Vale of Swords ~
Big Ol' Rascals

After our last adventure, we need some kind of break. What a better place to take a place than the Vale of Swords, swarming with undead and hazards galore!

After arriving in Solophero, I took some time to go shopping with the chunk of money we picked up along the mountain path in the last adventure. We ended up with 6,066kr, and I found a delicious Ironstone Axe in The Seahawk Inn for 6,752kr. Fortunately, with Ventus's 15% discount, I was able to bump that down to 5,740 and barely afford it.

I went to the blacksmith and added some Copse to it that I had found along the mountain trail as well. If you remember, adding wood materials to Ironstone turns it into Iron, which boosted the power of the axe to 50 (it was 45 before).

I gave Kurt the new axe in place of his Copper Sword (he still has the Tortoise Sword to deflect with). I think I'm going to try to get him using axes for this run, unless he gets some really great magic tablets.

From here, we now have a couple more options for adventures we can take, and one is the Vale of Swords. And that's what I'm going to do, because the monster rank is still low, and this will give us access to Serin (and even closer to Sadovos, where I really want to get to).

I guess now is a good time to give a basic explanation of how Kurt's story progresses, since I promised I would in the last entry.

To put it simply, every time you clear an adventure, some 'time' passes in the game, and as the time passes, events will occur, and Kurt will gain access to more locations. There are no required story adventures except the final one that leads to Chaos, but there are many optional ones where you can recruit new characters or towns. For example, taking the Vale of Swords adventure will give you access to the village of Serin, which will give you access to a lot of useful adventures.

So, I choose the Vale of Swords adventure from Solophero.

And immediately...

UNLIMITED:Saga screencap

Gauntlet battle! Because they are on a timer that only cares about total gameplay time, generally you'll start every adventure with a Gauntlet battle, since the time you spend shopping and stuff is enough to trigger one.

This time we're fighting Greedy, a reddish-colored Guckie. This thing wasn't too hard. Kurt took it down pretty quickly.

Not particularly exciting of a fight, but one nice thing did come of this...

UNLIMITED:Saga screencap

Kurt's Gauntlet panel is now L2! As you can see, this boosted his stats a little bit.

UNLIMITED:Saga screencap

Anyway, if you don't remember the Vale of Swords from before, this is the place where you cross the bridge and it breaks, and your party is split on each side of the vale, and then when trying to cross a rope, the second half of the party falls into the vale, and the upper party has to get some vines to help them up while the lower party has to find their way out.

In our case, the upper party is Kurt and the lower party is Ventus. Just them. No one else.

UNLIMITED:Saga screencap

Before the split, a failed Defuse led to a fight with a Treasure Slime. Sadly, it did not drop a magic tablet, though we did get some Quartz from it.

The Vale can be very scary, but if you know your way around, it's not too bad. I did have to use up a lot of weapon durability on both Kurt and Ventus, and Ventus did lose a lot of LP (Kurt was surprisingly bulky), but in the end, everything turned out okay.

UNLIMITED:Saga screencap

While gathering the vines for Ventus, Kurt got into yet another Gauntlet battle. This is the Chaos Crab, though I wouldn't say it's particularly chaotic. It did drain a lot of Kurt's LP, but Kurt managed to defeat it in the end. And his LP came back! I mostly used Throws, but did throw in a few Tomahawks in there.

Crossing the Vale was difficult, but not nearly as difficult as the first adventure. Kurt got a L3 Swimming panel, which might come in handy later.

Once we came out the other side, we arrived in Serin, where there seemed to be a lot of hubbub in town about some guy called Armand. I think we heard him mentioned briefly from townies in another adventure, but he's the leader of a gang of bandits that hangs out in a cave near Serin. A lot of people in Serin don't like Armand and his gang, obviously, so a lot of the comments in town were negative, saying stuff like "Armand is getting what's coming to him."

UNLIMITED:Saga screencap

But it seems that the Knighthood has come and started chasing monsters into the cave where Armand and his gang hang out. Which... is honestly really messed up. Charging taxes was one thing, but not only is this cruel and unusual punishment, but it's endangering the citizens of Serin by filling up a nearby cave with monsters.

So, even though I was a bit in a hurry to get to Sadovos, this seems a little urgent. There are a few adventures available from the inn in Serin, one of which is called "Big Ol' Rascals" and is about going to check out the situation with the Knights and the cave. There's also an adventure to travel through Jade Forest to get to Sadovos... but I feel bad leaving this town and these bandits in this state. They may be criminals, but having them swarmed and mauled to death by monsters is a way too much.

So, we accept the Big Ol' Rascals adventure.

UNLIMITED:Saga screencap

Upon arriving, this cute bear type Knight guy is leaving the cave and runs into Kurt. Kurt speaks out against the violence, but the knight just shrugs him off and calls him "scum," allowing him to travel into the cave that's now full of monsters.

And so, we go in to investigate, and maybe save the poor bandits.

