Part 9: The Naked CityReposting this from the last page. I'll be erasing the original shortly.
Chapter 9: The Naked City
It doesn't mention exactly what Locke has been doing to delay the Imperials' progress, but as the events of this chapter would suggest, I'm going to assume that he's been giving them a bunch of nasty wedgies.
Music: Under Martial Law
Right from the start, we notice that one of the exits to South Figaro is blocked by a guard, so we can't leave the town that way.
Or can we...
This will be explained in better detail by my associate ElephantGun, but this guard has a fairly irregular way of patrolling.
If the guard is moving down when I open the menu, and I hold up when the menu is closing, Locke and the guard will overlap one another and I can walk right through him. Naturally, skipping the entirety of the South Figaro sequence has interesting ramifications for the future, but for now, let's try doing it the "correct" way.
First things first, I equip Locke with the Genji Glove and a pair of Sprint Shoes. This section is going to involve a lot of walking, and I'd rather run.
A lot of the alleys in South Figaro are blocked by soldiers that are guaranteed to kick your teeth in if you try to fight them. We're going to have to find alternate paths around them instead.
This old man really loves his cider, and thanks to the magic of event flags, we can't advance the story unless we find some for him.
Compounding matters, we can't get to the west side of town from this house unless we're wearing a merchant's clothes. Where are we supposed to find a clothing store in these parts?
We find our answer in the local item shop, just relaxing calm as you please against the wall.
Merchant: You're that thief Locke, aren't you?
This man is very serious about his semantic nonsense.
The merchant is quite the unique enemy. He does piddling amounts of damage, and it's pretty much guaranteed that he'll go down in one hit, but that's because you're not supposed to kill him, you're supposed to rob him.
Funny, he looked a lot bulkier just a moment ago. Maybe the merchant outfit has a ton of layers.
And with that, Locke has successfully changed class. His abilities and equipment may look absolutely the same, but now he has a fancy hat.
Most people in this city treat merchants with either indifference or outright hostility, but at least they're not beating Locke up at the slightest provocation anymore.
More importantly, we can now pass into the other end of South Figaro, where most of the important things are.
Well, that's hardly kind. For that, you get to be my next costume change.
Naturally, that soldier will be executed instantly for letting himself be victimized in such a way, but that's okay, we're a member of the Imperial Army now.
While we're in disguise, we can chat it up with the soldiers in this bar to learn a few pointless things that we'll figure out on our own. Apparently, wearing a helmet elevates you from being a stain on society to being a respectable citizen in the Empire's eyes.
Oh, it's not stealing. I'm, uh...requisitioning it for the use of the Empire. While I'm at it, I'm also going to need to requisition your clothes.
It's fun being evil.
Now, normally we'd have to use the Imperial costume in order to get a guard to move, but due to some oversight or another, there's a little side passage here that allows us to circumvent the guard entirely.
Nonetheless, I switch back to Imperial wear in order to get a few more conversations. Apparently Kefka is back, and he's bringing more competent minions this time. That could be nasty.
The Empire takes its tax collection VERY seriously. More to the point, we needed to switch back to merchant in order to get past that kid blocking the stairs.
I forgot to screencap it, but the old man essentially says that there's a secret passage connecting his house to the estate of the rich folks. However, as can be seen here, he doesn't know what the password is.
Good thing the game restricts us to three choices. Now, even without the luxury of knowing what the password is, the only consequence for failure is that the kid beats us up and reverts us to standard Locke, forcing us to run off and harass the item shop merchant again. By guesswork, therefore, we can find out that the answer is courage, the magic that turns dreams into...never mind.
Unlike the whole requirement for getting past the kid, he doesn't care about the costume when it comes to opening the passage. This will be important for a scene later.
We come out in the basement with the elixir clock. Not much to do here but enter into the mansion proper.
I should note that every time we enter the mansion, the music just cuts off abruptly, leaving us in dead silence. That's because there's a sound cue that we have to listen for in one of the rooms.
In this room, there's a sound not unlike that of a loud breeze. If we hadn't already discovered the secret passageway, that would have been a clue that there was something to look out for, specifically behind the bookcases where the characters could see it just fine, but we can't.
But before we go down, there's another hint to be gained from talking to the rich man's daughter. She immediately goes back on what she says here, but she also did that when talking about her daddy dining with General Leo, so I'm not falling for it.
As we go down into the secret passageway, the game tries to trick us into getting rid of our fancy new clothes, but I'm wise to their scheme.
Note: for those of you wanting to get the RunningShoes, the secret passage is straight across from this little hallway. Enjoy!
In the first door we encounter, Locke sneaks a peek and sees...
Depending on whether you're playing the SNES or GBA version, this young lady is either getting the crud beaten out of her or just getting yelled at from across the room.
