Part 53: A Castle in the StarsUpdate 43: A Castle in the Stars
Okay, new rule: we are done picking parties by drawing straws.
I hate agreein' with Milly... But she's right. Somethin' tells me we're gonna regret this.
Eh. Between the bear's claws and my shield, we'll be fine.
I would've appreciated at least a brief respite...
This party sucks and I hate you all. At least I'm only stuck with this for two floors, and we don't have any Ginnungagap to do this time.
Phoebe is largely unchanged, aside from maxing out Sentinel Guard. If you haven't read the Protector post yet, Sentinel Guard reduces all damage to the party for one turn, in addition to setting the party's defensive values (VIT, DEF, etc.) to the same as the caster's. The downside, though, is that it disables all other shield skills for one turn.
Ursa has been considerably reskilled. Because having both her as a tank and Phoebe on the same team would be redundant, I opted to instead invest in her claw skills--which are all pretty much trash, but whatever, better than nothing.
Tyler is basically no different. I ran out of points to put into Phys ATK Up, so I put some points in HP Up.
Milly has some more points in Song Mastery, and has maxed out Skanda Ensemble, which increases the turn speed of buffed allies for one turn. It's fairly useful for ensuring slower party members, like Hexers, act before enemies.
Rheine literally has not changed.
Incidentally, buy a ton of Blast Grenades before exploring the Heavenly Keep. Trust me.
Ye gods, this is the floatin' castle? Looks more like a less-rundown Ginnungagap instead.
So... Did the Duchy give us anything for finding this place?
No. Our mission is to acquire the Grail of Kings--to save the Duke.
Greaaaaat. Gods dammit, I was hoping to book it as soon as they beat that giant bird.
Least the Overlord knows how to make a place look classy.
HP: 486, STR: 37, TEC: 28, VIT: 28, AGI: 42, LUC: 28
- Harsh Buzz: Uses the head. Attempts to inflict head bind on the party, with a 30% base chance. Has no speed modifier.
- Normal: Bat Fangs. 40% chance. Sells for 601 en. 3 needed to make Exorcist Vambrace (+25 DEF, +10 HP). 6 needed to make Sonic Claw (+140 ATK). 1 Bat Fang and 1 Ironwood needed to make Dotanuki (+148 ATK).
"Fangs of a bat living deep in the forest. Commonly used for making new weapons."
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A seemingly harmless forest resident, though some claim it transforms into a terrible monster!
Forest Bats are a nuisance to most parties and big threats to parties with multiple caster classes (Medics, Alchemists, War Magi, Sovereigns) because of Harsh Buzz. There's one other big thing about them, but we'll see it later.
I guess one of the nice things about stacking two buffing supports is that I can raise everyone's damage and raise the front line's defense in the same turn, before any enemies can act.
Our front line being made up of three very durable classes, one of which is a Protector, is kind of nice as well.
Right through the sides!
If there's only front line enemies, too, Tyler and Ursa can generally either kill them all or whittle them down pretty heavily.
I want Phoebe to learn Parry, so I start investing in Phys DEF Up. Level 1 unlocked Provoke, which I don't care about.
The hell are these doors made from? They've got light pulsin' through 'em.
Okay, who pissed off that thing?
It resembles a Byeah, but far less comical and with two...swords made of light?
This place is givin' me a headache now...
Sky Metal Knights patrol a preset path, but will aggro you if you enter their cone of sight, and then pursue you until you leave the room.
This one's easy to dodge because of that small impassable pillar, but I wanted to map out the other side first.
That plant seems...evil.
How the hell can yeh tell?
HP: 456, STR: 36, TEC: 29, VIT: 28, AGI: 31, LUC: 30
- Last Cry: Does nothing for one turn. Can be interrupted by Blast Grenades, which will stop the skill and stun the enemy for one turn. Uses the head. Attempts to instantly kill the entire party, with a 120% base chance. Has no speed modifier.
