Part 31: The fruit of destruction*: So, the Kimon Ball.
Or, err, the Kimon Stone, as it now says in the inventory. We've seen this word before. Let's head to Asakusa. We heal up, save, register, and restock on Light Balls, earning a few Tickets, then we leave through the western path where the Collector Manikin has set up shop.
: If you lose, you're out. That's pretty tough...
: It saves you the hassle of living in a world you despise, I suppose.
: Art thou thinking of abandoning thy fight?
: Ha, not a chance.
*: Zed levels up on the way and learns Glacial Blast from Miasma, replacing Shock. It's 25 MP instead of 9, but if a weak elemental skill would come in handy, we might as well use an attack item.
All of our non-mastered Magatama are wriggling and shining, meaning that they would all teach us their next skill on level up. All, except Marogareh, our first one.
This question mark is really the only instance of a Magatama with an unknown next skill. Strange!
Remember this temple in northwest Asakusa? The one that seals the Kimon of Tokyo?
> Will you enter?
We sure didn't come all this way for nothing.
Cutscene + Boss battle: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ZOckN4iuPk
Bishamonten is the leader of the Four Heavenly Kings, deities of Buddhist lore who preside over the cardinal directions and whose duty it is to defend the Buddha, Buddhists in general, and the realm of the quasi-divine Devas. He himself is the guardian of the North. In Japan, he is regarded as a mighty war god, which is somewhat at odds with his pacifist origins; there he is also counted among the Seven Lucky Gods.
*: Bishamon can be tough here if you don't know what to expect (he did instantly incinerate Shiki-Ouji and Gogmagog), but he doesn't have any irritating gimmicks and essentially offers a fight against a strong, straightforward opponent. He's got boss immunities, on top of reflecting fire and being weak to ice, and he knows Focus, Hassohappa, Prominence, Diarahan and Holy Wrath. If you just chip away at him he'll use Diarahan at some point and negate all your efforts, so you mainly want to apply buffs and debuffs until you can chunk down his 4568 HP in a few rounds.
And here we have the upgraded Force element Magatama, with decent fighter stats. The first skill it would teach us is Wind Cutter, which is a single-target Force skill that is in fact one of the most damaging spells in the game. If you're doing a specialized Magic build, it's hard to go wrong with Tornado, Wind Cutter and Force Boost, even for the endgame.
Alright, that's it for this quest line until we find the last Magatama. Now, we need a cemetery, and as far as we know, Zoshigaya's the only one left. To Ikebukuro!
We pick up a few more elemental Rocks while we're here, earning us another tenth Ticket. However, I pick the black box by accident, and we only get a Bead. I like getting Beads because you can't buy them anywhere and they're great healing resources even with Zed's low Magic... but they're not Incense.
: The Manikin over there died... He died the instant he became human.
: You see, humans can't live in the Vortex World... May his soul rest in peace...
: I'm pretty sure you need a fact check on that one... but that certainly is one dead guy right there, in any case.
*: Yeah, that's a faintly glowing, human-shaped pile of dust.
> Something is in its hand. Will you take it?
: Well, you sure don't need this anymore, buddy.
> You obtained the Afterlife Bell.
*: Alright, what's next...? A bar, right! We head to Ginza.
Aw hell, there he is. It's gotta be him.
: Oh... You again.
: Star Key. Hand it over.
: What? The Star Key...?
: Don't play dumb.
: Heheheh... It's in my stomach... As liquor, of course.
: Behold our savior and his miracles! Behold he who turns keys into booze!
: Do not encourage him.
: I sold it to a curious Manikin.
: That's... actually pretty good news.
: ...I needed the money, since my room was raided. ...Know what I mean? Heheheh...
: I'm not sorry.
*: We head straight back to Asakusa. Using the Talk command in the Collector Manikin's shop...
: So, you got any new cool stuff lately?
: Haha what.
: Oh, Loki. Loki, Loki, Loki.
: It's called the Star Key. But, I'm not interested in it. I'm only interested in man-made items. So, I'll give it to you if you'd like.
: Hey, sure, I'll gladly take it off your hands.
: I see. Okay then, here you go.
> ZedPower received the Star Key.
: Well, I hope you enjoy the rest of your shopping.
*: I pick up three Wagtail Plumes, dude earned our business.
We could go back to the Labyrinth right away, but I'd like to perform at least one fusion before we do so, and none of the candidates are quite ripe just yet. So we return to Yurakucho Tunnel and resume following Hikawa's troops.
Well, that guy wasn't kidding when he mentioned steep slopes. In any case, if Nihilo's Berith and Eligor could find a way out on horseback, I'm sure we won't have insurmountable problems down here.
