Part 19: The Second Kalpa*: Before we start, I restock on Float Balls, and it occurs to me we're running low on Sacred Water. The Asakusa junk shop doesn't sell any, so I warp to other stores and... no one seems to be selling any. I coulda sworn... Oh well.
No, wait, I forgot the merchant at the Great Underpass, he does sell some for 200 Macca each. Whew! I buy five of them twice, earning us two tickets and another mystery box. Picking the white one again...
: Another item you won't use, great.
: I... I'm working on it.
*: This guy also sells Chakra Drops. We have only four left, and I want to be able to give some away if I gotta, so I pick up two more.
: That's probably wise.
: This place has become desolate now.
: I'm not sure it ever wasn't.
*: Back to Asakusa, I'm thinking of picking up a fusion partner for Kikuri-Hime. She's not exactly obsolete, but she's only level 28 and I'll want to fuse her sooner or later. There's a sort of averaging going on in the fusion mechanics, and if there's a wide discrepancy between ingredients, the descendant is likely to be weaker than one of the parents. And of course I don't want to turn her into any old critter either, since she's so special to us. Fortunately, the local demons have an ideal candidate among them. In order to stack the odds in our favor, I summon Sarutahiko (for Haggle, occasionally reducing cash demands), Succubus (for Nag, occasionally persuading an indecisive demon), and Kikuri-Hime herself (for Maiden Plea, occasionally calming offended demons).
: Hey, I was rather impressed when I met some of your people the other day. Care to join us?
> Principality is smiling.
: Could you endow me with 540 Macca?
: Um, sure.
: No, this simply won't do. I would like 1 Bead.
: I can't say that this is enough. I would like 400 Macca.
: Yo, Sarutahiko, sir, would you be so kind...?
: Eh, not feelin' it.
: Fine, here's your money.
: I can't make up my mind...
> Principality is unable to decide.
: Are these chicken wings you've got on? Don't take our money and waste our time!
: My boy, only the beautiful have the right to be selfish.
: Well then, you may call me mistress!
: *chuckle* I yield to you!
> That seemed to work well.
*: The "that seemed to work well" message is a telltale sign that a demon with Succubus' personality using Nag on a demon with Principality's personality is practically guaranteed to have a positive outcome for this step of the conversation. It doesn't guarantee success for the recruitment attempt, but it guarantees that the indecision doesn't result in the demon leaving immediately.
: Hmmm... Then, lastly, let me hear your opinion. Is helping others merely a self-fulfilling act?
: Absolutely not.
: ...It seems there is a discrepancy in our opinions.
> Principality made a wry face.
: I can't do that.
> Principality left.
: Aw man.
: You really should tell them what they want to hear.
: Well, if that's what he thinks, maybe I don't want him around eith... Err. Are you ever just telling me what I want to hear?
: I would never do that to you!
: Ah. Good.
*: Well, that didn't pan out, but I keep trying to find another Principality that's maybe a little more philosophically flexible. The next encounter goes pretty much exactly the same, but the question is different.
: Nah. I've been a fool before, and I'm glad no one destroyed me.
: ...It seems there is a discrepancy in our opinions. ...Our conversation is growing rather dull. ............ Excuse me, then.
*: Take three.
: Is effort the last hope of all beings?
: You gotta hold on to it and fight until your last breath. That's what matters.
: Oh for...
: I suppose I can be happy with that.
> Principality is content.
: I'm Principality of the Divine lineage. Take me with you.
: Glad to see a sensible one. Welcome aboard.
*: Oooh, Bright Might. I'll be training this guy up so as many of Kikuri-Hime's skills are passed down, but he'll probably make for a decent back-up healer in the meantime. Gonnection is a passive conversation skill that makes it easier to negotiate with demons of the same race (e.g. it would improve our odds of success with other Divines).
: Aight, we gotta get the rookie up to speed, and I know just the place.
: Is it maybe looking around Asakusa and kicking butt while we take in the sights?
: Aw come on!
*: We head the for Terminal, drop a save, and travel to the Labyrinth once more.
: It was a bit of a last minute decision.
: My master is resting right now.
: There certainly is a lot I feel like I should know.
