Part 77: Part Seventy-Seven: How Squall Ended Up Going to EstharPart Seventy-Seven: How Squall Ended Up Going to Esthar
Earlier, Watts told us that Ellone had gone off with some Esthar soldiers. And while it would have been interesting to be waved off by the White SeeDs only to get information from the Forest Owls, we do actually have to talk to the White SeaDer to find out what we already know.
Unfortunately, he's not feeling magnanimous.
White SeeD Leader: You have no proof that Edea sent you. How do you expect us to believe you? .........Leave our ship immediately.
This is what happens if you board the ship without having Edea's letter, by the way. It's pretty weird that you can hang around, hassle everyone, find out everything you need to know about Ellone, and then get kicked off and stopped from progressing the story, rather than just having to leave when he tells you the first time.
So, we go off, talk to Edea, and come back with her letter.
Sure hope he believes this is real!
: You guys call her Matron too, huh?
Now we can bond over everyone calling their foster mother by the same name. Just for the record, I find the use of "Matron" in this context to be a bit odd. Maybe it's just me, but it sounds kind of formal and detached, not like something you'd call your mother as a child.
But here we are.
: We were raised by Edea, too.
He said, lying. The use of "raised" here, and really all of the SeeDs' interactions with Edea, strike me as being more sentimental than their usual bearing. Of course, Squall has never been as tough as he plays at being, but it's a neat little indicator of that.
: It was difficult to fight against her, but we did.
There's a little bit of a white lie in this line as well, where he leaves out the fact that he had no idea who Edea was in Deling City.
: Fortunately, everything turned out well.
Maybe ask Selphie about that one, chief.
The White SeeDs know that Edea was taken over at some point, but we don't get any details on how they know that. I guess Edea just started acting weird one day and then fucked off to Galbadia.
White SeeD Leader: We owe you and Balamb Garden much.
This is also interesting. The White SeeDs are not a combat force, based on the fact that they weren't armed at Balamb Garden (as well as something we'll see in a minute), but they're SeeDs all the same. Despite the fact that Squall is the de facto leader of the whole thing, there are still things he doesn't know.
Oddly, there's a break in this discussion.
Selphie's spell list is full of miscellaneous garbage. Unlike other Final Fantasy games, you can't have every spell on one person all at the same time.
Squall can stock Holy.
Now, back to the story, where the guy who told us to fuck off because we were looking for Ellone has realised that we're looking for Ellone.
And is feeling kind enough to tell us what we know.
As he talks, people on the ship putter around, acting out little scenes from everyday life.
White SeeD Leader: They had a lot of ships. Obviously, they were searching for us.
We don't know when this happened, other than presumably after we went to Balamb. Hell, it could have happened as we stormed Galbadia Garden as a twist of fate. I like it as a reminder that things are happening outside of Squall's view; this problem developed way before he found out about it, rather than you showing up to the White SeeD ship as Ellone leaves.
White SeeD Leader: Luckily, we were able to escape but, then our ship broke down and we were stranded.
This is the other thing that makes me think White SeeD is not primarily a combat force. Sure, they were outnumbered, but so were the Balamb SeeDs during the attack on Galbadia. Another thing this pair of lines can explain is why the ship is found near Centra: there's no reason for anybody to ever go there, and the crags and inlets make it a pretty good hiding spot for a ship like this one.
The background scene gets bleaker at this point, with White SeeDs leading the children to the cabin to hide.
White SeeD Leader: Eventually, the Galbadians caught up to us and we had no choice but to prepare for battle.
Something about Ellone must be extremely important to Esthar if they broke seventeen years of radio silence to fight off the Galbadians to get to her.
Esthar disappeared off the face of the planet after the Sorceress War, but they showed up aggressively to protect these guys? How the hell did they even know the White SeeD ship existed, where it was, or that they needed help?
White SeeD Leader: They told us to get aboard their ship. It sounded like an order to evacuate.
Esthar, a country that - not to belabour a point - disappeared off the face of the planet, invited these guys onto their ships.
This is a reasonable response. I included a shot of this line because you can see Ellone coming up in the background there.
