In this update, the plot tries to pick itself up and promptly falls back down. It's time to look for the next idol, our party wonders why it can't ever be easy to find them. Ziorker interrupts and says that the next one actually is easy, she's standing right there. Shock, Ziorker is an idol! Of course any player who has seen the game cover, promo material, or been using her stat points at all knows this already, but it's news to some of the poor saps actually in this game. Ziorker has been away from her homeland most of the time, but she stealthily makes her way back there every now and then to put on the live performances that the crystal needs to be replenished. It's almost time for another of those visits, so we go with her this time. She's not the most popular idol - her own countrymen throw rocks at her and tell her to get out when she arrives. Even the ruler of the place is cold towards her. While she's out and about, he and his knight order have to protect the country themselves without an idol to help, and he just tells her to go into the crystal area and get the live over with. So if 'putting on a live' is necessary to fill the crystal energy but everyone hates the idol and barely anyone watches the live, is all this idol stuff actually even necessary? Maybe it's all a big practical joke someone played hundreds of years ago and the witches don't actually have to do any of this idol nonsense, all they need to do is some magic witch ceremony stuff to the crystal? I'm probably thinking too hard about this.
Anyway, I regret failing to introduce a minor character earlier - we picked her up at the same time we recruited Rana. Her name is Libra and she introduced herself as a wandering merchant, we saved her from a monster swarm, or so we thought. She's got a sharp wit and liked escalating awkward situations, I enjoyed having her around. Just before this, she was helping Palsh think up new inventions. After an attack hits the country we're in, she stabs us in the back and makes off with the knight-captain and ruler of the country as her hostage, commanding a squad of Amadeus troops. Ziorker boo-hoos some more about how she's failed her country again by letting its ruler get taken hostage, and we head back to base to begin the silliest attempt at suddenly injecting drama I've seen in a while.
Palsh was working on an invention with Libra before we got backstabbed - basically she invented a two-way video recording device. One of them is missing, and we realize Libra took it with her, so we can use it to get in touch. Sure enough, appearing on the other end of the display is Libra, along with her older brother, who is the leader of Amadeus. Now I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, but I can't find an official romanization of this guy's name. Unlike the main characters, he doesn't have a gallery entry with one. It's アスワド, (a - su - wa - do) I guess maybe they wanted to go for something like Asward or something, but it just sounds like 'Asswad' to me. So our villain is Asswad. In absence of a real romanization I'm sticking with it. I am a grown ass man(child) and I'm behaving like a middle schooler, I'm so sorry.
Anyway, Asswad wants to barter his hostage for our idols and our party points out that one ruler for all the idols isn't much of a fair trade, so the camera suddenly shows us every single country's leader also in captivity. Yep, just like that! Apparently Amadeus just went and managed to kidnap every head of state before we got word of any of it. Maybe the world really does need some of Palsh's inventions so that people can keep in touch about major events like this. Asswad and Libra tell us to go meet them for some hostage exchange, the rulers for the idols. They also drop the plot bomb that apparently idols have very short lifespans. It's not widely known by regular citizens, but idols have lifespans a fraction of a normal human's. Ziorker is an exception because the demon who possesses her uses its own demonic energy to keep her alive, and Violet is an exception because she's a real witch. The other idols are the descendants of the 8 witches that the original witch gave her powers to, so they only have a fraction of that power and it's hard on the body to share a witch and human soul at the same time or whatever. Anyway, he says he might just have a cure for that problem too, if they're interested. They cut the signal, leaving our party to discuss what to do.
While all the idols are busy discussing what they want to do, if they should turn themselves in or fight and sacrifice the rulers, Xird blurts out that he'll think up the best plan ever that will solve everything. He just doesn't know it yet, but he'll think of it by tomorrow. Well, okay. I'm expecting some genius scheme here or something, but basically the plan he comes up with is "I'll go into negotiations alone to make them let their guard down, and then use gravity magic to lift me and the rulers up into the air out of reach so you can rescue us". Xird actually can fight a little bit, he's attuned to a gravity-element lapis and he can use gravity magic a little bit. Ziorker and Aqua insist on at least one of them coming with him, so he takes Konpei (the fox) and goes to negotiations by himself. He pretends to barter with Asswad for a while and they eventually agree on trading all the rulers in exchange for just two idols, Xird offers Violet and C-9 and Asswad accepts. Then Xird insists on going over to 'inspect the prisoners' to make sure they aren't trapped or anything, and boom, one gravity magic spell later and they're all airborne and about to be rescued.
So Asswad's pretty dumb, but he's not a complete idiot and he's got a trump card in the guy who murdered Hisoka's parents. For some reason he was one of the hostages too even though nobody in our party really cares if he lives or dies - while Xird is rubbing his situation of being saved by the people he hates in his face in mid-air gravity magic, he stabs Xird with a weapon he'd been allowed to conceal. Whoops. Xird can't keep the spell going, he gives the lapis crystal to Konpei and blows everyone away towards the ship to be rescued while he falls down and gets captured by Amadeus. Asswad isn't all that happy about this though - there's no time to re-set their traps and use Xird as a bartering pawn, and without bathing in the waters blessed by Aqua's lapis crystal magic, Xird's body can't hold out for more than a few days so he'll die before he becomes a useful bartering chip. They can't actually fight the idols head-on without tricks or traps, kind of weird to have a villain force that is weaker than the hero's party canonically. They leave him to rot and head off to set more eeeeeevil plans in motion.
Well, one Amadeus prison guard is no match for the last idol we were searching for, Kasumi, who breaks in and knocks the guard out, dragging Xird out and giving him some temporary crystal energy to hold out until they can get back to Aqua. Kasumi was Xird and Aqua's teacher when they were younger - she's 25 which is basically old hag status for an idol, her words, not mine. Thanks to the idols' short lifespan plot point suddenly coming up earlier though, maybe she's actually right. Maybe this is a jab at the short career life of your typical actual idol? I don't follow idol culture in real life at all so I have no idea, but that wouldn't surprise me. Was this 'reduced life expectancy for witches' a thing in previous Luminous Arc games?
Kasumi returns to the ship with Xird for a reunion with everyone, and now we have all the idols we were looking for - wait, there's still two more! I know because of the box cover art, you can't fool me, game! Time to figure out what Amadeus is up to. We also returned most of the heads of state back to their countries, hopefully they'll invest a bit more in bodyguards this time. I tried the pool minigame a bit again, but I'm afraid it still sucks. It seems to be very little more than rock-paper-scissors luck. Good thing I don't care about trophies so I don't have to do it.
Random JRPG blogging about the games I'm currently playing.