UNLIMITED:Saga screencap

But not even one step in, and GAUNTLET BATTLE. This is Blue Windsor, which was kinda tough, but not beyond Kurt's strength. What's great is that Kurt glimmered Hammerfall (a L3 throw art) and Skydive (a L3 axe art, which is pretty cool) without panels for throw nor axe.

At the opening to the cave, there are two paths to take -- a northern path and an eastern path. We explored this cave in another character's story recently, and I remember an area of the cave called "Armand's Hideout" to the east, so we'll explore the northern part first.

UNLIMITED:Saga screencap

It's a good thing, too, because the cave seems to be teeming with treasures! They're quite high-leveled, though, so they're very difficult to open and defuse. And we don't have any way to unlock them yet, so we have to punch the locked ones and completely ignore the ones with magic locks. You can actually potentially open chests wth magic locks with martial arts, but I didn't realize this at the time.

UNLIMITED:Saga screencap

But the first chest we opened has a magic tablet in it!

UNLIMITED:Saga screencap

Kurt broke the second one trying to punch it open, so we didn't get anything from it, but the third one had a mimic trap that we accidentally triggered, and the Treasure Slime dropped another magic tablet! What great luck for this early in the game. Sadly, the treasure chest also had an explosion trap on it, so we didn't get the contents inside, but a second magic tablet was probably worth it.

UNLIMITED:Saga screencap

When we arrive at the hideout area, we find that the monsters have already done the job the knights had intended them to do. Since the game doesn't offer much graphically, I had just assumed that Kurt had only assumed the monsters had taken everyone since the room was empty.

We run around and grab the treasures in the little coves behind the hideout, but as we're searching the last parts of the cave--

UNLIMITED:Saga screencap

Kurt and Ventus run into Armand, the gang leader, having a bit of a breakdown. When Kurt asks if he is okay, he can't even be bothered to respond, as he's still lamenting the death of his comrades.

And it was at this moment that I realized -- Kurt hadn't just assumed the monsters took everyone because the room was empty. He walked into the room and saw all the carnage. It's not like the monsters or Armand cleaned up, and the knights never went into the cave. The freshly killed gang had to be sprawled across the hangout.

Kurt just pulls Armand away and tells him that it's time to go. At least there's one survivor.

Honestly, this is a really dark moment for this game. I mean, I realize we're supposed to learn that the Knighthood is recently succumbing to corruption, but this is pretty intense.

Now, don't assume that Armand had hid away in cowardice while his friends were murdered. He probably fought alongside them against the monsters and was the only survivor.

The reason I say this is because Armand joins the party so we can escort him out of the cave. And in UNLIMITED:Saga tradition, once someone joins you for any moment for any reason, they're with you forever, even if it makes no sense. So now we have a new party member!

UNLIMITED:Saga screencap

And he is a beast. Armand is tied with Michelle having the strongest combined Strength and Skill making in the game, at the maximum of 5. Which means he'll be extremely highly skilled with any weapon and has potential to have immensely powerful stats by the end of the game. So I have a feeling Armand was just able to take out all these enemies on his own.

UNLIMITED:Saga screencap

Well, maybe. His only ability seems to be... fashion. And paying extra money for things. He has three Fashion panels. Fashion doesn't even stack, so the L1 and L2 panels are doing literally nothing. I guess he would be a bit overpowered starting out with those kind of stats and weapon panels and stuff, though.

UNLIMITED:Saga screencap

But before we could escort Armand out of the cave, Kurt gets into yet another gauntlet battle. This one is Mad Buc, a weird pirate thing with guns for hands. It's actually pretty cool, and I think we saw a similar enemy to this guarding the control panel in Undercity Pharos in Ruby's scenario.

Anyway, it has a move called Triple Strike in which it can deal up to 3LP damage very easily. It also has this cool move where it shoots from its gun-hands. It easily overpowered Kurt, and even though Kurt was able to get in a couple LP damage, I didn't want to use my weapons since the durability is getting very low, and Throws weren't enough to defeat it, and Kurt lost the battle in the end.

It was a short walk back to the front of the cave, which ended the adventure.

UNLIMITED:Saga screencap

Kurt got an Axe Arts L3 panel, which was also really lucky. Why couldn't Grace's luck be like this? Armand didn't do anything in the adventure, so his panel selection was super random, but he did get a Defuse LV2 panel. Maybe he's already destined to become our box-opener. A line of key panels would make his Skill level ridiculously high. I just have to decide what weapon I'd like to give him. It seems a waste to give him a strength-based weapon, and a Bow would give him the exact same build that Grace had last game, which is a little boring. A Spear would make him similar to Michelle was, but it would be a more Skill-based build, and would be pretty powerful. Knives wouldn't be bad, either. And I could always use multiple weapons (Knife + another would be good, because he could deflect with the Knife).

UNLIMITED:Saga screencap

But we'll think more about it later when we get good panels. Now that we've at least saved Armand, and the town of Serin has calmed down (and Ursula, Armand's girlfriend, seems relieved), we can head into the Jade Forest toward Sadovos and try to recruit some of my favorite characters.