Part 25: CygnusThe last time we were in the Standard History, Rosch ambushed our camp while we were traveling to Cygnus. He was unable to be reasoned with, and fought Stocke to the death.
Now that he's resolved himself to fight against Alistel in the Alternate History, maybe he will do the same in the Standard History...
The entire talk with Eruca is identical to the one in Part 21.
Sorry to pop in like this... I know I'm getting in the way of your mission. But there's something I had to tell you...
What is it?
It's about the state of things back in Alistel.
Music: To the Battlefield
Hugo's thaumachine corps invaded Celestia and killed countless Beastkind. He was after Celestia's abundance of Mana... A power source for thaurmaments, in other words. Fennel is overseeing the creation of more powerful thaurmaments even now. You've been on a mission, so you might not realize it, but the nation's in shambles.
Thaurmaments are powered by Mana. They invaded Celestia to get their hands on more... If things go on like this, there'll be no end to the war.
Yeah... Alistel's done for. That's why we defected.
When I say "we," I mean me, Lt. General Raul, Sonja, and the guys in my brigade. We all left Alistel together.
So that's what's been going on...
We couldn't just sit on our hands and watch Alistel rot like that. So we decided to join forces with Celestia, per Lt. General Raul's suggestion. We'll probably have to deal with Hugo soon... I'll need your help on this one, Stocke.
Do you mean that you want us to join forces with your group?
That's the way I would've wanted it, but Lt. General Raul came up with a better plan. The Lt. General's gonna leave the Granorg side to you.
At the moment, you're going with the princess to help her assume the throne.
......!? Wait. Before we go on, how do you know the princess is with me?
Before we ditched Alistel, I forced some info out of one of the Specint guys.
...Well, that's certainly in character for you...
Yeah? I also got other things like the state of affairs in Granorg out of him. All these countries are corrupt to the core! That's why we're going to take back Alistel... While you and that princess take back Granorg.
I see... So the time has come for that...
Whoa, slow down. I've been given instructions about that, too. For this operation to work, we'll need a lot of people on our side. We've enlisted Celestia... So your job will be to join forces with Cygnus.
Cygnus, huh...? We're actually headed that way already.
Well, that simplifies things, doesn't it? You don't need to put your diplomacy skills to the test. It'd be better if you let the princess handle that part.
Okay then. I'm heading back to Celestia. I'll leave Cygnus to you.
You know... I didn't think you'd be so understanding about this. I thought you might consider me an enemy after I told you that I'd defected! Worst case scenario, I was bracing myself for a fight...
...... Don't be ridiculous. There's no way I'd fight you.
Good point! Guess Lt. General Raul made a wise choice sending me to persuade you! All right, I really have to go now. I'll hurry over to Granorg as soon as our end's taken care of.
Rosch leaves, and Stocke turns to look at the lake.
I'm glad I didn't have to fight him this time, but I wasn't expecting this... In the other history, Rosch took a stand against Alistel... Apparently his change of heart carried over to this timeline as well.
...How are you holding up, Stocke? Was somebody here? I thought I heard voices...
No, just me... Is that why you came?
It's my turn to tend the fire, actually. I'll take over.
...Right. Thanks, Marco. You've got it under control?
Yeah, I'm sure you're tired, Stocke. Get some sleep, okay?
Stocke returns to the tent, and Marco sits down by the fire. (Well, he stands by it, but I imagine that's just because they didn't care enough to make a sitting sprite for Marco.)
All right... It should be easy enough to keep a fire going. It's fine for now, and I've got a great view of the sky from here, too. The stars are beautiful tonight...
There's a bright flash, and...
Wh-What the...? Wh-What's all this fog? Th-This isn't fog... It's... gas... Can't... keep... eyes... open... Not good... St...ocke...
????: Hahaha... Finders keepers, my friends...
You're now alone.
Music: The Melody Connecting the World
Your escape from Granorg must have been exhausting. I cannot find fault with you for what is happening now. But now that you are in such a predicament, perhaps you will reach a greater understanding. ...Let us now add a new chapter to the White Chronicle.
????: ...Stocke... Wake up...
