Part 14: Highland Hijinks
Welcome back. Last time on Exit Fate, we received a letter from the governor of Highland, Banhk, asking us to come and meet him. Since we don't have any other pressing duties at the moment, there's no better time than now to head through the western mountains and see what's on the other side. So let's get to it.
Aside from Ayara, who is already forced to be in the party, the will of the goons decreed that Outsider, Midian, Yan Angwa and Joe would be joining us.
We also don't need anyone in particular to be in the entourage at the moment, so I decided that we'd take along Royston ( ) and Mike as well.
Before we head out, though, there's a few things to be done.
First of all, I give enough Stone Amulets to Yan Angwa and Daniel to bring their MP+ ratings to 11.
Next up, I stop by the Credence market and load up on some spells. Since both of our mages are dark-aligned, we're going to be casting a shitton of Shadowcast, so I buy enough copies to bring our total up to six. I also grab a few more Mends while I'm at it, bringing us to 10.
I also make a quick stop in Matrech to boost Outsider's accuracy as much as I can. Even if the boost is miniscule, every point of ACC is a godsend for him.
Also, it's been two months since we saw him last, so why don't we stop by Myst's place and see how that whole raising-the-dead thing is going?
Both experiments four and five failed, but I've finally found the fatal error in my procedure! Now nothing can stop me!
Music: Darkness - Chrono Cross, "Dragon's Prayer"
Dead man number six! Listen to my command! Reclaim your lost soul and return to life!
Now I'll have to find that eccentric fellow in Mayfall City again...
Well, that was productive. One of the other things I haven't pointed out yet is that there's also a wall and this small gate to the south of Myst's house.
The gate leads to the Oischin Forest...
... but we're not allowed through yet.
Anyway, it's time to head back through the Western Pass.
Music: Mountain - Final Fantasy VII, "Tifa's Theme"
These guys are hanging around the gate, but they're willing to let us through. Up until now they'd block the way saying that the situation in Highland was still too unstable.
So, just like we had to do with the Mayfall Forest, we need to make another run through this place.
If you want a sense of how most of the battles in the area went, well, just look at the above images.
Before we leave the area, however, I make sure to steal a piece of Brown Clay from this Hermit enemy here. It takes a long time, as you can see from everyone's MP totals.
The Brown Clay is another item that's going to sit in the Special section of our inventory for awhile. What's it used for?
There's nobody waiting for us at the gate this time, so we can just waltz on through into Highland.
Music: Zelmony - Final Fantasy Tactics, "A Chapel"
And we find ourselves back on the world map. Our destination, as Carson told us last update, is the capital of Bergstadt in the southwest. But Highland consists of more than just a single city, and there's several places here that we can visit. So let's explore a bit first, shall we?
Our first destination is to the north. Unlike pretty much every place we've visited so far, things in Highland are actually fairly spread out. So for once, we'll be spending a significant amount of time on the world map.
Hill Orcs are fairly common enemies in Highland, but we've long since passed them being a threat to us. The Minotaur up front is new, however, and can actually do some damage.
It's still not too dangerous, though.
Anyway, it's not long before we reach a coastal city.
Music: Ansee - Chrono Cross, "Ephemeral Memory"
Ansee is a fairly uninteresting city, but it's a port, which means that by visiting it we've unlocked it as a destination for Sally. Speaking of which, Sally appears to have somehow beaten us here and is willing to take us back to the castle if we so desire.
There's also this snippy lady at the docks.
I won't accept this, you know! As soon as you've taken me to Helman Island I demand to speak to your boss! ... Huh? You're not the ferryman? What are you approaching me for, then!? Get out of my sight! I'm in a very bad mood right now!
The item shop in Ansee is of note because it sells Stone Amulets. We've got enough for our purposes though.
Way to ruin your kid's dreams, buddy.
Elsewhere, we catch sight of a guy who appears to be sleeping, but there doesn't seem to be any direct way to reach him.
If we head around the back of the house, there's a hidden door we can use.
The house contains a chest which holds another copy of Splash, which is always nice.
The southern door leads to the sleeping guy, but he won't do anything except snore if we approach him.
Further to the north, we find-- wait a second...
Is that...? No, it couldn't be...
Holy shit! It is!
It's motherfucking Johnny Fiveaces! Apparently the Zybourne Clock does more than travel through time, it can also send people to new universes entirely. Unfortunately, Johnny has nothing to say to us right now apart from that he's flat broke. We'll just have to talk to him later.
Music: Zelmony - Final Fantasy Tactics, "A Chapel"
In any case, that's about all there is to do in Ansee at the moment. It's time to see what else is around here.
