Part 41: The Royal HallMusic: Where the Wind and Feathers Return
I'll drive Heiss into a corner this time and put an end to all this. This will most likely be the final battle... Thank you for all your help this far.
I am sorry... We have known everything from the beginning. That you were a Sacrifice, that your soul would be used for the ritual...
...We just couldn't tell you. If you found out, you might have turned your back on your duty as a Sacrifice... We feared that you would do as Heiss once did.
It's all right. Don't worry about it. But... There's something I need to know. Just what are you two?
We are descendants of the empire--remnants of their last sorcerer's soul.
The ritual was originally a spell devised by the empire to control Mana. When the empire was near death, sorcerers tried to leave a spell for future generations' benefit.
That is how this realm and ourselves were given life. We were created as caretakers to guide the executors of the ritual until the end of time...
I see... Well, one last thing, then. Why are Sacrifices for the ritual made wielders of the Chronicles?
It has to do with what your kind calls "building character."
The wielder's experiences in traveling in time and space are ingrained on his or her soul... They simultaneously cultivate their skills as the wielder of the book of Flux. In doing so, the power of Flux is stored in their soul, causing it to grow stronger and greater.
By using an enlightened, mature soul as a Sacrifice for the ritual of Flux... The ritual's reach extends to the ends of the continent, protecting it for many, many years.
The White Chronicle that the Sacrifice holds is the means to shape the future... The Sacrifice must understand the future they're protecting to cultivate their heart. Wielders of the Black Chronicle, for their parts, reflect on the mistakes of the past... They cultivate their hearts by meditating on prior Sacrifices who willingly gave their lives.
So each Chronicle has its own purpose... ...How is my soul? Have I nurtured it well? Have I reached my enlightenment as a Sacrifice?
You have indeed, Stocke. We are certain that your soul will be fierce in protecting this world's future.
Your desire to protect the future marks you as an enlightened, irreplaceable Sacrifice.
You flatter me... To be honest, I'm more scared than anything. I can easily sympathize with Heiss. But when I think about what the past Sacrifices gave up, I can't let this world be destroyed. I'm going to do this.
The difference between you and Heiss is smaller than you'd think... You saw hope in the future and decided to protect life.
But Heiss saw despair in history and decided to destroy it... Heiss' possession of the Black Chronicle only intensified his passion.
...There but for the grace, is that it? I could have been Heiss... If my courage had ever failed me and I was swallowed up by fear...
...Then we'll give you courage, to ensure that doesn't happen.
...You'll give me courage? What do you mean?
This is Historia, a realm rooted throughout time... The emotions of the prior wielders of the Chronicles can be felt here as well. We will send you to the origins of those emotions...
Music: Affectionate Moment
Hooded Woman: I'm ready, brother... I've seen what I need to.
Hooded Man: Are you sure?
Hooded Woman: Yes. I only wanted to see the people's smiling faces one last time... My life is a small price to pay against those smiles.
Hooded Man: ...I'm sorry. If I could, I would take your place...
Hooded Woman: Don't be silly. The soul is yours, so I must return what I'm borrowing. The rest... I'll leave in your hands...
Hooded Man: Of course...
That's right... This world is filled with joy, too... She always did her part to keep them smiling... And from now on...
Well-Dressed Man: You know she wasn't laughing at you, Princess. She laughed because she loves you very much, and you make her happy.
Well-Dressed Woman: She was happy? People laugh because they're happy? Hmm... If you say so...
Well-Dressed Man: Don't worry. I'm sure you'll understand when you're older.
Well-Dressed Girl: What about you, Uncle? Do you love me too?
Well-Dressed Man: Yes, child. I love you very much.
Well-Dressed Girl: Heeheehee!
Soldier: Excuse me...
Soldier: It's time, Sir.
Well-Dressed Man: All right.
Well-Dressed Girl: You're going already, Uncle?
Well-Dressed Man: I've got to go do the most important job of my life.
Well-Dressed Girl: Wow! Then be careful!
Well-Dressed Man: ...Yes, of course... Goodbye now.
Well-Dressed Man: I'll make sure there's a future for you...
Protecting the future... This man gave the world a future even at the cost of his own... No... That wasn't it... He saw that the future of the world WAS his future...
Music: The Melody Connecting the World
They didn't die out of a sense of duty as a Sacrifice. They all died to protect something... That's how they were able to give everything, even their lives.
Those feelings should lay within you as well.
As long as you continue to nurture those feelings, the ritual will succeed.
I see... I'll play my part. I'll settle things with Heiss and return my soul to Eruca.
The White Chronicle shall lead the way.
The last hitherto blank chapter has now been written.
