Part 44: Episode XXXV: I Am Asking the Questions Here
New Music: Echoes of Royalty
Hey, Julienne... You sure its all right for us to be here as well?
*nods* If you are not with me, this shall have no meaning. After all, it is thanks to you that I am even standing here.
Appreciate the thought. But I kinda meant more like this place aint gonna zap us or anything cuz we aint royal blood.
Oh... Yes. That is probably not an issue...
So this chamber might look a bit familiar. Like, oh say... three or four dungeons ago? Had the teleporter and everything.
Thats because: Surprise! Its the techno-dungeon in a void template again. Only this time its pretty damn long... Indeed, the entirety of Chapter 11 is just this dungeon. Which makes this chapter both the shortest in length and possessing perhaps the longest single dungeon.
The actual layout of this place is nothing special. Its a lot of floating platforms. Occasionally you flip a switch to move platforms so you can roundabout access chests. Sometimes were required to toggle platforms in certain orders to progress. I think thats about as complicated as it gets.
Enemies on the first floor include the Empy penguin upgrades we encountered back on the raid on Royburg. Joining them are water-elemental versions of the Muffy creatures called Sherbetty. Sherbetty? That sounds like some shitty off-brand strawberry ice cream flavor for degenerates who actually enjoy strawberry ice cream. That can cast Ice and still call in reinforcements like pom-pom-eared jerks.
Ill be heavily abridging this dungeon via the magic of editing screenshots together to create a narrative trimmed to only the highlights. Like now weapons! Theres one for Setsuna hanging out on the first floor.
This spicy-hot chakram does not, I repeat, does NOT increase physical attack power! No sir! It does not! It simply is not done by this weapon...
+9 Physical Attack
Welcome to the post-truth world of snow.
While were in the neighborhood, we may as well equip that new lance we got earlier for Julienne. Its a nifty-techno lance number. Its a shame Julienne... kinda doesnt jive with any battle strategy. Shes like the physical attack version of Kir where yeah, her attack power is alright and her HP is respectably mid-range. But she doesnt have healing abilities like Setsuna or Endir. She cant tank remotely as well as Nidr. And shes not useful for Combo techs like Aeterna. And this dungeon has a majority of its enemies either resistant or outright immune to Ice magic.
She is very plot important for his dungeon!. So at least she wont be completely tossed in the Rico Banderas Eternal Bench Warmer gulag.
Making our way through the twisting platforms of the Ithees Ruins, we eventually come to a wonky floating ring leading to a platform with stairs going to the next level. Of course, we cannot just mosey on to the next portion of the dungeon.
For you see, this here wily ring talks... And it wants to put on a game show challenge before we can progress. Terrific! Lets do this!
*folds arms* Doesnt seem like anyones about to attack us or nothin...
Ugh. I hate pop quizzes... That crap should be illegal.
I... am having trouble even imagining you sitting in a classroom...
*looks around* Hmph. A younger glasses nerd... Rich overly formal girl. Weird religious chick. Older scruffy stoner guy that was held back a couple grades... Anti-social chick in a hoodie... Man, we just need a goth to join and this is pretty much my senior high school Civics class...
Hmph... A question, eh?
*steps forward* Very well! Ask your question, and I shall answer!
Music: The Royal Host
The king felt pity for the peasant, and bestowed upon him a gift: his own ring. The peasant thanked the king, and promptly sold the ring, in order to ease his financial hardship. Were the kings actions just? That is the question I put to thee.
Eh...? You mean this really is gonna be some civics ethics quiz...?
The kings the most powerful man in the country, he cant just ignore people and let em suffer... He was definitely just.
Mm... I wonder... Isnt it unfair for the king himself to be giving the peasant a gift? Im sure everyone else wouldve liked him to help them out, too...
Sounds to me like the theoretical king is soft if hes meeting random dirt farmers and bestowing valuable trinkets because he feels bad. Sounds like theres money to be made hitting up nobles in court or monarchs in rival states that might feel like theres benefit in that king getting ganked.
