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  -Part 13 :: [08.06.14]

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"Whilst trying to descend a staircase, I'm confronted by yet another dead McNeil, Galtel. He is - wait for it - a RED palette swap of the other ghosts! And to cap it off, he's just as easy to beat as his other family members. Words cannot describe how enthralling this game is at the mo-ZZZZZZZZZZZZ."
     -Ben, Breath of Fire III Part 2

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Suikoden III : Part 13
By Sam
Posted 08.06.14
Pg. 1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5 : 6 : 7
In the raging war between the Grasslands and Zexen--and maybe Harmonia, who fucking knows at this point--we last checked in with Frodo Baggins as he got the Zexen bureaucracy off his case once and for all, with the help of a redheaded teenage Silverberg, aka my kryptonite.

Finally, it is time to begin our three heroes' third chapters, and we begin with Hugo, whom we last saw fleeing Buttfuck Castle with his entourage, plus Caesar and Apple. But of course, that didn't happen in a Hugo chapter--in fact, he hasn't even arrived at Buttfuck yet--so our frosted blond protagonist has some catching up to do in his own narrative. Yay! Reruns!

I select Hugo on the Wheel of Heroes, and his third chapter opens on the world map, where new paths stretch out from the Great Hollow to the Yaza Plain, Mt. Hei-Tou, and Buttfuck Castle. Just to get a sense of where Hugo is in the larger timeline, I make him talk to poor, grieving Luce inside the Great Hollow, who sighs that the ironheads are dicks and all, but that torching a village full of civilians seems like a poor response to their crimes. Probably fair, though if she knew Chris had been there at the time, she might have a different attitude. The point is, Iksay is already burnt and sadly not full of gay men groping each other, which means it must happen, like, immediately after Frodo leaves there with Babyface Official, since Hugo and company are already hanging out at the castle when Frodo and BO arrive. And thank goodness. Fires and bloodthirsty lizards are not Frodo's strong point!

Before heading to the castle, Hugo takes a detour to Mt. Hei-Tou for a round of "What did Geddy leave me in the mystery chest?" with the PMS Crab. It turns out? A bunch of garbage, plus around 90,000 potch. Fuck off and thanks, respectively, 12th Unit! Other than the money, the only thing of value Hugo finds here is a recipe in a skeleton's pocket. That does make me doubt the wisdom of using it.

When Hugo and his crew arrive at Buttfuck, they take in the shabby buildings and the TRANQUIL SOUNDS OF WATER, COUGH COUGH, from the fountain. Sarge says, "This doesn't seem very much like a castle. Much too pleasant." Sarge is just used to being outdoors and enjoys that all the roofs have holes in them. Lilly adds, clearly aghast, "Plus there's...quite a mix of races and clans. Like some kind of soup!" A soup she would not enjoy, it goes without saying. Boy, the game has really been pushing Buttfuck's incredibly progressive diversity lately. Is there a pending lawsuit? Sarge suggests they ask the castle master about this beautiful patchwork quilt of cross-culture cooperation, or possibly about the Fire Bringer. Whatever.

Why don't YOU blow me?

After Hugo makes use of the castle's now robust services, mainly storing all his bath toys in Muto's warehouse, he winds up in the foyer, via the stairs from the basement. The party runs into Cogsworth, who is uncharacteristically busy, but characteristically prickly about whatever bug is up his ass today. He asks them to come back when he isn't bogged down with the impossible tasks of preparing a dinner menu and pressing all three of Frodo's shirts. He only has two hands, people! But a black screen later, Babyface Official is leaving the manor, followed by Cogs and Frodo, and is in the middle of handing Frodo his walking papers. BO stalks past Hugo on his way down the stairs, and mutters in a much too on-the-nose manner, "Hmm? A Grassland barbarian child... I can't imagine why you'd be here, but frankly I couldn't care less." Get it? Because he's going to make a honking hairy deal out of Hugo's presence when it suits him later? DO YOU GET IT? Hugo, obviously, is all testy about this, probably entirely because BO refers to him as a child, but the only response he gets from his angry retort is to be called an uppity "Grassie" by the Zexen knight who will end up identifying him later.

