|Dammit, game, my erection can only get so hard.|
The hideout commander implores Madara to rescue some of his captured men from the castle of Choryo Bakko, one of the moki generals. Well, since the general is certain to have a Madara body part on his person, I'm guessing the party would be heading there anyway. Madara had actually found out about the castle previously from a villager who also conveniently had the key to it.
|It sounds like a setup to a trap but|
this guy was actually on the level.
The castle proved to have some difficult moments. In addition to many twisted corridors and multiple staircases, two of the creatures met in random encounters have the ability to inflict status ailments, poison and lure respectively. Poison works like one would think and lure is essentially a confusion effect; it causes characters to attack their friends. Both of these effects last until cured and there is no spell yet that is effective against them. That leaves having to use potions, each of which is a single use and takes up a valuable item slot. To make things even worse, Goriki does not protect against these maladies and they can be delivered to the characters with a ranged attack. Not having a proper potion means having to warp out (also only can be done with an item) and walking back to a town to get healed. Potions (called somas) are differentiated by colours: red is for hit points, blue for magic, and yellow for poison. Red is the cheapest with the prices increasing for each next available soma. After the yellow soma, the next one listed is green, which should cure lure. But guess what? There are no green somas for sale in any of the villages here. This meant I had to backtrack all the way to Madara's hometown in order to buy a bunch of them, all the way through (and back) the Wall of Sand dungeon again (no town warping items). Here's the kicker — green somas are found on the second level of Choryo's castle. Not enough for ya? Here's another one — green somas don't cure lure. I took a look at the manual and they apparently cure the Numb effect, which I haven't encountered yet. No, I needed purple somas which, of course, are not sold anywhere nearby. So yet again I had to go through that damn sand wall dungeon, this time all the way to the kingdom of Soma (and through its connecting dungeon) to get some damn purples. Finally, though, the party was able to overcome my anger and weave their way through Choryo's castle and release the imprisoned rebels. Further weaving led the gang to Choryo's throne room where one of the recently released rebels, Seishinja, was confronting Choryo by himself.
|Too good to hang with the Madara crew, eh? Pfft.|
However, as soon as Seishinja unsheathes his sword, Choryo vanishes, taking whatever body part he has with him. Way to spook 'im, Seishinja. A disappointed Madara and company head back to the village of Kugutsu only to find it destroyed. Apparently Soen and Gufu were stolen by Choryo and he's wreaking a path of destruction. Bastard! I never even got to pilot one! Even worse, Kugutsu was just his first stop on the way to the rebel base at Rasen Castle.
|That's the understatement of the year.|
After some running around in the castle, Madara finally found Kaos tending to Jamira, who was wounded at some point. As the twin mechas beat on the castle, Jamira wondered why Choryo would be attacking when he knows that she's being held prisoner there. Kaos used this opportunity to explain that the emperor has no regard for any of his underlings and she should totally bail on him. It's then that Kaos noticed Madara and his posse and asked for help in defeating the two giant mechanized machines capable of inflicting complete and utter wanton destruction.
|"Give us a hand"? Dude, this isn't exactly like|
helping you move some furniture around.
Madara is not one to back down from a challenge, so he entered one of the mechs through its foot hatch and proceeded to climb up through the monster-infested machinery. As luck would have it, Madara picked the correct mech and found Choryo at the top. He had escaped once before but Madara was determined to end this now and also get back whatever body part Choryo had. Choryo was an imposing foe but the keen-eyed Madara quickly found a weak point.
|It's probably his EXPOSED BRAIN.|
Choryo's defeat not only stops both of the giant bots but also gave Madara his real legs back. He's almost a real boy! Back at Rasen Castle, Madara found a letter from Jamira recanting her evil ways and saying that she's decided to become a rebel guerilla. Good for her. With order restored, the group took a little breather and headed to the inn. There were now more allies available to choose from: Shamon (the first ally Madara and Kirin had), Kaos, and Seishinja. Madara decided it was time to give someone else a chance and so he gave Loki his walking papers and recruited Kaos.
|Your attempt at a guilt trip holds no sway over|
a man who doesn't have a real heart.
While he was in a fiery mood, Madara also showed Hakutaku the door and brought in Seishinja, just to see what he had to offer. This turned out to be a prudent move as Seishinja is a strong fighter who has access to one just one spell but that spell is Goriki (the main reason Madara was keeping Hakutaku on board). Well, now I understand why Choryo fled from Seishinja when they met. With the new crew, Madara headed north from Rasen Castle and soon came upon the town of Xifang. All that was learnt here was that there is another village that was recently wrecked by sandstorms and has a special tree in it (hey, didn't I already do this quest in Mitama?). Surprisingly, Jamira is already in this town and available to join the group. Well, so long Kaos, sorry for stringing you along. Jamira is also a fighter but has healing and attack spells, putting her leagues ahead of Kaos. Before hitting up the sandstormed village though, Madara and pals got sidetracked yet again by the twin villages of Guaro and Buro. The citizens of each village all hate the opposite village and this, of course, leads to a classic Romeo & Juliet love story between two young'uns. They've gone missing and are to be found secretly meeting in an island cave between the two villages. For whatever reason, the two lovebirds were taken prisoner by one of Jato's fearsome Shadow Warriors.
|What the hell is wrong with you?|
After rescuing the young couple, the villages celebrate and decide to put aside their differences and unite into a single town, now called Uto. Madara's reward for completing this task is some Blessed Salt, in case he decides to start a career in the culinary arts. Leaving Uto, yet another village was found called Shinra which had a haunted house problem. Blah blah blah, quest complete. Crystal Powder item get. Exiting the haunted house's basement found the party at the base of a huge tree. A lone figure in front of the tree introduced himself as Kageo Madara and that he had been waiting there for regular Madara to show up.
|I WONDER IF THEY'RE RELATED?|
Kageo challenged all four of the heroes and what looked like was going to be an easy fight quickly got out of hand. Not even Goriki could stop what happened next. Kageo somehow caused Madara to lose control of his chakra (the internal power source that keeps him alive) and Madara literally explodes, destroying everything in the vicinity except his friends.
He also destroyed the massive tree, which is important for some reason, but using the Blessed Salt and Crystal Powder on the stump causes it to instantly regenerate (can someone check the science on that?). With Madara gone, the remaining party felt quite shocked and the only decision that could be reached was to head back to town to think things over and get a replacement for Madara. As I watched them heading back, I relinquished my power of influence over them somewhat, reclined back in my throne made completely of solid gold motherboards, and pondered the recent events. If I couldn't even protect the main character from his own doom, then what kind of shadow overlord was I? Was I even worthy of the title? I brushed aside such negative thoughts and instead focused on manipulating a different character into the spotlight. But who to choose? As Kirin and the others settled down for the night, rife with questions of their own, I ruminated over each character's pros and cons. Perhaps when they awake I will have chosen, but for now I have a long night's processing ahead of me.