Part 9: Update VIII: An Alchemist and her Sister
Our first Assignment in the second year is pretty unremarkable. There's nothing really special or gimmicky about it, so as long as your alchemy level isn't lagging (good level to be around is level 20 or so), there shouldn't be any problem with completing this one. The good news about this Assignment is if you got all that Cabbage from the Festival, you can put those toward making the Tonics. With the highest quality Cabbage you picked up, you can make some great Tonics with a minimum of effort. The bad news is that it's very important if you're going for all the endings to get at least 8 stars on this Assignment. It'll be easier to explain when the relevant scene happens, of course, but just trust me and get at least 8 stars if you're going for all the endings. Thankfully this is the only Assignment where this weird little qualification happens. The very good news about this Assignment is that this is the definite point when the game starts opening up quite a bit. No matter what you're going for, there is a lot to do in this one.
I'd like to dedicate this update to my very first Rorona save file, tragically overwritten between last update and this one in a fit of sleepiness and carelessness. Almost 11 days worth of gameplay over 20+ playthroughs, lost to the ether, not to mention all that money. The money problem won't stop us from getting the Rich Ending, as more and more I'm grateful someone figured out how to trick this game into giving you high-value jobs. I'll be cheating a little in this update, because of a the scenes in this update and next (such as the Cordelia and Sterk scene), I saw over the course of getting back to the point when the overwrite happened. I'll still present them as if I saw them during this Assignment, just for a minimum of confusion. Well, it's time to roll out.
This scene happens just after the Assignment begins.
*sigh* This past year went by so fast... I didn't know what was gonna happen when Master forced me to take over the workshop...
No, Rorona! This isn't over yet! Don't let your guard down! I should get started on the next assignment. Go me!
It's been a year already, huh? I didn't think she would last this long. If she's able to last all of the way till the end...
...Oh well, I'll think about that when the time is right.
This is our first little glimpse at what I think is the major theme of this trilogy, the passing on of skills and teaching from the teacher to the student. It's a major theme in all three games, with Rorona dealing with Astrid and Rorona, Totori dealing with Rorona and Totori, and Meruru dealing with Totori to Meruru, although this is to a lesser extent than the other two.
It's the one theme I think these games tackle completely seriously, since most of the most poignant scenes in these games concern the teacher and her student. It all leads up to what I think which ending is the most appropriate ending to end the trilogy on, but that is a story for another day.
*fade to black*
Hey! Are you listening to me!?
...My name is Sterkenburg. I would appreciate it if you would call me by that.
I don't care what your name is! I'm asking for an explanation here!
Could you at least tell me what you're talking about? I'm not sure what kind of explanation you need.
Don't act like you don't know! I'm talking about the workshop! It's been a year already! Why hasn't it closed down yet!?
Please, watch how you phrase that. We're not trying to close the workshop down. We're evaluating their abilities.
We're losing out on profit that we could be generating!
I'm sure the workshop will make up for that lost profit in the future.
Oh yeah? Your opinion sounds a bit biased to me.
As a knight, I'm always working to fulfill our King's intentions. I have nothing to be ashamed of.
Unfortunately, another characteristic of this Assignment is that Meredith is going to be pestering us with his mild villainy over a few minor events. These range from "Mildly annoying" to "Harmless", but we'll have the chance for a little more Rorona stupidity, so there's that.
...I don't know what you're planning, but depending on the legality of it, I may have to interfere.
What an insufferable knight...
...As long as Astrid's there, I'm sure she'll take care of any problems... On second thought, she might just make things worse. Hopefully, there won't be any trouble...
This next scene happens very soon after the Assignment begins. Video goes until Rorona says "Ughh...you're so mean!"
Have you ever even heard of it? It's that ruin near town that looks like a graveyard.
Ohh, that place is called The Catacombs? I haven't gone there. It's too creepy.
You can actually find many rare items there. Like ingredients with spiritual powers that are especially valuable to alchemists. You should try going.
Hmm... I really should... But I'm kinda scared...
Rorona's aping Scooby-Doo here, but it's not like we haven't run into whole legions of ghosts before in the Mines. At least those ghosts had nice hats, though.
Yeah. Rumor has it, they're super violent. Many wanderers have apparently been eaten by them...
Ahh! Stop! You know I'm not good with that kind of stuff!
You don't sound convincing at all! Well guess what? I'm not gonna go there anymore!
