Part 39: Episode XXXI: The Gate
New Music: The Kings Valley
As much as Id like to get away from this dipshit who puffs his afro with owl droppings, there is a treasure chest that has been taunting me for that entire last cutscene. Hook me up with that sweet, sweet loot!
...Its a lance. For Julienne. Who, spoilers, will not be present for at least the duration of this chapter. Thats just great... I cant even take a look at it, since the equip screen is character based and Julienne is removed. We could have actually came here and grabbed this straight away after taking out the Aurorean Tiger. But that would have bene a silly detour. Oh well. Well just have to remember that for whenever Julienne inevitably returns to the fold.
Anyway, treasure aside its time to hit the road. Magna Valley has a few new enemies added to the mix. Well, A new enemy.
Meet Shroomback! This is some manner of arctic gorilla with such poor hygiene that its head is covered with mold and mushrooms. Or possibly its infected with cordyceps spores and is moonlighting while The Last of Us Part II is in production. Who knows? Its a big gross ape that punches party members quite hard, as apes are want to do. It also wholesale ripped off the Bad Breath attack Malboros possess in Final Fantasy. So theres that. Though negative status effects arent quite as debilitating in this game as some of its contemporaries and Shroomback only hits a couple status effects at a time.
Despite mushroom parasite ape sounding like something that ought to be fairly hardy, theyve got surprisingly small stocks of HP and go down quickly to just a couple decent Techs.
Also present in the frozen canyon is Vulpara, an upgraded pinker version of the earlier Deviantart foxgirls. This new breed can slap party members over a dozen times in rapid succession for nearly 150 HP of damage. They have also grinded materials to stock up on Ice 2. Much like the apes, they dont have a really high HP threshold to worry about. Its almost like this area might have a touch weaker stock of enemy than usual because players would have to go through here down two party members...
Also skulking around a corner of this region is another Spritnite Eaten Monster: The Crystal Shroomback. This is more or less a much stronger version of the standard variety of damn dirty apes, only its Bad Breath attack actually works like a Malboros by throwing the book of status effects at everyone. Particularly, Paralysis and Stun. Which are problematic when it can follow up by punching any one of our disabled party so hard their heads will instantly explode.
Its possible to take this one down if we gain the initiative to stun it first and pour on the damage before it can start vomiting debilitating belches. But eh... Setsuna is kind of a third wheel in the damage output category. So well just leave this crystal boy alone.
Other than assorted varieties of those baddies hanging out, theres not much happening in the first half of this dungeon. But continuing to the northeast, we come upon...
That there sure is a dang ding-dong ominous ancient civilization gate right there, Ill tell ya what...
Music: March to Rebirth
He was right... This thing aint budgin an inch.
Not with that attitude.
Endir... That crest... do you think it could be...
*shrug* Never seen it before.
I just said earlier that I can barely remember anyones name. You think local sigils and family crests are taking up valuable space in my noggin? Pfft.
You sure? I get the feeling Ive seen it somewhere before...
! I know! Thats it! Its the same crest as Juliennes knighthoods! Im sure it is!
Is saying knighthood instead of knights just some weird off linguistic quirk in the Land of Snow? Just say knights.
Youre right, Kir. That is the knighthoods crest.
I JUST said not to
*rubs chin* The knighthood, you say?
Oh... I see. Har-har.
Lets go back to their village, then. We might be able to find out somethin.
Are you KIDDING me? You want to march back to their village on a hunch? Theyre just a bunch of generations inbred hicks playing at nobility in a town named after some guy named Roy that settled near icebergs...
...I really dont think thats why they named it th
Which, if that wasnt enough to dissuade you, do you're not remember how far back a walk that was?! You wanna walk back through the void temple and maybe take another trip to the guilt trip zone? Then across the ice floats again without a guide, as useless as that was in the end. Plus no mention of the hundred miles of overworld walking in-between?! You all REALLY wanna do that?
Well, do you have any better ideas?
Yeah, I do. Catap
Hey, how about we go ask Akash how he got down here so quickly?
*makes fart sound and quietly grumbles*
If this gate wont open, theres definitely no point in stayin here. Cmon, lets get outta here before monsters start showin up.
The party begins to leave the area. As soon as they do, Akash conveniently shows up.
Music: The Kings Valley
*shakes head* It wouldnt budge an inch, just like you said.
*shakes head* So you couldnt do anything, either? Tut-tut! Now whatre we gonna do?
We do know some people who have a strong connection to the crest on the gate, though.
Strong is a wild overstatement.
Whats that? Friends of yours, are they? Where do these people live?
The village of Royburg... Its near the Floeberg Waters.
The Floeberg Waters, eh? Tut-tut! Looks like its your lucky day!
Global warming melt em away so we can just take a boat across like reasonable people?
