Part 18: Fishing with BoomWell, being out of classes has apparently made me much, much worse at meeting deadlines. I'm going to try to get back onto the one-update-per-week schedule, though.
I've also stopped using .timg for maps and am instead direct linking them; some of them are getting pretty large. (The Mold Forest map for this update is 7.5MB - originally a 72MB BMP.)
As far as the cutscenes go - sorry, I never saw your edit - they work fine for me. I have Quicktime Alternative installed, though, which may have something to do with this; I don't recall if I installed the version that came on the CD.
18: Fishing with Boom
The tranquility of Shell 7 is disturbed by the transport's descent.
Ten years ago, mining operations were all over down here...Jinam wanted more land, sent a secret shocktrooper team to get rid of some of Ankara's claims.
You were there?
Me and the Captain here fought for Jinam. When the truth came out about our troops killing innocents, there was practically a revolution. Soldiers like me weren't welcome at home anymore.
So you became a bounty hunter at the world bazaar?
Araym lost his arms in that war...he was a demolitions expert, and...
Shut up...let's get on with it.
[talk] What can you tell me of this shell?
Watch yourself. The Underlost live here, and they ain't friendly.
[talk] We'll need a ride back...
Just don't stay too long, I'm getting bored already.
Map - Shell 7
And here we are. The landing pad is that circle of lights on the left; northwest of it we find Bone Circle Village, which is our first stop.
As soon as we approach, however, we're greeted with a large crowd of Underlost. They won't leave the village, but they won't let us in either.
Specifically, they won't step past those carved pillars, which we can examine.
The natives never come too far past those pillars of carved bone...and that strange noise seems to be coming from them. I wonder if that's what's stopping them?
That noise is a sound wave coming from the bones.
Might make good target practice...
The Bone circles, or the people?
What's the difference...
Araym seems to oscillate between "repentant soul tortured by the sins of his past" and "merciless, bloodthirsty killer". Considering the amount of firepower he has, this is slightly worrying.
Heading north and swinging around the mountain range takes us to the East Mountain Caverns (which is the only other location we can reach from the landing site).
Map - Shell 7 East Mountain Caverns
Once we're in there, it's nothing we haven't seen before. Giant crabs, giant beetles, giant balls of tubes that spit bees. Small fry for someone who's survived elementary school on Shell 2.
There are two exits from the caves. The southern one leads to this descending path, but if you try following it all the way to the end...
...you find yourself assailed by horrible noises. That just leaves the west exit.
The west half of Shell 7 is considerably more interesting than the east, and first stop is the mining camp ruins due north of the cave exit.
The mining camp contains a BioLum Lantern...
...some demolitions-grade explosives...
...a pile of junk (read: something Grubb can scavenge from)...
...and this dude.
[talk] What happened here?
Whole mine was destroyed, can't ya see that? The outlanders took over the mines in the Mold Forest.
[talk] Any explosives around?
You know how to handle 'em?
I was a demolitions expert for Jinam...Lost my arms because of it.
Led has nothing to say, but there is a lot you can ask this guy about.
[Underlost] Tell me about the creatures that live near the giant bone circles.
The Underlost? They're blind! But that glowin' patch on their foreheads? That stuff they can see, as if it was burning in their minds. They also use radar waves to see, so some vibrations and sonics can hurt 'em, like a dog. I think them outlanders got a sonic device hooked up under the village. The sound travels through the Bone Circles and keeps them at bay until the Chosen need more slave labor...
That might explain the noises under the caves.
[Bone Circles] What's with the bone circles around the village to the east?
The Underlost believe it will protect 'em. They're made of Helgak bone, which is an awesome conductor for sound. They carve areas into the bones that might light up when you put bio-luminescent mold plant nectar in 'em. That glowing stuff is the only thing them freaks can see.
[Chosen] Have you seen any strange ships?
Nothin' but for days! They keep haulin' away cargo from their operation in the Mold Forest...
[Hermit] Are you the only one left?
Yeah, I guess. We got some stuff left over though, like explosives. Hee hee, me and Jonny used to use that stuff to fish in the lakes around here.
[Corite] What kind of material was mined here?
The whole Core is covered with a crystal called Corite...like diamond, only better. Builds up from all the pressure of the world shells beaten' down on the Core over millions of years. We work it into lots of stuff, from lenses to jewelry.
You know how to shape it?
It's my specialty!
The hermit is a well of information, and we'll be coming back here more than once. For now, though, we've pumped him dry.