What? Thats some choice wet work. Thats literally my career before I got roped into this journey.
All right, thats enough chatting...
*turns to party* Please, I want you to collect your thoughts and each think of your answer.
This question was put before thee. Not... thee all.
They are my companions. Is there an issue?
No I... Tch... Thou art fine... It beest fine. Proceed...
*nods* Let our minds be as one...
Actually, theyre just going to go ahead and let Endir answer the question. And we actually DO have to answer this question correctly. He was unjust is the correct response to the booming voice in the sky.
But what happens if we answer incorrectly or not at all? Well, the mysterious voice gets pissed and...
...were dumped back to the beginning of the area. With all the monsters respawned. Granted, there is a button we can press right near the exit that will create a shortcut across the area. Still, best not mess up when taking trials to become the new monarch given by a disembodied voice in the sky speaking in thee and thous.
It is understandable that, faced with an impoverish man, one would wish to reach out a helping hand. For a normal man, that would be a just decision... but not for a king.
And what is the reason for thine answer?
Ugh... Man, its an oral test. Not just a binary yes/no questionnaire? Weak!
The first principle of any kingdom is that its people must not starve... Thus, the harvesting of crops forms the backbone of any country. If there are peasants suffering... That is clear evidence that the kings rule is not working effectively. If he considers immediate charity as acceptable redress for the greater follies of his rule... Then he has no right to be king. A just king should not give charity to the few, he should rule in a way that benefits the many. Instead of giving charity to a peasant, the king should gather his retainers... And fulfill his duty to the people by implementing a new, more just rule.
Thou hast answered well.
*whistled* Someone paid attention in social studies.
A virtuous man may help one person, but a virtuous king grants favor to all his people. No king must allow his people to live in hardship. Engrave these words upon they heart, and continue on...
Music: Echoes of Royalty
Cool. One floor down! Four more to go...
Ithees Ruins Floor #2 has the same enemies as earlier joined by reskinned snakes. Hmm... I suppose snakes reskinning themselves makes sense. I mean... theyre snakes. Regardless, the Boa Tigris, as theyre now referring to themselves, are the same sort of oversized serpents we saw in the previous ruins. They just have access to Ice Breath to pour on the entire party.
Loot and puzzles on this floor are entire uneventful. I think we might have gotten a new Talisman. I should probably go through all the silly names of Talismans at some point. They dont get fun datalog blurbs, unfortunately. Just a repackaged bland statement of their marginal abilities in battle and Fluxes that will happen once in a blue moon.
Regardless, this floor also has a platform with a floating ring and stairs leading upward. But this time around, we find...
Huh? Thats that girl from back in Juliennes village...
She was the one cocooned in the cave during the beetle boy kidnapping the village incident who was a huge knighthood fangirl.
Pffffft. Yep... Yep... Drawing a complete blank. Nothing.
Music: The Royal Host
The woman before you is no woman, but a monster.
She followed after thee and snuck inside these ruins.
*sweats and shakes head* What? No! Im no monster! I was worried about Her Highness, so I came to see if I could help!
O one of royal blood... Thou must not be deceived.
*turns and yells at sky* Augh! Whats with that voice!? Stop lying, all right!?
It is the kings duty to guard these ruins... This monster must be eliminated.
*shakes head* Dammit... Whatre we gonna do? Weve got no way of tellin if shes a monster or a human!
You really think a normal girl woulda been able to follow us here, though? It doesnt add up...
Howd she get here AHEAD of us? Most of those switches were one way paths and we couldnt avoid any of the monsters.
Well, you made it this far and you didnt flip and switches or fight any monsters so...
*sweats* I was giving moral support!
But if she really is human... One wrong decision by us could cost her her life...
We could just stab her.
Just a little bit. Cut her arm. If shes got poison monster blood, take her out. If shes got normal red blood, shes a human. Weve got a connoisseur on how monster blood tastes right here.