So you don't want the ingredients that can only be found there? That's too bad.
Anyhow, it's up to you. But if you do decide to go, I can't guarantee your safety...
I said that's enough! Ughh...you're so mean!
So after this scene, we can visit The Catacombs, just like that. The Catacombs do have some pretty valuable materials in them, as well as easily-acquired ingredients for the next tier of cloth items. That said, if you want to get a headstart on a rather long series of events, you should make a small trip there for a very specific scene that happens about three sub-maps in.
This next scene has a pretty generous window, dating all the way to the beginning of the fourth Assignment, and is reliant on Cordelia's friendship level being 25 or more. Video goes until Rorona says " I wonder what's going on...?"
Rorona can't hang out with you because she's too busy, huh? That's too bad.
I wasn't expecting her to, anyway. I just stopped by to say hi.
Uh huh, sure.
Wipe that creepy smile off your face.
...Oh, actually, I wanted to ask you something.
Me? What could that be?
Why did you take Rorona as your pupil?
...That was supposed to be a serious question.
And I gave you a serious answer. That was at least 60% of the reason.
You know, I'll freely admit this is the exact same reason I decided to look into this game. I remember I saw the Japanese boxart for this game on some website quite a while ago, and I thought the artstyle of it and everything looked pretty cute. I remember thinking "Hm, this looks like a cute game. I hope it makes it overseas". Come January 2011 and I started playing it, I ended up having a lot more fun with it than I thought I would, so I decided I'd definitely be getting the sequels. And now, here I am, playing this game for the Internet.
So, what's the other 40%?
I said be serious!
And I said, I am answering you seriously. If you don't like the term dumb, then replace it with talented. Although, that's such a cheesy word.
How can being dumb be somebody's talent?
Hmm, how can I explain this...?
Sadly, there are no monkeys, or even monkey-like enemies in these games. Weird.
That's a weird title...
It's just an example. So, do you think you'd be able to use the magic spells if you read that book?
Um...sure. If monkeys can do it, then I should be able to do it also, right?
Do you really think so?
Well...if that book does exist, I wouldn't trust it in the first place.
That's right. People with a normal intelligence would doubt that book immediately. A genius would master it instantly, and a dumb person would try it out without giving it a second thought.
So, are you saying that alchemy can only be used by geniuses or dumb people?
Of course not, alchemy is a field of study. Anyone can learn it if they want to. I would have to teach normal people every step of the way, but I won't have to teach anything to a dummy.
I kind of get what you're saying... But not really. So basically, Rorona is dumb in a good way?
I keep hearing the word, dumb. I wonder what's going on...?
Don't strain yourself, Rorona. Still, Astrid makes a good point as to why Rorona is a good kind of dumb. She's a dope, but she's got plenty of room to grow.
I think it's a good time to upgrade our armor. We've got some new weapons, sure, but we're still pretty weak on the defense. This next scene happens when you forge the Artisan's Outfit. Video goes until Rorona says I should've just apologized...
I was trying to make a chef's coat. You like it, eh?
I'm glad. I thought you were gonna make something like your apron.
...What are you trying to say?
Oh, you know...um, your apron is too good for me to wear...
Oh...so you noticed my apron, huh? You've got good eyes, Kiddo.
These scenes make a compelling case for Hagel being the best character in these games.
Um...I have to get back to work...
Hey now, why don't you let me finish? I'm just getting to the good part. You know how my body is...normal aprons just don't fit. And my family wasn't wealthy enough to afford a custom-made apron... So my Ma took apart her favorite dress and used the cloth to make this apron... *hick* Isn't that touching!? It's so heart-warming, isn't it!?
It sure is...
So about my Ma... When I was finally able to open up my own shop...
How long is this story gonna take? I should've just apologized...
This next scene takes place when you make the Wanderers Cape. Video goes until Rorona says I wont look like that!
It does have a touch of pathos, I suppose. But it wont show any dirt, even if you get it dirty.
You might look good in that, but for me...
Do you really think so? Let me try imagining that... If you wore this...
If I wore this...?
I dont know if its because your face exudes unluckiness...
It would look weird on you, but I think its a fairly cool-looking cape. Wouldnt fit with Rorona, though. No way.
If your workshop gets closed down, I bet thats what youre gonna look like... Standing alone, outside of town, wrapped in a worn-out cape... Aw, crap... My eyes are starting to sweat...
Thats so rude!
Just keep it until that day comes. Im sure itll come in handy.
