It's a long way to go...
Perhaps this isn't Tipperary, but it's been a long time coming, I'll admit that. There have been plenty of issues I've needed to deal with along the way, and some I'll have to deal with after this, but those are all for another time.
This one last mission before the end is called the Teardrop Crystal. Part of the reason I kept putting it off is because I was expecting it to be a real pain in the ass.
The quest begins in Domina at the Temple of Mana. Our good buddy Inspector Boyd is running around outside, all worried about Elazul and Pearl. He says there's an old jewel shop in Geo that we should go check out because maybe there are clues there. Boyd can't go in, but I can without much trouble. There was no trouble at all when the place was being run by Alex the last few times we were there, before all the business with Pandora's Box in there. The place is empty now, except for the box and the merch that was there before.
Trying to leave brings in Pearl and Elazul. They both say they sense a familiar presence coming from the box. It's up to me to open the thing so we can go talk to Florina again one more time. This little chat has Florina bring out Blackpearl, who admits that she and Pearl are the same person, and they want the same thing as Elazul and Florina: to save the Jumi race. After a good discussion of the differing opinions on how to do that and what happened when and how, Blackpearl gives Elazul the Sword of Mana. In this case, it's a weapon, as opposed to the artifact of the same name we got at the end of the Dragoon Arc. I'm not exactly sure how that's going to factor into things. If it's for the player character to use, I'm going to see what happens when I use it in the final fight of the game, if I can save it that long. If I'm wrong about that somehow, it'll be interesting to see how it all works out.
Florina turns over the Jumi Staff artifact, which makes the Bejeweled City, which is where we'll be headed after we make one more fateful choice. We have to choose between Pearl and Elazul to go to the Bejeweled City with. Once we make our choice, Elazul turns over the Sword of Mana and says it can smash anything in one hit, but it can only be used for one strike before it breaks. That's why I'm kind of hoping I can hold onto it until the final boss of the game.
Anyway, since I've had Elazul as a fighting member of the party for so long, I decided to go with Pearl instead this time. Once we're all set to go. Either Florina or whichever of Elazul or Pearl is left behind explains that once we go into the Bejeweled City, we're stuck there until we finish the quest. Since we were given an option to save the game before proceeding further, I took the opportunity to do so.
And after a longer break than I had intended, I put the Staff down on the map to get the Bejeweled City. The place is built kind of like a wedding cake, with several tiers to it, all separated by gates that have increasingly complex puzzles locking them. The first level has four jewels that must be collected, two of which must be used to unlock the gate to the next level of the city. It's important to go back and pick up the two gems you used to open the gate again. They'll factor into opening the next one.
For level two, you'll need all four gems from level one plus two more found here. You'll need three of the six open this second gate. Again, you'll need to go back and get the three used to open this second gate. The pattern continues on the third level, where there's one last gem to collect. Four of the seven gems are required to open the last gate. At least we don't have to go back and get the ones we used again.
This part of the quest is rather tedious for a few reasons. One is that the puzzles to open the gates are a matter of trial and error. At least they give you a set number of dings you're listening for so you know how many of the gems you've got right and in the right place as you cycle through them on each pedestal.
Another frustratingly tedious thing about this quest is all the mini-bosses. There's a Jewel Beast to fight before we can even get to the puzzles themselves, and the last gem, a diamond, has a mini-boss guarding it, too.
As Pear and I are working our way through the city, we see the spirits of departed Jumi, lead by Reubins, discussing what they need to do to save their race. There's concern about Florina, who seems to have vanished. As luck would have it, she's up on the top tier of the city.
The bad news is that this is turning into something like a crossover between Ghostbusters II and Final Fantasy 8 rather quickly here, as Alexandra and the Lord of Jewels are there, and they explain that they can save the Jumi. The only catch is that the Lord of Jewels needs to eat the cores of a thousand Jumi to do it, and he's already got 998. After they explain that the reason he can do it is because his core is a black hole and he's going to use that to fuze all Jumi into one, he whips out Elazul's core and gulps it down, which turns him into a boss monster. Sadly, it's a relatively easy fight.
Beat the crap out of that boss monster and Alexandra rips her own core out to feed to the Lord of Jewels, saying she's intentionally merging with him because it's the only way to save the Jumi. This gives us the last battle of the Jumi Arc. I was somehow expecting this fight to be a lot harder, kind of like the one in the Dragoon Arc. But, no, it was actually kind of easy. Maybe it's that I'm at level 62 now, I don't know. At least the writing's good here. Looks like Edhelin on DeviantArt was right in telling me that this was a good part of the game. For as frustrating, and ridiculously easy, as various parts of this arc were to play through, I gotta say, the ending was pretty good.
After that last boss fight, it looked like it was going to be the end of the Jumi, but the hero sheds a single tear for them, which brings them all back. The downside here is that the legend about any non-Jumi who cries for the Jumi will be turned into stone proves true, and I get turned to stone as a result.
Of course, it should come as no surprise that I'm not actually dead from this. I'm the hero, after all. I can't die that easily. Where would the game be without the hero. Besides, I'm a capper playing the hero in an anime style game. Stab me in the heart, chop my head off and light the corpse on fire, and I'll still come back to save the day.
But my initial reaction was still a lot like the scene in the first Ghostbusters movie where they first see the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. “What did you do, Jesse?”. And the scenes of the Jumi coming together to bring me back, Bud and Liza being worried during the storm, and Elazul and Pearl going to tell them what happened were all really good, too.
And now that that's all said and done, I'm almost considering trying to do the third arc of the game. There's a whole nother story here that I really haven't done a damned thing with since the very beginning of the game, centered around Daena the Kittygirl Monk from Gato. I'm kind of on the fence about it right now, because at this point, I'm thinking that maybe I'm not as burnt out on this game as I've been saying lately. Then again, I also know that if I start it, I'll realize that yes, I am too that burnt out on this game.
So, at this point, what I think I'll do here is try to finish off the “Niccolo's Business Unusual” subplot. I think I've done three of the four of those. But that's just a provisional thing. That might change between issues, depending on if I can find the fat bunny-man and how many of his missions I've actually done. Like I said a couple times before, I think I somehow managed to screw myself out of a few things this runthrough. There's potential that I might go through it again at some point, but I'll address that more later, in the epiloug.
Anyway, I hope to get back to you soon on this. It'll be something, I know that much for sure. If that something's another Niccolo quest or the end of the game remains to be seen. So until then, keep gaming, have fun, stay safe in this winter weather, and as always, DFTBA!