Part 70: A Dish Best Served...
Video: House Words
Father, please... Let me try just once more!
You are my daughter--the lone daughter of House Azelhart. You must be strong. Stronger than you are now.
The lady of House Azelhart...
A fair answer. But hear me well, Primrose...
What the head of our house must value above all...is faith.
...is that you cannot waver until you have done what you know in your heart of hearts must be done.
You must find that faith in yourself.
Our words are engraved upon the blade. See that they are engraved upon your heart as well.
Lady Primrose... Are you all right?
You must have been very weary.
I...I was just thinking about Father.
Lord Azelhart was a man of unwavering principles.
That he was... He taught me the sword, he taught me my letters, he taught me what it meant to live with dignity and honor...
He always told me: choose wisely what to believe in, and have faith in your beliefs. For that faith shall be your shield.
First off, this scene is gorgeous in motion with the snow effects and lighting, and I really wish the game did more cutscenes like this. I highly encourage watching the video just to check it out!
We see why Primrose is driven the way she is. When her father died, Primrose lost her sense of purpose, the driving force of her life. The only thing that keeps her going is the idea of revenge, but what happens when she reaches her goal...?
And not a word of this to the man in charge. I don't know who you are, but I know you don't belong here.
I don't think that'll be an issue once Primrose has concluded her business here.
As Primrose and Arianna walk to the manor...
House Azelhart was locked in a vicious struggle with several of the other high houses.
One time, the head of House Azelhart invited his liege lord to the castle for a great feast...
This lord had been a cruel man, and perhaps my forebear did the common folk a great service. But it did not win him any friends. Still, my family never relinquished the power they had seized. And they never lost faith in their convictions.
Unwavering belief in the righteousness of what they had done protected them from any slings and slights.
The petty squabbles of great houses concern me no longer. But our words still guide me, as they have guided my family for so long.
As Arianna ponders these words, one very obvious question comes to mind.
.........Did you say something, Arianna?
Sometimes, things are best left unsaid.
I really like the sudden appearance of the Narrative Box. In general, this chapter does a lot of creative stuff within the game's narrative structure that doesn't really get utilized by the other stories. Primrose and Olberic were the first two characters to get fleshed out, since the first demo only had those two, so their stories are generally more complex and experiment a bit more with the narrative formula than the others.
For now, it's time to focus on the task at hand.
Music: An Ill Omen
The dark rumors about it never cease, yet it remains cloaked in shadow.
I have plied my trade here for several years now.
Yes, I am a whore. And a cheap one at that--sold to this place for a price that would not buy you a good horse. Who knows when I will be sold again, and to where, for another pittance? When I think of that...
It will take you to the master's chambers. If you go quietly, no one will be the wiser of your coming.
I must be getting to work, so this is where I must leave you.
Of course, Arianna. Thank you for all you have done.
Before we continue on, we've got a couple more travel banters to go through.
Music: The Frostlands
...You think so?
'Tis honest and forthright. Virtues I strive to uphold.
We are fellow travelers now, and so I am in your service.
I'm very grateful for it, too. Having you nearby already gives me courage enough. But when you pledge your sword, why, I believe nothing will stop me.
I hope that I might also call on your help, should the need arise.
Olberic and Primrose are both strong-minded and determined, shaped by the tragedies that befell them, so it makes sense they have a deep respect for one another. They generally focus on using each others' strength to get through their respective struggles.
Why so grim?
...Maybe I am. I've been hunting for a long time now.
Well, just make sure the hunter doesn't become the hunted.
Don't worry about me. I know what I'm doing. When I set a goal, I always achieve it. I'm not the sort to forget her lines at the show's finale.
I'll take your word for it.
Primrose and Therion are the two characters who could be considered the least "moral", due to Therion's thievery and Primrose's quest to murder her father's killers, so that's another unique pairing for different perspectives. We also see a hint of Therion's surprisingly-strong flirt game, shaking off Primrose's compliment with ease, but more on that in the future.
We can actually backtrack to Stillsnow, so I opt to do so.
The final banter I need is with H'aanit, and beyond that Tressa is the lowest-level character, so this is the party I opt for. Warrior H'aanit makes natural sense, Thief gives Tressa some better damage options, and Cleric makes Primrose true support with a couple of attack options to work with. While Apothecary does give Cyrus more variety, he doesn't really need it what with all the nuking he's doing.
The path back to the manor is very short, so it takes us no time at all to get to the next dungeon.
It's a cave, with snow.
Oddly, once we reach a certain part of the cave, we fade out to the rare "Meanwhile..."
Music: Creeping Dread
Several notes. One, this is another situation where I simply don't have the sprite for one of the characters involved here, so I'm stuck having to use something similar. Second, this is one of the rare cutscenes that doesn't involve a main character, for whatever reason.
Third, there's some really skeevy stuff in this cutscene, and honestly it's not relevant to the plot at hand, so you may want to skip this cutscene (all the way to the next cave screenshot) if you don't want to see things get into really creepy territory.
