Part 112: The Snow BloomsUpdate 21: The Snow Blooms
We'll start off this update by tackling the Art imitating life quest properly, since Ragnar accidentally fulfilled the requirements already in his playthrough.
The workers gave me a list of what they want from the forest. It's... oh, what they want you to find is... just 1 set of Red Foreleg! I think you can get them from a dragonfly monster in the white forest. When you have it, just sell it to me. I'll take care of the rest! Please be careful!
After selling the required item to her...
The workers will be so happy... They can do a lot that they've never tried before! There should be new items in stock soon! I can't wait to see them, either! I'll keep doing my best to make your journey safer. Try not to get hurt, okay? A-And if you do get hurt... Don't die... Promise me! And if we need anything else, you have to be the ones to help, okay?
And that's it. Now let's go hunt for the Snow Blooms.
Heads up... there's a big one ahead.
Bertrand quietly points to a dreadful-looking, multi-headed dragon, that poses quite a threat indeed! You stop yourself from gasping, but the monster seems to be in a deep slumber and shows no sign of noticing you regardless.
Knight, do you think that monster with all the necks might be the one?
In answer to the black-robed girl's question, you focus on the monster's nature... But you sense no special powers from this adversary.
It's sleeping... There is little point in waking it up, yes?
It would be foolhardly to wake such an obviously dangerous opponent solely to fight it. You quietly distance yourselves from the slumbering monster and move on.
...It kind of reminds me of Trand.
The way it doesn't wake up even when we walk past it.
You think so too, Knight?
Come to mention it... He does have a similar air about him...
D-Dude, you really shouldn't compare him to this... this... pfft, hahaha!
You chat whimsically about the monster as you return to exploring.
You find a guard in the ice-capped forest shivering from the frigid atmosphere. When he notices you, he speaks in a pained voice.
H-Hello, members of Guild... Did you f-f-find the flowers? We're... k-k-keeping up the search, too... b-but there's still no sign of them. We've been staying out of danger and only searching during the day... M-Maybe we're not searching a wide enough area?
But the Snow Blooms were definitely witnessed on the 12th floor, right?
Th-That's what were t-t-told, yes.
Then it's here. Maybe something else needs to happen first.
You tell the trembling guard that you'll continue searching, and bid him farewell to return to your own investigation.
Hm...? Look, there's a funny-shaped crystal here.
You inspect the spot Flavio is indicating, which is in a bit of shade. In the corner sits an oddly-shaped ice crystal.
Looks like... a flower bud? Maybe it'll bloom after a while.
It's daylight now. Shall we return and see if it's grown tonight?
You note to yourself the odd crystal's location and decide to return later tonight.
And Story mode continues to hand hold you at this point, spelling out the answer in case all the clues for the solution went over your head. So yeah, come back at night to harvest the Snow Blooms. Oh and here's an audio only conversation that can play in the 3rd Stratum.
Ooh! It's pretty chilly!
Ngh. When you stay still, it feels as if the cold is seeping through to your very core.
You moron. I'm colder.
Whoa! You're cold as ice, old man! I can feel it just standing next to you!
It's tough wearing this metal armor, you know?
P-Please! Don't come near us!
Trand seems like he's having fun.
Anyways, I come back to the 12th floor at night.
Everyone hold it...! Look at that...
You look where Flavio indicates to see the familiar figure of the multi-headed dragon!
Gracious... it was fast asleep when we encountered it last, but it seems to be awake and alert now...
In other words, dangerous.
Hmph. It sleeps during the day and stays up all night? That's not good for it.
Don't forget the ice on the ground, Knight. If we're not careful, that thing'll catch us.
Just as Bertrand says, you'll have to be conscious of the icy floor if you hope to avoid the dragon. And not only that... you must keep in mind that the dragon is mainly active after the sun sets. There are many things to be mindful of as you resume your exploration of the snowy forest.
The flower blooms alone in the frigid night air...
How beautiful... This flower is made of ice.
