Update 16: Next Time, Let's Just Sit In An Oven

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Please forgive me if this is rude, but do you read anything besides assorted instructional non-fiction?
Why would I want to do that? I'll have all the time to flip through stories when I'm rich and in a big house. 'Til then, gotta make sure I can explore good.
That's...understandable? I don't know how realistic a goal that is, but I will assume that it is reasonably attainable. Still, what a strange profession exploring must be, if people write books with titles like these...
What, you got an issue with Fire, Ice, and Lightning: How to Keep Yourself Standing Against Even the Most Unholy Magicks?
Not particularly, although I find myself worrying for the author. Surely, deliberately throwing oneself against attacks utilizing nature's most basic elements can't be good for—
...Mm? What, something on my face?
...Perhaps I am overthinking this.

...Oh, you bastard, how did I not see that earlier?
Is something wrong?
I can get up to that opening, I just couldn't see it through the stupid snow.

There we are...

On closer observation, it appears to be steam. Could the cave's interior be that hot...?
Well, time to take the winter gear off.
So, wait. There's two entrances to this maze. I get that caves can have multiple ways in, but doesn't that mean this place is gonna be huge?
Agreed. Nothin' for it but to get goin', though.
Yeah, just... I'unno, I was hoping we'd get a break after the forest with impossible physical spaces.

Hot as hell and as humid as the tropics, eh?
Oh this sucks.
I should rethink how I dress for exploration, if this is what we're going to be dealing with...
You alright?
No, but complaining won't get us anywhere.
Neither will pretendin' you're not cookin' yourself with this heat and that gear. And that goes for you too, lad and lass.
I didn't say anything.
Maybe not your mouth, but your face is screamin' that you need to cool off.
I...I am quite fine! Please, don't let me slow you all...down...
Right, time to be responsible. Oi, Shelly, stay put! I need to come aboard!
Wait, what? Why?
We're gonna need water, and lots of it!

If I entered the Golden Lair I would simply instantly die

There's water everywhere, but...
Even standing here, I can feel heat radiating from it.
Let's give these pools a wide berth.

The location of the geomagnetic pole for the Golden Lair is actually very convenient, for reasons we'll see as we continue to explore this maze.

Just in the immediate starting area, we've already got three shortcuts we'll need to look out for.

Take note of how I'm coloring water tiles in, by the way, rather than treating them as walls. That will be important later.

"Rather warm" is putting it lightly, given everything observable about it.

Someone entered this hellish cavern before us?

That voice... Out steps Whirlwind, the explorer who has involved himself in your business several times now.
...I should have expected you would be here, upon reflection.
Hey, I'm always down for checking out new labyrinths, even if they're...like this. I mean, I'll take it compared to the eternal blizzard outside, but still. Fighting monsters in this heat isn't fun. 'Specially not if you're geared up like Waylon. Yikes, man. You gonna be alright?
I can take care of myself, thank you.
Could be worse. You know that one of the parts of the labyrinth back in Armoroad's got lava everywhere?
I...did not, and yeah, suddenly this place sounds heavenly.
If I may dispense with the pleasantries, I'm sure you have also noticed the multiple entrances to this labyrinth.
Yeah. I decided I'd check out this upper entrance first, but I'd be surprised if going back and forth between the two openings doesn't become necessary.
...By the way, why's the Medium tagging along with you guys?
Me? Well, I am here half to satisfy my own curiosity, but also half in case we encounter an obstacle that requires communion with Yggdrasil.
Makes sense to me. You helpin' them out with the monsters?
No, but Ray is trying to give me a "crash course," as she calls it, in utilizing circles. It is...slow going, but I will not let that deter me.
Hey, good on you. Just try not to let that shove "how to talk to Yggdrasil" out of your head, heh.
Are you done? The less time we spend in this labyrinth, the better for all of us.
True, true. I'll get out of your hair. Keep yourselves hydrated, and be ready to bail the instant any of you start overheating, promise?
Yes. Go.
With a casual wave of his hand, Whirlwind leaves the maze.

The hell? There's icicles all over here.
I've heard of hell freezin' over, but never small amounts of water freezin' over while the rest of hell keeps burnin'.

Regardless of the...frank impossibility that we are faced with, I have no doubt that these could prove useful.
...We should put these icicles in their own container, though. Our pack would be filled with water otherwise.
Obtained ice stake x2.
Here is one of the primary gimmicks of the Golden Lair. There are several chop points scattered across the maze that do not give item materials, but rather ice stakes. We can take these out of the Golden Lair, but as soon as we return to town, they will melt away, so they cannot be sold. We will need ice stakes to interact with certain obstacles in this maze, so it's always good to have some on you.

Yes, they do take up inventory space, same as any other consumable. That's just something you have to deal with while exploring the Golden Lair, unfortunately.

This specific chop point, incidentally, gives two ice stakes per day. All of the ice stake chop points on this floor do, so I won't bother noting that later.

What even are those things?
They seem to be giant scales.
Like, the kind you'd find on lizards?
Yes. They're certainly shaped like scales, at any rate.
They're also in our way.

Oh, this place just keeps gettin' better, doesn't it.

This is something of a reach, but—

...Well then. At least we have a method of destroying these scale-like objects.

That...thing is gone, and the floor's still red from how hot it was.

Okay, we get it, this maze is hot, no need to keep rubbing it in.

