I'll come back to Yang's Challenge Dungeon later. I'd rather do this than spend another 30 minutes fighting monsters in a dungeon with no save points with a good chance of death.
Instead, we're starting on Palom's Tale, my favorite of the character tales. I like the first end-game one more, but this is pretty awesome too.
On the top-left, you can see Palom. He's gotten quite the haircut since he was a kid.
He's also become a huge dick.
Trust me, with how seriously this game takes itself at times, having someone who just goes around being a complete asshole to people is a breath of fresh air.
In...in that case, what would you like me to call you?
Figure it out for yourself, why don't you? You're a grown man, right?
I like how for once, rather than having a character do the usual "I'm too modest to have a title, so just call me by my name," Palom goes with "You're much older than me, so why are you bowing to me?" followed by "Geez, I'll let you figure out what to call me if I don't want to be called 'Lord Palom' you spineless wimp."
So quit blubbering like that, okay? You're too old for that act.
Seriously, Palom manages to be both supportive and insulting here. He's telling the man to stand up for himself while simultaneously mocking his spinelessness.
Palom is awesome in this game.
You guys catch any yet?
I...uh... No. Not yet. We...
These waters hold a bounty of fish. Coming up empty like this is unheard of.
Okay, forget about it. Just get me something fresh, okay? We got a long voyage ahead.
Hey, you know what time it is?
Time for a flashback!
A flashback where Palom isn't even there, no less!
I apologize, Elder. I'll go fetch him immediately...
I'm right here.
What, am I supposed to report every little detail of my life to you?
I have received a reqiest from a certain foreign nation.
Another prayer job from some country trying to palm its problems off on others, no doubt.
Hey, he's just saying what everybody's thinking. Do these people not really know how to pray for themselves? Hey, Baron has White Mages, why not use them?
About the sage training you brought up, was it?
That's the one.
One of the subplots involving Palom is his desire to become a Sage, master of both Black and White Magic. This stems from how much he idolizes Tellah and his desire to follow in his footsteps. Despite this, Palom does not and will never learn a lick of White Magic in this game. He'll have to settle with destroying enemies with Black Magic instead.
We'll get more into this plot in Porom's Tale. That's right, Porom is so boring in this game that half of her Tale is dedicated to Palom.
All right, all right...
This nation wishes us to send a mage in order to train their Epopts.
I would be happy to handle this request, Elder.
Thank you, but I have decided to send Palom this time.
This one's a pretty genuine reaction, actually.
It will be your order of business this time, Palom.
But what use would it be to send me? I don't know a thing about white magic.
What use you would be depends entirely on you, Palom.
So the Elder is sending a Black Mage to train people who specialize in White Magic. There's certainly no sort of test or weird occurance going on here!
Anyway, Palom flashbacked for so long that night has come. I guess you have to do something to kill time on a boat.
Elder, why did you send Palom instead of me?
Hmmm...there are some things that only he is capable of, I believe. And what's more...
I'm sure you are, considering you're bedridden when Ceodore visits later.
Chipper as always.
The thing about being an asshole is that people will like you less when you act like one. Especially in a confined space for an extended amount of time.
Suffice to say, Palom's not that popular with the crew.
Time to check out our protagonist for this tale! He's got a buttload of MP to burn through. He's already close to doubling Tellah's. Considering everyone else usually starts around L15, Palom being L13 is a bit weird, but also makes sense since he's much younger than most of the original crew.
He still has Bluff, which I haven't really messed around with yet. Palom's bread and butter is good ol' Black Magic.
He's also one of the few left-handed characters in either game.
Like Rydia, Palom already starts off with some -ara spells. Considering he has probably the highest Intellect stat in the game, he can do some damage with them. For some reason, he knows Pig instead of Toad, while Rydia was the reverse. A shame, since Pig kinda sucks.
I'm surprised this guy is still enamored with Palom at this point.
I seem to remember you convincing me that this trip would take no more than a week.
And how long has it been since we departed Mysidia?
Holy shit, those guys have spent an entire month alone on a small boat with the world's biggest asshole? No wonder the captain has turned into a giant blubbering baby at this point.
At least they haven't run out of fuel to power their sails.
But you're all supposed to be sailors, aren't you?
More or less...
I-I'm sorry about this, my lord!
This is pathetic and hilarious at the same time. I doubt you see many Japanese games where some youngster insults an older guy so much that the man completely breaks down.
I hope White Mages can cure psychological trauma.
There it is! The cape of Troia!
Well I'll be.
That tower is locked, by the way. We'll visit it later.
