Part 29: Go on, Pet the DeerGo on, Pet the Deer
: I take it you heard the details from the Minister.
There is a somewhat resigned undertone to Flausgul's words.
: Yeah, we did. Now let us through!
: Go on, then. I'll leave the matter of the missing soldiers to you. I have other things to do...
He seems to be addressing this last to the beast beside him as he moves away from the door.
: One more thing... A little free advice. The reason why all those soldiers went missing... It's because a herd of deer are running amok in there. The area's choked with enemies. Never let your guard down and avoid combat whenever you can.
With these last words, Flausgul and his companion walk away.
You can continue through the door and face the chaos within, or return to town to prepare.
When we just came back here? Yeah, no.
: From what it sounds like, those guards may not be alive.
: Yep. If that's the case, brace yourselves, because this isn't gonna be a pretty sight.
The game is kind enough to fill out most of this room automatically on the bottom screen when you enter.
The ground is stained crimson with blood, and corpses are stacked on the field. The bloodcurdling sight reminds you of the mission you accepted at the Duke's Palace... You agreed then to find the soldiers who never returned from their posts in the forest. The gruesome open grave before you may be the final resting place of those very soldiers...
: Oh. Oh god. There's so much blood.
: You know, I never thought getting into this whole thing would just, blech.
: Ugh. It smells really bad in here too.
: That would be the smell of rotting corpses. Hmm? Did you all hear that?
A sudden roar from the east of the room startles you. You know now what caused this slaughter. You suppose you are obliged to check the area for survivors, though your hopes are dim. The monster to the east remains still. You see a side path leading into the forest. If you're to check the side path, you must defeat the monster or find another way. Your options are open... You only wish you understood just what they were. One thing is certain. This is a fearful monster, and your victory is by no means certain.
: I don't like the way that deer's looking at us. That thing must've been responsible for... this.
: Shit. Should we go back and report what happened?
: Seven, eight, nine... Hmm. I don't think so. I count nine bodies. Dubois said that there were ten soldiers that went missing. So where's the tenth one?
: So there is a survivor here.
: Maybe, but we'll have to make sure. We need to search the room first before we go back.
: What are we gonna do about that deer? It's blocking the hallway there.
: We'll look down there later, let's search the rest of the room first.
Well things escalated quickly. Already we have a high body count. The first game didn't really have much of that this early. Let's take a look at what we have to deal with here.
Those two moving FOEs are Furyhorns. We still can't take them on yet. That other FOE won't move from it's spot. It's also a different enemy.
This FOE is just a stronger Furyhorn. And it will most likely crush your party at this point. You can try taking it out to get through the side path, but I really wouldn't recommend it, even if you think your party is capable of taking it on. If you really want to fight it, wait until after the mission is over to do that.
: Oh, another place for the others to chop.
: This one's different. I see bell shaped fruit up there.
: So this is where we can gather materials for the Lure Bells.
Common: Bell Fruit - 1 needed to unlock Lure Bells and Sleep Bells.
-Fruit whose skin has a tone which affects monsters.
Uncommon: Hard Root
Down this side path is another chopping point. However, this one's special. Instead of Bent Twigs, you can find Bell Fruit (not Steel, like Dubois said), and selling one will unlock Lure Bells and Sleep Bells for purchase in the shop. So you're not completely screwed over in case you lost or wasted the Lure Bell somehow. It's the only gathering point in the game where you can get Bell Fruit, so if you're going for 100% completion, remember to check this spot!
: Think the guard escaped through this door?
You have two challenges in this room... first, you must check the side path, monster or no. Second, you are obligated to search for any surviving guards in the area.
Can't exit this room until you find any survivors.
: Well if he did, we better search the rest of the room first. Looks like the last place we can look is past that deer. Now what are we gonna do about it?
: Hey, didn't the minister give us a bell? He said it worked on FOEs.
: Oh, that's right. Hmm.
If an FOE will be affected by an item or a skill that you're about to use, the FOE icon will blink.
: This looks like a good spot.
: Oh! Oh! Can I ring the bell?
: Oh. Eh, sure, go ahead.
: Thanks! Ding ding ding!
The game will let you know if the Lure Bell worked, by turning the FOE icon red.
: It's heading this way! Move!
The Lure Bell will also cause the FOE to be stunned for a few steps once it reaches its destination.
: Hey, there's another passage here. Looks like we have an escape route now.
: Okay, this is the last place we can look. Let's hope that survivor is in here.
: Waugh...! Oh... A-Are you e-explorers?
