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  -Part 1 :: [01.04.06]
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"'It was incredible. There was a flash, and Stallion charged forward at an unbelievable speed,' Sylvina gushes, apparently unaware that Stallion can and probably did do other things at light speed. I remember an old Superman joke kind of like that."
     -Jeanne, Suikoden Part 6




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Tales of Destiny : Part 2
By Ben
Posted 01.25.06
Pg. 1 : 2 : 3
So, welcome to hour 2 of my journey into uncharted territory. Our introduction to the strange world of ToD saw a lion beginning a long and happy relationship with a snarky sword, narrowly escaping from a sinking airship-dragon, joining up with a boring bishounen and rescuing a precocious little girl from a monster-filled forest (but failing to rescue said little girl from her...devoted grandpappy). God, if that was just the first hour, what crazy shit will the game designers throw at me this time around? By the way, that was a rhetorical question. I really don't need you to tell me in minute detail what happens, as much as your eagerness to help is appreciated. In the same way that the Black Death was appreciated.

We start where we left off, with Aslan and Kelvin embarking on a romantic walk through the snowy forest. Sword of Snark silently seethes in his sheath as his mayyyyun takes furtive glances at Kelvin's shiny hair and slim boday. Kelvin makes furtive glances of his own, thinking wistfully that Aslan would be quite the looker if he just got a damn haircut. Aslan trips over a rock while fantasising about Kelvin running his fingers through his golden locks. I amuse myself during this tedious journey by imagining Kelvin being swallowed whole by the haystack on Aslan's head.

Man, I love filling in the blanks. Unfortunately none of this makes the journey any quicker. Aslan takes a wrong turn and ends up at the lake where his escape pod crash-landed, finding a randomly-placed treasure box containing a Green Gel. Did some kindly traveller carry that box around the forest then decide to leave it as a gift for the next person to come along? I guess we'll never know. A few screens down, he stumbles across another chest containing a Cape. Aww, how considerate of the mystery Treasure Dropper to take account of the sub-zero weather.

Eventually the party (is it still called a party when the group consists of only two people and a sword?) reaches 'Border Town Janos', and Kelvin quickly takes his leave. "If you go through the north gate, you'll be in Seinegald," he reveals, before discreetly pressing his phone number into Aslan's clammy hand and whispering "Call me. But lose the hair." He and Aslan thank each other for everything (and they do mean everything) before he scurries out of town faster than a speeding Plot Point Mallet. Speaking of which, Sword of Snark snipes "He's gone at last. I don't trust [Kelvin]." Crushed that his companion seems jealous of his desired slampiece, Aslan replies "Why not? He's a nice guy." SoS isn't convinced. "Listen! He knew that I existed! And yet he still made a move on you. The guy has no integrity," he points out, apart from the last two sentences. "Well, I learned about you too," Aslan snaps. "You're special. You've been chosen!" SoS replies. Yes, he actually says that. My word, this is too good. The torrid love triangle is practically writing itself.

 
Awww, how sweet.

Meanwhile, the citizens of Janos continue to wander around aimlessly, not finding it at all odd that a wild-haired stranger is standing in the town square deep in conversation with a sword. "Chosen?" Aslan gasps, flattered that SoS wants things to be serious. His sprite even looks gleeful for a moment, and it's actually pretty funny. "Hey, don't let it go to your head!" SoS replies. "You've still got some learning to do. Namely, don't try to pick up other guys while I'm strapped to your side!" Yes, I made the last line up. I promise I'll stop now and just quote the damn dialogue verbatim. Sword of Snark tells Aslan not to draw attention to himself -- at least he has figured out that people might not think that talking to your weapon is, you know, normal. He tells Aslan that he'll only speak if he has to, meaning that their wonderfully ambiguous conversation is cut short. Day-um.

Remembering what Kelvin told him about taking the north gate (and dwelling for a moment on the thought of Kelvin taking his north gate) Aslan heads straight too...well, the north gate. But, as you may have predicted (I know I did) things aren't that simple. Aslan is told that he can't cross the border without a passport. What's a lion to do? Wander around aimlessly and engage random passers-by in conversation, of course!

