Our First Friend!
Exploration in and Around Kei

So, when I last left off Scarlet Grace, we had just finished a bunch of stuff in Megdasse, and moved on to the Kei province. It seems to be a desert area, and I have no idea what I should be doing there.

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BUT before that, I wanted to go back to Yaxart or whatever the name of the area I started in was, and see if I could do something with that iron ore or the Scarlet Shards here.

Well, I couldn't. The only place I hadn't really messed with was this "Forbidden Point," but all I can do is examine it, and Liz talks about how they've been forbidden to go there since childhood, and it's said you should cook your baby's first meal over the fires there as a prayer for good health.

OK, neat, I guess.

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Despite being mostly desert, there are quite a few things here in Kei. Just from right where we walked in, there's a city of Kohan to the south, some nomadic shepherds to the north (raising sheep in the desert? lol), some waterfalls called Pot Falls, an arbor town to the north, and these weird strawberries everywhere.

Also, Rowsui Tower is to the southwest. That's the place we couldn't go through before. Now we can easily travel from here to Yax with no explanation of why it wasn't allowed before but it is now. Also, Liz seems perfectly fine traveling that way (when you transition major areas, Liz pops up and asks you if you are sure you want to go, along with some kind of comment), but when we try to go back to Yax through the mountain path, she gets mad and says "Aren't you supposed to be looking for Ai Hanumu?" (You can still pass through, you just have to deal with her scolding you lol)

So yeah, Liz is... uh... moody, I guess? Or maybe she just hates going through that mountain path.

Anyway, not much happens with the nomads, but they do seem hospitable at least. I examine the strawberries, but I choose not to pick them for now. I don't know why, but I feel very leery about doing everything in this game. I always opt not to do things and hope I find a hint at what might happen if I try. I wanna know what I'm getting into, I guess? But I never seem to get hints, so I should just rush head-first into everything like Liz wants me to do (while she watches safely from afar lol).

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Stopping by Kohan, one-track-mind Leo asks the first person he sees about Ai Hanumu (BTW I'm sure this has a much more reasonable English equivalent, but I don't know what it is... maybe if we ever actually reach this place, the game will display the name in Engilsh XD)

This stranger tells us that Ai Hanumu is at the edge of the world, way up north, as far as you can go. Maybe Santa Claus lives there? Anyway, that's the first big hint toward where to actually go to find Ai Hanumu.

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On our way out of Kohan, some weird and overly-excited guy rushes over and starts interrogating us. He asks us who we were talking to, demanding to know if it was Sigfrei or not. Leo tells him that we don't know who that guy was, "and we don't know you for that matter." Leo asks him about Ai Hanumu, and he seems annoyed that we'd bother asking him about stupid fairy tales like that and storms off.

Liz comments on his, uh, energy, and we're on our way.

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But only a few steps to the east and KABOOM. This big serpent thing rises from the ground! I'm guessing it's supposed to be the same one that was in the northern part of Megdasse, because Leo comments that "It's that big long thing again."

Liz, out of nowhere, declares that she is running a fever, and the rest is up to us. She's still available for the battle party, so I have no idea what this was about.

I didn't feel like messing with Big Long right now, and wanted to see what all was around in the Kei province, so I walked the complete opposite direction. As I was running around the southern part, I noticed that... now and then Leo would move strangely. Like he kinda... lunged forward all of a sudden...?

After a few times, I noticed it was happening around the same area, so I started running back and forth to see if I could get it to happen again. Then I noticed it was happening when I passed over this certain part of the backdrop and...

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I realized that there are roads in the game! I thought they were decorative, like all the other random markings on the map, but it seems moving on a road causes you to run rather than walk! Which is really awesome because the walk speed is painfully slow. I had been just crossing the road before so I didn't recognize what was happening at first (you kinda... run for the brief second you're going across it XD)

There haven't been a lot of roads so far; Megdasse and Yax seem to be even too underdeveloped for major roads like this, but we do have one going from Kohan to Nangoon, and then from Nangoon south to a ferry to Azhuacan (which is currently out right now).

Anyway, I always rush into towns even though I am hesitant to even pick a strawberry, so I head right into Nangoon. In fact, I even run into Nangoon ;D

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We arrive at... a strange place. Liz starts to get a very uneasy feeling and then--

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A person pops up and she SCREAMS IN TERROR.

After she calms down, we're actually able to talk to this cutie. He doesn't seem great at being social, but we learn that his name is Balmaint, and he's an executioner who carries out executions for Sigfrei, who apparently orders a lot of executions.

Leo mentions that we may have actually just met Sigfrei ourselves, but we're not really sure. Bal says it's doubtful, since he just had to execute Sigfrei himself. Didn't say why though?

Before he killed him, Sigfrei said something that particularly spooked Bal, something about having revenge or something. Leo was like "What, you mean like he said he'll come back from the dead?" And Bal freaked out and was like "How do you know what our conversation was about?! Tell me what you know!!"