????: C'mon, Stocke. Wake up!
Music: Shadows Dance in the Darkness
You're... Ricky, right? The kid who guided us to Cornet Village...
Ricky: Yep, you remembered me!
Yeah... ...... So... Where are we?
Ricky: I don't know... But it's so hot, I think we must be somewhere in the desert.
The desert... Then we're in the Cygnus region... ...But how did you get here?
Ricky: I wish I knew! When I woke up, I found you sleeping next to me.
...Tell me as much as you can remember.
Ricky: Uhh... Well, you already know that Granorg is a total mess, right? I was still in Cornet Village at the time... But I was worried about the rest of the Resistance, so I went back to check in by myself. That's when I ran into Otto at the entrance to the city.
Then that's not long after we escaped...
Ricky: He told me to go back to Cornet Village, but I snuck after him. But then I lost track of him at the Sand Fortress... So, I was looking around for Otto, and next thing I know... I saw some smoke, and the last thing I remember is closing my eyes... And this is where I woke up.
Ricky: Wait a second, Stocke! Where are Lady Eruca and the rest!?
...They're not here?
Ricky: Well, do you see them here? You and I are it!
...We were together until we set up camp at Judgement Cliff... I asked Marco to take my place at the fire so I could get some sleep... And that's the last thing I remember before waking up here. ...Sounds like you and I had a similar experience. Hopefully everyone else is just in separate cells...
????: ...About time you woke up.
...Who are you?
????: I am Eli. I'm just a humble desert dweller who finds work for those who collapse on the harsh roads...
Ricky: ...! I bet you're the one who put us to sleep! Humble desert dweller? Yeah right! You're full of it! What're you gonna do with us!?
Eli: I'll put you to work, of course! Sadly, this line of work gets a lot of people killed... ...But I have a hunch that you in the red might live up to my lofty expectations! Are you a soldier? A mercenary perhaps? You should put up quite a fight...
Ricky: What do you mean by fight!? What kind of work is this!?
Eli: Be quiet and listen, you noisy brat! I have a customer coming in the morning. He'll be watching you fight my strongest gladiator. ...Not that you have to win. As long as you make the fight and my gladiator look good, that's all that counts.
...So I'm your underdog.
Eli: Precisely! I'm glad you're catching on so quickly! The longer you struggle to win, the stronger my gladiator looks!
...And if I win?
Eli: ...That's fine as well. You'll simply become the new gladiator. And I'll introduce you to my client instead of him! Heh heh heh... It doesn't matter how it ends--I still profit! Remarkable business strategy, isn't it!?
Ricky: Screw that! You're not gonna make a show out of him!
Eli: Bark all you want now, boy! You may not have a head tomorrow! You'll be kissing this world goodbye if you don't keep your head on your shoulders! Hahaha! Unless that's how you want your end to be, then fight! Prove how strong you are! Heh heh heh...! Hahahahaha!
Ricky: Wh-What're we gonna do, Stocke!?
Try to stay calm, Ricky. We'll have to wait and see for now.
Ricky: But... You have to fight against his gladiator. I mean, I know you'd never lose, but...
Until we find out where Eruca and the others are... We can't do anything reckless. ...But don't worry. I'll find our way out as soon as I see the chance.
Ricky: All right... I trust you, Stocke.
A save point appears, so we can go to Historia if we're underlevelled or something. Talking to Ricky will give us a prompt to sleep, which we must do to proceed.
The next day...
Music: Impending Crisis
????: I'm told you've prepared a fine gladiator, but which one is he?
Eli: Indeed I have, Sir Hedge. Look to the west. This man is unmatched in strength. He has never lost a battle, in fact. The one to the east... I've not seen his skill, but he was some kind of knight or mercenary. I believe he is the perfect opponent to bring out the best from my gladiator.
Hedge: Is that so?
Eli: ...But enough talk. Let them have at it.
"...If you end up dead, it was nothing personal."
The gladiator is a pretty simple fight. Just toss a Poison Wing on him and he'll go down pretty easily.
We stole a Leaf Ring from him, which is an accessory that increases HP by 20 and MP by 10.