: I'll try to help you as much as I can.
*: Asking her about the Vortex World repeats the cutscene was saw at the end of first Kalpa. I think she's pretty much an event viewer kinda deal.
: Err, well, thanks, I guess. I'll be on my way now.
: ...Then, you should get going. I look forward to seeing you again...
*: I take the shortcut down again, and get well knocked about on my way. Wheeee!
Aaaand we're back here. The place has certainly not been improved by our absence.
*: This assumes that we came here straight after the first Kalpa, and have just received the noble voice's warning.
: It was like the voice of the universe... You weren't harmed, were you?
: Nah, I'm fine. But... I appreciate your concern.
*: This is a tiny room with one hole in the floor. So much for getting out the way we came in.
I'm trying to imagine what this place smells like, and nothing pleasant comes to mind. Thick dust, moldy paper, a whiff of rotten meat, that sort of thing.
: Everyone around here keeps arguing about Gaea and Messiah, whatever those are...
: Well, if you walk around, you'll see.
*: We know "Gaea" as being the name of Hikawa's cult, but this Messiah stuff is, well, some flavor of new.
Lv42 Foul Phantom
"Fantôme" is French for ghost. Not a lot more to say about this guy, you all know what a ghost is!
Another strange door, and it's locked like the other one was.
: Everyone, listen! The world has lost its power under the reign of god. Because of that, we are on the verge of destruction. But, there is no need to fear. The Gaea cult will ensure our survival! Together, we will resurrect the strength of the ancient world!
> The soul is still preaching...
That doesn't sound like Hikawa's message. Hmm.
: But, the Order of Messiah, brainwashed by a jealous god, won't allow us to do so. ...I'm telling you, they're the ones who should be oppressed, not us!
: If you pray, god will protect you no matter what happens. And, you shall eventually join him in the afterlife... Now, let us pray...
*: This is already even more of a maze. There are so many doors and branches that I'm not taking, not to mention ladders and holes. Dang. We're also mostly encountering various blob o' goop monsters so far, as well as Will o' Wisps, Mou-Ryo and Phantoms. Most are chumps by now, but the latter's electric spells are no joke. Force damage is effective against them, but at this rate, I wonder if Principality and Senri are going to run out of juice before they even level up once.
Ah, this is the other side of that locked door. So this one's a shortcut then. Or, will be someday.
Dang, it's 7/8 waning. I don't want to have to come back here though, so I have Gui Xian pop Estoma and we run out the clock. Normally this would be an opportunity to get into fights, but seeing as I don't know how to leave this place yet, I have to ration my resources.
Okay, not too shabby.
We leap down to B2, and there's another locked door behind us right away. I need to remember those.
*: These are the same girls as on the first Kalpa, so, I guess I do know one way out now. Though it's one I'd rather not resort to if I can help it.
*: He's also much the same, but charges 5000 Macca now. Still, if I can come back here pretty easily in the future, I won't have to leave before I'm done.
*: Oh boy, I've been so looking forward to that. Yaaaaaaay.
: If you're heading down below, you better be prepared. Once you're down there, it won't be easy coming back up.
*: Haven't seen these dudes in a while. The Shikigami can use Tarukaja, so it's best not to take the fight lightly.
Ah, that's the way back up to a location maybe halfway through the first maze level. I'm going to continue exploring it and attempt to clear it out before trying my luck with the third basement. Knowing Dr. Dark is around is making me feel a lot more confident about being thorough.
: Everything is his will... Everything changes at his will... You must leave this dreaded place and fulfill the part which you were originally intended for.
*: There's a ladder down here. I'm not done exploring B1, but I'm curious.
: It's cursed, y'know.
*: Yikes, it sure does look cursed.
RUN RUN RUN.
: Sorry I mistrusted you, kid.
*: Yeah, so, that corridor, huh? Maybe later. Much later.
Lv69 Tyrant Abaddon
In the biblical book of Revelations, Abaddon is the archangel whose duty it is to control access to the pits of Hell, and who releases Satan during the Apocalypse in order to allow him to wreak havok upon what's left of mankind at the time. Biblically, he's completely obedient to God, but in some occult traditions, he's actually a terrible demon himself; his name does mean "place of destruction". His Hades Blast skill attacks all targets for high physical damage, with a high crit rate.
