Music: The Trees Have Eyes
Today's dungeon is in the "forest" category. At least it's not another cave.
I'm not going to show you this one because, well, you've seen it five times or so already. It's got winding paths, there's a lot of mist...there's nothing that makes it distinct from every other forest we've visited so far.
The purple chest here is a Fire Amulet, which reduces fire damage taken. I'm not a big fan of these, as foes that stick with one element aren't very threatening anyway, and if you're going to reduce damage I'd rather get one of the protection accessories that give flat PhysDef and ElemDef stat boosts.
Music: Battle II
There's plenty of vegetation in the forest that wants to murder us for whatever reason.
At least it's an excuse to pick up a few more weapons.
More SP for Cyrus means a higher SP regen rate, since the number restored each round is 5% of Max SP. This bumps it up to 11SP, or half the cost of his two-hit spells. Cyrus doesn't care about SP management anymore.
There's also Mutant Mushrooms and Skulking Fungoids, as fungi love forests. All these foes love status moves, inflicting the likes of Silence, Blind, and Sleep.
Eventually we make it to this clearing, which means we're close to the next boss.
...A battle was fought here.
Here, the rocks are marked with...yes. Nicks made by steel weapons. Faded footprints, too. The signs of men.
Music: For Master
He was among those who fought here.
The trail continueth further into the woods. We must followe it.
...The Lord of the Forest is in a foul temper, I see.
Video: Boss - Lord of the Forest
Music: Decisive Battle I
The Lord of the Forest isn't as difficult (or as time-consuming!) as our last boss, but it has quite a few tricks up its sleeves to make this interesting.
First off, it can summon adds. As usual, you want to prioritize them, though moreso than usual since there's some weird gimmicks with them.
Fire works as well as you'd expect!
Lord of the Forest loves physical attacks, some of which can inflict status effects like Silence and Unconscious.
If you don't kill the adds quickly, the Lord will consume his allies and recover HP and buff his ElemAtk.
As usual, this boss has a special attack.
So of course, we break it and prepare to use our most powerful attacks.
However, breaking the Lord doesn't interrupt its big attack, Forest Ire. It only delays it. Fortunately it's nothing we can't manage, especially since we removed its chance to buff its ElemAtk.
The Lord has one more nasty trick in its sleeve, though. It can drain a character's HP, leaving them at 1 and absorbing that HP. In addition, it adds a shield and shuffles its weaknesses.
Of course, two can play at that game.
It still stinks when it decides to target your massive HP sponge. At least it gave me an excuse to use a Refreshing Jam for once!
But even that HP drain isn't enough to counter my offense.
Even with more adds, the Lord of the Forest cannot claim dominion over man.
Video: The Statue and the Letter
Which meaneth our true quarry lieth deeper within the forest.
But frozen...petrified in stone! What unholy thing happened here!?
Another of Master's arrows. Did this fate befall him even as he drew his bow?
"Like as not, thou foundest this next to a stone figure. That's me, the hunter Z'annta, in the flesh--as, so to speake. I was commissioned by the Knights Ardante to hunten the beast they callen Redeye."
"Among Redeye's formidable powers is the ability to petrify. Already, my feet hath turned to solid rock. I have but a short time to penne this message before the curse overtaketh my completely."
"Surely she shall knoweth what to don about this petrification. It is a faint hope, but the only one that remaineth to me. This beast cannot be allowed to runnen amok. It is far too dangerous, too savage."
So thou wilt stayen, and watchest over him.
And praye she knoweth a way to breaken the curse.
Music: Among Stately Peaks
The situation is grim, but at least there's hope that we can bring Z'aanta back. We have a lead, but first we must tell Natalia the bad news.
Well, first we should talk to our good friend Olberic.
Your master is an impressive man.
It is in our most trying moments that our true character is revealed.
There are few with the wits to know what must be done at such a time, and fewer still with the composure to act upon it. Through his courage, he instilled in you the gift of hope. If that is not greatness, then I know not what is.
I look forward to the day that the three of us can sit down and share a drink.
...Best not. Thou shouldst know that he turneth most tedious when the mead starteth flowing. Endless tall tales of the great beasts he hath hunted, each repeated thrice for good measure.
