Now that we've reached Loch Vaan and given the rainmaking tablet to Yun to decipher, we're able to start our quest to gather the items for the ritual. There's no real structure here -- you just try to find the items in any way you can. You can get them through monster drops, treasure chests, and (primarily) through shopping.
The first thing we'll do is go to the inn in Loch Vaan and reconnoiter.
Most people say the same stuff they always do here about Sapphire or whatever, but we do find one interesting, tall, and handsome fellow. He tells us that a true carrier always remembers what items are found where (just out of nowhere lol). Armic thinks this is pretty amazing, since he can't remember anything at all.
The guy tells us that, for example, "The" Spirit Bow is in the Caves of the Undead. When Armic just responds, "Uh-huh," he takes it as a bluff call and says he'll prove it to us, joining the party so I guess we can all go see it together.
We'll that's one way to recruit a character, I guess. He's hot so whatever.
Anyway, a Spirit Bow is a bow made of Ash, which is one of the materials we need for the ritual. Ash is the rarest wood material, and generally a rare item in general, so this will make a great grab.
Before heading out, though, we check the shops and buy some Ravenite. It's kind of expensive to be buying lots of stuff right now, but we need six of these for our list, and they can also be useful later if we need to put Water Arts on something, which we very well might, so I don't really regret buying it for a bit over 1,000kr.
Heading back to Chapa, the Chief just tells us to get going. He'll continue to do this throughout the game, it seems.
So we indeed get going, and head back to Loch Vaan to take on the Sparkling Waterfall subadventure, which takes place in the Caves of the Undead.
If you don't remember from before, Sparkling Waterfall is the one where the girl wants to seduce a corpse by dancing on it, but she needs us to escort her through the dangerous cave.
And now that we're on an adventure, we can look at the status menu! Nuage clearly has one big strength, and that is his Strength (teehee). His Endurance Making is OK, and his Water and Wood Making are quite good, but his Magic Making is terrible, and Water and Wood get in the way of Strength on his Growth Panel. Plus Armic is better at Water and Norff is better at Wood, so it's pretty clear what would be most beneficial for Nuage.
However, since his Strength is huge, and Staff is a Strength-based weapon, I'm actually going to have him focus on Staves. Usually I give Staves to someone who isn't focusing in Strength since they are great for debuffs, which doesn't rely on their ability to do damage.
But what if we tried to pull as much damage out of Staff as possible? That's what I'm going to go for this round. Strength-based characters don't need to worry about LP damage that much, anyway, so we don't have to worry about Skill too much either.
Nuage comes with Obstacle Crossing L2, which is better than Armic from the start. I might actually split up the jobs between them (generally I like having both on the same character, but it kinda seems more fitting for Nuage to climb over stuff and Armic to swim).
Nuage doesn't have much of a story besides "is a carrier," but I still love him a lot. He's tall, a little awkward looking, has a nice rectangle head, has at least some amount of facial hair (mustache would have, of course, been preferred!), has cool hair... OK basically I have a crush on him.
But most of all, he has the most adorable Scottish accent and says the goofiest stuff. I blame James Doohan for turning me on to this kind of thing, honestly. Now I can't resist it. Pretty much whenever Nuage talks, I swoon, even though he's a complete dork.
He also does this weird pose during battle. Like this is just... how he stands all the time. It makes him look like a bear or something.
He comes equipped with a spear, but I quickly gave up on it since I wanted to do the Staff thing, plus Spears do better with a good Strength and Skill Level.
But anyway, look at his battle sprite ~~~ <3
Not long into the adventure, Armic glimmered Sinker. Since I'm still worried about weapon durability, I'm trying to use a lot of martial arts and only use the weapons sparingly. It's good that Armic needs the biggest HP gain, so I can just spam kicks with him to fill up my five actions after choosing a couple of useful things.
Sinker is nice because it lowers the enemy's Strength if it contacts, which is great to have early in the game. It also does pretty decent damage for an early-game art, though it's not the best, but it quickly became my main method of defeating enemies when I was not using weapon durability.
So Armic is proving to be pretty useful already, which is cool. Generally the protagonists seem to be kind of lackluster in this game, and like half of them seem to be good at Water Arts. So maybe it would be better to not have Armic take the Water Arts route, since Mythe and Kurt did that in the last two games... but if I do get a tablet with Ice Needle on it, I don't think I could resist, with that 4 Water Making...
In a little alcove in the back of the cave, we find a Spirit Bow resting on the ground, just like Nuage said. Despite the fact that this was mentioned by a character outside of an adventure, this doesn't count as a main adventure or anything. We're still on our short turn limit.
Eventually we reach the end and get to see the hot corpse that everyone is talking about. Makes you want to start dancing, doesn't it?
And out pops a TON of undead, including a Pinhut Titan.
This was honestly pretty scary. We only have three characters! And since the enemy party has a lot of members, they get a TON of attacks every round of combat. And no one has armor with Life Protection or anything like that, either, so they were able to drain our LP pretty quickly...
Once the Titan was taken care of, we focused on the smaller ones. Spamming a bunch of Thunderbringer proved to be quite useful.
The Pekkans (the slightly greener-colored ones) were kind of hard to deal LP damage to, but fortunately there were only a couple left at the end and it was a bit easier to manage.
The hoard also dropped Copper after the battle, which was one of the items on our list! Of course, we still need five more of them, but it's a start.
Armic got a Kick L2 panel to boost the power of Sinker for now. Nuage got Throw, and Norff managed to get a Locksmith L2 panel out of nowhere, so we can open more chests now.
Back in town, you can see that the "Ash" requirement has turned white to show that it's complete. Yay!
We go to visit Yun again and he says that he's only just begun to understand the mystery of the tablet, and as he understands more, the more the mystery grows. He says that the tablet lists four special items that are required, but Yun thinks that there should be five.
But he hasn't the deciphered the part of the tablet that gives relative information to each of these four (or five) items. He asks Armic which one he'd like him to work on first.
We're given a list of the five elements in the game to choose from.
This is where I did use a bit of guide -- or rather, looked at a forum post and a wiki page -- because this actually makes a big difference in how Armic's game plays out.
I'm not sure what exactly happens when Yun deciphers one, but based on what you choose, different locations in the game open up, so that means what subadventures and things are available to you will be different.
Of the five of these, four of them also lead to recruitable characters; however, for some reason (I'm really trying not to spoil myself so I'm not sure why yet?) you're only allowed to chose three over the course of the game.
So that means you will always have to sacrifice some locations and at least one playable character in your choices. I knew that there was some kind of choice in the game that made you choose this sacrifice, so I wanted to know about it ahead of time, because there are two major things that I don't want to miss:
Firstly, only one of the options leads to Vaftom. That means you'll miss the Festival of Regina Leone story event completely if you don't go there!
And secondly, one of the options leads to Pharr. And I definitely want to have Pharr.
So, I do know what options lead to Vaftom and Pharr. I forget which options lead to which other characters, but I do know that Water leads to no character at all. And Edel, who I was planning on benching is actually the one you get along with Vaftom, so it looks like I'll have to sacrifice one of the other two characters for the sake of Vaftom.
So knowing that, I will skip Water and make sure to choose Wood and Metal.
Wood is at the top of the list, so I choose that first.
"Wood, Please," Armic says in response. Then he thanks Yun for his work.
Trying to visit Yun again now gives us an "I'm still working on it" message, and the Chief still says the "get going" thing.
So it looks like our adventures are a bit more under way, and hopefully we'll have access to some new places soon.