Part 40: Episode XXXII: Counting Sheep
Where were we...? Ah yes. The attack of the thirty foot Doom Sheep. Man, sheep sounds wrong as a singular noun. How many times do you encounter a solitary sheep out in the wild?
Aeterna has rejoined the party and just in time to kick Setsuna to the curb in the caster box of unwanted party members. Setsuna isnt that bad for this upcoming fight. But shes kind of beat up from the previous battles while Aeterna is fresh and ready to go.
Music: Relentless Advance
Meet the Stout Sheep. This dude is a huge pain in the dick if you dont know what is coming or have a bad party set-up (read: not Nidr and Endir.) Sporting a hardy 5332 HP, the sheep lives up to its name.
Offensively, Stout Sheep isnt that worrisome. It has hard hitting physical attacks like a head-butt, pictured above, which hits for the ballpark of 150+ HP and... theres another head-butt which also hits for around the same exact range. They just have different animations (one his model goes flying in the direction of the character and one it does not.) Both are single target affairs and can be kept in check as long as the character is healed after eating a couple hits (maybe just one in Aeternas case.)
The only attack to really worry about is Angry Stomp, in which Stout Sheep just throws a goddamn hissy fit for 40-50 HP of damage x 3-5 to the entire party. That can cause up to 250ish damage if some hits are unlucky/critical. But its not enough to topple our gang unless weve been really careless. Especially after Aurorean Tiger in the last boss encounter. So whats the issue with Stout Sheep?
Well, in addition to having 5332 HP to burn through and fairly good defensive stats making our blows somewhat less effective than they have been, this is a gimmick boss... Whats the gimmick? Oh, its a real infuriating sorta gimmick.
This biggun has a technique called hibernate. True to its name, the Stout Sheep will take a load off and nap for a turn. In turn, this gives us a free turn as well to build up Momentum or unleash some attacks. Sounds good, right? But theres a catch. Of course theres a catch! Theres always a catch!
When he wakes up, this motherfucker heals 999 HP. Yeah... its gimmick is it heals itself. Yknow. The one of the worst gimmicks to give a boss and inevitably turning a battle into a protracted slog because the prick ends up having about twice as much HP to burn through than whats written on the box.
And the thing is thats not his only healing move. Hibernate was the easier to manage one, since we got free time to reach and it was a solitary 999 HP heal. Stout Sheep also has Huddle, in which itll briefly hugs itself and get the Restore status aka I Am Setsunas enemy equivalent of Regen. How much regen, you ask?
Oh, yknow. Just 799 HP. For three turns aka over half of its total possible health.
So while other boss battles had using Nidr & Endirs Blowbeat to completely neuter enemies as kind of a broken way to crush otherwise difficult battles. Here, you essentially have to use Blowbeat to lock this fucker down to prevent him from using a turn to heal as you damage race him before he can recover. There are a few other Techs that can cause paralysis but hell if theyre as effective as Blowbeat.
Even locking this jerk down as often as possible and pouring on Techs every turn, he still managed to use both healing moves once and I had to burn through 2/3rds of my stock of Ethers to keep up the damage train churning for a good 15 minute slog of a fight. For reference, Id used like... 3 Ethers in the entire game prior to this...
I just barely managed to kill him with 130 HP left and hed just used Huddle again and was about to heal back up to over 1000 HP if Nidr didnt just reach Momentum for a Tech to turn this jerk into lamb chop. Good riddance...
Music: Astounding Victory
And the real kicker is the prick doesnt even give that much EXP. That fight with the three upgraded penguins and two birds? 800 EXP and took roughly 5% as long to fight. This is like two and a half random battles back in Fridging Heights worth of experience. Weak...
With the Stout Sheep slaughtered, the party regroups to ask what the flying fuck happened with Aeterna...
Music: Feeling of Unease
Cmon, youve got some explainin to do!
*sweats* Nidr! Stop! Aeterna isnt our enemy!
How sure bout that are you, exactly?
Umm... like... 75% sure?
OK, maybe like... 68% sure shes not our enemy.
*shrug* What do you think, Endir?
Youre usually the first to jump to conclusions.
Who are you?
Whats your deal? Are you a ghost? Or a cop? You gotta tell me if youre a cop.
Straight to the point as always, eh, Endir? Id like to answer that question, but I cant... Not yet...
*nods* All I can say is... Please trust me.
You really expect us to trust you after a half-cocked answer like that?
*shakes head* I...
*nods* I trust you.
Music: The World of Snow
*sighs deeply and rubs eyebrows*
I swear that I will take you to the Last Lands... I swear it. No matter what happens.
*nods* I know. Ive known all along...
*shakes head* Well, this whole thing sure is a big mystery, but you aint lyin... I can tell that much... and so can Endir.
Excuse me? Do not put words in my mouth. Im pretty sure youre not gonna turn traitor or anything since Julienne is kinda already doing that. But this whole oh my I must remain mysterious about my deal routine is some flamin HOT GARBAGE! But... whatever. Nobody listens to me anyway. I might as well be mute.