This time, we head south from the pass and west, and we come across a mountain range that suddenly gives us flashbacks to a certain FUCKHEAD who ruined an entire battle for us.
That's right, we've found Grunthall.
Music: Grunthall - Xenogears, "The Sky, The Clouds, And You"
A lot of people in town are talking about the Highland rebels.
There's also a mine here, which we can enter if we want.
There's nothing inside except a broken elevator, though.
In the western part of town we find an item shop run by someone with an actual portrait.
His selection is okay, but when we leave...
I ordered all this great stuff from overseas, but I've been waiting for ages for it to get here. Well, whatever happens, happens.
Though this seems rather unassuming, this is actually the start of a small sidequest. Remember that sleeping guy in Ansee?
You know, this guy. Well, if we go to talk to him now...
Damn! I fell asleep again! I'm way behind schedule! Huh? An order for a Mr. Bartolli in Grunthall? Let me check...
That wasn't so hard.
Okay I'm pretty sure this is beyond laziness and into narcolepsy territory. You might want to get that checked out.
Anyway, we trek back over to Grunthall and hand over Bartolli's supplies.
Hey, this is the stuff I ordered! Wow, where did you get it? Ah, forget it. I owe you one, man. You want anything from me, just let me know.
Fade to black...
So you want an item store at your castle? I'm your man. I'll get packing right away.
While he's definitely a rad dude, Bartolli is another party member who definitely should never be seeing actual combat. Every single one of his stats is just... eh. Nothing stands out as particularly good.
His weapon of choice is a
His actual use is that having him in the party opens up an item shop in Elysium Castle, next to the meeting hall.
His selection consists of every single accessory we can currently buy from stores. This auto-updates, too, which means we'll always be able to get the most current equipment by stopping in.
Now then, we've seen all there is to see in Highland. It's time to head over to Bergstadt.
Before we can do that, however, a fucking ogre shows up and hits Ayara for more than half her health before I remember that I have a screenshot key.
Ogres are giant sacks of HP and can two-shot anyone with their regular attack.
They also will occasionally use Shockwave, which seems to hit targets in a plus pattern, but I can't say for sure since he only used it against Outsider and Joe.
He used it so much that Joe eventually went down, our first KO of the Let's Play.
We take him out, though, and Joe gets right back up and gains experience as though nothing happened.
Directly south from Grunthall, we find Bergstadt.
Music: Bergstadt - Final Fantasy VII, "Mining Town"
Thanks to the portrait I can't help but imagine this guy yelling everything he says. YOU MUST BE COLONEL VINYARD!
That's me. Were you already expecting me?
Of course! I'm here to take you to see the governor.
Ah, I see. I don't know my way around here, so I appreciate it.
Someone will be here in a moment to take your companions to a waiting room.
What!? We can't come with the colonel?
It's all right, Ayara. I won't need an escort past here.
We'll take good care of you until the colonel is finished.
O... Okay, sir.
Take me to the governor.
Er... aren't you supposed to be leading me around? How am I supposed to find my way to the governor's residence if you're standing behind me?
Music: Brunhild - Final Fantasy VIII, "Find Your Way"
By the way... do you know where Gudrun is? I haven't seen her around anywhere.
General Gudrun and General Tarlia went to the western plains for a training mission. They should return in five days.
Training? Again? She had just returned from another mission when I left. She may be putting too much strain on her men... Still, it may be necessary. Well, I must pass through now.
Of course, my lady. Please go inside.
There was no need to worry. I haven't been in any danger.
No danger? You put yourself at great risk trying to meet him in person. The fact that you encountered no trouble was merely luck.
Perhaps it was fate?
Enough, Brunhild. Do not take your destiny so lightly. Tell me, what are your findings? I hope your journey wasn't for nothing.
A strong enough trigger can break the grip. Even so, no direct access is possible. It is probably a completely random effect.
In any case, the restrictions are clear. Somehow, it considers you an unwanted presence. Your further involvement may have unexpected effects.
You still desire to go against its will?
Its will is absolute, but we have the ability to shape its path.
I wonder... Regardless, everything is going more or less as we expected. No interference should be necessary for now.
Then we shall use this time to prepare the next step.
Back with Daniel...
Well, this is a fine mess we've gotten ourselves into.
Ayara... You were captured too?
I apologize. We let our guard down.
I can't criticize you. I completely fell for it as well. I wonder what'll happen to us now...
We're briefly given control here, and we can talk to our party members to get their opinions on the situation.
Please forgive me, sir! I failed to protect you!
Great work, commander.
Pathetic. I wanted to see how you'd deal with the situation, but I should've taken care of it myself.
Heh, tough luck.
Always keep your eyes open, young man.
