The Let's Play Archive

Rondo of Swords

by Einander

Part 46: Castle of Darkness

Two days left on the voting!

Chapter 38: Castle of Darkness
(Or, "Grand Meir Is Bad At Landscaping")

Your Highness... haven't you realized it yet? All of us here intend to fight alongside you to the very end.
Margus is right. Now, let's finish this last piece of business.
There's no point in stopping now.
Right... we can't lose our nerve here. We have to take this as far as it can go.
Then I'll protect you, Serdic.

Teehee... don't ask silly questions. Just promise me!
Since I know you won't be satisfied otherwise... I promise.

This is a relatively small amount of dialogue, but even so, you can tell the last chapter really lightened the load on Serdic. It's nice.

Do you remember how I said Thief and Robber Proofs are rare? I haven't gotten a single one of either since Alhambra promoted. (And Rukia needs three of each if you want to promote her to her third class, because she's awful.) They're unpurchasable, too.

But you know what? I'm willing to count the ridiculous scarcity of these promotion items as their fuck-up, not mine.

I am using codes to add in two Thief Proofs and one Robber Proof and I don't give a damn if you disapprove.

Serdic has a lot of points, so on a whim I teach him ZOC 4. Will that actually be more useful than his ZOC 1? I don't know!

Margus learns Abyss Ward 3. Aegil learns Arrow Guard 3. Alberich gets Vital Strike 2 and Mount Guard 2.

Oh, nice. I didn't think I'd actually get this before the end. The Goddess Medal is the best HP regen medal, giving 8% per turn.

Galahad's Seal is also available. And unusable, because this is the last stage with Errands available. Play the sad trombone!

It's been a while since we've had one of these, hasn't it?

Big maps get full maps.

Okay, I'd really like to know why there's a GIANT GAPING CHASM in the front lawn of Grand Meir's imperial castle. That seems like something with a badass story behind it, especially since it's in the middle of one of their main roads.

The place is kind of a shitheap in general, though. I guess they've been more busy with conquest than infrastructure.

Of course Clotho's back! Mind, they didn't really pretend she was gone forever, death or no death.

One Swordsman with Thunder Seal and one Swordsman with First Strike on each side, and all four have Null ZOC. Evasion = 0 and Counter = 0 really aren't scary, though.

The Attackers have no skills, which is sad. Come on, it's chapter 38! There should be no enemies with no skills!

This is the right guardian. The left one trades Evil Eye for Vital Power.

Clotho is Clotho is Clotho. How many times have we seen this exact set-up by now?

She isn't actually wearing the Red Ring. No accessories at all.

Behind her, at the closer gate, are three Jousters.

I guess they're representing the Black Lions?

That is a lot of mages.

Let's take this from the top. Top Mage has Sedna Prison and Hell Warrior, the one below him has Fire Raid and Hell Warrior. Moving from the upper-right War Mage down to the lower-left War Mage, they have Megido Nova, Spark Edge and Soul Rend (hate Soul Rend), Hell Warrior and Soul Rend, and Magna Volt. Upper High Priest has Oratoriorae, lower High Priest has Cure Drop.

The Mages really aren't threatening at all. They have 46 Magic, which is really awful for this point of the game. The War Mages have a much more respectable 60.

This is one of the two Armors at the top. The two lower ones only have Vital Power.

Zombie Ernest has pruned all of the unnecessary shit out of his spell list. Good for him!

Behind Ernest's group, Mage Power Hour continues unabated. The High Priest at the top has Cure Drop, top War Mage has Seven Menace, the two War Mages below him has Spark Edge and Abyss Gate, then the two Mages have Sedna Prison + Hell Warior and Fire Raid + Soul Rend.

And one last Guardian for the road.

36, this stage, and the next one are why I'm bringing Naji. Mages. Mages everywhere!

There's a number of conversations this stage, but conveniently enough, my configuration has all but one of them. If I swapped Margus for Ansom, I'd have all of them. That's actually be a pretty badass team... I should have hacked in more Proofs earlier. Oh well.

Aegil and Naji

This is one of the few times they have both characters in a dialogue lit up. I'm guessing it's a display bug.

Aww, don't be like that, Aegy-baby. 'Sides, I got some business to settle with Gauss.
...I'll ignore that one and ask only this: what business would you have with Gauss?

I've been waiting all this time for a chance to give Gauss a little payback.
That's... suspiciously convenient.
Yeah, good call. It's a lie.

Oh, Naji

What, you didn't think Rondo was actually just going to give you answers, did you? We just saw the Rondo of equivalent of an infodump, and that was "give lots of information (but with an unreliable narrator, so you have no idea how much is true)."

