Part 9: Episode IX: A Single ThreadEpisode IX: A Single Thread
Music: Destruction - Noise of Fangs
The Cat Lady is now dead. Which means we can now approach the Zhaoyang Village Shrine and go see what the deal is with this Yamaraja chap. Well go ahead and blow a Tent before heading out to restore all our HP/MP. Its best to be in top shape going forward. I also perhaps got the whole gang to around Level 8ish since everyone was just at the cusp of leveling up after the Felinus fight.
As an added note, we hit exactly one random battle running from the save point to the town shrine. It was over a few seconds later but it resulted in the Soul Energy for Wind leveling up. Well address that sometime in the near future. Just keep it in mind.
You know, I dont think anyone bothered to check to see if the Cat Lady actually was making any barrier. Everyone just kind of took her word on it and started chasing after her. Oh well. I guess it doesnt make a difference now. Yuri is gonna violate the shit out of that shrine!
<nods> Yamaraja is the Lord of Hell. Hes quite different from those cat people from before. Be on guard.
Piece of cake! Now lets blow this joint.
Time for the punchy part!
Yuri fiddles with the Shrine and is immediately met with a thunder crash leading to...
New Music: China Ogre (Its a major boss battle theme. You should probably listen to it.)
Well... thats quite the large boy. Meet Yamaraja: Earth -- the first proper boss battle in Shadow Hearts. As in this guy is the first winnable boss enemy that could potentially actually wipe out the party. Despite towering over humans, Yamaraja: Earth only comes packing 300 HP. But to offset that hes way more durable defense wise than the trash mobs and minor cat demons weve been tangoing with.
A Yama (the raja part is an honorific denoting a king/lord) is a deity from Buddhist mythology that judges the dead. His Japanese title is Enma-O: Sui Gaku which is the Japanese take on the original Hindu concept for a creature we're fighting in China... Sui Gaku part means harvest not earth thats just a straight up translation fuck-up as youll see shortly.
Wikipedia on Yama posted:
Click here for more info!
Yama is a god of death, the south direction, and the underworld, belonging to an early stratum of Rigvedic Hindu deities. In Sanskrit, his name can be interpreted to mean "twin". In the Zend-Avesta of Zoroastrianism, he is called "Yima". According to the Vedas, Yama is said to have been the first mortal who died. By virtue of precedence, he became the ruler of the departed, and is called "Lord of the Pitrs".
Yama can be found in one of the oldest Japanese religious works called Nipponkoku Genpō Zenaku Ryōiki, a literary work compiled by the Monk Keikai in 822. Yama was introduced to Japan through Buddhism, where he was featured as a Buddhist divinity. He holds the same position title as other works depict him - a judge who imposes decisions on the dead who have mistreated others.
King Yemma in Dragon Ball Z, that giant bureaucrat devil guy in the afterlife that Goku has to talk to before getting let on Snake Way after he dies? Same dude.
Anyway, our first order of business is to immediately turn Yuri into a cat dude and immediately have him start chucking rocks at Yamaraja. Youd think using an Earth elemental Fusion and throwing an Earth element attack at a monster named Yamaraja: EARTH would be a poor idea. But nah. This attack still does around 50-60 damage to the big boy just like it did to Felinus. Why is that?
Like I said earlier, this guys Japanese name was Enma-O: Sui Gaku or Judge-King of Hell: Harvest. Harvest being a marginally more abstract a conceptual title than literally Earth -- an actual gameplay mechanic element present in combat. What Im getting at is this dude is NOT an Earth element creature. Hes a Water elemental. Whoops!
Yamaraja Earths most devastating attack is Large Whirlpool, which hits Yuri and Alice for around 25-35 HP of damage while Zhuzhen, the Fire Element guy, takes it on the chin for 35-45 damage.
Even more pressingly, Large Whirlpool has the potential to inflict the first Judgment Ring status effect weve encountered in Shadow Hearts: Tight Ring. As the prompt says, for three turns the afflicted has the Hit Area on the Judgment Ring reduced in size. Thats the only abnormality that this Yamaraja can inflict. But other fun abnormalities for the Judgment Ring include:
- Tight Ring Reduces Hit Area size. We just went over this!
- Fast Ring The dial sweeps the Judgment Ring twice as fast.
- Small Ring The Judgment Ring gets visually half the normal size on the HUD. More annoying than anything.
- Reverse Ring The Judgment Ring dial sweeps counter-clockwise. Very off-putting.
- Invisible Ring The Judgment Rings Hit Areas are hidden. Thats some right bullshit.
- Fake Ring The Hit Areas on the Judgment Ring are moved into fake positions. Thats even worse than it being invisible!
- Random Ring The dial speeds up and slows down its sweep randomly. Rude as hell.
