Part 17: Celestia
Music: The Garden Where the Celestite Lies
Stocke wakes up in an odd building. After waking up, he walks to the window and looks out.
You're awake! ...Can you move?
Thank you... You saved my life.
To be up and around only days after suffering such injuries... You've trained yourself well, Red One.
..."Red One"? ...... Tell me, where am I?
This is Celestia.
Celestia... That's Satyros territory if I remember right. But you're...
I am Gafka. You might guess from my appearance that I am no Satyros. And indeed, I am a Gutral. I am living in this town now for... personal reasons.
Yeah, I know.
What's this now? Do you know him too, Aht?
Umm, do I? I don't remember...
Am I the only one here? When you rescued me, was anyone else nearby?
Do you refer to the Tough One? Don't worry. The Tough One is in Celestia as well.
Stocke! You're awake!
Sonja... You made it too... And Rosch?
Rosch is safe. Gafka and Aht found us... They're giving us asylum in this village. I can't thank them enough for their kindness.
I did nothing but carry the two unconscious humans here. It is Aht who deserves your thanks. She is the one who arranged for your entry to the village.
We gotta help each other out when we're in trouble.
Thank you so much, Aht.
Sonja... Where's Rosch?
He's recovering very nicely. He's out taking a walk around the village now.
A walk? But when we left Alistel, he was...
Yes... I couldn't believe it either. But it seems the overwhelming Mana in this village accelerated his recovery.
Although... right now, he's...
No need to tell me.
I'll go see him myself.
Welcome to Celestia, the village of the Satyros! We can stay in the inn behind us for free, so this is a nice place to come when we need healing. Our current objective is to go visit Rosch, but first let's talk to Aht and the NPCs around the village.
I'm glad that you're better. Don't try and push yourself, though.
I'm just going to look for Rosch. I'll be back soon.
Okay. Oh... But don't leave the village. There's a barrier surrounding the village that prevents humans from entering. Only a Satyros can open the barrier. That's the only way humans can come in.
So the barrier specifically locks humans out. I'll keep that in mind.
Don't go too far.
"...... I have nothing to say to a human."
"I despise humans. Do not speak to me."
"My mommy says I can't talk to humans."
Well, I sure do feel welcome here. Even the shopkeepers give us shit for being human, but they're still willing to do business with us.
Do you know of a flower called the Celestia Iris? I figured it would be something that grew here, just based on the name.
"Oh. Celestia Irises are these small, pretty flowers on the ground here. They're actually really hard to grow. They don't usually bloom. They die as buds... Blooming season has just ended. The buds you see around here will probably die off before ever flowering."
Can I take one of these buds?
"That's fine, but as I said, blooming season just ended. If you don't mind that, go ahead and take one."
Obtained Flowering Bud.
There's still a way to make this flower bloom.
You may remember the woman in Alistel who wanted a Celestia Iris. We'll go give that to her later.
Rosch is at the north-most part of the village.
Music: Where the Wind and Feathers Return
...Stocke. Long time no see.
Yeah. Are you in better shape now?
You can talk to me, Rosch.
What happened to them?
...Honestly, I don't know what became of anyone except you. We know broadly what happened. Selvan sent Paelzen's brigade to ambush you. And he was able to do that because Hugo sold you out.
Isn't anyone else left?
...... ...In the moment, you were the only one I could take.
Why not Kiel instead of me? Or Scott, or Roy, or Bayline... They were all new recruits. I'd finally learned their names...
Where are they!? Why did you save me!?
...... ...I swore to Kiel that I'd protect you, come what may. He believed you'd rise again to lead Alistel down the right path... Everyone did. They placed all their hopes on you.
They... Dammit, even then, I'm just...! There's nothing I can do in this state. The Gauntlet replacing my arm is busted. What do you expect me to do like this, Stocke!? And you... Why didn't you protect your men!? That's your duty as a superior officer! You're nothing but a...!
...Forgive me. You did nothing wrong. I'm the one to blame... I was so focused on the war that I couldn't protect them from the dangers lurking in Alistel! It... would have been better if I'd just died then and there...
That's not true! Don't give me that self-pitying nonsense! If Kiel and the others were here right now, could you say those exact words to them!?
You survived because everybody else was counting on you. Your life isn't just yours anymore. ...So that'll be enough of that from you.
...... Leave me... I don't want to see anyone right now.
...I'm sorry, Stocke. Rosch said some terrible things...
It's all right. You don't need to apologize for him.
It's just... I've never seen him like that...
He really seems... defeated.
It's possible that his Gauntlet being broken is the root of the problem.
