Part 18: Land of the Clouds, Kingdom of Knights
You bet! Helping Mom and the others is exactly what I want to do. Mom says that doesn't count, but she's wrong. It's good enough for me. Anyway, I'll have to write her back. Come one, let's go. Milly and Guillo are waiting for us!
...Hey...you don't think he meant those itty-bitty ones, do you?
He probably did. See, there's three of them.
Get out! That can't be! Quaestor Verus, are you joking?!
Suddenly, a ship shoots past above our heroes!
Listen, you! Where did you learn to pilot that thing! You almost whooshed us into oblivion!
Your pardon, miss, but the Sfida is a powerful ship. 'Twouldn't be right to hold her back.
Are you here to help us, or kill us?
I'm told you'll be heading to Diadem. All aboard, then! The Sfida will have you there in a blink!
The Sfida attendant is one of those odd characters who is fundamentally minor and doesn't really contribute much to the plot, but still has a distinct personality and several lines. I may end up giving him a proper portrait, but for now we'll stick with the smile.
Welcome to Sheliak, capital of Diadem.
Video: The Diadem Crew
My name is Celsica. It will be my honor to accompany you to the castle. Please, follow me.
We're given control of Sagi at this point, but I think I'll save the exploration for later.
I hope you don't mind walking a little ways to the training yard.
Sword practice? You mean the kind actually fights in battle?
Of course. Diadem's monarch also serves as knight-captain of our order.
But they say King Ladekahn is still just a boy!
Yes, that's right. His guardian Rambari goes through so much grief...
Oh! I'm sorry. Pay me no mind.
Music: Nimbus Gardens
Oh, you can tell? The Knights of Diadem today are probably the strongest in our history. We've certainly moved up a rung since the late king appointed Rambari instructor. Rambari's roots are as a fisherman, but we all respect him as a knight. I suppose that means the late king chose wisely. I'd wager the Knights of Diadem could stand against anything. Even one of those monsters you hear about of late.
So...you know about the monsters.
Yes. Fortunately there hasn't been a sighting in our kingdom yet. But I have heard of your own Sir Baelheit's exploits. That he's already slain a few of the beasts.
How nice of Baelheit to take credit for Valara's kills, especially when she already stile those kills from us in the first place.
I mean, okay, so maybe Valara saved our lives once or twice by performing said kill steals. The point is that Baelheit is a jerk.
Here we are at the training yard. Please go right on-
Uncle Ram, we can finish the lesson later! Any minute not they'll be bringing in the day's catch down in Nashira! I can't miss THAT! Gib, come by when you're done. You'd better be there!
Sire, come back! We've barely even started!
A little kid, presumably King Ladekahn, comes running out.
...And rushes past us, and out of sight.
I get the feeling meeting Kind Ladekahn is going to be more difficult than it needs to be.
Sire! King Ladekahn! Get back here!
Gibari, blast it! What kind of rubbish are you putting into the king's head! Now he's off to stare at fish guts! You know the legends! Disaster will befall our land the year the king sees Nashira's catch!
You and your myths. Tell it to the cloudgulls, old man. Besides, I didn't put anything in Kahn's head. He's always been like that. Later!
And so Gibari leaves, too. Whelp.
So help me...the next rod that boy sees won't be the kind you fish with. Where did I go wrong...
Ah, Celsica. What's the matter? Hmm? Who do we have here?
I'm interrupting to repeat my previous thread and say that this is the best throne room ever conceived.
...his idea of promachinating every continent is certainly an outlandish one.
I know, sir and he's using powerful mechanical weapons called machina arma to make it happen. The quaestor believes it will be difficult to stop him without the assistance of each nations' leader.
The quaestor? You mean Sir Verus? Hmm...Certainly it would be unlike Diadem to deny anyone help. But matters of foreign policy require King Ladekahn's judgment.
So you'll help us if King Ladekahn agrees to it?
Those two that ran off where the king and your son?
Yes, my idiot son Gibari. Thanks to him, King Ladekahn's picked up all sorts of unkingly habits. I'm embarrassed to say those two are always on the loose like that. If only the king were more regardful of his position...
Might as well. We could wait around, but who knows when they'll be back, and what might happen in the meantime?
Yeah, good idea. Sir Rambari, with your leave we'd like to go after King Ladekahn.
Of course. You'd be doing me a favor. Please, bring the king and that blasted Gibari back. I'll come meet you once I've finished practice with the knights.
Thank you, sir. If you'll excuse us, then...
Sagi! I nearly forgot. If you're going to Nashira, be careful. They think outsiders ah, forgive me. It's just...they don't take kindly to folk from other lands. There's a saying the coming of visitors heralds a poor catch.