Magma Spawn
Level: 30HP: 426STR: 33TEC: 36VIT: 35AGI: 24LUC: 26DS: 88
EXP Given: 3037

Damage Vulnerabilities:
50% 50% 25%
0% 200% 100%

Disable Vulnerabilities:
100% 100% 50% 100% 100% 50%
50% 100% 100%
125% 100% 100%
  • Lava Lump: Deals heavy fire damage to one row of party members. Slow, and slightly inaccurate.
  • Lava Lump: Deals 80% ranged TEC-based fire damage to one row of party members. Has a speed modifier of -5, and a base accuracy of 90%.
  • Magma spawns slightly prefer using Lava Lump over regular attacks.
  • 60% chance to use Lava Lump.
  • 40% chance to attack.
  • Hardened Lava: Obtained by killing the enemy with ice damage. 100% chance. Sells for 1 en.
    • Hard Gloves (17 DEF): Made from 1 Hardened Lava and 1 Ice Core Shard (Glacier Spawn Drop). Costs 2450 en.
  • Scorch Stone: Obtained by killing the enemy with non-elemental damage. 100% chance. Sells for 189 en.
    • Volcanic (91 ATK, +14% Fire Imbue): Made from 1 Scorch Stone and 1 Trileaf Stalk (Chop: Golden Lair). Costs 6560 en.
    • Lantern Shield (30 DEF, +10% Max HP): Made from 1 Scorch Stone and 1 Frigid Stone (Glacier Spawn Conditional). Costs 3210 en.
Within the Golden Lair, the temperamental labyrinth in the frozen lands north of Tharsis, one might think they see a blob of molten rock lurch up and attack them. While Magma Spawns are quite dangerous, they are, in fact, a form of mollusk with a camouflage pattern and a fire-generating organ to maintain an internal body temperature ideal for its habitat. They hide along the rocks, then ambush by launching segments of their own white-hot bodily fluids. Despite their gooey body, resistant to physical attack, they can be easily defeated by being cooled.
Magma spawns aren't too dangerous on their own, but they can add even more pressure to a dangerous enemy formation. Lava Lump deals around 100 damage to each of our frontliners right now, which is around half of their max HP pools. Thankfully, they have some pretty obvious and easily-exploited weaknesses. The elephant in the room is a 200% vulnerability to ice. They take double damage from every ice-elemental attack. Xiaohu using Ice Coffin would be more than enough to 100-to-0 a magma spawn, and hell, even Eine using it would put a sizable dent in them.

Of course, there's no such thing as a free lunch, and if you kill a magma spawn with an ice attack, you'll get punished for it by only getting a piece of hardened lava, which sells for all of 1 ental. And also the only bit of equipment it makes is basically worthless, a glove that only gives DEF and nothing else.

"Oh, that's fine. If I get punished for using an ice attack, and it takes reduced damage from physical attacks, then I can just use a composite attack, right?"

That would actually be even less worthwhile than just hitting the thing with an ice attack. Note the specific condition on the scorch stone: "kill with non-elemental damage." If you want to get a drop from these things that's actually worth something, you need to kill them with pure physical damage. Or petrification and instant death, those would work too.

With all that said, if you don't have ice damage but want a decent way of dealing with magma spawns, well, they've got a slightly increased susceptibility to head binds, and Lava Lump uses the head. Bind their heads, and they can't too much that's actually dangerous.
they're so cuuute oo look how cute the little beebos are awww i just wanna put one in a jar and take it home and smile at my little buddy

Did...did it vomit on us?
I wouldn't put it that way.


Damn. Didn't think a monster made outta magma could be brutally murdered, but you learn something new every day.
I, uh... Let's move on.
Was that a roundabout way of getting a scorch stone? Sure. Does my Item Compendium care? No.

Here's another ice stake chop point.

As well as a shortcut. This one doesn't really save you much walking, but it does mean that on repeat visits, you don't need to use an ice stake to destroy the first scales blocking the way forward.

The scales are a new take on an old gimmick: damage tiles. Parts of the labyrinth that hurt you for stepping on them. Scales add their own annoyances compared to damage tiles, though.

Scales are physical objects that exist in the labyrinth. If you walk within one tile of them, not including diagonally, everyone in your party takes 10 damage. This damage cannot kill player characters. If you destroy scales with an ice stake, then the damage tile effect disappears.

Honestly, I mostly prefer regular damage tiles because it's easier to know where to walk at a glance. In other EO games, you immediately know what tiles are going to hurt you if you step on them, just from looking at them. In EO4, you have to know where all of the scales in a given room are, and note the area around them that will cause damage if you step in it.

There's some extra quirks to scales, but we'll discuss those later.

These things're everywhere. Extremely rude of whatever's putting them here, if you ask me.
Always keep a few ice stakes in your pack, because scales can and will frequently impede your progress, at least until you've unlocked every shortcut on a given floor. Oh, and scales respawn each day, so you'll need to get new ice stakes every time you go back to town.

Ngh. You sure we can't just throw the icicles at these things from a safe distance?
I doubt that would give the amount of force needed to destroy them, sadly.

Mushrooms, it seems... The black mushroom looks dangerous, but then again...
You couldn't pay me to try one of those.
Oh, this brings back some bad memories...

Feh. Nothin' ventured, nothin' gained. Waylon, Eine, this thing look or smell poisonous?
Well, no, but—
That is hardly a reason to eat an unknown mushroom growing on the floor of an extraordinarily warm and damp cave!
Look at it this way. If I don't try it, who will, eh?
Well, I am right here. Eat it, and if you have an adverse reaction, I can at least tend to you.
Attaboy, lad. Bottoms up!
Marlin picks a mushroom off the rocky surface and takes a halting bite...
Oh shit, man, are you choking?!
I...I don't think he is?
The others watch anxiously as Marlin's face contorts in disgust. It seems to taste quite foul...
Evidently, the strange wild mushroom was not very tasty.
Yeah, no, someone remind me to tell Harper to steer clear'a these things.
...Damnedest thing, though, is that I feel a lot better after swallowin' it. And not just because it's out of my mouth, either.
The mushroom has...medicinal benefits?
I'd buy it. Worst-tastin' medicine I've ever had, but not by much.
But its high nutritional content washes away Marlin's exhaustion!

Given how that felt going down, and the ashy taste in my mouth, let's call that stuff "fire fungus," eh?
It's as good a name as any.
Is this a...common occurrence? Do explorers often eat strange wild foods?
I would hope not, but I cannot say for certain.

That is quite a large tortoise.
Do tortoises usually have fins?
No, but since when have labyrinth monsters closely matched the animals they resemble?
Plated chasers, as they are right now, are nothing special. When we get too close to them, they'll aggro to us and try to catch us. The issue with that is that they only move one space for every two spaces we move. For the time being, it is very easy to outmanuever them.

