Near the place where we decided to go the long way around we find Matoya, who is impressed with our progress. She joins the party.
Matoya is a Dancer and has dances that heal the party better than Cura or Sylph, one that heals most status ailments, one that absorbs MP, and a few that cause debuffs like Slow and attack down while she dances. She also has a Third Eye ability which is essentially Scan and is probably a reference to Final Fantasy
At the far end of the Imperial base we find a boss fight that is an extreme anticlimax. It's pretty much the same boss that Glaive and Mask just beat on their own.
Matoya notices this, too, and worries about the rebels. She tells us we need to hurry back to Desert Moon, so we abandon our exploration of the base.
In the forest the guard that was here before is dying. He tells us the Empire is responsible. Back at the slums, it's crawling with Imperial soldiers. Matoya tells us that there's a secret passage to the headquarters from her dressing room in town, so we head over there.
The "secret passage" is an Absurdly-Spacious Sewer
filled with nasty monsters. Go figure. It takes us directly to Desert Moon's headquarters, but we're too late. All of the rebels are dead or dying by the time we arrive. The man responsible is none other than the bartender from Matoya's place of work. Apparently, he used the password we gave him to find the hideout.
Although to be fair here, Azhar didn't tell us who
to tell the password to at the bar.
We fight and kill him and then hurry on to Azhar's room. We're again too late for anything but final words. He reveals that he is the adopted son of Matoya, and thanks her for her care before passing away.
So much for Desert Moon.
The slums are eerily devoid of residents. I'd like to hope they got away, but as bleak as this game tends to be I suspect they didn't. As we exit the slums, an airship flies overhead and lands beyond the military base. Matoya wants to find out what's going on and derail the Empire's plans. Nacht volunteers us to come along to make things right.
Now that we can get past the Imperial base, we can access Odin's Castle. Which, surprise of surprises, contains the Eidolon Odin. He's a tough fight, but we manage it on the first try.
Back to business, there is a cave leading to the valley the airship parked in, so that's the way we'll go. For some reason, the cave leads directly on board the airship. Inside the airship we find Asmodai, who was apparently Matoya's lover many, many years ago. She left him and founded Desert Moon when she saw for herself what the Empire was up to. This makes Asmodai around as old as she is.
He demands that Matoya hand over her crystal, and she refuses. Boss battle!
Asmodai has a new trick this time. Instead of an invincible barrier, he can make himself invisible and thus impossible to hit. But Matoya's Third Eye ability will reveal him. The first time you use it, she says she sees him "crystal" clear.
Gee, wonder where the Crystal is?
We manage not only to defeat but kill Asmodai this time. Good riddance! Matoya lets us borrow her Crystal Eye until the Empire is defeated. Apparently, it's what's kept her young all this time.
Alba is confused about why Matoya doesn't rapidly age and die
without it, and Matoya says that that's idiotic: it kept her young
, it didn't store up the years for later use. Heh.
The Crystal Eye starts to sparkle, and we get the Dancer job class. Yay!
Back to Sol and company. We just made port in Berth on Lugae's ship. In town we find the drunkard seen earlier when the crystal was about to shatter. He's drinking away his sorrows at the pub.
Sarah recognizes him, but he runs off. He's apparently Sir Gawain, the commander of the Burtgang knights. Inquiries reveal he lives at the top of a nearby mountain.
Sure enough, there's a house at the top of the mountain. He's not home so we resolve to wait for him.
In the middle of the night, Sarah wakes up and sneaks out of the house. Sol wakes up and sneaks out after her to eavesdrop. Outside is Gawain, who is overjoyed to find her alive but feels he is unworthy to help her out.
Through flashbacks we see that Gawain was in charge of the defense of the castle the day it fell to the Empire. They were attacked by ninjas and his men fell one by one. At last he was attacked by a blue ponytailed ninja who does not have an oversized battle sprite, meaning he is probably going to be a party member at some point. Gawain cuts his arm off. (Ow)
However, Gawain's efforts are in vain as when he hurries back to the throne room the king is dead and the princess is gone. Ponytail ninja shows up and stabs him in the back.
The next morning, Aigis remarks that Gawain never showed. Sol and Sarah don't correct him. We go back to town, where the innkeeper informs us that Gawain stayed there but has already left. Sarah looks ill, and the innkeeper allows us to stay for free while she recovers.
When we wake the next morning, Sarah is gone. She's already caught a ship to Burtgang. Sol reveals what he knows about Gawain, and they decide to follow her.
The sailors drop off Sarah near Burtgang. We can't get through the Imperial checkpoint, so she has to go over the mountain pass. Thankfully, the game once again only sends one enemy at a time against my one-person party.
At the top of the pass, she has a flashback to the elderly knight that got her out of the castle. He told her that her name was now Lassah and that they had to pretend to be father and daughter. Some years later, Sarah is begging her "daddy" not to die. He can't stop death, however, and the mourning Sarah is captured by Cid and the Imperials.