Olberic's conversations tend to focus on combat and strength of inner character, as those are the only two things he really knows anything about. His simplicity is more endearing than bland, at least.
Alright, now let's tell Natalia the bad news.
If his letter spake true, then yes.
I will begine by finding the seer called Susanna.
If I am to truly calle myself his prentice... I must see this hunt through to the very end.
H'aanit's tale isn't really so much about H'aanit trying to rescue her father figure. This is H'aanit's coming of age story, the moment she has to prove her true skills as a hunter. But this is something better saved for her Chapter 3.
Ye both have the same steel inside ye, when ye set yer mind to somethin'.
...Is that so?
Haha, aye, I reckon it is. Almost like father an' daughter, ye might say.
...Hm? Someone thou knowest, girl?
Eliza was the knight that Z'aanta left with way back at the beginning of Chapter 1.
We had no word from Z'aanta for weeks. I came to find him. In his most recent missive, he said he was coming to this town in pursuit of the beast.
'Twas the last I heard from him as well.
Video: H'aanit and Eliza
I fear I know very little... Nothing, even. The Knights Ardante simply bid me hire Z'aanta. They told me nothing more. But it is clear they must have known the danger.
So great was the peril, they could turn to no one else. On the hunt, no one could match his speed, his guile...
It is true. Our village wanteth not for skilled hunters, but even the best of them would only geten in his way. The Knights' judgment was correct.
But, even so...
It leaves a bad taste in your mouth, yes? It is the same for me.
Now, it falls to me to hunt Redeye in Z'aanta's stead.
You have another duty. You must go and find the seer.
...Yes. It was Master's last command, before the curse overtook him. I will finde the means to free him of it--I must.
My skill in the hunt is hardly the measure of his. But he needs me, and I will do what I can. Countless times, Z'aanta has lent me his strength and courage.
I shall send word if I learn more of this Redeye.
And so it falls to Eliza and the Knights Ardante to hunt the one beast Z'aanta could not. What hope do they truly have...?
Music: Among Stately Peaks
H'aanit has her own path, however. She must find out how to save Z'aanta, so that perhaps he may be able to avenge himself against Redeye.
Anyway, it's time for one of the more iconic travel banters in this game.
...Ah, indeed. The Knights Ardante aren servants of thine Order, yes?
Indeed. She is well respected by the church, and known as one of its most loyal servants.
'Tis a terrible waste that she maintaineth this friendship with my master. She honoreth him with her company, yet he is naught but a source of vexation and worry.
I know what you mean. She is a role model to us all.
Truly? Even a beauty such as thyself?
...I think I'll let that one speak for itself.
At any rate, we are done here. It's time to take our leave from Stonegard.
Video: The Journey Goes On
I'm so glad I caught ye. Here. This is for yer journey.
There was no need for thee to...
Music: H’aanit, the Hunter
Z'aanta was a good friend to me, after my husband passed away and all.
So the least I can do is help ye on yer journey. Let me do that much at least.
...Of course. Thanke thee for the gift.
And, er, one more thing...
...I will be cautious. After all, I'll be of no use to Master if I get myself killed.
It's a tough road ahead, but as long as she has hope, H'aanit can carry on.
The gift basket Natalia left us is a pretty nice one, all things considered.
And as we leave, one final conversation for the road.
Hunting ain't an easy life, is it?
I am still but a prentice, and not a hunter true.
Well, he's not my "master," per se. Just someone I look up to more than anyone. I haven't met him in years. Still, if I knew he was in danger, even vicious fiends couldn't stop me from rushin' to his aid.
Anyway, just remember I'm here to fix up any wounds you suffer on the way. So you don't have to hold anythin' back in your quest to save him!
Hm? What's the matter?
I was merely waiting for my turn to speaken.
Alfyn's compassionate if a bit awkward at times. He wants to do everything he can to help his companions on their respective quests, even if all he can do is mend their wounds.
Anyway, the next two poll picks seem to be pretty obvious considering, but might as well do this officially. Who will be our next character?
Next time, Stonegard and probably some other stuff.