We've got weird cave owls now, huh? I can dig it.
It's certainly got an...interesting coloration.

Maya Owl
Level: 30HP: 380STR: 31TEC: 34VIT: 28AGI: 28LUC: 26DS: 86
EXP Given: 2411

Damage Vulnerabilities:
100% 150% 100%
25% 25% 150%

Disable Vulnerabilities:
100% 100% 75% 100% 125% 100%
100% 100% 100%
150% 100% 100%
  • Fire Breath: Deals heavy fire damage to one party member.
  • Ice Breath: Deals heavy ice damage to one party member.
  • Fire Breath: Used in hot environments. Deals 90% ranged TEC-based fire damage to one party member. Has a speed modifier of ±0, and a base accuracy of 99%.
  • Ice Breath: Used in cold environments. Deals 90% ranged TEC-based ice damage to one party member. Has a speed modifier of ±0, and a base accuracy of 99%.
  • Maya owls use Fire Breath only when the current floor is heated. If the floor has been cooled, they will use Ice Breath.
  • Maya owls use their breath skills when they are in the back row, and normal attacks when they are in the front row.
  • If the Maya Owl is in the back row:
    • If the current floor is cooled down, or if the battle is taking place in the Cramped Nest or Toxic Cave:
      • Use Ice Breath.
        • If any player character has their head bound, target player characters whose heads are bound.
    • If the above did not occur:
      • Use Fire Breath.
        • If any player character has their head bound, target player characters whose heads are bound.
  • If the Maya Owl is in the front row:
    • Attack.
  • Shining Rectrix: 90% chance. Sells for 159 en.
    • Moralltach (95 ATK, 2 Slots, +1 AGI): Made from 1 Shining Rectrix and 1 Steel Earth (Mine: Golden Lair B3F (Cold)). Costs 9190 en.
    • Cuirassair (55 DEF): Made from 1 Trileaf Stalk (Chop: Golden Lair) and 1 Shining Rectrix. Costs 3530 en.
    • Bascinet (19 DEF, +10% Max TP): Made from 1 Shining Rectrix. Costs 3370 en.
    • Gale Amulet (+8 AGI): Made from 1 Shining Rectrix. Costs 3500 en.
  • Sealed Skull: Obtained by killing the enemy while their head is bound. 100% chance. Sells for 190 en.
    • Wisdom Earring (+8 TEC): Made from 5 Chalcedonies (Mine: Cramped Nest) and 3 Sealed Skulls. Costs 4500 en.
This species of owl isn't endemic to this region—it also exists in the regions of High Lagaard and Armoroad. One might think that the Maya Owl's signature powder spray, which debilitates one's mental faculties, would be quite a threat. However, the Maya Owls of the Golden Lair curiously do not use it at all—in fact, the powder can't remain in the proper state of matter in either superheated caves or the frozen wastes. They can shoot you with magic, though, so do watch out for that.
Maya owls hit one person with elemental damage. And that's...kinda it. The fact that the element changes based on the gimmick of both the Golden Lair and one of the caves is more for flavor than anything, really. I suppose it slightly counters the efficacy of flame charms and fire mists, but I can't imagine that anyone was relying on those to deal with these monsters you only find in random encounters.

While maya owls certainly hit hard—90% TEC damage is nothing to scoff at—they're also extremely vulnerable to head binds. If you're really having trouble with them, hitting it with Head Snipe or Skull Crusher, or using Hood Circle will render them helpless quickly.

So, there are owls that can spew fire...
What, is there some mythical monster I dunno about?
W-Well, no, this has more to do with a novel I— Oh, never mind...

Y'know, why is it that flying monsters are usually weak to getting shocked?

they all like, HATE the electric six

Going to need to remember to come back later with someone that can inflict head binds, so I can log the maya owl's conditional drop.

It would be nice if FOEs would stop surprising us like this.

This room has no shortage of those heated scales...

...There isn't much tension in being chased by a slow FOE, is there?
Hey, I'll take it over something we've actually gotta worry about.

This is another ice stake chop point.

Oh, for the love of...
This heat is unbearable...
Even at this distance, it causes sweat to pour down your brow. You must be careful. If you take even one step closer, you will be blasted by its scorching heat.
Is this why this cave is so hot?
Makes sense to me.
...One moment.


The game plays a low sizzling sound.

The glowing red monolith you destroyed earlier seems to have been providing heat to this entire floor. Even the smaller glowing objects are cool now and unable to burn you. Though they are as much a barrier to your passage as ever... You cannot waste any of your ice stakes. You continue your journey through the maze...
...What just happened? Why did destroying that launch me backwards?
Good question. Something to do with a large amount of energy being stored in the large scale pile, perhaps.
Physics is weird.
...Oh, uh, I'll put you down now, by the way.
Thank you.
While that heat was unpleasant, this maze now feels barely any warmer than the outside...
W-We've traded one problem f-for another. Brrr...
At least we have our winter gear on hand.
Easier to bundle up against the cold, rather than try to deal with the heat.
Large scale piles cause damage if we walk within two tiles of them. However, destroying them causes the entire floor to cool, which has a myriad number of effects.

Didn't take long for all that near-boilin' water to freeze over.
The ice is fairly thick, too. I wouldn't be surprised if we could slide across it.
Oh, sick, really? That'd make things a helluva lot easier.

I realize I am the one who remarked on the ice's thickness, but I'm still surprised that it did not react to us sliding across it at all.
Think the entire pool of water, top-to-bottom, got frozen.
Probably the most noticeable change to the floor, post-cooling, is that all of the water tiles that may as well have acted as walls while the floor was heated, are now slippery ice tiles. EO4, thankfully, does not use this to create annoying sliding-on-ice puzzles. Instead, it's mostly used to allow you to access new parts of the floor after a major checkpoint, in the form of the large scale pile, as well as creating what amount to non-wall shortcuts.
Ah, the sliding on ice puzzle. A classic of RPGs with nothing better to do.

That's an oddly fancy shirt to find in the middle of a cave.
Blood red. Hopefully not actual blood.
Hmm. Looking at it closely, it seems tailored to vent one's body heat without taking much external heat in.

