Part 10: A New Mission
For a while there when the cave-in happened, I didn't know what was gonna happen to us.
Yes... Twice is enough for that particular experience, thank you.
Have you been in a cave-in before?
Oh... Um... Well, yeah. The mercenary troop we used to be in was wiped out by one...
We had taken a job from Alistel to guard a mine. A horde of monsters suddenly appeared, and we were swept up in an enormous melee. Then one of the monsters broke the support beam holding up the ceiling... I don't suppose I need to tell the rest of it, do I?
So you were buried alive? That would have been the end for most. I'm surprised you two survived.
You and me both. I still can't believe we made it out.
We were grateful to have lived, but Raynie and I had nowhere to go afterwards. That's when Heiss gave us a place in Specint.
So that's what happened... There's no predicting Heiss.
But there's something that still bothers me.
This again, Raynie?
...What's this about?
Marc still won't believe me. But I swear that monster came specifically to destroy that support beam. Marc and I were practically on a silver platter in its path, but it ignored us. Marc thinks I'm just imagining it, mind you.
Because if that were true, it would mean monsters have some semblance of intelligence. And one causing its own death through a cave-in would indicate the opposite. How do you reconcile that?
How should I know? It must have had its reasons.
As I keep saying, it's all in your head. It's just your imagination, Raynie. And if it isn't... all it means is that we were unlucky.
*sigh* And round and round we go. I'm telling you, it was making a beeline for that support beam.
Music: Affectionate Moment
...Don't get too worked up over it. It's in the past. Putting it out of your mind is the best way to get beyond it.
I agree completely.
All right. I get it, I get it. It's true. Whatever we think doesn't change what happened. Okay, that's enough talk about that! Let's get going!
We walk toward Alistel Castle, and the screen fades to white...
Music: The Melody Connecting the World
You have begun walking the path of a soldier. It will not be an easy journey. But should you falter, look around you... There will always be people around you to lend their support. Now, let us add a new chapter to the White Chronicle.
Stocke walks up the staircase and enters the door on the right.
Music: To the Battlefield
Meanwhile, in Granorg Palace, we see Selvan enter the audience hall and join Dias, who is already there.
Terribly sorry for my tardiness. I hope you can forgive me as well, General Dias.
Perish the thought, Count Selvan. I've only just arrived myself.
Ah, very good. So then, Queen Protea... What is it you have summoned us to do for you today?
What do you think!? Ever since the Alistellians took the Sand Fortress back, our front line has been receeding. And now I hear that the surprise attack plan on Alma Mine has failed as well! You will make an accounting of yourselves for this!
...Indeed we will, your majesty, and my sorrow over this failure is heartfelt.
An operation is already underway to recapture the Sand Fortress, be assured of that. We owe much to Count Selvan's corps for keeping the enemy occupied at Alma Mine... Think of it as mere bait for the real prize of the Sand Fortress, and it's well worth the sacrifice.
...If you say so, then I won't press the subject. But if you fail to take back the fortress after all this...
I am keenly aware of the consequences.
...That is all. You are excused.
Yes, Your Majesty.
By your leave.
The two leave the audience hall, and we fade to a different scene.
So! What was on Her Majesty's official schedule of events today? Will she be spectating as the gladiators tear each other limb from limb for her amusement? Or will she be attending services to worship the young boys in the choir? What a busy life our queen leads!
...Leave it be. It suits a wench like her.
Pitiful. Just shameful.
I have to thank you for speaking on my behalf in there, Dias. I'd as soon not become the latest target in "Pin the Tail on the Scapegoat" for that wench.
Think nothing of it. But... You should know that our preparations for the operation at Alma Mine were quite thorough. Yet Alistel saw through the ruse immediately and mounted a quick counteroffensive. It's that accursed watchdog...
Heiss, you mean? It's true that he has an unusually keen nose. He roots out all of our schemes, one after the other. It's to the point where I wonder if he doesn't know the plans beforehand... But if we change our perspective slightly, he may become another tool in our arsenal.
...What are you hinting at?
I can't say this too loudly, but there's a man above Heiss...
...So we should be able to take similar measures. Well?
