Part 33: Chapter XXXII: Master Exploder
The sandflier minigame is interesting. Each path between cities has its own map, and it's essentially a time trial racing game with no penalty for being horrible at it. Circle button accelerates, X button brakes, left and right on the d-pad turn you left and right. If you hammer on the directional buttons when you hit a sand dune (the dots on the mini-map) and fly into the air, you do SWEET TRICKS and get bonus points, so long as you don't crash-land. If you're fast, you get lots of game points, and there's not much room for error; you can't afford any crashes and you need to use the sand dunes to jump over barriers for short cuts.
As you can see, I'm not really that good at it.
Some offscreen practice later though, and my game points break the 10k mark. That certainly won't be significant at some point in the near future.
So, we could go on with the plot by investigating Kyoin, but advancing the plot is for chumps. We have the entire eastern continent available to us again!
One good design decision is that once you do the sandflier minigame once for a specific area, you can just travel over it on the world map like any other path.
This, however, is the point where I realized I hadn't visited in the faeries since about the Tower of Wind.
I panicked and went to the Faerie world, hoping beyond hope they'd managed to get competent since I'd been gone.
Those notes don't look promising.
I honestly don't know if I'd have lost that last faerie if I hadn't had it hunting, but I thank God I kept at least one on the job. However, if you'll notice, the three dead faeries finished the construction of those houses before they died of neglect, meaning we technically fulfilled the requirements of an old acquaintance.
Yes, Njomo doesn't care if you murdered your faeries with apathy, she just wants you to care enough to make a house or two for them before she starts teaching you.
: "All right, first I'll show you how to use Pique, OK? You'd better learn it, 'cause if you don't, I'm gonna get real upset, OK?"
Njomo is actually a really good Master for Cray and Ershin. She only reduces their formidable amount of HP a smidgen in return for increased speed and AP, and her Will lets them counterattack on occasion. Ryu also benefits from the AP boost.
: "Be sure to keep helping all the other faeries! When there are more than 8 faeries in the village, come back and I'll teach you some more magic!"
Yeah, about that...
Anyway. Njomo's abilities are probably the most oddball ones in the game, and I will certainly be getting all of them since I'll be getting the maximum number of faeries.
In order to repent for my total neglect of the faeries, I went and investigated every ? I could find to help the faeries hunt.
I also did it to showcase Ursula's overworld Triangle ability: shooting things in the God-damned face. This is actually not the miracle it sounds like in the hunting game, though, as shooting an animal and having it run out of range while you stand to line up the next shot means its meat will almost certainly be Ribs by the time you kill it. It's very good when you're able to plug a ton of shots into the animal quickly while it can't run away, but you're honestly better off sticking with the cornering strategy. Nothing stopping you from shooting them in the face point-blank though!
As you can see, even one round of hunting gives the faeries a lot of food. I went on a few more to make sure the last faerie didn't starve. Thank god they can somehow asexually reproduce.
: "Kahn never would've been able to get this far. You've learned everything I have to teach."
Visiting Una once more, we discover that ability that needed the 10,000 damage combo was Blitz. Since we learned this with Fou-Lu, she doesn't need to teach us it, which means we have all her skills. There's a few Masters that have abilities you can skip like this.
To the next Master!
: "There is little more I can do for you on your journey with the Endless. However, I may be able to impart upon you some of the wisdom I have learned."
Hell yeah, I love wisdom!
: "It seems you have not yet met with the ancient dragons. You must first meet with them. There are five of them: Ni Ryong, the Mud Dragon; Sa Ryong, the Sand Dragon; Ch'o Ryong, the Grass Dragon; Hae Ryong, the Sea Dragon; and the Rock Dragon."
Damn. Contrary to what she seems to be saying, you only need to visit two of the dragons before she will apprentice you. Also, she seems to be ignoring Su Ryong, the Tree Dragon. Nobody loves tree huggers I guess.
: "Well, 'ow goes your journey, eh? Instead of wandering around, why don't you maybe look for some treasure instead, hm? If you can show me some interesting items, maybe I could be persuaded to teach you some of my business secrets, eh?"
I have an entire backpack full of shiny things. Let's see if he likes any of it.
: "You call zis a treasure? I should almost ask you to pay me money to look at it, it is so bad! At zee very least, I was 'oping you would 'ave a Tin Ball. Don't waste time, and don't waste money. Zis is not only a rule of business, but of life, eh?"
