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Let's Experience Gungnir!
Shield Of Doom

[table of contents]
In Which the Weapon in the Title is Obtained
WARNING: This liveblog is for external use only. Side effects may include fever, nausea, vomiting, varicose veins, failure to gain a proper onscreen introduction, lycanthropy, Gravity Chaos, vampirism, renal failure, and your entire backstory being relegated to supplementary material. Do not consume while operating heavy machinery. Consult your doctor if you are suffering from a prior medical condition, taking any prescribed medications, or attempting to finish any last-minute character development where the viewer is unable to notice it.

We pick up with Ragnus thanking the chief of a village called Malecca (name: Harold) for helping Esperanza with something. Ragnus and Paulo are preparing to return to the base, so Harold offers to get them some food for the journey.

A storm arrives out of nowhere. Ragnus hopes that it isn't a bad omen.

Now, more exposition!

The stalwart fighters in Esperanza trained for over a month. Even without the watchful eye of their leader, Ragnus Raguel, the soldiers drilled diligently. They followed their training regimen to the letter. This was how fervently their desire to bring freedom and peace to the people of Espada burned.

Giulio and the others had been tasked with surveilling Alissa. However, Alissa never did anything suspicious. She pitched in at Fiona's tavern and won over the people

Year 983 of the Imperial Calendar. It is the 10th day of the month of Asgar. The soft sunlight bathes the slums as the laughter of the people fills the air…

Anyway, Noah's bragging about how his team has won more battles than Giulio's over the month. Giulio doesn't see much value in mock battle records, but Noah takes them more seriously because he's been told to "always work toward victory".

Alissa's impressed that Giulio and Noah can train so many people despite being barely older than her, but Noah tells her that it isn't a big deal. After all, he's been with Esperanza for three years and Giulio was born into the force.

Giulio relates to Alissa that his father was the first leader of Esperanza, and was generally respected by all. Noah mentions that Ricardo is like a god to them, and that Alissa should remember that if she's going to be one of them.

Alissa's surprised that they're willing to take her in, but Giulio assures her that she's welcome. Noah, being the comic relief character, jokes that Giulio's letting her stay out of love.

Alissa seems to think that she's just been a nuisance to everyone. Noah and Giulio both tell her not to worry about that, because they want her around.

Suddenly, Teresa arrives on the scene with some bad news: the Gate of Lament is closed, and the Imperial Army is approaching.

Elsewhere, at the fortress known as the Gate of Lament, that merchant I spared after the first battle is talking with one Lord Pierre (I knew sparing him would come back to haunt me!). She asks what happened to the girl (Alissa, I assume), and Pierre assures him that a search party has already been deployed. He also asks the merchant to tell him everything he knows abut her, but all he knows is that she's from a noble family.

The merchant leaves, and Pierre considers how the merchant said he was "escorting" Alissa, wondering why someone hired by HIM (written in allcaps so you know he's talking about someone important) would "make such a mistake". Then he decides to have the merchant disposed of.

The Imperial troops arrive in the evening. Unfortunately, it's impossible to send for Ragnus because the Empire has too many troops deployed. Not to mention the freak storm forcing all traffic out of Espada to pass through the Gate of Lament. We'll have to deal with this on our own.

Something seems to be bothering Alissa, but she claims that it's nothing. Noah and Giulio promise to protect her, though.

Outside, an Imperial soldier bring a woman to Pierre, who makes an announcement:

People of Espada, hear my words! I am Pierre, Governor of the East. By order of His Majesty, Wolfgang III, I command Victrion Stronghold! We are searching for a woman. A noble girl, kidnapped recently by criminals who dwell in Espada. The sheer effrontery is outrageous! Know this: Defying me means that you defy His Majesty! I would see this cesspit filled to the brim with your blood... But then again, I am not without mercy. I give you one hour for a life. Until the girl is brought to me, I will execute one Dreg every hour. It would not bother me to kill every last one of you, but I give you a chance. Choose wisely, and bring me the girl.

Yes, the Daltans do, in fact, call Leonicians "Dregs". Subtle.

Anyway, Pierre gives orders to have the woman he's holding hostage killed in the most cruel manner possible in one hour.

Now, our team takes this news about how you'd expect. Alissa, however, decides that she ought to turn herself in to save the people. She doesn't want anyone's blood to be shed for her sake.