Eli: That soldier actually won...!
Hedge: ...It's of little consequence. I'll take him with me, then.
Eli: ...Heh heh. You are truly a man with vision. Speaking of vision, Sir Hedge... Have you given any thought to the merchants we discussed?
Hedge: Hm? I don't recall such a discussion.
Eli: Ah, ever so devious, My Lord. I speak of the rights to Skalla!
Hedge: Ah, right... You've been rather aggressive on that front.
Eli: Yes, but that's my price. You just saw with your own eyes how strong this man is...
Eli: What do you think, Your Lordship? ...There may not be another quite like him in some time... Opportunity is knocking.
Hedge: ...Indeed. Very well.
Eli: Heh heh heh... It's been a pleasure doing business, Sir Hedge.
Hedge: I'll take the girl from earlier as well.
(...Girl? He could be referring to Eruca, Raynie, or Aht... It's not good, regardless. At this rate, we'll all be separated....)
Eli: The girl then? Certainly, Sir.
Hedge: I'm glad to have secured a gladiator before his arrival. I can take the soldier with me, but he'll need a caretaker. ...Do you have someone suitable?
Eli: Hmm... ...... Yes, I know just the boy. ...Thank you, Sir. And please don't forget to keep your word about that other business.
Hedge: You needn't remind me so incessantly! Leave the merchants to me.
A few days later...
Music: Dreams Showed by a Cloud of Dust
Hedge: ...Please have a look. This one is quite a find.
You would champion an outsider to represent Cygnus in the tournament!?
Hedge: B-But... We would never gain favor with Sir Dias if we used men from our own ranks...
Hedge... How many years has it been since you came to this land? You still don't understand the desert culture! First and foremost, we provide entertainment for our guests, even if they are our enemies! It may be for entertainment only, but we still give it 100%! That is the way of the desert!
Hedge: I-I apologize!
Your knowledge is valuable, but if you continue to tear us down... No more second chances!
Hedge: Y-Yes! I'll be more careful from now on!
Hmph. ...You. What's your name?
...When you ask someone's name, isn't it common courtesy to state your own?
Hedge: You are brazen for a lowly gladiator! You'd best learn to show some respect! You need only answer when asked a question!
Shut it, Hedge! I'm Garland, and I run things here in Cygnus. I'm glad someone has the guts to stand up to me every now and again. Shackles can't bind the soul, or something like that. I like the fire in your eyes.
(King Garland the Mighty of Cygnus... So he's the one...)
...So, I've told you my name. Your turn.
Ricky: (Psst... Stocke... Maybe you shouldn't give him your real name... It sounds like he's going to be meeting with Dias...!)
...... ...Ernst. My name's Ernst.
...Ernst, eh? Great name. I never met him, but the Prince of Granorg that died a few years back had the same name. He seemed like a well-liked prince, but having died before his prime, it means little. You plan on making it to your prime?
...Hey, that was a joke. You're supposed to laugh.
...Then maybe you should tell better jokes.
You're never at a loss for words, are you? You must be quite confident in yourself. Now you've really piqued my interest. Hedge.
Hedge: Wha-- Another joke?
Do I LOOK like I'm joking?
The nearby soldiers come unbind us, then return to their posts.
...? What's your problem? Why the scowl? Or do you prefer being chained up?
...What are you thinking?
I told you already. You're an interesting man. I want to test your confidence for myself.
Hedge, ready some foils!
Hedge and Garland leave the room.
Ricky: What is with that guy? I don't think he's bad, though. Maybe we should go outside?
Ricky leaves the same way as Garland, and Stocke follows.
Once again, we're allowed to save or go to Historia. If we talk to Garland he'll ask if we're ready to spar.
...Hedge. Let no one interfere with this. I'm serious! Something wrong, Ernst? Draw your weapon.
...What's the meaning of this?
These may be training foils, but they're still lethal. If you're not up to it, I understand. Or, if it suits you, you could try to defeat me and then make your escape.
Stocke draws his sword.
Now that's more like it. Show me what you've got!
Music: The Red Locus
Garland is effectively just a tougher version of the gladiator we fought before.
