Part 10: Complications (Part 1)
Welcome back. Last time on Last Scenario, we reported the attack on the northern Republic outpost to the Colonel, only to find out that he already knew about it. According to him, Tazar had appeared to defect to the Empire, but remained a Republic double agent. Tazar has made contact with a highly-placed informant in the Imperial capital, and we now have a new mission: to enter the Imperial capital of Herzog and, with the help of said informant, assassinate Emperor Leopold. We've snuck our way into the city, so now all there is to do is get on with our mission. We've got an extra-length update today, so I hope you're ready!
I hear you survived the attack due to complications during your mission. It's a great shame we lost so many men. But, we should be glad that we're still alive.
.... I am... relieved to see that you're all right too. Tell us about your plan.
I assume you've already heard the basics. I've been in contact with people who are opposed to the current Emperor. However, they lack the power to act. I have an influential ally who is very close to the Emperor. She knows exactly where he is at all times. With her help and yours, we can catch the Emperor when he's vulnerable... and assassinate him.
Who is this ally? Can we trust her?
Be very careful. What I'm about to tell you must never be allowed to leak out.
My point still stands. We are here to assassinate the Emperor. Is she really willing to have her own father killed?
The princess realizes what must be done to end this conflict. She will do her duty for the country. Her relationship with her father is not that close. We can trust her.
Is it possible for us to meet the princess? It would probably be hard for her to move about unnoticed though.
I've arranged a meeting with her already. She will be waiting for us at a certain place in the city.
Then wouldn't it be better to continue this discussion there?
Yes, that was the original plan... but it's too dangerous for me to meet her at the moment. There's a certain nobleman, some marquis, who has been following me around lately. I don't know if he's aware of what's going on or just distrusts me, but it's problematic. You will have to go see her by yourselves. Meanwhile, I will distract that man so he won't see anything. Come back here afterwards. This was arranged to be my temporary residence.
All right, the rest of your plan has been okay so far, Tazar, but how on earth does this statement even begin to make sense? This is Empire territory, so presumably this passage already existed when you got here, and that means someone besides you had to know about it. You know what kind of people usually need secret passages out of their own capital, right?
Where do we find the Princess?
In the western part of the city. It's a public spot, but few people go there. It's the grave of Alexander.
Yes, Hilbert, that's what he said.
I wonder if he even noticed that Selene and Jord are gone?
Probably not. He didn't say anything about Lorenza's presence, either. It's just like I thought. Those deaths don't mean anything to him. He's only concerned with himself. I bet he's only thinking about the promotion he'll get if we succeed.
We're meeting with a real princess... It's just like a fairy tale. I wonder what kind of person she is.
Did you miss the part where said beautiful princess wants to commit patricide? I'm sure a girl like that is just lovely to be around.
And with that, we have control. We could head straight over to Alexander's grave right now if we wanted, but Herzog is a pretty big city, so we might as well take a look around first.
Before we leave Tazar's place, though, there seems to be another instance on the upper floor of people leaving explosives in really inappropriate places. Like the Grenade, the Frag Bomb is an attack item that does non-elemental damage to one enemy, but it's a substantial upgrade: whereas a Grenade will inflict 75 damage or so at our current level, the Frag Bomb will deal several hundred. This is best saved for a rainy day. (Or sold, as it fetches a cool thousand gold.)
Outside of Tazar's temporary residence is a save point and a choice of paths. Since it's a bit hard to keep straight using screenshots, you should envision Herzog as a large ring, which we are currently on the eastern edge of. We're going to be making a counterclockwise pass around the city.
First up is the northern section of the city, which appears to be Herzog's main shopping district. The city's weapon, armor, accessory, and item shops can all be found here.
The weapon shop has some new equipment for us. The Imperial Bow and Spiral Lance are both better than what our characters currently have, but the Thunderball and Marid Scepter we stole earlier are better than the gem and staff on sale here. I pick up the first two.
