Edward’s Tale began with holy crap so much talking, as Kyle and I remarked on how little we really cared. The plot had very much ramped up after Edge, Palom and Porom’s tale, and it didn’t seem like there was anything Edward could really add at this point. And controlling Edward, the Worst Character in FFIV, was not a prospect we found appealing. Well, let’s get this over with.
It turns out Edward is still somewhat morose about his lot in life, and is trying to live vicariously through charity toward Mist and Eblan, despite the fact that Damcyan is only just on its feet itself. He has his private secretary, Harley, cook the books to hide this generosity, which runs out of luck about when we tune in. When the falling star touches down between Damcyan and Fabul, Harley goes off to investigate it personally. Meanwhile, Edward gets the same ugly news about Baron, and unlike Yang sends off a messenger to Baron to make sure everything is all right. Days later, the messenger has not returned, nor has Harley’s search party. Edward is up late, and because we’re… uh… thorough like that, we snuck into Harley’s room and read her diary. And tried to sleep in her bed, why not (Edward actually slips off into dreamland for a second before he remembers where he is, heh). Harley’s diary notes in it that she is Troian, but that she’s proud of her work in Damcyan, though the recent changes have brought everyone’s mood low. Edward proves unable to sleep any further, and so sneaks off into the night to investigate on his own, only to be caught by his Chancellor, who forces him to go with guards.
Finding some early-morning shop keepers, we outfitted our guards with Long Swords thanks to Edward’s vast starting bank of gil. We headed northeast, finding that the Antlion Cave was still present, and probably a bonus dungeon (we’re considering doing it the next time we pick up the game before anything else). From there, we got to the crater, and I should note that this is the first time we’ve ever been at the crater from the west. We found a Bronze Tail randomly dropped by one of the monsters, which we retreated to Save, and then pressed on. (Ed. It turns out you need a lot more Bronze Tails than that to get anything good, but hey, we didn’t know.)
Playing with Edward was a strange experience. His bodyguards, nowhere near as interesting as Monks A-C or even White and Black Mage, were heavy fighters, definitely an odd break from the mages we’ve been dealing with. They also all outranked Edward in terms of levels. Edward himself still used a useless Harp for his attacks, and now had the “Bardsong” power, originally from FFIII but functioning in a manner unique to TAY. In TAY, Bardsong casts a spell on one or more targets, the results randomly selected between nothing, buffs/debuffs (a good result to get if you happen to have selected groups) and healing for allies (good on single targets, as the healing is spread out if you target a group). Note that there seems to be no good reason to only target a single enemy. No, you don’t get to pick which you get. Try your luck! He also still had Salve and Hide, and also started with a ring that increased the gil drop rate.
We pressed on with Edward’s party to reunite with Harley, who reported nothing we did not already know from Yang and Gekkou, and asked her to come back to Damcyan with us. She agreed, and joined the party. Harley doesn’t really resemble any other Final Fantasy class. She has whips, at least (the shops in Damcyan are limited to whips, lutes and swords), and the power to throw gil for damage (normally a Samurai ability in later games) and the power to give a monster a new elemental weakness and drop its magic defence. She also has an ability to boost the effect of healing items, which taken together implies she might have been inspired by FFIII DS’ remake of the Scholar. Personally, I think Harley’s accessory would work better tied to Edward’s Salve, and Harley’s Gil Toss would work better tied to Edward’s gil ring, but we like money both too much to throw it at bad guys and too much to put it on a character like Harley who might not be with us at all times. We kept the gil ring on Edward.
With four party members at his back, Edward really cut an unusual figure. Far from his world-changing friends who have to get off their throne to save the world, Edward couldn’t punch his way out of a paper box, so travels with his entire entourage into battle. This is actually fairly entertaining. Also helping us to like Edward is the way that he actually seems to actually grasp what’s going on. Very genre aware (as though someone at Square Enix is an Order of the Stick fan and decided to play Elan straight), it becomes clearer and clearer as the plot goes on that Edward is already aware that Cecil is under some else’s control, has known since perhaps not long after it happened, and that he plans to circumvent it. When he returns to Damcyan, he sees an airship (the Enterpise?) arrive to talk to him. It turns out that it’s carrying an emissary from Cecil, who turns out to be the Baigan face-stealer clone we saw in the Prologue. Edward feels uneasy at his arrival, and one of his first questions upon learning that the emissary has been given a tour is to ask his aide a leading question as to whether or not the emissary has been given a tour of the Crystal Chamber. Wow, that’s… very perceptive! Luckily, the emissary had not.