- Normal: Mandrake Root. 35% chance. Sells for 608 en. 1 needed to make Lochaber (+138 ATK). 5 needed to make Rune Circlet (+30 DEF). 20 needed to make Mandrake Pin (Immunity to instant death). 3 Mandrake Roots and 2 Black Carapaces needed to make Awl Pike (+135 ATK).
"Mandrake root shaped like a human leg. Eerie, and said to draw bad luck."
- Conditional: Bound Root (Kill while fully bound). 100% chance. Sells for 1880 en. 1 needed to make Queen's Whip (+213 ATK, +10 Force gain).
"A root bound so firmly as to be immobile. The Mandrake's power is sealed within."
- Ingredient: Mandrake Leaf. 1-3 given. 1 needed to make Stone Galette (Western Food 5; +10 TEC). 5 needed to make Nozuchi Soup (Chinese Food 5; forces ailments/binds to wear off after 3 turns). 2 needed to make Zhulongbao (Chinese Food 5; +80% head bind resistance).
"Grows at the tip."
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A plant whose shriek is said to bring death to those who hear it.
Mandrakes are why I said you should bring tons of Blast Grenades with you to the 5th Stratum. Last Cry is basically guaranteed instant death if the Mandrake gets it off...but that's something that shouldn't happen, since you should have Blast Grenades. Don't be like me my first few times playing the game, and not bring Blast Grenades, meaning any encounter with a Mandrake was a race to kill it on the first turn.
Mandrakes were considerably worse in the original EO2, where Last Cry (called Shriek there) was only a 35% base chance, but didn't require a turn be spent charging it, and even worse, the Mandrake AI in that game gave them a 50% chance to use it when the player was blindsided.
HP: 655, STR: 41, TEC: 30, VIT: 32, AGI: 33, LUC: 28
- Headbutt: Uses the head. Deals 160% melee STR-based Bash damage to one party member. Attempts to stun the target, with a 40% base chance. Has no speed modifier and 99 base accuracy.
- Normal: Plum Hide. 45% chance. Sells for 619 en. 1 needed to make Dead Whip (+126 ATK). 3 needed to make Reptile Cuirass (+57 DEF). 9 Plum Hides and 1 Blue Carapace needed to make Ninetails (+138 ATK).
"A coarse, plum colored hide. With proper treatment, it makes weapons or armor."
- Conditional: Blue Head Gem (Kill while head is bound). 80% chance. Sells for 1650 en. 1 needed to make Glow Brace (+20 HP, +30 TP).
"Stone taken by binding the lizard's head. It can be used to make a protective bracelet."
- Ingredient: Jewel Skirt. 1-4 given. 3 needed to make Triple Salisbury (Western Food 5; restores 3% max HP, 1% max TP at end of turn). 4 needed to make Zhulongbao (Chinese Food 5; +80% head bind resistance). 3 needed to make Gem Nikogori (Japanese Food 5; quadruples inflict chance of disable items).
"Cut from the plump belly."
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A reptilian creature with a perfect gem embedded in its head.
Gem Lizards are a pretty big nuisance. For one thing, they cut all elemental damage in half...not that it matters for this party. Secondly, Headbutt both deals not-insignificant damage, and can stun, which can really suck if they stun the wrong person. It's not AS likely as it could be, since their LUC is kind of on the low end and the base chance is 40%, but you should still be wary of it.
If there's one thing I can give to stacking both a Protector and Beast in the same party, it's that Ursa is incredibly difficult to kill.
Something tells me plants don't normally suck in that much air.
Ursa's semi-low AGI and LUC along with claws having -1 base accuracy compared to swords means her missing is a bit more common compared to everyone else.
I don't wanna know what that plant was breathing in for.
Just keep some Blast Grenades on you at all times, and Mandrakes shouldn't pose much of a threat.
Somethin' tells me we're not gonna be able to give this one the ol' loop-de-loop.
I can't get past that Sky Metal Knight without killing it, so back to the other one we go.
Heheh, this one's almost--
Oh shit, oh fuck.
Run run run!
That tin can's blocking the way!
