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Crossing the bridge between dreams and reality - Let's Play Eternal Sonata!

Violentvixen

(She/Her)
It's funny you say that, I actually bought Legend of Mana from the PSN store last week! It might be a while before I play it, but I'm curious to see what you mean.

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And here's some art of the exterior of Aria Temple. One of the cooler visual designs for a place in the game, I think.

Yeah, that's definitely a Legend of Mana looking bit of art. I think it'll be a while before you get to any of the regions I'm specifically thinking of, but curious what you think. Join the thread too!
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
Yeah, that's definitely a Legend of Mana looking bit of art. I think it'll be a while before you get to any of the regions I'm specifically thinking of, but curious what you think. Join the thread too!

I'll be sure to when I get the chance!

Anyway, the next update won't be for a little while, because I'm moving into a new place very soon. Until then, a couple more bits of music to tide y'all over:

Chopin - Rondo in E Flat Major, Op. 16
Einojuhani Rautavaara - Cantus Arcticus

Chopin didn't write many rondos - he only published four in his lifetime - and as a result they tend to be performed less frequently than his other works. But what's there is pretty good, I think.

Einojuhani Rautavaara was a contemporary Finnish composer; he was quite prolific, writing in many different styles and composing right up to 2016, the year of his death at 87. Among his large body of work are nine operas, eight symphonies, thirteen concertos, and a whole bunch of miscellaneous orchestral pieces. I like Cantus Arcticus in particular because it prominently features recorded samples of birdsong, and they blend with the orchestra really well.
 
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Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
Hey, folks! Apologies for the wait between updates; turns out moving into a different house takes up a lot of one's free time, who knew? But I've still been working on this LP in my spare time, and I've got the entirety of Chapter 6 ready to go. I'll be posting the next update later today, but first I believe we're long overdue for another look at Motoi Sakuraba's career - more specifically, the weirdly high amount of sports game soundtracks he's written.

The earliest sports title he did the music for was the original Everybody's Golf for the PSX (rebranded as Hot Shots Golf in the U.S.) in 1997; there isn't a good upload of the soundtrack on youtube, but you can at least listen to the title screen theme here, which is unmistakably him.

On the Nintendo 64, Sakuraba wrote the music for both Mario Golf 64 and Mario Tennis 64; the former has pretty laid back music for the most part, but the latter has rather characteristically high-energy stuff that wouldn't sound out of place in a Star Ocean game. He has since gone on to compose the soundtracks for every subsequent game in both series, with the most recent entries being Mario Golf: World Tour and Mario Tennis Aces. There's also Mario Sports Superstars, a game I didn't even know existed until I started writing this post, but from what I've listened to the music here is pretty good!

A common linking factor to these Mario sports games - and probably the reason Sakuraba has writen the music for so many of them - is that most of them are developed by Camelot Software Planning, who you might recognize as the developers of the Golden Sun series (which we'll cover later, don't worry). He had already written several game soundtracks for them, including the scores for Beyond the Beyond, Shining the Holy Ark and Shining Force III, and the previously-mentioned Everybody's Golf, so it probably seemed like a natural fit to use him for these games as well.

Apologies for this post not being as in-depth as previous ones, but sports games are pretty far outside my wheelhouse, and honestly the only Mario sports game I've personally played is Mario Tennis: Power Tour on the GBA (and not in over a decade, at that). Next time we'll go back to RPG's; until then, stay tuned for the next update!
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
Verse 6-1: Return to Agogo Forest

Hello and welcome back to Eternal Sonata! Last time the party finally explored Aria Temple, and were confronted on the top floor by Rondo; fortunately, Falsetto arrived and led the battle to defeat her and avenge Claves’ death.

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In the original release, Chapter 6 was the shortest one in the game, but with some ~new content~ we’ll be seeing this update it’s about as long as Chapter 3 now.

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You’re telling me, it felt like it took weeks to walk back through Celesta Forest. In the meantime, we could just head back to the castle, but we’d miss out on a couple things along the way, and we obviously can’t have that!

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♪♪~ White Mirror

Priest: “There is nothing more moving than man’s kindness. I am grateful to God for creating people.”
“Even when you encounter something beyond your power to change, you must not give up. Stand and face that challenge. For God is testing your courage.”
“God is always with us, watching over us.”

You know what, priest? You’re all right.

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I probably should have looked at this earlier, but… I didn’t!

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“The Church of EZI will send you a certificate if you can draw EZI 321 times in 10 minutes.”
“If you have an EZI certificate, happiness will run away from you. A grown up crying in the alley said that.”

Is uh, is that right? Interesting. Now if you’ll excuse me…

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Guess they don’t have many trains in Forte. We certainly didn’t see any while we were running through the countryside. Come to think of it, I wonder where these tracks go? Something to ponder while we head into the Hotel Ensemble, I guess.

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Woman: “You mean the Cabasa Bridge in Forte collapsed? I hope no one was going across it at the time.”

So, funny story...

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“No matter where we go, Ma sure talks a lot.”

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Whatever is going on here, this dude is really persistent. Not that it seems to be helping him =V

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Hm. I wonder if that old woman has more creepy poems to share with us?

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Guess not. But this is a good consolation prize.

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Granny’s Girl Quena: “Ah ha ha! You stink!”

Well of course I stink if you give me literal fish incense! Geez. (This is the B-rank reward from using Score Piece 16.)

“Wanna do a score piece? Come on! Let’s play!”

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“Ah ha ha! Score pieces are fun!”

This is the S-rank reward for using Score Piece 10; it increases the wearer’s DEF by 9 points. Now, if we do one more session…

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“Ah ha ha! This is great!”

Using Score Piece 7 gets us the A-rank reward, a joke weapon for Allegretto. You can equip it, sure…

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But it doesn’t increase his ATK at all. Anyway, that done, let’s head to Baroque Castle.

It should be noted that the following cutscene, and indeed everything up until almost the end of this update, will be new content not seen in the original game.

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click to watch the cutscene (recommended viewing)

♪♪~ No music

Allegretto: “Huh? Polka? Are you all right?”
Polka: “Oh, I’m… fine.”
*She immediately collapses.*
Allegretto: “Hey, Polka!”

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Viola: “Could it be the illness?”
Frederic: “Whatever the cause, we must explain the situation to Prince Crescendo, and find a room where Polka can rest.”

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*Quick fade to black*

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*As Allegretto continues to pace back and forth, Frederic and Viola enter the room.*

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Viola: “She seems to be sleeping peacefully. For the time being, anyway.”
Beat: “Poor Polka.”
Falsetto: “The girl can use magic, can’t she? Wow, that’s really too bad.”

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*Frederic puts a hand on Allegretto’s shoulder.*
Frederic: “Allegretto, let’s try to stay calm.”
Allegretto: “I’m begging you. I’ll do anything. Whatever it takes to help Polka. Please, help us!”
Magic Researcher: “Forgive me, but the realm of magic is still shrouded in mystery, even for me. However, if anything can help her, it may be the legend of light connected to Aria Temple, the place you recently explored.”

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Viola: “Wait a minute. Astras are somehow connected to magic? I’ve never heard about that. What are you talking about, Allegretto?”
Allegretto: “It was when I went to Tenuto, to go and bring back Polka. Something her mom said. She told me Polka has an astra that shines brighter than most people’s, and that’s why she’s destined for a tragic fate. I assumed she was just talking about the illness.”
Falsetto: “But aren’t astras just make-believe things from children’s stories? People can use magic either because of a disease or the mineral powder, right?”

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Magic Researcher: “For one thing, not everyone who becomes ill can use magic. We also don’t know if the powers drawn out by mineral powder… and the magical abilities of those suffering from terminal illness, are truly identical.”
Frederic: “Are you saying there could be some other cause?”
Magic Researcher: “I am. And all my research has given me the strong suspicion that astras may very well be that cause.”

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Salsa: “Yeah, that’s right! I saw the agogos around her light up with my own two eyes!”
Magic Researcher: “Agogos? Are you saying that agogos are connected to astras?”
March: “There’s an old legend passed down among the guardians of Agogo Forest. It says that the agogos will gather together in the glow of a powerful astra, and reflect its light back with a dazzling brilliance.”
Jazz: “The secret behind the glowing agogos is astras?”
Falsetto: “And Count Waltz must be searching for glowing agogos because he knows they’ll increase the effect of the mineral powder. This explains everything.”

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Magic Researcher: “Well, I don’t--”
Allegretto: “All your theories are completely useless! What we need now is a way to save Polka!”
Beat: “Retto.”
*Suddenly:*
Salsa: “I’ve got it!”
March: “Ah, Salsa?”
Salsa: “The agogos! Her astra’s glowing too bright, so let’s just have the agogos absorb it!”
March: “I don’t know if that will work. Agogos can reflect the light of astras, but that’s not quite the same as absorbing it.”

