Part 7: Zhaoyang Village, part 2
Zhaoyang Village, part 2
With the addition of Zhuzhen, we can now field a full battle-party of three members (the max for this game). Zhuzhen is another magic-focused character, like Alice.
Unlike Alice, his skill (called Yin and Yang) is focused toward offense, rather than healing. He starts out with the spell Ogre Flamedance, our first AOE attack, which is insanely powerful compared to anything Yuri and Alice have at the moment.
His starting equipment is just as basic as everyone else's, however.
Back at the market, Granny Cat pops up in the last place we saw her. Something seems off this time, however, and she jumps back and disappears without even a single taunt.
Is she bothered? She isn't acting the same as before... Is it because of pops?
*sniff* All I can smell is mothballs and sake.
Hey! Cut that out!
Back at the well, it's more of the same.
Cat Lady: Go away!
After the game of cat-and-mouse (er, cats-and-cat?), we manage to corner her back in the Mayor's house.
Cat Lady: You'll never leave. That is the Yamaraja's decision.
What you mean, granny, is it's the decision of whoever's controlling Yamaraja behind the scenes.
Cat Lady: Wh-Who are you?
Heh heh heh... I'm the adept hired to exorcise this village. So, are you ready to say uncle?
Cat Lady: Ha ha ha! You couldn't even catch me. Why would I be afraid of you? Poof!
No, I can still feel her presence. She's still hiding somewhere in this house. I guess it's time to apply the secret formula for smoking out cat people.
Do you have any idea what we should do?
That I do. I suppose you know how cats take to catnip?
I made it by mixing catnip with a special dye! Well, this here is something called "Anti-Cat Powder".
Man, these leaves really stink!! You just carry these around?! So that's what that funny smell was...
Now I get it! That's why Granny hid herself!!
Right, she probably couldn't stand the thought of running into me and having to smell this odor again.
It's actually an herbal remedy for stomachaches, but its smoke has a powerful effect on cat people. Simply carrying it is effective, but burn it and the power multiplies. Let's smoke her out. Oh, but to do that, we'll need a "metal vessel" and a "torch".
But, Zhuzhen, couldn't we just throw it into the firepit? The one right here?
Now now, my dear, there's just a certain way these things are done. We can't go solving problems willy-nilly without performing convoluted and seemingly unnecessary fetch-quests first.
But, the fire is right here...
You need to go find those two things. When you bring them back, I'll burn the incense in this house.
A "metal vessel" and a "torch". Right.
We find this in the back corner of the house. Phoenix Tail cures Judgement Ring abnormalities. You can also look at the altar and a bag in the front right corner, but you don't get any items from them.
Back outside, you can talk to the peddler for clues.
Lost Peddler: Hmm? A "metal vessel" and "torch"? The "metal vessel" you can get from any street shop. And there are some "torches" near the gate...
Oh boy! Another chance to get molested by Meiyuan!
Lost Peddler: That's if I remember correctly.
The vessel is easy enough to find. You do have to do a ring test to pick it up, but the ring moves slow and the hit areas are big. I'm not sure what happens if you miss; I THINK Yuri is too disgusted by it to pick it up, so you have to try again.
You've received Metal Vessel
The torch is just to the right of where Meiyuan stands as he waits patiently for
You've received Torch.
Speaking of Meiyuan...
But before we get to that, since you're a new customer, I have to tell you how my business works.
There are plenty of great weapons, but they're not worth much if you don't master them. Normally it takes years upon years to learn just one weapon, but that hardly sounds like fun, right?
With my acupuncture technique, you'll feel like you've known the weapon for ages. And all you have to do is lie there while I work my magic on you...Who could ask for a better deal?
Meiyuan's shop is the only method of Ring customization in this game (You get a lot more options in the two later games). In his shop, you can increase the Attack Power (physical and special) of your weapons up to three levels. You'll notice that as the attack increases, the size of the hit area shrinks. As the game goes on and you get more powerful weapons, you have even less hit area to work with.
You can also use Meiyuan to increase the hit area of your weapons, again up to three levels. Pumping the same amount of points into the hit area as the attack power will make the hit area size stay the same as the original weapons. Once I get into the higher-end weapons, I usually end up increasing the attack by one or two and fully increasing the hit area.
At the moment, I'm not going to put much money into this since we'll be getting new weapons in the next area, but I did go with the cheapest option and increase the hit area of everyone's weapons by one level so you can see the results.
Let's do it! Zhuzhen..!
Gee, the guys don't seem to like it very much.
Lie down over there.
Alice doesn't seem to have a problem, though.
Before dealing with the old cat, we got enough Wind souls for another Fusion monster, so it's off to the Graveyard!
This fight is a bit harder than the Earth one, but not all that difficult in the end.
You've received Soul of Tornado!
Tornado isn't a bad fusion. He's already very agile, Falcon can make him (and the upgraded versions) nearly impossible to hit. Wind Shear isn't a bad attack spell either, although I don't get much use out of Dancing Breeze.
He goes in the third slot. After this, I'll have to pick and choose which fusions I want when I get new ones.
Well, I guess I'll give it a go! Let's see... Put the Anti-Cat Powder into the Metal Vessel... And light it with the Torch...
I guess when they were talking about smoking her out, Granny Cat decided the BEST PLACE TO HIDE EVER was in the place where they were most likely to burn something.
I've got you now, old hag! You ready to be skinned, cat?
Cat Lady: H-How dare you! I'll show you all! You're all in big trouble now!
She turns into a larger, tougher version of the Hellcats called Felinus. She's Wind-based instead of Light, and is the first monster we face with an AOE attack that hits the entire party, Wind Fang. It's basically an upgraded version of Tornado's Wind Shear.
