Battle 46: Mount Germinas
Really! The church allowed someone to name a mountain after the guy! Who would have guessed!
We were attacked by highwaymen at Mount Germinas. They demanded our money, which Kyle and I joked they could happily have, since we had learned that Sal Ghido was nearly the game’s final shop (despite it being so far from the endgame!) and so we functionally no longer needed money! Unfortunately, the highwaymen soon recognized Ramza as a wanted heretic and decided to drag him in for the bounty. Hey, remember when we were fighting the Corpse Brigade and it was a national crisis that took months to complete and resulted in a noble family executing one of their own wards? These highwaymen are level 36 and could rightly wipe out every living person in Chapter 1, rebel or government. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it’s really weird that computer RPGs became the hallmark of narrative video gaming when you realize that computer RPG mechanics don’t actually get along with narrative in any way.
Another near-catastrophic battle here, as we separated Ramza from the weaklings he was supposed to be protecting (Arthur and Josephine, who were underlevelled despite our best efforts) to sit on top of the mountain and cast Geomancy, mighty Geomancy! This wasn’t all for the worse, however, as a Thief stole Agrias’ heart, and we were able to use Ramza’s position to use the old, forgotten Stone technique to snap her out of it for only a little damage! (Try using that excuse the next time you throw a rock at your friends!). Thankfully, once she was back to her senses, it was easy to close the vice on the opposite flank and end the battle. Whatever, filler, let’s move on.
After the battle, we turned Agrias from a Ninja to a dual-wielding Knight in effort to just do something with her. She would remain there for the rest of the game. Arguably her improved defence served her well, though it’s hard to tell with this sort of numbers thing, though we never once used her Knightly abilities. Arthur was also moved back to Monk for the time being, which was fine by me. The fact was that Ninja is so broken that everyone who had once been a Ninja was frankly better off staying a Ninja for the rest of the game, but Monk with Dual Wield and upgrades to buy seemed like a less boring option than Ninja with Barehanded and nothing to upgrade whatsoever!
Battle 47: Lake Poescas
More filler, this one an encounter with ghosts to remind us that we were on our way to fight a vampire. The ghosts of Lake Poescas claimed that they could kill us so they could escape after we took their place, but we had been attacked by the ghosts near Goug so many times that we didn’t even care. You shmucks don’t even have the common decency to fight us over a poison swamp! How rude can you get with this plain water?
In the ghosts’ defence, they had a pretty advantageous position, attacking us from a fort over wetlands. It was strange that numerous random battles at Lake Poescas later on would usually give us the fort as a starting position instead of the bad guys? In any event, our high-mobility party with two Holy Sword long distance attackers was barely even staggered here, and the battle only took a few minutes.
Back at the other side of the map, we saw Bag 1 having an exchange of threats with Loffrey, the Knight Templar who had recruited Wiegraf way back at the other side of the game. In the PSX, this would have been Loffrey’s first appearance, though the scene with Wiegraf doesn’t benefit him near as much as the dead ram. Dicebag, now functionally in charge of the White Lions, refused to give in to the church. He also pretended like he hadn’t assassinated Duke Larg, knowing that he had leverage over the church since he had deduced that they had unleashed the poison on the Northern Sky in the first place. Loffrey gave up on the negotiation, but only after giving the Bag a double threat: firstly to threaten that he might slowly poison Dicebag over time, and then to reveal that he also knew that Dicebag had poisoned his father to death, and that the church could prove it by checking the victim’s grave. Why Dicebag didn’t rush to the grave to remove the evidence, I can’t imagine, but he doesn’t and it’s going to come back to bite him soon.
Despite this display of threats, Loffrey then gave Dicebag an auracite as a gift from the High Confessor, clearly preferring to recruit him as a demon instead of bartering any further.
Unfortunately for Bag 1, Bag 2 was eavesdropping at the door the whole time.
Battle 48: Limberry Castle Gates
Back on the east coast, it was time to storm Limberry for what the player knows is going to be a fruitless attack, given that Alma wasn’t even there. It was going to be another series of battles, starting at the gate. Oh, and just to kick things off with a bang, the gate battle is one of the game’s most infamously difficult battles, maybe #2 after the duel with Wiegraf. And this one hadn’t been toned down in the remake! As the party arrives at the gate, they’re greeted by the two Assassins, Cellie and Lettie, who have a number of gargoyle-like demons, Reavers, to assist them.
This fight would be only so hard if it weren’t for the fact that it’s the earliest, and honestly most viable, location to learn Ramza’s secret technique, Ultima. The battle would be much easier without this complication, in fact it wouldn’t be very hard at all, but for those that want it, here we go. I’m ashamed to say that Ultima played no serious role in any battle to come, and was essentially an FFII-style fart in the wind despite all our extra fuss.