Hoy, Waylon, catch.
Are you suggesting I wear this dress shirt under my armor?
If it'll help keep you from overheatin', like Eine says, aye.
...Well, I won't say no.
The red doublet is a one-of-a-kind bit of equipment. It's got a pretty good DEF score for this point in the game, but more importantly, reduces fire damage the wearer takes by 30%. Combine this with a fire charm, and that party member would reduce fire damage by a whopping 80%. Speaking entirely hypothetically, if we were to come up against an FOE or a boss that primarily deals fire damage, the combination of the red doublet and a fire charm would make someone incredibly difficult for that enemy to kill. Ace would be able to take multi-target damage no problem in that scenario.

For now, though, I put the red doublet on Waylon, since it's a very minor upgrade over the leaf tunic in terms of DEF, but more importantly, ups Waylon's speed a bit.

Fire's bad for the complexion. I burn easily, never tan!

So many nooks and crannies filled with icicles...
This is another ice stake chop point.

Oh, good, some new herbs! Give me a moment...
Euch, what are those... I think they used to be strawberries?
I know this one, actually, those're moss strawberries. They grow in dark and, most importantly, damp places. Gonna guess that they turned to slop real quick once we made this place not damp.
I am somewhat surprised that the flora here seem to react to changes in the environment so quickly. Then again, I am also surprised that we could change the environment so quickly to begin with...
Well, next time this place is miserable to walk through, maybe we can munch on some— Wait, you said moss strawberries, that mean they've got moss on 'em?
Yeah, uh, don't think you'd wanna eat them. Knowing what the docs that Wynne and her boss work with can do with all the weird plants we bring in, though, I'm sure they've got a use for it.
After seeing so many different ways that plants can be used to...do unpleasant things to someone, I guess it's nice to see all the different ways that even plants that are unsafe to eat can be used to help someone.
Obtained luminous moss x2.
For once, the rare take material's actually nowhere near as useful as the common one. Medica IIs, if you'll remember, restore 100 HP to a party member. Hamaos, as I mentioned last update, restore 100 HP and 25 TP to one party member. In essence, hamaos are a far bigger pain to farm for, and cost quadruple what medica IIs cost, in exchange for also restoring 25 TP to the target. Amritas only restore 30 TP, sure, but at least they cost less to purchase once you've actually gotten the materials they need.

Ooh, there's more over here!
Seein' the kid be so giddy's kinda heart-warmin'.
Obtained luminous moss x1 and scarlet sage x1.
There we go, that's scarlet sage logged in the item compendium, no need to get any more of them.

This is an important shortcut; it's a way for us to access the latter part of this floor when it heats back up.

Welcome, dearies. I hope the new land and labyrinths are treating you well.
The Cramped Nest was tolerable, but the new maze... Well, it's not exactly pleasant.
Oh my. Nasty monsters? Fiendish puzzles?
Those would be easier to deal with than the heat we had to go through until I destroyed that giant pile of scales...
Well, that's no fun at all. Still, if there's any guild I trust to get through these new challenges, it's you all!
Your enthusiasm is infectious, Dalla.
Oh, speaking of which, where has little miss Ray been these days? We've had a lot of Vessels as guests recently, so I've been working on some new dishes that can suit their tastes! Tonight, I've got some health food made with fruits and herbs that some of my guests brought back from the Misty Ravine. If Ray has the time, I'd love to have her sample some of them.
Do you not trust my sense of taste...?
Oh, no offense meant, Wufan, I just want to see what one of the younger Vessels thinks of my cooking!
Understandable, no offense taken. Good to see you all, by the way. Medium, I trust they've been protecting you well.
Very much so!

Yup. Right up to when you get to the actual important maze that we need to go through, then it's miserably hot and wet.
Until it isn't, and then it gets extremely cold again.
Oofa doofa, dat's no fun. Still, I'm kinda curious about what it's like up dere. I ain't never left Tharsis my whole life, y'know, so all I know about snow—and bein' cold in general, come ta think'a it—is what people tell me. Think ya can maybe squeeze in some time ta take me up dere, maybe?
Take it from me, it's not as pleasant as whatever you are imagining.
Prob'ly. Still, first time for everythin'! If it sucks, I hit da bricks, and den I spend da rest'a my time in Tharsis bein' thankful for da lack'a cold here.

Welcome, everyone. How was today's exploration?
Ah, that unpleasant? I worry for the guilds that are less experienced than you, then.
Eh. Way I see it, they may not be as good as us, but anyone that can fly up to the Sacred Mountains is at least good enough to not get chump checked by having to just be in that cave.
...At least, I think so. What does it mean to "get chump checked?"
Uhhhhhhhhhh. Shit, that's one of those terms that's buried so deep in my head that I've got trouble explaining it.
It's a term for when you do something in a one-on-one fight to punish unaware or reckless opponents.
Ah, I see. Something that results in an outcome where one would go "I can't believe that worked?"
Huh. You got that pretty quickly.
Context clues help a lot when it comes to Acecabulary.

Huh, people've got requests already?
You would be surprised how many other explorers tail you in covert ways.
...That's unnervin'. Gonna pretend I didn't hear that, aye? Tell us about the requests.
What's that rock?:
Firstly, there is this request from a self-described "connoisseur of stones." Apparently, he saw an explorer return from B1F of the Golden Lair—I assume this is the Sacred Mountains' maze—with a stone that glows red, like lava, and a stone that shines as bright as ice.
Like this? This came from a lava monster that I defeated.
Well, it certainly matches his description. I would be willing to declare the request finished here and now, then, but...
There would be a better reward were we to bring both stones in, I assume.
That was the requestor's unspoken proposition, yes.
This quest wants us to bring in both a scorch stone, which we've already gotten, as well as a frigid stone, which we have not seen yet. I wonder where we can find it...