Eh. We'll know better...next time...
Don't let the Overlord...get me...
The attack buff part of Slaughter Blade is just insult to injury.
Now is not our time! Quickly!
You wanna try carrying three bodies all the way back to the Pole with this thing on us, or do you just wanna Thread out?
Back we go.
Alright, let's try this again.
In basically every EO game, the rule of thumb with FOEs that take one step for every step you take is that, if there's a small pillar like the one here, you have to lead the FOE around the pillar to progress.
Once you've gotten the Sky Metal Knight to loop around the pillar, you're good.
We now have two Sky Metal Knights to get around.
This is what you DON'T want to do: aggro both of them at once.
Thankfully, with the two of them in those positions as I enter the room, I can just run straight to the door.
Aw fuck, the ONE enemy I didn't want to see with this party.
HP: 2073, STR: 50, TEC: 35, VIT: 38, AGI: 21, LUC: 37
- Cripple: Uses the legs. Deals 150% melee STR-based Bash damage to one target, with splash damage. Attempts to bind hit targets' arms and legs, with a 40% base chance. Has an 80% speed modifier and 110 base accuracy.
- Normal: Black Carapace. 75% chance. Sells for 1300 en. 1 needed to make Safeguard (+43 DEF). 3 Mandrake Roots and 2 Black Carapaces needed to make Awl Pike (+135 ATK). 5 Black Carapaces and 2 Coal Bones needed to make Black Collar (+61 DEF).
"Blue-black carapace covered in spikes. Its hardness makes it difficult to shape."
- Ingredient: Tortoise Meat. 3-6 given. 3 needed to make Triple Salisbury (Western Food 5; restores 3% max HP, 1% max TP at end of turn). 5 needed to make Tortoise Takikomi Gohan (Japanese Food 5; 80% chance to add 7 levels to a Grimoire upon generation).
"Tender meat in a hard shell."
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Centuries-old and still as violent a hunter as it ever was!
This party legitimately cannot kill this thing before it kills them. Cripple hurts far too much and arm binds completely shut down everyone on the front line. My only option here is to run--any time I run into an Iron Tortoise with this party, I just run.
I apologize if it seems like I'm not even making an effort, but trust me, these things are a pain to deal with even with good parties.
The hell is this? A nest made outta bird spit?
You better keep that thing away from me.
This is a chop point, incidentally.
SYSTEM: The front of the box displays pictures of three strange-looking dishes. Under each image is a glowing protrusion with a name. You are curious about the machine, and tempted to push the protrusions with the names written on them.
So, uh, what's this thing got written on it?
I'm unfamiliar with this ancient script, unfortunately.
Lemme see. Hmm... "Dark chicken soup," "Muddy miso soup," and "Srimuang tom yum goong."
Those last two just sound like gibberish. How about that chicken one?
SYSTEM: You cautiously press on the protrusion, which elicits a chirping sound followed by a deep growling noise from somewhere!
SYSTEM: Though you draw your weapons out of caution, all that emerges from the giant box is a paper container of warm soup! A delicious smell wafts from it, causing your stomachs to gurgle. Yet it is missing something; there are no ingredients in it.
What kinda chicken soup doesn't have any chicken?!
SYSTEM: You examine the picture of the dish closely and see that it uses the breast meat of a black chicken. But as you have no such ingredient, you simply sip the soup as is. The taste is slightly bland, but the soup's warmth seeps through your body, melting away your fatigue!
SYSTEM: You look to the box again and find that the pictures have vanished. It now only displays the words, That's all for today!" It seems you may return here for more soup tomorrow... You think it might be a good idea to mark this place on your map as you return to exploring with a fuller stomach.
W E L P
This is why drawing straws is a terrible idea!
If I die one tile away from the Geomagnetic Pole I swear to fucking god
Get outta the way!
That was closer than I would've liked.
Lochaber (+138 ATK) is unlocked by selling 1 Mandrake Root.
Dead Whip (+126 ATK) is unlocked by selling 1 Plum Hide.
