Upon arriving in Revenant's Toll in Mor Dhona we met with a representative of the Adventurers there and inquired about the state of Castrum Centri. The Roegadyn, upon hearing our plans of rescuing our friends held captive within, was hesitant to help us. He told us how security around the facility had become extremely tight within the past few days and we'd be hard pressed to sneak in. That was when Cid came up with a brilliant idea. And when I say brilliant, I mean insane.
The Imperial troops were ready for a full scale assault, they had the men to protect their stronghold for years. But they would never expect us to stroll on up to the front door and willingly give us entrance. Not unless we were able to look the part. And to that end Cid suggested we commandeer a Magitek Reaper as well as a few uniforms to sneak into Castrum Centri and rescue our comrades on the sly. It was elegant in its simplicity. What could possibly go wrong?
The Roegadyn we had shared our plan with suggested I meet with a man residing in the the small outpost that was Revenant's Toll by the name of Glaumant. The man apparently held a personal vendetta against the Garleans and any enemy of theirs was naturally a friend of ours. When I met with the man and told him of our plans he was more than happy to lend us his aid. However, speaking sensibly he suggested that before we went whole hog into our operation I should at least confirm that Minfilia and the rest were in fact there and alive.
Glaumant informed me of a drainage pipe that leads from the stronghold's command tower down to the southwestern corner of the swamplands below known as The Tangle. How he had come to know of this drainage pipe I didn't bother to ask. With any luck I'd be able to listen in on some conversations and ascertain that our friends were still safe and sound, or at least as much as they could be while being held captive.
Mor Dhona had changed greatly in the past five years. Before it had been a wasteland of rocky crags and crystals jutting from the ground. While for the most part it was still dominated by crags and crystals but to hear that a swamp now resided to the southwest of Revenant's Toll was astonishing. Apparently there was even a strange blue, crystalline grass that had been cropping up in some areas. Perhaps the largest change was the skyline. While the remains of the large Garlean airship and the great dragon Midgardsormr still rested in the center of Silvertear Falls, the large lake in the center of the region, a new oddity had appeared to the southeast.
The large Crystal Tower that rose high into the clouds was a sight that took my breath away when I had first seen it. Apparently some time during or after the Calamity there had been a great upheaval of land that returned the Crystal Tower to the surface. I heard rumors that it was once an Allagan stronghold, though these rumors only made me worry about our own recent developments. Whatever was in the Crystal Tower would have to wait for some other time…
After mucking about in the swamp I managed to find the drainage pipe that Glaumant had told me about and I sat down, straining my ears to listen for any sounds. True to his word, you could hear clearly through the pipe and I listened in on the conversation high above.
"What of the captive? Does she still refuse to speak?" one voice asked.
"She may as well be a deaf mute for all the information we've gotten out of her." Another replied. He must have been speaking of Minfilia, she was the strongest of us all.
"The others aren't much better. The Elezen gets on my nerves most of all. Every time he opens his mouth, it's only to spout gibberish." Aha! That was Urianger the man was describing.
"I do wonder, why is the tribunus so obsessed with this Minfilia woman?"
"They say she possesses some mystical power. Something we Garleans don't have."
"Mystical power? Like the kind the beastmen have?"
"How am I supposed to know? If you're so interested why don't you ask the tribunus yourself?"
"As well try to tumble her! I like my head where it is, thank you very much!"
There was a short round of laughter and then a discontented sigh. "Our break is over, we better get back to our stations."
That settled it. It sounded like everyone was indeed being held captive in Castrum Centri. I returned to Revenant's Toll and brought Cid and Alphinaud up to speed. The plan would move forward, which meant that I would need to obtain us a number of Garlean uniforms.
Glaumant had been keeping an eye on the Garlean's security details outside of Castrum Centri as soon as they heightened their security. He knew they were up to something and his grudge against them was strong enough, and he stubborn enough, not to let their plans go unnoticed. He supplied me with a time and a place where I might find a number of scouts far enough away to dispose of and rob them of their uniforms. He also suggested that while I was there I study their behaviour around each other. I'd need to look the part after all.
I was about to leave Revenant's Toll to stake out Castrum Centri when Cid stopped me. Apparently he was planning on creating some kind of device to jam the Garlean's communications by utilizing a hill-sized chunk of corrupted crystal not far from Revenant's Toll. He asked if I could take a few readings with another one of his devices and report the findings back to him. I was going to be going past it anyway so with Cid's electromagnetic reader, whatever that was, in hand, I set off.