We need everyone to be on point during this battle so negating the Judgment Ring Abnormality with a Phoenix Tail right away is probably a good call. Well need to stock up on more of those in the future.
Yamaraja: Earth also has the Flash Flood ability we saw from that undead wolf reskin enemy from earlier. Its a real problem if he decides to target Zhuzhen with it. The old man does NOT do well against Water based attacks. A hit from Flash Flood will do 40-50 HP of damage and considering Zhuzhen only has 93 total right now... thats a decent chunk of health gone down the drain.
Unlike in the Felinus fight, where Alice didnt really need to contribute, this time around she is working overtime in the medic position making sure herself, Yuri and especially Zhuzhen have their health topped off as soon as possible. Optimally we dont want anyone falling beneath 40 HP if we want to keep them alive. We also need to be mindful that Alice only has five turns before she'll run out of Sanity and go Berserk so we need to keep an eye on her quickly dwindling SP. The first time I played this I definitely had Alice lose all Sanity and was very confused as to what happened because hell if there's directly a tutorial about Sanity Points outside diving deep into the FAQ section of the menu.
Even though he is taking a beating, Zhuzhen is probably our MVP in dealing damage during this fight since that whole elemental weakness thing works both ways. Ogre Flamedance will nail Yamaraja: Earth for nearly 60 HP. He should be belting a cast of that out every single turn. Its better to let Yuri chip in with healing items to support Alice topping off everyones health than letting Zhuzhen stop burning this idiot.
So in summary: Yuri turns into a catman and throw rocks at him, Zhuzhen set him on fire a bunch and Alice scrambles to keep everyone alive doing just that. Yamaraja: Earth will be slain in no time and with his death, the curse on Zhaoyang Village is finally broken.
In addition to a frankly underwhelming amount of experience points, we are reward with a Star Brooch for defeating the Yamaraja. This is actually a returning item from Koudelka... in name only. In that game, it actually was a brooch shaped like a star. It was a unique accessory only obtained by fucking up a sidequest to properly exorcise a vengeful nine year old ghost. She proceeded to turn into a giant rotting end of Akira-esque bloated mutant and was murdered by the party... again.
This version just gives +1 to Physical/Special Defense and allows us to bail on a battle if I somehow fuck-up enough to get the entire party in the Berserk status...? Err... I dont think that hypothetical situation is going to come up often...
Music: Sea - Highnoon Fish
Thanks to you, too, girl. I guess my work here is pretty much done now.
That was quite the journey for a job that took all of a half hour. Ill need to kill time until morning before returning for payment or theyll think I skimped on the job.
But, wait, somethings been bothering me Just who is this person thats supposed to be controlling Yamaraja?
He probably thought that if the Black Tortoise was here, it would stand in the way of his evil plans. So he used the cat people to steal the Black Tortoise seal, actually just a small votive picture. Its quite sad. He took advantage not only of the villagers but of the local, sleeping spirits.
Music: Wind Which Blows From the Dark II
Little early for having breakfast...
Hes the warlock who tried to carry me off on that train.
Oh that old dick.
You two know Roger Bacon?!
Is he that famous?
Hmm If Roger Bacon has reappeared Then probably There can be no doubt
You gonna elaborate on that? Or just do the trailing off ominously thing geezers who know more than theyre letting on always do?
Hm? No. I cannot say with certainty...
So the latter.
I was captured by the Japanese in Changchun, and was being escorted to Fengtian on a special train. Bacon showed up on that train, killed the Japanese soldiers, and tried to abduct me.
<laughs> But of course, I came in gallantly, and picked him off like a helpless rabbit!
Picked who off?
Ah hah hah hah hah. Roger Bacon? You actually think you killed him? Sorry young man, but thats impossible.
I punched a hole in his stupid smug face! I am PRETTY SURE I got him!
Oh Im sure you think you did.
Hes not likely to succumb to you, no matter how hard you may fight.
<clenches and shakes fist> Hmph! Well, thanks a lot, Zhuzhen!
Now, now, dont get all hot under the collar. I know youre strong, kid. Anyway, heres what I think. It wasnt Roger Bacon who used the local spirits, but I dont doubt that hes involved somehow.
Someone else behind the scenes? I wonder if this has to do with the army trying to take me to Japan? But the waves coming off this shrine seem to be a more deeply-rooted, purer kind of malice. Its filled with hatred and lust And vengeance.
Just smells like skulls and dead cats to me.
In my profession, people with powers of perception like yours are called Demon Eyes.
Of course, in this country, anyone who has powers that others dont understand will be tagged a demon. But your powers seem to be special. You can see things others cant see, and hear what others cant hear Best not flaunt those powers. Youll soon be the target of those who would use you, and then kill you.
Hey, old man! Keep your ominous fortune-telling to yourself!
We just kicked some ogres ass. Stop bringin down the mood!
