Part 7: Chapter VII: The Chamba MamboWell, now we're on the run from the fruitiest general in the entire Empire.
Since going to Sandflier Valley would get us nowhere fast, we head back up the main road and get a ! event.
Imperial soldiers march through the narrow pass.
Our heroes shook off their pursuit by hiding around a small corner. What is it about soldiers in fictional Empires who can't do the simplest jobs? Shoot the intruder, look around the corner, don't bonk your head on low-hanging door frames, things like that.
: "The Imperial Troops are here, too!? What are we going to do? We can't go back, and we can't go on, either!"
We could always hide out at the fishin' hole!
See? They're not chocobos! They say 'Kueh' instead of 'Kweh'!
: "They said they was gonna try and cut you off...went on up ahead. Yer lucky you didn't get yerselves caught!"
: "Yes, still...they've cut off our way out of here..."
: "Hmmm...you got a point there. Tell you what - seeing as you all helped me out back there, I wanna try and return the favor."
: "Lemme see...maybe, if you took that road, you could get past 'em...yeah, that's it! You can get to the desert that way!"
: "You mean...there's another road!?"
: "Well, it's kinda out of the way, but if you head north, go up to this big town called Chamba, you can get to the desert that way."
: "Really!? Oh, thank you! That means I can get back to where my friend is waiting! We'll try that route you mentioned. Thank you very much!"
: "No problem. Just keep yer head low and try not to get caught, eh?"
Well I'll be damned. Being nice to random NPCs actually paid off. Since this is a cutscene-heavy update I might as well mention that I'm actually doing a bit of editing on the game's script. Since the text boxes are much smaller, sentences and thoughts tend to be contained in small chunks, leading to a lot of ellipses. This is less lazy writing, and more writing around your limitation. When strung into full sentences, it becomes very disjointed, so I'm doing some grammatical pruning and alterations to make it flow better.
A new path from the north of Sarai opens up.
Hmm. Didn't the fat merchant mention Chamba got hexed? Ahh well, this is the only way the map's letting us go. I wouldn't want to veer off course in the middle of a desert, though. The Desert of Death in Breath of Fire 3 taught me that that was a bad idea.
We enter the town to get one of the better musical pieces in the game. It shows up in a few places, if I recall correctly.
Ducking into a building, we find a handy bit of equipment.
This will be very handy later on. Other than this, this part of town is abandoned for the time being, so let's talk to the one guy who's still here.
: "......What kind of question is that? Of course this is Chamba!"
:"Most of the town is still polluted by the hex and can't be used."
: "You've heard about how town all over the place were hexed during the war, haven't you?"
: "Uh...yes...I guess so..."
: "All you need to know is that ordinary folks like you can't go anywhere near someplace that's been hexed - it's too dangerous. If you need to go to Chamba for something, you'll have to wait until the hex is gone and...hmm?...looks like everyone's come back."
There's suddenly a commotion and a nearby gate opens.
The group of strange, armored people files in and one at the head holds up his hand for silence.
: "We've got another early start tomorrow, so make sure you get some sleep! All right, now get outta here!"
: "Those folks that just come back are a group of Purifiers. They go from town to town, purifying hexes."
: "So if we want to find out more about the hex, we should ask them, right? Thank you for your help."
The clean part of town is now populated by the Purifiers, who all have little snippets of conversation about the hex, Purifying, and other stuff like that. Most of what we get adds up to that hexes are like horrible dark mists made of bad mojo that the Empire used to fuck up cities during the war, and they're full of nasty monsters as a bonus. Purifiers go in to kick monster ass and perform holy rituals to dissipate the hex, but it's a slow process. They have to wear those gigantic suits of armor that are like Hazmat suits covered in plate mail inscribed with protective runes, otherwise even breathing in the hex mists will kill them in a slow and terrible manner. That old man we spoke with makes those suits of armor for them, but they're custom crafted and it takes most of a year to make just one. Cheerful stuff, no wonder that merchant didn't want his ass hexed.
