Part 53: ARC V: Part 8: Freaking Skeletons, Man.ARC V: Part 8: Freaking Skeletons, Man.
So! Back again! I finally got The Way LP alll good for proper LP archival. I hope. I sent the request in over a week ago and was putting off this update until I heard back. I haven't yet but seeing some of the LPs archived in that time made me realise he's probably got a fair few requests to get through.
The LP is much better for all the tidying up I did on it, as well as some other things Tallgeese mentioned, and mistakes I found myself, and just some little tweaks here and there. So if you never read it because of how amateurishly it started off (my LP, not the game, the game retains that... charm... the whole way through) now's as good a time as any to read it, unless you want to wait for the archival.
Anywaaaay, after I posted the last update, Volrath told me that if he and Artbane redid MOTW today, they'd probably make the previous 'dungeon' with the memory stuff part of the lengthy flashback that preceded it. He probably means just having the more relevant bits and pieces be shown in cut-scenes I guess?
Last time, we finally got down from the mountains and reached the beach. Solich and Rana should be nearby doing... whatever with the dark secret Stoic has repeatedly gone on about but refuses to explain.
You might have noticed in the previous screen that we were at long last reunited with our old friend, Random Encounter Rate Bar. I have no idea what these enemies really do because using everyone's hit-all attacks wipes them out in one turn. Mostly. The Water Scorpions die outright, but the Squidmeister will barely survive and not have a chance to do much on the second turn.
East a short way down the beach, we come to a path leading out over the water.
I also run into lodites who all perish in one turn.
What are you talking about, fool?
I'm talking about that chest over there!
We look to the west.
Are you slow? That's a red chest! That mean(sic) it's an item important to our quest!
Say what you will but I know we need what is in that chest to continue!
You know he does have a point. Red chests have had important items in the past.
Oh no. That's too dangerous Shroud.
I hope you're not thinking of going ahead with this idiot's notion.
I(sic) been working on focusing my wind magic. With a few precise jumps we can make it over there no problem.
Yeah! Shroud knows what I'm talking about. Time for some extreme pillar jumping!
If that chest ends up being empty I'm going to leave you in it!
We get the first part of the tutorial and it's basically just 'Move This Projection To Where You Want To Jump'.
The second part is just to time the purple bar meeting the red arrow at the top there.
For some reason you have to do it to jump off the pillars on both sides, too. We resume making our way north.
I think engaging with way too much japanese media has broken my brain because I thought 'Wow, cute oasis' when I saw this spot.
This area has two 'exits', the one leading west though...
Yeah, so still further north.
A rather wide area here... On the west side we get this:
So, east it is.
This fairy doesn't have boss hints, so our next boss may be a while off still! We have one thing to do before heading into the cave though, and that's go a little further east.
Shroud and Stoic level up enough to learn new moves too. 'Call to Arms' is a party-wide buff that like... I think triple attack power. Doubles, at the very least. However, it prevents magic from being used. So you'd have to rely on item healing. Also it has a high SP cost for Stoic's small SP pool.
And Baron finally upgrades his hit-all attack, which is great because it was starting to feel rather pathetic.
People like apples.
Men love apples.
Mages really love apples.
Necromancers can't get enough apples.
And you better believe liches appreciate the teeth cleansing sensation of masticating on a good apple!
Anyway, as we leave the long, spiral tunnel for the next room, a cut-scene starts and one of the better character themes of the game begins to play.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YkYcjNTL0Ms Solik's Theme. Also known as 'Cohkka', by Apocalyptica.
Laurel immediately nails her with a holy spell.
I apologize, but I do not want my mind attacked by your spell a second time.
I'm on it.
Shroud heals her, and she regains her footing.
Who are you?
Ha ha ha ha! We've met before, Stoic, but I'm not surprised you don't recognize me in this form. But thanks to you, I've been able to make this transformation. That's not to say I didn't pay a high price myself... Sometimes I wake up and my chest still hurts.
This shot is really funny to me in light of the '*Gasp* SA-' meme now.
The necromancer from Rellenia?! So that means...
Rana is his apprentice.
Of course... That was why...
That was why I was there, Cade!
Crap! Now they know!
I couldn't care less about your civilian names, though I'm sure my former employers would have been eager for that information.
