Part 23: Episode XIX: Characters Are Welcome
Episode XIX: Characters Are Welcome
Music: Voyage - Another World
The world of Chrono Cross finally opens up a bit now that Serge and company have obtained the primary means of transportation across El Nido. It is time to stretch our legs a bit.
The El Nido Archipelago, as the name suggests, is broken up into a series of small islands (not unlike The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker...only with far less tedious sailing...) The core islands of El Nido are themselves surrounded by a chain of tinier, rocky little volcanic islands and coral reefs. Indeed, the only way in our out of the archipelago is via a small strait to the northwest.
Unfortunately, our pissant little sailboat is unable to transverse the current. So, long story short: we're in El Nido for the long haul and will never be leaving. Don't ask.
In any case, Glenn suggested we travel to the small island just northeast of Termina to visit his old mentor, Radius (who you may remember was the village chief back in Home Arni Village.) But...with our newfound ability to travel the sea, and a bit of a lull in the plot, we're free to pick up a trio of new characters to add to our ever growing err...colorful ranks...
Our first stop is Viper Manor. If you neglected to follow Guile's path up the backside of the mansion, now is a decent time to check it out for a handful of decent elements.
There isn't really a whole lot to the place coming here after the infiltration to the manor. Without Guile's gimmick (a soldier at the top of the bluff tosses rocks down that can damage the party and knock them off ladders) it is mostly just a shit load of climbing and fighting enemies the party can basically one-shot at this point.
This is where the party would have begun if they'd taken Guile's path into the estate. It's just south of the dragon stables and the infernal feeding mini-game.
It is possible to waltz into the front gate of the manor. But, a fairly tough robotic sentry has been posted at the gates and must be defeated before access is gained.
True to rumor, Viper Manor itself is all but abandoned. There is only a skeleton crew of dragoons wandering about and none of them really give a shit about Serge and friends ransacking the place. All the monsters crawling around also seem to have made their exit alongside Lynx.
As you'll recall, the slightly off-balance vaguely east-European accented scientist Luccia offered up her services if we were ever back in the area. We can now take her up on that offer. Unfortunately, she doesn't seem to be in her lab at the moment.
There is a dishwasher, who is <an extremely shitty> spy for Porre locked in a cage. Seems Luccia is getting some sun back where Kid got mortally wounded. Ugh...so much backtracking. I don't think it matters if he's let out or the cell or not.
It is of note that the experimental B.O.W. Pip has escaped from his cell and is no doubt ravaging peasants in nearby villages as we speak. Shame, that.
One of the few remaining folks from the Acacia regime is the old Prophet over in the library wing of the manor. Might as well see what his take is on recent events.
"The four Devas and most of the dragoons have accompanied him. It will be quite difficult facing the Porre military here."
"Good luck with that, gramps."
There is something behind the prophet's desk that is pretty pretty pretty interesting... It's a hatch into a basement beneath the library. Inside is...
This strange vehicle... Huh... So that's what happened to the Epoch. Well, I guess we know how Belthasar made it a good 1300 years into the past since when we last "saw" him in Chrono Trigger. Granted, if we're following Chrono Trigger's rules of time travel where there is only one timeline that can be fucked sideways with alteration at any point, the old Guru of Reason ought to have been wiped out of existence when Lavos was defeated and that post-apocalyptic timeline was erased... But, we've also thrown alternate dimensions into the mix in this series...so all bets are effectively off.
Also chilling out with the Epoch is a
The little critter can also change anyone's name if you're unhappy with their current title. Though, I opted not to alter our hero into Comrade Sergei.
Heading to the top floor of the manor and up onto the balcony...
True to the Porre Spy Dishwasher's word, Luccia is at on the upper balcony conducting SCIENCE.
"As it matures, it vill behave just like a human. However, dis NeoFio is like none otter. It is a poverful type, vith the ability to use Elements. Naturally, it vas I vho improved it. Ooh-hoho-hoho."
"...So it's a plant monster that can use magic? But, like EVERYTHING can use magic... You can buy magic at the corner store alongside a six-pack of beer... I fought a friggin' dodo bird that shat out fireballs at me. What's so great about this thing...?"
"Tentacles... Vhy dere are so many tentacles you can scarcely count!"
"Forget I asked anything..."