White SeeD Leader: As the Esthar soldiers were trying to convince us, the battle became more intense. Soon they were forced to leave our ship.
I love the implication that the White SeeDs just accepted death out of distrust for Esthar.
After the Esthar soldiers leave, Ellone runs up to the bow, hotly pursued by Watts.
White SeeD Leader: Then, all of a sudden, she jumped onto their ship.
This is a new wrinkle in the whole thing: Ellone went with the Esthar fleet willingly. Given her history with that country, one might be temped to ask why she would do that.
The White SeeDs in this scene are just left looking bewildered.
White SeeD Leader: After that, Esthar's fleet withdrew from the battle and fled.
This pretty much spells out that Esthar didn't show up to protect the White SeeDs as much as they did to take Ellone away.
White SeeD Leader: After they left, we...well, it's a long story.
Boy, would we be screwed if they'd gotten their ship moving before we got here.
Well, you tried, which doesn't really count for anything and Ellone's probably dead right now. I don't know where I was going with this one.
: So Ellone's in Esthar?
White SeeD Leader: We believe so.
Squall, upon hearing that Ellone has gone to the ghost country that nobody has heard anything about in almost two decades, decides to go to the ghost country.
I was not joking.
Of course, with the role that Esthar's played in the history of Final Fantasy VIII's world, and especially in Laguna's journey, it's no surprise that we'd go there eventually. Hell, you could look at the world map, see there's a giant continent in the east that we've not explored, and come to the conclusion that we'll go there. The circumstances of our visit are probably unexpected, though - the more obvious line would have been that Edea was right about Adel still being alive and that we would end up hunting her down.
Nida: Oh, man... Xenophobic Esthar.
Oh, and here's another thing: Nida's understating this pretty heavily, because there is no earthly way to get the Garden on the Esthar continent. I'll show it off in a bit, but there's just no place to make landfall.
Squall will not let this stop him.
The previous line is the end of the scene, but we can chat with Quistis to get some more information about Esthar's geography.
: It's literally hidden away by the mountains. There isn't much contact with the outside world. That's why they're called the 'Silent Country'. I don't think the Garden can fly over those mountains.
Read: the Garden can't fly over those mountains.
There is this. We technically already know this, but it's good to get a reminder about it - especially because all that stuff about FH being connected to Esthar is optional content in the first place, so you might not ever have seen it. It's not a huge issue because there are ways around it, but I could see that being very confusing for some players.
There are also a couple of things about the Horizon Bridge (i.e., the bridge FH is on) being connected to Esthar in the Information section, if you were looking for a hint.
Hey, Xu figured out where we're going! Good work, Xu!
Xu: Those soldiers give me the creeps.
People are not particularly hot on the idea of going to Esthar, but Squall has decided.
Now we're back on the world map.
This gives us a chance to check in with the White SeeDs. See, they all have new dialogue now that we're welcome, but if you want to see it you have to see it now because the ship will disappear after the next story sequence.
Sea-Liking Guy: It's so soothing; takes your mind off of everything. It reminds me of my childhood.
My dude, you grew up on this boat.
Sea-Liking Guy: It's interesting...how some cultures relate the sea to a mother. Matron's warm heart and grace was like the sea.
It's also interesting how some cultures relate the sea to a cold death, like Edea's giant spear of ice she put into Squall's warm heart.
Sea-Liking Guy: I still remember that horrible day when her warm smile suddenly turned into a wicked grin... She was never the same after that.
So, it sounds like Edea was still on the White SeeD ship when Ultimecia took over, and that kind of conflicts with the idea that Ultimecia hates SeeD completely. Maybe she didn't know these guys were technically SeeD - after all, she didn't seem to have access to Edea's memory.
Sea-Liking Guy: From that day, the calm sea that she personified became putrid, frozen and eventually, it shattered. I'm so happy to hear that she's all right now. Thank you.
Imagine if Ultimecia had been aware that she was on the boat full of SeeDs specifically tasked with protecting Ellone. Would have been a much shorter game.
Dick move to ask an orphan this.
