When we last left off, our party had finished searching the pyramid area for Red and Blue’s father, unfortunately to little avail, and now the team has found themselves stuck where they are. The professor’s device has left them with a blocked tunnel and no quick way to get back to the Babel Dome, but, as you might recall, there was a forest to the southwest of the pyramid that led back to that part of the continent.
Sadly, Suko Forest is pretty much a bust. The roadways are blocked by downed trees that, oddly enough, we can’t just, you know, step over. Weird how that works, right? Ah, silly RPG mechanics!
Anyway, since we obviously cannot take the easy route back to the dome, we opt instead to head to the forest to the southeast.
No sooner than after taking a few steps into this new area do we meet a new bad guy who seems off his rocker. Identifying himself as “J-Elf” (seriously?), he boasts about being the man who “relit the fires of Hell itself.” Although the party doesn’t know this, J-Elf is the guy who supposedly tampered with the Dark Crown and brought the Dark Lord back to this world. We really don’t quite know what motivates this guy, other than that he’s certainly off his rocker, but naturally, he challenges us to a fight!
J-Elf himself, however, isn’t all that bad. He can hit decently hard, but he only attacks one person one time per round, so most of his damage is easily mitigated. However, the challenge is that he has two wolf-like henchmen with him and, ironically enough, they are stronger than he is. They can attack twice each turn with a whip attack, hitting two spaces in front of them. Their attack is about as high as J-Elf’s (about 50-65 HP per hit), so in theory they can do as much as 130 HP of damage to two characters in a single turn…And there are two of them!
I found that the best strategy here was simply to focus on them and take them down as quickly as possible with Red’s powerful melee attacks and Ponga’s Meteo 3 attack and then crush J-Elf as quickly as possible.
Once he is defeated, J-Elf runs away like the coward he is, and we can progress through the forest and into the southeastern part of this continent.
The southeastern part of this continent gives us several new options as to where to go next. West of the exit to the Ara Forest is the eastern part of the Suko Forest, but traveling that way is of little avail as all the roads in that section are blocked too. To the east of Ara Forest is a new town we haven’t been to. Southeast of that is a rather large and impressive castle, and then further south is yet another forest and what appears to be a house.
Since the town is right here and it always seems like a good idea to gear up when you can, I opt to take us there first.
In a way, Riva Town seems sort of like a footnote on our journey at present. There are a few shops that sell items that could be useful, but honestly only a couple weapons and a couple pieces of armor really need to be purchased, and at this point in the game we’ve got so much money that none of it really dents our coffers just yet. People here seem generally friendly and a couple of them mention some ruins in the forest north of the nearby castle, called “Stonehenge,” but they all tell us to be quiet and not say anything about it.
While it isn’t exactly clear, it seems that the authorities in this land don’t want people talking about it for some reason, and if you head to the northern exit of the town the soldiers won’t let you pass. So, obviously something is up, and it does sound like Stonehenge might be a good place to go searching for another OPART at, but for right now, it looks like we can’t really go there.
Although I was tempted to visit the castle next, I decided to head south and into the woods down there.
Right near the entrance of Ui Forest we encounter some thugs beating up a helpless man who is lying on the ground. Red tells them that all bullies are cowards when they face a group by themselves (an apt choice of words), and they decide that they want to engage the party in combat. These thugs are pretty easy to defeat and once one of them goes down all of the decide to flee for cover. It turns out Red was right after all.
The bullied man rises to his feet and thanks the party for helping him. He says that he lives in a house to the east and asks them to stop by for a visit and then heads off. Meanwhile, we find another crystalline structure in this area, and this time it plays memories of the past for us, showing us what appears to be a cataclysm in Atlantis.
From what the vision shows us, it looks like the people of Atlantis were trying to harness some of the powers of the Earth and, in turn, the balance was threatening to be disrupted (note here that earth is rendered as “Earth,” which might mean this is supposed to be on a fantasy version of our planet). The city seems to be falling under attack from enemies and fireballs from the sky, and it appears that very few people survive.
Perhaps the fairies are trying to warn us of what happened to Atlantis? And I still cannot help but wonder if Rain knows more than she is letting on about.
After the vision subsides, the team heads to the east and to the small house there, hoping that they will be able to speak with the man that they just saved and find out why he was being persecuted like he was.
Will he know anything about their father, or at least something about the Stonehenge ruins in the north?
Hopefully we will find out more and visit the nearby castle in Part 10!