Bring me an Ice Stone!:
The other request I have available comes from a young woman. She wishes to make an accessory for her brother. Specifically, she wishes to make one from an icy stone. She provided no other specifics.
Well, given the state of the Golden Lair now that we've destroyed that giant pile of scales, I doubt any icy stone will be difficult to come by.
I assume you all are experienced enough at this by now that I do not need to clarify that a simple stone that has ice on it will not suffice for this. I will trust your judgment for whatever you bring back.
This quest is fairly simple, we just need to find a specific tile on Golden Lair B1F and investigate it.

Nervous Vessel:
Um... Are you okay?
Ahhhh! The Medium! I-I'm sorry, I'll leave, I don't want to—
Please, calm down! Is something bothering you?
U-Um. Sorry. Ahem, I-I have been out here in Tharsis t-trying to learn more about h-h-humans, but it's... Oh, it's just so n-nerve wracking.
I know how you feel, as do many other Vessels, if that is of any consolation.
A-A bit. I, um, I've been trying to g-get some experience with humans b-by offering to j-join their guilds, but I don't t-think most of them know what w-we arcanists can do yet.
Hmm... The Tame Ground circle may help with those awful burning scales in the Golden Lair. Perhaps that might be of value to a guild.
Oh, th-th-that's a good idea. I'll try m-mentioning that.
Haunted runemaster Menou:
...You there. Take a look at this scorch stone.
Yup, that sure is a rock. We've got one too.
Hmph. It is more than just a rock. It's so bumpy that it's almost cute, in a way...
Hey man, you know your staff's really busted up, right?
Yes. I was going to go to the atelier after I'd finished my meal here. I had to thrash a magma spawn continuously to get this scorch stone.
One of our members just sort of murked that lava thing and got it, but you do you.
You know, I wonder what glacier spawns would give if I thrashed them with my wand. Heheh, something to try out once my staff is repaired...
Magma spawns have a 25% vulnerability to bash damage, so... Can't imagine how long Menou was whacking one to get a scorch stone.

What the—?!
Ahhh, I can't see!
Hey, guildteach, what the hell're you doing?

Much like you should be working on a new nickname, Ace.
Not gonna fix something that's not broken. Anyways, you trying to blind monsters with sheer force, or something?
Close enough. It's meant to draw their attention, in addition to blinding them.
Cool. Don't think I'm gonna use it once you finish comin' up with it, but still cool.
Thank you, I suppose. Now, if you'll excuse me... Hyaaaahhh!
Oh, hell, not again!

Maybe try flexin' in a weirder way. Anyways, we've gotta bounce. Later, guildteach.

Grr... If I ever get my godsdamned hands on that blue bastard, I'll fu—
Oh, for... Of all the times yeh lot could've walked in, yeh had to come in now?
Forgive me, I just wasn't expecting such vulgarities from you.
Trust me, boy, most everyone yeh'll meet says some wild stuff behind closed doors.
Did something happen to provoke this...?
Yeah, it sure did. No less'n six different guilds've come back to my wharf with my babies mauled to hell and back, with the guildies not doin' much better themselves. Apparently the Sacred Mountains has got its own dragon flying about.
Ah. Given the mountains' topography, avoiding the dragon must be difficult.
That's my guess for what's happening. So yeah, forgive me if I've got some nasty words for that menace.

Good afternoon, Waylon. Any significant progress today?
Well, we made it a good ways into the new maze. It wasn't fun.
I suspect that is an extraordinary understatement.
We spent most of our first foray with the cave being extremely hot, before we managed to cause it to turn extremely cold.
Wildly vacillating temperatures, hm? Yes, that's no fun at all. I wonder why the labyrinth's interior started so hot, given the conditions in the mountains... Perhaps it sits in a region of heavy volcanic activity, causing the formation of natural hot springs?
That would be an easy explanation, but no. The cave rapidly cooled after Merula destroyed a large pile of superheated scales. "Scales" as in the animal sort, by the way.
How odd. Keep an eye out for whatever creature might be shedding those strange scales. Oh, and before you go, when you can, please let Xiaohu know that the reference of elementally-aspected monsters she requested has arrived.
Oh. Sure. I'm a bit lost, though, has the Mark Grand Court decided to open a bookstore?
Hooooohahaha! Ahh, forgive me, but no. Xiaohu and our researchers have entered into a mutually-beneficial agreement. We provide her with whatever esoteric or hard-to-find materials she requests, and in return, she provides us with knowledge of runic manipulation. A win-win for all involved, I'm sure you'll agree.
It certainly sounds like it, though I'm also very surprised that Xiaohu agreed to this. She's normally quite protective of her notes and deeper knowledge.
Indeed she is. Indeed she is...
...I take it that the books she considers equal in worth to her research don't come cheap.
All I will say is that your friend is shrewd, Waylon. Very, very shrewd.

♪ No music ♪

So, lemme get this straight again, you want us to take Naijou into the cave so he can bash an owl's skull in while you look for some book the Count may or may not have?
That's the gist of it, yes. Sorry for the sudden request, I'm just very curious about something after talking with the Count.
I certainly would not refuse a chance to see the new maze.

So, this is the cave from my memories.
You said this was your home, if I remember correctly.
Yes, though...not this section. There was something else, deeper in. But that is beside the point—Waylon wished for me to help procure a strange material from an owl monster, remember.

Alright, that's new.
What the hell is that thing, is it some kind of walkin' glob of ice?
That's what it looks like, but it's slimy at the bottom...
Oh, that red puddle is a monster.
So it is. It looks like the magma-like monsters we were fighting earlier, but...

