The Let's Play Archive

Shadow Hearts

by The Dark Id

Part 38: Episode XXXVIII: Red Fog

Episode XXXVIII: Red Fog

Music: Atmosphere - Blow Up

Our journey through Europe continues. Current quickest time from introduction to death champion Terry's dying pleas to save his cursed village takes us to the lonely hamlet of Bistritz. Bistritz is the German name for Bistrița, a small city in northern part of the Transylvania region of Romania. Bistritz is briefly mentioned in the first chapter of Bram Stoker's Dracula novel as a location Jonathan Harker stops overnight on his route to meet Count Dracula. Now I'm not gonna confirm vampires are going to show up in this chapter, but... there is a rather large glut of evidence vampires might show up in this chapter...

As a side note: it's a 1064 km trek from Prague to Bistrița. By all accounts, it seemed Alice and Zhuzhen just walked there. Though it's an amusing image to think that shlub Terry was just screaming and in a low-speed chase with a pair of dopey Birdmen non-stop for like 660 miles straight.

New Music: Dirty Nails
(Some proper Survival Horror sounding mood music.)

It’s been a while since I’ve felt such a strong ghostly presence! This is exciting!
Don’t be overconfident. First, we should look for Terry’s shop.
Yeah, let’s do that. I just wish we weren’t the ones who had to break such bad news about Terry.
Did we even find out his surname?
The guards checked his body, but all the papers on his person just said “TERRY” and nothing else.
Don't you think that is a little odd?
<shrug> Dehuai was my arch rival for decades and I have no idea if “Dehuai” was his given or surname. It happens.

Welcome to scenic Bistritz! Other than the ominous music, the only sound coming from the town is the squeaking of that weather vane. Before we begin our investigation and give the bad news to Terry's family, let's double back to the gates and find...

...a Lottery Ticket, of course! Gotta collect 'em all! Well... I mean, not really. But it can't hurt.

Trying any of the doors or the gate to the northeast are all met with locks barring our passage. No choice but to stalk further into town to the east and bang on any doors we find until we find people with character portraits someone friendly answers.

Still, no luck in the first couple of houses here and there is another locked gate to the east. We'll keep that gate's existence in mind for later. In order to progress, we need to knock on the door to the south of the square here. Here we find someone who actually answers...

I’m a friend of your father.
<sucks teeth> Assuming your father has been away for a few days and you may be worried about him...
Dad! Is that you? Come inside!
...Well, that isn't a “no.”

Music: ALICE

We’re the exorcists from Prague. Terry asked us to investigate this village.
Exorcists…? Where is my husband?
Terry is…
You see, the thing is...
It is awfully late. Maybe your daughter should be getting to bed...? Behind a solid door. Perhaps with a few pillows over her head. Just a friendly suggestion...

<looks to little girl> Nina, why don’t you go play over there?

Nina walks into the backroom as the screen fades to black. Sometime later...

<sigh> To be honest, I'm just glad he made it all the way to Prague. I half expected him to be devoured by wolves within spitting distance of the village.

Nina wanders back out.

I-I’m afraid not, Nina. Daddy went to call these people to come save the village.
<looks to the floor> H-he…
I’m so sorry… I wish we’d realized sooner… Maybe we could’ve saved your father.
It all just happened so fast...
<shakes head> That's an understatement.

No, that’s all right. The important thing is that you came…
We will do everything we can. I’m sure we’ll be able to send the monsters packing.
Thanks, mister.

The door to the shop opens.

Oh, mayor!

A man in a suit wanders into the shop.

That’d be you folks, I suppose? I’m the mayor of this village. The name’s Kevin.
We’re exorcists from Prague. The master of this shop asked for our services.
Ah-hah, so that’s what’s going on! Most reassuring! And where’s Terry, then? He’s not with you?
After Terry gave us this assignment, he was attacked by monsters.
Hurra--<cough> I mean... horrible...
I see… I’m so sorry to hear that. I don’t know what to say.
<turns to Michelle> You have my deepest condolences. It’s such a shame, just when you’d made arrangements to move to America.
So you'll be staying in town... Great to hear! Erm... America, such a grotesque, dangerous place, you see... You'd be much better off here.

But you needn’t worry. I will make sure you are taken care of! Please try to cheer up!
Kevin, you don’t have to worry about us. Nina and I have each other.
Now, we’re not strangers, so don’t hesitate to call on me any time, whatever concerns you might have.
Especially, Friday night over dinner. My place at around 8:00 PM is always open.
That is nice but... we're fine...

<turns to leave> Whew… Well, I guess I’ll be going.
Curse enveloping the town and all that, you know how it is.
<stops at door and turns to Alice and Zhuzhen> I should warn our two exorcists that the monsters appear when the fog turns red. Please be careful.

Mayor Kevin leaves the shop.

