Part 24: Not dark enough: Isamu, we've known each other for so damn long. I liked you. Hell, I still kinda like you, even now, because I haven't forgotten who I am. And after all this time, after that hat, after that belt buckle, after you told me what to wear even though you knew I had already left home, after you thought Ms. Takao would go to jail for you, you've never been quite as dumb as you've been in the last thirty seconds. Are you even listening to yourself? Everyone gets to jerk off for hundreds of years until they get sick of it and make themselves a cliff to jump off of? That's your paradise? Give me a break. People are a pain in the ass sometimes, and we're not wired to give a shit about everyone we pass on the street, but everyone alone, all the time, until the next damn Conception? I think I'm gonna puke.
: ...I had a feeling that you wouldn't understand. I guess it doesn't matter to you, since you're not human anymore.
: Fuck you.
: As for me, I'll prove I'm right by creating the world of Musubi.
: Yeah, we'll see about that.
: You should spend some time alone, Francois... Then, see what you think.
: Holy crap, talk about going for the nards! What a little turd.
: If Kaneda had spoken to me like that, I'm not sure even God could have brought him back after I was done with him.
: Guys, if I ever start talking like him, kill me.
: Not it!
: Not it!
: Nope! Nuh-uh!
: It falls not to your allies to guard your thoughts, doubly so if it would put them in danger.
: Yeah... Yeah, I'm sorry. That's too much to ask.
: Are you really so close to a change of mind?
: I don't think so, but... I wouldn't have thought Isamu would ever say that sort of thing either.
: Don't worry, I'm sure we could find a way to get some sense back into you.
: I volunteer if any slapping is required!
: Without it coming to blows.
: If you think slapping is only ever a gesture of violence, I pity you.
: Brahma and I have done things that would vaporize your mind, you little-
: Haha, alright, alright, alright, I get the picture. Besides, as long as I have the lot of you by my side, I'd be surprised if I forgot how good it feels to have friends around.
: YOU REJECT YOUR HUMAN FRIEND, YET IT IS THE COMPANY OF DEMONS THAT REMINDS YOU OF YOUR HUMANITY?
: Huh. I... guess so. Is that weird?
: ONLY FASCINATING.
Well, that was a colossal waste of time. Let's see if we can find a place to contact Hijiri from and get the hell away from this den of cretins.
Or we can just walk out. That works too.
: Yeah, it's pretty hard for me to track him in there. And he's got lots of degenerates who think like him all over the place blocking the way, too.
: I'll go after him. You don't have to go inside Amala anymore.
: Huh. Well, I can't say I disagree with that course of action. Do be careful, but you have my blessing, if I have one to give. You got any idea what I could go after next?
: Ah. Alright then, I'll find my own way. You've certainly been a big help so far.
: If there's somewhere you want to go, don't wait for me. If not, why don't you check out Asakusa? Who knows...? Maybe you'll find something new...
: Oh, I've been all over the place already. Maybe I'll see if the Collector has set up shop yet, but it doesn't look like he works very fast. Anyway, I won't keep you. Smell ya later!
*: We heal up, register, etc. I pick up a few Mahama Rocks at the Junk Store, earning us a tenth ticket, but choosing the white box only gets us another Balm of Rising. Still, that's not too bad.
The Collector Manikin is still not open for business yet. Maybe Futomimi is ready to give his prophecy by now?
Aaaaand he's not. Good thing Mifunashiro is only an Amala Link away. Let's go to the Labyrinth next, maybe Kamala has a lead for us.
Aaaaand she does not. While we're in the neighborhood, we might as well finish clearing out the accessible areas of the Third Kalpa. I'm getting pretty ace at the very first tunnel minigame by now! But I'm still terrible at the others.
I finish exploring as much of the eastern Magic branch as we can access, but it yields no further loot. There should still be parts of the northern Luck branch to check out.