It took me about an hour to figure out how to climb about the large corrupted crystal to get the proper readings that Cid wanted. I didn't know what good a communications jammer would do for us but Cid was the mastermind behind this whole thing so it would be best to just go along with him for now. With the readings taking care of I continued down the path to the outskirts of Castrum Centri.
The Garlean stronghold was much like any of the other Garlean fortresses I had seen in my travels. It was surrounded by high perimeter walls and more than likely consisted of a number of walled off sections before you got into the fortress proper. If it was anything like the one I had stormed so long ago to destroy their Meteor machine, there would be plenty of security at each of those walls.
I sat crouched behind a boulder waiting for the scouts that would eventually draw nearby. I didn't have to wait long before three Garleans came up the nearby path. If I didn't know any better I'd say that they were three normal people out doing a boring job. They joked and egged one another on as they went about the same thing they've always done for far longer than they really ever wanted to. Of course, behind that was the fact that they were the invading force driving their way into Eorzea, hellbent on stamping out our way of life in the name of bringing the world under their rule.
One of the soldiers seemed to have grown irritated with his watch companions and, though I couldn't hear their argument well, it looked like he decided to pull rank on the others. The other two let out a sigh as an end was brought to their goofing off and they saluted their superior officer. I took note of their salute and hoped that I'd be able to mimic it later on. With the group distracted all that was left to do was beat them up and steal their clothes.
It wasn't my finest moment, jumping out from behind the boulder and dragging one of them away to cover in a headlock only to knock him unconscious. And it certainly wasn't my most daring moment, drawing attention of the second soldier by waving the limp arm of the first from behind the boulder. But it was the most entertainment I had in a long while when I left three unconscious men in nothing but their small clothes in inappropriate positions.
I returned to Revenant's Toll and displayed the uniforms to Glaumunt, who was impressed that I had managed to retrieve them with as little wear and tear as possible. We met with Cid and I handed off the readings from the Corrupted Crystal to him. He was impressed with the findings and went to work right away setting up his jamming device. In the meantime, Glaumunt had managed to track down a Magitek Reaper for us. This would be the most dangerous part of our plan up to that point. It was time for me to don the Garlean uniform and convince them to let me steal their Magitek Reaper.
I was back in front of Castrum Centri some time later, wearing a hastily modified Garlean uniform. It fit awkwardly and smelled terrible but hopefully that would be overlooked by my magnificent performance. I found the Imperial patrol that had been outfitted with a Magitek Reaper and approached them at a run. I gave them a hasty salute and looked about in a panic for whomever might be the superior officer. I was quickly demanded to explain my behaviour and spun a yarn about enemy forces on the move toward Castrum Centri. I begged them to come intercept before they drew too close.
The patrol was hesitant to leave their patrol route but I spoke of the glory that their captain could obtain by routing enemy forces before word even got to the higher ranking officers. After all, even if successfully routed, if an officer of higher rank heard the news he'd just claim the victory as his and reap the rewards. Talk of promotion was enough to spur the captain into action and I lead them back toward the Corrupted Crystal outside of Revenant's Toll.
As we drew nearer the captain grew anxious, wondering where the enemy force was that I told him of. I removed the smelly helmet that had already messed up my hair beyond belief in so little time and flashed the captain a grin before drawing my bow and aiming an arrow at him.
All hell broke loose a the sharp twang of my bow. The arrow pierced the captain through the chest and before he had even hit the ground the other soldiers were drawing their weapons. At the same time Cid came out of hiding with his small gunblade in hand, firing a shot at the biggest threat, the Magitek Reaper. I dodged out of the way of a sword stroke and planted an arrow into the attacking soldier before leaping away from the other. The Magitek Reaper was charging up a blast of energy that I knew would be fatal if it went off.
I ignored the last soldier dashing my way, Cid intercepting him at the last second, and shot the man riding the machine. With an arrow embedded in him he slumped over onto the dashboard. The Magitek Reaper was still charging its blast but now aimed downward. I cringed as it fired, partially caught in its own blast.
When the smoke cleared we inspected the damage.
"Not wishing to look a gift chocobo in the beak… it does seem rather the worse for the wear, doesn't it?" Cid asked. The machine was arcing electricity in across its metal frame. I had a feeling it wasn't supposed to do that. Biggs and Wedge came out of hiding from nearby and joined their fellow engineer in inspecting the machine. " Biggs, Wedge. What's your honest assessment?"