Glacier Spawn
Level: 30HP: 438STR: 33TEC: 36VIT: 36AGI: 24LUC: 26DS: 88
EXP Given: 3037

Damage Vulnerabilities:
50% 50% 25%
200% 0% 100%

Disable Vulnerabilities:
100% 100% 50% 100% 100% 50%
50% 100% 100%
125% 100% 100%
  • Icicle Lump: Deals heavy ice damage to one row of party members. Slow, and slightly inaccurate.
  • Icicle Lump: Deals 80% ranged TEC-based ice damage to one row of party members. Has a speed modifier of -5, and a base accuracy of 90%.
    • 60% chance to use Icicle Lump.
    • 40% chance to attack.
    • Ice Core Shard: Obtained by killing the enemy with fire damage. 100% chance. Sells for 1 en.
      • Icy Wind (93 ATK, +28% Ice Imbue): Made from 3 Ice Core Shards. Costs 7000 en.
      • Hard Gloves (17 DEF): Made from 1 Hardened Lava (Magma Spawn Drop) and 1 Ice Core Shard. Costs 2450 en.
    • Frigid Stone: Obtained by killing the enemy with non-elemental damage. 100% chance. Sells for 189 en.
      • Verdun (75 ATK, 1 Slot, +2 AGI): Made from 1 Frigid Stone. Costs 5730 en.
      • Lantern Shield (30 DEF, +10% Max HP): Made from 1 Scorch Stone (Magma Spawn Conditional) and 1 Frigid Stone. Costs 3210 en.
    Speaking of 'spawn', the icy wastes are also home to another form of mollusk that instead expands with the cold. Preparing for both temperatures is critical, lest you be thoroughly lumped.
    Glacier spawns are statistically and functionally identical to magma spawns, just with "fire" and "ice" swapped around. Pretty much everything I said about magma spawns applies to them, just with the different element.

    While a floor is cooled instead of heated, magma spawns will still show up...but they'll only have 1 HP, and can only drop hardened lava. No easy scorch stones for you.
    sliiiightly less cute but still babie i love :3

    Once again, instant death is a roundabout way of getting a frigid stone, but why put skill points into Assassinate if I'm not actually going to use it?

    Man, that magma monster's barely even warm when it's like that. Kinda sad, really.

    Well, we now have two stones matching what one of the requestors wanted.
    I don't really see the big deal about the fire one, but the ice one's actually very pretty. I kind of wish we didn't have to turn it in.
    ...Y'know, the pole's right here. Why don't we go turn these rocks in, then use the pole to get back here? Should still give us enough time to do the owl bashing.
    I am slightly concerned about how these two stones would react to each other if left in our pack for very long, so I have no objections.

    Ah, I was not expecting you back so soon. I see you have brought both of the requested stones.
    Wouldja have expected anything less?
    Ahaha, fair enough. The requestor left a small bonus to be given for both stones, so your extra effort will not go unrewarded. I am curious, how did you obtain these?
    I sort of...cut directly into the strange slimy fire and ice monsters and pulled them out.
    Efficient bladework, I see. I know Menou over there had obtained one through...percussive measures, shall we say. Good to know that they can be obtained without having to quickly wear down one's weapons—although, perhaps the forgemaster would be annoyed with me if I were to share that information... In any case, here is your reward.

    You get 2000en and 2000 EXP per party member if you only turn in a scorch stone or a frigid stone. For turning in both, you get 3000en, and 3000 EXP per party member.

    (I temporarily put Waylon back in the party so that he could get the quest EXP.)

    Not again...
    Is something the matter?
    Dude, you're a giant lion man with fur all over, don't you feel hot?
    No, not particularly. Should I?
    Well, given that the cave's back to this stupid heat, I'd say yeah, but... Meh, just count yourself lucky.
    Seven days after you destroy a large scale pile, it will regenerate, causing the floor to become heated again.

    Yes, this does mean that you have to spend a while at the inn if it turns out that you need something from when the floor is heated. Conversely, it also means that every now and then, when you re-enter the 3rd Maze, you'll have to destroy the large scale pile again, before you can actually do what you came into the 3rd Maze for.

    Hoy, man. What's wrong?
    Oh, explorers! Am I ever glad to see you! The rest of my troop got lost inside this new labyrinth. You haven't seen them, have you?
    'Fraid not.
    Ohhhhh... They must be so worried to be separated from me... Listen, if you happen to come across my troop, can you let me know where they are? I swear, this always happens when new labyrinths are found.
    Aye, we'll be back once we find 'em.

    There we go, conditional obtained.

    Well, we had to make a quick detour, but as Ray might say: here is some "junk."
    Yeeeeeeowch! Why da hell's this stuff so hot?! Da forge can heat junk up just fine, no need ta preheat it!
    If you'll recall our conversation earlier—
    Oop, right, ya did mention da heat. Still tho', oww. Remind me ta put on thicker gloves next time ya come back from da cave when it's hot.
    Berund Atelier has the following new items in stock:

    I decided to have Marlin work towards Wide Dance, so he invests his skill point in Energy Tango. Nothing much notable about the other skill investments.

    Alright, here we are. You can take the wheel back, Shelly.
    Any particular reason you're going into the different entrance?
    No, we just felt it would be prudent to see if we could find some sort of shortcut here.
    Makes sense to me. Good luck!

    Oy. So the heat goes deeper too, eh.
    Well, at least the heat is not a surprise this time.

    There are still icicles down here, thankfully. No need to travel to the other entrance and grab them.
    Like B1F, all of the ice stake chop points on B2F give two ice stakes per day.

    Oh, hey, the moss strawberries down here haven't turned to slop yet.
    ...Going to echo Marlin earlier and say that I wouldn't want to put those in my mouth.

    But the hand of man is unknown here and there should be no such statuary. It must be a natural formation...
    Perhaps Naijou carved this, long ago...? He did say this cave was his home.
    That possibility cannot be ruled out, but even beyond the potential provenance of this statue... It's distinctly human-shaped, is it not?
    Well, maybe some humans lived in this cave a long time ago? I dunno.
    I have my reasons to suspect that the perpetual blizzards outside are a recent phenomenon, but even so, I don't think any humans could have lived here at any point in time. There's too many factors working against our ability to live in a cave like this.
    You kind of have to wonder sometimes how we as a species manage to live at all. There's so much about us that works against our survival...
    Haha, that's very true. I have found myself wishing that I could be like the Vessels and live for several days while only eating a small amount of plants and berries, if for no other reason than so they wouldn't have to go as much trouble to feed me.
    Man, you and Merula, you self-effacing types. I don't get you.
    "Self-effacing?" You make fun of yourself all the time, Ace.
    There's a difference between being cocky but keeping myself grounded, and being too modest, like you two. If you don't talk yourself up, then who's gonna?