Aslan's first port of call is the town square, where multiple NPCs scrabble around excitedly, waiting for the chance to blow their loads of exposition. A Seinegaldian Soldier (try saying that after a few glasses bottles of fine red) helpfully informs Aslan that their continent is governed by two kingdoms -- Seinegald and Phandaria -- and that the two countries are currently co-existing quite harmoniously. However, if war were to break out between them, the continent would be ruined. Yeah, like that's going to happen. After all, we certainly can't accuse game designers of being predictable and lazy. (Incidentally, this is one instance where I actually hope I'll be proved wrong.) Two men loitering outside the tavern tell Aslan that the place is full of Lens hunters -- Lenses, I've now discovered, are a kind of currency dropped by enemies, which can be exchanged for gold (sorry, I mean gald -- it warms the heart to hear such an original name for gold). Hearing that there may be a window of opportunity to exchange his growing cache of Lens for cold, hard cash (probably to spend on Green Gel for his hair), Aslan hot-foots it inside.

A gayer name for a drinking establishment?
The Brown Spot
The Black Stallion
Rimmer's
The Rainbow Room
Twink's Tavern

 

A handy pop-up box tells me that the name of this fine establishment is the 'One Million Roses Tavern'. Shit, that's the fruitiest name for a tavern I've ever heard. It beats 'Superstar Boudoir', at least. As I guide Aslan to the counter, I half-expect legions of half-dressed young men to sashay towards him, sipping martinis and Bacardi Breezers. Unfortunately for Aslan, the tavern is less gay than the name implies -- all the men inside are either elderly and rendered half-comatose, or drooling into their mugs of ale. Disappointed, Aslan decides to try it on with the handsome young bartender instead. The barkeep tells Aslan that the prince of Phandaria is travelling around the world. Hmm, I wonder if we'll ever meet him? A waitress declares that "It's refreshing to watch guys who drink like civilized people!" Aslan slowly nods, taking in the scene of half a dozen thugs lying on the floor in a paralytic state. I guess it's a quiet night.

 
I'm sorry, but what?

In a quiet corner of the bar he finds three young wanderers who turn out to be a group known as The Black Wings, the aforementioned Lens hunters. The first guy, John (wearing a viking helmet) reveals that the leader of the trio, Grid, will be famous one day and "earn his rightful place in history". Grid, my friend, I think you have an admirer. One who isn't too far away, if you catch my drift. The token girl of the group, Milly, seems bored to tears until Aslan approaches her. A love heart bounces around above her sprite as she gushes "Your bod! It's so ripped!" I doubt she'd be able to tell what his bod looks like under that oversized armour, but I digress. Milly then proceeds to make the most cringe-worthy pun in existence, which is forever immortalized in the purty pink box just over there. "I'm in love!" she sighs, practically grinding against the perplexed Aslan. I don't think he has the heart to tell her that he prefers parking his bike up the dirt track. Still she throws herself at him, asking him to join their group. Aslan isn't joining up with anyone -- like, bitch, please, he has to form his own party -- so he wriggles out of her clutches and heads over to Grid.

Ugh, kill me.
 

The supposed leader of the group doesn't seem much better than his inane lackeys -- when Aslan tells him it's cool to have met some gen-u-wine Lens hunters, he replies "Ah, you seem to appreciate how magnificent I am". Now readers, if there's one thing that rattles my cage (apart from animal cruelty, dishonesty, racism, ignorance, homophobia, intolerance, and avocado, that is) it's arrogance. So I'm sure you'll appreciate that, right now, I would gladly give every penny in my bank account just to see Grid's head mounted, deer-like, on the wall of the tavern. Just to annoy the wanker, Aslan speaks to him again, but this time declares that Lens hunting is no big deal. Grid is predictably incensed by this, and proceeds to tell Aslan just why The Black Wings -- and especially Grid, of course -- are so amazing. They go on "difficult adventures" in order to find Lens to sell to the Oberon Corporation. This corporation uses the Lens to manufacture everyday items used by countless people. I can assure you that typing that was as interesting as reading it undoubtedly was. But, hey, we can all sleep easily tonight now we finally know what the hell Lens are. "We're invincible!! We're immortal!!" Grid finishes, practically orgasming. I'm sure Aslan would love to put that claim to the test using the business end of SoS, but can't get a word in edgeways now that Grid has started his spiel. "John, 'The Beast'!" he cries. A spotlight appears over John's sprite as he makes generic beast-like noises. "Whirlwind Milly!" Grid continues as the spotlight moves over to Milly. Milly doesn't seem too enamoured with her moniker, and I can't say I blame her. Besides, does the 'Whirlwind' part refer to the speed at which she throws herself at passing heroes? Grid finishes his speech by declaring himself "The Omnipotent". That's it, he's now known as Grid The Impotent.