Soldier: This is what happens to traitors!
Soldier: So, the mighty Celes has fallen!
In town, one of the topics of conversation was that there was a defector being held prisoner. This is in reference to Celes Chere here. Despite the way she's introduced, she's actually going to be one of the most important characters in the story.
: Isn't it true Kefka's going to poison the people of Doma, to the east?
And then he hits her again. Way to be a man, man.
Guard 1: Keep a close eye on her.
Guard 2: Yes, Sir! I can go for days without sleep!
If Locke is in his merchant costume or his regular clothes, he'll be hiding up in the rafters when the soldier leaves, but what if he's in his Imperial uniform?
Cool as ice.
Once inside, we have the option of furthering the story or wasting time. It makes me wonder why they made it a choice to begin with.
Woolsey apparently loved his Star Wars. There's also an alternative to this exchange if you're wearing the merchant's costume.
: What do you hope to peddle down here?
: Oh sorry, forgot I was wearing these clothes.
: I'm with the Returners. Name's Locke.
: The Returners? I used to be General Celes, but now I'm just a common traitor.
: Then let's go!
: You'd take me along? Thanks, but no thanks. I can barely walk.
: I'll protect you! Trust me, you'll be fine!
Dang! He hasn't been gone a day from Terra's side, and now he's already creepily latching on to another girl. Locke sure gets around in a hurry.
As we try to leave, Celes interrupts us. This sleeping guard (you know, the one who could go sleepless for days) has a Clock Key on him.
Of course it's wrong. That's why we're calling it "treasure hunting," remember?
Don't worry, he's still just sleeping. I don't know what the threat is from this guard, really. I mean, we've been stripping his subordinates down to their undergarments all day.
The key, as it turns out, allows us to open the cover on this old clock and wind it, as per that girl's instructions, thereby revealing a secret door behind a cabinet.
There's actually something quite unique about this doorway. You see, if you're standing right here and you happen to open and close the menu screen...
You cause a glitch in the adjoining wall that allows you to walk right through it. However, since that wall only leads back into the room, we can't discover a Negative World or something interesting like that, thereby making this glitch mostly just a novelty. Let's move on.
There's apparently an entire labyrinth hidden underneath the rich folks' mansion just full of hidden walls and twisty passageways, all alike. The treasures in this area are mostly just gear for our new recruit, having joined the party without a weapon and with terrible armor.
Now this is something that we can use.
Earring: Increases magic power by 25%, but if you wear two of them, it increases it by 50%. Needless to say, this is going directly onto Celes.
Combat-wise, Celes is a spellcaster similar to Terra, only her signature spell is Ice instead of Fire. We shan't be meeting a lightning-based caster, unfortunately, so this is all we've got for magic for a while.
I should also mention that these dogs we're freezing have a special gimmick about them. If there's only one of them left on the enemy side of the field, they'll run, depriving us of valuable experience. Curse them for wanting to live!
In one of the many side passages, there's a staircase leading down into yet another basement level. How many secret passages does one mildly corrupt rich family need?
To add to the matter, in this secret room, there's a secret chest hidden inside a wall, containing something absolutely beautiful. I raved about the ribbon last update, but unfortunately, what with Locke and Celes already having fantastic accessories like the White Cape, Earrings and Genji Glove, there's just not enough slots to go around right now.
Yes, apparently Terra and Celes haven't been the first to experience Locke's special brand of chivalry. That's a disquieting thought.
Once through the door, we are free to leave South Figaro forever. Our next destination:
This boring place again. Figaro Cave hasn't changed much since our last visit, with the exception of having stronger enemies. There's the occasional rumbling as well, but that's probably nothing important.
What is important though is that the treasures we left behind have magically morphed themselves into something better. This Thunder Rod is especially useful for an encounter coming up if you decided to skip getting Celes.
Just a little past the healing spring, we discover what all the noise was about. Unsurprisingly, it's a boss fight.
Music: The Decisive Battle (I really never get tired of linking this thing)
: Come again?
: I can simply absorb the attack using my Runic blade.
: Are you sure you'll be okay?
: Just you watch!
So yes, while Celes is wielding a bladed object, she can use Runic to absorb the next spell that someone casts, gaining MP equal to the amount it cost to cast it. This isn't so effective when there are other casters in the party, of course, because she's likely to absorb your own spells too.
Regardless, aside from a couple physical attacks, Tunnel Armor is all about the spells, so it spends most of this battle just powering Celes up while Locke pounds away at it with two knives at once.
And with that fight finished, Locke and Celes are on their way to Narshe. Two scenarios down, one lengthy scenario remains.
Next Time: The game starts passing out party members left and right