Part 63: Cleanup: The Third StratumCleanup: The Third Stratum
There's not much left to clean up here, so this is gonna be a short one.
Time to take this thing down for real.
Behavior: Nocturnal, Patrol
-Common: Dark Scale - 1 needed to unlock Kotsujiki (Katana. Also needs 1 Metal Horn.)
--Sharp, blade-like scales of a many-headed dragon.
Description: Each of its poison-fanged heads has its own will. All who challenge it are in mortal peril.
Resistance: Fire (50%), Ice (50%), Volt (50%)
They're pretty dangerous FOEs. Their regular attacks hurt, and Fang is an AOE that can poison your party. Their elemental resistances means that you can't just nuke them with an Alchemist unless you have Megido or a Hexer with Dampen.
First, I'm going to boost Ken's damage.
Then I'm going to prevent my party from being poisoned.
: GET OFF OF ME!
: Oh, sorry.
The power of Dampen. Seriously, it's ridiculously broken.
The Helldra's drop makes a nice katana for Ken, which I buy for him.
: So how do you think this overlord gets his hands on the bodies of all the dead explorers?
: Why is that important?
: Think about it. Deaths are frequent within this Labyrinth, which would mean that bodies would be scattered around everywhere- oh, almost stepped in one.
: Artelind did mention something about people being carried up there. Somehow. Wait, hold that thought. Guys, take a look at this!
A human-like silhouette melts into the snowy environs upon realizing your presence. You trudge closer, but a gust of wind blows through and the silhouette disappears. What could it have been...?
: I think it went this way.
: But, this path wasn't here before!
: Well it's here now. Might as well go through it.
: Okay, how did you guys miss this?
: I said that there wasn't a path here before!
: He's right. We searched this area, and it was nothing but a dead end.
Some areas of the Labyrinth are locked behind quests. Even if you search the area before taking the quest, you won't find the shortcut. This is the first of the secret areas we can explore. There's one in each of the first four Strata.
Unlike the first game, which had its secret areas containing enemies and FOEs from the next Stratum, the random encounters in this game's secret areas aren't any different.
: At least there's some good stuff hidden here.
: What an odd sum of money.
: Uh, guys? Behind you!
: Oh my. When did they get there?
Stepping on the tile right before this one causes those two FOEs to spawn. And yes, you're forced to fight one if you don't have a Warp Wire.
Skills: Ice Breath
-Common: White Gem - See Snowsoul bio
-Conditional: Evil Rock - Kill with Bash. 1 needed to unlock Angel Robe.
--Icy core that cannot be touched with bare hands.
Description: Though small of stature, this immensely powerful creature can generate a crushing blizzard.
Weakness: Fire (150%)
The Icefiend is the first of the secret area FOEs. Secret area FOEs use the exact same sprite as some other monster that you've encountered before. They're also stronger than most other enemies and FOEs since you're intended to explore these areas later. Notice how despite being just a souped up Snowsoul, that it's stronger than the Helldra.
: It's merely a Snowsoul, do not be afraid!
Ice Breath is still as weak as it was before. In fact, you actually want them to use this skill because it's far weaker than their regular attack.
I'd say they're not a threat, but that's not true. Here, I'll fight the other Icefiend to demonstrate.
: I only wanted to kill... everyone.
Yeah, their regular attacks are strong enough to kill anyone it targets in one hit.
: Your formulas could use a bit more work. I'm already catching up to them!
: But, I've already perfected them. They can't be improved!
Around the 4th Stratum is when your damage dealers would catch up with an Alchemist. After that, Alchemists just don't get any better. EO1 Alchemists were just unoptimal, not unviable when the postgame came around. EO2 Alchemists don't even get the privilege of dropping off at that point.
Oh, phew. Yeah they can still call for help, but they're won't summon more Icefiends. You still don't want to leave them in the battle for too long, because they can still sic Helldras on you.
You just can't get careless around them. Also, I didn't go for their conditional drop at this point because I forgot what I needed to do to get them.
I've made a few mistaken statements about the AGI stat before, so I'll correct that now. It's actually the worst stat in the game. Thanks to the way weapon speeds are handled, the AGI stat is a complete and utter joke. It doesn't matter in most cases, and you shouldn't invest any skill points in the stat unless it's a prerequisite for something. Later games readjusted how much weapons alter your character's speed so that they aren't guaranteed to go last or first all the time. The only time where the AGI stat actually matters is if your party members get Leg Bound, where that actually has a significant effect on the stat, or if it's the earlygame, where the weapon speed modifiers don't have as much of a drastic effect.