Aren't we still quite a ways away from Troia?
If you cross the western bridge and go north from there, you'll find a forest with chocobos. You can then cross the river of a chocobo, and you'll arrive at Troia in no time.
Please be careful, my lord.
I...I am truly regretful for the delay...
Christ. That poor guy.
Those guys are literally jumping for joy that Palom is finally leaving them.
So we go northwest a bit until we hit the Chocobo's Forest, which we need to use to cross the river and reach Troia.
Enemies are no threat to Lord Palom.
Especially with White Chocobos around to restore our MP for us.
So we hitch a ride to Troia. Let's check out the town first.
Troia hasn't changed much. It's still a nation of women placed next to a large forest and huge lake.
You're a downer, dude.
As always, there's free stuff hidden in the grass.
Remember this place?
In the old game, this lets you go visit a rather raunchy show. This time, it lets you do bounties or something. I didn't do this my last game because I didn't have the cash. I'll mess with it later, though.
Only in Final Fantasy would a giant nerd have so many women fawning all over him.
This guy was my favorite townsperson in the original. 17 years later, and he's still bragging about killing some monster with 6HP.
Ahahahahaha. I love that guy.
Alright, time to get some plot done.
(Recommended listening, it's just soothing)
This is Troia Castle, one of the prettiest locations in the game. Great music, too.
There are hidden paths in the entrance of the castle that let you talk to the toads. Unsurprisingly, they don't have much to say, including this guy.
He's probably just a guy who cast Toad on himself so he can get away with peeping on all the women here.
Troia is all about girl power here. The military and government are both run by women.
Those lazy jerks never did restock their treasure room.
But hey, there's still this room!
Remember this room? The one where Edward was bedridden and where he played the harp to kick Dark Elf's ass with music? Now there's a save point here for some reason.
She got offended when I thought she was a useless old lady. Turns out she's a useless old lady.
This game has the worst chancellors ever.
Alright, time to meet with the Epopts.
I'm sure you are aware of the reason why we have requested the elder of Mysidia to send you here...
Epopt training, right? So, who'll I be working with?
I keep forgetting to screenshot these dramatic pauses. So pretend there's an image just like the one below except with no text box.
One of our group has fallen ill, I'm afraid.
Huh. So basically, you need a new Epopt, and fast.
I can't really tell whether this comment is sincere or snide. Knowing this game, it's the former, but I'd really love it to be the latter. Even the Epopts can have their patience tested by Palom's dickishness.
So, who will it be?
Please enter, Leonora.
Meet Leonora, our companion for this Tale.
Leonora arrived in Troia about eight years ago. She immediately signed on to become an Epopt and has distinguised herself in service ever since. In recognition of her talents, we wanted to nominate her to the vacant position...
If she was that talented, then why would she need training in the first place? How can you say you have talent if you can't even become an Epopt without someone drilling things into you?
Besides, isn't it your job to train this girl?
Like a lot of jRPG heroines, Leonora's pretty timid, but I think in the case of her character it actually works rather than coming off as annoying and pathetic. She's still a trainee, she grew up around other women, and she just seems to be a shy person in general.
Still, she also doesn't put up with other people's bullshit. For being so shy and meek, Leonora's actually pretty assertive. And as much as Palom's speaking the truth here, again, he is acting like a giant ass. So, you know, typical Palom.
The Epopts are busy conducting their daily business! And...and with one of them fallen ill, there are only seven of them to serve their nation!
But are you sure I'm the man you want? An Epopt's job is to serve her Crystal, right? Wouldn't you want her to be trained in white magic instead?
N-no, it's all right!
I am sure the elder of Mysidia had a plan of his own in mind when he sent you.
I guess so.
The Tower of Trials?
Sadly, even Palom is not immune to the jRPG disease of repeating the name of a place just mentioned. It's a tragic illness that seems to have hit everybody in this game.
It will be done.
And thus starts one of the more interesting partnerships in this game. I like their Master/Pupil relationship even moreso than Yang/Ursula's. But we'll get to that later.
As a trainee, Leonora starts off pretty weak.
However, Leonora's the only character in the game with the capacity to use both Black and White Magic. She actually starts off with a few White Magic spells, all of which are actually useful. She knows no Black Magic yet, but that's what Palom is for.
That's the Earth Crystal, alright.
Before I head out, I buy a Healing Staff for Leonora. I probably don't really need it, but hey, why not?
So you head north to the Chocobo Forest and ride one down here.
Next time, we tackle one of my favorite parts of the game.