Update 12: Relatively Peaceful Days

Someone's up early.
I saw this pooka outside of my window. Is there a reason why we are not staying near the geomagnetic pole?
Eh, I'm just flying around. It's a thing I do when I get up early enough, the winds're calm, and the dragons aren't out to ruin my day.
That is very understandable. On a somewhat related note, may I ask a question pertaining to the construction of this ship?
What's up?
Did one of your shipbuilding crewmates use some sort of spell or incantation to provide stability? Unless we are moving particularly fast, or the winds are rough, I find it difficult to notice the ship moving at all.
Not that I know of...? Gonna be honest, I know my way around a lot of the physical parts of the ship, but the physics of how this all works can be a bit beyond me. For all I know, it could be magic, but as a general rule, people like yourself tend to stay away from being sky pirates. Don't know that many magic-using engineers, either, and finding a pirate that knows how to build things at all is pretty rare as-is.
I see! That would make sense, though I confess that I am unfamiliar with the methods and habits of alchemists, zodiacs, and other such mystics.
Would've been nice to have our own magic guys to go up against the ones that got hired as bodyguards on occasion... But, uh, anyways, are you gonna go get breakfast? Pretty sure the only reason Harper's not up here pooka-watching is because she's cooking. Cooking instead of pooking, I guess.
Observing this pooka sounds enjoyable. Breakfast can wait. Also, I hope you feel deep remorse for that last sentence!
...Speaking of that thing, you can kinda see what runes make something up, right? You got any—
I can predict where you are going with this, and both Harper and Waylon have already asked me the same question. The answer, sadly, is no. These carefree creatures' runic composition is a mystery with my current level of knowledge.
Should've figured those two would beat me to the punch on asking...

That pooka in front of the ship at the start, incidentally, was a metal pooka. They drop speed books, which increase AGI. I gave that speed book to Ray, since her having more AGI means she can throw circles down quicker, which means she can neutralize dangerous enemy attacks quicker, which means I can not die quicker.

On another note, now that we have a break in the story, I'll go over the two burst skills that Wufan gave us. We received Flame Wall during the initial visit to Vessel Town. It costs 2 burst to use, and deals 90% ranged TEC-based fire damage to one row of enemies. It's very useful for clearing out encounters when we have Xiaohu or Ray in the party! 90% TEC damage is greater than a rank 10 Lightning Rune, and it also costs no TP, to boot.

For the next skill, we received Black Mist when we met with Wufan on B3F of the Misty Ravine. Black Mist costs 2 burst to use, and to make a long story short, it forces all currently-active disables on all enemies to last an additional turn. However, it can only work on a given disable once—if you use Black Mist on a disable that's already been extended by it, you'll just end up wasting that use of Black Mist.

The actual internal mechanics of Black Mist are somewhat more complicated than that short description would imply. The way that Black Mist extends disable durations is by causing affected enemies to skip the disable recovery function on the turn that it is used. As a result, it is possible to "waste" Black Mist by using it on a turn where disable recovery would've been impossible even without it, such as on the first turn that a disable is inflicted. There is also one particular boss far later in the game that enforces a minimum duration for certain types of disables, and using Black Mist during those minimum duration windows also counts as wasting it.

This is also a good time to mention, for those of you coming from the Untolds, EO5, or EON, that disables do not have an upper limit on duration in EO4. Regardless of how many advantages an entity has in the disable recovery formula, ultimately, the chance of recovering from a given disable is hard-capped at 80%. In the absence of a hard-coded "if the disable has lasted for 5 turns, recover from it" check, an entity can go for a theoretically infinite amount of turns without ever recovering from a disable.

'Ey, it's Ray and da poofy one. Xiaohu, right?
Correct! We're here to discuss the details of a request you filed at the bar.
Ooh, good, ya guys took dat. See, da boss's gotta idea for a real nice dagger. Calls it a ballock knife, dunno why. Lessee...says here dat he'd need some dolomite and a kinda magic lance shard ta make it.
That's some real specific junk. Dolomite, I think I heard Auntie sayin' that stuff can be found on the lowest part of the Misty Ravine. Lance shard... I'unno, guess we look for a Hollow that uses a lance?
Da Vessel ghosts dat're hauntin' ya guys real bad?
...Nope, that ain't what Hollows are.
They are remarkably ghost-like, though, that much is true.
I got a bad enough time bein' chased by dat bear out in da Dense Bushland, don't wanna think about bein' spooked. Anyhoos, I'll know da junk da boss wants when ya bring it in. No rush on dis, I'm just real curious about dis kinda knife.

Ghosts? If you ever see a ghost, cut the motherfucker.

No mistaking it, that's an explorers guild skyship.
That poor guard really is stuck alone on that island...
My gut says he's probably not alone, and I don't mean that in a good way.
That island is known to be home to several very large frogs, yes. I do not know if they are carnivorous, but regardless, they probably are not taking to an intruder nicely.
What are you doing out of bed?
Am I not permitted to offer my knowledge of these lands?
No, your insight is appreciated, but you also suffered grievous wounds at the hands of Hollows. Please, Wufan, I insist that you get more bed rest. I already regret not taking you immediately back to the ship after our meeting...
I cannot stand idly—
...Very well. My apologies for worrying you all.
Anyway, let's see if I can get around this annoying mantis...

While we're here, can we pinpoint the exact location of the headwaters for the Scarlet Pillars? It would be convenient to be able to turn in the Count's request when we return to town.
Well, the headwaters appear to be due north. That would seem an easy enough task.

You look below you to see crystal clear water gushing out. It is the source of the large river...!
I put an exclamation point where we are. Point the Count to it when you go talk to him.

After discovering the Noisy Marsh, the next time you go to the inn, you'll get a bit of dialogue for Kirjonen.
When your eyes meet, the knight smiles elegantly and turns to face you. It is Kirjonen of the Holy Rune Knights.

Just found a new one today, in fact, out in that island that's got the mantis obsessively patrolling it.
I attempted to approach that small forest, but found the mantis incessant in its pursuit of me. I am glad to hear you found a method around it. Your discoveries are inspirational, you know; every time I hear of a new maze or minor labyrinth, it reminds me that I have much to learn as an explorer. I hope to someday follow your example in terms of boldness and vitality.
"Boldness and vitality," that's a new one... Anyway, well, glad to hear that we're helping you push yourself to new heights.
...Or something like that. My pep talks are kinda bad.
Haha, I disagree, but regardless, perhaps next we meet, I may be able to lend my strength to you. It would be a good experience for all involved, I believe.
Oh, look at the time, I must be going! I am glad that we could speak in this way, Guild— Well, Shelly. Please pass my remarks on to your comrades. May we meet in the skies before long.

Good day, Count. Apologies for the slight delay, but we located the Scarlet Pillars' headwaters.
Splendid, splendid! No need to be sorry, I know that recent events have been very stressful for you and yours. Where, pray tell, are the headwaters?

Right on the exclamation point. Oh, and tell your scouts to beware of the mantis. Throwing some fish near them is usually enough to distract them, we've found.
Very good, I will make sure to relay that. Please, make yourself comfortable while we await a response.

Though, honestly, I think we can all agree that the outcome was never really in doubt.
Your confidence is appreciated. If I may ask, is there a particular reason you are looking for these lands' headwaters?
Oh, nothing exciting, some simple geological documentation. If future explorers are to make their way into the Scarlet Pillars, it would be best if we have comprehensive official reference material for the land's topography and features.
Fair enough.
I will inform Kirtida to give you your reward the next time you stop by the Dancing Peacock. Again, I thank your guild for a job well done.

I assume you are here to collect the Count's reward.
If there's one thing you can give the Count, it's that his scouts and messengers are incredibly fleet-footed.
Haha, indeed. Regarding the request, a thought occurs to me. The origin of the Windy Plains' river—the water we here in Tharsis make use of—turns out to be in the Scarlet Plains. When explorers drink water gathered in the Scarlet Pillars, they are drinking the same water as we here in Tharsis. A sort of...river bond, if you will.
That's one way of looking at it.
...Forgive my idle observation, I do not mean to waste your time.
No, trust me, it's fine. We're in no rush to do anything until Wufan is in better shape.
I had noticed her multitude of bandages on that night she was accompanying your guild in town, yes. I wish her a speedy recovery. With that said, here is your reward.

