Part 17: Ikebukuro Tunnel
*: Checking back on the room Isamu was in, it appears the terminal no longer works. Did he burn it out somehow? Maybe he wanted to make sure we wouldn't go after him.
The room were Futomimi was held captive is also empty. It's hard to tell what this building used to be before the Conception. The rooms mostly contain upturned tables and chairs, and this one has what appear to be milk cartons, bottles, a glass tumbler and... maybe an ashtray or a coaster?
Well, it hardly matters by now.
So! Four Mystical Chests then. We're on waning 2/8 K, so it'll be a few moments.
Judging from the decor, this could have been a lounge or club of some description. On the fifth floor.
Aaanyway! We get in a few fights with regular Mizuchi, so I use Estoma once New K rolls around. It's best not to take any chances for now. Zed, Kikuri-Hime and Incubus may have nigh-bottomless MP, but if everyone else runs out of juice it'll still be bad times.
Dis gains a level, and learns Me Patra, the last skill on her list. She attempts to change a skill, and...
Now that's what you want to see happen when a skill changes. Dis also gives us an Attack Mirror, and...
: It shall be engraved upon your soul!
: Divine assault!
: NIBELUNG VALESTI!
: Oh I am such a fan. How's Lenneth doing these days?
: Um, she's made-up.
: Dante's running around in here, real enough to put a bullet in my spleen, but Lenneth Valkyrie's still fictional?
: Afraid so.
: This world is just going to keep shitting directly on my head, isn't it?
: Such is your fate!
Lv33 Wargod Valkyrie
The valkyries are near-divine female figures from Norse mythology, whose task it is to collect the souls of warriors who die a worthy death in battle and bring them to Valhalla for an afterlife of continuous combat and revelry. And... also... to serve mead. Because patriarchy, I guess.
Wargods are... well, I won't insult your intelligence. I wish I could tell you what differentiates them mythologically from the Kishin, but I am deprived of the faintest.
*: When Full K pops up, we get a Pearl, a Jade, a Sapphire and a Vitality Incense. Great haul!
Alright, time to go... Hmm. I forgot to ask Futomimi where he was going. I hope he didn't take a powder on us. But he didn't seem the type, and besides, maybe I could ask the Underpass Manikins for directions.
: Oh hey, I was just about to go look for you.
: Well, once more, my pleasure. But do you guys have a safe place to go to now?
: ...We Manikins plan to leave the area. Together, we will find a way to live without suffering.
: For what it's worth, I'm rooting for you. Hope it works out.
: By all means!
: ...It seems that there is a man waiting for you at Ginza. Go and see him.
I bet it's Hijiri. Maybe he found something out through the Amala Network.
: Alright, that's actually quite helpful. Thanks.
: ...We must get going now. Again, thank you so much.
: Happy to be service, and best of luck to you and yours.
: ...Now, if you'll excuse us.
*: I drop a save at the small terminal, but we go back to the ground floor on foot, just to see if there's anyone left. I'm also kinda curious about Heeho's next step.
Hmm, in the end, there's no one left. All rooms are empty, and the mirage walls no longer work. I do find a portion of the third floor we didn't even see the first time around, and it has a few empty room and another small terminal.
: ...Well, it's not a prison anymore, with Mizuchi being defeated and all.
*: We hit the large terminal, and go directly to Ginza.
: Fancy meeting you here!
: Been better, been worse.
: How did you know I was here?
: A good reporter never discloses his sources, you know that better than I do. Any news on your side?
: Well, he wiped out mankind almost completely, so...
: Man, that Nightmare System... It's more powerful than I ever imagined.
: Maybe we can figure out where the Nightmare System is located, or more about the Maiden...
: I can't do much digging without raising a red flag. We need to find a terminal that Nihilo doesn't know about...
: I bet that's even trickier than it sounds.
: Remember those Manikins that were enslaved by the Mantra?
: I've heard of them, here and there.
: I heard they're rebuilding the town of Asakusa. Maybe there's a terminal over there that Nihilo's unaware of.
: Worth a shot.
: I wasn't even going to suggest it.
: I'll see what I can do with this terminal...
: Do you know if there's an overland route? Or another tunnel somewhere? As far as I know, I've exhausted my travel options.