And yeah idk it was super weird. So now Balmaint is following us around because he thinks we know something about Sigfrei. But we don't. But, uh, yay! Party member!

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Bal has a nice, big, hard 9 LP. He's also carrying an axe, a weapon I have yet to see in the game, so that's cool, too. He seems to be your expected big-damage type, with his axe having a power of 23. Our party is honestly not that great at dealing damage, so he's a very nice addition. Only Leo and Caspar's strongest (and BP-draining) weapon arts can deal big damage. everyone else seems to be support-focused. Gerome will probably get stronger when he learns some more powerful martial arts, though.

Balmaint has his own scenario/story in the game, so eventually I'll be playing with him as the protag. But unlike UN:Saga, I don't think we ever will have a limited party and are constantly encouraged to swap everyone around, so I will be using Bal in battle.

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Also, he taught us a new battle formation! Like in Romancing SaGa 3, certain characters know battle formations, and recruiting them will teach those formations to your party.

The formation is called Crooked Cross, and looks a lot like the iconic "Grand Cross" formation from Romancing SaGa 2, but the middle row is crooked. It boosts the attack power of the person in front and gives the same BP usage as Double Combine. The description says it's good for lasting a long time in battle to make use of high-BP abilities.

With Bal in tow, we leave Nangoon to look around what we may have not seen yet in Kei. To the east is a town called Taiffa, which passing through it will take us to another region called Sandoria, or something like that. I didn't choose to go, yet, so I'm not sure what it's like. (EDIT: Cindrea :P)

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Heading back up north, though... suddenly a phoenix appears. Leo is like "That bird is on fire! And it's huge!" LOL. It perches atop the Great Arch that you can see in the image, but when we try to approach it, it flies off to the south somewhere.

The description of the Great Arch makes it sound like we might find a clue about the phoenix if we search around there, so I decide to go ahead, which initiates a battle.

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The battle is against two Fire Spirits, who were ridiculously easy to take out.

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Here's Balmaint attacking. I put him in the front, since it's his formation, after all. Leo needed to rest anyway. The Fire Spirit is casting a magic at the moment, which is why those ofuda scrolls are flying around. That happens to anyone while casting (Guin gets those, too). I like the way it looks. Reminds me of Sailor Mars.

Also, I learned something quite valuable! Liz has a hammer art that upon hitting an enemy that is casting, increases the turns it takes them to cast by 1 sometimes.

Though, you can cancel your casting if you decide you no longer want to do it (uh, I guess I never explained this, thinking of it now, but magic arts take multiple turns to cast in this game), so the enemies can probably cancel their cast, too.

Bal does the same crossed-arms victory pose as the ... other guy... in our party (omg why am I forgetting his name??) so I guess the poses are not unique. (EDIT: Gabriel lolll)

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here's Liz's happy dance~

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Guin does this like hyper clapping thing. Also her outfit really shows how ridiculous the proportions on the female body model in this game is...

Anyway, after defeating the Fire Spirits, we don't learn anything about the phoenix at all. But for completing the bonus objectives, we got some ashes. I don't know what they might build, but these are the first I've found. I sadly didn't complete the objective to defeat the last enemy of the battle with Rengeki, but I did get the other objective to stop an enemy's attack by defeating (it's almost inevitable to get this one honestly), so I did get 2 of the 3 available ashes.

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But as we're leaving the great arch, we find... a dead body on the ground! I actually played this a few days ago and took forever to get around to writing about it lol, so I kinda forget exactly what all was said here, but I remember Leo somehow recognized that the death was caused by a Mandragora. There was some kind of thing where Leo said something like the Madragora made him very dead or something and Liz commented that there is not a magnitude to death, you're just dead or not. IDK.

Anyway, carrying on the tradition of UNLIMITED:Saga, we eagerly search the corpse.

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The guy has this uh... relic... thing. And it's only half of it. It seems he was searching for the other half, I guess? And it would be the right thing to do to carry on his work for him and take it, searching for the other half, right? We give him a proper burial and take his phoenix relic thing (the description of it calls it a Phoenix Relic, but I don't know how it's related to the phoenix lol).

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The big monsters also summoned these minion things (some kind of like... earthen... puppets... idk, they look like black-armored knights when you fight them). When we try to inspect the big bad in the middle, the game says we should take care of the minions first. But fighting the minions, nothing happens (they just... stay there and can be fought indefinitely?) and Liz says we should move on.

I have no idea what you're supposed to do -- maybe there's a special way to kill them that we don't have access to right now, like a purification item or something?

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Not knowing what to do, I decided to go fight at Pot Falls, where this werewolf thing killed my entire party. Joy! the second time, though, I was more prepared and took it out easily.

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Cecilia got a Rank up on her Shadow Sew thingy, that paralyzes! Which is great because it's very useful, so having it cost one less BP is a big deal.

