OK, I'm finally back at this.
When we last left off, we were just about to to in search of the Espers that came out of the sealed gate when Terra and gang went after them. Now that we've got the pleasantries with Strago and Relm out of the way, it's time to get going on the main reason we're in Thamasa to begin with.
There's a cave on the map that wasn't before. It's in the middle of the mountains close to Thamasa. There's a north half and a south half to the mountains, with a break in between them where we can get through to the cave we need to search. All but the very end part of this cave is pretty straightforward. The first part of it can be a little confusing, but it's really not that hard to figure out. The exit we need to use is a little hard to find because the path to it isn't exactly in plain sight, but it's not terribly hard to find, either.
From there, it's fairly easy to figure out how to get to where the next cutscene is. There are three statues in a big room that we're drawn to. Strago says that these are “THE” statues, representing the goddesses of magic, who were to have created all the magic in the world at the very beginning. Since these goddesses sacred to the Espers, we must be getting close to them since the statues seem to emit a force that the Espers would likely be drawn to much as Strago and Terra are.
And then we get our little boss fight here. Ultros shows up and says he's going to take the statues to impress some guy called Ziegfried. I'm thinking of the “and Roy” guy, but this may be the guy we beat up on the Phantom Train when we had the three different paths at once going on close to the beginning of the game.
I don't know if there's a fixed amount of damage that needs to be done when we fight Ultros for trying to take the statues, but this is as much an event fight as it is an actual boss battle. After we've traded blows for awhile, Relm shows up and cons her way into the party for the end of the fight. I've never really tried to kill Ultros with conventional tactics in this fight, so I don't know it's even possible. I do know, though, that this round with our favorite octopus ends when Relm uses her Sketch move on him and he realizes that yeah, he really is just a fugly purple octopus like everybody's been saying. We'll see this inky-breathed guy a time or two more, and fight him one last time, if I recall, but that's not for awhile yet.
Now that Ultros is taken care of for the moment, it's time to just move on. There's a save point in the next room, which also has some breakaway panels in the floor. I know there's some treasure to be had in there, but I could never figure out quite how to get it, so I just go through the big door at the top part of the room.
Beyond that is where the Espers are. They feel bad about taking out Vector and seem just as eager for peace as everybody else at least claims to be. Not all parties involved truly are, of course, but that's coming up in a moment.
The Espers come back to Thamasa with the party, and the peace talks start off very well, because the Empire's General Leo believes his leaders want peace just as much as everybody else. Sadly, that's not the case, as Kefka shows up and says that Emperor Gestahl was just faking it to get more Espers out in the open so he could kill them and take their power.
This next part of the game, up until the first big climax of the story, really, is one of my favorite parts of any video game story ever. See, from now until things go FUBAR in a little while, I've never been able to figure out just who's supposed to be in control of the Empire at this point. Sure, there are only two candidates at this point, but both of them seem equally good right now, and this is where we get into why.
Once Kefka explains that the Empire's double-crossed everybody, including General Leo, he kills off the peace envoy that the Espers from before had sent and then orders the destruction of Thamasa. Leo's actually almost a good guy, and may actually have joined the party, if not the Returners, had he not gotten pissed enough at Kefka to try and fight him. When Leo beats Kefka's ass in a fair fight, Kefka uses his magic to make himself look like the Emperor and say that yeah, it was just a big fat lie to draw more Espers out as part of his plan to take over the world.
What we'll see in the next big event makes me think that even though Kefka may be manipulating Emperor Gestahl for his own games, Gestahl may be going along with it for all the same reasons. But we'll get to that sooner than I think.
And hopefully, it won't take me quite so long to sit down and make it happen, either. Sorry about the delay, folks, but things have been going weird on my end for a little while again. See you soon, I hope, and until then, DFTBA!