: That certainly wasn't very respectful, Tosh. Gogen, don't take it personally. Tosh is just...unmannered.
: Not to worry, Kukuru. I've seen his type before. Remember, I'm thousands of years old! Hee, hee, hee...
: I'm ready, Gogen. Let's put the stones together.
: All right, then. Here we go. Let's see where the stones lead us...
: Hmmm. I've heard mention of that. I believe it was when I was very young. It's quite a journey from here. We'd best get started.
We then discover that Arc is a liar and Zariban is actually right next to Niedel. Not to mention they're in an airship and therefore any journey would be reletively short. But Arc refuses to think even for a moment of real RPG heroes, who walk all across the world without questioning their reason for doing so. Instead, Arc chooses the easy route, refusing to walk any more than necessary, flying directly from building to building without any side exploration, riding first class and sipping cocktails as he casually flirts with Kukuru and occasionally Tosh. Well, rather than giving him what he wants I make him stay at Chongara's shop for a bit. Hopefully it will make him think of people who don't have as much as he does, people who lack free airships of their own because they live in a world where they actually have to spend money on things. At least in the worlds that contain money for them to spend.
: Eh? It is very handsome brute, eh?
: Hey, is everybody else seeing this? I mean...two Chongaras?
: It is Odon, yes? Yes, Odon, you funny, funny thing. Out of my house, funnyman.
: Ahhh heh, heh, heh, heh, heh, heh. I could be doing the show business. I am killing myself to pieces. Hah!
: All right, then, back to business.
Now we've got Odon in Chongara's group of possible summons. You can probably guess what his skill is, but in case you can't, we'll be getting to it shortly.
Speaking of summons, I should correct an error made earlier. Syrg said something about how your summon is gone if it dies, but that's not true. If your summon runs out of HP, although methods used to ressurrect your other party members won't work, Chongara can just summon them again and they'll be back with full HP. This really extends the idea that Chongara is the only character with access to these things, so as useless as he is otherwise you kind of have to keep him alive if you like the summons.
: Yes...how did you know?
: I am of the Saryu Tribe, and I welcome you to the land of the Water Guardian.
: Yoshua asked me to accompany you to our village.
: ...! My...my father?
: Yes. Your father anticipated your arrivaland has made preparations for your safety and comfort.
Well this country looks like a crap stain.
Reminds me of a slice of colon, as seen from the side.
: This is the very first place settled by our ancestors from the Azenda Highland.
: Tribal legend tells us they settled in this valley for its fertile land and abundant water.
: But...it's nothing but arid desert as far as the eye can see. How did the land change so much since then?
: I will tell you. Did you see the large structure in the distance as you arrived at the skyport?
: Mmm. Chongara remembers building. Big. Very big. What was that?
: The structure is a mining plant that processes energy stones.
: The stones it processes are the primary source of power for most of our world.
Ah, so this is not just fantasy. It is, in reality, steampunk. Nice mid-game genre switch!
More like a mid-game SERIES switch. We just walked into FF7! Energy stones? Mining plants of questionable environmentalism? Yeah, all we need is a black dude with a gun arm and three or so Arc clones.
: It began nearly 1,000 years ago when a merchant from Romalia happened across an energy stone in this valley.
: From that singular discovery he built an industry that eventually supplied all industrialized areas of this world.
: The stones brought prosperity beyond all dreams, but a heavy price was soon exacted.
: The overly zealous mining of the land laid everything you see to waste. Nature itself suffered a wound that some say was mortal.
: As the land suffered, the ground itself dried up, turning to desert as far as the eye can see.
Is this game trying to tell us something? I think it's trying to tell us something.
I wasn't kidding, you know.
: Now it is all we can do to grow enough grain to feed our dwindling population.
: And our ruler, who is descended from that merchant of long ago, seems to care not that we suffer.
: It's almost too terrible to be true.
: Bah! Enough of this grim talk. I did not mean for your arrival to be such a sad affair.
: Come! We have much to discuss. The Elder wishes to speak with you...
It took seven and a half hours, but something interesting finally happened!
: What kind of person would carry out an act of genocide like this?
: We must spread out and search for any survivors!
Blood Skeleton: Ugahh haahhghah uhhf!
Minotaur: Excellent. Kasadoll is waiting for them. Let's go.
: Hold it!
Minotaur: What do we have here? A boy unscathed by our little party favor?
: How can you speak of the horror you unleashed like that? You killed an entire village. Their blood is on YOUR head!
Minotaur: Hah! Even better! Our refugee is a ball of furious anger! Well now, BOY, what do you intend to do?
: I intend to make you pay for what you've done here. My blade shall exact payment for your act, PIG!
This battle is a HUGE leap up from the last one, as I unfortunately discovered. Whereas the last battle could easily be beaten with level 20 characters (and one overpowered one), Chongara's monster scans suggest that my party was expected to be closer to level 30 at this point. I guess they expected me to be overwhelmed by the sidequest orgy they had provided for me at that point, because we haven't been given any actual normal level-building spots since the swamps, which is more appropriate for level 7-12 characters. I'm not about to put up with that nonsense though, so I stood up to the challenge.