A new quest unlocks after we turn in Headwaters, continued. In addition to completing that quest, you also need to have reached B2F of the Misty Ravine.

Slime mold of the gods:
...Huh. That request wasn't here last night.
The Count's messenger requested that I post this as he was informing me of your success with the headwaters. It is unfortunately light on details, but does mention a...glowing tree.
Well, that's a new one.
I am not even sure such a thing exists, but perhaps the Count would be able to elaborate more. Best of luck, Waylon.

Back already, Waylon? Did you forget something?
No, I saw your new request at the Dancing Peacock. Something about a glowing tree.
Oh! Well, thank you for accepting that request so promptly. Now, I know what you're thinking. "A glowing tree? Has the Outland Count gone mad?"
Well, no, I don't doubt that you have a good reason for asking us to find this tree, I've just never heard of anything like it.
I'm not surprised. I am mainly acting upon various rumors from explorers that have managed to find their way to the Scarlet Pillars. Judging by some old botanical tomes in my archive, I believe the true cause of these strange glowing trees is a shining slime mold.
Ahh, that jogged my memory. Right, that would make sense. These types of slime molds give off a natural white light, don't they?
Precisely. Now, I am mainly curious about this slime mold's potential medicinal uses. We need some research specimens to investigate that, obviously, and as such, I request that you obtain a sample. According to the rumors, you can find them somewhere in the northwest of the Scarlet Pillars' geomagnetic pole.
Finding a glowing slime mold would be quite difficult in the daytime, so we'll look into it tonight.
Very good. I will eagerly await your return, slime mold in... Well, not in your hands. Please use something more sanitary.

Giving Kirjonen a requested rare food nets me the next bit of ship equipment that automatically converts certain food points to rare ones. This time, it's for fish.

I made you dinner.
Oh. Thank you.
Eine said he wants you to keep resting, so that's why I brought it to your room.
A fruit bowl, I see.
Ray's started eating some of the human meals I make, but she's had a few months to adjust to new foods. I didn't want to give your body something that it wouldn't like.
The last thing my body would need right now is to disagree with what I consume, so your consideration is appreciated.
...If I might ask, what does a normal human diet consist of?
Too many things. We eat plants and seeds like you, but we also eat meat, and a lot of things in-between. My Uncle Ranger cooked a lot of monster cuisine back in High Lagaard.
That does not sound terribly abnormal. Is preparing a meal from a monster unlike preparing a meal from an animal? I overheard Ace talking about a dish made from one of these lands' native swine.
I've found that the shiny white pigs help us the best when we're exploring. Monsters aren't like animals. You can make really special food with them, but it requires a lot of careful preparation and knowledge of each specific monster. Monster cuisine. One of Uncle Ranger and Regina—
Regina is the name of the chef that ran the monster cuisine restaurant my moms, mamas, and Uncle Ranger helped with. My moms, mamas, Uncle Ranger, and their friends found recipes written by Apicius while they were doing explorer things, they'd bring them back to Regina, and she would read them and make the dishes in them.
Apicius was a chef that learned how to make food from monsters. High Lagaard is kind of to the north and west of here. It's a very cold city, built around Yggdrasil. Snow starts early and ends late there. Growing food sometimes wasn't possible, so Apicius found out how to make tasty food from the Yggdrasil Labyrinth, a giant maze inside Yggdrasil.
There... There are other Yggdrasils? And there are labyrinths inside of them?
Oh. We didn't mention that yet. Mhm.
I... Is there any record of others like the— Like Xiuan? Those that can hear Yggdrasil's voice? Have the other Yggdrasils ever been attacked by Titans?
There's weird things below the ones in Etria and Lagaard, but I don't think there's other people like Xiuan. The Yggdrasil here is special.
It...would seem so. I would be lying if I said I was not interested in learning more about these other Yggdrasils, but we have far more pressing matters to attend to at the moment.
Sorry. I didn't mean to make you think too much.
You have nothing to be sorry for. If it is alright, I would like to eat the fruit bowl you prepared now. However... I would appreciate hearing more about this "monster cuisine," when you have the time.
Okay. I'd like talking about it.

...Oh, look, down there. The Count wanted us to find a glowing tree, right?
Yes. Hmm... We're somewhat northwest of the geomagnetic pole, the glow is colored white. I'd say this is the slime mold the Count is looking for.
I marked it.

Hey, like. The sheep like veggies, yeah? What'd happen if we dropped one of those gold mushrooms for it to eat? You think the sheep would turn gold too?
I doubt it, but I also can't see any harm in seeing what happens.

As expected, I can't see any—
It turned into one of those weird monsters. The ones that always get the drop on us.
Don't look at me, I was just guessing. Somehow that shroom made that sheep way more powerful.
You made the sheep stronger?
Yep. Wanna get Eine and Ray, see if we can take this thing down? It'd probs be a good experience.

You know, I've heard that these sorts of giant sheep are called "somnovores" in other lands. I'm fairly sure that means "dream eaters."
Let's hope the "eater" part ain't literal.

Dream Eater
Level: 24HP: 1643STR: 33TEC: 30VIT: 26AGI: 22LUC: 25DS: 80
EXP Given: 6424

Damage Vulnerabilities:
100% 75% 100%
100% 100% 100%

Disable Vulnerabilities:
20% 20% 20% 0% 30% 20%
10% 10% 20%
30% 30% 30%
  • Dozing Gaze: Attempts to inflict sleep on all party members, with a high chance. Slow.
  • Dozing Gaze: Attempts to inflict sleep on all party members, with a 60% base chance. Has a speed modifier of -6.
  • When any player character is not afflicted with sleep, dream eaters are equally likely to use either Dozing Gaze, or a regular attack.
  • When all player characters are afflicted with sleep, dream eaters will only use regular attacks.
  • If all player characters are afflicted with sleep:
    • Attack.
  • If the above did not occur:
    • 50% chance to use Dozing Gaze.
    • 50% chance to attack.
  • Cursed Wool: 100% chance. Sells for 514 en.
    • Cloth Armor (39 DEF, +20% Bash Resist): Made from 1 Cursed Wool. Costs 1150 en.
I can't help but wonder if the old adage about "counting sheep" somehow originated from this type of beast. These ones have eyes that can cause sudden unconsciousness—I'm unsure of the exact mechanism, but my associate Xiaohu and I theorize that the eyes of the Dream Eater are lined with a runic incantation that renders a constant spell upon those who see it. Perhaps bring some coffee, or a method by which to keep your eyes open—thoroughly dreamless sleep such that these beasts cause is not the most pleasant thing in the world.
First off, that is the first time I've demonstrated a particular overworld mechanic: if you feed a particular rare food to an FOE, that FOE will be turned into a rare breed. For the 2nd Land, gold stinkhorns are the food that does this.

As for dream eaters, they only have one skill, and their AI is very simple, but don't let that fool you into thinking they're easy to take down. Dozing Gaze has a very high chance of putting everyone in the party to sleep, and dream eaters have enough STR that even a regular attack deals significant damage with the sleep damage bonus.

As for countermeasures, if you've got a deep enough stock of nectars, or access to Revive, you can try to bring up any party members that get dropped to 0 HP. Dream eaters can only ever hit one person at a time, so unless you're out of nectars and your Revive user gets taken out, you can stay in the fight for a pertty long time. Staying in the fight is the important part, because of accumulative resistance. Every time a party member gets put to sleep by Dozing Gaze, they gain an extra 30% resistance to it for the rest of the battle, assuming they don't get killed. As long as your supports don't get one-shot by a dream eater, they'll eventually build up either heavy resistance or outright immunity to sleep, which makes Dozing Gaze far less of a concern.

