Part 92: Episode LXXXIII: Calm My Self
Music: Yuna's Determination
Alright. Welcome to the Calm Lands. That is... err... That's it out there. That big field... Yeah... That's the whole thing. Right there. Like boom! Done! Everything is laid out on the table. Our first goal is that structure in the center there, then it's a trip to that black crevice to the north.
For an area the game goes out of its way to describe as an endless plains of nothing, it is somehow infinitely less expansive than the previous two vast stretches of Fly-Over State looking roads we had to travel down. Oh well. We may run across a few familiar faces on our path.
Such as Maechem, whose journey of exposition has apparently stalled out for a while due to the party's disappearance. It's been a good long while since we've heard an exposition dump on a new location. Lay it on us, monologue grandpa.
That war left this place a barren, lifeless land. Then, time passed. The summoners took note of this uninhabited land. Great battles could be fought here, with no harm to the common folk. Perfect for the final battle with Sin, as it were. Summoners wait here, ready to perform the Final Summoning. Ah, to know what they must feel! In any case, when Sin is defeated here, the Calm will visit Spira once more. That's why this place is now known as the Calm Lands. Exactly who dubbed it so is unknown. And that, as they say, is that."
Neat. So do like people from Bevelle and junk pile in up here to watch the final Sin rumble? I'm kinda involved in this whole pilgrimage thing and... just now catching up on the whole end game details...
There's a chasm, a great rend in the earth, in these parts. A scar from High Summoner Gandof's bitter battle with Sin, four hundred years past."
Did he come back later as Gandof the White?
...I beg your pardon?
Ya know... Gandof. Sounds like Gandolf...?
I am afraid I do not follow.
...Oh. Right... Guess that's not a thing in Spira either. Pfft... Forget it, gramps. It was this movie. It was this whole thing... Err... Thanks for the lesson.
Oh, my pleasure. Any time.
There are some chocobos as well as the occasional chocobo rider wandering the plains of this err... I mean this isn't even really a plain, is it? It's like a moderately sized box canyon that has a cliff on one side. Anyway, while chocobos are in the area, we unfortunately cannot catch a ride on one just yet. Though don't worry... there is some hot garbage involving chocobos lined up for the future.
So of course, with no quick access to horse-chicken mounts, that means a healthy helping of, you guessed it...
Music: Normal Battle
Random battles! And boy oh boy is The Calm Lands just lousy with random battles. You could probably get through the entirety of this location in about ten minutes if you were not stopped every ten feet to fight the same handful of fiends.
Al Bhed machina have made their way from Bikanel Island to the Calm Lands cuz fuck it! Rogue robots out on the frontier are just about as reasonable as differently shaded cousins of other beasts.
Along with the Mech Scouters that Rikku can one-shot with Steal, we have Skolls, the newest in the wolves that Tidus can one-shot family. These can inflict Sleep if their bites land a hit. Do not ask me how that works. And often found besides them are Flame Flans which I'll give are kind of a decent pun name for an enemy. These can bust out the tier 3 Firaga spells.
To keep Wakka busy there are the Nebiros. They've dipped their stingers in poison 'round these parts. Very exotic.
And of course we wouldn't want Auron to feel left out or else he'd get all grouchy, so there are armored
Our old pal from Lake Macalania, the Wendigo, has gotten the indignity of being palette-swapped and downgraded to a common encounter in the form of Ogres. They changed absolutely nothing about their behavior from the proper boss battle. Same business with putting up his dukes and counter-attacking. This one is weak to fire though! That's different, right!? ...Right?
Lastly, pulling deep from the monster stable is a the very first palette-swap of an enemy we've not seen since Djose Highroad's Basilisks: The Anacondas. They're identical snake creatures that can petrify and attempt to shatter party members, just with a late game power boost.
Music: Yuna's Determination
There are a couple more mobs of creatures roaming the wastes here. But the enemy encounter list is divided by halves of the map and we're only running the first half today.
Anyway a hovercraft is here now. I suppose this is another Yevon sanctioned machina just in case anyone is planning to sum
Oh wait, nevermind. It's just a mobile Rin's Travel Agency merchant roaming the fields. Aren't the only people traveling this part of Spira summoners or Ronso? Are they offering discount rides back to Bevelle for weary summoners bailing on their pilgrimages? I know Home took a few tactical nukes to the grill earlier this week, but this still feels a wee bit scummy.
In any case, there's a few overpriced weapons of little note and the token stock resupply opportunity. Thanks but no thanks Al Bhed peddler. Say... what is that hovercraft powered by, anyway? ...What are all these machina powered by anyway? I doubt the Al Bhed have an offshore oil rig we've yet to encounter.
A bit north from the hovercraft merchant, we find an old acquaintance hanging out by what appears to be a pagan ritual gathering place. I'm sure that's nothing to worry about. What's shakin' Katamari Summoner?
"Ah, you shouldn't take what the maesters say too seriously.
I don't listen to ghost dudes if I can help it.