Metal Tweed (+44 DEF) is unlocked by selling 1 Gum String.
I could take the stairs, but there's one area I want to map.
Tyler got a level up from a boring random encounter, which just goes into HP Up.
SYSTEM: Clad in fine armor, and with a sword resting at its side, you conclude that this must be the remains of an adventurer. It looks like it's been here a long time. Perhaps another explorer reached the flying castle before your arrival?
Aw, what? We weren't the first ones up here?
SYSTEM: Something stirs in your memory. You recall something Cass told you... Indeed, before the Labyrinth is discovered, there was an adventurer who set out to reach the castle in the sky. Perhaps this skeleton is what remains of the explorer Cass spoke of.
What an amazing person, traversing the Labyrinth up to the castle on their own...
SYSTEM: If you think this skeleton is what remains of Cass's old friend, then you can leave the coin here to settle his debt...
Seems pretty clear to me.
SYSTEM: You kneel to place the coin in its hand, and find it grasping a scrap of parchment. As you scan it, you realize you were correct... It appears to be a letter, likely written shortly before death...and it's addressed to Cass himself!
SYSTEM: You leave the gold coin in the skeleton's hand in exchange for the parchment, and offer a silent prayer. You set the parchment carefully in your bag, and take your leave of the place.
I have made a very big mistake. Remember how the Ladybug enemies would summon other enemies if they were alone?
What is THAT?!
Forest Bats do the same.
Except infinitely worse.
I hate...this castle...
This isn't how I pictured it...
Uh-oh. The swirling red vortex is back. Time to fix everything.
Cursed Knights are FOEs from the next floor that you really don't want to screw with. They have 62 STR, and to give you an idea of their primary gimmick, Dark Blade inflicts blind on targets it doesn't kill...and it has a 200% base chance. The Cursed Knight's other skill inflicts instant death on hit targets if it doesn't kill them, again, with a 200% base chance. The gimmick there is that it has 1 base accuracy--but remember, blind disables evasion. You also can't bind its arms--it's immune to arm binds. F U N.
Let's pretend nothing happened, and we just proceeded normally after giving the coin to the skeleton.
Another chop point.
I used the stairs at this point to reset my encounter meter.
Those who have fallen to earth. What are your feelings on the dispensation of nature?
Was that even a sentence?
The...disposal of nature?
SYSTEM: The question perplexes you, but the mysterious voice has not finished speaking...
The dispensation of nature is death. Those who live will one day die. It is inexorable. What if you could defy it, however...thereby overthrowing death itself?
Turnin' into a monster doesn't sound much like defyin' death to me.
I have researched the problem of death for many aeons. You shall be put to good use. The greater one's vitality, the more effective the sacrifice...
In yer damn dreams. Yeh ain't takin' me, dead or alive!
SYSTEM: The mysterious voice falls silent once again. You have no choice but to press onward...
Heh. I must've gotten t' him.
I'm sure this weirdo with a god complex was totally intimidated. Yeah.
Before we return, there's something we missed...
SYSTEM: 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... Our old home...has no more meaning... A new leader must now... I... I will create an ark...new utopia...
SYSTEM: The mysterious voice abruptly ends there. You cock your head, marveling at the strange phenomenon, before returning to your quest.
I'm as weirded out as the bear is.
What was that about a country completely vanishin'?
I have an idea as to what this might be, but... No, never mind.
Well, that was certainly a thing.
Reptile Cuirass (+57 DEF) is unlocked by selling 3 Plum Hides.
Oh, yeh're back. Did...did yeh find anythin'?
A skeleton. In the floating castle.
The skeleton had this letter on its person.
...? This is... Heh. That bastard. Waitin' til now to send me any kinda word...downright rude. ...Heh! At the end of the letter, the kid reminds me to pay off my end of the debt...! Well... I shouldn't call her a kid.
...Hey, Lumen. I talked about my bet, yeah? If she won, I'd give her one gold coin. That's all. If I won...she was gonna help me run the Stickleback Bar, and settle down to start a life with me.