*: We slide down.
There's definitely no climbing back up from here.
There was a down ladder near the Terminal that we didn't really explore, so I kind of assume that's one way back, though.
Yup, we find the bottom part of that ladder quickly enough. Let's return to the... tunnels...
Oh. Welp. We do climb the ladder and fall down the slope again, and we go all the way down to B4 before we reach a split in the path. We run into Loas, Kaiwans, Gogmagogs and Titans here.
Going through a northward path on B4, we find another slope, and slide down deeper still. It really feels like another dungeon that we might have to visit several times going in the same direction before we can clean it out. B5 starts with another assortment of doors, but I figure we can always pick the northernmost path and work our way south later.
As is my luck though, we find a ladder back to B4. It looks like a separate section though, and we come across Small Terminal A on the way. Then there's a one-way door, another slope... Aight, you know what? You get the picture, I ought to spare you the details before I put you to sleep. Lemme get back to you when there's something new.
...okay, this is interesting.
The four paths leading to the space inside this corridor are downward slopes. We came in from the south, the western path is one-way, the northern room is an empty dead end, and the eastern room has a ladder down, which I assume is our way back up. Let's drop in from the northern end.
Oooh, nice. While we run around, Titania learns Charisma, a passive skill that randomly raises the success rate of all her conversation attempts. And Zed masters Miasma without learning Ice Drain from it.
We're now a Slayer, which is a Dark-aligned title, and quite fitting besides. That'll be one more thing to check out when we get back to the Labyrinth.
At any rate, the Chest contains a Bead of Life. That seems like an elaborate setup for a piece of... treasure...
Wait, the only ways out of here are upwards slopes. What the...
Ah, of course. A series of one-way doors and ladders allows to us climb back up to the eastern side of the circular hallway. There were a couple doors I didn't have the chance to investigate, so I'm going to fall back down.
Oh dang, a loose recruitable Cerberus. I definitely want one, but considering our crowded situation it might be a little while.
Going south from the room the pit drops you in allows you in a little corridor loop with a couple Cubes. One of them is a fixed encounter with two Loas and a Cerberus, which earns you a Megido Rock, and the other contains a Soma Droplet. There's still a one-way door to the west down here though, so we climb back up again, and drop down the western slope. Along the way, Shiki-Ouji learns Mahamaon, making it one of the few demons that naturally learns both Mahamaon and Mamudoon.
Ah, right where I hoped we'd fall. The first door west from here has a Chest with a Pearl, and the second one leads us up...
That door to the east is one-way and would take us to that round corridor again, but there's a new door to the south.
Now this is promising!
We keep going upwards, I like the sound of that. In fact, we find Small Terminal B here.
I can't help but wonder if the game's doing this to mess with me, but I remain optimistic.
Aw yeah. I knew we were bros, Nocturne. I knew we were bros.
: I know, right?
: But, you're best off not goin' near the Diet Building. If you get in the way of Commander Hikawa... *gulp*
: I'm not in his way. He's in my way.
: Then, Commander Hikawa really will make you... *gulp*
: He sure as hell is free to try. I could use a challenge.
: BEWARE WHAT YOU WISH FOR.
: I know, I know. Is just, it can't hurt to appear confident, right?
: Yeah, pretty much.
: I see... But, there's no need to help. We have 'their' protection.
: I won't tell you to turn back, but from here on out, I can't guarantee your safety...
: That's alright. No one can.
*: Oh-ho! The ends of the station lobbies opposite the entrances are usually empty, but this one has a Chest with a Vitality Incense inside.
We're back in the bottom section. That's clearly the National Diet Building up north, but let's explore some.
Ah, this is the other side of the Amala Temple area. The Cube here contains five Life Stones, and that's all she wrote. Time to get political, then!
The National Diet Building is the rough equivalent of, say, the United States Capitol, being a place where elected officials meet to grind legislation into the guts of the constitution to make the juicy sausages of representative democracy.
Atmosphere: The National Diet Building
Voice: This edifice of Magatsuhi is in Nihilo's possession... Our god shall soon descend upon us, and we shall acquire our Reason. Leavest not, and thy life shall be the price. Begone, lost sheep...!
: Whoever you are, you can clearly see me. So take a good look at this!
: Wait, I thought this meant he thinks you're number one.
: It... really doesn't.
> You cannot hear the voice anymore.
*: There are doors to either side of this hall, but there's clearly a Terminal up the stairs across the entrance. And it's a large one! What a dang relief.
Two doors on the ground floor, and two doors up here. Where to start...?
