Part 4: Nothing But ExpositionMusic: To the Battlefield
The oppressive Queen Protea reigns over the people of Granorg from within. In her Audience Hall, she sits on her throne, enacting various policies at her whim. The chaos and misfortune that transpires during the war... All of it had its origin in this chamber. What is the extent of the evil lurking in this gleaming palace? No one knows for certain...
What is it now, Eruca? Do not disturb me while I am at leisure.
Mother... When shall I receive a response regarding the employment program I proposed recently?
Ah yes, that... From what Selvan tells me, it is entirely too costly. The proposal is rejected.
......! But Mother, if you consider the nation's future, that program can only be beneficial... Employment will be granted to the people who have lost their jobs. Their lives will be enriched. Of course it will need funding, but that should be easy, if we cut back here in the palace.
Cut back in the palace, you say...? But everything here is essential to my eye.
This palace was built on the sacrifices of the people. It's shameful to live here in luxury while the people give their lives to maintain it!
Child, you fail to understand. The citizens yearn to be in the presence of we exalted royals. That is why they toil so... Our lives of luxury are not a privlege, but a genuine duty of the Granorg royal family. Selvan says so.
Mother, please listen. The duty of the Granorg royal family is to save the world by performing--
How tiresome you can be. Personally, I couldn't care one whit... But if you continue being such a nuisance on the subject, it could cause unrest in the people. You wouldn't want to meet your brother Ernst's end, would you? Hmmm?
Prince Ernst never was very bright... If only he hadn't been so spoiled as to defy my late husband, the throne could have been his. Then again, that is what made it possible for me to become queen after Victor's death... The one respect in which your brother's actions worked in Granorg's favor.
Mother... The Granorg throne comes with heavier responsibilites than you realize.
That is what makes it a position worthy of me! It is still far too much for you.
(Then it is you who will be held responsible for your actions on that throne someday... You will be responsible for this nation's fate!)
Eruca turns to leave the Audience Hall.
Pay it no heed, Selvan. Gracious, but dealing with children can be vexing.
Indeed, my queen. The fault lies not with you, Queen Protea.
Of course not. While I prosper, Granorg will be ever secure!
The screen fades to black.
Though the Lazvil Hills mission was a success, Stocke suffered heavy injuries. Raynie and Marco carried him to the infirmary inside Alistel Castle.
A few days later...
We hear the door open, and Heiss enters the room.
Music: Machinist Kingdom
So, you made it back alive. I expected greatness from you, and greatness you have given me.
Heiss... I didn't expect to see you here...
They told me my best agents was in critical condition. How can I get any work done in my office while you're here in such a state? I told you before... You're one of my best boys.
Much about our situation has changed while you slept. The Granorg army invading Lazvil Hills has been driven back... Not only that, but we even managed to take back the Sand Fortress at the border.
All of it thanks to the intel you brought back for us. We've finally proven our worth in the eyes of the military. It ought to keep our detractors off our backs for a while, at any rate.
One can hope.
Stocke, my boy! Can't you at least act a little happier? Or does it hurt too much to give so much as a smile?
No... That's just how I am. You should know me by now.
Ah well... As long as you have your health.
...... You have my next assignment, then?
You catch on so quickly. There is a job I'd like to ask you to take on. Come around my office later.
What about Raynie and Marco?
I put them on leave. The last mission was rather a strain on them, after all. But they seem to have taken a liking to you, and they're looking forward to your return. I plan on assigning them as your subordinates on the next mission as well.
By the way, Stocke... Did the White Chronicle prove useful?
(Does Heiss know something about the White Chronicle...?)
(He seems awfully curious about if I used the White Chronicle... ...... I was told to tell no one. I'll play dumb for now...)
I suppose it was useful as a lucky charm, like you said. Heaven knows we needed luck. That's the only reason I can see for us coming back in one piece.
I... see. So nothing, er, happened?
All right. I'll let you hang on to the White Chronicle for a while longer. I'm sure you could use a lucky charm on your missions from here on out. If you'll excuse me, I have other matters to attend to. Once you're back on your feet, come around my office.
Heiss leaves the room.
Odd that he asked so directly about the White Chronicle... It certainly saved us, but... Is that why Heiss gave it to me? Or was there another reason...?
...Bah, I'm no mind-reader. I'll have to tread lightly... I may need to put some distance between us soon.
