Part 17, we finally end the flashbacks!
Time In a BottleEdit
This place should also look familiar. Monsters can hit hard here, don't be afraid to run back to the Falcon if needed, use Warp if you have to. As a note since this is a flashback, Rydia's Eidolons are free, so feel free to bust out any of them for some badassery. Bahamut is overkill on these scrub enemies, but hey, it'll be a long time before we can use him in the game proper so why not? You may want to do some level grinding here, the free pot of healing on the Falcon makes it a snap, exhaust your two Black Mages, then Teleport to the Falcon and heal (Porom learns it at Level 19). Palom and Rydia cap at level 20, which is a good enough benchmark to stop at. The monsters in the cave give good Exp, so it shouldn't take long. Also feel free to try out the Thunderstorm Band, combining Rydia's Black Magic with Palom's.
Go right and up to some Fire Arrows, the left through the wall to find an Ether. Back in the main passage go down from the Fire Arrow chest to find a Hi-Potion, then left to the stairs down. Downstairs go up for a Cottage, down for a Hi-Potion, and right to the next floor. There's also a Save Point. On the final floor follow the path to some Echo Herbs, go right for a Hi-Potion, then enter the wall. Hermes Sandals, a Sage's Surplice, and a Decoy await you at the end of a hidden path to the left. At the top of the area is a Dry Ether. Approach the grey tile and Rydia will go into the Feymarch alone to try and talk you two in. Given the time difference she comes back quick enough, and we leave now. Walk or Teleport, up to you. on the world map de-equip Palom and Rydia before boarding the Falcon. Speak to Cid for a scene, where (remember this is a flashback) Luca announces she's gonna be Cid's apprentice.
Back to the FutureEdit
In the present, Porom is a bit jealous that Palom got to go out and see the world instead of her. Eventually the Elder cries out and we get a scene of the Lunar Whale rising from the ocean and flying off. With this the Elder calls a meeting, wishing to call the dragoon to serve Mysidia in the event of a crisis with Palom absent. As a neat continuity nod, you'll see Tsukinowa as a frog enter during the conversation. Porom decides to head to Mt. Ordeals to find the dragoon, the one and only Kain Highwind. We'll be going in the company of two mages. If you de-equipped Palom and Rydia as I said, sell it off to help buy a Sage's Surplice and Sage's Miter for Porom and the White Mage, and Rune Armlet for everyone. The Psycho Spiral should be skipped, it only gives one more Spirit than the Healing Staff and we'll get one on the mountain for free. Buy one for the White Mage if you can afford it, Porom is fine with her bow. Upgrade her to a Great Bow if you can and buy Holy Arrows, they have less power then her Fire/Ice/Lightning arrows but do bonus damage to undead, which Mt. Ordeals is crawling with. When you're ready, head east to Mt. Ordeals.
I advise training at the entrance of the mountain until the mages hit their level cap at Level 20, and Porom in turn will be around Level 24 or so, if she was Level 20 at the end of the last segment. Do it now because it's easier to level up with fewer party members as they individually earn more Exp. Head to the Chocobo Forest below the mountain and use the White Chocobo to restore your MP when you run out. The path up Mt. Ordeals is very linear. Follow it to a chest with an Ether, go up the stairs for a Psycho Spiral, and head to the next area. No chests or turns here, go up to the next area, the Crossing. Go left, grab the Sage's Miter, then head up. The chest across the bridge has Blinding Arrows, then enter the final area. Use the save point if your Black Mage is low on MP, then go up the stairs and inspect the altar. We're drawn into a mirrored chamber, but the mirrors are shattered. A voice contacts us and Porom recognizes it as Cecil's father.
Go back to cross the bridge and a cloaked figure attacks. A massive band of undead strike, and while one good Fira from our Black Mage could wipe them out, they're only here for a badass to make his entrance - Kain dives down and slices up the whole lot with ease. Porom explains the situation but Kain isn't interested in helping. Porom pushes and eventually he relents.
PLAYABLE CHARACTER - Kain Highwind
Behold, one of the most famous badasses of the series, Kain. His badassery is only rivaled by a select few including Zidane, Terra, and from his own game Rydia. Kain is a man of few words, but he's got a strong sense of honor and justice and is loyal to his comrades. I'm aware of something spoiler-ish going on with him now, but I won't ruin the surprise for you new guys.
Kain gives our team a badly needed physical attacker. He comes in at Level 25 with 1100 HP, a set of strong Mythril Equipment, and good stats. He has MP but no Band abilities or other skills to expend it on. His special ability is Jump, where he leaps into the air and descends to impale an unlucky foe for heavy damage. Kain is an effective asset, use him well.
Now it's time to train for the challenge battle. Enter a battle and have the Black Mage cast Fira on the White Mage and then himself to kill them off. Since they can't level up past 20 it's a waste of exp to let them remain alive for our grinding. With them dead you'll earn around 1000 exp per battle. With a Great Bow and Holy Arrows on Porom, she and Kain should be able to kill anything short of a Lamia in one hit - against them use Jump. Kain needs a lot more Exp than Porom to level up. Get Kain to Level 30, at which Porom will be much higher, and that'll do it for our grinding. Head back down the mountain, use Porom to heal everyone, restore your MP with a White Chocobo and then catch a Chocobo back to Mysidia.