"But a 'Life Sparkle' is necessary for dat. I have pinpointed the vhereabouts of a Life Sparkle to a marsh east of Arni Village. So I sent some of our dragoons to retrieve it. However, none have returned... It is a shame, but I cannot allow anymore loss of life..."
"Yeah, shucks... What's a couple dozen men in pursuit of the Vegan Frankenstein's Monster?"
<sigh> "Indeed. I suggest you stay avay from dat marsh if you vish to live..."
Luccia returns to her laboratory now. Backtracking all the way back to the basement...
"Would you like to join us?"
"I guess the time is right. I am sure I can find some interesting research material if I tag along with you. I vill join you. Besides, I've already lost an experimental mutant, done my share of unethical testing on local vorkers, and spat in the eye of God enough times here. It is this or go vork for Umbrella Pharmaceuticals. Ooh hoho hoho!"
Well, I suppose resistance was futile for this one. I do believe Luccia may be the skinniest female character yet with a whopping 14.3 BMI (18.5 being the minimum for normal weight.) Science!
Luccia was by far the easiest of the current available recruits to pick up. We're going to have to work for the other two. As our new mad scientist pal suggested, the marshes sans-Hydra are home to this Life Sparkle thingamajig that will give life to her flower-based abomination. Said sin against nature is our next recruit. So, off to the swamps we go!
Music: Isle of the Dead
The Hydra Marshes are significantly more hazardous this time around seeing as they now are properly populated by enemies. Chrono Cross is fairly lenient about exploring higher level areas early. It usually leaves them sparsely populated outside of a mob or two that does a fair bit of ass kicking as a "you're not supposed to be here yet, piss off!" warning.
Using the bell key item borrowed from the dwarf back in Guldove will allow safe passage across the vine that previously whipped Serge in the face in our first visit.
The actual Life Sparkle is in the northeastern most part of the marshes and is guarded by a pair of dimwitted monsters arguing over the chest containing it.
"Finally, it be ours! All because the Hydra be extinct now! Muah-hah-ha!!!"
"Humans destroyed the ecosystem that kept the water clean... That be why the Hydra died out. With the ruler of the forest dead, the dwarves be gone now! This forest be belongin' to us!"
"Vot are dose two talking about....?"
"Shoulda been saying their prayers..."
The party is forced into a battle against a testicleface troll...
...and his pal the penishead goblin.
Long story short: certain parties were circumcised that fateful day.
And now the seed of life for our little botanical nightmare is in hand. For science, of course!
Before departing the ever scenic toxic sewage hole of a marshland, there is one last item in need of gathering to the far east of the region.
Yet another piece of our skeletal clown companion is shoved down a hole in a grimy pit of the swamp mud. That makes 3/5 pieces of the jerk collected in all. Feel free to take a wild guess as to who our last recruit will be...
"It must've been from my grandma's upbringin'... Grandma...!? That's right! I was raised by my grandma! I wonder how she's doin'...? I bet she's worried sick..."
"Considering you've been dead long enough for all traces of flesh to be scrubbed from your body, I'd say there's a good chance any elderly woman you may have known has long since croaked."
"Ergh... Of course, you might have just been tossed into an acid bath when you died...perhaps by a disgruntled English showerhead salesman?"
Backtracking all the way back to the roof of Viper Manor...
So, according to Luccia all we need to do is sprinkle this sparkle dealie on to the flower in the pond and...
FUUUUUUUUUUCCCKKKK!!!! WHAT HAVE I DONE?!?!
"I'm NeoFio. So you must be my master. Nice to meet you, bud!"
And thus a fully gestated flower/human hybrid joins the ranks of Team Serge. The fuck does "omnidextrous" mean?
Good lord! I'm sorry I asked! I'M SORRY I ASKED!!
Our journey will next take us to the Water element themed dragon island directly south of the central continent.
Music: Drowned Valley
Of course this wouldn't be Another World if shit wasn't wildly out of whack with the local ecosystem. It seems the alleged Water Dragon Isle has all but dried up.
"That thick wall of ice blocking the entrance into the underground cavern proves it. El Nido sure is full of mysteries!"
That is an understatement. In any case, due north of the area's entrance, across the arid lowlands, is our destination and person of interest.
What is it with people in El Nido and giving random human remains to strangers? I must have missed that custom in the tourist pamphlet.
"Yeah, I had a pretty good physique. Did I ever tell ya I did acrobatics...? Hey...!? That's right! I used to be a clown in the circus!"
