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Celestalia's Challenge - A Maple Journal

Discussion in 'MapleLegends Journeys' started by HouseAuburn, Oct 10, 2020.

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    HouseAuburn Capt. Latanica

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    PART CCXLIV. Jars, Yars, and Hars

    It's the top of the sixteenth page of this journal and in this post Celestalia will (most likely) achieve 200 card sets. A huge accomplishment, even though it took over two years to get here.

    Thankfully the opponents are quite trivial.
    [​IMG]
    ...In stats. Card-wise, they've got something to say.

    Jar took two regular arrows to be killed, and Ginseng Jar (top left) isn't likely to be much stronger. So Celestalia decided to take it easy this time around, and mostly use regular arrow. That of course slows things down considerably, but she has all day. The start was around 18:30 server time.

    Regular Jar was first to yield cardboard.
    [​IMG]

    That was still within 20 minutes, so acceptable. What wasn't so acceptable is that that was the only card until 19:30, when Ginseng Jar gave up their first.
    [​IMG]

    Both of these were on Arrow Rains, so yeah, whoever said single-target skills do better probably hasn't been to Herb Town.

    Ginseng Jar dropped another card 20 minutes later. And a third card, 40 minutes after that.

    But the fourth card was right on the heels of that previous one. Ginseng Jar has some interesting drops, like the Red Whip, and a White? Adventurer Cape...didn't know they even made those.

    The set finished a bit before 21:00.
    [​IMG]

    Now for regular Jar, for which the Rangemaiden was able to move the front line up to:
    [​IMG]

    But that was about as far as the line was going to be budged. Because even now having numerical advantage, Jar still didn't want to drop any additional cards.

    Thusly, and also because she was at 50%, Celestalia left. But as she was heading back to Mu Lung, she spotted a strange cage in the Old Swamp.
    [​IMG]

    It looked sort of like an outdoor prison, but who would want to be taking people prisoner?

    This seemed the most likely answer:
    [​IMG]

    Pirates! There weren't very many of them, and they don't have any long-range attack, so the band was easily dispatched. There ought to be more of them somewhere, and as it turns out, Celestalia does have (through Mr. Alli's Monster Book entry) a map called "Red-Nose Pirate Den 1" which is also their target map. She can go there to challenge these swashbuckling hooligans once she figures out where the entrance is.

    That was it for today though. It was dinner time, and Celestalia was tired of fooling around with clay pots. Next week, the aim is to cap off the region. And HOPEFULLY, Jar will not be nearly so much jerks. See you then!
     
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    PART CCXLV. Herbcoming

    Celestalia was insistent on making this the final week of operations in Mu Lung. Especially considering there were less than three full sets left to collect.

    Theoretically, that was a simple task. But when is reality ever close to optimal...
    [​IMG]

    Well, the second Jar card appeared less than 10 minutes in. But there was a problem.
    [​IMG]

    So a quick reboot of the game was in order. Of course that did absolutely nothing. Celestalia made the executive decision to screw the entire thing because there isn't time for shenanigans.

    But there is apparently still time for Halloween, even smack dab in the middle of November:
    [​IMG]

    It's...a coin. I mean I know coins don't have to be round, but I've yet to see one that is oval and didn't come out of one of those make-a-penny machines. And anyway, if the invitation she received at the start of the session was any indication, she probably couldn't even do anything with these, unless she was invited to Masteria first. Disappointing, but there is other business to attend to anyway.

    Jar #3 was about 20 minutes after the last one, and the Book seems to indicate that the locals of Herb Town have no bloody clue how to deal with these things. I mean, they aren't really bothering anything...but I guess people have to go into the gardens every once in a while. But you'd figure there are enough people PPQing that someone could just be paid to curb their numbers every once in a while.

    The fourth card dropped after a similar interval. Drop table is very slim, nothing special except for, well, the Summoning Rock, but who is going to come here to farm that anyway. Even the scrolls are extremely useless.

    And so the set basically auto-completed.
    [​IMG]

    At very long last, after 200 card sets, Herb Town has been reached.
    [​IMG]

    There really isn't anything that special here, but the Rangemaiden can now go between here and Mu Lung for just 1,500 mesos. That's not too shabby.

    Of course, the bigger question loomed. Where was the entrance to the Pirate Den? Well, the obvious, and correct, answer was to check where Kru spawned.
    [​IMG]

    So the portal at the top left here appears to be the entrance to PPQ. And while the left side is easy enough - corral everyone together and then Arrow Rain is free - the pirate ship itself is absolute pandemonium.
    [​IMG]

    The spot Celestalia is on in this photo is sort of a sniping spot, at least once everyone jumps down to the main deck. Both Kru and Captain spawn on the higher parts of the ship in big numbers, ostensibly because they enjoy swinging down from places like Jack Sparrow used to do it. But they can't jump back up. Actually in general Celestalia has far better mobility on the map. For example, she can jump onto the pirate ship from the left platform, but they can't go the other way. That helps dramatically in limiting damage, although Arrow Bomb is the healthiest factor here by far.

    Still, the fighting was extraordinarily fierce. It was a struggle even safely grabbing the first card, but she managed.
    [​IMG]

    That glove next to the Kru on the right is the Black Bisk, a Level 70 for...what else, Pirate. Now hopefully they drop other classes' gear too.

    Celestalia was getting roughly one card every 26 minutes. That was until Kru #4 which came up at 11 minutes after the third.

    I can't say the drop table wasn't a bit disappointing:
    [​IMG]

    Again Metal Silver Earrings, which Celestalia has been running into a lot lately to be honest. But again these guys are only having one entry of any relevance. I guess it is true what they said about Mu Lung being kind of a backwater region.

    Well, they did end up giving up a Green Scarab, so that's pretty darn good. And overall, not a bad set to collect.
    [​IMG]

    Captain is all that remains, and for them the fight heads to the other end of the ship. That engagement will be covered in the next installment. Stay tuned!
     
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    PART CCXLVI. The Beige and the Blue

    The entire fight for Mu Lung hangs on this card set not being complete torture to obtain. Celestalia doesn't really have to get it today, but there will no campaign next week...possibly for a few weeks, as attention turns to Paldea.

    So, without further ado, it's time to put Captain to the test.
    [​IMG]

    There are not as many safe spots here, or at least the ones that are (besides this platform) are contingent on other parts of the ship being cleared out first. But that's not too hard to do. At least there is no Mr. Alli in this map!

    The first card dropped within 15 minutes...a good sign.
    [​IMG]
    The pirates still have the emotes captive.

    And then Celestalia found out the railing on the one stairwell was wide enough to balance on...and hit both the deck and the ground floor simultaneously while being out of rapier range.
    [​IMG]
    "Hey, if you don't have Arrow Rain...you're just another target!"

    Although note there, because Captain is taller than Kru (or at least the hat is bigger), there is a spot on the railing where Captain on the ground floor will be hit, but Kru there won't. Not a big deal because usually anyone on the deck will die pretty quickly, so you can move down before the group dissipates.

    The next two cards fell back-to-back at around 35 minutes, while the fourth card came still within 50 minutes!

    Drop table looks like this:
    [​IMG]

    Why Kru drops the actually higher-level Earrings, who knows. I wonder if this might actually be a better place to grind for both though, since Celestalia doesn't have to deal with ranged attacks here...just something to think about. Oh, and the Blue Cordon, which has a base of DEX +3, is available immediately. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

    On second thought though. What if the Rangemaiden just got the earrings...say, right now?
    [​IMG]

    Yeah!! Oh, and I guess that card kind of just finished Mu Lung.
    [​IMG]

    Right, that's today sorted!

    So the Gold Drop Earrings provide +2 Magic Defense (46 total):
    [​IMG]

    And they're much more in line with Celestalia's character design, which goes a longer way than you'd think. The next ones are sure to not do this MapleF3

    Celestalia caught the stork back to Mu Lung Temple, and then to Orbis, and then to Ellinia, where she cleaned out her inventory once more (Erenell got another big payout, two bullets and three equips). He also received a Glaze Capsule, which Celestalia obtained back at Ice Drake...I think. The journal is silent in this matter.

    For the first time in a while, she decided to stay at the Nautilus. As mentioned earlier, she'll be there for some time to come.

    I'm guessing the next entry may be in December, or very close to it.

    Next time on Celestalia's Challenge, a new banner and the cleaning up of one more region. See you when the campaign resumes! And for those of you also joining the foray into Paldea, good luck and have fun catching 'em all!
     
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    PART CCXLVII. Celestalia the Buffy Slayer

    Hello again everyone! So, of course, the Paldea expedition went far longer than it was supposed to...primarily because the Pokémon League goes on Christmas vacation. So I wasn't able to beat them until Tuesday. And then there was a certain other region I had to explore also.

    Nevertheless, I had a really nice time with that, and now Celestalia is ready to get going.

    Although, apparently she also had a really nice time hanging out on the Nautilus, binging on snacks, as you'd expect she'd do in December.

    Probably...too nice.
    [​IMG]

    Yeah, pretty much all of the relevant stats have dropped significantly. Who knew snacks could be so harmful.

    At LEAST...emotes are working. So that's a great sign!

