Part 39: Enter Rasputin
Now that we have the airship we can go to Petrograd, the nearly 200-year-old capital of the Russian Empire. We won't be seeing Yuri and gang for a while, however...
The scene opens in a bedroom of the Winter Palace as a tall, brooding man stares out the window.
If it isn't obvious from the silhouette that matches the one from Roger's story about Sapientes Gladio, this is Rasputin, the Big Bad Guy responsible for a lot of the shit that's been going wrong lately.
Oh good Lord, WHY did I need to see this?!
Lord Rasputin, you're still here.
WHY, GOD, WHY!?!
I'm sorry. I guess I overslept.
Well, you had quite a workout.
Oh, what I wouldn't give to have someone jab a screwdriver into my brain right about now.
...But no worry, it's not yet noon.
Thankfully, they're interrupted by a knock on the door.
Yes? What is it?
Male Voice: I have a message from Her Majesty, Empress Alexandra.
Is it about tonight's ball?
Male Voice: Yes. It begins at nightfall. Her Majesty requests that you arrive in the hall before then.
Unfortunately, I will not be attending. I must be at church this evening.
Male Voice: Uh, but...Her Majesty-
Tell her that I will see her tomorrow.
Male Voice: Yes, my Lord.
My, my. Straight out of bed and already an invitation to the Royal Ball.
Well, now since you healed the Prince, the Empress has come to rely on you. She wants to spend some more time with you.
Is that a note of jealousy I detect?
More work to gain the Emperor's trust, eh?
You won't have to toil much longer. Am I right?
Yes, it's time. Time to take the stage as the man who ended the 300-year-old Romanov dynasty.
The world will be changed forever...
Veronica salutes Rasputin and begins to leave, but before she can...
The Godslayer will come here eventually. Be on your guard.
One more thing... Keep a close watch on Nicolai. It seems he's having secret negotiations with the Japanese envoy.
Veronica recovers from her shock, nods and leaves.
The fool. He can't forget his puny revenge...
The scene cuts back to the hallway, a few minutes before.
Man's Voice: Tell her that I will see her tomorrow.
Ewan: Y-yes, my lord.
Ewan walks away in defeat, and as the camera pans out, a girl is revealed crouched against the wall.
She runs up to Rasputin's door and presses her ear against it after Ewan leaves.
YES, YES, WE GET IT! VERONICA SEXED RASPUTIN UP LAST NIGHT! NOW DROP IT, PLEASE!
While she's standing there, the door latch clicks.
The girl runs behind the plant just in time. Veronica leaves Rasputin's room and disappears deeper into the Palace.
Looks like he won't be coming to the ball tonight. I bet he'll be up to no good, instead.
She ponders for a bit.
If I can get some kind of proof of what Rasputin's really like, I can show it to my father! Then he'll know the truth!
I guess I'd better go see what Ewan has to say first!
We now gain control. Looking at the Status screen, it's revealed that we now control...Anastasia Romanov?!
Yes, we do indeed have control of the youngest daughter of the last Tsar of Russia. This game doesn't draw inspiration from history; it hits history over the head with an anvil and sodomizes the corpse.
Anastasia is another mage. Her Special Skill (revealed later) will give her a nice balance of attack and support moves. Right now, she doesn't have any weapons, but she does have a new accessory, the Bell Bracelet, which prevents Seal attacks. Anastasia also comes with four Crests: Dantalion (Arc Barrier), Balam (Arc Mirage), Andrealphus (Aqua Edge, Heat Edge) and Botis (Earth Edge, Air Edge).
Here is a map of the areas of the Winter Palace (aka the Hermitage) that Anastasia can reach at the moment.
So far, a locked door has always meant a boss fight. We'll come back later with more firepower.
Two of the doors in this hall are blocked by guards.
The bottom-right room is open.
Prince Yusupov's biography in the game doesn't really do him justice. It fails to mention that he was married to the Tsar's niece, was at one time the wealthiest man in Russia, and that he enjoyed wearing women's clothing and hanging out with gypsies. He and his family were also some of the few members of the Imperial family to escape death during the revolution; they spent the rest of their lives in exile.
Price Yusupov: Ever since Lord Rasputin got himself involved in our politics, Russia seems to be walking through a fog...
Heading south, we pass through a door to another hall. The only room blocked here is the one on the upper-right.
Elena: The people in this palace don't even seem to know there's a war going on in the rest of the world...
Eh, who cares about war when we have unattended treasure chests lying around carrying Seals of Life?
Dmitri was another interesting character in real life. He was a first cousin of Tsar Nicholas II and one of the few Romanovs to escape the Bolsheviks. He was a noted womanizer and involved with numerous lovers and affairs, but his most notorious (although not confirmed) affair was with another man: Prince Yusupov. According to rumor, it was this relationship and the following scandal that cost him an arrangement to marry the Tsar's eldest daughter, Olga, and ended speculation that he would be named heir over the Tsar's only son, the hemophiliac Alexei.
Grand Duke Dmitri: Lord Rasputin tells me he'll pass the information on to the Tsar, but I wonder if he ever gets the full reports?
The next room down holds a disgruntled maid.
Sasha: How can they have these extravagant parties every night when there's a war going on?
There's also an enormously fat merchant here.
Gorby: Even though it's wartime, my shop is well-stocked. Just let me know if there's ever anything you might need! But of course you understand, with times being what they are, costs have gone up ever so slightly... Ho ho ho!
At the moment, we can't actually buy anything from him.
Going down to the south end of this hall, we find ourselves at the Jordan Staircase, fairly faithfully reproduced here.
Unfortunately, we can't go downstairs at the moment.
Is it just me, or are their names "Russianized" versions of "stop" and "carry on"?
Khariton: Ewan? I think I saw him walking down the west hallway.
I don't think that clue was really necessary. With them blocking the way down, the only way to go is the door on the left. Before we leave, there's a chest hidden in the corner with a P-Attack Down 2.
The door opens into a hall that's a mirror-image of the east hallway.
There's one guard patrolling around.
There's another guard blocking the door to the north. For a fourteen-year-old, Anastasia sure seems to be involved in a lot of childish pranks.
The lowest door leads to Anastasia's bedroom. Yet another of the ubiquitous maids is puttering around in here.
Let's help the maid clean up a couple things. The Empress Tarot is hidden by her stuffed bear.
There's also a Mana Root in the chest by her bed.
Empress Alexandra is in the middle room with Prince Alexei; this must be his bedroom.
The Tsar has gone out to inspect the battlefields, so the least we can do is do our duties properly here at home! I want you to listen well to Lord Rasputin's instructions and start behaving like a proper young princess!
He just wants to play hide-and-seek because Anastasia sucks at hiding.
We finally find Ewan wandering around the very last room in the hall.
Ewan: His Holiness won't be attending the royal ball this evening. He said he'd be going to the church in town...
The church in town?! Hmm. There's something fishy about that...
Well, considering that there's a very large and important Russian Orthodox cathedral built inside the Hermitage itself, then yes, it is odd that he'd be going to a church in town instead.
Ewan: Did you say something, Your Highness?
No, no. Nothing. ...Guess I'd better go back to my room and come up with a plan!
Back to Anastasia's room it is! Looks like the maid is done cleaning, too.
Should I take a nap until nightfall?