Part 26: Fresh Air26: Fresh Air
So here we are, finally out of the palace, and we have a Core Key. At this point the game kind of leaves you hanging with no clear idea of what to do next, so the obvious thing to do is ask everyone's favorite walking hint system, Azziz!
I've been fighting against Doskias, a Chosen heretic who desires the power of the Core. He's tried to create an artificial Conjunction with giant lenses!
I have felt these disturbances. Because of this Doskias's meddlings, the Core has become unbalanced. It is no longer regulating the planet and its energy properly. I'm afraid it will have disastrous consequences for our world!
He has a few new conversation paths...
Azziz, I tried to help the Chosen defend themselves from Doskias!
We failed. Doskias now controls the Chosen armada. But I escaped with valuable knowledge. Gunnar has told me that Doskias's artificial conjunction has upset the delicate balance of the Core.
What are you doing?
I calculate the next conjunction. It is nearer than it should be...something is wrong.
Doskias has gone too far...his lenses have caused great harm.
A pleasure, Azziz.
Tell me of this Doskias.
He believes himself to be the descendant of Marduk...it's his destiny to be Septerra's savior. Instead, I fear he becomes its destroyer.
He sounds fascinating, yet dangerous.
This is one of the Creator's Keys, used to unlock the Core.
That's what Doskias intended to do with them, during his artificial conjunction.
Doskias's meddling with the Core has unraveled its meticulous clockwork. By my calculations, the next conjunction has been sped up to within days.
Lord Gunnar told me that the next conjunction would be the last!
Without the Core regulating the flow of energy, the planet will continue to speed up its rotations until we are all destroyed. This artifact may be the key to our salvation.
But I haven't been able to figure out what it's supposed to do...
That is because it is sealed in a strong substance, to protect it. I believe that this outer Shell can be melted off. By a great heat, yes...but melted nonetheless.
But whatever lies inside would also be hurt!
No, no...The contents are of much sterner stuff. Strong enough to withstand even the heat of lava.
Where am I going to find a device I can use to lower it into lava?
Setting aside the question of why something that can survive being dipped in molten rock needs a protective shell, we need some tool we can use to dip it in lave. At this point, one hopefully recalls that the Underlost mentioned a "Hell God" that lives in lava, and that one of its claws still lies in their old village. If not, Azziz has a conversation topic to jog your memory.
I saw a carving of a creature called the Hell God in a village on the lowest Shell.
Hmm...I know of a creature that was rumored to live in the interior of the Core, in its lava-filled Center.
They can withstand the heat of lava?
Tempting as it would be to race straight off to the Mold Forest, the old Underlost village is located in the depths of the forest, where the spores are deadly to human life. So, we need filter masks.
The old miner who lives north of the forest should have some, right?
Do you have any breather masks for the Mold Forest?
No, but there's probably plenty back in Ankara. Probably just sittin' around in the Research Lab. You won't need any unless you plan to go real deep into the mold forest, though.
By Gemma! The pirates have taken over Ankara!
Yep, Gregor and the Capitol are both crawling with shellsixian pirates.
How many pirates came here from Shell 6?
Most of 'em. Connor pays real good, and the people who live here are real weak...good combo, huh?
The pirates take all of our food and water. They even use captured Jinam Cyborgs as soldiers. We can't live much longer like this.
Who do you work for?
Connor. Pretty soon he'll own the whole damn planet.
Malcolm is interesting because unike everyone else here, he has an actual conversation screen.
What happened to the townspeople?
The Jinam Plague wiped 'em out. Same toxin they released during the last war, engineered to kill anyone not inoculated. That means all the Ankarans.
When did the pirates attack?
They took us by surprise. After the Jinam Invasion we were defenseless.
Did any army forces escape?
I've heard rumors that General Campbell got away, but it can't be true...He'd come back and help us, wouldn't he?
Jinam wiped us out.
They used the plague again, just like the last war.
The Plague? That's the same Jinam engineered disease that killed my mother! I sat by helpless until the day she died! That was the reason why my father worked so hard to protect us from Jinam.
Hmm. I wonder if those medical files Lobo picked up from the wreck of the Tiamat would be useful here?
You suffer from the plague?
We all do.
I have an antidote for it.
Ah, thank you! Can you heal my friends?
Sure. EVERYONE LINE UP!
Thank you Lobo. You've helped to save my countrymen. I think my mother can rest in peace now, knowing that we helped to save these people that were dying from the same disease that killed her.
I have always tried to fix the wrongdoings of my creators using their own ships and weapons. This is one more duty I have fulfilled.
I'm sorry I treated you like a mindless killer, Lobo. I was wrong.
Led is now a lot more chill towards Lobo, and most importantly won't randomly attack him during battle.
Good deed for the day done, let's keep looking for the research lab key.
This suicidal pirate seems like a good bet.
And he is! Key in hand, we head to the research lab. To celebrate their newfound camaradrie, I put Led and Lobo in the party.
The research lab is fairly small; there's this hub, which connects to two simple areas to the east and west. The enemies aren't that powerful either.
This gives a good opportunity to check out Led's new ability, Berserker. Despite what it says on the box, it actually hastes her - not bad, but we'll be getting a much better source of haste later.
There's some assorted healing items and accessories scattered around, but as always the main draw is the levers...
...which unlock the other levers...
...which unlock the items.
Like the earplugs, the breather masks are equipment. We need at least one (for Maya); Runner, Lobo, and Badu don't need them, so you can get by with just one if you're lazy, but there's a total of three in the building.
Mask 2 is found by entering the west area and heading clockwise around the spiral.
Mask 3 is guarded by spiders, a quarter turn around the spiral in the opposite direction. With all three masks we could leave now, but it's worth continuing to explore...
It's a wheel covered in diamonds for cutting.
Because on a desk in the very center is this diamond cutting wheel, which we'll need later.
It's finally time to head back to Shell 7, but let's take a quick detour first.
Most of the population of Scumm Town has packed up and left for Shell 5, including all of the shopkeepers. Searching the abandoned stores can yield some nice goodies, including the unique items Core Seed (a core engine with a bonus to Core), Seraphim Armour (light armour with spell resistance), and Witch Power (a sword for Selina with high power but low accuracy).
You can also bully a Kyra's Tear out of the last remaining townsperson, if you have Selina in your party.
What are you doing?
Just going about my business.
Well, you'd better give me something to make sure it doesn't become my business.
H-here. Just don't hurt me.
And we're ready.
This is what happens if you forget to equip people with breather masks. Interestingly, Maya's the one choking even if she has one and everyone else doesn't.
The masks are working. Let's go.
Ok, with that sorted, let's see what this place looks like.
Seriously, check this shit out (warning: 8MB, 6400x3840 image).
This is the point where I started disabling the AI entirely rather than just cheating my way through fights.
Scattered among the giant mushrooms are some ruins, and some of them have chests in them. There's nothing that great, though; our main destination is the ramp in the lower right area of the map.
This is sort of a hub connecting three small Underlost living areas.
With brief intermissions for enemies and loot.
The first such area contains the Red Key, along with a Snake Tail (an accessory that boosts agility).
The second one has the red door, and behind it is...the Blue Key.
At least this area is smaller than the Chosen Palace.
And the last area contains some SpeedKnives for Badu, and the Hell God's Claw.
It looks like a claw of some sort.
And now we just need to get back out of the mold forest, but I'll do that between updates, because I don't hate you all as much as I apparently hate myself.
Next time: after leaving the mold forest, we melt the crunchy coating off of the key, and then turn around and go right back into the fucking mold forest again