Part 40: The Imperial Ruins
There's a line of boulders at the northwest corner of Judgement Cliff. A nearby hidden barrel gets us through to the Imperial Ruins.
This is it, we've finally filled out the entire map. What's waiting for us inside this new location?
Music: Memories of the World
This is probably my favorite track in the game
So these are the Imperial Ruins.
They're almost completely covered in sand...
But it hasn't been so long since the empire's fall... The empire itself must have been turned to sand.
Heiss is in here...
Heiss... Why'd you have to do all this? I don't get anything anymore...
That's why we're here: to find out for ourselves.
But it must be a trap... I'd bet there'll be something waiting for us. Are we still going in?
You're asking that after coming all this way? Make up your mind! Let's go, huh, Stocke!?
Yeah... If we don't get moving, the sand will swallow the whole world. The ritual absolutely must be performed... And we have things to settle with Heiss.
We enter the ruins and immediately encounter a familiar face.
Music: To the Battlefield
Dude summons more unimpressive mooks.
Grh... Not again!
A panther and two floating stones. Aht's traps make short work of them.
And he leaves without a word.
Music: Memories of the World
...That man has appeared in front of me several times and attacked with black energy. But who is he? What's his connection to Heiss...?
That man wasn't alive...
He wasn't alive...? What do you mean by that?
I think his dead body was under the Black Chronicle's control...
W-Whoa there... Are you saying he was a walking corpse!? That's impossible!
Aht is a shaman who sends the souls of the deceased to the next world. She can hear the voices of the dead and recognize corpses that pretend to live, as just now.
That man... He was really important. He kept saying he was a ruler... That he was a king... Someone killed him and then started to control him... It hurt... He was angry...
"King"...? Could she be talking about the late King Victor of Granorg!? Come to think of it, I got a glimpse of that man's face under his hood... He did resemble the description of King Victor I'd heard once...
"Oh by the way, I looked under that guy's hood and he looked just like the dead king of Granorg! I would have mentioned it sooner, but I didn't think it was important."
He used the corpse of the king he slew as his minion... Revolting.
The Chronicle can do that? Heiss has access to powers I don't even know about... I'm not sure if it's a difference in the Chronicle's capabilities or the wielder's. In either case, he knows more about the Chronicle than I do.
Stocke... I still don't think you should keep going...
...No, I'm not giving up. As a holder of the Chronicle, I can't give up.
Hey, Stocke... What's this Chronicle thing you keep mentioning?
It's a magical tome with the power to influence Flux. Heiss has one of them.
The bastard has that kind of power...!? So that's how he pulled that trick back in the Royal Hall... But how do you know about it, Stocke?
Because I have the other one. Heiss gave me the White Chronicle and engineered its awakening.
That's what I'd like to find out.
We'll have to hear his true motives directly from him... We should move on.
Heiss... You won't escape me.
Man, Lippti and Teo are gonna be pissed.
We finally enter the dungeon proper. It's got these weird crystal things growing everywhere, but Stocke can easily break them with his sword, so they're no problem.
We'll be using these vines to navigate the dungeon. They're everywhere, and we're using them to go up and down until we finally encounter Heiss again.
We're progressing through the dungeon, minding our own business, when suddenly...
Music: To the Battlefield
Heiss disappears again and reappears behind Stocke.
It's been a while... Or did we just see each other? Haha, I've jumped around so much in time that I don't know anymore.
Stocke tries to attack Heiss, but he vanishes and reappears at the top of the stairs to the left.
That's correct, Stocke... Wielder of the White Chronicle-- the book of Flux.
I realized that you were using the Chronicle after that incident in Hugo's office. Up to that point, even I hadn't figured it out... I assume Lippti and Teo told you to tell no one?
...You know about them, too.
Why so surprised? I'm the one who gave you the White Chronicle...
Then, Heiss... Let me ask you this. Why did you give it to me? What was the ultimate goal of your scheme to have me awaken the White Chronicle?
