Part 37: Written By The Victor
Welcome back. Last time on Last Scenario, we continued following our separated party members as they investigated Entalar. Ethan and Randolph met up with Matilda and Thorve, and the four of them got into a fight with the Havali guards in the city, but the situation was defused by the appearance of Barasur. Lorenza was taken to meet Ortas, and immediately refused to help him and demanded to know why he hated humans so much, but the scene ended before he could tell us anything. And Hilbert and Zawu made their way through the Entalar prison and made the most important discovery of all: that Phantom is Alexander. Are you all ready for a huge plot dump? Because that's what the majority of this update is going to be, and I'm going to be leaving it commentary-less for the most part. Let's get to it.
A quick note to begin, though: despite the reveal and confirmation here that he is Alexander, the dialogue boxes will nonetheless refer to Phantom as Phantom for the rest of the game. And now I'm going to shut up.
W-What!? I don't believe that. Alexander died 300 years ago! H... How could this old man...
It is easy to rewrite history when the few who know the truth are unable to make themselves heard.
This body you see is the result of being sealed in the biorite layers for centuries. As you can see, humans are not well-suited to the process.
I... I can't believe this. You... That's not possible.
Don't mind the boy. He will come to accept it eventually. Alexander, we want to know the truth, and you want the truth to be known.
Yes... I will gladly tell you everything. When I was captured, I was afraid I would take the truth with me to my grave. I'm glad to have the opportunity to share my knowledge with someone.
I believe there is a lot that we don't know. You, a hero of mankind, were allowed to sleep here along with our enemy, the Havali. Why?
Many lies were spread by our king, the man we all used to believe in. The story of my death was one of them.
Fade to black...
I cannot describe how I felt as I read these... these lies--to see my name used like that. This is not what I wanted my legacy to be like. I didn't want to be remembered like that. Yes, back then I wanted my name to go down in history, but... not like this... not like this.
You're being incoherent. We won't know what you're talking about unless you tell us what happened.
Fade to black...
Our society had always been secluded. We never ventured far beyond our homeland. We'd never had contact with a society other than our own. I suppose it was not entirely unexpected that there were other civilizations on this planet... but to actually encounter them in person was... a major event.
They were excited about their discovery and curious about our history and way of life. They meant no harm. But those travelers brought back stories about us to their own countries. And these stories attracted much attention. The land we lived in was rich and fertile. A true paradise, you might say.
Fade to black...
The king of Galad... a country that no longer exists. The country that first discovered the Havali. And I was a knight commander serving him.
Ah, I remember that name now. He was the one who united the world to fight against the... "demons".
I think you can see where this is leading. Valkiris wanted control over the Havali homeland. However, the Havali were far from weak. A single country like Galad would not easily overthrow them. And that's why he came up with a plan... Playing on the people's fears of the unknown, he intended to use the Havali as a tool. If the other countries believed that the Havali were a threat, they could be tricked into helping Galad.
Fade to black...
Do you understand? We were the victims. We were living normally until they came for our lands. From one day to the other, we were suddenly seen as "demons", enemies of the entire world. You say we should learn to coexist? They've already had their chance! Just look at them now. Look how easily they were tricked into fighting each other. Can we coexist with a race that untrustworthy? No! It's too late!
But... but even then...
Fade to black...
He started by having the ship of the travelers who discovered the Havali intercepted and seized. Secretly, they were all brought to death. Thus, they were silenced, and their deaths were blamed on the Havali. With the help of some trusted men, Valkiris fabricated stories about the Havali and their evil deeds.
However, despite convincing his own people, other countries remained wary. Most of them were not on friendly terms with Galad, and watched these events with suspicion. But Valkiris was fine with that. He needed a little more time to carry out his plans. And so we went to battle. As one of the knight commanders, I was given control over the troops. As I later found out, Valkiris used me as a figurehead due to my popularity among the people. He let me lead the forces, but at the same time left me in the dark about many things. The dirty work was being carried out by a few lower officers acting directly on Valkiris's orders.
