Part 6: Ballroom Blitz (Part 2)Before we continue with the LP, lets take a moment to discuss how dumb everyone on either side of this conflict is, and how Belcitane only managed to get the upper hand because Valtos was just that much dumber than him.
Okay, so Belcitanes plot is equal measures of smart and stupid. First of all, it hinges on so many things going just exactly right for him just to make it up to this point. Sneaking into Balandor using the general activity and commotion of Princess Cisnas 18th birthday as a smoke screen? Smart. Doing so disguised as an incredibly obvious and attention-grabbing circus troop? Not so smart. What if anyone from the Castleguard between there and here demanded that this completely unknown entity of a circus present itself for an inspection on the off chance that they might not be above board?
I mean, one guard wouldnt even let our friend the hooded man go without being inspected on the grounds that he was slightly suspicious before he got mind-raped into submission. Are you saying to me that this was the only competent guard in all of Balandor? Everyone else just waved them through to do their thing? Because Im pretty sure keeping that army and Pyredaemos under wraps for the entire afternoon and most of the evening was a VERY difficult task, especially when pulling off misdirect on the scale of an entire circus act.
Belcitane also happened to pick probably the worst possible time to try and pull off this attack Or at least he would have had Valtos not been incompetent. Ideally, with both the Princesss birthday celebration and the arrival of Archduke Dalams diplomatic envoy falling on the same day, there should be just as a rule of thumb a heightened security presence in Balandor specifically for those two events, just in case someone actually tried something, like, oh, attacking the castle with an army and a giant flame-shitting hell beast. Not only that, the army should be in a state of extra-special vigilance seeing as how the man theyre playing host to is notable thus far for nearly burning Balandor Castletown to the ground as part of a long and racially engrained war between the two great kingdoms. Weve seen that Cyrus is leery towards Farians on principle, so why not make sure every available soldier is on hand around the clock between now and when Dalam departs just in case he maybe tries to pull off the same thing Belcitane just did? You know, trust-but-verify?
And then theres the issue of the Farian detachment currently in Balandor with Dalam. Dalam brought a large number of soldiers with him to this peace treaty confab, including members of the Farian Red Guard, their own version of the Castleguard. Belcitane decided to pick a fight with not just one, but two whole armies and two whole nations. Youll see in a couple of screenshots later on and in the videos that there are Farian corpses dotting the floor of the castle, meaning that the Farian army was involved in this fight too, quite heavily, I might add. What was Belcitanes plan if the two nations put this whole peaceful co-operation thing to the test and joined forces to fend off his army? Suppose they were able to mount a co-ordinated defence against Pyredaemos? What then?
But alas, none of this happened because Valtos is a naïve idiot. In the name of welcoming Dalam in peace, he doesnt post any additional guards or troops inside Balandor just in case something terrible happens either accidentally or intentionally. In the name of making buying his daughters happiness with empty gestures, he allows a strange, unverified, unknown circus troupe into the city to perform a show that she doesnt even get to attend anyway. And because hes unable to foresee any possible danger on this, the most important day in his entire reign thus far, he doesnt even bother to secure his castle from the most obtuse of infiltrations by a trio of commoners who got inside with a wine wagon as their potential cover. He was even legitimately pissed off that that guard came stumbling into the throne room in an obvious panic and interrupted his party instead of immediately asking what the problem was.
Then theres also the boneheaded decision to schedule the treaty negotiations for the same day as Cisnas 18th birthday celebration, thus taking two high profile, high priority target events and combining them into one gigantic extremely high profile and high priority target event that practically calls out to any potential neer-do-well to try and start something during it. Im assuming that there is at least an armistice on between Faria and Balandor at the moment that has allowed for Dalam to even come here all the way from Faria, so what is the risk in putting a little more distance between these events? Now, were not going to get a peek inside Farian internal politics until the second game, but Im going to assume that up to this point, Dalam had enough control over his country that he could hold off going back to war for maybe another month at the very least, right? Plus, theres been no signs from everything weve seen thus far that Balandor is under any potential threat of falling back into war with Faria, so again why not put a buffer down so you can be better prepared to negotiate a treaty unencumbered and uncompressed by the concerns surrounding a royal birthday party too? But alas, no.
So Belcitane scores first blood because the story demands it, not because he pulled off a particularly clever gambit or ploy that outmaneuvered Valtos and Dalam's troops and intelligence in a creative way. Instead, because the attack must happen in order for the story to start properly, they dont even bother coming up with a convincing reason for it happening, and so King Valtos comes off looking like a complete idiot who gets blindsided on his home turf on a day when youd think the entire apparatus of his regime would be on its game like nobodys business. I mean, yeah, when it comes to it there is little you can do to argue with a walking tank outside of throwing out your own walking tank to meet it head-on, but a little more prep work would have solved a lot of these problems before they even got to this point.
