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Final Fantasy Tactics : Part 4
By Ryan
Posted 02.17.05
Pg. 1 : 2 : 3
Last time, Cesario and his newly-domesticated trouser snake set sails for high adventure, ferreting out The Dearly Departed Delita, rescuing the captured Princess Ophelia, watching Gaffy turn to the Dark Side of the Force, and saving Grease Monkeyo from certain, albeit mysterious, death at the hands of some random goons from the Big Bad Bart Company. After much begging on the parts of Grease Monkeyo and Heidi, Cesario decided to set a course for LIONEL CASTLE to the south, to see Count Dracula and, um, appeal to his demonic aid, or something.

The camera pans out to form an establishing shot of LIONEL CASTLE's outer wall, tastefully adorned with two Generic Knights. The GKs shout down to the party to ask some standard "Who are you and where did you come from?" questions. Heidi takes it upon herself to speak for the group, drops some names --one of which is "the son of God, St. Ajora"-- and bada-bing, bada-boom, the party's in. The camera zips around the rear of the front gate, all but shouting "LOOK! LOOK!!" as it does so, and we see a third GK flip a switch that causes the heavy front gate to swing open. Cesario, Heidi, Ophelia, and Grease Monkeyo enter the castle.

Fresh from a particularly lengthy "Black Screen of Exposition and Introductions," the camera spirals down to give us full view of the party in Count Dracula's inner sanctum. The Count tells Heidi that he understands her situation and is more than happy to "send a man to the High Priest in [MUROND]," which will presumably accomplish something useful. But wait, there's more! Dracula promises that he'll do something to expose W!LL's scheme to off the Princess and rule by proxy, and he'll even keep the Princess safe in LIONEL until then. Dracula silences Heidi's questionable faith in the plan by maintaining that he's totally with us and not planning on selling the Princess down the river any time soon, and he further instructs Heidi to remain strong to keep the Princess from needlessly worrying. Because heaven forbid the girl would worry about an insignificant detail like everybody and their brother trying to get her to sleep with the fishes. Fucking Sue.

Ophelia thanks Dracula for offering to let them stay at the castle until some more concrete plans can be arranged, and Dracula deflects the sentiment by preaching that his help is simply the will of "St. Ajora." I've decided that, since he's gotten a few mentions by now, in the interest of explaining St. Ajora's character without getting several recaps ahead of myself, I'm going to go out on a limb and provide A Brief Guide to Final Fantasy Tactics's Symbolism v1.0, a free service for all VGR patrons.

Don't blink, lest you miss it:

POLITICS = CORRUPT
CHURCH = EVIL
AJORA = JESUS

That said, I'm simply going to drop all pretense and call "Ajora, the child of God" by his proud Christian name, Jesus.

Anyway, Dracula addresses Grease Monkeyo to let him know that, dadgum it, since he's feeling right philanthropic today, he's going to send people to GOUG to rout the Big Bad Bart Company. But it begs the question: Why is the Big Bad Bart Company after GM in the first place? GM again tries to be all secretive, claiming that he simply can't tell Dracula his mysteriously mysterious seeeeeekrit. It's all good, though, because with a shady, "Is this it?" Dracula pulls a red orb from his habit and places it on the table. The Orb lets off an innocent sparkle, and Dracula needles the party about "The Zodiac Brave Story." Heidi's all, "Isn't that, like, some fairy tale we learned in Church?" Then Dracula gives her a backhanded slap for having the audacity to suggest that the Church could possibly speak anything but the truth, in a Final Fantasy game, no less.

 
Yeah, what did all two of you do, GM?