I don't believe it... It was that easy to convince everyone that the Havali were... demons?
Don't forget, the people only knew what they were told.
Yes, exactly. Moreover, the word "demon" is somewhat inaccurate.
In any case, it must've been harder than that to get the other nations on his side.
Certainly, but he had already taken that into account. Do you know of the four "heroes" of the war, that I was said to be one of? Those other three, they were good friends of mine. When I became commander of the army, they were my direct subordinates.
Fade to black...
He truly believed that the Havali were everything Valkiris said they were. He chose to sacrifice his honor and commit a terrible crime in order to prevent the downfall of mankind. The target was a neighboring country, one of the big opponents of the war.
Corpses of slain Havali soldiers were brought over from the front and left behind after the slaughter. The aim of the attack was simple, but it worked. A wave of fear spread through the population. Their leaders could no longer ignore them.
Fade to black...
And so, one by one, the other countries came to Valkiris's aid. Even those that initially hesitated eventually joined the cause, not wanting to be left behind. I heard that as the war went on, more covert raids were carried out on these countries... as well as assassinations of key figures. Valkiris was already paving the way to control the world. But that's not important here. At the same time, the fighting continued. We easily gained the upper hand, and many of their forces were completely annihilated. Then, one day, arrived the pivotal point in the war, both for me and for the Valkiris army.
Fade to black...
I couldn't stop the war. I couldn't stop my people from dying, and most of all, I couldn't stop the hatred. The stronger our hatred against mankind, the more we played right into their cards. The destruction of Luminas... is something I have only heard about from others. I was not there myself. I ran at the first signs of danger. It's true. In fact, there were some who -urged- me to run. They said the elder had to be kept safe, that if I died the people would be done for. They were right of course, but the main reason I ran was simply because I was fearing for my life. My cowardice would've surely led to even worse results... if it hadn't been for him.
There was one man who jumped into the gap that I left behind. He quickly took control and organized the defense of the capital, and later the evacuation.
If it weren't for him, perhaps we would've been wiped out to the last man. However, although Meodar was a natural born leader and a great motivator, he was no military man. He gave the actual battlefield command to one of the few surviving generals, a close friend of his.
Ortas? So you and him haven't always been at odds?
No, definitely not. We got along fine before the war. I know Ortas despised me for running away, but even then... he used to be an entirely different person. And as you see, it was Meodar who made him Grandmaster in the first place.
So it was the war that affected him so much? Or more specifically, the attack on the capital.
Even more specific than that, I'm afraid. The invasion of the city was led by one of Alexander's generals in person. When the gates were breached, they swarmed into town and destroyed everything in their path.
Soldiers, civilians, men, women, children... no one was spared. Thousands of people were killed. Among them was Lorenza's mother, and...
Fade to black...
Music: (RECOMMENDED LISTENING)
Did you click on that music link up there? No? Click that link right fucking now. This is far and away the best track in the game.
... and then seeing everything slip through your hands. No words exist that can describe what it was like. Someone like you can never truly understand. Meodar... he may have lost a lot, but at least he still had you. Me... I had nothing. All I had left was my task, to protect our people from these beasts, these... demons.
Fade to black...
But... you want to kill all of mankind? That's no different from them... That's going too far...
All they are doing is fighting among themselves. This is what they are.
Fade to black...
My men... were good people. They thought they were fighting for a good cause, they... They committed horrible crimes in the name of false justice. I was not there. The King knew better than to give me the orders. I still had some integrity.
Fade to black...
In a matter of days, a thriving city had been reduced to lifeless ruins. The only evidence that people lived there until recently were the bloody corpses lying everywhere. I have seen many battlefields, but none as brutal, as merciless as that. As I wandered around, I found a woman, buried beneath the rubble. She was still alive. If I hadn't been there, she would've certainly died, but... Her eyes, as she looked at me... were filled with sheer terror, as if I were the devil himself. Even as I saved her life, she struggled to get away from me.
This couldn't be a war for justice. Suddenly, I became afraid to go back, afraid that I might ignore these sights and continue to fight.
