Part 52: You must REALLY want to end up splattered all over the floor.-Labyrinth of Shadows and Light-
I completely forgot a monument right by the plane entrance. Again.
This round of upgrades will give Ries and Estelle another 300 STR. I was wondering why their weapon damage was low.
Richard's secret is that his craft attacks all have an incredibly low delay--lower even than regular attacks, items, or moving. Build up his SPD and he can often get two or three attacks in a row.
This does cost Richard a ton of CP. If only we had some other party members who can hand out CP like candy.
And there's another monument, right between the spot where we found Richard's sealing stone and the area exit.
My, my... That was easy.
You can also buy these at the new monuments if Star Door 7 is giving you any trouble.
Sorry, but you have a suspicious accent.
We got a rumble in the umbral.
There's a path split right here, and I'm going this way even though it's the wrong way.
This teleporter leads to the exit, which I can't reach yet; I'm going to turn on the monument up ahead before I continue.
Now I'll go get Joshua for no real reason, and then I can take that other path.
The Grimoires on this plane are big-time Agate fans.
All right! We rule!
Don't take that tone with me.
Wh-What is that...?
Wh-What's it doing here...?
Wait! Could that stone have Renne inside, then?
I'd say the chances are high.
I certainly wasn't expecting to meet her here, though...
It looks to me to be a large archaism used by Ouroboros... Your reactions say there's more to it than that, however.
You could say that, yeah...
Let's go get that stone.
Ahaha... After all this time, we've finally found you.
You must have spent a long while looking for the person inside.
Then we shouldn't keep you waiting any longer. Let's hurry back to the garden and release them right away.
Yeah... Thanks, Ries.
-The Hermit's Garden-
I can't believe it...
It really is Renne...
It looks like she's fast asleep.
Papa... Mama... Why...?
Oh... This is just a dream...
Estelle? Joshua and Tita, too?
Teehee... What a nice dream this is.
Oh, silly Estelle... You're supposed to be older than me. You shouldn't be acting like a clingy child.
You're so warm, though...and you smell so nice... It's almost like this isn't a dream at a--
Wh-What's going on?!
What are you doing here?!
No. Never mind that...
What am -I- doing here?!
It's okay, Renne. I'm going to explain now, so try and stay calm, okay? You see, we're not sure how it happened, either, but...
D-Don't come any closer!
If you take another step towards me, I WILL kill you!
I'll try and handle this, Estelle. Do you mind taking a step back?
I'm happy to see you again, Renne.
How've you been all this time?
How is that any of your business?!
You're just as bad as Estelle is, Joshua! Why won't you two leave me alone and stop following me around?!
I figured you must have noticed...
You're right. For the past few months, we've been traveling around trying to find you. We're in Crossbell at the moment, too. Are we getting warmer?
Y-You're in Crossbell?!
Why? Why do you want to find me so much?!
We just want a chance to talk with you.
We heard from a reliable source that you haven't been back to Ouroboros since we last fought... Is that true?
What's that got to to with either of you?!
All I want is to be left alone! I don't want to talk to either of you. I don't even want to SEE you! So why won't you just leave me be?!
Sorry, Renne. This one's on me.
Ever since you flew off, I haven't been able to get you off my mind. I've been getting Joshua to look into where you might be, and we've been going around chasing down every possible lead.
But that's why I'm so happy to finally be able to see you again like this.
Heehee. Oh, I get it now.
You're lying, aren't you? Really, all of that's just a cover for the fact you're trying to capture me.
Sorry to disappoint you, but I only know about as much as Joshua does about Ouroboros. Even if you catch me, you're not going to get anything useful out of me...and even if I did know lots of dirty secrets, I wouldn't tell you.
I bet you feel really stupid for wasting your time now.
W-Wait a second! That's not...!
Or are you going to try your luck anyway? You've sure brought a lot of familiar faces for backup.
Even I might have trouble taking on THIS many people at once...
...but I'm confident I'll leave at least a few of you headless before I end up beaten.
You've gotta be kidding me...
What're we supposed to do, Schera?
Don't ask me... This doesn't look good.
Well, I think I know who you are now.
Ouroboros Enforcer No. XV, the Angel of Slaughter, correct?
You certainly DO know me. I don't know you, though. Are you a knight of the church?
Yes. I'm Ries Argent, a squire.
And while I may not be very familiar with your circumstances, would it hurt you to behave less like a self-centered child?
E-Excuse me? Did you call me a self-centered child?!
From what I've heard, your intelligence and deductive reasoning have few peers. That led to you joining Ouroboros, obtaining both the current rank and abilities you now have.
