We've finally got two updates worth of plot out of the way.
Now let's go back in!
I hate to say this, but our village could use some capital. I'll have to charge you for this.
I have over 150k gil right now so I don't really give a fuck.
For some reason I must've crafted away all the Multina Rackets I had so I buy Eiko one to learn Stona and Shell.
There's also a new item called the Magic Tag that cures Zombie. Unlike other games, you don't lose control of a character when they're inflicted with Zombie, but they can't be healed (except by instant death attacks), they can't be revived, they can't use Trance (big loss there), and more importantly cannot gain EXP or AP. Pretty annoying ability, so not a bad idea to stock up on ways to cure it.
Otherwise nothing new here. Quina's content to eat new fish instead of getting off its ass and helping us.
Now we're going the other direction from the mountain path, north instead of east.
We're in the overworld in a different section, and this actually means there's let another friendly monster to meet.
She wants Ore.
But she's really greedy and wants three Ore. Again, I've got more of this crap than I know what to do with.
This will be the last one for Disc 2.
30AP and an Emerald. Definitely helps with catching Eiko up to speed!
Interestingly enough, Eiko can equip Phoenix Pinions. This teaches her another summon, Phoenix. Let's check it out!
Phoenix has been around since FF5, and appears in every game between that and FF9. Its appearances usually have to do with something that dies and is reborn. The staple item Phoenix Down are generally the feathers from the Phoenix.
In most games, including this one, Phoenix does fire damage to all enemies while reviving any fallen party members. Its base power is 40, slightly weaker than Fenrir, and unfortunately unlike the other summons you cannot boost it from there with gems or any Phoenix items, so you generally won't be using it for damage. As for fallen party members, they'll recover 3/10 their max HP plus (Spirit * MaxHP)/100. There's an ability later on that boosts healing, and it doubles the HP recovered from Phoenix.
There's also a nice secondary benefit for Phoenix, in that if you party gets wiped there's a chance Phoenix completely revives them, as long as Eiko is in the party. It's related to the number of Phoenix Pinions in your party, namely Pinions/256 chance. Naturally, this means you have at max a 99/256 or 38.7% chance of being revived from a party wipe. It has a separate animation and I'll show that if I actually get the opportunity to.
That's enough distractions, let's get to the final dungeon of Disc 2. Despite this, there will still be three or four updates after we're done here.
First off, listen to this music. It's quite unlike anything we've heard before. There's already something weird about this place.
So this place really must be the source of the Mist.
Yeah, this weird protected tree is producing the Mist that covers the Mist Continent. There's already some warning bells going off here.
Vivi trips take a shot.
What was that?
That was the seal. It shouldn't hurt you, but are you alright?
Yeah, it didn't hurt.
I think the choice here is obvious.
Sorry it's so choppy since the Mist really fucks with the file size, but I had to show this off.
No wonder the dwarves of Conde Petie call this place a Sanctuary. Did you say they used the power of an eidolon to seal this place?
I'm going to ask the eidolon to come back.
It's hard to see in screenshots, but Eiko has a horn sticking out from her head. In FF3 and FF5, Summoners have horns but generally they're more decorative than anything, helping stand the job out a bit from the other magic jobs. In FF9, they help the summoner communicate with eidolons. Note that Dagger doesn't have a horn.
By the light of our spirits! I call upon thee! Answer my call! Wherever your soul may be!
The Ruby teaches Reflect and Carbuncle, Eiko's third possible summon of four. Yeah, she's already at 75% of her summons while Dagger still only has one. I don't think to show it off during Disc 2, so it'll be awhile until we see it in action, but Carbuncle has some neat gimmicks attached to it. Initially, it'll buff your party with Reflect, as it usually does in the series, but if the long animation plays it'll also grant Protect. And depending on the gemstone you equip Eiko with, Reflect could be replaced with Vanish (Diamond), Haste (Emerald), or Shell (Moonstone). Pretty useful buff machine, or at least it would be if buffs didn't wear off so quickly in this game.
Was that the spell to break the seal?
Nope. All I do is focus my thoughts into the horn.
Then why were you...?
The spell is actually much longer, but the eidolon asked me to hurry it up.
Alright. Let's go!
With that, we can finally enter the Iifa Tree.
The first few screens are pretty boring, just walking around on roots as we get closer to the tree.
The enemies here are not annoying for once, namely because you can actually cheese all of them easily.
This is Stroper, which appears as a plant enemy in FF3 and FF5 but is a bit more of a giant flopping penis monster here.