Fade to black...
While both sides were being riled up to hate each other, Meodar listened patiently to what I had to say. He never once got angry at me, or asked me to apologize for what I'd done. He said that he understood there were good men and evil men.
And this, of course, was covered up with the story that you had died.
Later, perhaps. Well, I'm sure there were many rumors. I know little of what happened afterwards. But it was a difficult time. To many Havali, I was the symbol of all the violence against them. I had no choice but to bear it. All credit goes to Meodar for doing his best to calm down his people. But I shouldn't act like it was all out of sympathy for me. It was for their own good as well. He was hoping that seeing me on their side would convince my men that what they were doing was wrong.
Fade to black...
And with him, many others who experienced similar loss. At that point, all hope for reconciliation was lost. Meodar could no longer stand up to the growing hatred. He had no choice but to bend to the will of the people, or else he'd risk dividing them further. Ortas's increasingly more aggressive stance toward the invasion gained him much support. It's for that reason that it was very simple for him to seize power in this era. As for Alexander... I can't say I knew him well, but my son did, and he spoke highly of him. He did everything he could to help us, despite being shunned and hated by everyone else.
Fade to black...
I thought of myself as invincible, a one man army. I thought I was someone every single person looked up to. I thought that my actions alone could change everything... I tried my hardest to convince them. I tried everything I could. But...
The three generals who were forced to take my place were my old friends. Xolon, Lucius, and Durile... Even they refused to listen to me. There was no hope left for the Havali. They decided to escape to Entalar, an ancient holy place far from their homelands. There, they would sleep for three hundred years, until the world had forgotten about them.
I refused at first, but he insisted. He was hoping it could help them with human contact in the future. He had no idea that I would end up like this... In the last battle, several groups of volunteers held back the enemy while the others escaped. With nothing to lose, those men fought ferociously, surprising even the veteran human generals. The legends say that it was there that I sacrificed my life for success of the mission. In truth, it was actually one of my old friends who died there for the sake of her allies. It shames me deeply that I've been given credit for her sacrifice.
There is no one left alive who knows exactly what happened afterwards, but I can make an educated guess. After winning the war, support for Valkiris must've been very high all over the world. He took control of the new lands, and assimilated all remaining countries into one large empire. I have no doubt that anyone who had direct contact with me after my defection was secretly murdered. Since no one remained who knew what really happened, the lies became the truth.
And so, the Havali became demons, and you became a martyr. From what little we know of that time period, the unification lasted only until Valkiris died.
And everything begins anew again. For you people, the war is ancient history. But remember, it's still fresh in the memory of the Havali.
Fade to black...
No... I can't let you do this...
Lorenza, I am not asking you to go along with my plans. I am asking you to do your duty. I want you to free your people. That is all. They all have free will. Whether they fight for us or not is entirely their own choice. Don't you think it's wrong to deny them that choice? To force your own decision on them? Your father had his reasons, but you... aren't you just blindly following his example? Do you really think you're wise enough to decide the fate of our people? Shouldn't you let them choose their own future?
So you still hesitate? If you think your friends will come to save you, don't get your hopes up. We have already captured them.
This conversation is over. There is something else I must attend to. I will give you some time to think about it.
Fade to black...
There are others who know about this!?
Yes. One man. You probably know that woman, Zawu. She was personally invited by Ortas to be his agent in the human world. However, Ortas still hid many things from her, including everything I have just told you. As you'll understand now, Ortas never intended to share his power with humans. I felt like I couldn't trust Zawu, so as a last resort, I tried to win one of her men to my side. He was a young man, someone I thought would listen to me and could stop what was happening. And so I told him everything...
He listened to everything I said, certainly, and as promised he never told anyone else. But he is not on my side, I am certain of that. He has his own plans, different from Ortas or Zawu. But at the same time, he is closer to Ortas now than ever before. I have no idea what he's thinking.
Who is this man? Do we know him?
Perhaps you do.
So he knows everything as well...
