Part 70: In Pursuit of PoachersUpdate 70: In Pursuit of Poachers
As with many things, it started innocently enough.
Carm Mercantile: Who We Are posted:
-Carm Mercantile House Report-
We're a youthful house, in operation for what some might consider a scant twenty years since our beginnings wrighting ships in the port town of Graszton.
Yet, our youthfulness has been our strength. We have honed our techniques, built up an impressive list of clients and successes, and since our entry into the comestible freight business ten years past, our support has grown among all the people of the regions we serve, making us one of the largest mercantile house in all Jylland.
We look forward to continuing to support the growth and prosperity of Jylland as we expand our operations to accommodate future demand.
To commemorate our first twenty years, we have started a new branch of House operations dedicated to a recently growing concern: the protection and preservation of endangered monsters.*
We will be releasing a report on our progress shortly.
*Endangered monster: Any monster that, due to its being a source of valuable or otherwise efficacious materials, has been hunted to the brink of extinction.
While monsters were previously considered to exist for the sole purpose of felling, it has become clear that the removal of certain monsters from their habitat has caused irreversible damage to the food chain, resulting in considerably weakened ecological systems. Hence, the need for their preservation.
Sounds like a worthy cause, we should check this out.
As we saw in Update 52, when we helped "balance" the Tramdine Fens ecosystem, monsters play an important role in nature!
It's absolutely in line with Clan Sawyer's goals to donate to the Carm Mercantile fundraiser.
: We ask for a minimum donation of 100 gil, but don't let that stop you giving more if you're feeling generous!
: Hmm... I suppose even monsters need a helping hand sometimes...
Of course we give the max amount. It's like 0.1% of our net worth.
: Every donation, no matter how small, helps the cause! On behalf of Carm Mercantile, thanks, and come back any time!
: Heh, it was the least I could do.
Seriously, we're rich. (And yeah, we did this quest already, but it's important context! And I doubt you all remember, since we did it in Update 9.)
Carm Mercantile: Major Mess posted:
-The Jylland Free Press: Special Issue-
Graszton Mega-House Carm Mercantile's Big-Time Blunder!
Only recently, Carm Mercantile began their campaign to preserve endangered monsters, which has apparently fueled interest in hunting one rare breed!
The name of this endangered monster is the cluckatrice: a white-feathered, red-wattled bird creature.
As it so happens, the flavorsome, nutritious flesh of this bird has made it widely popular, and the meat now fetches a handsome price at market.
The adult cluckatrice's larger-than-human size made it even more of an attractive target among those in the know, as one full-grown bird could supply a sizeable quantity of meat. Further publicity on the birds as a result of Carm Mercantile's misguided efforts only served to raise public awareness of the creature, and hunting is now at a fever pitch.
Soon after the monster preservation campaign began, suspicious characters began popping up, looking for cluckatrices wherever they might roam--a clear sign that something was amiss. While the poachers certainly bear ultimate responsibility for their immoral deeds, Carm Mercantile must also bear blame for not having foreseen this rather morbid turn of events.
- Anrias, Reporter of the Truth
It sounds like their fundraiser had unintended consequences.
A monster hen lost its children? That's a shame. Still, as the quest says, we do need to drive it off to protect people in Moorabella.
Not yet another crushatrice! Or Mamatrice, I guess. Wasn't Klesta enough?
Wait. White feathers, red wattle... this is one of the endangered cluckatrices! Were its children captured by poachers?
Peep that law, by the way. At our level, it's hard not to deal over 100 damage. But not impossible! I have a plan. It involves Ninjas, so therefore it is a good plan.
: Brok brok! Brrrrrok!
: It doesn't seem too happy to see us. Well, sorry, but we have to do what we have to do.
The plan doesn't actually involve whittling down the Mamatrice with Ninja spells, since that would take approximately forever and be really boring.
No, the plan is to get really close and get crushed.
Really close. The crushing isn't too painful, and Regenga is more than enough to keep us fully healed.
And, since we're close, we can use Counter to deal damage without breaking the law.
We're stuck with Ninja spells until the Mamatrice cooperates and attacks us though.