Seriously, tell me you don't see a bunch of dicks sprouting from a massive dick. Anyway, it can do physical damage to all characters with Sweep, and also can inflict Silence and Gradual Petrify.
As I said, you can cheese all the random encounters here, and Stroper is no different. One Soft will instantly kill it. Note that the spell Stona won't work.
Apparently these guys can use FF staple Blue Magic spell Roulette, which randomly kills one person, friend or foe. Of course, foes in this case are undead so it's all bad since it'll fully heal the zombies.
On the other hand they're undead so healing magic like Cura wrecks them, plus Life instantly kills them.
After a few screens, we get some different scenery.
And eventually get to a save moogle.
Sad eyes? Weight of the world? Is that very heavy? Kupo?
At the end is this weird platform.
Looks old. I wonder who built it?
Gosh, you look so helpless. Why don't you stay here and let us handle the rest?
No, I'm going with you guys! I have to.
Then don't leave my side, okay?
Nope. This is my first time inside the Iifa Tree.
This place looks ancient...
Let's ask Eiko!
What do you think, Eiko?
Maybe...try standing on it?
I'll be fine. Don't worry!
Here it comes again.
I'll call you guys over if everything is alright.
I'm coming with you!
Okay, we'll all go.
Anyway, after that team-building exercise we find ourselves getting closer to the depths of the tree.
One last enemy. These guys can be nasty, using Zombie Breath to inflict Zombie and using L5 Death to kill people with unlucky levels.
They're also undead, shockingly enough.
There's a couple buttons that bring down treasure chests. That one's just a random consumable.
This one actually drops a chest in the previous screen, so it's easy to miss.
Which kinda sucks because the Healing Rod is a nice weapon for Dagger.
Like in other games, the Healing Rod has a gimmick where attacking with it actually heals the target, making it useful to top off your party members. It's also useful in this dungeon where a good chunk of randoms are undead.
In addition to Cura and Life, it teaches the Healer passive, which gives the healing trait of the Healing Rod to all weapons Dagger uses. It renders Dagger much more helpful in random encounters since her physicals aren't generally useful anyway, plus it's very cheap at only two stones.
Of course, Dagger's kicking ass with randoms this dungeon thanks to the Life spell.
A new weapon for Eiko. Teaches Float, Stona, and Silence, all of which I've already mastered from other equipment.
This place looks totally different.
This is totally unlike anything we've seen so far, that's for sure.
Hmm... Maybe it'll move like the last one...
It didn't move when I got on...
You stood on it!?
Why don't we all try getting on?
HMMMMMMMMMMM. Completely bizarre area where something only responds to the main character with a mysterious past.
Yep, there may be something up with this place beyond "It's a tree."
Then the weird leaf thing spirals downward.
It sure freaked me out at first, but there's no wind or anything... I guess that glowing powder is stopping the wind somehow.
Yes... I wonder where we're going.
Um, Mog senses a lot of life beneath us. Moogles are faeries, so they sense life everywhere, but Mog says there's a whole lot here!
I wonder if agents of Kuja are down there...
But what's the connection between Kuja and the Mist?
Forced fight with a couple of zombies. No biggie.
Could the Mist be causing it?
Beats me... The Evil Forest and Gargan Roo had unique monsters, too.
But if the Mist comes from this tree, how come it only appears on Zidane's continent?
I guess there has to be something that channels the Mist.
Yes, but the question is, why?
Hmm? What's the matter?
What's wrong, Vivi? You've been lost in thought for a while.
Oh, Zidane... I've been thinking about the Mist.
Yes, the factory where black mages were being made?
Huh? Black mages?
Oh! I'm sorry! I didn't mean to...
Oh, yeah... There was a huge machine filled with Mist.
That's right. And there were those strange eggs we saw.
There's a lot we don't really know about the Mist, that mysterious substance that so covers the main continent of the game that it's literally called the Mist Continent. We know prolonged exposure is harmful to humans, and it seems to warp the wildlife that lives within it. But it seems nobody really bothered to look into it, or at least never had success doing so. The most people have done is use it to run airships and build their cities above it. But now that Zidane and company may have found the actual source of Mist, they obviously want to figure out why this bizarre tree is spitting out the Mist to another continent, and how Kuja is involved in this. And Vivi, of course, is interested in the relationship between the Mist and the creation of Black Mages.
Of course, it's all questions and no real answers right now, so might as well sit back and enjoy the ride.
Another forced encounter. We life it back to death.
It's so deep!
I don't know what's down there...but we'll soon find out!