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March: “The Agogo Queen Mother. Of course, that’s it! Salsa, you’re absolutely right!”
*The two of them excitedly high-five each other.
Beat: “What the heck are you talkin’ about? What’s that?”
March: “The Agogo Queen Mother is a special agogo that gives birth to all the other agogos. It’s also said that she possesses mysterious powers, so it’s possible she’ll be able to help Polka.”
Viola: “It sounds promising. I think we should at least give it a try.”
Allegretto: “Salsa. March. How do we find this, ‘Agogo Queen Mother?’ Do you guys know where she is!?”
Salsa: “Of course. She’s in Agogo Forest!”
Frederic: “Well, considering where we are now, that’s rather far.”

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Hang on, have you just been sitting there this whole time?

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Crescendo: “Using it, you can instantly travel from the room beside the castle gates, to any place you’ve previously visited.”
Allegretto: “That’d be a huge help. Are you sure?”
Crescendo: “What’s the point of having the key if you don’t use it when it’s needed most? Now, take it. Go and get help for that girl as fast as you can.”
Beat: “Thanks a bunch, Captain!”
*He salutes Crescendo, and Allegretto bows in thanks.*
Allegretto: “All right! We’re going to Agogo Forest!”

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It would have been nice for Crescendo to have entered the conversation two minutes ago, but better late than never.

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♪♪~ An Inspection Which Values Harmony

Anyway, there’s no time to waste. Let’s get going!
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
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Turns out this little hut sitting outside the castle was the Warp Room this whole time.

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Guide: “This is a secret chamber belonging to the Baroque royal family known as the Warp Room. From here, people can transport across great distances in a single moment. The teleportation device has been acting strangely of late, and is not functioning at full capacity. There is no need for alarm, however. It still has enough power to send you to your destination in Agogo Forest.”
“The device on the left will activate when you stand on it, and you will then be sent to Agogo Forest. I wish you the best of luck in your journey.”
“The device on the right cannot be activated without the permission of the Prince.”

Thanks for the info, pal.

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That is a depressingly small list of destinations, but there’s not much we can do about it. Onward to Agogo Forest!

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Allegretto: “Come on. There’s no time to waste.”
Salsa: “The Agogo Queen Mother should be somewhere in the forest!”

Right. Let’s ask around the village and see if anyone’s spotted her recently.

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♪♪~ Can We Be Both Different and Alike

“If that guy got out, we’d all be feeling sick to our stomachs, and wouldn’t even be able to enjoy a decent meal. Yeesh! It scares me just thinking about it!”
“The Agogo Queen Mother? Um…. Well, of course, a proper village tour guide has to know about that! A-And I do know, but, the thing is, I just can’t tell you about her today.”
“You know, I had everything about the Agogo Queen Mother memorized up until yesterday.”

Well that wasn’t very helpful. Maybe someone else knows something.

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Agogo Boy: “You’ve gotta be kidding! You’ll have better luck finding a needle in a haystack! I’m an agogo expert and I’ve never come across her. She’s not that easy to find, you know!”
“Well, if you’re determined to give it a shot, try looking in the forest. But you better be careful. If you anger the Agogo Queen Mother, you’ll really regret it!”

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“That sounds like a job for my mom! She is the official village tour guide after all.”

Already tried that, didn’t work too well.

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“I want to play with them again.”

Sorry kid, Salsa and March are on important business.

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“Not even the Agogo Queen Mother will be able to help us.”

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Precocious Flute: “I have some, too! Really! I’ll show you! Um-hmm. Here! See! Scorn peas! Right?”

Uh, sure, why not. This shouldn’t take too long.

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Precocious Flute: “W-well? What do you think of my scorn peas? Those city folk have nothing on me!”

Playing Score Piece #2 gets us a pair of Guardian Clothes that the kids can wear, but it’s worse than anything they have equipped right now. At least that didn’t take very long.

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“I hear there’s a new disease that’s sprung up in some far-off corner of the world. Isn’t that just typical?”

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“Hrmm, hrmm… zzzz….”

Right…

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“The outside world is full of monsters. You’d best be careful.”

Don’t worry ma’am, March is perfectly capable of defending herself.

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“So, I went and reported him to the village chief. Heh, he’s gonna get what’s coming to him now.”
“That guy’s up to no good, I’m sure of it. He’s probably a pervert or something!”

Well that was a bust. Nothing for it but to head into the forest and start looking, I guess.

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♪♪~ Innumerable Animals

The trip back through the forest is uneventful, so I’ll skip ahead to this save point. There aren’t any new chests and the monsters are all the same as in Chapter 1, so it’s pretty much just a straight shot to here. Now then, let’s see what waits for us past this point.
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
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click here to watch the cutscene

♪♪~ No music

*Fugue continues to swat at the agogo.*
Allegretto: “What’s with him?”
Beat: “Oh, brother. Not this guy again.”
Allegretto: “What? You know him, Beat?”
Beat: “Not exactly. He’s some weirdo who says he’s looking for glowing agogos. He attacked us for no reason!”

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Salsa: “Some people never learn, do they?”
*Fugue notices the party and stops harassing the agogo.*

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Salsa: “Hey, if I were you, I wouldn’t be so arrogant! I got no problem sending a wimp like you packin’ a second time around!”
*March points at him.*
March: “You’d be wise to listen to my sister. We will show no mercy to someone who torments the agogos!”
Fugue: “Me? Tormenting? Why, whatever do you mean? I was only taking a break from a hard day’s work, by playing with this dim-witted creature, that’s all. Playing, like this.”

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*He kicks it for good measure.*
Beat: “Hey!”
Salsa: “You did not! That’s the last straw, you three-eyed freak!”
Fugue: “Wha-?! Three-eyed freak? Young lady, I trust you aren’t referring to me.”

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Fugue: “How dare you insult me like that? Fine. I’m through playing games with the likes of you.”
*He draws his katana.*

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boss time!

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♪♪~ Opposition Resignation

Boss: Fugue (Rematch)
HP: 312,000
Exp: 35,000
Gold: 2,000
This dude just doesn’t give up does he: Sure doesn’t, not that it’ll help him here. He doesn’t even get one of the special boss themes this time.

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Fugue: “I’ll leave your bodies to rot, right here.”

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Frederic: “You dare to turn your sword to me?!”

Funny how one of Frederic’s intro lines happened to match the situation. Anyway, Fugue here might seem like he’ll be trouble at first, but at this point he’s really not. He has much less HP than Rondo does, for starters, and compared to the last time we fought him we have far more characters to choose from, giving us greater freedom to form a strategy.

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I usually just use whichever characters are lower-leveled than everyone else, but for this recording I decided to mix it up a little and bring these three along. March has the Heart Pendant for more HP and the Power Ring for increased ATK; Allegretto has the Werewolf Choker and Pocket Watch for all the Echoes; and Frederic has the Peace Earring and Recovery Orb to offset the Burst from his Gold Baton weapon.

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Fugue’s moveset hasn’t changed at all between fights, but he seems more likely to attack from behind this time around, so watch out for that; bringing along a Very Odd Chocolate is a good idea to mitigate this a bit. Aurora Curtain is also quite helpful, and will let your party survive longer than they would otherwise be able to.

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Allegretto: “After this, we’re done!”

This is a good time to show off Starlight Blast, the special Allegretto learned back in Aria Temple the previous update. It hits eight times, with the final two hits being the big ones; each swing can also catch other enemies if they’re close enough. It’s one of Allegretto’s better specials, being good for building Echoes and great for damage as well.

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Strangely, Fugue seems to pick on March more than the other two characters in this fight, and I end up having to revive her, but it’s nothing we can’t recover from. In fact, we’re about to have him on the ropes! Frederic, if you would?

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Frederic: “You do not understand!”

Thanks, Frederic! This didn’t quite defeat Fugue, but it did bring him to almost zero HP. He shouldn’t last much longer.

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March takes him down with Aurora Curtain shortly afterwards. Good going, March!

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♪♪~ Well Done

March: “You did well!”

The Death’s Head is a new weapon upgrade for Falsetto; it was originally dropped by Rondo in the fight with her last chapter, but the developers moved it over here for the PS3 port. It’ll save us some money on our next shopping trip, at the very least.
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
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click to watch the cutscene (recommended viewing)

♪♪~ No music

March: “Oh no! Look at the Agogo Queen Mother!”
Fugue: “How dare you interrupt me when I am speaking, you insolent-- Uh! Get out of my way! Get out of here, pest!”
*He continues swiping at the Agogo Queen Mother, until suddenly:*

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*Fugue lets out a blood-curdling scream as he is engulfed by light.*

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Salsa: “This isn’t good! The Agogo Queen Mother is majorly upset! If she keeps going, we’re all gonna get eaten up!”
Allegretto: “What? Wait a minute, are you sayin’ she just ate that guy?”

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Despite the situation being so bad, it’s still funny that March says this in her usual polite tone of voice.

March: “But right now… Salsa!”
Salsa: “Right! Let’s do it!”
*They take out their weapons.*
March: “Agogo Queen Mother!”
Salsa: “Hear us and be calm!”

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Beat: “Whoa, it went back to normal!”
Salsa: “Ha! And that’s just a taste of what us forest guardians can do!”
*The Agogo Queen Mother floats down into Allegretto’s outstretched arms.*
Allegretto: “So, all we’ve gotta do is take this agogo back to Polka, right?”

