Part 46: Challenge Accepted
Welcome back. Last time on Last Scenario, we received a letter from an anonymous source telling us about Castor's alliance with Tiamat, and asking us to find out more about the Havali woman. To do that, we returned to Entalar, where we spoke to Barasur and learned her story: she had once been an explorer, but her last expedition ended with her coming back without any of her companions and forever changed. Following that, we learned that Castor was searching for something near Serinal Port, and we followed him and Tiamat to an ancient structure. Unfortunately, we weren't able to catch up with them in time, and they found what they were looking for: an airship, which they activated and flew away. What does this mean for us, and how are we going to proceed from here? It's time to find out.
We begin this update by returning to the Brunhild. Moritz comes out to greet us as we approach.
It's real all right. We saw it from up close.
Good god. I've never seen anything like that in my life. You've shown me some strange things since I joined up with you guys, but this beats everything.
Can you tell which direction it's going?
Oh hey, looks like random navigator NPC got a few more lines.
If he's taking it back to his own territory, there's not much we can do.
We're fine as long as it stays there... but if they use it to attack us...
First things first. The Empire and the Republic have to know about this. We don't know what he's planning, but they'll have to prepare themselves for the worst.
Fade to black...
I sent you back to Pargon Island to quell the rebellion, but instead they've driven you and your men out! I received word that you fled back to Condor, and yet you vanished again without even reporting to me! And now you come walking in here as if nothing happened? What have you been doing, Castor!? Do you have some explanation for this kind of behavior!?
You see, I no longer need you, or this country. But you will definitely need me.
H-Have you gone insane!? I... I trusted you, despite all the complaints that you were too young to lead an army. You showed so much promise... Why this all of a sudden!?
If you looked outside, you would understand.
Soldiers are being rounded up to board the thing, but we don't know under whose orders.
Ah, those would be my orders.
You... what are you doing?
This is the Lemuria, my new flagship. I will need men to serve as its crew. I will be taking my most loyal soldiers with me.
Stop this at once! I've tolerated your insolence for long enough. I can't trust you anymore. I order you to stay here and hand over... whatever this thing you found is to us!
As soon as we've finished loading, we're departing.
W-Where are you going!?
I'm looking for something. The knowledge I've just gained is not yet enough. I need to find that place...
Fade to black...
Good. We're right on schedule. What are the other generals doing? Have they come looking for me yet?
They've all come to see the ship, but Earp is making sure they stay outside, just as you ordered. I fear that if we stay here too long though, they might take action.
And what if they do? As soon as we take off, we'll be out of their reach. They're probably too cowardly to take action anyway. All they ever do is talk. They may not like me, but they've seen this ship. They're afraid I'd use it against the Kingdom.
Flynn, I want to speak to our new Chief of Staff for a moment. I'll meet up with you and Earp later.
Well now. There's a face we haven't seen in awhile.
I hope you don't mind the hurried fashion in which your promotion was arranged.
Not at all, sir. It would be an honor to serve you on this incredible ship.
Fade to black...
Sir... about Colonel Alison. She is a capable officer and Helio always spoke highly of her. Were you planning on inviting her to the Omega Team?
What? Of course not. The Omega Team is us, and no one else.
But sir, you have to think about a replacement for Helio. We need a new Number Two.
He'll come back. He can't have died. The Number Two position will stay empty until he returns!
Flynn, I think we should drop the issue for now.
That reminds me, Earp. You've checked out the engine room, right?
I'm no engineer, but this engine looks far more efficient than the one we made ourselves.
Excellent. Then we can try it straight away. Right, Tiamat? Show me what you've told me about.
Yeah, I know. Even when Ethan left the team, he wasn't like this. And now that woman... We have to stay close to him, Flynn. We've got to look out for him.
Back with Hilbert...
Of course. It's just a short walk to Stonewall.
We'll be finished by the time you'll need to leave, so don't worry. See you around.
Fade to black...
Following the scene, we're once again transported to Stonewall. I think you can all figure out where we're heading next.
This time around a soldier stops us on our way there.
You're here because of the giant thing that was seen in the sky, right? Our men at Serinal Port saw it as well. The Colonel is already in an emergency meeting because of it.
What? Take us to him immediately!
Fade to black...
Of course we need to reconsider! This passive attitude will get us nowhere! We can't win unless we strike first!