I had no issues here. Arc slaughtered everyone, with Poco on healing.
Enemies basically aren't taking damage from physical attacks except from Tosh; fortunately, we're up to our asses in spells. Nothing really new to showcase, though... Oh yeah, except for our new party member.
Odon actually packs a decent punch, even though he's only level twenty. In case that's not good enough for us, though, we're given access to a new gimmicky ability, like the rest of Chongara's summons.
Yes, Odon is actually a Ditto in disguise. I'm assuming that turning into a bright red version of someone, aside from being really creepy-looking, alters stats somewhat.
I kind of have to assume that because Odon doesn't get any new skills from it. I suppose it could be purely cosmetic, but that seems like kind of a rip-off. I'll look into it more later.
He can't gain ally abilities, but if he mimics a monster, he can pick up one or two attacks from them.
This map, aside from the big blue thing and five blood skeletons, contains a souped-up version of the immobile plant, and these start multiplying like CRAZY while you're dealing with the enemies that pose an immediate threat. This is actually a good oppurtunity to level-build if you're patient, because each time they split, their HP gets halved; ideally, you could just wait until there's dozens you can take out in one hit.
I milk this so hard you have no idea.
Then you can get someone with a good spell to destroy all of them at once, since they'll be grouped together in one spot.
The problem they pose is that, once again, you HAVE to get them in one hit, or they'll annihilate you.
We take this calmer moment to practice Gogen's teleport spell.
If you level this up, Gogen will be able to take other party members with him, and Arc will never have to walk again. Lazy bastard.
Many died during this battle, but it was rather fruitful in terms of profits.
Elder: Unh...ungh...Is this the one of whom Yoshua spoke?
: Yes. This is Arc of Touvil.
: It is best that you save your strength...we can talk later.
Gee, thanks for the RPG death knell, Arc. At least now we don't have to feed him.
They couldn't come up with a decent minigame. "Catch the fast catcus" seems a little weird.
Elder: N...no. My time is short. Listen...
Elder: Our tribe has been left behind...lost in time. Forgotten.
Elder: If we are forgotten and wither away, the world will not mourn our passing.
Elder: However, the Guardians that guide our world have been wounded and forgotten by the world of man.
Elder: Their pain is deeply felt in all nature...it is a pain that affects us as well.
Elder: Yoshua said you were the last hope for the future. I look into your eyes and see it, as well.
Elder: You mustn't let this world slip away. Do whatever is necessary to save that we all once held so dear before it is lost forever.
Elder: Here...I have no aid to offer you but this. I pray it serves you we..ll. Unghhhh...
Received the Elder's Charm!
Elder: Unghh...that bastard, Kasadoll, seeks to possess the Water Shrine.
Elder: He mustn't be allowed to harm the Water Guar...Unghhh...
Hey, an honest-to-god moment of silence without any "..."
: Who is this Kasadoll?
: He is the General of Zariban. A man far more brutal than any monster...I shall not rest until he's paid for this!
: If that's true, the Water Guardian is in danger. Arc, we'd better hurry!
: It seems as though everywhere I turn, tragedy strikes. Do I truly have the power to save this land?
Not really. We're still underleveled for the next segment. But I've put this update off long enough, so we're pushing onwards.
: Trouble? You lay scores of innocent people to waste and gouge life from the land itself and WE'RE trouble?
: Hrmph. It is nothing more than a matter of perspective, my sweet adversary.
: I simply take what is ours and dispose of the valueless waste others of lesser fortitude cling to. It's a gift, really.
: Your lack of regard for human life sickens me. Here is where your bloodletting ends.
: Oh! Hah hah hah! What an amusing delusion! Perhaps one day you'll be strong enough to best me...but not today.
: If you tree-hugging fanatics manage to best my beastly guards, perhaps I'll grant you an opportunity for revenge.
: However, the unfortunate truth is that the most-likely outcome of your next encounter is abject humiliation, followed by a painful death.
: Enjoy the fight, kiddies. I have more important matters to attend to than watching you die...
Okay let's see what terrible monsters he
TOSH GET YOUR ASS OUT HERE NOW
Okay, with Koei-Zen he can take bugs out in one hit now. But what about the large one?
Not bad. Unfortunately, this thing has over 400 HP. It also has some sort of surrounding explosive spell that I forgot to screenshot. However, once it gets down to a matter of seven-on-one it's not too bad of a fight... it just takes a while. If you're bored, you can have Odon copy it so you have TWO massive bugs on the field.
Tosh appropriately lands the final blow and the thing burns up shortly after landing.
: I think it came out of the monster's belly...or thorax, or whatever you call it.
: This...wow! This is an Atrophy Horn! I can't believe I found one of these!
