Brayflox Alltalks was a charismatic and enterprising goblin. Having once worked for Costa del Sol he set off to make a name for himself and create his own business. The most respectable job in goblin society was that of a merchant, and Brayflox Alltalks had taken it one step further. Deep in the jungles of Raincatcher Gully, far to the northwest of Costa del Sol, beyond the mountain range dividing Eastern La Noscea, Brayflox Alltalks had created not just a business, but an empire. All of the goblins that lived in his city were under his employ and from there they created an exports business the likes of which goblinkind had never seen before. That is until something else decided that Raincatcher Gully was a perfect home.

I had met with Brayflox Alltalks on the edge of his lands and spoke to him concerning his recent problem. Something that he had described as a large flying monster had taken up residence in the mountains above the Longstop and had driven him and his people out. Even as we spoke there had still been goblins inside the small city trying to reclaim it from the monsters that had moved in during their absence. I tried to find out what kind of monster had been cause enough for Brayflox to evacuate the city but the communication issues between us kept him from properly informing me. The Echo may help me understand the words of all manner of beast and man, but it certainly didn’t help me decipher the mashed together words of the goblin race.

In the amount of time I spent talking to Brayflox Alltalks I discovered that goblins hated large words and actually had a small vocabulary. Whenever they needed to create a new word, they took two existing words and combined them together. Goblins were nomadic in nature and it was said that they made great pilgrimages every hundred years or so, which meant they had no word of their own for a long term settlement. Brayflox Alltalks, being the brilliant goblin that he was, created a word for it. Brayflox’s Longstop, a place where you stop and stay for a long time. It couldn’t get any more simpler than that. Even so, some of the words that Brayflox used left me scratching my head.

I had the information I needed, really. Brayflox had the final ingredient I needed in his Longstop. Something big and nasty had invaded. All I had to do was remove the threat and I’d be on my way to fighting Titan. A task that proved to be more easily said than done.

Brayflox was just about to lead me down the path toward the Longstop entrance when I heard someone approaching. I turned around and saw someone I wasn’t expecting.

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“I should have known I’d run into you here,” Ratie Farsight said with an all-knowing smile from beneath his wide-brimmed hat. He narrowed his eyes and his smile turned into a smirk. “Still running that fool errand I see. What are we up to now, three?”

I was taken aback by Ratie’s words and began to wonder what the Thaumaturge knew. “What are you doing here?” I asked tersely, hoping to cover my surprise with a verbal show of force.

“Now that is a secret,” Ratie beamed.

I could feel my eyebrow twitching in annoyance and I resisted the urge to lob spells at the man. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath.

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“You shouldn’t tease her that way, you know we haven’t got all day.” Mishro stepped out of the deep brush of the jungle and placed his hands on his hips as he looked up at Ratie. “The Longstop is just in sight, let’s be done with this deed while there’s still daylight.”

More rustling in the jungle announced a third person coming from behind the other two. “Oh, hello there Rosalyn,” Rae raised the visor of her helmet and waved. “Are you here to help the goblins too?”

I nodded. “Ah, yeah. I don’t suppose a Roegadyn from Costa del Sol sent you?”

Rae shook her head. “No, we overheard a goblin in town talking about some beastie that ran everyone out. I figured fighting a big mean monster was exactly what we needed to do today.”

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“Not my first idea of having fun…” I said quietly, just a little bit confused.

“I’m here for the money, myself,” Ratie announced. Like I cared what reason he was here for. He was still more than creepy and suspicious and I wouldn’t mind being a few hundred malms away from him. “And yourself?”

“Me? I’m here for…?” What was I here for? I still didn’t know what the last ingredient was. “Oi, Brayflox. What am I here for again?”

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The goblin tilted his head in my direction. I was unable to discern what expression he had leveled at me because of the mask he wore. All goblins wore those large masks for some reason, and somewhere deep inside I was sure I didn’t want to know why. “Gobbie Gouda.” Brayflox said with a nod.

