Part 38: Battle 17: The Hard Dungeon
About this time in the game we get another option for the side quests, the aptly named Hard Dungeon.
The Hard Dungeon is stuffed with all kinds of enemies...
Including lots of boss type enemies.
There are also tons of treasure chests lying around. So... what makes this qualify as the hard dungeon?
Pretty much this. The enemies are incredibly strong, numerous, and have the best attacks and abilities in the game. This is far beyond what you can normally deal with your first playthrough and is meant for either a new game plus or for relentless grinders. On the other hand, the loot is well worth it so the risk certainly matches the reward. Anyway, on to the narrative!
Word had been spreading about a challenge from the so-called King of Pain to conquer a dungeon of his devising. We were unable to resist.
I found myself working with Palpaleos, Rush, and Lukia while Truce and Bikkebakke took a rest.
In order to maximize our firepower, all four wizards were in the fight so that their magics could work together. This resulted in them being slower overall, but their range helps make up for the lack.
Yoyo and Sendak's group was functioning pretty well, so it seemed better to not try to fix something that wasn't broken in the first place. The same thing pretty much applied to Matelite and Mist's groups.
In order to maximize our advantages, however, I replaced Barclay's groups with the mini-devils. While this lowers our offense, their special abilities could come in handy.
Although it's fair enough to say that this was a gamble.
Given the danger the enemies appeared to pose, we naturally focused all of our attacks on a single group from a distance.
Once the enemy had been whittled down a bit, Matelite led the charge to try and finish them off.
The enemy responded with high explosives....
But despite our best efforts, all of us together couldn't succeed in killing a single enemy.
Seeing how weak the enemy was, I led my team in to finish him off... well, at least I tried. Pinky ended up finishing off the weakened enemy..
While the rest of us managed to finish off another enemy through our combined efforts.
Examining the enemy's armor explained the difficulty we were having in subduing them.
Author's Note: There's only 5 heavy armors with better defense than the Reconquista (+85 DEF, +99 MAG, Knight Only) while the Mach Vest is the third best light armor (+70 DEF, +42 SPD, +10 MAG). Both armors provide a good deal of protection from status effects.
At length we managed to defeat that first group, only to realize that another had reached us. Naturally we focused our attention on that group... although this turned out to be a mistake.
A single attack from the robed mages managed to nearly kill Mist and sent Donfan crashing to the floor. I'd underestimated the threat they posed.
We immediately concentrated our fire on the mages, betting that they'd be a bit more fragile...
Although the dragons were a bit hard to convince on this matter. Clyde finished off a melee fighter and we recovered his armor.
Author's Note: The Pax Kahna is special armor for Royal Guards only. +90 DEF, +3 ATK, +3 SPD, +15 MAG, with protection from fire and thunder.
Matelite took it upon himself to try and finish off one of the mage groups..
Which did not go well. For mages, those enemies were incredibly tough. While Matelite's group couldn't finish off one, they could weaken them...
To the point where I could finish off two of them. I nearly had a heart attack when one of them had the legendary Dreadnaught on him.
Author's Note: The Dreadnaught is, bar none, the strongest sword in the game with a +99 attack. It has no other benefits, is non-elemental, and can be used by any sword wielding class.
I feared for the worst as more of the enemy's mages closed in, but luckily they failed to use their most devastating attacks and relied on gravity based magic instead. It was powerful, but couldn't kill us.
Buoyed by our success we attacked another mage group...
Although the results were less impressive this time around.
I was nearly knocked out, while Rush passed out into a heap. With enemies like this, it was a good thing we had a nice set of litancibles handy.
Despite our best efforts, including those of Sendak and Yoyo's group, shortly afterwards a couple of powerful spells completely floored Matelite's group.
Sendak and Yoyo retaliated with Leviathan, striking down a mage and finding that he'd actually been carrying around... a dress?
Author's Note: Remember how I mentioned the Mach Vest being the second best light armor? Say hello to the best. +95 DEF, +12 ATK, +3 SPD. Not only that, but protection from Rabbit, Sleep and Poison. The crazy thing is that you can buy them in the last few chapters of the game. On the other hand, this is chapter 20.
At length Palpaleos managed to strike down the last mage in our immediate vicinity, giving us a bit of breathing space.
Unfortunately, however, more mages were on the way. Mist and her group ran forward into the breach to slow them down.
By the time the dust had cleared, they had paid the ultimate price.
Everyone among our forces had gotten unfortunately accustomed to this feeling...
Although watching Palpaleos fall over never gets old.
The last thing I remember seeing was a pair of mages raising their arms... the next thing I remember was waking at the entrance of the cave with all of the equipment we'd scrounged. Had they simply wanted to test our strength?
Author's Final Note: It was mentioned early on in the game, but if you fall in battle you keep the experience and equipment you won in the battle. This is especially important if you want to deal with the Hard Dungeon. If you can win even a little bit, you can make some gains. I nearly managed to clear everything prior to the bosses, who don't seem to move forward unless you come within their sight range. A few more levels, and I think I might be able to clear this.