Part 90: It's time to truly bring an end to what was started half a year ago.Kevin: That's about the long and short of it.
-A Faint Glitter of Light-
In other words, all of this--everything that's happened--is my fault. All of you are victims who had the misfortune of knowing me and getting dragged into this.
Remember what Kevin said about the culprit back at the start of Chapter 6?
quote:I can't pretend to be much of an expert on what Phantasma itself is... but I've got a pretty good idea as to who's responsible for all of this. I can only think of one person twisted enough to put us through all we've been through.
The short version is: they're a real piece of work. A cunning, arrogant, coldhearted son of a bitch who doesn't even see people as people.
He was talking about himself.
No apology is sincere enough, but I'm so sorry for what you've been put through.
I'm not following...
Why? I heard all you said, but I don't think you've got any reason to be THAT sorry.
Come again, Estelle?
Based on what we've learned, Phantasma choosing a new master was an inevitability, and something it would have done whether you were there or not.
As such, after it lost the Aureole, something like this would have happened no matter the circumstances.
Phantasma would simply have chosen someone else and created a different world as a result of the trauma that lay within.
...The thought that you might have been chosen is nothing short of horrifying, too. Everything that has happened to us in here so far is nothing compared to what we would have endured had that come to pass.
Oh, Mueller! Your words are like the sweetest kiss turned frozen upon parting. Do you have that little faith in me, your one and only?
Perhaps everyone here would have been drawn into the most ravenous feast the world has ever seen, but nothing more than that.
I'm just disgusted.
You're a special degree of creep, you know that?
I-I want no part of any 'feast' that comes from outta your brain!
*sigh* Count me out of this one...
Umm... I can't help but feel you guys are kinda missing the point...
Well, don't take this as me trying to defend you or anything...
...but in a sense, it might have been a good thing you were chosen over anyone else.
How do you figure?
I'm lost as well...
Your Stigma's obviously very powerful, and it's capable of exerting a lot of control over things. Enough so that Phantasma as it is now exists in a state of order.
But what if it had chosen someone else? Would the world have been able to maintain order then?
It's possible that Phantasma would have been unable to contain the chaos that ensued and gone out of control under someone else...
...is what you're essentially getting at, right?
Teehee. I knew you'd understand, Joshua. If that had happened, a whole lot more people might have been caught up in this.
Not that I've got a problem with lots of guests at a tea party. The more, the merrier! ♪
I think you're the only one who'd be having fun...
She's right. I don't think you've got any reason to beat yourself up over this.
We're all very different people from different walks of life...
...but right now, we're all here, sharing a common destiny.
Yeah. In times like these, we've gotta help each other out, right?
Besides, this place relates to the Aureole, which is Liberl's problem.
From my perspective, you're a victim.
I couldn't agree more.
As such, Kevin, we would appreciate you continuing to lead us as you have done so far. It's time to truly bring an end to what was started half a year ago.
What can I even say...?
First I'm stupid, then Ries pulls off the dumbest thing I've ever seen...and now you guys. This must be the biggest group of idiots in all of Zemuria. I swear, you wouldn't find a more gullible, naive bunch anywhere on the continent...
I was happy to use each and every one of you for my own devices right to the very end... so how can you be so...so...?
It's all right, Kevin...
Ahaha. Sometimes, you just have to know when to give in.
...And you're at that point right now. Your luck ran out the second you got stuck with us.
Heehee. Got stuck with YOU, you mean.
Spending too much time with pushy, meddling do-gooders who don't know when to quit like you is bad for anyone.
Y-You wanna say that again?
Well, all of those things describe you to a T, that much is true.
*sigh* They certainly do.
I think they're your good points, though...
Yeah! So do I!
I think Estelle's rubbed off on all of us at this point...and that's not a bad thing!
Group of idiots is right. We're smack dab in the middle of a shitty situation here, but you wouldn't know it by lookin' at us.
With a team this spectacular, what do we have to fear?
There's a chance we could even overthrow the Erebonian government if we put our minds to it.
Need I remind you that that's not something an Erebonian prince should be saying out loud?
Haha... All right, all right! I know when I'm beat.
We're in this. Together.
And this time, I actually mean that.
We're happy to have you with us.
Anyway...at least now, we know exactly what we need to do here.
We need to defeat Rufina, the Lord of Phantasma. There's no getting around that.
With that said...just where is she?
You didn't encounter her in Gehenna, did you?
She disappeared right after the two of you fell down there.
That's a good question...
I think it's safe to say she wasn't down in Gehenna with us.
If she had been, she would have shown herself at some point.
But then where IS she?
I believe I can answer that.
Didn't realize you were here.
I can't thank you enough for saving our hides earlier.
Truly, I doubt we would have been able to get out unharmed if not for your assistance.
We're both grateful beyond words.
