Last time, we met a village of dwarves. It was weird. We also saw a black mage who seemed to have a friendly relationship with the dwarves and then fled once it caught wind of us. Now we're here to investigate.
I think they live 'so deep in the forest that owls don't even live there.'
Here's the trick. The sign tells you where there are owls and where there aren't owls. If we remember the words Harold Pathknower told us, it suggests that we should just look up the solution in the strategy guide, and it says to go to PlayOnline, which doesn't work, so GameFAQs says to go right, right, left, and right.
There's a couple of enemies here.
Myconids cast Blizzara and inflict Darkness, plus have buzzsaw heads.
Zemzelett can cast White Wind on itself, counters attacks with Psychokinesis (an attack that raises and slams an opponent to the ground), and can cast Aero and Rainbow Wind, the latter being pretty much every non-earth elemental attack (and thus will likely be absorbed/resisted depending on your equipment).
When you go down the correct path, an owl leaves.
Eventually, you'll do this enough so that there are no owls.
I hope Vivi learns this spell soon.
Anyway, this is where I feel an already-great game really jumps to the next level. This is one of my favorite parts of the game and I'm looking forward to showing this part off for you guys.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Black Mage Village. Enjoy the wonderful music.
There's quite a bit to process here. Foremost, of course, is Vivi finally finding someone like him. Remember, the only black mages we've seen talk before are the Waltzes. We've seen them showing some sentience, but it seems like these guys are as "human" as Vivi and the rest of our party. That's...kind of a big deal, especially for Vivi.
A village! Village always have good food. I go find!
Geez, you people...
Alright, first order of business.
We have a small window of opportunity to get this letter, so I do that first.
Next up, we have a ton of ATE's to go through, and it's possible to miss some if you do things in the wrong order. Hell, I had to redo this part because I missed a couple, and I still may have missed one or two here.
Let's start with Everyday Life since it'll open up an item for us.
...the customer says 'Give me the usual' when he wants to buy something special.
What are humans...? I forgot... Are they a type of food?
A human? Um...
This gives some good insight into the mages that reside here. First of all, their names are all numbers rather than actual names. More interestingly, they're pretty much trying to pretend to be human without really knowing what the hell they're doing. Like, this guy doesn't know what the hell a shopkeep actually does, but every town has one and dammit he's going to try to be one because that's a human job.
It's cute, admirable, and simply touching to see.
Meanwhile, Vivi's having little luck finding people to talk to.
What's going on...?
One really cool touch are how the huts in this village resemble black mage heads. It's kinda hard to see in this area, but you can see the left one having two eyes for windows and a mouth because why not. I love that black mages have based their homes off their own heads.
This is our village!
You forced the little guy to guide you here, didn't you!? That's all you humans ever think about : using us!
You mean about Vivi? That's not true! It's just that I was surprised to see black mages other than Vivi who could talk, so...
All humans are liars! You're lying!
But it's true!
Dagger has met a village of the "tools" that her mother is currently using to conquer the world, and discovering they're sentient and can communicate, immediately tries to reason with them. Of course, they're admittedly wary, but Dagger's already showing signs of being a strong and capable leader.
Meanwhile Zidane just steals their shit.
This egg is ours!
Is chocobo egg! Chocobo egg super-delicious! We share and eat it!
We're not gonna eat it!
That's right! We're gonna raise it for her!
You never raise any animal before.
This is such a great scene. These black mages are showing parternal instincts, determined to nurture and protect the egg from intruders. They don't have a clue what they're doing, but they're determined to try.
I really love how the black mages try very hard to adapt to the customs and mannerisms of humans, and come off mostly well albeit with quite a few eccentricities here and there.
The next ATE will advance the plot a bit.
WATER RUNNING SOUNDS
He's alright. Look into his eyes. He's aware, just like us.
Th-Thanks... Um... What are you all doing here?
We escaped together from Alexandria and the cargo ships.
That's right. We wanted to live in a world where there were no humans. To find that, we had to cross the ocean.
This is a...uh... What's the word...?
Right. A cemetery.
A cemetery...? So... Underneath the ground-
Yes, our friends are buried under here...
We had so many things to learn. It was really scary at first, but we helped each other.
My friend who knows lots of things told me that this was what 'death' was, and we had to bury him.
Was it a disease? Or was he hurt?
Tell me! Why?
And we fade from there. At this point, we're done with ATE's so let's explore the village proper now.
We're never gonna give it to you!
Quina's busy making friends with dinner.
Also, I believe up to 100 is Type A's, up to 200 is Type B's, and over 200 is Type C's, which makes sense. Could be wrong on the exact number range, though.
U-Um... C-Can I help you?
Not really anything new here, but if you missed a few steals/treasures you can catch up here. Also we can buy Steepled Hats to do the Cotton Robe trick again.
Another Stellazzio here. My Xbox One controller has a pretty crappy USB connection so half the time I can't open the menu, thus I'll have to wait for a future update to actually show off the text for this one.
We don't have the "Usual" prompt unless we watch that first ATE or eavesdrop early on in coming here.
Th-The usual? Um...
While he looks for the usual, we can go upstairs.
And receive this beauty. It boosts wind damage and teaches Demi to Vivi as well as Beast Killer and HP +20%.
Next, let's check on Dagger.
What's up, Dagger?
I was telling them why we're here.
It's just a joke! Geez, don't get mad.
Can't you see, I'm trying to make them understand?
What's a 'joke'? Is it scary?
It's something funny! Right, Dagger?
You don't seem so bad.
'Cause you're here to fight the bad guys!