Rare breed dream eaters, unfortunately, gain a damage increase with each turn that passes, up to a certain amount, so it doesn't take very long for them to be able to kill someone regardless of whether or not they are asleep. At least the point about them only being able to hit one person at a time still applies.

Hey, yeah, I'm the one throwing rocks at you. Hit me.

My opening actions. Ace and Eine have not much else useful to do, so they contribute chip damage. If you're wondering why Eine can use Lightning Rune, he's had the accessory that lets the wielder use rank 1 Lightning Rune equipped for a while.

Harper is going to attempt to bind the dream eater's head. It won't make the sheep helpless, even its non-boosted regular attacks can still mess me up, but it would give me a 50% chance of getting a free turn when no-one is asleep.

Waylon just immediately uses Assault Drive since there's no damage increases for him to worry about.

Ray goes for trying to bind the dream eater's arms, which would heavily reduce the amount of damage its regular attacks deal.

As much as I would've liked a head bind, Harper's LUC is low compared to the sheep, Head Snipe is at a low rank, and the sheep has a 30% vuln to head binds. Failing to bind its head is to be expected.

As is that.

Like I said: chip damage.

Gah, its wool is absorbing a good deal of the impact.

Well, with Waylon's drive blade now on cooldown, he'll use Sharp Edge to—

No, godsdammit, I...ughhhh...
Oi, what the hell's...happen...zzz...
Oh, guess the skills I selected didn't matter.
This is like picking up a Sleep ability pedestal at Chameleon Arm's place! {/gexposting}

One of the nice things about circles is that even if the original caster is incapacitated, the circle will keep attempting to inflict its disable.

GWAAAAAAAH! You...crafty-ass sheep!

Ace, in addition to dealing chip damage, will use Calm Breath to restore their HP. Won't really help if they get put to sleep again, but maybe it'll help them survive a regular attack, who knows.

I'm okay, I'm awake.
Harper, meanwhile, goes back to trying to stop Dozing Gaze.


Gck... Nope, I'm still standing, you stupid bastard...sheep. Hey, does cussing out the monsters make me look weird?
Calm Breath and the previous turn's Circle Boon, combined, barely saved Ace's life there. Saves me from having to burn a nectar or use of Revive.

See my remarks from the previous Head Snipe attempt.

Oh, c'mon...just woke...zzz...
Bah! Irritating sheep.

Well. This is suboptimal.
Eine staying asleep on the previous turn saved him from getting inflicted by Dozing Gaze again. With just a bit of luck, I can get Harper and Ray back up.

...Ngh? I can't move...
Oh dear...
Okay, a death sucks, but it's better than Eine getting put back to sleep.

Wake up, you two!
I'm okay, I'm okay, I'm okay, I'm okay.
Didja really need to slap us, mate?
I'm deeply sorry, but yes. My kingdom for several buckets of cold water, perhaps some smelling salts...

Leaving Waylon dead would be very, very bad, so let's not do that.

That bastard called me dead weight!!!

Don't...worry 'bout me, just get...him up...

Don't look at us.
I have been granted, potentially, a decisive reprieve from Dozing Gaze.

Yeahhhhh! Betcha it feels real bad to get your bones shattered by pure rock!
And that...unfortunately, as you will see in a bit, does not give me a speed advantage. Even with leg binds, the flat 10x multiplier that rare breed monsters get to their action speed means I'm still getting outsped.

Now that the dream eater's head and legs are bound, Harper switches to trying to bind its arms, while Ray switches to trying to poison it.

Look, just...keep getting us back up. As long as Ace and I...aren't both down for too long...we can win...

No luck on inflictions this turn.

So... We playing back-and-forth with the two of us getting knocked down?
Heh. Well, long as the sheep doesn't get to those three.

...Ultimately, binding the dream eater's head did nothing, and I cannot bind its head again for the rest of the battle. Magnificent.

...Hahhh. Okay, we're making out of this bad idea alive, you hear me?

Well, uh. This ain't good.

Yeah, nuh-uh, I'm wise to you now, got it?
...Hell, now I'm talkin' to the beasties...

I must admit, I was not expecting hypnotic capabilities from this sheep.
It's a right pain in the ass, eh?

Christ, that was a total of 10 turns where Waylon couldn't do anything. Let's make up for lost time.

Ah, you're...up... Yeah, that's good...
I'll treat you as soon as I can!

Perhaps we should have a more formal process for deciding whether or not to take on these larger FOEs.
Or, at the very least, be extra cautious after feeding them strange foods.

Don't worry, I will have Ace up momentarily!

Gonna agree with Waylon saying we should think a bit more before fighting these big ones. And by "we," I mean "mostly me."

Assault Drive plus a few extra hits from Harper should be enough to finish that. The question is whether or not I can get the conditions necessary for Waylon to not die before he can use Assault Drive.

Eine?! Oh, hell, that's not good...
That is very bad.
I'll... Don't worry, I'll be okay...

Getting low on nectars at this point.

Actually...y'know what? I'll take...zzz...
Harper and Ray have enough accumulative resistance to sleep inflictions that I would much rather prefer that over the dream eater attacking us.

Stop knocking my friends down.

Is there some secret you two are employing to avoid being put to sleep by its gaze?
I'unno, man, just get ready to whack it! Sooner it's dead, sooner we can stop bleedin' nectars.

Sadly, Waylon dying does not reset his drive blade's cooldown.

I am at the point where I do not mind using nectar IIs in order to prevent myself from suffering a cascade of deaths.

Toldja I don't...know any secrezzz...
Annoying, but workable, Harper and Waylon are more important right now.

...One of the more effective nectars? Desperate times do call for desperate measures, I suppose.
Hey, I hear fighting, is everything— The hell?!
This somnovore has proven more difficult to take down than we expected. Get the others ready to back us up, please!

Super godsdamn weird to wake up in the middle of a battle feeling completely refreshed.
All I need is to make sure Waylon does not die, and I can win.

Not so tough now that I'm not asleep, huh?!

Ow. I'm up, I'm up.

As long as the dream eater does not hit Waylon or put him to sleep, then I win.

No...the most inopportune...

...Better me than him...

I am beginning to feel very exhausted, please, Waylon, finish this accursed monster off!



Here's where our EXP bars started before fighting the dream eater.

And there's where they ended up. Rare breed FOEs are worth a lot of EXP.
Nice shootin', gootecks. Impressive performance.

Okay. Lesson learned, be real careful before picking fights with the weird big ones. That was on me.
It was a good experience, though.
A life-threatening experience, but... Well, I suppose most days as an explorer are life-threatening experiences.
Is everyone alright?!
Barring physical exhaustion on my part, our mid-battle treatments prevented any serious injuries. I would say we are alright, yes.
Fighting FOEs when you're only a few levels behind them can already be somewhat dicey, fighting a rare breed FOE when you're only a few levels behind it is another matter entirely. In the end, though, I prevailed, and without anyone being dead at the end of the battle, to boot.

With all of that said, it's worth noting that rare breed dream eaters form the core of EO4's most famous powerleveling technique. You recruit four guest characters of a high enough level from guild cards, take whoever you want to level into battle against a rare breed dream eater, defeat it, and that one character gets the full 32120 EXP from the battle. I'll discuss guild card guest characters at another time, but one important fact about them is that, unlike EO3 sea quest NPCs, guest card guest characters do not count against you for division of battle EXP.

Here's what I did with the SP that everyone got from that fight. Ace gets her first rank of Party Shield, allowing her to take hits for every other party member, for a whopping 20 TP. This skill is basically for emergencies only at the moment, but will serve Ace well enough in keeping absolutely everyone else as safe as they can, until they get Weak Shield.

