Session 5. While Kyle suggested we start our final session by buying duplicate items so that we could replace any that might be Rent in the final few battles, we didn’t want to risk random encounters, and were only able to stock up on half our necessary equipment in Dorter (heavy equipment and light equipment are sold in different towns). This wasn’t as helpful as it sounds, as we already had duplicates of those to begin with! We got lucky, because even though we did lose a few items of heavy equipment to Rending, we had exactly enough to spare, but no more!
Battle 58: Orbonne Monastery, Fourth Level
Into Orbonne, with no dramatic monologuing on the familiar upper levels! Instead, we went straight down to the highest level we had yet to visit, and found ourselves in battle with a set of generics in an incredibly odd map: one that was filled with giant books, as though we had been shrunk down or something! Geeze, I had seen “Book” in the list of terrain available to a Geomancer, but I assumed it was just short for… “Bookshelf,” you know?
Kyle just breezed through this battle, and that with poor, forgotten Wilham in the party for one last, uh, oversight. Really, one of the simplest fights in a while. Next!
Battle 59: Orbonne Monastery, Fifth Level
Loffrey was waiting for us at the sigil, along with a troupe of casters. He didn’t have much to say to us, so on to business. Most of the battlefield flat as a pancake (to make room for the sigil), Final Destination, Fox only, no items, you know the drill. I guess you’ve got to have at least one battlefield like this, huh? Loffrey himself was a Divine Knight, like Meliadoul. During the battle, Ramza said something about Loffrey reminded him of Celia and Lettie, as though he was an Ultima Demon. In the end he didn’t transform or anything, though he did talk about… surpassing human flesh, or what have you.
Unusually for our boss-fighting strategies, I actually did attack a few lesser enemies here, but only because they were noticeably weak. Yes, while the enemy bosses in the endgame are quite durable, their thugs were tinfoil, with gaps in their ability slots and incredibly low stats, despite the game claiming they were above level 50! I joked to Kyle that all the good cultists must be dead already.
Towards the end of the battle, I made the mistake of attacking Loffrey with Ramza’s Ultima, even though Ultima wasn’t my best option. Just trying to show off, you know? This ended up reducing him to critical HP, meaning he made a run for the far corner. This made it something of a trick to weave Agrias over to attack him, and I knew that if she were killed in the interim I’d have no chance at all. Thankfully she made it, and the fight was over.
At this point, Loffrey decided to pull an Aganihm from LttP, with the logic that bringing the hero closer to the conspiracy’s evil plan was somehow better than… you know… locking the hero out. He recited the incantation a second time, transporting the party to the necrohol, where (after the battle) he destroyed the exit sigil and trapped them there. Well darn, I was just going to leave, but now I have no choice but to ruin your evil plan! Loffrey died after this.
(Confusing detail, but at the end of the previous battle, you overhear Loffrey reciting the invocation for some other purpose, but he’s muffled. The incantation invokes a spirit named, “Zomal, Reeve of Time.” This became confusing, as the muttered incantation mentions the title “Reeve” out of context. This got strange when one of Loffrey’s randomly named thugs was, himself, named Reeve! (Presumably, this NPC Reeve was named after the FFVII character; the list of random names is full of Final Fantasy references.) As a result, I didn’t realize the muttered speech was the incantation at first – I figured he was just giving instruction to his underling, and maybe no one had been transported to the necrohol yet! I thought we had just arrived first!)
So, we were now in “the necrohol of Mullonde,” aka the sunken ruins of the original city of Mullonde, buried ages ago. Into the ruins then! Before the next battle, we made our final Job change in the game, and it was a foolish one. Annoyed with Ramza’s low defence, we decided to change him to Dragoon, and naturally we gave him a spear, since spears give you boosted damage when you use your Jump attack. “Just to try it out,” we said. We then forgot to take him off it after it turned out to be crap. This meant that Ramza, who had been a dedicated Ninja for around half the game, was now a far less useful Dragoon, stuck with a weapon he couldn’t dual wield. I’m not even all that sure why he sucked as much as he did, considering the Dragoon worked just fine for Arthur and even our forgotten C-lister Meryell, but perhaps its strengths had finally faded in the endgame? If only we had gotten that super-spear from that battle with Construct 7…
Also, in an effort to improve Wilham should we make the mistake of using him again (which we did), we made him a Bard with Arithmaticks instead of an Arithmatician with Bardsong.
Battle 60: The Necrohol of Mullonde
Next up in this pseudo-“final dungeon” was Cletienne. Cletienne fought us near a crypt-like building that the game had forced us to surround using a two-flank deployment. It’s too bad the party was split up, since we could have steamrolled Cletienne if all five party members had been deployed together, but I guess the devs knew that. This fight featured a rare appearance by enemy Samurai, but like in the previous battle, most of the enemies had obvious blanks in their ability list. Goodness knows why.