    A bit past that statue, there's another plated chaser. Same deal as the ones on B1F, still very easy to avoid on its own.

    If you'll look at the map, you'll see another one. The challenge with plated chasers is that it is actually somewhat easy to get yourself pincered between two of them, since while you're taking steps backwards and side-to-side to make one of them get out of your way, the other one might be heading towards you.

    Down on B2F, glacier spawn puddles show up in addition to magma spawns, much like how magma spawn puddles show up alongside glacier spawns.

    Incidentally, the puddle enemies are separate entries in the Monstrous Codex from their normal versions.

    Convenience shortcut.

    Judging by where we were on the lower floor, we are now in the western part of the first floor.
    Right in the middle of that giant empty space.

    And right in the middle of several tortoises, as well.

    Nothing too strenuous.

    Well, that's just about the last thing we need right now.

    Well, what are Ariadne threads for, if not situations like this?

    Boy oh boy. I just love workin with plain ol' rocks. Great junk for gear. Actually, not just plain ol' rocks, but plain ol' rocks dat burn me if I'm not careful.
    Oy, don't blame us for the fact that the slimy beasties only give us rocks when we don't give 'em special attention.

    Hey, you know, I figure there's a lot of people who'd kill for a steady stream of genuine molten rock.
    Berund Atelier has the following new items in stock:

    Okay, now that we're not getting cornered by tortoises...

    The figure in shining black armor is quite large. A club is slung across his back and a katana at his waist. You have seldom seen anyone using
    a katana in Tharsis... But strangest of all is his helm. It is shaped like an ox's head and is extremely detailed. The man's arms are crossed as he silently stares at you.
    Hm. I've got an inkling about that person over there, but... Well, unless anyone can jump over the boilin' water here, I think we need to double back for a bit.
    If only we had discovered this part of the floor when it was cooled.
    Well, unless something's changed, it shouldn't be hard to re-cool it.

    Okay, I'm prepared this time...

    Through a crack in a boulder, you can see a beautiful rose ice stone. It appears to be the last one.
    Bingo. Time to—
    Just as you are putting your newfound ice stone in your pack, you hear a voice calling to you.
    Ah! Please wait!

    The soldier is panting heavily, out of breath...
    Pardon me?
    My lover's birthday is coming up, and I want that ice stone to make an accessory as a gift.
    Oh dear...
    What, is something wrong?
    I'm sorry, but, um... We need this ice stone to fulfill a request we took at the Dancing Peacock. We can't just give it away.
    Dammit, I was afraid of that... Look, I'm not asking you to give it away for free, you understand! Would you maybe trade it for this nectar? It's better than whatever reward you're getting.
    The soldier stares at you pleadingly.
    If we were still in the Lush Woodlands, maybe, but we haven't had much trouble gettin' those for a while now. Sorry, but—
    Okay... Okay! What if I threw in this nectar II?! I'm begging you, please!
    That's certainly enticing, but even so, returning empty-handed would hurt our reputation.
    You remain firm, and with tears in his eyes, the soldier pleads with you further...!
    ARGH! Alright, I can even add this luck book to the bargain, but that's my final offer! You're killing me!
    If I may interject... As important as fulfilling the request is, it's clear that this soldier deeply desires the stone. Is he truly any different from the person who made the request?
    ...Ugh, I guess not. Still, though, I—

    Here. We'll have some stuff to sort out with Kirtida, but... Please, take it.
    Oh... Oh, thank you! Oh, my beloved will be so happy with this!
    The soldier quickly takes the ice stone from you, hands you the items he offered, and runs off, whooping as he goes.

    Of course, in exchange... You have lost the ice stone you were meant to deliver. You suppose there is nothing to do but report to the bar.
    ...Sorry, I just couldn't... He was so desperate. Something must be going on with him right now. I'd have felt awful if we left him empty-handed.
    Well, we're the ones returning empty-handed now. Still, I can't say you did the wrong thing.
    It's like Xiuan said. If he'd put in a request, then we'd still have to deal with figuring out which of the two requests was more "valid." In the end, absent any deeper context from these peoples' lives, I don't think giving the ice stone to the soldier was wrong.
    ...Thank you, Waylon. I feel a bit better about that. And, um, thank you as well, Xiuan.
    Haha, it was nothing. I merely offered advice...

    Well, if we're in agreement that was the right thing to do, I say we let Meri touch the book we just got. Anyone disagree?

    We have, actually. You are the troop of soldiers we are looking for, then.
    Sounds like it. Next time you find our buddy, tell him to meet us here, alright? We'll be waiting.
    With that, the soldier turns back to his troop and their discussion resumes.

    Good thing we draw good maps, else we'd probably get real lost real fast in this place.
    With that established, we should go back to where that lost soldier was.

    Sure did. You'll find them right about here.
    Hmm... Great, thanks. I should go catch up with them.
    The soldier laughs to himself and begins the walk to find his troop.
    Well, now that we know how to move forward, and with that soldier pointed in the right place, should we call it a day?
    Given the amount of ground we've had to tread to get to this point, I'd say it's about time for us to put a new group together, even.

    Hoy, Kirtida. So, ah, funny story about that ice stone...
    I can't help but notice a distinct lack of an ice stone in your hands.
    Yeah, that's what I was gonna—
    No need to explain. The client came by earlier and told me to cancel the request. Apparently, her brother received a gift from his lover today—an accessory made from an ice stone.
    Weird how that works, eh?
    Indeed. The client laughed it off, at least, saying she could not compare to her brother's lover. With that said, I do not have a reward for you, as the client's request was not fulfilled.
    Fair enough, fair enough.
    If we had been cruel monsters and refused to hand over the ice stone to the soldier, we would have received a vigor book, as well as 3200 EXP per party member.

    Basically, we gave up 3200 EXP for a nectar and nectar II, and exchanged the vigor book for a luck book. I definitely think what we got is a better reward on the whole, but there's no real right or wrong choice here.

    With that quest turned in, we are done for now. Next time: we explore more of B2F, and find out who that strange ox-helmed person was. You can probably guess what their deal is, but I gotta keep up the suspense, y'know?

