Part 125: The Floating CastleUpdate 34: The Floating Castle
After four Strata of vicious monsters and terrain to fight through, we've finally reached the Heavenly Keep... Even though that wasn't originally our goal in the first place. I do have to admit that I like this remix less than the original song, though it's not a bad song itself.
Astonishing...! The castle truly does float in the sky!
Boy... it was worth living this long to know something like this actually exists.
I-Is it safe to walk on...? Well, I guess if it's already supporting a giant castle, it can handle our weight.
C-Cut that out! You're going to get me even more worried!
As you converse with your guildmates, a mysterious voice intrudes into your mind...
I, the Overlord of the heavens, created this keep. No one may enter without my permission.
What is this voice?
The Overlord of the heavens, huh... Is he the master of this castle?
What do you yearn for that brought you here? Speak.
You consider how best to answer the question put to you by the mysterious voice calling itself an Overlord...
Oh? You chose well to seek power from me. And what is it you hope to accomplish with my power?
You speak of your duty as Fafnir, the breaking of the seal, and what led to your audience with the Ruler of Heaven.
The power of Fafnir, hm...
A heavy silence reigns for some time before the voice speaks again.
I maintained a path for those who left my side that they might return to me. And now, you have gained the means to travel that path. I grant you permission to enter my keep.
Truly...!? Then you'll aid us?
That... will depend on your strength. Prove your strength within my domain. Should you find your way to my throne, then I will consider your plea.
The mysterious voice falls silent.
Prove our strength, huh? I'm not looking forward to finding out what's in there...
Probably going to be a hell of a welcoming committee.
The Overlord has challenged you to enter and prove your strength, but it may also be prudent to return to town first...
Well, let's take a look at the inside of the Heavenly Keep.
Oh man, out of all the Strata that got a visual upgrade, Heavenly Keep probably got the biggest one in the transition from the DS to the 3DS. In the original game... Well, uh... Just take a look for yourself.
The place looked like a giant piss castle and was pretty eye-searing! I said EO2 had the best looking Strata in the series, but that did not apply to the original version of Heavenly Keep!
But now? Just look at the place. More visible stained glass windows and a much nicer color palette overall. I still consider Petal Bridge to be the better looking Stratum, but the new Heavenly Keep looks real snazzy. But enough admiring the view. A new floor means that we should head back to town and see what the people there have to say.
Haha, what do you think? Lovely, isn't it? Quona drew it for you.
My...! Could this one be me...? *giggle* She's quite an artistic young girl.
Isn't she just? It looks like she's taken quite a liking to all of you! Now she even helps out with the room cleaning, and preparing dinner... Hahaha, I'm so proud of her. Now you go on and make my daughter proud! I'm counting on you!
Let's see some more inn scenes.
As you sit there, you hear a knock at your door. Who could it be at this hour...?
Once again, Bertand's was the one people wanted to see the most.
Plus... there's something I want to tell you.
I wanted to talk to you about the stuff that's going on with your transformations. We've figured out a way to get rid of the Calamity without having to sacrifice any of us. But now that you've gone through the ritual... you've changed, and you don't know how to turn back to normal. That Grail's supposed to do all kinds of things, so maybe it could cure you... but that's still no guarantee.
Maybe you've already noticed by now, but... since you got your powers through the ritual, you might be like me now. This goddamn body of mine hasn't aged even after a hundred years. I never even get hungry. I'm not out to scare you here, but people who don't age can't really stay in any one place for long. A few years isn't such a problem, but you go a decade looking the same and people start to get suspicious.
That's why I traveled all over the place... So even if you go back to the Library... I doubt they'll treat you like a normal human being there.
Does that scare you at all?
Yeah... it does.
You're damn right it does. When I realized all this, I was terrified. How long was I going to live like this? Does anyone suspect me? Those were the things I lived in fear of.
I think it was around fifty years later that I started getting wrinkles, which was a huge relief. I was still aging, just really slowly.
Maybe I'm worrying too much. Maybe the minute the Calamity's gone, you'll turn back to normal just like that. Who knows? And when that happens, maybe I... can finally die in peace.
But what if none of that happens? What if you end up staying that way?
