Part 18: Four Oni: Alright guys, wait a minute. Ninja stop.
: What's eatin' ya, boss?
: Why the hell do I want to go back in there?
: You are a warrior, and you are leaving worthy opponents unchallenged.
: ...am I a warrior, now?
: Don't kid yourself, we've all seen you punch more than your share of faces. If that doesn't make you a warrior...
: Eh, I guess you're right. But I still don't think that's what it is.
: Would you like some time to think it over?
: Nah, I'll figure it out on the way, there's no time to sit around.
*: Crossing the bridge north shortly leads to a dead end, so we head southwest.
Oooh, before I forget: we are now on the "right" side of the Vortex World. Shinjuku was on the back, so we've nearly come full circle.
There are lots of visible locations in here, but the rivers and cliffs only make one of them immediately accessible to us.
Heh, these guys aren't so scary anymore by now.
*: That said, in a battle against two Archangels just before we reach our destination, Incubus gets Hama'd. Can't let my guard down! Fortunately, Kikuri-Hime knows Recarm by now, and the 20 MP the spell costs will be a lot cheaper at the Fountain than a revival would be.
*: This would be the approach to Senso-ji, an ancient Buddhist temple located in Asakusa. It's the oldest temple in Tokyo, having been originally founded in 645, though it was bombed during World War II and subsequently rebuilt. The structures here are Kaminarimon Gate, with its distinctive giant lantern, and the Nakamise-Douri commercial street, flanked with stores including tourist gift shops and food vendors.
*: The encounter gauge is blue, so it would seem the Manikins are somehow keeping the demons away for now.
: ...Ah, it has such a sweet ring to it.
: Happy to be here.
*: The surrounding terrain hasn't escaped the devastation, but the main buildings themselves look surprisingly intact.
: We're free! There's nothing that can hurt us now!
: Gozu-Tennoh is gone, but his army isn't completely...
: The Mantra? We don't give a damn!
: That's... that's the spirit!
*: We've got the typical array of services in here, so I gladly make use of them. The nice thing about Asakusa's facilities is that it's one of the few places (or the only place?) where you can't get attacked in between the Terminal, Cathedral, junk shop and Fountain, so it's ideal for quick healing round-trips.
: I don't know why, but it interests me... Something about it's [sic] movement and...angle?
*: Oh-ho! We can even afford both of them already. I still milk them for two tickets, of course. And now that we've bought him out of Magatama...
: It's so comfortable here. Asakusa has to be the best. There are stores everywhere, too. *wink*
*: Nirvana is a bit of an upgrade to Ankh in terms of immunity, but it's got a huge Luck bonus to it and teaches Expel-type attacks instead of healing spells. The first skill it would teach us is Violet Flash, which is a single target attack that does high Expel-type damage. Unlike the instant death Hama spells, it works like any other type of elemental damage spell like Agi or Zio and doesn't have an intrinsic chance to just not work. Unfortunately, most bosses are at least immune to Expel, so its usefulness is somewhat limited.
*: Gehenna is a fire Magatama, like Shiranui, but it's got balanced stats, absorbs fire damage instead of merely nullifying it, and is weak to ice instead of force. Its first skill, Hellfire, is a multi-hitting attack like Shock or Rampage, and pretty much a straight upgrade to Fire Breath.
: So did you. I'm not even gonna ask.
: Sorry if I pressured you too much, but I managed to get here after all. It took a while, but I was finally able to pinpoint the route to this terminal.
: Good thing I was coming here anyway.
: Not bad for an ordinary human, eh?
: You're resourceful, I'll give you that.
: Oh yeah, I found out something interesting about Asakusa. This is where the Manikins are created. They're made from the black mud that's scooped up from a river around here.
: I... would not have guessed.
: No wonder they want to rebuild this town.
: Makes sense.
: It's perfect for monitoring their activities and finding out about the Nightmare System.
: Ah, that's great news. Anything you can do, then?
: Aight, I can understand that.
: It shouldn't take too long, though. Why don't you go look around for a while?