Oh yeah, I forgot to show this off last time, but the King's Sword did indeed get broken when Ryu slashed Rasso. Cheap piece of crap, making me spend money on a new sword. Let's talk to the head Purifier and see if we can't get ourselves a way through North Chamba.
: "I'm the leader of this bunch - my name's Tahb. We're just about to sit down to supper, so whatever it is, it'll have to wait until after that."
We offer to wait around until they're done eating.
: "Hmm? You want to wait here? Fine by me, but if I were you, I'd rather walk around town or something than watch a bunch of people eat. Excuse us, huh?"
A brief black screen later...
: "We need to get through Chamba. Is there any way we can do that before the hex disappears?"
: "Nope, 'fraid not. There's a lot of negative energy bound up in that mist. You need special armor just to go inside. I figure it'll be at least another year before we can get rid of the hex completely and get Chamba back to normal..."
: "Still...If you absolutely have to get through now, there might be a way. You could ask one of my workers here if they'd be willing to guide you through."
: "So all we need is a guide, then?"
Simple enough! Let's talk to this chappy outside the mess hall.
: "Forget it! Without armor, you'd be dead in minutes! I don't want to have to be responsible for that!"
Sadly, that's the response of everybody in town. They flatly refuse, stating that we'll either die horribly due to the Hex mist, or we'll do something stupid and get ourselves and the guide killed. Understandable, but still frustrating.
Over by the boxes, though, we get a pair of Purifiers with some interesting exposition for us.
: "Well, yeah, I mean, they're right on the border, right?"
Once again, Synesta's where Elina went. This is after the war, so obviously she went after it'd been blasted. What kind of a moron goes to the site of a Black Magic Nuke?
: "Can you believe it? Just thinking about it makes me sick."
A Black Magic Nuke fueled by human souls. Jesus Christ, no wonder nobody wants another war with the Empire, they're crazy sons of bitches.
Let's go back to Tahb and ask him for advice.
: "...That's what I thought. It's just too dangerous to take unprotected, inexperienced people inside!"
: "We can't use any of the other roads!"
This shot creeps forward towards the gate ever so slightly with a soft hissing effect. I had no idea Sam Raimi was the director of photography for this game.
: "I mean, why else would anyone come here? Still..."
: "Sorry, 'fraid not. I mean, we need it to do our jobs, you know."
: "You'd need someone to help guide you."
: "You can barely see your hand in front of your face! Not to mention the fact that the streets are like a maze! As if that weren't enough, the place is full of ghosts, specters, and other monsters!"
: "I mean, we're just lucky they don't smash down that wall and us right now as it is!"
The gate takes several solid hits, and Tahb, Nina and Ryu back away.
Time to get ready for a boss figh-
Behold the second best character theme in the game.
: "Don't do that! You scared the wits out of me!"
: "If you were surprised by that, you will be even more surprised in a moment."
: "Uh...yeah, whatever. Um, this is Ershin. She works with us, but, ah, to be honest, she's a little odd."
: "Incorrect! Ershin is not odd. Ershin is saying she will guide these two."
: "Wh...What!? Are you out of your mind!? What would you do if something happened!?"
Can't argue with that logic.
Some kind of robot or short woman in a big suit of armor, or something. Ershin's just freaking weird. She has a very odd pattern of speech where she refers to herself in the third person and doesn't really seem to understand when people are talking to her, which is further muddled by what I suspect to be shoddy translation of her weird speech style leading to inconsistencies. In combat, she's got a suitably weird role: she hits like a truck with both physical and magical attacks, has a load of HP, and regenerates AP in the back row at a mind-boggling rate, but has almost no AP and is wildly inaccurate. Therefore, she needs some specific grooming to come into her own, but once she does, she's a very valuable addition to the party.
Also, as a bonus, here's the way the manga handles Ershin's talk with Tahb. It's even funnier like this.