Lv61 Beast Cerberus
In Greek mythology, Cerberus is the monstrous dog guarding the gates of Hades, mostly keeping the dead in, but occasionally called upon to keep the living out, though the stories about that latter occurence usually involve him failing at his task; Orpheus put him to sleep with his mad lyre skillz, and Hercules pretty much just wrestled him to the ground with the aid of nought but a wooden club and a lion skin because Hercules is basically Superman. He's usually described as having three heads, but very ancient sources tell of fifty or a hundred, while others give him only two like his brother Orthrus, or even just the one. Roman Philosopher Seneca the Younger ascribes to him a Gorgon-like mane of snakes, but also a single snake tail, the latter of which is represented here.
*: We come up empty-handed. Everything that's left of of the northern branch is behind a luck door. I haven't exactly neglected Luck, not to the degree I've neglected Magic, so maybe we're not far off from being approved of by one of the remaining doors. I think I'll increase it from 12 to 15 in the next few levels.
Lv46 Genma Hanuman
Hanuman is a famous Hindu deity, born to a tribe of monkey-people; looking at his legendary accomplishments, one could mistake him for a sort of shapeshifting Chuck Norris. He once was told a particular medicinal herb could only be found on a certain mountain; he went looking for it to save a friend's life, but could not tell which herb was the correct one, so he lifted the whole damn mountain and took it back to the healer.
Genma are Light-aligned and tend to be semi-divine in nature, but what primarily sets them apart is that they are legendary heroic warriors. There are only three Genma in Nocturne, and they can only ever be obtained through evolution (or through Compendium summoning if you've evolved them before).
*: In a final bid to try and squeeze some more loot out of this trip, I huff up the two Strength Incenses we have and make an attempt at the last remaining strength door.
*: Well hey, whaddayaknow. This took us to 26, but I'm inclined to believe the break point is at 25. In any case, this proves conclusively that the bonus stats from Magatama do not count for these doors. They didn't count for the door in the Mantra basement HQ either.
This one seems... shinier.
*: Ah, that one's an alignment check. A while back I mentioned alignment rarely had an effect; well, this is one. We have five mastered Magatama so far: one Light (Iyomante) and four Neutral (Wadatsumi, Hifumi, Kamudo and Murakumo). So we're still Neutral, and the door's off limits. We have Dark-aligned Muspell on right now, and it will surrender its last skill soon, and we have a few more Dark Magatama that are one skill away from being mastered, but I'm not sure I want to dedicate our next several levels to earn the likes of Anti-Fire or Mamudoon instead of working towards skills we'd actually use. Oh well!
In any case, that's as much as we can explore until our Luck gets higher, so we retrace our steps back to Asakusa, where we heal up, save, register, and consider our options.
In terms of fusion, I have a bit of a long plan in mind, but I like the sound of it, so we warp to Ginza and trade a Jade and an Amethyst at Rag's for a Nigi Mitama. It'll need to earn four levels to learn the skill I want, but it's only at 29 so it won't take an obscene amount of experience. Besides, once it's maxed out, it'll be in the Compendium and we can get another any time we please.
Alright, so the wheels are in motion on that front. But where do we go next? We've nearly run out of directions, but one of the Manikins in the newly cleaned up Asakusa areas mentioned something going on in the Amala Network and the Mantra HQ. We've just dealt with the Network, which leaves only one clear way to go.
: A human guy was here, too.
*: We earn a few Lucky Tickets stocking up on various elemental attack Rocks. You never know when those'll come in handy, even if it's only to avoid just Passing a turn. And heck, in the end I pick up a few Light/Float balls to get another tenth ticket. The white box earns us a Strength Incense!
*: Dang, I'm not too keen on a dinky little fun-size update like this, but I only dare stretch it so far before it risks feeling like padding, and all the optional stuff I could think of went to the pre-Isamu update. (Or... uh, almost. Something occured to me in editing, but, it would have been very quick anyway.) Still, it's major decision time again!
We don't have a non-committal response this time. This reflects Hikawa's zealous, uncompromising nature; now that he finds us worthy of his attention, either we support his ideal, or we become his enemy.
So! Shijima. Strong, weak, doesn't matter, all have their place. And everyone's working together side by side. No war, no pain, no greed, no cruelty, no crime or pollution, no loneliness or abuse, just a luminous, harmonious whole where all know their fate and walk its path until contented rest comes to them.
Wouldn't that just be so sweet?
Wouldn't that just have made it worth it to murder billions?
Kagutsuchi is watching.