Took me long enough to get back to this, I'd say.
Since I was still in a place where I could get random battles when I picked back up, I put the Peridot accessory on Dagger so she could at least get started learning the Ramuh while I finished up getting Fira for Vivi. I had considered getting other stuff for all the characters available here, too, but then decided I'd have a chance to grind later on, once I get Quina back in the party, so I figured I'd just get on with the plot.
There's not much actual playing to do here, but given the nature of these games, that's sometimes necessary to advance the plot, which RPGs tend to have in abundance, sometimes to their own detriment.
One good thing I can say about all this is that Lindblum actually looks like it got the shit blasted out of it, since that's what actually happened here. It's certainly a better rendition than what we got in previous games in the series where something similar happened, but that can reasonably easily be chalked up to limitations that the earlier systems had that were, at the very least, greatly reduced starting with the PlayStation and other similar consoles of its generation.
As I mentioned last time, Vivi got left behind at the entrance to the city while Dagger and Zidane go to check things out. When I talked to the Alexandrian soldier who asked about if we were going to resist or not this time, I went with the “no” option and got a relatively brainless “Yes, leave it to our Fearless Leader to Make Alexandria Great Again” bit before she says that resistance will only lead to death. Life has a funny way of imitating video games sometimes, and that's kind of scary sometimes.
Moreso when the party comes across an old man and a young man debating how to kill a Black Mage who's barely hanging on by a thread. Zidane steps in and begs for mercy on its behalf, saying that the mage is a person just like them, but the NPCs say they won't believe it unless Zidane can make it understand the damage it's done and/or feel compassion for having killed the old man's only son in the attack. I think even Zidane knows that's not going to happen, because that's where the scene ends.
Further on, there's more destruction, including the toppled pickle cart that Steiner was at before. There's one Alexandrian soldier who realizes they may have screwed themselves by taking the Black Mages and the eidolons. There's also a rare card in the rubble. It's the Lindblum Castle card. I'm not sure I've ever managed to find it, but then again, I've never really put terribly much effort into the card game, which might explain it.
Still further on, Minister Aritania is talking to an officer who says that the Industrial District is just gone, baby, gone, and the rest of the city is in crappy shape, too. Aritania says the best thing they can do is get to work fixing things so that the citizens can get on with their lives as best they can. When Dagger and Zidane show up, the officer goes on his way and Aritania says that the castle's in the best shape of any part of the town, and that Regent Cid's still alive and waiting to see them, so he takes the pair to him.
Cid's got a few ideas as to what needs to be done next. He says that Kuja's the guy who's really behind Her Yugeness's power and stopping him is key to stopping Brhane's crazy attacks against the rest of the Mist Continent. Kuja's backstory is that he came from the north on the back of a silver dragon. There are several unexplored continents in this game world, and the first of them is the Outer Continent, which is conveniently located directly to the north of the Mist Continent. Cid suggests that going there might yield results in stopping Kuja or slowing him down.
At first, the party thinks there's no way to get there because the standard airship tech in this game doesn't work without the magical mist that seems to only exist on the continent of the same name and Brhane demanded the prototype for the steam-powered version as part of the terms of surrender. The regular sailing port is out of the question, too, because it's being used to screw with Alexandria.
As they discuss this, guards bring Vivi in, thinking he's one of the actual Black Mages that helped blow the place up. Zidane and the others explain that he's on the good guy's side and just dressed that way to spy on the others. Cid then says there is indeed a way to get to the Outer Continent. He says there's this tunnel they dug up for reasons and monsters not found on the Mist Continent tend to show up there. How they stay contained there isn't really explained, but we'll have to go there in a bit.
In the meantime, we'll need to stock up on stuff before we go. Vivi's going to stay behind in the castle while Zidane and Dagger do their stuff. The guy who's acting as the party's escort says that once they're done and gone, it'll be awhile before they can come back because it's Alexandrian territory now. Reasons and stuff, you know.
There's some decent weapons to be had for Freya and Steiner, even though they're not going to be back in the party for awhile. It's also smart to make use of the Synth shop before heading out, because there's some decent stuff that it's time to have made, including the next weapon for Zidane and a few bits of armor. I probably spent more than I needed to here, because in true Final Fantasy fashion, I'll probably find duplicates for some of the stuff I bought, and some better stuff, too. But, as had become an all too familiar mechanic in this sort of game by 2000, it's smart to hold onto the duplicates and old stuff so it can be made into other, better items. It makes slightly more sense here than it did in the previous title in the series or Legend of Mana, as here we can at least learn stuff from the weapons, armor, and stuff.
In the process of exploring what's left of town again, I found an Alexandrian soldier looking for a resistance group called the Vigilanties. She asked if I knew about them. I said no, of course, because I'd kind of forgotten since last time I played this game. My thought was that I knew plenty about the Returners and a thing or two about Avalanche, but not so much about these Vigilanties. At any rate, we're supposed to report back to that guard if we find any of those guys, but I think I'll just skip it unless I mistakenly find that guard again on my way back out.
But since this was about an hour's worth of gaming, I decided to take advantage of the Inn before heading out and save with the Moogle there. There's another letter to take with us, and I think we'll find the addressee at the excavation site next time. That's when we'll get started on our quest to find Captain Eleven. Until then, stay safe, have fun, keep gaming, and DFTBA!