Update 9: The Labyrinth Before Time 7: The Great Neckbeast Migration

It doesn't make sense... She might as well be a single-celled organism, for how much interest she displays in other humanoids...
It's like... It's like oil and water... How can such an impossible situation be occurring...
This... I can't get past this... It's impossible...
Kaelin, dear.
This is a conundrum...the likes of which the finest minds in all the world couldn't solve...
Kaelin, dear.
What... What is this... WHAT IS THIS?!
KAELIN. DEAR. I can appreciate you're confused, but please, if you're this restless, just go gather everyone else up and go exploring. An old woman needs her rest.

Hwwaaaauuhm... Why are we out exploring at this hour? I'm slightly annoyed at this disruption of my sleep schedule...
Indeed. I treasure the luxury of being able to choose when and where I sleep.
C'moooon, I try to keep a pretty consistent schedule.
I'd be less annoyed with being dragged into the Labyrinth if it wasn't because of Smugboy having a fit about his crush.
I told you previously, I posess no such thing. If you inferior beings will stop--
You lose all right to call us inferior beings when you get kicked out of your inn room because you made it impossible for your old lady roommate to sleep.
(Floor subtitle: A gathering of rushing beasts.)

This event pops up as soon as we enter the floor. It's part of Operation Mole.
Do you remember the mole extermination request you took at the bar? The 7th Floor is currently a shadow of its former self, filled with holes and possessing none of its former desolate beauty. The moles behind this must be nearby. In order to pacify them, you'll need to wander the floor and defeat them. If you're prepared, then take that first step!
For us, this effectively means I won't have any battles to show for a while.

So that's a giraffe, huh? Looks like something I'd jump off of so I could land on a sword hilt!
That neck would make a great drumstick, for the LARGEST DRUMS IN THE WORLD.
Ha! Haha! Now who's the one that needs restraining?!
I'd still say it's the guy who's losing it over his crush being interested in someone else~
Dashing Neckbeasts (hereafter giraffes) function much like Edgar said they do. They take a turn to wind up the charge, and then instantly dash in that direction until they hit a wall. After that, they change direction, and charge again.

At least the sky is beautiful at this time of night.

This first one's easy. Just wait until the giraffe has charged away from the top right corner.

This next one is a little harder, but not by much.

Starting to go for the way forward when the giraffe is in the bottom right corner works.

As you approach the rocky cliff-face, you sense the presence of beasts and stop. There are countless footprints scattered randomly throughout the area, as if a child was left alone with a stamp. If you have a hunter in your party, they'd probably be able to track the footprints and find a large nest of animals.

You happen to have Jana in the party, who knows how to hunt. They should be able to make sense of these innumerable footprints and track down the small animals who made them.
Heh, leave it to me.
Pardon me if I sound rude, but why would a circus performer have knowledge of hunting?
You'd be surprised how effective being a good hunter is for corralling some of our less cooperative performing animals!
The rest of your party hangs back, so as not to make an more unnecessary footprints, and watches Jana work.
So. I heard you've been cracking down on Smugboy's prattling.
How come you're not doing it tonight?
He's clearly disturbed by Genetta's request. I can tolerate senseless babbling, but not explicit condescension.
Despite the apparent attempts to hide the trail via leaves or crossing a small stream, Jana tracks the animals as if they can read their minds. Finally, they reach a group of small rabbits.

(Obtained 3 Animal Meats!)
Perfect, exactly what we needed for Genetta's feelings.
Having secured some precious food, you return to exploring the Labyrinth.

Rabbit hunting

You discovered a herd of rabbits in the Labyrinth and successfully hunted them.

As you walk the rough, high-altitude trail, you come across a pile of a familiar fruit. They're Moon Apples, which you've seen countless times before in the Labyrinth. While it's definitely odd for apples to be piled up in a place like this, there doesn't appear to be any people in the immediate area. You can either take some apples now, or wait around a bit to see if their owner shows up.
They're lying out in the open. I don't see anything wrong with taking one.
But that pile's clearly unnatural. You do realize that this is stealing, correct?
Number one rule of the Labyrinth: finders-keepers!
You casually grab an apple from the pile. Based on its sheen, it must be freshly harvested.

(Obtained Moon Apple!)
...As soon as you grab the apple, you suddenly hear a voice from behind, asking who you are!
I knew it.