I'll worry about that if it happens.
Haha, alright. Our situation changes all the time, so maybe that's for the best.
I'm sure whatever path you choose, you'll manage just fine.
But there's one thing I want you to remember. Once I've finished my business here, I plan to go back to wandering. I still won't be able to stay in any one place for long, but I'm pretty confident that I can manage wherever I am.
So Knight... If you ever find that body of yours getting in the way of the path you choose...
You're always free to call on me. We can hit the road together if it comes to that. I mean hey, having someone as strong as you around will make things much easier on this old man. Don't you worry about me. If you ever feel stuck, you can always just think of your pal Bertrand.
A journey with just the two of us?
Hahahahaha! Yeah... I know what you mean. Eh, but it's not so bad. Well... that's all I really have to say. Sorry for bugging you this late. I'll see you tomorrow, Knight.
Alone again in your room, you have only the silence for company. You consider what Bertrand said to you for a while, then decide to rest in preparation for tomorrow.
Cass has nothing new to say himself, and there's only one new bar patron in Story.
Hey, how are you doing? ...Well, you don't have to tell me. Everyone in the bar knows. Heck, everyone in the entire country probably knows. ...How did it turn out like this? We entered the forest at the same time, so how did the gap get so large? I... kept talking big, but I never challenged any Chimaera, and... to be honest, I'm afraid of even regular deer... But when I started talking, I just couldn't stop myself... Now, we're a laughingstock, and everyone calls me a liar... What should I do...?
If you don't like it, just change it.
...... Ughhhhh! Mister Knight, you're so cool! I wanted to become just like you, Mister Knight, but I just couldn't...! I know I'm no good! But I'll do my best, and turn this around! Watch me, I'll... I'll make sure that nobody calls me a liar ever again!
That fellow... He looks much more relieved now. It's as if a weight's been lifted from his shoulders.
Yeah... it's nice to have someone who you know will call you out on your crap.
Flavio is having emotions.
Oh, uh, yeah. I guess he kinda reminded me of the old days... Right, Knight?
A building that floats among the clouds... One day, I'd like to witness it with my own eyes. The Duke's Palace has informed me of all the details... I expect great things from you. I believe you can save High Lagaard. Well, that's all I have to say for now. I hope you find fortune on your travels.
Hmmm... To think that I would live to see this day. Well done, Guild Guild. All that remains for you is to explore the castle, and search for a means to overcome the Calamity. ...I am certain that you will be able to accomplish this, and carry out your wishes, Guild Guild. Good luck!
Back to the Labyrinth, then.
Oh, something I do want to highlight. Mandrakes in the original game were pretty badly designed enemies. They had a skill called Scream which had a 35% chance to instantly kill all your party members, which was boosted by their ridiculously high LUC. They had a 49% chance of using that skill if they weren't at full HP. Which isn't the actual problem with them. The actual problem is that they had a 25% chance of using the skill if they blindsided you, and could come in groups of 5. Even worse was that there were no real answers to dealing with that, Instant Death resistance accessories were only available in the post-game.
Here they got reworked significantly. Their Last Cry skill has a 120% base chance of instantly killing everyone, and they can use it anytime. However, now they have to spend 1 turn charging up for it, and it can be interrupted with Blast Grenades. This basically means you have more ways to deal with them now. And if all else fails (Or you get blindsided by a rare breed Mandrake) you can just use a Return Flute for a guaranteed escape. Also as a kicker, they're no longer as ridiculously evasive and their LUC got toned down to more reasonable levels. Basically, one of the many ways the remake fixed the original game's problems.
Gracious, this is quite large... It is about Sir Flavio's height, is it not?
Unlike him, it's solidly built, so it looks bigger.
Hey. Are you hinting that I'm scrawny?
You ignore Flavio's crabbing at Chloe and get a better look at the large box. The device displays three pictures. Under each of them is a glowing protrusion.
It all seems rather ominous, but... could these images be depicting food? Hmm, this writing here... dark chicken soup, muddy miso soup, and Srimuang tom yum goong...
Those are provocative-sounding names. They certainly live up to their images.
Can those... really be food?