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*Quick fade to black as the party returns to Baroque via the teleporter in Agogo Village.*

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*He places the Agogo Queen Mother on Polka’s chest.*
Allegretto: “Come on, Polka. Wake up.”

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Beat: “She’s awake!”
Salsa: “We did it! It actually worked!”
*Polka sits up in bed.*

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Viola: “You’re telling me you don’t remember what happened? You collapsed on the way in here. It gave all of us quite a scare.”
Polka: “Oh!”
Falsetto: “Anyway, we’re glad you’re finally awake again. You have Allegretto to thank for saving you.”
*Polka turns to face him and smiles.*
Polka: “I appreciate your helping me, Allegretto.”
Allegretto: “No, I didn’t do anything. I mean, if you wanna thank somebody, Salsa and March deserve it way more than I do.”

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*Allegretto goes to give Salsa a stern talking-to as Frederic moves closer to the bed.*
Frederic: “Polka. Are you sure you’re feeling completely recovered?”
Polka: “Yes. I’m terribly sorry to have caused you all so much trouble.”

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Good idea, Jazz; I’m sure he’ll want to know that Polka’s recovered.

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♪♪~ An Inspection Which Values Harmony

“Don’t push yourself too hard, okay?”

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“Oh, no. There’s no need to thank me for the bed. For a rank and file knight like myself, helping those in need is part of the job.”

Much appreciated, stranger! Aside from the dialogue here, this is the point where the new content ends for this update; it’s back to the standard plot from here. This whole adventure we just had largely seems to exist to give a proper ending to Fugue’s involvement in the story (since he just disappeared outright after fighting him in Chapter 4 originally), as well as flesh out the whole astra thing a bit more. Getting eaten by a glowing ball of light couldn’t have been pleasant, but honestly screw that guy, Fugue is an asshole.

Anyway, let’s head on over to Crescendo’s room...

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Polka: “He’s gone. Where did he go?”
Allegretto: “I don’t know. Maybe he’s in the Princess’ room.”

Maybe, but before we check I need to go to the side garden real quick.

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♪♪~ White Mirror

Conceited Choir: “Hmm, yes. Shall we fill this silence up with sound?”

This man doesn't appear here until after the events in Agogo Forest, otherwise I would've talked to him earlier.

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Conceited Choir: “Hmm…. I’m not sure how to explain it, but it’s missing that certain something.”

Playing Score Piece 17 with him gets us a B-rank and a measly Snowpuff Cookie, but I think we can do better than that:

“Nothing gets done when I’m not around. They’re helpless without me. Won’t someone set me free?”

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“So this is what I’ve been looking for.”

Playing Score Piece 18 results in an A-rank and the EZI Handkerchief, an accessory that puts the wearer in Slow status but doesn’t actually tell you this. This is… less than great, but we still have one more session to do with Conceited Choir here:

“I am a busy man, but I suppose I can stay with you a while longer.”

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“Sound is truly an unstable thing. It is the language of a world without certainties or absolutes.”

Finally, playing Score Piece 11 gets us the real prize, the Crimson Brooch. This puts the wearer into Burst status, meaning we no longer have to rely on certain weapons or Hell Mustard if we want to make use of it. I’ll try not to abuse this, but rest assured it’ll come in handy in some very tough fights down the road.

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Indeed. Now then, with that taken care of we can go check Serenade’s room.
 
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Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
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Beat: “He’s not here either.”

Huh, that’s odd. Come to think of it, Serenade isn’t in her room either. Something’s going on here.

*As soon as the party steps outside Serenade’s room...*

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click to watch the rest of the update, and a sneak peak of the next one (recommended viewing)

♪♪~ No music

Royal Official: “We’ve looked, but we can’t find Prince Crescendo or Princess Serenade anywhere!”
Jazz: “What do you mean?”
Royal Official: “It’s true. No one in the castle has seen them.”
Allegretto: “They’ve got to be somewhere. Let’s try searching again.”
Jazz: “No. Looking here is probably useless.”
Polka: “Do you think they….”

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*Meanwhile, outside Baroque Castle (presumably some time earlier)...*

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Serenade: “Yes. I feel I must. For I am in part responsible for starting the conflict with Forte. If only I had realized sooner….”

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Crescendo: “To do that, I’ll have to cross into enemy territory. It’ll be dangerous. But from the beginning, I’ve been prepared to sacrifice my life to ensure peace. But you don’t have to.”

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Crescendo: “Thank you, Serenade. However, I expect the result will be the same. You will just delay the inevitable. No. I doubt I’ll ever be able to return here. This parting will be forever.”

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------------

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♪♪~ Tristesse (Étude in E Major, Op. 10 No. 3) (recommended listening)

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“At the time, France was friendly toward Poland,”

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“For that reason, Paris was filled with Polish refugees.”

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“…were judged in court without being present and sentenced to death.”

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“This melancholy melody portrays both homesickness and an eternal farewell to his homeland.”

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“Chopin left Poland before the insurrection and was outside the country the entire time it took place.”

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“In spite of that, Chopin never returned to Poland.”

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“It is likely that he had felt the same feelings as the rebels, even though he had not been able to participate in the fighting.”

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“Chopin became a political refugee of his own choosing and burned his bridges behind him.”

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“To Chopin, who loved Poland, the decision not to return to his home must have been a painful one.”

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“The twenty-two year old Chopin may have composed this song as a way to burn his homeland into his heart.”

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“Perhaps these words speak of the view from the village of Zelazawa Wola,”

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--------------​

Next time: Chasing after Crescendo and Serenade.
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
Glossary of Musical Terms

Quena – A traditional Andean flute, usually made of either cane or wood. I didn’t catch this reference the first time we came across it, so here you go.

Flute – A family of woodwind instruments. Most woodwinds use a reed of some sort to produce their sound, but the flute is reedless, and you instead play it by blowing air across an opening in the instrument.

Choir – A musical ensemble of singers; also called a chorus, which we covered earlier.
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
Right? And speaking of him, here's some art:

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I completely forgot to post these after the fight against him in Chapter 4, so here we are.
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
The next update is going up tomorrow! Until then, a few more pieces:

Chopin - Étude in A Flat Major, Op. 25 No. 1
Étude in E Minor, Op. 25 No. 5

Deussy - Trois Nocturnes
Erik Satie - Sarabande No. 1

Chopin published his second set of études in 1837. Like the first set, many of these études have fancy nicknames that Chopin himself did not give them; No. 1 is sometimes called "Aeolian Harp," while No. 5 is sometimes referred to as the "Wrong Note" étude thanks to its rapid minor-2nd dissonances.

I was going to link to Debussy's Trois Nocturnes somewhere in the previous chapter, but I couldn't find a place for it, so here we are instead. He wrote it between 1892-1899, and it was first premiered in all three movements in 1901; it's a gorgeous piece of music, the third movement especially, which features a women's chorus singing a wordless melody.

Erik Satie was a French composer and pianist, active in the late Romantic and early 20th century eras. He was quite eccentric, being known for things like keeping a collection of umbrellas in his apartment, wearing nothing but seven identical velvet suits for an entire decade, and founding his own church (which he used to dunk on his critics), among other things. His work was also influential to composers like Debussy and Ravel, and some consider pieces like his furniture music to be a precursor to modern genres like minimalism and ambient music.
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
Verse 6-2: The Ancient Ruins

Hello and welcome back to Eternal Sonata! Last time Polka fell ill due to her astra, and the rest of the party had to use The Royal Teleportation Device to head back to Agogo Forest and enlist the help of the Agogo Queen Mother to help her recover (and run into Fugue one more time in the process). Soon afterwards – actually, could you fill us in on the rest, Polka?

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click to watch the cutscene

Right, thanks Polka.

Polka: “Even though they know they’ll never be able to return to Baroque!”
Royal Official: “If that’s the case, his highness most likely made use of the teleportation device.”

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Jazz: “If they make it to Forte, they have no chance. Count Waltz isn’t very sympathetic.”
Allegretto: “Let’s go!”

Right. Crescendo and Serenade already have a sizable lead thanks to our detour to Agogo Forest, so we need to hurry and catch up with them as soon as possible.

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♪♪~ An Inspection Which Values Harmony

Royal Official: “I have arranged for you to have access to the teleportation device so that you can travel to To Coda yourselves. Please hurry to the Warp Room.”
“You will find the Warp Room in a building to your left, immediately after leaving the castle. The welfare of our Prince is in your hands.”

You can count on us!

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♪♪~ White Mirror

But first we should resupply for the trip ahead before we set off. For weapons I buy the Leaf Umbrella for Polka (increased time gained on the Action Gauge), the Zweihänder for Jazz, and the Illunis for March (increased critical hit rate). For armor, Allegretto and Jazz get the Freiturnier, Beat and March get the Land Scales, Polka and Salsa get the Black Velvet, and Viola and Falsetto each get an Eagle Robe.

As for consumables, Honey Cookies are now on sale for 250G apiece; they’re the final tier of Cookie item, and heal a character for 9,500 HP. I buy 20 of them, which should last us a while.