You fool! Are you trying to get us all killed?
Colonel. You probably already know what we're here for.
That thing... is it what I think it is?
Yes, it's an airship, something that was hidden deep inside those ruins. And now it's in Castor's possession.
Just as I feared...
If the Kingdom has such a fearsome weapon, we can't sit still!
No! We shouldn't provoke them! We don't know its full power! We have to withdraw from Serinal Port and solve this diplomatically!
Calm down, all of you.
If we wait too long, it may already be too late!
Yeah! With this ship, the Kingdom may think they're invincible!
Well, Hilbert. You see how it is. It's the same all over the place, despite our attempts to keep the news quiet. But we do what we can. Do you know anything else that could help us?
Nothing at all, I'm afraid. We were just following Castor. We didn't even know there was something like that down there.
Ah, I see. Well, then we shou--
The Empire took action this fast!? I thought they didn't want to go to war again.
The Imperial High General himself sent us a message to inform us. But it's not just that. He's formally requesting an alliance with the Republic. It says that if the Kingdom tries to use this new ship to attack the Empire or the Republic...
Ah, now I understand. Don't waste any time. Send him a reply immediately saying we accept the alliance. Tell him we'll help in any way we can.
But... isn't that the Consul's decision to make?
You have my authorization. Send it straight away, just make sure the Consul knows about it. There's no need to discuss this with him first. He wouldn't dare say no.
This means the entire southern Kingdom is under our control. Only the Rosehart mainland is left. But we need a strategy to deal with that airship.
How are we supposed to come up with anything? We don't know a damn thing about that ship.
You're right. We don't. But we can still speculate. In the worst case, it's a warship. If that's so, it must have some kind of cannons. In any case, it's fast and it can go anywhere. And of course, there will be ground troops on board. I see. It makes sense now. The imperial general must've come to this same conclusion.
Uh... what conclusion?
A flying ship is impressive, but it's not an invincible weapon. It has strengths and weaknesses. So, what's the most vulnerable to this flying ship? I'd say it would be a city. Think about it. Walls mean nothing to an airship. They can drop off their troops anywhere inside. That's scary, right? But now look at Southbridge. Since it's their own city, they wouldn't bomb it. And if the Empire forces disperse into the surrounding woods, there's nothing the ship can do. All in all, their new ship won't allow them to simply wipe out the occupying army.
But even if it buys us time, there's still not much we can do to stop them.
Colonel! Let's join up with the Empire and crush them immediately!
No! We don't know what they're capable of! They could destroy us!
... Huh? We've only heard of one.
That's right. One. And in how many places can it be at the same time?
Good, I see you understand. Look at things in the right perspective before you start flailing around like a madman.
The flying ship has left Condor! It's been spotted in the sky!
Over the continent... but it wasn't heading towards Herzog or Stonewall. It seemed more like it was patrolling, just flying around.
Looking for what?
You need to remember this: it was Castor who found the ship. He will not hand it over to anyone else. Most likely, he has no intention of sharing it with the Kingdom at all.
Well, that's a good thing for us, isn't it?
Do you think that sounds reassuring?
So what are you guys doing? Are you all going to stay here?
I guess. At least for a while, until we come up with a way to fight them.
We'll try to keep an eye on the ship's movement. They'll be vulnerable if they land anywhere.
The next morning...
No, there hasn't. It's only been one day anyway; things won't change that fast.
I was thinking the same thing. Maybe this is a good opportunity to relax for a while. It's not healthy to be on the move all the time.
Maybe you have the right idea. It wouldn't hurt to get a break every now and then.
What, exactly, have you "got"?
A plan! I know how we can fight back! Let's go meet with Drakovic, and I'll tell you!
Ehh... do we have to do it now?
Fade to black...
That doesn't really give me high hopes
Well, let's hear it.
Zawu, you said it's very likely that Castor has full command of the airship, right?
It's almost certain that he's in command of it. But it's likely that he is also no longer following orders from the King, if that's what you mean.
Take him prisoner? How would you do that?
Forget about that for now. Would it work out in our favor?
Wouldn't that cause the Kingdom army to take back the ship and use it against us? I don't see how that's going to help us.
No, I don't think it'll be that simple. Most of Castor's followers are very loyal, and he must've only put the most loyal of them on his ship. He's going against direct orders. He needs people who'd stick with him to the end.