I'll be mindful of that.
I like how they kept the culture consistent between games, but the offset is that it gives me all the same reasons to not want to return to towns I didn't like before. Then again, that works in a positive way, too. Perhaps we'll see Anna there. Anna was pretty cool.
Well, that's all later on, anyway. For now, let's check out Sheliak.
I didn't find much of interest in the castle itself. There were a few magnus, but most of them were stuff I probably won't ever use. On the other hand...
I'm not sure why, but giving Guillo light-based magnus amuses me. This is also a pretty powerful weapon at this point, so I'm glad I was able to get it.
Celsica and Rambari relocate to the training yard after the last cutscene. Neither of them have anything particularly interesting to say. There are a few treasures here, but again, nothing worth showing.
Here we are in the town proper. There are a few things worth doing in the area.
Granny: But the daughter-in-law from hell has it out for me, and she won't let me spend time with her. Who does she think she is! Honestly...
Mother: They're all the rage in the city these days! We're so in vogue! ...But really, I can't stand my witch of a mother-in-law living on the other side of that door. Some days I want to just nail the blasted door shut! Ugh. And now I hear she's bad-mouthing me behind my back! This is just too much! I'm getting proof, then I'm going to shove it in her face! If you hear that hag spill any secrets, store them in a magnus and bring them to me, would you?
Granny: Of course not! Don't be silly! I love my granddaughter, and...well, I try to get along with my daughter-in-law, too. You know how long I've been living alone. I think I'm just starting to feel lonely...
Friend I understand. Ever grandparent loves their grandchildren, and, well, your daughter-in-law is a charming sort of person, in her own way.
Granny: Yes, she really is! But for some reason, whenever I see her face, I just start to preach! It's far too late to start over with her, but...Oh, I'm a terrible mother-in-law.
Mother: So this is it, finally! Proof that she's bad-mouthing me behind my back! I owe you one!
I get a Fate's Cordial (as if I need any more than I already have), and the screen fades out and in again.
Mother: Sorry about before, asking you for such a weird favor...I listened to that magnus. What do you know, she was just talking about her worries! Worries about me, no less! We're lucky to have the whole family together like this. I realized we need to work harder to get along. Thanks for reminding me of that. We'll make things better one step at a time from now on. Thank you.
Aww, we helped.
Incidentally, you can go and talk to the granny again and she'll mention that her son is sponsoring a Coliseum contestant without his wife's knowledge. You can trap that in a magnus and give it to the wife, and she'll say she's going to have a very interesting conversation with her husband, but as far as I can tell nothing ever comes of that. I think it's just a way to get extra copies of the Mother-In-Law's Secret quest magnus.
Hey, now that the mail feature is unlocked, why don't we -
Okay, let's get to work on wading through these.
Think you're healthy? WRONG!
Has the wear and tear of daily battle got you down? Think you're invincible? That you'll never wind up incapacitated in battle? Then what you need is a new policy with Magnus Life Insurance Co.! (Terms may vary based on element, weapon of choice, past illnesses, deck size, and wings of the heart) For more information, please see out instructional pamphlet magnus.
Hmm...I think I'm fine...I'm still young, after all...
From Sis at the orphanage
Dear Sagi, It's Sis! The one you helped out at the orphanage (in case you forgot, ha!) Thanks for the thornflower nectar. It was a big help! Gena used the nectar to make some sweets for everybody. We had some set aside for you, too, but then Wacho and Tik got at them...Cheer up! I'm sure shell make more the next time you come home. Take care, Sagi.
It's me, Wacho!
Sagi! How are you doing? I'm doing grate! Tik saw me writing this letter and says he'll write, too. He still doesn't know his ABCs though, so I'm gonna show him how. Starting today, I'm his teacher! From Wacho!
Dear Somebody, So much glitter. So much gold. So many books that I can't read. Somebody, please write back.
Huh...? They must have had the wrong address.
Um, they clearly were just writing to a stranger. C'mon, Sagi, write them back...No?...
Dear Somebody, Those fluffy clouds look yummy. The world is zooming by. Please write back.
Sagi still won't write them back. Also they appear to be following us, which is moderately creepy.
Hello Sagi and Milly, I'm sorry you had to get caught up in all that trouble the other day. I know you two are from the Empire, but it's funny. You don't seem like the others. You both have such kind hearts...I can only imagine how beautiful your wings must be. There isn't much to do here, but I hope you come visit Azha again soon.
Sagi! Last time was a fluke, you understand? A fluke! I was careless, so don't get the wrong idea! You just wait. You'll rue the day you crossed the Dark Service!