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♪♪~ Well Done

I didn’t realize last time that Falsetto and Beat were so close to leveling up, so I went and rerecorded the Fugue rematch; we’ll look at these specials later. Falsetto originally learned Howling Thunder at level 25, but it was swapped with Shadow Beam for the PS3 port; Beat originally learned Vital Drain at 34, but for this version of the game the level requirement was slightly decreased. Incidentally, the level requirements for the latter are incorrectly listed on the Eternal Sonata wiki, which is one of the very few errors on the site I’ve come across; it’s otherwise been very accurate, which has been quite helpful to me in making this LP.

Now then, with all that taken care of it’s time to head to the Warp Room once again.

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Guide: “The device on the left has been having problems that have apparently led to its complete breakdown. Do not be alarmed, however. As this is an emergency, I have activated a device that will carry you straight to the To Coda Ruins.”
“It is difficult to ask this of people who aren’t from Baroque, but please bring back the Prince. I beseech you.”
“The device to the right will activate when you stand on it, and send you to the To Coda Ruins.”

It’s really too bad the Warp Room has been having so many problems – it would’ve been neat to be able to revisit all the places we’ve been throughout the game.

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Oh well, we have bigger things to worry about right now. No time to waste!

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♪♪~ Continuous Divider

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The To Coda Ruins are a series of eight groups of islands connected by teleporters; this first area is called Betrayal Island. We’re going to be spending almost the entire update in this place, so let’s not waste any time and get straight to it.

This theme is… fine? It’s my least favorite dungeon theme in the game. It does give me Star Ocean vibes which is always nice, but there just isn’t much here to grab onto, in my opinion at least. I do like how prominent the glockenspiel and chimes are, but overall I’ve always found this theme kind of lacking compared to the rest of the soundtrack.

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Taking the teleporter to the left of the entrance just deposits us on top of this roof, I guess to show the player how the ruins work. You might be thinking to yourself, “Oh no, a teleporter maze! Those are always terrible!” And I wouldn’t blame you for doing so, but the To Coda Ruins are actually pretty straightforward.

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There’s only one other teleporter to get to at the moment and no items to worry about, so we’ll take it and get dumped on this other roof.

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Taking the teleporter on the opposite end leaves us at the next island in the area, where we finally encounter some enemies.

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♪♪~ Leap the Precipice

The battlefield for the ruins is quite large and mostly in darkness, save for the torches scattered around the top edges and in the middle; there can be anywhere from two to four of the middle torches in any given battle. Having someone in your party wear the Brilliant Brooch for more consistent access to your light specials is a good idea if you’re having trouble with the fights here.

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Dark Antiques are the final members of the “giant floating torch” line of enemies, but they aren’t the last time we’ll be seeing that enemy type in the game. Black Circle is its most common and most dangerous attack, and can inflict Stop if unguarded; Black Fire is an AoE that’s rarely seen, and Black Stab is a single-target attack that’s tricky to guard against. Dark Antiques also project an aura of darkness around them, forcing you to use your dark specials against them unless you’re using Beat/Viola or have someone equipped with the Brilliant Brooch. On the plus side, they don’t have much HP, and you can pretty reliably one-round them if you build up at least 8 Echoes. They also sometimes drop Scorpion Tails (90% chance of inflicting Poison on a target, if you’ve forgotten).

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While I’m here, let’s look at a couple specials. Howling Thunder is the dark version of Snow Claw, but a bit more powerful; like Snow Claw, it’s great for building Echoes, and the final hit has a decently-sized AoE for catching other enemies in the blast.

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Salsa learned Deadly Orbit a couple updates ago, but I’m only just now getting the chance to show it off. It’s a dark special that hits 12 times, making it sort of comparable to March’s Super Nova. It deals some respectable damage at higher Echo counts, but it’s mainly used to build those Echoes in the first place. (This special was originally learned at level 25, but it was bumped up a few levels for the PS3 port.)
 
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Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
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Moving on from that, heading east soon brings us to the next teleporter…

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Which takes us to the rooftops of the nearby buildings. That weird robot-looking thing you can kind of see on the other side is guarding the teleporter to the next group of islands; we’ll have to defeat it first before we can progress.

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The OOPARTS (the all-caps is important) is the first of a new enemy type, which I’ll call “ancient floating robot.” They don’t have much HP, but do have very high defenses to compensate, so with some characters it might be better to spam specials on them; Falsetto can take one down with two Night Fists, for example. The OOPARTS’ attacks are mostly focused on causing knockdown, with the exception of Dark Sun – which inflicts Darkness Body if it connects – but I’m not sure I’ve ever actually seen this move. It mostly tends to stick to Left/Right Drill, and it also has attacks called Left/Right Blow that are effectively the same thing. OOPARTS don’t drop any items.

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Jazz can chew these enemies up real quick, at least. He learned Maelstrom back in Aria Temple; it’s a single-hit dark special that sends out a shockwave in front of him for a pretty long distance, and it does way more damage than you’d think it would, especially at higher Echo counts.

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You can’t really see it in the screenshot, but we’re reading a pillar next to the teleporter; there will be more of these as we go along, detailing an extremely vague history of these ruins.

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Taking the teleporter, we find ourselves on False Pride Island.

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Soon afterwards we find yet more new enemies, the last ones of the ruins in fact.

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The Ancient Fish is the last variant of the “small annoying floating fish” enemy type we’ll be seeing. Fiery Revolution is its most dangerous move, carrying a strong chance of knockdown if unguarded and being capable of hitting multiple characters at once. Abyss Stone and Ancient Rock are both distance attacks, and the former also carries a chance of knockdown, but they aren’t nearly so worrisome. It also technically has a move called Dark Below that can inflict Darkness Body, but I’m not sure I’ve ever actually seen it. Ancient Fish don’t drop any items.

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But all that only applies in the light! In darkness the Ancient Fish transforms into the Strong Glory, which is both bulkier and much more dangerous. Debacle is by far its most threatening move, as you can see above, Golden Ram comparatively less so. It also has an attack called Overturn, but it’s very rare to see. Strong Glories sometimes drop Honey Cookies, which is pretty nice.

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♪♪~ Continuous Divider

Continuing on, the way forward is straight ahead from where we started, but first we’ll take this teleporter off to the right.

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Doing so takes us to the nearby rooftops, which leads to this Honey Cookie.

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There’s nothing else on these rooftops, so we’ll hop off and take this teleporter next.

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We get taken to another set of rooftops; there’s a teleporter offscreen to the left that’s guarded by an OOPARTS, but since that’s the way forward we’ll instead take the teleporter off to the right you can just barely see here.

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Doing that takes us to a far-off island in the distance…

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Leading to this nice weapon upgrade for Beat (increased time-gain on the Action Gauge with melee combos).

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“The bronze bird replied, ‘False pride.’”

Back on the main island with another history lesson. Onward to the next area!

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We’re now on Conceit Island. There’s nothing off to the left…

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But we can snag this new weapon for Salsa to the right of where we started. It inflicts greater damage to dark creatures and puts her in Darkness Body while it’s equipped; the former effect is pretty handy against both the Strong Glories and the OOPARTS.

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Back on the main path, we take this teleporter up to the nearby rooftops…

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♪♪~ Well Done

Jazz: “The battle isn’t over yet.”
Polka: “Good!”

And learn a couple new specials; more on these later.

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Taking this teleporter off to the east puts you near the chest with the Lunar Eclipse, which is nice if you missed it but annoying for us.

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Instead you want to hop off the ledge at the north end of the rooftops and take the teleporter you see here.

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This brings us to a new island; it’s a straight shot to the end with no items to worry about.

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“The bronze bird replied, ‘Conceit.’”

Seems like whatever civilization used to live here had a long stretch of bad rulers, going by these pillars. It might explain why the ruins are abandoned now.

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Moving on, we’ve reached Resentment Island, which is about the halfway point for the dungeon.
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
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There’s a teleporter up ahead, as well as another one on a ledge that we can’t reach yet.

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But instead of taking the first teleporter, we’ll head around the ledge and take this one.

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Doing that puts us on the ledge and in sight of the teleporter we couldn’t reach before.

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Before we take it, we’ll grab this weapon for March; it deals greater damage to light-aligned enemies and puts her in Shining Body while it’s equipped, which isn’t great now but will be helpful later. Now we can use the teleporter, which puts us back in front of the ledge…

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Leaving us free to use this one next.

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Hmm, there’s another teleporter northwest of us, but the building it’s on is separate from the rooftops we’re standing on; we’ll have to find another way to reach it.

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“The bronze bird replied, ‘Resentment.’”

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Taking the teleporter by the pillar puts us on Jealousy Island; there’s nothing off to the left, so we’ll go right.

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Following the path brings us to the first teleporter, which in turn puts us on the nearby rooftops.

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Before we take the teleporter on the northeastern end of the rooftops, we’ll take this one…

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Which puts us on a distant island.

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That Strong Glory in the previous image was guarding this new weapon for Allegretto; nothing fancy here, just a straight ATK upgrade. That gotten, we’ll take the teleporter you can see in the far right of this image…

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Which takes us to the standalone building back on Resentment Island. And inside the nearby chest…

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Is Allegretto’s new costume!

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It’s like a fancier version of his normal outfit. Stylin’!

