Part 21: Episode XXI: Sweet Chin Music
Episode XXI: Sweet Chin Music
Music: Old Smudged Map ~ Europe
You know what? I'll admit I'm not a total expert on the geography of the UK. But I roughly know what corners the assorted countries are in there and last I checked Southampton wasn't exactly in Wales. Though, at this point, I wouldn't be surprised if every port in Wales proper was host to an eldritch horror of some sorts so perhaps this as far as any sane ship captain was willing to take us.
Before we continue onward, let's take a look at the current Score stats. It's been ages. No really... like four months real-time if you were reading this as I wrote it.
Well, at least we're not a Fat Thug. That would have been most embarrassing.
Battle Data titles still sound like they are lyrics fixing to appear in a Knuckles stage rap for a new Sonic the Hedgehog game.
I have a feeling Gepetto is going to remain top tier percentage-wise because... I'm not going to use Gepetto much.
Blanca and Karin jocking for position at the top of the battles joined. Though, Joachim's stat seems... lower than it should be. I'm damn positive there were more than 10 battles in both visits to the Wine Cellar. But maybe scripted battles aren't counted. I'm honestly not sure.
In any event, let's mosey onward and see why we're several hundred kilometers from Wales.
Music: ENDS. Rain ambience begins.
Hmm... I wonder if it has anything to do with the huge thunderstorm... Perhaps this cop seeing fit to stand out in a torrential downpour can illuminate us.
Unfortunately, the storm caused a landslide and blocked off the road to Cardiff in the west.
Everyone knows it's simply impossible to enter Wales without passing through to Cardiff. A city... 135.5 miles/213.2 kilometers away. I just cannot be done! All other passages to Wales were sealed off by the great wall and its druid binding runes long ago.
The only other person standing out in this downpour is this guy preventing us from exploring the upper walls of Southampton. Indeed, progress is located in the inn. But first...
Gotta get them delicious Lottery Tickets. This one was apparently just taped to a wall among a bunch of other advertisements. It's a wonder it isn't ruined by this rain.
Anyway, like the watchman said we need to head into the Inn. The Hope and Anchor Bar Restaurant is just across the street. Nothing about that screams "inn" but that's just a side gig, I suppose.
The gang wander in from the rain and are immediately greeted with a couple of drunkards taking umbrage with another bar patron. The guy on the floor is a whimpering mess and clearly about to get his ass kicked.
Yuri sighs and goes to intervene because he is a good boy despite being kind of a dick that could really use a vacation or downtime from JRPG shenanigans. However...
A caped man intervenes first. There is grunting, the exchange of money and the angry drunks chuckling before backing off and getting a fresh drink at the bar.
The man getting attacked politely bows to his mysterious benefactor -- you know like is tradition with English folk. He quietly scurries off to the opposite side of the bar.
So who is this mysterious caped man?
I'll tell you right now, it was definitely not anyone I pegged seeing again in this series the first time I played through this.
I thought it might be you. It's been a long time.
Huh. It's you.
That's right it's Sergeant
Last time we saw him he awkwardly confessed his love to the Lt. Colonel only for her to be shot dead by Japanese soldiers due to political bullshit about a minute later and Kato being kind of upset at her death. Seems like he really hit the gym and glammed up following that tragedy. Also, he's important enough to get voice acting and he's voiced by Papa Nier.
Yuri and Kato shake hands. Shadow Hearts 1 was a fucking bloodbath for secondary NPCs so I guess it's nice to see someone return unscathed and wasn't a huge dick or into some worrying shit when we last left them. I'm still concerned about those London Rats orphans. One of them upgraded a slingshot by apparently ripping out a child's soul and sticking it into the thing off-screen. That's troubling!
How ya been?
Who is this?
Huh? A friend from my Shanghai days...
Before it got blown up... Hey, how'd you survive that? I gotta assume you were like in Dehuai's tower given all the Japanese troops swarming in.
...Don't worry about that.
<shrug> Fair enough.
Japanese troops? Huh? Just who is this guy?
Err... I... umm... Hmm...
Kato bows his head.
Japanese Imperial Navy. Special Agent Masaji Kato.
<whistles> Got yourself a fancy title, huh?
A lot has happened since we last met.
Japanese Imperial Navy...?
Hey! You're all being so rude!
I don't know what a navy or a Japanese means.
My muscles are always serious!
These are your new friends? Quite an interesting group.
A lot has happened since we last met.
Killed a couple of wizards and a god, stopped the end of the world. Been busy...
But what about you? You've really changed your look since the last time I saw you.
<chuckles> Well, yes... A lot has happened to me as well.
Heh heh heh.
It's a tough job, being a diplomat. I just arrived from New York this morning.
Back from the new world, huh?
