Part 7: VI: Pages of Mutual UnderstandingsChapter VI: Pages of Mutual Understandings
Hmm, an interesting notion. Perhaps not among a mob of Puni, though.
Now, where were we...? Ah yes, heading back all the way to the east to Stalhang Castle, the alleged hideout of the...Puni Rangers. Let's just roll with it, so to speak.
The lost castle
Music: Visiting the Castle on the Hill
Those stone textures, I'm telling you.
Geez. This place has seen better days. Is this really Stalhang Castle?
Yes. This castle was built loooooong ago, to help guard the border.
Normally I would not have made this scene a video, but I like the way Eva said this line, so in it goes.
And at some point, it was a nest for lizard folk. Rumor has it they've since abandoned it, though.
Ah yes, the lizard invasion plot thread from Meruru. Stalhang was not mentioned at all, though, and the furthest east you could find the lizard folk was Modis Ruins. As far as Meruru's geography is concerned, Stalhang would be right around where the Corridor of Darkness or whatever it was called in Meruru was, but it's entirely possible this is further east than even that, and hence why Meruru never visited this place.
Wow. You two sure know a lot. I mean, I knew Eva was smart, but not you, Aurel.
Hmph. Just who do you think you're talking to? And if anything, it just shows how LITTLE you know.
Hmm, our first instance of Eva getting upset about something. And to be fair, Aurel isn't totally off-base.
Also, Eva began running after Lulua right after she took off chasing Aurel, for the record. Nice to know everyone's having fun.
Listen up. We're going to stay calm, stay alert, and try to find those Puni Rangers!
This is a pretty cool location, actually. Tons of little details that pointed to this place being a major installation long long ago. Cannons, supplies of all kinds, ruined rooms, you name it. Hopefully Eva can still fire those cannons. At nothing in particular, of course.
In the first area, up some stairs to the left of where you start, has some Ingots in a chest with some nice traits. You really should be picking them up, but keep in mind Pamela has the recipe book for Ingots of your own to make. Might as well make use of the junk around here for our own purposes.
As far as enemy groups go, they're actually quite dangerous in these parts, and I wouldn't recommend fighting them on Very Hard. This is the first battle I Ran away from, because this...didn't go well.
But I did use enough Interrupts to finish another riddle clue, so that's at least one benefit. Oh yeah, and the rain. One curious thing about Stalhang is it rains *a lot* around here. It's very strange.
So like I said, this place has a lot of nooks and crannies and Gust liked to put treasure chests in many of them. Whether there are valuables there, however, is another story. This chest had...Puni Fluid in it. Best not to ask.
A town square, even. I'm guessing this place was a village built in a castle, rather than a castle built to defend a town. Whatever the case, clearly this place was something special back in the day. There's a chest on the bell's platform containing Beast Armor, which is an upgrade to Aurel's starting armor. There's a pretty strict gender segregation with armor in this game, and the Beast Armor is the first armor you can find that only Aurel can wear.
Stay away from ghosts as much as possible. Ghosts are *really* annoying in this game, especially at this point in proceedings.
Rain again... Getting to 50% map completion in Stalhang is more important than most because, again, this location is so large and it's easy to overlook a chest squirreled away in a corner of a room you have no particular reason to go to. By the way, two yellow diamonds? This place is so big that your road to the Spire, the third area of Stalhang, has two routes you can take. Either going through the middle of the Square like this or passing atop a ruined section of wall.
If there are punis here, they've gotta be here. Punipuni
Music: It'll All Work Out...Somehow!
A riveting conversation, I'm sure...
Those must be the puni leaders... All right, let's take 'em down!
Prepare yourself, puny Puni Rangers. 'Cause you're about to taste steel! Have at you!
Huh? They're not attacking. Why are they holding back...?
I don't know, but they could just be buying time... Keep your guard up. Eyes open for reinforcements.
...! Hey, wait a second! I think maybe they don't want to fight at all!
What do you mean they don't want to fight? What are you talking about, Lulua?!
The man at the checkpoint. That thing he said, about punis having their own point of view. Maybe these punis have something they're trying to tell us!
Hey, you could be right! Lulua, you're amazing!
Okay, Lulua. Let's say you're right. So, what do we do now?