: That scary beast must have swallowed the horn! What a stroke of luck! This will be a BIG help!
Poco is orgasming with good reason: This is the first and only instrument that acts as a normal area-of-effect attack magic spell. He's been limited to the useful but linear Lion Drum up to this point. I forgot to use it in the following battle somehow, but we'll be getting to see it eventually, don't you worry.
It's fuck-ing BAAAAD-ASSSSSS...
Sorry. I have "Thiiiiis is a cassstle..." stuck in my head.
: I need no reason to kill you, just like I needed no reason to decimate that worthless village.
: However, it just so happens that in this case, the village was destroyed for a reason.
: Those stinking, filthy desert rats possessed the Water Shrine key...and I needed it.
: You have not changed my mind in the least. You are a bloodthirsty tyrant deserving only of death!
Apparently Arc was expecting a delightful rebuttal where Kasadoll explained why he had a good and moral reason for destroying an entire city.
: What? Hmmm? All I hear is the annoying buzz, buzz, buzz of a persistent sand gnat!
: And, the time has come to deal with this little annoyance, once and for all!
I guess it would be unthinkable for Arc to battle some actual HUMAN BEINGS. The argument coming from the Guardians/Yoshua/Elder/Arc/everyone else about how humans are so evil kind of loses its basis when most of the humans doing bad things are actually monsters in disguise.
But don't you see? MAN IS THE MONSTER oh wait no he isn't the undead are
Here's what we have to deal with. A bunch of nonsense, basically. Everyone piles up on that central platform.
Here's a spell of Gogen's that's only useful in very specific situations, the Heat Wall. Kind of the opposite of what the floor-making mofly does, it creates a wall to block/hinder any incoming enemies. Apparently you can also throw a bomb into one to cause some chaos.
The necromancers are ahead of Gogen and already have a thunderstorm spell that extends two tiles away from the center. It's bad news for our team members, particularly in such a cramped space. Two hits in a row will kill any party members that don't have a healthy magic stat, like Tosh. (Others, like Poco or Gogen, can take as little as zero damage.)
He's fuck-ing BAAAAD-ASSSS...
The enemies are in an even more cramped position than our heroes, though, so Gogen can still deal some pain with his five-tile thunderstorm. In fact, he manages to take out four necromancers at once with it; a huge advantage for the party.
Arc and Poco help out, too, but ultimately we're down to three members by the time all the major trouble-makers have been taken care of:
Arc actually dies by the time we're down to just the golem at the end, and
Like Tosh, it is both beautiful and deadly.
It's filled with CANDY!!!
: Ahhh...it's so cool. Doesn't it feel good in here?
: It's as if the mercy of the Water Guardian is caressing us.
Water Guardian: Who has come before me? What purpose fills your heart?
It's a good thing he appeared when he did. I think Kukuru was about to disrobe or something.
He looks like a slime. I love that.
Water Guardian: I am indeed the Water Guardian. I have existed for ages, and it is rare that those above visit me.
"'Scuse me while I take a hit. When you do this for an eternity you work up a pretty heavy addiction."
Water Guardian: The humans on the surface harm the land and pollute the water with no regard for the future.
Water Guardian: The lands above were once teeming with life and overflowing with copious cool, clean water.
The Water Guardian continues to suck on whatever that substance is there in between snippets of his environmentalist speech. Obviously he's a hippie so he must genuinely care on some level, but I think the major reason he's giving this speech at all is because it's required of all the Guardians, and really it's the most he can do to read the cue cards without falling unconscious and having dreams about giant pink frogs playing Disney Trivial Pursuit.
Water Guardian: Now the whole world teeters on the brink of disaster, and all because you humans failed to listen to the land.
: Not all humans are blind and deaf to the problems. We are here to try to save this world before it's too late.
Water Guardian: Then I shall bestow upon you a gift in the hope that you truly can change our dangerous course.
Water Guardian: You must go now, but do not forget the task at hand. If you fail, this world is doomed to perish.
Water Guardian: In return for my generous gifts, I would ask only that you use your skill to lessen the presence of evil on the land above.
Water Guardian: If you could destroy even 10 monsters from this country, I would appreciate it very much.
After the long dry spell of level-building spots, we now have no less than THREE new ones to go to. As the Water Guardian insinuated, we can destroy monsters in these lands specifically and then return to the Water Guardian when we've destroyed enough to get a gift of some sort; there's some pretty cool ones and I need the level-building anyway, so I'd like to get them, but the fact that Fu-jin is a higher level than anyone in my party says something about the average level of monsters here. Let's get back to the arena and start slow before heading back here. But first, we might as well see where our next target is.
: Well, this is the last time we'll have to do this. One more stone and we'll have them all.
: Gogen, let's find out where this one will take us.
: Then hold your stone close, for one stone leads us to the next...
How the fuck did you miss it while it was down there, anyway? You only broke into the damn dungeons.
Up next on Arc the Lad: Lucyyyy! You got some 'splainin to do!