Part 32: The Next Target
Welcome back. Last time on Last Scenario, we went all Mission Impossible and infiltrated the Kingdom's secret biorite research facility. And true to form, our sojourn into the facility ended with us blowing it up. The loss of their facility is sure to be a setback for the Kingdom, but for the time being it also leaves us without a clear next move. What else can we do to hamper the Kingdom and prevent the Awakening? It's time to find out.
We begin this update in Gleston's inn. You know, I'd think that hanging out in Kingdom territory is probably not the best idea right now, but whatever.
Between this and the peacekeeping on Pargon Island, I think they'll be occupied for the time being. If their goal really is to conquer the world, then another attack will be inevitable. But the new Empire will not fall easily. They already missed their chance.
At first sight there seem to be two equally strong sides now: the Kingdom and the Empire. But in reality, it's actually more complicated than that. There are really three sides.
The Havali being the third.
Yeah. Since we don't know exactly what's going on between them, that makes things difficult. We should think about what we'll do next. Are we going to be passive and wait for them to make a move, or take action before they can react, and attack them when they're least expecting it?
There's no reason to sit back just because we succeeded here. The real question is, what -can- we do? Even if this facility was of great importance to the Kingdom, this was still a border outpost. It won't be as easy to get into the heart of the country, let alone cause them any damage.
Its strategic value is not that high, but it will deal their pride a heavy blow if we liberate it.
It would be better to wait until their main force has left the island. If we attack them now, we'll just suffer unnecessary losses.
But, Pargon or Rosehart? Which is a better choice?
There is somewhere else we can go.
Ethan? You know where the Havali are living right now?
Yes. I've been there before.
Is it heavily defended?
No. Most of the Havali are still asleep. They lack the manpower to maintain a real army. They rely on keeping their existence a secret and by shielding themselves off from the rest of the world.
I want to go there... but not just to meet my kind. I really think we can help them.
We'll also need to find my grandfather. He could help us. He'll know what to do.
Hmm... We already discovered that the "Awakening" means the revival of the majority of the Havali. If we topple their current leader, the Havali will no longer pose a threat to us. As a result of that, the Awakening would become harmless.
In other words, we should stop this Ortas before he awakens everyone and turns the Havali into an army.
But hold on. Ethan, when you said they shielded themselves off, did you mean there's an actual, physical shield? Surely they wouldn't just rely on being hidden for their protection?
No, you're right. The city is surrounded by a shield. There are leylines beneath the earth's surface. It's a network of biorite veins. Entalar was built on a large biorite node in order to accommodate all their people.
Anyone trying to enter Entalar uninvited will pass right through it without seeing anything.
Unless we break the seals.
That's our only option.
Do you know where they are?
Only roughly. One is in Empire territory. Another is on an island in the southwestern sea. The third is the only one I know the exact location of. It's in the middle of the Kingdom.
Right in the Kingdom? Hmmm... Forget about that one for now. You said there's one in the Empire?
But I have no idea where. All I know is that it can't be near any large cities.
That's hopeless. How are we supposed to find it?
Ah! I got it! Aren't you forgetting something?
Konrad, my excitable substitute at the station, investigated several potential biorite clusters.
Couldn't that be the place?
Most likely. The Kingdom should have no need to go that far away just to mine the biorite.
Then we should return to the Geo-Science Station and talk to Konrad to find out where that was.
Great! Looks like we're in luck for once. Let's go right away.
All right, looks like we have our next objective. However, before we head back to the Geo-Science Station, there are three minor bits of business we can take care of. Two of them require us to head back into the Stygian Woods, and that's right next door, so might as well take care of those first.
The first thing we can do was pointed out by Stabbey_the_Clown. It turns out that after the first bridge, I didn't realize that we could walk down the riverbank here.
Following the path leads us to a hidden area with a couple of chests, one of which contains Light Ray's counterpart:
Dark Ray (39MP): Deals moderate dark damage to one enemy.
Crisis: Black Glow (1MP): Restores a moderate amount of MP to all allies except the caster.