: ...Wait a minute. I completely forgot about you.
: ...that's quite a feat.
: Hey, do you feel like going to Asakusa?
: I'd be going even if you didn't ask me to. But you'll still owe me one.
: If you can get there and contact me through the Amala Network, it'll make my job much easier.
: Yeah, no sweat.
: Thanks, I appreciate it. I'll tell you everything I find out there, so let's stay in touch, alright?
: Ha, I bet I couldn't get away from you even if I wanted to.
: I'll be waiting, then. You should check out the tunnel in East Ikebukuro. If the rumor is true, it'll take you to Asakusa.
: Huh! It was locked up when I saw it last, but maybe the Manikins had the key all along.
: I'll be working on this terminal, but you'll probably have more luck than me. I'm counting on ya.
: Aight, see you later then.
*: We don't leave immediately though, since we're long overdue for a Fountain visit. Before we spend any cash there, we have... 66677 Macca. Ominous!
And after we do, we have 65201 left. Affordable!
While we're here, I also check out the lounge and the jeweler.
: I don't know what they're up to, but it'll get ugly if there's too much drama between demons.
: I hear that the Maiden has something to do with it. She's messing up everything.
: So if that goes down, so does the Mantra's headquarters.
: With Futomimi as their leader, the city's slowly coming back to life. But, it's time like these when the unexpected occurs.
I'd ask if she knows something she's not telling me, but who am I kidding, there's no way she doesn't.
*: Loki's completely gone. Maybe he ran too high a tab.
There are a couple things I'd like to get at Rag's, but they'd be borderline luxury and we don't have enough of any one gem to let me be comfortable with spending them without immediate need for now.
We drop by the Cathedral for registration. Zed's maybe 1500 exp from being high enough level to perform one of the fusions I've had in mind. Hmmmm... To hell with it, we're going back to Kabukicho and picking a couple fights.
Things go so swimmingly that I decide to stick around and gain another 3000 exp to make sure my ingredients both get one last level. Notably, along the way, I allow Incubus to turn Hama into Mahama. That Angel's skill has come a long way.
Aaaaaand we're done. We warp straight to Ikebukuro, and use the facilities there.
Badb Catha + Eligor =
: Ah, I always enjoy putting those two together.
: Yeah, I bet you do.
: Wait, what's this alarm sound? Is the Deathstone causing some sort of interference?
: No... It... shouldn't. The phase isn't... Oh. Oh dear.
: Oh dear!? What do you mean, "oh dear"?
: WHAT THE HELL!?
: Unexpected? Unexpected?
: There's unexpected, and then there's fusing the EXACT OPPOSITE OF A SUCCUBUS.
: I don't know what to tell you. This almost never happens.
: Which is what you would end up saying if you had fused a Succubus.
: So, how do you pull them back apart?
: No no no, you, you stay quiet for a moment. Tell me, Mister Minister, how we are going to reverse this.
: We are not.
: Okay. Okay! Okay. I've lived through the end of the world. I can live through this.
: Um... Um... Sorry...?
: Oh, poor dear. This is not your fault.
: Yeah, sorry mang, is just, I expected something else. Anyway, let's see what you got.
*: So, fusion accidents. It had to happen sooner or later. This Troll is one level higher than Zed is, so it's not entirely a wash I suppose. Still, I'd have preferred my original pick. I really liked the inheritance roll I settled on, too...
...He's got an Agility of 4. Oy.
: Aight, next one. Is it gonna work this time?
Koppa + Chatterskull =
Lv35 Jirae Sarutahiko
Sarutahiko is a Shinto deity, watching over travelers and presiding over strength and guidance. He once was the leader of the earthly pantheon, until the gods of the heavenly pantheon, led by Amaterasu, descended and took over. Sarutahiko wasn't going to give up his domain without a fight at first, but Ame-no-Uzume "persuaded" him to capitulate peacefully, and the two later got married, sealing the union between the divine factions.
: Well, that's better.
: I'm happy to serve.
: Alright, you know what? Pull out the Compendium. I came here for a reason.
: Ah! But of course. I trust you have the coin?
: What good is money if you don't spend it? Just don't mess up this time.