The buttons have food names written on them. Maybe if we push them... food comes out?
If you are curious about these dishes, you may try pushing the protrusions.
Let's try the muddy miso soup.
Pressing the protrusion elicits a light, chirping sound, followed by a deep growling noise!
Wh-What the...? Did that box just growl at us? Is there something inside it...?
We must be cautious, Sir Knight.
As you each nervously draw your weapons, the giant box continues to growl, and something emerges from it... But to your surprise, it's a delicious- looking soup, looking very unlike the images shown on the box!
Whoa. The person in there is nice!
What in the world...? There wasn't any sign of a fire, but it's nice and warm. And what's this bowl made of? Paper? How come the soup doesn't leak through...?
Obviously, there are a lot of questions raised here, but I know one thing.
What might that be, Sir Flavio?
This soup looks seriously delicious!
Sheesh, another member of Team Hungry... Can't you think with something besides your stomach even for a minute?
Oh...? See there... What used to be a picture of food has changed.
You look back at the box and see that she is right. The device now shows the name of an ingredient alongside an arrow.
The arrow's pointing to a hole... Does it want us to put that ingredient in there?
The soup you received had no ingredients in it. Perhaps this displayed component will be added to it...? The image shown on the device looks to be something like soft dirt... Unfortunately, you are carrying no such ingredient. Without ingredients, the soup is a tad simple, but you decide to enjoy the warm, aromatic soup nonetheless.
Ahhh... This is great. It's got a gentle flavor you don't get with the fancy-schmancy gourmet stuff...
Indeed, it's very soothing...
Hm? It just tastes really bland to me...
It's a subtle flavor. You have to drink it slow.
I didn't know there was such a thing...
The soup's odd aroma does bother you somewhat... but its taste still calms your mind.
As you cheerfully enjoy the soup together, you notice that the picture on the device has changed once again. Instead of displaying the images of food, it now shows the words, That's all for today!
Does this mean Mr. Box can only cook one meal a day?
Ah... How kind of them to inform us. Such gracious hosts.
The woman bows deeply towards the box, but it offers no response.
...This box is definitely useful, but I wonder how exactly it works.
Though your doubts about it remain, you must admit that this soup will be useful in your travels. You think it might be a good idea to mark this place on your map as you return to exploring with a fuller stomach.
In case you haven't figured it out, those are vending machines. There's a couple of these lying around throughout the Stratum, and they're pretty much the same event. You can pick a soup to heal up a bit, and if you have the right ingredient on you (You can't have dumped them at Regina's) their effects increase. This is what each of the soups do, along with their effects if you add the right ingredient:
- Dark chicken soup: Restores 150 HP to the entire party. Restores 450 HP is Black Breast is added.
- Muddy miso soup: Resotres 130 TP to the entire party. Restores 400 TP if Soft floor is added.
- Srimuang tom yum: Restores 50 Force to the entire party. Refills the party's Force Gauges entirely if Purple Gel is added. Does not restore broken Force Gauges.
It seems to have been neglected for years, but it somehow manages to catch your interest. Though pressing it seems to accomplish nothing, before long a disembodied voice sounds.
Listen, all of you. Our... country has completely... vanished...
Hm...? It sounds a little like that Overlord, but it's not the same voice. Where is that coming from?
The garbled voice continues without answering your questions.
...Our old home... has no more meaning... A new leader must now... I... I will create an ark... new utopia...
The voice abruptly ends there and does not respond to any subsequent queries.
What was that all about?
A lost country, a new leader... It raised some interesting questions, to be sure.
You cock your heads, marveling at the strange phenomenon, before returning to your quest.
In Classic mode, the identity of the voice was a bit more ambiguous, though you could probably piece the information together pretty quickly. In Story mode they outright spell out that it's the Overlord speaking.
And that's all for floor 21.
I've observed you for a while now... the engineering at work is marvelous indeed. The power that flows through you... It is her working, no?
The Overlord seems greatly intrigued by your transformative abilities, and his voice sounds rather pleased with them.
Your DNA has been tampered with. I had assumed it to be her doing. Was I wrong?
