The Professor's Pets
With our harem party fully assembled, we're now free to do all kinds of interesting stuff around the world. I mean, we were free to before, I guess, but I wanted to get all the members as soon as possible. So now there's a lot of stuff we can do.
First stop, heading back to Great Arc where we hadn't really explored before.
Not that there's too much here, but before we talked to Herman and he immediately took us to Black's treasure cave, so we didn't really get to see our way around the resort.
One of the islanders tells us that the real reason people come here, rather than to have a resort vacation, is because they want to try to find Black's treasure.
And it seems the islanders don't have any trouble exploiting that, either -- many of them will ask to show us the location of the cache for a fee. When Mikhail asks if the treasure includes the orichalcum dolphin, they'll say "!!OFCOURSE!!" with exclamation points on each side and it's hilarious.
... But none of them show us to the right place. Each one leads us to a different cave, so now we have a total of five caves opened up around Great Arc, including the one Herman took us to. Of course, the one Herman showed us is the correct one, so these others are just random caves. But it's a bunch of new places to explore, so it's worth the little bit of cash to open them up.
When you stay at inns, there often are not enough beds for your whole party, so some characters will just sit at a table or stare out of windows or something. When we sleep at Great Arc, Mikhail and Tiberius
hold hands and watch the sunset together.
I also just realized that when people sleep in this game, they use their about-to-cast-magic sprite... A lot of characters close their eyes or look down, so I guess it works, but like in Herman's case, he just holds one hand up, so he looks so awkward in bed like that.
From Great Arc, we're actually able to take a boat to Ake, a place we haven't been at all. This is another tropical area, but instead of being resort-like, it's on the outskirts of the jungle.
A man here tells us that the Fire Lord Aunas is said to be sleeping in his Fire Tower Fortress deep in the jungle. This coincides with the information we were given by Johannes, so Aunas probably is out in the jungle somewhere.
Another person said that the jungle is where the fairies live.
We can enter the jungle by exiting Ake from the south, but we don't really want to go here yet. It's confusing and weird, and you can easily get lost in there.
The Ake shop actually had a club in it! And for only 20 aurums, too. So we take it to the workshop, where Nora has now started working, too, since we dismissed her from the party. I guess she lost the will to look for her father's killer when she realized she'd have to do it alone. But she wouldn't have been a match for Maximus anyway, so I guess it's for the best.
They get started on the Golden Bat.
Next, we head to Kidlanto, another one of the villages we've had access to but haven't explored yet.
Most of the townspeople here are wondering if anyone's going to help solve their monster problem, and that we should hear what the mayor has to say about it.
In one house, we find a girl with a unique sprite. She recognizes that we are travelers, and asks us if we've happened to meet anyone named "Paul." We don't know who she's talking about, though. She says that Paul said he was going to become a 'brave adventurer' and left the town.
Visiting the mayor's house, we talk to his wife, who says if no one exterminates the monsters, then eventually that girl will... but she trails off and doesn't finish what she was saying.
But when we talk to the mayor... he's one of the agents of the business minigame... which means we can't actually talk to him until we clear this game or until we give up on the game and quit it.
So, I decided to go around seeing how well I could do buying stuff up, and was just going to give up if it seemed like too much. I ended up getting a bit addicted to it and played it all evening.
As you advance, you start having tons of money, and get some really powerful groups on your side. I also realized that it's important to look at the owner of the company you're going to buy, and not just buy whatever is cheapest. If you try to acquire a business from one of the wealthier and more powerful companies, they will be much more aggressive, and it seems to entice them to try to buy out your businesses from under you, too. Dophorle is of course the worst, using sneaky tactics and stuff to make it even harder to buy businesses from under their influence.
Eventually, though, Mikhail Company became the most successful firm in the world!
There's a lot of weird stuff about this subquest. In Wilmington, the agent is a little girl. And you can change your secretary's appearance to different things depending on which agent you're talking to at the time. I changed mine again to a cute mustache guy like the northerners.
While running around monopolizing every last asset that exists in the world, we came across this sign. It's an ad for a freak show, claiming we ~must~ see it before we die.
Well, we can at least go check it out.
It costs 10 Aurums to get in, and there are a few little tents scattered around. In case you're curious, the freak show actually moves around and you just have to kind of stumble upon it as you're playing. Whenever you see the big sign near the exit of a town, you can visit it there.
Anyway, the place is a total bummer. There are random people puking on the ground after seeing some of the more "grotesque" shows, and all of the attractions are completely crowded so we can't see a thing at all.
In one of the tents, though, what we can overhear is a bit disturbing. People are commenting that it's "not moving," and trying to taunt it. After some rustling and banging, we overhear crying, and a voice calls out "Stop!" from inside the case in the center of the crowd.