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Here’s a few shots of the new costume in action. And while I’m here…

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♪♪~ Leap the Precipice

Let’s look at a few more specials. Whirlwind is the light version of Maelstrom, and all the same descriptors apply: single hit, shockwave, actually pretty strong, etc.

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Vital Drain is unique in that it’s the only special in the game that drains an enemy’s health. I don’t think I used it at all during my very first playthrough of the game, because HP-drain attacks in RPG’s tend to be pretty bad, but this one is actually quite good! It seems like it heals about two-thirds of the damage dealt to an enemy, and since it also affects other enemies near the target you get all of that HP back as well. With a decent Echo count you can make Beat entirely self-sufficient, especially with the Recovery Orb on top of that.

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One last special for the road; this is Pure Geyser, another in the pile of light specials that Polka has. It’s a single-hit move that automatically damages every enemy on the battlefield no matter where they are, but to balance that out the damage output isn’t too great; the above image is from a nearly-full Echo meter. It’s good for softening up monsters for other characters to finish off, but I tend not to use it very much.

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“The bronze bird replied, ‘Jealousy.’”

Back on the main path, we can take this teleporter now…

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And reach Suspicion Island.
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
SVPZmzw.png


Directly west of the teleporter is this new weapon for Frederic. This particular baton has been tweaked heavily from the original release; it increases ATK by 89 points (up from 78), increases MAG by 7, and no longer carries a Shining Body effect. It was also renamed from Apollo’s Staff; apparently the word lichanos is a reference to ancient Greek music theory, which is neat!

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This island is pretty big, but all the important bits are blocked off by those walls you see at the top of the image.

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“The bronze bird replied, ‘Suspicion.’”

Nothing for it but to use this teleporter for now.

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Already we find ourselves on Distress Island, the seventh of eight. We’re nearly out of here, y’all!

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OOPARTS start wandering around on this island, instead of just guarding the way to the next one; they aren’t protecting anything down that northwestern path, so after we take care of them for the exp we’ll use that teleporter to the northeast.

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This puts us on the nearby rooftop; no treasure here, leaving us free to hop off the northern ledge.

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“The bronze bird replied, ‘Distress.’”

This teleporter isn’t going to use itself!

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Doing so takes us back to Suspicion Island, behind those walls we couldn’t get past earlier.

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“As before, the bronze bird replied, ‘Suspicion.’”

One more teleporter, which takes us to…

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Sincerity Island, which is a bit of an abrupt shift from the usual naming scheme. There aren’t any treasures or enemies here and it’s a straight shot to the end of the ruins.

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“The golden bird cried loudly, ‘Sincerity!’”

Hmm, interesting twist there. But it seems to have been too little too late – whatever damage the previous kings had done to the To Coda civilization seems to have been too much for the last king to do much about it.

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Whatever the case may be, speculating about it isn’t going to help us catch up to Crescendo and Serenade. Let’s mosey!

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♪♪~ Dive into the Vast Expanse of Plains

Oh, haven’t heard that music in a while. Let’s try and get our bearings…

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Huh, someone lives way out here. Let’s go ask whoever they are if they’ve seen the Baroque royals.
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
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click to watch the rest of the update (recommended viewing)

♪♪~ No music

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Hang on, I think we’ve seen this woman before

Polka: “Huh? How do you know my name?!”
Fortuneteller: “It’s certainly been a long time, hasn’t it? I can’t quite remember, how many years has it been since last I saw you? It feels like it could have been only yesterday. But I suppose it also could have been hundreds of years ago.”
Viola: “You know her?”
Polka: “No, I don’t. I’m sorry, have we met somewhere before?”
Fortuneteller: “Not somewhere, my dear. We’ve met before right here, in this very place.”

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Polka: “We’ve met here? But this is the first time I’ve ever been to this place. Excuse me, ma’am. But how is it that you know about me?”
Fortuneteller: “My dear, I’m afraid you wouldn’t understand even if I explained it to you. And even if you knew everything, you cannot change fate now. And I see you arrived here right on schedule. I suppose you must not have encountered any particular trouble this time-- Oh my.”
*She notices Frederic.*

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Allegretto: “Uh, ma’am? Ya mind explaining what you’re doing here in the first place? I mean, don’t tell me that waiting here for Polka to show up is all you ever do.”

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Beat: “Wait, you actually know what fortune she’s gonna draw before she does it?”
Fortuneteller: “Yes, I know very well. You see my job is to witness whether or not she ties that fortune to the sacred tree.”
Allegretto: “The sacred tree?”
Fortuneteller: “The tree standing right behind this fortune-telling hut.”

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*The party all look up at the tree.*
Fortuneteller: “For the tree, it’s as if time is always standing still. For it never grows any taller, but neither does it ever wither. And that is why the people who live in this land have come to call it, ‘the sacred tree.’ They think it is blessed, because it doesn’t age.”

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Fortuneteller: “You will know soon enough whether what I have told you is the truth or not.”
*She steps aside.*
Beat: “What do you think? Are you gonna do it? This whole thing is kind of weird.”
*Polka thinks to herself for a moment before answering:*
Polka: “I’ll do it. I’ll draw one. There’s no way she could know what I’m going to draw before I do it. That doesn’t make any sense.”
*She starts walking toward the fortune box.*

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*She reaches the box, thinks for a bit, then reaches in and pulls out a fortune:*

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*Polka then takes the fortune back to the old woman.*
Fortuneteller: “Excellent. Now then, my dear, go over to the sacred tree, and if it is indeed a bad fortune, tie it to one of the branches of the tree. Doing so will drive away the bad luck.”
*Polka nods and begins walking over to the base of the tree.*

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Fortuneteller: “I should think not. For your destiny, lies in a place that is far beyond our reach. Even so, I am fairly certain that we must have you see this part through to the very end. Go with her.”
Frederic: “Madam, are you saying that following her will somehow decide my fate?”
Fortuneteller: “Weren’t you listening to me? No one of this world could possibly know what your destiny holds.”
*He hesitates for a brief moment.*
Frederic: “All right.”
*He starts to follow after Polka.*
Allegretto: “Come on, let’s all go!”

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Allegretto: “What? Why not?”

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Viola: “Boundaries of destiny?”
Fortuneteller: “Those who exist within the boundaries are not permitted to ever see its form.”
Allegretto: “You’re saying he and Polka are different from us?”
Fortuneteller: “That is correct.”
Allegretto: “Huf! Yeah, well, I’m not buying it!”
*He heads off after Polka and Frederic.*
Salsa: “I wanna go, too!”
Fortuneteller: “Dear me. How utterly pointless.”
*Meanwhile, at the base of the tree...*

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Polka: “Oh, Frederic!”
Frederic: “The old woman told me I should see this through to the end.”
Polka: “Oh, she did? All right then, I’m gonna open it.”
*She does so, and looks in confusion at its contents.*
Polka: “What’s this?”
*Frederic takes a look at the fortune:*

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♪♪~ Your Circumstances

Frederic: “That this world really is just my….”
Polka: “This is it. This is what I can do to help the world. No matter what, I guess there’s no escaping it.”
Frederic: “What’s wrong?”
*Suddenly:*

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*She shows him the fortune.*
Allegretto: “What is this a joke? It’s just blank.”
*He then notices the fortunes on the tree.*
Allegretto: “Wow, there sure are a lot more up here. Yikes! And all the fortunes are bad luck. Hey, do you think that’s why that old lady said she knew what was gonna happen? Anyways, it looks like she was totally wrong when she said that thing about you being the only person who can draw a fortune here.”
Polka: “Allegretto, I’m not so sure.”
Allegretto: “What’s the matter? Aw, come on, don’t take it so seriously.”

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Polka: “Oh!”
Allegretto: “Hey, let’s head back and talk to that old lady again. We can tell her her intuition was 100 percent wrong.”
*He leaves the area.*

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Polka: “Things’ll be different from now on. And I’ll wait. I won’t resort to that until the last possible moment.”
*Newly determined, Polka leaves to join the others.*

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What indeed, Frederic.

So, there were a couple changes made to this cutscene for the PS3 port – small changes, but important ones. First, in the original game the fortuneteller doesn’t address Frederic at all. Second, and more importantly, Polka does indeed draw a bad luck fortune and ties it to the tree. It might seem weird to mention, but the fortune being blank in this version of the game is actually extremely important – but more on that much, much later. For now we’ll keep chasing after Crescendo and Serenade to hopefully catch up to them in time.

Next time: Climbing a mountain, and the end of Chapter 6!
 

Mogri

Round and round I go
(he)
Staff member
Moderator
Those seem like some pretty major changes. This isn't just a port, then?
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
Those seem like some pretty major changes. This isn't just a port, then?

That's pretty accurate; in many ways it feels to me like the definitive version of the game, the one that should have been released back on the Xbox 360 but wasn't for whatever reason. Maybe the developers ran out of time or budget to include all the things they wanted to, or maybe they looked back on the game after it was released and wanted another crack at it for the PS3 port. Or maybe it's a combination of both!

