When we last left off, Stallion had some pressing urgent news for us... which we're going to cheerfully ignore for the time being so we can go on a recruit-a-thon! Huzzah!

But first, as always, some prep work. Since Gremio had to go and take my Holy Rune off to the afterlife with him (or, to the bowels of the Soul Eater, whatever), I'll throw one on Tai Ho here for the time being. This works fine because I need him both for the sidequest I'm about to do, and for the entire following scenario, and that dash button is always good times.

Next, we'll give Milich our Fire Rune, which he will be able to put to excellent use. Man, this Fire Rune is kind of a little whore, having gone from Leknaat to Cleo to Meg to Eileen and now to Milich. What can I say? Fire Magic is probably the most universally useful magic in the game; it's L2, L3 and L4 spells are area attacks that essentially amount to free victories. Rage Runes are even better, if you can find one (there's one hidden somewhere, but damned if I can remember where...) Later in the game I'm going to want more Lightning/Thunder Runes to help take down the endgame bosses, but for mopping up huge hordes of bad guys Fire magic just can't be beat.

Next, to sharpen up some weapons. Yes, there is a good reason I am using this very specific party, so you asshole Kimberly fetishists are going to have to wait for the next scenario proper for me to get my unwashed skank on.

With that done, Viki sends ○∆□☆ off to Teien, from which he can hop a boat and have a nice, liesurely sail to...

...SKULLDEATH PIRATE ISLAND. I made that name up.

Right now the map is showing the entirety of Lake Toran and its surrounding areas. The Pirate Fort is on the tiny island in the western area of the lake. The double dots west of me are the Northern Checkpoint, which remains closed to me. North of there is Moravia Castle, one of the endgame areas. North of me is the village of Kirov, which is also closed off for now. South of the Checkpoint we see Antei and Teien, and of course the double dots of the Bridge of Garan. East of Garan is Kouan, north of that is Kaku, and the dot along the wall north of Kaku is the Fortress of Kwaba. Hmm... Seika should be in between Kaku and Kwaba, not sure where it ran off to. The large land mass in the southern section of the lake is an unvisitable island, but the dot alongside it is Eureka's Castle. On the island in the north section is the Floating Fortress Shazarazade (sha-za-RA-za-day, I think), where the Imperial Navy is stationed.

Unless you have both Tai Ho and Yam Koo in the team here, the pirates won't even give you the time of day.

Not that they intend to give us the time of day anyway.

Sigh... why must it always come down to violence? In case you hadn't noticed, this is the first time in the entire game I've been able to build whatever party I want. Strictly speaking you can recruit the pirates as early as you think you can beat them in combat, but think what that actually means: the only time I'd have any room at all for someone other than Tai Ho, Yam Koo and whatever folks the plot shoves in my party would be at the beginning of the Great Forest scenario. So, I like to wait until this point where I can assign Milich and Hellion to the group to back me up with sickhouse runes capable of taking the pirates down in a mere round or two.

Three casters with area attacks make short work of the pirates. That giant rock spell is Earthquake, the L4 Earth Rune spell. But since Hellion has a Mother Earth Rune, it becomes her L3 spell instead, meaning she gets a couple more charges of it. Unfortunately she's one of those S-range wizard characters, and the rune is glued-on; ○∆□☆ won't get his own Mother Earth Crystal until extremely late in the game.

Fortunately the pirates are good sports, and after being crushed, deep-fat-fried and... uh... black-shadowed, they sign up. Three recruits for the price of one!

057/108: Anji
o/~ We are the fearless pirates! We are the most amazing pirates! o/~

058/108: Leonardo
o/~ We hunt for sunken treasure in the ocean! When we get sunburned we put on lotion! o/~

059/108: Kanak
o/~ This is the life of the pirates! The stars will guide our waaaaaaay... o/~

Okay, in all seriousness, I've never used the pirates in my group. The only thing really of note is that Leonardo's weapon is called the HORSE KILLER HATCHET which is probably the single coolest sounding weapon in the Liberation. Also, nuts to nickels says they have a Unite together.

After slapping Anji and his gang around, it's time to head down to Antei to go a-recruitin'. This charming lad is so happy that the town's name has been changed back to normal that he asks to please leave it and introduce people to Eureka's Castle instead.

060/108: Qlon
You know that one NPC in every RPG town who says "Welcome to Town!"? That's Qlon's job. Suikoden decided that job was important enough to have a Star of Destiny. Actually, interesting tidbit about Qlon is that he's one of the members of the strongest Charge unit in the game. Unfortunately, the other two members aren't introduced until just before the penultimate battle.

You know, I was all rarin' to bitch and moan about the whole Opal thing, but it ended up dropping pretty easy. You get off light, princess.

061/108: Esmeralda
Most useless character ever. Let us never mention Esmeralda ever again.

Finally, it's time to loot Scarleticia! You can of course do this on your way in to burn Milich's flowers, but there's not much point since you have to come back for some characters anyway, and why run through the joint twice if you can get away with doing it once, right?

There are a couple of important collectibles here. First is this Red Paint; oddly enough the Pink Paint is found elsewhere.

Examining the portrait of Milich on the wall lets you, uh, think about whether or not he's a creep. If you decide he's not, a secret passage opens up underneath that conspicuous square tile on the floor. This is actually a pretty ingenious security measure, as the only people who could hope to get past it are the ones who don't hate your guts. Hey Dwarf guys, are you taking notes? Some gay guy dressed like a flower totally pwned your entire mountain vault, you scrubs.

