Radiant Historia, Part 24
Our first order of business is to go talk to Vanoss, since he's headed to the city for recon purposes.
Stocke: How do you plan on entering Alistel?
Vanoss: We'll go as traveling entertainers. While our purpose is a ruse, our show is real.
Stocke: I see... Actually, I came to ask you to take me with you. I want to see what's happening to Alistel for myself. If needed, I could perform in your show, as well.
Vanoss: Oh, so you are a performer as well? There is truly more to you than meets the eye.
You have NO idea.
Vanoss: Yet... You may not need to. There aren't any major checkpoints until we reach Alistel. And we may just be able to claim that you're a bodyguard that we hired.
I'm still wondering why they didn't do that last time.
Vanoss: In any case...
Stocke: What is it?
Vanoss: It's just... I seem to recall taking someone else with us the same way... But I can't remember any of the details...
"I definitely know nothing about this and am in no way involved. At all."
Vanoss: ...Ah well. It's not important. Probably just my imagination. Well, Stocke, please make yourself ready to depart. We'll leave for Alistel tomorrow.
Since when have minor concerns like something being stupidly dangerous stopped him from doing anything?
Stocke: I'm too worried about Lt. General Raul. Don't worry. I was a Specint man until recently. I'm well-versed in keeping a low profile.
...Says a guy who always wears BRIGHT RED.
Sonja: You're right... But be careful all the same.
Stocke: Don't worry. You'll see me again. Look after Rosch while I'm gone.
Sonja: ...I will.
Aht: We'd worry if you went alone, Stocke! That's why we'll come with you!
Gafka: I believe we've already proven ourselves. I doubt we'd be a burden to you.
Against all real-world logic, Aht less so than Gafka.
Stocke: ...Not that I don't appreciate it, but won't the Patriarch object to Aht coming?
Aht: But if I'm not with you, then you can't get through the barrier on your way back.
Gafka: The girl is correct.
Stocke: ...I see. All right.
I almost wonder why the game bothered taking them out of the party in the first place.
Vanoss: Except for one thing...
Vanoss: There's actually been a slight change in plan... It seems we'll be traveling separately from you, Stocke.
Stocke: Is that what you were speaking to the Patriarch about before?
Vanoss: Yes... We'll be making haste for Cygnus on the Patriarch's orders.
So you get to go there before we do? No fair.
Vanoss: But don't be worried on our account! We'll head directly to Alistel afterwards. Our business in Cygnus should be brief, so it won't be long before our paths rejoin.
Something I've always wondered in RPGs- what's up with the distances? This was clearly described as a continent and it has room for three human countries, two Beastkind countries, and a huge desert, yet Vanoss can go gallivanting off to the opposite side of the place and back with very little change in anyone's plans.
Stocke: ...All right. If we get there first, we'll stay low and wait for your arrival.
Vanoss: That would be the best, I think. Well then, now it really is time that we departed. We'll see you at Alistel!
Stocke: ...We should get going, too.
...Aaand, here we are, back in control.
Rather conveniently, the map remembers that we've been through Lazvil Hills once already recently and lets us head straight to Alistel.
There's no background music. Does that count?
Stocke: (There's no soldiers posted, either. Did they get careless, thinking I wouldn't return?)
Or maybe they just couldn't find anyone WILLING to stand guard after you wiped out the entire squad they sent after you.
Stocke: (...I wonder how Lt. General Raul is doing...)
Good lord, did you guys FLY there or something? 'cause for you to get here that soon after us, either you were moving scarily fast or Gafka decided to take a nap and our other two party members had to drag him bodily to the city.
Vanoss: How is the city?
Stocke: Same old, same old, it seems. ...Where's everyone else?
Vanoss: I left them waiting outside the city walls, just in case. But it seems there aren't any problems coming this far in, at the least. Well then, it's time we got to gathering information.
Stocke: What's your plan?
Vanoss: Oh... We'll try the usual methods tailored to our troupe. I'll announce to the people that we'll be performing here.
Stocke: A performance...?
Vanoss: When people gather, they also talk. You'll see...
Of course, I bet that most of what they say will boil down to, "Wow, did you see that hot guy in the red?" "What? No, I was watching the Satyros with no shirt." And when you factor in similarly appreciative comments about Liese and a few kids asking, "Mommy, why does that lady have horns?" that probably leaves about 2% of the audience saying things they're actually interested in.
Vanoss: But we can't have people finding out who you are before that. Here, use this robe.
Stocke: Sorry for the trouble. I'll put it on if the need arises.
You can't be THAT sorry, or you would have asked around earlier to see if you could borrow any clothes that weren't BRIGHT RED.