So unless I'm wrong, I find it very hard to believe you haven't already figured out that this isn't a trap we've set to capture you.
And yet you still expect us to waste our time and humor your little temper tantrum? So yes--I DID call you a self-centered child.
D-Damn. She sure doesn't mince words...
My... You're a brave one, aren't you, miss?
Did I hear a lowly squire like you trying to provoke an Enforcer like me?
You must REALLY want to end up splattered all over the floor.
I could say the same to you.
I have no idea why everyone else here regards you favorably, but I, for one, have no interest in being friends with someone from Ouroboros.
So if a battle is what you want, I will be more than happy to oblige.
A templar sword, huh? Those can certainly be a rude awakening in the right hands.
Of course, everyone else who's ever tried to challenge me with one ended up being quite predictable after a while.
Before long, they were all begging me for mercy like pigs about to be slaughtered. It was ever so pitiful. Teehee. I can't wait to hear you do the same.
Do you actually want to fight, or do you only intend to stand around trying to sound threatening?
I suppose that IS enough talking.
C-Come on, you tw--
W-Wait a sec!
-The Whereabouts of Bonds-
Why are the two of you so desperate to try and fight when you KNOW you don't really want to?
Renne! You were trying to make it sound like you don't care about Estelle and Joshua, but deep down you're happy to see them again, and you know it! And Ries! You've already realized that Renne's not actually a bad person. It doesn't matter if she's from Ouroboros!
I'm happy? Of course I'm not. Why would I possibly b--
Then why did you look so happy when Estelle hugged you?!
Right up until the moment you realized this was all real, you were acting like it was the best dream you'd ever had! And now you're saying that you don't want to talk to them? That you don't want to see them?
H-Hold on a minute, Tita...
And that's not true at all...
That's not true at all, so just ADMIT IT!
*sniffle*... *sniffle*... *sniffle*...
I swear, she just cut my life short about ten years. What the hell was she thinkin'?
Look at you. Honestly...
I thought you were a year older than me, you know?
And yet here you are, crying away. You're not setting a very good example.
*hic* I can't help it! What am I supposed to do when you guys finally see each other again and all you do is end up fighting? *sniffle* That's just...*hic*...too sad...
*sigh* What are you...crying for...?
Why did you have to...?
You know the answer to that already, Renne. It's because she likes you.
Hey, Renne? I know we've still got our differences, but how about we put all of that aside and call a truce for now?
As I'm sure you can tell, we're in the middle of a really messy situation right now. And however you got here, you've ended up being dragged right into it with us.
I'd say it's in all our best interests to work together. At least until we get out of here, anyway. What do you say?
That's certainly true. There's still plenty we don't know about our predicament.
Having someone with your intellect on our side may well help us to fill in the remaining blanks. In fact, I would greatly welcome your assistance.
Yeah! I'm with the colonel!
I'm not a colonel, Estelle...
Regardless, I think it would be in your best interests to work with us, too. Cooperating will allow you to gather information more efficiently, as well as make it easier for you to ensure your own safety.
That's true... It's obvious that wherever we are, it's somewhere unnatural. So it goes without saying that having me around would be a big help to all of you.
...All right. Out of respect for Tita's bravery, I'll spare you all this time.
Fill me in on exactly what's going on here.
J-Just so we're clear, I haven't decided whether I'm going to work with you or not yet!
All I'm promising is to listen to your explanation of what's happening. THEN I'll decide if I'll help.
-The Hermit's Garden-
Whoever chose this place's name couldn't have picked a better one, couldn't they?
Have you figured something out that we hadn't?
Possibly. I'm still not completely certain yet.
But I'm relatively confident in my theory after hearing the colonel's story, though.
Mm-hmm. My own experience was the same as everyone else's: ending up here after being surrounded by a sudden white light.
But you say you weren't wearing your uniform when it happened to you, right, Colonel?
(How many times must I...? Well, whatever.)
I wasn't. As I explained to everyone when I first arrived, I was wearing a shirt and slacks, as I do every other day at work.
Right. Just checking. So, then, tell me something.
Would you say you have quite a strong emotional attachment to that uniform?
Teehee. Oh, that's a definite yes.
It's a symbol of your past--the past you just can't quite move on from, even though you need to. Am I right?
Yes, you are.
It's no surprise you feel that way from my perspective.
And lo and behold, the moment you appeared in this world, you were wearing that very same uniform again.
Whatever do you think that could mean?
... That would mean when I arrived here, my attachment to that past ended up being manifested as reality...
In other words, this world is capable of changing based on people's thoughts.
Haha. NOW it makes sense.
N-Not to me, it doesn't!
Can you explain in slightly less complicated terms for the rest of us?