“Well, there you have it,” I turned back to the group. “I’m here for… cheese.”

“Wow! You must really like cheese!” Rae looked far more excited than she should have been. “That’s settled then, you’re coming with us! We’ll slay that monster and we’ll get you your cheese!”

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I felt that things were far from settled but I quickly learned that when Rae was motivated it was hard to break her focus away. Didn't she remember the terrible luck we had in Copperbell Mines? Or the close call in the Thousand Maws of Toto-Rak? I couldn't help but feel like we were walking into a bigger problem than we knew.

As we neared the Longstop I thought I saw movement ahead in the jungle and stopped the group. “Did you guys see that?” We were quiet for a moment as we peered into the depths of the foliage. I could hear something large moving about but as far as I could see was the leafy green of the thick jungle. The sound drew more distant and I frowned.

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We came to a large gate in the jungle blocking a path leading toward the mountain range. As Brayflox searched for a key to what he called the “Runstop Frontblock” I watched the local wildlife, or lack thereof. This far into the jungle it should have been easy to spot the opo-opo and colibri that were native to the area, but so far it had been quiet. Whatever had just been in this area before us must have been nasty enough to scare away the other creatures. Brayflox finally opened the gate and we followed the path into the Runstop.

This section of the town was where the majority of the Goblins lived. There were a number of small, almost egg-shaped huts along the riverbank. The thick jungle had been cleared away here to make room for the settlement and I could even see a waterfall running down from the mountain. It would have been a peaceful place to live if not for the number of monsters inhabiting the area. The Runstop was infested with a strange creature that was part lizard part insect. The Dragonflies were long, sinuous lizards that buzzed about on gossamer wings the likes you would see on a wasp. We would need to clear out the Runstop before we could progress any further.

Rae was about to lead the charge when there came a commotion from behind us. Four goblins went running on ahead of us. I watched curiously as the goblins engaged in combat, a poor simulation of adventuring tactics. The lead goblin constantly yelled about him being “spanktank” and needing “hurtheals” and that his “ouchdoers” needed to do better. And despite how sound the goblin’s battle plan was in theory, they were quickly being overtaken by the swarm of dragonflies.

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Rae rushed in, throwing a tomahawk at the nearest dragonfly. As she entered the swarm she swung her axe about her, drawing attention away from the goblins. I threw open my book and together with Eos we healed the goblins’ wounds. Mishro joined in the combat, deftly delivering jump kicks to the flying scalekin. Out of the corner of my eye I could see Ratie manipulating the elements and laying waste to anything that fell in his sights.

There was almost no time to recover from the ordeal as the group of goblins rushed onward through the Runstop. We had apparently incited a rebellion against the monsters that had taken over Brayflox’s Longstop and there was no stopping the goblins now. We followed quickly behind the group as they drew the attention of more and more dragonflies, slaying them as we ran. The goblins lead us all the way to the far end of the Runstop, the Backblock as they called it, and stopped dead in their tracks.

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Just before the gate was a large drake, much like the ones I had hunted in the Sagolii Desert. This one, however, was easily twice as large as those. It stood blocking the path and the goblins refused to move any nearer.

Mishro chuckled. “Well, look at that fearsome beast. Our friends don’t want a thing to do with him, not in the least.”

“Is it possible that’s the thing that ran them out?” Rae asked.

I shook my head. “No, Brayflox said whatever it was could fly. But we’re not getting through without going past it.”

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Rae nodded and she ran headlong at the drake, letting out a roar of defiance as she neared. The drake huffed a gout of flame in reply and the two crashed headlong, Rae’s axe ringing against the beast’s tough scales. Mishro approached from the drake’s flank and began punching it repeatedly, making me look away as the Lalafell’s fists struck the rock hard hide over and over. It must have been a mind over matter thing because the Pugilist was completely unphased. Ratie threw bolts of lightning and shards of ice while I inflicted the drake with poisons and viruses. The beast eventually fell and the team of goblins rushed forward once more.

