Last time, we gathered a whole bunch of magical artifacts that vaguely resemble letters. Now, let's put them to use in area 5-4: Underground Lake.
As we enter, we hear the sound of moving water. This should surprise absolutely nobody, given the area name. We head forward, and come to the lake itself. I'm going to honestly say that it looks pretty good, because it does. I'm given an option to try to wade through the lake.
Notably, the flavour text for this area actually mentions that the lake looks shallow, but really isn't. As such, trying to wade through it would ruin my books and bread.
After ignoring the lake, we move back and encounter a glowing red magic circle. Examining it, as you might expect, allows me to warp to another area. Unfortunately, it isn't the other side of the lake. Instead, I'm warped to area 5-7: Crystal Sanctuary, which combines with area 5-4 to form the main area we'll be covering this update.
Upon entering, I'm placed in front of a giant red crystalline altar, which I have to examine to progress. It says this:
The Red Altar...
Dost thou seek new paths?
Then name for me...
...the priest of fire!
Now, this is part of the most honestly terrible puzzle in the game. These shrines will be used to cross the lake, and each one wants an ankh. Now, you'll note that it wants us to identify the priest whose ankh I need based on their element, but the graves identified them differently. You're supposed to use the "above X in fire, below Y in ice, above Z in lightning" bit to figure out who is above everyone else in the element you're supposed to be naming the priest of, then offer up the corresponding ankh.
Now, that's how Sting wants
you to think the puzzle works. Instead, let's go with the actual
effects of said puzzle, because doing it "right" will keep me out of the bonus area. It actually works like this:
- The lake is a 3x3 grid.
- Each ankh will drain half the water from a certain set of lake screens, which are in roughly the shape of the ankh in question.
- When two ankhs are placed and their areas overlap, all the water is drained from the screens where they overlap.
Note that this knowledge doesn't actually change the solution yet, because for now the correct priests will allow access to where we want to go. As such, we determine that the priest of fire is Lokin, and offer up the L Ankh.
When we return to the lake, some of the water is drained as predicted. This lets me get the chest before me (but I don't because it doesn't have anything useful in it), or head south (ignoring a shining bit of water nearby until I can actually get what's in it) and then east to the magic circle for the second shrine. This one's yellow, and as you might expect wants the name of the priest of lightning. Again, the correct solution coincides with our goals for now, so I name Teula as the priest of lightning with the T Ankh.
Now, I can head north, past a currently-empty screen to the third shrine warp. This one, I should note, is blue, and you've probably already guessed that it wants the ankh that corresponds to the priest of ice. I'm not going to do this one right, though. Instead of the correct answer, we're going to tell it that the priest of ice is Xenon. The X Ankh is duly placed, opening up everything but the exit.
I now head back to the southeast screen, where the shiny bit of water is replaced with a Mana Wisp. I take my power boost and 3000 points, then head to the exact center of the area. Here, we encounter a black boulder. Rose remarks that she didn't know there were black boulders, despite supposedly being relatively competent
. Rose's slipping geology grades aside, I examine it again, and the rest of the party displays a similar ignorance of the existence of mafic rocks. Rose then notes that I could move the rock, so I do so in a command minigame. This reveals a staircase, granting me 12000 points for finding the thing. We then move into the path, though Fia warns us about a "strong evil presence".
Welcome to area 5-9: Gate to Hell, an area so evil that it has its own music instead of the Mireno theme
. We head into the area, and encounter a dragon and some woodlice. I'm not concerned with S-ranking them so much as getting the dragon last, and the Book of Gelt proves quite handy for that purpose. Victory grants me some Dragon Meat because I killed the dragon last, so I drop the Phoenix Wand to make room for it.
After killing the dragon, we're told by a mysterious voice to turn back. Naturally, we'll be ignoring it. We can also examine an icicle, which I'm given the chance to cut a bit off of. One timing minigame later, we get 4000 points. I also take the icicle piece I just chopped off, obtaining the Magic Icicle and 2000 extra points. Anyway, onward.
The next screen contains a giant block of ice to examine. Cierra notes that magic was probably involved in its creation. Examining it again causes Fia to notice something inside the ice. Specifically, some sort of item. I'm then given the option of breaking it myself or having one of the girls do it (for some reason, Fia's option is to "purify" the ice, but it still works). I have Ein take the plate, because it means doing a mash minigame instead of a timing minigame. Success grants me 3000 points and lets me take my reward: the Blue Stinger rapier. This replaces Gelt's ratty old tome, and I promptly master it (and have Cierra master the Dragon Meat) for these abilities:
- Blue Stinger: Un Quatre: Level 2, 5-hit physical ice-elemental attack, power of 148
- Blue Stinger: Appassionato: Level 3, 7-hit physical ice-elemental attack, power of 163, unblockable, last attack hits enemies behind the target
- Blue Stinger: Ice Stinger: Level 1, 1-hit physical ice-elemental attack, power of 357, low accuracy
- Blue Stinger: Freezing Matter: Level 1, 3-hit magic ice-elemental attack, power of 143
- Dragon Meat: Magical Cooking: Level 1, turns all remaining Dragon Meat into delicious, Strength-enhancing Dragon Steak
Most normal attacks with the Blue Stinger do non-elemental damage, but Cierra instead does ice damage. This will be important later, so be sure to remember it. Also, though our new dragon cuisine may be delicious (and basically the best healing item), it's still not quite as good as a Power Wrist, only giving 25 Strength instead of 30 Strength (god this game brings out my inner munchkin).