How are you constantly within proximity of us?
Surprised, you turn around, the apple still in hand. Before you stands a lone explorer. They inform you that they're the one who gathered that pile, and points a stern gaze at the apple in your hand. You can either apologize for trying to take them, or play dumb and try to talk your way out of it.
I'd rather not make an enemy of a group of armed explorers when we're right near a pit. Fine, we took an apple. We're sorry.
After introducing yourselves, you sincerely apologize and begin to return the apple when he stops you. They say they've heard of Nameless, and as fellow explorers they doesn't mind letting you have an apple or two.
Oh. Well, thank you very much.
You thank them and accept the apple as a gift.

(Obtained Moon Apple!)
Identifying themselves as Sapph from Guild TFKrew, they approach you and...stuff even more apples into your hands, with a smile.

(Obtained 5 Moon Apples!)
I call bullshit on this one.
[11:23:15 PM] Ragnar Homsar: question
[11:23:20 PM] Ragnar Homsar: if you were a character in an EO game
[11:23:24 PM] Ragnar Homsar: like, you yourself
[11:23:41 PM] Ragnar Homsar: how likely would you be to give seven apples that you've gathered to a party that tried to steal an apple from a pile when you weren't around
[11:24:25 PM] Gatoraiden Kotomeme: i would give it to them but the apples would either be rotted inside or i'd fully convince them one was poisoned, but not tell them which, letting them have to play russian roulette with the apples
...Remind me to check these apples once we're done here.
Call it irrational, but I just got the most ominous of chills.
You thank them again for all the apples. With a nod and a wave, they tell you to think nothing of it as you leave to return to exploring.
Yet again, not an Adventure Episode.

This looks more intimidating than it is. Remember that you've got two turns to move after a giraffe charges, since it has a one turn cooldown, and then has to take another turn to change direction.

(Obtained Beast Bell.)
Another thing for the vendor trash pile. Beast Bells increase the encounter rate for a short bit.

Ha, we're ready for--

I die...with the mystery of Genetta left unsolved...
You die...an obsessive weirdo...

Jana got a level from that annoyance.

Alexis had a skill point from somewhere. He puts a point into Labyrinth Searching Skills.

Mist Slice now deals 235% damage.

(Obtained 2 Labyrinth Wheats!)
I got some Labyrinth Wheats for Genetta's feelings. It is time to show the ending.

Wowie zowie! That's just what I wanted! You got everything already?!
Of course we did, you affront to all logic everywhere! What is your bizarre plan?!
We aim to please.
Truly, you are my greatest customers!
What bizarre concoction are you making with both wheat and meat?
What, you want to know what I'm making? Fufufu...kekekekeke... Wahahahahahahahaha!
I...don't like the sound of that.
Please hold on just a moment!

It's done! This is my special gift to pierce his heart! I'd better give it to him right away! Heck, I should call him right now!!
Ah, shall we give you some privacy? I understand how delicate these things can be.
The big slab of beef understands romance-related tact?
You would be surprised at what I read in my spare time. Come now, everyone.
...Friedrich! Ah, here he comes! O, Friedrich... This is a representation of my feelings. Please, accept it! And if you do...um, maybe you would...spend the rest of your life at the inn with me...?
Ow, my ears...
Try having hyper-sensitive hearing...
...So, Friedrich, what's your answer?

(Telop: Friedrich.)

Come on, Friedrich, make her happy...

Friedrich: ...Meow.
Oh, gods, don't tell me this is as stupid as I think it is...

He said yes! Oh, praise the gods, he said yes! WAHOOOOO! We're family now, Friedrich! Awwww I love you I love you I lo-
Pardon me, but... Where is Friedrich?
Call the bastard already, I couldn't care less about this damn cat.
...What? What do you mean, "Call Friedrich already?" I just did?? He's right here.
A cat?!
...What do you mean, "He's a cat?!" Um, a-duhhhh? Of course he's a cat, you got eyes, don'tcha?! What, you think this inn is speciesist and only lets people in? Miss Genetta boards cats all the time! ...Though I guess none of them ever pay for the lodging...but, ah, I do feed them!
...Have you maybe considered that you're just feeding stray cats?
...What do you mean, "You're just feeding stray cats, Genetta." ...I don't like that stinkeye you're giving me!
So, that present was for...?
...What do you mean, "So who was the present for?" Friedrich's eating it right now!