: Yeah, I was thinking about that. The place still looks pretty nice.
*: Using the talk command in the terminal menu...
: ...Hey, don't rush me. You don't want to miss something important, do ya?
: Oh, sure, sorry, no prob. Go right ahead.
So, I gotta kill some time. My mind is made up, then.
: Guys, we're heading back to the tunnels.
: Aw, but I was looking forward to sightseeing!
: There won't be much sightseeing to do for long if those four oni realize the Manikins set up shop right in their backyard. I know it's really none of our business, but...
: No, I get you. Protect the weak, that sort of thing. Bloody work, but someone's got to do it.
: Exactly. I'm not going pretend I don't look forward to measuring up to those tough sumbitches, but if I just leave the Manikins to their own devices, I'm not much better than the Mantra were. And besides, it'll be good practice. Let's go, people. Let's hunt some oni.
*: We head back to the Terminal and warp directly to the start of the tunnels.
That's a nasty trick I forgot to mention last time: if you're in a dark place, your automap only displays your immediate area. In any case, we turn on the light, and head towards the first branch we did not explore, which is just past the small terminal on B4, a ladder past near the damage mist.
*: A nondescript Cube in a nondescript hallway gets us in a fight with three Trolls. This could be a pretty costly battle, but Senri's Marin Karin and Incubus' Sexy Gaze exploit their Mind weakness, so we encounter no difficulty. I even use Incubus' Evil Gaze, and watch the Trolls finish each other off. It's good to be a gangsta. This is the battle that earns Incubus its last skill, Life Drain. A straight upgrade to Mana Drain, Life Drain steals both HP and MP. It's definitely one skill I'll want to pass down for a long time.
*: That's all for this branch; the short dead-ends had Medicine, a Soma Droplet, and some other unremarkable treasure.
*: Senri turns Stun Needle into Arid Needle, which causes physical damage and a petrification attempt.
That's one of those rad doors when light has run out. Daaaang.
We've explored everything except whatever branches west from this point, and still no trace of the oni.
There was another room similar to this one earlier, but there was a ladder in that small island bit. Maybe...
Ha, I knew it.
It's 6/8 waxing, so it's not long before we can open this chest and get the Agility Incense within. Trying to reach the nearby door drops us into a pit, back to an area of B5 we just finished exploring. Tricksy tunnelses!
Making our way back and taking another branch...
Another Stone Cave. Now we're talking.
: I'm Sui-Ki. I'm a cold demon.
: I'm ZedPower. I'm an angel of death.
: Be careful...
: I'm not afraid of this clown. Here I am.
: Heh... You got some guts.
*: We're returned in front of him, as if nothing ever happened. Well, he's a cold demon, so it's a chance to reform our party. That said, I already ingested Wadatsumi, and we have Arahabaki, Mizuchi and Gui Xian out.
: You really want to have some fun with me, huh?
: Again? Sure.
: Ew... Not with a guy, man.
*: Again, we're returned to the room without further trouble. You can only get a rise out of this guy by refusing to approach him.
Mid-boss battle: Brute Sui-ki
Man, I kinda regret recording this fight, but here it is. Not very exciting! Dude's all physical and ice damage, which makes Arahabaki indestructible. It was just a question of Gui Xian keeping everyone else topped off. Sui-ki is clearly resistant to physical damage himself so it took a silly amount of time, but there was essentially no real danger.
So, one down, three to go.
*: The only way out of here is down the pit that screwed us earlier. We used up a bunch of MP, so I warp from the small terminal near the exit, go heal up, and make my way back. I'm sure the other oni won't be as simple, and I don't want to take chances.
I decide to walk back to where we were instead of teleporting, because the next branch to explore is closer to the exit than to the entrance. However, on my way there, I notice that we haven't explored the western train tunnel from the platform area.
Yep, that's another segment of the map I didn't even see the first time around. We still have a portion of the eastern side to explore, but let's check this place out while we're here.
Oooh, a Stone Cave almost right away.