Beware of him. He is surely hiding his true motives from everyone around him. I must leave now, or else people will be suspicious. Come, I will show you a secret passage.
There's one more thing I want to ask...
Tiamat? Don't tell me... Was she freed!? Oh no... as if things weren't bad enough already...
She should have been executed... but I prevented it. And now we may have to pay the price. She holds terrible power. I urge you, stay away from her.
Fade to black...
But... it shouldn't change anything. Now that we have our answers, we should keep fighting for our survival. No matter what happened in the past, we must stop Ortas from destroying everything out of revenge...
Whew! And with that, the game hands control back to us as a save point abruptly pops into existence. We're not done with the cutscenes quite yet for this update, but we can take a quick break and talk to the people here before we get things moving again.
Our first priority should be finding Lorenza. Without her, Ortas can't do anything.
Don't worry about getting me out of here. I can't be of any help to you.
And that's about all there is to do in the cell. There's a door at the south end, but it won't open, so our only choice is to try to leave the way we came. Another scene begins as we head up the stairs.
No, we should leave right away.
What about Pha... I mean, Alexander?
I'm staying here. I'd only slow you down. You can come back for me once you've managed to stop Ortas.
All right, if that's what y--
This is... Ortas?
Zawu... I expected better from you.
I've been lied to by everyone around me. It was about time I knew the truth.
And now you've joined forces with the very boy you were deceiving for so long? What a joke. He's done well, Zawu... far too well, if you ask me. At what point was it that you decided to set him up against me? Do you intend to use him for your own purposes now?
Don't talk about me like I'm some kind of tool! I'm here because I wanted to be!
Why should I think different of you, child? Would you have been here if it weren't for the likes of Zawu? I had great plans for you, you know. But you all had to go and ruin it. You would've surely gone down into history... one way or another.
What was your great plan then, huh? What could you gain from helping me fight against your own agents?
It was an unlikely plan, I'll admit... but it was not necessary for it to succeed. The scenario for the great war was written by Valkiris himself. Even if he could not anticipate Alexander's actions, the end result was exactly as he wanted it. Then, I shall write the scenario for this war. Everything will go as I've planned, one way or another.
Then, the ancient enemy of mankind reawakens. The legendary demons. People will gather behind you. Only you can lead the forces against them.
We would've broken you at the critical moment, shattering the hope of all mankind.
What? Okay, I get that you feel the need to defend your awesome scheme, but this has to be the worst "if only" ever. That is literally your entire plan right there! You might as well have said, "My plan was flawless! If only I had thought all of the important parts through better!"
You are a sick man, Ortas. You suffer from a sickness you caught 300 years ago, and you embrace it as it drives you insane. As long as you refuse to be cured, your people will only know darkness.
How dare you talk to me about darkness, Alexander. If I am sick, then it was your people who infected me. Enough of this. Take him with us. It's time for his last journey. The Awakening ceremony is at hand, Alexander, and you will be our sacrificial lamb. Your death will sound in the beginning of the end for all mankind. Isn't that fitting?
No. It only sounds like madness to me. I can only hope you'll realize it before it's too late.
Don't concern yourself with me. There are more important things to worry about. Whether I live or die won't affect anything.
You are correct. They do have more important things to be concerned with. Both you and Zawu have lost your usefulness. It's time to do away with you two once and for all. I hope you enjoy knowing the truth. Perhaps it will give you solace in the last moments of your life.
Just try! I won't go down easily!
Don't be reckless! There's just two of us!
We don't know who they are or how many they've got, but they attacked from the inside.
From the inside? It can't be... Barasur, you old fool. Take Alexander. We're going. We have no more time to waste.
What about these two?
Forget about them. We have Lorenza. There's nothing they can do... if they even manage to escape at all.
Yeah... a prison we just walked right into and can probably walk right out of. Come on, Ortas, what happened? You haven't exactly been making a good villianous first impression to Hilbert here.
Well, I suppose he isn't the only one lacking intelligence today, since he leaves with Alexander and... Hilbert and Zawu just kind of stand there and watch him go. Okay then.
