Part 8: Chapter 8
Hilda is being useless after the death of her father, so to get the details on our next quest we have to talk to Emo Guy.
: "Only Dragoons understand the language of the Hiryuu. A Hiryuu might still exist at Dist... it would be a great help."
Did I say "details"? I meant "complete lack of details."
This senile old guy is the only person who actually has anything relevant to tell us. Evidently the rebellion operates by delegating down the chain of uselessness: Hilda, to Emo Guy, to useless old dude, to Fry.
Dist is rather remote, so it pays to buy a Cottage here in addition to whatever Ethers you plan on using. It's not like it's difficult to afford at this point.
Having restocked our supplies, our next logical step is to learn how to swim across the ocean. But before we get to that, there's something a little grindy I'd like to do.
The mages have been good to me so far, but they still have one more thing I want before I move on, so I go through a few fights until they cough up an Aero spellbook. Aero is basic poison-elemental damage; it's not actually any more powerful than the standard fire/ice/bolt spells and there are considerably fewer applications for it, so I'm not sure why it's rarer and more valuable.
No one has any idea how exactly you're supposed to get to Dist, so the game turns you out on your own here. The solution isn't too hard to guess, though, seeing as we know of a grand total of one (1) boat. Let's see if the shirtless pirates will let us take it for a spin.
They won't, but wait--who's this?
: "This looks kinda suspicious."
: "Relax! What could happen?"
: "OK, we'll take your offer."
: "Cool. I'll be waiting outside town."
Another ship! How convenient.
Er, hmm. We seem to have stopped just out of sight of land.
Normally this probably would not bode well, but...
If you remember the pirate fight from FFI, this one goes pretty much the exact same way. Two Bolt spells and it's all over (and no, they're not weak to Bolt or anything, they're just weak period.)
: "...What? You'd have an outcast like me fight with you?! Fools! Get back to your jobs! I'll follow you people to Dist or wherever. Hrmf!"
We now have a saucy pirate wench! She's actually pretty terrible statwise even compared to Ninja Shakespeare or Emo Guy, but she is a saucy pirate wench and is therefore superior.
You might look at her 36 Agility and be fooled into thinking she's actually a statistically worthwhile character, but this is a trick! The Goldpin she has equipped gives +10 Agility, just like the Thief Gauntlet. Unfortunately multiple equipment boosts to the same stat do not stack (at least in this version), but the Goldpin is much more mage-friendly so I can swap it off to one of my casters and give Layla a Thief Gauntlet in return. Also I give her a bow, because no pirate tart is going to steal the spotlight from Marty.
The encounter rate at sea is much lower than on land, but you still do get into random fights with appropriate aquatic enemies. I forgot to switch Layla into the back row, so the pirate tart ends up inadvertantly stealing the spotlight from Marty for a battle or two.
The fish are pretty weak and have an obvious weakness to lightning, but the "sea snakes" are very beefy. They're pretty much the sole reason I've been focusing on Bolt with Guido, since otherwise it's not nearly as useful as Fire/Ice and it's easy to neglect it up until now. (Of course, if you earn a pile of Magic Staves from mages then you can just spam Bolt 5 and toast everything.)
We were told Dist was in the "eastern sea", but this information is pretty useless since there's a giant world-spanning continent between us and the eastern sea. So instead we've got to head south.
Here's Dist. Looking at the globe you can see Bofsk to the west--the water you can see right at the edge is the northern extension of the body of water we started in. Basically we just sailed nearly the entire way around the globe south-to-north just to get to the other side of this gigantic superisthmus. The geography of this world is ridiculous.
Dist is guarded by a small child who runs away from us. You might think that this is really a powerful trickster spirit that appears as a child to fuck with us, but no. It's just a kid.
Luckily these people who have been stranded on a large island in the middle of nowhere instantly recognize us.
blah blah exposition blah blah fetch quest blah
No, kid, it's going to go to a farm where it will have lots of room to fly and lots of sheep to eat.
This is probably the least majestic dragon I have ever seen.
Evidently the Empire forgot Rule #1: Pillage, then burn. Thankfully the dragoons had the foresight to invest in fireproof chests, which leaves the pillage free for us.
