Like Yang’s Tale before it, Edge’s tale begins with the man himself beating the crap out of his students. But these are not (unforgettable!) faceless mooks. These are “The Eblan Four,” Edge’s pupils and some of the best ninja in the world. And they’re allllllll Level 5-10s. What do you want from me? The heroes that saved the world are all Level 15, there’s really no higher standard!
This story started much earlier in the TAY chronology than some of the Tales, starting with Edge and the other seeing the second moon appear in the sky (aka, during the Prologue). Edge decided to go out and investigate himself, but his students intervened, saying Eblan needs its leader to do actual leadership work. Instead, we were given the choice to pick from four separate missions during four separate days (Moon Phases). As it happened, we never had to use a Tent or Inn during our missions, so I’m not sure we could have changed the current phase. We did some research on the Four and their specific abilities to help pick phases, but our choices were somewhat ill-informed. It would appear that Ninjutsu, the spell category the characters have in common, is considered a “Skill” rather than a mix of White and Black magic, so making our decisions based on magical abilities gleaned from the wiki didn’t help us at all. Oh well.
Keep in mind that we had to be careful in these missions! Falling unconscious during the missions meant the character had died and would never come back, and we were Marathon-bound not to allow that!
Our first ninja, Izayoi, went undercover to Troia, where she embedded herself as one of the younger Epopt trainees. After a while, she learned about the (yet upcoming) trip to the Tower of Trials, and bumped into Palom as he toured the town. Deciding this was worth a check, she took a chocobo down to the tower and climbed the outside.
As it goes, Izayoi was one of the more unique ninja, but was still less interesting than some of the other new characters. As I told Kyle, it might have been better for Square Enix to base these ninja on some Final Fantasy classes that don’t appear in this game, but they seemed to prefer to pick ones that, for some reason, already were in the game, making them generally sub-par but faster versions of other characters. In that regard, Izayoi was most similar to Rosa. Ninja Rosa! She had healing Ninjutsu (starting with a spell Edge and one of her compatriots would later learn) as well as bows and whips, but with Rosa’s powerful magic exchanged for more speed and hitting power, and also Water spells.
Izayoi went up the tower, and ended up fighting a Zu, which it turns out is indeed more powerful than I thought during Rydia’s tale… either that or it was levelled up to be a boss. I was killed (we had to restart the game), though Kyle had better luck when we used the Crossbow we had found instead of the Whip we were using (the Crossbow had been stronger, but had kept missing). This was also when we discovered that The After Years has infinite ammunition for Bows, which more or less lifted our long-standing ban against using them when we weren’t talking about Rosa.
Atop the tower (I couldn’t tell you what floor because she had skipped most of them in her initial climb), Izayoi drew some conclusions. 1) She reiterated that the Epopts had not needed this tower before. 2) The tower seems to have been built to attract monsters, and she sensed a powerful monster just inside the nearby uppermost floor. Note that we did not encounter a true boss monster during Palom and Leonora’s visit to the tower! 3) The tower had been constructed far too quickly for something of its size. Something was wrong. But before she could search any further, Izayoi noticed the Tower of Babil glowing again – apparently even from this distance. I guess this planet really is no bigger than, say, Tokyo or New York, which just means that Palom’s ship was really, really lost. She realized it was time to bail, and commandeered Palom’s former ship to take her to Eblan. This lead to this strange line from the captain: he would take her on “So long as I don’t have to go near [the glowing Tower of Babil]!” Sir, do you know where Eblan even is?
Zangetsu had the least interesting of the expeditions. He had gone undercover as a Dwarf in the Dwarven Capital, which could have been interesting, but he saw the tower glowing right away, so he bailed and the entire Mission was based on his walking back to the surface! I understand that not all of them would have come into some kind of interesting or even unrelated information, but the man doesn’t even stick around long enough to see what the Dwarfs are going to do about it the tower! Sheesh. Whatever. So he jumps off a wall and falls about ten storeys only to faceplant harmlessly to the ground. Actually kind of effective for slapstick.
Zangetsu was the oldest member of the Eblan Four, and this was reflected in his level, though now that I think of it, the level of the three adult members of the Four might actually be based on the order in which they were selected? Who knows. Zangetsu controlled some electric magic, but was mostly used for his Dragoon-like ability to perform Jump attacks, and so we gave him a Spear to amplify it. There’s really not much else to say, he was a fast Kain. He was attacked by yet another flight of Belphagors that served as his level boss, and then went off to the Tower.