I think I remember what this guy's about. I ingest Hifumi, and summon Sarutahiko, Valkyrie and Senri.
: Holy hell, that must whistle like crazy when you're facing the wind.
: I'm Fuu-ki. You must have some time on your hands, making it all the way down here.
: Let's dispense with the formalities here. The only currency I'm distributing today is Knuckle Dollars.
: I'm sorry! Please! Don't hurt me! C'mon, I beg of you!
: Nice try.
: Ha... Yeah, right! Take this, loser!
Mid-boss battle: Brute Fuu-ki
*: A force dude, just like I thought. We took a few more lumps here because only Zed and Senri resisted force damage, but Valkyrie's Mediarama carried the day. Still, I'm sure you can imagine what Tornado backed by four Makakaja stacks can do to an unprepared party.
I'd get back to Asakusa right away, but there's another branch to this portion of the tunnels and I want to check it out first.
Ah, alright then. Asakusa it is.
Hifumi would teach us Void Force (it doesn't), and that's all she wrote. Mastering it earns us a neutral alignment point, shifting our aligment to neutral and changing our title to Adept.
Heal, register, walk back.
Huh, we've been here before. In fact, I can't seem to find anywhere we haven't been to. One of the souls last time told us that an oni was attacking people who fell in a certain hole, so maybe there's a hole in a dead end somewhere, that I haven't bothered exploring all the way to the end. Welp, time to fine tooth comb this sucker.
Lv32 Femme Shikome
Yomotsu-Shikome, meaning "ugly woman of the underworld", was a demonic hag in Shinto lore who, like Kikuri-Hime, was involved in Izanagi and Izanami's dispute. Izanami sent this hag (or eight of them, depending on who you ask) to catch and kill her husband after he looked upon her decayed body, and she (they?) chased him relentlessly until Izanagi climbed a mountain near the entrance of the underworld and threw peaches at her (them?) from above. Yup, peaches. Because Japan.
*: Oooh, I totally missed this.
We ingest Shiranui, because it's the highest Magic stat boost we can get from a Magatama that has something to teach us on next level up. And we summon Arahabaki, Mizuchi and Gui Xian.
: ...WHAT DO YOU WANT?
: You're next on my list.
: I AM KIN-KI. YOU FILTHY DOG...
: Never heard of you.
: I'M ZEDPOWER. ARE YOU DEAF? IS THAT WHY YOU'RE SCREAMING LIKE AN IDIOT?
: ...WHAT, YOU'RE THAT...!? DAMN DEMON-HUMAN FREAK!! SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST!!
: BRING IT!
: I WILL HUNT YOU DOWN!!
Mid-boss battle: Brute Kin-ki
*: Kin-ki's a bit of a special case, as he's more resistant to physical damage than is the norm for a physical-resistant demon, and he's weak to all elements in a way that doesn't trigger extra turns. Gui Xian learned Ice Boost a while back so he did the heavy lifting here, with Mizuchi's Makakaja skyrocketing his damage output. The guy can be a bit scarier than he was this time, but he mostly wasted a bunch of turns trying to hit Arahabaki.
I'm a bit bummed about losing Mizuchi's Bufula, but Life Refill is a really good skill in general, as it replenishes the demon's HP while walking around.
We return to the nearby terminal, but this time, we warp to Ikebukuro.
: That's what the Manikins told me before leaving.
: Holy crap, I'm surprised they stopped long enough to talk to you.
: ...Well, I'll do what I want.
*: We return to the Mantra HQ, and take the elevator down, the the prison level.
: Oh my! What muscles! I'm feeling all tingly!
: Don't pour it on too thick, sweetheart. I quite like my soul where it is, thank you very much.
: You're no fun. But I like a challenge!
One cube. This better not be a practical joke.
*: It takes a Strength stat of 24 to be able to open this door. Gaea comes with the same physical resistance as Kamudo, but its set of weaknesses is arguably worse; being weak to force is bad enough, but a weakness to expel and death on top of that is extraordinarily risky. It would teach us Deathbound, which a multi-target physical attack like Berserk, and which scales off HP like Heat Wave. However, you can only learn it starting at level 61, if I remember correctly. Why would I bother getting it now? Because +10 Strength and +10 Vitality is a pretty big deal. No Magatama boosts any stat higher than 10.