As you can imagine, Aslan has had enough of this wankery, so for now he leaves The Black Wings to fawn over each other and cream themselves. I'm sure we'll be seeing them again, otherwise that whole scene would be pretty pointless. Back outside, various NPCs tell Aslan that most people outside of Phandaria worship a goddess named Atamoni, the Seinegaldians being particularly religious. Many people from all over the world make pilgrimages to the Straylize Temple in order to honour Atamoni (please, no pilgrimages. the last one was bad enough). Hey, I'm sure we'll never be paying a visit to this temple! We also learn that, rather than kissing Atamoni's ass, the Phandarians worship their king as a god. I could make a comment here about elderly British ladies worshipping our monarchy even though they're little more than parasites, but I won't. Next stop is the Inn, where Aslan is informed by a chambermaid that "the prince of Phandaria is a beautiful man with flowing silver hair". Hmm, he doesn't sound familiar at all. I could be wrong, of course, but right now it seems unlikely.

 
Rejoice, game designers!
What could a soldier want all these Gels for? ...Oh, I see.
 

In the back room of the Inn, Aslan stumbles upon a distraught family. What could be wrong, I wonder? Did grandma just die? Is the Inn fresh out of croissants? Are they upset that Desperate Housewives was snubbed at the Golden Globes? The truth turns out to be somewhat far off the mark - it seems that duhddy has lost the family passport, and consequently cannot take his family through the border on their oh so important journey to Phandaria. Fetch quest incoming! I'll be kind and spare you the details of the next ten minutes, which involve trekking around town again and speaking to every single fucking NPC to see if any of them will tell a complete stranger about the passport they found lying around. Finally, an old lady tells Aslan she found it and handed it in to one of the soldiers at the border station. But when Aslan finds said soldier and enquires about the passport, he does the stupid decent thing and decides not to take something that doesn't belong to him. Aslan really isn't your average RPG hero, is he? I'm sure that, in the same situation, Red Cloud would be out of Janos, passport in hand, faster than you can say "Is this game going anywhere?".

 
OMG, he must be one of those evil baby-haters!

If Aslan hadn't come along, what could Passport Guy have done to resolve his problem?
Actually gone out looking for the damn thing.
Created a fake using card and crayon.
Grovelled to the border guards. "You have to let me through, I have chyylldren!"
Prayed to the wizard.

 

Back at the Inn, Good Samaritan Aslan tells the flustered man that his passport is waiting for him at the border station. Aslan is thanked profusely for his gesture of kindness, and receives a reward of...

50 gald.

Fifty fucking gald.

Jesus, Aslan, you could have kept the cursed passport and sold it for ten times that amount. They seem to be in short supply, after all. But nooo, instead you decided to Do The Right Thing and in turn walked away with less cash than you pick up from the average random battle, and are now stuck in this isolated hellhole with no way out. In short, Assy, I don't like you very much right now. Go and sit in the corner for a while.

Aslan seems to realise I'm not too pleased with him (and yes, I know he's a fictional character and not a real person. Please do not re-inform me of this fact) as he umms and ahhs for a while, prompting Passport Guy to ask what's wrong. Aslan meekly asks where he can get a passport (never mind the fact that you had one in your hand less than two minutes ago, and WHY didn't you use it you stupid motherfucking over-styled stack of split ends?!). My bad mood evaporates when Passport Guy replies with the worst/most hilarious line we've seen so far: "If you don't have a passport, you must either be a criminal or an illegal alien...". Seriously, an illegal alien? Aslan vigorously disputes the accusation that he's an alien, illegal or otherwise, and fibs that he has a passport of his own -- honest! -- and he just lost it. Unsurprisingly, Passport Guy doesn't believe him, and is all "Uh...I've just remembered I left the stove on inside the helicopter. Gotta go!" After the guy leaves, Aslan sighs and brushes the hair out of his eyes (oops, there I go misinterpreting sprite actions again -- someone stop me!) before deciding to leave the Inn.

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