All those people... Rana, how could you go along with this?
Ha! I don't think so, my friend. I'm only just getting started.
There's a deep growling sound and an exhaled breath... Solik's theme is replaced with silence.
The two necromancers make way for a gigantic skeleton to jump into the scene.
A rather dramatic track with a choir begins to play. I have no idea what it is though. Just imagine some loud and fast paced orchestral 'Shits Going To Hell' kind of track you'd save for a dramatic boss/final boss fight.
Even funnier than the last funny one.
Huh? But isn't that--
You and your fellow travelers did an admirable job sealing him up all those years ago, Stoic. But technology has come a long way.
It was a simple matter to get him loose.
No wonder he had dynamite all over the place...
The apples were dynamite? Maybe I should have looked closer.
Finding out where he was... That was the hard part. Thank goodness for The Hand's resources. Not many knew of what you were up to here centuries ago, but a few did.
You.. Do you even have the slightest clue what you've done?!
Yes. This has all been planned out far in advance, you see, though your recent arrival here has been an unexpected help. I wasn't sure how I was going to motivate our sleepy friend here, but this should do the trick. Far more effective than my original plan, though I may be able to still use those bodies for something.
Oh, I think he's recognized you.
Get ready, everyone!
No! Do not even think of trying to fight him! That goes for all of you!
Wow, if Stoic of all people is against fighting him...
Ha ha ha... If that's the rule, you all have quite a problem.
We get a save screen here.
Baron! You don't need to do this to impress me!
I'm not... just get out of here!
I don't think the dynamite will be enough to stop him but it might buy us some time...
You guys will think of something. Now get out of here so I can concentrate.
If you mess up, Baron will get hit and retreat to the next crate of dynamite but as mentioned, you can only mess up thrice. You only get one shot per crate too, and I'm pretty sure you can shoot too early or late. Don't know if doing 'maximum damage' by shooting the crates when he's right next to them makes a difference though. As long as he's within range of the explosion, which is roughly 3-4 tiles in either direction. We need to do this for all 5 crates of dynamite. So you can only mess up twice.
Stoic pushes more dynamite in front of the tunnel exit after Baron runs through.
You don't even need to ask nicely!
If you stick around a little, you'll hear (and feel) Enkur pound on the rock a few times before giving up. Also the music has stopped.
Yeah, well now's the time to start telling it! That... thing nearly crushed us all!
You called it Enkur... Wasn't that your friend's name?
I thought he died during your battle at Volrath's castle.
He didn't die.
No... at least... not then.
This isn't easy for Stoic...
I'm sure it isn't, but these aren't normal circumstances, Laurel.
He's right. I knew it... I knew this was what he was up to... I really hate being right all the time.
Yeah, it's not easy.
Shroud and Laurel look at Baron for a brief moment.
So I suppose the best place to start is after the battle at the castle. Fifteen years after, to be precise.
A man enters a bar, talks to a couple of the patrons briefly before sitting across from Zeno at the bottom right table.
ZENO: Yeah. Who the hell are you?
???: Stephen Farmast! A pleasure to finally meet you!
ZENO: The name sounds familiar... But I can't place it.
STEPHEN: Ha! You must really be keeping to yourself!
He glances at rest of the bar.
I'm the leader of... the new rebellion.
STEPHEN: Don't make me say it too many times... I have enemies all over the place. I've been traveling all over Solest, looking for some of the warriors who fought with Volrath Blacksteele.
ZENO: Fighting the Solendians, are you?
STEPHEN: Yes, and I would be honored if you joined the cause.
STEPHEN: You won't help me? I've heard you were one of the most enthusiastic--
ZENO: Look, that was fifteen years ago. I'm not the same man as I was then. He made me believe we could change the world if we just stuck to our principles and stood up for ourselves. We did that and they destroyed us.
They destroyed him.
They destroyed what we stood for.
I can't be a part of something like that again.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OshTocyMPIQ 'Volrath's Theme', 'Epica, The Alleged Paradigm'
ZENO: Excuse me?
STEPHEN: Do you remember his speeches? I've read every one your group transcribed. He talked about how those in power rely on the cruelty of their followers to break people who think differently. You were right there in the audience when he gave that speech and now you have let the Solendians break you?