Ultima can only be acquired if an enemy casts Ultima on Ramza, and even then only if they cast it on him while he’s in the Squire Job, which no player would reasonably be at this point in the game. Either a strategy guide shared the fact with the world, or someone found out when they were doing a challenge run, I can’t imagine which. Also, Ramza has to survive the blow. It also has to be in Chapter 4, even though Celia and Lettie appear in Chapter 3. You might remember how Ramza’s Mettle skills upgrade each chapter? Internally, Ramza can’t get Ultima in Chapter 3 for that exact reason: “Chapter 3 Ramza” can’t learn it, but “Chapter 4 Ramza” can! It is possible for remake players to get Celia and Lettie to teach the move to Luso in Chapter 3, since he can also learn Ultima and in any chapter, but even that’s tricky once you remember that that battle requires you to keep Rapha alive!
To make matters worse, Ramza begins this battle having foolishly walked ahead of the party and through Limberry’s outer gates, leaving him isolated. Even worse than that, Celia almost always began the battle by Charming him. We had followed advice from a walkthrough to discourage her from using one-hit KO and Stop-inflicting abilities on him, which was probably for the best, but the walkthrough doesn’t even mention her using Charm, so I can only imagine that we have much different luck than the FAQ’s author! Since Ramza was one of our best party members, having him charmed was a very, very bad thing, so I suppose it was for the best that he was in his Squire gear and couldn’t hurt his friends as easily! Meanwhile, Lettie would find someone to plug with Stop, and would get away with it, since we didn’t have enough accessories to protect everyone from everything (you can grind for more accessories, and indeed probably even shop for some, but we hadn’t!).
The Reavers complicated matters with their Bio spells: Biora could cause all sorts of status effects, and Bioga would cause damage, which was sometimes preferable to the damnable status effects! It took some time for us to actually manage this battle, and essentially required a double fluke. We discovered the first fluke early on, when Celia once used Ultima on Ramza in the very first turn, just like the FAQ said she would. Walkthrough writers assure me that this isn’t supposed to be a fluke, but it was and that’s how I’m going to treat it. We discovered the second fluke quite a bit later, when Cid hurt one of the Reavers pretty badly. Eager to get rid of it, we had Josephine start to cast her quickest possible attack spell, only for Lettie to jump in with a Moogle Charm Summon (or on later attempts, a buff spell) to just barely save the Reaver from Josephine. Unfortunately, this fluke relied on the Reaver spawning with just the right combination of stats. My winning attempt was the one that landed both flukes in one go: Celia gave us Ultima right from the off, and Lettie wasted her first turn on a buff spell. The rest was cake, even if I can’t take credit for it, since the battle ends the moment one of the Assassins is taking to critical HP instead of when they die. This was a breeze, since our Ramza could outright kill Lettie with a single dual strike if she was foolish enough to come off the wall to ground level. She did that too!
Unfortunately, for real-world reasons, both Kyle and our recording missed the victorious attempt and the cutscene that followed (normally we’d never let cutscenes play when one of us isn’t present, given the narrative focus of the Marathon, but the battle had been such a string of good luck that I didn’t want to risk losing it to a tech failure). In the missing cutscene, we (urm, I?) learn that Folmarv is also in the castle. The Marquis Elmdore de Limberry is hosting him, and the Marquis bemoans the deaths of the other Lucavi, saying that only himself, Folmarv, and another Lucavi named Adrammelech were left alive. Folmorv tells the Marquis that he’s found a host for Adrammelech, strongly implying that he’s talking about The Bag. Unfortunately, this becomes complicated when Limberry begins talking about a “Master,” and also a “Necrohol” and a “High Seraph.” It’s unclear in the remake’s translation whether Adammelech is the master, the High Seraph, neither, or if the master is the High Seraph, or what! I felt that it was fairly likely that there were two non-human characters involved here, not one or three, but it’s hard to say which is which. It doesn’t help that Limberry incorrectly claimed that only Adremmelech was left in the Rift (in the English remake’s translation, at least), implying that the second person isn’t in the rift, even though it later turns out that they both are!
Limberry complains that Alma is apparently the would-be host for the High Seraph, but is interrupted by the arrival of Celia and Lettie, who apparently retreated on orders to lead Ramza into a second trap. Right, sure, we definitely have a second trap, and won’t end up just straight-up fight Ramza in the hall or anything. Welp, bye Folmarv, we’re off to straight-up fight Ramza in the hall!
Battle 49: Limberry Castle
Limberry is pissed at Ramza for humiliating him at the end of Chapter 3. I want to joke about him running away from the previous battle too quickly to be “humiliated” by it, but I suppose I shouldn’t. Remember that we nearly tore one of the assassins apart with Ramza’s bare hands in a single attack! I’d have left too! Limberry fights the party with only his assassins as backup. You had to defeat Limberry to end the fight, with no need to kill the assassins.
Unfortunately, the Marquis is very powerful, and he can teleport about the map at will. You might try to thin the herd by killing the two assassins anyways, but this caries secret risks: it turns out that if you kill them, they reveal that they aren’t human and were actually “Ultima Demons” the entire time, and revive as Ultima Demons at full health! This happens with no dialogue, you simply see them stand up, transform, and the battle continues! Nice effect! Honestly, the Ultima Demon forms are arguably weaker than their Assassin forms, but as a player you don’t want to complain about something like that.