His most dangerous attack is Wild Slash, which hits three times for about 30-40 damage each hit. His ordinary attack deals about 70 damage.
He also has two buffs, Warrior Spirit and Warrior Dominance. One of them buffs his DEF and the other his ATK, but I'm not sure which is which. I would assume Dominance boosts his ATK, but I'm not really sure.
Once he buffs himself he can use Wild Slash to kill you and there's nothing you can do about it. The best strategy is to either kill him before buffs, or don't let him get any more turns after he buffs himself.
As long as you're careful about his buffs, Garland is a pretty easy fight. I stole a Soul Eater from him, which is a worthless sword that boosts ATK by 30 and reduces your max HP by 10. It's worthless because it doesn't boost your MAG at all, and drops your HP to boot.
...Not bad at all. You've got skill if you can land a hit on me.
You... went easy on me, didn't you?
Music: To the Future that Awaits Ahead
A defeat is a defeat. Effort doesn't change the result. As promised, you're a free man. But before you take off, I'd like your opinion on something, Ernst. In a few days, a dignitary of Granorg will be coming to our kingdom. He's well known for his love of gladiator battles. So when he comes, we're having a gladiator bout between his man and someone we put forth. And like you heard me tell Hedge, there's no reason to lose on purpose.
Hedge: L-Lord Garland! Consider the conference with them...!
Shut up! If we win the match and show them our strength, we can meet them on equal ground! Ernst, I'd like you to represent us. ...What do you think? Would you do it?
Ricky: (Stock, we still gotta find Lady Eruca. Let's turn him down and make a run for it!)
That's not my typo. He calls him "Stock" in the game.
(No... If I fight for him, Garland would be in our debt. We need to look for Eruca in secret, so a king's help would go a long way.)
Ricky: (If you say so...)
...... ...All right, but I'll do it on one condition.
And that is?
This makes us even.
I thought the worst, but that's all you want? It's a done deal! Hedge! Ernst and the boy are to be considered our guests. And guests are to be entertained! Make sure they're comfortable until the match!
Hedge: A-As you wish...
Garland and the two soldiers leave to stare at a blank wall (No really, there's nothing but a wall over in that direction. I'm not sure why Garland goes that way.)
Hedge leads us south, out of the palace.
Music: Dreams Showed by a Cloud of Dust
The only reason I can think of for this scene taking place over a black screen is the animators being too lazy/over budget to animate it.
Hedge: Keep your filthy hands off! This is a special piece made by the master craftsman, Latain! His silver craft is expensive, because no two pieces are the same!
Ricky: Ooh, no wonder it looks so cool!
Hedge: Like I said, don't touch! This is why I detest children!
Hedge: You may use this room to your liking, and you are free to come and go as you please.
Ricky: Really? Awesome!
Hedge: ...A warning, though, "Sirs." ...Just because King Garland approves of you is no reason to let it go to your head. If for any reason you leave this city without permission...
...Don't worry. I'll keep my promise.
Hedge: ...Very well. And try not to undermine King Garland's generosity.
Ricky: ...I hate that guy.
Ricky: Well, I'm pooped. I'm gonna get some sleep. See ya later, Stocke.
Ricky enters the room, leaving us alone.
I can finally move around freely. The others may have been brought here as well. I should go out and see what I can learn...
We can't leave the city, but we're free to go anywhere we want inside it.
As is customary when entering a city for the first time, let's talk to everyone! As a side note, the inn here is free because Garland likes us.
"There's even a Beastkind girl... Now that's rare!"
Oh good, it sounds like Aht is here somewhere. Maybe we can get some more info from other NPCs.
"Whenever she waits on us, I feel bad for her."
"He listens to ordinary citizens like us... He's working hard to make this a good country for people to live in."
A nearby NPC who isn't worth a screenshot has this to say:
"You know that guy Hedge? He's the jerk who's always with King Garland. I hear he bullies Beastkind like it's some kind of hobby... What a freak."
There's a bunch of logs and rocks by the palace. There are two hidden barrels way the hell away, and if we take the time to drag them both over here and clear out the rocks, we get a Feather Armlet, which boosts speed by 5.
