Part 20: Voice of Darkness (Retreat)This is a two-part update; the second part comes tomorrow.
Chapter 14: Voice of Darkness
No, it isn't. I thought it'd be a much more dreadful place.
It's anything but... in fact, it feels almost peaceful.
I wonder if there are any clues to be found here.
Huh? Who are these guys!? Where they they come from?
Same team as last time -- Serdic/Margus/Kay/Ansom/Marie/Cotton.
Margus learned Arrow Guard. I learn up to Arrow Guard 2 and equip it. Similarly, Cotton has learned Fire Shard and Storm Shard. I teach her Fire Shard 2 and Thunder 1, just in case it'll ever come in handy.
Marie has learned her major defining skill, Martyr. I can't say I know the exact mechanics, but the important thing is that Marie can now use her regenerating MP to play MP battery for other Mages. This single-handedly makes Mages of all stripes much more viable; if she tops them off every couple of turns, odds are strongly against them running out before the stage ends.
Alhambra Card Quests: 3
None of the other quests are very interesting.
There's a familiar face on the other side of the battlefield!
Though she is popular among the girls of the Order of Anrah, she has a mysterious side. She is oddly friendly with Serdic, and quite adept at Dark magic.
Her OB is the same as the tutorials. (Her Bio is in the tutorials as well; I'm just only posting it now.) She might be set as an enemy, but Igraine is totally harmless -- no equipped magic, no physical attack. I'll discuss her at the end of the chapter.
The others are less harmless, though not by much. The two closest Mages have Hell Warrior, the further ones have Abyss Gate, and the ones at the back have both. Hell Warrior is basically Seven Menace+ -- better range, equal or better damage at all levels (except 1, where it's awful), and half the MP cost. It's enemy-only, naturally. Abyss Gate is long-range Dark attack magic, reaching as far as Magna Volt and available much earlier; in exchange, it's weaker, though not by much. It's an excellent spell.
Their stats and skill levels are low, so this map is pretty much a joke. If you care, there's a Sage Proof in the nook at the very back of the room.
There's two conversations to start this map.
Selmer and Elmer
What in the world is this sensation...?
What does it matter? Things are getting interesting!
Remember, Elmer, "Always take an interest in the unknown." Isn't that what our master says? If you're not constantly looking for new experiences... You'll never improve as a magician.
I won't listen to your excuses. Listen, Elmer. Magicians originally came into being in order to reveal the hidden truths of our world...
Gah! He's as irritating as the master... though in a different way...
Serdic and Rukia
Rukia, we haven't come here to steal anything.
I know! I know that! I'm telling you, I know! Dum de dum...
Rukia, did you hear what I said?
Hmm? What? Tum te um...
The primary benefit of bringing Ansom to any map is much less worrying about Mages.
It's at about this point that I decide to just say "fuck it" and charge.
Normally, this would be a really bad idea.
Kay takes an Abyss Gate and a Hell Warrior from the two Mages closest to him. Cotton takes a much less impressive Abyss Gate from the further Mage.
Strategy, ladies and gentlemen.
Cotton Fire Dragons the Abyss Gate Mage (he's just off-screen to the north) and Marie heals Kay.
Margus kills the Hell Warrior Mage in front of Cotton, Ansom kills the furthest left Mage, Kay kills the one in front of Ansom.
On the enemy turn, Serdic takes a Hell Warrior to the face for minor scratches. Ansom kills the last Mage, like Serdic goes to talk to Igraine.
Before that, though, two conversations. Arios and Margus can talk to Igraine at any time, so I'm putting them here to break it up a bit.
Igraine and Margus
Why do you keep looking at Raine?
......? You're weird.
Yeah... definitely a bad idea.
Thank you, Margus.
Igraine and Arios
: Well, well, well... You're quite strong when it comes to using Darkness, aren't you? Interesting.
You can tell? Wow!
: Yes, I can. I'm generally an impressive man.
Well, you certainly are... um...
Hmm? What is a little girl doing in a place like this?
Is someone there?
Ahh! She's spotted me! U-Um... Who might you be...?
You're pretty rude, asking a lady her name before giving yours.
I-I'm sorry. My name is... Serdic. I'm the crown prince of Bretwalde.
Serdic? Of Bretwalde?
Y-Yes. So, what's your name?
A pleasure to meet you, Igraine.
Wh... What's the matter?
(She's not making this any easier...)
I said okay, Serdic. I've decided. Raine will go with you.
A-Are you sure? Igraine... this is not a game.
Serdic's opinion on child soldiers remains bizarrely inconsistent.
I decided, though. Raine is going to help you, Serdic.
Even so... I'm not going to bring a small girl onto the battlefield.
It might not look like it, but I'm good at magic. And besides...
That... is a lot of Armor Knights.
Normal weapons have no effect. If you don't flee quickly you'll be in grave danger.
A lot of Armor Knights. They'll give you a turn or two to get away, and that's highly advised. Raine wasn't kidding about "normal weapons" not working properly.