    Anyway, I did say last time that Celestalia was going to start cleaning up Magatia. But after giving it some thought recently, she ultimately decided it would be best to get the Red Hinkel from Buffy first. Mostly because she can also get Metal Silver Earrings in the same map.

    Just as a recap, here is the full list equips she has available:
    • Red Hinkel (Level 70) - Buffy
    • Metal Silver Earrings (Level 70) - Lazy Buffy, Site, Kru
    • Green Elf Shoes (Level 70) - Soul Teddy
    • Green Wing Boots (Level 80) - Tauromacis [Locked]
    • Blue Cordon (Level 80) - Captain
    • Red Cordon (Level 80) - Dark Drake
    The Blue Cordon is slightly better than the Red variety, and I'd argue that Captain is ever so slightly more accessible thanks to the taxi service between Mu Lung and Herb Town. But it's close. Still, there is at least one better Cordon out there, and with again the Red Willow's +2 Weapon Attack, it's not worth upgrading to something with poor stats. So Celestalia is apt to ignore both of these. For that reason, if she can land the earrings from Lazy Buffy, she can ignore Herb Town entirely.

    Except tomorrow night, that is! Because it turns out that the entirety of Suboptimal was invited to a party at the Pirate Den! Celestalia is really looking forward to it. Those shenanigans will be covered in the next installment, for sure.

    For now...time to grab that Hinkel!
    [​IMG]

    And to their credit...the first drop came very quickly.
    [​IMG]

    The Red Viska, Level 70 Pirate Overall. Rather close to max stats also.

    Soon after that, she got another Blue Magic Cape...better Magic Defense, slightly worse Weapon Defense. Still waiting to figure out which two people drop the stupid Justice Capes.

    Then a Dark Moss Boots, which Buffy skillfully threw so that all of its drops each landed on different platforms.
    [​IMG]

    Buffy THEN yielded an Oaker Shouldermail. So in less than 3% of experience, four equips from them. Celestalia appears to have come here at the right time...but will the stars align?

    Before that question could be reasonably answered, it was time for dinner.

    On the other side, things started a bit slower, but not altogether unproductive. Lazy Buffy finally gave something...an Earring INT 60%...and then Buffy turned around with a Deadly Fin.

    Right after that, a Blue Choro.
    [​IMG]

    Which gives, as it turns out, 2 more DEX compared to the Beige Lineros. But who has time for that?

    And FINALLY Lazy Buffy dropped something tangible:
    [​IMG]

    The Redemption!! Such a legendary weapon. 89 Attack also, that's pretty good.

    They then gave up an Oaker Scorpio Pants. And then a Gold Manute!

    And then, for no real reason, more snacks happened.

    You'd think she'd have learned her lesson by now. But in actuality, the Rangemaiden was net positive in Elixirs, so more power to her I guess. And, wouldn't you know it, the next two equips were both Bowman! Steel-Tip Boots...and the other one was Level 70!!

    Take a WILD guess what it ended up being.
    [​IMG]
    Trolling with equip drops, the oldest tradition in the journal.

    After that drop, Celestalia took a nap for several hours back in the main hall, but went back in because she was only 8% away from leveling. While in there, a huge, and I mean HUGE batch of aspiring Bowmen got their kicks from Athena. Like over 200 of them. It was awesome. Eventually, you won't even be able to fight in the shade.

    Ironically, however, Celestalia did not receive a single additional equip in that timespan.
    [​IMG]

    But hey, something productive did get done. And +4 Speed...after losing 10 over the holidays...well, I guess there's some work left to be done.

    Anyway. Stay tuned for an exciting party! ...And I guess some more grinding.
     
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    PART CCXLVIII. Deer's Dance in the Den

    Celestalia's second night at Buffy was a complete 180 from the previous one. The entire first hour went by with absolutely zero equips. The only thing of note...at all...was a Wand MAtt 60%. And she already had gotten one yesterday.

    The second hour...well, halfway through, about 40 minutes before the party was set to begin, she finally got:
    [​IMG]

    So this was a bit of a waste of time. And so, Celestalia decided to leave right after getting Linnex #2, and go sell at Vic. From there she would head right to Mu Lung.

    When she got to the Den, there were about three other people there. Alces (the person throwing the party) was next to arrive.
    [​IMG]

    Although this crowd soon doubled.
    [​IMG]

    Kru and Captain were a bit annoying, but only when they were bothered first. Which ended up being often. Celestalia pinged a few arrows their way every now and then.

    After some late arrivals, the full crowd (sans Cortical, who came even later) looked like this!
    [​IMG]

    Alces began explaining that she was a Hermit and specialized in daggers, and would soon be advancing to 4th Job. She brought everyone here because this is the map right outside PPQ, and that is a large part of her family's history - and especially her own.

    After an extremely short fight, the die had been cast.
    [​IMG]
    RIP Falco

    Apparently the party was soon to head for Leafre, which of course the Rangemaiden could not get to for the moment. So instead...she decided to celebrate in a slightly different manner:
    [​IMG]

    And Site decided to join in on the festivities!
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Woohoo! That is...one room done...of three...on this floor MapleF13

    Time to move on to the second room.
    [​IMG]

    What's this...a chalkboard with some free space on it to doodle? Don't mind if I do!

    After doing that, something lit up on another nearby chalkboard, and some robot thing became vulnerable.

    Although EVERYTHING is vulnerable...to being sniped.
    [​IMG]

    Yeah so, the Homunculus hits in the 500s. I really don't want to know how much damage we're talking for the Level 80 guy. Good news is Homunculus outnumbers them drastically.

    Almost immediately she lands a Brown Studded Top from Homunculus, so good sign I suppose. And right following that, a Blue Infinium Circlet!
    [​IMG]

    Both of these being Level 70, there's at least a small chance of something really cool coming from this place.

    Shortly after the Circlet, Alces got her 4th Job!

    Well, from staying (mostly) on this ledge, Celestalia could routinely get at least 3 Homunculus, but often 4 or more, to flow into here so she could Arrow Rain them to oblivion. Slow, but not too intensive on much anything. And she was perfectly okay with that.

    Did someone say more Choro?
    [​IMG]

    After a very manageable amount of time, the first Homunculus card was yielded.
    [​IMG]

    At which point Celestalia realized that Homunscullo is basically this Institute's version of D. Roy, as only one seems to exist at any one time and takes absolute ages to respawn. The KEY DIFFERENCE being that Homunscullo can be sniped.

    Speaking of respawn, Deet and Roi came back...and this time dropped a card!
    [​IMG]

    Although it is a map control mob, so it doesn't really count, this is the first Blue tier card Celestalia has picked up.

    Then was the second Homunculus card. And Homunscullo still was not to be found...this was ~50 minutes in to the map.

    At about 1:10 in, the third card dropped...and the fourth card hung right on its tail! For as much complaining as I do about equip drops, this has happened an equal amount of times. So, eh.

    Can't say I'm too impressed by this BUT...it is something new...
    [​IMG]

    I think the Beige Patriot would be better overall, the +13 MP is definitely underappreciated. Another thing that will just stay in the inventory for a while...should it be claimed. Which I'm thinking it won't be.

    Anyway, Celestalia faffed around for another 25 minutes or so, Homunscullo FINALLY spawned...on top of where she was of course, so she took nearly a thousand points of damage from contact, but the last Homunculus card came around at the same time.
    [​IMG]

    Really quickly she decided to check out Room 203, and it appeared to be just Homunculus. She could tell because the room was littered with drops from a F/P Archmage going to town with Meteor.

    Of course it would not at all behoove her to just leave without scanning all of the channels and see how many cards she could pick up. But while there was a Deet and Roi on every channel - and almost as many Homunscullo (in Channel 1, a second one popped up immediately as the first one went down) - no additional cards from either mob were had.

    And over at Alcadno, there was a grand total of zero D. Roys available at that moment in time. So that was the end of the weekend for Celestalia.

    So technically, there are just thirteen cards remaining in Magatia. All of them are going to be extremely annoying, perhaps not in execution but just getting them to land with such low volume and long respawn times. Celestalia will stay in Magatia this week, do one more round at the start of next weekend, and then see if she wants to go somewhere else after that. Which...if not just go back to Buffy...she has a slight idea of where that might be.

    Hope to see you then! Enjoy your week.
     
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    PART CCXLIX. The Alternative Minimum Drop Rate

    So the first channel's Room 202 had neither a Deet and Roi nor a Homunscullo. Celestalia didn't have to wait long to figure out who was taking them, though, since she saw some type of Warrior in the next channel...sitting right next to the chalkboard...and JUST managed to start on Channel 3 before a Thief came in.

    Because of that, and that alone, she got a card!
    [​IMG]

    And there is the first TRUE Blue-tier card for Celestalia's Monster Book.

    Celestalia reckoned she wouldn't be able to get any more, and so checked out the other side of the city. Good news, there were three D. Roys this time!...Bad news, zero cards.

    But at least everyone has one registered now. Oh, and the replacement Homunscullo dropped a Power Elixir MapleF2

    With that, it was back to Ludibrium. And she was still undecided on whether she wanted to farm more cards, or just go back to Buffy.

