Part 10: Ikebukuro*: Before we go, I'd like to point out something.
We're looking southeast; on the east side, to our left, over the wall, there's a nearby cliff face. Far south, to the right of the cliff, we can see the zen garden desert rising up in the distance.
That geography is reflected in the overworld map. Once again, someone was paying attention.
Of course, Zoshigaya Cemetary is a real place in Tokyo.
It's also quite a bit larger than what we see in the game, given that it's roughly ten hectares packed with dead people on some of the most expensive real estate on the planet.
Speaking of geography, looking at the region indicator, we're now in the "front" section of the world, directly opposite the Shinjuku Hospital.
: ...Some of them'll attack just for talking to them!
: Yeah, that sounds like the sort of people who oppose Nihilo's silence policy. I'll consider myself warned.
*: We fight a few Angels and Nozuchi while looking around, and Bicorn learns Bright Might, a passive skill that causes all of the demon's physical attacks to crit as long as Kagutsuchi is full. That's pretty damn strong, and borderline broken if you watch the Kagutsuchi phase before getting in a boss fight. However, in the same level up, Bicorn tries to change a skill, and I allow it: Bright Might turns into Might, which raises critical hit chance regardless of the current phase. It's more broadly useful (we spend a lot more time getting in random encounters at various Kagutsuchi phases than we do fighting bosses on full K), if much less exploitable.
I can see smoke rising from a few spots in the city. Did Nihilo really attack while we were in the Underpass? Or are the Mantra just into burnin' stuff?
*: Before entering Ikebukuro proper, I look around a bit to get the lay of the land.
We're encountering groups with similar compositions to the Underpass enemies, but there's more of 'em.
Oh crap, all the Sudama are using Kamikaze, sacrificing themselves to deal a lot of damage to a single target. One of them leaves Zed with 8 HP. And then a Nozuchi uses Toxic Cloud.
: Didn't expect to see you back here so soon.
: Aw crap. These were jabronis! I was murdering them by the dozens like fifteen minutes ago! What the hell happened?
*: We're long past the point where there is such a thing as a jabroni, my friend. Welcome to the Vortex World.
So, fast forward from the Terminal to where we were. Bicorn learns Bright Might again of course, and I let him change a skill in hopes that Maragi will upgrade... But it still picks up Might. Oh well. In any case, last time I swapped out Bicorn to give Blob a chance to pick up some experience, but Maragi still destroys groups of Sudama, so I keep it around for now, just to be safe.
This is south of Ikebukuro; you can see the cemetary in the northeast corner. I have no recollection of how you get to that little island.
I don't think it's explicitly stated what those strange red pools are, but I suspect it's Magatsuhi in liquid form. The Mantra demons must be collecting it like the Nihilo are. We can walk through it, but we take damage as we do so.
And this is as far southwest as we can go. There's clearly another section of overworld to the south, but again, no obvious way to walk there.
And that's back northeast, behind Ikebukuro: a little dead end. That'll be thorough enough, let's let ourselves in and maybe find a Fountain.
Hmm, broken glass on the floor, defaced signage. Yeah these guys are clearly less tidy than Nihilo.
*: Looking up through the ruined ceiling, we can see a tall building not too far away.
: I just got here. Any restaurants to recommend? My dudes are starving.
: I sure didn't arrive here randomly, it's a hell of a schlep. I'm actually going to meet your boss.
: Whoa! You've got some balls! But, that just ain't gonna cut it! Guts don't mean shit if you ain't got the power to back it up!
: Then allow me the honor!
*: Dude's weak to Nerve; the Panic ailment from Bicorn's Pulinpa is a Mind ailment, but it still lands. The Oni gets a couple Berserks in anyway, but the fight is over quickly. It's enough to level Zed up. He learns Dia from Ankh, and it replaces Life Bonus. It's good to have high HP, but for physical skills, the more max HP you have, the more HP you end up paying for each use, so having an entire skill slot devoted to increasing max HP by 10% is beginning to feel less attractive than it used to be.
quote:Lv25 Brute Oni
The basic Oni is your traditional red-skinned, horned Japanese ogre, though here they're wielding a sort of heavy fauchard instead of the usual iron club. They resist physical damage and have only War Cry to spend their MP on, so if you don't disable them with some ailment or another, you can expect long, expensive fights.
*: And that was a fight to the death, the Oni is gone.
Hopefully someone was watching our fight, because I'm not looking forward to crushing the entire Mantra army on my way to ask for their leader's assistance.
Yup, this is right messy. These guys just don't give a shit.
: What is it now?
: We're not as easy as Nihilo, so you better watch your back!
I need to make use of some very subtle and nuanced diplomacy here.
: Some jerkhole gets in my way, I kick his ass. That's all that matters! You think my squad follows me because I do nice things for them, treat them well and offer them my gratitude, esteem and respect?
: What a load of old toss!