...And, of course, the guy who's almost certainly wanted for treason by now is standing right in the open, in the exact same extremely distinctive clothes he always wears.
Vanoss: We are a group of traveling performers, come from Cygnus! In a short while, we will be putting on a show of feats and marvels! Come one, come all!
Vanoss: I was only announcing that we'll be putting on a performance here...
Soldier: I can see THAT! Putting on your performance is fine, but you need to stop attracting customers right now.
Because that makes perfect sense.
Soldier: The exalted Prophet Noah and General Hugo are about to address the people.
Vanoss: Ah, then say no more. We are unfamiliar with this land and your customs. Pardon our small misunderstanding.
Soldier: Just so long as you know... There won't be a second time.
Vanoss: It seems there'll be quite a crowd here before long. Should we hide amongst them to listen?
Stocke: Yeah, they may prove useful.
Vanoss: Then we'll wait for the proper time to leave Alistel. Oh, yes, don't forget to use the robe I gave you earlier.
Stocke: I'll put it on when we go to the square.
Woah, really? I was starting to think that you just considered looking awesome a more important goal than not getting caught.
Sweet, now we can run around the city a bit. First, let's talk to Vanoss.
Vanoss: Aht is what is known as a shaman in Celestia. Shamans must watch over the passing of souls and guide them to the right path.
Stocke: Yes... so I hear.
Vanoss: Shamans have special powers. Normally, when a person dies, others must grieve but must eventually accept it. This is because there is no way to bring back the dead... but it is not so for a shaman. They live in a balance of life and death... and by stepping off, they may bring them back.
Stocke: ...It may be obvious to you, but what is wrong with bringing someone back to life?
It never, ever goes well. That's just one of those rules of fictionland. If they come back on their own, cool, if they were only mostly dead, that's also cool, but if they're D-E-D dead, you've got one hell of an uphill battle against narrative convention coming up.
Vanoss: Retrieving a lost soul is like sending the rain back to the heavens. To do the unnatural distorts that which is natural. Correcting what's unnatural causes only more distortion, and with it more destruction.
I bet that's a REALLY skeptical expression.
Vanoss: A shaman with a weak heart will misuse this power and stray from the right path. ...As the last shaman did.
Stocke: The last shaman? Is she in Celestia?
Vanoss: No... She was unable to accept a friend's death and left the village with his soul. Perhaps, if Aht continues on this journey, she may encounter her. If that happens, and you are with her, I want you to help her.
Forget "perhaps," and "if." If somebody brings it up, it's gonna happen. Such is fiction.
Vanoss: Make certain that Aht doesn't go down the wrong path.
Vanoss: Thank you. The last rumor I heard was that she had gone towards the desert town. Please, take care of Aht. And be careful...
I can't reach any desert towns right now, but I'll make a note of it for later.
Anyway, back to wandering around.
You... do see the enormous Gutral with our group, right?
The city is somewhat eerily empty of people, so it makes people like this kid outside the weapon shop stand out.
Kid: It's my fault... I hid my dead mom's keepsake from him. It's an amulet that protects us... I thought he wouldn't go if I hid it from him... but he went anyway. And he's not coming back, because he didn't have the amulet...
In the immortal words of Prince Zuko, that's rough, buddy.
Stocke: (It sounds like this boy's father was one of the casualties at Gran Plain... What should I do?)
Kid: Huh...? You'll give my dad the amulet? Really? Could you do that!? Is he still alive!?
Stocke: I don't know, but I know where he is. Maybe I'll be able to give it to him.
Kid: That's fine. Please, make sure he gets it. Tell him... tell him I'm sorry. Promise me!
Stocke: (If I go to the Sand Fortress before the battle, this kid's father should still be alive...)
Before I run off to deliver this, I've got one more thing to do. Since I'm going to have to go through a pretty good chunk of chapter to return to this point, I want to get as much done as possible in one go to minimize the number of extra trips we have to make.
Woman: I'm sorry you had to see me like this... My husband passed away the other day. I only regret that I didn't go to the doctor soon enough... and now this medicine is too late to save him.
This sounds like a job for TIME TRAVEL!
Stocke: I'll take that medicine, if you don't mind.
Woman: Huh? Oh... Of course. I don't think I'll ever be using it. My husband would be happy if it went to save someone sick.
Doubly so if that someone was himself.
Let's see if he's here.
Yup, sounds like this is our guy.
Man: I've been coughing a lot these days...
Man: Huh? Is this for me?
Stocke: Your wife gave me this medicine. Take it before it's too late.
