Shield Card time. We head to IRPO, the most useless region of all.
Unless you've come a-cardin', this is as far as you'll get. I'm sure there would have been more to this place if Fuse's quest had been finished, but we'll never know now.
It'd be kinda funny if we totally fucked up Blue's plans by getting the cards before him or something.
Fuse is lazy and/or a dick, so he forces us to help him run an errand before he gives us the card.
Yup, we ain't even gonna stay in IRPO. Two screens, people.
Fuse wants us to help him press wildflowers.
He comes with the gift for Mind Magic, plus a few fighting techs. Fuse is pretty much good at anything, but I always find him to be best at fighting techs, and that's what we need anyway.
Cotton grabs what may well be the best Monster tech of all. MagicHeal will heal anybody, even mecs (though it doesn't work too well on them), for just 5WP, and what's more, it ALWAYS goes first in battle. Which is a nice thing for healing moves to do.
In a nearby cave, we find a good ol' dragon treasure horde. Oh, and some dragons.
These two are really fucking hard, especially for this point in the game. The RedDragon is normal and goes down pretty easy, but the BlackDragon is stronger than usual and is quite the bitch.
And yet, somehow we prevail. This was one of the silliest fights I'd ever been in. Cotton kept everyone alive with MagicHeal, Cap did like 75% of the total damage with her gun techs, Fuse and Lute ended up using entirely different moves than they had started with by the end of the fight (they both picked up 2-3 techs during the fight), and EngineerCar did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING USEFUL (well, that's not true. Every time he got hit, someone useful wasn't getting hit). The treasure horde includes 1000 credits, a GoldenFleece (28 point armor, immune to sleep), an OctopusBoard, the Lordstar (unique 55 power sword with the move BraveHeart), a SanctuaryStone, and a KrisKnife (3 power accessory that gives decent elemental resistance). Pretty good stuff, especially the LordStar.
Cotton turned into a CrystalTree, which is a very nice form. Also, it's a tree.
Lost quite a bit of LP and WP in the process, too.
Alright, I have to admit I wasn't able/willing to get Suzaku here, but I will explain how it's done (and show what an absolute hassle it is).
First you gotta kill this one fairy here on the first screen in Mosperiburg. Yeah, this one damn random enemy is the key to this ridiculously hidden secret that almost nobody would ever find on their own. Square wanted to sell strategy guides, I guess.
Then you gotta run your ass several screens down into this little icefield, and see if a snowman appeared. Except in this case, it didn't work because that's the wrong snowman. Yeah, not only does the snowman not appear very often (I'd say it's gotta be around a 5% chance), but sometimes another one appears that is not the right one (this one probably comes up 15-20% of the time). If the right one didn't appear (he'd be at the bottom of the screen instead of on the left like this one), you have to go back and kill the fairy again.
Touching the wrong snowman leads to a fight with 3 Snowfolk, who are immensely stronger than the usual Snowfolk and will beat your ass into the ground.
If you see and touch the right snowman, you get into a fight with a mini-boss named Jotnar. It took me roughly an hour to get him to show up when I did this in Riki's quest, so I got tired of trying this time and gave up. Please accept this rough artist rendition of what Jotnar looks like.
Lute's lute looks kinda like a bong there.
If you beat Jotnar (he's stronger than both the boss of this place and the earlier BlackDragon, but he can be hit with a Death spell if you have one), then you have to go a screen back and into this secret passage right next to where Lute is standing here (that's right, even if you managed to get this far without knowing how to do this, you'd still have to find this too).
And Suzaku would be unfrozen and ready to recruit right here. So that's the ridiculous and intricate method of obtaining Suzaku. Note that Cotton is already just as strong or stronger than Suzaku would be.
Anyway, we get to the top of the mountain. Flower time.
Video: I have to admit, I didn't intend to win this battle. You can actually lose this fight and not get a game over, you just go back to IRPO and Fuse tells you to come back and try again later. But, I ended up beating the hell out of Suzaku. Of course, I wasn't recording at the time so I had to make a savestate and then go back to a previous one and refight the battle while recording (winning less convincingly than before, but still pretty well). So even though Cotton morphs at the end of this video, he didn't actually change in the real one (and he even picked up FireBarrier in the real fight too).
Yay, Card 2. Fuse joins up as well.
Note that Cotton is currently a burning tree.
Lute returns to Yorkland. Not to visit his family, but rather, to get roaringly drunk.
In order to get the Grail Card, we have to talk to all these guys and get a sample of good ol' booze.
It gets a little annoying because they all say the same damn thing, and it takes a while to click through it.
Luckily, Lute says different things as he gets progressively drunker.
Finally, someone tells us something useful.
So here's the swamp. All those little eyes are a hiding monster, and the stuff here in the swamp is generally a tier above what you'd normally fight. We're also stumbling as we walk, making it harder to go in between them.
And when we get into a fight, our drunkeness hits us with some random status effects. If one or more of your guys gets charmed as a result of this, you can get killed real quick.
Finally, the entrance to the Liquor Shrine.
Yay, card number 3.
We're still very drunk.
The scene's a bit different when you're playing as T260G, since alcohol doesn't make him drunk (it just fuels his power cells).
And one more thing before we finish this update:
Why, what's going on with Cotton back there?
That's right, baby. He turned into a BlackDragon. This is one of the top 3 forms a monster can take IMO (the other two being the Dullahan and the Mariche). We're only two hours into this game, people. This is how good monsters can be when you know what you're doing (Riki, of course, would still suck regardless).