Ahahahahaha. Dagger's slowly getting more and more tired of Zidane's schtick, but it can be pretty damn effective.
I don't know where he went...
That worries me... I'm going to look for him!
I think everyone's just tired of hanging around Zidane. He has gotten kinda one-trick at this point.
A couple new synths, plus the Cotton Robe trick to make us even more ludicrously rich. The Rune Tooth doesn't teach anything new but is a nice offense boost and inflicts Poison when used with Soul Blade. The only other new item is the Extension add-on, a female-exclusive item that boosts Thunder damage, boosts various stats, and teaches Auto-Potion, Level Up, and MP +10%.
What's up with him...?
Last place to check out is the cemetery. Note that there's never music in this area, just running stream sounds and stuff.
We became aware one day, each under different circumstances.
Became aware? How?
No, not really.
It was the same with me. I just woke up one day...and there was a human body lying next to me. His body was covered in blood.
I ran as fast as I could. When I looked around, I was far away from the front line. There were many others like me, and we decided to escape together.
If we talk to him again...
Maybe our life span is limited...
We're pretty much done now.
If we talk to this guy from the side, we get dialogue rather than the Buy/Sell prompt. He sells the usual consumables of course, but this is also the first shop you can buy Hipotions and Remedies at, in case you don't have like 50 of each from stealing and Chocobo Hot and Cold and whatever else.
Huh? Oh, Zidane... It's... It's nothing.
Did something bad happen? All the black mages seem pretty nice.
Where were you? You look very...
I like this. Girl-obsessed showboat or not, Zidane really has Vivi's best interests in heart and knows whatever it is he's dealing with, he'd rather think about himself for now.
I go to forest and look for food.
We're done for now so let's rest.
Yeah, we'll call it a day.
Maybe he's letting us have a little romantic quiet time.
Somewhere in this section Zidane will bring up the date he won at the Hunter's Festival if he does win it, though Dagger blows it off. That's the only time the game will allude to it.
He's trying to figure something out for himself.
Vivi's never met black mages like himself before.
But what if they're being mean to him, or saying nasty things?
Do you really thing the people of this village gathered to do something like that?
Maybe... Just maybe, he'll find what he's looking for.
A sense of home is one of the main themes of the game, so much so that the title screen music is literally titled "A Place to Call Home". Dagger's fighting against her own mother to save her kingdom. Steiner pledges his loyalty to his kingdom above all else, except the princess of that kingdom. Freya's biggest regret is not being there for her kindgom and fights the hardest to protect her people when they need her most. Vivi, alienated by almost everyone and pretty much living his entire life as an oddity, has finally found people just like him. Quina, well, Quina lives in a marsh and eats frogs.
As for Zidane...
What's the matter? Can't fall asleep?
There you go again, teasing me...
Once upon a time...there was a man.
His birthplace. A place he only remembered in his dreams...
He wanted to know more about himself, maybe. About his parents, the house where he was born...
His only clue was the blue light he saw in his dreams...
A blue light?
Yeah. He thought it might be a memory of his birthplace. An ocean, maybe...?
Did he find it?
Hey, you're jumping ahead. A lot of things happened along the way.
How could he? His only clue was a colored light.
...Welcomed him home?
I don't know...
The father smiled, after beating up his son! Can you believe that? He just gave his son a beating. But this is what the man thought when he saw his father smile...
The man is still looking for his birthplace. But he already has a home. Maybe...
This is the first time we really see Zidane open up to someone, go behind the bravado act he puts out. The previous time he left Tantalus is explained here, and as usual Baku shows some tough love. In the end, Zidane finds his home, even if it's not the one he was looking for. He's still fiercely loyal to his Tantalus brothers, and he's always there for them as much as they're there for him.
As for Vivi...
FADE TO INSECT SOUNDS
Has he finally found a place to call home? Or is there something else on his mind?
Um... I wanted to ask you something.
What is it?
You're very kind to use our words. But you already know what it means to live...and to die.
Seven of our friends stopped functioning recently...
I've suspected this ever since the first one came to a stop.
I haven't told anyone else about this. If I did, they'd feel the same way I do.
What do you feel?
I don't know... Fear? I don't want to stop. And maybe I want to run away from it all.
The joy of living with them far outweights the fear of death.
Vivi's suddenly facing his own mortality. His lifespan is likely short, and who knows how much longer he has to live?
The poor guy just can't catch a break.
Yeah, I think that's what you're looking for.
What's up, Dagger?
The people of Conde Petie said there was a place called Sanctuary, where entrance is restricted...
I think this 'Kuja' said something about a secret being hidden on this continent.
You heard him say that?
Maybe we can find out more if we go there. And maybe save my mother...
Oh, where's Vivi?
Everyone in the village asked me to see the outside world and tell them all about it.
After all that, Vivi has found his home: his friends. Zidane, Dagger, Steiner, Freya, and the other one, they're always looking out for him. He may not have long to live, but at least he'll spend what time he has left with those closest to him.
Oh yeah, I forgot about you...
To Conde Petie! And to the Sanctuary that lies beyond!
Before we do that, let's say goodbye with one last trip around the village.
Pretty nice, don't you think?
Tell me, what is 'music'?
We can actually mess with this thing later on.
Mr. 44, for instance, got bigger. The others are also starting to look and act differently. Mr. 288 told us that this is called individuality. He's really smart.
The black mages are even developing their own distinct characteristics. Perhaps they're even more human than they realize.
But the light is pretty, isn't it? Especially through the leaves.
Next time, we travel back to Conde Petie and explore the Sanctuary. We've still got a lot of game ahead of us, and believe it or not it's going to get even weirder from here on!