It wasn't a scheme, so much... ...I want you to be my successor.
In order to succeed me, you first had to awaken the White Chronicle and gain its power. And so I gave you the book before sending you on an impossible mission. I hoped to show you the world's true nature, to train you, and to awaken the White Chronicle. What I didn't expect was for that awakening to happen much sooner than I planned... Or that you had the acting skill to hide it from me.
Judging from the situation as it stands, I was right to do so.
You truly are Specint's best agent. I underestimated your guile...
Enough about that! What did you mean by "successor"? Explain yourself!
I meant just what I said. I need a successor to carry on my plan... My plan to lead this world to its destruction.
Well I've already done that a couple dozen times, so I can see why you would select me as your successor.
Inducing desertification and destroying the world... That's your plan?
That's right, Stocke.
...What are you thinking? Why would I willingly carry on with such a preposterous idea? Find someone else!
No. It has to be you. And I'll tell you why...
...What do you mean by that?
Hahah... Haven't you figured it out yet? You seem to have saved this world from certain destruction a few times with the White Chronicle...
Don't change the subject! Answer the question, Heiss!
Stocke attacks again, but Heiss vanishes and reappears to the south.
...Was this world actually worth saving? Did you ever ask yourself that?
I've given it a lot of thought, over many years... And I've come to this conclusion:
This world deserves death! That's why I won't allow the ritual to take place!
There's no reason to save it...? That's his justification for destroying the world!?
Everyone steps out of Stocke's pocket.
Does... Does Heiss really wanna destroy the world?
Look at what he's done so far. I don't think there's any doubt. ...He's serious, all right.
Gah! To think THAT'S what we've been working for all this time!
...There's something I need to hear straight from his mouth! Let's go, everyone!
Music: Memories of the World
The dungeon also has these gigantic crystals, which are just as easy to break as the little ones. I actually got stuck here for a few minutes the first time I played, because I assumed the giant ones were actual obstacles.
We continue deeper into the ruins...
Music: To the Battlefield
There he is! Heiss! I wanna know something!
...What is it? Make it quick. You are no longer part of my plan...
......! That time when my mercenary crew got wiped out in a cave-in at the mine... Did you set that up!?
Finally caught on, did you?
No... How could you do such a thing!?
Well, you see... It was a necessary preamble for Stocke to attain the power of the White Chronicle.
After trying out countless permutations of history, I realized he needed comrades. Partners with some skill, yet not so valuable that Stocke would depend too much on them... They would be the key to Stocke's awakening. That's when I laid eyes on you two... All I needed to do then was to get you in my debt and have you leave your mercenary unit. So I animated a monster's corpse and eliminated the unit, making it look like an accident. Though it took some doing to manipulate it so that only you two survived... And thanks to you, Stocke found the power of Flux by awakening the White Chronicle. A simple trick, really. That's what controlling history is about.
Y-You killed everyone in our unit over that...? How... How could you...?
Silence, woman! I told you that I have no further interest in the rest of you! Interfere with my conversation with Stocke at your peril!
Raynie, Marco... I understand why you're angry. But there's still more I need him to tell me. Any punishment coming to him can wait until afterward.
Heiss, keep going from where you left off. What did you mean when you said I'm like you?
Stocke! Don't listen to him!
So even after getting to know Eruca, you still don't realize who you are, Stocke? Or rather...
Ernst...? The late prince of Granorg?
...So that's it. I was the Sacrifice needed for the royal family to perform the ritual... And so were you, weren't you, Heiss?
Indeed. I am younger brother to the late King Victor, and the Sacrifice in his ritual.
Wait, Stocke, what are you two talking about? What's all this about a sacrifice?
The Granorg royal family is the sole line capable of the ritual to stop the desertification. Part of the ritual involves giving the life of one of the royal siblings... The Sacrifice.
