Part 61: ARC VI Finale: Heroes Ascendant.ARC VI Finale: Heroes Ascendant.
Not really all that much to say at the start of this update! So let's just get right into it!
There's a very brief pause where no one says anything.
Don't get me wrong, I liked Boreal and all, but why are we going back again?
*Sigh* I'm not even sure myself. But I just don't know what to believe after everything that's happened.
I was never even sure if I had really opened myself up to it all... but it still feels like everything I was ever taught has come apart.
Makes me realize I'm not as grown up as I thought... Here I am, running back to my mentor as soon as things get tough.
... But I just don't know what else to do.
Eh, don't beat yourself up. Everybody's gotta ask for help sometimes.
I was thinking... Do you think we're going to run into any trouble in Boreal?
Heh heh. Cause I got a new toy from Gino.
Whoa! What kind of gun is that?!
The Artificial Element Generating Interchangeable Shooter... or Aegis.
Brain overload, man!
You were showing me guns you have found which had different effects. Each one of these was meant to simulate a certain type of magic.
Have you ever seen one of those crystals that can hold music.
Shroud and Stoic sure did, as part of a puzzle way back in Arc II when we raided Kovak's mansion in Port Arianna. Oh, and before that when Auburn and Cade danced at Kovaks party before the Toutens interrupted. Good times.
It's a similar arrangement here. Let's use the flamethrower as an example. You got this from the Ember mages, who are experts in fire magic.
They used these crystals to store a huge amount of magic... and then modified your family's original design to work with the crystals.
So all I really did was put together a much larger barrel with a rotating device that can harness any of the different crystals.
So all I have to do is move this dial and pick what kind of magical attack I want the gun to use?
That's all there is to it!
It's amazing how much magic and science can work together.
Two of them too! You're too good to us, Gino.
There's not all that much to do around town. Some of the NPCs do have new things to say but not much of interest.
We do stop by to see Auburn's childhood friend, Tanisa.
We're friends of Auburn Iliaca.
Oh, that's right! How are you guys? How is Auburn?
Uh... She's okay, I think. None of us have seen her in a while.
She's left her position as Don Kovak's bodyguard, so I don't think she's quite certain what to do now.
Wow... So she finally did it. Good for her.
If I were her, I would be taking a nice long vacation with that cute blond boy! Are they still... you know, together?
Uh... That's complicated.
BaronBook relationship status.
... Did he find out about...
About her double life? Yes.
Oh, goodness. I can only imagine what he thinks.
You know, she's got a big heart deep down... even though she pretends she doesn't.
I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for her... and I don't mean just because of what happened the last time you guys were in town.
The whole reason she even started wearing that costume was to get me out of a jam... She saved me, but the whole thing was ugly.
I don't think she ever forgave herself for what she had to do for my sake... She felt like it had tainted her for life.
*Sigh* Not sure why I'm telling you all this. I just care about her, you know? She deserves a happy ending.
It's tough... And you don't even know the whole story. But maybe it will work out.
I think it will. My last conversation with Auburn was encouraging... I think the worst is over.
Really? You didn't mention that.
I hope so.
Well, I guess I've kept you enough. Enjoy your time here.
Oh well, that doesn't sound like foreshadowing at all.
That would be nice.
Guess she's one person you never get to "drop in" on.
Yeah... We gave up on surprise parties pretty quick too.
I'm still in one piece. But I really need to confer with Lily about some of the things I've experienced.
We're allowed right on through, so let's go.
You bet! Man, she does a good job! She swings that thing and then klonk!
... I don't even really know where to begin.
Your thoughts are going so fast I can't even keep track of them all. Try to summarize as best you can.
I never was totally sure how much I believed in everything I've been taught about Arcadius... Dasani was stronger in her faith than both of us.
But I admired her so much... Because she achieved so much through her faith. For a while, I felt like I had opened myself to it.
But now... It feels like even if Arcadius exists... He has sided against me.