Don't even try it, Lulua! Just admit you have no idea what they're saying!
Ngaah... You don't have to yell... I mean, of course there's no way to... Huh? *book begins glowing* Huh?! The Riddle is glowing...! Could this mean...?
Thankfully, the punis hopped off her head in a fade to black.
Oh! I see! I'll have to work out the details, but I think... If I can create the item described here, I might be able to speak with the punis!
Are you serious?! In all my years of alchemy, I've never heard of any item like that!
Trust me! Everything's going to be all right! OK! I've got some serious thinking to do. I'll see you all later!
*Lulua runs off*
Well, THAT'S some very convenient timing. Again. Still, Lulua's not the type to make up stories... A mysterious book, filled with advanced alchemical knowledge, that only Lulua can read... Just what exactly is this "Alchemyriddle"...?
A story for another time, Piana. Funny thing, you get dumped back to the Town Square after that scene, but you can go to the Spire fine. It's just nothing will happen there until the next plot riddle. We'll save that particular exploration for another time. Back to Arls...again.
And there we go. Once you complete the starting riddles for a chapter, with the exception of any story riddles, you'll get an additional batch, like this. This is some pretty good luck, I have nearly all of them done. Regarding Bombs (Advanced) requires acquiring both a Snow Stone (should have gathered several of these by now) and a Lightning Crystal (can buy from Pamela or find one).
Atelier Classic deserves its own screenshot. I just examined the Barrel in the atelier for old times' sake. Forgot it was part of a riddle. But indeed, find an Eiche and examine the barrel to solve this. National Mine requires coming to Arls (obviously already done) and talking to the woman who talked about the mine in the town hall, and finally, A Perfect Sphere requires finding a Globe Sphere at Hart Outpost and defeating one of the demons there who comes out at night.
But obviously, this is the most important single riddle this chapter. Well, we can't make a Nectar just yet, but do we have anything that qualifies as a nectar?
Not this, but we do get a scene from making this net, as well as most Exploration Tools.
Hey! I haven't seen a net like that in ages. We used to love going bug hunting as kids. But... What made you decide to make one of those all of a sudden? Do you need it for something?
Hehe. I'll let you in on a little secret. Turns out that bugs are really useful for alchemy! *tutorializes* That's why! Come on, let's go enjoy some good old-fashioned bug catching like we used to!
Ahaha! Sounds like fun! Count me in!
As for that tutorial, well, just equip the net and examine any place where white sparkly butterflies are flying about to catch bugs. Like with fishing, what you get depends on your location.
Mining Bombs are a bit more complicated. Despite their obvious apparent use as battle items, you can't use the Mining Bomb in battle and that's not what it's supposed to do. What it's supposed to do is destroy boulders and other rock formations to uncover materials or gather them. See how it says "Destruction Level 2"? Just because it's a bomb, doesn't mean it can destroy everything that can be destroyed. Level 2 can destroy large boulders, but it can't destroy, say, rainbow crystals, which is the hardest-to-destroy thing in the game. The Effect itself will tell you exactly what it can destroy. If it doesn't say you can destroy a thing, you can't. Unfortunately this thing does have a use count, so until we get introduced to another gameplay mechanic, don't go hog wild with this thing or you'll have to make a new one.
I should also note there's either destroyed or not destroyed in the case of destroyable things. You can't use the same Mining Bomb against the same object over and over until it breaks, is what I'm saying. Video game logic, of course, but we are playing one.
O-Of ANY size? How powerful is this thing?!
Oops, haha... I might have exaggerated a little. But I think it can take down some pretty big rocks! *tutorializes*
O-Oh my... Well, please be careful when you handle it! Don't let it explode when you're in town! Ohhh, I don't even want to think about that...
Haha. It's fine! Trust me! Although, I guess it would be smart to take some extra precautions... Ohhh, Eva, now you've got ME worried! What madness have I allowed myself to create?! ...Well, I guess what's done is done. Just as long as we're careful, right?
In preparation for upcoming...unpleasantness, it would be wise to prepare from DOT (Damage Over Time) bombs, such as weapons that inflict Poison and Burn. Luckily, such traits stack in this game, so an enemy inflicted with both will take damage from two sources if they get hit with those debuffs.
