Octopath Traveler Diary Entry 06: The Deadly Dance

It’s a deadly dance that Primrose plays for vengeance.

The lone daughter of a noble house that fell under assassins’ blades, Primrose has suffered no end of indignities working as an exotic dancer under the vile Master Helganesh. All to find the three marked assassins who murdered her father. The dream of that horrible night has tormented her for years, ever since she was a small girl; the things she would do to free herself of these spectres of the past.

Unspeakable things…and she has had to do the unspeakable to come this far, following up on the barest hint of a man with the mark of the crow. That’s what has led her to Sunshade, and that is where the party of five came across her. By that time, Primrose had begun making enemies, but also a friend. Here is the tale she told her new companions:

Helganesh, that leery old fool. The things I’ve had to do to keep in his good graces, I shudder to think about the memory of them. You can’t imagine being in the power of a man such as he. All my accomplishments over these past few years have been his, all my failings – my own. My reward for those accomplishments was nothing, and the punishments I suffered for failing… I will not speak of them. You will meet men like him in every city, town and village – petty and vile,  and all too willing to abuse whatever little influence they’ve managed to work out for themselves. That his influence in Sunshade is more than negligible is beside the point.

Over the past few weeks and months, I began worrying that the lead for which I sacrificed so very much of my dignity had led me astray, and I would be doomed to this nightmare forever. This very night was nearly catastrophic for me — my mind astray, I gave a performance for Helganesh’s patrons that the ‘Master’ found wanting. His threats forced me to go to the streets and perform my charms on passers-by until I had enough clientele to make up for my failure. The last of these clients escorted to Helganesh’s hall, I was resigned to give the leering masses another show when I caught sight of a man with the crow on his hand!

Finally, all my suffering had paid off! Just as I was about to follow, however, the old wretch cornered and threatened me. I nearly gave in to the threat, when Yusufa, the only other dancer who has shown any kindness to me, stepped in and offered me her help.

I could hardly refuse, could I? 

I tracked Helganesh down — and you can imagine my surprise when I saw him colluding with who else but the hooded man? I listened in, and what I heard made the hairs on my neck stand at an end.

I wasn’t surprised to find that Helganesh is a flesh peddler…but I wasn’t going to stand by and allow him to keep it up, least of all when it’s that monster’s pockets that he fills. I made my decision then and there …

So telling her story, Primrose needed do nothing else to recruit the adventurers to her quest. They quickly made their way to the dark underway below, following Helganesh and his mysterious partner. The road led them to the desert outside Sunshade, where they were all forced to witness a horrible crime…

Her friend dying at her feet, Primrose was overcome by rage. The time for standing against Helganesh was nigh, but before it, she would make sure to show him how she’d played him.

How good it must’ve felt to remove the mask she’d worn for so long! Though, admittedly, not as good as what came next!

Even as death stared him in the face, Helganesh didn’t change his ways — a traitorous bastard till the end. But an end it was, and soon, the crows…
will follow.

Octopath Traveler Diary Entry 05: The Sacred Flame (Ophelia, Chapter 01)

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After much discussion, the scholar Cyrus managed to convince his fellows Tressa, Olberic and Therion to return with him to university to pick up a few tomes he’d misplaced. Much grumbling and several days later, the group ended up further north than they’d ever come together, in the town of Flamesgrace.

This is where they came upon Ophilia.

Before she was pressed into attempting a dangerous pilgrimage (more on that later), Ophilia had spent most of her life in the shadow of the person she most loved in the world, her foster sister, Lianna. Both have walked the same path as acolytes in the Great Cathedral, whose bishop is the girls’ father. Lianna is a brilliant orator, an exceptional pupil, and an obedient daughter whose greatest wish is to follow in her father’s footsteps and make him proud. Under other circumstances, it would be Lianna who is the main character of this story — but that is not the case.

Ophilia doesn’t resent her sister for all that she is the Great Cathedral’s star pupil; perhaps she is even blind to her own contributions to Lianna’s success, and her own popularity amongst the faithful. All the young cleric wishes for is to help her sister perform her duties better. She is every inch the selfless young lady you would expect her to be from the very first, and her capacity for self-sacrifice is equalled only by her sheepishness around her adopted family.