All right. It's time...! I'll protect this world no matter what it takes!
Music: To the Battlefield
(I can sense it here... the Black Chronicle! Heiss is here...!)
Marie enters the room
Ah, you're that girl who's always at Eruca's side... Marie, right? You seem worried. What's wrong?
Marie: Erm... It's about Lady Eruca... She headed to the Royal Hall, but she has not yet returned.
Maybe the ritual just takes that long to perform?
No... It's Heiss! We have to stop him!
Heiss? Who's that?
There's no time to explain! Eruca is in serious trouble! If we don't defeat Heiss, this world will perish!
H-Hey! What's gotten into you all of a sudden!?
Stocke takes off.
Yo, Stocke! Seems you're the hero of Granorg now that you helped Queen Eruca! Things in Alistel have finally been smoothed over, so we came to... Wait, you two know each other?
No, I've never met him before. But, hmm... Now that you mention it, he does seem familiar...
I'm sorry, but now's not the time. Heiss is here, and he needs to be--
Heiss!? He slipped through our fingers in Alistel, yeah, but... Why is he here!?
I don't have time to get into the details, but I can tell you this. He's the mastermind behind all of it. He intends to destroy this world.
Enough explaining! The queen's in danger, right!? So are you going to help us, or aren't you?
Of course we will!
Ricky: Y-Yeah! I'll come too!
No you won't! Ricky, you'll only get in the way this time.
Ricky: Oh... A-All right...
I'll gather the men outside! You guys go on ahead!
Stocke heads for the Royal Hall while Garland and Ricky go outside.
(Heiss... He must have replicated the scene on purpose...)
So Heiss did get in somehow...
Why would Heiss do such a thing!? Let's go, Stocke. We need to stop him.
Sure I'm sure! I already made up my mind that I'd fight for you, Stocke.
I decided that I'd fight Heiss too, in the end! Wait, when did I decide that...?
Thanks, both of you.
Marie: I'll remain here. Please, save Lady Eruca.
Yeah... Don't worry. We will.
Just then, two soldiers enter the room.
"Ghh... Nghh... Won't... let... you... go..."
Damn Heiss... He's stalling us for time...!
Don't even think about it!
I'll stop them here! They won't get past me, so hurry and go!
Music: Memories of the World
Welcome to the Royal Hall, the final dungeon. Heiss awaits us in the ritual chamber, the deepest part of the hall.
The Royal Hall is full of rocks that have conveniently fallen only in your way and nowhere else. Thankfully, there are a lot of neon green barrels of explosives lying around.
Immediately next to the entrance of the second room, we find a huge load of boulders with a very suspicious empty space that's just big enough to fit a hidden chest. Unfortunately, there are no barrels around, so we must proceed.
But there's no way forward, only a pit...
The only thing nearby is this floating stone. So of course, we touch it.
The Floating Stone isn't a boss or anything, it's no better than a regular enemy. The unique thing about it is that it cycles through weaknesses, which is really easy to exploit.
It will always open the battle with an attack, and then on its second turn it will use Fire Change, switching its weakness to Ice. Just change with it to give it two turns, then use an Ice Star Trap, Push Assault, and Left/Right Assault, and it'll go down in one combo. It's important to be able to kill these stones as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Stocke steps forward and pushes it a bit.
(It seems fine to touch now. A floating block, eh?)
After killing the Floating Stone, we're able to push it around.
If we push it into the pit, it floats down and creates a path for us.
And now for the most obnoxious thing about this dungeon: these crystals. They take ages to kill, don't give enough experience to be worth the time spent, and are unavoidable. They're all over the place, and always placed just right so you can't possibly slip by them with Shadow Step.
But if you run from them, they disappear. This dungeon is slow and tedious enough without fighting these crystals, so it's worth running every time.
No, my "you forgot this important thing" post for this update will be this: The enemies in the Royal Hall are notable for dropping some of the absolute best equipment in the game. Notable drops include the best weapon for Gafka, one of the two-way tie best weapons for Eruca and Aht (both of which are worse overall but give better survivability), and all of the best armors. The most notable is Chevalier, the best Heavy Armor, which gives +200 HP and blows all of Stocke's other options out of the water. The sheer number of crystal fights generally guarantees that you'll get *something* good, and while none of it's essential, it's very, very nice to have.
I totally knew this but I also totally forgot it, so thanks for the reminder, Einander.
Hey look, another pit and a Floating Stone.
This dungeon is basically just this one gigantic room, full of pits, Floating Stones, and crystals you can't avoid. And every time you kill a Floating Stone or push it into a pit, all the crystals in the room respawn.
The Royal Hall fucking sucks.