In the middle of this area is this guy who's kind of a big deal. He's also a Hex player, but he doesn't have any new tiles. I grab another Undine off him though.
The central shop of the area is the armor shop, which has a fair selection. Most of the armor here is quite a substantial boost to our characters' VIT in absolute terms, but in practical terms this only translates into about a 2% drop in damage, which is still negligible at this point. I won't be buying anything here.
There's also a separate accessory shop downstairs. The only new thing for sale here is the Alarm Bell, which prevents sleep.
There's also an item shop on the western end of this area, but it doesn't have anything new.
Next up on our tour of Herzog is this screen, which contains the city's southwest corner as well as a path leading further west. The western path leads to Alexander's grave, but we'll be heading there later.
There's a house in the southern part of the area that contains a concerned father. As you might expect, we can play Hex with his daughter, but like Mr. Kind Of A Big Deal, she doesn't have any new tiles.
The next screen is the southern part of Herzog's "ring," which contains the city's inn. There's actually some extra paths out of here, as well: we can leave the city by heading south, and to the north, in the center of the "ring," is the imperial castle.
We head to the castle first, but unsurprisingly, we can't get in at the moment. There are a few NPCs nearby with some information, though.
Princess Helga lives at the palace, but her younger brother is studying in Fardorf.
Oops, I shouldn't be saying that out loud.
Melanie here is also a Hex player, and she also has a new tile for us, the Kurat Vol. I kind of wanted to stop by a Hex trading post and see what we could get with all of the new tiles we've been picking up over the past few updates, but it turns out that Herzog doesn't actually have one. Oh well.
Afterwards I head south and try to leave the city, but Matilda won't let us go until our mission is complete.
Our last stop on the tour is Herzog's southeast corner, which contains the spellcard shop.
Their selection consists of almost every spellcard we've seen thus far, plus one very important new one:
Revitalize (10MP): Revives one KO'd ally with a small amount of HP.
Crisis: Restore (6MP): Cures all detrimental status effects for one ally.
Stat changes: -1% max HP, +1% max MP, +2% RES
With the money I've saved by not buying armor, I pick up a Revitalize instead, which will definitely come in handy in the future.
Now then, we've seen about all there is to see in the city proper, so let's head to the west and see the fancy tomb the Empire built for our ancestor.
That's... not bad, actually.
So, this is where my ancestor was buried...
The great hero Alexander... It pains me to see him buried here, in the center of the Empire.
Come to think of it, was there a particular reason that this grave was built here? I don't think I've heard anything about it...
He was born in the Republic, so that's where this grave should've been. It's as simple as that. The Empire probably just built this grave to claim Alexander for themselves.
But there was no Empire or Republic at the time. All countries were united. It doesn't matter where it is. It should be a symbol to everyone, that's what I think. Even if we're at war now, a day will come when we'll have to work together again. I just hope we can make it in time...
Fade to black...
I am Captain Matilda, here under orders of Commander Tazar.
A real charmer, this one. I see we're off to a good start.
And where is Tazar himself?
I apologize for our tardiness. There were some... complications. The Commander told us that he was being followed by someone, so he took precautions and went to distract him.
Followed? Who has been following him?
I don't know, but the Commander didn't seem too concerned about it.
Hmph... I'm not going to stick my neck out for him. If you see Tazar, inform him that I will no longer meet with him. I'll tell you what you need to know, and that's all. I can't have my involvement in this discovered. If Tazar was careless, he can take the blame himself. Now listen carefully, because I'm not going to explain this twice. This isn't just a tomb, if you hadn't noticed yet. It's an escape route from the castle.
So we can get right into the castle this way!?
Yes, following this tunnel will take you into the castle. But you'll still be spotted long before reaching the Emperor. That's why Tazar and I came up with a plan. Right outside the castle is an art gallery. Tonight, my father will be showing some guests around inside. You will attack him right there, from the front.
Attack head-on? With all due respect, why would we do that?