! *puffs up* Ive trusted you all along anyway...
*nods* Thank you, everyone...
*rushes in* I heard you were here from one of the knights... Thank goodness!
Music: March to Rebirth
Oh, youre Juliennes childhood friend, aint ya?
*frown* I could go without that title but... yeah. Thats me.
Quick, Kir. Redemption time. Hes standing right in front of you. What was his name?
What? No... I... Uhh... Good to see you...
I... Its Lilus.
*disapproving head shake*
Weve taken care of most of the monsters near here.
Shame about monster blood bein toxic. Coulda had quite the barbeque with that last one.
You shouldnt have to live in fear anymore... For the moment, at least.
I swear to whatever gods still care about this frozen hole of a land, Im coming back here and razing the village to the ground myself if you people come calling for another freebie monster of the week rescue.
And well find Julienne, too... I promise...
Wait, what happened to Julienne...?
Id like to answer that question. But I cant... Not yet...
...I deserve that.
*nods* Thank you. I am counting on you.
Well, sort of, but...
Theres something we want to ask you, then.
Does it involve the maintenance and upkeep of indoor plumbing?
Huh...? No. Why?
My family descended from the royal custodians of... Never mind. Why do you ask?
What do you know about airships?
In olden times, it is said that many airships flew through the skies... Today, however, the only one thought to exist is owned by the lord of Floneia.
Yeah, and that ones broken...
What? How could the lord allow such a priceless vessel fall into disrepair?
*rubs neck* Long story...
Never mind him, hes just thinkin out loud...
Anyway, that is all I know about airships.
What about catapults?
Do you know anything about the construction of catapults. Like a really big strong one. Like capable of launching at least the weight of a small child and a significant amount of rope and wood.
Wouldnt that be more of a trebuchets job?
*snaps fingers* See this kid knows a thing or two...
Why are you asking about catapults...?
Oh, you havent heard about the plan...
*silently mouths dont ask to Aeterna*
Whaddya know about the Ithees Ruins, then? The old royal familys crest is engraved at their entrance...
Whered you learn the name of that place...?
Ah... makes sense.
I have heard tell of a hidden place that is somehow connected to the royal family.
Do you know how to get inside?
*nods* That I do. It is spoken of in legends passed down in our village.
However... I do not think it will be possible now.
Because the seal on that gate can only be opened by one with royal blood.
Royal blood, eh?
Well get in without royal blood.
How the hells that gonna work? We already went there and the gate didnt open...
Ever heard of this thing called dynamite?
Well... Lets see some crummy ancient gate stand up to high explosives.
Thats almost as bad as the catapult idea.
*gasp* You did not just say the catapult is a bad idea...
Endir, its a bad idea. It is and always has been a bad idea.
Oh is it? Its a bad idea. Well youd be an expert on bad ideas, wouldnt you be... Mr. Secret Dad?
Mr. Secret Dad...?
*eyes go wide* Endir, shut up yer mouth RIGHT now!
Then you take back your baseless slander of the catapult idea.
Tch... Ugh... Fine. But blowing up the gate is a bad idea. Least of which is where the heck would we even get dynamite? Were in the middle of nowhere.
Huh... Yeah... Hmm... Okay. That is a valid point. Dang...
I suppose that crest must put up a barrier that only reacts to those descended from the royal family...
*nods* Anyway, looks like were not gettin anywhere until we find Julienne.
Seriously, what happened to Julienne?
Tch... Right after you had your... episode... She turned evil or possessed or whatever again. Tried to kill Setsuna then punched herself in the face and stumbled off. Aint seen her since.
That was a real bummer visit to the top of that mountain...
*shakes head* Julienne... Where are you...?
But how are we gonna go about looking for her? We dont have the slightest idea where to start...
Lets just go and check on those children again instead...
Excuuuuuuse me? No. Why? Your village isnt that far from here if you feel like a play date with people your own age...
I feel sorry for them being stuck inside all this time...
Youve grown up a lot since I last saw you, Kir.
*sweats* Huh? Y-you think...? I dont think Im any different...
*nods* I agree with Kir. Come on, lets head back to where those children were.
Ive been running non-stop through the snow for a couple days to catch up with you all so... Im OK with spending some time indoors.
Sure... Whatever. Lets go see some children whose names we cannot be bothered to learn...
Well... alright then. Lets head back into Juliennes house to speak to children. Why not?
Music: Beyond the Snow
*shakes head* Sorry... not yet.
Oh... Oh well, well just wait here and sing! The princess taught us this song, you know?
Oh... Julienne did, did she?
*nods* Thats right! The princess is great at singing!
Will you sing it for me, then?
Sure! One, two, three...
Video: Snow Song (They actually voiced this and the song is plot relevant.)
Yeah... we all just heard the song. You dont have to
Oh to return to the royal gate. Oh to soar over the sky.
Youre just gonna ignore me and do the whole thing, huh?
Snow, snow, oh falling snow. Oh to return to that time.
