Part 26: Walk in the park: Yeah, of course I will. Whatever your god comes up with can't be any worse than whatever Larry, Curly and Moe have been dreaming up, right?
: Don't mention it. I know you'd help me if our places were reversed.
: By the way, you couldn't get into the park before, right?
: Right, that's a bit of a problem.
: Here, take this. It's the key to that locked door.
> You obtained the key to Yoyogi Park.
: Oooh, thanks.
: No problem. But this better earn me some extra credit!
*: I've just learned that there's an interesting nuance in Yuko's request that was changed in translation. From the dialog we've seen, it would appear that Yuko wants the Yahirono Himorogi because she believes her obtaining the stone will prove that she's worthy of receiving a Reason; it's barely a step removed from "maybe Aradia-senpai will finally notice me". However, in the original Japanese, her plan is to use the stone's god-controlling powers to outright force Aradia to give her a Reason. That certainly makes her seem less wishy-washy.
Before we use the key to enter the construction site, I remember we haven't visited the northern building here yet. We run into a couple fights on the way, all low level Fairy clan critters like Pixies and Pyro Jacks. Aaaaand there's a large Terminal up here!
: Is that human in the southern room in cahoots, too!?
: I know you have no reason to trust me when I say this, but she's really not a danger to you.
*: Alright, time to tackle the entrance.
Atmosphere: Construction site
: Holy crap, this place has no business sounding this terrifying.
: With an upstanding fellow like Sakahagi on the loose, any place has business sounding this terrifying.
: Ah, whatever... Pixies, deal with him!
: You've got to be kidding.
: You're nothing to us! We'll chase you outta here!
: If they're picking a fight with me, they must be.
: If you get too close to one without thinking, you'll be teleported somewhere else!
: Ah, not a fight then. I should've guessed.
*: Before we get in much more than a couple steps, we run into a fight with Setanta and Oberon. If we had any ally slots open, it might not be a bad idea to recruit them.
Walking underneath the right-hand catwalk here prompts a Pixie to descend from it, tell us "Leave!" or "Get lost!" and teleport us to the entrance. Not the end of the world, but...
The automap notes the "trapped" catwalks for you with exclamation marks when you get caught, so it's likely you can bumble your way through if you gotta, as long as the Fairy encounters don't do you in too bad.
Lv57 Fairy Titania
In A Midsummer Night's Dream, Titania is the Queen of the Fairies and wife to Oberon. The fairy queen archetype existed long before Shakespeare was a glint in his father's eye, but it typically consisted of delicate, meek creatures, while Titania is strong, proud and easily her husband's equal in power.
*: There are many of the punier Fairy-type critters around, but they're easily dealt with and will often run away. Only Trolls, Oberon, Titania and Setanta are any real threat.
: There's a platform in each one, so try climbing it. From there, you will be able to see the entire section and where the shining Pixies are hiding.
*: Ooh, how convenient. Man I'm glad I can just take screenshots; I'm sure the other sections will be more complicated.
: It's hard to miss, yeah.
: That's where that Sakahagi is. But, you can't get into that section from here.
: Lemme guess. I need to work my way around all four sections first.
*: ...oh hell, of course they gave Setanta Dragon Eye. Why wouldn't they?
: Hey, can I have a minute?
> ...You received Dis-Mute!
: Uhh. Okay, sure, thanks. I'll just, um, put it on top of the pile, that way I'll use it first.
*: Having seen the catwalks from above, the rest of this first section is a cinch to navigate.
: Yeah, sure, let's go with that.
: I hope that you do not bore me. Pixies! Play with him!
: I think they got the wrong protagonist there.
: Oh you shut up.
*: Hmm, there are three identical doors here.
We're currently northeast of the central tower. I expect I'll have to take a roundabout way, so I go south first.
The platform's over there, lessee if I can get to it from here.
We can't, but it's not all bad news.
We run into a fight with a Titania and two Trolls, so I assume that the jabroni Fairy types are gradually being replaced by the heavyweights. But I'd rather encounter Titania than Oberon, because then I can just Xeros-Beat my way to victory.
Zed levels up and would learn Endure. Maaaaaan this is a toughie. I'm giving up Mana Drain. It served us well when we had low MP, but by now it restores less than 30 a shot, we have a pretty decent MP pool (183, with a Magic Stat of three, counting Vimana's +1), Shock only costs 9 MP, and while Fog Breath is still expensive I can just pop a couple Chakra Drops if I run low. If we were a caster-type I wouldn't dare drop it, but being able to survive the occasional blunder is going to serve us better.
Vimana stuns us, but that's easily cured. Aaaand the Chest contained a Balm of Rising. Let's try the northern door this time.
*: Okay, I'll want to take the western door afterwards to meet that spirit there.
The path to the next section is pretty clear, but I want that Cube first.
The Cube only has a Chakra Drop, but there's a Chest with a Sapphire next to it!
