Part 13: Screenshot Missions 4: HoracePost-Game Screenshot Missions 4: Horace
This is the only sidequest that deserves its own update and will have transcribed dialogue, because it expands the backstory and world of Ni no Kuni far more than anything that happens in the main game, and it's proper interesting stuff. But to get to it, we need to catch up with our old buddy Horace. When we last met him he was headed to Yule, and we find him staring at a flowerpot in the mayor's house.
You haven't left this house in months.
We've gathered these flowers before on the overworld.
Cloudburst is a nifty spell, if limited in use. It nixes weaker enemies, but there's little benefit to it at this point, and it doesn't do as much damage as I'd like.
I wish we could actually fight Horace. He'd make an interesting opponent, but we never go head-to-head with the guy himself.
Once we leave, since we already beat the main story and this is wrapping up loose ends from before the endgame, he immediately spawns in the Perdida Swift Solutions.
Yeah, all those 10 seconds from warping here to walking up to you.
We'll learn a little bit more about the Sagely Stone Age in this part, though not as much from Horace necessarily.
This question is bullshit. You'll never be so engrossed in the Nazcaän alphabet to tell any of the letters apart in the Wizard Companion's world map, let alone pinpoint the one that only shows up once there.
Veil hides our scent from monsters outside of battle, and it is an excellent spell for going back to areas where you don't want to face any of them, as they cannot detect you at all. Also allows you to sneak up on weaker enemies that run away too easily if you're hunting them, and it losts a long time.
This update goes into much more interesting areas than simply learning more about Horace, perfectly interesting and worthwhile as I'm sure that would be on its own. Even without knowing much about him, Horace is a likable character that I'm glad gets to stick around throughout our adventure.
Through the magic of existing outside of time (read: the game expecting us to solve his riddle before we kill Shadar), Horace immediately remembers something important and spawns beside the gravestone where we first met him.
I can't be bothered to actually figure out what it says myself, but props to the writers for a pretty clever explanation for something here.
That makes Unleash even more awesome to me: they're not just summons anymore - they're interdimensional familiars!
Speaking of awesome, Thunderstorm is the unsung best spell in the game. It hits hard, can cause confusion, and it knocks smaller enemies back - which frequently causes them to drop glims. Let's just say, look forward to how I use it in the second half of the Solosseum.
This is the point where I will start transcribing almost all of the dialogue, which will be in italics. It's engrossing stuff, but I'll be leaving out little things like Drippy's completely unnecessary interjections which only amount to a paragraph-length "Holy shit!"
Oliver: "Ash!? You mean...
Horace: "So you know about the white ash that fell here too, do you? That ash - the manna - it turned all the people into horrible monsters. And when I saw it, I remembered...
That was how I died, too."
"A long, long time ago, the same ash fell... It killed us all...
...But that's all I remember."
"I heard that the big stone here was a monument to the Sage of Ages. So I thought if I came here, it might help me to remember.
But I don't think this is where I died.
There's something else I need to remember. Something more important...
I'm going to carry on traveling. I need to find the place where I died."
"If I can find it, I think I might remember everything. I have to try...
See you again soon."
At this point, the game triggers a new mission, which requires us to go to Ara Memoriae. Last time we were there, we had an interaction with another certain green-haired person.
Who the hell are you and why did you eat my ghost friend?
Oliver: "...Huh!? S-Sorry, Sir... Have we met?"
???: "Heh heh! You really don't know? Well, I suppose I have changed my appearance somewhat since we last met."
"Oliver, I have been waiting or you. I have a tale I dearly wish to share with you."
"There was once a kingdom where we now stand. A mighty king united the surrounding lands and established his realm here.
This king treated all his subjects equally, be they humans, animals, or magical creatures. A new era of peace was dawning...
...Or so it seemed. But there were those who despised the king. Covetous souls who envied his power. They plotted against him, sowing discord throughout the kingdom, and in so doing set Nazcaä on the road to ruin...
But there my memory becomes hazy. I cannot recall their names, nor even their outward appearance. Were there...twelve? Even now that my amnesia has been cured, their faces remain hidden to me."
???: "I know that, but I also know that I recorded my fears about them somewhere. I left a message...a warning, so that when people saw them, they would know to beware. But where...?
...Wait! Yes! I hid it in a magical tome that would never age or decay...The Wizard's Companion!"
This is kind of a disappointing answer.
What a complex thing to forget that wizards wore.