We left the Runstop and emerged out into a marsh the goblins called Mudsop Watergush. Bridges had been installed gapping the water between segments of land and we followed the path. The jungle here was more tame, tropical trees giving way for monstrously large trees, their roots emerging from the marsh in places. There were a number of large fish known as Pugils and Piestes, a lanky lizard, that we avoided as we progressed through Mudsop Watergush.

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We finally approached the Longstop Frontblock, the gate blocking the path into the mountains and the Longstop proper. We waded out into the shallow water, completely ignoring the fact that the goblins had stopped. I turned back, wondering why they would go no further when something erupted out of the mud underneath me. I fell into the water, Eos abandoning my shoulder in time to avoid being drenched. I fought with the mud underneath me as I got up, quickly realizing why the goblins had stopped.

A large eft, an amphibian with organs capable of generating electricity, had been hiding in the mud beneath the marsh. I wasn’t sure how the goblins had known about its presence but a little warning would have been nice. I saw that Rae and Mishro had already engaged in combat with the eft but I wondered why my sight was so weird, like I was looking at them through a glass or water. I stepped forward to join the others and bumped into something solid in front of me. In a panic I reached out, finding myself trapped in, of all things, a bubble. I could feel the cold water that was up to my ankles only moments before now reaching my knees. I was trapped with the water rising.

“You seem to be in quite the situation, Crystal Bearer.” Ratie smirked, his voice garbled slightly by the bubble. I glared at him hard and banged on the walls of my watery cell. The water was steadily rising. “Oh, I’m sure you want out, but we have some things to discuss first.” Ratie drew close and grinned. “Like those three Crystals of Light. Where are they? I don’t suppose you’ve got them stashed away at the Waking Sands? Perhaps in Minfilia’s room? You do spend an awful lot of time in there. Makes a man begin to wonder.”

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The water had reached my waist now. There was no time to be mincing words with crazy bastards. “Go to hell.” There we go. Direct and to the point.

“So feisty. I like that. Maybe I’ll let you live after all and after this I’ll-” Ratie stopped talking suddenly as Eos flew over hovered inches in front of his face. “W-what? Shoo, bug, you’re bothering me.” He waved his hand about, trying to knock the fairy away but she moved too quickly to be struck. She then flew in close and landed a little kick to Ratie’s nose. “Ow! What’s the big idea?”

The water was up to my chest now and I was beginning to consider that I wouldn’t be escaping with my life. I looked up skyward and began praying to the Twelve for anything that could get me out of the bubble so I could thrash Ratie six ways to sundown. I thought for a moment that the shadow above us was just a trick of the light being filtered through the wall of the bubble. I would have stood mouth agape if not for the rising water as I watched the beast that caused the goblins to flee swoop down.

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The massive green dragon landed with a mighty crash atop the eft that Rae and Mishro were still fighting, clutching it in its taloned claws. The force of the dragon’s landing sent a shockwave outward that knocked everyone clear off their feet and destroyed the bubble I was stuck inside. I was washed away by the water and slammed hard against the Longstop Frontblock gate. I saw the dragon lift the eft up off the ground and fly into the sky with its prize. In a daze I noticed that the goblins had fled. Fat lot of help they were.

Rae approached me first and offered her hand to me. “Are you alright?”

I took her hand and slowly got up, knowing that I’d be bruised in the morning. “Yeah, more or less.”

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“Sorry about that,” Ratie said as he approached. “Her confinements turned out to be far sturdier than I expected.” He smiled to Rae then turned to me. “But it seems you turned out no worse for the wear.” I stared hard at Ratie but the Thaumaturge ignored my glare and passed through the gate onto the mountain trail.

Rae hadn’t noticed my look and expressed how glad she was that I was alright. “I guess we know what the monster was that chased the goblins out! A dragon! So exciting!” Rae dashed off up the path, leaving me to myself.