We then proceed west and south towards the spirit we saw from above, but there's a pool and another Chest (Luck Incense!) in the way, so we have to go around.
: Sakahagi used that to summon a powerful demon.
: Aw hell.
: ...It reflects physical attacks.
: Aw double hell.
: *sigh* How did it come to this?
*: One more section over with. Geographically, we're halfway there!
: My troops shall entrap you as you move! This falls out better than I could devise!
: Does this douchebag ever shut up? Is that a "king" thing?
: I dare hope not.
: Oh, right, yeah. Nah, you're cool.
*: First order of business: finding the way to that platform.
Oh! Well then. A door just to the north leads us to glorious convenience.
: The High Pixies changed positions?
: So that's their new trick then.
: That gonna count as triple hell?
: Yyyyyup. That'll do it.
*: There's another Chest down there, so we'll have to explore for sure.
One of the High Pixies blocks the path to the Chest, so I hope they do move. Maybe it's related to the K phase? I spend a few phases running around up here and they're not going anywhere. Maybe they'll switch if we get caught.
: Alright! This time, let's try to cross-formation!
*: Ah, I see, they switch when you pass under an unguarded catwalk. Going back to the platform, I realize that the catwalks are arranged in a square, and the High Pixies are now guarding the sides instead of the corners, which must be what "cross-formation" means. This is easy enough to work around. Indeed, when we reach the area with the Chest, they switch to "X-formation", which means they return to the corners.
Nue and Succubus learn their last skills following the same battle, respectively Mamudo and Tentarafoo. They're ripe for fusion by now, so I switch in White Rider and Titan because their skill lists are looking pretty sparse while everyone else has either full skill slots or nothing more to learn. This place is actually pretty good EXP!
...I get so enthusiastic about running around waiting for full K that I skip it by accident, so it's another cycle's worth of combat coming up. I decide to make liberal use of Raja Naga's Estoma just for now.
Thanks to Watchful, Okuninushi levels up and learns his last skill, Beckon Call, which summons a random ally to the fight. This is of dubious utility most of the time, but it can be a life saver if the Demi-fiend is afflicted by some ailment that prevents him from replacing dead teammates.
Zed has a chance to learn Tempest from Vimana, which causes physical damage to all enemies. It costs a fair bit less HP than Xeros-Beat, and apparently it even does a bit more damage, but XB's Bind effect has been very helpful so far and Life Refill takes care of the HP cost, so I prefer hanging on to it for now.
I finally get my hands on that Chest, and it contains a Bead Chain.
: Yeah, I figured that one out already.
: There's a cross-formation and an X-formation. Try checking them out from a platform.
*: We run into a group of three Trolls, which gives us an opportunity to try out White Rider's Fire Boosted Prominence. He one-shots two of them and maims the third. Overflowing with power, indeed.
And that's the third section done. Almost there!
: That Manikin Sakahagi went into the communications tower site!
: By punching really hard. How else?
: Rascals! You grow bolder with each passing day!
: Aw man what.
: Quadruple hell!
: And not just that... An entire legion of my best troops awaits you!
: I'm here to take out Sakahagi! Are you really so keen on him that you'd want to stop me this hard?
: Now, you will die...
*: We start running into battles with both Oberon and Titania for the first time, which makes it a bit more irritating to hit them all at once since one resists magic and the other resists physical damage. But it's still no great danger. In fact, despite Oberon threatening us with his best troops, at level 57 Titania is the strongest Fairy demon in the game, so we've seen everything they could possibly throw at us.
Hmm... This is the west side. I wonder if...
*: Well, isn't this familiar! This is the western entrance plaza. We could hoof it all the way to Shibuya to save and such, but there's a Fountain right here that'll heal whatever ails us.
: They locked the door, so we can't get in...
: ...That's what I was going to say, but you came from inside! So, what's in there?
: Obnoxious fairies and boring construction stuff. This door was practically better off locked; sorry to disappoint.
: You know... She's so hot!
: Yeah, it looked pretty grim and occulty, that's for sure.
: Gaea cult, was it?
: Or Hikawa's perversion of it, in any case.
*: We heal up and return to the last section of the construction site.
There's another set of three doors here, and I can see more catwalks. Welp, gotta pick one.
The far one takes us to a Cube with two Lifestones, surrounded by catwalks. Going under the northern one alerts a regular Pixie who teleports us to the center of the area. Yay, a teleport maze. At least those don't move around.
There is a path you can take that will let you reach the other side without having to be teleported even once, and if you pay attention to your map it's not too difficult to discern through trial and error.
That said, there's clearly a chest in the northeast corner, and I want it. After a bit of experimentation, it turns out the middle of the three easternmost Pixies will send you to it.
Nigi Mitama learns its final skill. In addition to its natural Rakunda, Persuade and Analyze, it now knows all four elemental Boost skills.
