Part 78: The Long Dark Of Nordia
EPISODE 4 The Strange Gate
After getting routed by Orren and Cyrus in the Lagnish Desert, the mysterious warrior Shem has fled into the Nordia Tunnels. Balandor has sealed off both the Greydall and Lagnish exits of the tunnels. Curiously, however, Shem doesnt appear to be heading for either exit, heading instead for the deeper recesses of the mine.
Orren and Cyrus (and Yulie and Eldore) have arrived on the scene and are giving chase.
AREA MUSIC: "The Nordia Tunnels" (Disc 1, Track 21)
Chapter 4 of the Avatar Story begins deep in the Nordia Tunnels themselves. As an added bonus, we also get Cyrus as our fourth party member again for the duration of this chapter. Though guest party member rules are still in effect here, so if he dies its mission failed.
The goal of this chapter it to perform a series of convoluted and seemingly unrelated menial tasks in order to unlock the one elevator that leads to the part of the mine that Shem has holed herself up in.
As we venture into the mine, we find strong evidence that Shem has passed through here at some point. And by that I mean dead and wounded Balandor soldiers.
Balandor Soldier: Ugh Hey You there
Orren: Id ask what happened here, but I think I already know. Are you okay?
Balandor Soldier: The enemy Ugh Passed through here Shes heading for the lower tunnels. Now Captain Robert Gah Hes given chase But weve lost contact P-please Youve got to stop her
Then lets get to it.
Throughout the mine, you encounter more dead soldiers just lying about all over the place.
These are actually kind of grim landmarks that let you know youre on the right track towards the mission objective.
All the regular Nordia Tunnels enemies show up in this mission, namely ice-type enemies like Ice Lizards, and spiders of various stripes.
Near the elevator leading down to the second level of the mine, you encounter a group of spiders gnawing on the remains of a soldiers corpse. Just a nice bit of for you folks out there who are arachnophobic.
In order to reach the elevator we have to fight a mini-boss battle against this group of spiders.
Theres six in total, three regular Waterspider Sprogs, and three copies of the unique bounty pallet swap of the spider type enemy called Tori.
After we defeat all of them, were now free to go talk to the two soldiers they were attacking.
Balandor Soldier: Urgh
The game then says His wounds are very bad. He is unable to speak.
The soldier off to his left, however, is in a bit better condition.
Balandor Soldier: Ugh We followed the monsters down here But then attacked so suddenly The captain! Hes in danger Please. You have to help him!
Orren: Story of my bloody life
Time for more Mass Effect elevator shenanigans.
Down on the second level we find the trigger point for the sub-mission of this chapter, as well as the vaunted Captain Robert.
Heres some interesting parts of the mine that we havent seen yet because, interestingly enough, the only times you ever have to visit the Nordia Tunnels in the storyline, you never have to leave the uppermost floor to clear the place. So for people who skip the online quests or dont bother exploring, they completely miss the lower to levels.
Theres not that much variety to the place, but whatever, were already scrapping the bottom of the barrel of things to talk about in this game anyway.
You hear someone moaning nearby.
Well well well, its Captain Robert.
Captain Robert: You there Im sorry The enemy got past us Shes headed towards the deepest level of the mine. We tried our best to hold her off, but she was too much for us.
Orren: Just what the hell happened here anyway?
Captain Robert: She was accompanied by by gods, the looked like demons.
Captain Robert: Youre going to need a key to unlock the elevator to reach the lower mine. I think one of the demons took it. Youre going to have to search the mine to find it. Youre the only one left who can Please Make it right.
Were given the prompt here to remove the spiders scent gland, as were going to need it for this sub-mission.
Orren: Oh gods, its so sticky
You Received Loss of Dignity
Balandor Soldier: Ugh We were attack from underground. They got the drop on us!
Orren: Well thats horrifying.
And now we come to the bullshit repetitive part of the chapter.
Squirrelled away various sections of all three levels of the mine are little alcoves like this which act as spider lairs in this mission. Theyre unmarked on the map, so you need to essentially bumble your way across three separate levels of the map through paths that are blocked off in certain directions until you find all six of them.
Theyre denoted here by these continuous puffs of brown gas emanating from the ground. Youre given the option of using the gland you harvested from the spider corpse in the middle of the mine
And when you do a group of Spider Sprogs fall from the ceiling an engage you.
Theres usual four or five per wave and about three or four waves per location. I am not going to bore you with any of the details like I did last time in the desert.
Cyrus: Is this all you guys do? It seems rather tedious.
Orren: One of us in this mine thought it would be a good idea to walk across an entire continent and declare war on Faria by himself. Now, Im not gonna name names here, but Im just saying he should think twice before talking shit about the stuff I gotta do to solve his problems for him.
