Part 8: A delightful show
Our "more private" location is the Stormfist inn, and you'd think our party could have dragged themselves over there while we listened in on Gizel and Sialeeds, but we start right where we left off.
But getting there is as easy as heading across the plaza.
Oh, Prince! Um... Welcome, welcome!
At least she doesn't dump a bunch of tankards on the floor this time. I think we can call this progress.
We'd like a room. Do you have anything available?
It seems like a long shot given the way hotels tend to look before a big sporting event, but...
Y-Yes, yes! Of course! This way, please!
"Inn Girl" leads the party up the steps. We fade to black...
...and back again. (music)
It looks like we missed the explanation...
You saw where they keep us, right, Prince? That... dungeon? Since a couple of days ago, we've been hearing these voices in the middle of the night. None of us know what they're saying, or where they're coming from...
...but that's okay, because it looks like our group went all METAL GEAR? on his ass and now he has to explain it again.
And the voices have an Armes accent, eh?
More JRPGs could do with that kind of convenience.
Prince... what should we do?
I smell sidequest.
(It's actually a mandatory one, but Frey doesn't know that.)
R-Right. Her Majesty and the Princess will be coming soon...
Lym is going to yell at us when she finds out we've gone on adventures without her.
What if it's Armes spies, or assassins, or something?
I can deal with spies and assassins. It's the "or something" I'm worried about.
But here's the question: Why come to the Prince?
Well, I assume you have a master. And rather than just report the voices to him, you took the huge risk of coming all the way out here.
Well... That's... uh...
Maybe you're the spy after all?
Look, you know how they banned cruelty to gladiators?
But the nobles aren't happy about it. My master sure isn't. If something happened now with the gladiators, I'm sure they'd use it as an excuse to abuse us again!
...So you'd rather the nobles didn't find out.
Before they changed things, a gladiator younger than me had his eyes put out -- just for being too strong! And even after that, he was still pretty good in the ring. So they sold him off to some foreign country. They packed him on a ship, like livestock! None of us know where he is now, if he's even alive... That's never gonna happen to my friends again!
This sounds a little too specific to be just a random event...
...and the guy he's talking about is indeed Morgan from the original Suikoden, who, as we know, is both alive and well (relatively speaking) and will eventually go on to fight alongside a certain "young master" McDohl... but that's a story for another time.
...well. Let me put it like this: it may not be very quiet, but we'll do our best not to leave any witnesses. Fair enough?
Th-Thank you so much! I knew you would say that, Prince! When you came down and saw us, you got so upset about our condition... That's when I knew you'd help us.
Oh, stop it. You're going to make me blush.
Hey, we're just lucky you let us know. Thanks.
Now, how exactly do we go about looking into this? Without getting Lord Godwin's attention, mind you...
Oh, I know! We can just go back along the passage I used to sneak out! It goes straight back into the arena!
Problem solved very neatly. I'll be keeping my eye on you, Mr. Honestly Not A Spy.
All right. Kid, don't let anyone see you. Lay low. We'll come back and get you when we're ready.
Georg... what do you mean, "When we're ready"?
We're missing someone. And if we leave her out of this, she'll get pretty cranky...
And that's that.
Only one way to find out!
Um... Was that person you were with before a... a gladiator?
What?! It's a secret?! Oh, I understand completely! I won't tell a soul!
I'm thinking most of your customers are too drunk to care, anyway.
Sialeeds meets us right outside the arena.
We didn't talk long. So, now what do you want to do?
Dungeon crawl! Dungeon crawl!
Is something wrong?
We get another Exposition Fade (right in the middle of the crowd)...
...and somehow we still haven't alerted half of Stormfist to our activities. Jolly good.
All right. I'll go with you.
Oh, but... Lord Godwin is throwing us a banquet tonight, isn't he?
Relax. I already let him know we all decline.
Well, it's been a long trip, we're all tired, none of us have much of an appetite...
Speak for yourself, but I suppose they'd just have served us a bunch of sauerkraut. Frey only eats liberty cabbage.
Of course! Not that I knew this would happen or anything...