Yes, that single room with a single bed was the entire infirmary.
Now that we have control, we check out the neighboring room.
Don't interrupt me unless you can be of some use!
This guy's got a portrait. He must be important...
Nothing for us in this room right now, though, so let's check outside.
"Unauthorized entry is prohibited."
Man, there's nothing interesting to do around here. Let's get out of here.
When we try to leave, we meet someone at the stairs.
When Raynie and Marco carried you here, I thought you were done for. But of course not. You train too much for that to ever happen, hmm?
...You give me too much credit.
You know, a lesser man in your condition wouldn't have pulled through! Honestly... You and Rosch both... Too many people in this army take too many chances with their lives. Doesn't it ever give you pause to think about all the people who worry about you?
...... If I made you worry, I am sorry. But this is the job. If we don't do it, Alistel will fall to Granorg.
I realize that. Hmph... I may as well be talking to Rosch. You both say the same things.
Speaking of Rosch... Where is he?
He's with Lt. General Raul. Rosch is going to be appointed commanding officer of a new corps formed from fresh cadets. If you want to see him, I think he said he would be here shortly to visit you.
At this point, a soldier enters the hallway.
Um... May I help you?
Music: Impending Crisis
Wh... What are you doing...?
The soldier befins to glow black, as Palomides did earlier.
A black glow...!?
Something flies through the room and knocks the soldier to the ground.
????: Talk about a nasty surprise... What was that all about?
Are you two okay? He didn't hurt you, did he?
N-No... I'm fine.
What about you, Stocke? You look like you're healing nicely.
...So I am.
Rosch walks over to the soldier.
What divison are you with!? How dare you turn your sword against a fellow soldier!
"Stk... ite... Crn..."
Huh? What was th--
The soldier begins to glow black again...
...And then he turns into sand.
Whoa! What the hell just happened!?
Did he... turn to sand...?
Fade to black...
Hm... You don't think this was Granorg's doing, do you?
No... Something about it seemed strange. An assassin would have acted faster.
...True. And then there's the way he died...
Sand Plague, most likely. It's a mysterious phenomenon that causes people to turn suddenly into sand... I've read about it, but this is my first time seeing it up close.
I'd always dismissed it as some old wives' tale.
It's real enough, apparently. But what would cause a person to turn into sand?
The essence of life, Mana, is found in all living things. They say that when one's Mana is lost, one turns to sand.
Is losing Mana different than dying?
With the Sand Plague, the cause and effect are reversed. Normally, when people die, the Mana leaves their bodies. But that soldier's Mana left him first, causing him to turn to sand and die.
So basically, the Sand Plague drains a person's Mana.
It would seem so. But I have no idea what would cause that...
Could it be connected to the desertification?
Maybe, maybe not. No one knows yet what's causing the desertification either. It's supposed to have begun sometime around when the empire fell several centuries ago... But did the desertification cause the fall, or was it the other way around?
Too many questions without answers... What's going to happen to the continent?
That's over our heads. Let's just do what we can.
...You're right. Well, I should get back to work. Oh, by the way... I was told not to let word of this get out.
...Told by whom?
My boss. You know, that thaumatech scholar Fennel in the lab next door. I told him a moment ago about the soldier that died, and he said not to tell anyone else.
I'll keep that in mind.
That's it from me. You two are free to stay as long as you like.
Sonja occupies herself with a nearby shelf.
Music: Machinist Kingdom
Hey, Stocke... Have you given any thought to joining my corps? It'll be just like how it was before Heiss started up Special Intelligence.
I'm working under Lt. General Raul to head up a new corps. I need a good adjutant. More than that, I need one I know I can trust. It'd be a weight off my shoulders to have you around.
Then... You want me to quit my post under Heiss?
You'd have to, yes. Lt. General Raul will handle the transfer from Specint to the Lt. General's command. We can take your subordinates along with you, too. That'll be no problem.
But can you sway Heiss?
That, I don't know. But he'll either be convinced or coerced. Lt. General Raul will see to that. It's not up to Heiss, it's up to you. Whatever you believe is best, that's what we'll do.
The screen flashes white.
(This feeling... It's just like before...! It's happening again... The White Chronicle is shining!)
.....! That's... Rosch! He's dead...! And... Is that me with him!? Did I... Kill Rosch? Impossible! Stop... Stop this! Don't show me such things!
The screen fades to black, and we're returned to reality.