...actually, come to think of it, I have a bigger problem. There's no way I'm tackling the notorious Diet Building mid-update, that's crazypants.
Ooooh, alright, lessee. Let's go back to the Tunnel and clear it out first. Maybe that'll earn us enough experience that we can get a fusion done.
Aaaaand we only missed a Bead in a Cube near the beginning and a bunch of dead ends. Gogmagog leveled up but he's definitely not up for fusion. Hmm.
...if I'm in such a hurry to get a fusion done, why did I even keep him on board? Derp.
Aight then, let's go ask a friendly information source about the Afterlife Bell.
: Yo, Lady B, sorry to be a bother, but I ran out of friends who might have the least idea what this thing really does. Can you help a dude out?
: It's called the Afterlife Bell. It has the power to resurrect wandering souls. I thought it was still hidden in the Labyrinth of Amala...
: Well, you gave me the run of the place, I've been more or less turning it inside out for loot, and I found a couple clues that allowed me to track it down. I don't know why you would have expected something different.
: A Manikin must have stolen it and fled, in hopes of returning to the Vortex World.
: ...do you know how Manikins are born?
: From river mud? I don't know the details.
: They are originally fragments of human emotions... that acquire physical form and become sentient.
Cutscene: Strong ones remain
: So they really couldn't create their own Reason, then.
: That's... kind of a shame.
: Would they not have been your enemies, if they were to create a world without humans?
: Well, they were human enough, I guess.
: NO, THEY WERE NOT.
: For me, I mean, even if not for this creation nonsense. Besides, don't Christians believe the first people were made out of clay or something?
: Not only Christians, but, yes, they often do.
: This whole situation is fucked up the a.
: Business as usual, then?
: You know it!
*: We then take the shortcut to the Third Kalpa, and look for the golden door. You usually get to its location by failing one of the stat doors around here, but there's also a ladder in the north section of the Luck area that'll get you down there.
Oh! I didn't expect this, but if it's taking us to the Kalpa below, it makes sense.
*: Good Lord this tunnel is difficult. But we manage without too much damage, and find ourselves in the fourth Kalpa.
Well, that was simple enough. I don't want to get too deep in the fifth Kalpa without my fusion done, but we should at least be able to unlock the final shortcut.
We go back to the third Kalpa, then down to the fourth, and we head for the Twelve Meters of Eternity. Speaking of, it can take you to four places. If you go during new K, you're sent to the Hall, where Beelzebub awaits. If you go during half K or full K, you're sent to the Vault with the teleport maze. If you go during any odd-numbered phase, you're sent to the Road, where you'll find the Burial Chamber behind a couple hidden passages. And if you go during the remaining two phases, 2/8 and 6/8, you're sent to the Maze with the Manikins. For now, we go to the Maze, and find the two strong souls again. From the start, Sakahagi is all the way north, then west, and Futomimi is all the way east.
: I never felt bad about it, and I don't regret living that way, either. But... when I met that girl, the words just slipped out of my mouth... "Everybody has kindness in their heart." Why the hell did I say that? Maybe I was just curious what warmth and kindness feel like... If I could live my life again, I... I'd wanna be the kind of person who is liked by everyone.
: Yeah, I'm, uh, all about feelings and stuff. Lay it on me.
: ...you've made the right choice before. You can make it again. Here, listen.
> You rang the Afterlife Bell. Its pure tone fills the air...
: I guess it's time to say goodbye to this place... The part of my soul that I was missing... The "me" that I really wanted to become... It's gonna wait with other demons for a new life... ......
: I should have taken revenge back then, for what that boy did to me.
: If I ever screw up badly, I can only hope one day someone will give me another chance. And it won't be said that I bring only death and pain. Go, and do better.
> You rang the Afterlife Bell. Its pure tone fills the air...
: Ah... I can see... my black heart... A new shape surrounds it... I am in a place... that gives rise to many demons... ......
: I hope you didn't just make a terrible mistake.
: The Manikins are all but gone, Ms. Takao is apparently under divine protection, I don't mind if Sakahagi takes out Hikawa, and the other demons can take care of themselves. How much harm could he do?
*: Time to take a peek at the next Kalpa. We return to the ladder at the exit of the Twelve Meters.
: Now, you can move on. Good luck!
Cutscene: The eternal witness
: So. It's me. I'm the demon to be created.
: You're taking this remarkably well, all things considered.
: I guess I've known for a while, somewhere in the back of my mind.
: And you guys both knew too, didn't you?
: Yes, we did.
: My apologies.