But getting back to actual important business, this is the "nectar" we need to make. Once you've acquired a Puni Fluid and made the Honey, this scene happens.
...Oh my gosh! I've got it! Lightbulbs are flashing in my head! I've got a feeling that I'll be able to figure it out now! Here we are! Time to sit down and work it out...!
And for a double bill, after you decipher the riddle, this next amusing scene comes up. Speaking lessons
No, no, Eva! Not like that! Make it sound more...jiggly!
Yeah! Like that! OK. I think we've got this!
Master. I believe they are practicing. In preparation to fashion the puni communicator.
Practicing?! Wait, then that means...
That's right! You're looking at a one-girl...text-deciphering machine!
And now she's about to decipher the recipe...for a "Puni Communicator"! Puniii!
I can't believe this is ha-puni-ng. Ah! Now you've got me doing it! Lulua, about this Riddle...
Okay! Practice over! Time to get synthesizing! Haha! Just you wait, little punis...! I'll go over there and find out what you have to say!
The whole nature of this book seems to be weighing pretty heavily on her mind, but I say, don't look a gift horse in the mouth. Seems Lulua agrees or, more likely, she's never given it much thought at all.
This is one among a handful of unique quests where kills of a particular enemy category counts. Thankfully, I'm pretty sure we'll find 5 or more rabbits as adversaries on this quest.
Can't quite make this yet. The game frequently does this, where you have to keep your alchemy level at parity to make a story-progressing recipe. This just happens to be the first real one (Bunt Resin was very low, so that wasn't a necessary consideration). Thankfully, though, no need to grind. Just make tons of new recipes for that bonus EXP.
Strangely enough, this item doesn't get a tutorial scene with Eva and Lulua, which is only weird because how it works isn't exactly self-evident. Well, you know how you have to smack trees to get items from the branches? This lets you skip that step and summon a "Portable Whirlwind" to shake loose the items and collect them that way. Kind of a grandiose Effect name, but never mind that. So what's the advantage of this method over the smacking? Not much, except this thing won't have you run into an enemy groups you might not otherwise want to fight. Something to consider, but hardly essential.
After making this and a Lightning Bomb, I hit alchemy level 10 and got this scene. Thanks for the help
Hey, Chim Dragon. How're those ingredients I asked for coming along?
All gathered and accounted for. Here you go, Master.
Excuse me, Mr. Dragon. It's about today's schedule...
Ah, yes. I've made a decision. Please see this memo.
Haha, I see. Got it! In that case, I'll go ahead with the arrangments.
Thank you. Time to feed Paka and Teke.
Is there a problem, Nano Master? It's hard to work with you staring like that.
Huh? Oh, sorry. I was just thinking... "Chim Dragon is such a workaholic."
A...workaholic? I'm just doing my job. My role is to support everyone in alchemical endeavors, and support their adventuring. I'm merely adhering to that job description. I wouldn't call that being a workaholic...
No, you're definitely a workaholic! Are you taking proper breaks?
Yes. Please do not worry. I'm allocating ample time to rest. Exactly thirty minutes per day. So don't worry.
Th-Thirty minutes?? That's no good! You need to sleep more than that!
...? No, thirty minutes is more than enough.
No, it's not! I'll feed Paka and Teke today. You need to go straight to bed!
Definitely can't argue when she's like this. Give it up.
Y-Yes... Understood... *goes to sleep elsewhere*
Hmm...I think I need to rethink how often I rely on Mr. Dragon... He's an important part of our journey, for sure, but I guess we need to be more independent...
Just don't tell him things that can be easily misunderstood by lower alchemical life. The Homs went through their own brand of manic depression upon realizing they couldn't do absolutely everything for Meruru.
Time to see the results of this twisted science... The Puni word
Wow. You really made it. Well, shouldn't we test it?
Good idea. Let's see... So you put this in your mouth, and...*mumble*
...Ready? Here I go. Punipunipuniii!
Puni! Punipunipuniii! Haha! We're both just saying "puni", aren't we?!
Both of them are walking very quickly toward Keina. This has to be pretty high on the list of the most embarrassing things you can walk in, to be fair.
W-Wait! No! Ms. Keina! This isn't what it looks like!
