Part 27: Verne would be proud
Runner is the Umaro of Septerra Core, only good for comedy runs and places where you have to use multiple teams.
Hey, Runner is awesome and I'd take him over Led any day.
More seriously, Runner is slow and a shitty caster, yes, but he hits like a truck and a lot of fights position the enemies so that a beam attack from the second or third position can hit most of them at once. Now that we can cast Haste he's even better. He's also ideal for fights (like the mining helgak) where it's damage per hit, not damage per second, that's critical.
27: Verne would be proud
The key fits easily into the claw.
As you may recall, we just got the Hell God's Claw so that we can dip the Core Key into lava.
The lava pool left behind by the sonic emitter works nicely.
The outer casing has been melted off, but the inside is still cool...
And now that we've melted off the crunchy outer casing to reveal the chewy center, there's only one thing to do: ask Azziz for hints.
Fascinating. You see this symbol here? It means 'Wisdom' in the ancient tongue of the Creator. This relic is his. It's a Key to the Core.
You mean God!?
Yes, this is the means to solving the problem that faces us...to set right what Doskias has set wrong. Marduk tells us that the two Keys will be used to unlock the Gift of the Creator, and that its power can be used to save the world!
What should I do?
You must travel to the Core. Use the Keys to unlock its secrets!
But I need both! Doskias holds the other Key.
Both you and Doskias know that the coming conjunction is to be the last. You each have a piece of the puzzle, and you will both travel to the Core for the Conjunction. He will be awaiting you...
Um-hmm, is this the part where we all learn to work together?
Hardly. You must wrest the other key from him and use it to gain the Gift of the Creator. With that power - the power that Doskias himself seeks - you can save the world from its doom!
But how do I get into the Core?
Doskias mined the Core, did he not? That is how he found a way inside.
Yep, that means we get to go back to the Mold Forest. First, though, let's see what Led and Lobo have to say, since this is the first time they've met Azziz.
This place is boring! Let's go kick some butt!
Do you know of this weapon Maya spoke of? The one that can raise continents?
My dad built it. It grows into the earth, and changes its density or something...
It creates a gravitational field that raises the area to a higher orbit.
We must find a way to stop it!
Maya knows more about the Doomsday Weapon than Led does...and I don't have the heart to tell Azziz that if he wants to stop the Doomsday Device, it's a bit late for that.
I have pledged my ship to Maya.
No! I'm human! Never forget this.
Time to go off to the Core. Per the votes, it's time to reform the party...
Hey, Grubb! We're going to go to the Core to smack down Doskias and gain the power of God. Let's go.
Hey, are you, uh, doing anything today?
Well, I was planning to take apart the helmsman...why?
Well, we're going to the Core, and I was wondering if you might want to come along...?
Before leaving, I make a trip to the Oasis stores. This is what everyone looks like afterwards. Led and Grubb still aren't combat powerhouses (and never will be), but they're both excellent casters, and now we have a pleasingly deep Core pool to draw on.
And we'll be drawing on it a lot, so I also stock up on Core Runes and Relics.
The mold forest and mining camp are just as tedious as before, and the mining camp is still fully staffed and guarded for some reason, too - you can even trigger most of the scripted events from your first visit again.
Welcome to the Core.
The Core starts out simple and never really gets complicated. The first floor mostly contains leeches and various kinds of helgak.
I crack out the (relatively) new Law card to cast Marduk's Barrier, conferring all the benefits of a normal barrier as well as complete immunity to status effects. This turns out to be a complete waste because after berserking Led, the helgaks are content to spend the rest of the fight casting Haste on each other.
In future fights I settle for just killing everything because it can do much harm. Pictured here: Septerra Core's weird hit detection for area of effect weapons screws my attempt to use napalm.
Anyways, the goal here is to run to the end of the hallway and pull this lever, which opens a side hall containing an exit (which we don't want to go through yet) and another lever, which opens yet another side hall leading to yet another exit which we do want to go through.
The entire party lowers themselves through the puckered sphincter of the Core...
And ends up here.
Taking the only open path leads us to this guy, the Fire Daemon. He has a rather impressive ability list, including Hellfire and Summon Orouborus, but he seems strangely reluctant to use most of these abilities, settling instead for spitting fireballs at the party.
He also counts as undead, so Summon Kyra will do around 200 damage and forcing a few Roots down his throat will kill him pretty much instantly. Killing him lets us pick up the Red Key at his feet, which in turn closes off the door back to the hub and opens open a path to another one of these side rooms.
The next room has a Water Daemon and the Yellow Key. Same deal as before.
This one, though, manages to cast Summon Sedna before he goes down...
...taking off a big chunk of Maya's and Led's health, and killing Grubb outright.
As a water elemental enemy, though, it's vulnerable to lightning; Summon Simurgh and Summon Kyra finish it off. We could ignore the key and go back to the central room now, but since we need all four keys there's not much point.
The rest of this area follows the same pattern. Collect key, go clockwise to next room, kill daemon, collect key. The other two daemons round out the elemental set, and like the fire and water daemons they have hit-all summons and high end spells that they almost never use.
With a complete set of keys, it's time to backtrack to the first area and take the other exit.
This one drops us in another hub room with four colour-coded doors.
The yellow, green, and red areas are all very similar: open door with key, pull lever, return to hub. There are only two things of interest here.
First of all, the yellow lever opens a room containing a Titan Ring.
And secondly, Chosen troops are common encounters down here. Doskias has definitely beaten us to the Core, and has left behind troops to cover his back.
The blue key opens the hallway leading to the next area. If we hadn't already pulled those levers, there'd be another set of doors behind this one blocking our path.
The next area is a fairly straightforward leverfest, except that rather than opening doors the levers move Helgak platforms into place to form bridges.
To break up the tedium, halfway through the level we meet this guy.
Boss Fight: Hell God
The Hell God opens up with its basic attack: threading tentacles through the rocks to lash one character.
I respond by casting Flame Barrier on everyone, at great expense, because I know from personal experience that the Hell God has a bunch of nasty single- and multiple-target fire attacks, including the ability to suck up lava from the surrounding sea and spit it at the party.
I also hit it with Slow to cut down on the massive damage I have no doubt will soon be incoming, and lay blessings on Grubb and Led, since they'll be my primary attackers in this fight.
All this prep, however, turns out to be largely pointless. The Hell God is content to keep using its tentacles for 20-30 damage, while Led and Grubb hit it for 200+ damage with Summon Sedna and Maya keeps it Slowed (and feeds Grubb a steady diet of Core Relics). With 975 hitpoints, it dies before I even need to worry about healing anyone.
Mirror is a pretty useful card, especially at this point in the game. Unlike all of the other cards we've gotten so far, it can't be cast on its own; it can only be used in combination with other cards. When used, it costs 15 core and inverts the sense of the spell.
Getting this card gives us a bunch of new spells:
Mirror + Barrier: Dispel Barrier
Mirror + Law: Berserk
Mirror + Resurrect: Slay
Mirror + Heal: Unheal
Mirror + Cure: Poison
Mirror + Bless: Curse
Mirror + Slow: Haste
Some of these we'll be finding single cards for later on, most usefully Haste (because it's an amazing spell) and Berserk (because it's a shit spell but the card is used in the best combos in the game). Until then, Mirror gives us a way to cast them, if we have the core, and some of these spells - Dispel, Slay, Unheal, and Poison specifically - we'll never find cards for; they can only be cast using Mirror.
Two levers after the Hell God, the path is open.
Next Time: We defeat Doskias in an epic duel, attain the power of the Creator, and save Septerra. Ha ha, as if.