The lore of High Lagaard's founding... Guess the tale of the Lady who descended from the heavens to the earth was true.
She was a truly prodigious engineer. Her descent to the earth was lamented... Yet it would seem that even years after her descent, she continued her research. The same holds for me. I continued my work alone here for an eternity, searching for a way to defy the providence of nature.
The providence of nature? What do you mean by that?
Man's body is weak. Frail. It cannot live long once it has left the earth. I sought a means to reverse its nature in order to continue to create.
So that's the power that changes a person... what created the Guardian. You and the Lady made that together.
You are correct. Yet her outlook changed before the goal was complete, and she quit this place. But time passes. And now the owner of the power she created has returned to me. It is an event to rejoice over. Now, her orphans... Hurry to me.
With that, the voice speaks no more.
Research that defies nature... He meant the monsters from the forest, right? Does anybody else feel uneasy about this? Are we making a mistake coming to this guy for help?
'Probably'? Seriously, Knight!? You're okay moving ahead when that's how you feel about it?
It's the only way. We were told to meet with the Ruler of Heaven, whether we can trust him or not.
What choice do we have but to keep going?
Well, if you put it that way... No matter what the Overlord has planned for us... we have to go see him.
True. But... I have faith. I believe that we will find a way forward by meeting with this Overlord!
Those who believe will be saved, eh? Remember, he did say something about testing our strength. We should be careful as we go.
You resume your explorations in order to reach the Overlord where he waits for you.
Interestingly enough, the Overlord does hint about the Lady in the original game, but only in 1 line. The person who directed EO2 still did the same for EO2U, so I wonder how long this was planned. Anyways, we got to a new floor, so it's back to town again.
...I wonder who created that floating castle. Why does it exist in the first place...? If someone created it, then surely it was created for some kind of purpose. So what exactly could that castle be? Historically, a castle has either been a symbol of absolute authority... or a fortified stronghold of war. Was it truly good fortune that led us to the castle...? I can't help but feel uneasy, the further onward you press... In any case, report to me if anything happens. I'll do all I can to help. That's really all I can say for now. No... Halt, Guild. There is... one more thing I must say to you. ...Thank you. I am glad that you came to this city, and that our paths crossed. ...I've said everything I needed to. You may return to your exploration.
And that's all the new town dialogue in Story. Time for the next inn scene.
As you sit there, you hear a knock at your door. Who could it be at this hour...?
Flavio's up next.
Well, whatever. This is as much for my sake as yours.
This might be a little sudden for you... But I want you to hear me out about this, Knight. Back at the orphanage, we were always together, and roommates as far back as I can remember. You were my best friend.
But even then... I was so jealous of you. You were stronger than me, more decisive, always kind even though I lied all the time... You always had the adults' praise. I was proud to be your friend, but ashamed too. We grew up at the same orphanage, so how did we turn out so different?
Whew, I finally got that off my chest.
...You're serious? Do you know how nervous I was saying all that out loud!?
But eh... it's still good that I said it. Even if you already knew, I had to tell you myself. How... I've always been jealous of you.
When the old man tried to sacrifice himself to protect us, he called us outsiders," remember? It made me mad at the time, but later, I realized...
I wasn't conscious of it... but I always considered your problems to be my problems as well. The way I envied and resented you, how it was my fault you were involved in all this... That's all I could think about.
So I wanted to come clean. And I'm not saying all this because I felt guilty, but... because I'm your friend.
You think too much.
I can't really help that. It's just how I am!
Well, sorry for taking up your time with something weird like this. Whew... I feel kinda weird now. Like there's a huge weight off my chest. It's nice, really... Strange, though--after all these years, I feel at last like I'm really your friend.
So what were we before?
What? No, I'm not saying we haven't been friends all this time! That wasn't my point at all!
Wait... you're just messing with me now, aren't you? Quit that!
Well, I'm going to head back to my room. We have to wake up early tomorrow.
I'll see you tomorrow... and the day after that, and when we're all done with this too.
It is late, and you decide to rest in preparation for tomorrow...