......Tell me, Selvan. How far would you be willing to take this...?
We've been taking risks ever since we raised that commoner to a queen on her beauty alone. I am not saying that this can be done swiftly... But, having breached the possibility to you, I'd like to hear your thoughts.
I see. I have no objection. But I'm a warrior at heart, and I'd like to apply our own skill to the situation a bit more. While true that our army is at a disadvantage... Alistel's side also overreaches, I think. There are times when their supply route is unguarded.
...How characteristic of you. All I wanted for the moment was your consent.
I've already made a move. If we take the Sand Fortress, they'll be woefully undersupplied. The thaumachines of their main force are expensive and high maintenance. With their supply lines cut, they're as good as annihilated.
I see... Then I'll make the necessary negotiations before the next meeting.
I'll be counting on it.
Count on me all you need. Being the assembly to our will is my job. Yours is to go out and oversee fruitful operations.
And all of it...
...For OUR kingdom.
Music: Machinist Kingdom
Meanwhile, back in Alistel
That captain sure is an interesting guy.
You're right. You don't find people of his caliber that often in Alistel.
And man, compared to Stocke, the difference is night and day. It's hard to believe the two of them could end up best friends.
There isn't much to it... It just so happened that we served with each other in the same brigade.
So you're war buddies. More like... The two of you were bonded by counting on each other to stay alive. That's the feeling I get, anyway... Could just be me.
I've gotta admit, I'm a little jealous. I've always wanted to have that kind of camaraderie. Y-You think think we could ever work on that level, Stocke?
Hey, it's Kiel.
Dr. Sonja is asking for Segeant Stocke to report to medical. I'm to bring you.
Sonja's calling me?
Right, follow me, Sergeant. I promised Sonja I'd return with you.
Oh, really? You made a promise with a beautiful doctor, eh?
I didn't know you had it in you, Kiel.
O-Oh no, I'm just... Well... Please don't make fun of me.
...All right, I'll go see what she needs.
Oh, and Sergeant! Would you... happen to have any spare time coming up?
I'd really like to improve with my sword by training under someone with your skill. I'm confident in my form for ceremonies, but when it comes to actual combat...
...All right. I'll see if I can make some time for you.
Yes, Sir! Thank you, Sir!
Stocke follows Kiel out of the bar.
A bond forged by trust, eh? Well, color me curious.
...Then why don't we go too?
Good point. Let's go!
Raynie and Marco follow Stocke.
We're given control again. There are sidequests to be done, but I'm going to head for Sonja's office first.
Music: Affectionate Moment
You're finally here. Thank you, Kiel.
O-Oh, no need to thank me... I'd, um... Well, I'd do anything for you, Ma'am. Hahaha...
Stocke, you shouldn't make your men have to go on wild goose chases to find you. Now, right this way, please.
Stocke steps forward and stands beside Sonja.
You'll listen to what the doctor says, won't you, Sergeant Stocke? If you give her too much trouble, I'll have to tell Captain Rosch.
...Why would you bring up Rosch here?
Oh... Um... Well... ...Hahaha! With your permission, um, please excuse me!
I love how awkward Kiel is.
...It seems they've warmed up to you. You're always the quiet type, so I was worried they'd get the wrong impression of you.
...You needed me for something?
I called you here so I could check up on those wounds you sustained last time.
...There's no need to worry. They've more or less healed.
They wouldn't employ doctors if the soldiers could make that decision for themselves. Now take off your clothes, and let's see those wounds.
Sonja begins to undo Stocke's shirt, and the screen fades out.
But I still must insist that you don't push yourself too hard.
Ah, Stocke. I've been looking for you.
...You might have to get in line.
Huh? Well, anyway. They're planning a strike. Lt. General Raul wants us in his office immediately.
Ever since the operation at the mine, the army is getting deployed more frequently...
Well, we are short on men, but look on the bright side. They've got the good sense to send us in with the brigade of fresh recruits.
...That's what concerns me. You two need to look out for yourselves better than you do.
Well, we'll get around to that. Stocke, can you meet me in the Lt. General's office? I need to have a quick word with Sonja.