Waylon gets his first rank of Charge Edge, which is in Veteran for some reason. EON moved it up to Master for very good reasons. Charge Edge is usable immediately after Waylon uses either Sharp Edge or Impulse Edge. It deals an okay amount of damage to one enemy, and multiplies the damage of all attacks Waylon makes on the next turn. The effect scales from 2.2x at rank 1 to 2.6x at rank 6. It makes Drive skills, already very strong just with proper burst window coordination, even more ridiculous—a good way to think about it is that Waylon gets a ton more damage out of any given Drive skill while having the same amount of cooldown from it. The one balancing factor for Charge Edge is that it doesn't really save TP compared to how much using 2.6 Drive skills would cost. At max rank, Charge Edge costs 18 TP, Assault Drive costs 18 TP, the elemental Drives cost 20 TP, Accel Drive costs 22 TP, and Overdrive costs 25 TP. You save some TP, sure, but nowhere near as much as, say, Charge on gladiators and arbalists in EO3.

Harper gets another rank of Head Snipe. I could have her start going for Squall Volley, but I think it's a bit early for that. It can wait until early-mid 3rd Land, I feel.

Eine gets another rank of Revive. I'm not particularly in need of any of his other Veteran skills at the moment, so I opted to slightly increase how much HP he revives people with. In all honesty, I think putting points in Stretch may be a better investment, but at the same time, that's something that wouldn't pay off for quite a bit. Enemies don't start having really dangerous binding skills until the 4th Land, really.

Ray gets her next class skill rank, increasing the TP she gets from circles either ending or being dismissed from 5 TP to 8 TP. Every little bit helps, given the TP costs of circle skills.

Berund Atelier has the following new items in stock:

For my efforts, I am rewarded with the ability to buy a pretty good piece of armor! Cloth armor's DEF isn't the best you'll find in the Scarlet Pillars, but it gives an extra 20% resistance to bash damage. Bash damage is pretty common amongst enemies—not necessarily from skills, but from regular attacks. If you have a fortress, cloth armor might be a pretty good buy for them.

That said, I don't grab it for Ace.
♪ No music ♪

Ah, what a perfect day. Excellent weather for... Oh, hell, I'm blanking, what names did we pick for the smaller forests?
The Moth's Garden and the Noisy Marsh.
We have requests that require exploration of those two forests, yes?
I think so, yes.
Never been to either of those, so this oughta be a good trek.
I only have notes from Vessels brave enough to embark on expeditions to those two thickets, but they are adequately detailed. I must advise caution—these expeditioners warned of gigantic moths and frogs ambling about.
We were able to see a few moths from our skyship, yes, hence the name. I can't say we saw any gigantic frogs, but I'll keep that in mind.
Time for another different party. Waylon and Ray are still here, but Shelly, Merula, and Xiaohu all have new tools to mess with as a result of hitting Veteran.

Shelly has Muscular Chef, which increases STR gained from food, and the next rank of her class skill. More importantly, she has a whopping four SP invested in Improved Link already. Improved Link is pretty much mandatory for any Link user; it allows Link skills to activate multiple times in one turn, and also enables the ability for skills that deal multiple instances of damage to activate Link skillls multiple times per action. She also has another four SP in Initiative, which increases her damage and accuracy when attacking enemies before any of them have gotten to take their turn. Since attacking at or near the start of the turn is most of a Linksnecht's thing, Initiative is nice to have.

Merula, similarly to Shelly, has Agile Chef, which increases food AGI, and the next rank of her class skill. For actual skills, she has Assassinate at rank 3, and Shadow Bite at rank 4. Assassinate deals cut damage to one enemy, and attempts to instantly kill them. If the target is afflicted with an ailment, the instant kill chance is increased. While not great for FOEs and bosses—even though full-on instant death immunity is rare in this game—it is a fantastic skill to have for random encounters, where sometimes you just really want an enemy dead as soon as possible, before they can do something really nasty. For actually dealing damage, she has rank 4 of Shadow Bite, which deals cut damage to one enemy, and deals extra damage if the target is afflicted with an ailment. This bonus stacks with her class skill, which can result in ridiculous modifiers. At rank 4, Shadow Bite deals 195% damage without an ailment, and 380% with an ailment. If you put Merula's current rank of her class skill on top of that, you get 912% damage. Utterly ridiculous.

Xiaohu has a few skills to discuss. Beyond her class skill and Wise Chef (increases food TEC), she has all three of the damage-dealing Veteran runes unlocked. Flame Rune deals fire damage to all enemies, Glacier Rune deals multiple instances of ice damage to random enemies, and Storm Rune deals volt damage to one enemy. Flame Rune is useful for random encounters, and Glacier Rune is very good for battles against a single enemy. Additionally, she has rank 2 of Runic Shield—which gives party members in her row a chance to nullify elemental damage dealt to them—so she could unlock Runic Guidance, a core passive. Runic Guidance increases the damage Xiaohu deals when striking an enemy's weakness, starting at a 25% increase at rank 1, and scaling up to a 40% increase at rank 6. Remember, this increase is on top of already dealing extra damage due to hitting an enemy's weakness.
Ueah!! Improved Links!! Uryaa!!

This is the kind of intelligent commentary Rea brings me on for.
You act as though my commentary on Sympathy provides any analysis deeper than what you already provide. :v

Well, at least this forest isn't choked with noxious fumes.

And there's the moths.
They seem docile for the moment.
That'll change right quick, once we're battlin' other beasties. Let's give 'em the slip.

Judging by the stench, I'd say this is where we're most likely to find a moth egg.
Oi, hold on, whaddabout that door?

...Gah, hah, hah... Yeah, no, that's...that's not opening...
Hm! Whoever put this seal on the door very much did not want it to be opened. I've never seen anything like it before.
No way around it, it sounds like. Not even if we dug below it, maybe?
We could try, but I suspect that the seal extends... Hmm, how would you describe a force that extends downwards infinitely?
All the way to hell?
Yes, that. I suspect that the seal extends all the way to hell.

Rude. There's no way to avoid the fire bulb hitting both of the petaloids upon death after it expands. Best thing you can do is take out the fire bulb before it expands.

...Well! Repurposing those spent runes is quite a different experience from active incantations.
You get that message in the second screenshot and a "ding!" sound whenever a character with Runic Guidance hits an enemy's weakness.

Also, that's Flame Wall, which I haven't used before now. It is very, very useful, especially given that it only costs 2 burst.

...Waylon, mate?
You juiced that sword-thing of yours up lately? You kinda made the bulb's rinds go all over the place with the splatterin'.
No, but I did finish repairing my elemental cartridges. Evidently, fire bulbs do not take to ice very well.

Obtained paulownia bark x2.

Huh. Same oil my mom and I use. Neat.

An easy shortcut to the back part of the second moth room.

Obtained osmunda frond x2 and monks cress x2.

That's, um. That's a lot of eggs.
Is there any risk of these hatching right now...?
I can't say, though I fear what would happen if they did.
Meri, you are the most dextrous person here. Please grab one of the eggs, so that we may get out of here quickly.
...Give me a second to put my gloves on first, but sure.

Ugh, even through the gloves, it just feels like I should not be holding this.
And now we can get out of here before any of the moths get us.

Bad news, we got a moth egg. It's the thing Merula's carrying.
I...I see. You did not have anything you could put it in, instead of carrying it out in the open...?
No, unfortunately.
Well, in that case, I happen to have a large empty bottle, a cork, sealing wax...and a steel lockbox with a metal chain...
That is, perhaps, a bit excessive, but I am in no mood to tell you to not use them.
Much appreciated. I do hope the client picks this up soon...

The numb hammer unlocks the ability for us to add paralysis forges to weapons.

Ah, my friends, welcome. What brings you here today?
We think found the glowing tree you're looking for.
Splendid, splendid! Where did you find it?

Here, in this grove near the river.
I see. It may be daytime, but my scouts should still be able to see the slime mold itself. Please, allow them a moment.

Apparently the glow is still very faintly visible, even in the daytime.
I am interested to see how this slime mold advances medicine in Tharsis.
Indeed. With any luck, not only will the medicines our apothecaries create benefit those in town, but help reduce the number of horrific injuries and fatalities that explorers suffer in the field. Perhaps I should form a dedicated team to harvest this, should it prove useful enough... In any case, thank you for your hard work again, Guild Daffodil. Kirtida should have your reward ready once you return to the Dancing Peacock.
Somethin' wrong, Count? You look kinda sad.
Hm? Oh, no, it's just...

