FFXII – Revenant Wings (10) – Ch. 5 – Vaan Loses It

In our last Let’s Play Revenant Wings, I predicted we’d fail to save another hugely significant crystal from the Judge of Wings. Boy, was I wrong. It was an island approximately the size of Australia that bit the dust. Also, tomboy and all-around go-getter Filo was put in her place with a well-timed Damsel in Distress mission.

Now that that’s out of the way, Clan Potholder can get on with the business of trying and failing to save the world. Go us!

Airship lying on jungle

Chapter Five fades in with our airship resting on some jungle treetops. The camera pans down to show our party scattered around a grassy clearing, sitting or standing in a daze.

I wonder if anyone in this crew knows how to repair an airship.

Chapter 5: Stranded. Location: Tswarra, Isle of the Lost

Signs point to “No.”

The music of Depressing Things Just Happened kicks in. I never thought I’d say this, but I feel a sudden pang of longing for Ondore’s lies. He’d be alliterating all over the aftermath of Bahamut’s smackdown with his florid prose.

On the bright side, I can now stop checking every few lines of this playthrough to make sure I haven’t accidentally written “Sandsea” in place of “Skysea.”

Poor Vaan utterly and completely loses it for the first time since he rattled the bars of Basch’s cage and started spouting quiddities in FFXII. After a bit of pacing and shaking his head, he lets out a yell.

Pixel-Vaan yelling at the clouds

Enlarged for your entertainment and sympathy.

The camera pulls back to reveal everyone staring at him.

Vaan: Arrrggghhhh!!!

“Please observe that a HAPPYFACE EMOTICON does not necessarily reflect a person’s mood. Because, current mood: 🙁”  — Basch, a Study in Fashion Disaster

Tomaj tells him to stop feeling sorry for himself. If it were a tough-love talk from someone like, say, Migelo, I’d be inclined to agree, but Tomaj,  constantly grousing about how “Nobody appreciates all the work I [make others] do,” should put a sock in it.

Tomaj: If you've got time to pace around in frustration, you've got time to lend a hand with the repairs.

Million-gil question: will Tomaj actually “lend a hand,” now that his own safety is inconvenienced by this mess?

Up to this point, Vaan has been one of the least whiny, even-keeled Final Fantasy protag since Zidane and Butz. So I’m willing to cut him some slack. However, I regret to say that I think someone’s slipped him a tabasco sauce suppository.

For the moment, Vaan apologizes, but he’s still steamed. It looks like he’s heading off into the forest to kick a tree, but it turns out he’s just putting some distance between himself and Tomaj. So he hasn’t totally lost his senses.

The rest of the crew tries to process what just happened and what the Judge of Wings was pulling out of her armor-clad arse. Llyud makes a possibly astute observation: the summons gate was active before she summoned Bahamut. And no, he’s not talking about our flaming friend Belias. Presumably he means that odd glowing pulse of light, although I don’t recall seeing a person in it.

Vaan: Now that you mention it, there was someone before that.
Penelo: I saw him too…. Do you think he helped us escape?

Filo and Kytes rule out Ba’Gamnan and Rikken. No, somehow neither of them strikes me as the sort to make a grand entrance with pyrotechnics and disco ball. (Perhaps I’m not giving Rikken enough credit.)

Of course, my mind immediately leaps to Balthier (WHERE IS FRAN?!), although I’m baffled by why he’d arrive via  a summoning gate. Because he’s Not Dead. Uh-uh. No way. Perhaps he got sent off the World of Illusion and is looking for a way back?

Another possibility is a cameo by the aegyls’ god Feolthanos. He’s a walking, sentient Chekov’s gun that’s been flapping around since Act One.

Tomaj cuts in with, “Well, it wasn’t me!” from offscreen. The party studiously ignores him.

Tomaj: Hello! I'm talking over here!

Heh. Was that a tree frog I just heard? Nevermind.

Vaan frets about the aegyl who must have lost their lives in the cataclysm. Penelo, realizing  this may be an especially painful topic for one of the party, offers Llyud sympathy. Spocklike as ever, he’s nonplussed why Penelo is “Sorry.”