There were some more quests I completed. One was Healing innovations. If you already sold Abigail the materials for that quest, she has this to say:
Yes, welcome...! Oh, it's you! What would you like today? Ah, you came for the quest! Thank y--Wait, I was going to ask for... something you already... brought me... ...Ah! I'm sorry! I must have forgotten to tell Mister Bartender about it... Ugh... I'm so sorry... B-But since it was thanks to you that we managed to make a new medicine, you can take the reward whenever you want! Eheheh... o-oh, I'm sorry! I was just remembering that the healers at the Hospital are a little strange... I mean, everyone just brightens whenever I talk about you.
And then she goes back into her normal quest dialogue. I also happened to complete the Haute Cuisine quest, where you need to name 50,000+ en from an advertising plan. The Story mode party had this to say about it.
Makes you think, though... Restaurants really make some good money, huh?
Restaurants don't make good money. Regina's cooking makes good money.
Don't think opening a restaurant would be an easy way to get rich.
H-Ha... Haha... M-Me, open a restaurant...? Pff! R-Ridiculous! I wasn't thinking...
Okay, yeah, maybe just a little.
But... perhaps with Sir Flavio's cooking skills, it might be possible for him to succeed in such a field?
He'd get scammed trying to get started.
I-I wouldn't let myself get scammed!
Ugh, I can't trust you with that kind of stuff... look, don't go taking any shady loans or anything, alright?
Stop arguing. Let's go report. We have to tell him about how hard Regina worked.
You're right. Cass is probably hanging around waiting to hear back from us, too.
Speaking of cooking, let's get around to doing a bit of that.
Alright, it's done. Now, eat up!
This soup doesn't have meat...
Well, yeah. There wasn't any meat in the ingredients.
But what's this white thing? ...Hm, it doesn't really have any flavor.
Hey guys, bird nests are expensive ingredients here. That's an unworthy opinion, eh?
Huh!? This is THAT expensive!?
No wonder it's so good.
Wh-Whuh!? I-It's good...? I mean, the soup is great, but this white thing not so much...
Calm down. Just because it's expensive doesn't mean the flavor's good. This ingredient is valued for its texture and nourishment... and most of all its rarity. Well, this is from the forest, so the price is probably different from the regular ones.
...I don't get what's the fuss.
Y-Yeah, huh? Huh!? I mean, the soup's great and all, but this white thing isn't THAT good, right?
You're right. This ingredient is valued for its texture and nourishment... and most of all its rarity. Well, this is from the forest, so the price is probably different from the regular ones.
Dialogue merges here.
Nourishment... Is it a medicine? What kind of effect does it have?
Let's see... According to Apicius's recipe it's good for the throat and skin.
Wh-What is it? Is something wrong?
Dame Regina, please give me another serving of this soup!
O-Okay... Sure. What happened to her, all of a sudden?
...Just goes to show that she's a girl, too. Do you want my soup, too?
I don't understand... but if you like it, then you can order it again. I'll prepare it for you anytime.
People who get inflicted with ailments and binds restores 20 Force. However, the effect doesn't stack if it happens multiple times in a turn. Eat something else.
Alright, it's done. Now, eat up!
...Ooh! It's full of meat! Wonderful!
...Shoot, I forgot to warn you. Hot soup is inside, so be careful when eating it.
...Too late, Regina. My tongue is burning...
It's my fault for not warning you earlier, but you should eat more calmly, you know.
Yeah, let's eat slowly.
See? Knight agrees.
It's meat. We can't help it.
*sigh* Not you, too.
Dialogue merges here.
Hey, let's cut with the chit-chat and eat them before they get cold.
You're right. Let's.
Yeah, bon appetit. I'll add this item to the menu, so order it again.
Increases the party's resistance to head binds by 80%. Handy.
And back into the Labyrinth.
Could this be like what we found previously...?
If it functions the same as before, then it will only summon a voice, and should be harmless to push. You press the button and the same voice rings out...
Environmental changes... still happening... everything... inevitable extinction... Elite researchers... every nation... human... genome recombinant... I... machine's... body... human weakness... Live... eternally... If... must live... become king... new lands... Genes... human cells... split... immortality... In... this world... live... Telomere... improve...
The voice abruptly ends there and does not respond to any queries.
