Part 28: The Road to CaleronLast time, the thread decided that we have no need for challenges and phat lewt. Instead, we're going back to...
...wait, what were we doing again? Oh yeah, I vaguely remember something about people getting turned into fish monsters and stolen weapons of mass destruction... was any of that important?
It's been a while, so let's recap.
The Kooluk have a laboratory in Caleron, inland of this fort. It seems the Kooluk Army's runic weapons are being gathered there. That will be of interest to your friends behind you as well, no? Now, I must be going.
Since we don't see any reason not to trust the dirty war profiteer, our party decides...
Well then... I think we have a date in Caleron.
...to check it out, because if there's anything JRPG protagonists are good at, it's rushing into certain death.
Sadly, we won't be making it to Caleron today, because there's a bunch of fodder in our way.
Damn it. We're surrounded. I should have noticed earlier.
Yes. You should. You have brought shame on your little three-person ninja clan.
Oh, and there's a bearded dude on a kangacorn, too.
(He is also the reason I was stuck with third level weapons back in the ruins. There's no way to get to Merseto without triggering this encounter, see.)
The Ruins of Collanbal is a nice looking area, but it's easy to get sick of it as it's one of the first repeatable areas. Fortunately, I did my grinding in the ruins instead, and am not bored of it yet.
We didn't get an introduction, but apparently The Single Non-Generic Enemy is named Martin... I guess.
Here's our party for the day. Prepare for murder!
As usual, Wendel and Millay are the first to move.
Lazlo soon follows and decides that those two guys in the south-eastern corner of the map? Fuck those guys.
...I know it looks suspicious, but I swear Rene came with us willingly.
Martin looks dangerous, but instead of rushing us and forcing the party to defend themselves, he'll just sit here warming his ass on some fire terrain.
He's not the only one being lazy, either - none of these enemies are going to move a muscle for a couple of turns, not even to throw beads.
The ones on the southern end of the map, however, are more suicidal, and this guy... actually manages to hit Wendel. (For two damage.) And here I gave her the Cape of Darkness and everything! (It increases evasion... supposedly.) Argh.
Lazlo nukes the two enemies in the SE corner into dust. The archer avenges them by mildly inconveniencing him.
Wendel also takes revenge, but in her case it's rather more effective. These guys aren't just fodder; they're low-level fodder. Which is a pity because I want more EXP.
Enemies in story battles have fixed levels, so grinding can easily make you overpowered for them. On the other hand, free battles - such as the ruins - scale to your levels, and will be getting tougher accordingly. I think this strikes a pretty good balance between challenge and making you feel stronger if you level up a bunch.
The fire-types draw closer, and the enemies still aren't doing anything to attack them. Next round!
Nalleo takes out the archer with a little help from his rune, gets unbalanced, and takes up position to participate in a unite. I feel a little iffy on the whole thing - you'd think unbalance would prevent you from doing this, but hell, it's in my favour, so I'm not complaining.
The enemies (naturally) die and leave Dario a rather horrible level as a final "fuck you." That speed is really starting to make him a liability at this point - even the wing shield and merchant's cap aren't enough to keep him competitive. Sad.
With the enemies down here dead, a new bunch spawns in. Lazlo decides that they can get fucked, too. (Not before Kika skewers one of them for the EXP, though.)
Meanwhile, the units over on Martin's side of the map finally decide to start attacking. They are... only mildly successful. That swordsman did two damage against Kyril. From behind. Good work.
Wendel can't one-shot, but she can soften the spearman up and grab a very Wendel level while she's at it. Keep this up and we're looking at triple digit SPD by level 50.
The archer hits Millay for two whole points of damage. She shows how it's done by inflicting 50 times that in return.
Kyril hasn't been in the ruins much and isn't particularly overpowered, but he does have a nice fourth-level weapon and some good gear, so he can one-shot these dudes.
...he immediately wishes he hadn't done that.
Maxine considers you unworthy of magic, deploys trusty beatstick.
That certainly is a Maxine level.
Meanwhile, Lazlo and the pirates (which also happens to be the name of their rock band) run west to catch up with the rest of the group.
I'm all set.
Okay... let's go!
Kika and Lazlo
The enemies around Martin are higher level and stronger than the others, but still far from a threat...
...even when they don't fuck up their attacks spectacularly.
Oh, for the love of...
Although being able to access higher levels of Battle Lust makes the kangacorn less useful than it was when we first got it, Rush is still a very nice technique.
Kyril exchanges blows with the officer, taking minor damage from a counter, and Wendel once more fails completely to do any kind of dodging whatsoever
Millay, on the other hand, doesn't need to dodge.
And there goes the officer. This is what happens when you cast a fire spell while wearing a fire-boosting robe.
As astoundingly bad as she is at dodging, Wendel still does a pretty good job killing things. I don't know how she managed to Piercing Claw herself up on top of that pillar, though.
God fucking damn it, enough already!
Not that they're a threat, but come on, how many reinforcements does this guy have?
Enemies on kangacorns are bad news as they tend to take a lot of damage, deal a lot of damage, and of course they also benefit from the kangacorn's increased movement range. Martin is a relatively big threat, and we want to save him for last anyway, so we won't be doing this.