: UNENDING LABOR. WE ARE WORKED TO THE BONE. OUR SPIRITS ARE BROKEN.
: wHAt YoU guYS TaLKinG ABout?? mE HaVIng BEsT tIme--
: Woe is us! Such tyranny! Such... irresistible power! We have to serve him, or be destroyed!
: That's right! They follow me because I'm hella strong!
: You know your shit, buddy!! You look weak, but you'd make a great addition to the Mantra with that kinda attitude!
: Well done guys, Life Stones for everyone!
: Yeah, I got a notion.
: They're a group of ruffians that have nothing but brawn. Their boss is Gozu-Tennoh. He's in the headquarters.
I bet their HQ is that tall-ass building outside.
*: Behind those escalators at the entrance is a convenient little area with a Junk Store, a Cathedral of Shadows, and a Large Terminal.
: Oh hey, another one of you guys. How's the alternative lifestyle going with all those macho numbskulls wandering right outside?
: ...Don't tell me... You think I'm queer, too!?
: Err, I, uh, wouldn't dare presume.
*: This totally-straight Manikin shopkeep carries basic medicine, a bunch of ailment cures, several one-shot attack items, as well as Light Balls and Float Balls, which light up dark areas and protect from traps, respectively. No new Magatama this time, which is certainly a relief for the pocketbook. Light Balls cost 600 and Float Balls cost 400; together that's 1000, which is the minimum purchase required to earn a Lucky Ticket. The items'll come in handy later, so I pick up one of each, leave, pick up another pair, leave, and buy and leave once more, earning us three tickets.
: Not a clue, my good fellow.
: It contains information on all demons in existence, but only those that the reader has made a pact with can be viewed...
: From now on, use this compendium to your advantage.
> The Demonic Compendium is now available for use.
*: And so we unlock the last feature of the Cathedral of Shadows. The Compendium allows us to look at every demon we've ever traveled with. Additionally, we can summon them again from here, for a hefty fee. They initially come as the base non-leveled form we would recruit in the wild, but we can also "register" any demon in our active party to make them available in the future as they are at registration time, levels and skills and all, but at an increased price. It's usually good practice to register your entire party every time you visit a Cathedral, but you can only have one version of a given demon in the Compendium at any time, so you want to be careful to avoid overwriting an experienced, well-bred demon record with a weaker version of itself you may have recruited later.
As a kind gesture on the game's part, any demons that we have obtained as a result of fusion so far have been pre-registered as their custom form with all the extra skills and levels that were passed down to them.
There's also another use for the Comp-
: Oh wow, Uzume has eyes!
: I don't know what you expected.
: ...were you trying to look up her skirt?
: ...I know you won't believe me, but no, I wasn't.
: I swear!
: Aw, that's too bad. Tell you what, pay the old crew a visit next time Amaterasu throws a fit, will you? I'll tell Sarutahiko to let you in.
: ...you're still the best goddess ever.
*: So, yeah, model viewer. Neat!
In other news...
Beast Nekomata + Megami Uzume =
quote:Lv21 Holy Unicorn
It is... a unicorn. Some ancient Greek writers were convinced it was real, and there's been the occasional hilarious hoopla about it ever since the King James' Bible translators decided that oxen were too boring for the Book of Psalms and far too many people started taking that seriously. Of course, I made sure to give it Sexy Gaze just in case we meet any bronies.
*: There doesn't seem to be a Fountain nearby, so we use the Terminal for a quick round trip to Ginza.
...okay I might qualify for legally blind at this point, it was right by the entrance.
There's a doorway leading east, towards the skyscraper, but I decide to explore the other floors first. Let's go up.
: Yay, slavery. Huzzah.
: Hyahahahahaha! Might makes right!
*: And right behind this pleasant gentleman...
: But, if you get too close, you'll be arrested.
I know they're not really human, but...
: Woe is me! Life's too short...
I'd better think carefully about who I throw my lot in with.
quote:Lv13 Beast Inugami
Like the Shikigami, the Inugami is a man-made spiritual being, brought into existence by a sorcerer of some description. Except it's not made out of paper. You make an Inugami by tying up a dog, leaving some food and water just out of its reach, then letting it starve to near-death, at which point you decapitate it, bury its head under a street, and perform a black magic ritual over its remains.
: Okay, that might be the most messed up one yet. And to think I felt bad about what happened to Pascal...
The Inugami, birthed in fear, anguish and rage, is an instrument of murder bound to the will of its summoner, capable of using terrible magic and of possessing humans. But it remembers who is responsible for its tormented existence, and is always looking for an opportunity to break free and avenge its own death.
quote:Lv20 Brute Momunofu
An ancient Japanese war god, servant and protector of the deity Arahabaki. This guy is seriously old; we're talking about pre-Shinto times here, between the third and seventh century. They're sturdy and reliable physical fighter types, somewhat unexciting and one-note but very effective at what they do.
*: And now for the basement.
: Aw hell, not that shitlord again.
