Part 36: Episode XXXII: Shiitake
So, Lynx and company new venture to the ruins of Viper Manor in order to speak with this Commander Norris (I will kill the first born of anyone that even thinks about uttering 'Chuck' in a post.)
If we'd gone here earlier the sentries would have told us nobody was allowed in until the commander had arrived as he's over in Termina on business. But, he never arrives until we go to Termina to see if he's around there. He's basically Schrödinger's Military Commander.
Viper Manor has seen better days... Regardless of whether we brought them or not, Harle and Radius will show up for the next few scenes for some exposition.
<sigh> "Time sure does fly... I was shocked to hear of Dario's death 3 years ago... And now, the general and the others are missing... The manor is in shambles..."
"Sheesh. Looks like you won the lottery on retirement plans."
"I took the liberty of conducting my own investigation, but I have discovered nothing... All I know is that a man named Lynx approached the general and has involved him in some kind of incident. The only difference with the other world you talk about is that something has happened to the general 3 years ago..."
"Well, that and the 'incident' in the other world was more 'stabbed him to death and probably murdered everyone else'. Kinda more conclusive..."
"I just hope this Norris fellow knows something..."
"I do not find it amuzing!"
"Ya know Kid had a smiling and non-smiling portrait. People might be more inclined to believe you weren't enjoying yourself if you had one of those. Especially with the whole jester get-up..."
"And every time ze vulgaire fleaz bitten femme Kid used zis alterné portrait she got perforated or talked about timez she was nearly so, non?"
"Huh... I never even noticed that... Forget I said anything..."
"And I hear there's a monster atop Sky Dragon Isle! What is up with this El Nido place!?"
"Excusez-moi. Comment allez-vous? Parlez-vous anglais?"
Anyhow, entering the well we used with Ziggy to initially infiltrate the manor will take us down to where Norris is stationed.
Music: Shadow's End Forest
The grate that was covering the alternate cave during our earlier, other world visit here is now open. We're now actually back in Shadow Forest. Before visiting this Norris chap, we can take a side trip through the woods to check out a couple points of interest.
Just south of the well is a small child who says his father was fucking around in a cave doing whatever stupid spelunking fantasy rednecks do and a rock fell over the entrance, trapping him.
If we head to the south eastern corner of the same area Lynx will spook an overgrown grasshopper. Said bug will angrily hop around before leaping into the little hole in the bottom left corner.
This, in turn, scares the shit out of the boy's Pa who leaps from the same hole. Quickly regaining his composer, he thanks us and shoves a reward into Lynx's paws.
Hey, it's one of the only references to one of the most important locations in Chrono Cross' predecessor. A mushroom. Terrific...
Lynx and his pals can actually use this toadstool if they do the truffle shuffle back to the cave where Serge recruited the wayward coke addled rockstar in the previous visit to this neck of the woods.
In the back of the cavern is a hobo stirring his vagabond stew. In the back of the same cave is a treasure chest which said hobo will be more than happy to share with us if we just find a mushroom to complete his soup. Guess where this leads...
"Anyway... What do you say we make a deal? Your mushroom for my treasure?"
"Uhh...sure. I mean, you know your mushrooms, right...? I know frack all about fungus so don't blame me if you start trippin' balls, you keel over dead, or you double in size until someone bumps into you..."
"Ya ya ya... Just fork it over!"
The cave dwelling hermit tosses the 'shroom into his broth...
"Oh... This rich fragrance... Mmmm! The way it melts in your mouth, yet how the firm texture brings out the flavor. De... De..."
The hobo doubles over in apparent pain...
He then explodes into a cloud of not entirely healthy looking gas... And then...
"In all my years...this...this is it... This is the stupidest thing..."
The horrific man-fungus trots over to the nearby pool of water...
"NOOOOOO!!! A mushroom monster!"
"Dude... I told you I didn't know a thing about mushrooms. You don't see me sticking everything I find in the woods in my mouth. Besides, I am the LAST friggin' person on the planet you should be complaining to about being turned into something dumb."
"I know! Why don't you join us? Ze Frozen Flame should be able to change you back to normal."
"Is this Flame's Tear thing a multi-use deal...? Cuz, I already called dibs if it's not."
"I'll stalk you through the depths of hell!"
And so the party gains a nightmarish axe-wielding mushroom man. Still not the most ridiculous character in the game, believe it or not. Very close, though...
If we return to Termina with Funguy and visit Lisa's Shop we'll discover that her father is always off in the woods and obsesses over mushrooms. Guess who we just recruited? He'll be a bit too shy to tell his daughter that popping 'shrooms all day out in the woods has finally caught up with him...
Before leaving Shadow Forest, there's one more very important gameplay aspect to this area we ought to cover...
Cuscuses... The Cuscus enemy has a very interesting trait which is exceedingly useful if exploited.
You see, Cuscuses react uniquely to being hit with magic attacks. Assuming they survive the strike...
