Suspicious Characters!
The Shard from Teach na Mach

After the mess that was our last... adventure? It's time to start getting a bit more focused. From here on out, hopefully the stories will be a bit more coherent and linear.

Do you remember Hibernia? (Or however it was spelled -- you only get to see the Romanized version once lol) Yeah, me either. But we're going there!

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Pretty much we came here and fought Big Long a while back. This place is just south of Gladion, a bit south of the little forest shack where we fought Francis the Librarian.

After Big Long appeared, there were a bunch of minions all over this central area in some kind of war or something, and I decided not to mess with it.

But now we're gonna mess with it.

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Before fighting the minions directly, we run around to the various mines in this region and try out some easier fights. Julia now has access to the Life Rain water art, which heals the entire party and recovers their status. It's very helpful! It takes three turns to cast, though, which is... not so helpful. But you can start it at the beginning of a battle, and then you'll have healing by the time you need it. And if you don't, it's no big loss.

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In fact, Julia has learned a lot of magic arts. I'm starting to have a better idea of how to glimmer them. Before you know what's going on, it's even more confusing than UNLIMITED:Saga's magic learning system, but once you figure it out, it's not so bad. I did have a little help over at GameFAQs, so a big shoutout to everyone there on the forums.

It's time for MECHANICS EXPLANATION! If you don't care, just skip to the next image.

Basically, there are the same five elemental schools we had in unsaga -- fire, water, earth, wood, and metal. No forbidden arts this time, sorry. (Unless that's just something I've yet to discover). Each school has exactly three magic arts available. These can be viewed as each having a low-, middle-, and high-tier art.

When you use magic arts in battle, "Flux" can occur at the end. When Flux occurs, you have the option to absorb it into a magic art you already have. You can only absorb once per battle, and it goes into a specific art, so you get a list of all the arts across everyone in your party who has a staff equipped (all magic arts and Flux are channeled through staves) and you can choose which one art to absorb the entire Flux into. This gives you a chance to rank up that art. I think you need to do it a certain number of times and then a rank up becomes available. This is the only way to rank up magic arts.

But sometimes, you can also glimmer a new magic art! But there are some strict rules on how this works, and if you don't realize them, you could be stuck without glimmering new magic arts for a while. But once you understand them, you can glimmer magic arts pretty easily.

The chance of glimmering a new magic art while absorbing Flux depends solely on three things: the type of staff you have equipped, the art that you absorb the Flux into, and the elemental level the corresponds with the magic art you could potentially learn. The element of the Flux and the starsign of the character are irrelevant.

The level requirement is the easiest to understand. To glimmer a low-tier art, you need at least level 1 in that element. To glimmer a mid-tier art, you need level 2, and for high-tier arts you need level 10. Yeah, it's a big jump to the high-tier arts. This also means that if you have a level of 0 in an element, you can't ever glimmer arts of that type, and the only way to increase your elemental levels is to use magic arts of that type in battle, so... it's impossible to get magic arts or level up an elemental level if the character starts at 0. So that means characters come with pre-determined locks out of some elements. And most characters are locked out of all elements but their sign, so if you want a mage character you need to use one who has levels above 0 in multiple elements.

As for staves and the art you absorb Flux into, it's a bit more complicated, but not so bad once you understand it. Which art is available depends on the combination of both the type of staff and the element and tier of the art you absorbed flux into.

There are two types of staves: "normal" staves, and elemental learning staves, which have a specific element in them (so there's like water learning staff, wood learning staff, etc.)

Normal staves glimmer magic arts of the same element as the spell you absorb Flux into. So if you absorb the Flux into a fire art with a normal staff, that means it can potentially glimmer a new fire art. It essentially always glimmers the next tier upward -- so if you absorb Flux into the low-tier fire art (Hard Fire), you can glimmer the mid-tier fire art (Flash Fire). Absorbing into the high-tier art can glimmer the low-tier art. This means if your character starts with a mid-tier art only, it will be pretty late in the game before you ever can even use the low-tier arts with them, which is a little bizarre. For example, Guinevere started with Siren, the mid-tier metal art, so she can't glimmer Holy Grail (the low-tier metal art) until she's gotten all the way to a high-tier art first...

As for elemental learning staves, they glimmer arts on the same tier as the one you absorbed Flux into, but for a different element -- the element of the staff. So if you have equipped a metal learning staff and you absorb Flux into the low-tier water art (Poison Wave), you have a chance of glimmering the low-tier metal art (Holy Grail). So in the case of Guinevere before, because she starts with a mid-tier art, she can only glimmer other mid-tier arts, or high-tier arts in the school she's already glimmered a mid-tier art. And then only once she has the high-tier art can she glimmer a low-tier art... it's quite obnoxious.