...Not the worst policy I have heard. Though I am clearly not addressing you. I do not see why you feel the need to interject. It is rude.
Yeah well... *grumbles and trails off*
"So, are you up to the task?"
"I do not know, but I will do my best."
"You've got spirit, but you'll need more to beat Sin.
Oh... C'mon lady. I know this is your thing the whole summon duel. But we just did a summon battle boss rush yesterday. Can we take a rain check...? No. Tch. Fine...
Belgemine is sporting as always and fully heals our aeons prior to the battle. Alright, let's get this over with while we're young. We've got a pilgrimage to get back to, ya know...
Music: Normal Battle
Looks like Belgemine is going with a Shiva-type aeon. Belgemine isn't fancy like Yuna or Isaaru. She's happy enough just sticking with default titles.
Yeah no worries there. After careful consideration, I've come to the conclusion...
...I'm going to have Trogdor stomp on this snowjob you've got going there. I forgot this fight was coming up or else I'd have gotten Yuna a Grand Summon or boosted up Trogdor to an Overdrive. But oh well, it's fine.
We can try to toss some Firaga at Shiva, but the results are less than ideal. For this battle is another tutorial for a skill we're about to learn. Yep, we're still getting tutorials the last handful of areas of the game. Final Fantasy XIII rightly gets shit for having a twenty hour long tutorial. But let's not fool ourselves. Final Fantasy had been pulling the everlasting tutorial crap for a while at that point.
Regardless of resistances, we can just have Trogdor use Boost and tank a few hits. It's not like Shiva has much going for it beyond middling ice spells and an Overdrive it won't hit before us.
That's more like it! You'll notice Trogdor managed to squeak past the 9999 damage cap here with his Overdrive. The Bahamut aeon is pretty much the earliest in the game we'll encounter breaking the damage cap. One day in the distant future, members of our very own party might be able to perform such a feat. But that is a story for another day.
Regardless, Yuna and Trogdor come out victorious for a grand total of zero experience from the whole affair, as usual. Clearly defeated aeons can give
Music: Yuna's Determination
Traitor or no, you may have what it takes to beat Sin. Take this. You have earned it."
Belgemine forks over an Aeon's Soul as well as 30 Power Spheres (thanks lady, I've had like item cap on those since frikkin' Kilika onward.) So clearly now we'll need to take this to the Giant Blacksmith in Zanarkand and he'll forge a sick end game sword out of an Valefor's wing or the like. It'll be rad, just you watch.
"I think you will do just fine. But, if you ever feel like you want more training, seek the hidden temple of Remiem. I will be waiting there. Farewell."
Oh, of course! The hidden temple... I've heard all kinds of legends of that place!
With that Belgemine trots off and leaves us with an unskippable tutorial. Hey, remember the Summoner's Soul we got from her back near the Moonflow? It's like that except you can use it to grind items like Power Spheres for fucking ever in order to feed to our aeons and boost their stats as well. Much like the Summoner's Soul item conversion business, I barely touched this. But if you have a free 90 hours of time and want to boost all your aeon's stats to 99, then go for it, kid.
Realistically we've barely walked more than a mile in-game. But it's already time for the traditional mid-location travel pit stop and chat. A Rin Travel Agency smack-dab in the middle of the Calm Lands will be our stopping point for now.
The party breaks into groups to chat. Well... not really. Just Yuna and Lulu some up for idle banter. Kimahri immediately breaks for the nearest place to enter his patented pose. The rest proceed to zone out like usual.
Before we can get to the usual round of Tidus bugging everyone in the party, we're interrupted by a Yevon monk strutting up to the party. This better not be another aeon duel, game. Those aren't fun and all the rival trainers still have their summon animations set to Long like a bunch of inconsiderate amateurs.
Long time no see.
Oh... How silly of me. Of course, Father Zuke! I'd recognize that shiny dome anywhere! Who the fuck is Father Zuke...?
Hmm... You certainly don't look like Maester Kinoc's murderer."
*gasp* Please, tell us what has happened!
It said that you and your guardians murdered Maester Kinoc and fled. We are to kill you on sight, or so it says."
That's bull! We didn't kill Kinoc. Seymour killed him. We killed Seymour. Twice!
What? We did... Pfft. Not like we're going to get in any more trouble with Yevon.
"Things are calm on the surface, but the depths are turbulent. After the death of Maester Kinoc, Kelk Ronso left Yevon."
"Convenient. Getting around will be easier with Yevon in disarray."
"But be careful, my friends. You have been branded enemies of Yevon. You should avoid temples for the time being."
And the towns surrounding the temples... As well as the roads. Obviously Bevelle, as well. I see you've already found the Al Bhed as a safe haven. Perhaps you could seek refuge at their Home for a time?
...Yeah. That's not happening... *frown*
"Thank you, Father Zuke, for your warning."
"To tell the truth, I was a little curious to see... this summoner you are guarding. I hope her pilgrimage goes well. For your sake, too."
"Thank you, Father."
"I must be off. I shall pray for all of you."
