Part 24: SandMusic: To the Battlefield
Heiss enters the room.
Ah... Earlier than expected.
Yes, but the situation called for a quick decision, did it not? They must have an excellent commander on their side... Would you happen to know who it might be?
It's certainly the former Lt. General Raul, the Slumbering Lion. A formidable foe. And his executive officer is none other than the Young Lion of Alistel, Ex-Major Rosch... And rounding out the trio, you have former Lieutenant Stocke. They're all worthy opponents that Celestia is unworthy of having.
...You compliment them, yet you have such confidence.
I've already foreseen their next move. It will be a desperate gambit of the powerless, as they struggle to survive... But that will only take them so far. I just need to show them how futile it is to cling to hope.
If I didn't know any better... I'd say you've decided to use the power of Flux.
Are the adjustments complete, Chief Engineer Fennel?
...Can't you tell from the expression on my face? ...It's excellent. A work of beauty, completed without flaw. There were some minor setbacks, but thanks to Heiss, they're under control. All that's left is to set a target. Easy enough.
I'm glad to hear it. I shall prepare the most opportune moment to introduce this power to the world.
Meanwhile, at Judgement Cliff...
(Captain) "Our fight with the men of Alistel draws near! Let's get ready!"
Everything starts to shake violently.
"Wh-What is that...?"
A nearby bush starts to sparkle.
"Stay calm! Try not to break ranks!"
"What is it!?"
"M-My body is being drained...! Guwahhhhhh!"
The Captain turns to sand, and the troops start to panic and attempt to flee.
None of them manage to escape...
A few days later...
Music: The Garden Where the Celestite Lies
"About the Cygnus army getting wiped out? Yeah... From what I heard... Alistel used this new weapon..."
"But to be completely annihilated like that... What kind of weapon could do that?"
The screen pans to another pair of Satyros.
"What can we do? Everyone's saying that Alistel is invincible."
"We should have just strengthed the borders instead of drawing the whole country's gaze..."
The screen pans again, this time to the human portion of our party.
This is bad... Morale is at an all time low... Well... not that I blame them.
What could have happened to the Cygnus army?
I can't even begin to imagine...
...Let's go see the Lt. General and the others. It's time to start working on a countermeasure.
...Yeah, good idea.
To progress, we head for Barranca's house.
We're going to have a meeting to discuss our plans. We'd like you both to join. It might be a little disheartening, though...
Join the meeting
All right. Let's go.
Elm: How do you plan to take responsibility for this?
It won't do any good to flare up at us.
Elm: Then, you presume we are the ones at fault for being taken in by your coaxing?
Elm! No fighting!
Elm: No, Lady Aht, this much must be said. It was a mistake after all to put our faith in humans! ...Patriarch Barranca, please allow me to voice my opinion. I say we exile these humans and close off the village like it was before!
You're dumb, Elm! How would that help us!?
Wh-Whoa... Can everyone just calm down for a moment?
Right. Isn't doing something about Alistel our primary concern right now? Driving us out isn't going to help you deal with them, is it?
Barranca: Elm, Aht... Both of you, please stand down. Fighting amongst ourselves will not help us prevail in the imminent future.
...I must express my utmost apologies for what happened. I asked you to rely on Cygnus, but out of the blue, Cygnus has--
Barranca: Please, there's no need for you to apologize, Sir Raul. War is governed by fate, and I had considered this scenario as well. ...Still, it's hard to believe Cygnus was...
I never imagined Cygnus could be so utterly defeated. I'm actually quite worried about them, and I'll look into their situation at my first chance. ...Still, it's too early to give up. In fact, there is something I've been meaning to ask Gafka to do for quite some time now.
That Beastkind guy?
Do you know of a village called Forgia, east of Cygnus? It's the home of the Gutrals. I'm thinking that an alliance with them would be to our benefit. That's why I've pressured Gafka, a Gutral himself, to convince them of the same.
And where is he now?
He's at the pond in the back. But...