Monster or no, we aint stabbing an unarmed girl to figure out if shes a human.
That is against the terms of this trial.
Pfft. Nice rule lawyering after the fact, sky voice.
*turns to party* A king must bear the weight of many lives upon his shoulders. I am fully aware of what that entails.
*turns to Endir* No doubt Endir, who decided against the murder of the sacrifice, will also understand.
Uhh... Actually, I got blindsided by Aeterna and Setsunas stepdad. In a CUTSCENE, I might add, which was total garbage. Wasnt really my decision.
...You mean my dad?
You said Aeterna and my stepdad for some reason.
*side-eyes Nidr* Right... Your dad. My mistake... Didnt really get to know the guy...
Please, I want you to collect your thoughts and each think of your answer. Let our minds be as one...
The proper answer here is Dont eliminate her. Im kind of curious to see the failure state for this question. But not curious enough to grind through the entirety of the dungeon from the beginning for a couple lines of dialog saying we done goofed. Theres no save points in this dungeon until the end... In fact, my last save was on the world map before curing Julienne.
And what is the reason for thine answer?
Whether my opponent is human or monster, I shall never raise my lance without irrefutable proof.
Except for all the times when you had the monster blood crazies.
*breaths in and out* Amending my statement: When in the correct state of mind, whether my opponent is human or monster, I shall never raise my lance without irrefutable proof.
One word from a king can bring great prosperity to a kingdom, but also great ruin. If a king bids that they do so, will the people not endure even the harshest taxation? Will his soldiers not cast aside their own lives for him, even in the face of certain death? Such is the weight that rests on each decision a king must make. Such decisions must not be made lightly. Especially when faced with one who shows no animosity... Whether they may be monster or human, there is always room for discussion.
Its a shame that beetle boy is probably long dead. Hed love to hear all of this.
To decide then and there to eliminate one for whom there is no proof is even an enemy... Those are not the actions of a king, but of a fool.
*kneels* Lady Julienne... Thank you.
*glares at Endir* Im thankful you are like incredibly wise and didnt do anything rash.
Enthusiastic Girl fades away, never to be relevant again...
She tried to enter these ruins, and so I captured her. I have sent her back outside the gate.
The kings word is law unto his people, and at times may govern even their lives. He must never speak with haste, without first ascertaining the truth. Engrave these words upon thy heart, and continue on...
Music: Echoes of Royalty
Alright, thats another floor down! Half way there. Kinda...
Floor three adds a new variety of water-elemental (notice a theme with this dungeon?) squirrels with enormous snowballs, the Snowly-Poly. The only real major upgrade they get is that they ALWAYS use the snowball handstand technique that evades every type of attack guaranteed. They also throw snowballs hard enough to insta-gib a small child like an imp hit with a rocket launcher in Doom.
Beyond that, there is really nothing else to this floor. The switch puzzles require a bit more back and forth between platforms and circumnavigating the area. But hell if any of it is worth talking about at length. So lets just skip to...
Music: The Royal Host
Yep. You know it and you love it! Its everyones favorite, another moral conundrum fit for a king or a precocious fifth grader. Lay it on us, sky voice.
This individual must be rooted out and eliminated, before it is too late.
*slowly pivots towards Kir* ......
A perplexing question indeed... When my transformation was at its worst, perhaps because of the confusion in my mind...
*turns to party* My memories of our journey are hazy, and I remember very little.
We went across some ice drifts where we fought a giant penguin. We went thought a ruin just like this one where Nidr and I... had a time. We fought a giant tiger man that farted out time and space. And then we mountain climbed... well, more mountain walked up a steep incline. I think we fought that Reaper idiot somewhere in there...? But it all blurs together. The end. You were with us for like a couple weeks...
*looks around* But judging by your reaction, it seems that you already know the answer. You already know who it is among you that is not human... Please, I want you to collect your thoughts and each think of your answer. Let our minds be as one...