Oh my! What a dismal place.
I try to talk to Outsider as well, but as soon as I approach him, something else gets Daniel's attention.
I can't believe that you'd come up with something this... stupid!
Calm down, Joshua!
But we can't survive by only relying on our ideals. If we want to make a difference, we have to be practical. Don't you realize that it's the same reason we're fighting? It's not because we want to.
That's different! Ugh! I don't believe this! It's different and you know it! Everyone here believes in the same thing! That's what makes us strong!
Now go, I need to speak to him alone.
It's never going to work.
Fade to black...
I knew that you'd fall for this. Even though you took part in the battle for Grunthall, you're still an outsider. You don't understand the situation here in Highland. No one else would've been so careless around here.
So this was all a trap? The invitation was a forgery to lure me here?
An invitation like this is passed through multiple people before it even leaves Highland. It was very easy to intercept. All you have to do is bribe the right person. If you think the rebel movement can't do anything but fight, you're wrong. We have access to information within the Highland government itself.
You still went through a lot of effort to capture me. So, am I your hostage now?
That's all up to you.
What other business could you have with me? I'm just an outsider, like you said.
Because you don't want to be part of the State Union, right? You want independence.
You've probably heard the Matrech Guard's side of the story. They keep blabbering on about preserving order within the State Union, but they're ignoring the real issues. Do you know why Highland is valued so much by the rest of Zelmony? Because of our resources. That's the whole reason. We are being exploited for the profit of Matrech. It's not about independence. It's about fairness.
So what? What does that mean to us? This war against Kirgard, how does it affect us? We're shielded by the landscape. In all its history, Highland has never been conquered by an enemy force. We have nothing to fear from them.
Can you really be so sure about that? If Zelmony falls, Kirgard will not leave you be so easily. The resources you mentioned will be too tempting.
Even if they attack, we will give our lives to defend this land. At least that way we won't be seen as traitors for fighting against oppression.
Do you really believe you're being oppressed? I've met the chancellor. He's far from a tyrant. He has the best interest of his people in mind.
The truth is that Highland is controlled by greedy scum who placate the Zelmony leadership with the wealth they stole from the people. That's the real problem. The corruption goes all the way up to the governor's office. Ever since Banhk came to power, it's only been getting worse. If the State Union refuses to deal with this, they're just as guilty. We have no choice but to rise up.
So that's the real reason you're fighting. But is there any evidence of the governor's corruption? I don't believe that Captain Erin would protect a man like that.
Even if she wanted to, it's nearly impossible to replace a governor unless anything really serious is brought to light. Besides, he has many powerful supporters here and in Matrech.
His father was one of my closest friends. He was a smart businessman who made a small fortune from the iron ore trade. His business was profitable. And because of that, others tried to profit from it as well. Officials demanded all sorts of fees. Shipments would vanish, or get held up until certain people were paid enough. Complaining to the authorities was useless. Those who weren't corrupt themselves were afraid of stepping on the wrong people's toes. So we banded together and tried to do something about it, trying to expose a local army captain who caused most of our trouble.
His business was torn apart by those greedy bastards, leaving his wife and son with nothing.
What are you saying!?
You're an idealist too, aren't you? You have no ties to Matrech. You only came here because you wanted to stop the fighting. But is this the State Union you want to defend? You've lived in Kirgard all your life. Are they really any worse? Join forces with me, and we can overthrow the governor of Highland and take control of the state. Zelmony will not recover from that blow. They'll crumble as soon as Kirgard launches their attack. With your help, we can raise enough of a defense to stop Kirgard at our border. Then there will be the peace you want so much! Kirgard will have the land it wants, and Highland will be a free state. Your fighting against them is only making this war longer than necessary, and causing more deaths in the process!
If we don't resist when someone comes in and tries to take all our land, it'll never stop! Not at Zelmony, and not at Highland!
So... you've realized it by now, haven't you? That you keep clinging on to your old ideals even when the situation changes. The State Union is rotten, and you help no one in the long run by defending it.
All right, I'll make you an offer.
I can't do that, Daniel. The resistance will fall apart if we stop fighting now. Our enemies won't give us time to rest.
Then you're the same as me, aren't you?
Some time later...
I'll follow you no matter what you do, sir. Please remember that.
Thank you Ayara, but I won't go along with this. Our primary concern is getting out of here.
(Yes? Who are you?)
(I can't stay long. I infiltrated the rebel forces for the State Army. I heard you were captured and came here immediately. Take this.)
(Don't leave yet. Wait about an hour so me being here now won't seem suspicious.)
(Thank you, I'll do that.)
Next time: Tonight there's gonna be a jailbreak.