Kinda like that one scene from the first Avengers movie.
And for as much as I'd like for the party to be the ones doing the smashing against the queen at some point, it's something we'll have to wait awhile for. What's worse is that it's really not all that satisfying when the time finally does come.
But even Cleyra getting nuked is something that comes towards the end of this issue, which means there are a few things we've gotta get to before we deal with that.
When I left off, Freya was the only party member, and I used the opportunity to look around a little bit more. Aside from the Emerald accessory from the King of Burmecia, there wasn't much new to be found, so I went to the entrance to get the plot going again a bit. Zidane asks Freya what kept her, but I think he would have asked that even if I'd just gone straight there.
On the way down the tree, the party runs into a few of Beatrix's Royal Guards, but not much more than that. Just about the time I started thinking how odd it was there weren't any random battles happening, I did get a handful of those, too.
About halfway down, Freya notices that the Alexandrian attack force is a little light, and I agreed. This had Puck show up and tell the party that yeah, the main force is already in the settlement at the top of the tree and smashing away at things. That's all it takes for the party to go running back there to at least try to save everyone there.
Of, course, this all goes badly, in part because it's Black Mages in the town, while it was just regular soldiers in the trunk. This is another of those things where we're given choices about where to have the citizens of Cleyra go to seek safety, but I'm not entirely sure how much effect on how it affects the outcome. The Black Mages eventually wind up killing all but two or three of the adults and a handful of kids. Just when we're to think that the remaining survivors and the party are going to get their asses kicked by the Black Mages, another Burmecian Dragoon shows up and saves them.
Turns out this is that Fratley guy Freya had been looking for for the last five years or however long it had been. The really crappy news here is that Fratley wound up getting fucked in the head somehow and has forgotten not only Freya, who he was supposedly madly in love with, but pretty much everything about his life before he went on his quest. Puck shows up to help explain this, saying that he'd found the guy in his current state, claiming that he'd forgotten so much that he barely knew his own name and only had the vaguest sense of needing to go defend what was left of his people when Puck came to tell him about it.
I've heard a few criticisms about Freya's story arc because of how it ends here. I'll give it that yeah, it really is kind of abrupt in how it ends. Fratley just runs off again, with Puck in pursuit, claiming that he doesn't belong with his people or his now ex-lover because he's a different man now for all that's happened since he left. I'm fine with that part of it. The part that seems a little odd to me is how quickly and easily Freya seems to get over it and say she's fine with just knowing the man she loved enough to spend a good chunk of her life searching for is alive and somewhere in the world, even if it means he's not with her, and that such knowledge is enough to get her to stay with the party instead of going after him again. That would be bad enough if we ever saw Fratley again, but I don't think we do.
As that's going on, Beatrix shows up to hork the jewel that was attached to the harp. The party tries to stop her escape, but there's a scripted battle that happens here. Beatrix hands the party its collective ass again and teleports off with a Black Mage.
With that taken care of, the party and what's left of the survivors decide to abandon the village since it's not safe to be there. Freya, Zidane and Vivi teleport away with Black Mages and wind up on Brhane's royal airship. Quina runs off to go looking for his noms all on his own because he's an optional character.
On the ship, we first see Brhane using Odin on Cleyra before the party's arrival. She's damn proud of her new thing and looking more out of her mind than last time we saw her. Afterwards, the party shows up on the boat, and for a moment, Freya seems to be finally grieving all she's lost. Sadly, this moment is interrupted when Beatrix shows up and is summoned to report to the queen.
This bit reminds me very much of the opening cut scene to Final Fantasy 4, where Cecil turns over the Water Crystal from Mysidia and has his change of heart. Here, Beatrix is disturbed by the fact that Brhane seems so obsessed with her summons that she can't be bothered to even acknowledge the general that made her last victory so easy. As she sees some Black Mages get beamed back to Alexandria, she considers that maybe just mindlessly following the queen's orders isn't what she really wants to do with her life, and that there may be something to the way Steiner's doing things with the Knights of Pluto. Helping all this along is the queen's decision to have Dagger killed now that the summons have been pulled from her.
Zidane and the others have been listening in on all this and realize they need to get back to Alexandria before the queen can actually do any of what she was saying. The group puzzles for a bit before Vivi comes up with an idea as to how to make this happen.
We're given a chance to save here, and since I've been at this for about an hour, it's time to take advantage of it and pick up here later. Until then, stay safe, keep gaming, have fun, and DFTBA!