Mishro stopped in front of me and frowned. “A lousy turn of luck that you should get stuck.” He peered past me to the other two that had gone ahead. “But that man with magic strong… Something about him is wrong.”

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I simply nodded and we left to catch up with the others. Eos returned to my shoulder and I was thankful that she had tried to save me. The little fairy was brave, that’s for sure. I tried not to dwell on what would have happened had the dragon not accidentally saved my life. Ratie probably would be able to handle Rae and Mishro easily, especially with them distracted by the eft. And the Crystals of Light were still with me in my pack. He wouldn’t have to search far for them.

And that dragon! It was clearly the source of the goblins’ frustrations. As we traveled up the mountain and entered the Longstop proper we saw firsthand the devastation of the dragon’s presence. The smoldering ruins of the Longstop were strewn about the rocky environment, trees and grass completely burnt away to nothing. The land was dead and the only sign of life were the destroyed goblin buildings. The path lead upward to the mouth of a large cave. We entered the cavemouth and traveled into the mountain. Bones of undetermined creatures lay scattered along the way.

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We entered a large chamber, a portion of the rock wall open to the blue sky. Strewn about the chamber were what could have been large eggs, or perhaps more of the goblin huts. They were busted wide open and I sincerely hoped they were not dragon eggs. There was no doubt that this was where the creature had made its aery.

“So, has anyone actually killed a dragon before?” Ratie asked with a smirk.

“No, but I’ve killed a few mages in my time,” I remarked with a glare.

“I think mages are a bit different from dragons,” Rae said. “Dragons have wings. And it can’t be that hard. I know which end of my axe goes where.”

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This couldn’t get any better. My group consisted of the homicidal mage, the bipolar girl with an axe, and the one who rhymes. Compared to these three I looked perfectly sane. And we were about to face a dragon in the immediate future. So immediate in fact that I should have bet on it because just as I was resisting the urge to hide my face in my hands the dragon flew into the chamber via the large opening in the cavern wall and landed with a roar.

I watched, completely stunned, as Rae roared right back and charged the dragon without missing a beat. I really wasn’t sure if that cute girl was the same I had first met in Sastasha. Hells, she had even changed drastically since I had last seen her in Gridania. Something had turned her into a savage that lusted over the thrill of battle. I remembered the crystalised souls that I had obtained in my journeys. The Soul of the Bard, the Soul of the Scholar. Was it possible that Rae had obtained one of these Soul Crystals as well?

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I shook myself from my thoughts and focused on the very large task at hand. The dragon was bearing down on Rae but she fought it with no fear, blocking snapping jaws and slashing claws with her axe when she could and retaliating when the opportunity presented itself. I sent Eos out to her side and the fairy fluttered about, healing Rae’s wounds and exhaustion so she could continue to distract the dragon. I began casting my poisonous spells on the monster, stacking on as many as I could. Mishro was somewhere out of my sight, more than likely punching the dragon in the kidneys if it had any. Ratie was standing by watching idly. I shot him a glare and he shrugged before deciding to start throwing balls of flame.

The dragon suddenly reared back and Rae dove out of the way. A spray of green bile lanced from the dragon’s mouth, leaving a pool on the ground. From where I stood I could already see the acid beginning to smoke as it ate away at the ground. I made note to avoid the dragon’s acid spray and refocused my Ruin spells on the beast. To my surprise, we must have had the beast on the run because it began flapping its wings, rising into the air. It slammed hard into the cave ceiling and fell back to the floor. Rocks began falling to the ground and we dashed about to avoid the falling debris. The dragon sprayed more of its acid, the fluid arcing in the air as it tried to hit us.The dragon’s attacks became more desperate and we pressed our attack harder until the monster finally collapsed.