Barranca: Gafka has a conundrum on his hands. As you could tell by Elm's reaction, the Beastkind detest humans. Gafka is concerned for your safety. Though their grudge is ancient, it is buried deep in the heart of the clan, and is passed down.
And they would hold onto this grudge when the world is in such danger?
Barranca: That is how dark and deeply the chasm between your races runs.
What are we supposed to do, then?
(Even Gafka won't be the mediator between humans and the Beastkind... If the grudge is that deep, can we rely on Forgia? Or should we ally with another force? What would be best for Celestia...? I have to think about this one carefully...)
Join someone else
Somewhere other than Forgia...
I'm sorry I have no one in mind, but I wanted us to at least consider the possibility.
Lt. General Raul, can you think of anyone?
Well let's see, there are five countries on this continent. We're Celestia, we're fighting against Alistel, and Cygnus' army has been wiped out. That's leaves us one option other than Forgia.
Hmm... If the enemy of my enemy is my friend... Then we should consider joining forces with Granorg.
Granorg!? Of all places, Granorg!?
It is run by two ambitious men, Dias and Selvan. They sold out their own queen to Alistel... They would make any deal that would turn the tables in their favor. Pride means nothing. If Alistel could be driven out, Granorg would be theirs again. It's a compelling proposal...
So we'd be using the same tactics as Hugo. It sounds like the bait would be pretty appealing. It wouldn't take much for them to bite.
With Cygnus out of the picture, we've more or less run out of options.
(Amazing as always. Lt. General Raul drew their attention to Granorg... We have two choices. Ally with Granorg, or attempt to join forces with Forgia. Granorg or Forgia... I have to think about this one carefully...)
Team up with Granorg
Ally with Granorg? Are you serious?
Yeah. Granorg can't be happy under the yoke of Alistel. If I'm right about that, they would jump at our offer.
And considering the type of men Dias and Selvan are, they will more than likely agree. And this will save us time in the long run. Leave the rest to me.
A month later...
Music: To the Battlefield
Celestia Soldier: W-We have an emergency! Granorg! Granorg's...!
Elm: Calm down. What of Granorg?
Celestia Soldier: The Granorg army is marching on Celestia!
Hey! Are you sure!?
Celestia Soldier: Y-Yes... There's no mistaking it!
Why would Granorg send their army out against their allies!?
With Alistel posing less of a threat, they must have decided they no longer needed us. They used us to remove them, and now they'll throw us aside... My insight was lacking.
Elm: How atrocious! It just goes to show that our kind and humans can never reconcile! Gather everyone able to fight! Don't let the humans get anywhere near here!
Celestia Soldier: R-Right away!
Barranca: Our kindness is repaid with evil. I fear Elm's words are finally ringing true... Those of Celestia can never trust humans.
But... wasn't the fighting supposed to end?
Lt. General Raul set his sights on Selvan and Dias, who betrayed Granorg's queen. They drafted a plan that would strike at Alistel's heart and grant independence to Granorg. The proposal was accepted and executed. Granorg was free again, and Alistel was all but broken. It seemed the crisis in Celestia was over, but then events took a dire turn. Granorg, with its newfound strength, demanded that Celestia yield to them. The tyranny of Alistel was merely exchanged for that of Granorg. Despite its weakened state, Alistel begins to muster its army once more... ...And the war has no end in sight.
"The Eternal War"
Music: The Melody Connecting the World
The enemy of an enemy becoming an ally is noble, but these were not people who cling to ideals.
Selvan and Dias betrayed even their own queen, Protea. You must choose people you can depend on as your allies.
If there was a way to gain the trust of Forgia's people... Perhaps the ending of this battle would be very different.
You can do this, Stocke...
Music: The Garden Where the Celestite Lies
We have to do our best to ally with Forgia.
I believe that would be best as well. But, if Gafka won't act as the intermediary, our chances are very slim...
I'll try talking to him.
We automatically go to Gafka, who is hanging out where Rosch was moping around before.
Gafka... Why do you hesitate to represent us in Forgia?
...So you were informed?
