Part 72: Can you imagine any greater miracle than this?
Welcome back. Last time, we delved deep into the depths of the sealed area beneath Grancel. On our way down, we took down Amalthea one last time, and then finally, made our way to bottom level. It's time to end this.
In fact, I couldn't see any scenario in which you would do otherwise.
Colonel Richard... At the Queen's request, we're here to put a stop to your plan.
It doesn't look like the Gospel's working yet. We may still have time, if we act now.
Hmm-hmm... I'm afraid not.
Wh-why not?! What is this [Aureole] thing in the first place?! Why is getting it so important to you?!
One of those treasures was the Aureole, the Shining Ring. If it's true that it really existed and was no mere myth... ...do you realize what it could mean for the country? Can you even begin to comprehend?
[For the country]...?
You're talking about using these ancient weapons to intimidate other countries...
That must be it.
As you are, no doubt, aware, Liberl is lacking in political power among our neighboring nations. We have only a fifth of Calvard's population. And we don't even have an eighth of Erebonia's military capacity. Our sole superior aspect is our technology, and that will not last.
We need some form of real strength to avoid any chance of another invasion attempt.
Th-that doesn't mean we should count on some weirdo ancient weapon thingy! What about the outcome of the war ten years ago?!
That happened because we had Cassius Bright with us.
But he has left the military. The country's great champion is gone.
And so, the only ones who may enact miracles are the Goddess herself, and the hero beloved by her.
That is why I established the Intelligence Division. It seems that information is our last bastion of protection against our enemies. But in order to make the Intelligence Division as effective as possible, I've searched all over Liberl to find some sort of decisive strength. Something that would invoke another miracle, should disaster strike the nation again.
And THIS is your miracle?
Of course. Can you imagine any greater miracle than this?
...but that doesn't mean being so powerful that everyone else is cowed into submission. The greatest miracle of all is when people band together, and fight to protect what they love.
My dad's just one man. He didn't beat the Imperial army on his own. It took a lot of people working like crazy together to protect the country. And it's the work of all those people that brought the war to an end.
One thing I like is that the back story of the game is rich enough that this isnt just empty rhetoric. Cassius may have devised the strategy used to fight back the Empire, but his strategy was dependant on the recent development of airships far more advanced than anything the empire had to offer by the Central Factory and the researchers there. And General Morgan was the one who took command of executing Cassius' stratagem. And this doesn't even account for all the average soldiers who fought the empire.
Furthermore, a potential wave of reinforcements from the Empire was quashed by a pledge of support from the Calvard Republic and other neighboring countries in favor of Liberl. This, incidentally, goes hand in hand with the Queen claiming the way to prosperity isn't through militarism as Richard believes, but cooperation and exchange between nations. It's not the most complex of discourses, but it's consistent and thematically relevant.
We still feel the same, here and now. When we found out what you were planning, we didn't get it...
But it's our will to help people that's led us here. Don't you think that's miracle enough?
Even if it's not... We still believe that there's potential in anyone, heck, everyone.
If another war should break out in the future... ...people will do the same thing: they'll work together and do what has to be done to make it through.
I don't know much about this ancient power, but I DO know that we can count on our fellow Liberlians!
Well said, Estelle. Your outlook is admirable.
I agree with you completely...
Ha ha... You are strong, indeed. Sadly, not everyone is like you. When face to face with an incredible power...it is a temptation that is simply too much to bear. And I have put in far too much time and effort, all for this...
...Just answer me one question. How did you know about this place, Colonel?
A forbidden power, dormant for untold centuries...unknown even to Her Majesty... To say nothing of the elevator, right beneath the Treasury, that leads straight here...
It seems extremely unlikely that you'd have found out about this place just by using the resources of the Intelligence Division.
Also, this Gospel... A mysterious orbment, far more powerful than even the finest ever made in the Zeiss Central Factory... Where did you get it?
...I don't have to answer that.
Wrong! You don't want to answer, because you CAN'T answer!
Wh-what do you mean...?
You simply believed that the Aureole would be here. AND that, if you used the Black Orbment, you could control it. But you have no idea when or how you came to that belief, do you?! Am I wrong?!
B-but that can't... You mean you lost your memory, just like those other people?!
S-So what?! It doesn't matter HOW I got here...just that I'm here now. And look around you... I found what I was looking for, didn't I? These ancient constructs could never have been crafted with present-day techniques! So...I must continue down my chosen path!
If you truly believe in the path YOU'VE chosen, then try to stop me! Succeed or fail, one dream will be realized, while another crumbles to dust.
