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"Then space aliens flew out my butt and I dreamed I was playing Dead or Alive Volleyball III with Pope John Paul II. The pontif always did like the ladies, just like me. That new pope looks too much like the Emperor from Star Wars to ever get a chick, which reminds me that I need to have my Jedi robe laundered."
     -Ted, Hoku Part 1




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Final Fantasy IV : Part 5
By Ben
Posted 02.17.14
Pg. 1 : 2 : 3 : 4
As soon as he steps across Troia's boundary, a villager clone gets up in his grill and starts reeling off an over-rehearsed welcome speech. "Welcome to T[o]roia, the city of beautiful scenery and water!" she gushes, brandishing a glossy tourism pamphlet. Lady, I know being the 16-bit equivalent of a Walmart greeter can't be the most fulfilling job in the world, and Cecilia doesn't want to be rude, but you could at least let him breathe. Figuring he'll rouse suspicion if he straight-up asks her where he can find the crystal, Cecilia opts to gather intelligence by discreetly interrogating the townspeople. He'd probably have an easier time gathering water with a paper bag, but he'd never forgive himself if he missed out on some vital information, such as the location of Troia's number-one gay bar.

When the group enters one particular building, we get to experience yet another example of the powers-that-be censoring the shit out of this game. In their infinite wisdom, the game designers--and this may also be the case in all the other towns, but I don't care enough to go back and check--have decided to try to convince us that what is pretty obviously a bar/tavern is actually a cafe. That's adorable. Still, at least Cecilia can now drown his sorrows with some cool, refreshing "tea".

A certain female NPC loitering suspiciously near the entrance turns out to be a secret merchant, except she only has one thing on offer (and no, it's not what you think). For the mere pittance of 10,000 gold, Cecilia can get his hands on something only identified as a "Pass". Naturally, his curiosity is piqued, but he can't really justify pissing away more than 75% of his current fortune on the off-chance that the Pass will grant him access to something even approaching worth the money. There's a pretty conspicuous fake wall nearby, and the dude sitting at the adjacent table demands to see Cecilia's Pass before he'll let him...well, pass. When the item menu pops up, Cecilia tries offering him a Cure1 instead, but his attempt at wangling his way into the bar cafe's secret area is thwarted. Looks like its contents will forever remain a mystery. Of course, I could have just bought the fucking Pass, investigated whatever secret it unlocked, and then reloaded my game, thereby keeping the precious 10,000 gold while also providing you readers with as thorough a recap as possible. As for why I didn't think to do that...hey, look over there!

 
Not to mention the whole drowning thing. Like the rust wouldn't be enough to deal with!

Back outside, Cecilia continues his round of Talk to Everyone. "Metals get so heavy and stuck in a cave on the island of northeast. Better watch out!" one man exclaims. Filing this, like so many other NPC lines, under "Apparently useless information that may in fact become useful at some point in the future, provided I can decipher its actual meaning", Cecilia leaves the old dude to his babbling and approaches another elderly NPC male, this one half-hidden in the tall grass. It's only then that I notice what the guy's doing: spying on some young female NPCs frolicking in the nearby pool. Gross. "Go away!" the old perv snarls, withered and pixellated wang clenched in his clammy hand. Well, that's certainly the implication, which makes me wonder how this managed to get past the censors. I'm sure he'd have been removed from the game entirely if he had an alcoholic drink in his other hand.

Feeling it's his duty as an all-round good guy, Cecilia heads into the water to warn the blissfully unaware swimmers about their creepy admirer. He still has to earn his heroic stripes, and an act of kindness such as this will be so much easier than, say, slaying an evil overlord or rescuing a damsel in distress. Oh, wait, he still has to do those too. He's sorry he bothered trying to help when the first girl starts making eyes at him and then invites him to take a swim together. How about no. The other one makes an inane remark about rusted armour, which is enough to break his already frayed patience. Back on dry land, he investigates the last remaining building in town, only to find another of the Training Rooms that seem to pop up in every town he visits. I'm not quite sure this one is needed--if you've somehow managed to get this far without learning how to save the game or use a healing item, there's no hope for you--but it's nice that the facility's there, I guess. And after all, I'm speaking as the guy who died in a regular battle five minutes ago. I can't really claim the high ground here.

Well, that's every possible avenue in Troia exhausted, and Cecilia isn't any closer to nabbing the Crystal of Earth. What a waste of his time. The only other possible destination is Troia Castle itself, so off the party trots, blissfully unaware of the horrors ahead.

En route to the heart of the castle, Cecilia chats up a few of the sentries lining the walls. Most of them are about as informative as amoebas, but one guard gives him some insight into the way things are run around here: rather than being ruled by a monarch, Troia is actually governed by a group of eight clerics (or Clerics, apparently). Cecilia's a little surprised, but not necessarily in a bad way. Sure, he was expecting a king, like in every other god-forsaken country he's visited on his trip so far, but maybe this will actually make things easier for him--if he can flirt with a few of these handsome young men of the cloth, the crystal's all but his.