And with that, Father Zuke wanders off into the wastes of the Calm Lands, never to be seen again. Yep he was just there to let us know they've pinned Kinoc's murder on us. This is what I was talking about with summoners easily being able to get away with murder! Off a guy, immediately
Now that Zuke has exited the series forever, we may as well see where everyone is standing at the moment. Chief, Lulu... Who the hell was Monk Mr. Clean?
"Until half a year ago, he was a summoner. Wakka and I were his guardians."
"It was kinda of a short pilgrimage."
"He gave up halfway. Here, on this plain. Now, he is a monk at the Bevelle temple."
Wait... How much further is Zanarkand?
Beyond the Calm Lands and past the sacred Mt. Gagazet.
Right... So we're like... I'm not a big math kinda guy, but seems like more than half way. That seems like 90% of the way...
It was... complicated... Let's go with that. Complicated.
"This is my third pilgrimage as a guardian. Father Zuke was my second. And my first, well... It ended here, too. I've never been to the lands beyond."
*looks around* Yeah this place is boring as hell but I'm really not seeing why everyone quits here...
You wouldn't understand.
"Mt. Gagazet towers to the north, and Zanarkand lies beyond that."
And with that we've just burned through about three-fourths of Lulu total's backstory. What you don't remember the previous time we'd focused on Lulu's history? That's because she barely has any to speak of at all. Of all the playable characters in Final Fantasy X, I'm fairly certain you could remove Lulu the easiest and barely have to do any major rewrites to cover for her exclusion.
Anyway, how's it feel to be formally labeled a double-plus heretic, Yuna?
Yeah... I mean... We already had that trial thing where the pope ghost guy said as much and then they tossed us in the lamest execution method I've ever heard of...
"Hey, let them say what they want."
"It's okay, I'm not worried. Well, maybe just a little. It's so hard not to be."
"Hey, it's okay to worry. And if it gets too rough, just yell!"
"Yell? Hmm... Okay, I might just do that."
And hey... There's always other ways to... vent some steam...
I don't follow...
*sighs and whispers in Yuna's ear*
*annoyed stretch* "Maybe, with my old man helping him!"
"Maybe I'll ask Sir Auron."
"Auron? That grouch never tells me anything."
*puts hand over mouth and does Batman voice* "'That is none of your business!'"
"Not that he keeps out of other people's business, you know what I mean?
*glare aura seeps in from off-screen*
...I should probably go see how grumpa is doing.
Yevon. Mika and Seymour are not of one mind. Remember what Seymour said last we met. I do not think Mika will concur."
Yeah... We PROBABLY should have finished that jerk off instead of running as soon as he started exploding into a poo gas cloud. Just my opinion here...
"If Yevon founders, so will Spira."
Not much new with Auron. Rikku, however, looks quite distressed. Let's check out her deal.
"Yuna...she's made her decision."
"But, I can't just let her go."
"We won't have to. We'll save Yuna even if she calls the Final Aeon."
"I'll think of a way."
"But what if you can't?"
It's always 'but' this, 'but' that."
No, Tidus! I know you're full of hormones and you've had enough of Rikku's snide insinuations and disingenuous assertions. But this is not the way to handle it!
"Let's think together!"
"And, if we can't think of something... we find another way!"
And if we're being honest, some nonsense completely out of our control is going to happen and derail everything anyway!
That's the spirit.
Rikku is going to start shaking her head like it's about to explode. This whole dilemma is the beginning of Rikku's rapid descent into mania that will result in her being a near brain dead shell of her former self by the time the sequel rolls around. Tragic, really...
Right then. Wakka? Have anything to add?
I already told you this, ya? 'Bout when I was too into the game to be a good guardian? So when Father Zuke said he wanted out... Tell you the truth, I was kinda glad."
That dude seemed like kind of a bummer.
Eh... He was... Umm...
"Zanarkand's right around the corner. So close already.
That it is, Wakka. Say, the Ronso are from Mt. Gagazet, right? What's the word with giant blue cat folk in the area, Kimahri?
"Hey! We might meet your family."
"Kimahri has no family."
"But Kimahri not alone."
Yeah, right on dude. You wanna like fist bump or something...?
Okay... Gotcha. A bit much... Not your thing.
"Sacred mountain Gagazet. Not change for one thousand years."
We're just about done here. But before we depart, there is on Al Bhed tucked in the corner of the Travel Agency's grounds that is very easy to miss. He may have some vital information that will make a later part of the game very confusing if the player has failed to chat him up/missed enough Al Bhed Primers not to understand him
[I have a message from Cid. He says: We've gone to repair the airship. We'll come get you when we're done. Until then, keep Yuna safe or you'll be sorry, kid.]
"Good to know!"
"Oh umm... Kuut du ghuf!"
Welp, that's about a wrap for our Calm Lands half-time show. Tune in next time for the second half of this dump, assuming I don't get compelled to go play Shadow of the Colossus again looking at shots of this place for too long.
Video: Episode 83 Highlight Reel
Ogre Concept Art
Anaconda Concept Art
Father Zuke Concept Art