Because of what your enemy has accomplished?
Yes! How would Dasani feel if General Lysander was suddenly gifted with wings after all her claims that Gallia was unholy?!
Goodness, that would have been horrifying... I'm not sure how she would have reacted.
Maybe that was the secret to her strong faith... It was never really challenged.
Hold it right there, young lady. That's taking it a bit far.
"She had her own share of dark moments... But others rarely saw them. She never opened up to me when I was her apprentice, only afterwards."
That's just great! Why was I learning about verses and blessings when I should have been taught how to deal with things like this?!
How am I supposed to work in the service of Arcadius if I can't even function when something challenges what I've been taught!
Calm down. This was part of the reason I wanted you to travel with them. So you could learn about Solest's complexities.
... But what would she have done? What would you do?
As I've said... I can't answer for Dasani in this particular situation because it didn't come up when she was active.
"But Laurel... The important thing now is what you decide to do. Moments like these will determine the kind of leader you become."
Well, perhaps I don't even want to be a leader at all!
Laurel runs up the stairs to the right.
It's so hard... What she's going through is unique. Dasani's transformation wasn't all that long ago... already another one.
Did she tell you about her parents?
Yeah... She said they died.
Maybe... Maybe not.
Truth is, we'll probably never know. She was dropped on a doorstep in town when she was about a year old.
The family at that house didn't feel like they could support her financially, so eventually we stepped in.
We knew it would hurt her when she found out the truth... But you can't very well teach a girl telepathy and expect to keep things from her.
She always tells people that they are dead... I think it's less painful that way.
When Dasani died, she felt abandoned again... Even though it was a totally different set of circumstances.
Though her skill is obvious, the strength of her faith has always been in question. It's hard for anyone who has suffered to trust in a higher power.
I think we were getting through to her... But if she feels like Arcadius has now abandoned her as well... It must hurt deeply.
Damn, that's heavy.
We fade to black....
Finley gets out of bed.
We make our way downstairs and catch Laurel leaving
You were. It was the strangest thing... I think I woke up because I knew you were gone.
It was almost like you called out for help in my head.
So what are you doing out here anyway? It's even colder at night!
I... was going to explore the wilderness... Lily said that sometimes helped Dasani.
But it seems like Lily didn't want you to rely on Dasani anymore.
Pff... Easy for her to say.
Well, I'll come too! I like an invigorating walk outdoors as much as the next guy! But how about we wait until tomorrow?
That way we can be all rested up and hopefully we won't freeze our butts off!
It feels like something I should do on my own.
Ah, forget that. I want in.
You're really concerned... I assure you, I'll be perfectly safe.
That's not it.
Look, I wasn't even sure why I tagged along with you in the first place... But I think I know now.
I just... you know... I just don't want you to feel all alone. Not anymore.
There's a long pause here.
*Sniff* Okay, we'll go tomorrow.
What's wrong? Did I say something bad?
No... Not at all.
In the morning we immediately get up and go.
Finley says he'll put his Baron costume on.
What? There's no need for that.
You never know what we might run into! Also... I'm already cold and the Baron costume has more padding.
Hee hee! You've spent too much time in Port Arianna! You need to toughen up!
Yeah, yeah... Give me a minute.
Finley changes into The Baron behind the trees and then the two leave for the wild. But the camera remains here for some reason...?
I can already see trouble.
*Gasp* Oh no!
We're in trouble...
I thought so... and now we've barged right into whatever they're up to.
Well, what are they doing so close to Boreal in the first place? Last time, we told them to mind their own business and stop harassing the townsfolk.
We did that a while ago... They may be feeling bold again.
Well, we beat their butts once, let's do it again! If that's not a spiritual experience, I don't know what is!
*Groan* Not exactly what I had in mind... But we can't let them infringe on Boreal.
"That should cause enough havoc for us to get past them. Heh... I thought this whole thing was going to be boring."
... Those men are dead, there's clearly rocks under that snow.