That's right. This world owes its existence to those royals slain in the name of the ritual. The people owe them a deep debt of gratitude... Which is why the royal family is allowed to rule over this land. It's because all life on this continent exists by the royal family's sufferance...!
But clearly, you weren't sacrificed. What happened...?
As if I'd allow that fool Victor to rule as king while I gave my own life... It was out of the question. So I escaped from him and set up shop in Alistel as Heiss.
So you ran off, and Victor couldn't perform the ritual. And that's why he tried to make his children do it...
Yes, and you would have been the next in line to be the Sacrifice, Ernst. Ernst was killed as a Sacrifice by his own father, after speaking out against him... Originally, you know, it was meant to be Eruca. But she seems to have behaved herself better--while her father was watching, at least. Thus did she succeed in pushing the role as Sacrifice over to Ernst. The cunning little minx...
After a Sacrifice is slain, they are given a soul for the ritual... Eruca's soul was split. Part of it went to you, giving you a temporary life as a Sacrifice.
How pitiful are the Sacrifices! Resurrected, only to die again! And only I can understand their pain, being one myself. You and I... We two are truly the forsaken ones!
That's why I stole you away and altered your memories, to give you a second life as Stocke. I made sure to kill that fool Victor as well...
He disappeared again!
This conversation isn't over yet! Come find me, Stocke!
So Heiss was the king's brother, Stocke was the prince, and the two of them were Sacrifices...?
Hey... He's messing with us, right? All that stuff about your temporary life is a lie, right? I mean, think! If Heiss is the king's little bro, he should look a lot younger.
...No, I think Heiss is probably telling us the truth. He looks as old as he does because he's been using the Black Chronicle. By triggering so many repetitions of history, he's aged more than he should have...
Then what'll happen to you!? If we go through with this ritual thing, you're gonna...!
...I don't know. But if we don't go through with it, the continent will wither and die. I can't act in my own self-interest at the expense of everyone else's.
Aht... You knew, didn't you? That's why you tried so hard to keep me from finding out...
Uh-huh... I knew if you found out the truth, you'd give up your soul.
I see now... You were trying to keep silent to protect me. Thank you, Aht.
I'm sorry, everyone, but we'll have to table this for now. We need to chase after Heiss and make him lift the Flux seal.
Music: Memories of the World
The dungeon continues...
At the very bottom of the ruins, there's a hidden room to the right. Inside is the Icestar Pact, Aht's final skill pact. I bet you can't guess what she learns from this!
We return to the previous room and head north, into the deepest part of the ruins.
Congratulations are in order for making it this far... This is the deepest part of the ruins.
Heiss... Release your Flux seal at once.
That's a rather bold demand, Stocke. I'll win if I just sit here and keep it going, after all...
Heiss vanishes and reappears at the top of the stairs, because he's a showoff.
Now... I've some questions of my own for you. Tell me, Stocke... Do you plan to return your soul to Eruca as a Sacrifice?
By now, you must realize what this entails. Is this really a world worth throwing your life away for? I'm sure you've seen it countless times by now... Those on top who think only of themselves. The common people are oppressed, living in fear, all while the desertification spreads. And worst of all, that ritual... That detestable practice! The blinkered casters do nothing to address the blight's source and only repeat the ritual! No one dares think how distorted this world is, unable to survive without relying on such methods!
And how many more will give their lives in the years to come!? Some express regret for their deaths, but sentiment is cheap. And even when the barbaric practice continues, it only postpones the inevitable... Yet the caster comes away so satisfied, as if they've saved the world!
We, the Sacrifices forsaken by this broken world, will be the ones to end it! It is justifiable revenge-- a fair conclusion...! That is the true history!
Eruca seems to have led you by the nose without giving her reasons... Deep down, she was scheming to use you as a Sacrifice.
You're talking of things you know nothing about.