From here, it's just a matter of running south. They won't chase you until the turn after they arrive, and getting to the exit really isn't very hard.
That said, the event does open quite a few conversations.
Margus and Kay
Do you know about it, Margus?
No, I don't. But I don't have to... I can feel it. It's incredible what an oppressive feeling it is...
Igraine and Elmer
Oh my! Will you escort me?
Huh... up close, you're pretty cute. Yeah, I'll escort you or whatever.
Why not ask someone else?
What did you say!?
Igraine and Cotton
It's true, isn't it?
Ahahaha, you're so funny!
Those two conversations form a great pair, I think.
And we're at the final conversation. Sadly, you're unlikely to see this conversation if you play normally.
Igraine and Marie
Who are you?
I'm Marie, the princess of Bretwalde... I'm Serdic's younger sister.
Ohhh. So what does his little sister want with me?
What were you doing in a place like this?
What does it matter?
Well, I find it unlikely that any normal child would be in a place like this... Who are you? And for what reason are you attaching yourself to my brother?
Wh-What is it?
! What are you saying?
Not gonna answer? Do you hate me now...? Well, Raine likes you, Marie. 'Cause after all, you care about Serdic. It's dangerous here. Let's go, quickly.
After that, it's just a matter of running for the exit.
Holy Favor saves you a turn here. You probably need the Black Ring on Serdic for a Complete Victory.
And that's why I didn't bother with the Sage Proof. We're only using one Warlock, and we're not using Selmer or Elmer, so Igraine only needs to promote once.
The Darkness? As in the force that the Holy King Altrius sealed away?
Then what was that in there?
I told you... the Darkness. Originally, the whole world was covered in Darkness.
This is a detail I like. The idea of the world originally existing as darkness and void is common in creation myths, but usually this ends when some kind of light, an existence independent of the darkness, is created. Light is creation, darkness is death, and you have to fight death back in order to have the world exist. Instead, here, there's no separation -- the world was all darkness once, and it still fundamentally is. Darkness is death and sleep, but it's also the element of potential. I prefer dualism to black-and-white.
In other words, it's like Fire or Ice or Lightning.
(She seems so much more mature when she's talking about this...)
...All right, then. Let's go back to my first question. If what we just saw was the power of the Darkness, how did it end up here?
Raine doesn't know. Ask Mephreyu.
Yes, that's him. It was disgusting how friendly he was to everyone in the Order. He even tried to talk to me all the time. But when I told him what my grandfather told me to say, he never bothered me again.
What did you say to him...?
Hey Serdic, are you a pervert too?
I'm not a pervert!
...it's nothing. What is it, Marie?
I come bearing bad news.
Now that the map's over, let's take a moment to talk about Igraine.
(Raine also has Talan Raioh and Abyss Gate.)
Card Quests: Dark magic MP cost -20% (3x), Dark magic damage +25% (6x)
Compared to Arios, Igraine is more of a slow-starter. She starts with fewer skill points, fewer learnable skills and lower non-Move stats. Her specialty is Dark magic, but dark magic has the fewest spells available to the player -- of its five spells, three are enemy-only. Starting with level 3 Abyss Gate is nice, but she isn't durable enough to make much use of Abyss Ward, Ignite Lore is bad, and Storm Rave is situational. Igraine will never learn Invoke Mana, her HP growth is equal to Arios (game-worst), her defense growth is okay but the stat will never be good, she starts with barely enough MP to cast Abyss Gate twice, her OB is awful even by the low standards of this game... There's not really an aspect in which she compares positively to Arios right now.
However, Igraine has the best promotion in the game, and she's second in the Seal order, just behind a character who joins unpromoted. As a result, she'll promote several stages earlier than any of the other Mages. And when she does promote, she learns Abyss Shard, every elemental ultimate spell (except Light, naturally), Wisdom Lock, Torus Spell, and Manafont. The last two deserve particular mention. Torus Spell is MP regeneration, 4% per skill level, while Manafont is an MP-only version of Marie's Martyr skill. Torus Spell is exclusive to Selmer, Igraine and a healer (and of those three, only Igraine is a good character), while only Igraine learns Manafont.
Aside from that, Darkness is a good element. While it may only have two usable spells, that's true for basically every element -- the only good Fire spell is Meteor Gate, the only good Lightning spell is Magna Volt, the only good Ice spells are Sedna Prison and Ymir Magna. All the others are too situational or they're stopgaps while you wait for the best ones. Abyss Gate is excellent for sniping, while Seven Menace does very good damage at a good range. Igraine also has relatively good movement, making it easier to keep her with the team.
Personally, Igraine is my favorite mage to use. That's not to say she's the best mage -- her start is slow enough and bumpy enough that you may very reasonably prefer Arios or Cotton, both of whom are easier to start with. But if you make good use of Martyr and promote her as soon as you're able, then I think she's well-worth the investment.
Total resets so far: 8 (+0)
Next time: Voice of Darkness (No Running)