Indeed. I wouldn't recommend it.
And now because of this storm, I have to cancel my trip to London.
Same old Kato. Still following orders, I see.
We're in the same situation. A landslide stopped us from going to Wales!
Yeah... I don't even remember this "Cardiff" joint last time I had to go there...
...Have you been to Wales before?
No, but I've heard a lot about it. It sounds like an interesting place...
Nah. There's nothing there at all. Probably just a bunch of weird monsters.
It's just as evil and crappy as you've probably heard. Not looking forward to going back there.
You folks wanna go to Wales, do ya?
Yes, that's right!
I just came from Rhondda, it's west of here. I-If you go through the mine there, ya can go all the way into Wales.
Kato seems concerned by this turn of events. Maybe because it's STILL fucking 150 miles/242 kilometers to get to Rhondda. That's no afternoon hike. Plus it's another 90 miles/145 kilometers to Aberystwyth where Nemeton Monastery's Ruins and Roger Bacon's house are located.
...And then the war came along. The price of coal skyrocketed, and they had 'em mining day and night. But then one day they had a huge accident!
Yeah. A huge explosion in the very deepest part of the mine. About a hundred men were down there!
What happened to the mine after that?
There's nobody there now. Completely deserted. Except for... the ghosts and monsters they say show up down there now.
Yep... That sounds like Wales...
And you want us to go through there?!
Look, don't get mad at me! I was just trying to help ya out, 'cause you said you wanted to go into Wales!
Hold on! Once again, aren't you being a little too hasty, Yuri?
<rubs his head> Well, it's the shortest way, isn't it?
It's just gonna be another stupid dungeon. We've done like three of these already in the last month. Whatever.
Guess we don't have any choice. We've got no idea when the road to Cardiff will be reopened.
Gepetto! You too?!
You scared of a few little ghoulies?
Don't worry, I won't let you get grabbed by any of 'em.
<stomps foot and shakes fists> S-scared? I'm not scared! Who do you think I am, anyway? I'll have you know the noble Marquis of Munich is my--!
<turns away> ...Oops!!
The noble who of which what, now...?
<shakes head> Just forget it.
Don't worry. If those big, bad ghoulies show up, I'll scare 'em off for you! Boo!!
That's a euphemism for punch. You can totally just punch ghoulies, ghosts, and poltergeists. You can shoot 'em too and it works. Which I was surprised as hell to find back when I was running with my old crew.
<looks at Yuri> You looking for a slap?
Well, whether ya decide to go to not, let me mark it on the map for ya. Be careful!
Later that evening...
Well, at least now we know where we're headed next.
He he. You haven't changed. Still taking crazy trips, eh?
Ain't my choice. I'd still be beating up Germans back in France if it were up to me.
...That doesn't refute my earlier statement.
Just be sure you don't get yourself hurt. I'll be staying in this town a while longer. Hope we get to talk again. I'll be seeing you.
<nods> Yeah, be seeing you.
Kato departs upstairs to his room.
<nods> ...Yeah. I think he fell on some hard luck lately...
He was a near comic relief level dingus last time I saw him...
<nods> I guess this means we can all take a break until we're ready to leave. Yuri, I'll leave the arrangements up to you. Let me know when you're ready. I think I'll have a few drinks here...
Yeah a "few" I'm sure.
The definition of a few gets broader when you get older.
Sure thing. And if you get falling-down drunk, we're leaving you behind.
We're now free to explore the bar. Not that there is a whole lot to see at the moment other than Gepetto and Karin getting hammered together.
More text-heavy games should have fun with characters' titles in different situations.
Some of the survivors say they saw some really ghastly monsters down there...
Yah. Probably a ghost or a big stupid monster that did it.
I think the most reasonable assumption is incompetent management and negligence leading to the accident and the monsters were a byproduct.
Tch. Sure. If you wanna be boring.
We're not allowed to leave just yet. So let's head upstairs to see where Joachim and Blanca vanished to.
(Joachim, Sound Asleep) *snore! snore!*
(Napping Blanca) Zzz...
These two seem to have the right idea. But more importantly, we should raid the chest in here for those tiny complimentary soaps and shampoo bottles.
...This inn has a strange sense of hospitality.
What a power play. We should probably turn in these Stud Cards for some more dresses the next time we see the Magimel Brothers. If just for completion sake. I really don't like interacting with that doll, truth be told.
There's only one other room upstairs. I can see why they don't advertise the inn part of the business outside. It is likely where Kato is staying. So let's go have a chat with our old... acquaintance whose name Yuri probably would have totally blanked on if Kato hadn't stepped in and reintroduced himself.
(Gepetto, Hangover Tomorrow!) Urp! I feel sick...
These two are going to be in rough shape when they discover all the beds are already accounted for upstairs.