*: About 23000 Macca later...
Eligor + Badb Catha =
: Well... That was... Wow. Suddenly I don't mind living on Pays-for-Pixies Island anymore. Yikes.
: Like I'm gonna let this fake idiot sun mess up MY fusions! Take that, dumb world! I do what I want!
*: Succubi don't get to do much numerical damage until they pick up Tentarafoo as their last skill, but giving this one Wing Buffet, Needle Rush and Dark Might will let her deliver some real pain even when setting up a Dormina -> Eternal Rest combo would prove impractical.
And we're done with fusion for now. That was unexpectedly eventful! I do have one last thing to do before we leave, however. We warp to Kabukicho again. As we get into a couple fights, Kikuri-Hime leans her final skill, Recarm (resurrects an ally with a small amount of HP).
: It's a chance to redeem your kind. Take it or don't.
: GRR... GRR... GRR...
> Mizuchi is chuckling.
*: It asks for money and a Bead.
: THE WORLD IS NOTHING BUT A PAINTING YOUR SENSES DRAW.
: Of course I do. For all I know, I'm a painting their senses are drawing.
: SO THAT IS YOUR LEVEL...
> Mizuchi made a wry face.
: GRRRR... LOSER.
: W... what?
: ............ I AM NOW SATISFIED.
: GRRRR... VERY WELL. I AM Mizuchi THE Snake. I WILL TRAVEL WITH YOU.
*: Welp, that's a full roster again, which isn't ideal, but we'll manage. Nekomata's the closest we have to dead weight, but Marin Karin and Stun Needle can always come in handy, and she should be evolving in two levels anyway.
We return to Ikebukuro, save in the Mantra HQ again, and head out a little ways east then south, to the station we saw in between Hell Biker's victory and defeat.
Atmosphere: Ikebukuro Station
You've been in one station, you've been in all of them... right?
: It's called the Ikebukuro Tunnel.
No Sacred Water in this one. I wonder what was up with that.
: I'm sleeping. Don't bother me!
Getting in for free... Why does this still feel wrong?
If only the Collector knew!
: ...My guess is, they're gonna try and revive the city of Asakusa.
For a moment, if I closed my eyes, I could almost forget...
No. I couldn't.
: You look distressed. Are you well?
: Oh, I'm fine, is just... I've been here before.
: It must be difficult to realize how much it's changed.
: That's the thing. It didn't change. It didn't change at all. It's the same.
: Why are you so glum, then?
: It reminds him of how much everything else did change.
: Is this going to be a problem?
: No, it's not. This is nothing. It may have been a train station once, but today it's a hole in the ground. Let's go. We have somewhere to be.
*: Both eastern tunnels have collapsed. Westward it is, then.
I know it's not their fault, but they remind me of Kaiwan and I just want to... punch.
: They're all important, as they connect different areas together... But actually, no one really uses them...
: I dunno, you tell me.
If it's like this all the way through, this'll be simpler than I thought.
: Yup. That seems to be the only way from here, anyway.
: Then, you'll need something that'll light up the way. They sell it somewhere...
: Thanks for the heads-up, but I'm good.
*: We have a bunch of Light Balls that I picked up for tickets, and Sarutahiko knows Lightoma besides.
This is a train station, so there are two tunnels for each direction; for now we take the northern one.
Mmm-hmm. I guess this is one benefit of glowing in the dark, but it's not much help.
*: If you look carefully, you can see the blue light we emit reflecting off the walls, therefore avoiding the old videogame cliché of characters having an unexplained glow illuminating their immediate area. But... this place is pitch black, and our tattoos are really no good for navigation, it's just a neat touch.
Sarutahiko casts Lightoma, and suddenly it's... well... a little better.
*: The tunnel is collpsed maybe 40 meters in, but something dug a hole in the northern wall here.
Atmosphere: Ikebukuro Tunnels
*: Well that's extra creepy for just one little chest. We're on 4/8 waxing, and the only enemies so far are Slimes, Blobs, Kelpies and Sudama, so it's not too much trouble to wait, though it does expend our light. Aaaand it's a Chakra Pot; even if Sarutahiko runs out of juice, this'll have been a net gain, heh.