: Thanks to him, the Mantra finally look like an organization.
*: I bring in Chatterskull because I'd like it to learn Dekaja next level, but it immediately gets near-murdered by two Yakas getting lucky crits on Venom Claw so I bench it until the next Fountain visit. This is a rough neighborhood.
I also notice that Kamudo is going to teach us Focus on the next level, so I ingest it right away. The physical resistance will come in handy against the punch-n-stab types around here.
I hope he's not on his own in this den of assholes.
*: Apart from a bead in a cube, that's it for the basement. The place is just wrecked. We've cleared the west hall, so we're heading east.
Okay, that's sufficiently ominous.
: How did I guess.
: You shouldn't go near it.
: I have to, but maybe I'll gather some more information first.
*: We go east again, to the East Hall.
This side isn't looking great either.
Another pile of dirt with Magatsuhi emerging and floating away. That never stops being disturbing to think about.
Hmm, nothing of interest on this side of the room. But there are other entrances, let's go around.
: ...I can't wait!
Huh, now that I think about it, the Nihilo really haven't attacked yet. The place is just wrecked because it's inhabited by place-wreckers.
My interest is piqued. Now how do I get there from here?
: A lot of my friends are being drained right now.
: But, they made Thor angry and were kicked out. I hear they've become thieves! Those four were real strong. ...Ever heard of them?
: Heck, I'm pretty sure I've met them.
*: But you don't count.
*: During a conversation with a Momunofu after which he took a few hundred Macca and still hesitated...
Nozuchi tried to use its Flatter passive conversation skill...
...though quite unsuccessfully. The Momunofu asked for our last Chakra Drop and got pissed off when I refused him.
Oh hell, after the fight I tried using Forneus' Dia to heal up, but I picked Riberama by accident, increasing the frequency of random encounters. We're on 1/8th rising Kagutsuchi too, so it'll be an entire cycle until it expires. I better hurry back to the Fountain and wait there, there's no way I'm exploring this area with Riberama on.
At least this is good EXP. Zed levels up again, and we replace Berserk with Focus. We also manage to recruit a Momunofu after several failed attempts. I really want one of these guys because I remember their evolution is something special.
Now that we've got one on board...
*: And speaking of evolution...
quote:Lv24 Dragon Gui Xian
The tortoise called Gui Xian is one of the Four Benevolent Animals of Chinese myth, dwelling in the gardens of the Yellow Emperor. However, it seems as though there was a goof in translation, because given the snake tail, the creature we have here would be in fact known as Xuan Wu, or Genbu, the Black Turtle, guardian of the north. The two myths do seem to be closely related though, along the whole Four Heavenly Kings myth, and historically there seems to be a lot of overlap. In any case, this particular fellow is associated with winter, and it will go on to learn various offensive ice spells.
The Dragon race is, well, dragons. We knew them as the Ryujin, and they're the divine and wise sort, unlike the evil and bestial Jaryu dragons.
*: At long last, Kagutsuchi rests for a moment, and Riberama expires. We should be safe to go back.
Ah, there we are.
: That's pretty much the only way on foot.
: Ah... Is the hideout still okay?
: Your people were fine when I left, no worries.
: Aw hell, come on you guys. Don't make me do this. In fact, why don't you come with me? I'll take you home.
: You want me? I'll be your friend. Friend... Friend???
> It seems the Manikin has no clue what you are talking about.
Must be a... defective one somehow? Yeah, no, we're not doing this. I'm sure they can't run very fast anyway.
*: We retreat.
quote:Lv13 Corpus Manikin
Weak, human-like creatures. They seem to exist solely to experience emotions and generate Magatsuhi, making their lot in life rather unenviable.
"Corpus" is Latin for "body", which is sadly telling of their role in the Vortex World.
Ah, just in time!
Chakra Pots restore one ally's MP to full, that's a great find. Aaaand that's all of Ikebukuro cleared out. Except of course...
: I'm jealous.
*: As we near the top of the stairs, I realize there's a sort of mezzanine up there, so I suppose we weren't all cleared out after all!
: That's some skill those Nihilo demons have.
: And he's got lots of it, that's for sure.
: I eAT thEM aLL!
: So you eat trash then. Clever.
: They're just whimpering dogs! Those pathetic puppets!
: Let's take everything he gots.
: Oh this ought to be good for a laugh.
*: Chatterskull and Forneus stun the both of them in the first round. We take two War Cries to the face so the fight takes a while, but they never really had a chance.
One cube with two Beads, one cube with a heavy damage trap, and a Mystic Chest with Strength Incense. Glorious!
: I don't need stupid Life Stones, I want that! You know, that!
: I... don't think you can get that at the Junk Store.
*: Alright, back on track at last.
: Don't ask how I can tell, but this little dude seems familiar.
: ............ But, I'm too scared to go in, hee ho! The fire's hot, too...
Cutscene: The Way of Mantra