21 March, 2005

Touching the sky...

I somehow got caught up with a whole slew of missions today. What started as a simple headstone pilgrimage quest for the fifth Zilart Mission evolved into a full-blown effort to getting {sky} access, which we did. In the spirit of keeping the storyline secret, I'll only reveal as much as I think is necessary.

ZM5 involved us travelling all across Vana'diel to collect the eight elemental fragments, each found at a particular Cermet Headstone (well, with the exception of the Dark fragment, which Grav'iton gave me upon completing ZM4). Some of the headstones will spawn NMs that need to be killed before one can get the fragment, and this was what this party was for. Actually ,we went as an alliance of twelve, although people started dropping out along the way. We had the luxury of having both a PLD and a NIN with us, so we could switch main tanks depending on whichever was best suited for the mob at hand. For example, the NIN would be better against the Shade in Cape Terrigan because of the amount of Dimensional Death he does, while the PLD would be better for the fast hitting Opo-opos in the Yuhtunga Jungle. Anyway, the details of this mission can be easily found on the net, so I won't go into any more detail here- we basically did the good 'ol mechanical churn-through process, although the exciting part was getting to the headstone in Yuhtunga Jungle.

Basically, the headstone is located in an elevated area in Yuhtunga, and as such, is normally inaccessible. The only way to get there is through Ifrit's Cauldron. Suffice it to say, trying to sneak an entire alliance through Ifrit's Cauldron without incident is hard enough by itself, and many people just choose the cheaty way of doing this- sneak one WHM through Ifrits, then everyone die at the base via a Venom Potion or something, ready to be Tractor'ed up and Raise II'ed. We decided to have everyone walk through the place. Since I was the only one really familiar with Ifrit's Cauldron, I ended up guiding the rest of the alliance, although Beurnak had done this part of ZM5 before, so he went ahead as well. Things got interesting just by the final zone back to Yuhtunga. One of our members, Chukk, got stuck in a crack, and thus got separated from the rest of the group. By this point, people were starting to run low on Silent Oils and Prism Powders, so we were in a little bit of a bind. I went back to get Chukk, and eventually, the two of us found ourselves trapped in a corner with a Flame Spout on one side, a true sight Ash Dragon on the other, and three bombs in the near vincinity.

Even worse, we both ran out of Prism Powders. It was scary! >_<

Thankfully, bombs seem to have a rather short sight aggro range, since a Bomb actually looked at us for a good while without aggro'ing while Chukk and I held out breaths. Some of our members came back into Ifrit's Cauldron to help us out as soon as the Flame Spout went down. After a good long while, the flame spout finally went down and Chukk and I ran for it. The Provokes later, the Bombs were all on our tanks and we all managed to zone into Yuhtunga safely.

After all the NM fights in Cape Terrigan, the Sanctuary of Zi'Tah, Behemoth's Dominion, and Yuhtunga Jungle, much of the party disbanded, and it was just six of us that stuck around to get the final three fragments in the La'Theine Plateau, Fei'Yin, and the Western Altepa Desert. This was the party that ended up working together for the full run through to ZM12 and {sky}.

Unclejer (NIN), Chukk (MNK), Starfire (DRK), Coldfusion (WHM), me (BLM), Beurnak (RDM). Oh. Yeah. ^^

Like I said earlier, there isn't much to say about the Zilart Missions in particular, so for the most part, I'll just brush over it. Simply put, getting to sky involves a lot of running around and relatively little fighting. Despite the number on ZM12, a lot of the Zilart missions up to that point (7 in total) are just cutscenes. Thus, there are just five real "missions" that one needs to finish before getting sky access- "The Temple of Uggalepih" (ZM4), the "Headstone Pilgrimage" (ZM5), "The Quicksand Caves" (ZM6), "Return to Delkfutt's Tower" (ZM8), and "The Mithra and the Crystal" (ZM12). Of all of these, only ZM4 was rather tedious, and the rest were really quite easy with a good party around Level 69-70. However, of special mention is ZM8.