In any case, that's all this northern tunnel has to offer, so we go back to the platform and take the southern tunnel instead.
: There's oni inside!
: You don't say.
: Well, I'm an oni, too, but I ran into a strong oni inside! Plus, I hear there's a total of four oni...
These must be the four troublemakers that Thor kicked out of the Mantra. I hope Futomimi's foresight was keen enough to avoid them.
*: Ooooh, a large terminal. Saves us the trip from Ikebukuro if we want to heal up, nice.
The main tunnel line is collapsed here too, but this rough-hewn cave seems to be the way further in.
Or... further down. Le sigh. Train tracks would have been too straightforward, I suppose.
Even the ladders have unique designs from dungeon to dungeon.
Gah, look at this. Just look at it. So little detail, but still so striking. This is just a random door in a train tunnel dungeon, and look at it. Man I love this game.
Lv43 Wilder Mothman
The Mothman would be a giant humanoid bird creature with shining red eyes that was allegedly sighted several times in West Virginia in the mid 60s. The Silver Bridge over the Ohio River collapsed in 1967, and there were no Mothman sightings shortly before and after the incident, so the story has it that the creature is somehow responsible for the 46 deaths it caused. Odds are it was a sandhill crane off its migratory path, which is a pretty damn large bird, true, but is probably not to blame for the chronic lack of upkeep and maintenance that likely caused the Silver Bridge to fall apart.
*: Zed levels up, and we refuse Anathema's Evil Gaze. I'm a little worried about Mothman's Panic Voice, so I ingest Iyomante next.
Lv28 Foul Black Ooze
Another blob o' goop! This one's pretty much lifted from D&D, even.
*: Wow, Nekomata levels up, and gives us Magic Incense! I knew I was keeping her around for a reason. She's got another level to go before she evolves, but I want to register her at the Cathedral before she does, so I'll take her out of the party when she's one fight away from it until we get back to town.
We start exploring this third floor, but halfway through an innocuous corridor, a hidden pitfall just like the ones in the Labyrinth of Amala drops us to another corridor on B4. This place'll be a pleasure, I can tell. The northern door from where we fell takes us to a ladder back up, but the only way from that ladder is straight back to the same pitfall. So we head south instead... which leads us to another ladder returning to a place on B3 we had already visited. Oh well! At least we know there's nothing of value there.
Hmm, I said these caves were rough hewn, but... those are stalagtites. This is natural. Or... well, whatever passes for natural here.
After visiting a long dead end, we find a ladder taking us to a more legit part of B4, with a small terminal nearby.
A nearby tunnel is clearly covered in damaging mist; neither Succubus nor Troll inherited Liftoma, so I use one of our Float Balls. The corridor has a branch leading to a ladder down (yay), but I want to explore the rest of B4 for now.
Ah, of course.
: ...I didn't see an oni on this floor, though. Thank goodness...
: I don't know what god has to do with this, but I could always use some guidance.
: ............ ............ ............ ...Very well. Take this...
> You obtained Light Ball x 1.
: Thank you.
: This is nothing, considering it's for the sake of this world. Please be careful...
*: There's more to B5, but we climb back up to B4 to continue exploring, and find another ladder to B3.
: Holy crap, are you okay?
: There are four ex-Mantra oni here. They're scary.
: You should probably stay here until I get rid of them.
: The leader oni's gonna come out if you defeat the other three, and he's really scary! ...In other words, I'm scared.
: Yyyyeah, I got that.
: You probably should, yeah.
> ...You received Magic Mirror!
: Huh, thanks.
: Don't let the others know, though. They'll get the wrong idea.
: Don't get the wrong idea either!
: I promise!
Good lord I hope I didn't somehow pick up the one tsundere Incubus.
*: Another ladder up on B3. This place is so sprawling! There are at least three more avenues I want to explore. Welp, we're here for now, let's see where this goes.
Oooh, another small terminal. Usually I'd obsess over the paths I'm not taking, but these convenient terminals would make it simple enough to just start over. Considering how the dungeons in earlier SMT games occasionally reached a level of rudeness that approached cruelty, this feels extraordinarily respectful of my time.