Bring it on!
If this is how it must be, then you'll be given no quarter!
And it's finally time to fight Richard. First, though, I've been saying I'll talk about Richard's character when it becomes appropriate, and by now, it finally is. So let's do that. Have the boss music to listen to while I talk, though.
Right. Part of the reason Richard works as a villain is that he avoids one of the pitfalls of supposedly sympathetic villains by having a motive that is understandable but not justifiable. He doesn't want to destroy mankind because events in his life have convinced him that it's irredeemable, or any of the more typical cliches. He just wants to protect the country he loves, at any cost. After all, great evils committed in the name of misguided nationalism is hardly an invention of video games.
He also gets some interesting characterization throughout. Richard's fatal flaw - as exemplified by his claim that part of the reason the Shining Ring is necessary is because Cassius is no longer with the service - is that he considers himself incapable and unable to live up to the standards set by those who came before him. See his line to Lorence when they first enter the Sealed Area:
Ha ha... I still have a ways to go before I can really humble anyone, I'm afraid.
I find this line sums up his character quite well. He doesn't believe in his own skills, but despite that, aims to do what he thinks needs to be done. This attitude undercuts nearly everything he says or does, and gives him a sort of human sincerity that he could easily be lacking if he were all righteousness, all the time. Instead, his frequently righteous and confident attitude comes across as bluster, with Richard needing to affirm to himself that he's capable of accomplishing his goals.
This leads to one of the big thematic points of the game. As you may have noticed (), Cassius is continuously built up to an almost untouchable figure - the perfect soldier, the genius strategist, etc. And then we talk to the Queen and we find out, yes, Cassius was in many ways all that. But, at the end of the day, he was also a person. He saved the country but he lost his wife. He's not just a untouchable ideal. Richard is blatantly incapable of seeing this, and holds onto an warped view of his mentor. Contrast our chat with him to our chat with the Queen. Richard talks about how Cassius was a peerless soldier who saved the nation, while the Queen talks about his wife and who he was as a person.
This also sets him up as a counterpoint to Estelle. Both our set up as successors to Cassius (as his protege and daughter respectively), but while Richard views the previous generation as impossible to live up to, Estelle, to put it bluntly, doesn't. (She actually views her Dad as some kind of nefarious mastermind dedicated to ruining her day, but that's neither here nor there.) Throughout the game, a lot is made about how she's following in Cassius' footsteps and how she's fairly similar to Cassius. The contrast carries through to their designs: Estelle fights with a staff, Richard a sword (Remember what Julia said about Cassius' reason for giving up the sword). Estelle has a similar color scheme to her Dad, while Richard has a stark black and blond color scheme. This is already getting way too long, but I'll just add briefly that as much as Estelle takes after her old man, she's not just Cassius' daughter. Omobono made a good post about this earlier in the thread, which I'll just link to so I don't need to make an argument myself
Anyway, wrapping this spiel up, the point is that while Richard proves incapable of carrying the burden set by the previous generation, Estelle is, and this is only the first game. And that's why this next section is Estelle kicking Richard's ass, and not vice versa.
I think we were about to fight or something? Richard has a lot of HP, and is accompanied by two high leveled Photon Judges.
The Photon Judges can use Atomic Missile to do damage to a radius, as well as their old tricks:
Donkey Missile to do mediocre damage to an area, with a chance of sealing arts, and AA Canceller to impede casting.
Are you ready for the best goddamn S-Craft in the game?
You think you're clever?
Die... with honor!
It's so amazingly over the top, I love it. While Afterglow Smasher isn't quite a one-hit kill, it'll be enough to finish off any weakened party members.
Kloe managed to build up 200 CP without ever needing to use Radiant Plash during the dungeon crawl, so let's show off her defense buff:
It's actually incredibly effective. I've mentioned it before, but buffs are really hard to come by, requiring a byzantine combination of quartz for a single target buff spell, so I tend to forget just how effective they are. Thanks Kloe! Anyway, let's see what Alan can do:
Luminous Wheel does decent damage to a group of party members.
Luminous Divide does good damage to one target, while...
Luminous Ogre Slash does slightly worse damage, but can cause faint.
Anyway, Richard might be Luminous, but he isn't that tough. He doesn't do enough area damage, or high enough single target damage to ever actually wipe you, so long as the Photon Judges are dead. So kill them first.
Between Black Fang, Barrage, and excessive casting, doing that won't talk too long. Once they're gone, there's only one thing left to do. And there's only person to do the honors.
