Florian is the eighth main Mission.
Managing to diffuse the tensions mounting within Jormunga Jungle, Suki and her companions are finally able to reach the outskirts of the town of Florian, where they meet with Leroy in a safehouse, after some minor teeth-gnashing between him and Athena. Once inside, accompanied by a trio of bound and gagged captives the expert kidnapper explains that, because the party's destination puts them on the Kingdom's border with the Empire, they are going to need to transport the captives with them to make an exchange in the process of their own mission. To get through Florian Town, the kidnappers will need to pass through two gates, East and West, on either side of the small city. The key tactic is bribing as many guards as possible to get through, though Leroy warns that occasionally, they'll encounter one of the few incorruptible guards that will most likely demand a search of their carriage, although in Florian, such a mindset is in very short supply, so it won't be too far a stretch. He once again directs a glance at Athena, who once again throws back some snark. After Suki once again displays her growing disassociation with her lifestyle, the group gets a move on. Arriving at the East Gate shortly, they are stopped by a guard, where Leroy displays his tactical genius, getting them through the first Gate, and once more reaffirming the Princess's depression at the state of the Kingdom and its people, if criminals such as Leroy, Rielle, and others, could slip through the cracks so easily. As soon as the carriage reaches the inner part of the town, however, they encounter an unexpected, massive hurdle: from the carriage, they spot a group of black-armored guards bearing the Kingdom's sigil, the Royal Guards, who are only ever present when the ruling King or Queen is nearby, meaning that Cherisa herself is currently residing in Florian Town. Leroy himself admits that their loyalty to the Queen renders them unresponsive, and greatly intolerant, to bribery, so the kidnappers will need another way to get their "merchandise" to the West Gate. For now, they remove to a hideout in the city to stash the captives, and plan a way out that doesn't result in heavy chains and eternal imprisonment. Leroy suggests that the party go into Florian and try to determine exactly what the Queen is doing there when she should be in the Dark Hills with her troops. Though her companions complain, Suki's mind is focused elsewhere...
Marching out into the somewhat empty streets, Aster stops them short and offers to give them a map he drew of the city to help them in their search. Using its mediocre, but effective directions, the party are able to reach the north half of the city, with its more affluent residents out and about. On their way to the Royal Castle, they eavesdrop on a group of Royal Guards who openly discuss recent news: Cherisa has returned to Florian to meet with a diplomatic ambassador from the Empire, her intention being to smooth things over, despite the clear evidence that should the foreign powers discover that she's been amassing troops on their borders, it will mean all-out war. Further listening will have the guards voice their suspicions that Cherisa's mother may be the one pulling the strings of the whole affair, along with the presence of a "holy sister" accompanying the Queen wherever she goes. With this information in mind, the party then continues their efforts to reach the Royal Castle. Arriving in the northern corner of the city, on the bridge between the Castle and the district, Suki and Carol are surprised to see their old mage friend, Evelyn, in conversation with the gate guards. She states that she's come on behalf of Aurealis Academy, though is quickly reminded that the school operates outside the rules of the Kingdom. Nevertheless, Evelyn demands to see the Queen, saying she needs to warn her of a dangerous, rogue mage running amok, but is again rebuffed. Turning away in a huff, she easily recognizes Suki and Carol, They ask what she's doing in Florian, with the magus telling them what they just heard: Hyranda wanted her to go and inform the Queen of Elda and her malicious nature, but she's been delayed by the guards since getting there. Figuring it would be best to catch up in a more secure location, they lead their ally back to the safehouse, where Leroy playfully greets Evelyn, and hears it from Suki that Cherisa is hosting an envoy of the Empire. The expert kidnapper doesn't put much faith in the talks going on for much longer, and prepares to leave with the captives soon, until Suki presses her own issue, and states she wants to see Cherisa. Her companions react with surprise, wondering what perhaps she has in mind. Suki decides then and there to tell them her secret, despite Leroy's warning, and reveals that she is in fact the long-lost Princess Suki. Though her companions urge her to deliver the whole story, she retracts, and simply reaffirms her desire to meet with Cherisa, flashing back to the Queen's betrayal of her. Despite their misgivings at her keeping the secret, Carol, Athena, and Evelyn agree to both keep referring to her by her created name, as well as accompany her to meet the Queen. Though Athena presents her idea of fighting through to Her Majesty, Suki instead inquires to Leroy about alternate routes into the Royal Castle, where the expert eventually delivers a nugget of truth: a different kidnapper, in the middle of a job involving a diplomat, confided in him the presence of a secret entrance on the west side of the city, and nothing more. Down to brass tacks, the party departs the safehouse, and starts their search where no other has dared to go...