(It can't be... Did I kill Rosch? Is this something that happens in the future? In what kind of future would I ever do such a thing...?)
I can see the hesitation all over your face. I'm not asking for an answer right now, mind you. Look, I need to go to the upstairs hall to greet the new recruits. Just think about it and let me know your answer whenever you're ready.
Rosch leaves the infirmary.
Leaving Heiss for Rosch... This isn't a decision I can make lightly.
Stocke, Sonja is right there. Stop talking to yourself, she's going to think you're crazy.
Stocke starts to leave the room, but he's interrupted by a bright flash.
Music: The Melody Connecting the World
That book...! Why is it here? It is calling to me...? I do still have questions for them... I should go back there.
Hello, Stocke. We summoned you this time because there's something we need to tell you.
I have a question for you as well. A moment ago I saw a future where I kill Rosch. What was that about?
Please calm yourself, Stocke. Our reason for summoning you is directly related to that.
You went back and averted the deaths of Raynie and Marco. Rosch's death happens further in the future, but it too can be averted in the same way. Even should that future come to pass, you can revisit it and change history. And this is the primary juncture at which you may do so.
Primary juncture...? Don't tell me... History branches again here?
That is correct. You are quite sharp. Look upon the path forward that you have chosen.
As we look at the floating stairs (what), a structure rises in front of us.
Historia sure does have a lot of stairs. What do stairs have to do with time, anyway?
This is the moment where history branches in two. You can return to this point in time and space with the White Chronicle. A node has been formed here.
Your decision now will have a profound affect on history. If you ever want to change that decision, return to this node.
So this is an important choice?
That's right. Whether to align yourself with Heiss or Rosch is a more vital decision than you know. Your decision to stay on as an agent or join the corps with Rosch will change your life.
Heiss gave me the White Chronicle. I don't understand why... But he obviously knows what it can do. That may be reason enough to part ways with him.
There are many potential paths laid out before you now. Make a decision, explore its consequences, search for possibilities. That is the power of the White Chronicle.
Search for possibilities... So it's more important to experiment, eh?
We're not saying you should make your decisions carelessly. We just want you to know that you needn't be overly cautious. To search for possibilities in the shadows of history, without anyone finding you out... That's your true mission.
Who better than an agent like myself, eh? But I want to know one thing.
What is it?
What's the point of all this? Before, my immediate goal was to save Raynie and Marco... But according to you, the White Chronicle is meant to bring about a "true" history. Safe to assume, then, that it's not for my own personal gain. So what is this "true" history? If I do nothing, what would happen?
The world will perish.
Music: To the Battlefield
It's no exaggeration. This world is on the verge of destruction.
I'm sure you've noticed. You know well the nature of this war and what form its conclusion must take... As the desertification continues with no end in sight, man will make war over arable land. The end result will be total extinction...
You will prevent that from happening by creating a history that won't perish.
Of all the endless possibilities that fade into darkness... There is but one razor-thin path of light. You must find it.
...I understand. In any case... I'll do what I can for now.
That would be best. Becoming anxious over having to save the world isn't necessarily to your advantage. Just do what you think is right. That may be all you need to reach a favorable history.
Well, when you put it that way... Sure, I'll try it.
Ah... There is still one more thing we must tell you.
Your journey will be hard. You will not go through unscathed. As a result, we're considering healing you and your comrades through the nodes.
You can do such things?
Oh, yes. But we will require Mana Crystals to use this power. You won't be able to heal your wounds whenever you want.
I have here some Mana Crystals. Take them with you.
All right. I'll be sure to use them wisely.
We will always be close by, watching over you... Until we meet again, Stocke.
(Why was I given this power...? Well, no matter. I have a decision to make. To join Rosch's corps or not...?)
Stocke turns and leaves Historia.
Obtained Mana Crystal x3!
Whenever we're at a node (save point) we can spend a Mana Crystal to fully heal the party's HP and MP. I tend to avoid using these unless I absolutely have to though, because they cost 5000G apiece.
We can also visit Historia while at a node, allowing us to travel across time to pivotal spots.
The White Chronicle has been added to the menu now. We can read up on past events, or get more details on our current objective, useful for if you haven't played in awhile and need a refresher. The smaller squares are regular events, and the doors are points we can travel to via Historia.
Anyway, we have a very important decision to make now. Should we Join Rosch, or Stay with Heiss?