Igraine and Alberich

Lost isn't quite the word for them. It's Mephreyu's magic... Or maybe I should say the Darkness that Gauss has gathered.
So this is really Emperor Gauss's doing?
Yes. Who else would have the authority to order this? I know you were hoping it would have been Mephreyu or Ernest, but...
Emperor Gauss...

Ansom and Alberich

...It wasn't Emperor Gauss' [sic] original plan to invade. After all, if we took the Central Plains, we'd be surrounded on all sides by hostile factions. know, it's only just now sinking in that Altrius decided to found a kingdom and place the seal for an ancient eldritch force of terror and wonder in the middle of a plain in the middle of a continent. That's either brave or very, very stupid.

Admittedly, I imagine very few people want to fuck with someone wielding the Holy Blade, so maybe that confidence was founded. Even Grand Meir made sure it was out of the picture before their attack.

And his goal was to stabilize Grand Meir, albeit by conquest rather than diplomacy. You see, Emperor Gauss gained his title in battle. Therefore...

Yes. Mephreyu's appearance in the Empire was just the opportunity he needed. By the time he realized what was happening, the situation had become irreversible. This may all be the consequence of my failure to stop Emperor Gauss before...
Consequence? I don't think so. In war, there is the victor and the defeated. That's all.

He's certainly brimming with confidence.
That's why I looked up to him.
I see...

This hits on one of Serdic's themes -- even when you're pushed to a choice, even when the alternative seems worse, that choice is still your choice and your responsibility. Gauss didn't want this war, but he didn't stop it.

Serdic and Igraine

What are you going to do when the war is over?
I haven't decided. I'm thinking of going back to the Order, but...

If you don't want to, that's okay.

You know there's no way I'd leave you behind, right?
Right. Thank you...

Serdic and Aegil

Where did that come from so suddenly...?
It wasn't sudden at all. We're closer than you realize. You're the Divine Emperor of Bretwalde who has completed a military campaign... And I'm a young Pope. It's a good match... they'll talk about us for generations. Don't forget that you'll need someone to produce an heir, to bring stability to the nation.

I'm sorry, but... it's too much to think about right now.
Imbecile! You needn't apologize so seriously. I-I was clearly joking!
Ah, I see. That's fine, then.

I can make a decision later... If that's not asking too much.
Hah, are you daft? Of course I'll wait! However long it takes, I shall wait for you!

Would you classify this as "romantic" because they're discussing marriage and Aegil's blushing? Somehow, it feels like this is more about friendship to me, but I can't put my finger on why. That's kind of a fuzzy line in general, though.

Well, either way, any child they have is going to be an incredible badass, especially if Serdic passes down the Holy Blade or Marie's Rikka. (It's the other royal emblem, after all.) Serdic contains both the holy blood and a new connection to the Darkness, and that's probably heritable too. And with Igraine, it's safe to say that Bretwalde will have closer ties to the Order after the war is over.

...the world is pretty much doomed the moment Bretwalde gets a mad king or queen, isn't it? It's like some kind of eugenics program gone horribly, horribly right.

There's three more conversations, but they're all before-attack lines.

You start a fair distance away from the enemy, enough that even Naji can't attack first turn.

Serdic kills the second target, and the first is weakened enough for Naji to clean up.

About 2.95 OB from this. Not three? I feel cheated.

Margus gets counter-attacked for 0 damage. That's been happening a lot...

Tired's description. They managed to go almost the entire game without a textbox size error!

Alberich finishes off two enemies; the first one needs Naji to finish the job.

Sadly, Sedna Prison 4 isn't quite enough to finish off enemies outright any more. Even Sedna Prison 5 wouldn't have taken more than half life off of the Guardians.

That's actually a good thing, though.

Alberich's going to kill Ernest, so he needs some meter first. With these kills, he hits 99 MC and 3 OB.

The first target survives with 4 HP and ZOCs. It's aggravating.

Naji kills him, though.

Moving on up.

The surviving Guardian attacks Serdic.

This is more to get Margus out of the way than anything else. He's great at surviving just about anything, but he's doing about 100 damage tops now.

One Attacker, one Jouster.

(I only cast this spell after moving Margus. I'm not sure why this screenshot has him still here. Odd.)

I'm not quite comfortable leaving a Jouster alive, but... I don't have much choice, sadly.

Alberich gets into position for Ragnarok Dusk.

Huh. Only level 3 Null ZOC or lower, apparently. That on-a-whim purchase of ZOC 4 wasn't wasted!

Neither was this one. Aegil's ZOC keeps Igraine from getting attacked this turn, which would be fatal. She has 130 HP and negative defenses, after all.

This is from Ernest. Serdic also takes a Soul Rend, but he has Boost. The AI isn't quite smart enough to understand status immunity, it seems.