The moment they exit the safehouse, wondering how in the world they're supposed to find this secret entrance, Suki catches sight of a particular black cat, which runs off as soon as she approaches. Pursuing the cat across the slums, heading west, the trail ends when the cat darts into the open doors of a warehouse. Inside, they descend into the cellar, where the cat escapes behind them and disappears. Finding a peculiar bookcase, they then discover it moving out of the way to reveal the secret entrance, though Carol, of all people, wonders if they might just end up in the dungeon instead. Passing through a short tunnel, the party steps into a storage room, only to be immediately and surprisingly confronted by a pair of Royal Guards, who immediately deduce their identity as kidnappers. Just as Carol starts to reveal Suki's true identity, the Princess stops her, stating she wants to hear from Cherisa before letting that secret loose. They manage to defeat the two Guards, where Evelyn decries their attack as an act of treason, but Carol attempts to calm her nerves with the proposition that, once Suki reassumes her role as Princess, she can pardon their actions, though the girl herself solemnly asks that they continue on, striking up the thief's nerves in turn. Either through absolute stealth, or several skirmishes with the Royal Guards patrolling the lower floor, the party manages to reach the main floors of the castle. Suki expresses her severe nervousness at having to confront her best friend over the latter's betrayal, and is reassured by her companions. Forging ahead into the next room, the party eavesdrops on a conversation between a guard and an elite soldier of the Kingdom, Evangelynne. The soldier expresses her distaste with the condition of the city, with the guard reminding her of her duty to the Queen. When she tries to bite back, the guard taunts that someone else in the castle will keep her in line with her duty. With the both of them leaving the room, the party wonders who that could have been, with Suki unable to answer, having never seen the woman before, and Carol hoping never to meet her face-to-face. Looking into a nearby chest, the Princess discovers an elegant dress almost exactly like the one she wore when Cherisa betrayed her and sold her out to the Guild, either taking it or putting it on and finding it fits like a glove. Going ahead, they stop outside a room that Evelyn confirms as the royal guest chambers, and states that if the Queen is anywhere in the castle, it would be here. Suki builds up her confidence and leads the party inside, only to be confronted by Evangelynne and another elite, Rolina, the chaplain to Her Majesty. Even as Suki attempts to identify herself to get through to Cherisa's chambers, Rolina then makes it very clear that, not only will she not allow them to see the Queen, she can't, because the Sister in truth operates under the command of a person with greater authority than even Cherisa. In bewilderment, Suki attempts to call out to her step-cousin, revealing her true identity, whereupon Rolina solemnly muses that her mistress had predicted something like this happening, though it isn't Cherisa. She then calls to Evangelynne for assistance. Even as the elite soldier seems to resist, Rolain apparently threatens her with severe pain should she refuse again, as the pair initiate battle with the party. Despite a hard-fought battle, both women are overpowered, tied up, and silenced. Just as the party begins to question who and what their foes are, a voice from the room calls out, and from the door exits the reigning Queen and Suki's step-cousin. Cherisa immediately catches sight of the Princess, stunned and speechless, whereupon her companions offer to keep their captives company while the two royals have a heart-to-heart, despite Rolina's muffled protests. Lead into the guest chamber, Suki immediately tears into her best friend, asking why she drugged her and handed her over to a band of criminals. Cherisa remains silent before stating that she didn't have a choice in the matter, though Suki is not placated by her simple apology, ranting on about how miserable her life as a kidnapper was, the things she had to do to get to this point. Cherisa simply goes on to explain that, while she may hold the title of Queen, she has no real power in her Kingdom, Suki recalling what Rolina said earlier. Cherisa confirms that the Sister acts as an envoy for the real mastermind, Cherisa's mother and Suki's step-aunt, Lady Krystina. Even with the law proclaiming the heir as the Queen, because Krystina holds great power within the aristocracy of the Kingdom, every action Cherisa takes has to come with her express permission, otherwise, it falls on deaf ears. Though she has made many attempts to fix her domain, piece by piece, Cherisa finds herself overwhelmed by the sheer level of corruption that is rife throughout the Kingdom. Her only role in life is to be Krystina's puppet. Cherisa then promptly reveals that her mother made the demand that Suki be killed, to install Cherisa as the Queen without contest, but the daughter simply couldn't go through with it, thus she learned from a friend of the Guild, and paid them to abduct Suki in order to protect her from Krystina's wrath. Unfortunately, before anything more can be said, the Princess' companions call out from the door, exclaiming that reinforcements are arriving. Though Suki protests leaving her step-cousin, Cherisa urges her too, citing her inability to protect her a second time if captured here. Though she expects to be 'punished' by Rolina for her actions, the Sister having done so many times before, she pleads for Suki to escape. Though she carries regrets about leaving, the Princess relents promising to come back so they can finish talking. Rejoining her companions, Suki finds them flanked by a contingent of Royal Guards, with Evangelynne and Rolina freed and standing by. Though Carol attempts to stop them by revealing the Princess' identity, Rolina reaffirms their sole duty to protect the Queen, upon which Athena marshals her companions to escape, despite Evelyn's protests at not having talked to Cherisa. They manage to escape by the skin of their teeth and their feet, though not everyone comes away peachy...