Friedrich: Meow.
Right, yes, it's my crunchy cat food. I grind the wheat to a paste, mix in the meat, and bake it. Every cat who's eaten it has opted to stay! At least 20 cats have had their hearts stolen by my shining, special, fantabulous crunchy concoction!
...Awww, hey there grumpy-gills, what's with the long faces? You feel like you just wasted your time, huh?
To put it politely... Yes.
I can't say I understand why, but here's a little something I always tell my customers when they're feeling down: "Rice duality / blessed, bountiful harvest / back-breaking package."
I have no idea what that means, and I doubt it'd really make things any better.
...Ahhhh. That makes so much more sense. All is right with the world.
I bet someone's relieved to see his crush is available again~
Even your japery cannot ruin my zen understanding. My epiphany is grand on a scale even beyond my own comprehension.
Well, at least he's back to normal.
The ending to Genetta's feelings is both simultaneously really stupid and perfectly in-character for Genetta. I love it.

So you completed Genetta's request. Good work. But still, I never thought the person she was interested in would be a cat.
No reasonable person would.
I very nearly fell over when I heard that. Maybe something really is wrong with her...?
I don't think it's fair to say something's wrong with her. She's...her own person.
A reasonable and nuanced view.
I wouldn't say "nuanced."
Either way though, at least no one got hurt this time. I'd better hand over your reward. Again, good work.

(Obtained 4 Nectars.)
That's a pretty good reward for how little work we had to do.

I don't want to bump One-Two up to level 5 yet, so I instead level up the basic bind punches. Arm Break deals 177% damage now.

Incantation: Compression Form now increases damage by 1.74x.

Smoke Rot now costs 8 TP and lasts for 5 turns.

A scrap with some moles gives Alexis a level up.

He invests the point in Organizational Skills. More backpack space for us.

Fighting enough mole battles results in this.
You've defeated a huge number of moles, and the atmosphere of the 7th floor has returned to normal. But just as you begin to relax, you detect a powerful bloodthirst directed at you! Unsure of where it's coming from, you put up your guard when suddenly the ground collapses beneath your feet and a huge mole jumps out! It must be their leader! It seems to be angry that you got in their way. It's too late to avoid a fight, so you grit your teeth and prepare to fight the raging mole!

This thing is just a Shredding Mole with higher stats and HP.


Having defeated the frenzied mole, you lower your weapons. This time, the request is complete. All that's left is to report it to the bar.

You stop as you come across someone. It's Lily, the Necromancer you've met several times in the first stratum.

Oh, hello!
When she notices you, the Necromancer greets you with the same cheerful voice as always.
I just realized I never asked what your guild is called. Doy, right? My mistake! So what is it?
We can either just tell her our guild name, or tell her that we won't reveal it for free. I opt for the former.
Guild Nameless, at your service.
...That's just his standard introduction.
Nameless? I like it! Very...avant-garde!
She responds to your introduction excitedly before looking you over carefully.
Hmmmm. Yup, I think you guys are a lot tougher than you were last time we met. How about I give you a gift, to commemorate your progress?
Fine by me.
Is it truly okay for us to accept this gift, though?
Presents make you happy. You happy makes me happy. Everyone's happy; every bird dead with just one stone!

(Obtained Syrupy Resin.)
(Obtained Animal Meat.)
Syrupy Resin is a 2nd Stratum Chop material.
With a smile that reaches her eyes, she throws her pack over her shoulder.
I guess I should get going, or I'll get unpleasant looks from interested parties. It might be hard sometimes, but good luck with your exploration. I'll see you guys later!

The Necromancer waves her hand as she leaves. You return to your own exploring with renewed resolve.
...This has been bothering me for quite some time, but why do Necromancers have an aversion to clothing, or at the very least a common interest in exposing their chests?
You're Lunarian, right? Why would we know any more than you?
I actively try to avoid interacting with Necromancers if at all possible.

Euch. The way that thing in the back moves is...unnatural.

Pop Pudding

HP: 314
STR: 38
INT: 34
VIT: 44
WIS: 27
AGI: 20
LUC: 27

Damage Resistances:
50% 50% 50%
150% 150% 150%

Disable Resistances:
100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 50% 150%
100% 100%
150% 150% 150%
Pop Puddings are basically Pouncing Caracals but, uh, they resist physical damage I guess.
I always just kill them with poison: super convenient and free money from the conditional drop.