Were you all planning on going to America?
Yes. A good friend of my husband is in New York. He sent us a lot of gifts and took good care of us.
Lord knows, Terry wasn't handling it...
From this fall, he was going to help us with work over there. But now…
He’s a famous professor at a New York University who grows flowers.
I see…
Well, let’s you and me go take a look around outside. We need to explore the village a little more. Ma’am, what can you tell me about the castle where the lord of this domain used to live?
Your husband briefly mentioned it but... the details were sketchy. Due to the death within minutes of meeting him and whatnot.
The nobleman’s castle? Yes… the people of Bistritz call it “Blue Castle.” It’s an ancient castle past the forest east of the village. It was deserted 300 years ago… No one goes near it. Are the monsters coming from the castle?
No! There’s no monsters in the castle!
Nina!! You promised not to tell that silly story anymore!!
But… Mom.
<exchange a knowing look they'll have to come back and hear this girl's story when she's alone>

Nina walks away and pouts.

We have to rest.
Ah, of course. Don't offer us a place to stay the night after walking all the way here from Prague. We'll just get to work straight away.
Oh... I didn't realize...
<punches Zhuzhen in the arm> It's fine! We need to get to work.

We’ll be leaving, then. Sorry to have brought you such bad news. If you think of anything else we should know, please be sure to tell us.
I’m so sorry. We won’t let your father’s death go to waste.

Alice and Zhuzhen depart the shop.

Music: Dirty Nails

So it’s time for the monsters to show up. Heh heh heh… I can’t remember the last time I was this excited.
You had a similar level of excitement from that free pasta bowl we got on top of our payment for that job a month back.
<shrug> What can I say? I love Italian food. You couldn't get that kind of stuff in China.

Music: NDE - Near Death Experience
(We've heard this track a few battles before, but it fully replaces Brain Hopper as the random battle theme in the Europe half of the game.)

Random battles are now present in Bistritz. Those Birdmen that killed Terry and some random guard whose generic name I cannot be bothered to look up are stalking the streets of the humble burg now. There is no difference between their inclusion now and when we first saw them.

What is new are these ridiculous dogs with human arms growing out of their muzzles. The brown varieties are Water elemental enemies known as Police Dogs (or Reversal in Japanese) and they can cast Confusion as well as kick our exorcist adventures. No biting though. You know, due to the arm where their mouth should be.

The white dogs are known as Mailman (or just Arm Dog in Japanese) and are capable of spreading their canine taint to summon a Rock Shower to hit the party for a meager 30-35 HP of damage. Neither enemy type is particularly threatening. Like back during the trials with the split parties, the game puts on kiddie gloves for a party consisting only of Zhuzhen and Alice. A single use of Ogre Flamedance and maybe a follow-up hit or two from Alice is more than enough to take out all the enemies present in Bistritz.

Music: Dirty Nails

Since Shadow Hearts makes darn well sure it gets the most out of its assets (I mean other than the occasional entire detailed region hidden behind an extremely easy to miss side quest with a very brief window of opportunity) we need to march over to the other side of town and investigate a building across from the church. You'd think that church would be an important local given the gothic trappings of the town but... nope. We never set foot in there.

This is the mayor’s house, right? Hmmm… Did you notice how Michelle and Nina were kind of cold to the mayor?
The mayor's vibe was... what's a good term... Hmm... “gross creeper,” maybe?
<nods> Anyone with a pencil thin mustache innately emanates an acute aura of a total dirtbag.
<concerned nod>

Something’s fishy here.
Let’s ask the people here.

Now suddenly everyone will come to the door and chat with the exorcists. So let's hit up the locals. We'll skip the building adjacent to the Mayor's creepy home. That's a shop and we'll come to that a bit later.

He's been doing strange research for a long time, but I heard he's having some money problems now.
<sigh> Strange research, huh?
<frown> That's never a good sign.

Gold!? Bistritz has always had frozen ground, never able to produce more'n a hare's droppings!
So do you think we'll have to fight the mayor as some manner of cursed beast behind everything when we get back from the castle? Or has he unwittingly unleashed some sinister spirit that has cursed the town?
I am putting my money on the former.
<nods> That seems the safe bet.

To actually progress, we need to return to Michelle and Nina's shop/house. Ten minutes is enough time leaving them to grieve to get over it and be forthcoming with more information.

Music: ALICE

That seems highly irresponsible.
It's OK. Mom took a whole bottle full of rum medicine before going to bed. She'll definitely be OK by the morning!
<concerned look exchange>

Nina, can I ask you something? The mayor… What kind of person is he? Could you tell me anything?

Nina walks away and looks at the floor.

I don’t like him. He keeps bothering my mom. He also keeps asking to see all the gifts my dad gave me.
From your dad? He gave you lots of gifts?
<turns back and nods> Yeah! One of them is a letter from my dad’s friend in America.
My dad once said his friend works for something called a “mafia” and has “connections” but I'm not sure what that means. His friend got me this gift...

