I'm burning through Byakuya route at a fast pace so I may forget some events or get them out of order. While on a boat, we're assaulted by shadowy figures from the ocean, and Zoura actually takes a near-fatal blow for Takumi to save him, earning the party's trust. He may be an evil-looking hunchback but he's not heartless! We reach the opera house and Aqua volunteers to sing in place of the originally planned singer, who's too distraught from her mom being on her deathbed to do her job properly. We turn the opera play into an assassination attempt on King Garon (who is again in attendance like he was in the Anya route), but despite Zoura's earlier bravery, he betrayed us and told Garon about our plan. The poor guy has taken a liking to the party though, so after he goes back to Garon's side he begs Garon not to kill Kamui's party. That doesn't go over well, King Garon executes him on the spot right in front of a terrified and probably now-traumatized Elise, RIP Zoura. Marx shows up and bellows about how he's going to execute his traitor sister Kamui - with both Garon and Marx on the battlefield there's not a big chance of winning this, so we run for our lives. The battle's probably perfectly winnable if you grind enough since you can grind endlessly in this route, but I'm rushing through this, so nah.
Aqua keeps collapsing after singing, we'll eventually learn again that she's got a curse that gets sped up whenever she uses her song's magic, but we're too incompetent to survive without her power so she's just got to deal with it. While searching for Ryouma, we run into none other than big sis Camilla, who walks right up to Kamui's enemy army with absolutely zero sense of danger and hugs her. She actually seems nearly convinced that Garon is in the wrong (after we beat her and her retainers faces in a bit, granted), but Leon shows up to finish Kamui off, with Camilla begging him to stop. No worries though, because Ryouma runs in to save the day along with the rebel forces he's been taking shelter with and forces Leon and Camilla to retreat. Now that the royal gang's all together, it's time to invade Anya Kingdom proper, and this is sped up by the hidden rebel fort getting discovered and attacked, so we escape through a secret tunnel into Anya territory. Macbeth shenanigans happen and Suzukaze sacrifices his life to save Kamui during a quake, and falls down an endless pit. Apparently when Suzukaze was young he saw the spy who kidnapped Kamui sneak into the castle but didn't think anything of it, and he never forgave himself for not telling someone about it, so now he's 'atoning' for his mistake. He's a bit of a drama queen. I sure am glad I decided to use other ninjas this run instead of him so the levels didn't go to waste, RIP Suzukaze.
Once again wanting to reuse a plot device from the other edition of the game, this time it's Takumi who suddenly comes down with a deadly disease that requires special medicine to cure. This kid really can't catch a break. We head off to find medicine for him and run into none other than Flora, the other maid who used to serve Kamui growing up, who says that after Kamui defected all the old servants got scattered and she ended up here. Macbeth shows up and slaps her around a bit in front of everyone, we beat him up and he teleports away like magic bad-guys always do. Flora gets Takumi the meds and offers our little invasion party sanctuary in her ice tribe's village, where she says they'll be safe. It was a trap though, and she ambushes the party. Turns out she was made an offer by Garon to either betray the party or have her entire tribe wiped out. RIP Flora.
We slaughter some beastmen to avoid the main army routes (just like we slaughtered some foxmen in the Anya route for the same reason), and end up in a dark swamp to be ambushed by Leon. Leon is such a cutie, he starts ranting about the power of darkness and how he always hated Kamui for getting more attention than him, doing his best Takumi impression. After we beat him though, Kamui puts her sword to his throat and they have a 'hey, go on and kill me', 'no, you go on and kill me!' back and forth until Leon starts crying and bawling that he's sorry about what he said before, it was all a lie, he really loves his big sister Kamui. Why are the younger brothers in this game so satisfying to bully? Anyway, he decides to help us out, and tells us that we can't beat big bro Marx with our current power, because Marx got the Rainbow Sage's blessing and we don't. Maybe if we got the blessing too we could beat him, but the sage is a long way from here. Fortunately, Leon's carrying a lazy plot device - an old magic teleportation tome to the village where the Rainbow Sage lives that is almost out of power and has just enough left to teleport there and back once. How convenient. Aqua gives Leon something else in return - a crystal, the same crystal that she showed King Garon's true form to Kamui in the Anya route with. I remember back then in the other route, she mentioned something about how the crystal could only be used under special circumstances, OR 'by a powerful mage, like Leon'. That seemed kind of arbitrary to throw Leon's name out there. I mean, it's still a really lazy plot device, but that line makes sense now. She tells Leon to figure things out himself with it, and we part ways.
We use the plot-device book to teleport to and from the Rainbow Sage, same 'the true power was inside you all along!' gig as last route, except this time we face some shadow warriors instead of Byakuya troops in the tower, blah blah, teleport back to Anya Kingdom to continue the main story. We enter a big dragon fossil of a passageway and Macbeth shows up via projection and uses magic to partially resurrect the dragon while we're inside it, meaning we're in a dragon's stomach and getting digested. Lovely. Aqua saves us with her song again, turning the dragon back into a fossil, but she's nearing her limit, collapsing again in more dramatic CG.
Outside of the main story, I paired Tsukuyomi up with Orochi and sure enough, his daughter ends up being older than he is by the time we go yank her out of time-capsule-land. I don't have to listen to you, dad, you're younger than I am! What a parenting nightmare. Anyway, their daughter Syalla is a real creep, she's another incarnation of a character from Awakening, Tharja, who was apparently the same way. I really wish I had played that game before this, I'm missing so many references. Kamui spends a few support conversations trying to get Syalla to behave like a normal girl instead of a mouthbreathing stalker, but gives up and decides that she's fine the way she is. Syalla does some fortune-telling in their A-rank showing that they'll be reincarnated together in another life (Awakening, I guess), but in her S-rank she admits that she sometimes wishes she could be reincarnated a man so that she could be loved by Kamui, but she doesn't want to wait until another life or body to say how she feels. Oh, the overused yuri tropes! Kamui decides to accept her confession though, and Syalla stays creepy to the end, whispering about how happy she is and that 'even if you come to regret this, it's too late to change your mind now'. Wheeeeew. Anyway, no lesbian childbearing magic happens, so the event to go recruit Kanna is not triggered. Fine by me, really. I made a save before the choice, I'll mess around with the other options later, interested to see Kamui's S ranks with some of the guys too.
Probably just one more update for Byakuya route before I can start on the Invisible Kingdom route. As far as the story goes so far, it's very...plain? If I had played this route first I think I would say it was boring, but at least it's not infuriatingly stupid like Anya was. They really re-use a lot of plot devices between the two routes, it's a bit lazy. This is such a beautiful game as far as graphics and production value goes, couldn't they have swung a bit more of that budget towards the writing? Anyway, Byakuya route really is a complete joke on Normal difficulty, I think I'm going to take my time on the third route with Hard + Classic difficulty so that I can enjoy a good challenge again.
Random JRPG blogging about the games I'm currently playing.