It's nice to make jokes without being scolded, isn't it?
Right. Stoic hates puns.
I was just thinking... Oh yeah. Yeah, it's pretty cool. Let's see if we can find some more of them to kick around.
I think you're enjoying this way too much.
Ember mages shoot at you if you move to close, so... we'll have to cross elsewhere.
And to do that, we need to get this block into the river further upstream. We did similar puzzles with Auburn way back.
For whatever reason I couldn't figure this one out unless you're -meant- to cheat by running around to get in the blocks way at the right time.
Laurel doesn't have anything to add to that, so we continue on.
Can't get near these guys either.
Ah, more shooting icicles so we just jump 'em across. Boy, Arc III feels like forever ago.
Anyway there's an added complication of those two holes in the wall blowing out air now and then.
We easily clear that, and on the otherside...
Alright. Big ones too, now. They take two shots to drop and take much longer to melt.
Oh. We have to backtrack to what I thought was a dead end before. You can actually target something from there.
Now there's a... bridge to nowhere!
Ha ha ha ha! That was a good one, doggone it! *Wink*
I wouldn't have even known this joke was meant to be if not for that one review I quoted earlier in the thread also mentioning how much the writer did not like political references one bit and specifically called out some, including this one.
I make my way back there next.
Then we heard a couple gun shots.
Woah! Were those gun shots?!
It sounds like they came from the end of this narrow passage.
Ha! They can't even shoot us in a narrow passage! How embarrassing!
I don't think we were their targets...
And then there's an explosion and a loud rumbling starts.
Don't look back! Run!
"in the wave to create an opening."
We just have to press Z to shoot too, as long as we're lined up with the weakpoint. No timing shenanigans.
There's not much to say about this minigame except the further you get, the shorter the preview window is, until the last wave has no preview at all.
I've never been this far out... It's breathtaking.
Wha?! Chard and... what was your name? Ginfork?
This upsets Grinfrak making him jump which causes a minor quake.
You and your buddies put me in the clink, but now I've assembled the mighty... Grinfrak corps!
How many times do I have to tell you, you insufferable oaf! We are the Ember mages, not some silly corps!
Our name has years of time-honored tradition behind it, and we have no intention of changing it!
Yeah, whatever. The Grinfrak Corps is gonna put you in your place right now, punks!
Not even listening... Well Baron, I knew we would cross paths again. This time, you shall see the folly of meddling in my affairs.
Then, with you out of the way, we shall redouble our efforts to take Boreal and complete our total domination of the Isle of Alge!
Absolutely not! I don't care who you recruit, Boreal will not submit to you!
Yeah! Ready for another beatdown?
Try it, fool!
You're gonna get smushed!
So uh... As you may expect from a rematch against the two mostly harmless villains, the battle is exceptionally easy and short. Chard can inflict burn and... that'd about all he did before going down on turn 3. Grinfrak just seems to attack and lasted a while longer.
But they're not happy with just that so... We get another great AND very important video that I love out of their dissatisfaction. Link below.
And after that's done with...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CgUMmO5Re44 'Cade and Auburn's Song' AKA Apocalyptica - 'Faraway'
... Yeah. Now that he's safe, I think it's time I made myself scarce.
His brother makes for an awfully convenient distraction. He probably won't even notice me leaving, which is fine with me.
Would just be too hard.
Brother or no brother... He will be hurt if you leave again. Haven't you two hurt each other enough?
Knock it off. It's just not going to work. We're on opposite sides of... almost everything.
You say that with such certainty... But you don't really know. You're just afraid to try.
He'll be fine. He can go find his... vampire girl.
Hee hee hee! Auburn! You're jealous! That definitely means you care!
I just... felt betrayed when I saw his face under that mask. I'm sure he felt the same. So many feelings I had about him... were wrong.
Are you sure? I caught some of your thoughts when we found you two that night.
You saw him as your way to get untangled from Equipment King and The Hand... But if he was Shroud, that meant he couldn't do that.