Ophelia supplies that, a long time ago, "12 brave warriors fought against the Evil Lucavi [Lucifer,] who ruled the land. After a desperate battle, they sent Lucavi [Lucifer] to Hades, and the land was peaceful." Ophelia also tells us that each of the Braves had a crystal with a zodiac sign on them, hence the names "Zodiac Braves" and "Zodiac Brave Story." Apparently, whenever humans are in trouble, the Braves appear, do their save-the-world shtick, and disappear again. Dracula gives Ophelia a cookie for regurgitating the crap she learned in Sunday school word for word, and the Princess continues that, when she was at BONNEOR MONASTERY, Simon told her that St. Jesus and the Braves used the Crystals to save the world from Chaos. FF1 fanboys around the world spooge themselves to death.

Dracula tells Ophelia that the church calls the crystals "Holy Stones," like, the better to make religious artifacts of them, and he tells the party that the red crystal on the table is one of the Legendary Zodiac stones. As if on cue, the stone gives another shimmer. Ophelia shoots her religion in the foot and comments that she didn't really believe the holy stones existed. Dracula tells her that many believe the divine power of the stones surpass Lucifer's, and like, duh, of course they do, we just heard the story about how the Zodiac Braves conquered the Devil and sent him to Hell. Geez, this game. Anyway, in case there are some people out there with minimal brain functionality that still can't grasp the concept that the stones are going to be the central theme of this game, Dracula comments that he feels a strange power coming off of the stone, even though it looks like an ordinary crystal. LOOKS = DECEIVING. STONES = ALL POWERFUL. Got it.

Cesario chances a glance at GM and tells him that he looks very pale, and Dracula deduces that it's probably because GM spotted a similar stone in the (Machina Graveyard under GOUG. His mysterious secret outed, GM confesses that the many broken machine parts under GOUG react very visibly to the Stones, shrieking louder than a tweenie-bopper at a Legolas Convention whenever a Stone is near. Dracula supposes that the Big Bad Bart Company is after the Stone, and GM tells him that "Rudvich" wants to use the power of the Holy Stones to make weapons, and they've abducted GM's father as leverage to get the Stone. Dracula tells GM that he'll instruct his men to find the Stone while they're in GOUG, too. Two birds, one Stone, as it were. ...Geddit? Oh, I slay myself.

Seeing as he's found the Princess and delivered her safely unto the Church and now needs a new purpose in life, Cesario tells GM that he'd be delighted to accompany him to GOUG, in case he needs help dealing with the Big Bad Bard Company. Not like that would ever happen, as Dracula has made it quite clear that he's taking care of the problem for us, but still. It's the thought that counts.

After a short goodbye, Cesario and GM leave Heidi and Ophelia in LIONEL and head westward to GOUG. On the way, they get sucked into the next RED, ZIGOLIS SWAMP. After a round of Generic Square Dancing, the camera fades up on the swamp just in time for Cesario to grouse about their rotten luck fighting monsters in a swamp. GM adds that, on account of the rain, the footing will probably be lousy. The monsters move forward, bored to tears with this worthless commentary. On his first turn, Guest!GM wanders into the swamp and get poisonously poisoned by the poisonously poisonous swamp water. Moron.

DUR!! DURR!!!
 

Aside from the few times Guest!GM actually does what he's supposed to and uses his "Seal Evil" attack on the approaching ghosts, turning them to stone, the party pretty much just has to sit on their vantage point above the swampy water and wait for the monsters to come for them. So, by the time the monsters get there, the party has "Accumulated" so many times that even Samantha the Thief is dealing 150 damage with her fearsome "Blind Knife". Needless to say, we win decisively. Go team!

When Cesario and GM make it to GOUG, the camera does a cross-fade about the city to show some townsfolk milling about, and GM comments that it doesn't look like there's been any sort of struggle between the Big Bad Bart Company and Dracula's undead hoards. Very suspicious. Cesario decides that he and GM ought to do a little scrounging around town and meet up in the Slums at the edge of town later, because fight scenes with a shady extortionist group never happen in slums, like, ever, so that's obviously the safest spot to meet.