It's the only thing that makes sense! Why sacrifice yourself for such a woman? You and I, what we need to do isn't become Sacrifices... That's not it by half. Come now, Stocke... Or rather, Ernst. There's nothing to fear. We will not stray from the path. ...It's the world that's gone off the rails, not us. Let's fix this... you and I, two Sacrifices...
That's enough, Heiss... Don't say another word.
Ah! So you understand! You've been a wise one since you were a boy. You were closer to me than to your father... Your dedication made me happy, and I often took you out of the castle... So come with me, Ernst! And we'll live and travel through this dying world together, just as we did before.
Heiss... I understand why you're doing this.
Release the Flux seal.
So that's your answer... It is a pity.
The Flux's seal is released... Heiss...?
Did you think I'd had a change of heart? What bilge... There was a reason I decided to release the Flux seal...
It's so I could seal you with all the remaining power of Flux! You'll watch the world end from inside a prison in time that you cannot escape, even with Flux!
(The Flux seal is released...! Now's our chance to deal with Heiss!)
Finally, our rematch with Heiss.
The stones are a problem with their high attack power.
With their attacks combined, Heiss and the stones can easily kill one of your party members in a single combo.
After you kill the stones, Heiss starts to abuse Dark World, a powerful attack that hits your entire party.
If you keep pushing them together into traps, they'll go down easily enough.
...You've grown strong, Stocke.
Heiss... It's the end this time.
Heiss uses the Black Chronicle and disappears.
Bah... If I can't stop you, then I'll try my luck with Eruca! I'll kill the girl before you ever meet! That will end everything!
Let go, Aht!
I believed, too! I wanted there to be a way to do it without a Sacrifice!
Music: RADIANT HISTORIA
You didn't ask to be a Sacrifice! You don't have to die! There has to be a way where you don't gotta return your soul to Eruca... Please... Stay here!
I need to end this myself... ...Let go of my hand, Aht.
Stocke...! Tell him, Rosch!
...Thank you, Rosch. Thanks, everyone...
Stocke uses the White Chronicle and vanishes.
Why didn't you stop him!? You're his best friend! You shoulda stopped him!
...It's because I'm his best friend that I didn't.
Why didn't anyone stop him!?
Are you all okay with this!?
...No, it's not okay... But... He was determined to see this through. There's no way we'd be able to stop him...
I'm surprised you held back, Raynie.
...I wanted Stocke to stay here too, you know? But after seeing that look in his eyes...!
...Yeah. I understand... I wonder what era in the past he headed to...
Who knows? Maybe he went to save me back when I was pulling some stupid stunt...
He might have even gone back to see me when I knew none of this!
It doesn't matter where or when he went. I'll still fight for Stocke! You hear that, Stocke!? I'll fight alongside you!
S-So will I...!
That is right. Our hearts will always be with you, Red One...
Stocke... You better come out on top!
Music: The Melody Connecting the World
Lippti! Teo! Where did Heiss go!?
You know we can't tell you that, Stocke...
Why not!? Isn't your job to watch over the world!?
...Those are the rules.
Our job, properly speaking, is to advise a Chronicle's wielder and see the ritual through. Informing a wielder of another wielder's actions is strictly forbidden.
See the ritual through!? He's the one trying to stop it!
We understand that... We tried to stop Heiss, of course. But we are limited to giving advice. We can't force a wielder to do anything. And I regret to say that his power greatly exceeds ours...
That's impossible... How can he be more powerful than the two guardians of Historia?
This is the first time in history it's happened. His anger and hatred is combining with the Black Chronicle's power, granting him tremendous might. He is completely beyond our control now.
Then there's no way you can tell me where Heiss went?
...I'm afraid not. We're not supposed to take sides... It's a very firm rule.
If it weren't, Heiss would have pried information on you out of us first. Had that happened, you would not have been able to escape him.
The rule works in your favor as well as against you. ...I'm sorry.
...... You can't give up, Stocke.
