Part 23: Guardian of the Flame
Music: Flamesgrace, Guiding Light
Before we go to our next destination, we've got things to take care of.
We need to gear up Ophilia, which is simple thanks to the shop and Tressa's gear. It's not like she's using it right now!
Like Cyrus, Ophilia's only weapon is the staff since she relies more on magic.
I opt for "Wisdom of the Church" because that sounds useful, which it is in that it's a three-turn PhysAtk/Def and ElemAtk/Def buffs for a single person, though the target is random. This NPC also has Fire and Wind attacks, which are nice.
If you're doing this with Ophilia as your first character, you'll definitely want this guy as your companion, as his wind skill is really handy against the boss.
Now to make the march to our next destination.
Music: The Frostlands
With our new companions, we have a whopping six people in this group. My only regret was I didn't bring the Manure Toss guy.
Here's Ice Lizardmen or something.
Ophilia's the Cleric, so she heals. She heals really well, in fact. Heal Wounds restores around 150 to the party, and that's without Boost! And of course Ophilia has access to light-elemental attacks.
Her favored stats are ElemAtk and ElemDef, the latter the highest of any character in the game.
Let's delve deeper!
Heal Wounds (8SP) - Restore HP to all allies.
The basic healing formula is ElemDef * Skill Modifier (2.12 in the case of Heal Wounds) * (1 + Boost Skill Modifier (0.3 here) * Boost Level). Yes, healing uses ElemDef as its base stat, so it's pretty potent under Ophilia. Boosting doesn't help that much, but it's still great even in the end game for how cheap it is.
Holy Light (6SP) - Inflict light-based damage on a single foe.
Standard single-target elemental spell. Still uses ElemAtk. Ophilia's main offense, for the most part.
Sheltering Veil (6SP) - Augment one ally's elemental defense for two turns.
Gives the ElemDef buff, which reduces elemental damage by 1/3. Boosting adds another two turns as usual. It's alright, but an upcoming Cleric skill is better.
Luminescence (9SP) - Deal light-based damage to all foes.
Standard multi-target elemental spell. This and Holy Light will generally be Ophilia's entire offense, but with her ElemAtk they'll more than suffice.
Heal More (25SP) - Restore a large amount of HP to all allies.
The skill power is now 3.2, and the boost effect is marginally better. The rare direct skill upgrade, it's mainly useful for panic situations when you're about to wipe. Not really needed early game, may be life-saving later on.
Reflective Veil (22SP) - Grant a single ally the ability to reflect one elemental attack.
The reflected attack does no damage to the initial target, and the attack keeps the same element when reflected, which means it may hit a weakness. Each boost point adds another attack reflection, with each character having a max of nine. This is to magical foes as Sidestep is to physical ones, except Reflective Veil can target any character, which not only means you can use more strategy with it, but also that it works with Primrose's "Target All" Divine, which means you can theoretically throw four stacks of this buff on your entire party in one turn. There maaaaay be a boss or two where this is really, really nice to do. And this can still be broken further shortly...
Revive (50SP) - Revive all incapacitated allies.
Unboosted, it only revives them to 1HP. With boost, the healing base is 3.25 and boost modifier is 0.33. It's also crazy expensive and way too situational to really be useful, especially considering how many other useful abilities Ophilia has. The only thing it has going for it is target-all. Meh.
Aelfric's Auspices (30SP) - [Divine Skill] For three turns, skills performed by a single chosen ally will trigger twice. (This will not affect other divine skills.)
A good contender for best Divine Skill in the game. Imagine two Cross Slashes, two Heal Woundses, or imagine that Reflective Veil strat above now granting eight stacks of magic reflection... There's a lot of potential here, and there's rare situations that it won't be of at least some use.
Persistence - All status enhancements you receive will last for one additional turn.
Might be useful for some specific strats, but otherwise filler.
Inner Strength - Increases the maximum SP of the equipped character by 50.
50SP is nothing to sneeze at, as even at post-game levels you'll only be cracking 150SP with a couple of characters if lucky. That said, there are other ways to mitigate SP loss, so while it's invaluable early on, it won't be as vital in the long run. Still a great passive to use.
Evil Ward - Increases the party's success rate when attempting to flee. (Equipping this skill with multiple characters will have no added effect.)
Handy if you're dungeon-diving into areas far above your level. If you want some overpowered loot early, here you go.
Saving Grace - Grants the equipping character the ability to be healed above their maximum HP.
This is a bit weird. It only works in battle, but if a character is not already above their maximum HP, they can be overhealed, up to a maximum of 9999HP. If a character is above their maximum HP, they can't be overhealed further until they dip back down below. Even with that wonkiness, this is one of the most invaluable passives for the post-game, at it gives you a much larger margin-of-error for those final foes. Also very handy if you're fighting certain bosses early. One of my favorites.