Stocke silently leaves the room.
How's Stocke doing?
He's fine. So why did you ask me to give him a check-up? ...Is there a big mission coming up?
Under the circumstances, all of the missions are "big." And he's the type who would never speak up. He works through it all by himself. ...That's why he's dangerous. Someone needs to look after him. But, if you say he's fine, then that's one less burden on my shoulders.
Come on, don't give me that look. No matter the mission, I'm going to make it back. ...And Stocke will too.
I know you will. Because I'd never forgive either of you if you died and left me behind.
Whoa. Easy, tiger.
Stop joking around; I'm serious.
I know, I know. Just trust that we'll stay safe, and wait for us to come back. ...Anyway, I better get going.
Rosch leaves the room.
Music: Machinist Kingdom (Piano Arrangement)
Rosch comes from the direction of Sonja's office.
...I thought I told you to go on ahead.
Even if I had, I wouldn't have been able to hold a conversation with him until you showed up.
Hahaha! I suppose that's true! The Lt. General talks a lot, but I can't imagine the two of you alone in a room.
Oh come on, I've had enough dirty look for one day. Let's go together. The Lt. General's office is on the third floor to the right.
Alright, it's time for sidequests!
"Hey, you! Would you like to listen to my plan?"
"I've thought about collecting the Prophet Noah's words into a single book. But an ordinary person like me has no chance of going before the Prophet... Maybe I could talk to people who were really close to him... That's why I'm walking around the city. I'm thinking of going to the Sand Fortress and asking to meet with Field Marshal Viola. I don't know if I'll actually be able to see her, though..."
I'll help out.
"Oh... Really? Great! I'm not used to travel, so I was worried about how I'll get to the Sand Fortress. My name is Cedric. I'll keep on researching here. Please let me know if you can talk with Field Marshal Viola."
We can't help this guy yet, but we'll get a chance soon.
"Oh, Stocke. Perfect timing. I want to ask you to help with our scouting efforts again. Do you have time?"
I'll do it.
"Thank you! Let's see... The man I want you to talk to is named Berman. He was in Alma Mine not long ago. He was a mercenary at Cygnus but was recruited for his skills and now works at Alma Mine. He's known as the Legendary Engineer... But after the mine closed, nobody knows where he went. I wanted to contact him before the mine closed, but... If you find him, please ask him if he would like to work for Alistel."
The obvious solution to this problem is to go talk to him in the past. We travel to the node "The Closed Mine"
Berman lives in this small building right by the entrance to the mine.
"The mine's closing soon. The jobs here paid well... I guess I'll have to look for another way to make money now."
Are you Berman?
Berman: You bet. Berman the bomberman, at your service. Who're YOU?
I'm with the military. The Alistel army wants to hire your services. What do you say?
Berman: Great timing! I was just going back to Cygnus, since my job's been closed down. From the looks of you, you seem like someone who can handle explosives as well. Dosn't a big barrel backed with volatile chemicals make you excited? But don't enjoy it too much, or you'll end up like me. Well, I'll head to Alistel as soon as I pack up, then!
(As I thought, it was much easier to hire him in the past. He seems a bit crazy, but my job here is done.)
"Berman took the job! He joined up right after I asked you! I was so surprised that you found him so fast! Oh, yes, here is your reward."
"If I have a tough job like this in the future, I'll ask you. I hope you accept."
This isn't the last time we'll be looking for recruits for the Alistel army. The next sidequest we'll be starting is in the same room as the receptionist.
"Oh, Stocke. You came at a good time. Have you heard of the flower Celestia Iris? Not only is it rare, it's also very beautiful. It symbolizes "one true love"... I want to grow a bunch here and hope to inspire any hesitant couples. If you have any, can you give them to me?
"I'm sorry to have to ask you this... I'm counting on you."
It'll be a while before we have access to Celestia Irises, but there's no reason not to accept the quest while we're in town.
Our next stop is the training room, right by the door to the basement.
Who are you talking about?
"The girl and the guy in the hat!"
Huh? Me and Marc?
Is there something you want?
"I am your personal trainer! Show some thanks!"