I've talked about the plot additions and changes as they've come up, but I haven't really looked at them cumulatively, and doing that reminds me that it's kind of wild how much new/different stuff there is. For starters, in the original game, astras are only mentioned once - in the flashback cutscene that talks about them in Chapter 4 - and then never brought up again until the very end of the game. Fugue just disappears from the plot entirely and is never brought up again after you fight him in Chapter 4; like I said last time, the return to Agogo Foreset just doesn't happen. The Lament dungeon is absent, and Crescendo and Serenade are just important NPCs instead of full-fledged party members. There's the stuff from this update. And there are more changes coming up as we get closer to the end of the game that I'll cover in due time, including probably the biggest change to the plot that I'll go over next update.

And that's just plot stuff! Mechanically, the entire game has been rebalanced to be more challenging. The original game was on the easy side, especially since bosses in the second half gave out so much exp that your party would gain multiple levels in a single fight, rendering much (although not all) of the endgame largely toothless. A bunch of the level requirements for specials have been shuffled around, or changed to be learned at higher levels, and several characters - most notably Polka and Frederic - have had a fair few of their weapons tweaked to be better than before and make those characters more useful. For some reason Viola's long-distance attacks actually got buffed to deal even more damage than usual, I guess to compensate for generally higher enemy stats. Not to mention the addition of Crescendo and Serenade as playable characters, both of whom are fun to play as and very useful in their own ways. And there's more stuff we haven't gotten to yet.

Whatever the reason for these changes, I'm of the opinion that they overall make the game a better experience, and I'm happy to be able to share it with you all.
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
Yeah that seems like a pretty big change. Interesting. I like these changes and am curious to see where this story goes!

Glad to hear it!

For now, some more art, this time of the fortuneteller:

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These are scans from the Japanese strategy guide. According to the blog I got these from, the fortuneteller's name is Largo, but a) I don't know any Japanese so I can't read these scans*; b) the blog was itself in French, which I also don't know; and c) it was the only place on the internet I could find that actually gave the character a name at all besides "the fortuneteller", so take that with a grain of salt.

*The text in these images may well contain plot spoilers, so if you do know Japanese, translate at your own risk!
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
No update the rest of this week, on account of it being Thanksgiving and all; I'll post the finale of Chapter 6 either on Monday or Tuesday. Until then, here are a few more pieces to enjoy:

Chopin - Étude in F Major, Op. 25 No. 3
Étude in C Sharp Minor, Op. 25 No. 7

Satie - Gnossienne No. 1
Tailleferre - Piano Trio

Chopin's Étude No. 3 is sometimes called "The Horseman" or "The Knight"; No. 7 is sometimes called the "Cello" étude because of the prominent left-hand melody.

If the word "gnossienne" sounds made up, that's because it is; Satie would just do that with some of his pieces.
 
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Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
Verse 6-3: Scale the Summit

Hello and welcome back to Eternal Sonata! Last time the party made their way through the To Coda Ruins to try and catch up to Crescendo and Serenade before they reach Forte, and then some weird stuff involving fortunes happened near a very old tree.

Before we continue on, there are a couple things we can find in the area.

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♪♪~ Dive into the Vast Expanse of Plains

Allegretto: “Well, if it can, then I wish Polka…. Geez, what am I doing? This is stupid. Let’s get going!”

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The Saint’s Mirror will revive all KO’ed characters and bring them back to full HP in the process; in the original game it cost 10 points to put into the Item Set, but now it only costs 2, making it very valuable indeed. It’s extremely rare, as well – aside from farming for rare drops from a specific enemy much later, there’s only one other spot to find a Saint’s Mirror in the entire game, and they can’t be bought at any shops either.

There’s one more item before we go, found by checking the base of the Cello Tree:

Allegretto: “Huh? You can’t call that a fortune.”

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Sure can’t! This makes 22 out of 32 Score Pieces, as well as the only Score Piece to be found in the chapter.

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Right, now we can move on.

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Welcome to Cowbell Heights! Even including the Cello Tree, this is the smallest area in the game – the whole thing is in this image.

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It’s one long walk north with no enemies to fight or treasures to find, so I won’t dawdle here too long. At least it’s nice to look at, though.

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♪♪~ Rock and Burn You

Mt. Rock, huh? We’re pretty close to the Forte border, then – and close to Crescendo and Serenade. We should restock from that merchant before we start climbing.

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Item Merchant: “It is you! Well, of all the things. I didn’t think you were still alive. I was sure that you’d been done in during the rebellion, but…. So, you survived. Falsetto, too. Thank goodness. But as for the mountain…. The situation on the Forte side has gotten much worse since then. They’ve increased surveillance and the work has gotten brutal. The men are dropping like flies.”

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“By the way, what did you come back here for? No, on second thought, don’t tell me. You’ve got your reasons, I’m sure. If you’re heading up the mountain, it’s best to be prepared. I don’t have anything special, but buy what you need.”

That’s the plan, surprisingly friendly stranger.

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I buy new weapons for everyone except Polka, March, and Beat; they’re all straight ATK upgrades, so nothing exciting there. As for armor, I purchase the Fog Cloak for Frederic, two Obscure Jackets for Viola and Falsetto (permanent Air Body while equipped), and a couple sets of Gorgeous Clothes for Polka and Salsa (prevents enemies from landing critical hits while worn). I hold off on getting any Cursed Armor, because I don’t feel like dealing with the annoyance of permanent Darkness Body.

There are also two new consumables for sale. First is the Heart Clover, the next tier of Clover item; it heals the party for 12,000 HP and costs 7 points to put into the Item Set. The other new item is the Peacock Feather, which heals all status effects and costs 2 points to put into the Set.

Now that that’s all settled, let’s get to climbing. (You can also rest here for free if you need it, but we’re fine.)

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Not a very hospitable looking place, is it? We’d best be careful as we climb.

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And of course by “be careful” I mean “immediately go say hi to the local monster population.”

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♪♪~ Leap the Precipice

The battlefield for Mt. Rock is much smaller than what we were dealing with last time at the To Coda Ruins, with a more complicated lighting situation as well. There are also three overturned mine-carts scattered about to make positioning more annoying.

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L’Opera Generals are the most common enemy we’ll be fighting on Mt. Rock, and the final entry in the “swan knight” line of enemies. Of the attacks pictured above, General Tornado is both the most commonly used and the most dangerous, especially since it can cause knockdown unguarded. They have surprisingly high defenses, making March’s Solar Eclipse weapon pretty useful while we’re here. L’Opera Generals sometimes drop Big Paper Fans.

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In the dark, L’Opera Generals transform into Standard Bearers, which are easier to deal with; in hindsight it might have been a good idea to buy some Cursed Armor after all, but I already didn’t do that so oh well. In the original release the Standard Bearers had way more HP than L’Opera Generals, but for the PS3 port the two were switched around. Standard Bearers occasionally drop Peacock’s Feathers.

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Rounding out the encounter list for Mt. Rock is the Gyaman, the final “mushroom squid” enemy. They’re pretty much the same as always – lots of HP, group poison attack they barely use, etc. They sometimes drop Scorpion’s Tails.

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While I’m here, let’s look at White Dagger, which Viola learned back in Aria Temple. It’s the light version of Bone Crumble, and that’s pretty much it, although I personally think it looks cooler.
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
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There’s not much to the first couple areas of Mt. Rock, just a straightforward path densely packed with enemies.

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Soon enough we reach a mine shaft connecting the Main Area to the next section of the mountain.

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♪♪~ No music

Jazz: “This is where Tenor and I parted ways. I remember it well. The tide had turned against us, and retreat was our only option. I thought we’d be safe if we could just make it to Baroque. I was such a fool. No sooner had we crossed the border than Forte’s army came pouring through right after us.”

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Jazz: “I still haven’t forgotten Tenor’s words. Having made up my mind to fight to the death, they weren’t easy words for me to hear. I felt as if I was being torn apart. But in order to carry out Tenor’s wishes, Bass and I turned our backs on the blood and sand, and left the mountain behind.”
Falsetto: “Jazz….”
Polka: “If… if you could do it over again, would you?”
Jazz: “...”
Polka: “I’m sorry.”

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Jazz: “Even if such a thing were possible, I wouldn’t want to. Because it would only be a negation of the choices made by the friends who’ve died along the way.”
Polka: “You’re right.”
Frederic: “...”
Allegretto: “Something wrong, Polka?”
Polka: “No, it’s nothing.”

It’s unclear if the “Bass” person that Jazz is referring to is the same character who is one of Dolce’s henchmen, or a separate character who happens to have the same name; I don’t recall if they’re mentioned anywhere else. In any case, it’s neat to have some details filled in about the mine workers’ uprising that Crescendo talked about back in Chapter 4.

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Moving on, the next area actually has a couple forks in the road.

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Score! The Solar Eclipse is proving pretty useful for the moment, but I’ll equip this after we’re done with Mt. Rock.

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♪♪~ Well Done

Salsa: “Things are lookin’ pretty good from here!”
March: “That does it!”
Viola: “I can do way better than this!”

Because Mt. Rock is so densely packed with enemies, we get quite a few level-ups as we make our way through the place. I didn’t get a chance to use Midnight Cloud while I was here, but I’ll be sure to take a look at it next time; aside from the specials she starts out with, the level requirements for the rest of them were simply bumped up to be five levels higher than in the original game.