And there we have it. Also Joshua died, but at this point, isn't that more appropriate than if he didn't?
But it appears...you are too late.
It's the light that shut down the mayor's artifact...!
It's the Orbal Shutdown Phenomenon, but it's not like before... It feels like something was released...
Voice: All personnel... Warning...
That thing is talking...
Voice: Confirmed [Gospel] has been activated.
Voice: [Device Towers] have been enabled.
The first barrier... The sealed Aureole device... What's this all about, Colonel?!
I...I don't know... I didn't expect...
Voice: Destruction of seal on Ring Guardians confirmed.
Voice: All personnel should evacuate the sealed area immediately...
Stay on your toes! These are the Ring Guardians!
Are these artifacts of the ancients, too...?
I... I can't believe that...
I wasn't mashing buttons like an overactive toddler - the textboxes end immediately, or in some cases, before they even finish.
Alright, let's kill ourselves a giant mechanical monster!
The Right Forceps casts offensive magic, and is immune to magic itself, while the Left Forceps is immune to physical attacks and spends it turns casting Teara.
Our strategy for dealing with them is pretty obvious: Let our casters use White Gehanna on Reverie and the Left Forceps, while the physical attackers (i.e Estelle) wail on (and use S-Crafts on), the Right Forceps.
Reverie itself mainly bombards us with it's head turrets, although he does have one other trick up his
The Forceps are pretty much just a time waster - With our extremely magic proficient team, the Left goes down fast, after spending a couple turns offsetting a little bit of the damage we've done to Reverie.
The Right - while slightly more durable, isn't a threat either.
Reverie's other trick is to charge his laser. It takes a while for him to use it, but you do NOT want to be in way of it when he fires. You can, as you can maybe see, see the area of effect of the laser. The only way it'll hit you is if you don't get a turn between him charging and firing, of if you're just very, very dumb. Or, in my case, showing things off for the LP.
Joshua eats the hit, but shockingly enough, doesn't die for once.
And down goes the Right Forceps. With the Forceps done, it's a quick race to the finish.
Although he's not going down that easily.
He's not going down that hard either, though.
Looks like it still has some power left in it. Watch out!
And now the REAL battle starts.
Reverie has a lot tricks this fight, so let's start with his most common. He can summon Alpha Drones, 1200 HP enemies which cast high level magic if you leave them alone. Black Fang does a fantastic job of clearing them out, which is why I left the Gladiator Belt on Joshua.
They self destruct when you kill them, which is another reason Black Fang is perfect for them, since Joshua stays stationary when he uses it.
Death Rage is - for all intents and purposes - its S-Craft. At our level, it's a guaranteed one hit kill against anyone.
This is the last battle, so feel free to delve into your supplies. Celestial Balms, random healing foods: Everything must go!
This is nice, since Reverie can use a super version of AA Canceler, impeding all arts.
He's quite the fan of Death Rage. And here we have Joshua's first death of the fight.
And here's his second.
And here's his third. Reverie fucking hates Joshua.
Once you've taken out a third of its HP, it can no longer use AA Canceller. Yay?
Nay, because it can do this now!
First he charges. When he does this, heal! Nobody should be even slightly damaged during what's about to happen.
Oh crap, I just put him on a critical space for his upcoming move. This is bad. This is very bad. This is going to aspire to just be catastrophic.
After using Annhilation, Reverie becomes vulnerable, with reduced defenses. We're all dead though, so it hardly matters. Let's try this again!
Some things never change.
This is a very JRPGish final fight. It's got adds, it's got instant death attacks, it's got neat gimmicks like Annihilation. And, like in so many JRPGish final fights, the best strategy is just to use everything you've got. Build your characters with the best quartz possible for their roles in the fight, cast your best magic, use all your items - just go all out and you should win, even if you die along the way. We've got so many healing items that unless we wipe instantly like you just saw, we should always be able to get back on our feet.
Like it's first form, Reverie has a giant laser attack. It's actually a fair bit worse - it does less damage and reduces Reverie's defense when he uses it, although it charges quicker.
Once it reaches 33% HP, it can no longer use Annihilation, or its laser attack. Instead, it can summon Beta Drones, which have 600 more HP then Alpha Drones. He'll also start bombarding you with his head cannon again, doing more damage and delays your next turn. Anyway, go nuts and finish it off!
And so, Estelle staffs a giant mechanical monstrosity to death.
D-did we beat it...?
Y-yeah... Or at least, none of the parts are moving anymore.