Simply put, this fight was challenging, but fun! You are against just one foe, Kam'lanaut (those who haven't started the ZMs will have to figure out who he is), who keeps changing his elemental alignment, which you can tell because the screen will say something like "Kam'lanaut uses Fire Blade". He's pretty much a RDM-cross-PLD on steroids with a sword, impressive armour, Slowga, Dispelga, Silencega and one of his more devastating attacks, Light Blade. Anyway, his elemental blade is a sign of what he's aligned with. He will become weak to whatever his element is weak to, but more importantly, casting a spell of his element will retroactively add to his hit points, instead of taking away from it, and so care is needed. I was back to BLM at this point, and we had Coldfusion, a WHM75 come to help us out with this.

The first time we tried the fight, Dispelga took out the NIN's shadows, Slowga meant that he couldn't recast Utsusemi in time, and Light Blade hit him for 1165 damage. He died.. >_< As agreed, if the tank dies, everyone runs, and run we did.

The second time, the same thing happened, although we learnt one important thing- Light Blade can be stunned, and has a reasonable prep time. I think we managed to Stun the first Light Blade, but the second one came down, again, with Utsusemi down and we fled.

I was also starting to get rather disoriented at this point, since while as a BLM I can tell you stuff like Earth is weak to Wind, or Water is weak to Lightning, trying to do this all on the fly was rather difficult. So, I created a new macro set, just for this fight alone. Basically, I set up six keys, Ctrl-1 through to Ctrl-6 that corresponded to the six elements in the order in which they are learnt--Earth, Water, Wind, Fire, Ice, Lightning. I had used this setup way back in my newbiw BLM days, so I was still familiar with the placements and everything. Then, instead of that elemental spell, I programmed the macro to cast the spell that the element was weak to. Thus, my "Fire" macro would look like:

/equip Body “Black Cloak”
/equip Main “Water Staff”
/ma “Water II”

That way, I had already done the weakness-conversion, and all I had to do was mash the macro that corresponded to Kam'lanaut's element, and I would automatically cast the spell he was weak to. So if I saw him use Wind Blade, my "Wind" macro would make me cast Blizzard II. It was a whole lot easier this way. ^^ (I also only light nuking with II spells since Great Wheel resets all hate, and we needed the NIN tank to quickly regain hate should Kam'lanaut turn on me)

We try for the third time and fail again, although this time, we have promise. People were now getting the hang of the battle, and I could nuke more efficiently with my new set. Finally, on the fourth attempt, we beat him. Ironically, we stun one Light Blade, then our DRK got hate after a Great Wheel, and Kam'lanaut just decided to use Light Blade then. The DRK bit the dust, but at least the NIN was still alive. Our WHM then Raise III's the DRK in the middle of fighting while the RDM and I try to keep the NIN alive. As his life inches down, we start getting more confident, and we up the damage a notch. Eventually, Hundred Fists, Fire III and Blizzaga III took out Kam'lanaut (he was aligned to Wind at the time >_<) and voila! ZM8 complete! For those of you who are thinking about doing these missions by the way, the cutscene just before and after this fight is sweeeeeeet...^^

Some of us then go for another round, with Perroevil (RNG) and his RDM friend also needing ZM8 done. They brought along a (I think) JP PLD75 and so, Starfire, Coldfusion, and I went back up to help them out. For some reason, a PLD75 tanks him very well. Light Blade only dealt 470 damage to him as opposed to 1000+ on a NIN, and we took him out with no problem. From there, it was a lot of running around between Norg and the Hall of the Gods before doing the final battle for "The Mithra and the Crystal" (a laughable fight, compared to ZM8, and before we knew it, we had sky access! :D

Time to go for some exploring! ^^

(By the way, those of you who remember my entry from a few months ago may recall that I listed watching the Ru'Ann teleport sequence as one of my "things to do before I quit". Yes, the teleport sequence is purrrty! ^^)

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