Whose Side Are We On, Anyway?!
Zegna VS Parm

After the shocking events of our last adventure, it's time to get far away from Cerenaif Province.

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We head north to Thracini (sounds like bargain bin Dratini lol), which is beyond Edinport (the city with the plague that we never actually went to lol). It seems that this is the last stop before we get to our destination -- the bridge north of here will take us beyond the Empire's northeastern borders.

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Instead of running straight there, though, I decide to look around Thracini first. A river runs west through here, and the only way to cross it to get further south into the rest of the province is through Elhuacan, a city just south of a volcano.

We find this big, sexy armor (seriously, look at that... GUH), and Leo asks if he knows anything about Ai Hanumu. He asks if we mean that Ai Hanumu, like the "Once upon a time, there was a beautiful capital..." Ai Hanumu. Leo says yes and asks again if he knows anything.

He says he doesn't really know anything other than that, and there's probably a lot of treasures there.

Liz and Leo thank him smilingly (well, Liz smiles. I've never seen Leo smile O_o) and head off.

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But Sexy Suit wasn't finished, I guess, and calls after them. Liz appears again and asks if he happened to remember something about Ai Hanumu. He says that he doesn't know anything, but if we talk to the Grand Empress Dowager, she might be able to tell us more.

Liz thanks him gratefully and he walks off. As soon as he's out of sight, Liz's countenance turns to one of disgust and she complains about how annoying that was. Leo says he should have just told them to ask her in the first place.

The guy comes back and tells us he's requested an audience with her for us, and Liz's face perks right back up as she thanks him again.

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When we arrive, the Grand Empress Dowager tells us that it's very interesting that we're looking for Ai Hanumu, and Leo asks her if she knows anything.

She tells us that when the Empire was born and Azhuacan was destroyed, we lost the knowledge of the location of Ai Hanumu. There is a lot of information about Ai Hanumu, but not the whereabouts.

Leo says there should be a lake, since we have to submerge the scarlet shards. She says she hasn't heard of any Ai Hanumu lake.

And... that's it. Wasn't particularly helpful.

So, before heading south, we check the northwest side of the volcano, which is the only place in this little beginning area of the province that we haven't been yet.

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And BOOM! Guess who shows up?! I feel like it's been quite a while since we last saw Big Long, honestly...

But I really didn't feel like dealing with him right now. And now there are minions guarding the city, so we can't go south either. Now we're pretty much stuck fighting Big Long, going outside the border already, or going back.

I decided to go back. We go back to the road to get to Edinport, then take our boat back to New Wise. To transition back to Cerenaif, you have to actually go to New Wise and say to take the boat from there.

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But when we entered New Wise, we were greeted by the gal that brought us here the very first time on the ship from Cerenaif. She asks how we're doing, and Leo says if she comes with us, she'll know how we're doing. Then we can pick for her to join or not. Super random!! But now we have... yet another party member.

At this point, I've really started to realize that I can't keep up trying to train all of these party members. Like in previous games, enemies get stronger the more you fight them, regardless of whether or not your characters get stronger. And trying to train everyone is stretching this battle experience way too thin.

Likewise, trying to upgrade equipment for everyone to have something even when they're not in the party is wasting all my materials. I'm really struggling with battles now, and it's around this time that I decided to just focus on my favorite characters and important equipment. I still have at least three more playthroughs of this game, so I can try other parties and characters later.

Also, I think at this point I had stopped playing for the day and then next loaded my game and didn't remember what I wanted to do and went and fought Big Long LOL. Because my next screenshots are of Big Long. I played a TON before writing these entries because I got really addicted, and sometimes I'm really all over the place and it's hard to remember what my motivations were. Sometimes I decide to put stuff off because I think of something else I want to do first or whatever...

But hey, that's the beauty of the Open Scenario System, right? XD

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Thiago got an important Rank Up in the battle against Big Long -- the serpent spear art that poisons the enemy.

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No one died or anything in the battle with Big Long either.