Ho-hum. You actually succeeded on the first try, for once. Bra-vo.
I didn't know you were interested in taste-testing the poison compound.

Here's roughly how much Poison Smoke ticks for right now.

Blech, there's monster pudding...pudding monster...some kind of pudding all over my sword now...

(Received 2 Triangular Kitten Ears and 1 Pudding Core.)

(Received 1 Syrupy Resin naturally, and 1 Syrupy Resin plus 1 Twisting Root from Cecil.)
7F, C5 Chop Point

Welcome back, everyone. You must be tired after fighting all those moles. You okay?
We're tired, mostly for reasons unrelated to the moles...
Oh my, you could really use a nap at the inn then. I'd better get this over with quickly. Here's your reward, and thank you.

We get a Luck Necklace for our trouble, which increases one person's TP by 15 and their LUC by 12.

I put the Luck Necklace on Alexis.

See my previous note about leveling up Arm Break, but with Liver Blow this time.

Mist Slice now deals 250% damage.

Incantation: Compression Form now increases damage by 1.98x, but also costs 10 TP.

Smoke Rot reduces magic defense by 9% without a Smoke debuff, and 38% with.

War Scythe (+41 ATK, +41 MATK, AGI Up 1, Bronze x3) is made from 1 Syrupy Resin (2nd Stratum Chop 2).

Springy Sandal (+8 DEF, +18 MDEF, +5 AGI) is made from 1 Twisting Root (2nd Stratum Chop 3).

Resin Targe (+16 DEF, +7 MDEF) is made from 3 Syrupy Resins (2nd Stratum Chop 2).

Health Belt (+40 HP) is made from 3 Triangular Kitten Ears (Pouncing Caracal normal).

Beast Bell is made from 1 Pudding Core.

I fully forged Alexis' Pallasch.

Alexis also had a skill point. I put it into Athletic Training, to boost his AGI and LUC--the two stats used for dodging in previous EO games and probably EO5.

Gah! It's a squirrel!
And why is that a concern?
Those Guild TFKrew said they steal Ariadne Threads!
Hmph. Merely a myth.

Lightning Squirrel

HP: 302
STR: 28
INT: 41
VIT: 31
WIS: 32
AGI: 37
LUC: 31

Damage Resistances:
100% 100% 100%
150% 50% 50%

Disable Resistances:
100% 100% 100% 150% 50% 100% 100%
100% 100%
50% 100% 100%
Lightning Squirrels do pretty much the same thing Ice Bats did in the 1st Stratum: kill someone very quickly with INT-based damage.
They are, in technical terms, right bastards.

(Lightning Strike.)
I'd...almost prefer having a Thread stolen...

Marching uniforms, not guild uniforms, right?

(Received 1 Triangular Kitten Ear, 1 Rat's Tailspine, and 1 Bent Volt-Horn.)

The giraffe puzzle gets a bit more intricate here: we have a 3x3 area that opens into a 5x3 area.

Although honestly this just makes it really easy to dodge the giraffes. I literally just walked in a straight line from the door to here.
Same. It's designed in such a way that they just miss you if you totally ignore them, as I noticed in future playthroughs.

This is the spot for Dialog with a monster.
You arrive at the location of the request to find a single large wolf motionlessly staring at you.
Oh, dear gods...
...No, that's not quite right. It can no longer move. It's covered in dirt and filth, and while it doesn't seem to be bleeding too much, it is covered in injuries from head to toe. You can tell at a glance that it's on death's door. You were sent to kill it, but you're certain that it will breathe its last with or without your intervention. As you stare at the dying wolf, something catches your attention. Its injuries appear to come from being fiercely whipped over and over again, enough to draw blood.
What kind of no-good, heartless bastard...
Its hind legs have also been bound together with rope. The whip was probably meant to weaken it without leaving a fatal wound, and its bound legs are also clearly unnatural. In other words, some human had tried to capture it and take it back to town. It must have hurt someone in its struggle to escape, and so you were sent. That's the only way you can make sense of this.
Charlatans. How could one be this bad at capturing a monster?
Now you just need to decide what to do about it.
We have two choices here: we can either heal the wolf, or leave it to die.