Of course, if you start with a low-tier art, you just need a set of elemental staves and you can start to spread your magic arts like a virus, glimmering all the low-tiers with the different elemental staves, then using a normal staff to get a mid-tier, then you can use the normal for other mid tiers, or work at ranking up a mid-tier while you keep absorbing Flux into it with different staves equipped to get the other mid-tiers... stuff like that.

And the glimmer doesn't happen 100% of the time. And it won't happen at all if you happen to rank up your art in that battle. It's just a chance, but as long as you have all of the conditions met to glimmer the art, it will eventually happen if you keep absorbing Flux that way.

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Anyway, let's move on. While in Hibernia, I kept getting this super OP Grace of "Vach" that basically heals the entire party's HP, gets rid of all status effects, and gives everyone like... every buff. Like Attack up, Defense up, Speed up, Magic up... It was really ridiculous.

I also think that the Graces are tied to which region of the world you're in, so you'll always get Vach when you're in Hibernia or something. I'm not really 100% on this, but that's how it seems to me. But in the corner of your formations, you have a list of Graces, and each formation seems to have a different number of graces it can 'hold,' usually between one and three? So maybe there's a way to 'lock' them into a formation or something so you can get them in different regions?

But I haven't heard anything about this in the game. I'll have to look through the TIPS later more thoroughly, I guess (there's... SO MUCH though). I also think there are game mechanics that get introduced to you... later in the game somehow. Because people on GameFAQs talk about dual-wielding weapons, and "getting to" dual-wielding?! I try not to spoil anything, including mechanics, though, but I have passed by some mentions of that.

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Also in our rounds at the mines, Lewis glimmered Morning Glory, which has the most ridiculous animation ever. I didn't get good caps of the first part, but basically like an entire ocean forms around him and the enemy, parts so there's like a 'hallway' between the two of them, and then he dashes through the enemy at breakneck speed... we come back to the battlefield and the enemy like... EXPLODES. It's so ridiculous.

This costs 8BP, but it's quite powerful, and it also weakens the target's magic.

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Also, I'm pretty sure I've posted a pic of this already, but I can't get over Lewis's skill-level-up pose. He slowly raises his arms up like this, and then holds them up like he's waiting for the sun to fall into his embrace or something. Urpina does this, too, but it looks kind of normal and cute when she does it. When Daddy Lighthouse does it, I giggle to myself every time.

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Speaking of wild poses, the poses for learning new roles is always kind of ridiculous. Rico's skill level up pose is just some punching and kicking, but his role-learning pose is like this SCREAMING THING. It's uh... intense.

Also, the role he learned is called 'Impregnable Fortress' and boosts his resistance to all status ailments. I'll accept it, as long as he's still willing to impregnate my fortress.

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We take out the minions -- it's just another minion fight, nothing really interesting -- and a robe guy appears. but he's not a Savnok disciple thing! This is just a soldier from Fomoire, the city at the southern border of this region. It seems these were the other people warring with the minions when we arrived. (His actual title is something along the lines of "administrator.")

He thanks us for defeating them, since they were trespassing in the Grove of Silence. Leo tells him that we'd like to take a look around the Grove of Silence (if you've forgotten, the Scarlet Shards reacted here so we know there's one in this region somewhere).

But the guy won't let us -- the Grove of Silence is a sacred place, and entry by outsiders is forbidden. I guess I should also note that while the English above the grove says "Grove of Silence," when they talk about it in Japanese, they use the word for "shrine" instead of "grove," like those kinds of little Shinto shrines where you go to pray, and they usually have that rope you pull, and like a box for donations. Those kinds of shrines XD I mean, obviously, that's not what this place is, but it's clearly meant to be considered a sacred place of prayer, not just... a particularly quiet wooded area.

Anyway, Liz gets upset. She can't believe what she's hearing -- telling us to get out after we helped them. But the guy just explains that our help and the rules are two separate issues, and if we want to enter, we should get permission from Lord Fomoire.

The Grove of Silence is in the center of this region, and Fomoire is in the south. In the northeast is Makulilkahli (these names omg) and in the northwest is Ceobhran. All three of them have roads leading to the circle around the Grove, and each have these administrative soldiers stationed around the outside of the Grove, just like this guy.

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Lord Fomoire is like a somewhat less cute recolor of Obnoxious Religious Guy we saw earlier. Leo asks him if we can have permission to enter the Grove of Silence. He seems to have heard of us already, and apologizes that his soldier earlier seemed to offend us by not letting us in. He was only following his orders not to let any outsiders in under any circumstances.

Leo says it's no big deal. He gave us the permission now, and that's all we wanted.

But upon returning to the Grove of Silence, now the Makulilkahli administrator is telling us we can't enter. In fact, he gives literally the exact same spiel word-for-word that the Fomoire guy gave.

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So now we head to Makulilkahli, where we find the chief administrator is this fine piece of armor. Like, I feel the need to stress that I'm an armor fetishist and this game does not disappoint me in that regard lol.