Doesn't it bother you the way people talk about him now? You must be aware of this. I was a child when it happened, and I've grown up hearing about him as some bedtime cautionary tale. Follow the rules, Stephen. You don't want to end up like Volrath Blacksteele.
There's a pause here...
This man was your leader... Your mentor. Is this really how you want him to be remembered? Or do you want to help me finish what he began?
"When I arrived at the camp, I was impressed by the size of his force. There were even more former Solendic knights than Volrath had attracted.
It seemed the story had touched a nerve in the city. I even saw some familiar faces... People who had fought alongside me fifteen years earlier.
I was feeling rejuvenated... until I met her."
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wspO6SfqCo8 'Elissa', OC ReMix #1261: Ecco the Dolphin 'Eternal Abyss' [After the Storm] by GrayLightning
What? Who are you talking about?
Of course. Late Fourth Age... Solendian Civil War. You actually came face to face with Elissa Brightwey.
Elissa who? What are you talking about?
The strongest dark mage in history! Some would argue the most powerful sorceress who ever lived.
How do you know so much about her?
She's terrified holy mages for generations. Nobody on our side ever mastered our skills the way she mastered dark magic.
Nobody knew where she came from. She became an expert in dark magic at a freakishly young age, despite having no history of it in her family.
Her magic reserves seemed limitless, and nobody could figure out the source of all of her power.
I'm amazed you were able to keep your composure in that situation, Stoic.
I almost didn't. As soon as she looked at me, I felt a chill.
She was born the day after Volrath died. That made her only 15 years old... But I certainly didn't feel like an adult around her.
She felt that timing was fate... And she wasn't the type who you wanted to argue with.
STEPHEN: Zeno Slade. He fought in Blacksteele's army.
ELISSA: One of the original warriors... Good. I appreciate your presence here.
More than most of the others... It is you who has a sense of what is truly at stake in these times of conflict.
ZENO: Uh... Thank you. I like to think so.
ELISSA: All of you endured the humiliation of defeat with such grace... but your time to rise has come. Are you ready to strike back at those impudent Solendian dogs?
Are you prepared to help us deliver the punishment they truly deserve?
ZENO: Punishment? I... suppose... but all I really wanted from the beginning was a knighthood open to anyone looking to help others.
ELISSA: But by now you must know the resistance you encounter when you attempt to establish such a group.
If we hope to realize your dream or the dream of anyone in our army, we must first crush them once and for all.
"a knighthood like ours can prosper. That's why when I started this campaign, I decided to take the fight to them.
And I intend to continue that course. General Mephesto's army is on the march, and we shall engage them in mere days."
If General Mephesto sounds familiar, it's because it should. He's the guy that became the puppet of the infamous lich Thanatos but was destroyed by an adventurer named Dalton... so Thanatos decided to cast the Forbidden Spell of Rebirth on him in one of the only recorded successful casts of the spell. And then Mephesto promptly got loose of him.
No kidding! This Elissa woman seems like Sandahar times ten!
How did those two wind up working together in the first place?
I can answer that. Stephen Farmast's first confrontation with General Mephesto ended badly for him. He was mortally wounded.
But Elissa walked the battlefield after the conflict and saved his life. After that, she began to guide the campaign.
I'm impressed, bud. You're quite knowledgable(sic) on this particular subject.
I always found myself both repulsed and fascinated by the stories I heard about Elissa. She was so scary, but I really wanted to know more.
I went through so many of Dasani's historical documents and books, trying to find more details.
Wow, really? Did you have like a secret crush on her or something?
The music stops.
*Gasp* Baron, stop that! That is so disrespectful!
May I continue?
ZENO: That really you, Wisel?
WISEL: Yeah... damn, it's been so long.
If you remember, Ivito and Wisel were Zeno and Enkur's two childhood friends who joined the Solendic Knighthood with Enkur.
ZENO: Is Ivito here too?
WISEL: Ivito? Zeno... He died.
He died during the battle at Blacksteele's castle.
ZENO: By Arcadius... I was there... And I never even knew.
ZENO: You know... With Enkur and Ivito gone, we're all that's left of our old group.
WISEL: Enkur didn't die. He came close, but he's still around. Definitely not here, though.
But he's not the same, that's for sure. I heard about your fight that day. He took your eye and you nearly cleaved his head in two.