While it would be funny if we could actually claim Kir or one of the other party members werent human... as it turns out only one of us faded away into fairy dust at any point and occasionally can outgun reoccurring boss cutscene powers at will, while also being very decidedly evasive about answers as to what their deal is... So...
*looks down* Julienne...
Oh... Huh... I was gonna say Kir...
What?! Youre not still thinking Im a gremlin...
No. Dont be ridiculous. A wrote that off ages ago.
Then why dont you think Im human?!
Well... youre short... youve got a tail... all the fire magic. That all points to Imp. I dont know why I didnt see it earlier...
Endir, stop it. Hes human and theres been no difference in that since he joined us.
Yeah, cmon. I havent had developments in months.
*shakes head* Even I do not know who Aeterna truly is. But now Setsunas spell has lifted the fog from my mind, there is one thing I do know. Aeternas magical energy is somehow different... It is not that of a human.
Once thou hast disposed of her, then I shall deem thee worthy of the throne.
I am afraid we have no intention of disposing of Aeterna.
Yeah, for real. Eat a dick, sky voice. Thats not happening.
Have you SEEN that Grand Cross triple tech? That is nuts! Aeterna aint going anywhere.
...And you ruined it.
You are wasting your time... I shall not be disposing of her. Any attempt to induce me to do so is meaningless.
Ergh... Hmph. Thy desire... is... Hmm...
Pfft. The voice in the sky cant do crap! Its just some idiot that has access to a teleporter device.
Yeah make me fu*is blipped back to the beginning of the area*
And what is the reason of thine answer?
I do not know who you are... But just as you refused me entry here when the transformation had me in its throes... If you had been so inclined, I am sure you could also have done away with Aeterna. Seeing as you did not... That must mean you have deemed her to be no foe. Is that not so?
*turns to Aeterna and nods* Furthermore, I have fought alongside Aeterna. She is my comrade. Whether she is human or not, she remains my ally... I shall never turn my blade against an ally.
Thou hast answered well. Trust is one of the qualities that make a king... And placing ones trust in others without regard to birth or lineage, is a sign of a true king. It is in a king who is without prejudice that the people and the court shall place their trust.
*comes running back*
*pants* Yeah... thats what... *pants* I thought! You...
Engrave these words upon thy heart, and continue on...
Music: Echoes of Royalty
Another floor down! Time for the last proper one before the top.
Floor Number Four is just lousy with bears who are also secretly infested with bees. Its a bad scene all around. Lets hurry past it.
This floor holds a new weapon for Endir: a sick cyberpunk sword to go alongside Juliennes cyberpunk lance. Ill be disappointed if the entire party doesnt get one at some point. And Kir gets like a piece of rebar.
Also found on the fourth floor is a new command spritnite for Julienne: Transcendence. This lets Julienne presumably slit open her own wrist and go into a blood rage temporarily to murder her enemies with her best abilities. Julienne is just hardcore like that.
The rest of the area is just nothin but bears, platforms, and button pressing. This platform required venturing to separate corners of the map and toggling consoles. Real mind bender there.
But, you all dont need to worry about this 45 minute dungeon. Thats all on my end. For reference, the longest dungeon up to this point had been about... 20 minutes. Tops. Including the boss fight at the end, usually. Its a pretty long frikkin dungeon. Every floor of it was about the length of the average combat heavy area prior to this point. Anyway...
Music: The Royal Host (Man, this song loops like complete shit and just kind of stops and abruptly starts again 2-3 times each question session.)
*puffs up* Of course it must... KINGdom! You dont even need to think about this one!
*folds arms* If you say no, youll be rejecting the very existence of the royal family.
But if you say yes... It might seem like youre only trying to justify your own claim to the throne.
Err... well, if your system of government is a monarchy you kinda have to have a king or queen as the head of state. Its kind of the definition. Unless youre doing a constitutional monarchy where the king has powers limited by law and the real power lies in a parliamentary government and the monarch is just a state figurehead... But that seems outside the scope of this question.
I... really dont know much about politics...