I'm not sure why they even give you an option to whine about it when it does in fact suit us perfectly, but Sialeeds likes us a little more if we don't tell her we really wanted to have dinner with Literally Hitler, so that's something I guess.
Now, where's our little gladiator?
Yeah, we're ready.
We could go, like, sharpen Sialeeds' weapon or something, but eh.
Nice to meet you. I'm Sialeeds.
Yes! I know! You're the Prince's aunt, right?
"Aunt" makes me sound old. Sialeeds is fine.
Oh, no. I'm sorry! I didn't mean...
You know, you ARE an aunt, Sialeeds. Your sister has kids. That's how it works.
Oh, quit reminding me!
Don't worry. They're always like this. Pity me.
We sneakily prepare to break into the arena right next to this random rune seller in the middle of the street.
Well, what do you know? Looks like fun.
This isn't a picnic. ...You do know it's not a picnic, right?
Right. Picnic. Whatever. Let's go!
Shoon joins the party, and off we go!
But first, we'll put that thing we found to use. This requires a bit of an explanation. (Feel free to listen to the dungeon music while you read.)
As you can see under "Current Frm", we're currently in the traditional Suikoden formation - three dudes in front, three in the back. However, Suikoden V introduces alternate formations with various effects - the Double Arm we picked up boosts our damage resistance slightly, and also loads most of our people into the front rows, as visible in the window with the grid. (If we had a sixth member, they'd be behind Georg, next to Frey in this formation.
Range in V works a little differently from the first two games. Any character can attack from any position, but their weapon range indicates their preferred position. Each range - Short, Medium, and Long - has two rows they work best from (I won't insult your intelligence by telling you which ones) and attacking from any other position tends to do bad things to your accuracy.
This new formation is pretty much perfect for our current party, since it allows everyone to work from their preferred range and provides a buff with no drawbacks.
Shoon is kind of shit right now; he is several levels below the party and comes with awful gear and a level 1 weapon. It doesn't really matter though, since we still have Georg, who could very easily solo this entire section.
'course, he'll have to wait a bit because we can't take more than a couple of steps before our party feels the need to have a conversation. Again.
Did Lord Godwin have this built?
Probably not. It looks a lot older than that.
The screen pans up a bit to show most of the dungeon. There really isn't much more to it than this.
I didn't think any of them still existed, though...
I don't think people of this town know about this place, either. I came across it by accident.
They will in the morning, though. As soon as that rune seller makes it to the pub and starts rambling about how five people dove into a well and didn't come out again, and as soon as his audience sobers up enough to come investigate. But of course we'll be long gone by then.
Shoon, why didn't you run away?
If you had an escape route like this, you could've quit being a gladiator and just run away.
I think the impassable NPC guards might have had something to say about that.
If I had done something like that, there's no telling what they would've done to my family...
I became a gladiator because I wanted to help them! We're really, really poor!
If I ran away, my master would probably do something really horrible to my family. Even with an escape route, I can't escape.
And it's not just me. All the other gladiators are more or less in the same situation as me.
We can't do anything for him, but we can at least not tell him he's wasting our time with his sob story.
Sorry! I didn't mean to complain!
But he still interprets it like that, I guess.
Come on, let's hurry and take care of this before they find out Shoon's missing.
There's no sign that they've found out yet, but we don't have much time.
Thanks again, everybody... Okay, let's go!
Much like the first dungeon, this one is short and... well, I wouldn't say "sweet" because it's still a sewer, but it's not too bad. These bright orange buttons on the floor open gates in the bars, allowing you to proceed. (The chest has an antitoxin. See why I'm not making a big deal out of these things?)
The camera moves so we can see what we're doing.
But we don't get far...
...before something else comes up.
...Oh, my! These noble folk in front of me are none other than members of the Falenan royal family and the Queen's Knights! I never dreamed I would meet you in such an unfortunate place as this. I am truly honored!
He's both more polite and better dressed than most people I've met in the streets. Stormfist is weird.
Just how do you know us? Who are you?
Ah, please forgive my lack of manners. My name is Egbert Aethelbald, head of the House of Archibald. Our family used to be lords of Stormfist.
"Used to be"?