Sir Knight, might this be the Snow Bloom?
No reason to not take it.
You reach out to pluck the flower blooming quietly in the snow... The Snow Bloom is cold to the touch, yet it shows no sign of melting as you hold it in your warm hands. You cautiously tuck the flower away into your pack.
Three more and our task is done.
There don't seem to be any more of the same breed here. Shall we try looking elsewhere?
You return to your investigation in search of the rest of the Snow Blooms.
This makes two of them. Let's hurry up and find the rest.
I take the Snow Bloom.
Halfway there. Let's go look somewhere else now.
You return to your investigation in search of the rest of the Snow Blooms.
There's something over there.
You squint and can just make out a small animal trembling in the snow. The animal shows no sign of fear in your presence. It chirps brightly and comes closer to nuzzle your feet. You feel strangely sure that you've seen this behavior before...
Might it be cold? It's trembling...
Oops. The game forgot to take off the name tag there.
Hey, gotta help out a freezing animal. Besides, this one isn't a squirrel, so I'm sure we can trust it.
You kneel down and gently reach out a hand so as not to startle it. But at that moment...!
What the--That thing just got into our stuff!
The small animal's speed in slipping into your belongings and running off carrying something belies its earlier frailty...!
It took something...
OH COME ON!
Didn't something like this happen to us before...? It was a different animal then, but...
YOU MEAN THE SQUIRREL HAS FRIENDS!?
It took our belongings without so much as allowing us to stroke it That's not right...
We got ripped off!
I utterly and wholeheartedly agree!
Uh, you guys...? Don't you think it's weird to be angrier about that than losing our thread?
Either way, it is too late to pursue the animal through this snow. You chalk the affair up as a reminder of the ruthlesness of this forest, as you nervously continue your journey.
What an immense cluster of ice...
Boy, it's huge. Way bigger than me...
Let's hit it.
You decide to give the ice block a light whack to test its solidity. Your fist rings out with a heavy thud, indicating clearly how large and firm the block of ice is. Not only that, but when you lightly struck the large block, you felt it move a little.
It's not stuck to the floor. And it's on that slippery ice.
Ah, of course! This means we can move the block at will, no?
Let's push it.
I'm still not sure I believe we can actually move something this huge...
But hey, it's worth a try!
Manual labor, huh? Figures...
You try pushing the large cluster of ice with your guildmates...
Without much effort, the cluster easily slides on the icy ground to the wall on the far end of the path. It seems these blocks of ice can be easily manipulated across the slick surfaces of the Stratum.
Maybe we can get past blocked places like this.
You file this discovery regarding the blocks of ice away as you return to your exploration.
Shouldn't we finish up the Minister's request first? It did seem pretty important to them.
You suppose that if someone in urgent need of medicine, it would be callow to put this task off for later. You decide to return to your search for the Snow Blooms.
Take it already, Knight.
I do so.
One left. Let's look somewhere else.
And here's the last Snow Bloom.
Alright, we've got four now. That's all the Minister said they needed!
Let us return swiftly to deliver them to him. Oh, won't he be pleased?
You decide to return to town for now to report back to the Grand Duchy.
Excuse me, but I must deliver these at once!
I guess we won't be finding out who's sick after all.
Why not sneak in and see?
I'm pretty sure that's a crime!
Instead of saying the first thing that comes into your head all the time, maybe stop and think things over for once.
...... Hey, Knight. Something's going on over there.
...Did I just hear him say Lady?
N-No way... Really?
Minister Dubois has apprised me of the situation. You have my thanks for carrying out the mission.
The Lady of High Lagaard...!?
Ah, Arianna, first princess of Caledonia. I am truly sorry that we were never formally acquainted until now. You came to perform a particular ritual, yet you have dutifully carried out our requests. My deepest thanks for that.
Oh no... It was my pleasure.
I'm certain that my father will recover thanks to your efforts, Guild Guild...
L-Lady Gradriel, you mustn't...!