West of the ruins is the Dark Lake. It consists of a number of small islands, separated by dark, green-black water.
It's too deep to cross, and it looks poisonous.
During the resource war these pools killed many a man trying to cross 'em. Very poisonous...we used to dynamite the lakes and walk over the dead helgak that would float to the surface.
Dynamite? Didn't we pick some of that up a moment ago?
And just like that, we have a clear path.
Map - Shell 7 Dark Lake w/Helgak
On a small island to the right is another bird; apart from that, there's nothing of interest in the lake proper; more enemies we've seen before.
Although there is a nice fakeout towards the end when a hostile plant aggresses on you only to be instantly crushed by a rock panther.
On the north shore is a walkway made of intricately fitted-together bones.
The Helgak Graveyard is all rain and weathered bones, but it does hold two things of interest.
The first is this small piece of bone. We pocket it.
Bigger they are...bigger the corpse.
The other is this relatively fresh-looking shell, which will become important much later in the game.
That just leaves one as-yet-unexplored area: the Mold Forest, south of the Dark Lake.
Map - Shell 7 Mold Forest (warning: large)
Yes, it really is that bad.
The Mold Forest is inhabited primarily by giant bioluminescent fungi. It also features large cocoons...
...which split open to reveal giant spiders, powered by an insatiable hunger for human flesh. Fortunately they have no attacks of note and aren't particularly durable, either.
If you take the southernmost path, you'll also find this thing.
Approach it and it will rise out of the ground and attack, spitting poisoned needles.
It also has a hit-all lightning attack, if you let it charge up for too long, which can do significant damage to the whole party. Fortunately it goes down easily and there's only one in the whole forest.
It looks like ruins of some sort...I don't see a place for a key.
I've seen the Underlost open these old doors.
More interesting is this giant door, but we can't open it. It leads to the upper half of the forest.
Apart from the door, there are two exits from this section of the mold forest; the lower right and the center right.
The exit to the lower right, however, is impassable.
The exit to the center right leads to this small side area, which contains a few enemies.
Of those the most dangerous is probably this helgak, which - like its cousins on shell 5 - can drive your party members berserk. Like everything else in this area, however, it isn't durable enough to present a credible threat; the mold forest will slowly wear you down, forcing you to draw on your reserves of bread and core runes, but will only kill you if you get inexcusably careless.
At the back of the area we find a peculiar plant.
These kind of plants look like they can open up...
You know how hard these plants make night warfare? Light up the whole place like a spotlight...
This must be the luminescent plant the hermit was talking about, but we can't get it to open...yet.
Going back to the mining ruins, however, we find new conversation options.
[Forest Ruins] Is there a way through the ruins in the Mold Forest?
The old Underlost ruins? They can only be passed by the blue freaks of the bone circle village. They made 'em in the first place.
[Bioluminescence] Why do the Mold Forest plants glow?
They have nectar that glows. Most only have a little, but some have a lot, attracts the Helgak. They only open up when the Helgak sing their mating calls. The animals drink the Nectar and spread the plants spores around the forest...only certain materials can pick up the nectar without killin' the glow tho', like a biolum lantern.
This confirms Araym's earlier comments: if we want to get deeper into the forest, we need the help of the Underlost. But the Underlost won't leave the village as long as the sonic barrier is up, so we need to do something about that.
Something like this. Earplugs are sold by some shops on Shell 4, as well as one of the shops in Southfarm on Shell 3.
With the earplugs equipped, the party can safely venture into the bottommost cavern on Shell 7. (In actuality only Maya needs to have them equipped, but it's a good idea for the entire party to have them, as you'll see shortly.)
Boss Fight - Sonic Emitter (Viddler)
Meet the Sonic Lava Boss. Of those gamers who make it past the zombie-infested graveyard on Shell 3, many never make it past this fight.
Not because this is a particularly difficult boss, especially if you remember to barrier everyone at the start of the fight, and re-cast the barriers if they go down.
But because it has this attack.
And when people started running Septerra Core on Windows 2000 and XP, they noticed that this attack had...issues.
Specifically, this would be the last thing you saw before the game crashed to desktop, every single time. You could get past it by cheating it to death, of course, but a lot of people didn't know that; and it's not the only occurrence of that crash, either. (If you're unlucky, some of Led's attacks will trigger it, so you could generate reliable CTDs as early as shell 5!)
