Part 30: Dissent In The Ranks
Welcome back. Last time on Last Scenario, Ethan revealed the truth behind Zawu's words: Hilbert is not actually descended from Alexander, and her meeting with Hilbert was merely a trick to use him in some unknown plan. This understandably sent Hilbert into a funk, and no one could bring him out of it until a message arrived saying that Whitelake was under attack by brigands. We returned to Whitelake and drove off the bandits, but not before meeting Castor in Hilbert's house. Now that Hilbert is all pumped up to be a hero again, the game has informed us that we need to return to Herzog and meet with Ethan about something he was investigating. Let's get to it.
We begin this update where the previous one ended, on the southern coast of Pargon Island. As mentioned, our destination for this update is going to be Herzog, but before we head over there we can check out a few things in our hometown.
For starters, Dwight, Marv, and Rat status: no longer dicks!
Well, no longer dicks by majority, anyway.
As you might expect, pretty much every NPC here is now completely gushing over Hilbert.
But the main reason to come back here is to speak to Eugene, who has a little gift for us.
Yes, I'm sure you, uh... "found" this instead of drawing it for yourself. Whatever. Joanna is arguably one of the weaker character tiles, but she trades for the Medic Kit, an accessory that causes all healing received by the wearer to recover twice as much HP as normal.
Now then, let's get on with the plot and return to Herzog.
Ethan told me about what happened in Whitelake. Is everything okay?
There's nothing to worry about. Everyone's fine now. Those guys were no match for us!
It was probably nothing after all you've been through, but I was still concerned about you. I'm glad to see it was unnecessary. I hope everyone in town was grateful for what you did?
They were! They all did their best to throw up a big celebration the same night. I'm really sorry you had to miss it.
It's okay. I'm happy for you, Hilbert.
Ethan steps forward meaningfully.
Oh, I was about to head out anyway. I'll leave you guys alone now.
... killed all the bandits, but when we went into my house to find the leader, there was this Kingdom general standing over the body.
A Kingdom general? What did he look like?
Let's see, about my height, black and green outfit, talked my ear off about power. Ring any bells?
Are you serious? That was him? But you said he's the leader of their entire army. That's weird. I didn't think they'd keep him on Pargon Island after the invasion was over.
Maybe the Kingdom is not planning another attack at this moment. What did you think of him?
I don't know. He didn't seem like an evil person. He let me go, even though he knew who I was. But... I did get the feeling that he was dangerous. I'm really glad I didn't have to fight him.
Yes... that sounds about right.
If you're a civilian, and you're just trying to live your life, you have nothing to fear from him. But soldiers, or anyone who tries to oppose him... he'll have no mercy for them, no matter who they are. I'm proof of that.
Yeah, you're right. I'll be careful. By the way, what have you been investigating while you were here?
It's hidden deep inside a forest on the outskirts of the Kingdom, northwest of Nolan Vale.
You're planning on going back there?
That place may hold many answers.
Hmmm... that's true. Well, it's not like we had any other plans at the moment. I want to know what they're doing in there too. How did you say we can get there?
The closest town to the facility is a place called Gleston. We should find that first.
You've been hiding in this room more and more as of late. Have you abandoned your people completely? And you call yourself the elder... It's a good thing I'm here to take care of things. Unlike you, I'm not afraid to face reality. Everyone will be better off under my rule anyway. I will avenge all the lives that were lost.
Fine. So you've stopped talking to me entirely. The reason I came here was to give you some news. You should be glad I'm keeping you up to date. Our friend Castor told me he is making good progress with his research. Do you know what he is doing? He is trying to create an artificial key. How about that? Did you ever consider that possibility?
Hmm? Don't you have anything to say? Aren't you happy? After all, now we may not need to use your granddaughter.
I will never be happy as long as you're leading our people to ruin.
Then you will die unhappy, Barasur. If you have a problem with me, you of all people have the power to do something about it. But no, even as the elder of the Havali, you are still a weakling. That's why they all follow me. Even during the war, you were the first to run. Your son had to take command because you're a coward. Your time is already over. Just keep wasting away your final days in this room.