    Ultimately, she did the responsible thing.
    [​IMG]

    Sometimes Maple isn't all about fun and games, sometimes it's just buckling down and getting the business taken care of that needs to be sorted out, you know?

    The first equip to fall was - you guessed it - another Choro! DEX +6 though, it was almost tempting to even slip on for a second. But nah.

    Which was followed...eventually, by...well...
    [​IMG]

    Celestalia currently has four Bowman overalls in her inventory. Out of nine total equips dropped since the end of Alces's party. What.

    Over an hour later, with nothing additional having been found (aside from like two Magic Rocks :confused:), Celestalia went away to take a break. No snack this time though, because she had previously polished off an entire Magatian pizza. Which apparently, the dough is very salty, and the sauce has a pretty spicy profile, but the cheese is not very gooey. All of which are understandable given their geographical location, if you think about it hard enough.

    Still, the night was just getting started. And after the roughly hour-long break, another equip managed to take hold:
    [​IMG]

    Skull Earrings again. Yeah, the out-of-date-ness on these hasn't changed...next time let the purple clowns take care of the earring drop, thanks.

    [Editor's Note: It took until next post to realize that these dropped once already. Of course that's the campaign equivalent of a hundred years ago.]

    Not too long after that came one of the gosh darn strangest drop pools I have seen yet in this campaign.
    [​IMG]

    Red Mystique Shoes (Level 70 Thief) - which by the way, this is precisely where Kaloichi already had marked off he was going to get these things - and a Red Calas, which isn't terrifically notable, but then the Mana Elixir is the blueberry on top.

    At that very point a Marksman (Boooooooooooooooooo :p) waltzed in which caused the Rangemaiden to flip over to the next channel, but then HE FOLLOWED HER! She bubbled herself down all the way to Channel 8 looking for a safe map. This worked out however, because it turned out that the daily NX hadn't been claimed yet. Thanks game for the heads up!

    But would you believe, he even popped up on Channel 8...as Celestalia was still fighting...and started up with Arrow Eruption! She eventually got it sorted out, turns out he was just hunting cards...but she had never seen someone channel hop to card hunt for a common mob before. But now she had to wait five minutes for the stuff to despawn.

    That passed without much fanfare and it was back to grind yet again. The next drop took some time, but it was something semi-new, an Oaker Scorpio.
    [​IMG]

    Unfortunately that was the end of the line. And with Red Bean Sundaes running dangerously low (there were 3 left at the end of the night), the up-to-now breaking even Elixir count was not going to last much longer.

    Celestalia ended up staying out until 05:30 server time, which is much later than she has been recently, but by doing so she was able to get all the way to 50% experience. That's huge, because now she's only half a level away from opening up another row of inventory slots. She can then safely put one on each of Equip and Etc. and not feel bad about herself.

    Eventually she's going to have to think about saving up SP to max Strafe, given that 32 for 110% is superior to 26 for 80%. That could be a project for immediate consideration, but whether it's truly the best play will depend on the drop RNG...so so far it's looking pretty likely.

    In the next installment, another long grind session as the Battle of Hinkelheim continues! Stay tuned.
     
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    PART CCL. Emptying the Freezer

    In what might be the shortest turnaround ever between entries, Celestalia was back in action at 19:00 server time - and the early bird strategy paid off as she landed her first drop within 1%, a Gold Pow.
    [​IMG]

    It is above average on every single stat. So definitely keeping this one.

    About a percent and a half later this beauty dropped:
    [​IMG]

    The Mikhail, Level 70 1H Axe. Good money...but of course Buffy had two Level 70 weapons to pick from and went for this one.

    Second unique equip of the day, a Red Lapiz Sandals from the purple guys.
    [​IMG]

    Lazy then decided to gift yet another Blue Linnex, because why the heck not. But, 1% per equip, all within the first hour of play, was a lot better than expected. The fifth one was an Oaker Scorpio, still within 7% total.

    The sixth one (yes, shocking that the RNG is being this favorable so far), which was within 8%, was...well, a Choro. Typical I guess.

    At just over 10%, a tick under 2 hours in, ANOTHER new equip!...The Blue Moon Gloves.
    [​IMG]

    One of these times I should data mine the entire thread just to see how many times an equip she needed was near the end of the existential drop table. I'm convinced its confirmation bias (see the Red Pierre Shoes, the Battle Bow, and the Olympus for a few counter-examples), but just to get a decent count of how many torturous sessions she's really had...

    Anyway, at about 21:20, something really unexpected dropped.
    [​IMG]

    Yeah. That would be an Earring DEX 30%. According to OwlRepo this thing is going right now for somewhere around 6 million. Interesting to see when Celestalia can more-or-less safely use it. It may be some time.

    Thirty minutes later Celestalia found herself at 65% and decided to grab dinner. After an hour of doing...absolutely nothing, she comes back, and within half an hour had a second Gold Pow and a Brown Lorin. So that filled the Equip inventory.

    In the process, however, she finally exhausted the stack of Red Bean Sundaes. The last holdouts of the 2021 Summer Event have been wiped away. Now at this point she had 1,078 Elixirs, those were going to last a while no matter what. And she definitely had ways of getting more, no matter what.

    The final tally, as far as experience was concerned, was 68%. So Celestalia could almost certainly get Level 85 next weekend. There seems no reason to move away from Buffy right now, the only real concern being how I'm supposed to come up with content for those entries MapleF3

    But, maybe the drop table will smile upon Celestalia for once. You never know.

    Before signing off, here is the (estimated) lifetime drop count for both.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    So...I guess she's not too far down the list yet. And obviously I can't entirely map out who dropped which amount of Linnex/Choro. So I'm just going to assume they were evenly spread. Point remains, though: Nine Bowman overalls out of 32 total drops. That seems...excessive...a tiny bit.

    Next week, find out how much farther into the table she needs to spelunk before striking gold. Until then!
     
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    [​IMG]
    PART CCLI. Spare Not a Bauble!

    This weekend is where this outrageously-long struggle comes to an end. As Celestalia's general staff made clear in a snap rally earlier in the day, no mercy was to be tolerated. At all.

    The first equip of the session came fairly quickly, and was a Blue Duke.
    [​IMG]

    Well, at least it's not an overall. Good sign?

    [​IMG]

    ...Nevermind.

    That was it for the first 45 minutes. Then Celestalia went to eat dinner. Slightly hopeful, but expecting that she was going to be grinding for another entire weekend. Helped that the dinner was Asian cuisine...always her favorite. Well, one of her favorites.

    Next drop:
    [​IMG]

    Which she got before, but from Lazy, not regular. So technically a first.

    This one was just a few minutes later:
    [​IMG]

    Another overall, naturally. Did you notice that everything so far has been from Buffy?

    Lazy Buffy did and decided to buck that trend right after.
    [​IMG]

    Buffy of course struck back immediately.
    [​IMG]

    And they continued to strike.
    [​IMG]

    Although this was over 3 hours into the session, at which point the Rangemaiden was already over 80%.

    At 83%, Lazy Buffy at last had something else to say...it wasn't much though.
    [​IMG]

    Compared to Buffy, which was still going ham with equips...much to Celestalia's apparent dismay.
    [​IMG]

    By the way, it should come as no surprise that Buffy marbles are extremely durable and as a result are the item of choice in the annual marble world championships, which if I recall are usually held at Florina Beach. The toy makers at Ludibrium collect them from NPC vendors and coat them in rather exuberant patterns; the more complex the pattern, the rarer and more valuable the marble is.

    But don't worry that Celestalia is somehow diluting the market; if there's a huge excess, most of them just get slathered in a single color and sold in bulk sets. These big bags have always been the starter deck for people just getting into marbles and so the game is really accessible compared to some...like Omok for example...not going to point any fingers for that one.

    Fast forward to four hours into the session (~86%) and Celestalia's luck finally appeared to turn around as Lazy Buffy gave out a Level 70 equip...that was Silver...!

    ...A Glove.
    [​IMG]

    And then they dropped another thing...which was?!
    [​IMG]

    Okay to THEIR CREDIT...it took them ELEVEN EQUIPS until a Bowman overall dropped. That's better than usual. Then again there really shouldn't BE a usual, should there.

    So what do you suppose happened after the Choro dropped...well, of course, Celestalia used up her remaining MP and...managed to fall asleep INSIDE THE BLUE POTION...? I don't know how she figured out how to breathe long-term inside the bottle. Although clearly, there's an air hole somewhere in there since her hair sticks out a bit. Who knows.

    Well, I suppose the best thing is to pick things back up tomorrow. See you in the next installment.
     
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    [​IMG]
    PART CCLII. The Seven-Squared Gacha Run

    So with only 13% to go until 85, things on the overall strength front seemed to be looking pretty decent. I mean, if the equip hunt here takes long enough, Celestalia might start doing the thing where she profits Elixirs. Thus far every session has been a slight loss. She ended last time with 1,074, for instance.

    I'm still imagining the best route is going back to Drake, should the need for more Elixirs ever arise.

    Anyway, on to the action. And today began with a Blue Magic Cape.
    [​IMG]

    Followed by #3 of this one:
    [​IMG]

    Around 91%, a new(ish) drop once again.
    [​IMG]

    Purple Steel-Tip Boots is probably the counter-example to end all counter-examples. If you were around for it, that was the very first drop from Copper Drake.