<shakes head and looks down> ...I'm really sorry.
<waves dismissively> Nah. It was my weakness that got Alice killed. I've stopped feeling regret over it. Won't bring her back, anyway...
I didn't feel like grinding. Skimped on some sidequests... What are you gonna do?
And you lost Lieutenant Colonel Kawashima too, huh? Life's been pretty hard on both of us...
Yeah. I couldn't protect her... It's only been a year, but the events of that day seem so long ago now. After everybody left Shanghai, she talked about you guys every day. Guess she wanted that kind of freedom too.
Yuri walks up to the wall.
<looks down> Yuri...
You wanna know what I did after Shanghai? Spent six months in the tower of some vampire's castle in Eastern Europe getting yelled at by my dad's ghost in my head.
...That's rough, buddy.
<turns back to Kato and rubs his head> I've got some weird curse on me now.
The four-mask one you mentioned?
Naw. Got another one. Like I said. You don't wanna live like me...
Got it from a thing called the "Holy Mistletoe" or some such thing. I don't even know what I'm doing anymore!
Now I'm traveling around with Alice's pervy old puppeteer uncle, the wolf of some little girl I got killed, a German Army deserter and wrestler vampire to go to Wales to see some shriveled up raisin magician. My life is a goddamn mess...
And I'm being followed by some strange secret society.
<looks up> A secret society?!
<nods> Yeah. It's called "Sapientes Gladio." Heard of it?
<shakes head> ...Uh, no.
Some pretty minor players, I guess.
I'll keep my ears open. If I hear anything about them, I'll tell you.
Just lemme know if you see a guy in his pajamas, a dominatrix or a big bald idiot.
I... see. Will do.
Well, guess I'd better get going.
<shakes head> Nothing. Just be careful. I'll see you again someday.
<nods> Yeah, I'll see you!
Yuri returns downstairs...
Well, I guess that's one way to handle the sleeping arrangements. As for Yuri...
He is unceremoniously dumped back into the Graveyard at some point later that night.
Music: Holy Mistletoe ~ Graveyard
What's crackin'? Still dead, huh?
<shakes head> No.
Jeanne looks into the distance.
I'm the Dark class element, actually.
Yeah, not one of my best.
Jeanne turns back to Yuri.
Yes, what happiness means to you. It doesn't matter what. It could be something small, anything at all...
You don't have to try and pretend. I know more about your heart than you do right now, Yuri.
Yeah, OK. So I'm sleeping on a stiff chair in a crummy bar and on my way to Wales with a buncha weirdos. Also, I'm a little cursed so maybe I'm not totally ecstatic at the moment...
Remember you told me once? About your girlfriend that died to save you?
Hey is it always gonna be heavy stuff with you?
I'm the spirit of a dead eight year old who spends her days wandering around your soul which is for some reason a barren graveyard in a void.
...Yeah, dumb question...
But your girlfriend...
She died for you, so you feel like you've got to live. But you're actually sad and don't feel much like living... That's the problem that's been bothering you.
...Maybe. But I've got a purpose to my life now. To get revenge for you and all the other villagers!
By the way, did ALL the villagers die or just you? It's really unclear...
But where is your happiness, Yuri?
It must be in there somewhere. You can't see it with the naked eye...
If you can see my heart...can you see the future too?
Nope. All I can see are your true feelings. I don't know what's going to happen in the future. So even if you try to hide your feelings or pretend to be brave, I understand your true heart. So you don't have to act tough for me!
You're not gonna like show up as a ghost and tell anyone else, right? I don't wanna have the old man or Karin clowning on me cuz you told someone about our weird talks here.
No. I'll only be here.
Besides, you decide your own future, right?
Jeez... I feel like you're sifting through my dirty laundry!
Don't feel that way!
It's not ALL dirty.
...Gee, that makes me feel better.
Anyway, whatever you really feel about things, that's what the truth is. There's a door here I can't get open. I haven't looked everywhere yet. I'll still be looking around for a while.
That seems ominous and not to be resolved until very near the end of my journey.
That seems pessimistic.
This ain't my first rodeo... At least there are no voices yelling in my head this time around.
<sigh> Man, I never thought somebody'd ever be poking around in my heart, looking for my happiness for me.
I'll be seeing you, Yuri! Even if you get sad, don't ever forget to live!
And with that, Jeanne vanishes until the next time Yuri needs a metaphysical mind palace mental health evaluation from a dead child. Tune in next time as we explore Southampton proper, initiate a few more sidequests and perhaps enter a pro-wrestling circuit as Shadow Hearts Covenant continues!
Video: Episode 21 Highlight Reel
Masaji Kato Concept Art - Not sure about this M. Bison alternate costume look you've got going, guy.