The crowd doesn't seem to care or want to stop though, and are just more excited because "it talked."
We can't get anywhere near with the hyper crowd surrounding it though, so we have to just leave, trying not to step in vomit puddles.
Staying at the inn that night, Mikhail can hear the sound of crying from his bed, and recognizes it as the voice he heard in the tent earlier. We're given the option to go try to rescue whatever it is.
We're able to enter the show grounds at night when no one is around now. We find a fairy in the cage, and upon opening the cage, it runs away quickly without saying a word.
I kind of remember there being some kind of midboss here before, but we didn't have to get into any fights. Just this little scene. Though I forgot to go check the other tents, so maybe there's an optional boss in there you can fight for some treasure or something. Oops.
Back to our original goal, after a LOT of running around and trading, Mikhail Company finally bought out Dophorle Firm! Fullbright rewards us another 10,000 aurums, and the minigame seems to come to a close, as we can only ask Fullbright to join the party at this point.
Forgetting about Kidlanto's monster problem for a bit, we head back to the forest outside Zweig where people said there were strange animals roaming around recently, and that one guy even said he'd buy them from us if we captured them.
Here we run into a large house deep in the woods, with a... very interesting woman inside.
She asks us if we know whose house this is. Before we can even respond, she answers that it's the house of ~The Professor~. Mikhail asks who that is, and she says that people call this person The Professor.
She runs to the middle of the room and starts an entire song and dance number...
The song pretty much sings the praises of the wonderful genius Professor who is an unparalleled huge huge huge huge huge huge huge huge genius.
When she's done spinning all around, she says that The Professor is so amazing she got dizzy. Mikhail asks where this amazing Professor is, and the woman responds that she's right in front of him.
She's says a little line with a pun about how she's a genius and she's thirty- er... no, twenty years old!
After this introduction, Mikhail just says, "We're leaving," and starts to walk away.
She stops us and says it's not just that she's smart, but she's the epitome of beauty with the perfect body that's perfectly proportioned. We wouldn't want to leave a beautiful girl like that all by herself, right?
And with that, we're able to just walk away. But if we talk to her again, she tells us that she actually has a favor to ask of us. Four of her cute pets have run off into the woods, and she wants us to go find them and bring them back. We'll definitely recognize them right away.
These must be the strange animals people were talking about in Zweig.
Wandering around the woods, it's not long before we run into... this thing. Its name is like... "Weirdfaceplant." It's not particularly difficult to fight, and by beating it up we're able to capture it.
The next one we find is Barney, a rabbit carrying a golden watch. The pets wander around the woods and have the 'elemental' enemy sprite, and unlike the normal monsters, they don't attack the party, so they're pretty easy to spot.
Next we find Mukchar, who is definitely the most difficult of the fights, but even then, it's not too bad. Mukchar is actually asleep when the battle begins, which gives you some time to buff your party and stuff if you need to, or a free round of attacks. I chose the buff route and we eventually took it out.
The last pet we found was Mako. This thing died in like one hit. It was pretty underwhelming after fighting Mukchar just before. At this point we have two options -- we can take the pets back to The Professor as she asked, or we can head into Zweig and sell them to the man at the bar who was offering to buy them before. Either way the quest will be cleared, but our greed will shoot up a lot for selling the pets.
Taking them back to The Professor, though, we're rewarded with... a kiss. Doesn't she understand that Mikhail is interested in the fuzzy-faced old guys? He has an entire harem of them...
She tells us that there actually is one more escaped animal, a rat named Algernon. He's actually a genius rat that she created at the request of Zweig, but he's not a pet -- rather, he ended up being very dangerous, and if we find him, we need to kill him, not bring him back like the others.
On the way out of the woods, I decided to screencap this magic art to showcase it. This is Daybreak, that Tiberius comes already knowing. Basically it's an insta-death magic art. The solar power blazes across the battlefield, and can suck up enemies. The success rate is actually pretty high against small fry, but this can even work on a few bosses, too!
Algernon doesn't seem to be in the woods anywhere. Wandering around Zweig, we don't seem to get any hints on where Algernon may be, so I'm guessing he's not here. We head to the next closest town to the woods, which is Kidlanto.
Now that we've finished the Mikhail Company stuff, we can actually talk to the mayor about their monster problem. Maybe Algernon turned into a giant monster and is terrorizing the people here?
He tells us that in this village, they have to sacrifice to the monsters to protect the town. But maybe we could exterminate the monsters! He promises to reward us greatly.
He leads us to the cave just outside the town where the monsters apparently dwell.
But once we enter, he seals off the entrance to the cave!