He recovered... if you can call it that. He's changed... You can't even talk to him. He was always a little intense, but now he's downright bloodthirsty.
Rather than try to treat him, the Knighthood embraced that quality. He's been promoted a great deal since that battle.
To be honest, it made me sick. That's why I'm here now. The Solendian Knighthood just isn't what I thought it was when I was a kid.
ZENO: *sigh* There's got to be more than this. More than watching the world fall apart despite everything we do.
Well... At least we're on the same side this time.
WISEL: Yeah... better late than never.
Then we cut to a battle scene.
I remember him. My Comparative Religion professor was really interested in him. The "Double Resurrection" guy.
That's him, all right. But I didn't know any of that stuff at the time. I just knew he was the leader of the Solendian army.
Mephesto uses lightning magic to take out some of his enemies.
They did, but General Mephesto was arguably the most famous rulebreaker in their ranks.
I doubt any of the brass in Solendus was very happy with that, but he won so many battles that they were willing to look the other way.
However, I took note of more than just that. I've never used magic, but I learned a great deal about sorcery from my time in Volrath's knighthood.
These spells he was casting were mild... In other words, he didn't want to kill any of us.
Two things happen at once. Elissa at the bottom there is blasting away at guys with dark magic when she gets interrupted by... a griffon that doesn't seem to have wings? Meanwhile Enkur runs on screen in the middle there.
A soldier runs up behind Enkur.
SOLDIER: Lieutenant! We need your--
Enkur strikes the soldier down.
Fight me, you coward!
There's two fights going on here at the same time, but Elissa and the griffon wind up offscreen.
ENKUR: Now, old friend... you die.
Wisel saves the day!
WISEL: You're not well, Enkur. You've got to stop this.
ENKUR: Another traitor. I'll send you all to Perditia's realm.
Enkur turns to face Stoic and then falls.
"The battle went on for a while after that... but we were eventually forced to retreat."
Really? Even with Elissa there?
Even with Elissa there. General Mephesto was a great tactician, and always found a way to distract her.
Stephen was fed up. Mephesto had outsmarted him one too many times. He and Elissa decided that their campaign couldn't go further until he was out of the picture. That would be my job.
"But I was considered one of the stronger warriors they had, so they suspected I had the best chance to take out the general."
"When the opportunity presented itself, I found a place to hide out and wait for the right moment.
"Come on out now. You can't really get the drop on someone who can see in the dark."
"The necromancers used to take advantage of that rule during the wars. They would have dark mages and liches casting spells from cliffs and such.
By the time any knights got to them, they had caused terrible damage. It wasn't long before I and a few other generals figured out what to do.
There was no way we could stand up to those tactics without some magic. The leaders didn't like it, but what were they going to tell us... "Don't win?""
ZENO: Wait a minute... Are you telling me you fought in those wars during The Third Age? That's impossible.
MEPHESTO: Well... That's a story I can share another time. Let's talk about you, not me.
ZENO: ... You're not even going to try and fight me, are you?
MEPHESTO: No. If you happen to lunge at me, I will defend myself. But other than that... No.
I know that most of you who are fighting with Stephen are good people. But you've been wounded, and now you're following him blindly.
The Solendian Knighthood is out of step with today's sensibilities. You and the others have seen that, and they have made you suffer for it.
It's not right.
But war isn't the answer. Instead it's going to take time... Cooperation. Discussion.
But we can't do any of that the way things are now. I'm not sure if you realize this, but right now we are fighting a defensive campaign.
Your leader and that witch have been attacking us relentlessly... You haven't given us a choice.
None of the brass here wants another Volrath. I'm not sure you even grasp the power his name holds since his death.
ZENO: ... I... I don't know what to say.
MEPHESTO: I've given you a lot to think about, haven;t I? I'm glad. I don't want to hurt you... any of you. Tell your comrades what I told you.
ZENO: ... I'm Zeno Slade.
MEPHESTO: Zeno, I saw you fight in the last battle. I don't think the single sword approach serves you very well.
ZENO: Uh... Thanks. See you around, I guess.
STOIC: Nothing made sense anymore.
It was supposd to be like the first time.
I was supposed to believe in it.
But now... There was nothing to believe in.