Tyrants are ultimate evil gods or demon lords, often the main antagonists of their respective pantheons, or closely associated with them.
Lv70 Night Nyx
Nyx is the Greek goddess of the night. She may be an elusive goddess, dwelling in shadows and rarely interacting with humans, but her power is almost without equal, and she is of primordial importance, having been present at the beginning of the world, and being the mother of Hypnos, the god of sleep, and Thanatos, the god of death. Her Debilitate skill applies one stack each of all three -nda spells.
Lv68 Fallen Flauros
A Great Duke of Hell, commanding over thirty-six legions of demons, appearing as a terrifying leopard. Like other Fallen are wont to do, he answers truthfully to all questions, but only if appropriate magical precautions are taken, or else he lies and misleads and cheats. If you need some people set on fire, he can do that for you as well; he'll even torch other demons if asked nicely. Iron Claw is an extraordinarily powerful single target physical attack, but its accuracy is very low.
*: Hmm, the pits on B1 seem to lead to corresponding rooms on B2. I didn't see entrances for those when we were down there, so they must have one-way doors. I guess I'll have to climb back up several times.
A couple fights against four Mou-Ryo provides an excellent opportunity for Kikuri-Hime to recover her healing juice. Still, after a using Heat Wave several times, Zed uses a Luck Incense instead of relying on magic.
: But, the Order of Messiah wouldn't accept that, and a conflict erupted. What we didn't realize was that our worst enemy was already among us.
*: I think that's about as much of B1 as we can access right now. Judging from the symmetry, I may have missed a door in the eastern corners, but I'll be checking out the four pits next and there'll be ample opportunity to make sure. I'm intrigued by the two gaps in the northern sections, but there's precious little I can do about those from here.
: I'll sell you something special.
: Oh dang, I got bad news for you dude.
: Uh... Wait a minute, your party's full. If you want a new companion, make some room first and then come back.
*: We'll have the opportunity to make use of this fellow sooner or later I'm sure.
Oooh, that was down the northwestern pit. We came in at 7/8 waxing, so it was no trouble at all.
Lv44 Brute Ikusa
The Ikusa are the foot soldiers of the Shinto netherworld. When Izanami sent the Shikome chasing after Izanagi, an army of Ikusa followed her (them?) along.
*: Ah, we've seen these guys a lot in Ikebukuro, but this is our first actual battle against them. They're tough customers, but any fight that doesn't have a Phantom in it is a good fight.
Oooh, I knew I overlooked something.
: We chased after the Gaea cult in order to prevent that. But, we were done in by that devil summoner... Hikawa is a dangerous man.
*: Ah, so these are the souls of the rival cultists that clashed in Yoyogi Park before the Conception, both Hikawa's people and his opponents.
Now that's all of the accessible B1. Time to drop down the southwestern pit, and then take a good look at those invisible walls.
: What he had to say was very interesting.
: I'm always up for interesting stuff.
: The man used black magic to summon me. This is what he said: "Kill the man I hate!" I asked, "Is that what humans do, kill those they hate?" He replied, "If you hate, you kill. That's the way we are." I admired those words. It's so demon-like... the true nature of humans.
: I... I don't know about that. #notallhumans
*: This is all of B2 we can reach as well. There's asymmetry here too, but I can't find a way to remedy to it from here. So, two holes to jump into. Let's start with the western one.
Oh wow. Oh wow oh dang.
The automap's absolutely no help here. I think I'm straight up going to have to do this old-school. Which in some circumstances would mean "graph paper", but MSPaint is still pretty old-school, right? Man. At least the floor has a tile pattern.
A Chest near where we dropped has a Soma in it, which restores an ally's HP and MP to maximum.
*: Somewhere along the way we master Wadatsumi. We're still neutral, but we've accumulated enough points to bring us to the next tier of titles, so we're an Expert now.
It's slow going, but we make it to a door in the middle of the southern wall. However, all the walls we've encountered so far have been entirely visible.
