Wooing Belly Dad
So, last time, we did some kinda random stuff and got a shopping list for gathering ingredients to make a Mermaid Potion, which might let us fall in love with a mermaid or something. We're picking up right after that, but something very, very important happened...!
The Magic Research Institute was completed!! Get hype!!
I'm particularly excited about this because MAGIC and in Imperial SaGa, the Research Institute ended up being one of the best things ever I added to my empire (in fact, I ended up going all-mages in that game before finally getting burned out on it XD Also Eleanor was SO POWERFUL omg)
ANYWAY, LET'S GO INSIDE!!
The rooms all have these little eyeball things that are like... looking up at the ceiling? And when you enter one of the rooms, the eyeball kinda squints? It's creepy. I feel like I'm in a Zelda dungeon kinda.
The eyeballs' colors represent which elemental school of magic is studied in the room. Also, they definitely use the "~ology" terms in here -- Pyrology, Terrology, Hydrology, Aerology, and Cosmology... I don't know if I talked about it before, but the game kinda went back and forth on what they call the schools of magic. It seems like in battle they call things "fire," "water," etc. but everywhere else they use the fancier names. But, uh, the game also uses both "Darkness" and "Blind" in battle like... when enemies get inflicted with it it says "Darkness" but then between turns when reading what they're inflicted with it says "Blind" and I can't even tell you how much this bothers me lol.
Personally I prefer the fancy study-sounding words, so I'll probably try to use those from now on.
In each room, there's a few people studying that school of magic. In the center of each room is the 'main' peep of that room -- you can both recruit them to the party and learn spells from them! Our good ol' Court Mages are here, and then we have a new class of recruits, the Mages-for-Hire. Basically, they're mercenary mages, instead of being Court Mages. While our Court Mages specialized in Pyrology and Aerology, the two Mages-for-Hire specialize in Hydrology and Terrology each, so now we can choose a specific elemental school for a recruit if we want.
The Mages-for-Hire were some of my favorite characters in Imperial SaGa, too. Lady Rose was one of my most powerful characters. I love their outfits, and at least in imsaga, they seem to be old women, which is cool, because RPG women are always like... all teenagers. And then the "older" gals are like 21.
I actually don't ever remember seeing the male Mages-for-Hire in that game, though...? They look funny and derpy in this game, too. Like one of their eyes is bigger than the other. But they're very adorable. I really like both of their designs. The women are super pretty, though, I really love their flowy-floaty sash things that kinda look reminiscent of butterfly wings or something? Reminds me also vaguely of Sailor Moon.
Oh, and in the Cosmology room, since there's only four unique mage characters in here but five elements, all four of them are standing in the center and we can learn from any of them in that room, but not recruit anyone.
There's also these machines that measure a character's "Logic," which I guess is a hidden stat that affects how proficient you are with magic. The lower your logic, the better your magic. Of course our party is all geniuses, so, uh, oops. I've also noticed that mage classes seem to have pretty high logic which is, like, wtf. I don't know if this is like the Weight stat where we can modify it somehow, but I can't see how wearing a different kind of gloves would change how logical you are so... probably not.
There's also a little stairwell in the back that heads down into the sewers, so we can easily reach the castle dungeon or the Thieves' Guild from here. Pretty cool.
Anyway, we now have access to a new class of recruits, and a few new spells, too! I haven't figured out exactly how you get the peeps in here to get new spells to their teaching list, but it seems to have something to do with the highest elemental levels you've achieved or something (I've, uh, had to go back here a lot of times recently...
Our party is full, so we don't get to recruit anyone new for now, but we do get to stock up on spells. Everyone in the party gets three elements!!
Sadly, you can't have all five elements on a single characters. Like in other games in the series, there are rivaling elemental schools, and learning spells from one will make you forget all the spells you know from its counterpart. In this game, Terrology and Aerology work against each other, while Pyrology and Hydrology also work against one another. Comsology doesn't have a rival, so you can use Cosmology along with anything else. Meaning at most, you can have three elemental schools' worth of spells on a single character.
And like the weapon skills, you can only know 8 spells at once. You also can't easily 'forget' spells like you can with weapon skills, so if you want to get rid of some to make room for others, you have to go around and talk to these teachers to learn spells of another school to forget all of one school then go back and learn only the ones that you wanted of the school you originally forgot and... yeah. They should have just added a 'forget' option like with skills...