At any rate, I'm given the choice to either stop Alissa or let her go. I decide to let her go, if only to see if Pierre is really as underhanded as I think he is. Noah starts calling Giulio out for his choice, but Giulio knows that giving in to Pierre's demands is the smart thing to do. They can't possibly take on the Imperial forces with their current manpower, after all. Furthermore, trying to protect Alissa would just lead to more innocents being killed.

Noah decides that he can't stand for this, and runs out on his own. He arrives just as Alissa is about to turn herself in, alerting the troops to Esperanza's location. Dammit, Noah.

Noah seems to think that his actions are praiseworthy, but that really doesn't matter at the moment. We've got a battle on our hands.

The battle begins at 20:00 on Asgar 10. I need to end it before night falls on Asgar 13. Also, Alissa must live through the battle.

Now, for this battle I could use Noah as an Ace, but Giulio still provides more bonuses so I don't.

The very first thing I notice about the enemies here is that they're all level 11. Alissa, meanwhile, is level 1 and has no equipment whatsoever. My team's levels range from 7 (Teresa) to 10 (Giulio and Noah).

Oh well. I begin by moving Giulio up a nearby scaffold, while Noah takes a base nevt to the starting point and Teresa and Claude take up positions in the river. Claude also takes a shot at a member of the enemy mercenary team.

The closest enemy, a Brute named Taille, takes my bait and ends up taking two hits from Giulio before he can move. When he does move, I surround him and use a Beat attack initiated by Teresa, bringing him down easily.

Unfortunately, I forgot to keep Alissa guarded, but that problem is solved by moving Giulio toward her position. She moves away from the troops that were threatening her, too, making things a bit easier for me.

Dawn breaks as Teresa and Noah defeat the enemies' Sorceress before she can hit Claude with a spell. I then gather some items from the battlefield and take a base before having Giulio attack the troops that were threatening Alissa. I have him attack with Root Blade, and he's close enough for Claude to use a hitherto-unexplained ability: he's equipped with an item that lets him Boost allies within a range defined by the number of bases I have. Useful.

I then attack the two troops who were hounding Alissa again. Giulio forces one to flee, while Claude kills the remaining one. I then loot them, gaining a whip and some leather clothes.

Teresa then ends the battle by forcing the last remaining enemy to flee.

While we've won this battle, Claude points out that we're going to need a plan of action. Pierre then returns to find his forces wiped out. Giulio tells Fiona and Alissa to get inside, while Pierre calls for his elite troops.

After a bit of trash-talking, Pierre declares that the only way to prevent another major uprising is to exterminate us, and the battle begins anew against Pierre and his elites.

The deadline's the same, and this time I have to defeat Pierre. He's got some powerful equipment, and one of his items will revive him if he dies. I've also got multiple enemies in close quarters, and they're all set to move before I can.

This could be bad.

The battle begins with the enemy knights beating the crap out of Giulio. I can't really strategize all that much here due to the close quarters, so the fight quickly devolves into a confusing slugfest.

Pierre's troops are tough, and he gets reinforcements. I'm forced to use Claude as bait and move everyone else around the battle.

The battle is generally chaotic, and Teresa is actually defeated (Claude also falls, but that shouldn't surprise you), but I am able to get Giulio through the enemy lines and up to Pierre by the last night of the battle.

Unfortunately, while I manage to bring Pierre down to the point where one attack will end the fight, he blocks the last attack I can make, causing me to lose the battle.

Pierre is about to execute all of us, when Alissa prepares to turn herself in. Unfortunately, Pierre's not about to let us live, and he has Noah, Claude, and Teresa killed. Giulio follows shortly after.

As he's about to die, Giulio thinks back on his life up to now, killing for his cause. He thinks of how he's lost part of his humanity through the battles, but it didn't matter because he was fighting for something he truly believed in.

Giulio then finds himself in an unknown location covered in crystals. He climbs a nearby hill, seeing something atop it. A mysterious blue-haired woman then approaches him, calling him "the successor to Gungnir". She introduces herself as Elise, heavenly guardian of Gungnir. She also refers to herself as a "Grimm" and "the Scribe who chronicles all", neither of which clear anything else.

Apparently, Elise didn't expect Giulio to show up here—in the shadow of the gate to the Netherworld. However, she does know one thing: Giulio's being here probably means that Gungnir has chosen him as its successor. If this is true, then there will be a mark of succession on his body as proof.

Elise explains that Gungnir and its war gods will grant Giulio power beyond what most humans ever achieve, and she tells him to carve his name into the spear if he wants this power.