I-It's really not! I was only doing it 'cause Lulua told me to! It wasn't my idea!
Eva?! You're pinning this all on me?! YOU were the one who said we should try it out!
Haha! Hahaha! My, my. You two sure are close, aren't you?
Of course! We've known each other forever! Inseparable since we were kids! Right, Eva?
Well, that explains it. A very special connection, like Meruru and I have.
Yeah! Just like that! Eva's my best friend in the whole wide world! ...Oh, right. Ms. Keina, did you need something?
Oh, yes. Um... It's about the Puni Rangers. It seems the citizen guard is running low on manpower. They'd like to know if you've made any progress. They're really counting on you.
I see... Well, leave it to us! We just finished! Behold, the Puni Communicator! With this, we can talk with the "Puni Rangers"! You can expect good news soon, Ms. Keina!
You can communicate with punis?! Oh, my! Hahaha! Alchemy really leads to the strangest things! Understood. I'm sure talking it out will yield the best solution for all. I'm counting on you, Lulua!
Leave it to me! ...OK, let's head back to Stalhang Castle!
Back to the east again, huh? Well, thanks to those riddles, we unlocked the Arls National Mine and the Guiding Light Forest, back in the Arklys Area, but obviously we're not going back there right now. We have punis to chat up.
I think Mr. Dragon has earned some overtime pay with all the carriage rides back and forth across the continent. Lord knows Peter would have died from overwork if he were the driver.
This is about the biggest rock we can blow up right now, but we're not packing the most heat we can get on this adventure right now. It'll just have to do for a bit.
Here we go. Luckily, there seems to be an acceptable solution for all parties in sight. I can just feel it. Humans and Punis
...Have they been waiting here this whole time? OK, Lulua. Let's see this "communicator" in action.
Already on it! OK, everyone, put one of these in your mouth!
Unbelievable. They're just puni. We could've gotten rid of them. Mmpf.
All right, just cool it there, hotshot. Mmpf! Now, the moment we've all been waiting for...
Huh...this stupid thing actually works. And it seems they're a reasonable sort.
I-I don't believe this! I can actually understand what they're saying!
...! You understand?! Great quivering jelly! I never imagined I'd one day speak with a human!
Uh, right... You're not the only one surprised. Turns out punis are actually smart...
Hmph... Well, let us not spoil our good fortune. Tell us, human, will you lend ear to our words?
Yes! Of course we will! That's exactly what we've come here to do!
Oh, thanks be to all that jiggles. We know humans have a poor opinion of our modest collective. But, there is reason for the actions we take. You see...we desire to become citizens of Arls.
Citizens? Of Arls?!
Indeed. Arls has seen a very rapid growth burst these past several years. But, as the human lands expand...the places we have long called home disappear.
We realize humans have their own needs and plans. But we live on this land, too. And we do so proudly. Thus, we ask to be recognized as citizens, that we may live in peace in the home we've always known.
M-Makes sense... So these problems you've been causing were some kind of organized protest.
I-I wouldn't have guessed in a hundred years... Punis pondering the politics of people.
Is it truly so radical? We breathe and eat as you. Should we not also think?
To be fair to Aurel, again, imagine your house pets talking to you and sounding intelligent and reasonable. You would probably be also surprised if they were talking like the puni here.
Alright. I understand your position. And I think you have a reasonable case. We'll take your request to Ms. Keina--I mean, a government official of Arls! You have my word!
In goodwill, we shall release the checkpoint.
Tsk! Talking with humans. Why waste your time? We can see our goals through on our own. By force.
Black, what are you saying! This is the peaceful solution we've always sought!
Oh, go roll into a ditch!!
Guessing that's the puni equivalent of "Go piss up a rope".
Rolling toward them like a bowling ball.
No! Red! Blue! Green!!
Gahaha! You ain't got time to worry about them right now! 'Cause you're all next!
We won't let you get away with this. We have a promise to keep! I suggest you get out of our way!
Hello! This is for the Puni Rangers!
Not a typo. She does say "Hello!"
Oh, so NOW it's right to fight punis? Whatever. Let's give this jerk a taste of his own medicine.
Let's! All right, everyone... Come on!