Judging by his uniform, there is little doubt that this is one of the missing guards. You tell him of the mission you took at the Grand Duchy and ask if he survived the attack.
: Yes, you can relax now. We're here to rescue you.
: The Grand Duchy sent us to look for the soldiers that didn't come back. You're one of those soldiers then?
: I'm saved... I'm saved! Thank you! Yes, I was a member of the investigation team. My comrades... they were all slaughtered by that herd of deer!
You tell the soldier the fate of that monster and how to return to town safely.
: That deer's blocking the hallway, but there's a passage through the trees you can go through to get out of here.
: You're a lifesaver! I'll make sure to put in a good report for you when I get back.
The soldier stumbles to his feet and staggers to the exit. Your mission is complete! Return to town and report to the Duke's Palace.
: Shall we go report back about our rescue?
: Wait, what about that door we saw earlier? There's probably more stuff to explore behind there.
: Well, alright then. Warp wires are pretty expensive anyway. Might as well make the most out of our trips.
: Hey, that deer's still staring at the hallway
: Maybe we can take it down while it's not looking.
: What are you idiots doing?
: No, stop. Stop!
: Or maybe we should just run.
: There's more deer behind it!
And this is why you don't want to engage the Furylord while you're on the mission. Because it summons two Furyhorns to help it out. Once you're done with the mission, then it's safe to fight the Furylord since it won't summon backup then.
: I immediately regret my decision.
Confusion is an annoying status effect. It works like the confusion status effect in most RPGs, characters will attack a random target, friend or foe. But here's the main problem with it. You can't select what that character can do, like have them use items or skills. Because of that, confusion is effectively the same thing as being silenced. All they can do is attack things, even themselves. This also applies to enemies. Confusing them just forces them to use a regular attack on a random target, which can make them almost helpless if they relied on skills.
: Oh, not my head!
: Ow. Uh, Fedot? Why are you looking at me like that?
: You know, I've always wondered what human meat tasted like. Hold still Aliara, you'll make a fine dinner for tonight!
: Eh, what happened? Last thing I remember was a deer hoof to the head.
: You went all cannibal on us, dude.
: Oh. Uh, sorry about that.
The Furyhorns immediately despawn when you take a step.
They won't always summon a Raflesia, but unless your party can kill it before it moves, why risk it?
When you run into a solo Ladybug, just have everyone run. You don't want to risk it summoning a Raflesia and then have it kill everyone.
A note informs you that the Grand Duchy has temporarily closed the way ahead. It seems there is a task yet to be completed for the Grand Duchy before you may proceed.
: Let's not get too far off track, Nick. We still need to report in.
: Come on, let's see what's down the other path!
: Maybe we should just go back to town.
: But I see treasure in here.
: Why don't we just open the chests and then warp out once we get what's inside.
: Sounds like a plan.
The Soma is a consumable that heals your entire party for 95 HP. It got replaced with the Madora in EO3 and 4, which only heals a row instead. It did come back in Untold.
: Okay, now we're out of here.
: See ya, suckers!
Selling all the stuff we got unlocked some new gear. I pick up the Katana for Ken. Let's go make our report.
: I heard all the details from our man. You did well indeed in rescuing him! He has given us an extensive debriefing on what happened in the Labyrinth. Marvelous work. Please accept this token of the Grand Duchy's gratitude for saving his life.
: Can we-
: Which reminds me... I mentioned the report the guard filed on the events that transpired. According to him, the cause of so many monsters appearing in the first Stratum... Was, in fact, the work of another monster! The Grand Duchy is issuing an official mission to resolve this crisis. You have contributed much to the matter already, so I will not force you to take part. However... no, it's nothing. You did well.
: Come on. Out with the details!
: Guild Firefly... You're accepting this mission!?
: Indeed. So, tell us more about this monster.
: I cannot thank you enough for going back into the breach to rid the forest of this threat. Allow me to explain fully. As you have heard already, powerful monsters have been appearing in the first Stratum. The cause seems to be that the king of beasts, called Chimaera, has settled on the 5th floor.
And here's the name of our first boss.
: It is Chimaera's roar that draws monsters from the upper floors down to the first Stratum. Once we defeat this Chimaera, we eliminate the roar that lures such terrible fiends downward. It is a serious crisis, make no mistake. We must destroy this Chimaera, king of the beasts!
: We'll do our best. Let's rest up for now, while we're doing that, I sent the other team out into the 3rd floor, so we can finish Abigail's request.