With that done, we're kind of out of leads at the moment, so we start going barhopping to see if we can't learn anything new or realize we overlooked something. Oh, stopping by R&D, they finished a Straw Beret. Yay.
In Miles, the bartender has an option "To Cape Chalier," and me, being the memory-failure that I am, did not remember this being a thing before, and I decided to choose it. The guy just said that we can take the Beast Road, but he doesn't recommend it.
Well, it's a new place to go, at least!
"Cape Chalier" opens up on the World Map and we head there. It's pretty much just a little road/cavern area that doesn't take too long to get through, but there are quite a few monsters roaming around. Including those scary giant shrooms. We're better at taking them out, now, but it's still difficult to get through a fight without at least one member of the party falling. Maybe it would just be better to run every time instead of sacrificing the LP...
After getting through the little road, we hop over a little wall and we're... in Nuono. Oh. Now I remember this. This is how we could have gotten to the Merchants' place if we didn't take the boat. But we took the boat and I kinda forgot all about this...
So I guess we just wasted our time and lost a few LP for nothing. Yay.
Heading back to the World Map, we head to the Ludon Highlands, an area southwest of Tefal (that mining place) that we haven't been to. It's basically just a little road area, but when we leave out the southern side, we find this little village called Saigo Village.
This place is pretty sad. All the kids just say that they're starving. Apparently the village gets by solely on trade with the city of Toba, but the route has been inaccessible because of a rise in monster activity. Even the sign that says the name of the village just says, "... Vill..." on it...
But I'm very excited about this and want to help them as soon as I can! Because I know who the Saigo are from Imperial SaGa, and you can recruit them... and they are like... bearded belly dads...!!! Definitely my thing lmao. Even though it's not like the sprites in these games are terribly detailed, but still... I knowwwww what they look like...
There wasn't anything else to do in Saigo, though, so we head out. There's a new place on the world map next to the Saigo Village called East Oubliette. And yeah, I didn't realize this was meant to be the path to Toba that was blocked by monsters. Also, when they said they trade with Toba, I was thinking of Tefal. Like, the mining place to the north, on the other side of Ludon where we just came from. So I was like "wtf why did this random area appear for no reason???"
I went inside anyway, and there was a stationary snake enemy in there; I'm guessing some kind of boss. I started fighting it, but it was tough. And I still wasn't really sure what this place was for, so I decided to run away and come back later. You know, in case I need to actually do this for some other quest later. Even though I'm supposed to be doing it now.
Heading back to the Ludon Highlands, we exit this time to the east, and find... Lake Aqua! Actually, somebody told us this was here before but I totally forgot. But hey, we can get some water from here! That's one of the things we needed for the Mermaid Potion, so now we only have one thing left to find...
Or so I thought... when we try to take some, this mermaid-like lady pops out of the water and refuses to let us touch it with our filthy hands. Saying "they're not that dirty" doesn't convince her to back down, though. She says the water can be purified with a Moonlight Comb, so I guess we have to find one of those before we can take the water. Looks like we've stumbled into a fetch quest...
Saddened, and lacking direction, I head back to Avalon. At least our tree has gotten even bigger now! Look at the little guy... so grown up.
Information Peep isn't helping, so I turn to the journal thing from the menu and see if I can't find a hint on where to go.
I read the thing about the trade route between Saigo and Toba being closed off again, and I'm determined to go solve it. The entry in the journal makes it sound like we definitely need to clear out the monsters from the trade route to open it back up again...
So I head to Ludon and start fighting monsters there. I keep looking for stationary monsters, thinking I might find a boss that will clear the place out, but there's nothing. I end up fighting every last single thing in there. Even after defeating all the monsters in the entire Highlands area, I keep walking around and pushing into walls FF5-style, hoping I find some kind of little secret cave or something.
But no matter what, I can't seem to figure out what to do. I go back into the adventure notes section to read it more carefully again. No new hints come to mind. But maybe I'm supposed to go to Toba first and solve it from there.