This guy's a jerk, in more ways than one. As your first real boss fight, Puni Black is a piece of work and on Very Hard, you really need to prepare for this guy. First off, I'd advise switching Lulua into the backline so she can heal in peace. She doesn't bring enough to a frontline party right now to justify it.
First off, a large part of the difficulty is down to how Black will choose to behave. If he uses Puni Breath or Ignis Ray a lot, that's good. Both of those are decently weak techniques, although Puni Breath is AoE. Ignis Ray is single target, but that's also good for you. If he decides to use Whiteout a lot, that's big trouble for you.
This is actually my...fourth attempt on this playthrough to defeat Black, because I kept getting bad attacking RNG. One of the changes I made to my strategy was to make a Barrel with a Burn trait instead of that first Bomb we made, so we can do some decent damage, knock back his turns (until he takes a turn of his own), and comes with a 60% chance to inflict Burn, which is a DOT debuff, and a large % of your damage will come through DOTs.
All those resistances are such a pain, I swear. But those are the cards we're dealt. Luckily, Poison and Burn will stack, which means Black will lose 90 HP a turn if he has both of those on him. It's also very important that Piana inflict Weakness on him, so he takes more damage and deals less damage to you.
Clever Heal / Forest Solace are such valuable traits to have on a single item in this fight, which is why we went to the brief trouble of making an item with one last update. Keeping your soldiers alive is crucial, because it all just kinda snowballs in most early game fights if a single person gets KO'd and you have no means to revive them.
Such a pain. Couldn't get Poison to land once.
As much grief as this guy gave me this playthrough, there's no real *trick* to be beating him. Well, aside from a trick I was punching myself for discovering only after this fight.
Notice this? He gains a completely unavoidable 50 HP a turn. May not sound like much, but when you're doing as little damage as this early game party is, that can add up if you play too defensively.
*Finally*. This had taken me about 30 minutes to do on this recording, and I'm noticing I'm a lot less patient when recording than when I'm playing normally. I have plenty of disk space to save big recordings on, but just instinct. Luckily, beating Black is the end of the Early Game Stretch, that nasty bit before you reach Arland and access weapon / armor customization.
Lulua, are you all right? You're not hurt, are you?
Yeah, I'm fine. Thanks, Eva.
Looks like Red and the others are fine, too. Thank goodness.
Black, are you all right? I don't know what we'd do if we lost you...
Lulua and the Puni Rangers are well within their rights to punt Black into the stratosphere if you ask me. Probably pretty aerodynamic, too.
Oh, stuff it, Red! Where's your pride?! These humans stole our home!! Do you BELIEVE the garbage they're feeding you?! They only make promises to break them! Argh! What's the point? We've got nothing. There isn't a place for us in this world.
Sounds like he's asking for another round. But maybe Lulua has something else on her mind...
That's not true!
You DO have a place! And you always will! You belong in this world as much as any of us!
You're... You're just saying that. These guys might we welcome, but someone like me...
No! If there really is no place for you, then why are Red and the others so concerned for you?
Big or small, we all belong. So, please... Don't talk like that. It might be hard to believe us right here and now, and you might have a good reason to doubt us...
Okay? Let's live together. Hand in hand. Humans and punis. We're not that different. So I'm sure we can all live together happily!
Thank you, human. Please, don't hold Black's words against him.
Hmph. Humans are full of surprises. There are still some interesting ones among them!
Hehe, but of course! That's just the kind of person my Lulua is!
Oh, brother... Well, whatever. Back to Arls?
Yes, please. Just imagine if you were an outside human observer who was witnessing this conversation. Just 8 creatures constantly saying "puni" back and forth to each other. You'd wonder if you were insane or everyone else was.
Yes, we should get back. I'm sure Ms. Keina will want the full report.
Well, that ended pretty well, considering. After that scene you can explore the Spire to your heart's content. Better make it good, because Stalhang is a rare location that's both totally out of the way to most every other location in the game and completely irrelevant to the rest of the game. You never need to come back here for any real reason after this business, which is a shame, considering this is a pretty cool location.
Well, there is a reason to come back here for a special thing starting in Chapter 10, but obviously, that is many moons from now. One thing you should make sure of is to pick up those Gold Puniballs in the opened chest in this shot, because it's a pretty rare item.