Looks like that Cottage I bought will be unnecessary (which is a shame, because I don't really think there will be much occasion to use it for the entire rest of the game.) The Fenix Down is a nice find, though. That stuff's expensive and I still only have 1 caster who knows the Life spell (because I am a silly person.)
This stuff is pretty useless. For some reason all the black magic status spells are way harder to get your hands on than most of the white magic support spells, which is a real shame because the early game is the one time that some of this junk might conceivably have been useful--the only advantage that a lot of status spells have over damage/insta-kill equivalents is that they tend to have higher accuracy (and not always that, even!), which matters less once later on due to generally higher stats and skill levels.
Stone sounds pretty awesome, but it's a mistranslation. It's just Stun, which does the same thing as Stop against a narrower subset of enemies at slightly higher accuracy.
Oh yeah. MOTHER LODE.
There are a lot of curative items here, most of which is junk, but there are a few interesting new finds. The ElderIQ and Heart are one-shot battle items that give a huge boost to the user's Int/Soul stats, for when you really need to make your spells count. They're of kind of dubious use, since the primary reason you'd need more Int/Soul would be to make status spells stick, and no amount of Int/Soul is going to make your spells work reliably if they're not high enough level to overcome the enemy's magic resistance.
The Winged Sword on the other hand is great. It's on par with the Were Mace and Trident, with flying enemies as its critical target instead of lycanthropes/sea creatures. Being a sword it's slightly better in general too--and more importantly, later on swords get way better so it's good practice to start using them now.
The pendant is located in a nearby cave. On the way there, we run into some new enemies. These things are the reason I wanted to get Aero before coming, because they've got decent HP and high defense, and one of the elemental themes in this game is earth enemies = weak to poison. Of course, that only makes 2 or 3 enemies in the whole game. (There are a few others that are weak to poison, but only a very few.)
Dist cave. I don't bother using the Cottage here just yet, as we're going to be making two trips anyhow.
Now, I should come right out and say it: this is a long-ass cave. There are three separate sections, plus there's a required trip back to Dist Castle shortly into it. On top of that, it has many tough enemies, which means that 1) you get more base skill points for participating in combat, and 2) many combats last longer, which means even more skill points earned.
In summary, around this part of the game is where everyone's skills really take off.
This chest is just taunting us with its 30 gold, but at least it points us in the right direction. As mentioned, there are 3 branches to the cave, and if you head to the southern stairs at first you'll just end up wasting a bunch of time.
Instead, we head over to the stairs in the northeast.
Gee, that was fast.
Back to Dist to talk to Ugly McDragonbutt. He promptly sends us on another errand to the cave of Dist.
WzOgres appear in fairly large numbers here, dropping some interesting loot. Warp goes to Guido; it probably won't be needed unless Fry dies or something, but hey, it's free. Blind is remarkably effective as far as status spells in RPGs go, but still not nearly enough to justify using it when there are so many vastly superior alternatives. The "Hellfire" item casts Fire 5 on everything when used in battle, and can be used multiple times (I think it may randomly break if you use it a lot, but I've never bothered using it enough to be sure.)
Now seems like a good time to use the Cottage. We've sailed around the globe and gone to the cave and back and to the cave again, so might as well top off everyone's HP/MP while we have the chance.
Hey, it's our old friend Mr. Gigas! He has a present for us, which is promptly equipped by Layla for the strength boost.
For the next leg, we'll take the stairs in the southwestern corner.
Blarg, this floor sucks. Next floor!
Most of the enemies are repeats, but these things are new. Revenants are much beefier than any of the other undead seen so far (not counting the Ghosts seen on the way back from Mysidia, but that was a sequence break anyhow) and have HP-draining attacks. They don't spam annoying status effects like Ghasts, though, so they're pretty okay.
Monster-in-a-box! This one is actually kind of annoying, but with two Ice users (Layla picked it up from a WzOgre drop) and the ability to berserk up and smash things apart it's still not really an obstacle.
Our first legitimate Flame Bow! I promptly forget about it and have Layla go through the entire dungeon using the much-inferior Blind Bow.
The other two chests were another Heart/Elder IQ. We've reached a dead end on this path, so time to Exit back to the entrance and take another route. Might as well use the other Cottage while we're there.
This time, we'll be taking the southeastern branch from the first level.