    Ah, Xiuan, it is rare to see you outside of the ship.
    Oh, Xiaohu, hello. Hehe, I could say the same for you.
    I do tend to stay in my quarters, yes. One cannot conduct commerce from the inside of their bedroom, though, hence why I am out and about!
    Conduct...commerce? Are you heading out to buy something?
    Yes. There is a particular type of dried meat for sale at one of the market stalls that makes for an easy meal while I am deep into research.
    Also, it is very tasty.
    Both very good traits. Is it nutritious?
    I have no idea! But I can worry about nutrition when I have achieved the breakthroughs I desire.
    ...I feel the oddest sense of déjà vu right now.
    That aside, what brings you outside the ship today?
    I am... I believe Harper referred to it as "people-watching." Observing the people of Tharsis come and go from the plaza.
    Ah. Is it still shocking to see so many people intermingling?
    Not as much as when I was first brought here, but I still feel this...indescribable emotion, sitting here and observing.
    I see, I see. Would you mind if I joined you?
    Oh, if you had other business to attend to, please don't worry, I can mind myself.
    No, no, you misunderstand! I merely wish to enjoy this moment with you.
    Well... I can't stop you, I suppose, and I wouldn't mind the company.
    Wonderful! Allow me to take a seat, then.
    If I may ask, though, is there a particular reason you wish to join me?
    Hmm... Attribute this momentary diversion to your fascination with Tharsis being infectious.

    Wah— I'm awake.
    Sorry, didn't mean to startle you, it's just time for dinner.
    Okay. Thank you for waking me up.
    Mhm. Did you get enough sleep last night?
    Yes. This afternoon was just nice. One of those days where the warmth makes you sleepy.
    Being made drowsy by afternoon warmth sounds nice.
    Is that something that being nervous all the time doesn't let you do?
    Pretty much.
    I wish I could help make you not nervous all the time. Being able to be put to sleep from a warm day is good.
    Well, getting some distance from what makes me nervous is why I'm out here. I'll get better with enough time, I think.
    By the way, what book is that?
    My Heaven is By Your Side.
    Hmm... Going by the title, I'm guessing that's about how best to work with others in the middle of battle?

    It's a love story.
    O-Oh. Sorry, I didn't mean to— I know that stuff is private—
    I don't know why you're embarrassed. It's just a story.
    Right... Right. Sor— No, no sorry, trying to break that habit.
    Good job.
    To make a long story short, I found one of those books lying around in my family's mansion once, and after one of my cousins saw me with it... I, um, never heard the end of it.
    Making fun of someone for reading a love story is childish. Your family is childish. I do not like them.
    "Childish" isn't the first word I would use, but it's not wrong, I guess...
    Not "I guess." It's just "not wrong." I'm very angry about this now.
    It's in the past, it's not worth getting—
    It's not in the past if you're still embarrassed.
    I have an idea. Take this.
    Your book?
    Read it, if it's not uncomfortable to read. I've got a lot of other love stories that I brought with me. Talking about them with someone else would be fun, I think.
    Well... I'm not going to turn down an opportunity to metaphorically stick my tongue out at my cousins. Thank you, Harper. Oh, um, did you already finish reading this? I can wait until you're done, if not.
    I first read it a long time ago. I was just rereading it.

    Oi, Shelly, Mar.
    How come he gets the shortened name and I don't?
    I'unno, ask my subconscious. Anyway, somethin' I've been curious about. You're both good with boats, 'less I've gotten something stupidly wrong.
    Never got to sail on my own on the sea, but if we're talking skyships? Yeah, I know a bit.
    Likewise, couldn't tell you the first thing about these giant wooden birds, but I could talk your ear off about my favorite man-made whales, hoho.
    Ships are like whales, y'see? They're sea-farin', they're huge, and— Feh, hell with it, I'll cop to botchin' that metaphor.
    Anyhoo, they got races for ships? For either kind, I mean.
    'Course they do, lass. You create somethin' that can move, natural instinct is to wanna make more of 'em, and see which one's the fastest.
    Hold on, now, I've never heard of a skyship race.
    ...You're pullin' my leg, right, lass?
    What, is that surprising?
    Yeah? You're the only sky pirate I've ever talked to, but I can't imagine you and your mates are too different from pirates and the other assorted riffraff you meet in nautical circles.
    So you're tellin' me you've got naturally-competitive sorts all around you, and...none of you ever thought to race your skyships.
    I mean, these things don't exactly reach very high speeds. Not much fun in racing something that isn't fast. There's a lot I'm proud of when it comes to my baby, but the most I can say about her speed is that she's faster enough than other skyships. Just enough to let us get away from whatever air force got contracted to protect against us.
    Okay, Ray looking crestfallen, I can get, she's...a teenager. Marlin, you're older than me, why do you look like a kid that just got told fairies aren't real?
    You know damn well why, lass.
    Are you kidding me, man? Buoyancy is a fundamental fact of physics. That's how sea ships exist. Skyships are defying gravity! We have a lot more important things to worry about than "how fast we can go."
    That's quitter talk, lass.
    Yeah, c'mon, tell me you don't want to zoom through the sky.
    I... Look, that would be cool, I would like to do that, but there's other, more pressing engineering matters to be taken care of first. You can go ask Ciaran about this whole speed thing! He'll tell you the same stuff I am.
    Cripes, lass.
    What? I'm so lost, how did I end up being grilled about my skyship engineering sensibilities?
    Thought you'd have a bit more adventurous spirit in ya.
    Especially given our current professions, aye.
    I— Are you two trying to goad me into figuring out how to make skyships fast enough that people would want to race them?
    ...Aye, just about.
    That's the gist of it.
    Well, it's working! Dammit, I'm gonna be thinking about this for a while... We've got more important things to do, you know!
    Nothin' sayin' you can't handle multiple important things at once, lass.
    How is figuring out how to make skyships faster instead of safer important?
    Because people reckon it is.
    Even if it's just Ray and I. And, well, judgin' by your outburst, you too.
    Well, if nothing else, at least being able to say I helped make the first skyship regatta possible would be an easier way to introduce myself...

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