Part 58: A masquerade, serving none
Welcome back! I've got a massive update ready for you beautiful people. It features penultimate dungeons, ultimate plot twists, dei ex machina and MAXIMUM ANIME.
Roan kneels at each of these... whatever they are.
This cannot be! The oaths were strictly followed. There must be... something...
I see. This is the entrance.
Huh? But there is no way in!
No, it is here, without a doubt. But the door will not open.
Opening the entrance requires a control medal which powers up the system.
Allow me to kick off the symphony of disbelief we'll be experiencing this update. I mean, control medal? Seriously?
I have the medal! So there was another door that sealed in the Darkness...
"Roan's Medal" given to Tio
* R U M B L E *
The door is open. Everyone, please go out.
Below our party's feet, the closest this game has to a puzzle dungeon. I am about to describe it to you in agonizing detail.
However, O he who falsely worships Light and is discontent in its power, he shall know only permanent midnight.
So, here's the deal. We've got three paths leading out of the first room, but two of them are blocked by blue doors. I think you can guess what we're in for.
Recolors. For completion's sake:
Yeti (reskin of Big Foot)
HP: ~15000 (from 2130)
Special: -1 to a random stat on hit.
big man. hit hard. danger to hit point's
Death Doberman (reskin of Hellhound)
HP: ~13000 (from 1790)
Special: Lifesteal, on hit
Abilities: Howlslash (~2000), Howlnado (~2000), Shhh!
Death Doberman. Death Doberman.
We pass through an open blue door on our way through this path, which should also scare you.
The path leads us around on this raised green platform, allowing us to see inaccessible low ground, which we'll be visiting later. This happens several times throughout the dungeon.
Emerald Bird (reskin of Clay Bird)
HP: ~14000 (from 1860)
Special: -1 on hit
Abilities: Snowflakes (~2200 damage in a cone, -1, -2), Crackle (~4000), Cold
Resistant to , Weak to
My attempts to broker peace between the East Side Iceclaws and the Burnstrike Boulevard Firebirds ended in a merciless bloodbath. Er. Bath.
At the end of the western path through BPotG 1 lies this elevator, not working. The eastern path is blocked off at this end by a blue door as well, but we can go back towards the entrance through the central corridor.
Along the way, we find a red door. You're getting the picture by now, yes?
Here's where the fun starts. Smack dab in the middle of the first floor is this blue orb. Activating it switches the position of all blue doors from open to closed or vice-versa.
It also turns on the elevator. Unfortunately, the blue door leading back to the elevator is now closed, as is another one that was otherwise blocked off anyway. From here, it's either east or south.
Trying to get back to the elevator by going east doesn't work thanks to this red door, but we can play with some toys:
To clarify, that's a mirror. The reflective side is on the right, I didn't quite catch it in the screenshot.
The blue orb makes a satisfying, but completely inappropriate rattling noise.
And we get our treasure. The Hero's Cuirass gives a big heap of defense and provides health regeneration.
Doubling back and going through the other open blue door takes us back to the first room.
The eastern path is now unlocked at both ends, so we get to walk all the way from one end of the floor to the other a third time.
This red door nexus taunts us with the inevitability of us doing it a fourth time.
We exit back into the elevator lobby and can finally take it down to the second floor of the Birthplace of the Gods.
The elevator area here has only two branching paths, with one leading to the above room. Any gems you see in these screenshots are mediocre combat items that basically cast a spell for free, poorly.
These stairs are what we want.
We start out in the northern part of this floor and can't access the other half of the area due to severe Red Door issues, so we have to take a little side path to make progress.
Ancient Warrior (reskin of Warp Warrior)
HP: ~18000 (from 2040)
Special: on hit
Abilities: Beat Spiral (~1700 damage in an area, ), Hyper Buster (~2000 damage, +3, -3, )
I like what the hard hack does with that second move - lowered defense, increased attack, magic block - it feels like a sort of Berserk status being applied to you in a game that doesn't really have that. Not much else to say about these guys though.
What little we can access of the second floor leads straight to this save point and the stairs down to BPotG 3.
Down here we finally start getting down to business. But first, a distraction.
Dual Fist (reskin of Crimson Tail)
HP: ~48000 (from 19000)
Special: -1, on hit
Abilities: Blizzard Rise (~2400 damage in an AoE, -1), Freeze Down (~1500 damage, )
An exercise in equipping Blizzard resistance. Full disclosure, I decided to play Hard Mode for this LP entirely to make the first half of the game more interesting for myself and others who've played this game to death already. At this point, its effect mostly creates busywork.
There's actually been a few updates to it since the start of the LP that made significant changes, but I'm pretty burned out on this game now, so I invite anyone interested in that sort of thing to try the newer versions on their own.
Let's get this ball rolling.
First, a quick detour to set up another mirror puzzle.