What was the first thing you did when you arrived here in Harrol?
There's a long pause here...
I... left Equipment King.
Are you still so sure you were wrong about him?
... Yeah. I didn't think you would be thrilled.
But I know it's a much different situation for you. She's not my favorite person, though I do sometimes hold grudges.
Ah ha ha! You?! Never!
In the end, though...
It's not me who really has to forgive her. You have to decide if you can.
Even if I have doubts, you are my best friend. I'm not going to try and deprive you of happiness.
She is responsible for many crimes, and you will have to reconcile that with your own feelings.
It's true. But believe it or not, I think I've learned by watching you.
I was frustrated at first when you let Rana go... But then I ran into her on the ship I took to get here.
Really? But we haven't seen her.
Hmm... Solik. We do have to track him down once all this other nonsense is done with.
My point is that seeing her like that taught me that pointing someone in the right direction is better than just throwing out a punishment.
Why do you have to do this?
I wanted to avoid something like this... It hurts too much already.
Just hear me out.
After all the times you've beaten me up, that's the least you can do.
I've... I've done a lot of thinking lately... Most of it about you.
Sometimes I feel like all I've done since we met is think about you.
We've got a lot in common. Far more than we ever realized, judging from how we're dressed right now.
Because of that, I've been hoping and praying that you've been thinking what I've been thinking.
I don't know if I even believe in Arcadius or any other god, but I still have been praying about this.
Sometimes it felt like the "right" thing to do was to hate you...
But I... I just couldn't make myself do it.
... Stop it, please! I can't do this!
Auburn starts to leave but Shroud casts a spell.
She's trying to walk against a strong wind but isn't getting anywhere.
You came with the others to rescue me... which makes me think you feel the same way, even if you lashed out at me when you found out I'm Shroud.
Shroud intensifies the spell and Auburn slips a little closer.
I think we're stuck in old patterns... and we're too caught up in what we think these costumes represent.
We aren't as different as you think we are. I've seen you in action several times now. Heroism comes naturally to you, whether you like it or not.
... I have one more request. If you listen, I'll let you go no matter your response is.
For just a moment, I want you to forget about the fights between Shroud and Sparrow. I want you to forget about your past.
Forget about everything except what you're feeling right now... What do you really want?
Soon enough. But not just yet.
Faraway stops playing here.
https://youtu.be/Y3i74uxxvjM Shrouds theme!!!
JUDGE: This is highly irregular!
Your Honor, there is one more witness who wishes to take the stand.
Sparrow walks in to the surprise of Vec and Kovak, and then teleports to the stand.
Then removes her hood.
Hmm... Funny you should mention that.
You did pretty well avoiding jail time... but that fine is a doozy.
It reminds me of how you got Ercello out of trouble back in the day. I remember when Stoic and I first found out about that... It drove me nuts.
But even though your intentions obviously weren't honorable, there was some wisdom in your approach.
Everything I've had to deal with recently has opened my mind to new concepts. I've come to realize that justice should be about more than just punishment. First and foremost, it should be about setting things right when they go wrong.
You sitting in this cell doesn't help anyone hurt by you and The Hand. But all that money you have to provide as restitution to the various towns...
That's going to make a huge difference in many lives.
I was expecting to hear you grumbling something about "class warfare" as I was making my way down here.
"Don't use my money to help poor people! Anything but that!"
*Chuckle* Talk about punishment!
Stop gloating or I'm going to have the guard escort you out.
Okay, okay. That's not why I came down here, anyway.
While Auburn was giving her testimony, I looked around the courtroom. I recognized a lot of people there, but not everyone.
In particular, there was one guy with a full red beard. I had never met him before, but something about him seemed familiar.
Once your sentence was announced and the crowd left, I found him and introduced myself.
You can see an image of him there.
Well, what of it?
If you have a family, why didn't I ever see them in Port Arianna or Artagel?