What are you talking about? You're not making any sense.
"I mean it! I'm going to train you and teach you new moves!"
Is this guy mental? Let's ignore him and quit wasting time.
"However! If you want to learn my techniques, there is one condition."
He's not taking no for an answer...
What's your condition?
And this guy's taking him seriously...
"You must find the Technique Scrolls scattered across the land... That is my requirement! How about it? Don't you want them to learn new techniques?"
"You got it! Let me tell you about the Technique Scrolls!"
Whoa whoa whoa! Hang on a second! We didn't agree to this! Aren't we the ones learning the moves?
Well, this might not be a bad thing, right, Raynie?
Why are you standing up for this shady character?
No, it's just that our missions take us all over the land.
Right. We might find these Technique Scrolls along the way. Even if we don't find them, there's no harm in agreeing to look. If we do find them, you can learn new skills. It's not a bad deal.
Hmmm... Well, I guess if you put it that way...
"So, uh, can I get back to talking about Technique Scrolls now?"
Yeah, sure. We're listening.
"There are two types of Technique Scrolls I want you to look for. The first contain spear skills. Those techniques are for the girl. The others have sword skills. They're for my friend in the hat here. There are four of each type.
So there's eight of them to find?
"Basic math skills! All right!"
I love this guy.
Where are these Technique Scrolls?
"You see... I don't know!"
Huh? Then how do we find them!?
"That's where you come in."
So we've got to search the world on our own, huh...?
Considering you don't know where they are, you sure know a lot about these scrolls.
"W-Well... As a soldier, it's only natural, yeah..."
Are you hiding something?
"N-No, nothing at all!"
He probably just pawned these Technique Scrolls for money... And when you came back for them, they'd already been sold. Am I right?
"H-How'd you know!?"
Just a wild guess. I didn't think I'd be right.
So why are you acting all grandiose when this whole thing is your fault?
"Er, sorry... I just need to get them back before my dad finds out, or he'll kill me..."
You could've just asked.
He needed to save face.
No point if "saving face" makes him sound like an idiot, though.
"You got me there..."
We understand your situation. If we find any Technique Scrolls, we'll bring them back to you.
Oh, well... But don't forget to teach us the techniques, okay?
"Of course! I'm sure they'll come in handy!"
Every playable character has a quest just like this. Someone will ask you to find them a bunch of items, and for each one you return they teach you a new skill to use in battle. Some of the scrolls we're looking for are hidden in chests around the world, others are rewards from different sidequests. The skills you get from these quests are normally pretty good, so collecting the scrolls is worth our time.
Now, there's one more sidequest we can do right now. The NPC we're looking for is in the laboratory, the room next to Sonja's office.
Meese: I know you're Sonja's friend, so there's something I'd like to ask you. I'd really appreciate it if you could hear me out.
Meese: Thank you. Well, to get straight to the point, Sonja's been acting odd for a while now. She seems... distracted. Like her mind is elsewhere, and that's not like her at all. The problem is, I think it's starting to affect her work. The only staff allowed on this floor are hand-picked from the best of the best. So as her colleague, I'd really like to see her return to form. Think you can help?
I got it.
Meese: Thank you. I know talking to you would help. Ahh. Well, when you find the time, please come back.
We have to go talk to Sonja now, which is why I waited to start sidequesting until after visiting her office.
(She's definitely acting strange...) What's the matter, Sonja? You don't look yourself... Do you have a fever or something?
Oh! Stocke... I'm sorry. No, I'm perfectly healthy. It's just... I've got a lot on my mind.
(Sonja just looked at Rosch... Does he have something to do with it?) ...Rosch, would you mind stepping outside?
Huh? Uh, sure.
Can you talk now, Sonja? What happened?
To tell you the truth... It's about Rosch.
Something happened between the two of you?
It seems like Rosch has been avoiding me lately.
Rosch? Are you sure you're not overreacting?
I am not! We had our birthdays a few days ago, and you know what he did?
Oh, right. Your birthdays are close together, aren't they?
Right. Usually we exchange presents, but this time...
He's probably just busy with work.
Do you think so? The Rosch I know wouldn't have forgotten... Did I do something to make Rosch hate me?