Damn it! It was all for nothing! What good is all this knowledge if we're stuck in here!?
Calm down. There's no point in getting angry.
But we've got to do -something-!
We're not locked in yet. As long as we--
He's back again?
Hilbert! Thank god we found you.
It was you guys who distracted Ortas just now?
No, we were just hiding in that passage. It was Ethan's doing. He stayed behind for us.
Well, it's more like he just left by himself. Lorenza's been captured. We wanted to find you first and come up with a plan, but... Ethan set off to try to rescue her. We couldn't stop him.
Listen, there's some things you need to know about.
Yeah, we have things we need to tell you too.
... Isn't one of us supposed to be making a joke here?
Truth be told, this doesn't seem like the right moment for it.
I don't understand. What's this about jokes?
Oh, sorry, you're new to this. When the screen goes black like this, one of us always has to make a stupid joke.
That's ridiculous. Why?
Screw it, we don't have time for this...
So you've met Barasur...
He showed us that secret passage, but we didn't expect Ortas to show up at the same time. We were hiding until he passed by us. That man he had with him... that was Phantom, wasn't it?
Yeah, it was. We've got to help him as well!
No, we shouldn't. He said so himself. There's no gain in rescuing him. We need to worry about the important things.
I'm following Hilbert. What you do is of no concern to me.
You'd better drop that arrogant tone if you don't want to get hurt.
Stop that! Have you gone mad, arguing at a time like this? Look at the position we're in. While we're sitting in this cell, the enemy has Lorenza, and is making preparations for the ceremony. Ethan's going to need our help. We need to get out of here while we still can.
What do you think we should do, Hilbert?
We'll use that passage to go back to the city. Then we'll need to find the place the ceremony is being held, and stop Ortas before it's too late.
Then that's what we'll do. If anyone has a problem with it, they can stay here.
I have no problem with it.
All right, guess it's time for us to get moving then. The music abruptly changes to something a lot more menacing as we leave the cell.
There are no enemies in the secret passage, but there still are a few chests along the way.
To go along with the Magma Stone and Frost Shard we found last update, one of the chests contains a Thor's Hammer, an attack item casting the third-tier lightning attack spell, Shockfield.
And as we move a little further ahead, we find ourselves in Entalar's castle.
Barasur said that all of the Havali would be present at the ceremony.
That means we have little time left. Quick, there must be a way to the temple where it's being held.
We're free to explore the castle, but there are no NPCs or anything else of any real interest off the beaten path. There's an upper floor as well, but all it contains is a few bedrooms and the room where Barasur told his part of the story earlier this update. The only useful locations are the throne room and the exit.
Speaking of which, it is entirely possible to leave the castle at this point and wander around Entalar some more. Just as Randolph said, all of the Havali have left the city... except, very importantly, the shopkeepers. The only problem is, while we can explore Entalar and even go back into the caverns we were stuck in when the ground above the city collapsed, this isn't actually where we want to go.
Instead, we want to head to the throne room, where a very familiar face is waiting for us.
Castor, get out of our way.
So, Zawu, you've finally joined up with the boy?
I'm looking forward to seeing how strong you really are.
It's all about proving that you're stronger than us? Just stop this madness. I'm trying to protect you, Castor.
I don't need your protection, Zawu. I'm not a child anymore. For what you've done for me, I'm eternally grateful, but I walk my own path now. No one tells me what to do.
I let you off easily the first time we met, but this time will be different. I'm impressed you made it this far. Let me see the hero's strength that brought you all the way here.
What is your goal, Castor? Barasur told us everything, and we know he told you the same story years ago. All this time, you've been hiding it from me.
Ah, I'm sorry. I promised that I'd keep it a secret, after all. Barasur had little trust in you.
You should know then that Ortas is the enemy of all of us. Why are you opposing us?
I want to see just how strong you are. Should I need a better reason than that?
We have no time to waste! We want to rescue Lorenza!
There's no need to be so hurried.
