Part 22: CH22: StepsCH22: Steps
So last time we got the party together (except for Hubert). This opens up a sidequest.
: I wonder who wrote it?
: Huh? It's addressed to me.
: Is it from someone in Lhant?
: It doesn't say who it's from.
: Are you going to read it?
: I don't know if I should...
: It's addressed to you, yeah? So then what's the big deal?
: All right, let's see what it says...
: Dear Asbel, How long has it been since we last saw each other? When I hear of your exploits at the Knight Academy, I'm struck by a desire to see you. Recently I even snuck down there to pay you a visit!
Unfortunately, you were already gone when I arrived. I asked after you, but was told only that you wouldn't be returning for some time. Thinking that you might have returned home, I immediately made for Lhant, but you weren't to be found here either.
So I decided the best course of action was to write you this letter. I figured that if I post a request at the manor, you'd be the likeliest man to find it. I hope I'm right.
Things at home are as messy as ever, so this may be the last letter I'm able to send. I would very much like to see you again, but I know your life is busy, and I don't want to trouble you. Take care, and know that I treasure our friendship above all else.
: Look at the date. It's more than a year old.
: Sounds like the writer was in quite a fix.
: Do you think it was written by...?
: There's only one person who would think to hide a letter here. He must have been seeking my help...
: Asbel? Let's come here again. The three of us.
: Yeah. And then we can stand under this tree, and make another friendship pact.
: (That's not it, Asbel. Richard wasn't seeking your help. He just wanted to see you again. Even if it meant putting his life in danger by leaving the castle...)
: You okay, Cheria?
: Y-Yes. I'm fine.
: (I know, because I was the same way...)
We get a letter which we turn in as an inn request for a good chunk of SP.
: Sophie wished to see the item Hubert had given Asbel.
: Must be nice to get a charm from your little bro!
: That's funny... When Asbel first entered the academy, he talked about his brother all the time.
: Captain, come on. We don't need to bring all that up now.
: I want to hear it!
: Me too.
: Asbel's brother had been sent to Strahta, and he worried about him constantly. Was he lonely? Was he being bullied?
His brother was a quiet sort, and Asbel worried others would mistake that for weakness.
You even sent him a letter, if I remember correctly.
: Yeah, but...I never got a reply...
: I'm sure he knew you were thinking of him.
: I hope so.
: Here's the charm back. It's a special gift from Hubert. I'm sure it will protect you.
: Thanks, brother.
Okay, we're almost to the port. Let's hurry.
Skit: Meet the Oswells
: I heard it was covered in sand, but... Asbel? What are you doing?
: You seem awfully nervous.
: Ooooo! Someone's freakin' out about meeting the new family!
: N-No! It's not like that! I just... I don't want to say anything rude.
: It looks like Strahtan soldiers are guarding the port.
: We can take that boat to Strahta.
Skit: What Real Women Eat
: I should point out here that these "sea voyages" aren't very long. Really more like ferry trips than a sea voyage you'd be used to.
: Is the explanation something that'll be important later?
: You already know the answer.
: Good idea. I bet the cafeteria on board will be expensive.
: You should eat something too, Sophie. Because if you decide you're hungry later, it'll be too late once we're onboard.
: Okay, I understand.
: You too, Pascal.
: Yeah, whatevs. I'm not hungry!
: That doesn't matter. Eat something!
: They aren't even selling anything good around here!
: What's wrong with grilled chicken?
: Well, you know, I'm not into greasy stuff.
: You like grilled chicken, Cheria?
: Of course! It's like they say, "real women eat chicken!"
: Only you say that.
: The party left for Strahta, unaware of how critical things were becoming.
: Oh! I thought I'd lost this. ...Thank you.
: Is it the same sopheria I gave you?
: Huh?! Um, well...yeah. It is. Is that okay?
: The times we spent together are some of my favorite memories. And after everyone left and I was alone, I used those memories to keep going.
: I honestly never thought we'd be together again...
: I understand. I'm happy we're all together again, too.
: I don't think you understand anything...
: Your Majesty, you should rest! I must insist that you return to your room at once.
: I'm fine. There is no need.
: But Sire! You are still recovering from the grievous wounds you've received!
: I am not a normal human... Dalen.
: What does that mean?
: I am the king of Windor. Do not think to equate me with mere commoners.
: And I know just what to do... There is great power here in Windor.
And not just here...
: So, is my guess about where this is going right?
Young Man: Unfortunately, the road is currently blocked by the Rockgagong.