At the very topmost corner of the room, right next to the exit, we find two hidden barrels. Guess what we get to do with it?
Yup, push it aaaaaalllll the way back through what's probably the biggest single screen of the entire game, so we can blow up these rocks.
And you actually have to do that if you want 100% completion, because the chest has Stocke's final pact. The Soul Pact teaches Stocke Wraith Blade, a non-elemental magic attack which targets one column and launches the target(s). I... don't actually think I've ever used it, come to think of it... It's probably a pretty decent spell (cue a post by Einander telling me it's the best spell in the game.)
There's also a Sky Armlet (speed +10) down here, but it requires you to drag both barrels all the way down here (which means leaving the room to make the first one respawn), and I don't care nearly enough to do that.
Lippti and Teo are waiting for us in the next room.
Music: The Melody Connecting the World
You two... But why? Nothing has happened yet. Or... has it?
Heiss and Eruca are inside. But the door has been sealed by black energy.
It must have been Heiss' doing... What should I do?
Do you see the four magic circles around us?
Black energy flows from the circles to the door.
So if I stop the flow, the seal will be broken.
But be careful, Stocke. What lies beyond the magic circle is a subtly altered world... One that has felt the taint of the black energy... A servant of the Black Chronicle will be waiting for you.
...I'll be all right. I've carved my way through the convolutions of history many times thus far.
...You're right, of course. I'm sure you can do this. Well, we shall see you later...
We have to take the circles in order. After we clear one, the next opens. We start with the lower-right circle.
Music: Memories of the World
That doesn't make any sense, Stocke. Explain "dark light" to me.
Stocke appears in a dark light. We're back at Lazvil Hills.
(Raynie and Marco are here, too... When is this?)
What's wrong, Stocke? You spaced out for a second there.
If we stand around, we'll be killed like our contact... Let's move onward, Stocke.
I see... This is during our first mission together. ...A lot happened here. This was when the White Chronicle first awakened as well..
Huh? What're you talking about?
It's nothing. Listen, there's a powerful enemy waiting ahead for us. Both of you should be on your guard.
We head across the bridge. You guys may know who's waiting for us on the other side.
Palomides: Target... White... Chron... Ngggh...
Stocke...! That's High Colonel Dias and his vice commander, Palomides the Executioner...! There's no way we can beat them!
Don't be so defeatist! We're surrounded--what choice do we have? If we wait around, we'll be slaughtered!
Palomides: ...Will... die... is your... fate...! Nghh... White... icle... ...Gghh...
Something seems... strange about him!
Don't let it get to you. We're breaking through here.
Huh? W-Wait a second!
Since Raynie, Marco and Stocke were the only characters present the first time we fought Palomides, we're forced to use them in the battle.
Music: The Red Locus
Wait, what are you guys doing here?
I really can't explain why we're allowed to use our entire party here, aside from the gameplay explanation of "It'd be real shitty if Raynie and Marco were really underleveled."
Anyway, we're up against Palomides and two crystals. The crystals attack with ice, and Palomides has a neat new attack called Destroy.
Notice the lack of numbers flying out of Aht's head. Destroy just straight up destroys one of your party members.
Luckily, pushing Palomides onto both pieces of a Volt Star Trap will kill him immediately, and the crystals are chumps.
Once the battle is over, we're thrown back out to the Royal Hall. The next circle is the top-right one.
: (It looks like I'm in Cygnus... I see. This is when Garland was testing my skills... Then he'll be my next opponent.)
Hedge: L-Lord Garland...? What's the matter...!?
It's so unsettling to see one's comrades twisted like this... This isn't funny, Heiss.
H-Here... goes... You... Y... Your skillssssss!
He looks like he's in pain... Hang in there. I'll put a stop to this!
We're up against Garland and two more crystals, which like to inflict status ailments. Garland goes down like a chump with a couple of Star Traps, and the crystals are easy enough as long as they don't paralyze your whole party (they will).
After giving Garland a beatdown, we're stuck back in the Royal Hall. Next up is the lower-left circle.
(Holff Ruins... There's only one reason why I'd be here. Question is... Who am I up against this time?)
So the Black Chronicle can affect more than just humans... Let's go, everyone!
The spider is the same as before, but he has more HP and more attack power.
The 61 hit combo is from using Dancing Death and Musou a lot, by the way.
There's only one circle left. What's waiting for us on the other side...?
Is this... Granorg Palace...? But what would be waiting here--
????: Field Marshal Viola!
A great commander like you must understand the situation in which you find yourself. Please cease these hostilities, I beg you.
Ngh... I don't believe this... I have to fight her again...!?