This may be a bit childish of me to say, but I do find myself sad that I cannot personally accompany you. I have money, and I have power... But in the end, that is all I have.
You use the money and power to help people live in a nice town. That's worth a lot.
True, true. Pay my whinging no mind.

I assume you all have returned in order to pick up the Count's reward.
In that case, congratulations on a job well done. The Count certainly seems to be leaning on your guild much more as of late.
Being in the good graces of Tharsis's executive can only be a good thing.
Very true. With that said, here is your reward. I look forward to when you next have a report for me.

Hmm. You know, in retrospect, I may have benefitted by turning this quest in before taking on the dream eater. I would've had two sleep guards at my disposal, which I could've used to keep, say, Eine and Ray from falling asleep.

Hey, uh, what is dis? It's kinda a flower bud, but it's got something teeth-like in it...
We got some real weird beasties near where I live. Y'know the plants that try to eatcha in the Lush Woodlands?
Heard about 'em and got plenty'a leaves from 'em. Why do ya ask?
Right, imagine those things, but they've got actual teeth.
Berund Atelier has the following new items in stock:

Okay, so, you wanna fight that giant huge-mouthed thing that's guarding the Moth's Garden?
As long as whatever happened to the dream eater we fought earlier does not happen again. It's a one-of-a-kind specimen, learning how it fights and what it's vulnerable to would help other explorers that need to go to the Moth's Garden.
True, but... Well, I think you can understand why some of us might be skittish after the last big FOE fight.
I believe that had more to do with whatever reaction occurred when the dream eater ate the gold stinkhorns, rather than the actual FOE.
Well, if we fight it from the ship, we can keep someone at the wheel, ready to pull us away if things get hairy.
We could do that, yeah, though...let's try to avoid damaging my baby as much as possible.

It's distracted. Let's go.
Incidentally, if you feed a gold stinkhorn to the dream eater here, and the dinogator consumes it, the dinogator will not become a rare breed.

Teeth that sharp could cut through air, probably.

Level: 29HP: 2032STR: 35TEC: 30VIT: 34AGI: 25LUC: 25DS: 80
EXP Given: 9366

Damage Vulnerabilities:
100% 100% 100%
75% 125% 75%

Disable Vulnerabilities:
40% 30% 20% 30% 30% 50%
10% 10% 20%
10% 50% 50%
  • Tear Apart: Deals heavy cut damage to all party members. Somewhat inaccurate.
  • Tear Apart: Deals 120% melee STR-based cut damage to all party members. Has a speed modifier of ±0, and a base accuracy of 70%.
  • Dinogators always use Tear Apart as their first action.
  • Dinogators will stop using normal attacks and only use Tear Apart after they fall below 50% HP.
  • If Tear Apart has not been used yet:
    • Use Tear Apart.
  • If the Dinogator is below 50% HP:
    • Use Tear Apart.
  • If none of the above occurred:
    • 30% chance to use Tear Apart.
    • 70% chance to attack.
  • Dinogator Skin: 100% chance. Sells for 775 en.
    • Croc Bracers (16 DEF, +1 VIT): Made from 1 Dinogator Skin. Costs 2130 en.
Ah, the noble dinogator. Loving mothers to their young, and playful creatures, at that. They have a bouncy, endearing silliness to them that many an associate of mine is quite endeared by. They're also some of the most brutally powerful creatures on the planet. The sort you might find in these regions thankfully are not so strong as those you might encounter in High Lagaard or elsewhere, but they are still a terrifying threat, especially if you don't possess a skyship to avoid them. I would recommend attempting to blind them, then beating a hasty retreat.
There's not much to dinogators, really. It's basically a damage race between it and you. After it gets to low HP, it'll do literally nothing but spam Tear Apart. You're best off saving your burst phases for once that happens.

As for defensive measures, dinogators are somewhat weak to blind. Combined with Tear Apart's lower-than-average base accuracy, you can keep yourself mostly safe from being hit with Sand Throw or blind gasses.

I am excited to show off how Links actually work past the early levels.

Merula's going to go for attempting to blind the dinogator—less for the defensive utility and more for just getting an ailment she can use to activate her class skill.

Waylon will use Sharp Edge, followed by Charge Edge, followed by Freeze Drive.

Xiaohu uses Ice Rune to amplify her, Shelly, and Waylon's damage.

Ray uses Nerve Circle for much the same reasons that Merula is using Sand Throw.

Oh well.

What did that incantation do, if I may ask?
Made the FOE's blood run very, very cold, rendering it more susceptible to freezing temperatures!
...Or perhaps it made the FOE even more cold-blooded than reptiles usually are. Incantations are not always very precise.
Should have the same effect either way.

Right, you all've seen what I can do with blowing up my swords, now get ready for something real surprising: what I can do when my swords don't break after blowing up.
How the hell you'd manage that?
...Well, it's mostly Wynne's new stock of swords being less fragile.

Got some thick ears along with that thick skin, eh?

There, that's that unlocked...

Shelly and Xiaohu get to start having fun, while Waylon prepares to have fun.

Ray, for her part, uses a nerve gas instead of re-using Nerve Circle. On the whole, this'll give her a better chance of inflicting paralysis on the dinogator compared to just re-casting Nerve Circle.

...Okay, now I'm getting a bit annoyed.
Still no blind infliction, and...

Merula is unfortunately faster than Shelly, resulting in one less possible Link activation. A good reminder that going Vanguard-less isn't foolproof.

If rock and gas ain't enough to faze this thing, I'unno what is.

Hrk! Okay, that jaw's not just for show... Noted...

Optimizations finalized. Fair warning, next time I swing my drive blade, the rest of you may want to stand back.

Ah, runic resonance is so very pleasing.

And it gives me more chances to hit this thing. Keep doing that!

Another use of Calm Breath: healing significant single-target hits when you don't have any other single-target healing available.

Pretend I made several giddy noises here.

Is the FOE...pouting at me?

Not the most graceful beastie.

Holy hell, Waylon.
Aaaaaaaaah that's EXTREMELY rock!
...Seeing a monster that big get launched that far backwards is...an experience, to put it lightly.
How impressive!
Thank you.


Well, that's one way to deal with Tear Apart: take off over 50% of the dinogator's HP in one strike.

Purple croc skin... Hey, uh, don't tell me ya took on da giant purple gator thing near one'a the small places, did ya?
We did. My final blow sent the FOE flying backwards as it died.
Woahs. Welp, great ta hear Da Blues is workin' alright. Oh, uh, here, I can make dis outta da croc skin.
Berund Atelier has the following new items in stock:

Croc bracers are an okay bit of filler equipment if a character really doesn't have anything better to use an equipment slot on.

At this point, I also realized that I had a ton of boar tusks in storage, which meant I could fully augment Shelly's ancient rapier. It now gives her +12% extra damage. That's a pretty good passive boost!

Additionally, I wasn't that hot on the brilliance belt in a previous update, but I decided to have Xiaohu equip it for regular exploration. I think her being able to get an extra two attacks out per trip is worth a bit less damage.

I hope the soldier's okay...
We'd better get moving.

Yep, that's a huge frog.

It doesn't seem to mind our presence, at least.
Real unfair that it can just hop and stand on the water.
Maybe its body is hydro-repellant, somehow? Is there something rune-related going on here?
...Not as far as I can tell.
Spotted frogs hop around on diagonal patrol routes. Yes, they can hop on water, too.

The encounter formations here, as befitting a late-area cave, range from very annoying to very dangerous, with little in-between.

At least we got level-ups out of that.

Shelly gets the first rank of Double Strike, which deals two instances of damage to one enemy. It inherits the weapon's damage type. It's useful for random encounters, where Shelly doesn't really have the time to set up Improved Link, and where the skills used aren't necessarily conducive to Links.