That's none of your concern!
Just tell me. What have you got to lose?
They... didn't like what I was doing with Equipment King. My success didn't bring any joy to our household.
Before long, my wife made it clear she no longer wanted to share a home with me. Said she would rather be poor.
They didn't like the role greed played in Equipment King's success.
Gah... She probably would have put it the same way. I haven't seen them for years... I'm surprised my son came to the trial.
"I would rather have a father I didn't agree with than none at all."
Wha... Why are we talking like this? Why would you want to help me? You hate me!
... No. For a while, I was pretty sure I hated you.
But in reality, I hated what you represented.
I hated the idea that massive wealth was worth any cost, even the suffering of others.
But here's the nice thing about justice... Now that you've paid your debt to society, you're clean. You and I are no longer enemies.
If you have any regrets... Now's the time to try and do something about them.
Shroud starts to leave, when Kovak calls for him to wait.
"I'm out of this business...
But if you really want to see an end to that which you fight against, you may never be out of the business."
"As long as people are afraid of those who are different or the wars going on around them, they will want to feel protected.
And when they want to buy something that makes them feel safer, shops like mine will prosper.
Equipment King will not die as long as there is darkness in the hearts of men.
Do you see the incentive we have to maintain an environment like that?
A zealot like Ketsu doesn't even realize how this system works together... But I'm old enough to see the nuts and bolts of it.
It's a guaranteed formula for wealth and success.
Do you really think you can eliminate that?"
... Phew. That's a tough one.
I don't know.
I suppose if I can't, the best I can do is to make sure it never goes unopposed. But maybe I can do better.
For Arcadius's sake...
If we took you down... we can do anything!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=21t2W2Y9SSo The King's Highway - Bubba Ho Tep
Don't worry, blondie.
I couldn't stay away from you for long.
But now that the trial is all set, I know you're on your way to finish The Hand off.
So you think you can just leave after everything you've done?
... Wha? You're not thinking of trying to take me to jail, are you?
No. I talked it over with Galdar... and we agreed that nobody benefits from you being locked up in a cell.
But... you still have a debt to society to repay. I just think we can be a little creative about it.
... And what exactly did you have in mind?
You're going to help us defeat The Hand and undo some of the damage you have been enabling over the last few months.
... No way.
I'm not like you guys. I'm no hero.
Auburn... This isn't a request. It's this or jail.
You need to atone... And I would rather have you by my side while you're doing so.
Coming along, young lady?
I suppose I am.
I hear good things about your work! Do you think you could make me some new weapons?
There's more to being part of this group than getting weapons. You better be ready to commit to our cause.
*Chuckle* Oh, man. I've dug myself in real deep with you, haven't I?
Anyway, what's our next move?
Not quite sure, to be honest. I know we can't try to fight them again just yet. They're too powerful... Especially that Ariel. By Arcadius...
King's Highway cuts out.
... I wonder...
What is this woman's last name?
Hmm... She said it once. It was long... D-Something.
Yeah! That was it! Ariel D'eleficent!
By the gods. It makes sense now... That's why they worked with Solik... to bring her back.
I think the best thing we can do now is confer with those who defeated her during the war.
Arius and Nova Sherron. They're in Guardia, which is quite a journey from here.
Guardia? Didn't Galdar and Mina say they were going there to rest now that the trial is over?
You're right. If we hurry, we can head down with them.
What about Laurel and Finley? Should we wait for them?
Nah. We don't know for sure when they will be done with their business in Boreal.
Laurel dropped me off!
Dropped you off... what? Where is she?
She has more to take care of back in Boreal... But she wanted me to regroup with you guys.
Something weird's going on.
I'm not allowed to say anything!
She wants to surprise you.
... Okay. Well, we're glad to have you back. Let's get moving.
Leave me be. I am done with you.
