I started the first session of this one out by grinding until I had just shy of 10,000 gold because there's some stuff I wanted to buy in the town we'll be exploring here. In the process, I ran into another of the game's “friendly monster” encounters that I probably should have saved until after I'd upgraded everybody's equipment, but it was still worth taking it a little early. In this case, it was with a little red squirrel thing, although not of the Hyper sort. Now that I think of it, I may have to check his section on the CLG Forums to see if there's news about where he's been lately. The fuzzy little guy in the game says he wants a chunk of the ore that the party's been getting from monsters for awhile now. Give it to him, he'll thank the party and ask them to say hi to Mr. Ghost before chittering off back into the woods to do what he do.
The reason I wanted to wait for that is because the squirrel gives ten free Ability Points, or AP for short, for the lump of rock, and that would have come in handy after the equipment upgrade, since the equipment has abilities for the characters, and those are what we need to learn them. But there'll be plenty of other shots at that, and I'm sure I'll be grinding more along the way anyhow.
In the Village of Dali, which is notably lacking in llamas, the first place the party goes is to the Inn, where the dude at the desk wakes up from a nap and starts getting an idea when he sees Vivi. Zidane mistakenly thinks the dude, who turns out to be called Hal, is checking out Dagger instead. Hal gives the party a free night in his establishment because his plan is to have Vivi kidnapped the next day, which will at least get him the money he needs to keep his business from going under, if nothing else.
At first, Steiner and Zidane argue about what to do next, but when they see that Vivi's pretty much crashed on one of the beds, they decide to get some shuteye themselves and deal with it in the morning. When said morning does come, Zidane's the last to get up when he hears Dagger singing. After some ATEs where we see Vivi confused by the behavior of the local kids and Dagger learning to talk like the locals, we see Hal's plan revealed. Not long after, there's a brief cutscene between Zidane and Vivi, about how Zidane's always after the girls, where they hear a Chocobo someplace but can't see any around. This is concluded with Vivi getting nabbed by some rando from the village.
One place we can't really go yet is the mayor's house and the attached mill. We're allowed to see just enough in the first part of this to get the sense that something fishy is going on, but it's hard to say just what yet.
In the weapons shop, Dagger's going for a second round of language skills when a kid comes in to tell the lady behind the counter about seeing Vivi getting grabbed, but this fades to Zidane before he really says anything. When Zidane can go in as well, he messes with Dagger for a bit before we can buy the armor we need, if we hadn't before. The major things I bought here were three Feathered Hats for Zidane, Vivi, and Dager, and a Leather Wrist and a Silk Shirt for Zidane, I believe, since he still needed those for some reason. There wasn't much for Steiner, but that's because we got a lot of that in the Evil Forest.
Speaking of Steiner, he's looking for a way to get back to Alexandria Castle. His apparent only stop was the item shop, where the girl at the counter tells him about a guy named Morrid, who runs the control tower for the local airfield. It's located on a nearby hill. Either way, we'll go there to learn about these airships in Dali and what cargo they've got as they go between here and the castle. There's also a side quest about getting coffee from all over the world for Morrid, but we'll deal with that when we get there.
Back at the Inn, Zidane and Dagger realize that Vivi's been gone too long and decide to go looking for him, which is where the second session started.
When the pair begins their search, Zidane remembers seeing Vivi over by a stable area of some sort with a ventilation pipe sticking out of the ground, and that they could hear Chocobos but not see any of the birds around. This time, he and Dagger can hear somebody crying in the same area. It turns out to be their little black mage friend who's been taken underground somehow.
As it turns out, there's a hatch in the mill that leads down into a factory of some sort, and the guys who took Vivi have him there. As Dagger and Zidane watch all this from behind a convenient barrel, Dagger notices a large emblem painted on the side of said barrel. When Zidane tries to go rescue Vivi, Dagger pulls him aside first and explains having seen the same emblem in the castle at Alexandria, but thinking nothing of it until now. The two agree to explore more and not start anything until they get their friend out unless absolutely necessary. From there, they get Vivi out of the box he'd been put in for shipment and do a little more exploring. There are a couple ways to go from here. One follows an assembly line sort of thing where other black mages are being made, the other goes through a door with Mist leaking out of it. I know there are differences for which way the party goes, but I can't recall exactly what they are. The way I usually go is along the assembly line because I think it's neat, and that's the way I went this time. I might do a “half issue” on the other route next time, just to refresh my memory.
What I'm pretty sure I do remember is that both routes lead to pretty much the same place, and the party has to take cover when Zidane realizes they've been heard. The downside to this is that they wind up getting pulled into one of the machines as a result.
Meanwhile, Steiner's up on the hill, trying to get the guy there to tell him something about the cargo ship that's supposed to be coming. The guy remains tight lipped until he gets back into the guard house at the bottom of the hill. When he does start talking, all he really says is that his name's Morrid; he really likes his coffee, which I can relate to; and that the cargo ship is already there and is being loaded. With that, Steiner goes running off, almost forgetting to say thank you.
Back at the ship, Steiner, as well as the rest of us, finds that Zidane and the others have been boxed up and put into one of the barrels for shipment. Because he only sees the barrel they're in moving around and making noise at first, he doesn't quite know what to do. The choice to be made is to either stab the barrel or watch it some more. I'm about fifty-fifty on what I do here, but this time I chose to watch, which leads to the barrel landing on Steiner when the others get themselves out.
Shortly thereafter, the second of the three Black Waltzes shows up, saying that he's there to take the princess back to Alexandria. The others won't have it for their own reasons, Zidane because he wants to help her escape and Steiner because he thinks it's his job. This one goes down relatively easy this time, too, which is kind of unfortunate, because he had a piece of armor I wanted to hork from him, but at least I got the Steepled Hat for Vivi this time.
After the fight, we're given the option to either go right on from there or go back to the inn and rest. It's a good idea to rest up and save first, just because of what's coming. I had also wanted to see if I could go back down the hatch in the mill and see if I could go down the loop I passed on before, but that's not an option.
From here, I think I might just do that half issue thing about the other loop before I move on, just so I know what's through the door with the Mist coming out of it. I'm pretty sure there are fights that way, but what else there is, I'm not sure. Until then, stay safe, have fun, keep gaming, and DFTBA!