Fortunately, in 2007 (seven years after this bug was first reported, but better late than never) the developers released the 1.04 patch, which fixes this. So these days, all that happens is the entire party takes a middling amount of sonic damage. (This would be closer to 50-60 points without the barrier and earplugs, mind you, making this a much more difficult fight.)
Apart from the sonic shockwave, all it can really do is spray fire at you from its legs. Each leg is an independently enemy with its own attacks, hitpoints and time bar, so this adds up to a lot of individual hits; but with the barriers up nothing it does is all that damaging.
Your goal is to take out all three legs, causing the central pod to sink into the lava. However, there's a twist.
First of all, if a leg is heavily damaged, the core will heal it.
And if you destroy a leg and wait too long, it'll re-grow the leg with full health. So what you really need to do is cripple all three legs, then destroy them all before the core can react. Corgan can help here, as while his Observe power mostly doesn't work on bosses, it does tell you when they're at critical health - the HP meter will still read "---:---", but will turn red. Fortunately, you can get away with doing a bit of experimentation to figure out how much health the legs have (~100hp each), and then just keeping track of how much damage you're doing.
Summon Sedna & Pilitak is particularly nice here because it will take a leg down to almost nothing without killing it outright. Water attacks in general work very well here; the boss is fire-elemental, and thus highly vulnerable to them.
Things go a bit wrong when Araym explodes one of the legs ahead of schedule.
Led hits one of the others with Hydro Strike, but it's been healing that leg recently and it stays up.
Fortunately, Maya finishes that leg off...
...and another casting from Led destroys the final leg and sinks the boss.
Well, the noise is gone.
From it, we score a shitload of gold and experience and the Fire fate card, the last (and most expensive to cast) of the four elemental cards. And with the noise gone, that means back to Bone Circle Village!
The natives, unfortunately, are still less than welcoming; the noise is gone, but they still won't let us in. Attempts at entry are rebuffed with a mix of inhuman speech and rapidly shifting patterns of forehead-glow.
The hollow areas of the bone have some dried liquid in them...it almost glows.
At this point, it should be obvious what needs to be done. All we need to do is get bioluminescent nectar to fill the bone pillars with. We found a plant with the right sort of nectar, and we even have a BioLum Lantern to carry it in; all we need is a way of mimicking the Helgak's mating call so the plant will open.
Fortunately, we know a guy on Shell 3 who carves helgak bone for just that purpose.
What do you sell here?
I carve art from the bones of the Helgak.
Can you carve this?
Easily. Helgak bone like this make great musical instruments. It is said that only the Bone of Helgak can reproduce the sounds of the Helgak's mating call.
When you play it, it will mimick the sounds of a Helgak.
Back to Shell 7!
Some improv with the flute coaxes the plant into opening.
The nectar is easily harvested, and now it's just a matter of walking back through the mold forest and caves again to get back to the village. (For those of you keeping track at home: we've gone through the caves and the forest four times each at this point, and there's at least two more runs through the forest left in this game.)
And here we are at last.
Refilling the pillars only takes a moment, and after staring for a bit the Underlost disperse.
Now we can enter the village, and strike up a conversation.
Most of the Underlost burble incomprehensibly at us, but there is one we can converse with.
You speak our tongue? Where are your villagers?
Taken, outlanders take as slave.
And then, without further prompting, he gives us the Cure fate card. It costs 10 Core and cures poison, placing it firmly in the Not Worth It box.
[talk] Will your people ever trust the outlanders from the upper shells?
We trust you. Good start, yes?
[talk] You were probably here years ago, during the war...
Arms, gone but not gone?
Mind yer own business, ya freak.
[Forest Ruins] How does one pass the ruins in the Mold Forest?
Cannot open, unless Underlost help.
[Bone Circles] Your town has very few structures.
We leave old village behind many years ago. Stay here when Hell God attack old village. Claw of God still in old village.
[Chosen] The Chosen took your people, didn't they?
Outlanders took many. You enemy?
Of them? Yes. But we don't know how to find them.
Badu. Help you get to outlander. Help you kill outlander.
After all that running back and forth, Badu has joined the party! He can't speak anything we understand, but makes up for it by being very good at hitting things and having natural sonar.
Next update: Badu helps us trash Doskias's mining operations. It'll be a non-stop rollercoaster ride of giant fungus, open mineshafts, and a very slow bossfight. We get to bring Maya, Badu, and one character of your choice, so let me know who you want to see.