Yes... The dent in my skull is a constant reminder of that. But... are you done with her?
oh jesus christ solich
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wspO6SfqCo8 'Elissa', OC ReMix #1261: Ecco the Dolphin 'Eternal Abyss' [After the Storm] by GrayLightning
I love a family reunion.
what have you done
And it appears the texts were correct. I feel more powerful than ever.
Has someone informed you of the incidents which transpired while you were in repose?
It takes quite a defeat to put Voyd in such a miserable mood.
I am not concerned. Though he is misguided, the younger Mistral boy has strong principles. He will return to us in due time.
Then both are startled when Ketsu is blown off the balcony by a wind spell.
And Rayne zips at Ketsu with a spear thrust. He lands the hit but Ketsu flits away.
Rayne dodging a spell...
What's gotten into you, Rayne?
This boldness is beyond the scope of your usual shenanigans.
Stay away from my brother, you lunatic! He's not going to be involved in any of your slaughter!
They sling a spell each and both dodge.
"Yes, the plan will cause some suffering in the short term, but there is no other way to guarantee our fellow humans win back the favor of Arcadius.
He has chosen me to carry out this task, and in the end, it is worth any cost."
I don't give a rat's ass about any of your zealot crap!
I don't care if Arcadius gave you those girly wings. I don't even care if he holds a town meeting and publicly endorses you!
You will not terrorize my family any longer!
You may mock my convinctions, but you can't deny my power.
The final piece of the puzzle I've tried to assemble all these years.
I am not sure if this was your intention, but your plan worked after all. I have no need for your brother now... Though I expect to see him again.
Cari, please call the others.
Yes. You see, even though you were the first one we approached, you are the last one we actually recruited.
"Thankfully, the other parents were more trusting than your father. And after years of working with us, they are far more cooperative than you."
"And of course, Rayne Mistral."
Get him over there on that thumb. You know we have to.
... How did I not know?
Persuade him to walk over there, will you Cari?
"I suspect we will have some strenuous work to do with you, if your brother's stubbornness is any indication.
The original plan was to gather children representing all six of the elemental magic schools, but it was not long before we learned that the continuing civil wars on the Isle of Alge between settlers and the Ember mages eventually ended the lineage of the family who first mastered ice magic."
Eh, ice isn't that different from water, if you ask me. Besides, this works better visually.
And of course, we weren't going to exclude holy and dark.
A disciple of Arcadius like myself is not in a good position to unravel the secrets of dark magic. I still have no inkling as to who first mastered it.
However, historical accounts agreed that Ariel D'eleficent was easily the mightiest dark mage of the last century, and her membership in The Midnight Guild meant that using the Forbidden Spell of Rebirth on her was a distinct possibility.
This came up ages back, but to remind you: The Midnight Guild, being the necromancers guild, always recommended necromancers leave samples of their hair or something hidden somewhere in their home so they could be revived someday. Ariel could scarcely believe it came in handy when she was told that was how she was brought back.
And of course...
I have just been gifted with proof of my own mastery of holy magic as well as my closeness to Arcadius.
Humans have wandered too far from the true teachings of our creator. Their willingness to let Gallia fall meant they had forgotten the Rain of Fire.
They had forgotten the sort of punishment Arcadius can deliver when his favored children have displeased him.
Despite the horrific nature of The Rain, it served a divine purpose.
It brought people back to their roots and back to the truth.
Now, he has chosen me as his next vessel... and humanity must again be forcibly turned in the right direction.
All of you are powerful enough in your own schools of magic to create catastrophic events across Solest.
On the day of the Awakening, Voyd shall use his skills to transport each of you to a selected community in Solest.
Then, at the same time, you will use your skills to bring down Arcadius's judgment to the people there.
"And Rayne, you shall conjure up a powerful tornado.
Upon seeing this, humans shall be snapped out of their complacency and we can begin the process of reviving the Gallian Enlightenment.
That day has finally come."
We're in the final stretch now.
The final arc took a full two years instead of the usual one. Letsee if the extra time was put to good use.
And there will still be more drama and tragedy.