He says he's heard about us already, too, but says he can't give permission to enter without due reason. Leo explains that he's looking for Ai Hanumu, and wants to check everywhere for clues and connections. Sexy Armor thinks this is a pretty funny reason, and we seem harmless, so he grants us the permission to look around the Grove as we please.

And, you guessed it, the Ceobhran administrator repeats the exact same thing when we go back to the Grove again. The head mage there says she's heard of us, and that we have permission. That's it. Afterwards, Liz comments about how she didn't bother thanking us or anything.

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Finally, we're able to enter the Grove. There we find the head of the House of Gwyneth -- and no, this family has not been mentioned before as far as I know, so I'm not really sure who this even is -- and Leo asks him if he knows anything about Ai Hanumu.

He tells us that it's the legendary capital, where there is a lake that leads into a deep ravine. It's a legend that everybody knows. Leo tells him that the purpose of our journey is to dump the Scarlet Shards into that ravine.

The guy agrees that the Scarlet Shards need to be dumped, as they're the remains of Firebringer and probably hold a lot of evil energy. Realizing that we're carrying some on us, he urges us to leave the Grove immediately, as something bad could happen if the Shards resonate with the Spirit Throne.

We leave, and Liz comments that the Scarlet Shards are serious business. Leo says that Doc told him he was born with a Shard in his hand. He always thought it was a joke, but he figured he'd learn more about that if he collected them.

Liz says dangerous or not, she wants to collect the Shards, dump them at Ai Hanumu, and see Leo's fairy tale story through to the end. It's not like Leo to give up. I don't know why she said the last part, as I didn't feel like Leo was suggesting he wanted to give up.

Anyway, Leo says we'll continue this story a little longer.

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Wandering around Hibernia some more, we decide to check out these ruins called Teach na Macha. It's pronounce like "Teah na Vaha," or perhaps the Vaha part is like Vach (as in, sounds like "Mach") But either way, an M is making a V sound and Ch are pronounced like H so I have no idea what language this is based on, or if they just decided to put some random letters and go with it.

Liz wonders if a Scarlet Shard could have fallen into the rubble here. Leo says that the pattern we've seen so far is that if someone else hasn't already claimed the shard for themselves, then monsters seem to be surrounding the area where it is. (Uh, monsters seem to be surrounding everything in this world, so I don't know how he deduced this as a pattern lol.) Liz says that either scenario is pretty annoying, and right on cue, a bunch of goblins pop out.

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Here's another shot of the Morning Glory axe art, just before the explosion part. The goblins were pretty simple small fry to deal with, so there's not much to say about this battle. Goblin mages tend to be the easiest to deal with, as they like to cast magic arts that take three turns to finish, so you can easily time how you deal with them and even aim for Rengeki and stuff.

Speaking of, if I haven't mentioned it before, there's an achievement called "Fever Time" for getting five Rengeki in a turn. It seems really ridiculous. Someone on the GameFAQs board has already platinumed this game (which is ridiculous, too!) and I asked if they had to try for Fever Time or if they just happened across it at some point in the game. They haven't gotten back to me yet though haha.

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One interesting note about this fight, though, is that the elemental field was actually rainbow and we got rainbow materials as rewards!

Afterward, we search the area again, and Leo says that we must have come too late, and someone else has already taken off with the shard. All we did was just face the remaining monsters. I'm not sure if I forgot to screencap something and completely forgot it was said, but I don't know why they are so sure there was even a Shard here.

Stopping by Ceobhran again, we ask the High Mage if she knows anything about the Scarlet Shard of Teach na Macha. She says that they, too, were looking for it, but it seems someone else got to it first. Liz comments that it's a bit suspicious. We head to Makuliallaiilalilailhahlial and Armor Hottie literally repeats the exact same thing as the High Mage did. And Liz says it's suspicious again. Like the dialogue is just copy and paste...

So, we go to ask Fomoire about it. Again, Lord Formoire repeats the exact same dialogue. Liz has a bit more to say this time, though. She says one of them has to be lying, and she feels like the Fomoire lot is especially fishy.

I don't know why I didn't screencap the fight at all, but if we return to Fomoire and persist about the shard, they attack, and we fight off some common knight types. It's really not hard at all.

But after beating them up...

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We go and take the Shard from them! It seems like they don't know we took it, because afterward Liz says her intuition was right, and we should get out of Hibernia before they notice.

There wasn't really any kind of boss battle here, and the little subquest for the Shard was pretty short and easy. We did fight Big Long long ago, and some minions, but... Big Long, minions, goblins, Fomoire peeps... that's only 4 fights, and none of them were difficult.

But hey, a Shard is a Shard. More stuff to dump in Ai Hanumu! Often at the end of quests, you get bonus rewards, too, so we got to walk away with 65 water crystals, 25 metal crystals, and 25 rainbow crystals. A decent haul for a small amount of work.