Part 21: Chapter XXI: Jailbreak
Our master plan begins by waiting until nightfall, so we hit the hay.
Fou-Lu covers his face with his arm shakes with what appears to be laughter. It's hard to tell.
So yeah, that was another complete cocktease, cause it's time to go all Metal Gear Solid. To the castle!
Nina glances back to Scias.
: "Aren't you going to try and stop us, Scias?"
: "I w-w-was t-t-told to t-t-tell them if you did anything. They d-didn't t-tell me to st-stop you."
: "......Thank you, Scias. I guess you're one of the good guys."
Over here is a guard asleep at the job. We aren't going to wake him up to get past since that's not where Cray is, so that part of the castle's off-limits. Going to the other side of the room gets us spotted by the other guard.
The first round, the guard's only action is to be shocked (and make everyone hear the ! noise from Metal Gear Solid in their heads.) You have to go all out on the guard to whack him in one turn, otherwise he yells for help and you're screwed.
Don't worry, we're just incapacitating them. We aren't trying to add "murdering Ludian soldiers" to our shitlist.
Oh yeah, there's random encounters in here too. Some are just flies and the like, while some are sleeping guards. If you wake them up they'll yell for help the turn after they're awakened, so treat them like normal guards that give the additional option of ignoring them and running away.
There's a handful of guards posted in the halls and stairways up to Cray, but one off to the side guards the best part of this section.
In the room where Cray got grilled, we find one of the best accessories in the game.
This is nothing less than a godsend for Ershin. I modeled it with Ryu because I was lazy and also put it on him for a while because I forgot how useful it was on Ershin.
To the top of the tower!
: "How could I let this happen!?"
: "We came to help you get out of here! To help you escape!"
: "Huh? What good would that do? I mean, in the first place, where would we go, anyway?"
: "It's just that if you're ex...executed...the Worens will try to take revenge and break the alliance! Besides, as long as it's with you, Cray...I'll go anywhere!"
: "Maybe...maybe you're right, Nina...
: "No...you are right. And if we're stuck here, who's gonna look for Elina? Nobody else cares! I mean, even if everyone gives up hope, we can't, right?"
: "We've got to get to Worent. I have to make sure they don't do anything stupid!"
With a surprising amount of forethought on his part, we get Cray back in the party.
Time to show off that first level Earth/Water combo I've not been able to showcase without Rock Blast, Storm.
Take that, you evasive little brat!
So, we leave Ludia and get to Worent. Trying to go back into Ludia gets a prompt saying, in effect, that going back would probably be an exceptionally stupid idea. In Worent, nearly every NPC has a different response to Cray when he talks to them, mostly relief at his return and assertions that he only need give the word and they'll start murdering Ludians. It's good to have minions.
We go talk to the Elders, who say we should go check on Tarhn, so it's back to Tarhn. Thank God we can just go straight to her camp now.
: "I'm sorry...if I'd been more responsible..."
: "Cray...I know I'm your mother, but you're old enough now that you don't need to apologize to me if you've done something wrong. You're not a child anymore. You did what you felt you had to do, right?"
: "That's right. Cray did what he did because he wanted to help find my sister."
: "Princess Nina...I know the loss of your sister must be difficult, but whatever you do, don't give up hope. She could turn up anywhere, anytime. In any event, you all must be tired. You can figure out what to do next tomorrow."
With that, we take a quick snooze, and pop out of the tent in the morning to talk to our party.
: "I'd be lying if I said I wasn't worried about what's going to happen next, but Tarhn reminded me that hope is only lost if we give up."
Ershin and Scias aren't particularly interesting at this junction, but Cray says something very interesting.
: "The Empire has made their demands. They say that to prevent further 'incidents' like the one we caused, the Alliance has to turn over huge areas of land on the border to create a 'Neutral Zone.'"
Of course, the Empire doesn't have to give over squat. Funny, that.
: "Let's think about what we should do now."
: "So the Empire is using you as an excuse to try and get the right to enter the lands controlled by the Alliance whenever they want, huh? As treaty conditions go, that's pretty ridiculous. They're up to something...But what?"
: "I don't know, but it seemed they were looking for something..."
: "You know what? I've been thinking, and I think I've figured out what they're looking for. I think they're looking for Ryu."
Gasp of surprise!
: "When we were in that town in the desert, that captain from the Empire said they were looking for a dragon, right? Think about it...I found Ryu naked in the middle of the desert, the Mud Dragon suddenly became violent around him, he has a Dragon's Eye...nothing about him is normal!"