Choosing to heal it based on if you have either a Hound or an Herbalist in your party. We happen to have the latter right now.
...Leave it to die.
It's a monster. Those long years in the forest taught me you can't trust any monster, no matter how much you help it.
And I rebut with the fact that it's done no wrong to us. Stand aside.
The Herbalist in your party can't sit still with an injured being in front of them.
Perhaps healing a monster will work better than healing a person...
And how, exactly, did you come to that conclusion?
Dinogator works in mysterious ways. Now, hush.
The rest of the party swallows nervously as Magda timidly approaches the wolf. Whether it understands your intentions or has simply given up, the wolf makes no motion in response. Seeing no change even as Magda is sitting right in front of it, they begin their treatment.
If I was treating the wolf, it would already be back in fighting--

No intense vomiting, the wolf's blood hasn't turned purple yet... I believe this was a success!
...After a little while, Magda waves their hand at you, as if to indicate the treatment is done. Based on their cheerful expression, it seems to have gone well.

However, just as you start to relax, you sense a unrestrained bloodlust from behind you! Turning around, you see another giant wolf. Based on its smaller size, it might be the child of the injured wolf. And it just stumbled across a group of humans surrounding its injured parent. It's hardly a surprise that it's angry.
No, please, little wolf, we mean no harm...
I really don't wanna kill this thing after saving its parent...

Just when you're starting to think this is about to get bad, the injured wolf gets up and stands between you and its child.
It gestures with its neck as if telling the child to come, and slowly walks away. The child looks confused for a moment, but when it sees the other wolf stagger, rushes to its parent's side to support it with its body. And just like that, the parent and child disappear into the red canyons. And with that your request is complete. All that's left is to report this to your client.
...A fluke. Nothing more.

Sometimes, an obstacle's so blunt, you can't help but admire it.
It is fairly refreshing to just be blocked by a giant rock, instead of a bloodthirsty FOE.

Now then, shall we continue?
Giant rocks are exactly what they look like. Shove them down, and they make two tiles in front of it, from where you pushed it, impassable.

Fun fact: that icon on the map is a recolored ice block icon from EO2U.
The stone pillars reset when you leave the Labyrinth, which is kinda weird but probably necessary for the puzzles.

(Obtained Soma.)
Always useful.

Shoving this rock that way unfortunately blocked off the chest there. I'll have to come back another time.

You pass through the door and find yourselves in a small room. Unlike the desolate Labyrinth you'd been in, the area is filled with large, beautiful flowers. Among the white flowers, some as tall as a person, you happen to notice a collapsed human figure. While they've been reduced to a skeleton over the years, you can tell that the flowers around them have been hacked away at. You may either approach the corpse, or stay back and investigate the flowers further.
Perhaps that corpse has something of interest. It's not like they need it anym--
Determining that there's no danger in this flower-filled room, Magda begins to casually approach the corpse when their hand touches a leaf. The next moment, they feel an intense pain that hand, as if their arm is on fire!

What's wro--
Startled at Magda's sudden reaction to the pain, Cecil brushes their shoulder against another flower and lets out their own shriek of pain!

Apparently the flowers here produce a powerful poison that has an intense effect on the human body! However, you noticed this far too late. Your entire party has already aproached the corpse and been exposed to the plants. Places with exposed skin--head, face, shoulders, arms, legs, etc.--are starting to turn purple and are causing intense pain!

You've now no doubt that the corpse before you also succumbed to these plants... You've now got to come up with a way to escape death while enduring this pain.
I refuse to leave...with just this pain...
...Bearing the pain, you make your way to the corpse.

When you get closer, you notice that it's clutching a parchment. You grab the parchment and begin to make your way to the exit.

You've made it to the exit, but the pain still lingers.

Now that the pain has died down a bit, you take a look at the parchment. It appears to be a map, almost identical to your own. However, on the 6th floor there is a location marked with the words "I hope this will be useful on your journey." While you don't know who this person was, or what could be at that location, you dutifully make a note on your own map.
Incidentally, this event does massive damage to your party. The first time I did it, I happened to not have any healing items or anything, and was praying not to fight a battle before I opened up the nearby shortcut.

This is the event we needed to trigger to do that one.

Flowers and corpse

You encountered a terrifying plant in the Labyrinth, but overcame the danger and obtained a treasure map from a corpse.

In the interest of not having massive updates that require splitting into multiple parts at once, I'm gonna call it an update here. Next time: the end of 7F, and the start of 8F.
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