...Global warmin? What are you talkin about? Have you seen how cold it is out?
*frustrated groan* Every goddamn winter, someone needs to make that stupid ass joke as soon as the temperature dips. So youre gonna be that stupid idiot, huh, Nidr?
Now the distortions in space are gone, you can just cut through this valley to get there.
Oh wow. That is... an almost suspicious stroke of good luck.
Dont worry. Im sure the other shoe will drop any minute now.
*motions to Akash* You stay here.
Im not getting paid enough for an escort mission for a non-combatant and even from this distance, in this wind you smell like a bag of old, moist meat left out on a hot summer day next to a dead cat carcass.
I dont need you to tell me that! I know I told you to look inside the ruins... But there isnt necessarily any spritnite inside there at all. This whole area needs to be investigated! Tut-tut!
*folds arms* You dont give up easily, Ill give you that...
*nods* All right, have a safe journey! If you find some good spritnite, come an see me! Tut-tut!
And with that, Akash takes off in the other direction. As for our party, were going to continue northeast past the gate.
There is a second half of this combat heavy region, but its filled with the exact same monsters and the only notable loot is the first instance of an Elixir which will never be used because WHAT IF WE NEED IT LATER?!
Past the Magna Valley we sure enough are dumped out into the overworld map just south of Royburg. There was a barrier of light just where the water curved inward north of here.
So back to the town of Royburg we go. Were really off the beaten path now... revisiting old locations past the chapter where they were relevant? Its unheard of! Its just not done!
Music: March to Rebirth
! *sheathes swords*
Oh! You have returned!
*turns toward town and cups hands* Lady Julienne has returned, everyone!
So... where is Lady Julienne!?
Well, the thing is...
Sorry, but Julienne aint with us right now... We dont know where she is, either... or even if shes alive or dead...
Yeaaaah... She got a case of the old evil possession crazies. And fainting fits. We parted ways with her on top of the highest mountain in the land during the middle of a blizzard. So ehh... That shiny armor will at least make a decent landmark for mountain climbers if she didnt make it off.
B-but... without Lady Julienne...
You cant always rely on her!
Shes not your mom and this isnt the first time shes been AWOL. You guys gotta get it together. This is just sad. Is that why were all saying knighthood? Cuz it sounds way lamer by design?
But the problem is... Sir Cornelius and the others left the village and still havent returned... Were already stretched to our limits...
Why? Whats happened?
The battle against the monsters has grown a lot more intense...
So now even the knighthood cant keep up?
Thats the thing... Theyre no longer the sort of foes that we can handle... The way the monsters act has completely changed!
Their colors... Theyre all wrong! Not only that...
They attack in waves, so as not to give us even a moments rest... Multiple swarms launch coordinated attacks against us... *shakes head* It was never like this before!
Its as if theyre calculating when well be at our weakest, and calmly waiting to strike!
It was the same when my village was under attack... They really are changing, arent they...
One of the men out on patrol hid during an attack. He swore they had some sort of... a commander. He said it was at times a monstrous insect like man-beast and at other times but a child... He died before we could get anything more out of him...
It shames me to say this, but we alone are no longer able to protect this village...
Mhm...? What? Why are you giving me that look?
*shakes head* Nothing to do with us.
No... NO! We already did the monster of the week thing with this village. Were not doing another good deed lap out of the kindness of our hearts!
All right, lets help em.
Oh for fuwhy!?
We came here because we need the help of the descendants of the royal family, after all. And anyway... If wed been able to save Julienne, things might be different.
Yeah... then wed have an actual member of the royal family, assuming she actually is that and its not just some folklore BS her great grandparents claimed. But the rest of these people...?
Youre right... We need to help the knighthood out in Juliennes place!
Lets do it.
*puts fingers up mask and rubs eyes* Fine... FINE! Whatever... Lets defend this town killing a hundred monsters. But HEAVEN forbid we kill that one idiot weve fought three different occasions...
...That was different.
*shrugs* How? How was that different? Sounds like the monsters have gotten smart and can reason now too. Why is it OK to murder all of em and not the dipshit actively trying to kill us multiple times?
Yeah. Thats what I thought. Fine. Well help this stupid town. Again. But if...WHEN that Reaper idiot shows up again, you not stopping me from taking his head off and punting it off the side of a mountain if we get the chance.
Ah! So youll help us? Thank you! Everyone will be so relieved... Ill go and let the others know, before the monsters start attacking again! Oh! I almost forgot... You couldnt go and check on the children quickly for me, could you? Try and cheer them up a little, too, if you can... Theyre hiding inside Lady Juliennes house.
*twitch* Is this guy fn for real right now...?
Ill take care of it, Endir...
No, is there some old granny that needs help crossing the street? Or maybe someone is stuck in the outhouse and is out of TP. Well go hit up Kirs village to ask for some next.