BOSS FIGHT: Castor
Castor is another boss who gets his own battle theme, and of those we've seen so far who get them (Felgorn and Tiamat being the others), I have to say Castor's theme is probably the most fitting for his character. It gives off a strong vibe of condescension, as though he's just toying with us. I like it quite a bit.
That said, fuck this guy. Not only is Castor the most powerful boss we've seen by far, we come into this fight missing two of our best party members. Zawu will serve as a reasonable replacement for Ethan, but Thorve is definitely no Lorenza. We'll just have to make do, I suppose.
Castor kicks off the battle with Blinding Flash, which hits the entire party with a decent chunk of light damage and (you guessed it) blindness. Castor absolutely loves this technique, to the point where unless you have protection against the status (which you shouldn't for reasons I'll explain later) you should assume that your party is going to spend this entire battle blind. Any attempt at removing it will just lead to Castor using this technique again a turn or two later.
He's also quite fond of his technique Lifetaker, which inflicts heavy damage (this shot is with a P-Shield up) and has a chance of causing instant death. Although we have protection against instant death in the form of several Talismans, I wouldn't recommend equipping them.
Third, Castor can use Venom Cut to hit a character with a fair bit of damage as well as poison and amnesia. This is probably Castor's easiest attack to deal with, since both statuses can be cleared with a casting of Treatment. I wouldn't equip protection against them in this fight either.
So, Castor has a whole lot of status-inflicting moves, and yet I've been saying not to protect against those statuses. Why? Well, the reason for this is Castor's final technique, Maelstrom. Ahhh, Maelstrom. If there ever was a technique in this game that deserved the title of "that fucking move," Maelstrom would be it. Maelstrom targets one party member and hits them with (count 'em) 150 damage and slow and berserk and chaos and petrification all in one shot. No combination of equipment at this point in the game can prevent all of these statuses, and unless you use Treatment's crisis Mystic Light or burn a rare Panacea, the targeted character is basically out of the fight, because removing the petrification with a Soft just means you now have a chaos'd character to deal with instead. Joy.
It's for this reason that I highly recommend equipping everyone in this battle with a Knight Shield, because it prevents both berserk and chaos and allows any character hit with Maelstrom to rejoin the fight immediately with only a Soft. Without Knight Shields, you're going to be spending a lot of time dealing with Maelstrom's consequences instead of attacking Castor, and in that time Castor can easily pound you into the floor.
In addition to Knight Shields, I'd also recommend coming into this fight with a pile of Gold Dusts to keep everyone's HP in top shape. Fortunately these are buyable at the item shop outside.
And like with Felgorn, this is a fight where you should not feel shy about busting out the powerful attack items. We found three third-tier attack items in the prison alone, and the faster this battle ends, the better.
Also, Castor's steal is definitely not one you want to pass up. Remember when I said Swing was Matilda's dream spellcard? Yeah, well fuck that. This shit is where it's at:
Dual Strike (40MP): Launches two consecutive physical attacks against one target for 80% normal damage each.
Crisis: Quad Strike (55MP): Launches four consecutive physical attacks against one target for 70% normal damage each.
Stat changes: +2% max HP, +4% SKL
The key to this battle is keeping all your characters active as often as possible, which is why I recommend the Knight Shields. If you can spend more of your time attacking Castor instead of mopping up the results of his attacks, you should be able to prevail.
Winning the battle nets us another Sacred Orb. Am I ever going to use one of these things? Probably not for a long while.
Stronger than me? Come on. I was only testing you. I had no reason to get serious. If I did, I would've easily won. But you're not bad. You managed to defeat my best men, after all.
The Awakening ceremony is going to start soon. We'll be late if we wait any longer. There's a path to the underground temple in the room to the right. Let's see how you'll handle the situation, Hilbert. Do you think you can save the day?
Is this all a game to you, Castor?
I'm not taking this lightly. I have everything under control.
And Castor exits in the other direction, leaving us free to continue on to the temple where the Awakening ceremony is being held.
Next time: Wait, what do you mean we have to do another dungeon?