There is no doubt in my mind.
*turns to party* Whether I was the bearer of the royal bloodline... or whether I was member of a tribe of mercenaries... No doubt my answer would remain unchanged. Please, I want you to collect your thoughts and each think of your answer. Let our minds be as one...
Didnt you just say you had made up your mind on the answers?
Indeed, but I am trying to be democratic about our groups decision on the response...
*frown* I dont like politics.
The correct answer here is no. I dont even know why they have the silence response as an option.
And what is the reason for thine answer?
With no king, the people may still live. But with no people, a king cannot. It is evident which is the more important of the two.
If a kingdom has no king, to what end dost thou whist to act as a ruler to thy homeland once restored? This is a contraction... a grave contradiction. Dost thou so hunger for the throne? Dost thou so wish for power?
*shakes head* Do not belittle me... When did I ever speak of the throne? It is not in order to seize power that I wish to see my homeland restored... It is to put an end to this age of fear and suffering at the hands of the monsters. United under a mighty kingdom, the people shall feel solidarity... Then, together, we shall rise up against the monsters and usher in an age of peace. If, once that age of peace arrives, a ruler should no longer be needed, I shall readily abdicate my throne. It is because I am prepared for such an eventuality that I can say a kingdom needs no king.
*snorts* Little too much optimistic faith in humanity going on in that speech...
Thou truly art the successor to the teachings of the royal family. I have no more questions for thee. Continue on, and carry in your heart the resolve and determination of a king.
Music: Echoes of Royalty
Alright. This is it! The final floor. And with it there is finally a save point. Spoilers: There is, of course, a boss battle at the end of this dungeon. And its a bit of a doozy.
As battle preparation, were gonna swap out Aeterna for Nidr since we need at least two characters that can take a beating. Setsuna will actually need to fulfill her role as a healer since Cure II is a full party heal and Endir might be busy. Were also going to chow down on nice Purikka Cobbler Salad. This increases everyones HP by 1/3rd, giving everyone a nice chunk of durability. They may need it for the fight ahead.
No time like the present. Heading up the stairs to the final platform floating in the infinite void of Ithees Ruins, we find...
Wow... Ive never seen anything like it before...
I mean... there was the other airship we kinda trashed. But man... this one is like WAY cooler!
How can you tell? Its shrouded in darkness...
Maybe you should get your eyes checked! I can see it just fine!
Yeah, I bet you can see the individual cells in my body with glasses that big, imp.
*shakes head* Remain vigilant. Most likely some other trial still awaits us...
No, dont jin
Music: The Royal Host
*sigh* You had to say something... We could have just jacked this thing and been on our way...
Who are you?
I am truly humbled...
Man, f this guy!
Emphasis on I.
My name is Julienne! I am the rightful successor to the royal throne! If you are our kingdoms guardian, then I have but one thing to ask of you... Please... I wish for you to lend me your strength... So that I may see our kingdom restored, and lead our people towards a brighter future!
Do not fear, young royal... It is to serve that very purpose that my power exists. However...
*shakes head* Thou hast yet to meet my final condition...
Your final condition?
To give the soaring ship to one who was not worthy would bring grave misfortune unto the people... Let me bear witness to your strength. Once you have surpassed me, the soaring ship shall be yours...
Music: March to Rebirth
*nods* Leave it to us.
Yeah, of course!
If we went back empty-handed after comin this far wed be a laughin stock!
*nods* Our strength is yours, Julienne...
*nods* Lets go, Julienne.
You dont have to tell me twice to punch albino Santa Claus here in the dick.
Thank you. I am in your debt.
Right, then... How shall we proceed with the tri
Power and fear are but two sides of the same sword. Justice without power is ignored... but power without justice is no more than violence.
Tune in next time when Julienne and the gang gank an old man and his hell-spawn house pets in order to steal his car keys.
Rhydderch Concept Art Yep... Yep, that there sure is an ancient ice kingdom wizard, Ill tell ya what...