After a heartwarming attempt of father and daughter to remind ‘Phili that she is, indeed, a part of the family, Archbishop Joseph got into the nitty-gritty about what’s to be expected during his daughter’s pilgrimage. Death, danger, devilry of all sorts, and the fate of the world. The typical drawbacks of failing in one’s religious quest. For further commentary on horrible, terrible no-good religious pilgrimages, look up Final Fantasy X.

It’s later on that very day that Ophilia, while entertaining a visitor seeking to speak with the Archbishop, is sent word that her adoptive father has fallen ill. Joseph is in fact in good humour, even if his repeated coughing worries Phili to no end and sends Lianna to think things through at the two sisters’ favourite spot, overlooking the Cathedral.

It is then that Phili suffers from an onset of Flashback Syndrom, remembering her coming to the home of Joseph and Lianna after her parents perished during the great war ten years ago (possibly the same war that Olberic fought in? The time period fits!). Ophilia was a closed-off child for a long time because of that, exhibiting near-Batman symptoms of loneliness, until Lianna managed to get through to her, and made of her a friend.

Lianna helped Ophilia when our newest recruit needed it most; now, Phili has the idea to do the same, by making certain Lianna does not leave her father’s side at his hour of greatest need, and instead taking up the mantle of Flame-barer herself.

Having talked the party into helping her, the cleric leads them to the cave within which the Sacred Flame rests. But before she grabs it in the sacred lantern, a wild challenger appears!

Of course the party turned the stone monstrosity into a bunch of boulders, courtesy of some excellent boulderwo–pardon, bladework by Olberic and Therion. This done and over with, Ophilia is now the proud bearer of the Sacred Flame, and her quest to carry it around in order to save the world from ever-lasting darkness, begins!

Well, before she can get going, Phili is forced to sit down with Lianna and discuss all the details that were kept from her because she never needed to know about them.

Ah, religious quests in jRPGs. Nothing quite like them. There’s one more interesting companion story in Octopath Traveler; after I tell it, I will just rush through the seventh and eight companions since their stories are basic and not all that interesting — yet, anyway.  For now, thank you for reading, and…we’ll find out what becomes of Ophilia  soon! 

The Intentionally Unhelpful Villain #02: Acts of Villainy

Grandma's Special Herbs

Journal Entry The Third

My brother, the big-time villain. Who does he think he is, smacking me around, placing chains of iron around MY person, threatening and cajoling me!

I’ll find his daughter, I will. The question is…where do I begin?

I’ve been in a perpetual dream prison for years. The answer is obvious — I begin in a restaurant.

The former village of Woodstick is now known as ‘The Capital.’ I have no doubt as to who renamed it so, and much as I’d like to badmouth this city, I cannot. He has done well in creating a city of lights, sinister as they may be…or advisers have, despite my wily brother. What well his direct underlings tap into in order to survive that child-like whimsical nature, I fear imagining.

The restaurant I picked was a fine place. Colourful, filled with military types in shining white. Their faces turned pale as soon as they saw my face–but they weren’t really seeing mine, were they? I sat down, unperturbed by this misguided attention.

I ordered a steak and waited for the fun to begin.

What my brother never understood, despite all his infuriating successes is this: True acts of villainy are small things. They pile up and up, a great stack of nasty deeds which push men to madness. This cook, for example. I have now returned his steak seventeen times. The last waiter to ask me to leave left a trail of digestive fluids all the way out onto the boulevards of the Capital.

The cook will snap. He’ll start off with acts of spite. Spitting in the soup. Putting sugar in the sugarless desserts (as if there is such a thing as sugarless desserts, bah!), putting too much salt in the stew. Then, it’ll be allergens. Peanut paste to those allergic to peanuts, if precognition is anything to go by.

It will end with poison. He’ll sprinkle some on a wedding cake. But he is no poisoner, and so a single drop will fall on his index finger. He’ll rub his nose, or eye, or put the finger in his mouth for all I care, and it’ll do him in. I only see parts of the future and the last bit I see is him falling all over the six-foot tall poisoned cake.