Is there a trope for the retainer that rescues the young prince/princess from certain death and raises them in obscurity as their own child? Because if there isn't, there should be.
Sarah goes to Burtgang, which is still in shambles even though the Imperial attack was years ago. Apparently the Empire doesn't believe in reconstruction efforts. There's level 6 magic here, so I buy Haste, Regen, and the -ga family of Black Magic.
A moogle tells us about a holy beast in a nearby forest, but Sarah won't enter the forest without going to Burtgang Castle first. There's also a chocobo forest, but it's missing a black chocobo. Fine, fine. I'll go where you want me to go, game.
Unsurprisingly, Sarah is ambushed by Imperials partway into Burtgang Castle. The game cuts away to Sol and co as soon as they rush her.
You know, the sexism in this game is getting a teeny bit grating.
Sol goes back to Dr. Lugae and begs him to take us to Burtgang. Lugae agrees because Sarah was so important to Eve. Unfortunately for him, an airship attacks us partway across the ocean. Dusk remembers we have the Bubbly Water and suggests we abandon ship, but Lugae refuses to leave his daughter. After fruitlessly arguing with him, the boys jump ship just as Lugae's vessel sinks to the bottom of the ocean.
Well, that was stupid. How are you going to fix Eve if you're dead, Dr?
Sol's party is now forced to walk our way across the ocean floor. Fortunately for us, there is a handy sea cave that takes us up right in pond in the gardens of Castle Burtgang. Convenient!
When we get near the room Sarah was ambushed in it cuts back to her. She enters a battle with four Imperial soldiers that she could possibly win if she didn't run out of MP for summoning Sylph. We're spared finding out if she could, however, when Gawain jumps into the battle and smashes them all.
Sarah tells Gawain that a knight is always strongest when he has something to protect. She asks for his help against the Empire, and he swears to protect her.
Not to be outdone, Sol swears to protect her, too.
Gawain is a powerhouse, with a wide variety of Holy elemental attacks and Mighty Guard, plus White Magic up to level 4.
Now that we have a full party, we can go back to the Holy Forest and find this Holy Beast. There's a unicorn inside, but apparently Sol isn't pure enough to approach it, as it flees from him. Aigis says it's the Eidolon Unicorn, and we agree to let Sarah try to talk to it.
When we get to the end of the forest, there's a save point like there's going to be a boss battle, but Unicorn joins our party without a fuss as soon as Sarah asks nicely.
I keep expecting a boss battle all the way back out of the forest, but one never manifests. Weird.
Unicorn heals all party members and cures most status effects. The Light Warriors seem to have more defensively oriented summons.
Back to Castle Burtgang. This is a rather tough dungeon and I have to leave several times to rest and restock. There are Magic Pots here that ask for either an Ether, Hi-Potion, or Elixer. They randomly give a massive Gil reward, Exp reward, or AP reword, so it's usually worth the time to give it to them.
In the throne room we find a beautiful woman with long, blue hair whom Gawain and Sarah identify as the Queen, Sarah's mother. She tells Sarah to come with her to see her father.
Sarah, however, is not fooled. She knows that her parents and older sister are dead. Thwarted, the "queen" throws off her disguise to reveal Styx. Boss fight!
Styx is even nastier now that she's learned Haste. Fortunately we know Haste, too. It's a near thing, but we beat her.
As soon as she is defeated a figure teleports onto the throne. He identifies himself as Shango of the Lightning, one of the four Divine General of the Empire. Sorting Algorithm of Evil
He tells Styx that she has failed and should accept death and uses a massive lightning strike to kill her (yay!) and blast us (crap...). It once again looks like the end for the Light Warriors when Gawain stands up. He hands his sword, Galantine, to Sarah and, despite her pleas and orders, goes to face Shango alone. Dusk and Sol drag Sarah out so that we can honor his sacrifice.
We race through the castle, but the entrance is teeming with Imperial guards and there's an airship on the way. This looks bad.
To the East in the sea a ship begins to rise from the depths. It breaks the surface and transforms into an airship. The airship rushes over and scoops us up right under the nose of the Imperial airship, which gives chase.
It's Dr. Lugae, back from the dead
! He says something about how in order to trick your enemies, you have to trick your allies first. ...Okay.
His airship isn't armed, but it is faster than the Empire's. We manage to outrun it.
We cut back to Gawain fighting with Shango. Shango reduces him to 0 HP with a series of attacks, but Gawain continues to fight. He says he is fighting with the strength of all the slain knights and the king. He powers up for one final charge and the screen goes white.
Back on the airship, Gawain's sword starts to glow. It showers us with sparkles and we learn the Knight Job.
To be honest, so many people are performing Heroic Sacrifices
that I don't feel anything anymore. *sigh*
Next time: We rejoin the Dark Warriors.