Now we don't want to have it ingested all the time, because again these weaknesses are rough chuckles, and we want to learn from other Magatama as well. But if we're not immediately in real danger of being instakilled, it's going to help us give some suckers the business, pushing Zed's Strength to 34, his Vitality to 17, and his HP to a ludicrous 354. Considering stats have a hard cap of 40, this is huge.
This pleasant interlude aside, we do still have one sucker in immediate need of being given the business. We warp to Ikebukuro, heal up, and go back to the tunnels one last time, to the first Stone Cave we stumbled onto.
However, as knowledge is power, and foreknowledge doubly so, I make sure to wait until Full Kagutsuchi before we enter the room. In the meantime, Valkyrie learns Guillotine, a single target physical attack that scales off HP and has a chance to Stun. When we're ready, we ingest Gaea, and summon Arahabaki, Valkyrie, and Sarutahiko.
Boss battle: Brute Ongyo-ki
*: To celebrate our victory, Arahabaki gives us a Vitality Incense!
Ongyo-Ki is a gimmick fight, through and through. Replicate creates three clones, and hitting those clones with single target attacks causes them to Void all damage and also eat up all your turn icons. As for multiple target attacks, they appear to miss instead, even if they hit the real Ongyo-Ki. Since you're losing your icons, he's free to buff himself with impunity and proceed to murder you. He knows Mudoon and Evil Gaze, and if that wasn't bad enough, he also has Dark Sword, which has a high crit rate and can inflict Mute, and Stasis Blade, which also has a high crit rate and can Bind instead. If you don't know the trick or aren't ludicrously overleveled, it's practically an impossible fight.
However, if you fight him during Full K, the real Ongyo-ki has a small circular shadow underneath him, whereas the clones do not. That's pretty much the whole fight right there. He still has all his other dangerous skills, and he still uses Dragon Eye every turn, and he'll max out his stats if you let him, but without the benefit of Replicate, he doesn't really have a chance.
Brutes Sui-ki, Fuu-ki, Kin-ki, and Ongyo-ki
Japanese legend has it that during the Heian period, a sorcerer named Fujiwara no Chikata summoned four mighty Oni to overthrow the Emperor and conquer the nation. Sui-ki could freeze anyone or anything, Fuu-ki could control the wind and blow away the sorcerer's enemies, Kin-ki's skin was so hard that no weapon could pierce it, and Ongyo-ki was a master of stealth and could confuse, surprise and ambush any foe. In fact, according to the myth, Ongyo-ki was the first ninja. Rather than face the Oni in combat directly, a sage in the Emperor's service merely undid the summoning spell by reciting a poem, and that was the end of that.
*: At last, we can see what's behind this door.
Exactly two Cubes!
*: As far as physical resistance Magatama go, Murakumo has what might be the least crippling accompanying weaknesses we've seen yet... though it can still be pretty bad. Skill-wise it does pretty much what it says on the tin; the first one it would teach us is Void Mind.
And that's the entire recompense for this set of optional bosses. Unless you count removing a threat from the Manikins' doorstep, which you should, really.
: Alright, we're done here. Ninja blow this joint!
*: We head back to Asakusa, heal up, and visit the Cathedral.
: Yo, Cubus. Over here.
: What's up, boss?
: Good news, you don't have to be you anymore.
: I know we haven't always seen eye to eye, but you'll dig this, I promise.
: Don't fuck me on this.
: I'm definitely not going to fuck you on anything.
: So, who's the lucky lady? Miss Kikuri? Or the kitten? She's hot!
: Allow me to temper your expectations. Sir, if you would...
: I am here.
: I know this doesn't look super good, but... um, no offense.
: I take no offense. I am aware this physical form is impractical.
: No seriously, what.