No way! I wont look like that!
Well, it will come in handy, just not for the reasons Hagel thinks. This can be worn by any party member, and its quite an improvement over what anyone is currently using. If you need some good armor to hold you over for a while, Id recommend this.
Score! This request pops up as early as 7/1, but I don't believe there's a hard and fast cutoff date for it. 1000 Cole for two Pebbles, one of the very most worthless items in the game (even for high quality Pebbles), sounds like a steal to me. This next scene happens when you accept this request. Video goes until Cordelia says "Hmph. Stay out of it".
Mmhm, do you have a question?
Well, not about the job itself... But isn't the reward a bit much?
Oh, that. Well, the client specifically requested you to do this job, so it's kind of special.
Well, it's about time we started making a name for ourselves. Sure spent enough time and money in-game to gain this amount of Trust.
They requested me? Why?
Hey, what did you mean by "some rich person's hobby"?
Am I wrong? I don't normally accept requests like this.
Yeah, I didn't want to mention it in the opening paragraph for this video, but an additional requirement toward seeing this event is Cordelia's friendship level has to be 20 or greater in order for this quest to show up at all. There are a few of these types of jobs that come up over the course of the game, but they're all pretty easy to spot because they give you a ridiculous amount of money (up to 10,000 Cole) for a relatively easy job. It is VERY important if you're going for the Cordelia, Adventurer, or ??? Ending to accept at least four of these requests and complete them. There's only seven of these quests in total, and if you don't complete at least four, you'll never trigger Cordelia's final events.
However, that's not that big a problem. I'm guessing, just based on my experience, that the quests show up when you already have possessed the item already at some point in that playthrough. That means you can get three done before the end of the first year (Iron Clay is in the National Mines, and Cotton Flowers are in Traveler's Way).
Hmph...fine. Anyway, you better keep your mouth shut about this.
Eh, speak for yourself. Especially when it's very important I bring in a lot of money, a lot of money for a little amount of effort like this is always welcome.
Are you trying to preach to me?
No, it's just a little advice from someone who's more experienced.
Hmph. Stay out of it.
This next scene happens when you complete the first of Cordelia's quests. Video goes until the screenshot of Rorona saying Okay...
Um... Are you sure? This is so much...
Of course. It's well deserved.
But, umm...the people around me are...
What kind of job does she do? She doesn't look all that...
I bet it was something easy. I guess she just has a special client.
Are you serious? That's not fair...
Oh well...don't worry about them. They're just jealous.
The reactions from the peanut gallery there indicate that Cordelia's requests are not without their price. Namely, we lose 5% Trust Level each time we complete one. Given that we have to do four, and still end up with 80 or more Trust by the end of the game to get several endings, it's an ingenious way to make sure you get to 100% Trust Level, actually...
This next scene happens when you've made the fourth pie from the second batch of pie recipes at 80 quality or more.
...But I feel like they're missing something. Maybe I should use different ingredients... Hmmm...I'll try it out!
And wouldn't you know it, but the next pie we have to make is a Cabbage Pie. Yet another good reason to join the Festival. Just use your best Cabbage with Water from Tiffani and Flour from Iksel for an easy synth. This next scene happens when you do just that.
Let me try some! Hrmm.
...This is...so good! It's amazing! My skills are getting frightening... I know I can make an even better pie! ...Alright, I should make more based on this one!
You know what's also great about pie? They're good for alchemy level grinding, taking only one day to make for the pies we can make now. The Snow Pie recipe we get in this next batch in particular is good for grinding, since it's like level 25 to make, and Snow Stones are easy to get.
Not exactly sure what makes this scene trigger, but you probably have to spend a lot of money with Cole. Video goes until Rorona says Egh...I can tell this going to take long...and I was only shopping...
Well, I think that's about all I need!
So...I'm glad you're buying a lot from me, but are you sure you're okay with spending so much money?
Oh, now that you mention it... Yeah, I think I'm fine.
*sigh* I don't like saying these things to my customers, but...you better sit down for this...
What is it? You look serious.
Just sit! Aren't you the owner of this shop?
Well, yeah...I guess.
You shouldn't just use it on whatever you want to.
C'mon. I'm working hard for that money. I think I have a bit of freedom on how to spend it, thank you.
But I'm just doing this for Master... Plus...
Agh! I-I'm sorry!
Looks like I'll have to teach you a little something about business...