Ahh, now I get it. I see what the point 'a this was.
...Nice girl, huh? Did what she wanted, didn't care what anyone said, and was a damn fine swordswoman to boot. ...Guess that's why I fell for her. ...Well, yeh won, yeh dumb kid. I paid off my end of the bet.
...Thanks, Lumen. 'Cause of yeh, I kept my promise. Well! That's enough gloom and grumblin'. Here, yer reward...!
N-no need. W-we already...got one...
Oh, great, Tyler and the bear are sobbing like babies now.
Wh--What're yeh talkin' about, yeh already got one"!? Bah! Yeh chumps! Guess I can't help myself... Maybe I've just got a soft spot for crazy folks. Ah, I don't know why I put up with yeh! Take this and get goin' already! Haw haw haw!
A good reward for a simple quest.
I do like that the game gives Cass a little bit of backstory, even if it's just in the confines of one quest. It's part of why he's my favorite bartender/quest giver in the EO series.
In any case, time for town dialogue.
You found the castle, right? An honest-to-goodness legend! Can you imagine my surprise when I heard that!?
Kinda, maybe? As neat as it is, it's just yer average Tuesday for us.
You children are incredible! I always knew you could do it! Great job! I'm so proud of all of you! You can't take a step outside without hearing all about your adventures! When I went to go get some supplies a little while ago, I heard them talking about how some explorers found the castle! You should have seen their faces when I told them that I actually know those explorers in person. Bahaha! You're still exploring the castle, right? Well, remember to look after yourselves, alright, dears?
Fairly decently... Aside from the giant off-pink tortoises. Those are giving us a great deal of trouble.
I'm so glad that the ones to find the castle were the people I've gotten to know so well! Whenever someone asks me about it, I can't help but brag about all your adventures you've shared with me. So please, keep coming to our shop...and tell me more stories!
Oh, I know. Why don't you tell me about your travels, then.
Any real reason why?
...Well, there's been a lot of customers lately that want to hear stories about you. It's a bit annoying when I'm busy with all the cooking...but I suppose it's not too bad.
Tryin' to engage the customers more. I can get behind that.
Campaigns. Why are two of them missing, you may ask?
A giant group plus a festival equals cash for Eddy.
I heard the Grand Duchy sent some guards up there... Think they'll be all right?
Uh, why do yeh ask?
...What do yeh mean why"? I'm worried 'cause not all the guards are as strong as yeh. And plus, the flyin' castle...well, it's flyin', right? Hey, quit smirking! I'm gettin' to my point. Something that huge is just floating in the sky... And from what I hear, the thing's ancient! If an army of folks just waltzes on into a flyin' clunker like that...yeh don't think it'll just plummet, do yeh?
Well, that is certainly a terrifying thought...
See, I'm worried 'cause yeh lot might get caught in it if it happens. Ain't I got a heart of gold? Oh, but if it does happen, don't go bringin' the whole thing down on my head! Haw haw haw!
Cass. Brandy Stimulant, pronto.
Whoa!? M-My nose...! Gah, what is that? I'm tearing up!!! H-Huh...? Wait, when did I get back to the bar? I remember I was fighting against the Cursed Knight all day... Did you come to wake me up again?
Sorry for always causing you trouble. Today, I was actually trying to get a Bound Shard. Geez, those Cursed Knights are strong... I had to get him while his head was bound..,but he was really tough. I wonder if Lilly will like this? Tch, I dunno... She probably can't eat this...but I think it'll be fine for her!
EAT it?! What the fuck?!
Tyler! We are in a public place!
How else am I supposed t' respond t' being told a girl eats shards of a monster's armor?!
I want to know how, exactly, Tramonte not only managed to kill a Cursed Knight, but get its conditional too.
Oh, Lumen... Geez, don't you guys ever stop and take a rest or anythin'...? I mean, I was supposed to be the one that discovered the flying castle!
Oh, right, I need to send the Byeahs on a foraging mission after I finish talking to everyone.