I'm told to choose whether Giulio fights to defeat the Gargan Empire, or to protect those dear to him. I choose the latter, if only because it sounds more righteous.

And so, Giulio takes the spear.

Back to the slums. Gungnir crashes into the middle of the battlefield, much to the surprise of everyone. Elise then appears on the field, telling Giulio to take up the spear and wield its power.

It's time for a rematch!

The objective this time is to simply reach the spear. To facilitate this, I remove all but one healing item.

As the battle begins, the game finally tells me that I can press L to stop the clock. I can then activate the much-touted Scramble ability, which lets me spend Tactics Points to move at any time. I try it out once, but Pierre really had no chance of winning this anyway.

Giulio takes up Gungnir, but Pierre doesn't see how it can make any difference. Elise urges Giulio to unleash a war god, and he raises the spear above his head.

A divine creature appears from the heavens, striking every foe in the area. They're still around, though.

My new goal is simple: Defeat Pierre with the divine might I now carry. Revenge shall be mine!

Right now I've got two attacks available: Distant Shadow, which is my new main attack, and Ragnarok, which summons a war god and can only be used once per battle.

Elise is helping out in this battle, but her help isn't needed. It's just a matter of getting to Pierre and finishing him off. He retreats, but the battle is won. I got his sword, too.

We flash forward a few days, with Paulo arriving to treat Giulio's wounds. Even with him around, though, it takes Giulio several days to regain consciousness. During that time, Fiona tells Alissa not to mention something to him (without mentioning what it is, of course).

Giulio awakens on the 21st, and a moment later he starts to remember the events of that battle. Teresa, Claude, and Noah are all dead now, and I fully expect the story to forget about them at some point. Anyway, Fiona leaves to get some food, telling Giulio to thank Alissa for taking care of him.

Giulio and Alissa both try to take the blame for what happened. Alissa ends up apologizing for endangering everyone, while Giulio reflects on the deaths of his friends one more time.

Giulio heads upstairs and meets with Ragnus. He assures his brother that he'll be fine once he eats something. Elise then comments on humans and their tendency to fight. Fiona tells her not to talk with her mouth full, but she doesn't feel obligated to follow human customs. Paulo agrees with Elise, entirely because of her beauty.

The group then proceed to discuss the situation. Ragnus hadn't guessed that Pierre would go after Alissa, and he asks if she said anything that might help. She didn't, of course.

Ragnus then asks about the ability Giulio used against Pierre. Elise finds herself unable to explain the war god in a way that Ragnus and Paulo can understand, except to say that its power is only usable by Gungnir's chosen one. Since Giulio is the chosen one, he's the only one who can summon war gods.

Ragnus urges Giulio to learn how to use Gungnir posthaste, because its power will prove useful. There's not much time—Pierre's massing a mighty army with which to annihilate Espada. Ragnus sees an opportunity here, though.

Paulo explains that Pierre only gained his rank through his birth, and he probably wouldn't be able to easily deal with an uprising now. Ragnus is aiming a little higher than Pierre, though—he's planning to strike at the Emperor himself.

A voice echoes within Giulio's mind, acknowledging his courage and skill. The voice belongs to my first war god: Einherjar, God of Defiance! Now I can summon Einherjar in future battles.

This time around the setup screen's got a few new options: Alchemy (where I'd be able to enhance my weapons if I had gems to do it with), Camp (where I can recruit volunteers), and Guild (where I can hire mercenaries). I head to the camp, where I find three new allies: Calvin the Brute (heavy axe user), Derick the Gunner (crossbow-wielding ranged attacker), and Elaine the Assassin (agile melee class).

I also pick up weapons for all of them: a Francisca for Calvin, a Slinger for Derick, and absolutely nothing for Elaine (she gets Teresa's old Cutlass). In addition, I buy two sets of Vantage gloves, two Stunner Belts, and every healing item the shopkeeper has in stock.

I then try out the Guild, offering 11000 gold. The options I'm given are a level 10 Brute named Josef, a level 20 Archer named Cress, and a level 3 (!) Archer named Johann. I went for Cress.

My next stop is the Alchemy menu, where I turn all the remaining unequipped Leather Clothes I have into gems, which are used to upgrade some of my gear.

When I'm done with equipment, my team looks like this:

Next time, we'll probably be beginning our revenge.
17th Jun '12 11:49:58 PM flag for mods
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