laughing. “Ahhh, I shouldn’t be doing this, where is my prayer wheel when I need it?”

“Is she here?”

“My wheel?”

“Mei-Lin.”

“Ah of course. The reason you refuse my delicious tea. She leaves the house early in the morning and only comes back at night. I wish I could help you, but if she doesn’t want to be found, no one will find her either. From an early age she is trained to hide from the people around her.”

“It’s all my fault. I have to apologize to you too. You saved me and took me in here against the will of many and everything I bring towards you are even more problems.”

“Is that how you see it? You worry too much. A burden of youth.”

“Mei-Lin sees it that way too.”

“You young people are too impulsive. When you hurt yourself, you only know the extremes and take the short, direct route, even if it leads you astray. You say what you don’t feel and feel what you don’t say. Wong has returned. That man who took everything from her that she loved and was dear to her. He almost killed you. All she has felt since then has been pain, heartache, and defeat. When he took her parents’ life, he also took hers.”

“So what should I do?”

“Show her that life is still worth living and that moments of happiness are not lost forever.”

“I wish I knew how. What can I do? Find Wong and hunt him down? Would that change anything?”

“No, it wouldn’t. For the last ten years she has lived in a world without Wong and yet … “explains Yangchen, followed by a heavy sigh. He pats Tamche on the shoulder. “I think you know what to do. Talk to her, not me. But now finally have a cup of tea with me or run away. After all, an old man needs his rest.”

“Thank you”, says Tamche goodbye, leaving Yangchen behind with his well-traveled flavors.

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Yangchen & Mei-Lin

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