So it's been a month, or a little more, since I've done any of this.
Much of the reason for that is that things have been a little crazy for me lately, and my health shows it, I'm afraid. I get into a few reasons for that [here], and I'm sure I will again later, too. The good news, though, is that I've got some time to rest and get caught up on a few things, so I may as well get started on that.
One good thing that's come of this is that I've had time to remember that the gems I was collecting on the way to Madain Sari actually go on the path to the Ilfa Tree. Part of the reason I was getting a little confused as to where they went is that I used to just do both parts of that path in one or two close sessions, back when I had more time and enthusiasm for gaming than I seem to now.
Anyway, though, it's time to get on with the game.
The funny thing about Madain Sari is that the place is in ruins. As this bit of the story progresses, we come to find that the place got hit by some sort of natural disaster a decade before the start of the game. The population took a major hit and never recovered from it. Things got bad enough that eventually, everybody but Eiko and her grandfather died, and even he shuffled off not long before the start of the game.
In the time since, Eiko has gotten more than a little lonely, which makes her focus her attention on Zidane a little much. All this is made doubly creepy by the fact that the game goes out of its way to establish that Eiko is only six years old. I know quite a lot of these games have had kind of a thing for the so-called “Lolita” characters, especially the farther we've gotten into the modern era of the franchise, but this case is a little much, I think. I mean, after all, even when I was first playing this game, I was in my early 20s, and would have considered Dagger to be a more believable Lolita sort.
As for character development, we get to find out what sort of person Eiko is, as she's the new girl in the party. Rather ambitious in many areas, and not all of them as creepy as her interest in Zidane. She tries to cook a nice meal for everybody, and if done right, Quina comes along to help, by way of the fishing pole one of Eiko's Moogle friends was using to catch dinner with.
To trigger that, Zidane has to go down the path to the right after the little cutscene where Eiko grills him in front of Dagger and Vivi. At the end of it, Vivi's gone off to think things over and Eiko's eager to impress her new “boyfriennd”. This is where we begin to learn that this place is the home of the Summoner tribe in this game, much as Mist was in Final Fantasy 4, and perhaps Mysidia in other sequels. There's a big shrine that one of the Moogles is guarding, and Quina, true to who they are, comes along the wall and does a big old belly flop into the river after saying that there's no decent food in the desert.
In the leadup to the meal, Zidane and Dagger are shown what's on the inside of the wall the Moogles were guarding. Their guide says that this was a holy place for the summoners when they were still alive, and seeing the renditions of the various summons the inner wall makes Dagger feel better.
After being caught, Quina says the bait they took off was good. After the meal, Quina wants the moogle to keep catching fish for them.
Vivi's part in this story is that he's learning to be his own person as well, and he tends to worry and think about things in his attempt to figure out the whole mortality thing he knows he has. The night after their meal with Eiko, Zidane explains to him that one either does or does not and that there are no other ways. Vivi doesn't really get it, at which point, Zidane suggests a little male bonding by whizzing out in the open under the stars. That's something I don't really get, personally, but it still seems a little less creepy than Eiko's aggressive pursuit of Zidane. At least until it's revealed that Eiko was listening in on all of this and somehow getting turned on by it.
In the morning, Eiko says she's going to go with the party to the Iifa Tree because there's a summoned beast that 's sealed there and the party won't be able to get close enough to maybe learn what they hope to learn while the seal is in place. At first, she was unwilling to help, but changed her mind after hearing Zidane talk, and maybe seeing his dick, which is kind of weird.
One thing I learned on my way to the tree is that I was wrong about the gems I picked up before. I guess I'll find out soon, though. I'll be starting off at the tree next time. I may find out if that's where they go. Only time will tell.
Until next time, though, stay safe, have fun, keep gaming, and DFTBA!