Somehow, against all odds, we had slain a dragon. I closed my book with a sigh of relief and looked to my companions. I noticed immediately that the Thaumaturge had disappeared. Just what was the man up to? Was he in league with the Ascians? But I had seen him pull objects from space with the power of Light. Was he always like this, or had he switched sides? I looked away from the dead dragon back the way we had come, thinking I’d catch a glimpse of Ratie leaving, but instead saw Brayflox and his goblin companions. It figured that after we did the hard work the goblins come back.

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As Brayflox approached I began to gag, overtaken by a powerful stench. The goblin was carrying a block of cheese contained in a thick rope net which he offered to me. I took the Gobbie Gouda and resisted the urge to throw it in the nearest river.

“Alright! Great job everyone!” Rae cheered as she approached. “Oh! And you got your-” Her face blanched and she brought a gauntleted hand to her face. “Your cheese. It certainly smells… good?” Her voice came out nasally as she held her nose shut.

“Yeah… it’s got a distinct aroma…” I commented. “I should really get this where it belongs. It was good seeing you two again.” I bid the two farewell and left the Longstop with the stinky cheese.

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I returned to Costa del Sol that evening and presented the Gobbie Gouda to Wheiskaet. Even the Roegadyn was almost knocked out by the smell of the goblin cheese. I had finally obtained the ingredients requested by the former Company of Heroes captain and was ready to learn the secret to defeating Titan. However, Wheiskaet had other plans for me. Promising me that he wasn’t reneging on his part of the deal, he directed me to speak with Dyrstweitz, the chef at Costa del Sol who would be preparing the meal for the visiting dignitaries.

I found the chef closing up his small bar and restaurant, the Flying Shark, and asked him what he needed me to do. Dyrstweitz presented me with an order slip and told me all I had to do was travel to Wineport, speak to a mercenary turned vintner, and pick up a wine for the dinner. It seemed like such a simple, trivial task compared to what I had already been through. I had slain tortoises and drakes, worms and a wyrm. How difficult could picking up a bottle of wine and bringing it back really be?

—-

I'd make a comment about us being on Namek still, a witty allusion to filler arcs, but we haven't even gotten to the worst offender as far as filler goes. That won't be until later when we're off to fight Garuda in another ten levels or so. All the running around gets really boring sometimes and you kind of just auto-pilot through it. As I go back and run through dungeons again for exp or watch cutscenes again I begin to pick up on details that I completely missed out on before. Toto-Rak had the diremite webs and eggs all throughout it. Haukke Manor's cellar didn't have an elevator and started out looking more cellar-ish before it turned into a dungeon. Oh well. I'd like to think that the differences are what makes this interesting.

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Which is also why I decided to throw in a little twist here with this entry. There's a big thing coming up after Titan. Really big. I won't spoil it if you haven't gotten there yet. I'd like to think if you're reading these you're either close or past me or have no intention of playing anyway and you're just along for the ride. Ratie Farsight hasn't received much characterization yet and I had already pegged him as being a bit mysterious. Now we see that he's also just a bit crazy. But who's side is he working for really? Major props to anyone who can recognize which two characters I've based his personality on.

We've got one more post of running around questing to be doing, then it's Titan time. Titan o'Clock. Half of the fight with Titan is the music, and I really wish I could link you to it, but Square Enix has been ripping down any and all of the 2.0 music from Youtube. I don't know who decided to make the Titan boss music heavy rock (get it?) that transitions into death metal, but it was ingenious. I'll get into the mechanics of the fight and the boss music when we actually get to Titan though.

Also, Titan is going to be the last point you see supporting characters for a while. Been discussing how to make the ensuing quests work properly in story format, and I was told to make Ros "totally MGS that shit". Stone Vigil is the next dungeon, quite a ways away, and while it is meant to be a four man dungeon I am thinking that it will just be Rosalyn and the two NPC characters that are there for story purposes. So, any requests for who will be fighting alongside Rosalyn against Titan? Would be interesting to see who everyone wants to see come back.