"It's this water that has allowed our city to become the number one city in Cygnus."
"He also had a little Beastkind girl with him. He was saying he would take her to the bar... Huh? What do you want? These are the cells. You've got no business being here. Go on, get."
That's odd, it sounds like Hedge only brought two girls into the city with him.
The bar is in the northeast corner of the city. Before I enter, I talk to the nearby woman.
"Are you here for a drink? You'd best keep moving... There's two Beastkinds in there. One's huge and buff, and the other's a little girl with horns. I'll admit that girl's adorable, but the other one's scary."
If you check the far corner, you can find a hidden Protection Pact behind this wall. After grabbing it, I head into the bar.
Barkeep: Hey, what's the hold up!? Get a move on, slowpoke! Seriously, what a useless girl!
Nnngh... I can't go any faster...
...It is you, Aht!
...Is this city so short of laborers that it has to overwork children like this? I'd say this place is small enough for you to run by yourself.
Barkeep: Listen, pal, you shouldn't go around picking fights here. This place isn't like Granorg or Alistel, you know. Now come on! If you ain't a customer, then give back the brat and get lost!
Barkeep: Ohhh... I get it. You fancy that girl, do ya? If it's a fight you want, it's a fight you'll get.
Barkeep: If you win, you can keep her. But... If you lose, you work for me for free as well!
...... You'll keep your word?
Barkeep: So you're up for it? Then let me introduce you to your opponent...
Barkeep: ...Hey! Come on up front!
Music: To the Battlefield
Barkeep: That's right! Crush this guy, will ya?
Bodyguard: I'm gonna... crush him? *hic*
Barkeep: That's right!
Bodyguard: ...You sure that's okay? *hic*
Bodyguard: ...Sure thing. *hic* Well then... You there. Get out. *hic*
I'll fight too! There's no way we'll lose together, Stocke!
Music: The Edge of Green
The bodyguard is another easy fight, especially because we can go back to abusing Aht's traps.
On this guy's first turn he'll cast Breath on himself, so he'll gain some HP each turn. If you poison him he'll lose HP at the same rate he gains it.
He's not really very dangerous unless he focuses his attacks on Aht. He'll also start to buff his ATK once he's close to death, which can be deadly if he uses a lot of Three-Tier Attacks. He's not really a difficult fight though.
I'm not sure I've ever shown this off before. When Aht steals, she pulls a giant fuckoff mace out of nowhere and smacks the enemy in the face with it. The stealing guide I'm looking at says this guy has a Divine Protector, which sounds like a pretty sweet piece of armor, but I couldn't get him to drop it. I stole from this guy like, 10 times, and he just wouldn't give it up.
Bodyguard: You're pretty good... *hic* ...But I'm just... *hic* ...getting started... It's time for round two. *hic*
Bodyguard: ...But... I've gotta take a bathroom break before that. *hic* Wait here and get... ready... *hic* ...... ...... *hic*
The bodyguard exits to the right, and the screen fades to black and then fades back in.
And another fade to black...
...What's your plan? ...Wanna pick up where he left off?
Barkeep: ...Hahaha, you gotta be joking.
Then I've won the match. You'd better honor your word.
Barkeep: ...Y-Yes, of course... She's all yours...
The barkeep returns to his bar, and we head back to the rest of the city with Aht.
Hehehe! So, um, Stocke... What are we gonna do now?
Well... We need to look for Eruca...
Stocke... You don't have to fight anymore if you don't want to... We should become traveling entertainers with Liese and Uncle Vanoss... Y-You're... You're really good with swords! I bet tons of people would come to watch that! See? Let's do that, Stocke!
What are you saying, Aht?
Forget about Eruca and come on the road with us!
I... I don't want you to leave, Stocke! Forever!
Aht... Why are you talking like that? If we don't help Eruca, the world will turn into sand... And if that happens, there won't be a forever. Don't you think that's important?
I'm sorry... But I don't want you to go away...
Hey, don't worry. Even if we get separated, we'll find each other again. Just like this.
Come on now, we've got to keep looking for Eruca.
"Raynie and Marco? Who are they?"