Penelo: Sorry we couldn’t stop her.
Llyud: Do not apologize. It was destined to happen.

He knows we can’t defeat the ultimate villain before Disc 4. Unfortunately, Vaan’s from the PS2 era and doesn’t know about that little rule. Suddenly he pelts across the clearing and seizes Llyud by the shoulders, or possibly the throat, shouting in his face. The heck?

Vaan: Destined? What do you mean, "destined"?

Vaan: How can you stand there and make excuses for what happened? Show some emotion for once!

McCoy vs. Spock: the stage play.

Penelo reaches for a rolled-up newspaper and swats Vaan off the poor aegyl. I wish we had this in FFXII graphics; it’s the most lively character interaction thus far.

Penelo: Vaan, what do you think you're doing!?

Vaan: Someone had to say something.

Um. No. You’re just pissed that Llyud’s handling his people’s demise better than you handled your brother’s.

Now Vaan really does run off into the forest. Penelo sets her hands on her hips and stares after him.

Penelo, Llyud, and Filo stare after Vaan with the crashed airship above them.

Black screen of Time Passing. Oh, great. Instead of Ondore, we have to settle for Tomaj, of all people, starting a diary. I won’t bother with screencaps, since it’s just white text on (half) a black screen.

“Tomaj’s Log.

— Marooned, day 1.

We must struggle against the environment if we are to survive. Our first order of business is the procurement of foodstuffs. I am tasked also with the repairs of our ship, and the recording of our plight. I mustn’t let the others know that keeping these journals has become something of a pastime for me…

Ondore, he ain’t. I suppose it’s harder to wax poetic when you’re talking about picking up groceries and car repairs, as opposed to the clash of empires.

My impulsive name-change of the Vaanity halfway through the last dungeon adds an unintentional glimmer of merriment to our plight:

Tomaj's Camp: Jungle clearing where the Potholder came to rest. Tomaj looks after the camp and diligently tills the soil, preparing for the worst.

Okay, if Tomaj is in fact tilling the soil, then I suppose should stop ragging on him. The Random Textbox Exposition God never lies to us, after all.

More locations sprout on the map. Waterfalls, pristine forests, Canadian loons (what?)— bet Celes wishes she’d been stuck on an island like this!

The Guguerro Greendeep: Virgin rainforest perched among the clouds. Day passes as twilight beneath the forests' thick canopy, while tree frogs serenade any who will listen.

Sounds pretty. Which makes me paranoid, considering what happened to the last pretty place we visited.

As seasoned adventurers know, Rule #1 of exploring dangerous places is to shy away from the Path of Plot Advancement until all other avenues have been exhausted.

Zwaua Rainwood: Rare and splendid Yahri crawl through the dense tropical brush in the hidden depths of the wood. They do not readily welcome outsiders.

In Revenant Wings, the overworld map flags said path for our ease and convenience, so we can explore everywhere else, first.

Here’s an overview our new home, Tswarra, Isle of the Lost. Hopefully without smoke monsters.

Tswarra, Isle of the Lost

There’s something odd hovering in the misty distance, a faint gray monolith like the Lunatic Pandora. Or possibly a 16-ton-anvil of foreshadowing.

Before heading into sidequest dungeon land, I warily bring Vaan back from his sulk to check on his crewmates.

Penelo gently chides him for making “quite a scene.”

Vaan: Well, I'm through yelling now. Are you happy?

He’s still uncharacteristically snippy. Maybe he should go back in the forest and dunk his head under a waterfall.

Penelo: I just don’t think you should be so hard on Llyud. You, of all people, should know what it’s like to lose family and friends.
Vaan: Yeah… Yeah, I know.

Ouchie. I forget Penelo is the Guinan of this game.

Penelo and Vaan take turns comforting the jittery children. Llyud is as unruffled as ever, noting only that the island seems to be deserted, and there are no aegyls. He’s baffled by Vaan’s observation that “nothing gets under [his] skin.”

And Tomaj? He’s roped in Cu Sith and our sky pirate hitchhikers to work on repairs. Because nothing says “lend a hand” quite like “inveigle all the non-humes into doing all the manual labor.”

Vaan: And why aren't you helping out with the repairs?