Ugh...are you gonna lecture me?
Just shut up and listen. You see, business is supposed to be...
Egh...I can tell this going to take long...and I was only shopping...
This next scene happens in Tiffanis store if youve done at least three of Cordelias quests.
Thats nice of you... Are you shopping here, too?
*Cordelia leaves, fade to black*
Shes been acting weird lately. I wonder if something happened?
Yeah... So, what did she buy?
She came here to sell her stuff. Like clothes and accessories...
Really? Is she broke?
Hmmm. Now Im really curious...
Cordelia does have a really abrasive side, definitely, but it is telling how much she wants Rorona to succeed that shes doing something like this. Of course, we know Cordelias been leaving those jobs and Rorona doesnt, but I imagine it must be frustrating for Cordelia to hang out Rorona so long and never have her really notice how Cordelia feels.
But, for a change of pace, this job came up shortly after the beginning of the Assignment.
Are we really sure we want to take on the guy who brought down all these single-handedly?
I guess so. Battle against the greatest soldier of the 20th century.
This also happened while I was in the Mines. When Iksel gets to level 10, he learns his first passive ability, Tasty Eats. This skill is awesome because its a free heal for Iksel at the start of every turn, the HP regeneration has a base value of 5 HP, adding one HP for each point put into Tasty Eats, for a total of 20 HP a turn. Pump every point you can into this, because it turns Iksel into a tank, especially this early.
Actually, as a general rule (Lionela excepted for Horoholo Magic), you should pump all your skill points for each character into their passive abilities as soon as you learn them. Unlike skills, which need HP to activate, passive abilities are always there and cost you nothing to use. Iksels just happens to be the most useful.
This next scene happens in the Square after youve met Cole three times. Video goes until the screenshot of Rorona wanting Cole to be more friendly.
Oh, hey Sis. Its unusual for us to run into each other like this.
yeah. What are you doing?
Nothing. I was just taking a walk.
Oh...do you live in this town?
W-well, weve never met outside of my workshop before, so...
Ive seen you outside several times.
Really? Why didnt you say hi?
I dont like associating with customers outside of business situations. With that said, see ya later.
For whatever reason, after this scene you begin taking jobs from Cole. Hes in Factory Way near where Lionela is. Hes another weird case like Gio where hell frequently ask for stuff we cant make for a while, but again more often than not hell ask for stuff we can do. Oddly, he seems to vary pretty heavily between synthesis items and materials. Unfortunately, he doesnt pay well.
This next scene takes place two months after the scene where Astrid asks Rorona about her fantasy sibling. Video goes until Rorona talks about siblings.
Music: Falling, the Star Light: Alchemy Boy
Thanks... What? Oh no, Im so sorry! Ive got the wrong house!
*Rorona leaves, returns after a few moments*
Wait, no... This is my workshop...right?
Master? Are you talking to me? Why? Who are you? What are you doing here...?
Ah, youre back? Weve been waiting for you.
Master! Theres a stranger here...
...What? My sister?
Dont you remember? You said you wanted one, so I made one for you. You should be thanking me.
Y-you made it...? W-wait... Im confused...
Whats a Homunculus?
You dont even know that? Why dont you look it up yourself?
Whats your name? What should I call you?
I have yet to be given a name. Please call me whatever you like.
Yeah, why dont you give it a name?
I wasnt prepared for this... Well...
Hmmm...no, thats...well, I guess... No, no...hmmm, this is hard.
Urgh, youre taking too long! Hom should be its name!
What!? But I thought you were gonna let me come up with a name!?
Hom...understood. My name will be Hom from now on.
Yep, this is what that choice affected, for those unaware. Ive beaten this game several times with each Hom, but I like the female Hom a lot more. The gothic lolita of the female Hom is a bit more appealing to me than the male Hom, who, granted, does have a nice hat and tuxedo-thing. Plus, its good for symmetry. Three girls living together just makes more sense to me than two females and an artificial male. The only real difference between them is male Homs voice is very slightly different.
Ahh, nooo! Thats not fair, Master! You didnt even think about it! Hom...Hom...Homhom. Actually, thats kinda cute.
Now that I have a name, I would like to start working. Master, please order me to do something.
Order...? Like give you orders?
But Homhom is just a little kid... I cant give orders to kids...
Its appearance is just my personal preference. Dont worry about it. Its mental and physical abilities are far beyond yours.
...Then what am I gonna do?