There are various reasons... One of them being that I have been exiled from Forgia.
Exiled? I didn't know...
And the other... is the rift between us and the humans.
My banishment is a personal problem, so that is not as much of a concern. But the rift between our races, that is a formidable issue. The Gutrals severed ties with the humans many years ago. Do you know why? ...In the past, humans would use clever words to lure Gutrals into fighting for them. The Gutrals who were deceived all died on the battlefield... ...These were not isolated incidents, either. It happened countless times. And so, the Gutrals came to detest humanity, and cut themselves off.
So that's why...
Some do not believe that all humans are to blame. That is why you meet the odd Gutral every now and again, like myself. But we are only a handful. Most Gutrals have no faith in humans anymore.
What can we do to make them hear what we have to say?
According to the clan's laws, it is forbidden to interact with humans without a Beast Mark.
A Beast Mark...?
It is a ceremonial ritual tool used by the Gutrals. It is obtained by undergoing an ordeal within our ruins. But the ruins are considered holy ground by our people. They would never allow humans to step foot in them...
Then it's a lose-lose situation. We can't talk without it, but we can't obtain it, either. Is there no other way?
...If the ordeal were issued by a high-ranking member of the clan, it would be possible... But that would be far too convenient, wouldn't it?
I'm sorry to take up your time. I didn't expect to talk so much.
There's a white flash, and...
Music: The Melody Connecting the World
It looks like you've found the key to convincing him.
Yeah, but the question is how do I obtain this Beast Mark?
If it can't be obtained in this world, then there's only one other way. Although... From what I can tell, you're nowhere near where the Beast Mark is.
...True. I haven't even made it to Forgia yet. That means solving this issue is going to take some time.
Don't worry. As long as you walk the path of the true history... I'm sure the opportunity will present itself. Please bear that in mind, and continue to press forward as you have been.
Well then. Until we meet again.
It's going to be a long time until we can clear this roadblock, so I hope you guys like the Standard History.
This is a good stopping point, but the update has been kind of short, so I'm going to take this opportunity to go over everyone's level two Mana Bursts, which we obtained recently in the Standard History, when Aht gave us a Black Page.
Music: Blue Radiance
Unlike Turn Break, which every character has, the level two Mana Bursts are unique for each character. Like Turn Break, they drain the entire Mana Gauge, but unlike Turn Break, they spend the character's action.
Stocke's Level 2 Mana Burst, Phantom Gain, hits all enemies with a 5-hit physical attack. As you can see, it doesn't really do a ton of damage, and is more useful for building combos than dealing damage. Most of the time a Turn Break would probably be a better use of your Mana Gauge.
Raynie's Level 2 Mana Burst, Inferno, hits all enemies multiple times with fire damage. Every hit she did here did 1 damage.
Marco's Level 2 Mana Burst, Angel Voice, raises the DEF and MDEF of all allies. This reduces physical damage to single digits, so at first glance it seems really useful. Unfortunately, these buffs wear off pretty much immediately, so if you're fighting a single enemy (ie almost every boss), you might as well just use a Turn Break so you take 0 damage and get a big combo.
Rosch's Level 2 Mana Burst, Seyfried, is a physical attack that launches all enemies into the air and then lowers their DEF. It only hits a couple times, but it deals about 100 damage and lowers DEF.
Gafka's Level 2 Mana Burst, Lightning Hammer, hits all enemies once for pretty significant lightning damage. If you put this at the end of a combo it can deal pretty sweet damage, especially if the enemy has a weakness to lightning. It's probably the most useful level 2 Mana Burst.
Aht's Level 2 Mana Burst, Lucky Breath, fills an ally's Mana Gauge. It's useful if you want to use someone else's Mana Burst, so it's useless most of the time.
Eruca's Level 2 Mana Burst, Death Penalty, is a multi-hit physical attack in a + pattern centered on the target. It's worthless because it's a physical attack for Eruca.
In the end, Turn Break is more useful than level 2 Mana Bursts in almost all situations, so this was a really underwhelming way to end an update.