So THIS time, I think that flustered boss moogle wants me to find his nine assistants, kupo. That seems like a far more productive use of time than walking face-first into the land of save points that cast lightning magic. This involves trotting all over the Salikawood, looking for moogles on a lighthearted scavenger hunt. Much better than the alternative, yes.
I dunno if you guys were previously aware of this but moogles are super freaking cute. Look at those noses. They are made for booping. If I were going to be a moogle, I would be an Ivalice moogle. They are the best at cute. Soon enough, the Craftmoogle guild reunites and gets that gate worked into shape, so I can pass right on through. Then they scatter off to the corners of the world, to work to make the world a safer, better place -- when they get around to it.
The Phon Coast, our next destination, is an absolutely gorgeous seaside beach setting. As the group enters, Balthier makes note of an air patrol passing by. If they'd chosen to take the easy air route in, they would surely have been caught. "We're on the Empire's doorstep now." he points out. "Don't get sloppy." Down by the water, Vaan and Penelo race off to go swimming, while Balthier stops to talk to Ashe. Why IS she marching into the capital? Why is she so bent on destroying the nethicite? Couldn't she take its power, restore Dalmasca?
"Is that how you see me? Blindly chasing power?" she retorts. My answer? Well, not BLINDLY...
"It does sound like someone I know." Balthier admits. Someone obsessed with nethicite. Utterly driven by it, seeking only to get closer to it. A man who invented airships, weapons, and even made Balthier a Judge. This last revelation visibly knocks Ashe out of her own thoughts. Balthier was a Judge? "It's a past I'm trying to forget. I ran away." The bombshells aren't done coming, though. After all, what he ran away from was "Dr. Cid of the Draklor Laboratories. My father."
...I get the impression that our trip into the capital is gonna be a little awkward.
"Funny that I went straight for the Dawn Shard. How could I have known it was nethicite? All that running got me nowhere. Time I cut my ties to the past."
Ashe responds by having a flashback to her time married to Rasler. Back then, she was visibly... softer, maybe. Sweeter. She and Rasler were ready to rule their joined lands together, hand in hand. We cut back to present-day Ashe, who is clearly ready to do whatever it takes... even, as she affirms, destroying the nethicite.
While I'm wandering around exploring after that, I find a small key. One that washed up, on some coast somewhere... Hey! It's the key to the back of the Lhusu Mines! What a stroke of luck. I was looking for somewhere new to get myself killed. Not that I'm gonna do that just yet, of course. I still want to push into the Imperial Capital City and see if THAT gets me beaten senseless.
On we push, further and further, into the Tchita Uplands. "Tchita" sounds like a banana company. Or maybe a squirrel. Or a banana company run by squirrels. God, this whole section of the game is like "you have to walk here and open the door and walk here and watch a cutscene and walk here and walk here and open the door and get on the floor and EVERYBODY WALK THE DINOSAUR."
Okay, that may not be accurate. You may ALSO have to walk like an Egyptian. Padding. I'm just sayin'. Maybe this is why they gave me so many marks, so I wouldn't be bored while I was out in the middle of the Taco Highlows.
Whoa ayyy ohh.
Speaking of hunts, I find a... guy standing around in a section of the Tchiqita Upyours. He's got a bill hand-drawn in what appears to be crayon, with lots of scribbly little loops and stuff. He's demanding that someone accept it, because he and his son have been seperated and there's a THING in the nearby caves. He demands that I go kill it. "THIS IS NOT AN OFFICIAL MARK" the game warns me. I scratch my head. Well, how bad can it be? At worst, I'll be blacklisted and allowed to stop doing these. At best, I'll get a reward of some kind. I accept!
As I head into the "Sochen Cave Palace", where he pointed me, the game gravely informs me that I will now "have the option" of saving my game.
Aw hell, this is gonna hurt, isn't it?
Inside the cave, Vaan is curious. "This -rabbit hole- is really the way to Archades?" he wonders. Balthier invites him to go knock on the front door, if he'd rather. Penelo has other concerns: "Won't they recognize us? What about the watch?" Ashe is confident. They'll just... blend in. Vaan seems pleased by the idea. After all, Ashe is their princess, and he didn't recognize her!
"I -noticed-." Ashe says, at about fifteen below room temperature. Way to go, Vaan. She was almost calming down.
Also, when I think of this party trying to "Blend In", a very specific scene crosses my mind.
Onward, anyway. The party hacks and chops through zombies and flying imps and the like on their way to a locked door, which that dude outside gave me the key to. I pause for a second to wonder: Does that mean this is plot-required? Huh. It didn't seem like it would be, but... I guess so, if this is the only route into Archades.
Crud. Means I'm likely not getting blacklisted after all.
Anyway, we open the door and come through to face... five plant-people doing a sentai pose? Yes, this unofficial "hunt" is against the "Mandragora Prince", "Alraune King", "Onion Queen", "Pumpkin Star", and "Topstalk". Which means I'm fighting onions, pumpkins, some kind of nightshade... But not a tomato, I guess. We did tomatos back at the start of the game. That would be silly. Having them again, I mean. ... Oh, wait. There IS a tomato there. What do you know. SILLY.
These... once you get past the fact that they like to shoot status-effect-trigger pollen at you, these things aren't particularly difficult to defeat. The party smacks them down one at a time, and as the last one falls, their spirits leave their little plant-y bodies and ascend to heaven.
Look, nobody's gonna believe me on this, so have a video of someone else doing this fight.
This is one weird game, you know.
In the next room, to prove my point, is another one of those crystal mimics that likes to hide as a save point. We smack it down in a hurry. Not gonna fall for that again. Always gonna test carefully and then unleash fury if needed. A little further in is a puzzle of some kind, a door that asks that I move Heaven and Earth and run around in great big circles and it all sounds like "READ HOW TO OPEN ME ON THE INTERNET", so I do. There's some treasure inside, but that's it. I move along.
Then I have to fight the Ahriman, another reoccuring Final Fantasy enemy. It's a boss fight, but it's interesting because it's the first time... and you can laugh if you want, because it took me THIS LONG to catch on... It's the first time I grasp the power of the equipment system. As "Ahriman casts: IMMOBILIZE" pops on screen, I have a sudden "Wait. Duh." moment and pause the game, go into the menu system, and equip everyone with "prevents Immobilize" equipment. Then I pop out and... oh hey! Everyone is immune to that spell you just cast, lookit that!
Why have I not been doing this before? I mean, yeah it's a grotesque abuse of the system, but so is like half the other crap I do. Anyway, I beat him and decide that this is a good place to stop and save.
First, though, I sigh and trudge all the way back to the Tchicken Touchdown or whatever that place was, and talk to the dude who hired me to kill some onions. He hands me some pocket change and a couple healing items.
This is the last time I do non-Union work, seriously.
Woof, reading this entry: "When you were little and playing Final Fantasy, did you sing constant refrains of "I Can't Defeat Ahriman"?
Woof: *sad face*
Sqrl: "Also fuck you."
Woof: "BWAHAHAHA. YES." *leaves to get breakfast*]
This entry was originally posted at http://xyzzysqrl.dreamwidth.org/316502.h