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We want to take this side path to the east before we continue climbing up the mountain.

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Going through the mine shaft spits us out on a short path leading to another mine shaft…

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Which has this guy just chillin’ inside.

Aloof Fiddle: “Which direction should you take? Hmm. Perhaps this score piece will take you where you need to go.”

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“The road of travel shows you many things. You are still young. Your coming experiences will aid in your progression.”

Playing Score Piece #12 with Mr. Fiddle here will result in a B-rank and free Floral Powder, but that’s not all he has to offer us:

“A great wall stands before you. Whether or not you will overcome it is up to you.”

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“I really felt your determination there. With such strength of will, you won’t lose sight of your destination.”

Playing Score Piece #11 gets us the Sunlight Guards, which increase the wearer’s DEF by 10 points. We can’t reach that chest you see in the corner from here; we’ll have to find another way around.

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Back on the main path, we’re actually already near the summit; Mt. Rock isn’t a very big place, oddly enough.
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
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In this area only, there’s a strong wind continuously pushing us to the east; once we’re on the top path we’ll have to walk against the current, which makes avoiding or ambushing enemies difficult.

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At the end of the bottom path we find some nice armor; in addition to the DEF upgrade, it increases the wearer’s max HP by 3%. I give it to Allegretto.

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Once again, we want to go east before continuing down the main path.

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This lets us reach that chest we couldn’t get to earlier. The Sunbringer deals more damage to dark creatures, which isn’t that great right now but might be more useful down the line.

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Polka: “Good!”
Frederic: “Let us celebrate, and be satisfied!”

Two more specials for this update; I didn’t get a chance to use Disruption Wave, but I can take a look at Legion Fulminante, as well as a couple other specials.

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♪♪~ Leap the Precipice

Legion Fulminante is very simple, but very good – it’s a light special that drops a lightning bolt on the target and any nearby enemies. It’s relatively spammable, taking only 1.7 seconds to use, and deals quite a bit of damage. Enemies that aren’t the main target take less damage from it, but it’s still pretty good for softening up multiple enemies at once. Frederic originally learned this special at level 32, but it was bumped up to 36 for the PS3 port.

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Corona Stream is a four-hit light special for Salsa; the final hit shoots out a beam of fire that can hit other enemies at a modest distance behind the main target. It’s quite powerful as well.

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Finally, Evil Strike is simply the dark version of Sacred Strike, although it is stronger.

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♪♪~ Rock and Burn You

A few minutes of walking against the wind and fighting monsters later, we’ve reached the area just before the summit.

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I don’t think this Heart Clover was here in the original game, but I’ll gladly take it; the dang things are expensive.

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We can’t be far from them now…

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click to watch the next series of cutscenes (recommended viewing)

♪♪~ No music

Crescendo: “Yes. We’re almost in Forte territory. From this point on we should be especially careful not to reveal who we are.”
*Suddenly, from offscreen:*
Allegretto: “Hey! Guys!”

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Serenade: “What?”
Crescendo: “You caught up with us sooner than I expected. I assumed we’d at least make it to Forte first.”
Polka: “I’m glad we caught up with you in time.”
Allegretto: “What do you think you’re doing?”
Serenade: “Why in the world did you follow us?”
Polka: “Princess, how could you leave without telling anyone in Baroque Castle? There are a lot of people there who are really worried about you.”
Crescendo: “I know this seems reckless, but the circumstances called for decisive action.”

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Jazz: “This is Waltz we’re talking about. You know there’s no guarantee he’ll spare your life.”
Serenade: “Maybe not. But if I were to speak with him, I believe he would spare the Prince.”

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♪♪~ A Faint Light Grasped in the Hand

Serenade: “After all the things that I have done, it is the very least I can do to make up for it.”
Viola: “Count Waltz doesn’t seem like the type who listens to reason. Even if he does let you live, I seriously doubt he’ll ever let you set foot in Baroque again.”
Allegretto: “And when Baroque has been thrown into chaos after losing its prince, Waltz will still invade.”
Polka: “That’s right. You can’t abandon Baroque now.”
*While the others are talking, Beat sees something off in the distance:*

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♪♪~ Pursuit

Falsetto: “They’re already invading?!”
Polka: “There are so many of them!”
Jazz: “Damn it!”
*As the group looks on, Waltz appears at the head of the dragon fleet:*

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Legato: “Yes, my lord.”

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Salsa: “They’re coming right this way!”
Jazz: “Even if we tried to fight a force that size, we’d have no chance of defeating them. And after they’ve finished us off, they’ll just continue on to conquer the rest of Baroque.”
Falsetto: “What can we do, Jazz?”
Jazz: “All we can do is pretend to listen to their demands. That may buy us some time.”
*The music fades out as Waltz and Legato land their dragons:*

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Waltz: “It would have been terribly rude of me to make you come all the way to Forte.”
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
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(If you haven’t been watching the cutscene videos, you should at least watch this one to hear Liam O’Brien as Count Waltz. You can tell he had a lot of fun with this role.)

Crescendo: “Count Waltz, as a representative of Baroque, I assure you that we’ve no desire for bloodshed. I came all this way because I’d hoped I’d be able to negotiate with you. I don’t want to make the people of my kingdom suffer under the fear of war any longer.”
Legato: “You seem to be a noble prince who cares for his subjects.”

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♪♪~ A Step

Crescendo: “I’m turning myself over to Forte. If that is not enough for you, Baroque is prepared to consider terms for surrender to Forte as well. In exchange, I ask for assurance that you will not harm Princess Serenade, these people here, or the citizens of Baroque in any way. Above all else, I want to prevent the killing of innocent civilians in needless conflict.”
*Serenade takes a step forward to make her case.*
Serenade: “Count Waltz, listen to me. All this time, I have kept close watch to make sure that Baroque made no move, that they never invaded Forte. And I was fully aware that by doing this, I was lending my support to you, and to Forte. But, through it all, I believed I was following the correct path; because I thought it was the best way to prevent a war.”

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Serenade: “For things to change, one side needs to take a step back.”
Legato: “And so you’re saying, Baroque has taken a step back?”

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Serenade: “After all, there is no guarantee that there will be ground to stand upon. Count Waltz, please negotiate with Baroque, and then, perhaps, we can step forward together in peace. It should be clear to all concerned that continuing with this mutual animosity benefits no one in the end.”
Waltz: “But you see, any threat posed by Baroque is no longer a concern at all. And I have even less interest in Baroque’s simpering prince.”
*The music fades out.*

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Waltz: “So, if you’d kindly turn her over to us, I will guarantee the safety of Prince Crescendo and Serenade.”
*Allegretto puts an arm out in front of Polka.*
Legato: “And, of course, we promise to treat the young lady with the utmost care and civility.”
Salsa: “Don’t think for a minute that I’m gonna fall for that kind of sweet-talk again!”
Legato: “Oh, but it is very important to us that this young lady remain in only the best of health. We have no intention of making a prisoner of her. We’ll make sure she lives the rest of her life in comfort.”
Waltz: “You see? All of us want the same thing. So, what is your decision?”

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Viola: “Yeah. We figured out what you guys were up to a long time ago.”
Polka: “There’s no way I’ll go with you. Besides, I already know what it is I have to do. I know what to do to really help everyone.”
*Count Waltz chuckles.*
Waltz: “You people don’t quite understand the situation. Do you honestly think you have any say in the matter? How unfortunate. And just as I was going to respond to Prince Crescendo’s little bid for peaceful negotiations. You will hand the girl over to me immediately. Because I’m afraid that if you don’t,”

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*After a few seconds’ hesitation, Polka begins walking forward.*
Allegretto: “Polka!”
*Waltz chuckles again.*
Waltz: “It would’ve been easier if you’d just done as I asked from the beginning.”
Beat: “No, Polka, don’t do it! Don’t go with them!”
Allegretto: “Damn it!”
*He starts running after Polka, but:*

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♪♪~ Pyroxene of the Heart (but only the first like, 30 seconds of it)

*Legato hops off of his dragon.*
Legato: “Young man, please refrain from doing anything foolish. Unless, of course, you would rather throw away the historic peace that has finally been achieved.”
*He holds out a hand to Allegretto.*
Waltz: “Please, right this way.”

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*Waltz looks behind him at Legato.*
Waltz: “Well?”

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Beat: “Hey, I recognize that light.”
*Legato takes out a potion:*

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♪♪~ Embarrassment Consistency

(This is another cutscene-only track that I think is really good.)

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Waltz: “Legato, take the girl and get out of here. But, please, do be careful with her. She’s our guest.”
*He has a cruel laugh at this.*
Allegretto: “Polka!”

(It should be noted here that everything after this point in the cutscene has been significantly changed for the PS3 port. I'm not going to get into it here for pacing reasons, but trust me when I say that it's a pretty drastic change from the Xbox 360 original. I'll talk more about this next update.)

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♪♪~ Opposition Resignation

*Everyone gets ready to fight, but the music abruptly stops as March speaks up:*

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*Waltz laughs at this.*
Waltz: “Do you really think you can fool me with a ridiculous lie like that?”
March: “If you think I’m lying, that’s your choice. But keep in mind that you’re speaking to a guardian of Agogo Forest. So you might not want to take my words quite so lightly.”
*Salsa whispers to her:*
Salsa: “March, hold on. What are you doing?”