Man: Whoa, hold up. I'm not dying anytime soon. True, I haven't been feeling well these days... but if my wife got it for me, she must really be worried. Okay, thanks.
Stocke: Don't thank me. Thank your wife.
I dunno, I think thanking the guy who traveled back in time to save your life is rather justified.
...And now for the other one.
Soldier: He wouldn't stop crying when I had to go on duty. He wouldn't let go. It's kind of cute, but at the same time, I wish he'd toughen up a bit. Haha.
Stocke: Your son wanted me to give this to you.
Soldier: My amulet! I thought I lost it! I see. He was hiding it this entire time. Sheesh. That kid...
Stocke: He said he wanted to apologize. Why not take a vacation and go see him?
You are way, WAY too nice to be a sergeant.
Soldier: It's a nice idea, but I can't. I have to stay here. Now that the reinforcements are here, Field Marshal Viola will make a move soon.
Stocke: You really can't take a short break to see him? The battle at Gran Plain will be...
I know you probably haven't checked out the vacation policy since all your friends are in the army anyway and you don't seem to have any family to visit, but somehow, I think they'd frown on that.
Soldier: I know. But I can't go back. This fight is to protect my child. ...I just thought of something. Can you wait here for a bit?
One black screen later...
Soldier: It says that I can't go back, but that I'll fight my hardest to keep him safe.
Stocke: I'll give him the letter. But you stay alive. A letter is a poor replacement for a father.
Soldier: Thanks. Please take this as a gift. Hopefully you can use it.
Not yet, but in time... *evil laugh*
This is the closest I can get, unfortunately.
I run through the events at top speed until I can get back to Alistel.
...And here we are, talking to the formerly-sick guy.
Man: I've got you to thank for that!
Stocke: I told you before. I got it from your wife.
Man: Come on. You just said that so I'd take it.
Uh... sure. You totally found us out.
Man: I didn't feel bad when you gave it to me! I asked my wife, and she said she never bought me any medicine. You saved my life. Here, please accept this!
Man: Thank you for the medicine. It saved my life.
I'm going to wait until I've got another node to warp to before I teach this to Raynie, I think. Now, to deliver that letter.
Stocke: Don't worry. I made sure he got it.
Kid: You're lying! If my dad was alive, he'd be back home by now! And he's not back... So he's...
Stocke: I'm not lying. He wrote you a letter. ...Here.
Kid: What!? He did!?
You're a bit of a slow reader, aren't you?
Kid: ...Dad says that I can't be sad, no matter what happens to him. He's fighting for what he believes in, and what he wants to protect... but listen to this part: "As long as you believe I'm coming home, I want you to be a strong boy and wait for me. Show me that you have the strength to stand up for what you believe in..."
Kid: I'm going to stay strong, just like Dad! He's going to be surprised when he comes home. I'm not going to cry anymore!
Stocke: Yeah... I'm sure yout dad would like that.
Kid: Sir, thank you for the amulet, and the letter, and... and everything. This is something that means a lot to me, but you can have it!
Okay, that's it for sidequests for the moment. Let's get back on track.
Finally figured that out, have you?
Stocke: (I'd better wear the robe Vanoss lent me.)
"Who, us? Conspicuous? I have no idea what you're talking about."
"Hugo... is... a... slimeba- WHO WROTE THIS?"
Hugo: By virtue of the Prophet Noah's wise leadership, the evil nation of Granorg will soon fall! But this alone will not suffice to bring the Prophet's ideals to fruition. Even after Granorg's defeat, many in this world remain who are untouched by the Prophet's light. These wretched people, knowing not the ways of God nor man, continue to pollute this world! And this leaves the Prophet Noah with a heavy heart.
Yes, GAFKA is also hiding in the crowd by wearing a robe. Y'know, the guy who's seven and a half feet tall and built like a gorilla. And yes, the third person, who also goes unnoticed, is the nine-year-old kid with big ol' horns that really should be making her hood fit really badly. ...Try not to think about it too much.
Hugo: Consider the savage tribe living in the western wastes... Thrice has the Prophet reached out his hand, and thrice has it been slapped away...
If by "reached out his hand," you mean "requested some mercenaries," and by "slapped away" you mean they GAVE you the mercenaries, maybe.
Hugo: Until they have now resorted to unforgivable blasphemy by defying him through military strength.
I see he has his plants in the crowd hard at work again.
Hugo: Consider, too, the Beastkind whose misshapen forms ravage the lands ruled by man.
Hugo: Their monstrous countenances and alien magics mark them as an enemy to be feared!
So on top of every other horrible thing about Hugo, he's also racist. Lovely.
Oh, don't you DARE.