And then we could lead them into a trap, and get our hands on the ship as well as Castor!
It's true that the initiative will be ours. We could lure them to any place by taking Castor there. But what if the ship's crew and the Kingdom army join up?
The relationship between Castor and the King is a difficult one. I put him forward for the position based on his merits. Many doubted him, but he managed to hold on to his position because of his victories. But now, his reputation is crumbling, his achievements are being undone. By us. At the same time, Castor's attitude is getting more rebellious. I can only guess, but I don't think the King would mourn if Castor was lost, let alone the other generals.
So, unable to get help from the army, the ship's crew will take action themselves. And fall right into our trap.
You can like it as much as you want, but you're forgetting one thing. We had a great chance to capture Castor before, and we still failed. How are you going to draw him out now that he's got a floating fortress to hang around in?
Actually, that's the main part of my plan. Once again, Zawu's talking about Castor gave me an idea. His defeat at our hands hurt him badly, right? We were all witness to that. He lost consciousness and had to be dragged back to the capital. But now he has his airship, and it clearly boosted his confidence enough to go against his king.
We've beaten him before. All we have to do is beat him again.
You're counting on his pride to force him to accept?
If he is still anything like the old Castor, he would not let this chance slide. However, it may be different if he knows we are laying a trap for him.
There's no harm in trying. If he doesn't show up, we've lost nothing.
Unless he uses it to lure -us- into a trap. By drawing him into the open, he's also drawing us into the open.
We have to do it in a place where neither side can pull any tricks...
It's a long bridge that connects the northern and southern Kingdom. Now that the Empire controls Southbridge, it's become a stretch of no man's land between both sides. We can do it there. It's perfect. Not even their airship could come close without being seen.
The bridge, huh...
What do you think about it?
It's not my place to tell you whether to do it or not. You're the ones who'll be in danger. But if the battle is one you think you can win, it doesn't sound too risky to me.
Let's go to Southbridge then! We can send a messenger to the Kingdom from there. Can we go there by ship?
No, the cliffs are too steep. We'll have to pass through Serinal Woods again. It's all the way north from there.
Got it. Let's do it, then. Goodbye, Colonel.
Fade to black...
All right, are you finally ready for some actual gameplay this update? We sail back to Serinal Port and head through the Serinal Woods again to come out in a new area of the world map, just next door to the Ancient Docks we visited last update.
The nature of the terrain means the only path leads us north, to one of the ends of the large bridge we saw when we first got the Brunhild and sailed around. Let's see what we've got here...
(Apologies for the looping being a little wonky here, it's like that in the game as well)
Southbridge is a fairly small town and, as you might expect, it really only serves as an endpoint for the Rosehart Bridge. Still, there are a few things to see around here.
For starters, the spellcard shop here sells some more crazy expensive cards, including a few we haven't seen before:
Shockfield (100MP): Deals major lightning damage to one enemy.
Crisis: X-Shock (150MP): Deals somewhat stronger lightning damage to one enemy.
Stat changes: -3% STR, +5% SPD
Medicine (30MP): Cures all detrimental status effects for one ally.
Crisis: M-Regen (115MP): Temporarily grants the entire party the Regen status, which recovers a small amount of HP when their turn comes around.
Stat changes: +4% max HP, -3% STR, -1% VIT
Although both of these new cards are pretty great and we're overflowing with cash (mostly from me clearing the junk out of our inventory again), there's no need to pick them up here, as the game will hand both of them to us for free not too long from now.
Also, an old man in one of the houses has the new Ripper Hex tile for us. It's very strong, though Jord is probably better.
Now then, the game won't let us head down the bridge right now, so we'll need to find someone to send our message to Castor first.
Like this guy.
I can send someone across the bridge for you. I can't guarantee the message will arrive though.
I'm sure it will. Thanks for the help.
We still owe you guys. It's the least we can do. Just leave the rest to us.
All right. We'll go and wait at the inn then until we get a reply.
Or at least we will once we've played some Hex with this guy, because...
... he carries the Augustus tile. Augustus is another tile that's probably going to get traded very quickly, as he trades for the Gold Scepter, possibly the best accessory in the game that doesn't provide status protection. Instead, the Gold Scepter grants its wearer complete immunity to all elemental damage. I don't think I need to explain how incredibly useful that can be.