But his excitement is short-lived. Another nearby guard proudly reveals that he's actually a she, as are the rest of the guards, the soldiers, the Clerics, and indeed, everybody in the entire castle. Yes, it seems the good women of Troia have broken free of their shackles, overthrown their male oppressors and built themselves a feminist utopia here. Which would be all well and good if they were portrayed as capable of managing their own affairs, and not, say, having to rely on a group of men to get them out of trouble. But I'm getting ahead of myself here. (Fun fact: while we're on the subject of unfortunate implications, "Troia" apparently means "slut" in Italian. Good job, game designers!)

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
 

Cecilia's all for female empowerment, but this development throws a major wrench in his plan. He can't flirt with women! Looks like he'll have to think of another way to get close to the crystal, but in the meantime, there's still half a castle to explore. As he wracks his brains, another guard starts excitedly whispering about someone currently being treated in the infirmary. Because women love to gossip, y'all (I'm totally kidding, in case anyone was about to send me an angry email). Cecilia's not at all interested in other people's medical issues, but his ears prick up when he learns of this patient's alleged identity. And not in a good way. "A man from Damcyan was found on the beach," Gossip Guard blabs. "He says he's a prince." Wait, Damcyan only had one prince, right? And that was-

WHAT. No. No, this cannot be. That useless fucker became fish food when Leviathan attacked the ship, me and Cecilia are both sure of it. I mean, we didn't actually see him die, but come the fuck on. It was already stretching credibility for KaMan to have escaped unscathed, and he's a seasoned fighter. Jeez, if someone else had to survive that shipwreck, why couldn't it have been Gyftyd, who can at least summon monsters and shit? Fuck, Edward's so inept he can't even DIE properly.

FUUUUUUUUUUUUCK.

Trying not to give in to the urge to bash his head against the wall repeatedly, Cecilia steels himself and heads to the infirmary. He's clinging on to the faint hope that this is a case of mistaken identity and that the mysterious patient is just some unfortunate mental case who thinks he's the prince of Damcyan. Hey, less believable things have happened already in this game. Like, for example, PEOPLE SURVIVING FUCKING SHIPWRECKS AND ENCOUNTERS WITH RAVENOUS SEA MONSTERS.

 
No, you still need to rest. Like, forever.

As soon as we cut to the infirmary and catch a glimpse of the invalid taking up valuable Troian bed space, mine and Cecilia's worst fears are realized--there's no mistaking that floppy mauve hat and general air of uselessness. Some sappy music kicks in here, as if to signify that this is some kind of heartwarming event and not a complete and utter travesty. "Cecilia...so you are alive..." Edward gasps, like it's a huge shock that the closest thing the party has to a badass has managed to survive. Ed, if Leviathan couldn't even manage to finish you off, I don't think the world's most fabulous future paladin was ever in danger of becoming plankton.

It gets worse. As Cecilia and KaMan stand at their old acquaintance's bedside and pretend to appear concerned (and Cid wonders who the fuck he is), Edward begs to rejoin the group, because he apparently wasn't enough of a liability even before ending up bedridden. Cecilia's seriously contemplating leaving the infirmary and drowning himself in Troia's moat. Not only has he been subjected to an awkward encounter with the ex and robbed of the opportunity to defrock some cute male priests, he's now come face-to-face with the one handicap he was sure he'd seen the last of. Fuck this. Fuck everything.

Remembering he's supposed to hate Edward for leading his only daughter to her death, Tellah barks, "What can you do in such a wretched condition! Lie in bed quietly!" Edward takes this as a cue to apologize for Anna's demise, because we obviously hadn't heard enough of his self-pitying wanksting the last time they met. KaMan, not helping matters, breaks the news that Gyftyd perished in the shipwreck, giving Edward yet another thing to whine about. "Poor Gyftyd," he sobs. "And I can't do anything while you fight. It's a shame." Yes, a real shame. You were such a vital and valued member of the party! Oh well, these things happen. Be seeing you! Of course, things don't quite pan out according to my fantasy (or my other fantasy, where Tellah distracts the nurse while Cecilia suffocates Edward with one of his silk pillows). Edward asks after Rinosa, like she's an old friend and not someone he traveled with for half a day, and Cecilia provides--surprise!--an awkwardly-phrased explanation for her absence. "But the crystal is now in the hands of the Dark Elf," he finishes.

Hopefully they mean "take care of him" in the same way the Mafia "takes care" of people.
 

Wait, what? Who the fuck is the Dark Elf? We're getting a little ahead of ourselves here, as the game's obviously assuming that Cecilia's already spoken to the Clerics and ascertained his next mission. Whoops, game designers. It probably says a lot that I'm no more confused by this than I usually am while playing the game.

"Dark Elf..." Edward mutters, before urging Cecilia to "take this". I won't lie, my mind went to a horrible place when I read that. "Say...my substitute...it may help..." he continues, and the amount of ellipses in that one line makes me infinitely glad that this game was released before the introduction of voice acting. Also, I sincerely hope this "substitute" isn't some kind of enchanted blow-up doll dressed up as Edward (which, while a terrifying prospect, would probably be more useful in battle than the real thing) or worse, a literal clone of him. Poor Cecilia's been through enough.

It turns out that Edward's "substitute" is something called the TwinHarp. His actual harp remains standing against the wall, so Yevon knows where this one's suddenly appeared from (if he was hiding it about his person up until now, I really don't want to know where). It probably isn't even tuned properly, and lugging the fucking thing around dimly-lit dungeons is going to be so much fun for Cecilia, but he'll take it in place of Edward in a heartbeat.

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