    Buffy tied the count with a Gold Manute.
    [​IMG]

    A few minutes later, Lazy Buffy dropped a Knuckle ATT 60%. So there's only one more scroll left to collect to really complete the entire set, which is Top LUK 70% from the green goblins. But if they're going to drop anything 70-related, it might as well be the bloody Hinkel!

    In either case, since she was at max health and very low on MP, that was a good time for the Rangemaiden to step out and grab lunch, and maybe rest her eyes for like half an hour. She ultimately came back around 20:00 and about 25 minutes later,...uh...
    [​IMG]

    *sigh*

    But, finally, with less than 30 kills left to 85, a NEW EQUIP HAPPENED!!!

    Drumroll please..........

    ...

    [​IMG]

    MapleF7

    NO WAIT! Because immediately after this Buffy had something else!!!

    ...

    [​IMG]

    ...Okay screw it.
    [​IMG]

    As I said a few weeks ago, it would probably pay to save up the points and max out Strafe at 89. Thing is though, Celestalia can still use the points in the meantime simply by having them in a passive skill. I went with Mortal Blow for now because +3 Speed doesn't really do all that much for the time it took to get the SP.

    Also, as promised Celestalia immediately grabbed an inventory slot in both Equip and Etc., which will most certainly be of great utility in the coming stretch.

    So, after once again going to Vic to sell (and help reorganize the storage a bit), Celestalia found herself at 113 million mesos. She had a feeling the Auburns were going to make more than that in this upcoming Gach run, which features a whopping 49 tickets. The real issue was how to find the storage space for all of the goodies.

    To help with that, Aescalloss employed the Metal Lord to help carry around some stuff. And combined with the freed storage, the gacha run was able to get underway. Here's what was found:

    Common
    • Fat Sausage (7)
    • Purple Marker (Level 10 Glove)
    • Bottom DEF 30%
    • Forked Spear (Level 30 Spear)
    • Glove MAtt 100%
    • Ivory Shouldermail Pants (Level 50 F Warrior Bottom)
    • Pumpkin Pie (7)
    • 1HBW ATT 30%
    • Knuckle Mace (Level 50 1H Mace)
    • Overall INT 70%
    • Cape INT 30%
    • Shield STR 30%
    • Crossbow ATT 10%
    • Staff MAtt 30%
    • Dark Piettra Skirt (Level 40 F Bowman Bottom)
    • Elemental Staff 1 (Level 102 Staff)
    • Crossbow ATT 30%
    • White Seraphis (Level 60 Magician Hat)
    • Shoes Jump 10%
    • Pumpkin Pie (9)
    • Ilbi Throwing Stars
    • Shoes Speed 60% <- Aescalloss used on his Lapiz Sandals, and scroll passed!
    • Pet Equip Jump 60%
    • Red Pao Bottom (Level 20 M Thief Bottom)
    • Red Justice Cape (Level 55 Cape) MapleF5
    • Green Maro (Level 50 Bowman Hat)
    • Staff MAtt 60%
    • Cape MP 60%
    • Green Matty (Level 35 Magician Hat)
    • Yakisoba x2 (3)
    • Dark Enigma (Level 78 F Magician Overall)
    • Blossom Juice (2)
    • Brown Requierre (Level 68 F Magician Overall)
    • Megaphone
    • Dark Anakarune (Level 58 F Magician Overall)
    • Ilbi Throwing Stars (again)
    • Stump Eraser
    • Pumpkin Pie (5)
    • Dark Shouldermail (Level 50 F Warrior Top)
    • Purple Fairy Top (Level 28 F Magician Top)
    • Thermometer (Level 10 2H Sword)
    Rare
    • 1H Sword ATT 30%
    • Overall INT 30% <- !!!!
    • Spear ATT 60%
    • 1H Sword MAtt 10%
    • Green Ski (Level 55 Spear)
    • Spear ACC 70%
    • Overall LUK 60%
    • 1HBW ATT 60%
    [Editor's Note: The printer ran out of color ink halfway through the Commons. Sorry about that!]

    Not as impactful as I was hoping for. If it weren't for the Overall INT 30% this entire series would have been an utter failure. But anyway, at least all of the tickets have been processed now. It may be some time before the Auburns can properly get all of these out into the world economy though.

    Another weekend concludes with virtually nothing to show for it, except for the ever-growing numbers on these sheets:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Okay...next week, definitely.
     
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    [​IMG]
    PART CCLIII. The Next Coming of Lady Blue

    After another week of brooding within the Ludibrium inn, Celestalia awoke to this notification.
    [​IMG]

    ...Huh. You know what, maybe that's a sign. Time to pull out the cosmetics.

    It can't hurt!
    [​IMG]

    ...

    ...IT DIDN'T HURT!!
    [​IMG]

    That set dropped within FIVE MINUTES OF STARTING. I KID YOU NOT!!

    What an absolutely remarkable show. It's just like this campaign, isn't it - a flair for the dramatic! Broadway, take note.

    Speaking of dramatic, the Metal Silver Earrings provide a hefty +7 Magic Defense (53). More importantly, it sets Celestalia up for what could be a huge, huge opportunity.

    Although regular Buffy was less than willing to join the performance. Ironic.
    [​IMG]

    That is the Neocora, one of the four equips that hadn't yet been obtained. But for some reason, Celestalia wasn't feigned. Almost as if she didn't really care about the Hinkel that much. There's actually good reason for this. The thing is, there are still a vast array of mobs in the high 60s-low 70s, and even above that, that all have a very good chance of dropping one of the Hinkels. The beauty of all the bows past this point is just that - there are multiple colors. Combined with the BMD's extremely high attack at present, it makes the 70 tier a very low priority.

    ...For the moment. Eventually, the Rangemaiden will have to set her sights on Leafre...or Singapore...both of which require high-tier main equips. But she has plenty of time before then.

    So it was once again time for dinner.

    Okay, seriously though. Who possibly guessed that she would have accomplished something before even sitting down to eat?

    On the other side of the stomach, Buffy pulled another very interesting stunt:
    [​IMG]

    Two scrolls, back-to-back! Neither at all useful. But that's the first time I think I've ever seen it happen.

    After this latest script deviation, Celestalia went out for a minute to get some candy. As she was rummaging through the stockpile, a Buccaneer appeared.
    [​IMG]

    So random but I love it, thank you MapleF2

    Celestalia ran around for a little bit more until she got to 10%, and then decided to go take a nap.

    Look, Hinkel or no Hinkel, the fact remains that her prayers have been answered. As far as she is concerned, she is done with Buffy!

    But perhaps not Deep Ludi as a whole...stay tuned!
     
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    [​IMG]
    PART CCLIV. Beat the Clock! Deep Ludi Edition

    There is no mystery about who Celestalia is going up against here. After all, she already has a card from them.
    [​IMG]

    The very first Klock yielded a Sunrise Dew, which is again pretty awesome, not that Celestalia can really harness their full potential.

    This drop was much more promising.
    [​IMG]

    This is the Blue Enigmatic, the Level 78 Magician male Overall. And dropped by the weaker timepiece.

    Amazing, but of course cards are the real aim. And Dark Klock was the first to give one up.
    [​IMG]

    Another Blue-tier card, thanks to them being Level 76 - they're actually the first set in the section. And for sure, the Rangemaiden is definitely feeling the hurt with each blow.

    Dark Klock also got its first equip of the fight with the aptly-assigned Dark Studded Top.
    [​IMG]

    Which had max Weapon Defense (64) and max LUK (+5). So that is really good. But does Kaloichi has 20 Fame...

    Celestalia picked up a second one maybe five minutes later, and it was almost identical, with one point of defense being swapped out for a point of MP.

    Some time later, don't remember who dropped it but, another Magician overall!
    [​IMG]

    The female version of the previous, except they just dropped the 'tic' at the end and left it at that.

    With a few more passes through the map, Celestalia was at ~7.5% experience for the session. And she realized - well, there were a lot of breaks in there - but the grind was going even slower than usual. Not a huge surprise, but soon she found herself calculating how much max Strafe would speed things up. Even after enlisting the help of the rest of Suboptimal though, the theoretical results were not very encouraging.
    [​IMG]
    I wish Buppoon's numbers were real!

    To upgrade Strafe to max now would require 15 from either Thrust (12) or Mortal Blow (4 excess, above required for Arrow Rain). That's not at all a desirable trade. So the actual play might be something like...take 4 from Mortal Blow, and 5 from Thrust, and at 87, that will give Celestalia max Strafe for far less Speed expenditure.

    Alright, so now the other question is this...where should Celestalia try next? There are two obvious answers...the first is Zipangu, where there are a whopping five card sets to collect, and that will just about propel Celestalia up to the Tier 7 ring.

    (Actually there are six, but the sixth guy is the one that...uh...kills Celestalia in one hit?)

    The other one is to return to Magatia and farm the three hard sets while hunting the Blue Falcon from Homunculus, which has the happy coincidence of being free experience because Celestalia Arrow Rains everything in that room at no risk.

    The third one is...wait, there was a third one?
     