"House of Archibald?"
...I just don't want to feel left out, okay
That is precisely correct! Stormfist was given to us by Her Majesty the Queen when the country's capital was moved to Sol-Falena.
He PILFERED everything we had!
That face. That glorious, glorious face.
It's true. The House of Godwin stole almost everything the House of Aethelbald had... a hundred years ago.
That's a long time to hold a grudge.
Maybe he hasn't had much else to do.
A Zombie SNAIL! The sun's justice shall be BROUGHT DOWN UPON THE FILTHY DEVIL!
I... umm... Hey, is this guy starting to scare anyone else?
Terribly sorry. Seems I let myself get a tad agitated! Incidentally, what is it that brings your noble personages to a place such as this?
I must apologize. Of course, you're in a hurry to get on with your journey. I wish you fine fortune in your travels.
...However, if anything untoward does happen to you, I tell you the House of Godwin will be SOMEWHERE behind it!
The recent INCREASE in rats! Periodic FLOODING! UNSEASONABLY invasive PLANT GROWTHS! ALL GODWIN PLOTS!
That's it. It's definitely time to go.
And so we did.
And speaking of zombie snails, here's the un-undead version! Series veterans will recognize them; they've been around since the first game.
As you can see, the camera angle has changed a bit here, due to our new formation. This means I'll have to change it back again so I can get good shots But first:
Every formation has a formation skill associated with it.
The Double Arm formation has this, which can be activated for free once per battle.
After you activate it, the characters will attack as per autobattle. It makes the random enemies in here even less of a threat.
...well, I don't think Georg was going to take much more damage anyway. Still!
Shoon's main means of attack is punching things.
He also comes with a Fierce Tiger Rune, which, despite the impressive sounding name, is a bog standard command rune: double damage to one enemy, and you're unbalanced for the next round. 'course, as long as fights don't take more than a round, that's not really a drawback, so it definitely has its uses.
Huh? A dead end?
Hold on a second.
And for my next trick... (music)
Looks like it's the arena basement.
Hey, guys! The Prince and his friends are here!
Oh, thank you so much!!
Thank you so, so much!!
"Please allow us to suck up to you some more!"
All right, all right. So didn't we come down here for something?
"Nope, not having any of that."
Gladiator: Oh, that's right! The voices!
Yeah, we heard them again! Just a little while ago, we did...
They're coming from over that way...
It's a bit hard to tell who is speaking, since they're all called "Gladiator."
Let's get crackin'! Unless they're ghosts. In that case, we'll get exorcisin'.
Gladiator: Thank you.
The scene ends.
Sorry we've dragged you into this, Your Highness.
We can now talk...
Gladiator (2): Your Highness... Thanks for coming to help us out!
...to the rest of the gladiators...
Gladiator (3): Hmm... I coulda sworn there were more of us down here... Is someone out doing some late-night training for the Games?
...as well as Lyon.
Where could those voices be coming from?
However, what we need to do in order to progress the story is .
Sounds like it's coming from the other side...
???: Do you really think... get away with...?
That's definitely an Armes accent.
Here... Looks like there's a hidden door here, just like the other one.
???: ...you're the only... count on...
How many are there?
Two... no, three, I think...
What did they say?!
???: Who's there?!
It's Prime Time, motherfuckers! (music)
And here's a familiar face!
Suspicious Man: Hey! W-Withdraw!
Suspicious Man: Huh? R-Right!
Same as the other generics, they're all Mysterious Men.
Stationary targets are boring! Want action! (music)
Right! Let's hunt 'em down!
Good, because we're going to have to have a little talk later. I'm used to people going on about how they want to bang my mum, but I draw the line at murder!
The rest of the dungeon is just a corridor with a couple of bends here and there, but there are no side passages or anything, and the enemies are all the same ones we've already seen, so...
...we soon reach the other side.
Fresh air! Finally! Oh, and mysterious men, too.
I suppose we should deal with them.
Suspicious Man: Damn you guys! Get off our backs!
Suspicious Man: That's it! You asked for it, you lousy runts!
The Suspicious Men are a step up from what we've faced up until now, and this one actually survives a blow from Georg! But only one.