But once it does...
I love it when a plan comes together. That's over 800 damage in one turn, thanks Leed's critical hit.
In the best tradition of giant birds of Ivalice, she flees.
: Well, that should keep her away from people for some time. What I don't get is why she was so furious at us. Maybe she thought we were the ones who took away her kids?
Carm Mercantile: We Meant Well posted:
-The Jylland Free Press: Special Issue-
Graszton Mega-House Carm Mercantile: An Ongoing Saga of Shame!
We recently looked into Carm Mercantile's ill-considered campaign to protect endangered monsters.
Carm Mercantile have admitted that poaching continues unabated, but have expressed hope that this is a temporary state of affairs prompted by the spread of the story.
"We at Carm Mercantile would like to stress that the purpose of our campaign was to raise awareness of the plight of endangered monsters, certainly not to encourage their further endangering," a House Carm spokesperson stated late last week.
If nothing else, this campaign and resulting story certainly raised awareness of endangered monsters. Though whether this will ultimately be to the monsters' betterment or detriment is a matter for time to tell.
- Anrias, Reporter of the Truth
Standard PR pablum, really.
The situation is already escalating: more cluckatrices have been seen, this time pursued by hunters! Good thing that random passerby was able to identify them, thanks to the efforts of Carm Mercantile.
We're confronted with a whole tableau when the quest starts.
Three small cluckatrices! Note the white feathers and red wattle.
Enter two wolves, growling and threatening.
And a Beastmaster to tie together the scene! We can tell by his purple garments that he's not here to help the cluckatrices.
Finally, enter a young child, played tonight by Samuel Clemens of Clan Sawyer.
: Out of the way before you get hurt!
: I've heard reports someone was here trying to grab some endangered monsters... You really here to fight? You aren't...poaching, are you?
: Ah... I don't know what you heard, but it's done you no good.
That's just mean, dude, his parents are already dead.
Fortunately, Cid shows up to stop Samuel from tearing this guy apart for bringing up his parents like that.
: Those little guys are the ones Carm Mercantile's protecting.
: I knew it! Let's stop 'em!
: You're making a big mistake.
I'm pretty sure we'd win this even if it was just Samuel and Cid.
But it's not.
Of the three classes that use Rapiers as their main weapon, two of them are mages.
The hardest part is protecting the little ones, since they're so weak. But do note that protecting them is not actually required to win this mission.
: An annoyance, for sure -- but naught more than that. Any clan who'd take on a kid is easy pickings!
: Big words...but a fool and his confidence are soon parted. I shall make this quick. There is much I would ask you once you've surrendered.
: Hey, no touching the cluckatrices! They're valuable merchandise!
: Your words are wasted air. We are here to help these monsters.
I think we're going to be just fine.
Just fine indeed.
Actually we're kind of rolling this?
The enemies didn't get a single turn. We're the Brightmoon Tor for them.
: Eh? Now this is an unexpected turn of events!
: You lose. Now, I would hear some things from you.
Screen fade. Samuel and Cid are interrogating the Beastmaster, aided by the cluckatrices.
: And where were you taking them? Oh, and--
: Samuel. You may want to take it one question at a time.
But then an enemy Dragoon teleports in!
It's never a good thing when Cid recognizes someone.
: I thought I smelled a rat. Khamja was pulling the strings, after all.
: Cid...! Is it truly you? I had heard you still lived, but I thought...
: No matter. Be you Cid or a stranger, the syndicate will deal with you the same.
: We leave!
Thanks to cutscene magick, Horeme spirits away the Beastmaster.
: So Khamja was behind the poaching?
: ...Well, looks as if our work is not done. Remember the monster that lost its children? These are they. We return them.
: Hey...you're right! They're so small I didn't notice the similarity! They're like miniature versions of the same thing. But...won't Khamja just take them away again?
: Oh, that 'trice won't let her children get anywhere near people for a long while.
: Okay, let's go, Cid!
We don't have to do anything more, the children are returned off-screen.
Poachers in the Shadows posted:
-The Jylland Free Press: Special Issue-
Graszton Mega-House Carm Mercantile: The Shameful Saga Continues!