No, Minister Dubois. They have the right to know. The patient who requires the medicine we seek to brew is the Duke himself, ruler of this land.
Wait, the duchy's highest leader is sick...? That's the first I've heard of this.
Of course it is! If other nations knew that the Duke, known for his valor, was struck ill, we could be in great peril. And it is no ordinary ailment... Many doctors and healers have thrown up their hands over this intractable disease. This is a closely guarded secret within High Lagaard! You had best keep it close to heart.
Minister. They have their own duties in this land, yet they have helped us at every turn. I will not abide you speaking to them in this way.
Hrmm... My Lady, this is a very ticklish situation, diplomatically speaking...
I understand this, of course. However... Is that not the very reason that we should deal with them in good faith?
I apologize for that disgraceful sight. As the Minister has told you, the Duke of High Lagaard is ill with a grave ailment. Formally, we encourage exploration to get at the floating castle, and to prove the ancient lore of our duchy. But in truth, it is because one of these texts has revealed that the means to cure the Duke's ailment lies there.
And that involves the Snow Blooms somehow?
Yes and no. The Snow Blooms are but one part of it. Our true prize lies within that castle. What we seek is known as the Grail of Kings. This artifact, which rests in the center of the floating castle, has the power to heal any illness...
Any illness!? Can such a thing truly exist?
If the memoirs left by the founding Queen of High Lagaard are to be believed... yes, it can. It does. Our nation can ill afford to lose its Duke right now. But more than that... he is all that remains of my family. I wish to save my father...
...Still, my joy at securing your cooperation is considerable. What we have learned through our guards is that acquiring the Snow Blooms proved more difficult than we anticipated. It seems gauche to thank you by way of a monetary reward, but we have no other recompense to offer. Please accept this in the spirit it is meant.
More money and exp.
I am flattered that you would ask, Lady Gradriel.
Though we have faced setbacks, all is well, thanks to my compatriots in the Guild Guild.
...Isn't that so, Sir Knight?
Ha... I see the princess trusts you implicitly. Knight, yes? I hope you will maintain your support of Arianna.
I will, my Lady.
How steadfast of you. I expect Arianna is able to devote herself to this important task primarily because of your support. I do envy you all... If only I could venture into the forest myself, as you do, that I might save my father...
Out of the question, my Lady! With the Duke ill, if anything were to befall you, what would become of our duchy!?
I am aware, Minister. Your business in the forest will last for some time, no? I know that you are in the thick of your ritual... But should you discover any information on the floating castle as you go, I urge you to share it with the Grand Duchy. I shall be praying for the success of your ritual, Arianna.
In truth, Lady Arianna... no guild has been further than the third Stratum thus far. Even greater danger will await you past this point. Though you go for the sake of your ritual, do take care.
She wants to save her sick father...
I have heard... that she is the Duke's only child. And Lady Gradriel lost her mother when she was still very young.
So, the Duke's the only family she has left...
If my dad was sick, or got hurt... I'd do anything to heal him. Even important people think the same way we do.
Yeah... you're right. ...I don't really have any family of my own, but I guess that's also exactly why I want to help her.
There must be something we can do.
Trand? Are you feeling okay...?
Eh... It's nothing. What? Isn't this how I usually act?
Now that I think about it... Sir Bertrand, you don't seem to be as spirited as usual.
You're imagining things, kid. All I need is a hot meal and I'll be all good.
I want something to eat!
Wh--Hey! That's not what we need to discuss right now!
But we did just complete a mission... Why don't we go to the bar and have a celebration? Will that be alright, Sir Bertrand?
Yeah, yeah. ......
I'm talking about yeh lot. 'Cause yeh lot... uh... eat a lot. Especially--
I want to eat. A lot.
Yeah, yeah. I know the drill by now. Go on, eat to yer heart's content, kids!
It seems our visits have become quite the regular occurrence now.
Strange way of remembering us, though...
Not strange. Meat is delicious.
You kids are so energetic...