In our case, we focused on Elmdore and killed him without even touching his allies! Yeah, we never even saw the big reveal of the demons, and they essentially vanish from the plot without it! Kyle told me about how this battle used to be extra-special awful on the PSX, since he would always try to steal the Marquis’ Genji equipment, but that isn’t even an option on the PSP, since it follows off of the Japanese original, which didn’t allow it either! Honestly a poor change, in my eyes. Why wall off a voluntary challenge that had proportionate rewards?
Elmdore flees, claiming he has Alma at the castle undercroft.
Battle 49b: Limberry Castle Inner Court
Another WotL addition here. En route to the undercroft, Ramza finally does run into an ambush run by one of Elmdore’s underlings, and it’s a surrrpriiiiiise! It turns out that the vampire marquis turned his old faithful squire into an undead thrall, and Arbent is back from the dead! Urm… Argath. Argath is back from the dead. I was sincerely underwhelmed by this development, and you can spot the pause in the video where I comment on it to Kyle, but the underwhelming feeling was so strong – erm, weak? – that it took several dialogue boxes to kick in for me (and remember that I didn’t know this was the remake’s addition!). Ramza does get a killer comeback by saying that Argath’s “soul is bartered” and compares it to how Argath’s infamous grandfather sold out his country, but that’s about the end of any praise from me. Hell, Argath replies to the comeback by complaining about constantly toiling for another person and how things are better now. You mean the person you now have to serve for eternity, with no release even from the sting of death? Did the remake’s author realize what they were saying here? Because it seems like it would be easy for Ramza to point out!
This battle was mine and if it helps me save some face after the luck-driven win at the gates, I’ll happily say that I pulverized it. Zombie Argath summons more Ultima Demons to help him out there, but it turns out they’re not actually a very impressive monster type in terms of defence, I was able to split the party and still dominate on both flanks! My only real failure here was to kill What’s His Name without triggering his HP-restoring abilities reaction ability, but even that only happens the once!
Battle 50: Limberry Castle Undercroft
Turns out that Limberry keeps a fucking cemetery in its undercroft, which apparently does happen in some real castles, though I don’t get the impression that they had like, tombstones and bodies buried in the ground like an above-ground cemetery so much as crypts in the walls. Eh, whatever, Halloween aesthetic. Elmdore reveals that he never had Alma, and summons a number of ghosts, as well as skeletons from the graves behind us to surround us. Having already promised to cast off his flesh, or something to that effect, Elmdore then uses the auracite he’d kept hidden on his person to reveal his Lucavi form, a hideous fly named Zalera, “the Death Seraph.”
At this moment, Meliadoul arrives at the door we used to enter. Oh hey, remember Meliadoul? Folmarv’s daughter? She did such a good job ambushing me that I made a much bigger deal out of her than she had genuinely earned in a single appearance? She’s back and the game expects you to remember exactly who she is! Even though she looks a hell of a lot like Loffrey, the other nondescript Templar, whom we saw more recently! Having seen the Marquis transform, she now realizes Ramza was telling the truth, and joins the battle as a guest… with awful AI. Like Rapha in her debut appearance, Meliadoul seems programmed to stay away from the battle, and during our first attempt we only saw her make a single attack against a skeleton, and on our second attempt she just sat in a corner and did nothing whatsoever!
Our first attempt came to an abrupt stop when one of the ghost Knights managed to Rend Cid’s super-shield. After wasting all that time trying to find the stupid thing, we weren’t going to let that happen, and so restarted. Zalera wasn’t so hard after that, since he was eager to move into the middle of our formation and take all our attacks. All we had to do was feed poor underlevelled Arthur to Meliadoul’s skeletons and it kept them off our back! Zalera died, addressing Folmarv’s Lucavi self as “Hashmal” in the process.
After the battle, we not only got the Gemini auracite from Zalera, but Meliadoul gave us another, basically for no reason! Maybe Folmarv had given stones to her and Isilud out of some hope that his children would join him as demons? That’s maliciously sweet, but not how it works, buddy! The stone has to choose its host! She also clarifies that Bag 1 was given the Capricorn stone. This means that we were now only missing three stones: the Virgo, the Capricorn, and Folmarv’s stone, which by process of elimination must be the Leo. That sounds cut-and-dry now, but at the time I was under the impression that Folmarv used the Virgo stone to transform at the Grand Duke’s castle (bearing in mind that those Journals were written at the time, you’ll notice the Journal says as much, too!), assuming he was just sort of an evil guy who knew how to use them, not someone who had been corrupted by a separate stone. As a result, at the time I assumed the Leo stone was hidden in some sidequest. Thankfully, this didn’t lead to any trouble.
Meliadoul then joined the party herself, and even has the decency to have most of her skills unlocked by default, few as they are! While her Crush skills were top-tier in the remake, we didn’t make much use of her, as the A-team was virtually set in stone, Josephine and Arthur’s low levels notwithstanding. For the record, while Ramza, Agrias and Cid were in the high 40s at this point in the game, Josephine and Arthur were only in the high 30s!