My purpose for existing is to work for my master. Please, give me an order.
As a second-youngest brother in a family of five brothers, Im not sure how Id feel about it. It would suck to get orders from three different people whenever they wanted, and especially from people only a few years older than me. Oh well.
So lets talk about what Hom can do. Hom is your very, very best friend in this game. What Hom can do is either gather or synthesize. Basically, when you unlock a new location, you can send Hom there to gather materials native to that area. By doing so, Hom gains levels, where shell gather better and better materials. After Hom has gathered materials, or youve transferred materials from your Container to Homs, you can ask her to synthesize.
I personally dont use her to synthesize, because when she runs out of materials, Hom will just stop doing anything, and its very important to get Hom to level 50 by the 3rd year or so. Hom will gather a lot of high-quality materials then, which we can put toward requests for a lot of money. She takes a bit of time going to and gathering the materials, but when you see her back in the atelier, make sure to take everything out of her Container and put it into yours, and then get her back to work. If you want to bring Hom back for whatever reason, theres a clipboard thats obscured by the menu there that you can use to bring Hom back to the atelier in an instant.
Hom will gather up to 60 different materials at a time, so your own Container can fill up pretty quickly, so watch out for that. Basically, keep her working, and your game will be much, much easier. While you focus on more important tasks, Hom can bring in a lot of supplies that are simply too inconvenient for you to get yourself.
If you want to send Hom to an area, you can preview before you do what materials shell gather while there. Early on, shell be bringing back a LOT of Pebbles, which you can promptly get rid of. But save nine of them, you know, in case of a rainy day...
This next scene happens a few days after you get introduced to Hom.
...Oh, there it is.
Yeah, I wanted to read about Homunculus...es. I guess I should learn about them, as an alchemist.
Lets see... How To Make A Homunculus...? Use a flask to mix a few types of herbs and horse droppings...
What!? H-horse droppings...?
Why are you looking at me like that?
Ummm! Its nothing! Lets see, continuing on...
*cough* *cough* Gross!
Are you alright? I will get you something to drink.
Th-thanks... Im scared to continue...
Keep the mixture at a steady body temperature, and add human blood everyday for forty days...
Ugh...! Now Im getting nauseous...
Cant you read silently?
M-Master...what it says in here... Is Homhom...
There has only been on instance of this working. However, the actual Homunculus has never been confirmed.
So that means...
Its really rare to successfully create a Homunculus.
But you were able to make one, right?
How did I make it, you may ask? ...Well, Ill tell you when youve become more independent.
...Basically, Homhom wasnt created the same way it says in the book, right? But were talking about Master here... She couldve done something more absurd, like... Ugh! I dont wanna think about it...
Female Hom render
Male Hom render
Falling, the Star Light: Alchemy Boy
The subtitle was supposed to be "Mechanic Boy," but the Directory suggested "Alchemy Boy" instead...
Didnt think Id get to do another one of these, but I was originally going to add in a few notes about the history of Homunculi during the update, but it was running a bit long to interrupt the conversation where Rorona reads from the book, so here it is.
To put it in the simplest terms, Homunculi are artificial humans grown using Alchemy. There are a few methods explored during Alchemys heyday on how one would create an artificial human, but it usually involved human semen as a crucial component. One method involved the use of a mandrake, which as I briefly mentioned a few updates ago, is a plant that grows where semen from a death erection lands. According to this method of creating a homunculus, if a black dog dug up the mandrake on a Friday morning, and it was fed honey, milk, and in some methods blood, then it would eventually grow into a tiny little human that would protect the owner.
Another method involved an egg from a black hen. A small hole would be poked into the shell, a small amount of the white of the egg replaced with human semen, and it would be sealed with virgin parchment. If the egg was then buried during the first day of the March lunar cycle, then after thirty days a homunculus would hatch from it, and would protect its owner in return for lavender seeds and earthworms. The idea of creating humans from Alchemy dates all the way back to the influential Jābir ibn Hayyān, who advocated a method called Takwin, which believed it was possible to create synthetic life in a laboratory, including artificial humans. Im not sure where horse droppings come into the equation, but I do believe that was a joke.
Takwin was basically the idea that human beings, through Alchemy, could harness the power of creation used by God to create life of their own. Goes without saying this was one of Alchemys more ambitious goals, but it does fit nicely into the narrative that the end goals of Alchemy were very esoteric in concept and not readily understandable to a modern audience.