Mikhail tries to yell to him and realizes we've been fooled -- all along he had intended to trap us in the cave, because we're going to be the sacrifice to the monsters. He has to do what he has to do to protect his people. The man pretends that he can't hear us very well anymore, and we have no choice but to travel deeper into the cave.
I mean, we can just kill the monsters, right?
Following the SaGa tradition, there are lots of dead skeletons lying around in here. You may notice that in this room there are a couple different types -- first there are the light and dark ones. The light ones are actually undead, and will start walking around when we get near them.
The dark ones have two different shapes -- one with the head kind of upright relative to the screen, and one with the head more on its side.
These dark skeletons actually function as treasure chests, and the ones with the heads 'up' represent unopened boxes. When we take the items from them, their heads will fall over to signify they are now an 'opened' box.
The cave isn't terribly huge, and eventually we reach a corridor where the game's music stops playing.
Traveling deeper along this path, we eventually reach a very dark clearing. And then little red eyes start shining all around us...
Suddenly we find ourselves swarmed by rats! There's so many of them that the screen shakes. There's still no music, and all we can hear is the scurrying and squeaking of the rats as they attack us.
When attacking the rats, we're able to choose between eight or nine different 'targets,' which are just various points in the swarm. The rats can hit everyone in the party at once, and no matter how much we fight, we can't seem to defeat them...
Eventually we have to resort to using the 'run' command.
Mikhail comments on how it's useless to try to fight the rats, and we'll only end up eventually being eaten alive. We have to try to find a way out of the cave.
Returning to the entrance, we find that it's still closed off, but someone on the other side seems to overhear us, and calls in for us.
Realizing that we're inside and still alive, the girl who asked about someone named Paul helps us out by removing the boulder that blocked the entrance. Though the conversation makes it sound like we've never met before, and she explains Paul all over again (Mikahil even asks for his name like he never heard it).
Mikhail asks her why she decided to come rescue us, and she said it was because she was thinking about Paul, and how we were adventurers like he wanted to become, so if we traveled to lots of towns, we may know of him.
Mikhail says that if we find Paul on our travels, we'll definitely tell him that Nina is waiting for him. I don't know how we just knew her name was Nina, when we had to explicitly ask for Paul's name, but... okay.
We exit the cave and go back to The Professor's place, telling her we may have an idea what happened to Algernon... It seems that the genius rat is able to lead all the other rats, becoming essentially the controller of his own rat swarm.
Mikhail asks if there's any way she knows of to kill Algernon, and she gives him a bottle of cheap commercial rat poison (it has a name that kinda means like "Without a Cat" lol).
Mikhail is a bit... surprised that this was The Professor's solution, and asks her if she really things we'll be able to win with something like this.
Of course we can -- our enemy is a rat! And if such a genius suggests it, there's no way it could be wrong.
Heading back to Kidlanto, we stop by Nina's house near the entrance of the town, but she doesn't seem to be home. We also have a bit of a bone to pick with the mayor, who trapped us in the cave, so we stop by his house.
But he tells us that poor Nina had to end up becoming the sacrifice.
So, instead of trying to fight with this guy, we rush back to the cave to rescue Nina... but she's nowhere to be found. We make it all the way to the hall where we found Algernon and there's not a trace of her yet...
When we approach the dark room again, Mikhail curses the rats for having eaten Nina, and prepares to attack.
This time when we fight the hoard, the boss battle music is playing, and Algernon gets a separate attack from the rest of the rats, so we take even more damage. Algernon can also poison the party members.
We automatically use the rat poison between each round of combat. Unlike when we attack the rats, it doesn't just do one set of damage, but rather does damage to each individual target, so all the rats get hurt and we can see their damage.
Except Algernon. He takes 0 damage from the poison.
But this is our clue! The only way to win this fight is to attack Algernon. The other rats have infinite HP, and Algernon's location in the crowd will change every round of battle, so you have to watch when the rat poison is sprayed so you can target the one that takes 0 damage from it.
You can also use arts that hit all enemies, like Random Arrow and Thunderclap, and you'll be certain to hit Algernon. You can actually defeat him on the first go if you do this, I think, but you'll need to have access to a lot of strong group attacks, because the hoard can overwhelm you easily. This is a battle you have to win quickly.
Afterward, Mikhail seems distressed and sad that we weren't able to save Nina. But she comes up behind him and surprises him! When she was thrown into the cave, she brought meat with her and used it to keep the rats busy eating while she ran and hid, trying to stay alive as long as possible. Since they could eat a bit, it would be a little longer til the rats needed a "sacrifice" meal.
With Nina safe and sound, we go back to the town to talk to the mayor again...
And all he says is "I'm the mayor." That's it. Nothing else happens. He doesn't even apologize or anything. It's like nothing ever happened...
Well, I guess that's where we'll end our adventuring for now, then...