"Weeell…." Biggs started, drawing it out slowly. "There's the fact that she's smoking, of course." He said sardonically as he took in the plumes of black smoke pouring from the machine. "But looking past that, I'd say she's structurally sound."
"Hmmm… " Wedge chimed in, using his small stature to his advantage and looking under it. "I don't like the way these legs are buckled. I hate to say this, but the servomechanism may be damaged."
"But aren't those things protected by ilm-thick armor plating?" Biggs asked his small companion incredulously.
"They are, yes. It's odd, the casing doesn't seem to have taken any damage. I suspect we're dealing with a faulty part." Wedge sighed.
"Well, whatever it is we're dealing with we're not resting until it's fixed. Not a wink of sleep, you got that Wedge?" Wedge mumbled something and Biggs shot him a nasty look, causing the Lalafell to look away, admonished.
"A hall has been set up for use in Revenant's Toll, that's where we'll begin the repairs." Cid said.
I watched on as Biggs picked Wedge up by his tunic collar and tossed him up into the air. Wedge spun expertly and landed in the seat of the Magitek Reaper. He busied himself with the buttons and levers and soon enough it stood again, barely. It may have been walking with a limp, but the fact that it could still move was good enough for me. I was confident in the Garlond Ironworks' capabilities. They'd have it up and running in no time.
True to their word, the engineers worked through the night to get the machine up and running again. I joined them in the hall the next day to check in on their progress. While it looked operational to me, there was unfortunately a major problem. Apparently, the Magitek Reaper operated because of a core that gave it power, and during our battle against it the previous day it had become damaged beyond repair. The Reaper wouldn't last very long if we were to utilize it, and on top of that there was no way to get a replacement for it. Wedge, however, had a plan.
We spoke of mammets, the automatons that they made in Ul'dah, and of their hearts that granted sentience to them. Wedge suggested that perhaps with some adjustments a mammet heart would be enough to power the Reaper. Time was of the essence so that meant utilizing the Aetheryte Network to teleport to Ul'dah. Once there, and over my teleportation sickness, I met with the Goldsmith Guild's master, a pretty woman named Serendipity, and discussed my needs of a mammet heart with her. She was kind enough to supply me with one and I promised her I'd find a way to thank her appropriately when next I saw her.
After returning to Revanent's Toll it was just a matter of waiting for the engineers to modify the mammet heart and install it into the machine. When that was done it was time to put it through its paces. We took it out to the area surrounding the Corrupted Crystal and I climbed up into the Reaper. Wedge explained how to operate it and soon enough I was walking and jumping around the rocky terrain. Satisfied with the results I piloted it back and dismounted.
Though it had operated perfectly after the repairs, Wedge seemed a little miffed with the performance. He explained that perhaps the mammet heart was just too different from the Magitek Core, and perhaps it was possessed by emotions and didn't feel like part of the team. He may have been joking when he said I should give it a warm welcome, but why the hells not?
We all greeted the Magitek Reaper to the team.
"Daft as I felt, I gave it my best…" Biggs said, breaking the awkward silence. "I've welcomed myself to a bloody standstill. What were you expecting it to do anyway? Bob a curtsy?" Biggs just shook his head and walked away.
Cid approached the machine and gave patted it before looking to me. "I'm sure you're wondering what's so important about the servomechanism to warrant such silliness."
"The thought had crossed my mind, yes."
"Well, without it, the pilot would be required to control the armor's every movement manually. This would be an onerous task at the best of times, and wholly impractical during battle." Who was he kidding? It seemed to work just fine to me. So what if it wasn't up to their standards. Cid crossed his arms over his chest and continued. "Using a mammet heart in place of a worn magitek core seemed a promising solution. Alas, the device does not seem to be compatible with Garlean technology." Cid looked up to Wedge who had climbed aboard the Reaper. "Wedge, is there no other ways we might demonstrate our appreciation to our friend here?"
"I'm at my wit's end, Chief. She just doesn't seem convinced. We could try a little dance. Or cheer our heads off?"
I shot a look at Cid that said I would not be dancing for a machine and was about actually say so when Biggs came rushing back. "Imperials! They're coming to take back the Reaper!"
A number of Imperial soldiers approached quickly, bearing arms. "There's the Reaper!"
Cid pounded his fist into his palm and I drew my bow.
The Garlean Centurion seemed taken aback. "Th-the traitor Garlond!? And is that the eikon-slayer!? Oh… bollocks…" He looked over his shoulder to his men. "C-call for reinforcements!"