Each spiderhole we clear out leaves behind one of these glowing dots. I dont really know what theyre for, but we need all of them for reasons.
Alright, lets go confront our mid-boss for this chapter.
Balandor Soldier: Wh-what is it? This this enormous shadow appeared out of nowhere Our troops just got swallowed up and dragged underground.
Orren: Again, this sounds absolutely horrifying. What the shit is going on in this creepy deathmine?
This is an absolutely terrible idea.
So in the middle of this obvious boss arena area of the mine, we find another pulsating dust cloud like the ones found in the various spider caves around the mine, only this is absolutely gigantic in comparison.
Something seems to be stirring beneath the ground.
- Piss it off
- Nope the fuck outta there
You chose Piss it off.
And now we have to square off with Arachne, a black pallet swap of the Direspider giant enemy.
Theres not a whole lot to say about her other than she shares her name with the woman who in Greek mythology became the progenitor of all spiders after Athena accidentally shamed her into committing suicide after she wove a tapestry mocking Zeus for being a philandering shitbag rapist.
Pedantically speaking, however, you could also romanize her name as Arukeni, which is just a straight transliteration of アルケニー.
Pick your poison.
The same strategy applies here, slashing attacks and stat breaking skills till victory, and hope to god she doesnt pull off her special attack where she spawns even more Spider Sprogs than are already on the field now.
Again, Eldore surprises the hell out of me by actually using magic, dropping a Final Apocalypse on every bloody spider in the cave.
Actually, its not that big of a surprise this time around. Since HP and MP are no longer a concern with everyone at 9999/9999 of everything, I switched the party to Go All Out tactics rather than Heal First, thus making them slightly more likely to maybe use a magic attack every now and then.
And Arachne goes down in short order.
Fun fact: when you kill a giant enemy that spawns smaller enemies or comes into a scripted battle with smaller enemies present, the smaller enemies instantly drop dead when you kill their leader. The catch is you dont get the EXP you would have had you defeated them yourself.
When we come out of the boss battle, that soldier we talked to earlier is now back up on his feet and is feeling a little more talkative.
Balandor Soldier: It was horrible! They came out of the shadows and swallowed everyone whole. Thank you so much for stopping them. Its hard to believe such awful creatures really do exist down here.
Orren: You need to get out of the house more often then. Or maybe, just dont leave the house ever again once you get home. Theres too much shit out there thatll kill you horrifically.
Eldore: If youre lucky enough to even die.
Yulie: Well arent you both just a one-two punch of sunshine
Balandor Soldier: The woman youre after, she passed through here before the spiders emerged. We had no warning She just Theres no doubt shes connected to monsters were dealing with down here now. If youre going down there after her, youd better watch out. Shes dangerous.
Orren: Filed under things I already knew.
Alright, lets Boss this chapter up then.
We arrive at the elevator that has been locked down after Shem descended to the lower mine, and we unlock it with the key we found somewhere in here. I honestly dont know where, nor do I give a shit. Its lost somewhere in the 25 minutes of footage I didnt bother screencapping for this chapter.
Deal with it.
Cyrus: So why does he call you Niles all the time, anyway?
Orren: I dunno. Mental illness? I stopped asking myself that a long time ago. Who knows, maybe jumping through time fucked with his mind as well as his body?
Eldore: Wait. You mean to tell me after all this time youre NOT my butler Niles? Why did no one say anything?!
Orren: A) I did, repeatedly. And B) you had a bloody BUTLER?! What the fuck?!
Yulie: You got any other weird stuff you want to tell us about yourself there, Eldore?
Eldore: I once orchestrated a gang war.
Orren: And were officially done with Learning Things About Eldore. Thanks for playing.
So as you can see on the map this area is a dead end with another giant obvious boss arena waiting for us at the end of the hallway.
And once again we encounter more dead Balandor troops, a good indication as any that were on the right track.
When we get to the mouth of the chasm a cutscene triggers.
Orren and Cyrus arrive in the lowest section of the mine to find Shem standing in front of a massive-sized rift, like the ones that link the physical world to the magic plane where Orren obtained the Arc Knight from.
Cyrus: Wh-what is that?!
Orren: A giant portal. What does it look like to you?
Cyrus: Who are you?! Explain yourself!
Orren: Shes not Belcitane, dude. I dont think shes into that whole before you die, let me tell you everything act.
And indeed, she isnt. Shem just stands there confidently silent as a group of humanoid monsters the likes of which we havent seen before in the game come stalking out of the portal to back her up.
These guys are Ogres, unique supporting boss characters exclusive to the Avatar Story DLC. Theyre going to be showing up with some regularity in our dealings with this new faction of folks from beyond the physical plane.