A pity, that. It is my brother’s wedding. But oh well. I have illustrated my point well enough.

So much spite drawn out of a mere cook’s heart, and all of it — because of a bad night filled with steaks. This is the essence of evil. My niece was quick in learning this lesson. The question is, just where has she been practising it?

There will be a pattern. All I need do is discover and follow it.

The Unintentionally Helpful Villain, Volume 10 — Tamara

Diary Entry #0175

I find my Ex-Wife standing in the ruins of an ancient temple not far from the center of town. Mine Librarians have, by now, subjugated all local authorities, and have made their base unto the small library in town. ‘Tis a pitiful reliquary of knowledge but it shall feed their hunger for the arcane until my business is done.

I have cast self-writing spells on this here feather, and am stepping unto the once-hollow grounds of cursed Linah, goddess of old. I can hear the thunder that the harp stole from me all the way from the entrance, curse her grabby claws.

I step on a tile and — of course — an apparition of the three-headed pet dog I had appears and attempts to bite my head off. Ungrateful sap! I summon a blade of pure darkness, and cut through its soul essence, unable to help myself as gleeful laughter escapes mine lips.

She poisoned my puppy, and stole its remains, for this?!

One simply must respect her attention to detail; few put in such grand effort into their malicious intent towards me. Take the Council of Darkness — for all their armies, that yonder group of mine colleagues hath proven woefully lacking in imagination. Soon will I turn the blade on them, and cut their traitorous tongues, and serve them with spicy goodness and mushrooms.

Mushrooms add a depth to traitorous tongues that few other ingredients manage to!

Ah, this wife of mine — her gauntlet tires on me. But the thunder is ever nearer, and so must I venture further. Tis maze of tunnels, built by ancients–Bah! I will have none of it!

My armored fingers twitch with utter disregard to all things living, and all things rocky that might be encountered against the underground wall in front of me. It melts away, clearing the way towards mine succubus of an ex! I do not see her, not y–what’s this? My spell is boun–!

I awaken to the sensation of molten armor all over my magnificent vessel. ‘Tis not a pleasant one, to my mild surprise; at least I can now scratch an item off of my Agony List.

Metal reforms and strengthens under mine force of indomitable will, and I get up and stomp towards the deafening sounds of mine thunder. There will be hells to pay. Perchance she will be the one to pay them all in the stead of mine suit of armor.

There she is, now. My, is she a fright to beholden!

Her hair is pale white, with a purple strand or two, and her eyes — a bloodshot red that makes artists squeal with joy untold. Her nails could decapitate a man with such ease as to leave any observer awed and drenched in cold sweat. Her legs are travelling towards my–ARGH– “Woman, what did you do that for?!”

“It’s my way of thanking you for the chase you’ve given, husband of mine.” She smiles at me. The nerve! “I have long hungered for a game of cat and mouse, darling man, and you were all too accommodating. Did you enjoy your — welcoming pup?”

As she speaks, I attempt to flicker her off with two fingers. Would silence her well enough. Mine is a lightning fast move; the harpy dodges it, blast her winged hide.

“Mine thunder, woman.”

She lets out a roaring laugh, then turns unto a wolf, three, four times the size of mine dark lupine pets, and lunges at mine throat. Barely do I react in time, slapping her fanged face away.

One thing I have never missed in this woman — her dog breath.

She transforms once again, this time to a younger visage of her true form; her face is bloodied but she pays no heed to it.

“It is not here, husband, surely you have noticed so already?”

I give no answer; curse the gods, she is right! The sounds of mine thunder do no longer provide ambiance in the massive underground arena whence we have our ex-marital bout of violent exchanges…

“Return it, witch!” I spit at her, as the earth trembles in response to mine terrible wrath, dirt and sandstone raining down on us. “Or else I shall bury us both, and watch as you wiggle your way up, under the guise of a worm — it will suit you so, Tamara!”

She pouts at me — she dares! — and puts a chest upon that device that pumps blood unto her ancient body. “I didn’t wish your anger to cause it harm, darling, and so I put it somewhere safe; it just so happened that my body was the safest vessel. Can you blame me?”