"The hells you will," Cid smirked as he set up his jamming device. With the press of a button the corrupted crystal began to resonate, presumably cutting off the Garleans communication if their sudden panic was any indication.
"No matter! If we cannot reclaim it, destroy it!" The centurion shouted. I saw a Magitek Vanguard round the bend, bearing down on us with all the speed it could muster on its small legs.
"Bloody hells," Cid spat. "Rosalyn, protect the armor with all costs."
I nodded and together we ran out to meet the Garlean soldiers. There were only the three of them, though the true danger was the Vanguard. I drew an arrow and aimed, Cid leveling his gunblade at the same target, and together we shot the Centurion down. With their commander downed the two soldiers looked unsteady. Biggs rushed forward and engaged with fisticuffs with one while Cid resorted to using the blade portion of his weapon and entered melee combat with the other. That left the Vanguard for me.
I shot the Vanguard, my arrow clinking off of its armor plating, in hopes of attracting its attention. It seemed to work because it changed course and aimed its large cerment drills at me. I ran, all the while taking potshots at the machine. With my attention focused on staying out of its reach there'd be no way for me to steady my aim and pinpoint the same weak spots I had targeted to destroy it the same way I had to the one in Coerthas. I'd just have to think of something else.
I had little options on where to run. Sheer rock walls had us blocked in and while I could run toward Revenant's Toll I'd be leading it past our Reaper. The only other direction would be toward Castrum Centri and the swamps. If I lead the battle there odds were I'd attract more unwanted attention. It seemed this small valley with the Corrupted Crystal in the center would be our arena. But, perhaps I could use the crystal to my advantage?
I began climbing the large crystal, knowing where to step and jump this time thanks to the readings I had to perform for Cid. The Magitek Vanguard was far too large to climb as well but it was still tall enough to take swings at me if it wanted, and that's exactly what I wanted. I shot twice more, each arrow plinking off the machine, but I was simply goading it. It took the bait, drawing back one large drill arm before slamming it forward at me. I jumped at the last second onto that very arm, running along it and leaping off as it pierced into the Corrupted Crystal. All the overaspected Aether within the crystal exploded violently upon the impact, sending lancing arcs of lightning across the machine.
I landed from my leap in a roll and skidded to a stop, glancing back as the Vanguard sagged, fried. As I stood and dusted myself off I heard cheering and looked to see Cid, Biggs, and Wedge clapping for my performance. It seemed that we had successfully protected our hard earned Magitek Reaper.
The group was in the midst of over exaggerating my battle with the Vanguard and all I could really do was listen on. I didn't think it was that amazing what I had done. One voice grew quiet and I looked to see Biggs with his mouth agape. I peered down at his companion and Wedge too looked panicked. I turned around to see what had the two engineers so frightened and saw the Magitek Reaper roaring to life.
"Chief! Look! She moved!"
"Ah, now she deigns to grace us with her presence." It was true. The Reaper was alive and running on its own without a pilot. Just what kind of monstrosity had these engineers designed? "It took us a good while, but we're finally ready…"
"It's time to infiltrate Castrum Centri and rescue our comrades." I said with a nod. I looked to Cid and grinned. It was truly like old times, though I couldn't say it aloud. I had a feeling Cid knew what I was thinking though because he just grinned back at me.
"There!" Wedge announced. "The finishing touch!" We inspected his handiwork, the Garlond Ironworks symbol painted onto the Magitek Reaper. Wedge had been smart enough to paint it somewhere it may be overlooked. We'd be mighty foolish if we were to be caught because of vanity. The Reaper's lights flashed and it thrummed as though it was happy to be with us. Did this mean that our happy band had a new member? If so, hopefully our newest recruit would be enough to get us into Castrum Centri with little trouble.
Just hold on a little longer, Minfilia.
I've come to the conclusion that if I write that something happened during the day, when I go to get screenshots it will always be night time. This leaves me with the choice of saying "to hell with it" or waiting an hour. "To hell with it" usually wins out.
But we finally reached the appearance of Maggie, the Magitek Armor. She's perhaps the greatest companion I've ever had in a game. She gets me where I need to go and then some. Seriously, though, perhaps one of the greatest rewards for completing a game was that mount. And the design, so clearly based off of Amano's original artwork from FFVI. So much love.
I'm getting really excited about the upcoming weeks as we get closer to the end. I can hardly contain myself. Escape from Castrum Centri next week, it will probably be a little longer than a usual post. So please look forward to it.