Unfortunately, this is a dead end, with only a glimpse of some other section through the wall. There's a ladder down in there, dang. Back to mapping we go.
Fortunately, the path to the western door is straighforward enough.
*: Another Burial Chamber, this time dedicated to Kaiwan and Ose. There's also a ladder up!
Hello, what's this?
*: Ah, another type of one-way door then. Well, we weren't done checking out B3 from the western hole, so back down we go.
Huh, so that's it, there was nothing more than a couple dead-ends, and still no trace of a wall I could not see. I'm beginning to wonder if I've been sold a bill of goods. The rest of this floor must be only accessible through the eastern pit on B2, so that's where we go.
And here's the northern door.
There are two locked doors behind, one of which is marked "Burial Chamber", and a ladder up.
So that's a one-way door again. Back down the eastern pit we go, there's one more door down there, and it's gotta be the right one.
We finally reach the eastern door and complete our map. Total invisible walls: zero. Welp!
: Oh, come on now. That wall right there. Open your eyes and look!
: Eh? I don't...
*: Oh wow, that lighter part of the wall is shimmering. I absolutely didn't notice it at first, but now that I know it's there, it's hard to miss. Man I wonder if I missed one of those in another section...
And there's our way to B4.
This looks a lot like the very first room, before we jumped in the hole.
Ah-ha! That's how you open those grey doors. I remember one on the first Kalpa, and it'll open the shortcut on B1 here, but for now I'd rather just find a way out, so I make my way back to the northern door on B3.
Unlocking the Burial Chamber reveals Mizuchi's tombstone, as well as a monument with no inscription. No graves for the living!
The other door on this level has a Cube with another Deathstone. That's... nice. But I expected some manner of exit. Hmmmmm. I must have missed a shimmering wall somewhere. Time to pull out the fine tooth comb again.
Oh wait, I remember there was a door in that southeastern room. Whew!
Valkyrie levels up and leans Soul Hunt, a unique recruitment skill that works best when Valkyrie herself is using it on a male target.
: Cripes, another pit.
: It would have been nice to be taking Manikin hospitality for a spin right about now.
: ...yeah. It feels like what we're doing here is important, somehow, but at this point I sure wish I was...
: ...that's a pointless thought, never mind. Let's find what we came here for and go back for a rest. I've had enough of this rotting place.
*: The pit drops us to the area beyond the B3 southern door that we could see but not access. There's a ladder down, but also a shimmering wall to the west.
: What, you again? No means no!
*: The invisible wall takes us to a small empty room, and what I assume is a one-way door towards the way back up to the maze. I return through the wall instead and take the ladder down.
I think this might be it.
*: And that's the Second Kalpa done, unless you count the cursed corridor, which we'll return to later. Now let's see what revelations might be imparted unto us.
Cutscene: The Purge
So, that's how it happened. Hikawa didn't just fight the Messiah people, he also turned on his own former allies. That's what he meant by "the purge" back then. It... doesn't really help me here and now, but I suppose it's good to know.
*: In SMT1, the Mesians and the Gaians were rival factions, associated with Law and Chaos, respectively. The Mesians were a fundamentalist militant Christian organization, working to summon God into the world to cleanse the world of demons and infidels and usher in the Thousand Year Kingdom told of in the book of Revelations. The Gaians were advocating living side by side with the demon invaders and accepting all gods and other fantastical beings without prejudice, though in practice, well, let's just say Gozu-Tennoh would have approved of their philosophy.
: I'm glad to be done with this Kalpa, if that's what you mean.
: There needeth not be reason to hide it... About that... I understand thy joy! I cannot suppress mine own. As another friend to drink mead with, I shall tell thee something interesting.
: I'm listening.
: If thou takest purple Macca in succession, thine earning shall be even more. Try and strikest anything you can. I have become rich that way! Hahahaha!
: Well, at least you've been doing well since we parted.
*: I'm going to spare you a few moments of me being shit-awful this time. I make it out with 24 Macca, and...
Let's move on, shall we?
Aw heck I am not ready for this.
> You feel a terrifying presence in the air...
: Uh. Hello.
: The moment you stepped into this Labyrinth, the wheel of fate began to spin...