It's actually a really simple thing.
You remember how Luciola used a Gospel to make you experience a dream, right?
The dreams we saw were different depending on what we wanted to see, too.
Of course, unlike that, this isn't a dream...but the concept is basically the same.
Anyway, just like in Luciola's dream worlds, this world changes depending on what the people inside it want. It also happens to recreate places that exist in their memories, too. It all falls into place nicely once you simplify it, doesn't it?
So it does...
It explains the monuments we've encountered and how the doors work, too.
S-Still, while that explanation may explain the contents of this world... I find it hard to believe that any of us would desire the predicament we've found ourselves in.
Oh, I don't disagree.
We're not the only ones here, though, are we?
So, in other words...
...many of the contents of this world exist because of us, but its overall structure is the result of someone else within it?
Heehee. From what I can gather, yes.
What exactly is making all of this possible is the part I'm still puzzling over. Making people's wishes reality was the purpose of the Aureole, but now that's been lost, and I can't think of anything else capable of doing the same.
I think it's easy for all of us to point the finger at who wished for this world to behave the way it does, at the very least.
The Lord of Phantasma...
Exactly. Based on everything that's been said, they weren't in this world originally. That was just the ghost you've encountered.
Until the Lord of Phantasma, she simply watched over this place from this garden here... but then they showed up, stole her power, and started remaking the world according to their own whims. The result is what we're stuck in right now.
Well? What do you think?
Damn. Feels like you just popped your head in and solved all these crazy mysteries like they were nothing.
Haha... It's certainly impressive.
Even I hadn't been able to deduce quite that much.
You really are a genius, Renne.
I'm sure you could've worked this much out if you'd really put your mind to it, Joshua...
Unless Estelle's stupidity IS actually contagious and rubbed off on you.
Well, that's not very nice.
Haha... I'm pretty sure that's not the case.
Either way, it sounds like this Lord of Phantasma person likes games just as much as I do. And without me, I don't know if you'll be able to beat them...so I suppose I'd better lend you all a hand.
Teehee. I hope you're all very grateful.
Uhh... Yeah... Sure...
It's nice to have a cutie like you on board, Renne!
Well, now that that's settled... it's time to use that cube to take us back to the fifth plane so we can move on.
Now that we've gotten closer to working out what's going on, we should be able to move on to the next part of the game board now. I'm guessing our opponent's ready to make their next move, too.
*sigh* Someone's confident.
Still, have it your way. It's not as though we have any option other than to press on.
I'm expecting we'll encounter a devil at the end of this plane just like we have at all of the others. We should only move on when we're sure we can handle it.
Aww... I could really do without the extra trouble.
Then again, I am kind of curious what these devils are like in reality.
Would you like to come and have a look with me, Tita?
I-I'm not sure just the two of us going would be such a good idea...
(D'aww. She was so opposed to being with us earlier, but look at her now.)
(Yeah... I'm really glad she came around.)
(Hopefully we'll get a chance to talk to her while we're in here, too.)
Renne is no slouch with that reapin' stick but she's really here to be the party's strongest caster, with higher ATS than even Kloe's and a better orbment than even Olivier's. The trade-off is that she's as squishy as Tita on foot. Renne's crafts:
Calamity Throw: Line attack with chance of deathblow.
Blood Circle: Hurricane attack with knockback and chance of deathblow.
Now that is a quality orbment. One line, fully upgraded out of the gate, no element restrictions, final destination. Renne also starts out with the Septium Vein, Absorb, and Death quartz, but I'll be swapping all those for something castier.
I forgot to note that the monuments on the fifth plane unlock the entire last tier of quartz for you. So I finally get to bust out the fat pile of gems I've got squirreled away.
We should totally make sure Renne is standing over Kevin when he wakes up.
(He seems to be sleeping soundly...)
His condition's stabilized a lot compared to before.
He'll be back to his usual self in no time.
He does still have a small fever, but it's nothing worth freaking out about. A little fever never hurt anybody. If you need help exploring, you're welcome to ask me to come along any time!
Wh-What're you doing?
Well, you heard what Renne said earlier, right?
About how this world changes as a result of what the people inside it want.
Yeah, but what does that have to do with this?
She's desperately trying to wish a stuffed toy into existence with the power of her mind.
We need Gunds. Lots of Gunds.
Hey! I'm TRYING to concentrate here! Can you be a little more quiet?!
Should I go with a fluffy, beady-eyed Pom...? Ooh! Or maybe a nice, silky bear? Or a super soft panda?
Heehee! There're so many wonderful choices, I can't decide which to go with... ❤
Concentrate? You can't even decide what you want!