You mean his left arm? He's never talked about that... And I've never asked. It'd be intruding too much on what must have been a traumatic event. So I'll ask you instead. What's the history behind Rosch and his Gauntlet?
...I see no reason not to tell you. It happened a long time ago...
This recruit was severely wounded in battle and lost the use of his left arm. Since my brother was also a thaumatech engineer, he performed surgery to save the soldier. In the process, he grafted the long-in-development mechanical arm to him... the Gauntlet. That new recruit was, of course, our Rosch. My brother was especially fond of him.
So that's why a low-ranking serviceman has a cutting-edge thaumatech arm...
Rosch bounced back... But the "gift" of his thaumatech meant he'd be forever in debt to the army.
Naturally. The army couldn't let their most prized technology out of their possession. Having that Gauntlet makes him, by extension, property of the army rather than Alistel.
Rosch is a soldier at heart. I don't think he resents the army having a hold over him. On the contrary, he uses that Gauntlet with pride. Rosch thinks using the Gauntlet in the service of the military is the best way to repay my brother.
His left arm was his very soul as a soldier... Now that soul's been shattered, and he was unable to protect his own brigade. I understand better now... If the Gauntlet means that much to him... Did your brother also die in battle?
Yes... Two years ago. I was told it was an honorable death, that he was considerate of his men to the last.
Rosch supported me through that... That's why it's my turn to support him now. But there's nothing I can do! The only way I can help is to be by his side... Nothing I say seems to reach him. And call me selfish if you like, but I... don't want him fighting anymore. I'm tired of seeing everyone hurt and bleeding!
...I'm sorry. A doctor should be thinking more rationally... But I'm being serious when I say I don't want him to fight anymore. And Stocke... I could say the same about you.
...... Anyway, even if he does pull himself together, he can't go back into battle like this. Is there any way you can repair his Gauntlet?
Not with the equipment here, unfortunately. My boss, Fennel, is the most skilled thaumatech scholar there is. He taught me how to service the Gauntlets for Rosch's sake, so I do have the know-how. I just don't have the Core Parts to do it with.
Core Parts? Can't we use what we have?
It's not that simple. The Core Parts are the basis for control of the Gauntlet's movement. I didn't realize until I had him on the table how fierce the battle must have been... The Core Parts that should've been in his Gauntlet were broken. Completely unrecoverable. I could make new ones from scratch, but I'd need a facility like the one at Alistel Castle. Or if I could get my hands on an unused Gauntlet, I could salvage Core Parts from that.
Ah, there you are, Red One. I hope I'm not interrupting. Would you mind coming with me? The Patriarch is calling for you.
Who's this "Patriarch"?
Go on, Stocke. I'll stay with Rosch. It's the only thing I can do...
...All right. Look after him for me and call me if anything comes up. And Sonja... Don't take it so hard.
Stocke turns back to Gafka.
Where are we off to?
Gafka leads us a few feet to the left.
Music: The Garden Where the Celestite Lies
Barranca (old man): Thank you, Gafka. Now, Stocke...
...What do you want?
???? (red haired woman): Show some respect, why don't you? By whose grace do you think it is that a filthy human like you is allowed here in Celestia?
Barranca: There's no need for that, Elm. He is our guest.
Elm, you're a woman. Why not act more ladylike? I'm sure it would help our injured guest feel more at home. Hahahahaha!
Elm: Sh-Shut up! Butt out, okay!? Really... Treating humans as our guests is just--
Barranca: All right now... That's enough, Elm. ...I am sorry, Stocke. Many here have a low opinion of humans.
It's all one to me. Let's get down to business.
Barranca: Indeed... From what Gafka tells me, you're rather skilled. I'd like to put those skills to use with a favor.
Barranca: A band from our clan who travels the continent gathering goods and information will return soon. But these past few days have seen an odd increase in the monsters at Lazvil Hills... Elm's vigilante corps and Gafka are helping to deal with them, but it isn't easy...
So you want my help as well. ...All right. I do owe you for taking us in.
Elm: Hmph... And here I'd been fantasizing about what I could do to you if you refused.
*sigh*... I'm surprised at how rude you can be sometimes. Elm's hatred for humans isn't easy to deal with.
Elm! Stocke's not a bad guy! Don't say nasty things about him!
Elm: Y-You too, L-Lady Aht?
Barranca: Ahem... I'm sorry to put this on you so suddenly, but I'd like you to go about this at once.
Why don't I come with you?
Barranca: Would you? It would be reassuring to all, I'm sure.
Ooh, I wanna help too! Can I?
Barranca: No, Aht. You need to stay here.