If you have the time, would you care to try some tea? A neighboring country has just sent us some exquisite new blends.
That sounds absolutely heavenly after today. I accept your request, Minister!
...Hm? There seems to be a smudge on your sleeve. See, just here. Would you like me to have some new clothes prepared for you?
Oh, that's not necessary. I have several more dresses, all similar yet distinct from this one.
Yeh've spend more on yer wardrobe that I have on spears.
Hm? Oh, this is nothing. It is only natural to provide all accommodations for the heroes of High Lagaard. Ah, here they are now. Follow her to the changing room. We shall talk once you have changed. I'll hear no protests, now.
Well, if you insist...
Well then, Guild Lumen, we will meet again shortly. I expect great things from you.
Here are the intermediate results of the Byeahs' virtuous mission.
Melputteh (+132 ATK) is unlocked by selling 4 Gum Strings.
Iron Saker (+131 ATK, +5 VIT) is unlocked by selling 1 Light Chip.
Virtuous mission complete!
Here yeh go, ten bundles of not-wood.
Hrm. Good work. I did say this would be ideal, but I hardly imagined you would actually gather this much. I suppose I should have expected as much from the guild that reached even the castle in the sky. I'm glad to have asked you. Normally we wouldn't rely on explorers to this extent, but since it's for their sake as well, I can hardly object. ...When someone freezes, we usually find them first thing in the morning. I'd rather not wake up to that, hm? Anyways, I appreciate your cooperation. I left your reward with Cass already. Please collect it when you feel ready. Goodbye, then.
Oh, yeh're back. How was it?
We probably saved a bunch of people from freezin' to death this winter. So, nothin' big.
Hah, makes sense. Even the finest wine freezes in a Lagaardian winter... Probably a good idea to make sure we're prepared. ...That lady puts in requests, but when the explorers aren't up to snuff, she barges in and starts yellin' at me! She got named second-in-command to some order of knights off in another country. Yeh don't want to get her angry. Don't get me mixed up in this! I ain't dealin' with her. Yeh're the only ones I could send to take care of this. Well, yeh did a good job. Here, take yer reward! I'll be seeing yeh next time!
We get more Metopons, Unihorns, and EXP for turning in 10 Ironwoods.
Song Mastery now gives a 90% speed increase to song skills instead of 80%.
White Noble's static heal now heals for 3 more.
I turned in those earlier quests to make room in our quest log for these new ones (ignoring The beautiful princess and The Test of Courage).
Ah, that quest... It's from the same hospital as before. Yeh'd be perfect to handle this one. I haven't got the details, but I hear they've discovered some kinda new medication. The Trader shop's plannin' on lendin' them a hand, so maybe it'll give the economy a little kick as well... Anyways, head to the Sitoth Trading. They can tell yeh more there. G'luck!
We'll get on that in a bit.
Takin' that one, are yeh? It comes from a pretty experienced bunch. They were gonna just take care of it themselves, originally, but things got messy, and now they need a hand. The client's over there, drinkin', so ask him about the details, awright?
Again, we'll get on that in a bit.
I retook The Test of Courage for reasons I...don't entirely remember, upon reflection, so we'll take on Small comforts later.
No. We took on that quest--the one about new medicine, or something?
Ohh, you came for the quest! Hee hee, it always feels like a weight off my shoulders when you're the ones helping us! So, about the request... Right now, the healers at the Hospital are trying to develop a new kind of medicine. But the ingredients they have now aren't all that potent, so we'd like to help them out by supplying something more effective. And we've heard that there could be some amazing materials somewhere in the flying castle! I'd like to ask you to bring back 1 Life Honey, if that's okay. Life Honey can be gathered by Taking. Once you gather it, please sell it to the store. I'm sorry we have to keep coming to you for help, but please do your best...oh, and make sure to come back safe!
No need to worry about our safety for this--we have the Byeahs for this kind of need.
We'll watch the Byeahs' Second Virtuous Mission, plus 22F, next time!
I cannot wait to be free of this party.