A few Flamedances from Zhuzhen and Flying Stones from Yuri and she goes down easily enough. It was actually Alice that did the last few points of damage.
We get enough experience to level up Alice and Zhuzhen. More importantly, we get our first Lottery Ticket, which will let us start one of the longest sidequests in the game.
Cat Lady: You'll never understand the pain of giving birth, only to have them devoured...
Cat Lady: My vengeance was in vain...
I feel for you...
But I suggest you let it go and give yourself some peace. I'll ask my employers to pray for the souls here.
Cat Lady: I won't accept pity from you! Yamaraja! I leave everything in your hands...
Now, now, Alice. We're not done yet. Next comes that so-called "shrine" over there!
Heh, now for Yamaraja!
Yamaraja is the Lord of Hell. He's quite different than those cat people from before. Be on guard.
Piece of cake! Now let's blow this joint.
He doesn't look so bad...
Maybe I was wrong.
This is Yamaraja - Earth, who is Water-class, despite his name.
This fight should probably be taken as an example of how one or two mis-steps and plain old bad luck can make what is normally an easy fight into an uphill battle. It started out well enough. I Fused Yuri into Tornado and had him cast Falcon on himself, and then I had Alice cast her new spell, Holy Edge, on him to up his attacks slightly. (It would have been more effective vs. a Dark-class monster, but it still adds a tiny bit of damage.)
But then Yamaraja's opening move was his Large Whirlpool attack, an AOE that hits the entire party for a decent amount of damage and inflicts Tight Ring, which halves the hit area on your Judgement Rings. Now, there have been times before when I've fought him where he's only used this attack once, or not at all; this time, he did it 2 or 3 times. I also made a couple misses on the Ring which would have ended the fight sooner. All in all, not my best performance.
Alice kept everyone alive during the fight, and I was finally able to bring him down with one of Zhuzhen's Flamedances.
Thanks to you, too, girl. I guess my work is pretty much done now.
But, wait, something's been bothering me...
Just who is this "person" that's supposed to be controlling Yamaraja?
He probably thought 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. It's quite sad. He took advantage not only of the villagers but of the local, sleeping spirits.
Okay, that answers the "how" and maybe even part of the "why", but I believe the question was "who". Drop the inscrutable Zen Master act already!
Is he a man named "Roger Bacon?"
He's the warlock that tried to carry me off on that train.
You two know Roger Bacon?!
Is he that famous?
'Cause his name sounds like somebody that should be hawking breakfast foods.
Hmm... If Roger Bacon has reappeared... Then probably... There can be no doubt.
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.
That STILL doesn't explain how she got all the way to China in the first place.
But of course, I came in gallantly, and picked him off like a helpless rabbit!
Picked who off?
As hah hah hah. Roger Bacon? You actually think you killed him? Sorry young man, but that's impossible. He's not likely to succumb to you, no matter how hard you may fight.
Hmph! Well, thanks a lot, Zhuzhen!
Now, now, don't get all hot under the collar. I know you're strong, kid. Anyway, here's what I think. It wasn't Roger Bacon who used the local spirits, but I don't doubt that he's 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. It's filled with hatred and lust... And vengeance.
I think she's picking up some interference from Yuri.
You're really quite a girl, aren't you? 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 don't understand will be tagged a demon. But your powers seem to be special. You can see things others can't see, and hear what others can't hear...
Best not flaunt those powers. You'll soon be the target of those who would use you, and then kill you.
Hey, old man! Keep your ominous fortune-telling to yourself!
You too, kid. The art of fusion is a forbidden art lost in ancient Japan. It's a double-edged sword.
A forbidden art from the Age of the Gods?! What ARE you talking about?
A what from the what now?
If your heart becomes enclosed in darkness and your powers run wild, you'll be a danger to everyone.
Give me a break! I can cover my own ass, thank you!
I love Yuri.
Forget it. But I want you to know that the furor you've just been through is most likely only the beginning.
Now, then, let's be going. I expect we can open the gate now.
One last thing to grab before we go.
With Yamaraja and the cat demons gone, everything in the village has returned to normal. Empty, but normal.
Lost Peddler: Ah, is that so? That's good to hear. Now it's possible to leave the village. Allow me to show you my gratitude. This might come in handy in the future. Please take it.
These are nice. They allow you to try for discounts (using the Judgement Ring) when you buy things. The more cards you have, the better the discount you can go for. You have to be careful, though. If you miss too many times without enough money to buy whatever you're trying for at full price, your card will become inactive.
Well, I'm off. Hope to see you again sometime.
Yeah. So long.
...But who'd want to be touched by him?
Isn't he a nice man?
I'm sure he's perfectly safe for you, missy.
Back outside at last.
Well, so long, kid. So long, missy. I need to return to my employer, so we go our separate ways here.
Well then, see ya. We'll probably never meet again, but I hope your business doesn't fail, pops.
Thanks for all your help! Take care of yourself.
You two meeting up, then me, and then the events in the village...
Somehow I can't help feeling like all this is connected by a single thread that somebody has spun. And if it is, it means we'll be meeting again somewhere. Heh heh heh. Well, until then, take care!
What a strange fellow he is. He seems to know so much about everything, too!
Shoot! If only he were more generous about teaching me his secrets... The jerk!
I think this is a sentiment that anyone who has ever played an RPG before can relate to.
Hee, hee. Well, if we're going to be seeing him again, we can ask him then.
A single thread spun by somebody... huh?
Next time on Shadow Hearts: mini-update Wednesday with the new item and Library information.
Zhaoyang Village, part 2 on Vimeo