: But, we serve the fallen angel in order to rise above that fate. You wish for the same thing, do you now?
: I... don't know.
: We, the four knights of death, have what thou seekest. Thine they shall be, if thou canst triumph over us.
: You have conquered a number of deaths to reach here.
: And how!
: Whether it be you, or one of us... it is our master's will that one Fiend survives this battle over the candelabra. And when his wish comes true... he shall make the decision to lead his army to the final battle. Do you have the resolve to face us in battle?
: I don't think my humanity is so easily taken from me. If you would challenge me, then I would crush you. That is all there is to it.
: ...Then show us the strength that our master stakes our fate on. We, the four knights of death, shall await you in the Vortex World.
> The four horsemen disappeared.
: Well. That was bold.
: Holy hell what am I even doing. Holy crap.
*: The way further in is blocked, as expected. We take the tunnel back up to the second Kalpa, then, uh. Hmm. I still don't know how to return to the terminal. Man. At least we can use the Moon Key to unlock that shortcut on B1 and maybe see if anything changed.
Oh I'm a dunce, this ladder was here all along, it's practically the first thing I saw when we got here at the start. Good Lord if this was a video LP, I'd have so many angry youtube commenters by now. FISRT!! YUO FRGOT TEH LADDAR ALSO UR VOICE IS DUMB!!1 ASLO PRBLY DUMB FAEC. UPLAOD FASTAR!!1
Yup, this is the first room. It's smooth sailing from here.
Glorious! Back to Asakusa, then. That's a pleasant enough end to this part of our journey, isn't it?
: Lemme guess. Not done yet.
: I think I'm too tired to be mad. See ya.
Fresh air! Fresh dang air! Fresh... um... breeze?
: OH COME ON!
: AT LEAST LET ME GET TO THE FOUNTAIN, YOU SON OF A FUCK.
Cutscene + Boss battle: Fiend White Rider
*: The White Rider has two gimmicks, and both are easily defeated once you've got them identified. The first one is God's Bow, a single target Expel-type instant death effect, with the unique quirk of working 100% of the time on any creature that isn't entirely immune to Expel effects. The Rider will only use it on targets it will work on, so if you bring a party such as ours back there, he will never use it. (Of course, Zed had ingested Nirvana.) If you can't fill out your party with Expel-immune allies, you can still use Tetraja to protect yourself.
The other gimmick is his summoning of two Virtues. The Virtues know Mahama, Mediarama, Makarakarn, Rakunda, and Thunderclap (a group-hitting Expel-type attack that has a chance to halve all targets' current HP), so they're dangerous even on their own. And if you kill one or both, the Rider will use Dragon Eye and summon more. The trick is to neutralize them without killing them, and since all Divines are weak to Death effects, Stone Gaze is absolutely your best friend. Arid Needle will also do in a pinch.
The remaining threat is the Rider's Prominence skill, which is an extremely strong multi-hit fire attack, but that's not a gimmick, you just gotta be able to survive it a bunch of times. Valkyrie is the perfect ally in this battle, seeing as she absorbs fire, is immune to expel, and in all likelihood still has the Stone Gaze she inherited from Dis.
Fiend White Rider
"And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see. And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer." -Revelations 6:1-2
The White Rider is the first Horseman of the Apocalypse, sent by God to ravage the last of humanity.
Forming the fifth order of angels, Virtues are tasked with watching over and maintaining the movement of stars and planets, and therefore making sure that the cosmos is working according to God's will.
: THAT'S WHAT YOU GET! IDIOT! SHIT-MONGLING MORON TURD-HOLE! GAAAAAAH!
: Dude, um. Your humanity?
: Oh he's being as human as human can be right now, don't worry.
: I need a shower.
: I've literally been to hell and back. I just cracked the skull of one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse with my bare hands. I am taking a dip and you can't stop me.
: I'm coming too!
: Kiss me.
: Yup, that's pretty human right there.
: Should we not... stop him, perhaps?
: Probably. You do it.
: Will he be cross with me?
: I'd be. I can barely stand the sight of you, and you haven't even tried to keep me from nookie yet.
: Oh dear.