There were a few titles I was considering for this one, but the best one came to me right at the end of the session. I'll get to the why part when I get to that part of the issue.
Where I'm going to start is where we left off last time, going back into Madain Sari. As I think I may have noted at the end of last issue, things are not well when we get back to the village, and Eiko really has to speak up to get the Moogles' attention this time. Turns out, they're all waiting for her in a secret storage area beneath the dining area.
This is an area I think I tried to get into before, but didn't think to mention because I couldn't for one reason or another. Turns out, this is where the village's sacred stone is kept hidden, and whoever broke in there was after that, specifically.
As the party investigates, they begin going their own ways, with Eiko eventually going to the Eidolon Wall to pray, and possibly cry. When she gets there, it turns out that the thief, or at least one of the thieves, is our good buddy Lani, who manages to get control of Eiko by grabbing ahold of the little fairy wings or whatever that are part of her costume. By the time Zidane and the rest of the pary shows up, the kid's been hit with some sleeping weed.
Lani goes on to explain that the village's sacred stone is exactly like the one in the pendant Queen Bhrane wants her to hork from Dagger before killing her. With this in mind, Lani figures that what the hell, she'll take both and double her fortunes with Her Yugeness.
Just as Lani's about to get her way, Punchy finally shows up again, saying he'll deal with this because he wants to make sure it's all fair. In the course of this, he pretty much tells Lani to bugger the hell off, in part because things were never really cool between them. I get a sense that Lani's going to show back up to make good on her threat to collect the price on Punchy's head, but if I've ever made it far enough in the game for that to happen, it's been long enough ago that I can't remember if or when that happens.
While he's there, Punchy has his little fight with Zidane. I kinda remembered that this wasn't an especially difficult fight, but I've gotta say, I'm actually a little bit disappointed that they didn't use the boss music for this instead of the regular battle theme. It's not that I really have a problem with either. It's just that I would have gone for something a little more epic for this little deul. An interesting thing about this fight is that Puncy's mechanics. His movements around the screen kind of make him look like a taller, red-headed version of my dad on an ice fishing trip, in that he's always moving around the screen in a circular pattern.
Once he's beaten, Punchy tells Zidane that he should be killed because he lost, but Zidane tells him that he just wants the stuff he and Lani horked back and that Punchy is free to go and do as he pleases if that's what he wants, because Zidane's ways are different than to kill somebody outright just because they lost in a fair one-on-one fight. Punchy takes his leave for the time being, but he'll be back shortly.
Once it's just the party again, they spend the rest of the day figuring out what they're going to do. Eiko decides that if she's going to be as honest with herself as her grandfather wanted her to, and like she told Vivi to do at the Iifa tree before, she's going to have to stay with the party.
As Zidane, Vivi, and Eiko discuss this, Dagger finds a little boat in a cove below the town. When Zidane catches up to her again, she's singing her song. Zidane boards the boat with her, and eventually, it gets loose of its moorings and floats far enough out into the bay for the couple to see the Eidlon Wall in the sunset as Zidane tells her about one of the adventures of some guy called Ipsen, who sounds a lot like Sinbad. As they see the wall in the sunset and chance to hear somebody else singing the same song, Dagger suddenly realizes that she was born and spent her earliest years in Madain Sari, just narrowly escaping the hurricane that handed the village its ass, as she and her birth mom were in a little boat like the one she's in with Zidane now. The shock causes her to pass out for a bit.
Later on, she explains that the trauma of seeing all that go down and losing her biological mother in the storm made her block out those memories for her life in Alexandria. Since it's late, the party spends the night there, and then goes to have one last look at the Eidolon Wall before heading back to the Iifa Tree to wait for Kuja. Dagger's happy to know where her real home is and Eiko's just as happy to know she's not the absolute last of her people around.
On their way out of the village, Punchy shows back up to demand that Zidane kill him again because he doesn't understand why Zidane didn't have his head for losing in their fight before. Zidane says he doesn't roll that way and that it would be easier to show him why he's like that than to try explaining it with words, which means that Punchy will have to join the party in order to see for himself. I like that we're getting another character, especially one like Punchy, since he's got a throw command. We also get to find out his real name. Since I'm going with the default names this playthrough, he says that some people call him the Flaming Amarant on account of that huge pile of bright red hair he's got. Coulda gone for something silly, because this is a case of the game's writers and programmers having this character be called “the Flaming” whatever the player decided to call him. Moments like this make me glad I'm going with the defaults for this.
Now that Amarant's with us, I'm going to have him in the party for awhile, simply because he's a new permanent party member and he's got damn near all his special moves and abilities to learn. I'm pretty sure he's the last new character we get in the game, which is a good thing, as I'm pretty sure we're within spitting distance of halfway through this. I like that we don't get new party members dumped on us all at once, but in this case, we're going to have to grind and find side quests to get everybody where they need to be stat-wise for the end of the game, and getting somebody this late in the game makes that a little hard.
With everybody ready to go now, we're off to the Iifa Tree again, where we'll pick up next time. Unlike our trip from there last time, this was a pain in the ass, because I had several random battles along the way, and they all had Trolls in them. I was going to do a little grinding until I realized that it was going to be asking for trouble on account of all the Trolls. The reasoning beind that is that these Trolls have a move that puts the Berserk status on party members, and that really makes things more difficult than I had wanted when I was doing this. So, I just went to the Iifa Tree and saved. We'll pick up there next time.
Until then, stay safe, have fun, keep gaming, and DFTBA!