At least focus on one of them and see how that goes before getting greedy.
...She looks happy enough daydreaming even without a Gospel to make her dreams come true.
Trust Anelace to cook up an idea like this...
She might come across as silly to some, but I can't help but be impressed by her boundless optimism.
If what Renne was saying about discovering that being one of the conditions to moving on to the sixth plane is true...
...then we must be reaching the end of this particular plane.
Haha. Still, I never thought this place would test our reasoning and deductive skills to this extent! I'm starting to enjoy this.
...but it doesn't take a genius to figure out just how strong the fiends in it are getting the farther in we go.
We're gonna have to get a hell of a lot stronger if we wanna stand a chance against them.
If the fight against that devil at the end of the last plane's anything to go by, Kevin can handle 'em just fine...
...but we can't go shovin' the burden of doing the tough fights onto him every time. We're gonna need to kick it into high gear at some point, too.
If the world we're in really does change as a result of our thoughts...
...then we're going to need more than just physical strength in the battles ahead--we're going to need mental strength, too.
I'd be surprised if that wasn't what the Lord of Phantasma had in mind.
We've discovered a number of rules that govern this world, all implemented by the Lord of Phantasma... but what if they created a rule that dictates we can't actually leave this world?
Then we just have to touch the Opposite Pole and make him sing the I'm Very Sorry Song. We've got this.
Our only hope may turn out to be that ghost.
Especially given how the Lord of Phantasma's power seems unable to affect the garden.
Even after all we've seen so far, I still find myself doubting that could even be possible, but it certainly makes sense. Still, if we assume that everything that's happened so far has gone according to plan for the Lord of Phantasma...
...then I think it's about time we started trying to change that, hmm? I think the Lord of Phantasma has had things their way for far too long.
(Sooner or later, I'll have to completely put it behind me and move on...)
Umm... Is something up, Colonel?
Nothing major, no. I was just lost in thought.
Are you still thinking about what I said earlier?
Haha. You really are a perceptive one.
...You wouldn't be interested in coming to work at R&A Research, would you? I'm sure someone with your level of foresight would be a valuable asset to us.
Maybe I'll give it some thought if you play with me again? Maaaybe.
Our playtime at Grancel Castle ended up getting interrupted before it'd really started...so I'm up for another try if you are!
(I-I totally forgot they ended up fighting when Ouroboros tried attacking the capital...)
Ha...haha... I'll think about it.
What are you doing here?
Ahaha... Umm... Take care, okay?
Oh, not much...
I was just giving some thought to what we might find ourselves up against during the remainder of our time here.
*sigh* Why would you waste time doing that when we'll find out by proceeding anyway?
You don't need to worry about anything as long as I'm with you all.
Haha. I suppose you're right.
Yes. We can all rest easy now that the Angel of Slaughter is here.
The jewel in the middle was red, though.
Aww... You're so lucky. They were all sold out of those in the shop in Grancel.
*sigh* I really wanted one, too...
I know! Why don't we go on a shopping trip together sometime, then? We could go to somewhere reeeally far away.
You'd like the Eastern Quarter over in Calvard, that's for sure. You could spend a whole day shopping there and never feel bored.
I wonder what kinds of cute accessories they'd have there?
Oh, yeah! Let me tell you about the pendant I bought a while back!
(These two sure are having fun together.)
There are loads of big shops in the Empire, too.
I found a huge stuffed bear in one of them a while back. It was as big as a grown man!
...I kinda want to see it now.
Renne's so lucky to be able to visit all those shops, isn't she?
I want to go and see more of them, too!
What are the two of you doing here?
We were just talking about Renne.
The two of you have been trying to find her ever since you left Liberl, right?
Yeah... I don't feel like we got to talk to her properly back at the Axis Pillar.
There's something I really want to tell her, too...and I'm not going to be satisfied until I've done it.
Heehee. Still, she looks like she's doing okay.
So I think the best thing to do for now is keep watching over her and see what happens.
...That might be for the best, yeah.
At the end of the day, she needs to be the one who chooses what to do. Nothing good's going to come from pushing her to make that call any faster. I just hope that ending up here with us and everyone else has a positive effect on her.
But all we can really do is wait and see, huh?
...Yes, I think you're right.
I'm sure it's not going to be easy to come to an understanding with Renne after all she's been through, but you know what?
If anyone can do it, it's you and Joshua, Estelle. The bond between the two of you is so strong that I'm not sure there's anything you couldn't do together.
Thanks, Kloe. I hope you're right.
I'm not sure how much I'll be able to do to help you when it comes to Renne, but I do want to do everything within my power.
So if there's anything I can do, say the word.