As such, the failure continues unabated.
CUTSCENE: Dial R For 'Regicide'
Meanwhile, like literally 20 feet away.
This is what you get when you dont use certified contractors.
Cisna: (Worst birthday ever.)
King Valtos: Cisna! Quickly, this way!
They run towards the staircase to nowhere, I mean the upper levels of the castle, in a desperate bid for freedom.
King Valtos: Hurry! Quickly!
Cisna: (No, Im just gonna take my time and die.)
Valtos comes to a dead stop half way up the stars, a look of shock and horror in his eyes.
CUTSCENE MUSIC: Regicide (Unreleased Track)
Its this guy.
King Valtos: Darth Vader!
General Dragias: Im sorry, what?
Hang on. Where the hell did Dragias come from? The evil army burst in through the front door of the castle, which is actually down several levels from the throne where Valtos and Cisna are right now. Yet Dragias is coming down the stairs from higher up in the castle and in front of his troops point of ingress.
Did he parachute onto the roof or something?
Because if thats true, thats AWESOME! I want to see that happen.
Someone draw this happening!
King Valtos: How did you
General Dragias: Unlike everyone else in this story, Im competent. Thats how.
This cant end well
King Valtos: I peed a little.
General Dragias: So much for dying with dignity.
And with that, Cisna has been a firsthand witness to both of her parents violent, senseless murders. Its a towfer, folks. And talk about bookends, while her mothers death shocked her into silence, her fathers death shocks her back into locution.
Cisna: I wanted to kill you first! This was not how I planned this!
Cisna: Father, please! Please dont die!
King Valtos: Ah, Cisna At last, I hear your voice again. How I have missed Missed the sound of it.
King Valtos: Seriously though What was that about killing me?
Cisna: Please father, dont speak. Youre hallucinating.
King Valtos: Im bleeding through my spleen.
King Valtos: Go You must. My beautiful daughter.
Cisna: No, I wont leave you! I dont want to be alone. Please, father. No.
King Valtos: I tried to fix you up with a husband, but all you said was
King Valtos: Pretty much. HRUGH! Oh crap, I think Im actually dying now. Farewell my sweet daughter. Carry me in your heart as I carried your mother: blatantly and obtrusively. And Urgh! Avenge my death
General Dragias: How Shakespearean. Oh well, time to go two-for-two.
Dragias readies his blade for the coup de grace.
Cisna: If you strike me down, I will become more powerful than you could ever
General Dragias: Heard it before. Spoiler alert: no, you wont.
And just like that, Cisnas glorious reign as Queen of Balandor comes to an end after a middling 15 seconds, tops.
ZOUNDS! What madness is this?
Aw shit. YOURE NOT HELPING THINGS, LEONARD! AND WHERE DID YOU GET A SWORD FROM?!
Cisna: My hero?
Yeah, dont count on it, darling.
General Dragias: Okay, what the hell? REALLY? How old are you kid, like 12?
And yet a flash of bravado and a quick semi-competent sword move appears to be enough to knock Dragias off balance and provide a window for their escape. I swear, its like this guy has upper body strength of a 70 year-old man or something.
Leonard: Princess! This way!
General Dragias: Whatever
Um, far be it from me to question your tactics, general, but theyre not running away all that fast and this castle isnt that big. You sure youre not going to go after them or anything? I mean, to just up and leave seems kind of lazy, if you know what I
General Dragias: I said WHATEVER!
Oh, screw you then. Christ, even the bad guys half-ass their way through stuff in this game.
Leonard: Come on! We have to go, or theyll kill you!
Cisna: B-but my father!!!
Cisna: s crown! I need that to prove Im Queen now!
Leonard has no concern, however, for the Viking funeral Cisna has planned for her dearly departed father and continues to forcibly drag her down the stairs, nearly causing her to trip over her own dress and come tumbling down right on top of him because he's a klutz. All the while, tears continue to stream down Cisnas face as she realizes just how much of a catastrophe tonight has turned into.
Leonard: Quick! This way!
Yeah, like you know your way around a castle you just stepped foot in for the first time 20 minutes ago and have only seen through peeking glances amidst a throng of people. Jackass.
He suddenly stops mid-step, having spotted something ahead of him. Something shocking, from all outward appearances.
General Dragias. But how? He was heading up the stairs in the opposite direction! How is he down here giving orders?
Mysterious villain is mysterious.
General Dragias is not capable of teleportation, FYI.
Or maybe a plot contrivance, I always get those two mixed up.
Anyway, the battle continues unabated despite the presence/absence of Schrödingers Dragias.
Leonard: This way!
You keep saying that like it means something. Well, this part of the castle has gone completely to shit. Lets check in with Cyrus and Archduke Dalam to see how theyre making out in the meanwhile
SON OF A BITCH!