I feel terrible about nicknaming her Apple Jr., because she's wonderful.

Cogs is still stonewalling Hugo even with the requisite plot stuff out of the way, so Hugo walks to the front gate, where he witnesses Samwise shouting at BO's back, "Greedy windbag! If you come back, the only thing you'll get is my weapon in your rear end!" I am actually okay with her and Frodo getting together as long as she is the top. And she would be. Sarge is impressed with Sam's "spirit," as are we all, but he is confused by her armor, mistaking her for an actor playing an incompetent ironhead in a rousing stage play. No, really. And while Sarge just finds her wardrobe odd because he doesn't understand the political past of this castle, when Sam clarifies for him, Hugo chimes in with some well-meaning patronizing: "That's great! They let girls be guards in my village too. I'm from Karaya." But clearly Hugo is not a sexist, since his mom is the chief, and with that one stroke Karaya entered a post-sexist society. Sam, to her immense credit, tersely says, "I prefer my real title, please. Garrison Commander." It only tempers my pride a little that her attachment to her title is entirely predicated on the man who gave it to her.

Once we're all done commenting on Sam's wardrobe and career choices, the introductions are made and she runs off to fetch Frodo for an audience. As she leaves, Reed wonders aloud at Buttfuck's choice of garrison commander and Samus adds, throwing his hands in the air, "These days anything goes." Oh, I guess we're still commenting on it. Are you all done being assholes? Yes? Good. Hugo follows Sam up the stairs, and finds her in conference with the castle master, telling him how great it is that "trade envoys from Grassland" have arrived. Oh, hell. Frodo is rightly skeptical, but Sam says, "Why else would they be here?" Why indeed? The place has literally nothing else to recommend it, unless you're into cobwebs and beached shipwrecks. Or THE TRANQUIL SOUNDS OF WATER™. But Frodo jumps from anxiety regarding their motives to anxiety regarding Sam's manners, since she left them standing at the entrance. She didn't even bring them tea and crumpets! Jesus, Gamgee, get your act together. Thankfully the group waltzes up at this point to keep Frodo from having the world's most boring heart attack. "'Trade envoys'?" Sarge asks. "Are you referring to us?" No, the other group from the Grasslands that just got here.

This whole thing is weird because from the context, the meeting between Frodo and Hugo in the inn should be their first, but whatever. Frodo and Sam escort the Grasslanders up to Frodo's boudoir and introduce them to Cogs, who is interrupted from preparing Frodo's nightly sponge bath. And as if my completely invented awkwardness weren't enough, Frodo asks Hugo straight up what type of shop he and his friends are looking to open. Obviously Hugo is baffled by this question, and let's be honest, if Frodo were using his eyes and not making assumptions, he'd see that Hugo doesn't have an entrepreneurial bone in his body. Frodo and Sam basically do a goddamn Abbott and Costello routine, until Frodo finally explains his whole plan to exploit desperate small business owners in order to "restore the castle coffers." He finishes, lamely, "I am advertising this place as a free-commerce centerpoint. Haven't you heard anything at all about it?" Hugo and Lilly are all, "Nope," leading Frodo to wonder if that full-pager he paid for in the Buttfuck Bugle was a worthwhile expenditure.

What kind of shop would Hugo open, though?
Tattoo parlor. Step right up and get a true rune tramp stamp!
Hair salon, if only because it'd make it cheaper to get his tips frosted.
Boutique cupcake bakery, if only because he could offer a cupcake with frosted tip frosting.
Wine bar. Lilly would make an excellent stuffy sommelier.


Now that Frodo is back to feeling impotent and humiliated and balance is restored to the world, Sarge asks if they can move on to their actual business. Hugo proceeds at Frodo's invitation: "We're checking into what became of the Flame Champion. We came because of the rumor that his Fire Bringer are in hiding at this castle." I would expect Frodo to be shocked at this allegation, but instead he and Sam stand there half-smiling while Cogs sputters indignantly, "Heavens, no! What a nasty rumor! Those marauding Fire Bringer are the filth of Grassland!" I'm pretty sure Martha would cut his balls off if she heard him say this, but she's not here, to my constant relief. "If the Zexen Council found that we were harboring them here," Cogs goes on, almost choking me with dramatic irony, "I shudder to think what they might do... Is this rumor spreading?" How is this rumor spreading, anyway? Is it some open secret that the Fire Bringer have a terrible credit rating and this is the best rental they can get approved for?