Alright, now we know the real use for that metal trading side-quest. Marlok just wants to see your balls in exchange for teaching you his business secrets.
...that came out wrong.
"It's my very own treasure, but I'll trade it to you if you want."
Lucky for us, the Tin Ball is only a few doors down, right next to the NEXT Master we can talk to.
: "I wish there was something I could do to help you, but I can't leave the children unattended. If you like, I can share with you some of the things I've learned over the years. They may help you on your journey."
Alright, lay it on me.
: "Very well, I shall first teach you how to Guard....hm?....it appears that none of you are ready to learn this yet. To learn what I have to teach, you must have a more open heart. You must realize the importance of all things. And, you must know how to Ward. Return here once you have learned this, and I will teach you."
Read: find a Master who has a Will called Ward, get him to teach us, then come back to Lyta and ask her again. We won't be getting her for a little while. Let's just go show our balls to Marlok.
Not like that you creepy sons of bitches.
: "Zis color, zee shine, zee texture...it is wonderful. Thank you for showing me such a beautiful item. As thanks, I will teach you Greed. If you want to be rich like me, zis is zee first step, no?"
Marlok is, fittingly, sort of useless except when you need what he has. He power-trains your AP and HP in exchange for all of your other stats. It's painful, but he's essentially boot camp for HP/AP, which means every character can use him. He's very much a Master for min-maxers. Plus, Greed gets you more money from battles.
: "I am interested in zee rare and unusual treasures. If you can show me something like zee Copper Ball, zen I will teach you something else, yes?"
Next on the agenda: revisiting the coast by the dam, which is still under several hundred tons of mud.
As was pointed out to me in the thread, you actually have to talk to the dragons with Ryu to understand them. I just never did otherwise.
: "From the bottom of the Sea of Mud, I watcheth o'er this world. I hear the earth speaking in her dreams, and I doth guide the boundaries of the land. Tell me, young Yorae Dragon...Dost thou need my strength?"
If we say no, we get a rather response.
: "So be it...I shall continue my vigil...alone..."
Of course, we really want Kaiser Dragon unlocked, so we say yes.
Mud Flow is a water/earth breath attack (meaning it does more damage based on how much HP you have) that hits twelve times. Very, very powerful. Like all magic you get from the dragons, though, you can only use it once before it grays out, then you have to rest at an inn to gain access to it again.
If you talk to a dragon again after you get its magic, it gives you a hint of where to go next, like so:
: "Another awaits your coming...in the land called Shikk, surrounded by trees. If thou seekest the dragon, seek ye there."
That's for Su Ryong. We, however, won't be getting him next, as we know where to find Sa Ryong and Ch'o Ryong already.
Next up, we visit North Chamba once more to check up on the place.
: "The hex hasn't been fully removed yet, and...well, I just wouldn't go in there, OK?"
Bah, I'm sure it's fine.
The Angler is technically a boss battle, but it's optional and cripplingly boring so I didn't record it.
If you want to simulate it, watch that part of the Ight fight where I used KaiserBreath and repeat it four or five times with some healing in-between. It didn't even use Curse once. Luckily, there are other ways to obtain it.
There's two reasons you want to go out of your way to fight it. One, it's a giant brick of EXP.
Sweeter. Ershin can learn all Level 3 elemental magics now, and has a final unique ability with the whopping level requirement of 45. I will abuse the Bot trick to get him up to that level to show it off, as I've never actually gotten it in a normal playthrough.
BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD! FISH-HEADS FOR THE FISH-HEAD THRONE!
: "There's tons o' those inside the black mist...there's so many of them, it's almost like a fishing spot."
You gotta be kidding me.
Yes, North Chamba becomes a fishing spot once you kill the Angler. This place is utterly infested with jellyfish, and catching anything other than the squishy bastards is a minor miracle. The next most common fish here is a Bullcat - which I didn't find because of all the jellyfish, and we haven't seen yet as the other fishing spot that has them is in the Empire - and the least common fish, one I'd never caught before this playthrough yet caught TWO OF in my first visit to Chamba...is the Acheron.
Acherons can be used in combat to poison everybody on the battlefield, including your party. Other than that, they're used to buy a single item in one Manillo shop, the Star Dress, which requires three Whales and eight Acherons. It gives +5 Concentration Points. Not worth the effort in the slightest.
Last on the agenda for today is a visit to our old buddy Stoll.
: "Well then, I guess you're ready to learn my other trick!"
It does exactly what you'd expect it to.