Cyrus: Your Excellency! Archduke Dalam!
Archduke Dalam: Tell everyone my last words were Fuck Ban Nanazel. I hate that guy
Cyrus: Seriously! You werent even stabbed or anything! How did this happen?
Because the plot demands it to happen! Dalams eyes roll back into his head in that classic Im dead expression, and he collapses in Cyruss arms.
Rest now, O mighty Lord of the Awesome Chair. You will be avenged, I swear it.
Castleguardsman: Gods I cant believe it.
Castleguardsman: Seriously! Nobody touched him!
Say what you will about Cyruss prejudices, the man takes his job seriously. Failure is NOT an option for this man. This is the face of a man who has just realized the crushing truth that he is a character in White Knight Chronicles, Failure: The Game.
Cyrus: Damn! This was a mistake. Our peace just died with him.
Another Castleguardsman: Your Grace Sir Cyrus! The King!
Cyrus: What about him?
The guardsman rushes in to tell Cyrus the awful truth, in one of those clichéd inaudible whisper to deliver shocking news type moments.
Cyrus: Aw shiiiit, I am soooooo FIRED!
CUTSCENE: Escaping the Chaos
Is there ANYWHERE in this castle thats not on fire?
We return to Leonard blindly dragging Cisna through the inferno to what he foolishly assumes will be somewhere safe.
Of course, its pretty impractical to go running around in a full-length ball gown. Add in her being wracked with grief and shock, and its only natural that Cisna trips and takes a spill on the carpet.
Seriously, how has everyone not died from smoke inhalation or something yet? Everyone who even survives this massacre is a shoe-in for Black Lung, at the very least.
CUTSCENE MUSIC: "Recollection"
Leonard: Come on. I wont let them get you. Not you.
Youve known her for like four minutes, how attached to her can you possibly be, anyway?
Cisna: Who are you?
Leonard: Im Leonard.
Cisna: Why did you ?
He of course flashes back to their fateful meeting in the garden. He remembers it perfectly, like it was the most important day of his small, menial life. Cisna? For her, it was Tuesday.
I have no idea how hes able to remember the look on his face back then, but whatever.
Leonard: Its just, I care about you, you know?
Her first time talking in ten years and her dialog thus far has consisted of W5 questions. Wonderful.
Also note the look of confused disinterest on her face when Leonard tells her hes got feelings for her.
Leonard: Uh. I mean
Leonard: What? Girls? Ew. I dont like girls. Especially princesses. Yeah Ummm
On the one hand, this is an anime-as-hell physical overreaction to the realization of unintended intimate contact with a member of the opposite sex. And yet, still, good on Leonard for having a momentary flash of higher brain function and realising hes being kind of creepily physical with a) a woman FAR above his social standing, and b) someone hes known for less than five minutes, their present situation be damned.
I get the impulse to want to physically comfort someone during a time of crisis and severe emotional trauma, but maybe wait until youre out of the danger zone and theres no risk of the architecture dislodging and crushing you to death before you try and make it to first base with your new Queen, eh sport?
Leonard: We all do care about you, I mean.
Leonard: Your kingdom loves and needs you!
Cisna: Yeah, nice save, prettyboy.
This is the face of a woman who is not buying what hes selling, yet going along with it because she realises this random peasant boy whos come out of literally nowhere and has no reason to even be here is probably her best shot at seeing the sunrise tomorrow morning.
Leonard does the gentlemanly thing and offers his future Empress of All Creation a hand back to her feet. In the midst of the giant smoking ruin of the castle.
SERIOUSLY! WHY IS EVERYTHING ON FIRE?!
Well they make a lovely couple, dont they? So I suppose its only a matter of moments before Cisna joins the party too. Weve been lacking a straight-up mage character so far, so maybe
Why is the game laughing at me again?
Also, again pointing out how short Leonard is. Hes barely taller than Cisna
A loud crash startles our two budding lovebird and they look to see what fresh hell approaches.
HOW DID YOU MISS THIS STUFF GOING ON RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU?!
Pyredaemos lumbers its way closer and closer to Leonard and Cisna. What few Balandor soldiers who stand between them and the fiery beast probably dont stand a chance, yet they throw themselves at it regardless.
Cisna: A lordship to the man who kills that beast in my name!
Castleguardsmen: It will be done my, PrincesOW! GODS! IT BURNS!
Cisna: When this lunacys over with, I am totally getting myself one of these things.
Leonard can do nothing but look on in horror as the soldiers all get trampled by Pyredaemos. But hes startled by a familiar (to us) voice crying out from the distance.
Mysterious Man: Are you survivors?
What kind of dumb question is that, Maxwell?
Mysterious Man: This way! To the cellars!