: It's a large monster with a rock-like appearance. Still, this is odd. I'd heard that the Rockgagong was an intelligent and docile creature that never troubled humans.
Young Man: Normally that's true. But right now it's rampaging on the highroad between Sable Izolle and the capital. It's a dangerous situation, so the military has closed the highroad to all through traffic.
: Thank you for informing us.
: I'm impressed you know so much about the local wildlife, Captain.
: I spent time here before joining the knights. The Rockgagong is beloved among the citizens of Strahta.
: Sooooo what's the plan, Asbel?
: Hard to say without knowing more about the situation. For now, let's head for the town of Sable Izolle.
While we're here, let's save a kid from bullies.
Child: This guy talks funny, and it's startin' to tick me off!
Child: I'm gonna be more careful about how I talk, too.
Turtelz Tot: How couldz they bully someone as cute as a Turtlez? Thiz iz a black day for societyz! Please, youz gotta helpz me! I'll give youz a rewardz and everythin'!
Help the Turtlez Tot? Yes No Of course pick yes.
Turtelz Tot: Thankz, pal! Your pretty swellz what for a human. And 'cause I'm so thankful, I'll tellz ya a secret... Hehe... It ain't every day you getz prime infoz like thiz!♪
We get the Turtlez Tot's Note, which tells us "X:366, Y:172". This isn't useful yet, but veteran JRPG players know what's up.
Skit: Never Surrender
: When we first saw him again, he seemed like the same Richard we knew before. But soon after that, his personality began to change.
: I wonder what happened to him?
: The last time we saw him, back at Lhant, I could barely recognize him.
: Hmm... It's possible he may never return to the man he used to be.
: That's not true!
: Richard will come back. Everything will be like it was before! ...And the same goes for Hubert! I just know it!
: Don't worry. I'm not giving up on them.
Skit: The Sweet Taste of Deceit
: There aren't any liars in our group, Pascal.
: Well, we can try it out. Everyone give it a lick!
: I can't wait to see who's a big fat liar! *Smack, smack*
: I'm up. *Smack, smack*
: Mmnnn... *Smack, smack*
: Very well... *Smack, smack*
: If I must... *Smack, smack*
: Whaa! Sooo salty and gross! Plech! Blech! ...What about you, Asbel?
: Blaaargh. Yeah, salty. I had too much.
: (Everyone could taste it?)
: It's salty, isn't it Cheria?
: Uh... WOW! IT IS SO SALTY! Pppplleeeeecccchhhh!
: Cheria, you're acting a little odd.
: Huh? What? No I'm not, I'm fine. Let's talk about Captain Malik instead! ...Are you okay? You need to watch your blood pressure.
Skit: What's a Rockgagong
: It's no mere monster. It wouldn't be a fair fight for us humans.
: Do you have any idea why, Captain Malik?
: It's just something I've heard. I suspect we'll understand as soon as we lay eyes on it.
Incidentally you have no idea how hard I have to fight to not spell it "Rockagong".
Skit: Survival Skills
: What's wrong? Why are you sighing like that?
: My throat is soooo dry! I'm gonna keel over from this crazy heat! Aren't you all worried and stuff, Captain?
: Perhaps we should seek aid from this cactus.
: The ability to store water has made the Strahta Cactus a vital resource for the people here.
You just cut into it...like this... And there you go! Clean, fresh water.
: It's the quenchiest.
: You're amazing, Captain!
: Want some?
: Oh, please! I'm so thirsty. I owe you, Captain!
: *Glug, glug* ...Blech!
: *Glug, glug* Urgh!
: How was it? Tasty?
: Warm and gross...
: It tastes green.
: Again? Actually, I don't think we've met before.
Scholar: You government types are all the same! You fake like you're friendly, but really all you want is my book of rare creatures!
: Why is the government interested in a book?
Scholar: Ha! Only because it contains detailed information on every creature in the world.
: For serious?! So what kind of creatures are featured in it?
Scholar: Oh ho, I see how it is! So you're actually interested in the fruits of my research, are you?
: You bet!
: Are all researchers this weird...?
Scholar: This book covers more than just Strahta's creatures, you know. I've traveled the world! For instance...
Rare Creature No. 11! The legendary Bush Baby. A creature that resides deep within the forest.
Namco reference, or maybe Bandai reference. Either way.
: That's an AWESOME name! I bet it would be great for a statue...
Scholar: Rare Creature No. 51! Codename: Quickie. It's sometimes been known to do people's work for them.
Pretty sure it's another reference.
: That would be a huge help when you're busy chanting an arte...