...Did you do something that you think would make him hate you?
No! That's why I'm so confused. *sigh* What could be wrong...?
To resolve this problem, we have to travel all the way back to where the timeline splits. It's the only time we get a chance to talk to Rosch alone.
(But I can't ignore what Sonja said... Should I bring that up now?)
Listen to Sonja
This choice is basically asking if we want to continue the sidequest, or if we want to skip it and give him our decision about joining the brigade.
What's going on, Stocke?
Why have you been avoiding Sonja lately?
Huh!? Wh-What are you saying?
Sonja's worried that she's done something to offend you. What happened?
Did she offend you that badly?
No! She didn't do anything wrong! It's not her... It's me. It's all me.
Why didn't you tell me about this?
I was under the impression you liked Sonja... Was I mistaken?
...Nah, you're not wrong... Not at all. Actually... That's the problem. You know, ever since her brother died, she's treated me as a brother. I thought I owed him something. That's why I looked after her, like she was my own sister.
But I can't keep doing it. If it was anybody else, I could make a gift and put all my heart into it... But... She's my sister! It just isn't right! Damn it! Give me a break! I can't go on playing her brother forever! I just can't!
Sonja pauses for a moment, and then turns and goes back into the basement.
Sonja... Damn! This is your fault, Stocke! Why'd you bring it up!? No... Perhaps this is right. I couldn't run from her forever. She had to find out someday. Hmph... Now I can concentrate on battle.
Rosch turns around and walks toward the elevator.
(What should I do? Can I just leave them be? Isn't this Rosch's chance to tell Sonja his feelings? But if Rosch has made up his mind to forget about her... I have to think about this one carefully.)
You seem determined to end things between you and Sonja... I'll see how she feels about you.
I don't know what happened between you, your brother, and Rosch. But I think you shouldn't chain yourself to the past. The same goes for Rosch.
Huh...! You always get right to the point, Stocke.
But... I understand what you're saying. I'm crushed... But... If Rosch wants to leave me because he thinks it will help me, then I have to accept it. Stocke... Have I already fallen out of love with Rosch? Ahah... ha...
I... really couldn't say.
Music: Where the Wind and Feathers Return
Events have thrown the friendship between Stocke and Rosch into slight disarray. Rosch ended his relationship with Sonja and dedicated himself to battle. He quickly rose through the ranks, but in return was given increasingly dangerous missions. When the time came for the decisive mission to invade Granorg... Rosch led the breakthrough charge into the enemy capital, but suffered a mortal wound. He was praised as a hero by his countrymen, but Rosch died alone and friendless...
"A Knight's End"
...I didn't expect to completely lose my friendship with Rosch... Sonja meant so much to him.
But, Stocke... I don't understand what happened to cause these events. Could you explain to me what all that was about?
If you can't see it, then you're not ready. You'll understand it when the time comes.
... Haha! You beat me with style!
I understand you're in a painful place right now. But she might not have heard everything just now. You should go after her and tell her. And then, you need to ask how she feels about you.
You're avoiding Sonja because you're afraid of rejection. Don't you feel sorry for her?
You're right... And even if she turns me down, it won't get any worse, huh? I owe you one, Stocke!
Rosch runs after Sonja.
...Good luck, Rosch. ...Perhaps I should let Meese know about this, too.
Meese: Sonja's important to us around here. Thank you for what you've done.
(...History has changed, so he never knew anything was wrong with Sonja to begin with...)
Meese: I feel like your coming here was fate for some reason... I'd like you to have this. Please, don't be modest. Take it. I don't know why, but it just feels right.
Obtained P. Thauma Spear.
Meese: I hope you'll keep looking after Sonja and Rosch.
This event, Red-Letter Day, was one of the game's 10 most important sidequests. There are 10 sidequests in this game that add additional scenes to the ending, and if we complete all 10 we'll get an 11th scene, giving us the complete ending. That's a ways off right now, though.
Our reward, the Prototype Thauma Spear is a pretty great spear for this point in the game, with an attack stat of 23 and a bonus 2 defense points. Compared to Raynie's current weapon, it gives her an increase of 9 attack points.