Ryu slumps over, dejected at being called a freak. Also note this is the first time the party so much as acknowledges the possibility of Ryu being anything more than a normal person, despite seeing him regularly transform into a hybrid creature and having numerous NPCs refer to him as a dragon. My theory is that "dragon" was something less blatant before translation.
UPDATE: My theory may be correct!
But yeah, in that sequence [with the faeries] both 'dragon' and 'dragon boy' are 竜のヒト, man dragon, where 竜 does refer to actual dragons (mud dragon as mentioned by Nina is 泥の竜 (dragon of mud)). Maybe the fact that 竜のヒト is more literally 'man of dragon' makes it sound sufficiently metaphorical that it'd still surprise them that he was an actual dragon.
Thanks, Polsy, this makes sense.
: "Um...that's not to say that I don't like you or anything like that..."
: "Hmmm...if that's true...if they really are looking for Ryu...he could be used by either the Empire or Ludia against the other. Sounds to me like you need to figure out if that's true or not."
: "Maybe if we take Ryu to meet the Wind Dragon in Wyndia, he can tell us what we need to know."
: "Makes sense to me. If you want to know about a dragon, then best place to ask is another dragon. I'd say it's worth a try!"
: "You can use that to get through the ruins to Wyndia. I don't know if your friend Ryu is a dragon or not, but I know the way to find out is to ask the Wind Dragon."
Here's one of the minor plot holes in this game. Tarhn is a priestess of Ch'o Ryong, the Grass Dragon. Ch'o Ryong lives out here in the Golden Plains. Wouldn't it be way easier for her to just take us on a short walk to Ch'o Ryong to ask the dragon-y questions to a dragon?
Funnily enough, Ershin partially closes this plot hole immediately if you talk to her in camp, though it's still shaky.
: "Ershin explains that there are some dragons that can speak as well as understand human language. The Wind Dragon of Wyndia is one such dragon."
Spoilers: Ryu's able to talk to Ch'o Ryong too later in the game, but that might just be because Ryu's a dragon rather than Ch'o Ryong being able to speak human language. Also spoilers. Ryu's a dragon.
Also Scias is pacing around at the boundaries at camp, apparently looking for money.
Before we go into the ruins, there's one errand we have to do first.
We trade our lead ball we got from that huckster at the beginning of the game for a bronze ball in Shyde. We're ready for the ruins, now.
So now we have a maze over an abyss full of dead ends and dead ends with items which I will be glossing over.
Caterpillars attack the party member with the lowest HP without fail. They also use Chlorine. That's about it.
Oh joy, one of these puzzles. Rotate the lasers to open a path, blah blah blah.
Here's how it looks when we walk in.
This is the actual door out of here, but there's another one with something shiny in it.
This is how the lasers look when you're done and on the other side, by the way. That chest had a bunch of fishing lures.
So, we climb these huge stairs to find...
A ramshackle old hut? That's...weird.
This guy in the back is easy to miss, but he'll trade his iron ball for a bronze ball.
Huh. So it's just a hut in the middle of nowhere. Confusing!
Down the path is Ahm Fen, the next area on the way to Wyndia.
It's a swamp. There's hills, wooden pathways, and you can descend to the swamp floor for items and alternate paths.
Patrolmen don't attack unless you attack, and they'll run if they're low on health. If you guard for a turn or two instead of attacking, the Patrolman will give you a free heal and leave.
Crackers are weird bird things that use Mind Flay. What's that do, you ask?
A fitting character to have it.
Meanwhile, Scias gets the second level of ice magic, Ice Blast. It's a stronger version of Frost.
Let's move on and see what's in the next part of the area, shall w-
SNAKES! BIG FUCKING SNAKES!
Actually they're as harmless as kittens, and very skittish. You see that X on the pathway?
It's a weak spot in the pathway that cracks loudly when you step on it, making the snakes slither ahead.
Using the Xes strategically, you can use the snakes' backs to traverse this area and get all the items within. However, they take annoyingly long to move in the right spots so be glad you're not watching a video of it.
"Patrol In Effect"
I like this little bit of flavor just before the end. It's not just a random swamp, it's a preserve for the rare and endangered Fucking Humongous Snakes, which explains the patrol enemies.
Well, that's Ahm Fen done. Next time, we get to Wyndia!