Ha, speaking of my time, this save tells me I just broke the 50 hour mark. Man, this typing!
*: This door is labeled "Stone Cave", which... is surprisingly unhelpful.
...but we're not even asked a question, we are simply turned back to the corridor. Maybe this is where the Oni boss would show up once we've taken out his crew? I can't quite remember. It would make sense, what with the small terminal nearby. We'll see.
Oh dang, that was quick, I completely forgot about saving up her current form. Ah well, so be it!
Lv27 Holy Senri
In Japanese folklore, Senri are extremely old mountain cats who somehow turn into succubus-like creatures who seduce men to steal their lifeforce.
: I don't know if it's the fashion sense on that one, but...
*: Huh. Strange. There's a tunnel leading west on the opposite side. Let's check it out.
I didn't expect this already. These tracks run north-south, but the north end has collapsed, so south it is.
: Yeah, I did.
: Were you attacked by an oni? Luckily, I wasn't...
: Me neither. Huh! I guess you guys made it through unscathed then.
*: This looks like it's going to be the exit to Asakusa, but I've left like at least half the tunnels behind, and we didn't run into a single Oni, except the regular one in the beginning. Can't help but feel I'm getting off easy here. There's no way this is it... is there?
: That's in Asakusa alright. I absolutely know it, but I can't believe it.
: The end of the Ikebukuro Line--!
*: Zed levels up off a couple Black Oozes. Iyomante would teach him Life Aid, which regenerates a percentage of your maximum HP after every fight... but it doesn't have a combat effect and I don't feel like it's better than anything else occupying our slots right now.
Still, that was all Iyomante had to offer.
*: So we're not a Fiend anymore. Well, we're still the Demi-Fiend, but our official demon race is now Votary.
: The hell's a votary?
*: Same root as "devout". A votary is a person who has taken solemn religious vows, such as a monk or nun, or it can refer more generally to any disciple of a particular faith or sect.
: I don't get it.
*: Every Magatama has an alignment on the light/dark axis, and mastering a Magatama earns us one point towards its alignment. Think of it as permanently absorbing a portion of the demonic creature's essence, and keeping that fragment within us even when the actual entity is no longer physically present inside our body. Once a certain total number of points is accumulated, the Demi-Fiend's race changes to one of three titles, depending on how many of each alignment he has. The first break point is at two points. Since we have mastered Kamudo (Neutral) and Iyomante (Light), we now have two points. In case of a tie between Light and Dark, the neutral title is chosen, and in case of a tie between neutral and non-neutral, the non-neutral title is chosen. Therefore, we have the first Light title, making Zed a Light-aligned demon.
: Whoa dang, what? Dude just shifted alignments, just like that?
: That's huge!
*: Eh, not really. Except for one minor element very late in the game, our title and alignment don't matter. It'll continue changing as we master more Magatama, and it just doesn't make any sense to pay much attention to the alignment of the Magatama we ingest over their skills, stats and immunities.
: Huh, alright then, if you say so.
Am I just going to walk out of here? There's no way. Any moment now, I'm going to be ambushed by all four Oni, trying to make more of a name for themselves.
Any second now.
: Ha! Schwaaa... Haiya! Ninja pose!
: What the hell are you doing?
: I'm being vigilant, prepared, and intimidating. You'll thank me later.
: I'll thank you right now if you start acting in a more dignified manner.
: WHO SAYS "NINJA POSE"?
: Cool people. Shut up.
: Ninja pose!
: Ninja pose!
: ...ninja pose.
: But you can't...
: Ha, never mind me then. Samurai pose!
: Boys! Can't live with, can't live without, eh girls?
: It's adorable.
: Kunoichi pose!
: I've never brought back a ninja before. But I suppose they tend not to die warriors' deaths.
: ...I KNEW YOU WERE LOSERS. YOU'RE ALL LOSERS!
: You know, I can tell from here that you're made out of saltwater.
: Did someone cast Agidyne? Because I just heard a sick burn!
: I don't mean to spoil your stealthy sneaky fun, but if the oni didn't know we were here before, they sure know now.
: Oh shi, good point. Let's get a move on. Ninja walk!
Nope, this is it. Asakusa. No one's stopping us. We're out. We're there.