Aht: This is horrible...
Gafka: ...It seems there's no hope for peace between us. I've heard all I want to. Let's go.
Stocke: Wait. We'll cause a scene if we leave now. We need to leave along with the rest of the crowd once the speech is over.
It would appear he actually DOES know how to avoid attracting attention. Too bad the way he usually dresses kind of counteracts that.
Hugo: Our battle has not yet come to an end! Not until the eyes of the savages are opened and the bloodline of the beasts is terminated!
Advocating genocide. I'm just liking you more and more.
Hugo: Let us march proudly together, hand in hand! May light shine upon Alistel!
That was, thankfully, the end of the speech, so it cuts to outside the castle, where the crowd is filtering out. It pans right to show our party lurking in a corner.
Gafka: If we were to put on a show now, they'd throw rocks, not coins.
I think Aht needs a hug.
Aht: Why did he say that stuff?
Because he's a disgusting waste of carbon?
Aht: No wonder Elm is always mad!
Stocke: ...I'm sorry.
Stocke's really being sweet today. This is about the third time this update I've had the urge to go 'd'awww' at something he's said.
Aht: It's not your fault, Stocke! It's that bad baldy!
I may have to start calling Hugo "Baldy" now.
Congrats, dude. You're the only person in Alistel who can recognize the faces of people in hoods.
He hands Stocke something.
Man: Show this to no one else.
Stocke: (That man... Was that...?)
Gafka: What's the matter?
That the entire army is out for his blood and he just found out that at least one person around here knows who he is?
Stocke: That man slipped me a note.
Gafka: What is this?
Aht: What's the "R" mean?
Well, we know it's probably not for "Raynie." She would run up and say hello as soon as she saw them insteading of sending mysterious notes.
Stocke: ...I think I have some idea. Let's go to where the note tells us.
And, of course, everyone has ditched their magic cloaks of unidentifiability now that ALL THREE of them will cause a massive uproar if anyone spots them.
Stocke: Yeah, I agree.
Stocke: I'm glad to see you safe, R. Or rather... Lt. General Raul.
Raul: I'm currently being hunted, just as you are.
I guess that's what you get for being pretty much the only trustworthy member of the military above the rank of Field Marshal.
Raul: Would you leave Alistel with me now, no questions asked?
Stocke: ...That was the plan, yes.
I can't help but imagine him saying that in a very dry tone of voice.
Raul: Alistel has gone completely mad...
"*willfully ignoring the sardonic comment*"
Raul: Under Hugo's leadership, the people have lost sight of the path they should be taking. I couldn't do anything about it even if I could stay here. We must take steps outside the country to stop this madness...
Stocke: ...I agree. Actually, I have some partners I've been working with. I had them wait elsewhere, so we should meet up with them first.
Raul: All right.
Stocke: You two...!
Once again, d'awww.
Raynie: Seriously, though, we were so worried about you! A lot of stuff had happened by the time we got back to Alistel. They told us you disappeared!
Raul: Well, we can talk about it later! Let's hurry and get out of here first!
Raul: Indeed. My name is Raul. It's nice to meet you. I was previously Stocke's superior, but as you can see, I'm currently being hunted...
Marco: Wow! A Gutral! I'd never seen one before! I didn't realize they were so big!
...Marco, you might want to chill out a little. I think you might be making Gafka a bit self-conscious.
Gafka: A small one... a woman, and...
Stocke: Is something wrong, Gafka?
Gafka: To be honest... All you humans look the same to me.
And that, dear, is why you are stuck as "Red One" for the rest of the game.
Wow, really? And they were being so sneaky, too! :O
Soldier: They must still be hiding around here! Let's go!
If by "hiding" you mean "standing in the middle of an open square," then sure.
Stocke: Let's hurry and get out of here, before they find us.
I do some equipment- and party-swapping, then head onwards.
Fun fact: these guys will spot you even through Vanish. So it isn't actually lack of stealthiness that's to blame for this.
Creepy soldier: There you are, traitors... You and those conspiring with you... all will be eliminated right here...
Stocke: Out of our way... I won't hold back just because we used to be on the same side!
Yup, it's Shadow miniboss time again! It's been a while since the last one, but you still remember him, right? ...Right?
I'm still overleveled, so this fight is a joke.
Raul: Wh-What in the world...?
Raynie: There's no time to talk, Lt. General. Let's hurry and get away!
From this point, getting out is just a matter of Vanishing past the non-Shadow soldiers trying to guard the way out of town.
...Aaand there we go!
Next time, strategies happen, Rosch mopes, and Stocke objects to Rosch moping. Rather violently. See you then!