Where Gekkou had been spying we might never know (the game sort of implied it was Fabul), but we came to join him as he was investigating the meteor’s crater west of Mt. Hobs. He was there much earlier than Yang, and so witnessed some of the more interesting things in Edge’s Tale. Chiefly, we learned that the falling star was the doppelganger herself (or at least a vehicle for her). She ran into a group of Monks not long after landing, who accosted her for – and I have to stress that she is consistently hostile character! – still absolutely no reason. You five are really nowhere near Monks A-C’s calibre, friends. I see her picking you off here and I feel… no sympathy.
Gekkou was a heavy fighter as ninjas go, armed with axes and fire magic. Not much else to say, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t desperately miss people like him during the mage-heavy Palom and Porom’s tales. The three Monks that survived this initial encounter went after the doppleganger, going backwards through the dungeon as seen in Yang’s Tale. Part-way up, Kyle was killed by a pack of Skeletons that were just way, way stronger than we remembered them ever being, and we had to restart. When Gekkou caught up to Monks at the exit, we got the chance to deliberately keep him out of sight or to reveal himself to the doppelganger, and we hid in accordance to the Marathon’s rules (we were sure he’d have died if he had gone in, but I have to say that we were really curious. I think if there had been a nearby save point, we’d have done it for sure). When the doppelganger was done reciting lines from Derivative Sci Fi Monthly, Gekkou buried the Monks at that strange grave Yang found, and then retreated back to Eblan in response to the tower glowing and you know the deal.
Our final spy, Tsukinowa, was a young child, though surprisingly tactical for his age. He had well and truly embedded himself in Mysidian society as an apprentice, and his teacher even remarked he had been there a long time, after being rescued half-drowned (or at least pretending to be half-drowned) by a White and Black Mage. Temporarily going by “Lapin,” Tsukinowa had a neighbourly and teacherly conversation with Porom before she was called away on an important meeting. While looking around town, someone mentioned Ceodore and the Hooded Man, helping us put together the order of events a little. Tsukinowa got one of his fellow students to turn him into a Toad to get him past the Black Mage guarding the door (yes really) and overheard the second half of the meeting. There, he learned that Porom was bound for Mount Ordeals on a mission of some importance. He geared up to go after her. Holy crap, one of you is actually doing your job instead of running off to Eblan at the first sign of trouble?
Statistically, Tsukinowa was essentially Edge, with less Strength, more speed and only Air and Healing ninjutsu. His well-rounded spell set and pre-set treasure drops actually made him our best of the Eblan Four before his mission was done, especially with his ability to use Boomerangs to fight from the back rows. We trailed Porom and ran into one Monster-in-a-Box after another. We later found that this section was actually from Porom’s Tale (plus a few moments where Porom almost spots Tsukinowa, which weren’t in her tale since they would have thrown players off). The funny thing is that that implies Tsukinowa was raiding chests she had just opened, which Kyle joked explained the monsters-in-a-box: we were just catching them in the act of restocking the damn things.
Porom ended up entering the monolith that led to the place where Cecil had been trained, causing Tsukinowa to lose track of her. Just then, the Tower began to glow, and Tsukinowa bailed. On the way out, he also managed to get one of the birds he was fighting to drop the Cockatrice summon, which felt like it was just mocking us because we assumed that there’s almost no way the chapter’s shared inventory (dropped Summons are inventory item until Rydia uses it) will carry over to a chapter featuring Rydia – I can’t remember if we were correct or mistaken! He then went to the west end of the continent, bidding Mysidia and his talented quarry goodbye before running across the ocean, holy crap.
Edge’s Tale Proper
Edge’s Tale begins with the cutaway we had seen before – the one that caused all that confusion about the Tower glowing, or “returning” or whatever the word was. And you know what? It’s still nonsensical! All he’s seeing is that it’s glowing! What’s more interesting is how Edge has a secret passage in his bedroom that opens to thin air. That’s literally true: he just uses it to jump onto the wall for climbing.