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We travel to Elhuacan to take on the minions guarding the city so we can reach the rest of the province.

The fight with the minions wasn't anything amazing, either. I've gotten a lot better at defeating them, too.

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We reach a town called Stabiae and we see this big cutie (who is labeled just as "Stabiae Aristocrat") encouraging everyone to get together and chant praises to the Empire ("Long live the Empire!" and stuff like that).

Leo mutters to himself that he's a tiresome old man, and that's all we get to see of him.

There were a lot of random caves and stuff everywhere in Thracini, but no more cities or anything really, so I decided not to mess with it now after all. We head back to Edinport once again to sail on the Ilfee Sea. I got kind of random at this point lol.

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For some reason I decided to stop by this lighthouse as I was passing by it.

Lewis Darling pops out to tell us that if the light of the various lighthouses were to go out, the sea route through Ilfee would be ruined. They need a special kind of coal to light the lighthouses. Leo says the coal must be a pretty color, lol.

But uh, then he starts telling us about how there's three types -- Divine Coal, Spirit Coal, and Evil Coal or whatever, and it's the same stuff we learned before... but he explains it as if we don't know. Even though we went on a whole adventure with him about this...

He does mention that Divine Coal is the highest quality among the three types, and that it used to be used to make talismans. So I guess I picked the best one before...? Even though I was just kind of picking at random lol.

But yeah he prattles on about the importance of lighthouses and stuff. It's weird.

Then we just move on LOL

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Heading back south to Cerenaif, we talk to the Zegna Hottie again. He tells us that they went to look for more stuff in the abandoned castle, but it had all been destroyed, probably by Parm.

Leo asks him if there's anywhere else he can get weapons. Whose side are we even supposed to be on? XD

He says that the main exports of this area are fish and grain, and that there isn't even a single mine.

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The dog from before seems to have run to the mountains in the south and is causing quite a racket. Investigating, the dog leads us to a mine.

Well, that's convenient. Right after we talked about such a thing... Leo figures the Zegna guys would be happy if we told them about this, so we go and tell them. They are indeed excited and reward us with thirty rainbow crystals!

The archer seems to have moved into the woods where we met the dog, too. So we go talk to him.

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It seems that there's some trouble -- the Zegna lot has discovered a mine, but the mountain it's in belongs to Parm. Hmm, who would have guessed?

Then he tells us he wants to make sulfur nitrate. He thinks can find sulfur in the hot springs cave, and saltpeter "somewhere in the basement of an old building." I used a dictionary a few times at this part lol. Also who the heck is like "I bet you can find potassium nitrate in the basement of an old building!"

But yeah, he wants us to go find the ingredients and then have them made into sulfur nitrate at the water mill. He doesn't even really ask this time, he just kind of tells us to do it...

But of course, he'll reward us.

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Before heading over there, though, I notice a huge labyrinth near the archer, and decide to go check it out. The battle preview says it's just one Easy battle, so it's no big deal, right?

When we go in, we can choose whether to go left or right. Then we get into a battle.

And then this happens again... and again... and the battles get harder and harder...

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Eventually we're in a fight with a giant metal spider and it's quite difficult... really not what I had in mind when I came here.

We do manage to defeat it, though, especially thanks to Rico glimmering the angry-face counterattack that Gabriel had before. Leo even managed to rank his up, which is really nice, since you can only rank up your weapon arts through usage, and for protect and counter arts, that means actually having them activate in battle.

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But after that, we find a treasure chest, which had a Beaked Axe in it. This is way stronger than any axe we have -- in fact, it's stronger than most of our weapons!

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On the western side of Cerenaif, we find an old haunted house. Guess we should check the basement? We head in, fight some ghosts, and find some saltpeter. Why was this even here LOL.

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We head to the hot springs cave next -- actually, I did this later because I think I forgot what I was doing between play sessions again, but I'm going to talk about it as if I did it all at once -- and got the sulfur. On our way back, though, we see our dog pal from the water mill standing around with something in its mouth.