Merula gets the first rank of Sleep Throw, which is a throw that inflicts sleep. Never hurts to diversify what ailments she can inflict.

Between the earlier set of level ups and now, I reconfigured Waylon's skills. He lost most of the SP he had in Novice skills, with the extra points being shuffled into Charge Edge. Speaking of which, he gets the next rank of Charge Edge here. He's close to having it maxed out, which will make him even more ridiculous.

Xiaohu gets the first rank of Free Energy, which gives her a chance to reduce the TP cost of any action she performs to 0. Starts at an 8% chance at rank 1 and scales up to 25% at rank 6. Given how expensive lategame runemaster skills are, Free Energy helps a lot with keeping them from running out of TP.

Ray gets the first rank of Sleep Circle, for pretty much the same reason that Merula got Sleep Throw. Diversification of disables is a good thing.

Have to say, walking through a swamp? Not fun. My boots keep getting stuck in the mud.
No comment.
What, you think it could be worse?
Well, yes. If you'd take a moment to look at what I'm wearing...
...Point taken.

What's a bird this large doing in a swamp?
Eatin' whatever gets stuck in the mud, prob'ly.
None of you let it eat me, got it?! Or Waylon, he was complaining about getting stuck too.

Level: 24HP: 507STR: 30TEC: 28VIT: 25AGI: 24LUC: 20DS: 68
EXP Given: 3598

Damage Vulnerabilities:
100% 125% 100%
50% 100% 125%

Disable Vulnerabilities:
125% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
50% 50% 100%
100% 100% 100%
  • Diving Press: Deals heavy bash damage to one row of party members. Slightly slow, and slightly inaccurate.
  • Diving Press: Deals 140% melee STR-based bash damage to one row of party members. Has a speed modifier of -2, and a base accuracy of 90%.
  • Largebills are more likely to use Diving Press when at low HP.
  • If the Largebill's HP is below 50%:
    • 70% chance to use Diving Press.
    • 30% chance to attack.
  • If the above did not occur:
    • 30% chance to use Diving Press.
    • 70% chance to attack.
  • Green Feather: 80% chance. Sells for 116 en.
    • Wind Rod (56 ATK, +5% Max TP, +2 TEC): Made from 1 Lance Shard (Hollow Roamer Drop) and 1 Green Feather. Costs 3190 en.
    • Mist Robe (40 DEF): Made from 1 Green Feather. Costs 1700 en.
    • Feather Shield (25 DEF, +1 VIT): Made from 1 Green Feather and 1 Corundum (Mine: Misty Ravine B3F). Costs 2140 en.
    • Aim Goggles (+15% Accuracy): Made from 1 Green Feather. Costs 800 en.
  • Largebill Bone: 50% chance. Sells for 142 en.
    • Macuahuitl (70 ATK, 2 Slots): Made from 1 Largebill Bone and 1 Akaganeite (Mine: Miasma Forest). Costs 4270 en.
    • Long Bow (67 ATK, 2 Slots): Made from 1 Largebill Bone and 1 Pliant Vine (Glutton Vine Drop 2). Costs 3840 en.
    • Heavy Mace (74 ATK, 2 Slots): Made from 1 Largebill Bone and 1 Lazurite (Mine: Miasma Forest). Costs 4310 en.
Within the Noisy Marsh, one might find these massive birds, whose insatiable hunger has driven them to the top of the food chain. Their strategy to take down prey is simple—use their massive weight to crush the opponent. However, their bodies are highly effective electrical conductors, so attempting to zap them can cause them to beat a retreat or even kill them outright. Keep a distance, at any rate.
Largebills are big boys. They can take a lot of punishment, and can hit an entire row all at once.

There really isn't that much else to them. Diving Press will miss more than an average attack, but not by much.

...I don't want to think about how much that would've hurt if that bird managed to ram me.

That was shorter than your old one, if I'm remembering correctly. Is there any reason you couldn't have done this simpler incantation before?
Yes! Many reasons, in fact. Would you prefer to hear now, or would me showing you my notes later suffice?
I think I can hazard a guess, with those clues, so let's just leave it at that.

Ah, right, the monster is still standing.

Not anymore, it's not.

A lone largebill isn't that much to worry about.

What is frustrating you, Shelly?
The damn treasure's right there, all that's separating us is some muck, half the bones in my body are screaming for me to just make the jump, but the other half are aware that's a very bad idea, but uuuuuuuuuugh it's right there
Do I need to pick you up and put you somewhere where the treasure chest is out of your field of view?
...No, but only barely.

Oi, we wanted to have a look 'round there, jumpy.

Obtained strong vine x2 and paulownia bark x3.

Now that's an encounter with some bite. The glutton vines lock your physical damage dealers down, so the boar can live longer.

Thankfully, Xiaohu now has access to proper all-target damage, which makes clearing out bigger encounters take less time.

Right, y'know what? I've had enough of these dudes. Can we kill one of 'em? That oughta feel good.
Logging information on them would be a good idea... Anyone not in favor, raise your hand.

I guess that settles it.
What kinda frog has such ugly pink skin, anyway? One that doesn't deserve to keep standing, if you ask me.
It's actually a method of discouraging predators, but there are better times to conduct a minor biology lecture.
I have several poisons that are a similar shade of pink, if that helps at all with understanding that.

Spotted Frog
Level: 25HP: 1705STR: 32TEC: 30VIT: 28AGI: 28LUC: 22DS: 74
EXP Given: 7724

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

Disable Vulnerabilities:
30% 20% 10% 20% 30% 10%
10% 10% 20%
30% 30% 50%
  • Sticky Tongue: Deals medium stab damage to one party member. If the attack does not miss, attempts to bind the target's legs, with a very high chance.
  • High Jump: Deals heavy bash damage to one party member, with splash damage. Somewhat inaccurate.
  • Sticky Tongue: Deals 120% melee STR-based stab damage to one party member. If the attack does not miss, attempts to bind the target's legs, with a 70% base chance. Has a speed modifier of ±0, and a base accuracy of 99%.
  • High Jump: Deals 150% melee STR-based bash damage to one party member, with splash damage. Has a speed modifier of ±0, and a base accuracy of 80%.
  • Spotted frogs always use High Jump on the first turn.
  • After that, Spotted Frogs randomly choose between using High Jump, Sticky Tongue, and normal attacks, with a slight preference for High Jump.
  • If this is the first turn:
    • Use High Jump.
  • If the above did not occur:
    • 40% chance to use High Jump.
    • 30% chance to use Sticky Tongue.
    • 30% chance to attack.
  • Spotted Tongue: 100% chance. Sells for 913 en.
    • Tension Bow (69 ATK, +6% Crit Chance): Made from 1 Spotted Tongue. Costs 4040 en.
Back in military academy, I had a classmate who dearly loved frogs. "Maybe," he said, "with all the plants, we'll start living in a swamp, and then more frogs will move in," he would say. He was awfully excited about the prospect. I can see the appeal of frogs, mind, but I find it hard to be quite as excited about them after coming face to face with frogs large enough to eat me. Maybe I'm just weird that way. I know quite a few people who find things that could devour them whole adorable...
Spotted frogs are FOE versions of the forest frogs we fought back in the 1st Land. Their skillset is near identical, save for High Jump having a lower damage modifier but higher base accuracy than Jump. Stat-wise, they're only a bit more powerful than largebills (much higher HP excepted). If you can comfortably handle the random encounters in the Noisy Marsh, you should be able to take down spotted frogs without much issue.

Ooh, you like that noise, eh? Stay right there, I'll keep ya listenin'!

Y'know, I wonder if doing my follow-up hits from the trees would look cooler...
Would that not put you in far more danger than simply facing the monster with the rest of us? What if you were to fall?
That's why I'm not trying it, but it's hard to stop my brain from wandering sometimes.
That is very relatable.

Yeaaaaaaaaaah! I call this one "Song That Makes Jumpy Bastards Stay Still," if you were wondering.
I'm impressed you can improvise this well while we're fighting a monster.
It's good practice for when I get to play to a real rowdy crowd, y'know?