"Traits I remembered from Volrath. And the man who would be Volrath... Seemed focused on the fighting instead of the ideas."
"Up until then, I hadn't even seen the signs that Stephen's war was less than noble. The only thing he had in common with Volrath was the mistakes he made.
Both of them fell in with the wrong types of people... Only because they wanted someone to believe in them. Elissa had convinced him that the most important part of his efforts were violence and destruction, rather than standing up for all people.
It would have been so easy to condemn Stephen for not learning the lessons of Volrath's fall. But then... I would also have to condemn myself.
I had now fallen in with allies who sahred perhaps even fewer of my values than the Solendian Knighthood.
All because I didn't want to feel alone.
It's a powerful thing... that need for someone to see value inside you. And when the world at large denies you that... You take it first chance you get.
"But I knew already that encouraging a peaceful resolution to this conflict would not go over well.
Not with these two leaders.
But... what else could I do? They were waiting for me.
"Is it done?"
ZENO: ... No.
STEPHEN: What happened?
ZENO: This isn't the way. We're only hurting our cause if we continue on this course. Assassinations?
Constant battle? It's all wrong.
STEPHEN: Excuse me, Zeno... But I don't recall asking for your opinion! You were given a task, and we expect you to complete it!
ZENO: I won't.
STEPHEN: I'm very disappointed. To think that Volrath counted you as one of his friends.
ZENO: You have no right to invoke him!
You say you have the same ideas, but you don't have any of his compassion! You're only in this for yourself!
Elissa casts a spell... there's a clanking sound...
It felt like going to sleep... Except I didn't dream. I felt a bit like I was moving... but I couldn't see where I was going.
What I remember most about that moment is the huge wave of comfort that swept over me. Nothing seemed like a problem anymore.
If someone had offered me the choice of returning to Solest... or staying wherever I was... it would have been no contest.
But in the end... That choice was made for me.
I... I'm glad you came back.
About how much time passed between your death and when you came back as a skeleton?
Hmm... A couple days, I think. But I had no clue at the time.
"Zeno, was it? Don't worry, you don't need to respond. It will take you some time to learn how to speak again.
Welcome to your new existence. Let me explain a few things to help... ease the transition.
The dark magic that created you simulates almost every aspect of life. You will experience all emotions, and feel pain the way you always used to. But... we can't completely replicate life... at least not with this type of spell. You will no longer eat or drink, and you no longer breathe. You will never become ill... And should you express any interest in sorcery, you will only be capable of dark magic.
In your case... I've made some changes to the typical ritual as part of my pursuit of more... formidable skeletons.
I have infused you with an ample amount of dark magic... far more than is normally used. You are stronger than the typical skeleton. You will also "live" far longer. You might even outlast me... But I doubt that.
For now, you will need time to adapt to the dark magic and learn how to move about again. If you will excuse me, I have other matters to attend to."
Man... how could any human being be that powerful?
I strongly suspect she was much, much more than human, and my theory might become an obvious one before too long.
Looking over the records of what she managed to accomplish, it's possible to make the case that she wasn't human at all.
But if she wasn't human... what was she?
... No. That's impossible.
I mean, if even Shroud can guess what I'm thinking... And last piece of evidence is the strongest.
None of us can say for sure whether it's possible or not. I've certainly stayed awake many nights pondering that myself.
But at that moment... All I wanted to do was move. And finally, I figured out how.
Zeno sloooowly walks from the pool.
"But I was coherent enough to know I would not be staying around to help with whatever Elissa's insane scheme was."
A loud rumble returns us to the present day after Zeno limps away.
But you didn't even get to explain how he got all huge like that!
What would you rather have? A resolution to that story or your life?
Um... Both? What kind of question is that?
We still have to stop Solik. If he and that montster(sic) get off this island, we'll have mass slaughter on our hands.
But getting to Solik means getting past Enkur somehow.
He's about to break through that rubble... but if he continues to follow us around the beach, we may be able to find another way back inside.
There's a hole at the very top of this mountain that's right above where we just were. It's risky, but the only real shot we have.
How do we get to the top?
We'll have to walk around this mountain, starting this coastline on the east side.
Whew. That's all for now. And we're still nowhere near done with Stoic's flashbacks too, haha. It'd be torture if they weren't one of my favourite parts of the series.