"I can see them now, deep in deliberation... They were the Council of Twelve! Each member was given the title of...
...Zodiarch. A-And that is not all..."
"I was...there. All those millennia ago... I swore fealty to the Wizard King. Yes. I now remember. I was a sage of Nazcaä..."
Oliver: "You were!? But that means- Did you know Cassiopeia!?"
???: "Wh-What? How do you know that name? Cassiopeia... Queen Cassiopeia... It was so long ago... I have sensed her spirit at times, over the years. It is unmistakenably her... But I know not what befell her."
"...She gave in to the darkness. And that ash I saw fall on Ding Dong Dell - that was her doing?"
"But Oliver, you really might be the one to save her. The Wizard King entrusted you with his wand, after all."
Here I emit joy sparkles, as we indeed get a big badass spell to go along with our big badass Wizard King wand! Astra is basically the light version of Evenstar: light magic that hits everyone in the field, and it does the most damage out of any of our spells. No enemies are resistant to light, after all.
Since that was the last of Oliver's spells, I get the Magic Master trophy.
Hu-buh-jubbah-WHAAAAA?! he forced out as unconvincingly as possible.
Let's stick with Horace...
Oliver: "Wow. So does this mean you finally got your memory back?"
Hagablaga: "Indeed it does. And I have much to thank you for. Now, there is little I can do to save Queen Cassiopeia in my current state. I am afraid that I must humbly ask you to do all in your power to free her from the darkness."
Oliver: "Sure thing, Horace! We'll save her! You see if we don't!"
Whorace: "You are a brave and pure-hearted warrior, Oliver. I will pray for your success."
Oh, Horace isn't done just yet, though.
All things considered, this might be my favourite sidequest, if only for the storytelling, worldbuilding, and emotional aspects. I'm a sucker for a well-told story that adds to a history and/or mythos of a unique world.
Horace: "Thank you, Oliver.
Our story begins here long ago, where the kingdom of Nazcaä once flourished. Though it may appear bleak and barren now, in those days, it was a mighty empire that combined mighty magic with advanced technology. It was a prosperous realm where poverty and pestilence were all but unknown, and its people enjoyed a life of peace and plenty.
But man was never wont to count his blessings, and greed soon reared its ugly head. In spite of all they had, the populace demanded more. Friends turned upon one another, families were torn apart, and each citizen strove to better his own lot and outdo his neighbor."
"It led to a series of conflicts that would span centuries. The Wizard Wars. But the course of history was changed with the arrival of a single wizard..."
"This wizard wielded not one, but two wands. His mastery of magic was unparalleled, and he soon turned the tide of the war. Through his power, the bitter conflict that many thought would never end was brought to a conclusion in the space of mere days."
"He was lauded as a hero by all the peoples of the world, and his reward was the crown of Nazcaä. Thus did he become the Wizard King."
Oliver: "The Wizard King... Cassiopeia's father..."
Horace: "The very same. Now, shortly after peace returned to the world, the Wizard King hid one of his wands in the distant land of Autumnia. He sealed it away, that it might never be used for evil.
Which brings me to my latest puzzle. It has been some time since I last posed you a question, has it not?"
Horace's questions become less about knowing how to read the Wizard's Companion and more about basic memory of the game.
"I wonder how the valley where it was sealed fares...
In those days, it was filled with the most beautiful flowers...
...Let us continue our tale there."
And then he lazers away to Tombstone Trail. The very end of it. This is why I don't count this quest as a favourite for all of the fun combat or exploration I do.
You'll recall that Tombstone Trail is home to one of the magimechs we've been hunting down, and it's right on the way to Horace.
This guy is gonna be our guinea pig for testing our new spells.
And damn strong. Costs a fuckton of MP though, so I primarily save it for multiple enemies.
Not so costly is Thunderstorm, which only costs 18 MP. You'll also see the benefit of that when we get to Solosseum Part 2.
I also give Cloudburst a shot, but since the magimech is a special enemy, good luck getting the Nix effect to take.
This might be the single most depressing screenshot I've ever taken.
Go figure. Back to the usual standbys.
On the way I also run into more gold enemies.
I especially wanted to get the gold Toko, but it ran away too fast. Why yes, I did completely forget about Veil until the end of this update!
You'll notice there's no black orb here. I hadn't unlocked the rift yet, so I have to come all the way back here a third time later on.
