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Note: This is our last chance to shop at Premium Steel. Meaning this is our last chance to buy really overpriced Durge weapons. We don’t really need them, but if you’re feeling like someone is not up to snuff yet, go ahead. Sierra has said we’ll find equivalents for all the good gear later on. Since we bought a rune shield for Carina already in Aka’s path, equip her with that now. Leave Hilstara with steel, but swap in the tower shield. We won’t see a lot of status other than poison from here on out, but the mobs using it aren’t exactly top tier. You can use the thieves pins from earlier if you want or just have Carina cleanse you.
First things first, go talk with everyone. Then leave the palace and go over your investments by which we mean the mine and the bank. Get your profits here, visit the inn to invest in Ardoheim Magic Trade, then shoot on over to the Cathedral and talk with Sarai for some enjoyable banter. Now head to the Outskirts. Before you do anything else, spend the 5k ProN to contract the regional supply merchant in the south part of this map. You can do some last minute shopping and sales here, but we’re done with Yhilin now. Walk between the guards and let’s get this show on the road.
You’ll start off by inspecting this area, there’s a health potion on a skeleton to the north, and a bit of Sx with a hefty helping of verbal abuse of a corpse on the southern skeleton next to a rope. You can interact with the rope, remember this later. As you approach the northern section, you’ll spot the ambush. We're going to do this the hard way so we can get a Shining Sword later. Ignore the glowing spot where you’d throw your last explosive and instead go find that rope again. Find a dead tree south of the other skeleton and Varia will climb up. With the path opened, go ambush the ambushers. Remember, Hilstara is your tank, Carina is your healer, and Varia is your damage. Don’t try using Hilstara for more than Shield Wall, Hold the Line, and the occasional Bash for crowd control. Prioritize the fighters and the archers. They do the status effect attacks, fighters silence so get them ASAP. You may want Carina to heal you between battles rather than during, this allows her to add her puny bit of damage to finish off weak enemies between curing status effects. She will also be spending a lot of battles silenced, which is less of a burden than you might expect. I personally found the battle with the two fighters to be the hardest, but your mileage may vary. Just like that, you eliminated the most notorious bandits in Aram.
You’re at full hp/mana here, so go scorched earth on this place. Exit is through the camp of NPCs to the north. Carina earns Shield of Purity here, which a great opening spell for her. Combined with Hilstara’s Shield Wall, you should be in pretty good shape through here.
Desert and Bounty Hunter Outpost
There are not a lot of items of interest outside here, but feel free to kill all the scorpions and cockatrices that wander here. It’ll make the bandit hunting easier if nothing else. The Carriage in the north has been confirmed as nothing but flavor text for Carina. Try to enter Eustarin for your next objective: getting papers. As the desert is now clear, we’ll go over to the outpost and learn about bounties. The merchant here will offer to sell us papers, but we’ll save our ProN and get them in a way that actually makes us money instead. Go talk to the bounty clerk, and accept his offer to get you legitimate papers for clearing 7.5k worth of bounties. Go read all the bounties if you haven’t to trigger them all to spawn. Turns out you’ve done two already, that’s 5.5k done. You can only capture the bandits in the desert if you corrupted Varia, since we saved her, we’ll be taking them in dead. (It evens out, reshaped Varia is the only one who can capture the would-be bandit in Bandit’s Pass for the 1k bounty). Go ahead and take them out now.
Bandit’s Pass again
By reading all the papers, we’ve spawned all new enemies in here. The travelers have moved on allowing you to rest in their tent, too. The only real difficult bounty is the rapist, you’ll notice he moves a bit like the unmen/Rodak. You get him by sneaking around to the south and jumping down on him from that cliff above him. Also, when you find the suspicious box, don’t open it and get ready to fight a bunch of bandits. Most of the rest is easy, the power ranger looking kids are the Magekillers. They’re relatively rough and will ambush you when you try to leave their area. They do drop a red hat, though. Each of the Magekillers only knows one spell, try to work on the first 3, and let the purple one just chain poison on you while you buff a double arrow MDEF spell on your party. Go back, watch the scene, and hand in all your bounties, (may have to check the wall first for some). Last bounty is in Eustarin, and we just got our papers, so let’s go. Turn down the opportunity to buy the bounty office until you've done all the bounties first. No sense paying yourself to do all the work.
Guards let us through, and we meet our contact. Before dealing with him, let’s look around. See the dwarf staring at a rock? Use your last explosive there for a shining sword. Above him in the tunnel is a little girl taking to a dwarf. That’s your last bounty, ask the dwarf about her, then get her! Technically we don't need any of the dwarves' services here, but buy them all anyway as it'll help out Simon a lot on his path. Near the entrance area is the dwarf manufacturer and outside is the Eustarin Embassy. Hear him out, but save your money for the other investments inside. While outside, hand in that last bounty and get the Aram supplier next to the camel, then finish up this area by buying the bounty office itself. Back inside, Strevin is the grey bearded dwarf to the north, he’s our last contact. Talking to Strevin sets up the last fight to begin. The Elite silences, but he’s the only rough customer. You shouldn’t have much trouble by now.
[What the Embassy did: Should you have invested in the Embassy instead of the suppliers/etc is a common question. It does have some benefits. Namely, you get a small boost to Eustarin fame, and a bigger boost to Ardoheim. You can also change one vote per day during the war summit coming up at the end of this chapter. We need this embassy if we want the Ardford Bank for 300k instead of 400k, and would like to have both the Unmen mobilization and orc extermination campaigns voted down with the vaults opened. It's not necessary in the long run, though. I erred on the side of locking down the most resources for the plan, since I don't really know how much I need just yet. They also all raise Simon's Economy score, which I use in his path.]
Continued in Yarra's route