Sea-Liking Asshole: I lost both of my parents right after I was born, so I don't know anything about them. But it's strange... When I gaze at the sea, I can feel their presence. Our hearts...can do wonders.
Dude, you need to get off the boat more often.
Up on the bow, we can hear a story.
Her narration is obviously very compelling.
You may also recognise the name Hyne from this story we heard way back before we left for Timber.
Storytelling Girl: Hyne made a neat tool. His tool could make more tools by itself. Soon there were a lot of tools in the world. These tools were actually people.
The Final Fantasy VIII creation myth involves God creating people so he could take a nap.
Storytelling Girl: When Hyne woke up, he was surprised because there were a lot of people.
The Final Fantasy VIII creation myth involves God creating people so he could take a nap, then waking up and immolating a bunch of children because he thought there were too many.
Hyne is on some real Old Testament shit.
When the SeeD takes a break, you can talk to the kids.
Girl: It's important, but I don't understand.
I believe the lesson is that God is capricious, and will fuck you up.
The boy's just excited to be here.
Boy: I want to become a strong White SeeD and protect Elle.
Nobody tell him about the White SeeDs.
By the way, the White SeeD telling the story to these kids is actually the only one to get a name.
Yeah, and Ellone probably learned that stuff by spying on people's pasts with her magical powers. Now do your homework.
Anyway, back to our story.
Lina: Therefore, he decided to make peace with the people by offering them half of his body along with his powers. Hyne cut his body in half and gave the people half as promised.
It's interesting that this didn't kill Hyne. I wonder what the people could do that he was afraid of.
Lina: This war lasted for decades.
Another classic prank by Hyne.
Lina: But the body ignore[sic] their demands.
God, Hyne was just such a piece of shit.
Lina: The Zebalgas were angered by this truth, and decided to destroy Hyne.
And he got away with it, too!
Some say they're still hunting Hyne to this day...
This version of the story goes into more depth on people fighting Hyne, but it's fundamentally the same story the old man was telling back in Balamb. The myth of Hyne is the proposed origin of the sorceresses, but I think you can also see some of why people would be uncomfortable with that idea. Really, though, I don't think this story is meant to be taken as factual setting lore, just as more of a popular myth in the setting.
That's all there is to hear about Hyne, but if we go talk to Watts, we can get some new info from him.
Like Zone's weakness!
Watts: But if I tell you, he would probably.........Yeah, I can't tell you, sir.
Asking about the Galbadians, though, we actually can get some information, though its utility is dubious.
Watts: I don't know what it's for but...... They're probably up to no good.
Well, we'll have to keep an eye out for the Galbadian monolith the next time we're in Deling City.
Upstairs, the navigator just wants to have some fun.
Navigator: I want to see if we can see you from here.
He'll also ask you about fish. I mean, I could take it or leave it.
Navigator: He can only eat 'em if they're fried. I don't understand. I mean fish is fish, so why can't he eat 'em raw or broiled?
Deep Zone and fish lore, here.
But, if you like fish...
This makes sense. Not a lot of room for agriculture on a boat, you know?
Navigator: It's healthy and all, but sometimes I really miss meat, y'know?
Ah, he's gotta pay the meat toll.
Navigator: Crap... That's twice already today. You see, I've been mentioning 'meat' so much lately that we decided to set a penalty.
The meat toll is real.
Navigator: I just can't help it. Plus the penalty is only 10 Gil so...
Oh man, you fucked up, buddy.
Navigator: Oh man...
Wait, who pays these guys anyway?
Before we head out, we can also head below decks to chat with the leader.
White SeeD Leader: The Esthar continent is east from here. I don't know if you can get there by sea.
In case you thought they had some plan to get to Esthar we weren't aware of.
White SeeD Leader: We've traveled all over the world to keep Ellone safe, but we haven't been to Esthar yet.
White SeeD Leader: They're salvaging something big from the sea. I think Watts was talking about this.
His last line is also about that Galbadian monolith - if two people are telling us about it, it might be important later.
And, finally, we can talk to this kid to go back to the Garden.
Now we just have to find a way to Esthar.