Seems like its goal was to destroy this facility... to destroy the seat of the Aureole... When the Aureole was sealed, it was sealed along with it. Disabled, but set to be reactivated if anyone tried to take the artifact...
Maybe the ancients were in dispute over the Aureole themselves...
But...where is it, then...?
I'll deal with this! Get out of here, NOW!
You barely survived fighting this thing the last time I'm still ready for combat! I can buy you some time at least!
He really did learn his techniques from Dad...
What are you doing?! GO! NOW!
What should we do?!
D-don't...worry about it... My plan may have ended in failure...
Man's Voice: If you think of this as a hopeless battle, then that's exactly what it will be! Have you forgotten everything I taught you?
It can't be...
Now! Finish him off!
We're dropped into a fight with a 5000HP Reverie, with a full charged S-Craft per party member. You don't get to do this extra little bit of slaughter if you haven't hit Bracer Rank 5, with Cassius (presumably) telling you to go fingerpaint in the corner while the grown ups take care of things. Rank 5 is an incredibly low bar (if I did my math right, hitting Rank 5 requires three more BP than what you would have if you did no sidequests and messed up every chance for extra BP), so you shouldn't have any troubles seeing this.
Now... Light of the heavens, heal these battered wings! Radiant Plash!
This doesn't help at all, but I'm sure she appreciates being included.
Let me show you the true essence of beauty.
This ends here!
It's been quite a while...
You've still got a long way to go, but I can see that your training has paid off.
I suppose I'll give you a passing grade...this time.
Enough! Don't give me that! What are you even doing here?!
Perhaps I just wanted to see the ending?
What do you mean by [ending]?
Ha ha... I see you're just as cheerful as ever, Dad.
Huh... Well, you look like you've gotten taller... Has looking after Estelle been as difficult as I think it has?
What's that supposed to mean?!
Depends on the day, really.
But to be fair, she looks out for me, too. It balances out.
Good, good... It sounds like it's been a worthwhile journey.
Hm... It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Cassius Bright. My name is Olivier. I am a traveling musician from the Empire.
Is that so...?
When time permits, I should like to discuss a few things with you. In the meantime, please know that you have my thanks for assisting my son and daughter.
Think nothing of it. It's been a worthwhile pursuit.
Nevertheless, I am impressed by your skill. It is rare that one gets to watch a living legend at work.
Ha ha... Well, I'm still working on it, myself.
It's been quite a long time, Mr. Cassius...
Yes, Your Highness... Roughly six months, I believe. I'd heard of your imprisonment, but I am glad to see you well.
Ha ha... Well, you can thank Estelle and company for coming to my rescue. By the way, Estelle and Joshua were in the year's play at the Royal Academy. I wish you could have been there to see it.
Oh, really...? I do wish I could have been there for THAT.
This really isn't the time for chit-chat!
I swear, you just pop up out of nowhere at just the right moment to make the most dramatic entrance you can...
Well, after you went on ahead, we were surrounded by a horde of those mechanized monsters. We managed to keep them at bay somehow or another, though... and here we are!
In any case, it seems like all affairs have been set in order.
Much remains to be done, but this, at least, has been resolved.
B-but... Isn't the Intelligence Division's battalion getting close to the castle by now?
No doubt... Along with patrol ships.
Dad, did you check out the situation on the surface before coming down here?
Yes, and you've no need to worry about that. General Morgan said that he has the situation under control. And with Cid's help, this craziness will be quelled in no time.
Richard: You knew this day was coming, didn't you? And you've been training for it...
We'd placed General Morgan under strict observation... Cid couldn't risk defying us because we held his family hostage... Yet both you freed from our grasp...
Mmm, I suppose I did.
However, Richard... That's about all I've done. Even had I not returned, they would have been able to handle it themselves.
No...you're wrong. You're a hero...
You left the military...left all of us... What were we supposed to do...? I didn't think we could survive another invasion... So...I had to find something else we could rely on.
If you had stayed in the service, it never would have come to this...
Stop being such a child, Richard! You're the one who made the mistake of never letting go of the delusions you had about me! For all your schemes, why could you never stand on your own two feet?! I thought it would be okay to retire! I thought I could comfortably leave the army in your care!
I'm not an icon to be hailed. A decade ago, you and General Morgan helped me, and we were victorious. But...I'm no more than a man who's run away from reality without protecting the things that are important to him.
But I have no intention of running any more.
That's why I expect the same from you, Richard. I want you to think about this whole mess. Think about what you did wrong, and how you can atone for it. You'll have plenty of time, believe me...