Am I the only one who is having trouble taking Giacomo seriously?
And finally, the most important (if not necessarily the most interesting) letter of the lot...
From the registration lady
Good day, Mr. Sagi. This is the Coliseum registration desk. How have you been, sir? I can understand if this comes as a surprise to you. As a matter of policy, we ask all combatants to perform some kind of service to the Coliseum and they're not allowed to progress a rank until they do. Mr. Sagi, you're just about ready to move up a rank, so it's your turn now. The upper management has already arranged for your first task. Here's what you need to do. Please go to the infirmary in Sheliak. The doctor there has medicine we use to treat our wounded. We'll let him know you're coming, so all you have to do is go, get the medicine, and bring it back. Good luck, Mr. Sagi, and safe travels.
Oh, okay, that sounds easy enough. And we're in the right town and everything! Let's stop by the infirmary...
Music: Cornucopian Village
Video: Elle (included because Elle's voice is absolutely grating and at odds with the generally high quality voice work of this game. Also, I'm 99% sure that the doctor is Liam O'Brien but I can't find anything that confirms that)
Elle: I'm sick of lying around in bed every single day! Just let me do what I want! Who cares what happens to me! It's my body!
Doctor: Elle, don't talk like that. I want you to live. I wish you didn't have to be in pain, but you need to hang on to hope and keep living.
(Regain control, talk to doctor to initiate new cutscene)
Doctor: I'm sorry about all the noise. Elle is coping with a very serious illness.
Doctor: Yes...She's going through such an ordeal it's no wonder her emotions take over from time to time.
Isn't there some way to help her?
Mm...Such a cruel fate...
Doctor: Believe me, I've exhausted all that modern medicine has to offer in hopes of saving her. But no treatment seems to be of any effect, and her condition is rapidly declining...I'm at wits' end...
Elle: Grrrr, would you quit talking about me? Hey, you there! Those dog tags around your neck those are for the Coliseum! Ooh, cool! Then you must be one of the Coliseum's fighters! What's your name?
My...my name? It's Sagi.
Elle: Sagi? Never heard of ya. You sure you're not some kind of wuss?
Author error: There is a guardian spirit prompt here in which you can say Wuss? No way! or He has his moments. I apologize for not including this, as I did not do this sidequest in my advance run. I would normally pick He has his moments for giggles, but I felt like siding with Sagi this time so I went with Wuss? No way! instead)
Elle: Oh yeah? Well, why don't you do me a favor?
Elle: Uh-huh! Get them to set off fireworks for me at the Coliseum!
Elle: Yeah, real big ones! That way I can see 'em from here!
How do we get them to set off fireworks?
Elle: Oh, come on everybody knows that! You have to become champion!
Elle: Yep! If you're entered in the Coliseum, then you MUST want to be champion, right? So do it! Become champion, and just think of the fireworks as bonus! You don't know how happy that would make me. I bet I might even get better! In fact, I know I will! So make them set off some fireworks for me...pleeeeease?
You heard her. What do you say, Meemai?
Of course! I want to see the fireworks display. I bet it's beautiful!
OK, fireworks it is, then.
Elle: Woohoo! Thatta boy! You are the coolest EVER, Sagi! I knew you'd say yes. Yippee! I can't wait! I'm gonna stay right here and keep an eye on the Coliseum. I don't wanna miss it!
So that cutscene's over, and we're free to go. Er...actually, we haven't run the proper errand, have we? Let's talk to the doc again.
Doctor: Back to the matter at hand. I suppose as a Coliseum entrant, you're here for the medicine, correct? I received word from the Coliseum a short while ago. These are they. Please see them safely there.
All right! Time to take a ride in the blue flower.
And just like that, I can advance a rank! I haven't started any fighting yet, so we'll go over the monsters in rank 2 later.
I did, however, do something I've been meaning to do for a while...
...and spent 5000 of my 10000 rank points on this fine piece of equipment. It's basically the Hermit's Cane but better. It works like armor (it has 10 durability and loses a point every time an enemy hits you) but instead of decreasing damage intake, it prevents the character from being knocked over (thus suffering a large delay until their next turn and possibly canceling the turn you set up for them), which I find to be much more useful.
When I try to leave the coliseum after ranking up, our buddy Ark stops us.
Ark: You don't know? How can you not know? Behind each and every contestant here, there's someone contributing money. It's like a hobby for the rich. Sponsoring a successful fighter here in the Coliseum is like a status symbol for them. As a result, whenever some conflict arises between sponsors, they have the entrants under their wing duke it out for them. Well, as a result of THAT, you see rigged matches every so often. The world ain't always a pretty place. Anyway, my point here is it's for your own good not to beat anyone sponsored by that aristocrat Panie. Not only would you open yourself up to a world of hurt, your sponsor would also be at risk of retaliation. I hate to talk like this, but it's the truth. Mess with anyone else all you like, but stay away from Panie. I only say this because I'm expecting great things from you. I'll quit nagging at you for now.