What I'm saying is that this Haste Pin is a waste of an equipment slot.
: Whee! Come on guys, slide around on the ice!
: Not exactly the time to dilly dally.
: You just don't know how to have fun! Woohoohoohoo!
: Dude, don't be such a stick in the mud.
This next room is an ice sliding puzzle with lots of dead ends. Not much to say here.
Another Nectall, very handy.
: Once again, how did you miss this?
: Well it was just a bit more of the 14th floor-
: A bit more? You missed just under half of a floor!
: Oh, and you're saying that you would have found it on your own?
: Well I don't know what an idiotic Troubadour has to contribute to a-
: Whoa, calm down guys! We found out about this place now. No harm done, right?
We're completely done with the 14th floor now. Yeah, that was a huge chunk of floor we were missing. That quest is a pretty important one to take.
Back on the 13th floor. Not as much to explore here.
There's a one way passage here. Don't take it, or you'll have to travel through that hidden part of the 14th floor again.
This Icefiend spawns when you step on this tile.
: How can a snowman punch so hard?
: I'm fine! No need to worry about me. Ow, my spleen.
: There's more!?
This area is filled with Icefiends that will relentlessly chase you down.
Also, here's the shortcut so you can come back easily. I healed up and remembered that there was a conditional drop, so I get into a fight with another Icefiend.
: Why me!?
Everything's going pretty well until I realized just what I had to do to get the conditional drop. It's kill with Bash. Where my only sources of Bash damage are Bellamy and Aliara. I would have brought Ling or Emilia, but I completely forgot about the conditional drop.
Oh well, maybe it's not so bad. It doesn't have much HP left.
: Bellamy, what are you doing!?
: I wish to test my physical strength, and this FOE seems weak enough. I shall slay it with my own two hands!
: Wait, but that leaves us out in the open!
: And it vanquished Ken!
: I'm sure you'll be fine.
This is with both Warmight AND Bravery. Hexers have really terrible strength. This is gonna take a while.
: I hate you.
Bellamy doesn't fare much better, either.
: Hmm, a formidable opponent.
: That was pathetic.
: Sorry, friends, I let you down.
: Not that you ever did anyting useful in the first place.
: Oh, screw this!
: What!? I was supposed to land the final blow myself!
: Yeah? You're stupid, and your plan was stupid!
: Hmph, how unnecessarily harsh.
Ugh, what a disaster. I could have spared myself from 3 turns of agony if I remembered to bring someone that can actually deal a decent amount of Bash damage. Well it could have been worse. I mean, imagine trying to get a conditional that way with a boss. Without Formaldehyde. Now that is a painful feeling.
There, you are faced with a door from which emanates a frigid air, chilling you to the bone. You may proceed beyond the door, or explore elsewhere.
: This better be the tomb. I don't think I can stand any more of you guys.
: The feeling is mutual.
The footprints you leave in the snow reveal that you stand on a sturdy stone floor. You see faint but unmistakeable signs of the High Lagaard crest engraved into the ground! This can only be the Ice Duke's grave you came to find! As you exult in your discovery, you find something at your feet. You pick it up and see that it is a white Auratum. To have lived this long in such cold surroundings... Was it planted here deliberately? It may serve as proof that you have uncovered the grave. You stow it in your bag. When you return to Lagaard, you should report your success back at the bar.
: Excellent! Free armor and medicine!
: Uh, isn't this grave robbing?
: The rules of the Labyrinth do say-
: Finders keepers!
: ...Yes, exactly.
Now we're completely done with the 13th floor, and by extension, the whole Stratum.
: Ahh, yeh're back. So did yeh find this so-called Ice Duke?
: We weren't really looking for him.
: Rather, we were looking for his tomb.
: What? Yeh weren't looking for him? Well, that's no fun...
: We did find something interesting. High Lagaard's crest was inscribed on his tomb.
: The nation's crest, eh? Wait... Does that mean our rulers in those days went into the Labyrinth? Now that's interesting...
: We found this in there.
: Hm? What's with the flower? Why would I need that? The Grand Duchy will send a team to the coordinates yeh gave to verify it. I'll tell them what yeh found. Here's the reward! Come back anytime!
Yeah for all that, you just get a Stonard. Even though the reward sucks, it's still important to do this quest, since it unlocks something important later down the line.
The reason I went out of my way for the Evil Rock, was because it unlocked the Medic's best armor. Which I will probably not buy at all because Medics suck in EO2.