The daunting task of pushing one mirror block one square rewards us with a regeneration ring, a high DEF robe that also increases ACT, and some consumables.
Having turned on the yellow orb, we have an alternate path into the previously blocked-off area of BPotG 2.
Guardian (reskin of Naga Queen)
Attack: I honestly don't remember
Special: on hit
Abilities: Freezing Eye, Blizzard Edge, Gravity, Snooze
Resistant to /
It... sure is a refight.
At last we reach the red orb. This dungeon isn't over, though. Not by a long shot.
Our next order of business is to head back to the first floor and find one last path through it.
After a quick one of these, of course. We get some equipment that reduces IP slowing, a Mystic Potion and a Gold Feather for our troubles.
Also here is one of the few genuinely exciting combat items in the game. Canceling everyone and doing a bunch of IP damage is pretty real.
Anyway, back on the first floor, the red door in the main corridor is now open, giving us an alternate way to the Blue Orb and access to the final mirror puzzle.
I'll spare you the details.
Now this is a real haul! The Dragon Egg is the offensive counterpart to the Fairy Egg, the Ethereal Miracle doubles all MC earned and the Book of Sages has the best Magic skills in the game on it:
Magic Power (+10-50 MP)
Intelligence (+10-50 MAG)
Mentality (+10-50 MEN)
Wizardry Chant (///)
Mystic Chant (///)
Magica Esoterica (adds cancel effect to single-target spells)
It lets us cancel with Burnstrike and gives us two more chants. I can't think of a better prize.
Now to finish this thing. First, we take the elevator down to BPotG 2.
Then, we take the stairs back to BPotG 3.
There, we deactivate the yellow orb.
Apparently that's the secret code, because the elevator on floor 2 will now take us to the previously inaccessible low ground part of floor 3.
And that's the Birthplace of the Gods.
They look like power cells... Perhaps from an ancient civilization. I have never before seen the like.
Oddly shaped... Like coffins.
What is it, Elena?
A human mummy it seems... It too is old... also from an ancient civilization.
So they really ARE... coffins. But why would they be stored here?
I know this is a Silvery White Light Age techno-dungeon, but surely anyone at all remembers that it was supposed to be a mausoleum?
Tio, you called them power cells. Do you know what they are used for?
... I do not know. I do not have that information in my memory. I believe their function is outside the scope of my duty.
Way back here... What in blazes could be inside?
Alright, time to put a bow on this plot.
What could that mean?
... Do not worry. This is... a message... for me.
Everyone, Elmo wishes to speak with you.
Elmo? Who the hell is Elmo?
Yes, the caretaker of this facility. That way. Come, let's go.
Elmo, caretaker of the Birthplace of the Gods, the people are suffering. Please answer our questions.
You are the caretaker of this, the resting place of the People of Darkness. You must know something of Valmar! Please, tell us!
Indeed I do know, for at one time, this was the place where Granas and Valmar conducted their research.
They carried out all manner of experiments, seeking to create that power which became their own.
Good news, Elena! Granas was never divine to begin with! Doesn't that make you feel better about your whole faith?
And so this place has been named "The Birthplace of the Gods," for it was here that they ascended into their own power.
Now I'm completely confused. I thought... Never mind. Look, just tell us how Valmar can be destroyed.
What can we do? Trap Valmar in that seal? There's got to be a way...
...? You know, a seal... C'mon Elmo, work with me here.
We mean the Seals of Granas that seal in Valmar! Like those crests... you know?
Ah... now I understand. The system that collects the individual units of Valmar.
And you refer to it as a "seal," no doubt a mistaken reference to its secondary function.
Its what? You mean it has ANOTHER function? What the hell else do those things do?
Its primary function is to activate Valmar. The collection and assemblage of Valmar's "pieces" is solely a preparatory stage.
What do you mean by... "activate?"
So, it is a system that prepares the human body for possession by Valmar...
It was never intended to act as a "seal."
Hey, the Ceremony of Sealing never failed, it was meant to possess you and kill all your friends! So much good news for Elena today.
Bloody... Are you telling us that Valmar was never sealed away?
Correct. What you call "The Seals of Granas" attune Valmar with the human body, modifying the form of the human host as necessary.
For example, the Horns of Valmar within you can be released, attuned, and again be given a physical existence.
And there we have our deus ex machina.
But, Ryudo would end up becoming Valmar!
... You also seem to misunderstand the being called Valmar.
In order that you have a proper understanding of these matters, I will show you the ancient records I maintain.
VIDEO: The Silvery White Light Age (search for "Video 1 ends" to skip screenshots)
When the world was still young and yawned at every new dawn's waking,
All was bathed in the light of Heaven.
Thus, those were the days of marvels -
- for the power of creation was given unto man.
Prayer became form.
Thought became matter, springing from the minds of men.
Many wonders were worked in those days.