"This valley changed so much. It was once a place of beauty, awash with flowers of every color...
No matter. What is done is done. Now, let me continue my tale...
The Wizard King ascended the throne and won great renown as a just ruler, treating all his subjects equally, be they human or otherwise. They, in turn, repaid him by rallying round their new monarch, and together they rebuilt the ruined realm more swiftly than any had thought possible.
"It was then, with the kingdom all but rebuilt, that he chose three servants from among his subjects... A swashbuckling sea captain to represent the race of men, a great wolf to represent the animals, and a serpent lord to represent the creatures. Each was wholly devoted to his master, and did all that the Wizard King asked. But of the three, the serpent lord was the wisest, and the most committed to his master's cause. He was known as "The King of the Cobras" - and what a mind he had. Ah, to think of how he was then...
This seems as good a time as any for your next question...
You have encountered these three servants on your travels, but can you recall the name of the mighty snake you faced?"
"Though the three servants achieved so much, their reward was to be chased without dignity from the kingdom they had helped to build...
But perhaps that is a tale for another day...
...Yes. We will continue our tale in the very ruins where you faced Aapep. I will tell you of how the Wizard King's three most loyal servants were driven to the path of evil."
We'll learn a surprising bit about Aapep as well during this, which makes him very sympathetic. I'm always for that - he was just a generically evil character up until now, though you could infer things about him due to his carrying one of the Wizard King's Mornstar stones.
Off to the Trail of Tears, where I run into another gold version of the Toko family!
BEAT UP THE NERD
"Below the King, at the head of the Nazcaän government, sat the Council of Twelve, a group of lords known as the "Zodiarchs." They were responsible for the day-to-day running of the kingdom, and were supposed to be the ruler's closest advisors. But the Wizard King's rise to prominence was a source of consternation for the Council, who feared his great power and the loyalty he commanded amongst the Keepers.
And so, as soon as Nazcaä was rebuilt, and stability restored, the Zodiarchs conspired to assassinate him. And their conspiracy was a success...
With the Wizard King eliminated, the Council had complete control of the kingdom. The King's infant heir, Queen Cassiopeia, became no more than a puppet. To compound their villainy, the Council successfully implicated the Keepers in the assassination, and they were banished from Nazcaä...
Aapep lost all faith in humanity, and soon the power of the stone in his possession began to corrupt him, transforming him at last into a servant of evil... Indeed, it was he who reduced this once great city to the ruins you see before you now."
Drippy: "That's bad, like, but you've got to feel sorry for him, en't it? Being framed for murdering youer mate would be enough to make anyone go off the rails."
Horace: "Perhaps... But Aapep possessed great wisdom. None could have predicted that he would suffer such a spectacular fall from grace...
Speaking of predictions... Yes. Open the book."
"As you may or may not know, it's authors were able to see into the future.
Turn to the final page. A prophecy is written there. A prophecy of what would become of a certain individual. That person's name, too, is hidden there."
No, I didn't bother. Pea doesn't deserve it.
"I remember when she was a kind little girl who loved flowers above all else...
...But that is a story for another time. If you are interested, I plan to visit a cave that lets one see into the past... I wish to see the old Cassiopeia once more..."
"When you have discovered its location, come and gaze into the past with me.
Until then, Oliver..."
We've indeed been in such a cave, about halfway through Glittering Grotto, and thankfully Horace waits for us at that location rather than at the boss arena again.
"Queen Cassiopeia loved nothing in the world more than flowers, and her every free moment was spent tending to her garden. Her castle was always bursting with color, with beautiful bright flowers of every imaginable hue.
Cassiopeia grew to be a splendid, spirited young woman - everything her father could have wished for, and all that I had always hoped she would become."
"This talk of flowers and gardens...it reminds me. You have a wand made from an old stick, do you not?"
Oliver: "Oh, you mean the wand Pea gave me?"
Horace: "That wand was a gift from the Wizard King and I to the young Cassiopeia."
"On it, we engraved our most deeply held wish for the princess's future... Ahh, it was so long ago..."
"But what befell the realm after the Wizard King's untimely demise put paid to any such wishes... The Council of Twelve devoted themselves solely to personal gain, and thought nothing of the plight of the people. If only... If only I had done more..."
Oliver: "What do you mean, Horace?"
Doodle-doo: "I said that I would tell you the truth, did I not? There is something I must confess to you. Something I did. An act for which I can never forgive myself...