By the way Wind of Sleep still sucks.
Shoon is catching up! Also as you can see from the little squares under the character portraits, Suikoden V does not top up your MP when you level up and gain more of them. (Those bastards! )
Suspicious Man: Gunghhh...
Are these guys really from Armes?
We'll have to check, but probably...
A quick fade later, we're back in the arena. (music)
They had daggers with them that were carved with the seal of the Armes Southern Mountain Corps.
Aaaghhh! How could this be happening?!
Zegai!!! Why? Why?! Why were you with Armes spies?!
Are you mocking me?! Answer me!!!
Euram flails uselessly.
I'm not sure Zegai could even feel that.
Zegai may only be a representative, but if he had won the Games, Her Majesty would have greeted him in person. They were probably making plans to assassinate the Queen and the Princess then.
WHY?! Didn't I tell you that if you won the tournament, I'd give you luxury for the rest of your life? What more did you want? How could you even THINK about hurting the Queen and the sweet, little Princess?!
I'll say one thing for Euram: I'm pretty sure he's entirely blameless here. He's not clever enough to come up with an assassination scheme, and he is, for better or worse, far too fond of the princess to put it into action even if he did.
Euram, this has nothing to do with living a life of luxury. One of the others has just confessed. Zegai here is...
What did you say?!
Zegai! Is that really true?!
I... I don't believe it! Zegai... To think I trusted you!
P-Prince! I-I-I didn't know! Neither Dad nor I knew anything about it! I swear! You've got to believe me!
Either he's telling the truth, or he's aiming to win the Oscars.
All of them.
I agree with the Prince.
That's right. Respect my judgment.
If Lord Barows was the one behind all of this, there'd be no reason for him to contact Armes spies here, of all places.
They could've easily made plans somewhere else, and then Euram could've simply just given the orders to Zegai.
That's right. The Barows family would not go to such lengths, now would they?
...I dunno. Does this-
-look like a trustworthy face to you?
Of... Of course not! We would never, ever do anything like that!
Well! I knew you would all understand!
Right then! Since I obviously had nothing to do with this outrageousness, I should very well be on my way...
It should hardly come as a surprise. Regents tend to take a dim view on this kind of activities.
If he was plotting the assassination of the Queen... there'd be no question he'd get capital punishment.
Still, something doesn't sit quite right about this...
But we couldn't sully the holy Sacred Games with the blood of a criminal, so execution would take place afterward. Until then, we'll confine him to this room. It's late now. Everyone should go back to their rooms and get some rest.
We will, after a quick check-up.
Zegai isn't talking. Fine, have it your way.
I always looked up to Zegai... I respected him! He was strong! And it seemed like the only thing he ever wanted was an honest fight.
Just when you think you know someone...
You played a large part in preventing Armes' plot, but so, too, did Shoon. I think it best we overlook the little matter of his escape.
Gizel is being reasonable! Now I'm really sure something's off here.
Capital punishment?! How could they...
Quite easily, I imagine? But like the man said, it won't be for some time yet.
After Frey leaves, Shoon and Gizel soon follow.
The prince and friends have retreated to one of their rooms upstairs.
Something fishy is definitely going on, and even Frey and Lyon have caught on to it. Like I said before, we're not playing a bunch of idiots here.
We couldn't just stand there and do nothing...
It'll be impossible for Euram to find a representative as good as Zegai at this point. He'll probably have to withdraw. And if he does... the one with the best chance of winning the tournament is...
Speaking of whom... (music)
I wanted to hear your thoughts.
My thoughts you say?
That's right. Are you happy with all of this?
All I did, Father, was simply to float a little information about Stormfist's underground passage and Zegai. I can't help it if Armes took the bait, or if they got Barows mixed up in it and brought destruction to themselves... And I can't help it if the Prince got himself involved and turned it into a delightful show.
When you get involved in intrigue, do it decisively. But I'm warning you, it's best to not get too involved...
Yes, I know.
Indeed, I'll be ready to reveal our grand "cause" at the Sacred Games...
Marscal seems less than convinced...
Shoon outfit notes. Nothing really interesting to say here.