This is also our first confirmation that Shem quite literally came the fuck out of nowhere and was trying to get back to her home base before we came along and stopped her at the last second. It also confirms that the Magi are both desperate and stupid enough to literally follow anyone, regardless of their credentials or origins.
Heres the official artwork for these guys, just in case you cant make out how they look in the screenshots.
So lets hop to it. Shem and her Ogre cronies all wield weapons from the Lux weapon set. These are the second-strongest bindable weapons in the game after the True King weapons. You might remember the short sword of that line being molded by Avatar Cisna during the final boss gauntlet fake-out session.
The Lux weapons are notable for being all green and having glowing Tron lines on them like Shems Silver Knight exhibited in the last chapter.
Shem wields the Lux Sword, as do several of the Ogres (who also sport Lux Sheilds), while others wield the Lux Hammer and Lux Bow, primarily. Curiously enough, however, the uncropped character artwork for Shem shows her wielding the Lux Spear, not the sword.
Yulie starts the fight off by AoE-ing the majority of the Ogres and Shem too.
When you knock her down to zero health, however, she begins to transform into her Knight form, and theres nothing you can do to stop it. All the while, the portal in the background is spawning new Ogres to replace the ones youve been trouncing and its untargetable, so you cant do anything to stem that tied either beyond finish the fight as quickly as you can.
So because the Ogres are counted as humanoid enemies, they dont have any weaknesses to exploit. Joy of joys.
And just like last time, one of the first things Shem does in Knight form is to cast Regen on herself.
Also, since this is the last time were going to be seeing it, heres the official artwork of Shems Knight:
Each of the four DLC Knight armour sets got one of these concept drawings, and I will be posting them wherever they are appropriate to. I have no idea whether or not the other generic Arc Knight armour sets got similar concept art done for them, and I have no interest in trying to track down a copy of the games artbook to try and find out.
Whatever. Hey, why dont you pick on someone your own size!
And in all seriousness, I have actually got to commend the game for not resorting to using that cliché in its dialog at any point. Youd think a game like this where the main mechanic was turning into a big thing to fight other big things would have hammered the pick on someone your own size button relentlessly, but it actually didnt.
So good on you, Akihiro Hino. Thank you for resisting that temptation.
Okay then, time for some more green-on-purple violence.
So without saying a word other than Verto or betraying her plans, motives, or possible master in any way, Shem just dies. Like literally, poof, dead.
This is even more underwhelming than Madorass death. At least Emperor Ziggy threw a temper tantrum before he farted himself out of existence.
But then, what do you expect? This is White Knight Chronicles, if erectile dysfunction were a video game, it would be this one because it involved a hell of a lot of futile effort and leaves everyone involved in the process thoroughly disappointed.
She does however leave the Ark Core behind.
CUTSCENE MUSIC: Final Battle (Disc 2, Track 17)
Cyrus steps in and scoops the crystal off the ground.
Cyrus: So this is the Ark Core?
Cyrus: It looks as though the Yshrenian remnant still seeks to use the power of the Knights against us.
Cyrus: If word of this gets out, that there might still be other Knights out there to claim, it could cause their ranks to swell once again.
Orren: Oh great, just what I wanted. For this damn war to start back up again. What insane super-weapon is Cisna gonna whip out on them this time? Did she have the Act of God installed on Balandor Castle recently?
Cyrus: You need to get this to the Royal Science Academy immediately. This new Ark could be vital to their research efforts. Framboise is currently conducting field experiments on a new weapon of some sort out on Balastor Plain. You should head there and meet with her. Ill take care of things here.
He hands Orren the Ark Core
However, the gem suddenly glows in Orrens hand.
Orren: The hell?!
Whether its resonating with the Ark Orren himself carries or merely reacting to Shems death, either way, the crystal begins to change suddenly.
It goes from yellow
To blood red
Cyrus: What happened? Whats wrong with it?
Orren: I dunno, but stuff turning red randomly is NEVER a good sign. This thing was bad mojo before freaky mute lady swiped it from me and now its definitely bad mojo now that Ive got it back from her. I really dont trust Framboise with this thing, in all honesty. Cant we just smash it? Ive got a gigantic magic hammer we can use.
Cyrus: That woman knew how to work that thing well enough. If we can unlock its secrets, we might be able to learn a thing or two about whos really behind this whole mess. These people have a 10,000 year head start on us. Its time we even the playing field.
Orren: Yeah, because the last year taught us all exactly nothing when it comes to the whole ancient arms race thing. Fuck my life.
Cyrus: Take care now. Best of luck to you.
And now I get to add arms trafficker to my ever-growing list of marketable skills.
Either way, I was sure Framboise had something absolutely insane percolating for me out there on Balastor Plain. This was probably going to get a lot worse before it got anything even resembling better.