News flash! A mysterious group is behind the recent poaching of endangered animals!
This reporter, having spotted a clan capturing endangered monsters in the Galerria Deep, followed the poachers only to witness them passing their catch off to a mysterious group of traders in the pre-dawn light of the Bisga Greenlands in exchange for a sizeable quantity of gil.
This reporter would have inquired further as to the identity of the traders, but the palpable whiff of danger that came wafting from them would have discouraged a berserker with a death wish.
No everyday monster traffickers, these!
Though this reporter did not see what transpired next, it is safe to say that this confirms the presence of at least one organization paying good gil for the endangered monsters, made popular by Carm Mercantile's preservation campaign.
As a reporter of the truth, I, Anrias, vow to get to the bottom of these shady dealings, and expose the identity of these traders in contraband once and for all!
- Anrias, Reporter of the Truth
Poachers in the Bisga Greenlands? That's right outside Graszton, close to civilians...
- Leeger, Warrior-in-training
: You think Khamja had something to do with the dealings Calea saw?
: Down there! Someone's on the ground!
: To hard to see what shape they're in from here. Down, quickly!
What about Saving the Weak?
Calea is down here, threatened by these Floating Eyes.
I encourage you to bring a full squad for this. (That's Tsing and Imino in the back row, obscured by the tree.)
: There're several monsters down there...but no monster traders.
: It could be a trap. Proceed with caution!
Well that was fast.
: Ah... I see she is unconscious, but otherwise unharmed.
Gonna assume that was a Sleep spell or similar and not head trauma, otherwise we are way too late.
: NO WAIT THAT WAS A MIRRORED POTION oh god
Oh, never mind, she's fine now. Or at least stable. As stable as a person who was left unconscious for days in the woods can be.
: I'm not sure how Khamja ties into all this. But we can think about that later. Let's just get Calea back home for now. Leeger must be worried sick.
: Something tells me it won't be that easy...
And then this chucklehead walks in.
: Got word from the higher ups to get our ducks back in a row. Then this girl came along and made our work easy.
He's laughing. He seems like the petty, cruel type.
: If you're looking for the ones who thrust a sword in your spokes, you've found them. But how could you know we would come to the girl's aid?
: Well, can't never be sure. But we guessed, and guessed right, eh? You stuck your nose into our dealin's--in Khamja--so the odds seemed stacked in our favor. Now it's just a question of how to go about...tyin' up lose ends.
Should've made Samuel a Paladin because he's about to get righteous.
I'm linking pics instead of transcribing Samuel's rant purely to show Cid's reactions.
: Now you're taking their good intentions and trying to turn them for your own profit.
: So you're dirty -and- lazy!
: You've got quite the gob on you, son, but you should know people what talk to Khamja like that don't do it long.
Samuel's reaction: no words, just a fighting stance. Kid's got more spirit than Tramdine Fens.
: We don't need no dreamy-eyed prat lookin' down his nose at us. High time someone gave you a dose of reality. Who knows, you might even see what makes the world go round.
He summons the rest of his shady crew.
: Remember, we've come to help Calea, not pick a fight. Though this fight has picked us, I'll grant you that.
We haven't had two fights in a row like this in a while. I'm really glad the law changed.
: Can't remember the last time I came across someone with the nerve to stand and fight. Never would've guessed it'd be a deluded little prat, still gropin' for his mother's teat. Har! They say not to mix business with pleasure, but i plan to enjoy this all the same.
Why do they keep bringing up parents?
: That's more like it! There's no fun in it if you don't put up a fight!
: I don't get the feeling we're dealing with the best Khamja has to offer, here. But he's Khamja all the same. Better watch ourselves. Whatever we do, we have to keep Calea safe.
Here's the actual failure condition for this battle. If any enemy reaches the boulder, we lose. I chose Move +2 as our privilege for this, in a bid for a "the best defense is a good offense" solution.
Also holy shit that Khamja guy is a creep.
But, importantly, he's not a very high-level creep.