Stat changes: +2% STR, -3% INT
Dark Ray's Crisis spell is a very nice thing to have around while dungeon-delving, as at our current level it restores about 65 MP when cast by Matilda (who's probably the best candidate due to how it works). It's not enough to be worth expending a Crisis bar during boss battles, but when we're walking around a dungeon it's pretty nice for topping up our party's MP without having to burn a Serpent item.
The other bit of business in this area involves us returning to the Biorite Facility. It's just a smoldering ruin now, but if we try to enter it...
And thus Tazar's fall from relevance ends with him becoming a Hex tile I'll probably never use due to its shitty reach. Tazar trades for ten Vitality Capsules, which is at least fairly decent, though not worth going crazy over.
That's about all there is to do around Gleston at the moment. Our last bit of business takes us to, of all places, Nolan Vale.
That's because Nolan Vale is a secluded port town, and is thus Saraswati's new hangout. This location is actually fairly devious, as up to now Saraswati's always been found in or next to buildings, and this beach screen basically only existed as a place for Luther to sit, so with the Brunhild around the player is not very likely to investigate this area anymore. Oh well, we've found her, so let's play a game.
We must play, yes, it is necessary. It's vital. Perfect. Let us play. Will you take my challenge?
Okay what the fuck Saraswati. You were totally cool for like our first five meetings, what the hell happened to you? There's no need to give alcharagia any more ideas than he already has.
Well, in any case, Saraswati has no new tiles this time around, so our only reward for winning is to get creeped out a little more.
Where else can I go? Somewhere in the Kingdom. I will move eastwards, yes.
And that's quite enough of that. We head on over to the Geo-Science Station. The Station is located on an island in the middle of a river that cuts most of the Empire's continent in two, so we can actually just sail right up it to reach our destination.
As before, we find Konrad on the eastern side of the station.
Hello Konrad. Everything's running smoothly?
Ah, certainly! We're all on schedule and there haven't been any problems as of late.
Good, good. Look, Konrad. I need your help. Do you remember when you told me that one of your teams was attacked?
Of course I do. Why?
We need to go there. It may be more than just a research site for the Kingdom. Where was it exactly?
Going there? Are you sure about that? Never mind, I'm probably worrying needlessly. You guys can take care of it yourself. Oh, you need to know where it is. Let me see...
You don't say.
I... I know it's somewhere around here, but things have been a little hectic, so...
Do you at least have a rough idea where the place was?
Oh, I know. Ask Zachary. He was one of the people who went there and came back alive. He should know. He's somewhere in the station, probably.
Make sure you find that map. We'll need it to find our next destination too.
Yes, sir. I'll definitely find it.
There's no real indication which person in the station is Zachary, but we find him near the entrance.
Yes, please tell us where it is.
West from here, in a pretty remote area. We reached it by foot from the riverbank. I wasn't the navigator, and the guy who was... he didn't make it back, so I don't know exactly.
Do you at least know what the surroundings were like?
Thanks. We'll go look for it ourselves.
All right. We hop on the Brunhild and sail over two tiles of water to reach the western side of the Empire continent. We haven't really explored this place yet, but there's not really much to see. The area is basically just a maze of forest tiles with no real landmarks.
We find our destination fairly quickly, if only because it stands out rather starkly in an otherwise grassy area. We could have come here previously, but walking through the sand wouldn't have done anything. Now, however...
And we're thrust into battle against two Kingdom Soldiers. These guys are the same as the ones at the Biorite Facility and go down almost immediately.
Let's overwhelm them quickly!
Way ahead of you on that one. We hit a second battle against two Kingdom Soldiers as we enter the building, which is just as easy as the first.
Wait, that was it? I'm with Matilda on this one--even if it is an outpost this is some pretty shitty security.
We're not there yet. The seal itself is deeper underground. The area below will be infested with beasts. Even if two of the seals are broken, it will still take a large amount of force to break down the shield. That's why the Kingdom focuses on guarding the last seal, the one that's in their own territory.
Then we should have little trouble here.