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We check it out and it seems to be a bag of fish bait. Or at least a bag for carrying fish bait. Fish bait bag.

As we try to approach the dog, though, it runs off and heads into the castle ruins where we destroyed the weapons before.

When we get to the castle, though, someone is being attacked by monsters and calls out for help.

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The monsters aren't strong, and we fight them off easily. And it turns out it was water mill guy. He says he likes to come fish in the moat up here sometimes, but then this happened. Did he like... want to fish for monsters?

Anyway, he thanks us for saving him, and Leo says that we've been looking for him because we need him to make the sulfur nitrate. I don't remember looking for him, but... maybe if we would have gone to the water mill, we would have found it abandoned. The dog was on the way there, though, and I followed it first.

He makes the explosives for us out of gratitude for saving him, and we deliver them to Parm archer guy.

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Leo asks just wht he's planning to do with the sulfur nitrate, and he says that since the mine that the dog found is a vein of fire ore, he's going to set it on fire so that it will burn for years to come.

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And he shoots something into the cave, and it indeed is ablaze. It seems like quite a waste, to burn up all the fire ore just so these other guys can't have it. But I guess that they're protecting themselves, since the Zegna people intend to attack Parm.

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We return to the Zegna group again, and Lead Lovely tells us that someone set fire to the cave, after we went through the trouble of finding it for them. I feel kind of bad that these people keep reporting all these incidents to us when we're like... the ones causing the problems for everyone?

Leo asks if it's true that Parm is invading -- OH. This whole time I thought that he meant that they were trying to invade Parm (they were just saying like "the Parm invasion" and stuff...) So Parm is attacking them and we just set fire to their last hope for --

Wow, okay.

But he responds that it's a possibility that they will invade, so they have to be prepared. So is anyone even attacking anyone? Why are we doing all this crazy stuff?!

He leaves it at that, and now we see some figure standing at the cemetery to the north, so I guess we'll go check that out.

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Leo just marches right up to the guy and is like "Mournin', huh?"

The guy says he is indeed visiting the grave of his passed rival. The both of them were trying to find the secret treasure of the labyrinth before the other, but before either of them could find it, his rival died. Afterward, he lost his motivation for seeking the treasure and stopped going.

But in his dying breath, the man said "Don't chase the black dog." Hearing this, he felt like this must have been a clue to the location of the treasure, and the rival had finally figured it out. But he doesn't understand what it means.

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Well, when you hear rumors about a place, you should go to that place. We head the labyrinth, and lo and behold there is a black dog. When we try to approach it, it runs into the labyrinth, so we follow after it.

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Inside, XBox Dog runs ahead, and Liz tells us which direction it went. Like when we came here before, we're given the option to go left or right. But now there's also the information of the direction the dog went.

Whenever we're told not to do something, that means immediately go do it. So we follow the path the dog takes.

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At the end, we end up fighting it. It's not too hard to fight, and we get an amulet at the end, but leaving the labyrinth, Leo says that it seems like we didn't find the secret treasure, and the dog is outside once more.

So this time we head in again, and always go the opposite direction of the dog.

We still have to fight it at the end, but this time we find the secret treasure! By the way, the word they're using for this is like the "labyrinth inheritance" or something and I'm not really sure what this treasure is supposed to be.

We take it to the Zegna guys, though, and Head Hottie seems thrilled that we have found something so valuable. In return, he gives us a Chrysoberyl Hairpin. I don't know exactly what this means or if this was supposed to be the treasure of the labyrinth or what. But he says it's for the protection of his people, and that things will work out somehow.

It seems that things are wrapped up here, as no one says anything new when we talk to them, after this, so we head back to Zegna to take a boat north to Ilfee again.

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But this time we run into our handsome friend again, and in his gratitude, offers to join up with us!

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His name turns out to be Lamar, and now we have another party member.

Of course, this actually happened a bit later, so moving forward we won't have Lamar for a bit lol. I got REALLY random in my playing for a while...