Theres something about it...
...How did they make the piano sound with their mouths? Thats IMPRESSIVE.
*nods* Yeah, I agree.
Somethin about it? Which part?
Oh to soar the sky.
Yeah, you could interpret that line as being symbolic, like thoughts flying back home across the skies...
But maybe it really is talking about a way to actually fly back...
Yeah... You might be on to something. Flying... Like something launched... From an ancient catapult. *rubs chin*
I do get the feeling that song has something to do with all of this...
But even if it does, I dont see how us analyzin a childrens rhyme is gonna help anythin...
Lets ask Julienne.
It IS her dumb but strangely relevant to our current interests song.
*shakes head* Not you too, Endir! What is it youre so curious about?
Youre right, Julienne might know what the rhyme means... But weve got no idea when shes going to come back.
Mm... Still, I wonder...
If youre that desperate to know, why dont we just ask the Aspiring Researcher? He knows all about old stuff, right? Ancient texts, and all that...
The Aspiring Researcher.
*shrug* You say that with authority like it means something to me.
Yeah, I dont know what youre talking about either.
Oh, youre right. That scholar we rescued from the caves. He told us about... something or other... The knighthood?
...Nah. Ringing zero bells.
Did he... actually have a proper name?
How do you aspire to be a researcher? Aint that something you just do or dont do?
The more information we have about the royal valley the better. Lets go pay the Aspiring Researcher a visit.
Music: March to Rebirth
Alright, fine. Well march over to the Aspiring Researchers home and see if he has any info. This guy has been along the plot critical path twice now and they couldnt bother to give him a proper name. How hard is it to name a secondary character Steve or something? Sheesh.
? A nursery rhyme? Oh, that one the children always sing, you mean? The songs lyrics are said to show its writers nostalgia for the royal capital... Their desire to one day fly across the sky and return there...
! So it isnt just about a bird, after all!
But even if thats the case, flying back across the sky is impossible for humans...
Yeah, so its a sad song... because it isnt possible. So its like they at least want their thoughts to return to their homeland...
But the words of the song... The bird in the valley... When will she fly? Dont you think its like theres a sense of hope behind those words? A sense of waiting for something?
Its a rhyme for children. Its not like its gonna be about how your dreams are never gonna come true and you shouldnt even try.
The bird is a metaphor.
! Like an airship!?
I was thinking like a sick griffin or something but yeah... I guess an airship.
Its certainly not impossible. Legend has it that back at the time of the kingdoms fall... By chance, the queen and a select few of her retainers were away on the royal airship, and thus survived.
Hey... Is there anything about WHY the ancient kingdom fell...?
*shrug* I dunno.
I am an aspiring researcher. I have not all the answers.
You dont think they could have hidden the airship in the ruins inside Magna Valley, do you...? Maybe so that they wouldnt be pursued by the foe who destroyed their kingdom...
*turns to researcher* So? Whaddya think?
*shakes head* Theres no way of saying for certain... But personally, Id say theres definitely a very good possibility thats the case.
At least a 12... perhaps even 12.5% chance of this being so.
Thats a good possibility?
In terms of unearthing ancient buried secrets of a long dead civilization? Absolutely!
So there isnt just spritnite in the ruins...
Theres a whole airship!? And a royal one, too! Akashd blow his top if he heard this!
Ugh... Who said anything about telling that guy.
Can YOU fly an airship?
I can wing it and not smell like a bleeding rectum...
Ive known that nursery rhyme since I was a little boy, so it never occurred to me before... And of course, until the spatial distortions disappeared, we werent even able to get to Magna Valley...
...So how did any of you know about those ruins?
Well, the distortions werent ALWAYS there.
How long were they around before...?
Well, since I was a little boy.
So we need to find Julienne, and get inside the ruins...
Then, once we find the royal airship...
Then... well be able to cross the Vanished Land?
Again... this is just a theory...
*jumps and fist pumps* All right! Things are looking up!
But it was Julienne who chose to stay away from us. And in the state she was in...
Ill make her do what I say!
I got a real way with words.
*sweat drop* Dont be ridiculous... Shell kill you! Her magical energy is off the scale!
Oh? Well, good for her. I got an arcane technique called "sword to the gut" if she tries that...
But... Hows that gonna help if you just kill each other?
Well... Err... Well worry about that later.
*shakes head* You wont need to do that... Julienne will come back to us. Shes one of us... and she means the world to all the people of the village, too.
Oh boy yeah... Wouldnt want to drag down the morale of dear Royburg...
So first, we need to find Julienne...
Right. We cant do anything else until we do.
Come on, lets go and look for Julienne.
Yeah, yeah... Lets go...
On the way, we can go tell old man Akash all about the royal airship!
Yeah. ...That sidequest is going in miscellaneous section alongside Eat all the food in the world and fight one of every penguin".
And with our new objective in hand of getting the band back together, we set off. Tune in next time where we begin the hunt to find out what the hell Juliennes deal is and how to punch the evil out of her!
Town Art Concept Bring a coat.