Heiss said he would travel to a moment before you and Eruca met, correct? But if you two had met sometime that Heiss wasn't aware of... His plan can't succeed.
Remember, Stocke... The bar in Granorg where you and she met. It was not your first meeting.
Your first... encounter... was... a coincidence... Before... when Aht... sent... the soul...
...Ngh... You and Eruca... Before you... reached... Gran... Aaagh!
Stop! I understand! Don't say anymore!
*gasp* *gasp* Stocke... Go... I'm sure that you... can yet save Eruca...
Choose wisely... a moment to travel to... The day you first met Eruca...
We travel back to the first chapter of the Standard History.
What was that...!?
I sent him away.
You sent him? What're you talking about?
I have to take people who are done on earth to the heavens. It's my job.
I've heard of this... Satyros shamans are holy ones who watch over the souls of all... They're central to the Satyros way of life. Are you a shaman, then, Aht?
A shaman? I don't know.
Wow. It looks like she doesn't really realize what she did.
????: What do you want!? Stay back, Marie! This man is dangerous!
Huh!? What's going on over there?
Eruca... My plan will proceed unhindered as long as I get rid of you...
What...!? Are you... the one who killed my father!?
I'll waste no words on those headed to their deaths! You'll be wiped from history, you detestable brat!
Stop right there, Heiss!
Stocke!? What's going on!? Why's Heiss here...!?
There's no time to explain! We need to stop Heiss! If we don't, the world will perish!
Wh... What!? That's... This is totally absurd!
I don't care how absurd it sounds! Trust me!
I-I don't get it... But if you say so! I swore to fight for you, Stocke.
S-So did I...! I'll trust in you and fight!
(This must be the effect from the other world... Thank you, Raynie, Marco.)
Here goes, Heiss!
Heiss is pretty much the same as the previous battle, except easier somehow. We use electricity on the shadow, and then focus on Heiss.
Music: Where the Wind and Feathers Return
Why, Stocke!? Why must you get in my way!?
I can't ignore what you're doing.
Very well... Then I'll just use the Chronicle again!
Still running away, Heiss? Where are you going now!?
I'm not running away... I'm going to the depths of the Royal Hall. I'll wait for you where the ritual is performed.
So you'll do anything you can to prevent the ritual...
Hahah... I won't hold back the next time we meet, Stocke. You'll feel my true strength. Do you think you'll be able to fend me off and complete the ritual?
I'll do whatever it takes.
Well, then... Open the final chapter in that White Chronicle of yours. Let us settle the terms of history there. I'll be waiting...
Are you all right...?
Yes... Thank you for saving us from that man.
I know who you are. And you... You should know me as well.
Th... Then...! That voice, that face... Could you really be...!?
Yes... I'm Ernst.
It can't be... Of all times, why now...?
Because the time to perform the ritual is nearing.
But I can't... When you went missing, I was going to perform the ritual without a Sacrifice.
...Your intentions are noble. I can't fault them, but... Can you really succeed without a Sacrifice?
It's... I don't know! I just can't use you like that... I was the one who was supposed to be the Sacrifice! And I can't shift the burden onto you instead...!
And if you fail...? What will happen to the people of this world?
You shouldn't take everything upon yourself. The sin of the ritual is a thing everyone in this world should bear together. That's why you need to fulfill your duty... It's necessary.
Don't be selfish, Eruca.
If the ritual is not carried out, all the Sacrifices of the past will also go to waste. Countless Sacrifices have given their lives to protect history. We can't let it end.
...The next time we meet, I won't know you yet. I won't know about the ritual, nor that I am bound to become a Sacrifice. That's why you must be sure to act as though you never met me. Am I clear on this?
Wait! Don't go!
Are you really okay with this?
Yes... I know I'll end up causing a lot of trouble for you too, from here on... I hope you can forgive me. I'll see you, Aht.
Huh...? What the!? Stocke!