I rested Bellamy after I realized he had no points in Chop for this. He lost Ice Up, but he's not gonna be fighting for a while.
: A twig. He sent us in here, to get a twig. What a complete waste of my talents.
: Yeah, when I joined this guild, I thought I would get to do some cool stuff like exploring, or fighting monsters. Not just gathering stuff like a farmer.
: Why don't you talk to Fedot about it? Maybe you can get him to let you join in on the explorations. As for me, I'm not getting anywhere near that Dark Hunter or Hexer.
: You make a good point.
: I'll put it on the show floor today, so please have a look. It's my father's masterpiece! Oh, yes! I left the reward with Cass, so you can collect it at the Stickleback Bar. If I need anything else, I'll leave a request for you all on the notice board!
: Glad to help.
Weirdly enough, talking to her causes her to apologize and say that she forgot to take the job posting down because you already sold her the items. Even if you just sold her the item. Leaving the shop triggers the above dialogue.
: Hey there! Great work! Sorry to give yeh all the runaround. I've heard the whole story!
: Well we weren't really the ones that finished this.
: Ahh, quit yer whining and take the reward! Haw!
And we get the Wood Bow for Pauline. If you're already using a Survivalist, this reward is useless, since you can get an even better bow from that secret area on the 2nd floor.
Though it is a nice boost in attack power.
Explored all we could of the 3rd floor.
: I swear, there better not be anymore roadblocks ahead.
The airborne beast rests its wings atop the high rubble towering before you. The rubble is stacked high and it seems impossible to climb over. It is natural, you reflect, that the forest denizens can reach areas that you cannot. If you are to continue, you must understand this well and pay attention to your surroundings. You hold your breath as you leave, so as not to alert the monster to your presence.
: Oh great, FOEs can fly over walls now?
: I thought you said you never seen those before.
: I didn't. Etria's Labyrinth didn't have them. This is completely new to me. We'll have to be really careful with out movements here.
Meet the flying FOE, which is a new type of FOE introduced in 2. These things can fly over low walls, so they have a bit more mobility than most other FOEs. Something nice that the game does for you is that it keeps track of an FOEs movements inside a wall, as long as you walked on a tile right next to the wall before. These kinds of FOEs don't reappear in future titles, but the aspects of them being able to cross terrain you can't was carried over to some FOEs.
You'll have to be careful if you're going for that chest in the middle, but it's nothing to worry about otherwise. As for the FOE, it's the weakest one in the Stratum, and probably something you can take out when you first encounter it. I don't risk it, but since we'll be able to take them out soon enough, I'll list the full info for the FOE here.
Skills: Flight, Heal, Aura
-Common: Glue Hide - 1 needed for Sherwani.
--Sticky, malleable lizard skin.
-Rare: Gum Hide - See Roller bio.
Description: A lizard with abnormally large wings. It can fly at low altitudes and hop over high walls.
Weakness: Ice (125%)
Yeah, the Slaveimp is weaker than the Furyhorn, and the attack and defense stats are the same as the Gashtor's. Flight is a random target physical attack that will randomly hit 5 party members. It can hit pretty hard and take off about a third of a party member's HP at this point. Weirdly enough, this is the only skill that it actually uses. It has two other abilities, Heal and Aura, but it doesn't seem to use them at this point. Hmm.
: I think I see more treasure over the wall. Huh? Behind you!
: Wait, what? Whoa!
: Yikes! Where did that thing come from?
If you were lucky enough to never be blindsided, this is where you would finally get to experience one. Running into a solo Evil Eye is a guaranteed blindside. Thought those were just limited to gathering ambushes? Nope! Some random encounters will always blindside you. Of course it's the enemy formation, not the enemy that causes guaranteed blindsides. Sometimes Evil Eyes appear with other enemies, and those don't result in a guaranteed blindside. This is the only game where random encounters could result in that. Later games just restricted that to scripted encounters.
Skills: Glare, Tackle
-Common: Glue Quill - 1 needed for Short Bow (Bow.) and Rough Hat. 2 needed for Warhammer (Staff.) 3 needed for Hide Armor. 5 needed for Plume Boot.
--An Evil Eye's wing hide. Highly elastic.
-Conditional: Gem Eye - Don't kill with physical. 1 needed for Carp Sword (Sword.)
--Resembles a polished crystal ball.
Description: A strange, floating organism. Those who stare into its eye will be paralyzed.