"You're pulling my leg, chief."
If the party continues north they will come upon the fairy commune. Unfortunately, as Serge has decided to be a jerk and our only fairy based ally is currently traveling through the small intestines of a swamp monster, these guys won't get much in the way of development. We can speak to the dearly departed Razzly's sister for the skinny on local happenings.
"Due to the abnormal weather conditions, the fountain has run completely dry. This island, once called the 'Island of Springs,' is desolate, as you now see... The Water Dragon once reigned over this island. But that was long ago... The entrance to the underground caverns has now been completely sealed, and it is impossible to enter..."
True enough, the northernmost reaches of the island is barred by a mirror-like solid sheet of ice. I really hope we don't need to seek out any icy blessings in the near future. That could be problematic...
All the way back to the boat, everybody...
Our second to last stop takes us to the northeastern most and noteworthy miserable spot in El Nido, the Isle of the Damned. You may recall hearing about this place from earlier as being the site where Glenn's older brother, Dario, was struck down in an expedition.
Music: Isle of the Dead
Needless to say, judging by the décor of thousands of dried bones and unsettling flesh like ooze permeating the island's grounds...we are really REALLY not supposed to be here just yet.
So, we'll just be taking a very quick dash straight north from the entrance to secure the fifth and final piece of the Skelly puzzle.
Well, in a manner of speaking... It doesn't matter which order Skelly's assorted parts are collected. The following scene will automatically play out when the final cache is located.
"Ahh, I'll just connect whatever!"
"Make sure you can differentiate your ass from your elbow."
"The leg bone's connected to the knee bone..." <whistle>
"Alright, alright. I'll shut up... But seriously, thanks a lot guys. I'm finally in one piece now. I'm sure we'll meet again, somewhere, someday... One of these days, I"ll return the favor."
Skelly departs, taking all his Key Item bones with him... There is really fuck all indication as to where he goes unless you've spoken with every minor townsperson up to this point...
Music: Another Termina (Okay...this is seriously the last time for a long while...)
But, the fact of the matter is he's gone back to Termina. Specifically, a house in the top-right most part of the main square, just next to General Viper's statue.
Speaking with the blind old woman in the house will trigger a new scene once Skelly is put altogether (though you could come earlier and she'd mention her grandson went to clown school and has been missing for some time. Hint hint!)
Suddenly our scatterbrain comedian pal bursts through in a terrifying/ridiculous display of his reincarnated full form.
"That voice... Could that be you...?"
"It's me, Skelly!!! I've come back home!"
"Skelly!? Ohh, Skelly...! Come over here and let me hug you!"
"So...padre... Thoughts on this reunion...?"
"Hehe... Well, this was worth the effort."
<sniff> "Grandma, I don't know how to break this to you, but..."
"It's alright, it's alright, Skelly. I'm just so happy that you are back. It must have been very hard on you. Don't leave again, Skelly. "
"Oh grandma, I got totally boned..."
"I'm not crying because I'm sad. I'm crying because I'm so happy. You always told me, 'Don't hold back tears of joy.'"
"If this is the weirdest goddamn thing I see all week, I think I'll be happy..."
Some time passes... Or at least the party leaves and re-enters the house...
"Hell, I've already teamed up with one unholy affront to the gods today... Let's go double or nothing!"
Did I mention Chrono Cross can be a weird fucking game...?
Welp, now that our party has grown significantly more terrifying in just a few short steps, I suppose it's time to stop procrastinating and see what all the fuss is about with that old geezer, Radius.
"Huh... Do any of you guys smell... smoke...?"
"This nose is for looks only, pal."
"I only been selph aware phor like a hour, bud. I don't even know what the heck smoke IS!"
"My sense of smell hasn't vorked worth a damn in over a decade. Did you know dat combining komodo pup scales wid beach bum stomach juices creates an acidic cloud of vapor? Very potent."
"Note to self: Use Teleporter before going ashore."
NeoFio Official Art - You wouldn't want to see her angry eyebrow leaves.
Skelly Official Art - Clowns...terrifying since 1020 and counting...
Voyage - Another World
- NeoFio's Japanese title is the "Improved Breed Fio". Doesn't quite roll off the tongue smoothly, does it?
- Likewise, poor Skelly is just called "Skull". Who the hell would hire Skull the Clown?