Okay, so I should beat the everloving shit out of Panie's entrants. Got it.
Okay. That's enough sidequesting and exploration. Let's move on.
We have two possible destinations here; the Cloud Passage, and the Lesser Celestial River. Let's try the Cloud Passage first.
Wwwwwwow! You can walk on the clouds here!
They're so...fluffy. What an unsettling place.
A highway of clouds...Places like this make you realize how big the world really is.
I made the wrong choice, I guess. Maybe we'll have better luck in the Lesser Celestial River?
Look at those currents! I don't suppose a person could just swim across...
Why don't you jump in? Let's see if wenches float.
You first, dingbat. If we're lucky, your mouth will rust shut.
All right, enough.
Milly and Guillo turn away from each other and fold their arms. Then Milly spies something in the distance.
Look, Sagi, isn't that King Ladekahn and the other boy?
The camera pans down about ten feet to show Ladekahn and Gibari. Sadly, our heroes make no effort to catch up to them during this conversation.
Why couldn't we save time and take the Cloud Passage like everyone else!
Take it easy, Kahn. The Cloud Passage is unstable this time of year. You can't walk because the road's all broken up. Trust me, the Lesser Celestial River is way faster.
Hey, which one of us used to be a fisherman? The rivers and roads here are like my backyard.
OK, but how do we cross?
The camera pans a little to focus on the machine next to the boys.
That's where this thing comes in. It's for making clouds. The fishermen of Nashira use it to move between the Lesser Celestial River and the Cloud Passage while they look for the best spot to fish.
I get it. So wherever we can't cross, we just take a detour through the Cloud Passage. That's pretty smart...for you.
So here's something strange. The text for this line says 'For you...' Ha!, but Gibari's voice actor clearly says 'For you', my ass! I would normally assume this was a failed attempt at censorship, but there are later instances of Gibari using the word ass that are written out, not to mention a certain instance later where someone says something quite a bit stronger than that. Perhaps Gibari's VA just ad-libbed it and they took it but forgot to chance the text?
Here we go!
Gibari cranks the lever. Nothing happens.
Eh? What's wrong with it? Spin, dammit! Spin! SPIN!!!
Gibari cranks the lever a lot. Nothing happens.
Gibari jump kicks the machine. Nothing happens.
Gib...are you sure you know how to work that thing?
O-Of course I do?
The machine finally comes to life, producing a stream of purple cloud-air.
There, see? It's all taken care of.
The two boys jump into the current, and we finally regain control of Sagi and do the same.
Music: Rolling Rivers, Rolling Clouds
Yep, meeting Ladekahn is definitely going to be harder than it needs to be.
What are they doing here?!
Rambari didn't say anything about it.
I've got a bad feeling about this...Let's hurry. We have to catch up to the king!
At the moment, we can only really head north. Doing so and jumping back down to the river section triggers a new cutscene.
A rainbow?! Why's a rainbow gotta be out at a time like this? We can't go back for the mirror now!
Re-lax. I've got the royal mirror right here. It's a keepsake from my mother, so I always carry it with me.
Way to go, Kahn! Here, let me borrow it for a sec.
And thus is the dungeon's other gimmick introduced; there are rainbows in the Cloud Passage, and they can only be dispelled by shining light on them from certain spots in the river section. Naturally, this means there will be lots of hopping back and forth and finding light-shining hotspots. Considering the place is a bit labyrinthine already, things can get kind of confusing if you don't have a great sense of direction.
All right, let's go! If we dawdle, we'll miss the fishermen coming in!
And so they run off, and we just barely miss them again. We're pretty much the worst pursuers ever.
Fortunately for us, Gibari left the mirror behind like a chump.
Isn't this the mirror Gibari was using?
He must have dropped it when he ran off.
Say, can we use this to scatter rainbows like Gibari did?
Sagi, you gotta loosen up.
The rainbows are kind of hard to see in-game and even harder to show in screenshots, since everything in this area is kind of bright and colorful to begin with and the rainbow colors don't really stand out. Most of the area is purple and blue so you can kind of see the other colors a bit.
So anyway, this update is getting pretty long and this is where the dungeon really starts, so I'm going to leave off here and finish this place out next time.
But before I go, I have to document something.
(also, you guys might remember Cancerites. Yep, they're back.)