My thoughts exactly, Stocke.
If you come any closer... I'll...!
Field Marshal Viola...! Do you realize what's happening!?
Heiss appeared... and... No... You must run! While I'm... still in my right mind...!
...I can't. I need to dispel the black energy. Field Marshal Viola... Draw your weapon.
So that's what's happening... Then even in this state... I am... a general of Alistel... Lieutenant Stocke... I leave it all... in your hands...
Defeat me and slay Heiss! Protect this world...!
Viola is ultimately the same as she was two chapters ago, but now she's got more allies.
Conveniently, they start in the perfect positions for Will o' Wisp, so you can work that into your combos to easily take out the Floating Stones. The crystals take a little less damage from fire, but they're not immune or anything, so you can kill them with it.
After you take out her companions, she starts spamming the Frigid Slash, which is pretty much the worst.
Viola is the only real challenge of the boss rush enemies, but in the end, she's not too difficult to beat.
After the boss, Aht learned Lunatic. As the name implies, it raises the entire party's magic defense.
When we reappear in the Royal Hall, the sealed door opens at last, and we enter.
Music: To the Battlefield
Not another step! Come any closer, and the queen's life is forfeit.
Dias... You're a bastard to the bone.
Say what you will... I'll take any measure to secure our nation!
Eruca... I'll save you right now.
Didn't you hear me? If you make one false move--
What!? Where did he--
I love Stocke.
No... This can't... Curse you!
Dias hobbles away into the nearby doorway.
Eruca, are you all right?
Ngh... What happened? I was heading to the Royal Hall when...
Dias! What are you doing here?
This is all your fault, Princess! If only you'd played your part and obeyed us...
Now, there is no other way.
I can't believe the two of you... Are you going to repeat your same mistakes again?
Dias tosses a pellet at Eruca
...You didn't kill her, did you?
No, no. It was only sleeping powder. I knew the odds were good that our paths would cross if we loitered near the Royal Hall. Killing her would be simple enough, but is there a better purpose we could put her to...?
????: Heh heh... I wondered what all the fuss out here was. Thinking small as always, I see.
Heiss!? Why are you here?
Heiss? The man heading up Specint in Alistel?
What are your plans for Eruca? If you're going to kill her, you may as well do it now. If not you, I will...
What say you, Dias?
The girl can be killed at our whim. You, Heiss. Why have you come?
If you really want to know, come with me.
Heiss turns around.
Could something have happened...?
If Heiss is here, alone... He must be scheming something!
All right. I'll go after him. You stay here to watch over Eruca.
As you say.
Dias and Selvan ambushed me and knocked me out. I feel like there was a third man as well, but I passed out...
...It must have been Heiss. He's further inside, right?
Yes, I think so...
Heiss! What do you hope to do so far from home?
I'm going to have my revenge on this world... And I won't let you or anyone else stop it!
Revenge? On the world? This is hardly like you...
This is the nexus of the power of Flux... Mana around the world can be controlled from here. Why not lend me your strength? Join me, and you'll share in my tremendous power... I'll make you part of something great.
Something great...? ...I'm interested. We're cornered anyway. I accept your offer.
Then come closer...
What do I need to do?
Just leave it all to me.
Forgive me, Selvan! The girl has been taken!
So he's here... You've come at a fine time, High Colonel Dias. I want you to help Count Selvan.
Help Selvan? Very well...
I don't know the particulars of what Heiss is promising, but once the ritual is over, we'll--
What's that? I think you need to pay better attention. I'm not granting you power. I'm saying you'll be part of something great. Your Mana will be drained, turning you into sand and making you part of the world... You will become a part of me!
What trickery is this, Heiss!?
Heh heh... I've gathered more than enough souls and Mana. Now I can use Flux to end this world...
Music: The Melody Connecting the World
Mana is out of control...! There's so much power!
This cannot continue! We must stop him at once!
You're right... We'll do whatever it takes to stop him. And after that... You'll perform the ritual.
We need to hurry! There's no time left!
Yeah. Let's go!
We enter the next room, where someone is waiting for us...
The final battle is finally at hand...
Yeah... This ends here.
...... I am sorry, Stocke.
No need to apologize to me. You upheld your duties perfectly. And now I go to uphold mine. ...It's for the best.
...Thank you, Stocke. I am... glad to have met you.
We're proud to have been your guides. Thank you so much, Stocke.
Don't be so hasty, you two... This isn't settled yet.
...The rest will be up to Eruca and Rosch. If... you wouldn't mind, please look after them for me.
...Of course. Stocke... We'll be praying for your safety.
May your feelings protect this world...
...... After this... it will be over... I'll put an end to it...