Now then, let's head to the inn and advance the plot.
Eh? Are you that unhappy to see me?
No... I just... I thought Lorenza would be here.
That's odd. I'm here because she said there was something she wanted to talk to me about. I wonder if she forgot.
No, she couldn't have...
Huh? What do you mean?
Ethan moves to leave, but Randolph stops him.
Is something wrong?
He was killed in a town in the Kingdom, right?
Yes, that's right.
You... what? ... Well, I suppose it's possible that you know. You're from the Kingdom, after all.
Do you want to know who it was?
But, he was murdered...
Murdered? No, if it was murder, it'd be different. If it was murder, I'd have a reason to be angry.
It was war. My son was not killed out of hatred, or for any personal reason. He chose to be there, knowing the risks. And in the end... he was just in the wrong place. If I killed someone on the other side in this war and his father came to confront me about it... what would I be expected to do? Should I apologize? Beg for forgiveness? I'd have no idea what to say. Forget it. This isn't worth worrying about anymore. Let's go to sleep.
I don't blame you. I've been blaming too many things, in the past. It's about time to put an end to it.
We have to focus on the present, right? We can't have you feeling down over something that happened years ago at a time like this.
... Thank you.
The next morning...
What!? He's already here!?
Yeah, we can see him from here. He's just standing in the middle of the bridge, alone.
What about the airship?
It flew by on the opposite side of the water, but it looks like it landed a few miles away.
Is he trying to show us that he's not pulling any tricks...?
Then we should be all the more careful. He's not stupid. He knows our intentions.
That's right. He didn't come here because he believed we'd put up a fair fight. He came because he thinks he can win.
All right. This is it. We're going to fight him, and capture him when he's weakened.
Fade to black...
And with that, the guards in front of the bridge disappear. Let's do this shit.
The perspective abruptly shifts as we step onto the bridge. There's not much to do but head forward.
And soon enough, we find the person we're looking for.
I wasn't expecting you to show up this soon.
Welcome, Hilbert. I'm glad you asked for this meeting. I've been wanting to see you again as well. After our last encounter, I was lost for a while... But now, I am more focused than ever.
So, you're accepting our challenge?
We are rivals, Hilbert. We're the same, you and I, but we embody different ideals. We both know that this isn't about the Kingdom or the Republic, about armies or kings or emperors. It's only about us. It's about proving which one of us is the strongest. This is the final battle, I think. If I win, there will be no one left who can defeat me.
I've come here to tell you that I will be accepting your challenge in the near future.
What? Are you afraid of us? You've already gone through the trouble of coming here. Are you just going to run away from us now!?
A duel is meaningless if you don't get enough time to prepare for the fight, isn't it? I've gained incredible power already... but it's not enough.
That's when we'll conclude this, once and for all.
Enough of this, Castor!
You can't stop me, Ethan. Your role has already ended.
I haven't forgotten, Castor. We're brothers. Until three years ago, we'd always been together. But you cast me aside, just like you do with everyone close to you. I know that you're afraid. That being powerless scares you more than anything in the world. But there's no reason to go this far. There's no need to carry all of it by yourself. Zawu and I, the rest of the Omega Team, maybe even some of the others here... we all want to help you. But you have to want to be helped first. If you head further down this path, you'll be alone in the end. There will be no one left by your side. Stop it now, before it's too late.
I'm no longer so weak that I have to rely on others to get what I want.
What about Tiamat, then? You're just letting yourself be used by that woman.
Used? By her? When she thinks she's in charge, she is so easy to manipulate. She's only serving a temporary purpose. I have no intention of staying with her forever. One by one, I'm cutting all my ties. Soon, there will be no one left that I need. That's when I will finally be free.
You've changed. What was it that changed you? Was it your defeat, or... What did that woman teach you? What have you discovered in those ruins? What -is- that ship?
It was built by our ancestors?
This is what Tiamat learned. Ten thousand years ago, there was a rift among the Havali. An increasingly large part of the population drifted away from the old ways and traditions. They grew tired of living in the same place all their lives, not knowing anything about the world. When the division became a threat, the more conservative ones gladly let the others leave to preserve order. In other words, they were exiled.