Edward tried to conduct business as usual, but the emissary was terse, telling us that Cecil has asked for exclusive control over the Crater and the investigation thereof. Edward pointed out that Cecil normally comes to meetings like this in person, but the emissary simply took his saying this as rude, which it was. Don’t get me wrong, it was rudeness in response to rudeness. Moreover, if Edward is suspicious something is up, being this open about it might not be… wise. Maybe it’s just my perspective, since I know what’s going with Cecil, whereas Edward’s just seeing a good friend being a dick. Still, the game’s doing an all-around good job with characterization and the occasional subtlety. After the emissary left, Edward announced his plan to go to Baron in person, so at least the out-of-order jibe served the flow of the next conversation, I suppose. At the exit to town, Edward tried to leave Harley behind, which for once didn’t come off as sexist. It’s clear to us players that Edward is going to Baron to take on Cecil directly, to the death if need be, but Harley doesn’t know that… or at least so she’s pretending. She seems pretty clever too. Agreeing to let her come (since this is a diplomatic matter… heh), Edward stops by the exit to grab a bouquet of flowers for his own suspicious reasons.
So that’s where we left off. Now all we have to do is get to the port near Kaipo, so let’s go grab that hovercraft, eh fellas, and head right down to what do you mean we don’t have the hovercraft? Wait. You don’t mean that we have to… have to… go back… through the Underground Waterway? Right Edward? Edward? Don’t do this to us Edward! No! DON’T DO THIS!!!
We broke for the night there and picked up with Edward by going backwards through the cursed Underwater Cavern, with a small section of passage added to get up the normally one-way waterfall that serves as a feature in the dungeon’s second (now first) half. This passage was the only one stocked with near powerful monsters: the rest were simple, so we assumed because going through this dungeon was only a formality! We were mistaken.
No sooner had we reached Tellah’s hometown of Kaipo when Harley came down with desert fever (time loop, remember?). Edward then spat in our mouths and kicked us in the groin by saying he would be going back through the Underwater Passage without his bodyguards because this was personal. That’s why the first trip had been so easy. Fantastic. Once that was done (oh sweet Light Emperor he wouldn’t even jump down the waterfall like the six year old twins!), we went to the Antlion Cave and were somehow not attacked by the antlion in doing so (did the game just realize that Edward was not capable of handling a boss on his own?). On his way back through the Underwater Hellhole for a third time, Edward was ambushed by bandits he also couldn’t handle, and so fell off a bridge and discovered himself at the other side of an entire mountain range. I’d feel bad for him but I just skipped a dungeon I hate, so couldn’t muster the sympathy. Edward revived Harley and we pressed on after they had a quick personal moment that might have not really been a moment.
After repeating the scene with Yang, we discovered that Edward’s reason for leaving the Fabulian ship behind was… nothing, his reason was completely insubstantial. Nice guy. We then hit up Baron and had an awkward conversation with Cecil, wherein Cecil gave Edward a gift and Edward replied by whipping a bouquet of flowers twice his height and complete with vase straight out of his pants. Nothing else was accomplished diplomatically, but of course the exchange of gifts had been both parties’ real intent. On the boat ride home (what, did you think Edward was going to attack Cecil Harvey after falling off a bridge to avoid simple bandits?), Edward told Harley that he did not believe he had spoken to the true Cecil, revealing that his bouquet had contained a sample of Whisperweed that Cecil had not recognized when he should have. Edward then used the plant to spy on the throne room, hearing Cecil talking to the doppleganger about his gift to Edward. That confirmed Edward’s suspicions: that Cecil had handed him one of Baron’s Carnelian Signets – the artifact that had destroyed Mist.
Just as he was ordering that the box never be opened, Edward’s ship came across Yang’s being attacked by Leviathan…
…and he appears to have just up and left again, because the next time we see Edward, he’s just fine. Best friends.
Edward’s big pace in a circle on the way to Baron cost us 2h 15m.