On a related note, we are now officially done with rapiers!
The Blue Stinger was the last one in the game, folks. So, with our total mastery of that particular weapon type, let's move onward.
The fourth and final screen of this area contains some rather boring elementals. They don't even get an opening line! Heck, they don't even get to attack. One shot from Silver Moon and another from Einherjar bring them down.
However, this isn't the end of Hell. After we kill the elementals, a giant zombie dragon shows up. It starts talking about how we'll pay for awakening it from its eternal slumber, and we get right into the fight. This guy resists every element, but he's weak to holy damage. He has more HP than anything we've faced thus far (save for Aghart, but that doesn't really count). Fortunately, his speed is comparable to that of a three-toed sloth, so I've got some time to start bashing him out of his undeath.
Really, though, the Zombie Dragon isn't all he's cracked up to be. His Break Out really wasn't that threatening, and he's so slow that he'll probably get off one attack at most. It's actually quite possible to kill him before he gets a single action, but I didn't have enough time to set it up. However, Didja Redo did
, and his video demonstrates the strategy quite nicely.
After the fight, we obtain no loot, though we do find the Key to Hell. This unlocks a bonus chapter that I won't be covering, mainly because I haven't played it and it's supposedly based around massive amounts of pure evil.
We're then dropped off in 5-4 again, where there's still a bit to do. First, I head to the northeast corner of the lake, where the team finds a chest with the powerful Wyvernzem claw. I drop the Slumber Ivy we've been carrying around for who knows how long, because I can get more when I'll need it (of course, I'll probably just use the claw for its stat boosts, but whatever).
Next, I head right past the blue shrine warp, to an area with a green magic circle in it. I ignore it, though, because it leads to an unnecessary fight that would just waste my stuff. Instead, I'm here for the Skipping Stone. Every single obsessive completionist ever to pick this game up knows this thing, and it is not nice. After examining it, I am immediately thrown, without any confirmation, into a string of fifty (50) increasingly difficult rhythm minigames to get the thing across the lake. The game repeats several patterns, switching to a new one just as you've memorized the last one. During the last bit, it just pulls out all the stops and switches patterns with each minigame, with the last ones covering the entire bar.
Really, if you want to see the horror for yourself, Didja Redo has a video of it too.
Anyway, I managed to succeed, and for my efforts I collapse a skeleton on the far bank, earning 1000, then 2000, then 4000, then 8000, and finally 15000 points (in those exact denominations) for a total of 30000 points. I also earn revenge on the minigame for defeating me on my last playthrough.
Anyway, now's as good a time as any to master the Wyvernzem, so I do so:
- Wyvernzem: Passion Claw: Level 2, 5-hit magic non-elemental attack, power of 126, also damages Lina, does more damage with less HP
- Wyvernzem: Fenrir Attack: Level 2, 4-hit physical ice-elemental attack, power of 143, also damages Serene, does more damage with less HP
With that done, I head back to the blue shrine. It's been fun, but it's time we actually gave the shrine the correct answer. So, I take the X Ankh out of the shrine, for the priest of ice as actually Askus, and thus the A Ankh belongs in this shrine.
With that done, I head out and immediately notice a sword stuck in the ground. I pull it out, and it turns out to be the Dragon Buster, an upgraded version of the Dragon Killer from way back when. Like that one, it's relatively powerful and has the ODRGN effect on it, so it does more damage to dragons. Gee, I wish I had this thing earlier, you know, when we were actually fighting dragons
Actually, it wouldn't have been of much use even if I had it. As it is, I drop the thing.
I then head east, then south a couple of screens. This next screen has a chest on it, and it's a rather special one: the lock on it requires the Thief Manual to pick. Cierra claims that we need a thief and a magician, though she fails to explain what kind of spell we need. Anyway, unlocking it requires a command minigame, which is transgressed with finesse. While half the team is busy dealing with the lock (Cierra needed Fia's help for some reason), Lina and Serene discuss the possibility of Fia and Cierra having a magic battle, and their respective strengths.
As I said, though, the reward for this is terrible. In fact, it's just another useless Tarot, which I drop for reasons of being worthless. I don't even get any more than I would've got from S-ranking an elemental.
With that out of the way, I head north a screen and then east. As I enter the next screen, a stalactite falls on Ein's head. It takes a command minigame to dodge it, after which I can pick up a Rock from the rubble, along with the customary 500 points.
With that, we leave the area, and reach the final part of Mireno. I'll cover that next time.