Cletienne’s forces fell apart rapidly. Not only did he divide himself from his allies, but his casters fell back and buffed some useless back-liners instead of him! Despite his atrocious position almost in the middle of our formation, Cletienne decided to monologue all the Lucavi’s plans to Ramza, because that’s the calibre of villains we’re dealing with here. He confirmed that the Lucavi were trying to resurrect “the High Seraph,” and furthermore told us that the High Seraph was being troublesome because it was bound to its former host, despite that former host’s death. Who was that host? Saint Ajora himself. Yes, Ajora wasn’t just a mere mortal spy like Germonique had implied, but a demonically possessed, apocalyptic cultist! Kind of strange Germonique would leave that bit out, especially since the implication is now that all the Zodiac Braves were actually just Lucavi the whole time? Ugh, whatever, demons did it, the original narrative is making its rocket-powered escape from the product, there’s really not much I could say by means of analysis at this point.
I’m just going to say this: Ajora and the Ivalician religion are pretty obvious stand-ins for Jesus and Christianity, right? As in, it might as well be in neon. Okay. Now that we’re agreed on that, I want to say that the argument “What if the story of Jesus was exaggerated and abused by power blocs to ensure their power,” might have had merit as the basis of a story. But “What if Jesus was a literal demon, from hell,” sounds like it came from some teen edgelord’s blog, rather than anything nuanced. You’d need to do a pretty impressive job to make it sound like anything but edginess for edginess’ sake, and the game doesn’t have near enough runtime to make that happen.
In any event, Ramza – Ramza with his shitty spear – killed Cletienne with no extra fuss.
Battle 61: Lost Halidom
So Barich is still alive, just like I said he would be. With no explanation for him being here, just like I said there wouldn’t be. To make matters worse, Kyle and I didn’t even recognize him at first? Despite having faced him only a few days earlier, Kyle and I stared at his portrait in utter confusion, and I actually had to go online to remind us who he was!
Barich’s plan was pretty solid, and for once there was little the AI could do to screw it up! He engaged us across an epic gulf in the necrohol, with a bridge at one edge of the map and a narrow gap in the middle that you could only cross with Jump upgrades. Barich still had his elemental gun, and he had brought a Chemist with another elemental gun, both of which could snipe the player party as they try to make their way across the map. He also had three Hydras of varying strength (the strongest named after our old fiend, Tiamat), ready to fly in and sandwich us if we were unable to jump the gap and had to take the bridge. And it’s not like they were small fry! Last of all, he had a Dark Behemoth ready to guard the bridge. Yup, this sure would be tricky for anyone who doesn’t have the stats to hop across the gap and lop Barich’s damned head off straight away. Wonder what it’s like to be those people?
Since we were positioned in two flanks, it made sense play into Barich’s hands just enough to split up his force, so Kyle allowed our right flankers to contest the bridge. That left Ramza and Agrias to hop the gap and assassinate Barich, while Wilham (yes, Kyle brought Wilham) did a Bardsong in a corner, forgotten by everyone, even the two enemy gunners! Meanwhile, Barich’s Hydras used the very odd Tri-Flame technique. We couldn’t say how this attack was supposed to work. It targeted an area, apparently, but when it went after Cid, it missed outright? But later, when it went after Agrias, it hit three times in a row, incinerating her on the spot?
Part-way through the battle, Ramza lamented that Barich has become a pawn of the Lucavi, “too.” Oh, did you feel better when the mass-poisoner was just a loyal churchman, Ramza? Well at least you’ve moved away from the “everyone in the church is automatically demonic” thing from before, I guess. Barich made some weird speech about being “truly human” and not needing to “bow his head” any more, even though he was bowing his head to the Lucavi? It was exactly like Arbent’s speech about how great it was to be a zombie, though obviously this scene is the predecessor to that WotL addition. Are these writers even aware of what they’re putting to screen any longer?
Unfortunately, Barich managed to hold out against our assassination attempt. Things went poorly for Kyle after the Tri-Flame wiped out Agrias, as the Dark Behemoth gored Cid to death moments later. Bearing in mind that Ramza was stuck as a shitty Dragoon, Arthur a shitty Samurai, and Josephine wasn’t even on the field, things looked bleak. But Kyle still pulled off a win, after he resorted to the dark powers of Wilham’s Arithmancy to cast Arise on Agrias from across the field! Just when Barich thought he was safe, there she was back on her feet and ready to drop him. End of battle.