...the gain the ability to use that same element and fire it back at the party. This can be very useful if Trap Elements are utilized. Laying down a trap element then casting the desired element of the same type will result in the Cuscus basically becoming an element farm. You can use all the higher level elements trapped from back in Fort Dragonia's guardians, equip them on shitty magic users at the lowest possible element slot, and go wild as long as you can afford the Traps.
It is a very, very handy and somewhat broken thing. But, there you have it.
Well, that is all to be done in Shadow Forest in any dimension. I think we've ruined enough lives for one day. Taking that fork in the path earlier will land the party in the surprisingly intact Viper Manor basement. A few areas are inaccessible at the moment. But, the path to Norris' station is pretty clear.
The basement leads out to the previously barred off dungeon from our last visit. Commander Norris is hanging out in the back of the prison.
Past a few cells later...
"As you can see, the manor is in shambles. There is still no sign of the general or the others. We are still investigating the area, but it appears that the Frozen Flame is not here."
"Yeah, I coulda saved you the trouble and told you that a long time ago. It's over in the Sea of Death or some crap."
"Sir... Are you really Sir Lynx? You seem different than I last remember..."
"I switched hats. Do you like it...?"
"Excuse me, sir, but who might you be?"
"I am Radius, a dragoon. Although I have been retired for 4 years."
"So you are Radius, one of the former Four Devas!? It is an honor to meet you, sir!"
"At least SOME young'uns can respect their elders."
"Says the guy that attacked a 250 year old woman because she was hanging out with a cat guy who you heard from hearsay might be the same cat guy that had maybe vaguely been involved with your friend you haven't seen in like five years."
"He may look like Lynx, but his spirit is of another."
"That is... quite strange, if I may say so."
"Pfft... That's nothing. You want to see some weird ass shit let me queue up this guy I met out in the woods on the old Teleporter here and..."
"Monsieur Lynx...we can terrify him with ze...colorful collection of characterz you gather another time, oui?"
<sigh> "I guess..."
"It is up to you, what you want to believe. So, what business did you have with Lynx? Have you uncovered anything about the disappearance of the general? You will be doing us a great favor by telling us what you know."
Music: Reminiscence ~ Feeling Not Erased
"Being from the main continent, we had doubted its very existence, so I was sent to El Nido Archipelago as a spy. I had narrowed down the location to Viper Manor, but it appeared as though General Viper and his men were in search of it as well. Eventually, I was called back to Porre, but it was then that I heard General Viper and his men had disappeared and that the manor had been destroyed as such. I heard only recently that there is good evidence the general and his men headed to the Dead Sea."
Ah... The impenetrable region in the already very hard to reach El Nido that is always covered with a constant hurricane overhead. That sounds...semi-important.
"...who wished to change this distorted world using the Frozen Flame."
"Ooh la lah! Such grand dreamz Monsieur Lynx!"
"Hold your tongue."
"So... The Dead Sea... That ocean was called the Sea of Eden until 3 years ago... This may just be the clue we were looking for. Once we uncover Lynx's plans, it should be easy enough to counter them."
"Are you going senile on me, gramps? You mean in the last three years you haven't put together the 'Sea of Eden' being renamed to the 'Dead Sea' and your dragoon guys disappearing...?"
"Well...it could have been a coincidence..."
"Zut was even ze reason zis 'Sea of Eden' waz renamed?"
"As a recall a great many people vanished there all at once..."
"There is no way to get in there. We searched all over for an entrance, but to no avail. No one knows anything about it, either..."
"Yes, I doubt you will be able to get in. But, I'm sure the demi-humans of Marbule know something about this, but they detest humans. Especially those from the main continent. Perhaps they would give us a hint if we were to go."
"Uhh... I think you mean perhaps I could find a hint. I think you're sitting this one out Grandpa Grand Wizard..."
"I want to know. I want to know if the Frozen Flame really exists, and about everything that has happened here."
"What about you?"
"Hmm? Moi? But of course! I will follow Monsieur Lynx!!! Ze odder one iz no longuer Monsieur Lynx."
"He ain't any Serge either. He'd better not have messed with my lucky bandanna. I'm gonna be super pissed if anything happened to that thing."
"Well, may I join you?"
"Well, you seem competent, you don't have a terrible accent, you can probably hook us up with a boat, and you're over 13 and not a talking mushroom... Welcome aboard, ace."
"There is a military boat docked in Termina. Let us use that."
And so our party gains a pistol wielding soldier. Firearms seem somewhat unfair in a fantasy setting... But then I remember it's a JRPG where the more archaic your weapon in compared to the current technology level, the more powerful it is.
Following Norris joining the party, we are immediately whisked off back to Termina's port...
<whistle> "Man, Norris... Not bad... Not bad at all... She's a beaut'!"
"Indeed. Though, I am afraid that freighter is assigned to other official duties in the Archipelago at the moment. Sir Lynx, if you will follow me."
"I have secured authorization for us to commandeer this vessel for our mission."
And so...with a mid-sized zodiac as our new Home World flagship...onward to adventure!
Funguy Official Art - There are no words...
Norris Official Art - That jacket doesn't even FIT you, man... Who are you trying to fool?