She was my only daughter. I spared no effort in raising her to be a fine lady. Each day, I brushed her beautiful hair, and dressed her in the finest silks...
But then...then she was sullied by the son of a country lordling.
Never again will I stroke my daughter's long, beautiful hair...
Master Rufus... Please lend me your strength.
We are friends, are we not?
B-but of course.
And friends are always there with a helping hand in times of need.
You are a bishop in the Order of the Sacred Flame. You have much to offer me.
Anything you wish, Master Rufus. Anything at all!
You must be lonely after the loss of your precious daughter, Father. I will give you one of my own girls.
Hmm... How about Arianna?
Use her as you like, and I trust you will enjoy her.
Debts are such a tricky business...
This cutscene mainly exists to establish Rufus as a character, to show how his corruption has infected the church, and of course to skeeve us the hell out with...that.
Music: Dark Caverns
Oh boring featureless cave, how I missed thee.
The purple chest contains a Spiked Vest (80PD/100ED), which is along the same tier of the Elemental Robe and Falcon Garb we've gotten earlier, though the lack of a secondary stat boost means it's not really as good as either, even if it has the best PhysDef of the three by a slim margin. It's something that's kinda nice, but for me not worth going back to pick up.
Lots of light-themed elemental foes, even if this really doesn't seem the place for them. Naturally, Primrose and her dark magic excels at breaking them.
The dungeon is surprisingly short even for this game, and with that it's time to get justice.
Video: Rufus, the Left-hand Man
Music: Creeping Dread
So we finally meet again. Do you have any idea how long I've waited for this day?
No, wait...you do look familiar. Didn't I see you dancing on a stage in some desert town?
Do you remember now? Do you remember me? My house? My father?
Yes, I remember him quite well. The man knew how to handle a sword...
For all his virtues, your father made far too many enemies. It's not good for one's health, you see.
What crime would you lay at his feet? What coudl he possibly have done to deserve death?
He came to know something which he had no right to know. ...And it fell to my friends and I to sweep things back under the rug.
...I see. But surely you know well enough...
Is that so?
I have not relinquished it once, just as my memories of my father have never left me. He always told me to be true to my beliefs. To have faith in myself, and never fail to carry out what I knew must be done.
Music: For Revenge
That is the only thing I believe in now. That is my reason for being.
Hmph... You aren't the first to say such words to me. Like as not, you won't be the last. I will bury you...as I've buried all the rest.
Now come, precious daughter of House Azelhart.
Video: Boss - Rufus, the Left-hand Man
Music: Decisive Battle II
Rufus starts off with two associates, though they're of little threat.
We start off with the usual, a focus on finding weaknesses before breaking everything and nuking the adds.
Rufus and his associates only deal physicals, so PhysDef buffs, high Evasion, and Sidestep help a lot here.
With all the gear, skills, and various tricks we've collected so far, things are only getting easier!
Gotta get paid.
Rufus only has around 30k HP, so this alone does over a fourth of his health! That Elemental Augmentor is disgustingly good.
Rufus doesn't really have many tricks. His Pummel deals two hits and can inflict Unconscious...
...and his ultimate attack, Left-Hand Man, can deal huge physical damage to the entire party and also inflict Unconscious.
But by this point he's already near death, so...
I end up killing him before I can even break him again. A bit anti-climatic, but he got what was coming to him.
Music: Creeping Dread
How does it taste, my lady? Is vengeance as sweet as you dreamed it would be, all these years?
Quite so... You have a long road ahead of you...
There you will find...the truth you seek... If you have...the strength...to face it...
...It is done.
You have sworn yourself to avenging Lord Geoffrey.
You have my gratitude...my lady.
Music: Primrose, the Dancer
Dagger in hand, I have asked myself the question time and again.
Over and over, I asked myself...
But every time, this silent dagger is the only answer left in my hands.
This is what I believe in--and I have faith that I will see it done.
Primrose next has to face her past to accomplish her goal, her sole reason of being. It's only going to get harder from here...
But for today, let's end things with one last banter.
...It was a gift from my father.
Thou dost treasuren it greatly. I knowe this because--
Of those two rings, hanging from your necklace?
I have no memories of them, for they died when I was but an infant. But as long as I weare these around my neck, I feele that they aren watching over me.
...It is, indeed.
It's funny, as far as we know Tressa is the only one of the eight characters whose parents are still alive. Granted, we hear nothing about any of the men's parents other than Alfyn's mother having recently passed away (with no word whatsoever about his father), while H'aanit and Ophilia were orphans, and Primrose's mother died at an early age. It must make things awkward if you take an all-woman party and recruit both of Tressa's parents to fight with her. Well, awkward for many reasons.
And with that, we're halfway through CHAPT TOO! And now we get to the part where the voting will actually get interesting! Which character will be tackle next?
Next time is the usual thing of exploring a new town and tackling some side stories here and there.