Okay, guess we have a bit more work to do then. The above shot shows pretty much the entirety of the building--our only way forward is downstairs.
There's quite an architecture change when we descend, though.
Ethan pops out as we open the door.
Fade to white...
Hang on a sec, doesn't Ethan have black hair?
Oh wow. Now I'm starting to see why Randolph said the biorite hadn't changed Ethan for the better.
It's the first time you've been here?
Yes, but I've been to the other seals before. This one is different, though.
Yeah, they had to build this whole structure to get down to the node itself. Just follow me. I remember the way, sorta.
Fade to white...
And with that, we begin the dungeon proper. This is a very earth-focused dungeon, so if you've got the Eagle Wings and a Gale spellcard, now would be a great time to equip them.
It's not long before we run into our first enemies, two Rockeaters. Rockeaters are fairly annoying but not too hard to deal with: they can attack us normally for about 50 damage, or use Earthquake to hit everyone for 75. What makes them annoying is that, like their little sister Earth Elementals, they will counter all physical attacks with Geo Counter for 130 earth damage. I don't actually have Hilbert or Matilda currently equipped with any attack spells, so they take a lot of damage from these guys, but nothing we can't handle.
Our first treasure for the dungeon is the White Gown, a pretty nice piece of mage armor. In addition to providing a prodigious amount of VIT and RES, the Gown also prevents chaos. Lorenza puts it on, replacing her Reflective Jacket.
On our way back to the door, we hit our next encounter. These are Vampire Bats, and they always show up in the formation of five that you see above. Vampire Bats are weak, with only a regular attack for 35 damage, but they're faster than everyone except Hilbert. Still, their HP is quite low, and like most of the enemies in this dungeon, they're weak to wind, so a single cast of Gale will take them all out.
We find the gimmick of this dungeon pretty quickly. The main room of the dungeon is filled with cracks.
If we head down the nearby stairs, we find out what they're for: the room below the one with the cracked floor is filled with raised platforms that are inaccessible normally. We need to head back upstairs and fall down the correct hole in order to land somewhere that will allow us to advance.
There are two sets of cracks on the upper floor that are actually useful. The first is the one in the southeast corner, which lands us on a small platform.
It leads to a small treasure room. The cracks on the side of the room are just there to give us a way out.
The chests contain some rather mundane items, though the one on the right holds one of the game's more hilarious (if rather useless) spellcards. Well, maybe the Crisis isn't so bad:
Slap (1MP): Launches a physical attack that is absolutely guaranteed to hit, but does 1 damage.
Crisis: Battle Fury (33MP): Temporarily raises the entire party's STR.
Stat changes: +2% STR, +1% SKL, +2% LCK
On our way back upstairs, we find this dungeon's final enemy set: Phobos and Deimos. Unsurprisingly, these guys always show up together, and they specialize in causing a bunch of status effects. Phobos, on the left, has a 100-damage physical attack and the signature move Cower In Fear, which targets our entire party. It's very inaccurate, but if it hits someone, they'll be hit with 20 damage along with slow, silence, and amnesia. Deimos can ram people for around 110 damage, inflict amnesia with Mental Smash, or use Dreadful Scream to petrify a character along with doing 75 damage. They both have a fair bit of HP, but they're not too much trouble.
Next up, we return to the room with the cracked floor and fall down the holes in the northeast corner, which lands us on the other raised platform and allows us to continue on.
The next room contains a bunch of cracks that we have to avoid. Falling down any of these will land us back in the previous room.
And in the room beyond we find the requisite pre-boss save point. As you can see, this dungeon is pretty short.
In the corner of the room we find a small staircase. This just leads to a path that will allow us to leave the dungeon, but there's a chest as well. The Frozen Staff is a weapon for Lorenza that, you guessed it, deals ice damage. But it only has 2 more STR than the Vizier Staff and doesn't have any INT bonus, so Lorenza's going to stick with what she's got for now.
Now then, let's go check out this seal.