The people grew prosperous. All that they could desire was given to them.
Soon, they lost their ambition.
They ceased to dream.
Still, the worship of Granas grew in strength and number.
All were compelled to pray without ceasing.
So may have been the intent of Granas.
Certainly sheds a lot of light on "gaolers" as a pejorative for Granas' followers.
The few remaining people who sensed danger in this course found power to resist Granas.
They found power in Valmar.
Power to release the energy bound up in life.
Power drawn from the people themselves.
Valmar, the people's hero!
Power to unmake the world.
Thus, in those days, they made war.
Granas destroyed and Valmar's body lost... and now the destruction in men's hearts knows no bounds. It grows with every passing day.
A colliding of Darkness and Light, and then... a bitter rain.
Video 1 ends.
Video: MAXIMUM ANIME ("Video 2 ends" to skip screenshots)
It transforms the instincts, prayers and wishes of a person's heart into the core of Valmar.
So, if I remain calm and don't give into emotion, then I'll be safe?
Yes, That possibility is quite real.
I am uncertain, but like the Granasaber... it is possible you can assume a form unlike the Horns of Valmar.
I have no clue what the first half of that sentence is referring to.
If he cannot control his emotions... Ryudo will... become Valmar...
If that happens, a new Valmar would be born. And regardless of who wins, Valmar will be complete!
Elmo, fire that thing up.
Ryudo, I do not think that a human heart... emotions... can be controlled.
No matter how much you want to save the world, if you give in to anger toward Valmar, you will end up like Melfice.
Right! What will we do if that happens!?
NO! Don't do it! I could not bear losing Ryudo to Valmar...
I know that you... My need to protect you... will help me persevere. I believe that!
Personally, I don't believe any of this.
Elena... there is no other way. If I don't go, everyone will die!
The system has been activated.
For watching you deperately struggle to discover what a human heart is - what it is capable of.
I am ashamed that I treated you like a doll... For that, I apologize.
... Ryudo. Please, do not worry about it. This plan is nearly hopeles... But I believe in you.
I do not want to see the end of humanity. I enjoy the company of people...
Ryudo, please protect my dreams!
I want you to evacuate everyone as far away as possible. Please do as I say! Your Highness.
On my... journeys with you, I have discovered who I am. Ryudo, I owe it all to you!
You'd do the same for me, Roan. We have to win! No, we WILL win!
Ryudo, you must absolutely... positively come back!
But still... Why can't we be together? What did I do wrong...?
Elena... nothing you ever did was wrong... it was right. That's why I can do this...
I'll happily risk my life to protect your kindness. So if I should die, you may live.
Live, Elena... Live.
I don't care how well-lit and climactic this scene is, that's ankle-breaking height.
Video 2 ends.
Can I really keep my heart... under control? Will I be able to choose the correct path?
If losing means my death, that's fine... But if I become Valmar and turn into a monster...
Ryudo, Ryudo... can you really contain your anger against Valmar... who toys with our lives... consumes our souls...?
Flapping around, smart guy. Someone's got to keep you company.
YOU IDIOT! You could be killed! By ME!
I don't think you will, Ryudo. I have faith in you. Always have. Always will.
Skye... Never change, do you? Crazy to the end...
This line seems incongruous with basically everything else said so far, but hey, maybe he's just psyching himself up.
Not the most visually interesting mindscape.
Voice: Do you yet hope for a miracle? Do you wish to become a god yourself so that this dying world might be saved?
I will become a god. No... this is not what I truly want, is it?
Voice: Do not LIE! In your heart, you know that you do not wish this! You cannot bring yourself to accept it!
No, but... I want power...
Voice: This is not your true answer. Come, search within yourself, and answer with truth!
You know what I love? Meaningless choice.
Once again, the flame goes out and the way back is destroyed.
Voice: Then do you not want all to be comforted? This would be within your power, for you would have dominion over the hearts of all.
... FOOL! I will not be tricked so easily! I know your nature: you twist our wishes - no matter how noble - into base desire!
To be entirely fair to the Valmar voice here, controlling the populace by giving them what they desire was precisely Granas' modus operandi. Anyway, flame goes out, bridge goes out.
Voice: Well, well... you speak of "power," yet deny that it is what you desire. Then tell me, what is it which you seek?
Really should've figured that one out before stepping into the Valmar Machine, I feel.
Voice: Then it does mean something to you. There is nothing else.
NO! I will yet protect the world!
Voice: And to do this will require power. If you fail to see this, then I tell you, surely all your struggles have been for naught.
This can't be... bloody hell...
Voice: DIE! Ryudo.
I was debating whether to stop the update here or before this entire section. I think I made the right choice, don't you?
New Voice Credits: B. J. Ward, Roan's voice actress, also plays Elmo.
Official Art: The Birthplace of the Gods and Elmo