<points at Yuri> You too, kid. The art of fusion is a forbidden art lost in ancient Japan. Its a double-edged sword.
A forbidden art from the Age of the Gods?! What ARE you talking about?
I didnt say that second part, but OK...
If your heart becomes enclosed in darkness and your powers run wild, youll be a danger to everyone.
<laughs> Give me a break! I can cover my own ass, thank you!
Just dont be fusing with anything way out of your league, eh kid?
What are you my dad now!?
I suppose your father taught you how?
<turns away> Forget it. But I want you to know that the furor youve just been through is most likely only the beginning. Now, then, lets be going. I expect we can open the gate now.
Music: Sea - Highnoon Fish
Killing Yamaraja has restored Zhaoyang Village to a decidedly less caked in gore and viscera motif. Thats not going to do much for the local tourism. Who wants to see yet another generic countryside watering hole?
Our only objective now is to return to the front gate and get the hell out of town. Before we venture too far, lets do a slight touch of inventory management... You know, since the threat in town is over and all the demons are gone, I dont think Zhuzhen needs that Bandana or Leather Belt anymore. Hes old, that stuff is just going to weigh him down.
With that done, we can continue out of town. There is one single person to chat up on the way out...
Ah, is that so? Thats good to hear. Now its possible to leave the village. Allow me to show you my gratitude. This might come in handy in the future. Please take it.
<Youve received Guild Card!>
Thanks for everything.
The Lost Peddler gives us the Snake Card which is used in a shop discount mechanic we cannot yet dive into since the Peddler has ceased being an actual shop vendor. Well have to check it out once we reach the next area.
Now about that gate...
Well, Im off. Hope to see you again sometime.
<nods> Yeah. So long.
Meiyuan dashes out of town.
...But whod want to be touched by him?
Isnt he a nice man?
<nods> Im sure hes perfectly safe for you, missy.
I think thats the last time anyone actually actively discusses anything about Meiyuan outside of talking to him directly. So thats probably for the best. That aside, last call for doing anything in Zhaoyang Village. We wont be ever returning here.
Well then, see ya. Well probably never meet again, but I hope your business doesnt fail, pops. <laughs>
<shakes head> Whatever will I do without a smartass kid heckling my work?
<nods> Thanks for all your help! Take care of yourself.
<nods and begins walking away>
New Music: Much Hatred Still Rankles
<looks the pair over> You two meeting up, then me, and then the events in this village Somehow I cant help feeling like all this is connected by a single thread that somebody has spun. And if it is, it means well be meeting again somewhere.
Hey, pops! Im gonna want a cut of your pay if you start showing up on jobs in places Im punching demons!
Heh heh heh. Well, until then, take care!
Zhuzhen laughs and wanders off down the road, exiting the party.
Shoot! If only he were more generous about teaching me his secrets The jerk!
I bet you money right now if we see that guy again hes gonna be ho ho... actually I knew a half hour long monologue of backstory I just chose not to tell you for dramatic effect! Guys like that tick me off. Its always some kinda kung fu doctor too. I swear!
Hee hee hee. Well, if were going to be seeing him again, we can ask him then.
<shakes head and waves her off> Thats true. A single thread spun by somebody huh? Now thats interesting! <looks to the sky>
And that concludes Chapter 2 of Shadow Hearts! Yuri Hyuga and Alice Elliots adventures will continue in Chapter 3: Fengtian Tragedy. ...Im sure itll be fine.
Its the proper end of the chapter so lets have a rundown of all the folks we met along the way.
Wow, who knew undead kittens were such assholes? Im glad we murdered those kids.
Zombie gonna zombie.
Pictured: The very face of sadness.
Perhaps it was a mistake to found Zhaoyang Village on a sacred Wolf Burial Ground. Or any burial ground in general. Did no one watch Poltergeist? Its a bad idea every time! Its up there with bringing a loved one back with alchemy. Just dont do it!
Huh... Thats it? Youd think what was essentially the villain of the day for this small story arc would have a more grandiose backstory. But nope. Just an old cat lapped up some blood where a guy nicked himself shaving and whoops! Cursed into being a demon cat!
Much like it is not an Earth elemental despite the name, it also doesnt have a kick attack of any sort... I have no idea what that description is talking about. Perhaps Yamaraja can cast some low-key anti-localization spell.
If youre thinking Shadow Hearts has a small pool of enemies its going to repeat frequently with different colors and textures like Final Fantasy X loved to do... Nah. Its just wolves. They frikkin loved wolves early on. Every other enemy at the game has at MOST maybe one doppelganger palette swap cousin. Wolves have like five. Couldnt tell you why.
Wanderer Meiyuan is the type of guy who uses 15+ year old photos for all of his online profiles.
Video: Yamaraja Earth Boss Battle (You should check out the big boss.)