Scholar: ...You seem familiar with these creatures already.
: Huh? No, not me! I'm just shouting out whatever comes into my head.
Scholar: Well, I guess that's okay. But anyway, I've saved the best for last! Attend me! Attend me and be amazed! Rare Creature No. 99! ...Name unknown! This is a new, mysterious creature that was just discovered in Windor!
: What kind of creature is it?
Scholar: They say it's a bipedal human-like creature that was seen swimming from one end of Lake Grale to the other.
: That's a long way to swim, but... I don't know. It doesn't sound like an especially rare creature.
Scholar: How about you, little lady? Any brilliant comments you'd like to share?
: Nah, not so much. I mean, it was just swimming, yeah?
Scholar: Oh ho! That's where you're wrong, wrong, wrong! For you see, this creature has the ability to VANISH AT WILL!
Scholar: The report says it was seen roaming the thick grass one moment, and then poof! ...It was gone! And all it left behind was a small, strange object resembling an altar. It's my hypothesis that this creature is nothing less than a member of the legendary Amarcians!
: The Amarcians?
Scholar: Indeed! The one and only!
: Actually, that kinda sounds like me.
Scholar: Ridiculous! Absurd! Utterly preposterous on every conceivable level!
: Um, Pascal? Are you saying you swam across Lake Grale?
: Sure did! I was all splash splash splash before heading into the underground ruins.
In fact, when I first met you and Sophie, I had just come out the other side! And then...I touched her! *Squeal!* Oh, and that disappearing thing is just what happens when you use that device to enter the ruins.
: Oh, yeah. That's right.
Scholar: By all that's holy! The real thing is right in front of me, and here I stand running my mouth like an idiot!
: (That's the part you're upset about?)
Scholar: Here. Take the book. I don't deserve to have it.
: Really? Wow! Thanks!
Scholar: Hey, did you hear?! A mysterious creature is reportedly untying Turtlez Transport loads all by itself!
Scholar: Oh, this is terrible! Why, the beast could single-handedly derail the entire Turtlez Transport industry!
Scholar: We're going to investigate at once, but we need your keen mind and cat-like reflexes!
Scholar: I'm on my way!
: Are they sure it's not just someone playing pranks?
: Who knows, my friend? Who knows...
So here's a place we're not supposed to go yet, but can just head over into. I accidentally wandered in my first playthrough and promptly ran back out.
So it's like fighting four of a boss.
Except worse. That was a single hit, not a combo.
Rather than having an escape command, you just run against the edge of the map until you get away.
Now to avoid monsters and loot treasures.
I'm probably not going to abuse these too much.
Skit: Unexplored Ruins
: Looks like an old relic or ruin of some sort...?
: Heyo! Look at that relief around the gate. These must be more Amarcian ruins, yeah?
: Like the ones under Wallbridge?
: You know about these?
: Heck yeah! I've explored tons! Buuuuut, it looks like this entrance is all locked, and I don't see any other entry point...
Guess I'll have to save these for next time, huh?
: You don't mind? It could be a while before we come back.
: Nah, that's fine. I'm just happy we found 'em in the first place.
Let's get ready to CAAAAARTAAAAAAA
I may have cut out a few losses
: Let's ask around. The town-people should know something.
: That sounds like a good idea.
We're not going to do that this update. We're going to play a children's card game
: You mean these?
Carter: Yep! Check out the back. See how each card has a famous quote from the hero on the front? Well, in this game, one person reads the first half of the quote, then the rest of us try to identify which card it's from! And that's how you play Magic Carta!
: Sounds awesome!
: Okay, I'll read the first half.
Carter: Wait! I almost forgot a very important rule. When you read the quote, you have to try and sound like the hero who said it.
: Um...but I don't know who any of these people are.
Carter: Ah, don't worry. A smart kid like you will figure it out in no time.
: Heh... He can handle it.
: Come on, Captain! Help me out here!
: What about you, Pascal? Is that okay?
: Heck yeah! I was famous for my impersonations back home!
Carter: It's Magic Carta time! Ready... Set...
: I'm the one picking them, you know...
So you have to pick the right card before the computer opponent does.
You get special titles for winning the 100, 200, and 300 point games without letting the computer get a single point.
Unfortunately, I may have boned myself since I have almost all the carta, making it really hard to memorize the quotes, rather than having exactly as many as needed. I'll try to do the 200 and 300 point ones anyway at some point in the near-future.
We're getting closer. Also, here's the latest in end-of-battle conversations. Not too many this time, but there weren't many good fights either.