A great ark was built, in order to carry all the people and cross the seas. They called it "Lemuria." After a long journey, they found an uninhabited continent, far away from their homeland. They settled there. And as time went by, they grew further and further away from their roots. Their once united group split into many different factions. They changed, forever. Soon enough, war broke out between these factions. Many of the old records were destroyed. This went on for a long, long time. Empires rose and fell, empires we didn't even know existed. Over the course of ten thousand years, these people and the old Havali grew so far apart that they could no longer be called the same tribe. It's been so long now, that both sides have completely forgotten about each other's existence.
Wait... What you're saying is...
You understand, right?
So what? That's right. So what? What does it matter? It doesn't change anything!
For ten thousand years, we've fought among each other, while the Havali grew more and more complacent. And what have we gained from it? Imagine, all the knowledge that was lost over the ages. We can no longer build airships, or wield power that can change the face of the earth. It's sad. I have no other word for it. Tiamat wants to burn the world to ashes, but I won't let her. I'll put an end to all the fighting. The special ability that they have, the power that Tiamat attained... it's not something limited to only Havali. We have always had the ability. We just have to learn how to use it again. I'll find that place, and I'll make that power mine.
You've gone mad...
I've seen a glimpse of it. Of eternity. I don't expect you to understand.
Hold it! We won't let you go!!
I'll leave you with a goodbye present. A little gift to show that I'm serious about this. Look! This is only a fraction of the power that I've obtained!
BOSS FIGHT: Nether Beasts
Well that's new. We're up against three bosses here: the Beast of Dis, the Beast of Cocytus, and the Beast of Erebus.
All three Beasts are identical statwise; they just have differing weaknesses and resistances. Unfortunately, they're set up in such a way that we can't really take advantage: each Beast's weakness is another Beast's immunity, and the spells for all three of those weaknesses hit all enemies. Besides, only the top-tier spells are strong enough to be useful in this fight, and we only have Earthquake, not its counterparts Whirlwind and Aquabeam.
That said, this isn't really a particularly interesting fight. Each of the Beasts has only two moves. One is a regular bite attack, which packs a bit of a punch.
The other is a slightly weaker elemental attack that hits our entire party. For the Beast of Dis, it's Magma Torrent.
For the Beast of Cocytus, it's Absolute Zero...
... and for the Beast of Erebus, it's Apocalypse Thunder.
As with the Omega Team fight, it's important in this battle to get defenses up pronto, so Ethan gets to try out Bastion. The Nether Beasts are only really dangerous as long as all three are alive, but they don't have all that much HP, so Bastion will last more than long enough for us to take one out.
Once our defenses are up, we can swipe 900,000 gold worth of spellcards without having to spend a cent. I'm not sure I need a second copy of Inferno and Iceray, so this may mean even more cash for the pile.
Also, while we may not have all of the top-tier spellcards to attack the Beasts' weaknesses, we do have a few equivalent attack items lying around, and I can't think of a better place to use them than here.
Once one of the Beasts goes down, the fight becomes a lot more manageable, even without shields. The Beasts appear to be scripted to not use their elemental attacks on the same turn as another one, so if we keep our HP up, it's difficult for two Beasts to take anyone out.
This shot doesn't have anything to do with what I was just saying but I wanted to post it because
In any case, the Beast of Cocytus falls not long after the Beast of Dis does, and after that, a Titan Fist takes the Beast of Erebus out.
Our reward for the battle is a Sacred Orb and three brand-new Hex tiles. We now have all but one of the Hex tiles that depict regular enemies.
But by the time we're back on the field...
He's gone out of control... Whatever this power is, it was enough to drive Tiamat mad. We must stop Castor before the same happens to him. He must not be allowed to find it. A single man should not have the power to threaten the entire world.
My plan failed... I guess... there's nothing we can do but go back.
Don't feel down. In the end, it was just like you said. Either we'd win, or we'd lose nothing. In fact, this encounter showed us what we're really up against. I wouldn't call it a complete failure.
Regardless, it means we're stuck again. We should go back and see if anything's happened since we left.
So we do, and once we reach Southbridge...
One of you is Randolph, right?
Yes, I'm Randolph. What do you need me for?
I have news for you, from the Geo-Science Station.
Oh, really? Could it be... that it's about the ruins I asked them to look for?
Next time: We find what Tiamat found all those years ago.
Castor on the Rosehart Bridge