: No, no, it's... it's fine. I get it. If anyone had told me sooner, I probably would have been pretty mad.
: BUT YOU'RE NOT MAD NOW.
: I've seen a lot of shit go down since I got here. I guess at this point I don't know what to think anymore. I mean, Chiaki and Isamu, right? They were more human than I was, and look at how they turned out. And Hikawa didn't even need to be part demon to murder everybody.
: I would refrain from judging all humans from a few of their least savory examples.
: I know, I know, but...
: So, will you go through with it?
: Is that even a hee ho question? It's totally gonna make you super-cool and super-strong!
: I haven't decided yet. I guess there's still stuff I want to do up top before I figure it out. Besides, maybe I'll want to support Ms. Takao and her Reason, right? There's still a chance it won't be completely messed up.
: The outlook isn't so great on that.
: I still gotta see for myself. And on top of that, even if Aradia turns out to be a wet petard, maybe I'll want to finish this whole thing on my own terms. It's not like, you know, like serving Lucifer is my only alternative. It can't be.
: Well, for what it's worth, we're with you either way.
: It's worth more than you can imagine. It really is. Being a human is pretty cool, but, maybe being one of you guys wouldn't be so terrible. I guess we'll see.
*: Hijiri's fate brings to mind the medieval, typically anti-semitic legend of the Wandering Jew, about a man who taunted Jesus on his way to Golgotha to be crucified, and was therefore punished by God by being forced to roam the earth in misery, unable to die until the end of the world. In the context of the series though, there is a theory that Hijiri is in fact...
: Oh this gon' be good.
*: ...that Hijiri is in fact the protagonist of Shin Megami Tensei II.
*: I'm not sure of the details, but at least one path in SMT2 has the protagonist outright kill YHVH, or whatever was the current manifestation of YHVH at the time. And his punishment for this is stated to be an eternal cycle of torture, painful death, resurrection, and more torture.
: No, seriously, what.
: Almost makes you feel glad you quit before then, eh?
: So I'm Hijiri. Wow.
*: Well, maybe not. That theory has never been confirmed as far as I know, and besides, given the whole Amala Universe business, it's just as possible that the world where SMT 1 and 2 take place is the same world where Nocturne takes place, but on a prior cycle of rebirth, as it is possible that they are different worlds entirely.
: So, Hawke, tell me. Where'd you get the hat?
: Where'd you get the broken face?
: Huh? I don't-
*: Whoa! Whoa whoa whoa! Settle down!
: Lemme at 'im!
*: Aight kids, time out, for both of you!
*: ZIP IT.
Welp, in any case, it can't hurt to just open the door, right?
*: Looks like we can't proceed further inside without agreeing to meet with the Big L. Now this may look like a definite point of no return, but it actually is not. In fact, there's some pretty cool stuff in the final Kalpa that we can get to without locking ourselves into or out of anything, and I definitely want to check it out.
: Uh, yeah, sure, it all sounds super spiffy and everything.
: I will open the way to the last door; please use the candelabrum and come see us. We look forward to seeing you soon.
Well hey, if I change my mind, I'll have lied to the Prince of Lies. I'm sure he'll be able to appreciate the irony of the situation.
*: We ride the last tunnel down. Dang there are actually obstacles coming up from behind, falling faster than we do. That pretty much requires pure memorization right there.
Slayer Francois Hawke. Sovereignty.
*: As anticlimactic as this is, I don't want to get into this just yet, so we take the shortcut up to the first layer, then back down to the third.
The Cube here contains a Deathstone.
: I'll sell you something special. ...Wait a minute, your party's full. If you want a new companion, make some room first and then come back.
*: This broker sells a Lv4 Preta. This isn't so great, but it is a Lv4 Gaki that comes with Megido, Megidola, Megidolaon, Mediarahan, Samarecarm, Tetrakarn, Makalakarn, and Recarmdra (an easily abusable spell that sacrifices its user to restore the entire party's HP and MP). It's not a bad idea to let him earn a bunch of levels and use him as sacrificial fusion fodder.
And that's it for the Dark alignment door. I did say it didn't change much!
I take the time to get into a few fights here. Long gains Violet Flash, his last skill. This dude's been with us for a long time! Soon afterwards, Shiki-Ouji learns Megido, Titania learns Mana Surge, Zed passes on Wind Cutter, and Dionysus learns Wine Party, a unique passive conversation skill that occasionally plies an enemy with drink.
Aight, that'll have to be good enough. Let's... leave the Labyrinth. And head for the Cathedral.