When we arrive the village is under attack. Go around town and speak to the cloaked figures to initiate battles. The encounters give pretty good exp, the four Goblin Captains gave 1900 exp with the entire party alive. Fight your way to the hall of prayers and head to the top floor to fight a Blood Eye. It has a lot of HP and an irritating Gaze attack, but with two White Mages you can easily keep up with his damage and status attacks while Kain Jumps. We find the Elder now and get him to bed, and find out that the monsters came from the Devil's Road, ie Baron. Kain takes off to investigate Baron's fate, go outside for a scene. A very familiar face has arrived at the village. Porom has words with out visitor, and then the Elder comes out. He refuses to hand over the Crystal, and the fight begins. It's a scripted battle, Haste and Berserk Porom with the Elder and she'll go nuts with her bow. Eventually the Mysterious Girl summons Ramuh and we get zapped in the skulls for our valor. Before the girl finishes us off though, Kain leaps in and presents her with the Crystal on the condition she allow him to kill Cecil. The girl and Kain sweep away, leaving Porom in the middle of the village with the wounded Elder.
And so ends Porom's Tale.
Time for Porom's challenge dungeon. If you didn't grind Kain to level 30 and Porom to a few levels higher as I said, you can play through the end of the chapter with just the two of them and the mages dead again, as mentioned the enemies give pretty nice Exp. Namingway is in the Inn.
Porom's dungeon is quite different from the others. We need a healthy supply of items - bring in 25 or so Tents, Gold Needles, Echo Herbs, Phoenix Downs, Potions and Hi-Potions, and 5 or so Healing Staffs and Sage's Surplices. In the dungeon we need Porom to save MP, why it's good to have her at a high level so she has a lot of MP. We'll thus be using our standard White Mage for healing. You appear in a random spot in a field and have to help as many people as you can and make it to the exit within 15 minutes. Fail and you are ejected from the dungeon without a prize. The more people you help, the better the prize. Old men want Cura or Esuna cast on them, possibly multiple times, men will ask for items, a White Mage will manifest three spirits on the map and ask you to heal them by speaking to them (they don't appear until you talk to her), and Black Mages are being attacked and need to be saved. I highly recommend having this map on your PC screen as you play, though the starting location is random it's easy to find your bearings and work out how to get where from there. Note that the old men and men will appear many times, only one White Mage and three Black Mages will appear each time. The locations of NPCs is also randomly determined.
For obvious reasons, flee from every encounter. The enemies are pretty tough and with only one physical attacker, it can take too much time to win. Mad Ogres, Lamias and Coeurls are the big threats, the latter two countering attacks with status effects and the first one just being a big meatshield. But as always the Mad Ogre can drop Giant's Gloves, be sure to grab a pair if you can for Kain. Lamias may also drop a pretty nice set of arrows for Porom, the Angel Arrows. Because their levels suck don't be shocked to see the mages drop like flies, but revive them and heal them up anyway because if you get ambushed they draw attention away from Kain and Porom. If you must fight, remember to use Kain's Jump on Lamias and Coeurls to kill them safely without provoking a counter, and remember to use Porom's Blinding Arrows to blind heavy hitters like Mad Ogres. She can't compare with Kain's damage output of course, but with the Blinding Arrows and Great Bow she's a decent support hitter.
Now, despite the horror stories I've heard about this place, with a map it's pretty easy. At a high level Porom should have plenty of MP for the old men, with a good stock of items it's easy to appease the men, and the mages are simple. On my very first run through, having never done the challenge before, I helped everyone and got to the final room within 8 minutes. If I can do it in 8 minutes kiddies, you can do it in less than 15. Even taking the time to fight enemies I got to the exit usually with a couple minutes left. The only snag comes in when you find a guy who wants an Ether or a Remedy, as there's so very few to go around and thus you may not be able to help him, and the fewer people you help less the chance of a good treasure. The chests in the area may hold Ethers and Remedies, may as well open then, usually just junk but it doesn't eat up much time to find them. As for the old men, sometimes they'll just want Esuna cast on them or Cura one or twice. Once though, an old man asked for Esuna seven times, and another one wanted ten Curas. If at any time while in the midst of casting the spells Porom runs out of MP for them, or she doesn't have the MP when you first speak to them, you lose out on helping them.
For the treasures we have the standard Adamantite, Elixir, Silver Apple and Soma Drop. The Aura Staff gives a whopping +10 Spirit and casts Dispel as an item. The spirit boost is nice, but by the time we get to the final tale we'll have another Aura Staff from another tale. Still, +10 Spirit is nice, and there's only three comparable staffs two of which are one-of-a-kind and the third is a random drop, so snag it if you can because White Mages with higher Spirit is always awesome. For equipment there's the Luminous Robe, a very nice armor that gives +5 Spirit and Intelligence, and the Mystic Veil which gives +1 Speed and +7 Intelligence and Spirit, also very nice. The last equipment piece is a Rapid Ring, which reduces the charge time of actions. Not bad, although given the other accessories in the category I imagine it'll be outclassed. Once you get to know your way around the dungeon is simple, which combined with the fact you don't need to do a lot of fighting or leveling to complete it, makes it actually, in my opinion, pretty easy.
A Dragon's TailEdit
Last note, the tail-dropping enemy for Porom's Tale is the White Dragon, he appears in the north-east (upper-right) section of the World Map around Mt. Ordeals during the Waxing Moon. A bit vague, yes, but that's where he appears. He's not particularly dangerous, after all we have two White Mages for Slow, Protect and Cura, and Porom may even learn Curaga if you level her enough. However, he's annoying to fight because he counters most actions with Slow. The easiest method is to just have Kain Jump on him again and again, he has a lot of HP but this is about all you can do. He's flat immune to your Black Mage's magic, and if you try it on him anyway because you feel like being an idiot, he counters with Inferno to do several thousand damage to a party member. Ouch. Overall though, annoying with Slow counter but not too dangerous, unlike the other dragons he has no deadly group-attack that I ever saw.
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