The Festival of Regina Leone ~
Return to Escata
After an arduous journey south, we've finally reached Vaftom and made it to the festival, even if we were a bit late. Luckily, there don't seem to be any assassins at the festival (well, I guess there are those ones Kurt dealt with, but we don't need to worry about those now!) so we are free to uh... enjoy ourselves. Or cry.
Entering the plaza, the festival is already quite lively. Ventus runs by in a hurry, bumping into Henri.
For some reason, this makes Henri get really sad all of a sudden and he starts hanging his head and moping.
Laura tells him not to feel bad about it, so he doesn't. Yeah idk.
There are firebreathers~
And Henri pushes his way to the front of the crowd to watch, becoming much happier upon seeing it. Laura says she knew he would like this.
And that's about all that happens at the festivities...
During the closing activities, the ceremonial fires are lit in memory of those who have passed since the last festival, and Henri cries, mourning the loss of his family.
But Laura also cries. She's been adventuring with Henri this whole time, and now has to confront the death of her husband again. Seeing this, Henri realizes that he's not the only one grieving, and starts to think about the world as larger place than he realized.
... At this point, some events happen, which I didn't screencap because I thought I already had them in my screencaps up til this point. This was the point where my screencaps stopped working, and I played way further into the game before realizing. So then I started over and played through a second time, getting up to this point to start screencapping again... and I guess I thought I had screencapped what happened after the festival, too... (Did this paragraph even make sense lol???)
Anyway, Henri and Laura loiter around the mausoleum, and they find a strange hole in a pedestal that seems to be the same shape as the Blade of Escata. Henri puts the blade in the hole and a secret passage appears. They venture into the secret area to find an inscription that seems like it says something about the Blade, Iskandar, and the Seven Wonders.
Laura tells Henri that he needs to go back to Escata and unravel this mystery, as it may give him a clue as to why he's being pursued and what he should do next.
Later, Lord Basil Galeos finds Henri and is happy to see him safe. I'm really sad that I don't have a screencap of his introduction, because he's super hot, but we'll see him soon enough. He did cameo for a brief moment in Ruby's adventure, pushing her out of the way when she went to her first Wonder with Iskandar.
Lord Galeos is the retainer of the House of Galeos, which has served under Escata, meaning he's in servitude to Henri as the living heir (he even refers to Henri as "Your Highness"). He has some knights with him and offers to take Henri into his custody to protect him.
And so Henri leaves.
But entering the inn, he shows up again, with one of the knights acting as his bodyguard. He's decided rather than go with Galeos, he would rather travel with Laura, and asks if she would escort him back to Escata to look for clues with him.
Laura agrees and we continue on.
Our next adventure is the return to Escata, which is another traveling adventure. It's about as exciting as the previous ones, minus the pursuers.
Henri's bodyguard Francis does tag along, though, so we have a new party member! Sadly, Galeos is a bit of an important person and goes back home to be... a Marquis or Earl or whatever he is, so we don't get to have such a hottie in the party...
Francis is a pretty strong character, with great Makings in Strength, Skill, Endurance, and Spirit. His elemental makings are nothing interesting, but he's very versatile when it comes to weapns, as he can use anything well, and he'll hold up well from the front or back of the formation.
I guess to illustrate this, he even starts with Bow Arts, Sword Arts, and Spear Arts! I decided to give him a spear, since he has high Skill and Strength Making both.
Halfway there, though, we seem to be making camp or something, and Laura catches Francis writing a letter to Galeos. Laura accuses him of being a "spy" for Galeos, who she doesn't fully trust yet, but Francis argues that it's his duty to report back to Galeos, and that doesn't make him a "spy."
They have... a strange argument that barely makes sense (Laura's scenario is full of mistranslations and bad writing) which ends with Laura saying "A lucky guess," which makes absolutely no sense in the context, and Francis calling Laura a "creep."
Though, during the argument, Francis also accuses Laura of have malicious intentions toward the prince. After their little squabble, Laura wonders to herself why she even is bothering with Henri. It can't be because she feels lonely, can it?
Francis doesn't actually seem to be spying or anything, though, but we do have some tension now. We continue the journey to Escata and find some nice treasures, including a Serpentine Mask with 4 defense. Finding good armor without the shops is going to be quite difficult.
And since we're not dealing with two separate save files, now everything will be a bit more linear, so I can start talking about Panels again.
Laura got a L3 Fortuneteller, which was really nice. Sadly, I had to choose between that and Locksmith L3. In the end, I decided Fortuneteller was more useful -- being able to find the biggest variety of treasures we can is what's most important at this point, not whether or not we spend extra turns trying to hit the unlock reel.
Henri upgraded his Diplomacy to L3, and Francis got Swimming L3, Shield Arts L3, and Spear Arts L3 all at once. It was a really tough decision, but I ended up going with Shield Arts. It's a much rarer drop, and we'll get another swimmer soon enough. And he already has Spear Arts L1, at least.
