That Familiar Big Back ~
The March to the Sea
After some bandit shenanigans upon our arrival in Solophero, we recognize the rotund shape of our brother doing something off in the distance. Just who we were looking for! So it's time to see where he was headed.
We follow Roy until we reach an abandoned coliseum. You may remember this place as a subadventure before -- this is where the spirits of the fighters were lurking as Minotons and stuff in the place, looking for a final fight. But the central area was sealed off because the buttons to open the door were eaten by a wild vegeplast with a very big appetite.
But today, there's no spartan spirits or hungry veggies. Just our hungry brother.
I keep going back and forth on whether I want to keep my Diplomacy panel on Judy or not. It takes up space and with her three unique familiars and starting magic tablet, she's a bit desperate for places to put panels. It's not that I can't make up my mind, it's that I keep forgetting why I need it. I'll tell myself I don't need it because this run focuses so much on magic that I should be getting in as many battles as possible to learn from tablets. But what I keep forgetting is how helpful Diplomacy can be when there are multiple monsters on a space. It doesn't matter if you fight one monster or seven, a single battle only gives you one battle's worth of tablet deciphering experience either way.
Sadly, I don't have a lot to say about this adventure. It's the same old abandoned coliseum without the locked-center gimmick. You can just... walk straight to the center. There's not even much in the way of treasures exploring the outer halls.
In the center, though, instead of warriors, we find a huge hoard of bandits! This must be where they manufacture the bandit-spawning machines they used for the previous adventure...
The gang leader (at least, I assume that's who this is) just pops up and is like, "Hey, a small child! Let's kill it!"
Well, I mean, I guess we have a couple tough guys with us but he seems to be saying it specifically to Judy lol.
Then Roy just kinda pops up and starts talking about how he's been eating a ton of food now that Mom is gone (wtf) and Judy says he's not funny and tells him to get away...???
Then the boss guy realizes that Judy is just "Plumpy's" little sister and decides not to kill her after all, asking Roy to just take her and get out, saying he's been enough of a nuisance already.
I'm not sure why exactly the bandits know Roy nor why they change their mind upon learning Judy's connection with him. Also, I forgot how much of a "fat joke" Roy is made to be in the script... In Ruby's scenario he mentioned food once but he also swam through the torrential waters surrounding Avalon, an almost inhuman feat of strength. Perhaps the bandits know him here because he's just been running around doing whatever he wants and not even caring to intrude on the bandits, and when they tried to stop him, he was easily able to take on the whole group himself. Roy is ridiculously nimble and strong, so I wouldn't be surprised if he could, honestly.
But yeah, Roy goes on to complain that they call him Plumpy just because he "puts extra butter on his sammiches" (yes, it even says "sammiches...") I guess I like to believe that Roy goes along with the whole "haha a fat kid" thing because he's confident in himself or something, but... yeah, I wish they would have handled Roy a bit better. A fat character that's also athletic and powerful is a great idea, but then making his entire personality "FOOD" is just... sugh.
Now that we've had our comic relief, I guess, stuff starts to get serious again. We hear a voice call out from the crowd that Judy isn't going to be leaving with Roy. It's actually voiced, and if you have the voice captions turned on, the voice is labeled as "Bystander Bob" lol...
Judy starts to get a creepy feeling again, just like when Armand's weird friend did that incantation in the caves outside Serin. Hey, this is two creepy dudes in two weird bandit hideouts back to back!
Bob shows up and says we're definitely killing the kid. But the boss doesn't really want to -- and we learn he was against the attack on the village, as well. It seems Bob has been running the show, but the boss is getting sick of it.
But he isn't able to speak up for long, because with a quick magic spell, Bob kills him on the spot, claiming that he's the new bandit leader. He commands all of the bandits to attack Judy and her crew, but they just kind of stare. Bob grumbles that he'll have to do it himself. His last attempt to get out of his killing chores is to ask Roy to smother her with his belly, and he'll go easy on him...
And so now we're fighting Bob, who has like the evil version of Sailor Moon's Moon Stick. Unlike the guy we met with Armand, this guy seems to really know what he's doing.
Speaking of, I just realized that this guy manipulated or threatened the bandits into attacking the village. As I was saying before, Armand and Ursula seem to be a couple in Kurt's scenario, so I don't think Armand was really trying to "kidnap" Ursula, but rather the two of them perhaps were trying to make it seem that way, because the creeper back then manipulated them in the same way? Armand is a bit of a douche, but he's more of the annoying braggart type -- I wouldn't really see him kidnapping someone. My guess is Armand and Ursula are friends or a couple, but their parents have their little bickering thing going on, so when we heard the stories from them, it seems a bit skewed.
These guys are probably minions of Clyde, who seems to be targeting Judy and Rebecca specifically. He's hunting Rebecca himself and sending minions after Judy. Perhaps they knew that Judy (and especially a combo of Kurt and Judy) would be ready to save the day like any goody-goody RPG hero should, and staged problems in the towns she was visiting in order to lure her into caves or whatever to try to kill her.
I mean, both creepers seem to know of Judy already and are looking to fight her, and the bandits here seem to have just gotten caught up in their plot, so I would have to assume that Armand and Ursula did, too. Armand seemed to have recently met his creeper friend shortly before we got to them in the cave...
Anyway, I really overexplained that, so let's get on with the story.
Evil Sailor Bob has the ability to use all of the forbidden magic in the game, including the strongest and most elusive Forbidden Art, Ophion.
In addition to spamming Forbidden Arts like this, Degeneration, and Seal of the Abyss, he also has access to plenty of other stuff like Fire Arrows, Thunderbringer, and Aegis Shield. He's really a force to be reckoned with.