Well, I think we've kept Lt. General Raul waiting long enough. His room is on the third floor, let's go get our assignment.
Music: Machinist Kingdom
Reporting in, General.
Rosch stands by General Hugo, then Stocke follows and does the same.
Ah, Captain Rosch and Stocke, was it? ...Or should I say Major Rosch and Lieutenant Stocke? You've been promoted.
The Young Lion of the Alistel army... Your success at Alma Mine is held in high regard even amongst the citizens. I'd hoped to meet you in person, and I see... You do have a good face.
Your praise is more than I deserve.
At this rate, perhaps you will even be granted an audience with the Prophet Noah. I shall continue to expect great things from you. ...Well then, please excuse me. Lt. General Raul, I leave the rest to you.
Hugo leaves the room.
And Stocke... It's been a long time. I only saw you a few times while you were an army man... But I must say, you look even more capable now than you used to. It's quite reassuring that you've accepted this position in Rosch's brigade. When I think back on it, you may have even--
Ahem... Lt. General...
Ah, sorry. I do have a habit of getting long-winded. Let's get back to the mission at hand.
...So with specific regard to your brigade... First, you'll pass through Lazvil Hills to reach Judgement Cliff. There you will rendezvous with an informant, who will have your next set of orders.
So our true destination will not be known even to us.
Ever since the enemy breached Alma Mine, the brass has been on edge about spies. For operations that cross the border, they don't want the specifics floating around.
Understood. We'll prepare the men as soon as possible.
Well... How should I put this... Make sure that you're keenly aware of your actions from now on.
Sir? Why the sudden concern?
Music: To the Battlefield
...Well, it's General Hugo. It bothers me that he took the trouble to come see you. I only say this because it's you, but did you know he used to be a politician?
I know that his duty to convey the Prophet's word and the war are what made him a general.
...Well, consider this simply the ramblings of an older soldier... But do you know how the citizens are referring to you now? The Young Lions of Alistel... There was another who earned that kind of praise from the public. Even to this day, she's well-liked amongst the soldiers.
You mean Field Marshal Viola, the Valkyrie. Her charisma is well beyond ours. She is truly Alistel's goddess of victory...
But I believe you are well aware... Of where this "Valkyrie" currently is and what she's doing. Or to be blunt, where she was put because she was garnering more favor than General Hugo.
She's been transferred to the Sand Fortress for a long time now. You might say, she was "gotten rid of."
...But there's something I don't understand. Wasn't it General Hugo himself who promoted her to Field Marshal?
Ah, but that's where you see Hugo shine as a politician. By promoting her, he tied her down to the frontlines at the Sand Fortress... Thereby removing her from the castle and securing his own fame.
If you ask me, the war is on its last legs. What's more, you two are working hard to make that a reality. ...That is why I have this advice for the two of you. Fight well, but try to keep the post-war in perspective. The end of a war is never truly the end, but the beginning of something else. I believe...that will be the time for you both to demonstrate your true strength.
Ah, but I shouldn't speak in riddles. I'll say it to you plainly. You two have endless potential. Please be careful that "he" doesn't crush that potential.
...You give me too much credit. I'm really not that impressive...
I'm just rambling... Remember? ...Anyway, coming back safely is your first task. That's all I need to tell you. Get ready to move out immediately.
Understood. Our brigade will pass through Lazvil Hills and advance to Judgement Cliff. Stocke, we'll need to get ready. Let's gather the men.
Music: To the Future that Awaits Ahead
The rendezvous point is set. Each squad leader will escort their men to Judgement Cliff. Those hills are infested with monsters, so be prepared for anything. All mobilized squads... Move out!
The men begin to move out, to cheers of encouragement from onlookers.
"Long live Alistel!"
You're with us. I'll make sure you get some training in along the way.
Th-Thank you, Sir!
You guys ready to go?
Yeah, I'm ready.
I'm not really sure what the point of this choice is. We can still freely wander Alistel if we say we're ready to go.
All right, let's get this show on the road.
Alright! Next time we'll do something other than reading dialog! Look forward to it!