Part 54: Blood-Curdling Mystery
Well...this looks foreboding.
And that body in the background that anyone else would probably notice immediately takes that opportune time to fall and grab Cyrus's attention.
Music: On a Knifes Edge
But what in the heavens is this?
Clearly, some baleful sorcery has been practiced here. These gemstones. Why, if my hypothesis is correct...
(And yet, it is as if myriad hues of red are mixed together.)
(Good gods, what horrors have been wrought here!? How many innocents have been victimized by this blood-sucking sorcerer!?)
(The villain we are dealing with is no common criminal. No...I am loath to even call him a human being. Sucking the life from the men and women of this poor town, only to cast them away...)
As an academic, I must confess that the history of the dark arts intrigues me.
You may have noticed the bodies locked in the cage on the top-right. If so, congratulations. You have more situational awareness than Cyrus.
Anyway, one of the bodies jostles and finally grabs Cyrus's attention.
I must free her lest she suffer the same fate as the others.
Video: Sanguine Research
Looks like our blood-sucking fiend has made his appearance.
Music: For Truth
And these strange glyphs. Are they not runes of High Hornburgian?
The tomes of ancient Hornburg were lost long ago. No ordinary scholar would be privy to this knowledge.
Oho. Seems you're more of a scholar than you give yourself credit for.
If you know what's best for you, you'll free them at once.
A shame. If only you hadn't come poking around in my secrets, I wouldn't have minded picking your brain.
Video: Boss - Gideon
Music: Decisive Battle II
Our first boss of Chapter 2!
Remember I'm quite a bit underleveled for this chapter. That mostly explains why the boss video is twenty minutes long.
First order, as usual, is to find his weaknesses. I start with dagger (great with Steal SP). Light magic is a natural good lead, and it turns out to be correct. I also luck into a sword weakness.
The tricks for these bosses start getting a bit more elaborate. One of the common tricks is summoning adds and then being unable to damage a foe's shields until the adds are dead. While I focus on attacking adds first anyway, being unable to chip away at a boss and briefly stop their attacks with a break makes things more difficult to manage.
Especially when these foes hit hard and have a ton of HP to burn through. These skeletons also have a Horror-inflicting attack, in case this wasn't difficult enough!
Those adds have over 7500HP by themselves! Even with my most powerful attacks it takes awhile to burn through them.
Gideon has a very nasty dark attack that can also inflict Blind.
I would not have won this fight without Alfyn. Ophilia would not have been able to heal as much as Soothing Dust + Essence of Grape does.
Also it's kind of dumb I had Alfyn as Cleric in retrospect. If I had to do this battle over I'd swap it to Cyrus, who I mainly stuck as Dancer so I could get audio of one of his more iconic battle lines.
Creepy Laugh is a nasty debuff for both defenses. Considering how hard these foes hit already, this is not ideal.
Fortunately, other than Hand of Darkness, their attacks are physical, so Hired Help -> Mercenary can nullify the debuff. A buff will cancel out a debuff completely, even if it's set at nine turns or whatever, though the opposite is also true.
I could definitely use every trick I can pull off, and that includes Leghold Trap. Predictability is huge in long, painful fights like these.
Alfyn doesn't do as much damage as Olberic, mainly due to his axe being a third as powerful as Olberic's sword (on top of Olberic's higher PhysAtk), but it's still worth throwing some attacks in here and there.
Gideon doesn't have an "ultimate" attack, but this is close enough. Executioner is deadly, especially if he's debuffed your defenses.
Max-boosted Heal Wounds doesn't really compare to Concoct, at least under Alfyn. Maaaaybe Ophilia could get near Concoct's healing.
Hey, something besides Mercenary! All Hired Help summons hit multiple times per boost point, so in addition to breaking through sword weaknesses, we can do axes, daggers, and light magic! Axes are most efficient here.
It also takes me this long to realize Gideon's offense is mostly physical, which means Shackle Foe will be invaluable to limiting his offense.
Eventually I finally eliminate those adds, allowing me to start attacking Gideon himself.
Also, Second Wind in action. It really makes using those two-hit spells much more feasible.
This still is no cakewalk, but having only one foe makes things easier, especially since he doesn't get multiple actions a turn like a lot of bosses start getting at this stage.
The Peacock Will Strut!
Another big factor when fighting higher-level enemies, Accuracy actually matters. It's kinda ignorable when fighting foes you're supposed to, but you'll miss more often if you're punching above your weight class. Something to keep in mind.
At this point, I've pretty much have this thing won. I know all his tricks, and as long as he doesn't summon more skeletons (he doesn't) I can handle anything he throws at me.
Also Poison for fun.
That said, the guy has over 26000 HP so it still takes awhile to chip through all that.
The bad part is Cyrus can't hit Gideon's weaknesses, so he's kinda stuck on support. Though having your Dancer be the one who can't hit weaknesses isn't a bad thing, since they can focus on buffs instead.
I even use a Pomegranate to keep up my debuffs!
Just a hint as to the true power of Alfyn. BP boosting is invaluable later in the game.
Olberic with a PhysAtk buff. It's beautiful.
I finally kill him...with poison. Yeah, sure, alright then.