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Salsa: “Uh, yeah! That’s right! After all, nobody knows more about the agogos than the two of us!”
*Waltz narrows his eyes but doesn’t answer. Viola, meanwhile, catches on immediately to March’s plan:*
Viola: “So, how sure are you that we’re not telling you the truth? Have you already forgotten how easily we defeated all the precious little henchmen you sent after us?”
Legato: “Lord Waltz, perhaps it would be prudent to listen to what they’re saying.”
Waltz: “Don’t be such a fool, Legato.”

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♪♪~ Pressure

Salsa: “Ya see, what more proof do ya need? There’s no way anybody out there can beat us!”
Waltz: “’Under the protection of the glowing agogos.’ Of course you are.”
*He laughs a fair bit at this, sounding a little unhinged.*
Waltz: “How amusing! You people really are hilarious! All right. Let’s see how well your glowing guardians protect you.”

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boss fight time! (recommended viewing)
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
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♪♪~ Your Truth Is My False (recommended listening)

Boss: Count Waltz, Calamity Wilhm
HP (Waltz): 589,590 (Xbox 360)/546,000 (PS3)
HP (Calamity Wilhm): 77,230 (Xbox 360)/200,000 (PS3)
Exp total: 280,000 (Xbox 360)/45,000 (PS3)
Gold: 3,000
Wait he gets a dragon? That’s not fair: Sure isn’t!

Man there’s so much going on in this track, I’m not sure where to start. I really like how the violin and woodwinds take turns harmonizing with each other (the flute bits especially), and how present the percussion is compared to the other boss tracks we’ve heard so far – there’s a lot of cymbal and snare drum stuff going on here, some of it pretty subtle. This is the only time this track plays in the whole game, by the way, so enjoy it while it lasts!

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Waltz: “Come on now, let’s see what you’ve got!”

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Jazz: “Pride goeth before the fall.”

As you might expect, this boss fight can be pretty tough! Count Waltz has a lot of HP and a deadly arsenal of attacks to worry about, and his dragon pal does not help matters. On top of this, thanks to Waltz being a giant asshole you can’t use Polka in this battle, leaving you without access to your best healer.

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Speaking of the dragon, we’re going to spend the first part of the fight getting rid of the Calamity Wilhm as fast as possible. It has way more HP in the PS3 port than it did originally, which is bad, because that gives it more time to pester the party while Waltz tries to kill us all.

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Its normal combo alternates between a foot stomp and a series of pecks with its beak, both of which can hit multiple characters if they’re close enough together. As would be expected of a dragon, it can use Incinerate to breath fire at anyone standing directly in front of it, and it has Tail Lash for anyone attacking from behind. But you aren’t safe from the side either – if it rears up and flaps its wings like in the second image above, that’s a sign it’ll use its deadliest attack on its next turn:

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Choking Blow hits anyone standing around Calamity Wilhm six times, with a chance of both knockdown and Poison if you fail to guard against it. If you don’t feel like dealing with that, the range on this attack is pretty short, so moving your party out of the way beforehand will just cause it to miss entirely.

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Of course, Waltz is the main threat here. Out of all his attacks, Harsh Torment is the least dangerous, being merely a single-hit, single-target move that can inflict Poison if unguarded. It’s also the attack he’ll use the least, to the point where you might go the entire fight without seeing it if you’re lucky.

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Waltz: “It’s the will of the people.”

Aure Dominium is slightly more worrisome; it’s also a single-hit move to one target like Harsh Torment, but it deals more damage and can be used at a much longer distance. On the plus side it’s pretty easy to guard against, you just have to wait a couple seconds as the animation starts.

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Funnily enough, Waltz’s standard sword attacks are among his more dangerous moves; the swings and stabs come out pretty fast, and he changes up the timing of his combos in a way that most human bosses up to this point haven’t, making it tricky to consistently guard against him. He also has an annoying tendency to run around and attack characters from behind, something most bosses besides Dolce haven’t really done throughout the game so far. And, of course, like most human bosses, Waltz frequently gets two turns in a row.

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Allegretto: “After this, we’re done!”

While Allegretto and Jazz fight at melee range, Viola’s going to hang back and snipe the two bosses. She has the Imperial Bow to give her Burst while freeing up both her accessory slots, which are currently filled with the Speed Shoes and Recovery Orb; I should’ve given the latter to one of the other two and maybe replaced it with the Dark Brooch so she could have access to Hawk Eye, which would have made the fight faster. As for the other party members, Allegretto has the Peace Earring and Pocket Watch, and Jazz has the Power Ring and Werewolf Choker.

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Volcano Concussio is a ten-hit stab attack, with the final hit taking a big chunk out of the target’s HP. This move could very well KO a character at low enough health, so try to guard it as much as you can; I was pretty lucky that Allegretto survived here.

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Thankfully he gets rid of Calamity Wilhm soon afterward, and now we can focus all our attention on Waltz.

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Jazz: “Burn with my fury!”

With Jazz’s big hits and the Fish Incense I brought along we can chew through Waltz’s HP faster than we’d normally be able to. And of course, Viola plus Burst is always extremely powerful.

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But we’re not quite safe yet; Waltz still has one more attack up his sleeve. Apocalypse Fall is his strongest move, capable of hitting multiple characters in a wide radius for huge damage. It’s actually not as hard to guard against as you might think, but just seeing it wind up causes me to panic more often than not.

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But I like to think I know what I’m doing most of the time, and soon enough we send Waltz packing. Thanks, Viola!

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♪♪~ Well Done

Viola: “Just remember the pain.”

You know, I think that’s a unique line for Viola there; I don’t remember her saying it anywhere else in the game. Neat! Also neat is the small pile of rewards you get for the fight – the Vanquisher is a new broadsword for Jazz that puts him in Slow status while equipped, the Jokulsnaut is a straight ATK upgrade for Allegretto, and the Demonic Mask protects the wearer from critical hits. Not bad!

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Our Party Level also goes up! More on this later.
 
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Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
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click to watch the rest of the update (recommended viewing)

♪♪~ No music

Waltz: “This is impossible! How can I possibly lose in battle to the likes of you?!”

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Waltz: “I don’t think so. I’m not ready to admit defeat quite yet! Legato!”
Legato: “What would you like me to do, My Lord?”

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♪♪~ Pressure

Legato: “But Count Waltz, we haven’t finished the testing yet.”
Waltz: “This is not a request, Legato. Do it. Or do you intend to disobey me?”
Legato: “But, My Lord….”
Waltz: “Drink it!”
Legato: “Well, I suppose I have no choice.”

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*Waltz laughs a little too much as he gets to his feet.*
Waltz: “There you go! Nicely done! I expect nothing less from my second-in-command!”
*The music stops as Legato drinks the mineral powder.*

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Uh, maybe it’s just me, but Legato doesn’t look so good…

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This is about to get really bad, isn’t it.

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*Legato lets out a blood-curdling scream as the following happens:*

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♪♪~ Rapid Fire

*Waltz has himself another fit of maniacal laughter.*
Waltz: “Legato, you old man, I think this is a big improvement! Now, it’s time to get to work. Show me what you can do with all that power!”
*The thing that was once Legato laboriously turns itself around to face the fleet of dragons.*

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*The music stops.*
Falsetto: “They’re gone. He only fired once!”
Allegretto: “But… I thought those dragons were your allies.”

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♪♪~ Strategy

Waltz: “And now that I have the deadliest piece on the board, they no longer serve any purpose, do they?”
*Waltz hops up on monster-Legato’s outstretched hand.*
Waltz: “Ah, yes, that reminds me. I can’t think of any reason to keep you people around either.”

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*The music stops as monster-Legato rears itself back to attack again:*

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*Suddenly, a great burst of light erupts from Polka:*

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Waltz: “What? What is that?!”
*Monster-Legato starts shaking as the light grows more intense.*

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And then… the chapter immediately ends on a cliffhanger. What happens after this? You’ll have to tune in later to find out!

Next time: ???
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
Glossary of Musical Terms

To Coda – The coda is a passage of music that brings a piece or movement to an end; it can be as simple as a few measures or as long as an entire section. In musical notation, the coda symbol looks like this, and is generally used where the exit of a repeated section is within that section, rather than at the end. On the other hand, the specific phrase To Coda indicates that when the musician sees the phrase they should jump straight to the section marked with the coda symbol to end the piece.

Cello – A string instrument in the violin family, and the lowest-sounding instrument in the traditional string quartet. Unlike the violin, viola, or double bass, you play the cello while sitting down. The cello uses the bass clef for most of its notated music.

Cowbell – A percussion instrument played by striking it with a stick or mallet. There are several types, including the Almglocken previously discussed in Chapter 2.

Tenor – A type of male singing voice, higher in range than a baritone but lower than a countertenor.

Fiddle – A colloquial term for the violin; the two are essentially the same thing, although “fiddles” might be constructed differently to better suit performance of certain styles of music, such as bluegrass.
 
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