I told you not to interrupt me! Of course that won't work! The point is to distract the guards' attention. If you fail there, retreat. The guards will focus on chasing the attackers and protecting the gate. Meanwhile, they'll hurry the Emperor back into the castle. That's where they won't be expecting an attack. Do you understand what to do now?
So we should split our team in two. One will attack directly and then escape, the other will go through this tunnel and wait for a chance to strike.
Yes, exactly. The doors of this tomb are always locked and bolted, so no one will be expecting you to use it. Here, take this. It's a copy of my key. Stay away from this place until tonight or you'll arouse suspicion.
That's what I came here to give you, so I will take my leave now. If you have any more questions, ask Tazar.
Why are you trying to kill your father?
Hmph, what does it matter? I don't even see him as a father. If he is dead, the war will end. That's what you want, right? We'll all gain from it. If you perform well, you'll be rewarded too.
Yeah why were you expecting that, exactly? I feel like the whole KILL YOU'RE FATHER thing should've been kind of hard to overlook.
This isn't quite the same...
What do you think, Captain?
I don't like it. These are our orders, but...
One thing's for certain. Everyone here is looking out for themselves. There's no honest resistance.
Are we really helping people by doing this? I'm not even talking about the Empire or the Republic, but people in general?
Rulers will always do things that are in their own interest. We can't change that. But no matter what happens after the Emperor dies, it will destabilize the Empire. We must succeed in our mission, for the sake of the Republic.
The party starts filing out, but Lorenza makes no move to leave.
I don't understand.
What is this place? Why do I feel so strange?
Are you okay? Maybe you should rest...
No, I'm fine now. Let's leave this place.
You're certainly being active, for someone who has no real function here.
Is there something wrong with making new contacts? If I want to make this city my new home, I need to get to know the politics around here.
You were an army commander in the Republic... but you're not the soldier type, are you? You probably got that position thanks to your connections and smooth talking. You seem like that kind of person. Heh, you're right. This place is no different.
So, do you distrust me because I want to ensure a good position? From the way you talk, it sounds to me like you're that kind of person as well.
Maybe so. Haha, maybe I don't trust you because you remind me too much of myself. This empire looks stable from the surface, but beneath that facade there are many interesting developments. There are many people here who're constantly scheming and plotting against each other. It can be a dangerous thing, wouldn't you agree?
I don't want to get on anyone's bad side. Certainly not yours.
Good, I feel the same way. Perhaps we can get along well after all.
I hope so. But you'll have to excuse me now.
Of course. I have much to do as well. Good luck with your endeavors.
Back with Hilbert...
I'm thinking we should take a look at the castle. If we could visit that art gallery, it would help a lot. It was directly north from the city gates, wasn't it?
Sounds like a plan. Let's head over there.
If we stay here too long, we'll look suspicious. We'll just have to improvise on the job.
We have to split in two teams for this. Who's going to do what?
I have a good sense of direction. I'll infiltrate the castle.
Understood. Hilbert, you go with her.
Hold on, why are you the one giving orders now?
You think you can do it? This is no easy mission. We'll be in severe danger.
I feel like hearing this from one of your men is a sure sign that you shouldn't be taking him on your mission. But hey, what do I know?
I'll do the frontal attack. It shouldn't be too hard to escape for me. Lorenza... This is your last chance to go back. We're all risking our lives here. You have no reason to follow us.
I already decided. I don't want to stay with you without doing any work. If I were on my own, I'd be in danger as well.
Lorenza should go with you, Thorve. That'd be the safest.
So, Lorenza and I will attack the gallery and then fall back. You and Hilbert will enter the castle and carry out the decisive strike. That's the plan.
Yes. Is everyone okay with that?
Fade to black...
Once again, there's not much reason for us to dawdle. We head back to Tazar's residence.
It'd be best if you stayed here to rest until tonight, unless you have things to take care of before then.
(Continued in the next post)