When we arrive, Henri starts to cry seeing his destroyed home, but he forces himself to stop because he doesn't want Laura to ever see him cry again. I think it's cool that he's come to value her opinion so highly, but I don't understand why he feels like he can't let her see him cry, considering all that has happened to him. Maybe it's all of Laura's "buck up" stuff she keeps saying? I think some amount of crying would be understandable. His home was destroyed and his family killed and there are assassins after him. I would cry over much less lol...
Our next goal is the palace, where we're going to search for clues about Henri's Blade.
You may recognize the inside of the palace from before -- this is the setting for several subadventures in other characters' scenarios. This is where we found Minister Hogg's secret money stash, and where we dealt with the swarming undead and stuff living in the castle while searching for goodies.
Now we're here for Henri, though.
When we first enter, the path immediately to the right is blocked by debris, and we need Obstacle Crossing to get across. It's actually a Lv 90 obstacle, which is pretty high.
Michelle has Obstacle Crossing, though it's only L2, but we're not going to use it for the sake of seeing the path we're "supposed" to take through this adventure. Not that it really matters which path we take, but it will be nice to hunt for treasures all over the castle anyway.
Heading to the hall to the north, we find more debris blocking the way. The only way we can really proceed without using Obstacle Crossing is to go back to the entrance and take one of the stairways to the second floor.
There are left and right staircases. We take the left one, and immediately we find yet another blocked path to our right when we get up there. But if we continue exploring here, we can find a few treasures and fight a few monsters.
While doing this, I accidentally let Laura's Carnelian Armlet break, which made her unable to use Magic Arts. Thankfully, we have a backup, but this is something very dangerous to do in this kind of challenge. We do have access to Quick-Fix at this point, so I could have fixed it; I just wasn't paying attention to durability at all...
The area we can explore here is pretty small, so we head back down the stairs and take the right staircase to the second floor this time. It takes us to the other side of the fallen debris, where we have access to pretty much the entire upper floor of the palace.
Searching around, we sometimes come across these bookshelves. Searching them, we keep getting the message that there's nothing of interest, but the fact that they're even here and able to be interacted with must mean we're probably looking for some books as our clue to the Blade's mystery.
We can visit the throne room and turn on the lights, but no big undead falls down at us this time. We simply... light up the room. And then we can carry on.
Eventually, in the back left corner of the upper floor, we find another staircase heading down. this will let us get to the other side of the debris that was blocking us near the entrance.
We're able to examine the well here, too. Similar to the throne room's case, we don't fight any demons here. There seems to be nothing special about the well this time.
The inside of the building still seems to be on fire going by the battle environment. I don't really know why or how, since it's probably been months since Escata was attacked or something.
What's nice about that, though, is that the place has a huge shift in the elemental field toward fire, so it's easy for Laura to hit fire panels on the reel to strengthen her magic arts when she uses them.
Eventually, we run into a room that suddenly shows us not one, but FIVE bookshelves, and they even have unique colors and names! Seems like this is where we were supposed to go. Also, this is just on the other side of the debris we found from the very first room, so hopping over it back then would have brought us to the end of the adventure immediately.
Each bookshelf contains information written by Foujant, a former King of Escata during Iskandar's old lifetime. He talks about some items given to the royal family by Iskandar, which were distributed to the various tribes of the world for safekeeping.
The Blue Tome of the East says that the Ring of Jupiter was bestowed to the Lileans, and "when the time comes, may they gather at the Blade of Escata."
Laura wonders what is special about this ring, and they continue to read further.
The Red Tome of the South says that the Crown of Ares was bestowed to the House of Galeos, who shares respect for Iskandar.
Laura thinks the items mentioned in the books must be a part of some whole, and we might have to collect them all.
The Yellow Tome of the Middle says that the Chestplate of Behemoth to the Petrans, and that "the power of five spirits shall live in five Elemental Gears."
Laura wonders if these Elemental Gears are the key to this mystery.
The White Tome of the West says that the Gloves of Venus were given to the Anubito, and that one blade and five gears will create the ultimate power.
Laura says that collecting them all could overcome the ultimate power.
And lastly, the Black Tome of the North says that the Boots of Vayu were given to the Chapa, and that Foujant's descendants shall use these as a key to the Seven Wonders.
After reading all the book, the adventure ends. Francis got Swimming L3 again, so I took it this time, and Henri upgraded his Gun Arts L2 to L3.
Laura and Henri realize that the Pursuers are not after Henri or the royal bloodline, but rather after the Blade of Escata itself.
Henri realizes that Dagul Bos destroyed the entire city and killed his family all to attempt to gain this power, and it is his duty to learn this power's secret. But he worries about involving Laura further in this mess.
But before he can finish his thought, Laura encourages him to get moving, and they set off to search for the Elemental Gears together.