We dont actually use toil
Right then. Lets hit the town. All the villagers just have dialog regarding the knights getting their asses handed to them by monsters and fear the town might be overrun. You know, normal peasant business.
We can offload materials for an extra 8000 or so G for the war funds. No option to confront the Magic Consortium merchant about the snake oil he sold us to cure Julienne the first time through here...
To actually advance matters, we do need to enter Juliennes old digs and check on the children hanging out inside... Sure, why not?
New Music: Beyond the Snow
Oh tell me snow
The bird in the valley
When will she fly?
Oh to return to the royal gate
Oh to soar over the sky
Snow, snow, oh falling snow
Oh to return to that time
*folds arms* What brave kids... They must be singin a nursery rhyme to cheer each other up...
The children notice the party and start celebrating and waving...
? She seems really happy to see us, but I dont even remember seeing these kids before...
Really? You cannot remember memorable folks like Angel-Voiced Little Girl, Flat-Nosed Little Boy, Innocent-Looking Boy, or White-Toothed Girl? And youre giving me a time for my memory...
Who knows? Anyway, its nice that theyre glad to see us.
*shakes head* Sorry... Julienne cant come back yet... But weve come here to help you all instead.
*jumps* Really? You came to get rid of the monsters?
Yes, thats right. We sure did.
*briefly glares at Endir* Right?
Leave it to us!
Yay! So we dont have anything to be afraid of anymore!
Where are your mommies and daddies?
*shakes head* Theyre not here... They went off somewhere when the monsters came... Weve been waiting for them... but they still havent come back...
Rip... open those presents theyre gonna have for you when they return...
Presents? You really think?
S-Sure... Yeah... Im sure theyll have em all wrapped up and put in a box. If youre lucky, they wont be buried while youre around.
*tilts head* ...Buried?
Ah... Dont worry about it.
Sorry about him. He gets easily... confused.
Why are you saying sorry? You didnt do anything wrong...
*nods* Were going to protect you, all right? I promise...
Alright. The kids have been checked on. Their blissfully ignorant that they would have been violently torn apart within the days end if the party hadnt shown up and that their parents are probably all being digested in a Pengys stomach as we speak. Lets head on out where...
Music: Deadly Gamble (Ugh. Theyd been good for like three chapters not using this lousy track.)
Looks like the monster attack has arrived. Been a while since weve had a battle gauntlet.
A trio of penguins sporting blackface and wearing jeweled crowns saunters up to the party ready to throw down. Thats not a sentence I expected to type today...
Be careful, everyone!
Seeing as Aeterna isnt here, looks like Ive gotta pick up the slack!
About frikkin time!
I think I hate that kid...
Music: No Turning Back
Time to rumble. Our first round is against a new species of penguin critter: The Empy. Despite the somewhat radical redesign, all these guys have learned to do is bite harder and buff their attack power at will. Theyve still got the rocket head-butt team attack, so its best to take em out quick before they can unionize.
Who needs the Pinkertons when youve got Aerial Strike.
Bring in the next round... Following up the Empy trio, weve got a coalition between Empy and an upgraded angry bird: the Rainbow Flappers. Not really living up to their name with that color scheme, huh?
A rainbow flapper flapping its wings in Royburg will result in a tornado also in Royburg. Localized windstorms are these bird brains primary means of attack, alongside the classic bird dive bombs. The real issue is that these jerks can and will heal their entire party if anyone is injured enough and their turn has arrived.
Of course given our primary means of attack hits the entire enemy side and two in a row will slaughter all threats present, its not too much of an issue.
The third round just sees an increase in the number of royal penguins on the battlefield. Not a big deal overall. Especially with that spritnite that is replenishing a good 38 MP every time Nidr or Endir kill an enemy.
And that stacks with every enemy killed, by the way. So if Endir gets 4 kill at once, thats a free 152 MP. That support spritnite is KINDA broken...
*phases back into existence*
Im exhausted already.
*twitch* Are you, now...
Leave it to me...
Music: Endless Crusade
Get bent...? What thguys, I know I keep saying this and dont follow through with it, but weve REALLY got work on our one-liners...
Hey, look whos back! Whew... I was getting worried we might actually have to drag along a caster to a boss fight here soon.
*nods* Of course. Although I suppose I wouldnt tell you if it wasnt, would I?
Thats really not a reassuring thing to say... So whats the deal, are you like a ghost or...?
Im sure weve all got a lotta questions, but right now...
Yeah, lets save it for later! Here comes the head honcho!
Huh? What? WheHOLY saucy lamb chops...
Welp. This is happening now... Tune in next time when the gang reunites with Aeterna in order to take on a Doom Sheep!
Magna Valley Ruins Concept Art Looks bigger in the brochures.