Also grabbed a couple of 100JP skills since with higher-level areas, JP gains are much quicker. Peacock Strut is handy to buff my magic-heavy team, while Spearhead was more a lack of better options. I debated heavily between it and Thousand Spears, and figured the latter may end up too cheesy.
Nothing up here but this great view of The Great Cathedral of Flamesgrace.
Below is our next destination.
This cave houses the First Flame--the fire that Aelfric himself brought down from the heavens... I must bring it back!
These guys are very basic people you can recruit if you forgot to snag anyone at Flamesgrace.
Even those of the Church of the Flame may only enter to perform the Kindling.
Music: Dark Caverns
This is pretty unremarkable even for the dungeons we've seen so far.
Lots of ice-themed enemies.
With four characters and my penchant for picking target-all attacks, these encounters become more and more trivial to blow through.
Which is why I get Ophilia's target-all light spell for her first skill!
Mayhap they protect the Flame.
A nice helmet upgrade that boosts Max SP. I think I give this to Olberic...?
Another elemental wisp for Ophilia to break.
You know what...nevermind. What's important is right behind us.
This must be it.
Music: For Light
Video: Boss - Guardian of the First Flame
Music: Decisive Battle II
This is our boss, the Guardian of the First Flame.
It's got a lot more HP than our previous foes...
...and it can hit quite hard. However, thanks to a couple of factors, this thing's not nearly as threatening.
Primarily, it does not start with minions or anything. I believe it may summon some later on, but I don't remember for sure and it never gets a chance to in this fight.
Primrose's companion isn't useful, but it's the thought that matters.
Ophilia's, on the other hand, is huge since he has a chance of using a three-hit wind attack that tears through the guardian's shields.
This foe's got a lot of really nice weaknesses for us to take advantage of, and with all the focus on this one fella, it's trivial to rip through those shields, especially if we time things right to break it on the beginning of a turn.
For Cyrus, the peacock will strut.
After that, max-boost attacks out the wazoo.
And here's Holy Light in action.
His post-break move is rather nasty.
All those wonderful buffs...
So that really nasty Sweep that should be scary and slowing me down? Now trivial thanks to the wonders of Heal Wounds.
It even has a weakish fire attack!
I don't even know what it does here...
...because I break its face in.
Now notice that the next turn I get everyone at three BP.
Sweet, sweet beautiful damage.
It never lasts long enough to do anything of note. It's nice to have an easy one after the last two.
Plum Basket heals SP party-wide. Since there's no skill that does so, this is particularly handy.
Music: Dark Caverns
It's so beautiful... As brilliant as the stars burning in the night sky...
Trust me, this won't be the last time we see random verbs end with the "-en" suffix.
Lianna... Please forgive me...
We fade back in to Lianna and Archbishop Josef.
He is sleeping still, but he seems to be resting more easily now.
Lianna... There is something I must tell you...
Forgive me, my girls...for making you worry so...
I will be well again before long... But now is not the time for such worries. The rite...
(She simply cannot bear it...)
...Your Excellency. I must speak with you.
...What is it, Ophilia?
You are aware that it is a grave sin for one to enter the Cave of Origin without the church's permission.
...I am, Your Excellency.
Worry not. I will not be punishing your sister, Lianna. But there are matters we must discuss.
Lianna takes one last look as she leaves...
Video: The Archbishop's Words
I did, Your Excellency.
And I can assume you set out with no preparation to speak of. For all your quiet dignity...
I am sorry, Your Excellency.
You journeyed to the Cave of Origin so that Lianna might stay here with me, did you not?
Speak with your sister and learn what she has these many months. Your instruction will be abbreviated, but I know you are up to the task.
Your Excellency, I...
A dream, Your Excellency?
A dream of you, bearing the Flame into the world. Looking back now, I realize it was an omen of what was to come.
But I know that it has not come easily to her. She has given up much of her true self to be who she must be for the church.
I trust that I know my body better than any other.
Video: Setting Out
Music: Ophilia, the Cleric
Take care yourself... I think Father was looking a little better today, don't you? We nearly had to tie him to his bed, he so wished to be here, too.
It's good to know he's acting more like himself again.
Ophilia... I owe you an apology.
Whatever for, Lianna?
The thought that I could stay here with Father instead of worrying about the Kindling...
I know that you only wanted to help me. And knowing that you will perform the rite in my stead makes me happier than anything.
Light the flames in each town, perform the Kindling as our forebears have.
Thank you, Ophilia. Really do take care of yourself, okay?
Let us see how Saintsbridge in the Riverlands treats me.
And so Ophilia embarks on her journey, guided with new allies who will stand alongside her every step of the way.
We've still only walked the OCTOP so far (or the CTPOO in our case), so let's finish the ATH by voting for character #6!
Next time, Flamesgrace and some more Side Stories.