I really don't have a plan beyond (1) walk forward, (2) don't let them walk forward.
And punch them with the power of DANCE!
Of course they will try to attack us too. This is how I found out Cid is still level 57 instead of 58 like the rest of the clan. Well done, buddy, you hit yourself and a teammate too!
And since he apparently has Blood Price, we can shut him down really easily with a couple arrows to the face.
Withering Strike deals damage equal to how much health the user has lost. It has terrible accuracy, so it's basically never a good idea to use it.
Cid nearly teaches this creep a lesson about what happens to idiots in Khamja, but he rolls a little low on his damage.
: I banish thee! BEGONE!
Penelo accidentally quickens this Master Monk by failing to kill him.
Fortunately, Imino can tank hits that would ruin a lesser Juggler.
And then stylishly kill Khamja creeps from afar, too!
The Seer responds to getting shot with arrows by healing himself, which is sensible. Useless, but sensible.
Useless, like I said.
Tsing kills the Arcanist, but manages to Quicken the Master Monk again.
Jalia has slightly better luck when it comes to dodging desperation attacks, thankfully.
Cid finises off the Master Monk.
Calea is safe!
You proved you were a creep, at least.
: We'll tie him up and come back for him later. For now, we need to get Calea back to town.
: Sounds good. But aren't you worried someone from Khamja will come and help him?
I think Cid is thinking someone from Khamja will come and kill him for being a failure, actually.
But, no such luck.
: We meet again, Cid. Do you plan to make a habit of challenging the syndicate?
: I do as I feel I must.
: A decision you will come to regret.
Horeme teleports away our captive again.
: Grah! There they go again!
: Calea is safe. We've done what we came to do. Let's head back to town.
: You look like you've got something on your mind.
: Remember what I said about Khamja using their shipyards as a front? Well, I know the name of that front.
The corruption runs deep.
: You mean Carm Mercantile is part of Khamja!? Why would they try to protect the monsters on one hand, and hunt them on the other? That doesn't make any sense!
: There's a method to their madness. Remember, Carm Mercantile is only a front. They're one of the most influential houses in all Jylland. Where they lead, others must follow. If they claim a monster is endangered, think of the price it will fetch on the black market. That leaves Khamja well positioned to claim the profit.
: Those lousy-- Argh!
: The connection cannot be widely known. Even within Carm Mercantile, I doubt whether any but those at the very top have heard of Khamja. The rest go about their business in blissful ignorance of the house's true purpose.
: I can hardly believe it.
: It is an ugly truth. They play the good against the bad, and rob everyone blind in the process.
: We should be getting back. We still have much work ahead of us.
Betting House Busted! posted:
-The Jylland Free Press: Special Issue-
Shady Group Behind Poaching of Endangered Monsters: Our Investigation Continues!
My continuing inquiry into the group behind the poaching of endangered monsters has revealed a stunning truth!
It turns out there's more to the endangered monster in question, the cluckatrice, than we previously suspected!
Apparently, the cluckatrice's wild demeanor when angered made it perfectly suited for cock fighting...a sport which the mysterious group or should I say "syndicate" behind the cluckatrices' capture has been promoting in secret!
Fans come to see the games, and the syndicate reaps the profits from the betting booths.
Even more surprising is the clientele at these illicit bouts. Not only do upstanding gentlemen knights of Graszton and the nobles of Moorabella attend, but crowds have come from the merchant families of Eastern Jylland, and there have even been sightings of ambassadors from the far and distant empire of Rozarria in attendance.
I cannot hide my abject amazement that there exists, today, an organization capable of carrying out such a large-scale underground gambling operation.
I would like to continue my reportage and uncover the true face of this shadowy organization, but now that the case is under the jurisdiction of the Jylland Defenders of the Peace, I, along with my faithful readers, can but await their announcement.
So, in lieu of more truth-finding and truth-revealing, I will leave you with a thought.
"Khamja, Khamja makes a brave boy weep,
Cry too much and they'll come while you sleep."
What child of our generation did not grow up knowing this rhyme? Yet few know that know that [sic] Khamja was in fact a crime syndicate that terrorized our land more than a hundred years ago.