After a span of three hours, the scene then shifts back to the safehouse, where Suki has finished delivering the story to Leroy, stating that as soon as they reached the secret entrance, the Guards didn't seem to bother prolonging the chase. Leroy expresses his approval of the Princess' advancement in skill, and confirms that as of the moment, the Royal Guard is vacating Florian Town, so their sub-mission can proceed ahead. In the midst of this, both Suki and Evelyn are wearing despondent looks, the latter because she never got the chance to warn the Queen of Elda's rogue status, the former because she's been left with more questions than answers after her meeting with Cherisa. Though she still carries some misgivings, Suki reaffirms her intention to pursue Cherisa to the Dark Hills, and learn the real truth of what is waiting on the horizon...
A short time later, the party and Leroy have reached another safehouse, where the expert expresses his concern that the party really do intend to continue on ahead, towards the Dark Hills. Suki still desires to speak to Cherisa, while Athena questions the arrangement between the Queen, her mother, and Rolina. The Princess voices her suspicions that Cherisa's audience with the imperial envoy in Florian may have been an attempt to avoid the oncoming war that Krystina seems to be inviting, though Leroy comments that the earlier conversation between the Royal Guards lends credence to the meeting ending on a sour note. He then directs attention to Evelyn, with the mage affirming her intention to locate someone with the right authority to warn about Elda, be it Cherisa, or even Krystina herself. Leroy leaves them to their task, with a parting word that should they succeed, the Guild will still be there for them when they get back, as the Mission ends.
Strategy and Tips Edit
- O Door, Where art Thou? - While it may seem a daunting task to try locating the entrance to the castle based purely on the statement "It's on the west side", don't worry, for Kendrian is here to help. The moment you step out of the safehouse, you'll notice a black cat waiting in the middle of the street, and as soon as you get close, it will dart off to the next area. This is the game's way of directing you. Follow the cat into the next cell area, locate it again, and go in the same direction. Once you get to a warehouse with an open door, the cat will run in, and disappear. You've arrived.
- Surprise - Getting through to the cellar will walk you right into battle, unlike most other times this happens. The first battle of the Mission, you will be going against two Royal Guards, but luckily you'll have a full party with you as well. And thankfully so, because the Guards come equipped with an incredibly powerful basic attack that will Weaken a medium-level kidnapper within two to three turns. Keep your potion handy.
- Athena's Way - While this section may seem like you have to fight every single Guard from start to finish, most of the time their patrol pattern will be thinned out enough for you to have ample sneaking room, despite what your lancer stated back in the safehouse. But, should one detect you, it's very likely that you'll end up having to fight others in the area if you want to maintain stealth going ahead. You have access to your stealth items, including smoke grenades, invisibility potion, so consider their use wisely when necessary.
- Ms. Black and Ms. White - Easily one of the tougher battles of the story, you will be facing off against Evangelynne and Rolina. The elite soldier wields incredibly strong basic attacks, while her holy counterpart makes use of "Mass Rally" and "Heal" spells, as well as the "Absorb SP" move, though it's notably occasionally ineffective at reducing a member's SP. If a high-level kidnapper, then this fight will not seem too troublesome, especially if you've acquired the "Chest Punch" Skill by now, which hopefully you have. Rain down blows, both basic and Skillful, to Weaken and Capture, though potion is still a useful tip to have.
- Evelyn as a party member