In addition to quite a few level-ups, we get his dagger. It's got over double the attack power of our currently-best dagger (+118), a big speed boost, and it can even inflict a PhysAtk debuff. Very solid reward for a job well done.
After a quick nod, the two men walk away without a word. They also don't really bother trying to save that woman. Yeah, sure, OK.
Then again neither does Cyrus.
...Well, that's unfortunate.
And aside from basic instructions on performing the rites and the reagants required... All other details have been all but omitted. Why, it doesn't even mention the possible uses of these blood-crystals.
Calculations on the number of test subjects required to create one blood-crystal. I see...
"Delivered"...? Could it be that someone commissioned that frightful stone?
The drugs that awful man gave you are still affecting you. Pray rest until your strength returns.
Who...who are you?
Music: A Settlement in the Red Bluffs
Wooing a poor girl just awakened from a coma? Have you no shame?
Ahaha... Don't be silly, Odette. I was merely trying to be a gentleman.
At any rate, Odette, there is a favor I would ask of you.
Another one? Note my complete lack of surprise.
Needless to say, this could be a tremendous lead. I need to find out where, and by whom, the volume was translated.
Let me have a look.
...Whoever bound this spared no expense.
I thought the same. There are few bookmakers in the realm that could produce such a tome.
Did you find something?
While the texture of the vivid red binding reveals it as unmistakably tanned lambskin. There is only one place in the realm where both can be found in sufficient quantities.
...So that's where you will travel.
Where else? I must track down this time, Odette. And I must do so before any more horrors can be unleashed upon our fair realm.
Music: A Settlement in the Red Bluffs
We have our next goal for Cyrus, and with that we're almost finished with the chapter. That said, we've still got some travel banter to go through.
Their fur and hide aren highly valued--especially when unmarred by wounds. Instead of using a bow, I oft builde traps when I hunte goats.
I stalke the quarry, then herde it toward my pit or snare until it is caught.
In all things, thou must finden the proper way to achieven thy goal. Wouldst thou eaten soup with a fork? Steak with a spoon?
Excellent examples, both. You state your case most persuasively.
Me, a teacher? I thinke not.
You seem very sure about that.
I prefere the hunt.
This is such a weird one, yet it fits both characters so perfectly. H'aanit can be a bit awkward around people, so it makes sense she'd go into hunting goats for no real reason other than "goatskin" being mentioned. Likewise, only Cyrus would be genuinely interested and engaged in such a conversation. It's such an awkward banter, yet it works because of that.
Sometimes you may have multiple banters after a cutscene. We'll chat up Alfyn next.
Alfyn, my friend. You seem...melancholy.
Yet I am worried that it is, in fact, something.
Well. I can't stop thinkin' about them poor folk that got sacrificed.
Knowledge is a tool that can serve noble ends or wicked, depending on who wields it. What matters is the nature of the person who uses the tool...the disposition of their heart.
Aw, leave off it, Professor. I've got my brain full just tryin' to learn all I can about medicine.
A handkerchief? Thank you, Professor.
I generally like the Cyrus/Alfyn conversations, because they're both about using their knowledge to help others. It's pretty fitting since they have similar Path Actions!
We're done here, so it's time to leave and finish things up.
Video: Journeying On
You helped out a little here. What say we call it even?
Music: Cyrus, the Scholar
I have a hunch you're poking around in something far more sinister than either of us can imagine.
I am well aware of the danger. I will exercise...due caution.
A man cannot so easily change his gods-given disposition.
...You said it was fifteen years ago that the tome was stolen.
That I did. What of it?
...And you believe the two incidents are connected somehow?
No, I just like spouting valedictory trivia. But now that you mention it...
Your insight is invaluable and appreciated. I will keep this in mind.
I will. And I'll return as soon as I get to the bottom of this. You have my word.
There's a lot more at play here now besides a simple tome. Just what exactly is going on with this book, and who are these weird figures that seem to be shadowing Cyrus...?
You may have noticed we still have one banter left to check out. So let's end the update with it!
Is something troubling you, my friend? You suddenly have a worried look about you.
Someone watching, you mean? Hmm... It would well behoove us to trust your instincts...
The question is, who?
We could try. But if they escape, we will only have served to alert them...
Then only one other avenue is open to us...
What would that be?
If that be your advice, so be it. But you must be our lookout. Do not let your guard slip.
Hehe. Knowing one's enemy is the first step to defeating him.
A little of both, I wager.
This one's pretty awkward too, pretty much saying that our party is aware of the obvious figure shadowing them while saying they're not going to actually do anything about it because, well, this banter is optional to begin with. At any rate, Olberic is usually offering his expertise on battling and traveling due his experience in both, and he's also the straight man and the most level-headed of the group. That doesn't necessarily mean he's boring in these banters, but he's subdued compared to Cyrus's enthusiasm, Primrose's giddiness, Tressa's passion, or Therion's smartassitude.
At any rate, we're done with our first Chapter 2! Only seven to go!
Vote for our next character here and let's see what weird word or phrase we spell out this time!
Next time, Quarrycrest, a Side Story or two, and maybe some side dungeons to try to get our team up to speed!