The Chest gives up its Bead of Life (restores all HP and MP for the entire party), and we can be on our way again.
That's the way in, at last. But there's another door to the southeast, and it seems easy to miss if you beeline for the central tower without paying attention.
That's a Bead, a Revival Bead, and another door, leading to a small Terminal. We gotta be close.
Welp, that was some maze. All in all though, it went a lot smoother than I remembered, and it really doesn't come close to the episode of sheer bliss that was Dante Tag.
Strong power warning, eh? I back off and try to remember...
Hmm. Zed ingests Anathema, for the immunity to Death. We summon Okuninushi, Kushinada, and Sati.
Cutscene + Boss battle: Corpus Sakahagi
He had a big pet, but I guess even a strong Manikin is still just a Manikin in the end. Shame about the Magatsuhi, though. I may no longer be qualified to use it for what it was meant to be used, but it would have made amazing leverage.
In Sri Lankan mythology, Girimehkala is the mount of the demon lord Mara. It has a single eye, and curses all that look into it. It could well be a demonized version of Ganesha, the Hindu elephant god of wisdom, art and science.
What you see is what you get, for now at least.
*: For whatever reason I was expecting Girimehkala to use Death effects, but in fact it does not, so I used Anathema for nothing. Physical resistance would have been more useful, though only Gaea and Murakumo don't come with weaknesses that would have crippled us. And yeah, no, I didn't actually want Okuninushi to use Hell Thrust back there, but my finger slipped. On one hand, that eventually killed him (dig that moment where he starts his turn poisoned with 4 HP left and I take a few seconds to realize I've painted myself into a corner), but on the other hand, replacing him with White Rider was incredibly helpful. Oh, and you may have noticed that by any sane measure Zed should have been killed towards the end. The Endure skill saved our bacon for the first time, and certainly not for the last.
So, Girimehkala. He has the typical boss immunities, and reflects physical damage on top of that. His typical turn procedure is to open with Beast Eye, use the half icons to Dekunda himself and cast either Tarukaja, Sukukaja, or Rakunda, then fish for a Blight critical hit on his remaining full icon to slip in a second attack. He also knows Panic Voice and Toxic Cloud. Zed couldn't do much to him, so it was mostly a question of using him to put out fires with items; Fog Breath was essentially a wasted icon and I'm disappointed in myself that it took me so long to learn that lesson. In these circumstances, having a buff spell instead of a debuff would have been vastly more useful.
Sakahagi can be a bit of a mean surprise and may finish you off if Girimehkala left you in a sorry state, but he's not actually all that threatening. His only skills are mid-tier attack spells of all four main elements, and he has like 50 MP to cast them with. Mostly he just made me feel like a million bucks for finally being able to unleash a Focused up Divine Shot with impunity.
: Come back to your senses, have you?
: In my dream, I was a bad demon, hee ho!
: No, it was not a dream.
: ZedPower, I ask you to forgive our discourtesy...
: Huh. Isn't that a bit convenient? But I can give you the benefit of the doubt.
: You may take the Yahirono Himorogi as you please. It is a sign of our gratitude.
: You're, uh, too kind.
: By the way... Before we were cursed, a human girl came here. She was beaten by Sakahagi, yet somehow survived and limped to safety, but...
: I felt an evil power from her heart. Something even stronger than that of Sakahagi. That girl is not an ordinary human...
: We shall take our leave. We all thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Please put the Yahirono Himorogi to good use...
: It would seem gratitude is in order.
: Hmm? Oh, right, that's your old crew we just pulled out of the fire. Well, no biggie.
: If you had let me go back then, I would have returned to my kind, and then lost my mind like the rest of them. But traveling with you... I couldn't even begin to dream back then that it would grant me the opportunity to rescue my friends.
: We sure built the daycare into a force to be reckoned with, didn't we?
: We've come such a long way.
: I don't know where this road is taking us much more than I did back then, but we've walked it side-by-side since the beginning, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
*: Looking at the map, we can see that the exclamation marks are gone. We must be free to go wherever we please. But there are only two places we want to go to right now: the Fountain, and the Small Terminal that will take us to the other side of the Park, where Yuko is waiting. There are still random encounters with the same Fairy types as before, but we reach our destinations without incident otherwise.
: Those that were locked out went back inside.
*: We have two questions this time. The conversation proceeds exactly the same regardless of our choices, but what we say here today may turn out to be of immeasurable importance.
The burden of plague, pain and ridicule. Suffering and humiliation. Do we fear?
A life of betrayal, rejection and defeat. Deceit and torment. Do we fear?
Fear can be an obstacle, and we must move forward, no matter what lies before us. What is our pain, compared to the pain of the world? But is it not also foolish to never feel the fear? To never heed caution and trudge along without minding the cost, to us and those close to us, present or future?
It's up to debate whether Aradia is listening, but there is no doubt that anything we tell anyone, Kagutsuchi hears.