Edge had come to the same conclusion as his apprentices: time to hit ’em hard. He skipped town, going into the tunnels to the Tower of Babil. Along the way, he had a hard-hitting flashback to the time Rubicante thrashed him before he met up with Cecil, and Edge began to hallucinate the Archfiend. He pressed on, and we encountered the first of many teleporters the game offered us to kick us back to the entrance. Really, there was a stupid number of these, I don’t even know what to say about them. A bit further, we were attacked by a set enemy encounter, during which Tsukinowa rejoined us.
…How did you catch up in time, kid? Look, Square, if it’s possible to get lost at sea for a month in Palom’s Tale, it shouldn’t be possible to catch up to Edge in this situation. The walk from Eblan to the Tower is shorter than the walk to the Tower from anywhere else in the world. While I mock, I don’t mind time keeping not being important, but you can’t oscillate wildly between “time keeping is important” and “time keeping is not important” because then I don’t know what’s important! Izayoi is about to catch up with Edge on a sea-trip that the game has already said will take weeks (Palom’s Tale) and somehow Tsukinowa beat her there by running not just across the ocean but from Mount Ordeal, first! You don’t need to keep a bloody calendar and stop-watch on-hand, but am I supposed to be feeling like this is urgent or not? You’re the ones who set up your story’s tension to rely on this, not me!
We kept going and met up with Izayoi in a fight with some Flame Hounds… and were wiped out. Kyle took over and almost got wiped out as well: the only way we found to get past this was to just let underlevelled Izayoi get knocked out and stay there. At least it didn’t leave her dead this time. We pressed on and were soon teamed up with everyone, though we almost died to the Frost Hounds that showed up to introduce Gekkou. I remarked to Kyle that we might have had an easier time in this dungeon if we had just failed Izayoi and Gekkou’s missions and left them permanently dead, since these fights with the Hounds would have probably never occurred!
What happened next was… strange. We spotted the doppelganger, and Gekkou passed on his knowledge about her. The others said nothing about their missions, which might be practical but given the number of unknowns, I think I would have appreciated the knowledge if I were Edge. Gekkou advised against a frontal attack, and we agreed with him. Got it. As we got a little closer, Edge had a hallucination/vision about his parents and Rubicante again, since this was where he had fought them His parents also urged him not to engaged the doppelganger. Will do! And… then there was no other option but to fight her?
Unlike the Eblan Four, who were all deeply offended by the doppelganger’s never-fucking-ending spiel about her being an alien and humans being inferior, Edge had already heard this sort of crap from Fusoya and it just bounced off him. Instead, he countered that humans could adapt, which convinced the doppelganger that they were dangerous. Oh, nice move. This doppelganger (I’m not going to call the doppelganger a single person any more until I’ve seen otherwise) summoned Ifrit. Edge tried to fight her, but while he and his cronies could hurt the doppelganger, Ifrit was invulnerable. Oh, and once again, a flaw with the Interlude: Edge was shocked to see Ifrit when he should have understood what was going on, having seen someone stealing summons in this very tower not 16 years ago.
Edge pulled out of the fight, running back to the (empty) Crystal chamber, where he used the plan Kyle and I were joking about at that very moment: escape through the trap door. Wow, people in this game are really clever, it almost makes me ignore the fact that the trap door’s in a different place now.
We had to continue to run from Ifrit (Ifrit was indeed a good choice for our opponent here, since his sprite looks like he’s running in pursuit of the party. Odin would have also been valid, but I don’t think we’d have survived that). Edge bolted to the dock that had once housed the Falcon. We got a cutscene to him discovering it, and Kyle had to wonder… was his plan to just pray there was an airship there? There was not, of course, but as he talked to the doppelganger, Edge concluded what Palom already had (from our perspective) and what Edward was about to: everything was happening the way it had before, The Malloreon-style. Edge figured that by remembering what had happened before, the characters could predict what would happen this time by doing what had happened last time. So what does Edge decide to do? Well, they actually left the Tower of Babil two ways. Once, they left by airship. The other time, they fell into an airship. Confident in his guess, he jumps off the platform into the air and his disciples follow him, only to land on the passing Falcon, piloted by Rydia, Luca and Magus. Magus stands as an outlier to Edge’s little theory, but it otherwise seems vindicated… at least until Magus starts to fill Edge in on what Rydia and Luca’s party’s been up to…