Part 35: Ancient Path to Death
So, we are done with Eluca and Zhamo. It's just us and Ayuta and Mana now...
Interestingly enough, we can actually talk to Vahti directly at this point. This was not the case in previous chapters that we could talk to our partner (except at the very beginning of each chapter).
He was so rambunctious, we often didn't know what to do with him.
We've witnessed the birth of so many new lives.
And just as many deaths.
Vahti... are you crying?
Is something wrong?
No, it's just... as these memories washed over me, I couldn't help but begin to cry...
...I understand. We have seen far too much death over the years.
Even if we defeat Ayuta, it may only mean more sad memories for us.
After we defeated Zhamo... our own flesh and blood... I finally realised something. I don't want to live a life filled with nothing but battle.
And yet, we have already crushed Zhamo's dreams. We can't let ourselves give up.
We will get through this alive. And when we do, we will create the kind of a world that Zhamo would have wanted.
So. I guess we could talk to Ayuta and Mana...
I can't keep asking him to protect me. I need to be able to fight on my own as well...
How did Escher and Musiea handle their final moments?
They were both incredibly strong.
No matter how tough things got for them, they never lost their cool, and they fought bravely to the end.
They were as close to evolutionary perfection as humanly possible...
Unfortunately for them, I simply had more experience.
Even after the Executioner showed up, they tried to fight him off... but they were unsuccessful.
Olgar, I have repeated this process over and over, for literally millions of years.
And yet, I regret nothing.
I will reach my destination, no matter how many dead bodies I must climb over to do so...
I decided that at the very beginning.
If I look back even once... it would all come crashing down.
Trust me, Olgar.
I will show destiny that humankind will never go down without a fight.
(Mana, I'm afraid we will not be going to the same place when we die...)
(But if it means you can be reborn into this world, that's a sacrifice I am willing to make.)
So, anybody up for a dungeon?
Actually, we'll come back to that, but first let's again eavesdrop on Mana and Ayuta.
Olgar and who again?
Well, no matter about that. The dungeon is "Ancient Path of/to Death".
The puzzles are again blocks and switches, except now we have to push the blocks around instead of swapping with them.
They are not hard.
And so here is the forest turtle, for the last time.
So, moving on to the second part of the dungeon with crystals we need to break in order to clear the path forward.
Two more puzzles that are not that interesting.
Mana and Ayuta are standing on a hill...
...just as we approach.
Not sure how obvious this is, since even in the game there is no animation for it, but what happened is that the tremor caused Mana to fall and slide down that slope.
So we need to get to where she is.
Actually, on second thought you know what, she'll be fine. We should stop for a chat.
My partner... you mean Theia?
Theia... what kind of woman was she?
Her genetic rank was only third-best. Technically, that should have disqualified her from becoming part of the First Couple.
I swear, one of these days I will replace Vahti's portrait with that of Snake.
In order to determine who should be the First Couple, the people of my world conducted a population-wide test.
I was ranked first and Theia was third.
I'm guessing the people with the two highest genes are the only ones supposed to qualify.
Yes, in fact the second ranked was that Cyllis Mackenzie person that we haven't heard much about so far.
That's right. But... I just couldn't bear the idea of spending eternity with someone I didn't love.
So, I rebelled. I decided that Theia was more important to me than humanity's future.
So I took Theia's hand, even as she resisted, shook off pursuers, took control of the Ark... and travelled 10,000 years back in time to this planet.
...And what happened to Theia?
Why, she's here.
Sorry, I wasn't being clear. This whole ark is Theia.
What do you mean?
Her mind was assimilated with the Ark.
Why would she do that?
For a very simple reason. Our descendants were unable to defeat the Qualia.
So she agreed to abandon her body and leave only her hopes for the future.
So it is her will that keeps the Ark Arena going.
If her mind is part of the Ark, what happened to her body?
We cloned it and put it in cold sleep.
Ha ha... you must think me a sentimental fool.
And you were okay with that?
Of course not.
Even now it makes me furious when I think of it. There's no way you could understand how I feel...
Well, anyway, soon we arrive to see Mana about to be devoured by two monsters...
We're going to be doing this fight with Ayuta, but it's just an ordinary fight so nothing to worry about really.
Phew, looks like we all survived.
Why did you come help me?
If something had happened to you, who would fulfill your role and--
And so they go on their way.
Over here is an accessory in a chest. (Notice Mana standing around above the stairs...)
Olgar gets it because he needs all speed and luck he can get...
Now let's talk (again) to Mana.
You're right. I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said that.
He needs me.
Forgive me for saying so, but it doesn't seem that way...
Right now, I am the only one who can help him.
Have you heard about Theia yet?
Yes. We were told that her mind has merged with the Ark.
Ayuta still has feelings for her, even after all this time.
I knew it. I had a feeling.
And you're okay with the man you love being in love with someone else?
My father ordered me to marry a duke from a neighbouring country.
Regardless of what I felt, I knew that it had to be done to protect our country.
But... I still wanted to choose who I would marry on my own.
Ayuta the stablehand was the one who took me away from the castle and rescued me.
He continued to smile for me, even as he was suffering injuries inflicted by our pursuers. It went on like that for months...
And then you were summoned here.
Yes. Once we came to this Ark, Ayuta's memory came back.
And now he's no longer the man I knew.
Ayuta is cursed with an enormous burden...
But even so, I feel that it is my turn to support him now.
I know how you feel, I would do anything for Olgar.
You... know how I feel... huh...
Well, at least Mana's behaviour in this chapter now makes a bit of sense.
And finally, finally, we reach the boss of this area.
Vahti's a bit tired...
It's kind of strange. We've been immortal for so long, I had forgotten what it was like to worry about injuries.
But you know, it's kind of nice. Feeling pain again, having you care for me...
Perhaps immortality causes one to forget things that should not be forgotten.
Yes, I think you're right.
With that said, let's go back to the bedroom to rest up a bit.
Well that's not good. It doesn't look like Ark can last for much longer...
Footsteps are heard outside...
Well, don't know about you, but I think this episode is already getting a bit long and this seems as good a place to stop as any. Next time we'll take a break from dungeons to deal with some (more) plot!