Nice view from the top of the spire. There are some gathering points up here.
So now that we're finished with the Puni Rangers business, let's talk another gameplay mechanic: affection levels. Like in the other Ateliers, each party member has an affection level toward the main character that influences when their events will come up. What causes affection levels to rise? Mostly killing enemies with them in the party and their position in the party. Party members on the frontline will gain the most, which is why Eva is in the lead with 10% right now (Aurel has 9%, Piana has 5%). Party members in the backline, but still in battles, will gain a little less, and party members not on-call will gain the least, but will still gain some just from the passage of time.
So the best way to grind affection levels if you need to? Hunt some weak monsters in the area around Arklys. Best bonding experience you can hope for.
Before going back to Arls, I decided to stop by Hart Outpost and beat up a Demon for the final riddle of Chapter 2. Unfortunately, they had a ghost as backup.
I hate these guys. Follow-up Block is where the affected character can't initiate Assist skills, like Lulua's Lulua Kick or Eva's move where she smashes the enemy with a physical strike from her cannon, even though Eva herself isn't affected. It doesn't matter, anyway, since we couldn't switch a frontline party member with Eva anyway, since Follow-up Block prevents you from switching out.
This is also hardly the most dickish status effect ghost enemies can hit you with. Curse is among the worst, because then healing HP actually hurts you.
*Hate* these guys.
Another fight that took *way* too long and was really really close. What happens if you get defeated? Nothing too bad, actually. No matter what the fight, you just get punted back to the town you were last in and lose a certain % of items you gathered, if you gathered any. But still, annoying. Even if I had lost this fight, though, I think since I still killed one Demon, it would have counted for the riddle entry.
But, that's all for our adventures in the Arls Area. Of course, that's just for now. The journey continues
Huh? Ms. Keina? Have you been waiting by the entrance for us?
Yes! I've received a report that the Punis by the checkpoint are gone! Hehe! That was your doing, wasn't it?
That's right. Um, Ms. Keina? There's something we need to talk to you about.
*explains a rather strange request*
I see... So the "Puni Rangers" had been driven from their homes by the development of Arls.
Yes! So it's important that you... For the Puni Rangers...!
Yes, I understand. After all, the Puni Rangers are just as much residents of Arls as we are. I promise that all of Arls will work together so that the punis can live in peace.
Wow! That's amazing! Thank you so much, Ms. Keina!
It's really me who should be grateful. Without you, we would never have found the proper resolution. You really helped us. I thank you sincerely.
Hehe. Looks like this issue's been put to bed. Good job, Lulua!
Haha, thank you! Phew, I'm exhausted!
Hey, this is no time to be feeling tired. Have you forgotten our real goal?
He's right, Lulua. With the way clear, we can finally move on. Your mother's home! Onward to Arland!
Oh, you're right! Arland... It's so near I can taste it!
Yup! Ahh, Arland is an amazing place. You're going to love it.
Yay! I can't wait to set out! Let's not waste another second!
Geez, you brightened up quick!
Hehe...! Arland is still a long way off. Travel safely!
Woo-hoo! Right, we're off! Bye Ms. Keina! We'll see you again soon!
Hehe. If Lulua and Meruru ever meet, I have a feeling they'll get along splendidly. I wonder what Meruru is doing now... I hope she's having fun!
(You know, if I hadn't been given this chance, I might have spent my whole life in Arklys. So...I guess... I owe my mother some thanks. In any case, the journey was fun. I found out how great it is to travel with friends. I found out how wide the world really is. I found out a lot of important stuff. And so marks the "Chapter of Impetus". The first step on my long, long journey.)
So normally I would have called the update there, since that's *kind of* the end of the chapter, but this is one of those rare chapters where the little end-of-chapter monologue from Lulua doesn't immediately transition into the next one. So in that spirit, kind of an anticlimatic ending for this update. You know what the worst thing about this was? The item from this riddle is an Earth-elemental attack item, which was...*drumroll* Black's weak element. Dammit.
But, because this was the last riddle completed of the first "real" chapter, we get this little fanfare and two completion bonuses: the Nectar recipe (revives from KO, the first item we can get that does that) and +30 Alchemy experience. I'll take it.