Tomaj: I have…other tasks to keep me busy. A man has to keep his secrets!

I really don’t want to know what kind of slashfic Tomaj writes.

Much as I hate lining Tomaj’s pockets with anything besides oglops, Filo desperately needs new armor. I’ve been avoiding his store as much as possible, but Cu Sith will only craft weapons with funny names for us, not armor or accessories, so sometimes I have to cave in. Sure enough, Tomaj has some excellent roller derby body armor in stock, for the low, low price of “all the gil you earned in the last two chapters.” Since I had to spend that on Immobilize-resistant boots and a few other fashion accessories, Tomaj can suck a Cactuar.

It’s time for me to follow Vaan’s prudent example and go exploring before I throttle Tomaj. First up, the Zwaua Rainwood, where I’ll be spending most of the next several hours grinding.

Battle in the rainforest

While we’re all posing for a nice selfie on the roots of a giant tree at the water’s edge, a bunch of flying fish sail over (left) and start attacking us. Sometimes I love the oddness that is Final Fantasy.

FFXII: RW - Using fliers to convert gate

I’m slowly but surely improving my tactics. See that summoning gate? We’d have had to fight our way across most of the map to reach it on foot. Instead, I dispatch Filo and Llyud to fly over there, convert it to our side, summon a healer bunny and ground Esper as escort, and start scavenging that side of the map while Vaan, Kytes and Penelo work their way around on foot.

Llyud’s Revive and Lancet spells make up for the fact that their on-staff healer bunny can’t keep up with anything worse than skinned knees.

Eventually, we all meet up near the top of the map for an old-fashioned ice wolf cookout. Mmm, BBQ!

Blasting fire at ice wolves

Treasures collected, we sally forth to face Titan and his ice wolf army at the north end of the forest.

Titan, drakes and wolves

Time to try out Vaan’s new (old) Quickening. It’s cute the way the bottom screen tries to simulate the FFXII Pyroclasm animation at very low resolution:

Pyroclasm Quickening in Revenant Wings

And no fussing with timing or button combos in this game, woo hoo!

Also? Widescreen frame on a screen that’s 256 pixels wide? It’s kind of the cinematic equivalent of “jumbo shrimp.”

Vaan casting Pyroclasm

Kaboom. The resulting explosion clears out all the level I and level II monsters just as the rest of Clan Potholder closes in, leaving Titan weak enough to engage. Nicely done, Vaan!

Pyroclasm going off

All that simmering anger he’s hanging onto is good for something.

There’s just one itsy problem. Everyone else was directed to attack monsters that were wiped out by Pyroclasm, so once those are eliminated, the rest of the party stands around clipping their nails.

Meanwhile, Vaan charges straight for Titan and gets his ass handed to him before his friends can help. Note the bluish-white sparkles of “SOS! I NEED A MEDIC!”

Vaan weakened by pyroclasm

Vaan goes facedown in the moose moss, but so does Titan, as the rest of the Potholders rally to his side. Victory dance! I bet that felt good for everyone.

Victory dance

Oh well, we’ll tell Vaan when he wakes up. And now we’ve got some nicely-toasted beef jerky, assuming these monsters didn’t vanish in a poof of pyreflies Mist. Everyone can stop wringing their hands over what we’re going to eat.

More importantly, defeating Titan nets us an auracite. We’re needing great piles of it, now that we’ve reached the outer circuits of the Ring of Pacts where higher-level Espers cost 2 or 3 a pop to enlist.

There’s eight constipated spots on the Ring of Pacts. Once we defeat Titan, one of those slots opens and turns into Belias:

Belias: Gigas that strikes with smoldering brimstone.

But we’ll have to acquire Ifrit first, thanks to Esper Union Bylaws. At least that clears up my confusion about whether Belias is simply an artsy FFXII name for Ifrit. Nope. Two of ’em. Tennis doubles with Shiva and her new boy toy, no doubt.

Okay! Back to the Path of Plot Advancement. Next stop in our David Attenborough nature special, gallivanting in the Greendeep.

The Man in the Jungle: The Potholder sustained heavy damage when the Judge of Wings destroyed the skysea, but managed to make landfall on a deserted island. However, the island may not be so deserted after all...