Back with Hilbert...
Following the scene, we hop on the Brunhild and take a ride over to Gleston. We already explored this place fully when we first got our ship, so there's not much to do here at present aside from buying Lorenza a shiny new Vizier Staff.
Unfortunately, unlike what would happen in most jRPGs, no plot contrivance has moved the guard at the north end of town out of the way. We still have no path to the facility.
So it's time for an impromptu huddle a few yards away, right in his field of view. I'm sure that won't make the guard suspicious of us or anything.
It's just one soldier. It'll be easy to dispose of him.
Maybe, but if we're not careful it'll alert them to our presence.
That facility won't run away. We should spend the night here and scout the area. Maybe we'll see a good opportunity to sneak in.
I agree with Hilbert. Even if it's fruitless, one day won't make a difference.
Two against one. You win. I don't mind either way. If we can get in without drawing attention, it's all for the better.
They really are protecting the place all day and night. I guess we're going to have to break through by force after all.
What? Who's there?
Now here's someone we haven't spoken to in awhile.
I've been looking for an opportunity to talk to you. I wanted to meet you in private.
Everything you told me, that I was the descendent of Alexander and that I was destined... it was all a lie!
No doubt Ethan told you everything. That he would still be alive, and that he would seek you out... were things I never expected. But, things often turn out in strange ways... Do you really despise me for what I did, Hilbert? Yes, I lied to you, but...
If I had never given you that seal, you would've still been a nobody living in Whitelake.
That's not the issue! I don't even care anymore that it wasn't true. I want to know why! Why did you manipulate me? Why did you do all of this to me? What have I done that helped you? All I did was put a stop to your own plans, like with the Empire. That can't be what you wanted.
That's not true. You were meant to succeed.
But why? What is the purpose?
You still refuse to tell me anything?
You may still be serving a purpose, whether you're aware of it or not. The only thing you could do is to stop fighting and walk away from it all... but you can't do that, can you?
I've had enough of this. Nothing you say helps me at all. Why did you even come here?
You are going to break into that facility, aren't you?
What about it? Are you going to try to stop us?
No. I will not stop you. On the contrary.
I know as little about it as you do.
If you're not here to stop me and you're not here to help me, what -are- you here for?
Destroy it? But they're on your side. Why are you asking me such a thing?
You met Castor, didn't you? At Whitelake.
I saved his life, once. He was just a boy when it happened. I took care of him ever since. I got him involved in all this. I care about him. But... I've also begun to realize how little control over him I have. He's going too far. He is sacrificing far too much. I am only trying to protect him.
I can't tell if you're being honest for once, or if this is some trick to make me do it.
Does it matter to you? You can see the truth of what they are doing with your own eyes. If you choose not to do it, there's nothing I can do about it.
That's right. I'll decide for myself when I see it.
The only thing I can do at this point is force the guards to leave their post. You should be able to reach the facility unnoticed if you leave in the morning.
The next morning...
Following the scene, our path is open.
Can we really trust her?
No, we can't. This is our own idea, our own choice. She has nothing to do with it. Come on, we're going.
Beyond the gate lies the Stygian Woods, a very simple forest dungeon. The effect you see in the foreground scrolls in relation to how we move to make it look like there's only a little light coming in from the canopy above. It's a nice touch.
The way through the Stygian Woods is pretty much a straight path without any detours, but there are a number of new monsters here. It's also at this point I realize I never took Thorve out of my party after Whitelake, so after this fight I have to run back to Gleston to switch Ethan back in.
Anyway, we're dealing with a Sahagin on the left and a Belgugon on the right. Sahagins have a normal attack for about 70 damage, but they also have a technique called Wild Attack, which hits the entire party with a two-hit combo for 55 damage each hit. It's a very inaccurate technique, however, and a lot of the hits end up missing. Belgugons can shoot us for about 90 damage, and also have the Water Cannon technique that inflicts about 200 damage and slow to one character. That said, their HP is quite low and they're rather slow themselves, so it's entirely possible to kill them before they move.