Did you know that Ragnarok Dusk has no friendly fire? Neither did I. It's convenient, at least.

Either the 3.5 number I have for Ragnarok Dusk is wrong or Zombie Ernest has hella damage reduction, and I was under the impression OBs were exempt from skills, terrain and class modifiers. ((112*3.5)-62)*2 = 660, but it came out to 330. Sure, Ragnarok Dusk could be 1.75, but that would mean 268 damage instead. It's possible Ragnarok Dusk just follows different OB level multiplier rules, but... *shrug* I dunno.

Naji finishes Ernest. There's a "before attack" conversation here if you attack Ernest with Alberich directly -- OB doesn't count.

Uhh.... Uhh....
The power of the Darkness... Is this really what you wanted!?

Alberich has a lot of conversations in the end of this route.

Odds are high that Naji's going to die in a hail of spellfire now, unfortunately. Probably shouldn't have done that.

Oh well.

Never mind -- I guess these enemies are set to low MC targeting, and Margus's 49 is lower than Naji's 59.

Margus is also hit with Leak, courtesy of Soul Rend. Oh no, not Leak.

Aegil cures Serdic, and there's a lot of general moving. Naji shoots the Magna Volt War Mage; I want him dead soonest.

The highest Mage here is the one with Megido Nova. I'm pretty sure, based off his previous non-aggression, that he has a low level of it.

I guessed correctly! Margus takes all of the spells, thanks to low MC targeting, while the Megido Nova mage moves because he's not in range.

The Cure Drop High Priest heals the Magna Volt mage, but

If you remember the damage formula I posted earlier, cM and dM -- class and directional modifiers -- are added together before multiplying. That means that Margus only does about 90 damage to a War Mage when attacking from the front, because the Dark Legion has negative cM and dM is 0, but does much more when attacking from the back, because the back dM of +0.25 damage cancels it out.

Naji takes out the Magna Volt Mage.

Sadly, Alberich doesn't quite finish the job... Which is odd, because he has higher attack than Margus? cM again, I guess; they must have higher defensive ones against Alberich than Margus.

This game is confusing, guys.

A Megido Nova and two Hell Warriors, when combined with previous injuries and Leak dampening his HP regeneration, barely manage to take out Margus. (From inspection, he would have survived if he had about 6-10 HP more, which is a single level. Hell Warrior is only showing 10 because it's a multi-hit spell -- when one of those is fatal, it spreads its damage over all of its hits, and Hell Warrior has a LOT of hits.) Well, bugger. This complicates matters a bit...

Level 2 Hero just about takes out Clotho. He'll shoot her to death next turn.

There are two "before attack" conversations with Clotho... Well, supposedly. I could only trigger one. I'm not sure what enables the conversation below.

Clotho and Ansom

So your lifespan was magically extended... Or, rather, you died and were resurrected.
Uhh... Ahhh...
...It's hard to hate you any more for Shalem, in this pitiful state. Now lie down and sleep, and pass out of this world forever.

Clotho and Owl

Or did someone force you to be this way?
Not that I care either way. This time, Clotho, you're not coming back.

Igraine takes out the High Priest, Aegil OBs to heal Serdic. She's going to be wading in and killing Mages in a moment, so she'll get it back.

Serdic's nine spaces away from the War Mage, who hsa Seven Menace, so he's safe from that.

Alberich starts with Arc Charge 3, which gives about half an OB gauge when used. He'll use it this turn and next so he has enough OB to take out a War Mage.

Last turn's plans go off without a hitch.

Serdic retreats back towards the center. I'll have him heal before charging for the exit.

If, you know, Aegil doesn't kill them all first. She might!

(I think that second one is one of my favorite screenshots in the game so far. These might be only generic Mages, but... She's come a long way, hasn't she?)

Igraine and Aegil kill their targets

Alberich OBs his -- this is the War Mage just above the last Guardian.

I discard my plans and have Naji just shoot the other War Mage near the Guardian.

Apparently they forgot to change his cM to Dark Legion modifiers?

Alberich pretty much just hassles these two Armors until the end of the stage. He has just enough movement to go back and forth between the end space here and the space to its bottom-left, which is just out of Armor attack range. They have Vital Power, so they just stand there healing as Alberich hits them over and over.

Not much else of note happens, really.

Level 3 Hero on the Guardian, walk through him to the exit, win the map.

You can only get the Black Ring on Route B for Reasons. It's unfortunate, really.

I would prefer not to kill them even once.
...You're right. But the middle of a war is no time to express such sentiments.
I know. And I won't hesitate.
Now let's put an end to this!

Total resets so far: 16 (+0)

Next time:
Emperor's Shield