Evil Eyes are pretty rough enemies, and Atlus' middle finger for the 4th floor. They'll almost always use Tackle at the start of a battle, which is a physical attack that can one shot a party member at this point. Thankfully, it's really inaccurate. However, their attack stat is on par with some FOEs, and is stronger than a Redhorn's attack. Their regular attack can also one shot a party member at this point. Glare is a skill that can paralyze a party member, and probably the least threatening thing it can do in a fight. Weirdly enough, their conditional drop can be obtained even if you use a Gunner's elemental shot to finish it off, despite that skill being part piercing.
Like I said, the move tends to miss. But if you're on that quest to deliver some supplies to some guards without dying, an unlucky hit will cause the quest to fail right there.
Fortunately these things can be taken down within 2 turns. Still, chances are that they'll end up killing a party member and end up cutting your dungeon trip short unless you have Nectars.
The chest in the middle of this section here contains this item.
It increases your resistance to poison by 30%. I have Aliara wear it since she has an empty equipment slot on her.
And a new enemy, although this one is unremarkable.
-Common: Metal Hull - 1 needed for Pure Vest and Royal Claw (Claw.) 3 needed for Gladius (Sword.) 15 needed for Slice Whip (Whip.) 1 needed for the quest The item trade II.
--A shell as sturdy as a sheet of metal.
-Conditional: Iron Shell (Kill with Ice. 1 needed for Kurodachi katana.)
--An internal shell wall, frozen and turned black.
Description: Ruler of the Mai-Mais. Bears a resplendent shell and attacks with sticky mucus.
Weakness: Volt (150%)
Resistance: Stab (75%)
This enemy is really pathetic. It'll either attack someone or use Mucus on a random party member, and then attack the person that Mucus hit. Although it has a chance of targeting someone else and using Mucus again. Mucus binds the arms or legs, which could be threatening, except at this point it's usually paired up with enemies that can't do much, and being arm and leg bound at this point in the game doesn't do much since your party doesn't have that many skills learned yet. Even if it gets paired up with a bunch of Woodmais, it won't unleash some sort of secret combo move on your party. Those didn't get introduced until 3.
If you have a Ronin on your team, I highly recommend unlocking the Kurodachi for him. So make sure to get the conditional drop from these guys. You'll also need 7 Shell Warts to unlock that.
: Poison closes your veins.
: Looks like you need to work on your accuracy some more.
: At least the poison kills whatever it hits now.
I have the Iron Shell needed for that Katana. I'll be sure to get the Shell Warts later.
Looking closely, you can see that he's a soldier of High Lagaard.
: Oh right, I almost forgot about this. Yeah, we're delivering some supplies to some guards on this floor. Do you know where they are?
After you tell him your tale, he nods in understanding.
: Supplies, huh...? Well, the men are stationed in the southern area of this floor.
After thanking the soldier, you considered your next move. You have the opportunity to complete your quest by going to the southern area...
: Let's finish that quest first before exploring here. We don't want to risk losing these supplies.
Another Slaveimp down here.
You just need to be careful when walking down the middle there.
: Are you serious?
Ken levels up Overhead to 4.
Nick gets another level of Climax, which increases the HP threshold from 10% to 11%. Eh, it'll be useful eventually.
Frederik grabs a second level of Warmight. It's only a 15% damage boost at this point, you need to max this out for the skill to be worth it.
Fedot is going back to maxing out Medishot. We don't need his big damage skill yet, and that's a huge skill point investment we can't pay for. Also, leveling up Medishot increases the speed modifier of the skill, so he can heal people faster.
Aliara's Poison is getting ever more venomous. It's semi-reliable damage, but not completely reliable.
The 4th and 5th floors of a stratum have all three different kinds of gathering points on the floors, which can make it convenient for farmers. However, the chances of getting ambushed at these spots are higher as well.
Coming closer, you can make out footsteps and speech. You have found the band of guards that you sought! One of them spies you. Wiping the sweat from his brow, he begins to speak.
: I heard a group of explorers signed up to bring us supplies. Please tell me that's you...
: Yep. Here are the goods!
You tell him the story, and he gently smiles before relieving you of the goods.
: I knew it! Thanks, guys. We can stay here much longer now that we've got these.
After receiving their gratitude, you walk away, relieved to be free of your burden.
: Now that we got that off our hands, what do you say that we go back and explore that place that guard was at?
: Sounds good to me. Can't believe we were lucky that no one got taken out while we were doing this.
: Me and my big mouth.
: Goddammit Nick.
: But I'm fine?