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    [​IMG]
    PART CCLV. Through the Marble and the Ice

    I really didn't appreciate how limited Celestalia's options were in terms of card sets until realizing that outside of Zipangu, there are roughly nine mobs to hunt...and outside of Deep Ludi and Magatia, only two.

    But they might both be some version of doable...so why not just test the waters of:
    [​IMG]

    ...Wait, where the heck did you get those from already?!?

    And the first equip came almost as quickly.
    [​IMG]

    Choro may be the most common equip of the entire campaign by this point.

    Next up, another Bowman wear that Celestalia is familiar with.
    [​IMG]

    The next one was a Silver Identity, but along with it came a...rather intriguing find.
    [​IMG]

    It's a book...riffling through the pages, Celestalia saw several depictions of machines and machine parts, and some diagram with black spots all over the pages. She had no real idea what was going on there, as it didn't seem to be Bowman-related. So, she just put it in her bag and shut her eyes for a while as the radio in her bag plunked on with some sporting event she was listening to.

    Suddenly, a Crusader came into the map and asked about a "timer".

    Celestalia's eyes shot wide open in horror.

    Was there a Lucida boss?

    Well, yes, as a matter of fact - Stairway to the Sky II is Eliza's domain. Which - if Celestalia had been in there when it spawned, she most certainly would have been sent to oblivion.

    So, from one Level 85 to another Level 85 - thank you.
    [​IMG]

    I mean it doesn't necessarily mean Celestalia can't hunt here. She just needs to know when Eliza will return.

    For now, the responsible thing to do is head down and try the other path that has long been forgotten.

    That, of course, is El Nath. Now, when the town was first unlocked, I mentioned that there were some requirements Celestalia might need to achieve before she could purchase heating items. It's pretty clear to see she has all of them - over 200 card sets, being a Rangemaiden to begin with, and almost everything is in advance of Level 50.

    So, the Rangemaiden can thus have access to these very delicious consumables:
    [​IMG]

    And naturally, Celestalia will abuse her ability in this zone, because who would not do so. With that, she got going.
    [​IMG]

    Celestalia will use some Attack-boosting items (such as Takoyaki...that and bread is in itself a complete dinner :cool:) to try and get some OHKOs. Either that, or she could bite the bullet and boost Strafe...but ya know. Cheapskate.

    The above photo doesn't do it justice, but there are a huge amount of wolves in this map. So actually, Arrow Rain and Arrow Bomb are getting as much, if not more, use. Also, a few of the wolves are White Fangs. It will be difficult not to pick up their cards with Celestalia sliding around everywhere, but she'll do her best.

    Although that might end up not being a circumstance.
    [​IMG]

    The second Hector card fell only a minute or two later.

    And then an interesting drop:
    [​IMG]

    A Dagger, but it's one of those which is for both Warrior and Thief, so it's like basically neither (unless as a Warrior you have super-high DEX at Level 60).

    The third card dropped a bit later.

    Right at the end of the first White Bun, White Fang decided it was going to get cute after all.
    [​IMG]

    But Hector made up for it with a quick fourth card. Nothing on the drop table, I seriously don't know why so many things drop Adventurer Capes and nothing drops the STUPID JUSTI-

    Alright, forget it.
    [​IMG]

    And that was about it for the weekend.

    For the first time in the campaign, Celestalia is staying at El Nath! Despite conditions being quite freezing (especially in January), the combination of a warm hearth and a huge supply of White Buns should keep her nice and cozy through the week.

    Meanwhile, there are now only five sets left to collect to unlock the Tier 7 ring. It might not be known where exactly they're coming from, but Celestalia finally has a little bit of confidence that it will be sooner for that upgrade, rather than later.

    See y'all on Friday!
     
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    [​IMG]
    PART CCLVI. Let's Conquest! El Nath Edition

    Celestalia is no stranger to doing outside research, and basically every piece of info she's seen in the last 2+ years came to the same conclusion: El Nath is a terrible place for cards. Even the legendary card-hunting manuscript has next to nothing good to say about the region.

    Which is interesting because Celestalia didn't feel at all that Jr. Yeti OR Hector were all that bad. And White Fang, even having only 5-6 mobs in the map she was in, already dropped a card. Nevermind that she wasn't allowed to pick it up.

    So, empirically the evidence doesn't match. But it was time to continue the experiment and see if the numbers would come back to expected.

    And the next battleground is...
    [​IMG]

    Celestalia anticipated that there would be some kind of controlling monster here, based on this setup, but said monster wasn't here yet. So she just got to work.

    Well despite the fact that it's called a Field, the map is divided into no less than five platforms with mobs on them. Even so, Celestalia got on the board pretty fast.
    [​IMG]

    The second card also didn't take too long, but slightly before she got it, White Fang dropped...
    [​IMG]

    Yeah, that might have been useful about six months ago.

    The third card came six minutes later.

    As if to drive the point home, the FOURTH card came within another FOUR minutes.

    And then came along the kicker.
    [​IMG]

    It's...a girl trapped in ice. Well, going back to the altar at the top, it appears that some type of item will be needed to calm her wrath and make her killable.

    Celestalia had zero idea what item to use. So, she asked Suboptimal. And the answer appeared to be that any drop from El Nath would work.

    So...
    [​IMG]

    And that looked to have done the job.
    [​IMG]

    Of course the Snow Witch did not yield a card. But it did yield the ability to complete the card set.
    [​IMG]

    Just in time for dinner too! Sorry Nimbus, but your pessimism continues to be unfounded.

    After an hour and some of fenagling with lasagna, the Rangemaiden was ready to up the difficulty level.
    [​IMG]

    This map is considerably less populated, which is great, and there is a safe spot which is on the most optimal route. Also great. And while the map looks really vertical, most of the mobs are only at the bottom three levels. Also great!

    But there is one small catch: there are Jr. Yetis on this map that can turn into full-sized ones - and they do not drop Yeti cards. Although they do give the combined experience of both Yetis...also great MapleF3

    Yeti themselves though aren't much of an issue. Arrow Bomb hits them easily, knockback isn't absurdly high, and their attack (which is avoidable by jumping) only deals in the mid-500s.

    So the first drop here?
    [​IMG]

    Max stats.

    Well, if this is how it's going to go, who needs cards?

    Second one was a Dark Anakarune, which wasn't as good...but then they gave up a Redemption!!
    [​IMG]

    She then got a female Dark Shouldermail...and a SECOND REDEMPTION!!! Which was 6 Attack higher than the first FoxF5

    Next up:
    [​IMG]

    The Golden Crow.

    At this rate, she might have to leave the entire region before even getting a single Yeti card!
    [​IMG]

    On second thought nevermind.

    Well, Nimbus was pretty correct that Yeti is a tricky one to take down. This card took nearly an hour 20 minutes. BUT. The SECOND card took...SEVEN. Minutes.

    So it was back to glass half full for Celestalia. Except, well, the equip inventory was quickly becoming a problem. Even White Fang, which has 2-3 representatives on the map, had two pieces.

    Yeti noticed this and decided to donate a third card in SIX MINUTES. OnionGhost

    ...And then also decided to throw down a second Golden Crow.

    But then Jr. Yeti decided that IT wanted to get in on the action too...and what do you SUPPOSE they picked.

    ...

    [​IMG]
    Celestalia got the Jr. Yeti set back when she was hunting for the Olympus...hence the blank stare of doom.

    That was a pretty clear sign. With the session at 5 hours anyway, she decided to pack up and go empty her inventories.

    Still. 3 Yeti cards in a bit over 2 hours when Nimbus was only able to get 1? ...Perhaps Celestalia is a bit better at this whole adventuring business than she thought she was.

    In the next installment, the venture into the snowy hinterlands continues! Stay tuned.
     
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    [​IMG]
    PART CCLVII. One Shot Short

    Since the forecast called for a pretty chilly night in El Nath, Celestalia decided to overnight in Orbis - considering that it doesn't take very long to get down the tower anyway. When she did ultimately return to Ice Valley I, it was still freezing. But thankfully, nothing a White Bun couldn't fix.

    Celestalia started today at around 18:15 server time, and...within about...I dunno, THREE MINUTES??
    [​IMG]

    This was her FIRST PASS THROUGH THE MAP! Unfortunately, the drop table has nothing. Blue Lineros and Gold Eyes are the best things on there, both of which Celestalia is at tier. Oh, and ANOTHER GAIA CAPE! What is the purpose, honestly...

    Well aside from another Dark Shouldermail, nothing really happened of note. The set quietly finished about 35 minutes later.
    [​IMG]

    But any hope of Celestalia getting much farther in the region evaporated instantly.
    [​IMG]

    This is Yeti and Pepe. Their touch damage is in the 800s. And they have...I don't even know how to explain it because it came out so fast, but a long-range attack that, well it hit Celestalia for 999. And then, when the health bar goes down, they separate! Even if they did have a higher card rate, Celestalia cannot possibly sustain any action here for long.

    So, she decided to leave the region, and check in with Lucida...but still wasn't sure about the Eliza timer. But then she figured out that she was at 207 card sets already...and went to see if she could maybe finish up the last three at Magatia?

    To her credit, that plan had pretty immediate results.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    But there were still three each to claim. So there was no choice but to waste a bunch of time while counting down the timers.