So I exit out of the Highlands and go to the world map and put my cursor... over... Tefal... and only finally realize now after reading "Toba" so many times that this place is not Toba. Thinking about where Toba is, I suddenly realize that that is what the stupid East Oubliette place is for and I really want to punch myself in the head...
We head back to the oubliette -- which, by the way, is a prison dungeon that is only accessible through a trap door above it; definitely not what this is -- and head to the middle part where the stationary snake enemy was again.
This time, the battle is even harder than when we came by here earlier. But we also have some new skills and stuff that we glimmered while fighting every last existing monster in the entire highlands area, so... uh, that's good, right? Also, I love how Crow dabs when he gets hurt lol.
We have to fight four Quezacotls, which are pretty nasty snake things that are also capable of healing themselves. Snake enemies in general can't be stunned with the spear's Trip skill, and they don't seem to be able to be paralyzed, either. So we have to let all four of them constantly barrage us with their offense the entire time.
In the end, Crow died and lost some LP, but when we won the battle, we got an Aerology level up for Taurus, Spear and Hydrology levels up for Louis, and Spear and Bow levels up for Beaver! Pretty awesome. The cave also gets completely cleared of monsters, and when we exit, there's now a route to S. Longit (the area where Toba is) at the northeast corner of this place's world map now.
Heading back to the Saigo Village, though, it doesn't seem like too much has changed. The children no longer complain about starving, so that's good, but the place is still disheveled and there don't seem to be any more leads. A guy now sells us a shell he got from someone in Toba that apparently allows us to speak with Narwhals or something. And people still talk about how there are people who still "live with mus," but they were saying that before anyway.
But now, there's a "Mu Tundra" location we can visit! And LOOK!!! BELLY DAD IS RIGHT THERE!!!
I thought, "This is it! We can recruit him!" and I was already considered killing off someone in the party just to open up a slot (because as far as I can tell, that is the only way to dismiss someone from the party lol).
... But it seems like we can't. These people got some problems. They live alongside the Mus, those like... animal... things... and the Mus need to migrate south while Strait is still frozen so they cross over it. But there are monsters there, and if they don't go away soon, the Mus won't be able to migrate.
We're given the option to choose to help or ask for the location, which is very curious because I feel like asking for the location is implying that you're going to help, so I really wonder what the difference between the options are. And there's a much more obvious "don't help" option in the form of "mind your own business," so... I have no idea.
But, hey, at least we have some direction now!
A new place opens up to the south called "South Oubliette." Mu Peep says he thinks we may even be strong enough to face the dragon here (errr... we're going to have to fight a dragon?! D: )
This place is pretty huge, and lots of little places where you can hop around to move to other areas more quickly. It almost seems labyrinthine at first, but it's actually pretty straightforward like everything else in this game.
The battles in here can be pretty rough, though. We run into this Nosferatu guy. Seems like a boss, but this is just a regular enemy. And he's pretty terrifying. He seems to have tons of HP, and he can drain the HP of our party members, healing himself while dealing lots of damage. He can attack the whole party, inflict status effects... pretty much anything scary you can think of.
After a long time running around in here, we find a basement area which is super wide with monsters everywhere. We come across a really long stone staircase that leads to a path with some light. Looks like it goes outside. Kinda weird that there would be an outside area here only now, but...
... Wait, what???
Well, finally something wasn't ridiculously linear and I screw it up. I guess that was the exit and we didn't find the dragon or whatever... So now we have to go back in and do it all over again.
At least on our way back through, a monster drops Crocodile Armor which is a light armor with 8 defense, the best we've seen so far.
In the wide basement area again, we end up finding a stationary lizard enemy. I guess this is the "dragon"? But when we approach it, it's just these regular enemies...
Despite that they were really easy to defeat, they were indeed the boss, though. The entire cave gets cleared out after defeating the Lizard Ladies.
We head back to the Mu Tundra to talk to Mu Peep. He's thankful for our help and tells us to let him know if we need anything (dehehe). He says something about how we might be able to find the crew on the other side of the strait when they migrate, and then... the game says, "144 years later," and we're prompted to choose a new emperor. Definitely was not expecting that. And despite my hopes, we're not able to choose one of the Saigo peeps as an emperor.
So I guess the Era of Crow is over, and we'll be starting with a new emperor next time...