A little ways in we run across a fork. We head east first.
At the end of the eastern path is a switch, but before we can pull it we run into some Land Salmons. Like the Flying Fish we fought in the Underground Waterway, Land Salmons are fairly weak individually, but always show up in groups of four or five. They can bite us for about 40 damage, or use the technique Spit Water do inflict 50 damage and blindness. They're easy enough that we can deal with them with normal attacks, but...
... they're weak to wind, so with the Gale spellcard we can end the fight in a single turn.
The switch we saw before the Land Salmon fight extends the nearby bridge. If we had gone down the western branch of the fork first we wouldn't have been able to get past this.
Past the bridge is a chest hidden away in a corner which contains some Barbed Darts, a weapon for Randolph. That'd be great if we ever had a reason to use the guy.
Nearby we find another recolor of a monster from the Underground Waterway, the Black Lantern. Like Will o' the Wisps before them, Black Lanterns have abysmal HP but evasion rates that are off the charts, and spend their turns casting Fireball, Iceblast, and Thunderbolt for about 185 damage. Fortunately they go down fast.
Anyway, the Stygian Woods are a very short dungeon, and it's not long before we find a (rather hard to see) save point next to the exit.
But look who's back
Well, the Rolleyes name is taken, so this fellow is the Beholder. Much like the Rolleyes, the Beholder has no regular attack and instead fights by using a technique called Attack, which deals around 145 damage. They're highly evasive, resist all elements, and have lots of HP, but their VIT and RES are literally zero. They're annoying but not too bad.
Oh, and since I haven't shown it off yet, I decide to try out Landslide. Just imagine all those bits of earth shaking a lot.
Also like the Rolleyes, the Beholder has a rather... interesting steal.
Whereas the Ruin Mask increased its wearer's stats a bit, which was nice but not great, the Ruin Gear is straight-up incredible. In addition to providing a fair chunk of VIT and RES, it absorbs all elements, meaning the wearer will basically never have to worry about magic again. Hell, I'd probably be willing to put up with the wearer constantly being poisoned if he or she was getting healed by enemy spells all the time.
Buuuut unfortunately the Ruin Gear's downside is quite a bit nastier than poison. Matilda's wearing a Knight Shield too, so as you can see, the chaos from the Ruin Gear can't be prevented or dispelled in any way. Ah well, it was too good to be true as it was.
That's about all there is to the Stygian Woods. A scene begins as we leave.
I can already see the facility in the distance. We're almost there.
Let's go over the plan again. Are we going to blow up the place or not?
To tell you the truth, I haven't decided yet...
In my opinion, well, regardless of the ethics of what's being done there, it would be a great shame to destroy all the research work they've produced.
So what? We'll just have to let them continue their business because of that? Don't forget that they're our enemy. This research you're so interested in will be used against us.
Calm down. This argument is pointless as long as we only have a vague idea of what they're doing.
So you also think we should decide after we've actually seen it?
I agree with Zawu this time. It needs to be destroyed.
Hold on, I think we're getting carried away too much here. Aren't we forgetting something? How are we going to destroy the building in the first place?
All right, I get it. We'll change the plan.
If we do, we can always choose right there if we'll go through with it. Our main purpose here is to find out more about the Kingdom's experiments and their goals.
The decision's up to you, but once we're inside, the last thing we need is another argument like this. But never mind that. We won't get all of us to reach an agreement anyway, so it's fine with me.
Before we go, there's something I've been wondering about. This woman, Zawu... Ethan told us that she is a mediator between the Kingdom and the Havali. But, this place was built without her knowledge. In fact, she's blatantly denied access.
I think it's safe to assume that both sides are hiding things from each other. We assumed earlier that the Kingdom is a puppet state for the Havali, but apparently it's not that simple. I think Castor is aware that the Havali are using him.
So the important thing is, something's happening in there that they don't want other people to know about.
Yes, and we're going there to find out exactly what it is. Unless there's anything else to discuss, I think we should go now.
And following the scene, we're dumped on the world map, with the facility right next door.
Next time: Hey, whatever happened to Tazar?