“Most cer–”

“Your spell of doom and gloom did try to disintegrate me so…I wanted to avoid any further unpleasantness, and so I did as I thought best.”

“Take it out then, witch, and hand it over. Do so now, and I will allow thine wings to carry you unharmed from here.”

She takes a step forward, and bows, a bit too deeply. Mockery, perhaps?

“Kiss me, and it will be yours to command once more,” she says, her eyes glinting with…whatever it is that witches’ eyes glint with, when they are plotting to steal a kiss from me.

“Must I, really?”

“Is it the breath that worries you?”

“It’s–oh, never you mind, witch. Let us be done and over with this.”

She nods, and I remove my helm.

“I love what you’ve done with your hair, it’s really quite captivating.”

I ignore her, as her face draws nearer. Gods, and I thought the stench was bad before.

“If this is trickery, witch, I will roast you for it. No memory of old will stop my hand this time, and no ma–”

She silences me. The force of my magnificent, wondrous thunder roars unto her body, as I stretch mine consciousness unto her body–and the trap springs.

 

Day #0176

I awoke unto darkness. It shouldn’t have worried me, of course — since I have excellent darkvision — but it did. Mine attempts to summon light were met with great lack of success; mine magics did not respond unto mine desperate calls and pleas.

I finally managed to start a fire with a flint that I discovered after hours upon hours of search in the darkness. A leather bag was not left not far from me but in the darkness…it took a long time to discover.

Light gave way to definitive proof of what I feared most — mine former wife has somehow stolen mine glorious body, and left my mind unto hers. She is doubtless far, by now, already plotting on the best ways to dismantle my growing Empire.

Tamara will fail. I will hunt her down, take back the vessel that is due to me, and banish her unto realms of such endless horror that she could not ever dream of.

And I…I will make sure that none are left to defy me, once she is taken care of.

 

 

The Unintentionally Helpful Villain, Vol. 06 – Patronage

Diary Entry #0142

Over two weeks have come to pass since the Council of Darkness spun tail and ran off to the South. While I commanded a few efretti — fire demons, native to the far-off lands of Bazrah — to snap at the enemy’s heels, ’tis not my intent to defeat the Council as they retreat. Bah, let them hide in their desert fortresses and dusty keeps. I care not!

All that matters is finding my thunder, my beloved ambiance. My life is not the same without it. The sun has now taken a permanent residence — or what seems like it — into my glorious throne chambers. I recall arguing with a great architect about the dubious decision of making a fortress of obsidian and glass once; I can only wish that I were a more stern, principled Dark Lord.

I’ve always given old Barnabus too much leeway. Perhaps stricter control is in order, now that he is rebuilding my capital, he might as well be taught an important lesson in obedience.

GUARDS! BRING ME BARNABUS’ RIGHT FOOT!

…That ought to teach him.

Diary Entry #0143

Remaining on point is at times more troublesome than you would care to know. I was speaking of the continuous trials and tribulations that came with the spineless thievery of my precious thunder.

I have summoned a master, and forgive me if I misspell the word, “dee-tic-tive,” from the newly…sigh…liberated Elven democracy of Fanfallah. Whoever thought of these elven names should be skinned and given to the Nephew of Deceit. Nephew’s shown great affinity for naming all manner of beasties. He is also tremendous company for teatime.

Back to this dee-tick-tive. It is said that his prowess in capturing criminals is second to none. I shall use him until he is little more than a pile of bones, if that will bring me my thunder back! He better produce some results soon, some ‘kloo’ as he insists on calling them.

Elves are strange little tall people.

Diary Entry #0145

I have the thunder thief’s stench! Preparations for the chase near completion even now.

The strange little elf produced wonderful results. Let none say that I am an ungrateful master; to show my great appreciation for his service, I have offered my patronage. The little fellow agreed all too heartily. He will make me more of these dee-tick-thieves. There is great potential within the lad. I shall bathe him in my tenebrous embrace, coddle him in a chrysalis of pure night; it would be my greatest pleasure if he were to fulfill his great promise.

Aye, I might have very well misjudged Felandred…