Okay, its good that you have a practical destination in mind, dude, but like again, how do you know where the cellars are? Have you been here before or something? If so, why were you sneaking into the city like a shifty creep at the start of the game?
Leonard: Lets go!
Cisna: Yeah, because I clearly have no say in the matter. This is only my goddamn castle, you know. I barely know YOU, let along this guy!
But, alas, Leonard isnt one to think these kinds of higher thoughts, especially in the midst of a crisis. So he takes her hand (at least its an upgrade over dragging her around by the wrist) and absconds with her in the direction of the suspicious caped man with the wild hair offering a convenient escape from the chaos.
Although complications love to unfurl themselves in this game and a whole pile of rubble comes falling down from the ceiling, right in Leonard and Cisnas path.
Leonard: Dammit! Were trapped!
Cisna: No were not, I can see the way around it from here. We could hop over it, for crying out loud.
Leonard: Oh gods! Theres no way out.
Mysterious Man: Oh for godss sakes!
Luckily, Leonard does realise there is in fact a way around the pile of rubble, and he escorts Cisna towards the man in the robes and towards the cellars.
Meanwhile, on the other other side of the castle:
Yulie: Leonard? Where are you? Leonard!!!
Save yourself, dear. Hes not worth it.
Orren: Oh crap Ah, Yulie
The enemy soldier spots Yulie and makes a b-line for her. Because nothing says Im a badass, fear me, like murdering a defenceless 90 lb. girl with purple hair.
I feel like the Jaws theme should be playing right now.
Yulie: Oh gods, I regret everything!
Nice work, Leonard. You leave your best friend and adoptive sister to die horribly at the hands of some mook soldier while you run off to save a girl youve known for like five seconds, total. Our hero, ladies and gentlemen.
Oh well, goodbye Yulie. Give Fiora my regards when you see her in female RPG characters killed off two hours into the game Heaven.
But wait! Look at this! Maxwell Sheffield himself comes charging out of the smoke and flames to save the day!
OBVIOUS SLASH SOUND EFFECT!
Mysterious Man: Am I interrupting something?
This angle is just all sorts of weird. Im getting vertigo just looking at it.
Mysterious Man: Can you stand?
Yulie: Aw! Mistah Sheeeeeefieeeeld!
Unlike Leonard, Max here doesnt both to help Yulie up, probably because he knows shes capable of standing on her own. And hed probably break a hip trying to help her up again. Look at him, hes in his early 50s. By JRPG standards, the guy is practically mathuselan.
Yulie: Hey, buster! Where were you when I was about to get cut in half back there?
Orren: I just killed like five guys who were trying to sneak up on you.
Yulie: Reeeeealy now?
In all seriousness, theres very little I can do to patch up this part of the game for the Avatar, no matter how much narrative bullshit I use. Weve beat this point into the ground in the discussion already, but it bears repeating: the Avatar character is a non-entity story and action-wise. The game takes great pains to ensure he or she has absolutely no role in the plot and does not involve himself or herself in any actual scripted fight scenes.
The 113th Congress of the United States is a more productive entity than the Avatar, who becomes, in essence, an avatar for the wasted potential of White Knight Chronicles as a whole.
What can I say beyond that? Im trying. The game isnt even meeting me half way.
Yulie: Eh, whatever.
Yulie: Lets go!
And so, inspired by an actually competent leader, Yulie and Orren rush out into battle along with the mysterious stranger, a battle that we dont get to see, because it involved the Avatar actually doing some physical fighting, and God forbid we get to see any of that.
Also, I apologize for the medieval leather pantyshot Im closing out this chapter with. Its simply a sad combination of a bad camera angle, screenshot timing, and the fact that Yulies default clothing was custom designed to be the perfect blend of anime and fantasy and to specifically allow for maximum pantyshot potential. I would say in all fairness, at least shes 18, but thats not a valid excuse, especially here of all places. I wanted to try and play through the game using everyones default equipment for consistencys sake, but Im seriously considering equipping Yulie with an actual pair of pants to try and mitigate a lot of these needless fan service-y moments because theyre something Ive come to absolutely despise in JRPGs lately.
See what I mean about fate intervening? The old man just appearing out of nowhere was completely random, but you know what? I wasnt about to look a gift horse in the mouth.
He seemed to know what he was doing, which was a lot more than I could say about Leonard, so I decided right there that it might be worth it to stick with this guy, if only to make it through this night alive. Yulie thought much the same. Neither of us really stopped to ponder what happened to Leonard at that point.
Personally, I kind of hoped hed been killed in the melee.
Little did I know though he was rushing blindly into an encounter that would change the course of history for Balandor, Faria, and the whole damn world.
Had I known then what I know now about what he was about to get us into, Id have rushed after him and killed him myself