    However! At 20:20, Celestalia got THREE CARDS IN A ROW between Channels 4 and 5. Three channels later, she got a fourth - putting both Deet and Roi and Homunscullo one away.

    And since it is classified as a normal monster, Homunscullo has a drop table. Short...but quite sweet.
    [​IMG]

    That cape is called the Giles Cape, which is Level 85!! It could be years before the Rangemaiden even manages to put one on. Assuming she still IS a Rangemaiden by that point.

    The other thing that really stuck out to me is that the Golden Hinkel actually adds +10 Speed.

    About 30 minutes later, Deet and Roi came back on Channel 1 and immediately gave up the last card.
    [​IMG]

    But Homunscullo for the most part was still on cooldown, so it was back to waiting. There was still about an hour left to go for D. Roy as well.

    Celestalia managed to scarf down dinner (leftovers from yesterday) in the interim and went on the second trip to Alcadno. At 22:00, she got the third D. Roy card. But that was it for that pass through. She found a few more Homunscullo when she returned to Zenumia, but no cards. So it was just back to relaxing next to the chalkboard.

    Finally at 23:45, she was able to have a third round, went to Channel 8, and managed to coax the last card out of the Homunscullo there.
    [​IMG]

    Which juuuuuuust left the big robots on the other side of town. Of course the next pass produced no cards, so Celestalia went away to watch a movie.

    She came back just in time to take the next sweep through, and got a card on Channel 3. And her jaw dropped when she saw this on the table:
    [​IMG]

    That would be amazing to land even if extraordinarily unlikely. The only question being whether Celestalia's outfit would clash with it on. She never was quite suited to red. Well, not to worry, there will be another color found elsewhere. Leafre, maybe. I don't think I've really mentioned the requirements to get in there. From what I recall it was some combination of...Level 80, have at least one equip (of any kind) at Level 80 or above, and have at least 200 card sets. Which, if that's the case, the obvious play is to farm the Blue Falcon from Homunculus. Celestalia doesn't really want to do that now on the matter of that she has gotten too attached to the Beige Patriot. Either way, Leafre honestly will be a marginal benefit at best until she can max Strafe.

    The next batch, taken at ~04:00 server time, yielded absolutely nothing. There was one shot remaining. The 2-hour wait was extremely unfun, but she eventually managed to get there...only to find a Night Lord was just going through every single channel.

    ...

    I have no words. The cruelty of this campaign has never felt so real until this moment.

    There will be no Tier 7 ring this weekend.

    And no, Celestalia didn't miss the timers. She went in exactly when she was supposed to. It just so happens someone else managed to get there randomly and derail the entire weekend. It happens. I just wish...it didn't happen as frequently as it does.

    Or maybe, I dunno, things would stop BEING SO TROLLY!!! FOR ONCE IN...ANYTHING!!!!!

    I'm not sure how Celestalia is meant to get through this week in one piece. My heart is nearly broken; could you possibly imagine what she feels after spending 13 hours straight out on campaign?

    ...Maybe.
     
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    SPECIAL XX. One Break Too Many

    "I don't understand it, sir. She's been like this ever since she laid down on the mattress."

    The attendant and his manager stood over a hapless Celestalia, staring blankly at the ceiling in her room within the Magatia inn. There was barely any life in her eyes.

    "Well, she'll be safe, at least. You go ahead back to the front desk. I'll get someone down here just to keep checking on her."

    She had just enough time to remove her hat and place it on the rack before any remaining strength she had just vanished from her. After that, she found herself drifting off...almost as if she had died. But, she hadn't. She wasn't at the clouds with Hikaria...not this time. Instead, she found herself in a fancy parlor, akin to the main hall of the Vereina estate.

    The parlor had sweeping walls of dark wood, sanded and slathered with lacquer to give them a smooth feel and a brilliant sheen. A majestic fireplace was centered along the right wall. As Celestalia felt the waves of heat coming from the fire, a man approached from the left.

    "Celestalia."

    The crackling within his voice startled her. "Huh!?"

    Quickly she turned and gazed upon him. He much resembled her father, Emaliel. Only more refined. His dark brown hair was slicked back into a neat circle, a neat line of light reflecting off his hair gel from the fire. He would have looked distinctly modern had he not had on a long waistcoat that looked to have gone out of fashion two centuries ago or so.

    "What is this place...?" she asked.

    "Aha! Well, I'm not surprised you don't recognize it...my sons always wanted to do-over the lot of it...heh heh."

    The man put his hands behind his back.

    "Allow me to introduce myself. I am Ethrell, the patriarch of the Vereina family."

    "You are!!? I've...I've heard so much about you!"

    "I'm sure you have. As much as I've heard about your father. Emaliel always enjoys talking about my exploits, doesn't he."

    "He gave me such a great childhood, too. He really cared about us. About all of us."

    "Emaliel is indeed a great man."

    "Then surely you must be disappointed in me...in what I've become."

    "Am I??" Ethrell let out a mighty laugh, almost sending him into a coughing fit. "Nonsense!!"

    "What?" Celestalia shrugged her shoulders.

    "Now, Celestalia. You are definitely aware that Emaliel was always looking out for the safety of the family. Which is why he kept up the ban on adventuring, no?"

    "I suppose so..."

    "But, I reckon there is...one story of mine he never told."

    "That's impossible. Anytime he had the chance...I mean, the history of the family's empire...!"

    "Allow me to reveal to you this secret. Though do keep it between us, would you."

    "Very well...what is it."

    "Celestalia, you know that we sourced the finest seeds, the finest herbs, the finest fruits from across the globe to use in our plantations. Now, someone had to go out and retrieve those seeds, didn't they...who do you suppose that was?"

    "Ah..." Celestalia's eyes went blurry for a moment. She had never really thought it through. "Well I guess I assumed that the workers did it."

    "So you would think. But not even the best workers would be willing to go into the brush of deepest Leafre in search of fortune..."

    Ethrell stood tall and looked into the fireplace, reliving many past memories he hadn't accessed since long ago.

    "...But I was."

    Celestalia instantly shot up.

    "...You were an adventurer?!?!"

    "Indeed I was, Celestalia. And you know, that's not all we have in common."

    "...What do you mean?!"

    "The heart break you are experiencing."

    "Ahh...~" Celestalia put her right hand to her chest.

    "It happens to every adventurer at some point. And guess what."

    "..."

    "Do you know what happens to you when your heart breaks...that's right, nothing."

    "Hnn!?"

    "You get right back up and you keep fighting. You will get in there on Friday, you will get your last D. Roy card, and you WILL go get your Tier 7 ring. And you will move on like nothing ever happened. I am right, am I not?"

    "...W-well..."

    "Because, Celestalia. As long as the fire for adventure burns within you...nothing can destroy you...nothing."

    "I...I knew that...but then how did you-"

    "Yes, I thought you might ask that...heh."

    Ethrell turned away for a moment, very obviously going to a place in his mind that was unpleasant. Another place he didn't go very often.

    "You see, I lost my fire. And I thought maybe I had one last adventure with me...which is why I went to Leafre. And at the worst possible moment, our expedition was ambushed by a group of Cornians. One of them threw a dagger and it tore across my stomach."

    "...Goodness!"

    "We got what we came for...but, alas. I wasn't protected...I had passed before we even docked at Orbis."

    Celestalia's eyes widened, horrified by the realization that not only had she been lied to, but also...perhaps she was indeed more vulnerable than she thought.

    "Celestalia...do not be like me. Don't lose your fire."

    "..."

    "...I won't. I promise."

    "And one more thing..."

    Ethrell came up and put his hand on Celestalia's left shoulder. He was smiling brightly, knowing that both of his traditions were going to survive.

    "No matter what anyone else says...I am very proud of you."
     
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    [​IMG]
    PART CCLVIII. Topaz

    When Celestalia finally came to and went to the front to head back to Alcadno, the inn manager stopped her and handed her a letter. It had apparently come in for her late last night.

    He was also curious as to whether she was okay, which after reading the contents of the envelope, it was obvious she hadn't been in such high spirits for some time:

    ~~~

    NEW LEAF CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT
    Sheriff's Office
    Addressed to: Ms. Celestalia Vereina
    CC: Customs and Transportation Division
    February 9, 2023

    Ms. Vereina,

    The purpose of this notice is to inform you that the moratorium on travel to and from Masteria has been suspended, and we have confirmed with our subway officials in Kerning City that you are hereby approved for use of that mode of transportation.

    The initial moratorium we had put into place was to last for three years. I, personally, saw this as a gross oversight considering how little your activities differ from other adventurers. Actually, I can hardly think of anything that would set you apart. Although I will admit the method by which you upgrade your gear is unorthodox, to say the least.

    But the main reason I pushed this through was because we intercepted some of the radio comms your folks have been throwing around. Talking about a Justice Cape, I believe. I think we can set you up with one pretty quick.

    I hope to see you come around to participate in our bounty system. The woods out there still have a lot of freaky monsters that need cleaning up. You could be a terrific help to the people of our great city, and the nation as a whole.

    Take care and happy travels.