Hidden underneath (in what can only be described as Milich's Love Sanctuary) is my first Window Setting. Eventually I'll recruit someone who will let me use these to customize my menu and message windows. I'll let you guys pick them out for me, fully expecting you to pick the gaudiest bullshit imaginable.

I'm... not really clear what Ivanov is going on about here. You can't recruit him before beating Milich; apparently he is the Flower General's slave? Who, for some reason, didn't run away once Scarleticia had been liberated?

062/108: Ivanov
Ivanov's lifelong ambition is to discover the "color of freedom," and he believes he can achieve that goal by joining the military. Happily he is an artist, so I can finally empty my vault of all this paint I've been stockpiling.

Kasios is Milich's other servant: a musician and singer. Unlike Ivanov (who will sign on as soon as you remove Milich from power) Kasios requires you actually bring Milich back here. So you see, magical prowess against the pirates isn't the only reason I brought him along.

063/108: Kasios
Kasios looks like a woman to me, but various online resources state s/he is a man. Knowing Milich I'm not sure either would surprise me.

The treasure-hunting jaunt through Scarleticia has done wonders for Pahn's level. This little mystery will be explored in the next update.

Anyway, it's been a while since we poked around the castle. Let's take a look around!

Here's little Qlon, Eureka's Castle's own personal greeter, delivering one of the most iconic lines in the game! I had a good feeling, so I recruited him. Unfortunately you don't actually see much of him in a typical playthrough, since using the Blinking Mirror brings you up through the basement, and you leave by talking to Viki more often than getting on your boat.

On the second floor terrace we find all the elves and kobolds hanging out. I think... wait... are Kuromimi and Gon kissing? Exactly what connotations does "big brother" have in kobold society anyway? And... is Fu Su Lu just watching? Or is he instructing them somehow? You know what, I don't want to know.

Up on the third floor is Ivanov's studio. ○∆□☆ has brought him all the paints he's found so far, so let's see what he's finished...

Not bad. The more paint you bring Ivanov, the more of his mural he can finish, until his masterpiece resembles the artwork on the front of the game's instruction manual.

Out here on the opposite terrace are paths leading to some of the outlying sections of Eureka's Castle, and is where Kasios hangs out.

You guys can't tell but I'm totally jamming out to the Rockland music right now! Kasios basically serves as an incomplete sound test, letting you listen to music from throughout the game.

Along the north path is Anji's new hideout which... uh... honestly looks a lot worse than his old place. Especially since he has to share it with Varkas and Sydonia. The place isn't a total sausage party though, since Lorelai is hanging out just outside.

Along the west path is the Imperial Wing, where all our ex-Imperial troops (like Valeria and Kwanda) hang out. Top the Imperial Wing is...


Look, I'm sorry if that title offends your delicate sensibilities, but this is FAG TOWER. Not only do all the narcissists hang out here, but if you talk to any of them the iconic "Theme of Narcissism" begins to play, replacing the standard awesome castle music with a horrid off-key flute thing. Actually, there are a couple bits of music that survive the entire length of the series, and the Narcissist Theme is one of them.

What's more is, before Milich arrives, there aren't any flowers up here, or that frilly... arch... thing. He brought those from home. Good lord only knows where all his clothes are being stored:

Originally posted by: forever ago

So yeah. FAG TOWER. Moving on.

Flaw in the Suikoden vault system: you can't Detach any ? items that haven't been appraised. Which means I had to manually find all the people carrying them, head up to Sanchez to put them in my party, and bring them down to Jabba's shop. But it's all worth it...

See! As Eureka's Castle grows in size, so too does Sansuke's bathhouse grow in classiness. I've got my Flower Painting, my Vase and my Hex Doll all set up on display. Note that the bath is split into a halves; ladies on the left, gentlemen on the right. Except if you come with a party full of men that includes Milich, he insists on sitting on the lady half. Which means either 1) he wants to avoid being around naked men, or 2) naked men want to avoid being around him.

(Holy crap, lots of gay jokes this update. I feel like a writer for Family Guy. Heheheheheheheheh, doodie. Heheheheheheheheh, diarrhea.)

Last but not least, Kamandol has set up a mad scientist operation down in my basement. Which is odd, considering I can't recall ever asking him to join, and he showed no particular interest in doing so after bragging about his boat engine.

But wait! Didn't we have an emergency to tend to? Yes. Yes we did.

Kasumi is our first ninja, and most people (including Mathiu apparently) labor under the delusion that he is a girl. In reality he is very obviously a thirteen-year-old boy with a thing for scarves. In any case, Teo McDohl has smashed up the ninja village of Rokkaku (another location you can't visit in Suiko1, though you can in Suiko2; it's located in the geographical area between the two settings), heard his upstart son has fired up a rebellion, and now he's mad as hell and apparently knocking on our door.

064/108: Kasumi
Kasumi is S-range and has a glued-on attack rune, which makes him about on par with Valeria as far as usefulness in combat goes. Unfortunately for both of them, their runes are a liability for someone who doesn't want to slog through the menu every single random encounter. All ninjas, however, have the ability to spy on enemies during major battles without any chance of failure, and this is by far Kasumi's greatest strength.

Neither Cleo nor Pahn show any indication they intend to defect, which says quite a lot actually. Remember, they were originally in Teo's employ, not ○∆□☆'s. This is actually a subtle little nudge that ○∆□☆ has grown from a punk kid who needs babysitting into the honest-to-goodness leader (or at least figurehead) of an army that poses a very dangerous threat to the Empire.

Hey peanut gallery!
Before you answer rashly, think about it; could you fight your own father? To the death? Is it really something you would wish on ○∆□☆?

Obligatory link to the master list.

Countdown to Quincy: 16 Stars of Destiny.

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