Oho. The mysterious man sighted by Penelo and Vaan? I still want him to be Balthier. Yet I don’t want Balthier to be dead, which might also explain the whole arrival-by-summoning-gate business. Auron demonstrates that ghosts can be productive party members, but our leading man really ought to live fast and die young. Just…not quite yet.

Mission 5-1: The Man in the Jungle - The Guguerro Greendeep

This time I’ll remember to swap out my water pistols for lightning-based Zappy Sticks. (We spent the whole last battle attacking water-elemental critters with water weapons, oopsie.)

The party takes a moment to admire the trees, the clean air, the Eden-like wilderness, the beautiful woodland creatures they’ll be slaughtering…

Llyud: This place has been preserved in the pristine state in which Feolthanos created it.

AHA. There. The foreshadowing anvil just gave a lurch. Feolthanos hasn’t been mentioned for ages, and now suddenly Llyud is drawing our attention to his people’s deity again. Coincidence? Let’s find out.

Filo: But there's someone right over there! And he looks hurt!

The camera finally pans… and all we can see is a blonde chap flopped on the turf. Looks hume. COULD IT BE?!

A blond man lying face down

And if it is Balthier, WHERE’S FRA—

Oh. No. Definitely not Balthier’s sprite; even in low-res he’s a dapper dresser. And since there couldn’t possibly be any other blonde people on the planet, my hopes leap in a different direction faster than a vorpal bunny. Maybe it’s Sir Potholder himself!

Or not, because Penelo and/or Vaan would start squeaking IT’S CAPTAIN BASCH OF DALMASCA!!!!

Kytes: Those Yahri are gonna get him! What do we do, Vaan?

I wondered how they were going to turn a “man lying prone in the forest” situation into a mission. Pest control before cutscene, check!

I love Penny’s teeny tiny angry face.

Penelo: We have to help him!

Incidentally, the music in this area is Garamsythe Waterway plus birdsong, including a Canadian loon that must have flown in with the GPS-challenged blue jay who’s clearly audible on the Phon Coast in FFXII.

Espers in this forest are Water (flan, aquarius), weak to lightning, or Earth (wolf, golem, wyrm), weak to fire. The latter are pesky level IIs, so I fire up the flamethrowers.

Water & Earth vs. Lightning and Fire

Kytes and Llyud have their Zappy Sticks, Filo her Mog Kabob (fire), and Vaan, or course, will wield the flaming power of Balthiersass.

So here we go. Water & Earth vs. Lightning & Fire.

CLAN POTHOLDER, ASSEMBLE!

Battle commences

Is it? Is it?

Wounded Man: (moan)

Drat. No scar, no hipster goatee. But that does look vaguely like Basch’s old armor, when he was a captain of the Knights of Dalmasca. Hrm.

Some more Rock Wolves (green?!) appear behind us.

Kytes: We gotta get him someplace safe!

And we gotta scavenge all these treasures, too! Being an ambulance driver in this world is tough.

Penelo: How about over there?

Penelo wants to take Sir Faints-a-Lot to a faerie circle of magic mushrooms. Which isn’t quite as dodgy as it sounds, since the magic mushrooms on this island are HP-restoring, like the berries in previous areas.

So the key here is to escort him all the way around the map and send Llyud or Filo out to forage as we go, keeping a cluster around our wounded warrior at all times. The tricky part is that there’s no summons gates, so we can’t call for backup if we screw up.

Escort service

Eventually we clear enough of a corridor through hungry flans and algae-covered wolves that we can stroll along with our friend in the middle. Every now and then more wolves pop out of the bushes and say “boo.”

A quiet stroll through the forest

I hadn’t noticed until now that our Wyverns have trumpet snouts.

Penelo gets 800 XP, everyone else 2400

Behold the Final Fantasy glass ceiling that decrees (a) at least one girl has to be a white mage and (b) killing monsters earns more XP than healing.

The stranger croaks out, “Why…are you helping me?” and collapses again. Maybe we shouldn’t have spent half an hour hunting respawning wolves for XP. (Especially since, as I later found out, you get a fixed amount of XP per mission regardless of kill count.)