This party isn't too great for Shelly to show what she can do, and even then, she's still dealing a few hundred damage per Link. Wait until I can demonstrate a party that is properly built to get a high number of Link follow-ups.

And that takes care of that. We're done here.

I don't mean to be rude, but shouldn't we hurry up and make sure the soldier is okay?
...Oh. Right. Exploring's really got a way of making you forget about important things.

Speak of demons, and their presence shall be felt.
Gah, all this damn swamp in the way. C'mon, let's hoof it!

Here's the usual cave shortcut-between-the-start-and-end.

Obtained osmunda frond x3 and monks cress x2.
Take: Noisy Marsh, Sector B2

Oh, that's nasty. Did the bird really have to puke up one of those flower things?
A classic "durable monster protecting a dangerous frail monster" formation, with the added petaloid damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don't twist of "if you hit the petaloid, it starts being able to put the entire party to sleep."
I really hate petaloids.

And towards the final tiles of the cave, the game throws this at me. The only thing preventing this from being a complete nightmare of a formation is that the petaloid is in the front, and the boar is in the back.

Burst skills to the rescue.

Obtained akaganeite x1.

For narrative purposes, let's ignore that I warped back to town to offload the extremely full inventory. You good with that? Great, much appreciated.
Berund Atelier has the following new items in stock:

Also in bits that did not occur in the narrative, I got a silver icon from assisting Kirjonen in a battle.

It's the next tier of the accessory that gives a boost to all stats, plus HP. I put it on Ray, since it's a net increase to her IS, and also gives her a sizable max HP boost.

Oh, thank goodness we got here in time.
Ngh... Yeah. I'd like to think I've done alright surviving on my own, but...it really starts to eat at your sanity after a while. 'Specially when you don't think anyone's gonna come get you, heh. "Just my luck to get stuck on the damn swamp with the mantis outside," that's what I told myself...
Are you injured at all?
My arm got real messed up by the crash, but the monsters've stayed away. Still, if you've got a thread, I'd...ngh, I'd like to get looked at by a doc soon as possible.
Here. I hope you recover soon.
Thanks. Off I go, then...
The soldier uses the Ariadne thread, disappearing in a brief flash of light. With that, the request is complete! All that is left to do is give your report to Kirtida.
Hey, 'fore we go...
(The actual event does not require you to hand over an Ariadne thread.)

Oooooooh, jackpot. Another one of those burst scrolls.
Perhaps the fates saw fit to reward us for our good deed.
The spear tactics unlocks Charge Order. Charge Order costs 3 burst to use, and increases all damage dealt by the party by 40% for the rest of the turn. Charge Order provides a huge incentive to properly coordinate your party's burst damage, as a good use of Charge Order can almost guarantee victory on its own from how much extra damage you get, at a meager cost of 3 burst.

Oh, Guild Daffodil! How nice to see you!
Good afternoon.
I'm...sorry, why are you turning away from Dalla?
Look, we've all got our weaknesses, I'm doing my best to not melt into babbling.
Is something wrong, dear?
No m— No ma'am!
If you're sure. Oh, I meant to ask—a soldier showed up at my inn. The poor man was starving, and had some truly awful injuries. Would you all happen to know anything about that?
Yes, we're the ones that rescued him from an island in the Scarlet Pillars. To make a long story short, his ship crashed there, and he'd been stuck there alone for several days.
I'm sort of surprised he managed to make it that long, frankly.
Goodness me! Well, you can rest easy knowing he's in good hands. Thank you for saving him, Daffodil.

...I think you can turn around now, Shelly.
Gods almighty, that never gets any less embarrassing...
I am very confused by Shelly's reaction to Miss Dalla.
Look, it's... Man, I dunno if you're— It's a kinda—
She think some'a the birds we talk to are lookers and it gets her hot'n bothered.
What, am I wrong?
Ahhhhh, I see! Question: do you not think any of us are "lookers?"
No, look, there's a difference between how my heart— How my brain— How I feel about women that I am acquainted with, and women I work with, okay?! Besides, I've normally got things under control when someone I might fancy is talking to me, but... Aaaaagh, I don't even know what it is with—
There's no need to be embarrassed or try to explain yourself. It's okay.
Heart wants what the heart wants, eh?
I dunno if it's— Actually, y'know what, yeah.
Ray, I have a supplementary question regarding an earlier comment.
What defines a woman as a "looker?"
Ahhhhhh, see—
I'll...tell you later, Xiao. Let's go tell Kirtida that the soldier is okay.

Ah, Guild Daffodil! Dalla came by with the good news.
Well, that saves us around fifteen seconds of explaining what happened.
Haha. Truthfully, I am greatly relieved. These sorts of requests are posted so often, and they have unfortunate resolutions just as often. I had resigned myself to inevitable bad news when I posted this one. "Another one..." was what I thought. Now, however, I feel some small measure of optimism returning.
Well, that's a pretty heavy thought. These kinds of requests were beating you down that hard?
Unfortunately. But that, for now, is neither here nor there. Thank you, Guild Daffodil.

The smart hammer lets us add TEC forges to weapons. Much like STR forges and ATK forges, we're past the point where these are preferable to ELM forges.

Sweet, sweet level-ups.

Shelly gets the next rank of Improved Link, which does nothing but reduce the TP cost. Improved Link is a fantastic skill, but the latter portions of its scaling are abominable; ranks 5 through 7 only reduce the TP cost by 1, effectively requiring that you drop 4 SP to go from 6 to 7 additional follow-ups.

Merula gets the next rank of Sleep Throw, which unlocks Curse Throw. I will not be using Curse Throw at the moment, and I will hopefully not need to use it for more than one very specific fight for the entire game.

Waylon maxes out Charge Edge, bringing its damage multiplier up to a ridiculous 2.6x. As if he needed any more help laying the hurt on enemies.

Xiaohu gets another rank of Free Energy. Getting Glacier Rune to rank 4 would increase its TP cost from 15 to 20, and I'm not comfortable with doing that yet. That damage increase is tempting, though, with rank 4 taking the average damage dealt from 75% to 90%. Remember, TEC skills use far smaller modifiers than STR skills.

Ray gets another rank of Sleep Circle. Not to much to note there other than she's close to being able to learn Chaos Circle.

With that, we're done for now! Next time: Misty Ravine B3F.
I can't wait until it all starts with this, a Circle containing the ultimate power!