After GM leaves the party to do a little snooping around town, Cesario leads the rest of the party to the shopping district for a spending spree and treats all the Generics to a round of rumors at the pub. In case anybody is curious, and I know you all are, "[The Big Bad] Bart Trading Company, based in [WARJILIS], is increasing in popularity because it donates heavily to projects improving the infrastructure and orphanages. But they are not only known for their charity. Some say they are a criminal outfit involved in opium smuggling, slavery, and even murder." Fun for the whole family, it seems. The barkeep, a little behind the times, also tells us that "Princess [Ophelia] has been abducted from the [BONNEOR MONASTERY]. Witnesses say the Knight that disappeared had a crest of a Black Lion, believed to be those of the Nanten, under [B!LL]. [B!LL] strongly denies any involvement. He assembled a group of investigators to clear any suspicion, but due to the attempted suppression of the rebellion in [ZELTENNIA], it seems difficult." And, in case anybody missed it, The Dearly Departed Delita would be the Nanten Knight in question in that scenario. Don't bother committing any of the rest of that garbage to memory, loyal readers, because that news is so two recaps ago. I'm just connecting the dots for you.

When Cesario's finished his business in town and makes to leave GOUG, the party gets sucked into a battle. Generic Square Dancing gets everybody's blood pumping as Cesario wanders into the Slums and wonders if, since he's so late getting back, GM might have been caught by the Big Bad Bart Company. But just then, a voice off-screen asks if Cesario is a friend of GM's. Cesario whips around to see an "Ill-looking man" and two archers appear from the shadows off-screen. The Ill-looking man shouts for someone to brought forward, and a Generic Thief shoves GM into the slums and onto his knees. DUN!! Also, despite his obvious familiarity with this position, GM seems to be less than thrilled with where this whole bondage/S&M thing may be going. The boy just needs to learn to live a little.

 
I knew I should have made him wear a rubber!

Cesario deduces that the "Ill-looking man" is Rudvich, the leader of the Big Bad Bart Company, and Rudvich tells Cesario that he'll get GM back as soon as he hands over the Holy Stone GM found in GOUG. Why he thinks Cesario has it or even has any idea of where it is is quite beyond me. In order to get GM to spill the Stone's location, Rudvich has another of his Generic Thief lackeys bring out GM's daddy, whose real name is Besrodio, to parade him around on GM's heartstrings. Then they shove him into one of the slum dwellings. Before he goes, Papa GM clearly tells GM not to give the Stone to Rudvich. Then GM tells Cesario that he can find the Stone inside a chimney next to him. Dumbass.

Cesario finds the Yellow Holy Stone after a moment of digging, admires it as it does the Requisite Mysterious Sparkle™, and then he hurls it to Rudvich. Rudvich does his victory dance and, in a totally unprecedented turn of events for any bad guy wanting to make a nefarious bargain ever, he orders his lackeys to kill Cesario and company. Some Generic Summoners sashay onscreen to join the Generic Archers and Generic Thieves, and when the rest of our party materializes onscreen, battle begins. The only things about this battle that are really hard are the Archers that nail my party members from afar, and the one Phoenix Down-wielding Summoner who keeps reviving his fallen comrades. Eventually, though, the party bests Rudvich's mercs and the scene cuts to...

...the inside of one of the slum dwellings. GM and Papa GM have a touching reunion before Papa GM harangues GM for letting the Big Bad Bart Company get the Stone. For some reason, I just had a vision of Voldemort on Quirrel's head in the first Harry Potter movie, hissing "Get the stone!" when they're locked in heated struggle in the basement chamber thing. P.S., in case you hadn't heard, the Harry Potter books will turn your kids to the dark arts of Witchcraft, and the only way to save them is to join the mighty crusade against the evils of fictional prose and other such literature and burn them all in town square. After all, you wouldn't want the neighbors to think you're a witch fixing to curse their prized begonias, now, would you?

Anyway, GM tells his distraught father that they won't need to worry about the Stone, as GM had the foresight to make a fake Yellow Holy Stone and hide it in the slums in case, you know, the Big Bad Bart Company kidnapped his father and confronted him about it while he happened to be in the slums. Right. That's just lousy with convenience, isn't it?

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