Instead, Millay murders a helpless mook and levels up. Nice numbers!
Kyril follows suit and takes out the other enemy in the immediate area.
However, we've advanced a little too close to Martin, and Wendel pays for it. She's probably the squishiest character in the group here - she can't wear the Wing Mail or other medium-weight armour, so she's stuck with chain mail here.
The mooks advance and deal minor damage.
Wendel runs away and parks herself on water terrain. Good thing there's so much of it here, huh?
Millay offs the closest swordsman. Lazlo has no more Double-Edged Sword spells left, but let's not forget who we're talking about here. The ones he's actually holding may not be as flashy, but they certainly get the job done.
Oh, and Kyril's turn comes up next, and he kills the archer right behind Lazlo here.
I realize Kika has a second level MP, but I don't have anything to use it on that wouldn't also die from weaker attacks.
Maxine toasts the archer next to Kika for another Maxine level.
...would you believe me if I said I took off Lazlo's armour and forgot to re-equip it again?
More Wendel. More! It looks a bit suicidal, but she's pretty safe with all this water terrain around.
We're nearly done with Martin, but there's still treasure to obtain, so we can't just kill him...
...even if this does look pretty tempting.
Maxine kills the last generic instead and doesn't get +2 MAG this time.
That's one treasure down.
Must resist temptation!
For some dumb reason, Martin tosses a fire bead... right in front of Kika, despite being in range to toss it at her (which she wouldn't like)... and then he doesn't even stay on his native terrain. Martin has issues.
Dario probably has issues too, but more importantly he has the Star Earrings from this chest.
All right, Maxine, now you can finish him.
We already S-ranked this map on the first visit, and as I'm pretty sure I've said before, you can't get S-rank rewards more than once. It's rather a waste, actually; I don't even get one of the regular medals for this. Still, there's SP. I like SP.
Look at these guys, being all alive and shit. That's nothing like what I remember from this fight.
Anyway, they all run off.
You're supposed to be the smart guy here. You tell me!
Oh, there certainly is.
Elsewhere, and presumably a little while later...
I don't know yet. But the intruders we encountered at El-Eal were no walk in the park.
Hey, it's... uh... that other guy who was riding a kangacorn! His name is Busk, in case you've forgotten (I certainly had).
They were certainly too much for you.
I soloed that map with Kyril and shitty skills. If you think you'd fare better, you're welcome to try me any time.
Do you have to put it that way? It's not easy for me, keeping watch over both El-Eal and Merseto. We need to assign someone who is solely responsible for El-Eal. The sooner, the better.
It won't help, you know.
The camera pans over some very ornate windows...
...and Martin walks up.
"Funniest fucking thing, I got into a fight with a bunch of teenagers and social rejects and they kicked seven kinds of crap out of me. It was pretty humbling."
Based on what I heard from that damn Iskas, I went and had a look. Nothing. A waste of my time!
Iskas, huh? It looks like there's more to this guy than just being a dirty war profiteer! Who could have guessed?
Bah! Iskas... The Patriarchal Faction can't be trusted, anyway.
Ooh, capital letters. We should probably Remember this. It might be Important.
We'll never settle our differences with them if you keep saying that.
But, dearest sister--
You two don't look anything alike. I think you may want to have a little chat with your, uh, "parents", Busk.
We must put the empire first. Do you want to confront the Patriarchs right now? Would that be wise?
Oh. Ooh. It's one of those things. Sorry to tell you this, Martin, old chap, but having Kooluk blood isn't exactly something to be proud of. Maybe you should find a country to serve that doesn't get its ass kicked by everyone and everything.
Well, I suppose that's true, but--
Both of you have imperial blood running through your veins. You should take more pride in it.
Stop being prejudiced against your fellow humans. There are perfectly good elves for you to persecute.
Couldn't agree with you more.
Ornela, your counsel is wise. But you must not get tangled up with the Patriarchal Faction.
Understood. Let us once again swear an oath on the imperial throne.
Oh, great. We're dealing with a bunch of fanatics. I'm beginning to miss Graham Cray; at least he was just crazy.
And with that, the chapter is over! The path to Caleron lies open... but of course we have other matters to see to before we approach.
Objective: Meet with the Commander and Vice-Commander of the Knights of Razril.
First, we're going to have to pick up some more dudes!
Kyril is not required, but Lazlo is coming because if there's anyone who knows how to fuck shit up at El-Eal, it's him. He wrote the book on fucking shit up at El-Eal. Except since this is Lazlo we're talking about, he doesn't want too much attention so what he actually wrote was "If I Did Fuck Shit Up At El-Eal, Here's How It Happened." Kooluk scholars have been trying very hard to dismiss it as too fantastical but independent researchers tend to agree that it paints a very modest picture of a dude blowing things up with his arm mounted death laser. However, they are still debating whether the author is depicted as making astoundingly competent tactical decisions, or if it just looks that way because everyone else in the book is a raving lunatic.
Wow. Tangent. To summarize: eight slots, one taken, choose the other seven.
Artwork for Martin and Ornela.