Man falls, Penelo comes running

Penelo says we should take the stranger back to the airship so he can rest, although she worries he might be dangerous.

Vaan: I don’t think he’s one of those sky pirates, if that’s what you’re worried about. Let’s go.

Time for another round of Tomaj’s Very Secret Diaries.

Tomaj’s Log
—Marooned, Day 3

The man Vaan and the others brought back to camp hasn't spoken a word since he came to.

“I can’t decide if he’s ignoring us, or playing things close to his vest. Either way, I don’t care for him.”

Well, that’s one point in the chap’s favor, although I’m bummed he didn’t turn out to be one of our old friends.

“I wonder if anyone else feels the same?”

I wonder if the stranger feels the same about sky pirates. Particularly if he really is Feolthanos, hiding from the Judge of Wings and her minions.

Filo, still coming off her scary run-in with Ba’Gamnan, shares Tomaj’s mistrust.

Filo: He talks even less than the aegyl!

Penelo scolds Filo for bad manners. Vaan keeps trying without success to get the guy to talk, grumbling that the least he could do is thank us for saving his life.

Finally, Penelo announces she has an idea, knocks Vaan aside and drags Sir Blank Slate over to the middle of the group.

Penelo drags guy over

She whips out her staff and twirls it with a drumroll, sending a white magic sparkle overhead. Um?

music notes and sparklies coming out of her staff

Pink hearts, music notes, and all sorts of Lucky Charms start flying about. There’s cat call whistles and jingles along with Penelo’s musical theme. She’s dancing for our guest. Kytes and Filo start hopping. Vaan covers his face.

The sight of the female lead shaking her tiny pixellated bod elicits a tepid response.

Wounded Man: Thank You

She introduces herself again. He hesitates before answering her gentle nudge.

Wounded Man: My name is Velis.

Oh, the name of someone we’ve never heard of before. Is that allowed? (Is that a pseudonym?)

One more pink heart floats away from Vaan’s chest. I rewatch this scene to confirm that yes, the pink hearts during Penelo’s dance were emitting from Vaan. Oh, no. Don’t tell me we’re about to borrow a jealousy trope from high school fanfic.

Sure enough, Vaan goes rushing off for the second time in this recap.

Penelo: Where are you going, Vaan?

Vaan says something about “We gotta eat, right?” and keeps running. Kytes chases after him, while Llyud’s wondering what’s troubling him. Filo explains that Penelo doesn’t dance for just anyone.

Cutscene over, a new location opens up. Until now, the sky pirate “partners” Vaan and Penelo have been the two sprites on the world map, but now Penelo’s out and Kytes is in.

Gugoza Falls: Majestic waterfall set at the heart of the Greendeep. The water's misty spray refreshes and revitalizes, but the direct force of the cascade can be crushing.

Ah, yes, in FFXII we negotiated pissing matches between the gods themselves; now we’re stuck with party personal squabbles.

Since I’m not especially keen to pursue this plot twist, I get sidetracked when I discover that every random melee mission in the Rainwood earns more auracite. Once again, greed wins out, and I keep going back to grind. Several new Esper-enlistments later, including Belias and Ifrit, Vaan returns to camp to sell bags of loot from our bulging inventory check on things.

Filo: Penelo's inside the airship taking care of that man we found.

To add to her earlier mistrust of the guy, Filo says that Velis’ body is cold… cold as a bangaa! (And she has reason to find that unnerving.) It’s another hint he may be a ghost or Esper or Feolthanos. As is this:

Llyud: He is like no other I have met in Lemurés.

Meanwhile, Tomaj is all, “I’ll help you get through this difficult time, Vaan.” Somehow that sounds smarmy even in textboxes.

Vaan pretends not to know what Tomaj is talking about.

Tomaj: Are you blind? Don't you think Penelo's been acting a little strange lately?

Acting strange? She’s not the one who spontaneously started spewing puffy hearts and ran off.

Vaan: Oh? I hadn’t noticed.

Vaan refuses to be drawn into gossip. Phew. Maybe he’ll bypass the worst of the trope? Here’s hoping.

I’m going to end this write-up rather abruptly, since I can’t find a good breakpoint in Chapter 5. Tune in next time for a half-arsed love triangle!

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