Come to the Ivory Tower, to the chamber where the Council sat. There, I shall tell you everything."
Well, I guess the best thing to make me feel for a character is to make me feel bad for them. I'm a depressing ass.
Our last magimech is deeper in the grotto, however, so I must venture further in to take it out.
What a coinkydink! Or however you're supposed to spell that.
I ended up running all the way to the boss arena to teleport out anyway, FYI. Why yes, I did also completely forget about Vacate!
Yep, you didn't really think a non-challenge like the normal magimechs were all we had to fight for this quest, did you?
Still not a challenge at our levels.
This gives you another idea of how big the overworld actually is, and how Oliver and friends are just resized so that they cover more ground. Nazcaän cities don't look very far from each other from our perspective, but they're ages away.
I do a little bit of fighting on my way to Horace, mostly to kill this Tokotocold. Like its younger relative the Tokotoko, this one actually does give us a monstrous amount of XP.
That's more like it.
After getting sick of fighting all the magimechs, I finally remember Veil.
It's a straight breeze through to the Zodiarchal chambers.
"I often think of those days... How long has it been since I was last here, I wonder?"
"In the years after the Wizard Wars, I occupied the tenth seat on the Council, taking the Zodiarchal title of "Gallus."
Oliver: "G-Gallus!? But isn't that-!? You know! ...Him!"
Horace: "Ah, yes. The Wizard King's ruse. Even in death, he strove to protect his daughter... That was later, of course, after my seat had become vacant.
But we are getting ahead of ourselves! ...When I sat on the Council, to my undying shame, I failed to notice the plotting of my fellow councillors. Ah, I who thought myself so wise... They disposed of the Wizard King and his three servants, then turned their attention to any who might yet stand in their way. And they considered me an obstacle to their complete domination of the kingdom.
Sensing the grave danger I was in, I fled Nazcaä. I intended to bide my time. To rally forces loyal to the crown, and return to exact my revenge on the Council...
But the choice I made was wrong. I should have remained at the Queen's side."
Drippy: "But you couldn't, could you? Those rotters in the Council were gunning for you, mun!"
Horace: "It is a risk that I should have taken. By leaving, I sealed the fate of an entire kingdom.
Allow me to explain. In addition to my duties as a Zodiarch, I had been charged with educating Queen Cassiopeia in the ways of magic. I took it upon myself to create a compendium of spells and arcane knowledge which I presented to the young queen."
Oliver: "...A compendium? You mean like a...spellbook? ...Y-You mean...!?"
The Metal Gear fan in me loves when characters are connected in weird little ways. I like that our old friend Horace wrote the book that's been at our side this whole adventure.
"I wrote the Wizard's Companion to aid Queen Cassiopeia in her magical education. But little did I know that this book would lead directly to the disaster that befell Nazcaä."
"In my desire to create a tome fit for a queen, I included all manner of arcane magic...including the Forbidden Spell. But I failed to inclue detailed notes on the rights and wrongs of using such potent incantations... And I fled the kingdom before I could teach Queen Cassiopeia of the perils of the Forbidden Spell. I was so busy brooding on what manner of revenge I would exact on the Council that I failed in my duty of care to the Queen.
That is how she arrived at her fateful decision... That is why she did not know the true power of Manna...
It is my fault that Nazcaä fell, and that Queen Cassiopeia was transformed into the White Witch.
How could I ever make amends for what I did? It was...unforgivable.
Reduced to a spirit, doomed to roam the world for all eternity, how could I ever save that poor girl from her fate?"
Way to make me feel bad and empathetic to a character I already liked.
No, seriously. Way to go - too little too late maybe, but any bit of good characterization and emotional impact is only a point in this game's favour.
"That is why I must humbly ask you to right my wrong - to save the Queen. You are the only one who can, Oliver."
"You have my thanks. And I have some alchemical forumulae for you. Formulae to include in the Wizard's Companion. I pray that they will aid you on your quest."
I know my scent is technically masked right now, but I certainly look smelly.
We combine the Mirror of Truth with our very first wand, the old stick, to make an even better wand!
Already beat her, mate.
As for these other two, we get the items to make them in later updates.
Yep, the Sky Tree wand is a melee wand. Neither Oliver or Marcassin should be doing melee for anything other than an anticlimactic finisher.
At the very least it's better than Marcassin's old scepter.
Bye forever, Horace!
Next time: More Postgame Sidequests!