Since he has several opportunities to paralyze with his myriad arts, it wasn't long before Kurt was unable to battle. And Kurt and Armand are really the only people able to do any LP damage at this point, so defeating Bob was down to Armand alone.
Since we gave the armlet that allows anyone to use Purify to Kurt... we're unable to Purify Kurt...
Bob tore through Armand's huge LP pretty quickly, especially since we're still at the beginning of the game and don't really have good armor or any Life Protection. But in the end, throwing people over and over is a more effective battle strategy than summoning the most powerful forbidden forces in the universe, and Armand tossed the guy to his death.
After the battle, we're awarded "magic tablet of the forbidden spell." This... sounds like what Clyde is after so maybe these guys aren't minions of Clyde after all...? I mean that little bat thing wasn't with them.
I completely forgot that we get this magic tablet here, and it really messes up my immediate plans for Judy's Growth Panel. The only place I can really put it at this point is the top right, where I was planning to put one of her familiars. Else I'd have to get rid of one of her other familiar spots, get rid of Diplomacy or Monger, or get rid of her old tablet, which I'm still learning useful magic from...
But this tablet is actually a L3 Forbidden magic tablet, and this is the only time in the game you ever really get to use one (excluding if you happen to get one as an extremely rare drop from defeating a Rainbow Guckie, and uh... yeah. I don't know a single person who has ever seen anything other than a L1 tablet drop from a Guckie, and even then that's the only person I've ever heard of getting a tablet to drop from a Guckie at all...)
Er, point is, I want to use it, and I want Judy to have it. Honestly I feel like Judy would not want to study the tablet since she finds it creepy, but maybe she's studying it because she wants to understand what all of this is about and why Clyde imprisoned her grandfather in a mirror. And she just kind of... happens to learn the Forbidden Arts while trying to understand the tablet. Yeah, I'm going with that! But mostly I just want her to have it because this is her story, and it makes more sense to give it to her than like... Kurt or something lol. I guess you could just not give it to anyone but like I said, this is pretty much the only time we'll get to play with this! And Judy has a 5 in Magic Making, so she can become very powerful with Forbidden Arts...
Roy happens to snag a L2 Defuse panel, which is nice because I kind of need to move away from using Kurt as our box guy, because eventually we're going to have to bench someone, and since we very recently cleared Kurt's scenario and he got his whole story for himself, he's going to be the first to sit out. It's also pretty lucky that Roy got this of all things, since he only participated in the last battle and didn't have a chance to do too much.
Kurt got Quick-Fix L2, which is very convenient. But hopefully someone else will get it before we have to bench him. Not that we're using all too much item durability right now since we don't use weapons and we're not needing to use the armlets too much. Though the Opal one with Shock is pretty beat up right now...
Judy complains that her brother is embarrassing because he eats too much, but then changes her mind and says "a brother is a brother no matter how fat." Mr Crystal tells us we need to head to the northeast, and somehow Judy can tell it's far away. Roy says that it might be better to go by boat, and they should head to Gadeira and take a ship from there. Judy seems pretty excited about riding on boats, so we head out.
The next adventure is called "The March to the Sea" and is nothing more than yet another traveling adventure -- we just walk the path from Solophero to Gadeira, which is like... a little forest and a little cave and we're there. We do get to start Judy out studying her new tablet right away; there are more interesting arts on it than on her original tablet, so we'll come back to pick up those later.
Roy is now an adventuring member, too, of course, which means we have access to Magic Lock and Armor Blessing, since he knows them from the beginning. He also has the Sharpeye skill, so we can finally see what traps are on chests instead of just trying to defuse them blindly. Judy gets started on deciphering Firewall, which isn't one of the arts I care to learn, but it's better than studying Weapon Blessing (which does nothing in a no-weapons challenge!) or Degeneration (which would take way too long to learn relative to its usefulness...)
Things were going pretty well until I intentionally started a fight with a slime without thinking. Normally, slimes are not too big of a deal to fight alone. But the problem here is that we only have access to martial arts, and slimes highly resist bludgeoning damage. In fact, even our strongest throws do zero damage!
It came down to a last resort: using the Opal Armlet. The problem is I had forgotten to try to Quick-Fix it prior to fighting the slime, and the thing still only has 2 durability left on it. So if we don't defeat the slime in one hit, we are forced to break the armlet. If we don't break the armlet, I just we just throw until we die... (rather, I'd reset the game, I guess)
We did manage to deal the needed 1 LP damage on the second Shock, but now our Armlet is broken. And what's awful about breaking magic items that come with those anyone-can-use-them arts on them is that they lose that ability once they've been broken and repaired at the blacksmith. So now we have lost our access to Shock completely until we can find a magic tablet that will let us learn it...
Oh, we do get to walk through this road that has similar scenery to the place where Tribal Chief's Trials takes place, though there's a cool cave section here that we don't get to see during the Trials (at least, I don't think there are any caves there...?)
Other than that, this adventure was just walking, so it's kind of hard to say much. When we arrive in Gadeira, there's no scene or anything, just the Growth Panel screen. Judy got Aigaion back, so now the only familiar she's missing is Atlas.
At Gadeira, we at least do finally have access to a blacksmith, so we go mixing up some of our materials. I had unequipped Thomas's Iron Axe earlier, so I have some Iron, and by putting some wood into it, we can make Steel. I put all the wood we have, but we didn't end up getting special Steel. As always, there's no save scumming in this run.
But to make up for that bad luck, when I put a piece of Ravenite onto that Silver we bought long ago, it made Faerie Silver right away! So now we have a Faerie Shield! Though it's too early to see if it added Water Arts as its ability, especially since Magic Arts go into the fourth slot on shields, so we have to release all four slots to see...
Now all we have to do is head to the port and grab a boat!