No! I'm gonna go with Stocke!
Aht runs outside.
Don't worry, Patriarch. I'll be there with her, and the Red One is quite skilled. There's nothing to fear.
Barranca: What a troublesome, headstrong child... Well then, Stocke. I'm sorry to add to your burden, but I'll be counting on you.
Aht and Gafka join our party.
Gafka's purpose in battle is to deal tons of damage. Him and Aht are probably my favorite party, with Gafka's attacks and Aht's traps dealing tons of damage, and Aht's healing skills keeping the party alive.
Music: Beyond the Wilderness
Celestia is located just east of Lazvil Hills.
Just north of where we enter are these rocks, and an invisible barrel. There's another invisble barrel on the other side, so we can return after we leave and make the rocks respawn.
This area is just south of the north exit from Lazvil Hills. We have to trek all the way back to the heavy blocks we moved way back when.
Indeed, the monsters' numbers have increased. They've grown more savage as well.
It's because humans aren't carrying out their duties of protecting the earth. It's a real problem...
Our duty to protect the earth?
Don't you know, Stocke?
Apparently you don't. To live on this continent without knowing how it all came to be... A lamentable state of things.
Gafka! Quit picking on Stocke!
I meant him no disrespect. It's just... As one who lives on this continent, I--
What was that sound!? It came from that way!
I bet it's some monsters attacking! We gotta rescue them!
We prepare ourselves and head west.
Music: Impending Crisis
That must be the group the Patriarch was talking about!
Leave this to me!
Music: Edge of Green
If you aren't abusing Aht's traps, this can be a pretty difficult fight.
He uses Power Release just about every turn, so if you're slow at taking him out you'll end up overwhelmed by all the damage.
My strategy is to lay a trap, push the bear into it, and finish the combo with an attack from Gafka. One hit from Gafka is enough to kill a mushroom in one hit. Since the bear is large, another viable strategy is to push him onto two traps at once, but this requires shifting Aht's turn around a lot so she can lay two in a row, which can be tricky if you want to avoid giving the bear a ton of turns to straight up murder you.
When one mushroom is dead, the other will summon a new one. By making sure to push the bear into one each turn, we can keep the surviving mushroom busy, so we only have to deal with the bear's attacks.
You can use Turn Break to cancel all the bear's turns and trivialize this whole battle, but it's not really necessary unless you're very underleveled.
After the battle, Aht learned Bomb Trap. It's the same as Thunder Trap, but fire elemental.
I was going to make a video of this fight so you could see Gafka in action, but it's literally just pushing the bear left and right over and over again, so it would be unbearably boring for anyone to watch. Gafka will be participating in plenty of battles later, so I'll get videos of him then.
Music: Unending Clear Blue Sky
What splendid skill! You saved our lives. My name is Vanoss, and I am the leader of this troupe.
Ah, dear Aht! You've grown so much while I was away!
You're the ones the Patriarch mentioned, then?
That's us. We're doing a tour of duty across the continent as travelling performers. Periodically, we make trips back to Celestia to deliver whatever information and supplies we find.
I'm glad you're all safe!
The monsters in this area normally pose no threat... But there are an unusual number of them, all with a vicious temperament. We owe our survival to you three. I really can't thank you enough.
There's no need for thanks.
No need to stay here any longer, either. Let's get back to Celestia.
Music: To the Battlefield
Barranca: I see... So the situation in the wider world continues to worsen.
Granorg was in utter chaos. We scarcely escaped... You can barely call what's going on there a war anymore. Granorg is perpetually on the run from Alistel's overwhelming military might.
Barranca: Then Granorg will fall... It seems their karma has caught up with them. The problem is what happens afterwards... Who exactly rules Alistel?
The common consensus at the frontline is that General Hugo has full authority over the army. There's no knowing how true that is without actually venturing into Alistel, though.
I've heard rumors of this Hugo. ...I doubt he's a trustworthy human, to say the least.
Barranca: Hmm... Peace doesn't necessarily follow war, but... ...... I'm sorry, Vanoss, but I ask that you head to Alistel as soon as you can.
Such is the lot of we travelers. Never fear, Patriarch; I'll be on my way soon.
Barranca: Then rest well. You must be tired from your long journey.
Yes... Please excuse me.
Vanoss and Gafka leave the room.
(...So Hugo has full control of Alistel now... I wonder if Lt. General Raul is safe. It's seeming like I'll need to revisit Alistel, as dangerous as that may be... I need to see what it's like on the ground and, if possible, meet with Lt. General Raul somehow. I should ask Vanoss if he'd mind me tagging along...)