So after all that, I'm broke. But that's why I've been stealing so much vendor loot! Back over 500k.

I then proceed to spend most of it on Concoct ingredients, as that's the only thing I really need to buy now. We've got a big battle coming up today...

Music: The Flatlands

Today's side story starts off right outside Wispermill.

Might be there's some monster lurking nearby. I hope someone'll find it and take care of it before it gets any of my sheep, if there is one.

So a simple enough task. Find and fight the beast, something we've done half a dozen times by now.

That said, we won't actually unlock the encounter until we talk to this fellow.

I travel a great deal as a merchant, and I've met with a fair deal of danger in my time... But never anything like that beast before! I don't even want to remember it...

Now we can encounter this fearsome beast.

Also one for the road.

I don't know whether you're supposed to intuit it from where it's taking place or whether you'll get the location from checking the intel in the menu, but we're going back to the Forest of Purgation for this one.

So what can go wrong?

Video: Miniboss - Mánagarmr

Music: Battle III

This is Mánagarmr, a massive direwolf.

And it hits like a truck.

So naturally, my first priority is to stack Sidesteps on everyone, since this foe only uses physical attacks.

At various points, the direwolf will summon wolves to help it out. These block some of the direwolf's weaknesses until the smaller wolves are defeated.

This is not a fight where I can play around and show things off, especially at my level and with my lack of skills. Priority is to get the BP train going and get myself protected as soon as possible.

My hunt for weaknesses exposes a polearm and dark magic weakness, which of course are the two that are currently protected.

I felt I needed Alfyn and a backup Cleric healer, but for some inane reason I decide to make Alfyn both. Sometimes I don't know why I do the things I do. It's probably because everyone else is focused on dealing damage, which is kind of important.

One of the direwolf's big gimmicks is inflicting Horror, which is a pain since that character can't boost and deal their damage.

But at least the Sidestep train begins in earnest.

Savage Claw does nasty damage to the party and debuffs PhysAtk.

Since the smaller wolves don't have elemental vulnerabilities, I opt for Dark since it's the only weakness I've uncovered for the Direwolf.

I actually managed to get Surpassing Power on Tressa and Olberic, but I was a bit too short for Primrose.

The small wolves do have one rather nasty party-wide attack, Triple Slash. This is mostly bad because it will really rip through your Sidestep stacks.

It's almost like the developers expected you to abuse Sidestep in this fight and came up with ways to counter it...

What's funny is that Eye for an Eye procced on all three attacks from that Triple Slash, and combined with the Dark Rune, I knocked the wolf out with counters.

And now I can start breaking the Direwolf at my own leisure.

And better sooner than later, since it can buff its own PhysAtk.

I'm honestly surprised I did not wipe here. Tressa just barely survived.

First priority is to revive Alfyn.

Funnily enough, I gave Alfyn the skill that boosts healing by 30%, with the Large Olive of Life normally healing for 9999. This gets boosted to the max of 10,000, meaningless but still slightly amusing to me.

Thankfully, just 1BP is enough to do a full-HP Revive for my other characters. Yeah, I could've used Concoct for that, but eh.

Primrose's small HP pool is a bit of an issue for this fight.

Here we go again!

I was dumb and didn't defend so that I would have more actions post-break. Then again, I did dodge one attack here, and if it was another Savage Claw I'd have been in the same bad situation I just escaped.

At any rate, I have my first chance to really do some damage.

Though Sidestep spam is still my top priority, as surviving is the most important thing to winning this fight.

Naturally, the Direwolf boosts its shield post-break.

But I don't waste any time ripping through those.

At this point, Alfyn's focus is on maintaining Dohter's Charity when he isn't healing or feeding BP.

And again, you can use it for more than just Concoct! Revitalizing Jam maxes out everyone's HP, SP, and BP!

Which gives me the perfect opportunity to rip this thing apart.

Up to twelve shields now...

Now we have to deal with two of these wolves.

The Dancer Hired Help saves the day, hitting a knife weakness four times and also inflicting a variety of status effects. Blind and Poison are both really appreciated here.

Defeating one wolf opens up a weakness. Polearms and Dark will always be locked if one other wolf still stands.

Of course, that's not an issue for now.

At this point, I'm sitting at nine turns of Dark Rune, everyone at eight or nine stacks of Sidestep, and Alfyn has five turns of Dohter's to super-heal everyone. So what can go wrong?

This. All that stuff I just mentioned? It all got wiped away.

Sidestep helps in this fight, but it will not win you the fight. It's a nasty little punch in the gut here, taking away all the buffs you've been relying on all game and forcing you to adapt to this brutal boss that can rip your party to shreds on a whim.

I love it.

Just to further rub it in, the Direwolf then summons three wolves to ruin my day, and in the process locks up all of its weaknesses.

This is not good.

Just because my engine got derailed doesn't mean I can't get it going again!

Primrose is kinda stuck doing damage since the wolves don't have any elemental weaknesses. Every chunk helps!

I'm really lucky that the Direwolf is Blind here. The rest of my party would've survived that, but they'd certainly be vulnerable to the swarm of other attacks to follow.

Dancer Team to the rescue!

To make up for that last attack, this time Primrose is the only one to evade.

I liked it better the other way. No offense, Primrose.

Nothing I can't fix, though.

Sidestep isn't going to be a priority for now. It takes too much set-up and can easily be nullified, and I'll take much less damage if I can break and defeat the adds. The direwolf is very fearsome, but still manageable on its own.

That takes care of two of them!

I clearly need to do something about Primrose's HP.

Now that we just had a Lunar Howl, maybe I can get some buffs going again.

I start with some Sidestep stacks. With just one wolf, I can afford the risk of them getting nullified, especially since I really want them due to my healer and backup healer just biting it.

But soon he's back up on his feet and ready to distribute items evenly to all like the true socialist he is.

Another annoying Triple Slash, but once again it also means another foe killing itself from counters.

Now our direwolf friend has three turns a round. That's a bad thing.

At this point, it's time to go all-out.

I get the perfect Break moment here, ready to rip everything apart.

I throw some attacks, but at this point I'm at a loss. Transfer Rune wore out, so I can't throw on Sidestep stacks. But the direwolf is near death, and I do have one of the best Divine Skills begging to be used...

And this is when I finally learned the direwolf's final weakness to Lightning. Wish I knew that earlier!

But no matter. I survived what's easily the most difficult boss in the game, outside of the final boss. Not that I didn't come close to dying a few times, but hey, a win's a win.

And that's it. No fanfare or anything like that. All that's left to do is go back to our quest giver and tell them the good news.

Music: The Flatlands

I just hope the jerk appreciates everything we've been through.

If its fang alone is so large as this, how large must the beast itself have been...? I'm sure that was the very beast that had been making my flock feel so ill at ease.

No one had seen any for a long time, but it seems they weren't all dead after all...

And knowing that they are safe will let me sleep at night once again as well.

The reward's alright. A third Elemental Augmentor is nice, especially since I'll need all the great accessories I can get. Trust me, I'm going to need to do some off-screen grinding to really get myself ready for the final boss...

Oh and I guess this guy's sheep are safe or whatever, and that's probably the important part in all this.

Next time, a screenplay fit for a king.