My original plan was to level Titania and Shiki-Ouji, then fuse them together to make a level 70 Night demon. However, due to the way fusion works, now that we've made Night Black Frost available, that combination would produce... Lv66 Black Frost. And that's no good for us, as we of course already have Black Frost. I have other plans for Titania now, and besides she still needs to learn her final skill. But Shiki-Ouji's done, at least.
Back when we fought Sakahagi, he was of the Corpus race; if we had fought Futomimi, he would also have been a Corpus. The Corpus are a special race, and you can't ever fuse something into a Corpus, or get one in your party. However, now that their powerful souls have been guided by the Afterlife Bell, Sakahagi and Futomimi have transcended their past natures as Manikins. Sakahagi is counted among the Foul, and Futomimi is counted among the Kishin.
Foul and Kishin, we can fuse.
Shiki-Ouji + Garuda =
: Friend, I know you're not the type to seek vengeance. Or, not anymore, anyway, right? But we might just get it anyway.
: If I may ask, what kind of world would you create?
: It hardly matters anymore, does it?
: Still, I would hear it.
: I gotta say I'm more than a little curious myself.
: I still don't know, honestly. But... The world you talked about... I don't think I would have had it in me to crush it.
: You did help us, all the way to the end, even though you weren't one of us.
: The Vortex World may forget the Manikins, but I won't. It's an honor to have you by my side.
: Let us go forth, then. There are still abominations we can prevent, I'm sure.
*: Futomimi's skill setup intends him to be a physical bruiser, and that's sort of what his boss battle would have shown us. He actually has more Magic than Strength though, and the only physical attack skill he learns is Lunge (though it's still halfway decent with Focus on), so I got him Rakunda, Mazandyne and Megido to round him out. And with the ever useful Life Drain, he'll always be able to cast them.
I would have liked Garuda to learn more of its own skills, but I just had to free up a spot. Speaking of which, I use that spot to summon up two Nigi Mitama from the Compendium, and fuse them to Titania and Black Frost so their Glacial Blast and Mabufudyne can benefit from Ice Boost. Neither of them have MP recovery, but when they do spent their limited juice, it'll count. Of course it's 18000 Macca each, but we have like 700000 right now so it's really no big deal.
Alright then, we have one final dip in the Labyrinth on our plate before we return to the Diet Building. And for this one, we head straight to the fifth Kalpa.
Well, doesn't this look familiar?
But I can't say I'm surprised.
Cutscene: One coin
: That was a real cool speech and all, but Lucifer can wait.
: Hmm? What do you have in mind, then?
: You and I, we're gonna clean up the Japanese government.
: That's funny, I could have sworn you just told me we were going to clean up the Japanese government.
: I'm your client, I've paid good money, and if I say we're fixing democracy, then democracy is getting hella fixed.
: That sounds like an even bigger waste of my time than that whole business with Lucia.
: What were you even thinking, though? Seriously. Did your agent have a hidden grudge or something?
: Alright then, enough talk, democracy isn't going to fix itself!
*: Of course, Dante's coin is double-sided; if you pick heads you'll win every time.
So, Fiend Dante. Not only does he have standard boss immunities, but he resists both physical and magic damage. All of his skills are unique to him, though one of them is a renamed existing skill. We've seen most of the ones he has already; Never Yield is functionally the same as Endure, and Intimidate is actually a passive conversation skill that works best against indecisive demons at least ten levels lower than him, or demons with a childlike personality. He'll get more new toys as he gets stronger, but I'll mention those as they appear.
There are a couple fairly big downsides to Dante, however. One of them may not actually be a problem for us, depending on Stuff that I can't quite talk about yet, but in any case, you can't kick him out of your roster (though he doesn't have to be in your active party), and you can't fuse him, so he's using up a slot until your New Game+. And since you can't fuse him, you can't use Mitama to boost his stats. Even though he starts pretty strong, his stats only grow slowly as he levels up and he can easily be outclassed by high level custom demons. That said, you can give him Incense to remedy to that somewhat, and it might not be such a bad idea given that stats have a hard cap of 40 and the Demi-fiend can count on endgame Magatama stat bonuses for a fair chunk of that number.
In the end, it's often recommended to skip hiring Dante entirely, even if only not to permanently occupy an ally slot. But dang, this is a LP, how can I not show him off? His name's on the box!
Aaaanyway! Man that was one disjointed-ass update. But at least we straightened a bunch of loose ends, right? I still want to fully explore Hell's Vault at some point, but for now it's high time we get back on the main path.
: Look, broseph, I'm sorry I mentioned your ridiculous hat.
: IT'S NOT MY GOD DAMNED HAT YOU WHIRLING CROTCHNOZZLE.