Heya, Wales.
Ah, Shelly, evening. Dipping into your secret stash?
Meh, just a bit. Stuff's been a lot lately, y'know? Not gonna get full-on drunk, but a bit helps numb the butterflies in my gut.
Very understandable.
...Huh. That sagely nodding... You drink?
Not on my own time, but in my unit, a round with friends was the customary celebration for...well, just about any minor success.
Now that's my kinda military unit! We had the same policy in my crew. Get something great from robbin' a robber baron? Drinks all around! Someone got their first smooch or eyebrow-raiser? Also drinks all around!
Sorry, "eyebrow-raiser?" That's a new one. You mean the vertical tango?
C'mon, man, we're both adults, you can just say "sex."
Close 'nuff!
Regardless of how I choose my phrasing, how do you get "eyebrow-raiser" from that?
You never, like, raised both your eyebrows up and down real fast at someone? Like this?
Ahh, I see now. Still, I don't think I would've ever thought about using that as a euphemism.
Well, now you've got a bit of Heedless Blaze lore lodged in your head. Don't forget it, knowin' my lore's a privilege.
I thought pirates were usually quite keen on sharing their tales with others.
You do that, and then you end up with fuckin' books written about you, and man, that's just real embarrassing. You'd have to wanna fuck yourself real bad to want others to read books about your life. That's how I see it, anyways.
...So you're saying that you believe your mother...would like to get frisky with herself?
Whaaaaaaaaat? How'd you guess I was talkin' about Mom?
You aren't very good at hiding your disdain for her, if you're trying at all.
Man, I dunno, "disdain" is kinda strong. I don't hate her, just wish she'd cool it with telling her life's story to whoever'll listen. And with talkin' herself up all the time, it just makes all the stuff she shares even more embarrassin'.
I'm unaware of your mother's exploits, what sorts of details have ended up in these books?
You want me to give you a straight answer, or the answer that made my mates crack the hell up when I first told 'em?
I would be lying if I said I'm not interested in the latter.
There's at least one book out there that gives a really detailed account of the night that Mama got pregnant with me.
...Oh. Oh dear.
There's, like... There's a line between sharin' your stories and breakin' your mates' privacy. If there's one thing that Mom's taught me, it's that I don't wanna even get close to crossin' it, so I try to keep a tight lid. Or, well, enough of a tight lid that I don't get books written about me Mom I get that the story of how you met Mama and rescued her from the monastery's real cool but was tellin' the damn bards and writers about makin' out with her while you were still bedridden really necess
Ramblin'. Sorry. This is a real stupid thing to have brain problems about. Mom wasn't even bad to me or anything. No neglect, gave me all the swordfightin' lessons I coulda wanted, hell, she's the reason I was even able to get my first few mates together...
Your mother doesn't need to have been abusive for your grievances to be legitimate.
Try tellin' me that again when I don't have booze in me, heh.
...Really, though, thanks. I've tried thinkin' about how I see Mom, but every time I just get stuck in the mud and it makes me mad. I wouldn't even really mind her blabbin' a bunch if she knew what makes for a cool story and what should stay in her memories. Maybe she does know and she's just too in love with herself to really care, I'unno.
I will admit, there is some part of me that is having trouble processing the fact that a woman who is, from what I have pieced together, an incredibly fearsome nautical pirate is also the sort of person who will tell wandering minstrels about the night of bumping uglies that led to her daughter's conception.
Does that come naturally, or are you doing a bit?
Whichever you consider funnier.
See, that's the hard part, I don't know what would be funnier. If only "both" made sense...
If we didn't have important business to attend to for the foreseeable future, I would suggest drinking until it makes sense.
Heh. Man, you're the first guy I've met who talks Like That who also gets having fun once in a while.
I assume "Like That" refers to my verbosity and choice of vocabulary.
Yeah, exactly, you just talked Like That.
I see. What about Xiaohu? She's just as fond of being as precise in her language as I am, unfamiliarity with slang aside.
I said "first guy" for a reason. Remy, one'a Mom's mates, talked like you, too. She was nice, gave me a lotta lessons when I was growing up. Think she was a professor or somethin' before she shacked up with Mom.
...When you say "shacked up"—
I meant it in that way, yeah. And also in the "joined her crew" way. The two stopped the bedroom stuff once Mom came back with Mama, 'fore I was born, but that didn't stop the piratin'. And boy, am I glad she was there, I don't wanna think about how annoyin' it'd be for a pirate to get a kid to school.
For someone who isn't even at 30 years old yet, you've already lead quite the interesting life.
Bein' the daughter of pirates and the granddaughter of Etrian explorers kinda sealed my fate; leadin' an interesting life ended up in my blood. That's the way I see it. How 'bout you, though?
I was born, grew up, went to school, enlisted as an engineer in service to His Majesty, Emperor Alfodr, ended up in Tharsis a bit over ten years ago after an airship I was on crashed, and I've led a quiet life since then. That's my 33 years of life in summation.
See, I trust you on the summary, but you've got a lot more stories than you're letting on, aren't you?
None that you'd find particularly interesting. My life is average in that regard.
Why'd you join this guild, by the by? When Ace and I walked in, you'd already signed your paperwork, I think.
Marlin encouraged me, and I felt I could use a bit of excitement in my life. I've certainly gotten what I bargained for, and then some.
You can say that again... Honestly, I'm real glad no-one here's dropped out. I like you all too much, and gods know that, after what happened to Vessel Town, most people wouldn't look down on anyone that bolted.
Well. I would, at least a bit. But I will concede that I am not "most people."
I'd be a real hypocrite if I actually looked down on anyone for boltin', but there'd still be that little part of me that I don't agree with but can't shut up that'd mock them.
I lack enough context about the end of the Heedless Blaze to comment here.
Tell you another day, maybe. Right now I'm gettin'...pretty sleepy.
I'm not surprised. Please go get some rest.
Only if you do too. Don't think I haven't heard you up at awful hours of the night tinkerin' away.
...There's not enough hours in the day to do everything I need to. That's my excuse, at least.
Same, but— Look, I'll come up with a good explanation and tell you it when I tell you about what happened with my piratin' days, just go get some rest.
Ha. I'll hold you to that.
...You just laugh?
A chuckle.
Nophica's tits, I feel like I just saw a once-in-a-lifetime event.
Let's just get to our rooms, shall we?

Mmmzzzzz... Gwuh? Where am I?
The second deck's living room. Looks like you had a good nap.
...Oh. Right. Passed out soon as I laid down on this couch, yeah? After we finished training?
Mhm. But, um. Why are you asking me? Do you not remember?
Sometimes my memories're fuzzy when I wake up. Takes a bit to get going again.
Ah. Sorry, I— Gah. I didn't mean to be rude...
Nah, nah, I get it. M'gonna guess you're one of those people that's immediately ready to go soon as their eyes pop open.
That's...how we were trained, yes.
Sorry, I— Ahh, no! No "sorry." We went over this...
Hey, don't beat yourself up over it. Changin' what you say isn't easy, especially when it's pretty much unconscious like that.

...Hey, Ace?
Forgive me if I'm misinterpreting something, but... Well, I've been thinking about it, and it seems like you spend a lot more time with me than the others.
You're not wrong.
I was just wondering... Why?
...Huh. How do I put this without soundin' weird?
It's okay if it sounds weird. Please, say what feels right.
Hmm. Alright, if you say so.

I just... I've been hurt, too, you know? Everyone has, at some point, but there's hurt and then there's hurt. Maybe I'm makin' assumptions, but it feels like I learned to see it in other people. The way they walk, the way they talk, the way they look at the world around them. And you, Meri, you are hurting. Bad, I think.
S'just what my gut says, but... Am I wrong?

...Can I sit next to you?
Yeah, 'course. I'll scooch a bit.
Thank you.

...You're not wrong. But that still doesn't answer my question.
I just. Don't think you should be alone with that hurt. I don't think anyone should be alone with it. It'll ruin you, if you let it. If you don't want me pushing, I won't, but—
No, you didn't do anything wrong. I'm just...
I don't know.

...Aaaaaagh... We have so many important things to do tomorrow, and I know I should focus on that and rescuing the Medium, but... I wanna talk about it so badly.
So why don't you?
I...don't know if it's safe to.
I mean, that's alright, you don't have to trust me with everything.
No, no, I don't know if it's safe for you.
...For... Merula, it's literally my job to put myself in harm's way. What could you possibly tell me that's more dangerous than, I'unno, getting buried in the dirt by a giant bear's corpse?
I want to be clear here, Ace. Once you know what haunts me, there's no turning back. I don't want to sound dramatic, but there's a non-zero chance that once you know, you'll go to sleep one night, and...if you're lucky, you won't wake up. If you're not—
Stoppin' you there, sorry. Can I be honest?
If that's the kinda stuff that might happen to me once you open up...then that just makes me wanna help you more. If knowing your problems can put someone in danger, well, you've gotta be in even worse danger, yeah?

...Look, I can't make the decision for you. If I could, though, I'd want you to tell me. To be able to tell me whatever you need to, to be okay. Hell with the consequences. Because no matter what happens, we'll protect you.
...I'll protect you.
Okay. I... Thank you, Ace...
I know my, uh, the name I go by isn't the best for bein' serious, so... Terra. That's my other name. If it helps.
...K-Keep it between us, though, alright?
Of course. A secret for a secret, maybe?
Something like that.
...Thank you, Terra.

Next Update
Previous Update
Table of Contents