We should probably find a place to sit and eat now, yes...?
Yeah. C'mon, Chloe.
Anyways, back to the Labyrinth.
It is the two members of the Esbat Guild, whom you met several times on the 2nd Stratum.
...These guys... I wish we didn't keep running into them, but...
Upon hearing the young man's muttered comments, the duo turns to face you.
So you've come this far. I'd kind of hoped you wouldn't.
The woman's smile and voice are gentle as always, absent of the hostility she displayed last time. But you cannot guess whether she is so gentle out of kindness or melancholy... The woman says nothing more, and so her perpetual shadow, the marksman in black, opens his mouth to speak.
We wish to avoid a confrontation with you, if at all possible. Go no further. This is a warning... Hm, not quite. Call it a request from the Esbat Guild. We have no desire to see your blood spilt on Labyrinth grounds.
You turn a deaf ear to us, eh? But this will not sway us from our cause. If the time comes that we must cross swords... then we will not back down, even if it means dirtying our hands.
Stop that, Wilhelm. You've said too much. It's not like you.
After the woman sharply upbraids the elderly marksman, she turns her icy gaze upon you.
Whatever your situation, it has nothing to do with us. If you want to go on, then go on.
It's useless to try and stop them. Their eyes say it all. They won't turn back for anything. But if you go forward from here... then you had best go prepared.
With that, the woman turns her back to you, apparently willing to let you pass. Though after a few paces, she stops and faces you again.
Hey. Can I know your name?
Knight... Okay. I'll remember that.
The woman gives a small sigh.
We never did introduce ourselves, did we? My name is Artelinde, of Guild Esbat.
...I am Wilhelm.
It's not important that you remember it. It would be best if we never met again. Well then.
Dame Artelinde... They were both quite grave-seeming. What might she have meant to 'go prepared'...?
There was something weird going on with those two. I don't really know how to put it... They seemed frustrated... almost like they were in pain.
What the hell are we going to find in this forest?
You have many questions, but no one remains who can provide the answers. You decide to return to exploring the Labyrinth in search of a powerful enemy for the sake of the ritual.
At this point I go back to town to uh. Well just to restock. None of the townsfolk have new dialogue, even in Story.
There is a new bar patron, though.
Oh, Knight of Guild! I heard that you've been doing a lot. Seems like everyone's talking about you. So, what floor did you guys get to...? Wh-What? ...13 floors already!? ...... W-Well! I-I'm already, uh, o-on the 22nd floor! Mister Knight, old buddy, you need to catch up! Ahah. Y-Yep! Sure are a lot of strong monsters up there. And it sure is... Labyrinthy. Right. Yeah. It's... um... the Labyrinthest.
Good heavens... Truly, he is a paragon among explorers! We must strive to do our best as well!
Hey, lady. Glad to hear you're all pepped up, but keep this guy out of it, huh?
Sheesh... what's that guy trying to pull, feeding us all these dumb lies?
Anyways, I feel like taking another nap.
As you sit there, you hear a knock at your door. Who could it be at this hour...?
Now it's Chloe's turn.
Are you hungry?
No, I'm full. But...
Trand's been acting strange. Not that different. But different. Sometimes he seems depressed, but then he looks fine. And he organizes his stuff a lot. Plus... he says weird things sometimes.
Like how it's good I'm getting along with Arianna, or if I'd be interested in going to the Library. He never used to act like that.
He's always been strange.
True. But it's rare for Trand to talk so much. What made him start?
It's always about what's coming. We're not even done with the ritual. We're going to be here a while. ...I feel like Trand is getting ready to leave us.
Do you really think so?
I... I'm not sure. Trand never talks about important stuff. I don't know a lot about him. It's weird to think about these things, though, right? I mean, Trand's never going to leave us.
I feel a little better after talking with you about it. And now I'm sleepy, so I'm going back to my room. I'll see you tomorrow. Bye.
Alone again in your room, you have only the silence for company. You decide to rest in preparation for tomorrow.