These things are supremely annoying. They're fast, spam Fire 5 on everybody, appear in decent sized groups, and like Red Soul they absorb all elemental magic so you have to kill them one at a time. Thankfully they're pretty flimsy.
Ugh geeze this is terrible. This junk wasn't even worth using when we first got access to Mithril like five dungeons ago.
Free magic staff, if you didn't already get enough of them from mages by this point. But oh no, it's a monster-in-a-box with genuinely new and scary-looking monsters! What nightmarish spells will the green souls unleash on us?
Cure, actually. They spam Cure on the party. The monsters-in-boxes have gone from being ass-beatingly hard in the beginning, to being non-threatening, to being actually beneficial.
Hmm. This looks completely safe and non-suspicious!
(Don't walk here. It'll dump you back down to the dead end with all the treasure chests that we already looted.)
Another useless piece of Mithril junk, and a Mirror. It's a one-shot battle item that casts Wall 16. The effects of the Wall spell here are very much all-or-nothing, so if you're going to use Wall at all the Mirror item is definitely the way to go, unless you feel like select/canceling Wall up to level 16 on your own (a process much like ramming yourself into an actual wall repeatedly.) But given the extremely tight inventory limits in this it's hard to justify carrying them around.
This brings us to another dead end, so we have to backtrack and find another way down from the previous level.
Guido's Toad spell is still fairly low level, and his Thief Gauntlet is crap for spellcasting, so it doesn't work all that often. But when it does it is so damn awesome (taking a 750 HP Gigas out of the fight in one shot!)
Seriously, these guys suck so much. Their Fire spells do 20-25 damage a pop, and they literally do nothing but cast Fire, so against five of them that's 100+ damage a turn to anyone without an Ice Shield.
The WzOgres tend to have GrOgres now as meatshields instead of the standard model ogres. These guys have a fat chunk of HP and hit a bit harder than regular ogres, but they're nowhere close to Gigases. Really, if you've been sticking with one or two dedicated tanks in the front row you've probably got enough evasion by this point that typical melee enemies are no longer any kind of threat.
They do have some very nice loot, though. Obviously you've already got a Winged Sword by this point, but if you've got more than one melee character having an extra is nice (because there's not going to be much point to using anything but swords for much longer, unless you have a melee caster in which case they should be using daggers to milk the Main Gauche for all it's worth.) Extra Ice Shields are extremely handy to have here due to the Souls spamming Fire spells at you all the time.
Come on. Enemies are routinely dropping loot several times more valuable than this crap.
I'm not sure what the hell a "Dragon Bean" is, but it casts a level 16 poison damage spell in combat.
I hope I'm almost done with this cave, because I miscounted my stock of ethers and now I'm almost out of MP. I see water, so I'm hoping that's the spring we were heading for.
Oh god no, not this again.
After trial-and-erroring through the bullshit ambush closets, we get to the actual exit on the third try.
This is not "a" monster. Learn to count, Fry.
This is probably one of the hardest boss(ish) battles in the game, simply because there's so damn many of these things. They have way too much HP for attack spells to be worth much, but luckily all the turtles and gigases have provided excellent practice fodder for Guido's Berserk spell.
See those wings? They're not just for show. These guys technically count as fliers, so the Winged Sword gets crazy attack bonuses against them. That + Berserk does the trick here.
oh god it burns fuck fuck fuck
You can be looking at 4x fire spells like this in the opening round, so I hope you've got at least a couple ice shields. If I was at full health to start it wouldn't be an issue, but I kind of ran out of supplies.
YESSSSSSSSSSSSSS Guido is awesome
Technically I'm still giving credit to Guido because Marty wouldn't be one-shotting these without Berserk.
That was a lot closer than I was hoping for it to be. That's what I get for not paying attention to my MP situation. I've got enough money for all the ethers I could ever want by now, but pretty soon there will be even better solutions for MP problems.
Damn. All that work and we don't even get a sweet dragon ride or anything.
What? We've got one egg. I don't think you understand ecology, lady. Or even basic reproductive biology for that matter.
Of course, now we're trapped without any supplies miles away from Altea. But fortunately Bofsk is pretty much just across the strait.
Looks like it's about time for another trip to Mysidia. Having the ship makes it a lot easier to get there and back, too.