I believe it is no exaggeration to say that the group behind this recent spate of criminal activities is no less a threat to our way of life than Khamja was in our ancestors' day. Gods protect us all!
- Anrias, Reporter of the Truth, signing off.
So not only where the cluckatrices being poached for meat, but also for cockfights. That's even worse.
Also, people don't know Khamja is still around! Makes me wonder how they managed to go underground.
Now, I personally will not trust any group with a name like, "Jylland Defenders of the Peace," especially in a game. So I think it's a good thing that we're able to investigate ourselves.
But first, some growing up.
: About Carm Mercantile... I mean, Khamja. What exactly are we dealing with? From what I've seen, they look big...but how big?
: Hrmm. Better to say they're powerful. Size is irrelevant when you're as strong as they. The five town-regions of Jylland are ruled by five lords, yes? Khamja has more power than any one of them.
Samuel walks silently to the dock and stares out over the port of Graszton.
: Don't get me wrong...but sometimes the best way forwards is to retreat.
I...OK, that's...I guess that makes sense?
We're interrupted by two well-dressed civilians fleeing from the alley.
: Wait... Cid, let's go!
We run to a nearby pub, the apparent source of the commotion.
We're met with a familiar sight.
: Why do we have to keep this thing here anyway!?
: That's the one we fought on that snowy mountainside! She's come to town to find her children!
: Hey, I'm the one with the grievance here! That bleedin' git smashed half me merchandise! Come to wreck what's left of it, have ya? Well, you'll have to kill me first!
Calm down, Samuel! Or, well, actually, I agree with you here.
It is illegal to not release your full bloodlust!
Our enemies are at our level, but our allies are not.
You can only bring three units in addition to Samuel, so I chose Cid, Jalia and Lian.
Mostly because they're fast and very good at killing people.
The enemy doesn't even get to move before we've removed the Black Mage from the premises.
If you're not confident in your sword arm, bring a long-range healer! This was half of the baby cluckatrice's health in one shot here. It is seriously weak and needs all the support you can give it.
Fortunately, it has some sense and will try to hide. Its mother uses Fortify, which raises its Attack.
Jalia and Lian are well able to weaken the Viking, but the Soldier is also in striking range of the chick.
Samuel is able to take out the Viking, leaving just the lone Soldier.
Cid gives it a shot, which brings him to critical HP, triggering Critical: Berserk.
In his blind rage, he attacks Samuel, who kills with a counterattack.
In the end, the cluckatrices are safe.
: Not that I blame her. She's been through quite a lot...
The chick runs under its mothers wing, who promptly pulls the oldest trick in the 'trice book and flies away.
: Maybe...but what if there are other birds locked up? What if they catch these ones again?
: ...Actually, forget it. There's no point worrying about all the bad things that could happen. It was good enough seeing those two fly off.
: I know saving two birds won't stop the poaching. And...what I do probably doesn't even rate as an annoyance to a big organization like Khamja.
: But that doesn't mean I can just stop. I don't know what'll come of all this, but at least I'll know I did what I could!
: ...Hrah. I think you've got it.
Samuel's grown up a lot, hasn't he.
This, I think, was one of the best quest lines in the game. We saw more interesting uses of game mechanics to tell a story than during any point of the main storyline! Sure, we didn't get the heroic finish of bringing Khamja to justice and dismantling the syndicate.
But we made the world a better place all the same, didn't we?
But...not everything ends happily for everyone. Waiting at the pub is one final notice:
Jylland Free Press: Internal Memo posted:
-The Jylland Free Press: Internal Memo-
All departments take note: the following personnel are due for immediate transfer.
Frestomis - moving from Sales to Editorial.
Claile - moving from Heritage Dept. to Reporting.
Anrias - moving from Reporting to the Arts Dept.
Further personnel will be moving from P.R. to
(The memo is torn at this point.)
Anrias pissed off the wrong people with those articles. Even the Free Press isn't free.
Well, there we are. Four quests closer to the end. Thank you for reading, as always.
Next update: Cooking up trouble with the Culinary Crusade!