: Look, trust me, this'll-
: Yeah, I'll trust you like Hua Po and Blob trusted you, huh?
: That's a low blow. You know we all do what we have to do. And you would've done the same, or worse.
: Easy for you to say! You're not next in line for a knife enema!
: Kagutsuchi is not at its brightest, and there are only two of you. It's clear Zed's intentions are honorable.
: I... uh. Right.
: STOP WASTING TIME, NUMBNUTS. GET IN THE MACHINE.
: Dude, you may not be the promise type, but I am. You know that.
: Yeah... Yeah. Alright. But you'll owe me one.
: I already owe you more than I can repay. And the new power you'll get today is just a fraction of my gratitude.
: We cool?
: We cool.
: Lord Arahabaki, your assistance has been invaluable as well. It was an honor to fight by your side.
: It was good to know a portion of the old glory once more. Thou may call on me again anytime.
: Alright then. Minister?
: The pylons are ready. Is everything settled?
: Yup, that should-
: I LOVE YOOOOOOOOUUUUUU~
: PRESS THE BUTTON!
Vile Arahabaki + Night Incubus =
: So... how do you feel about... yourself?
: Very good. Everything is in its place! Why do you ask?
: Uh, no reason. Welcome back.
Lv41 Lady Kushinada
In Shinto mythology, Kushinada-Hime was the eight and last surviving daughter of two earthly deities, all her sisters having been sacrificed over the years to the monstrous serpent Yamato-no-Orochi to quell its destructive rage. She was going to be offered as well, but the storm god Susano, having been kicked out of heaven, happened to be passing by, and he promised to slay Orochi in exchange for the beautiful maiden's hand in marriage. Legend has it that, in order to keep her safe while he fought, Susano turned Kushinada into a comb, and hid her in his hair.
: Heyo. Any progress?
: Lay off me, man. These things take time.
: Dude, I've just hunted down four legendary oni, and came back to town between each. What are you doing in here that's taking forever? Are you streaming 4k video over the fabric of the universe? Or are you playing Solitaire? Tell me you're not playing Solitaire.
: It's a long story, and telling it would keep me from my information gathering. Seriously though, why don't you go see the sights?
: Yay, sightseeing!
Bah! Fine. Sightseeing it is, then.
*: Non-canon warning! The following events don't actually happen! Or, well, they do happen, but then they un-happen.
Now that we've got a free slot, there's something I want to show. We go the the Cathedral, summon Uzume from the Compendium for a cool 11000 Macca, and go back to the tunnels. We then get into enough fights for our new friend to gain one more level and learn Seduce. And finally, we kick Sarutahiko out of the gang.
: I found an interesting group, so I'm playing with them.
: Uzume... Let me say something.
: What is it? Is something wrong? Don't tell me not to have a good time with other men, because I'm not listening!
: Why don't you take it all off and dance like that one time. Give me something to boast about and show them how gorgeous you are!
: Oh, I'm in love all over again, darling! You always know the right thing to say!
: Take this with you! Once you're rested up, strut your stuff.
: BEST. GODDESS. EVER.
*: I didn't make any of that up. A few pairs of demons have unique conversations when you have one use a talk skill on the other. Each conversation can only happen once, and it will not trigger if the target demon is also on your payroll (because the "hey you got one of my pals with you" dialog takes priority). Interestingly, the emerald is traditionally held to be a symbol of unconditional love and marital happiness, so it's an appropriate gift here.
Welp, that's done, time to load state.
: Wait, wait wait wait. Can't we keep this? We got experience and a Kelpie dropped a Jade and everything!
*: Sorry mang, that's not worth 11000 Macca and a Sarutahiko with Dekaja.
: Yeah, I guess so. But it feels kinda weird to be... to go through... whatever it is I'm about to go through. Like something I've done having never actually happened.
: Retcon's a bad mother, kid. I should know. You have it real easy today, so count yourself lucky.
: Hmm? What happened?
: I prevented God-crazy nutholes from taking over the world, then I didn't.
: Oh. Oh wow. Okay then! No further complaints!