I couldn't hear most of that. What was it saying?
Genes... cells... machine...? I wonder if they'd know anything about that stuff at the Library.
You cock your heads in wonder at the mysterious phenomenon before returning to your exploration of the castle.
Chloe presumably means the mysterious box that displays the three images of food. You recall that pressing the protrusions beneath these pictures will cause it to dispense nutritious food... If you are hungry for soup, you may try pushing the protrusions again.
Let's try the Dark Chicken Soup this time.
When you press the protrusion and the box makes its deep rumbling noise, a paper container of warm soup emerges. Just as before, the picture changes to display the name of an ingredient, and a slot to insert said ingredient opens up. The image shows a chunk of blackened breast meat, but unfortunately, you are carrying no such ingredient on you. Without ingredients, the soup is a tad simple, but you decide to enjoy the warm, aromatic soup nonetheless.
Aah... Gets me nice and toasty...
Though the flavor was a bit bland and not entirely satisfying, the soup gently warms your bodies, taking away your fatigue!
You finish drinking the soup and return to exploring with lightened hearts.
Hmm, but what if we had that ingredient?
A chunk of blackened breast meat is shown here. Perhaps the Black Breast you carry is called for... If you wish, you may insert the Black Breast in the hole.
You produce the Black Breast and drop it into the hole in the box. The box begins its low growling noise, which it emitted before the soup came out from the slot...
Oooh... The person inside is working hard.
After a short wait, dice cubes of meat come out fully roasted and are dropped into the bowl of soup! The broth turns a deep black, just like the image that was once displayed!
Whoa, this looks... really good! I wasn't too sure about that picture, but this is totally different!
One rarely sees a black soup. What might it taste like?
There is only one way to find out... You each take a sip of the soup! The sweetness of the vegetables that is only attained by stewing them... the juicy, savory taste of the gristle on the meat... What a full, rich flavor... The food you eat in town pales in comparison! As you gulp down the soup, you realize that it has warmed you from within, eliminating all trace of exhaustion!
Thanks, Mr. Box.
Having enjoyed the delicious soup, you return to exploring with a fuller stomach.
There's not much else on this floor, so here's an audio only conversation that plays during the 5th Stratum:
So many things I've never seen. Amazing. Hm.
We better get moving, or Chloe's gonna start making a nest.
Making a nest? You're exaggerating, right?
Wait. No you're not.
Good. You're starting to understand.
Alright, let's forge on. Double time.
It is lying helplessly on the ground, squeaking weakly.
Is that animal sick?
I fear that it will be set upon by monsters if it remains lying in the open this way...
If you wish, you can carefully lift the squirrel to see what's wrong with it.
Oh no, I'm not falling for this again!
Feeble as it may be, it's unwise to let your guard down around any of this forest's denizens. You give one last glance to the weakly chirping animal before leaving this place.
Uh wow, this event is pretty much inferior to Classic's version. Incidentally, the squirrel sticks around until you take a closer look at it.
So fine, Arianna. We'll have it your way.
You slowly reach towards the feeble-seeming animal, careful not to alarm it. But at that moment...!
Belying its feigned weakness, the squirrel quickly jumps to its feet and runs up your arm! It darts directly into your backpack and emerges with something in its mouth!
Th-That little sneak...!
NEVER. TRUST. A. SQUIRREL.
I guess it was playing dead. What a dirty trick to pull... why would it want the thread that bad?
Maybe... it's good to eat?
Uh, I really doubt they're eating it... Still, what a vile little thing. And after we were so worried about it...
True... though I'm relieved to see it wasn't hurt.
Such vulnerability in this dangerous castle would invite certain death.
Sheesh... you never change.
Yeah, seriously. You just keep on being Arianna.
What? E-Er, how do you mean that?
A-And as I asked: how do you mean that!?
The perplexed woman aside, it would be impossible to pursue the squirrel now. You decide to give up on the thread and return to exploring the deadly castle.
That's the last time the squirrel shows up in the game. Unlike the original, it doesn't show up in the 6th Stratum. Mainly because there aren't any events at all in the 6th Stratum.
That's all for this floor. Next time, floor 23.