Masterclass shade-throwing.

To Cogsworth, this is just further proof that Frodo's plan cannot possibly work--even though, thanks to timeline shenanigans, there are already dozens of people here who've taken him up on the offer--and he begs Frodo to give it up before they all end up in the Vinay del Sexay harbor with cement shoes. Frodo ignores him, but does tell Hugo he's never heard of "this Flame Champion fellow." Oh, Frodo. He's like Ned Flanders with lesser grooming standards. And true to that character, he asks Hugo and company to stay even though they're poor and uninclined toward business ownership, leading Cogs to protest, "But Lord [Frodo], what of our image? Even among the Grassland Clans, Karaya is known to be a warrior tribe." But if Hugo wanted to open a shoeshine booth, nobody would mind his savage brutality? And isn't Martha Karayan? Go fuck a French candelabra, Cogs.

But Cogs does as his diminutive master demands and shows the party to their room in the inn. Even though the inn is separate from the manor and is clearly marked as an inn, Samus asks, "This is an inn?" Like they're in a fucking cave in the Great Hollow. What crawled up his ass and died today? Did he and Lilly Freaky Friday each other? Bizarrely, Cogs answers, "Yes, we use some castle rooms as an inn." THIS ISN'T PART OF THE CASTLE. I feel like I'm taking crazy pills. Cogs lets them know that their stay is on the house, but that the normal rate is 50 potch. Jesus, he couldn't be more obvious if he stamped a Paypal link onto his forehead. Hugo, given a choice, offers to pay for the rooms, and Cogs's tone completely changes, as if he weren't angling for this exact outcome. "That is...most admirable! Such integrity!" he gushes. Not like that, I hope. "Follow me to the best chambers." These rooms only have a few spiders! And the mold problem is mostly under control!

'I retract my welcome.'

The next morning, Hugo stretches as he enters the common room, where he finds Sarge, already awake. Sarge informs him that there is some commotion outside, and as Lilly enters the room, Reed and Samus behind her indicate the same, which she does not want to hear because she is an upper-class white girl, and upper-class white girls are not morning people. It's in the handbook.

'Meetings are supposed to have a purpose?'

When Hugo exits the building, he finds that said commotion is yet another confrontation between Frodo and Babyface Official, of which he becomes the focus thanks to the unforgivable crime of existing while brown. It plays out exactly as it did in Frodo's chapter, except it is followed up with Hugo's group wondering what they should do. Somehow, Lilly does not go, "Well, nobody's got a warrant for my arrest, so see ya!" She's getting soft! Of course, they waffle about what to do--this is not a game for people who love decisiveness--and return to the front of the manor, where Frodo's crew is talking yet again, and just as pointlessly, about what they should do. This is never going to stop being boring, is it? It's like a Fibonacci spiral formed out of the Bloomberg News stock ticker.

I think Martha just threw out her back from rolling her eyes.

Once again, Cogs tries to appeal to Hugo's inherent sense of shame for being such a terrifying savage, and asks him as they approach, "Excuse me, but would you mind leaving and going straight to the Zexen Council? Thank you." Oh my God, this guy. Frodo is all, "Oh my God, this guy," and assures them they don't have to go anywhere. But what if they really want to? What if I really want them to? Please, Hugo, let's go somewhere else. Anywhere else.

Hugo ignores me and the two groups, at length, hash out just what the fucking problem is here at Buttfuck Castle. At no point does any member of Hugo's party--looking to Sarge or Lilly here--ask what exactly their residence at the Buttfuck Inn has to do with Frodo's daddy shutting down his outlet mall, or how them leaving would help Frodo's situation in any way. Because the answers are, respectively, "nothing" and "not at all," but everyone continues to act like these two problems are related just because they're happening on top of each other. But every word I write about how stupid this is translates to another tiny fraction of my life I lose thinking about Frodo's fucking real estate travails. So I am going to try my best to drop it.

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