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I also started trying out Gabriel's counter attack for the first time. It's a lot easier with the Crooked Cross formation, since the enemies more heavily will target only one party member. The animation is pretty intense!

After deflecting the attack, the camera zooms in on Gab's face...

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And he splits into two people...!

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This eyeball appears, and the enemy is inside it...? We zoom in on the enemy, and...

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We're back in the battlefield, but Gab is now behind the enemy, and slashes into it. Wild!!

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After the battle, I figure the only thing I haven't really done here is pick the strawberries, and I didn't find a hint at what they did, so I might as well just go pick them and see what happens.

The thing is, I did find a hint, I just didn't realize it.

I tugged at the plant but... it's a Mandragora! And everyone in the party lost 1 LP...

Out of curiosity, I tried to pick the other strawberries. The second batch were tasty strawberries that restored everyone's LP by 1, so we're back where we started. But then the next batch was another Mandragora, so we're down 1 again.

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At the northern end of Kei, we find Owtie Arbor, which I thought had a very nice-looking backdrop image (but a really dumb name). It makes you want to go have a drink there, right?

Anyway I want to note something weird about area transitions. The transition points on the north and east sides of Kei are both towns like this. The other two are the gate and tower.

When going through the gate or tower, Liz appears on the map and asks you if you want to go to the next region. If you say yes, you go. If you say no, nothing happens.

But when going through Taiffa, Liz appears and asks if you want to go to the other area. No matter whether you say yes or no, you go into the town, and when you exit, you appear either in the other area if you said yes, or back into Kei if you said no.

But when going into Owtie, there's no option at all. Pressing the action button just takes you straight into the town, and then there's a 'talk' option in the town, which will talk to Liz and then she'll ask you if you want to go to the next area.

Why... are there three different ways to transition areas like this when functionally it all is the same? it seems very confusing lol.

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Since I was already north, I decided to just go ahead and move on. We're now in Maurehua (please don't ask me to remember this name too T_T)

There doesn't seem to be much here, but there are at least roads!

When we first start moving, Leo wonders aloud where Ai Hanumu must be, and Liz says if we go north from this area, it will be the right direction. Leo questions why she is so knowledgeable about this, and she gets kinda weird about it. This isn't the first time Liz surprisingly knew something about geography or far-away things, and Leo seemed a bit suspicious about it, either.

I keep moving north, and then the phoenix appears again (I thought it had gone south?!)

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This time, we're able to approach it. Getting close, Liz comments that it seems like it's hurt or weak or something.

Leo's response is "You better not say 'Let's try to fight it!' or something."

Then you get to choose Liz's response. Of course the first option is "Let's try to fight it!" (The other is "It's not worth it" or something like that)

I chose to fight it, but it just flew away and didn't start a battle or anything.

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But as soon as it was gone, a man ran up and asked us if this was indeed the spot where the phoenix had landed. When we answered yes, he told us about how they're going to build a tower of prayer on that exact spot.

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And then... the tower project appeared.

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Not only did that pop up, but some other new stuff popped up, too. On each side of the tower, there are these little encampments -- one is a group of people who want to help construct the tower, and the other is a group of people who are opposed to the construction of the tower. They're all armed and everything!

I talked to the people supporting the construction, and was immediately thrown into the decision to trade with them. Liz asked if we could trade for their building materials, and they said they'd give us some for 60 fire crystals.

My only choices were to trade 60 fire crystals, or to attack them and try to take the materials instead.

I didn't want to do either! Thankfully I didn't have 60 fire crystals, so choosing that option just lead to a little conversation about how I didn't have enough.

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This monster appeared and seemed to be targeting the tower. I probably should have gone and talked to the people opposing the tower and heard them out first, but I decided to just fight the monster.

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It was a big spider thing! This is what the loading screen looks like between turns of battle, BTW. You put in all your commands, and then it just picks some weird camera angle and says "Ready" for a while. Eventually the turn actually starts.

The spider was surprisingly easy to defeat.

After this, I wasn't sure if I wanted to get involved with the whole rivalry over the tower since I was getting tired and wanted to go to bed when I was playing. So I decided to just wander around the area and see what else was in Maurehua.

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There was a place called "Spooky Forest" but it had no description and we couldn't interact with it. At the very north, there's a "Gust Gorge" that leads to a battle, but it looks like it should also lead to a new area? Maybe you have to clear the battle first. There's also this baddie in front of a mine.

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In the end I settled in a friendly village with another nice appearance and quit the game. One of the villages I visited during this play session also gave me a Fang Talisman thing, which boosts Speed by 1 without lowering Concentration or anything like that, so I gave it to Cecilia.

And that's where the adventures end for today. I hope I didn't forget anything between the time I actually played and the time of writing this entry lol. I'm surprised I remembered the details as well as I did, really.