Heehee. I was more than happy to help. All of us here are in the same predicament, myself included.
You can even think of me as another one of your companions if you'd like.
What kinda answer are you thinking you can give?
It took some time, but I was able to ascertain her current location.
Is that what you've been working on all this time?
Yes, it is.
During my investigation of the seventh plane, I was able to gain an understanding of the layout and contents of Phantasma as a whole. I also discovered that the Lord of Phantasma isn't in any of the planes. Rather, she is outside of them.
Phantasma consists of more than just the planes?
Wh-What's it like outside of them?
Think of the planes you've been exploring like a giant, multi-layered structure in the center of Phantasma. They're all you have known up until this point, but this world consists of more than them.
That said, the rest of Phantasma is just a vast, barren wasteland at this point, abandoned and devoid of life.
Hard to picture without seeing it for myself...
Do you know where in this big abandoned wasteland she is?
Because if it's that vast, just knowing she's there probably isn't gonna help us much.
I have a relatively good idea where in it she is, thankfully.
Although, that doesn't solve the core problem... I fear the word 'vast' doesn't do the scale of the wasteland itself justice. I believe it's roughly the size of the continent where you live.
It's the size of ZEMURIA?!
That IS going to pose a problem...
Crossing an area that massive on foot would take months. Maybe even longer...
Do we not have any other means of transport that we could use?
I'm not sure my power would be of any use to you here. I can't place monuments too far from this garden, for one thing...
Even if we did commit ourselves to trekking across the whole thing on foot, without the cube's power, we couldn't come back and resupply.
Trying to take several months worth of food hardly seems realistic...
Well, this is a tough one...
I can only think of waiting for her to come to us.
What's up with you, shortstuff? Got something on your mind?
Well...I was just thinking...
Why not use the Arseille?
The replica we encountered on the first plane?
This world is supposed to react to the desires of people in it, right? So while that Arseille might not be the real one, it looks just like it. Everyone here's pretty familiar with the real thing and how it looks, so it seems like a ship we could all picture flying easily. Maybe if we all wished for it to fly together, it might actually happen...
S-Sorry! Aha...ha... I'm being silly, aren't I?
I don't know what's gotten into me... This isn't something an engineer should be saying...
I don't think you're silly at all, Tita.
In fact, I think that's a fantastic idea.
It does seem like the easier something is to imagine, the easier it is to have it realized in Phantasma. And both you and Julia are familiar with the exact structure of the Arseille, while most of us here have seen and been on board it.
...This might actually work.
There's clearly no rule saying airships can't exist here, either, given that we've already been on the Black Ark.
Well, Celeste? Do you think it would work?
The Arseille was the ship you used to board the Liber Ark, I believe? Then if I were to feed the image of it flying then back into the system...
...I think this may actually be possible.
If all of you are on board, the white wings will take to the skies once more.
We can really make this happen?!
I-I can't believe it...
Heehee. Well done, Tita.
Totally! You really outdid yourself this time.
W-Wait a second... Does that mean we might be able to make the Bobcat fly? There's a copy of that here, too!
Oh, you're right.
How many of you are familiar with that?
Crap... Forgot about that.
I think Josette and I are the only ones who have actually flown in it.
Schera, Olivier, and I have technically been in it, but that was just as stowaways...
Yeah. That was back when we were investigating that airship hijacking.
Heh. What a fond memory that adventure made now that I look back.
I'm not sure what the odds of success would be, then... That's a rather small number of people.
I think it would be wise to focus on trying to revive the Arseille first.
Still, this sounds like a much better plan than trying to walk there on foot.
We should prepare for departure at once, then make our way to the Arseille!
Don't gotta tell me twice.
We'll have a lot in store for us if we're able to make this work.
However, I should warn you all of one thing:
Once you have flown the Arseille to the area where the Lord of Phantasma awaits, that will be it.
You will be unable to return to this garden ever again. Please be mindful of that.
Never? Not even once?
Because we won't be able to use the cube's warp functionality anymore?
Correct. Using it is only possible when you are within a certain range of the garden; go outside of that, and it is no longer possible.
So before you depart, I would ask that you make absolutely sure you have everything you need and are ready for whatever you may find there.
Good to know...
It wouldn't hurt to do some extra training, then. I don't doubt we're all gonna have to play our part in the things to come.
Y-Yeah, you're right.
I wouldn't mind getting in some exercise, myself. Wouldn't want to wind up being the one to drag the group down!
This will be our last opportunity to open the doors scattered throughout the planes and take anything we find, too.
It's probably best I step down as leader for the time being, then. If you're just door hunting or trying to get some extra practice in, I'd only get in the way.
If anyone else wants to learn how to use the cube or fill out my notebook, I'd be happy to teach you. Just let me know.
Let's just be sure that when the time comes, we leave with no regrets!