: Oh, sorry. Goddammit Ken. Wait, how many times did he get knocked out?
: I dunno. I was only keeping track of Nick's deaths. It's 6 so far.
: YOU KEPT COUNT!?
: Frederik and I have a bet going! I bet you he reaches over 100.
: I'm certain he'll stay below that number. 20 to 30 seems like a more reasonable amount.
: How did my life get to this point?
: Well, we can forget about exploring that part of the floor now.
: Hm...? You look tired. Are you all okay? You may know your way around the Labyrinth, but that won't help if you get exhausted.
: Or if a flower decides to eat you. Or if a floating eyeball decides to sneak in a surprise attack.
: Don't hesitate to return here and rest at the inn, or to come see us if necessary. But it's best not to get injured in the first place.
: Yeah, well get used to our faces, cause we'll probably be coming here a lot.
: Mainly because of you.
: Shut. Up.
: You could say that. Yes.
: I've only been inside with the guard corps protecting me, but I was struck by its beauty. High Lagaard has its own charms, of course, but it's nothing like the forest interior. Even before my time, the forest has protected High Lagaard... It's almost a guardian to this nation. Perhaps you'll find the land of the gods at its peak, rather than a mere floating castle. I'll be interested to see the outcome.
: If we even live long enough for that.
: Eh, we're just coming in to check up.
: There's no need to report here every time you return to town. Although... part of my job is to advise explorers like you, I suppose. Well, here's a tidbit for you, then. It's obvious, but most explorers tend to forget it. Are you aware that each enemy in the Labyrinth has a specific affinity?
: You mean like weaknesses and resistances?
: Swords, axes, arrows, spells... If you find an enemy's weakness you can do even greater damage. Combat in the forest will be much easier once you use your mind as well as your weapons. That's all the advice I have for you. Never underestimate the Labyrinth.
: Is it true that you've already made it to the 4th floor?
: Wow, that was really fast! I've been hearing more people in the shop talk about you. You're an amazing guild! I'm proud just to know you!
: Hear that pops? We're getting famous!
: Don't let it get to your head. We only got to the 4th floor.
: Oh, I mean... Sorry! I shouldn't say things like that. Umm, I've got some cleaning to do... Feel free to look around the shop!
: For once, I didn't!
: One yer fellow guilds came in the other day, talking about how strong yeh were.
: Ha! Even the other guilds know who we are now.
: But I dunno... I've seen my share of guilds, and yeh don't seem like much to me.
: Find that floating castle and maybe I'll change my tune! Haw haw!
: Well, maybe we will.
: Calm down, and let's see if there's any new jobs for us. Oh hey, another one from Abigail?
: Yeh must know what the score is by now. Yes, another request from Sitoth Trading. I don't want to muck up the details of the quest, so yeh should ask around over there.
: Yeah... This quest should be right up yer alley. There's a well-loved family in this Duchy, and their gran isn't doing well these days. She's a kind old bird. Lost her man a few years back--he was popular in the corps in his day. Every time I saw them, they put a song in this wicked old heart of mine. I don't think she's long for this world, and her family wants to give her a memento of gramps. They tell my there's a certain flower he gave her when he proposed. Thing is, I've looked it up, and it only grows in the Labyrinth. They say it's on the 5th floor. A soothing, pale flower... Think yeh could fetch it for the old girl's sake? We're all counting on yeh!
: Nice work! Delivered the whole load, did yeh? I heard that lot never leaves the place. The forest'll take them if they don't look out! The main thing though, is yer reward, right? Here yeh go, and thanks a lot!
Launches a fire based attack on an enemy. This depends on the user's TEC, so don't have a Ronin or Landsknecht use this.
: Wonderful! I'm still trying to get used to asking strangers to do our work...
: It's no problem. If you need materials from the Labyrinth, well, that's our job.
: I'm glad that you're so eager to help us. Oh, right! The materials we need... That's 1 Metal Hull and 5 Bug Shells. Just like last time, once you have them, just sell them to me. Oh! A customer! Sorry, I have to go. I'm counting on you! Welcome, sir...!
: Oh, uh, wow this is heavy!
: Phew... Thanks! You're a strong bunch...! The desk was my daughter's, but it's too small for her now. We bought her a new one. I couldn't lift it by myself, so I didn't know what to do. My husband is out looking for ingredients in the Labyrinth. Good thing you showed up!
: No problem miss.
I rest my party up here. Next time, the adventures of Pauline and Bellamy, and why Dark Hunters are incredibly broken in this game.