Nina walks back to the duo.

Do you still have it?
Yeah, I hid it in a secret place.
Hmm, so perhaps the mayor is just an oddball who doesn’t seem to be very well liked…?
My friend's dad said he was an “old money fuckboi.” Do you know what that means?

Maybe… Does that mean the monsters are coming from Blue Castle?
The master of the castle would never be friends with monsters!
<steps forward> You know the master of the castle?!
There are no monsters in that castle. That blond-haired master of the castle saved me from the wolves.
He did? Really?
Yeah. A month ago, a person with big wings flew toward the castle! I ran after this person, but I got lost in the forest. Soon, the wolves came after me. Then... the master ran out of the castle to save me!
He could shadow step and instant parry the wolves. It was awesome!
Then what did the master of the castle do?
The master of the castle took me back to the village and went home. My mom keeps saying that the master is a vampire. She tells me that if people find out about this, they’d think I’m a vampire, too.
She said they'd burn my steak. That's gross. Only bad people like well-done steaks!
Did he suck your blood?
No! The master was very nice. We joined hands and sang together.
Oh, really?
That's kinda weird, kid...

Zhuzhen and Alice huddle up and discuss the matter.

But if what Nina said is true, then I wouldn’t think the master and the monsters are related. But he might know something more about the red fog and the monsters.
I am mildly concerned about him being a vampire...
<shakes head> I told you, vampires aren't real.
Ghosts, zombies and all sorts of demons are real. Why not vampires?
The undead hopping around with their arms outstretched trying to suck blood. It's just too ridiculous for me to accept as fact and I've been doing this a long time and never seen one on the road.
You know we have different vampires in Europe, right?
...What now?

Alice, are you going to see the master? Then take this key with you. You can open the east gate with it.

Nina walks up to Alice and hands her a key.

Maybe the town is known for its sun-baked garlic bread...?

We’ll be right back. Wait here with your mother, okay?
<nods> OK.

Actually, we have some business to attend to before we depart for the castle. Most pressingly, we need to rummage behind a table in the shop to locate...

...Another discount card! This allows us to potentially get up to a 30% discount and 15% price raise on all goods in the shops. Assuming we can complete three increasingly swiftly moving Judgment Ring attempts. This is the reason we've been neglecting to buy anything yet in Europe.

Also behind a crate just below the table, we can steal a new consumable. This one just makes the entire party gain critical attacks for a round. No Judgment Ring fuckery involved. Hey, that might actually prove useful.

We can also speak with Nina again. She's running the Do Re Mi Shop which offers general items and accessories.

Of particular note is the next level of the Belt accessories we've been getting along the way. We've got enough unique accessories at this point to fill most slots without relying on this kind of generic item. But hey, here it is anyway. It raises Physical Attack +8 which... ain't going to do much for the two weakest physical attackers in the game.

Anyway, if we head back into town once again the two neighbors to the Do Re Mi Shop have some new dialogue.

Music: Dirty Nails

There's a vampire living there. No one ever came back alive.
There are also wolves, a treacherous bog, poisonous bats and several sheer cliff drops. It's a bad tract of land all around. But, those vampires are still a threat!

But I see sumpin'! Just the other day! Some sorta light or sumpin' shinin' from the castle window.
Now I ain'ts sayin' it couldn'ta been jus' the moonlight reflectin' on th' glass but I reckon it a vampire! No doubts in m' 'ind!

We deal in weapons and armor here. Go on, take a look around.

The house next to the Mayor's residence is home to the Chicken Heart Shop. They're offering a new set of male and female armor as well as a new Tome for Alice. There's also a Rapier class weapon present here but we don't have anyone that knows how to use a sword in our party. Which thinking about it now, is really weird for an RPG. We can, of course, use our new Moon Card to get a 30% discount on all the good here.

Ah yes, it can redeem an entire nation or give an unsuspecting monster a mild concussion. It's a very thick tome. This book grants 30 Physical and 39 Special Attack (up from the previous 17/23 of the Tome of the Moon.)

I'm telling you it's a light blue shirt! It's not white! Are you daft!?
It also grants 34 P-Defense and 36 S-Defense.

Seems like it'd chafe. Definitely wear an undershirt before putting this on. Your nipples will thank you later. Also 36 P-Defense and 34 S-Defense.

In any event, that's all there is to do in Bistritz at the moment. All that is left is to unlock that shabby gate to the east and head on toward the Blue Castle. Tune in next time as we literally just go to Castlevania as Shadow Hearts continues!

Video: Episode 38 Highlight Reel
(Get a load of that dog!)

Nina and Michelle Portraits - Also confused why their father got a character portrait and unique model.