Are you gonna make a helpless little girl like me go all by herself!?
Mog said he sensed life down here. Do you sense anything?
Yeah, but you sense it, too, don't you? We don't even need Mog to tell us that there's life down here.
You're right. I can tell there's something down here.
FADE TO CREEPY ECHO SOUNDS
It's not going to stop getting any weirder, apparently.
Now we've got control of Zidane, so let's check with our party members and explore a bit.
Machine? What do you mean, 'machine'?
Well, it sure doesn't look like any normal tree.
Yeah. It's weird enough that the inside of a tree looks like this.
The tree being a massive machine kinda makes some sense, but is there anyone that could've actually made something this intricate and bizarre? Seriously, what the hell is with this thing?
Maybe the Mist comes from that water down there?
The Iifa Tree being a machine would better explain the Mist, at least.
So, that sparkling water is a living thing? It's so pretty.
Don't see the harm.
Really!? Okay, come here!
But... I can see it fine from here.
Eiko is pretty damn similar personality-wise to Zidane. Both gung-ho and confident, both protective and putting on a brave face to protect their friends, and of course both using really cheesy and dumb pick-up lines because they don't know any better in how to relate to people.
(Hmmm... I'd better go easy on her from now on.)
And because Zidane has finally got exposed to how he comes off, the hint finally sinks in that, uh, maybe he shouldn't talk like a creepy asshole constantly.
Character development can occur in the weirdest places.
This baby is a nice get, as it finally teaches Zidane Ability Up. Not that he's needed it due to being in the party for so long, but at this point both Vivi and Dagger have learned every single ability possible thanks to that passive, and Eiko's getting kinda close, needing just a few more add-ons. Zidane's also close, but now he can get a good bit closer with this.
Shame he can't use Return Magic, which casts any magic that hits a character with it back on that enemy.
We're done here, so let's go to this corner to advance the plot.
Just my imagination.
Or maybe we have to go down there?
I'm sorry! I was just startled. Is something wrong?
We'd better go, too! Can you stand?
Yes, let's go.
You're right... It's like it's alive!
What was that!?
Huh? What's going on? I can hear a voice inside my head!
You just said Kuja! Where is he!?
What are you doing here!?
Are you the one who makes the Mist!?
So it's sent to other continents through the roots, right?
But why!? Why would you do that!?
This, in turn, leads to war among the leaders of nations, and then to the fall of civilization. Kuja merely puts the by-product to a different use.
Wait, Eiko! What kind of weapons did Kuja make?
Defeat me, and no more Mist will flow. And then no more weapons like this puppet here will be made.
Way to go, Vivi! I know it must be hard for you. We can knock off this rat now, right?
You cannot stop me. It is futile even to try.
We're finally done with the revelatory dialogue, so now we're going to fight Soulcage proper.
It leads the fight off with L5 Death, which unfortunately hits Zidane and Vivi. Luckily the two people who can cast Life are left standing and within a round we're back up to normal.
It has a few other nasty attacks. Leaf Swirl does a small bit of damage to the party, Shockwave slightly more, plus it can use Fira and inflict Heat status with Mustard Bomb. It also has a gimmick where if you cast Fire on it, it will start spamming a really powerful attack at a much higher speed, so don't do that apparently.
It's vulnerable to Blind and Slow as usual.
Haste as a spell kinda sucks because Haste doesn't last long. Like other spells, Haste wears off after a period of time, and Haste happens to speed up the wear-off period as well. Go figure! Still, might as well use it on Zidane so he can steal more quickly. Not that the steals are essential.
All that said, Soulcage is a chump for two reasons. First of all, he's vulnerable to Sleep.
So we can just steal with reckless abandon without fear of attack.
The best steal is a second Brigandine, which we want despite Zidane being the only person who can wear it. The other stuff, the Oak Staff and Magician Cloak, are things we can already buy anyway.
The other thing is Soulcage is Undead. Life will kill it pretty damn easily.
I show some mercy and simply Cura/Bio it to death. It has slightly less than 10k HP so it doesn't take very long to do so.
And with that, we've killed the entity controlling the Iifa Tree.
It's hard to show off in screenshots, but yes, the Mist is gone. There's no more Mist on the Mist Continent. Of course, this sucks for all the businesses that rely on Mist to run airships, but the world's safer at least, so it's a nice trade-off, right?
Somehow I don't see people thinking that to be a good thing in our world.
At any rate, we're finally done with this creepy-ass tree. Now to sit back and wait for Kuja.
Next time, we do something that isn't that.