    Sincerely,
    Alethea A. Lawless
    Sheriff, New Leaf City Police Department

    ~~~

    Celestalia was floored. She slowly folded up the letter nice, placed it in her pack, and then sprang out the door as fast as her Gore Boots could carry her. Not to leave, of course; there was still one card to take care of. And while the first round of D. Roy failed to yield it...the first channel in Round 2 had two of the rapscallions. So:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    With that, the Nihal Desert has been conquered.

    While Celestalia's empire was flying high, a certain fellow was having some issues with his own.
    [​IMG]

    That very much could be the case. Thinking about where Celestalia has battled since the last upgrade, there have been a lot of new areas opened up. The Omega Sector, the remainder of Korean Folk Town, and the remainder of Mu Lung are the main areas. And of course including the last of Magatia, that is four dead ends that have all been resolved. That's a lot of walls that the Rangemaiden can potentially remove from Rino's research.

    As for Celestalia herself, well she will never say no to an extra 125 HP and 65 MP!
    [​IMG]

    But wait, who is this! It's a new face in town! Celestalia tried to introduce herself, but Rosa went on about some type of 'HP Challenge' and that she's not high level enough for them. Harumph! Well, thanks for nothing. I'm sure it won't be long until Celestalia is qualified...anything that mentions HP has ought to be pretty worth the investment.

    And that's all she had planned for today. Tomorrow...apparently, it's time to head to New Leaf City! But before that, here's an overview of the geography.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Three glorious maps of all green. That's a pretty decent chunk of the world map the Celestial Empire can lay claim to.

    [​IMG]

    But said chunk is bordered by Leafre on the west, and Yeti and Pepe in the north. Oh, and Lucida. By the way, regarding Jr. Lucida. Since it doesn't spawn by natural means, it isn't technically required for conquest. It might also be a bit difficult to actually photograph the cards...cause it would be in the middle of a boss battle...yeah?

    As always, no updates in either Deep Ludi or Deep Aqua Road. And Zipangu, I will absolutely post that map next time she's over there.

    Alright, see you tomorrow as Celestalia heads for the Big Syrup Bottle!
     
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    PART CCLIX. Start Spreadin' the Arrows

    For the first time when heading to a new region, Celestalia didn't quite know what to expect. The letter from the Sheriff mentioned quite a bit about spooky forests, which didn't bode very well. She's heard grave rumors (no pun intended) about some terrifying things out there.

    But there was only one way to find out:
    [​IMG]

    You will notice that Celestalia left Pariah - the reason for that is that Pariah somehow got separated from Suboptimal. Not to worry, that situation got resolved pretty much immediately. The truth is, Celestalia previously received an invitation to Flow, which has been around for a very long time and is a cornerstone of the alliance.

    So third time's the charm.
    [​IMG]

    New Leaf City is a huge metropolis, that goes without saying. But Masteria as a whole is a surprisingly verdant region. Celestalia should do well here. With that said, there are a ton of places to go right off the bat. First off is Bigger Ben, although she wasn't quite sure she wanted to step very far into a dusty lobby riddled with steel girders. Second, at the far left of the map is a taxi service which shuttles to and from the Phantom Forest. Another place she didn't really want to tangle with yet. So option 3...
    [​IMG]

    Well. That's awfully refreshing! Of these three, the highest level is Boomer (27) and I think what happens is if they don't get killed in one hit, they just explode and can do damage. But that is no issue for the Rangemaiden. Urban Fungus is basically a slightly stronger version of Blue Mushroom. Only Street Slime is the interesting one, because they move pretty fast. But a combination of Arrow Rain and Mortal Blow means that is also practically a non issue.

    To actually get between the platforms, the robot-snail things link to other stations across the map. There isn't really an optimal route although I personally like to go from top to bottom whenever possible.

    Drops for the map are surprisingly interesting. Celestalia was amazed to see that Boomer can rarely drop Elixir (!), but almost as good, from Street Slime, is this:
    [​IMG]

    Grilled Cheese. But not just any Grilled Cheese! These babies give TWENTY POINTS of Weapon Defense, for half an hour, and give 500 to both HP and MP. That's better than anything Zipangu had to offer.

    Street Slime also had the pleasure of providing the region's first monster card.
    [​IMG]

    Boomer was close behind.
    [​IMG]

    Street Slime followed that up with an additional two cards, before Boomer landed their second.

    Finally it was Urban Fungus's turn to get on the board.
    [​IMG]

    Street Slime immediately gave up their fourth card. As far as equips go, they drop exactly two things - an Iron Axe, and...the Petal Staff??? Which Celestalia already got one of actually.

    So presumably they just used up all of their drop table points on an equip three tiers above where they are. I mean, fine? As long as you keep dropping Grilled Cheeses.

    Meanwhile, Boomer went up to three, and not to be outdone so easily, Urban Fungus got their second. Then they knotted it at 3. And then...they got their third card in a row to tie with Street Slime!

    As terrific of a comeback as that was though, they were no match for the overwhelming numbers Street Slime has.
    [​IMG]

    But not long after:
    [​IMG]

    All of a sudden Boomer was the odd mob out. Though they also didn't take long to get finished up.
    [​IMG]

    And thankfully, they aren't the ones that have the Justice Cape...although there is a Glove DEX 60%.

    Next is yet another fork. Though according to the map the one terminates immediately in a valley.

    The valley contains a few of these monstrosities.
    [​IMG]

    Which are essentially the same as Nependeaths, although they are only level 30 for some reason?

    She decided to try the main path and thankfully there are more of these. But, there are also huge elephants with tesla coils.
    [​IMG]

    DON'T BE FOOLED! They may be under 100 touch damage, but the electric shockwave hits almost as hard as Klock. Like 600s range. Good thing they are pretty fragile.

    Anyway, first to yield a card was the so-called 'Mighty Maple Eater'.
    [​IMG]

    And then Celestalia got floored...again.
    [​IMG]

    Is that...the Diamond Arrow?? Well, obviously it won't be used much with Soul Arrow active all the time, but collecting enough of these, given that they are Attack +5 (!), could be a tremendous asset against certain foes in the future.

    The problem now was that Celestalia's Use inventory was absolutely overflowing. She made a few calls and got some scrolls and stuff put away, although how many more times she can do that without the Auburns running out of room themselves remains to be seen.

    The actual solution of course is getting them to open FM shops again, but looking up the prices for 30+ scrolls at a time is not the most engaging activity.

    Anyway, she had ten slots coming out of the break. Now it was around 20:45, so time to see how many cards she could get out of these two before dinner.

    Here's one from Electrophant...
    [​IMG]
    No, I don't know why there are so many futuristic gubbins scattered around the map. And I ESPECIALLY don't know why there's a giant floating diamond thingy at the far upper left corner of the map.

    Both mobs then slowly produced their second, and then Electrophant dropped a Green Matty. So out of the entirety of Masteria so far, two Level 35 Magician equips. And a bunch of scrolls.

    They remained neck-and-neck, trading off cards. But at dinner time, it was MME who emerged in front 4-3. Not that their drop table was really worth the extra grinding.

    But the plants took the initiative and this time didn't let Electrophant tie them.
    [​IMG]

    Once again though it really wasn't that long until the slow set caught up with it.
    [​IMG]

    And to their credit, Electrophant finally had something similar to a complete drop table. But nothing north of Level 50.

    Total time of all of this was around 5 hours, including dinner. Honestly, could be worse! Celestalia will be back next week to clean up the jungle branch, and then maybe at least see what Bigger Ben holds. She would prefer to stay as far away from the spooky area as possible. Something tells me though that she will ultimately have to go in there to retrieve the fabled Justice Cape.

    Have a splendid week!

    [​IMG]
     
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    PART CCLX. Queen of the Hill

    The next map in the conquest of Masteria is quite an interesting one.
    [​IMG]

    First off the opponent. Well, they are...not at all threatening. The electric shock attack does even less than the touch damage, when the touch damage is in the 60s.

    What they're doing going up and down these hills is beyond me.

    There is one solid safe spot on this map, which generously has four benches and is above this nice cut-out of the initials 'NLC'.
    [​IMG]

    Otherwise, there are a decent number of Electrophants and MMEs scattered around, but they are easy as usual. So, there was not going to be a problem.
    [​IMG]

    The second card took only a few more passes to drop, followed by the third card (10 minutes) and the fourth card (5 minutes), followed by an extremely disappointing drop table. Although I.AM.ROBOT is pretty adept at dropping Elixirs, that I will say.

    Anyway, that is one down.
    [​IMG]

    Next, and last of this branch:
    [​IMG]

    Gryphon has impressive touch damage (>200) but does not attack. More menacing were the myriad traps laid around the map, including the extremely-foreboding pit of spears to the right of where Celestalia is on the minimap.

    Some Gryphons have a strange habit of staying in one place until attacked, which you'd think would make things a bit easier, but it actually makes it extremely difficult or even impossible in some cases to hit them.

    But it wasn't annoying enough to deter the Rangemaiden.
    [​IMG]

    Six cards in an hour is pretty good, but the question became again how many more she could get before dinner.

    The answer ended up being three, however even though she was one short it didn't matter since again there was the real nice resting spot with the four benches in the previous map. So she just ate there.