As we enter the room, Hilbert automatically begins walking forward and--
BOSS FIGHT: Erdgeist
--WHAM! Boss fight out of fucking nowhere. There's not even a screen shake or dialogue or anything; Hilbert just steps forward and the game suddenly decides it's boss time.
Like most of the enemies in this dungeon, Erdgeist is very earth-focused and weak to wind. In addition to its high VIT, it also has a gimmick that makes using physical attacks on it a real pain in the ass.
See, whenever Erdgeist is hit with a physical attack, it will automatically respond with Burrow. This doesn't do any damage to us, but...
... once Erdgeist has burrowed, all further physical attacks made against it during the same round will do 0 damage. This makes it very difficult to use Matilda to her full potential in this fight, because by the time her turn comes around someone else has likely used a physical attack. Still, that just means Erdgeist is a very defensive boss, surely its attacks aren't that--
Okay, this isn't actually as bad as it looks. Erdgeist's technique Massive Blow is designed, as you can see, to straight-up murder a party member. But while it usually opens the fight with this, I never saw it use Massive Blow again. And fortunately, none of its other moves do anywhere near as much damage.
Still, its other moves aren't entirely negligible. Erdgeist's second technique doesn't have a name displayed, but it involves it dropping a bunch of low-res rocks on our party's heads. This is actually an eight (!) hit combo for around 100 damage a hit, but usually one or two of the rocks end up missing.
In addition to dropping rocks on us, Erdgeist is also quite happy to unleash the power of the rocks under our feet with Crevice. We have enough HP at this point that it isn't too bad, though.
And lastly, Erdgeist's regular attack is stronger than those of the regular enemies we've seen here, but it's still a three-shot even on Lorenza. We can handle it.
Erdgeist's steal is another Landslide card, but even though we've got one already, I'd still recommend grabbing it. They're not buyable yet and having a second source of Guardian can be extremely helpful.
Anyway, Erdgeist's burrowing means we need to plan a little more when it comes to who's going to attack with what, but in the end its offense isn't really that threatening unless it randomly decides to fuck someone up with Massive Blow, which is rare. Its gimmick slows things down a bit, but it still falls in the end.
Winning the battle lands us the new Maneater Hex tile and the Earth Armor. Unfortunately this isn't as good as it sounds, because with a name like Earth Armor one would expect some kind of elemental resistance or immunity. Instead all you get is a lot of VIT.
Following the battle, we get a view of the seal, which looks like a save point but transitions through all the colors of the rainbow.
This must be the seal, right? Ethan?
Fade to white...
Activity shows up as normal. I don't see any signs of tampering.
Nothing out of the ordinary, it seems.
So it was just a false alarm?
Were you expecting any different? No one knows these things exist. As long as it stays that way, we'll just be coming here for nothing.
Better safe than sorry, I guess. Are we finished here?
What do you mean?
We are here to protect our allies, the Havali, so they can resurrect the demons of old. If we can control the demons the world will be ours. That's what we've been working for, but...
Hold on... You think Castor is hiding something from you?
I'm starting to get that impression.
But why would he do that? I could understand if it was any of us, but you?
If he really is doing that, it's because he knows I wouldn't agree with it. And that's what bothers me. Earp, we have the right to know why we're doing something, don't we? If Castor won't tell me, then I'll have to find out myself. Don't worry. I won't ask you to help me. I know you. Even if you don't want to, you wouldn't say no if I asked. I won't drag you into this.
And you are?
I was sent here because of an emergency situation. You have to return to the capital immediately. We uncovered a large conspiracy against the King. Parts of the military are involved too. We believe they'll fight to the death if confronted. Please take care of the matter, Number One.
I understand. We're already done here, so we'll be on our way. Let's go, Earp.
Fade to white...
The moment he started to lie to me, it was already unavoidable... Never mind me. Yes, this is the seal.
Is there any way to deactivate it?
There is. But it's not a permanent solution. We need to make sure it stays down.
Randolph, you are the best party member.
They're not very powerful, but a delicate machine like this is easy to disable. Blowing it up should do the trick, hmm?
We should return to the station.
Next time: Has Randolph really forgiven Thorve for what happened to his son?