    Accompanying her was this odd weapon that Gryphon dropped.
    [​IMG]
    Yeah, that's not the greatest face edit I could have made, but it's close enough. I was ABSOLUTELY NOT going to draw a fork. On a scale of 1-10, my pixel art is like...3...

    Of course the last card didn't take very long either.
    [​IMG]

    And Celestalia had something on the order of 2 hours left to kill. First of course was to check out the 'Highlands', which is just a bunch of platforms with Gryphons all over. She fell off the map and landed back in the Jungle Basin, which was pretty good because it was then a short walk back to town.

    After giving it a few minutes of thought, she decided to just go back to Victoria for the evening, and would tackle Bigger Ben tomorrow.

    What surprises might be waiting for her? Stay tuned!
     
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    PART CCLXI. Top of the Scrap Heap?

    Not to say that Bigger Ben is a 'scrap heap', but most of the mobs inside are some type of mechanical construct. Okay, half of them.

    Either way the lobby really left a bit to be desired.
    [​IMG]

    That crystal with the rings around it is another kind of teleporter, incidentally, and also appeared during the card hunt for Gryphon.

    Well after walking down about fifteen flights' worth' of stairs Celestalia finally got to the 'Deity Room', and this place is huge.
    [​IMG]

    I have no idea why MME decided this was a good place to grow.

    Aside from Killa Bee there is the Fire Tusk, a weaker cousin of Electrophant at Level 36. Aside from being purple, and having a scouter like you'd see on Vegeta, they have a pretty weak fire attack (~100 damage). So actually MME is the most dangerous mob here.

    Killa Bee, being as numerous as they are, was the first to drop a card.
    [​IMG]

    And the second...and the third...and th-you get the idea.
    [​IMG]

    So before she continued with trying to acquire Fire Tusk, Celestalia decided to have a peek at the next room - which is accessible from the bottom floor where the elephants don't spawn. The Soul Chamber, which was just filled with Killa Bee, had two portals - one leading to the world-famous 'Wolf Spider Cavern', and the other one, well, it's a good thing she decided to look ahead.
    [​IMG]

    This is theoretically the best map for Fire Tusk, I'm wagering. The Farming Guide unfortunately is silent regarding Masteria, as, well, it predates the cards! Although, oddly enough - the fireballs are in the guide?? Apparently, their home base is Showa! Similar to Boomer, Firebomb explodes after it goes under a certain HP threshold, I think half. Jury is still out on whether you can get cards from them without OHKO.

    Switching maps managed to do the trick in terms of the Dragonball cosplayers.
    [​IMG]

    So much so that they dropped the rest of the set within twenty minutes.
    [​IMG]

    Still no Justice Cape though.

    And now a choice. Either proceed with Firebomb, which had the potential to be a pretty bad grind, or go see how bad Wolf Spider is. Initially she was thinking to go back to Wolf Spider, except...she couldn't quite find a way back up from the bottom of the Soul Chamber map. So Firebombs it was then.
    [​IMG]

    And it was quickly confirmed that, in fact, they can still drop cards even if they explode.
    [​IMG]

    Although it seemed to go far slower, Firebomb themselves had two more cards within twenty minutes! But reading the description in the Monster Book, Celestalia was perplexed. Firebomb is in fact not native to Zipangu either...they're from El Nath?? Yes, apparently they are found deep in the caverns leading up to Zakum. Not that she could possibly have known that...looking at YOU, Yeti and Pepe!

    Of course being a previously-established mob they do have a full drop table. But they also don't have the Justice Cape.

    So, a little bit of work later on potentially saved.
    [​IMG]

    That was also the last card remaining on the first page of the Green tier!
    [​IMG]

    With the way back blocked off, the Rangemaiden was forced to proceed into the Ice Chamber. But all that was in there were huge crowds of Electrophant and Jr. Yeti. (Makes sense given that Firebomb also comes from El Nath.) Finally, the Enigma Chamber was...a dead end with nothing in it.

    Therefore, it was time to Return Scroll and engage with the final mob...the dreaded Wolf Spider. But that plan was IMMEDIATELY abandoned upon learning that one hit takes off over half of her health bar. To be precise, 1562. I think that's the single largest hit she's sustained in her entire career.

    But at least she can say she killed two of them :cool:
    [​IMG]
    ...From the other side of the wall. BUT IT STILL COUNTS!

    These heavy critters notwithstanding, Bigger Ben is squared away. Which confirms precisely what Celestalia feared from the beginning - the Justice Cape is hiding somewhere in the depths of the Phantom Forest.

    There's nothing left for it but to head in there...next weekend. Bewaaaaaaaaaaaaare! OnionGhost
     
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    PART CCLXII. Welcome to Prendergast

    As much as Celestalia desperately wanted to get some advance information on the trickery that was bound to await her on the grounds of the Haunted House, her reconnaisance teams barely managed to get anywhere. Why? Well, the map they were given (the NLCPD was not willing to fork over their official map, so they had to use an adventurer-made guide) had so many arrows, colors, and circles that they couldn't follow much of anything.

    They did deduce, however, that at least one map outside of the house was free of any enemies capable of killing Celestalia in one hit. Now whether this significantly increases the chances of her getting the Justice Cape now remains to be seen. Won't really matter today, as she is starting inside the mansion itself.

    A quick check of the Monster Book revealed that there are a total of six card sets to be obtained, at least between the Lime and Green tiers. So, on top of having a very early start for Friday (~17:45 server time), the outlook was not that bad.

    When the taxi dropped her off, the front door was wide open, so she just went inside.

    And surprisingly, it was quite regal!
    [​IMG]

    Okay yes there are a ton of cobwebs. And the wood paneling could use a bit of repairs. But it was fairly bright, and that's way more than she was expecting.

    The enemy populating this massive entryway is the Sophilia Doll.
    [​IMG]

    When killed, they turn into floating heads.

    And the first one dropped a card!!!
    [​IMG]

    Even with the Rangemaiden constantly having to chase down the darn heads, they dropped cards so frequently that the entire thing was over in like 15 minutes. If that.
    [​IMG]

    But the only equip they drop is the Blue Moon, so on to the nex-wait a minute, who left all of these toys scattered around?
    [​IMG]

    Oh. Nevermind, it's just another card set.
    [​IMG]

    Seriously, they were unbelievably free! Not even Trixter dropped cards this fast.
    [​IMG]

    Celestalia got the feeling that the rest of the mansion might make up for these two. Assuming she could even find her way around the place. It was designed specifically to be confusing, just like the forest behind it. Only...there wasn't anything that would jeopardize her health bar much.

    Going into the Hallway she found this fire-breathing wooden apparatus.
    [​IMG]

    The attack range is one of the longest in the entire game, I think, but does like 70 damage, so it's not a huge deal. And she could just Strafe them if she didn't want to put up with that.

    The real trouble was that Nightmare had a more normal card drop rate, in that it didn't want to drop any FoxXD

    Celestalia was also quickly learning that Masteria has an odd but very appreciated affinity for snacks. Except again their snacks grossly outperform every other snack. From these three mobs alone she's already received four: Pumpkin Taffy (+15 WDef/MDef), Purple Gummy Slime (+600 MP), Orange Gummy Slime (+600 HP/MP), and S'mores, which on top of being half an Elixir ALSO adds 10 Accuracy, Avoidability, Jump, AND SPEED for 10 minutes!! That is absolutely wild.

    Nightmare gave her a fifth as well - the Maple Pop gives ONE HUNDRED ACCURACY for one minute. Completely irrelevant to this campaign, but hot dang.

    Anyway, it took 25 minutes, but Celestalia was eventually able to coax a card out of Nightmare.
    [​IMG]

    Whatever mild success she had was short lived. The second card took nearly an hour, and she was in there after that for an additional 50 minutes and got nothing. So the early start got completely wiped out.

    Celestalia didn't even wait for dinner to leave, which fortunately she could with no issues. She felt super crummy and just needed to have a nap, and preferably some fried foods (another thing Masteria is very good at) to calm her nerves. The day wasn't over, but moving the chains was going to take a monumental effort.

    Ultimately the third card didn't drop until after 22:00, at which point Celestalia was at 95% (she started this grind south of 90), and it was looking extremely likely that she was going to level up within this hallway.

    Before she went that far, she decided to run an experiment. See, from Drake she was still holding on to four Helm INT 60%s. And seeing as she was too high level to get anything from future Christmas Events, she figured she could try and stick them on her Rudolph Hat.

    The result...well, speaks for itself really.
    [​IMG]

    That was roughly a 13% chance. Fantastic. Although Celestalia really only needed one pass to get to 20 and get that extra MP point on level. So, she was instead able to reset the extra INT she added earlier back into DEX. Effectively meaning that she just picked up +3 DEX and +1 MP from the scrolls. Not to mention a free Use slot.
    [​IMG]

    3 more points go into Mortal Blow (for now) and overall puts Celestalia just short of 400 DEX. As for the snack situation, while she obtained middling amounts of the candy-based things, Nightmare was dropping S'mores left and right - she ended up with 90 of these. And these are arguably the best of the bunch (though the gummies restore more MP - she was mostly using the Orange Gummies for healing, and they held out remarkably well).

    So the plan is to finish up Nightmare tomorrow and then see what the rest of the mansion holds. See you on page 17!
     
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