After leaving Neko's, I carefully take care of the poison flower...
A Rabite's also in the way as well.
At the menu, I also notice the sword's attack power's increased as well...
Heading north now, hopefully, this next area leads us to the Water Palace.
I wonder who these troops are?
The blond soldier leading the line of troops is Major Dyluck. Their goal is to find a whip to quickly cross past the realm of Elinee the witch...
After talking to two soldiers, the troops head west.
I have Hero follow them to a set of surrounding pillars. They must have warped to somewhere...
Puzzled about what's going on, I reset the game. This time, I sell the extra pair of overalls at Neko's.
After talking to them again, I still really don't know why those soldiers were there and why they're trying to cross into Elinee's realm...
Here we are, I think...
Heading down to the water, I have Hero survey around the Water Palace, and head east. The waterfall there's gorgeous! There's also a tunnel behind the falls that Hero can't enter...yet.
Jema's there at the entrance. As soon as we get there, he tells us to come with him, and goes in the palace.
I decide to turn back a bit, taking care of a Lullabud (the chomping poison flower), and saving at Neko's place...
I then realize something while on the way to Neko's. I go to the "Targeting" menu, and see that what it does is sort of like a lock-on feature, which also reveals the nearest monster's name.
I have Hero head inside the palace...
Jema's there, as he sees us, he moves forward and upstairs. The mood of the palace looks slightly mysterious, with an aura of tremendous power. The music matches the mood well.
Upstairs now, where I have Hero press a switch revealing more stairs up. Climbing those, we make our way to a large pool of water, and cross over to the other side, where there are two switches before us now.
I'm beginning to wonder if this is another puzzle like in Alundra again...
The left button doesn't work, so I step on the right, which opens another staircase. Hero automatically climbs them, where a green-haired, red-eyed girl stands before a shrine. Hero asks her a bit bluntly where Luka the Sage is. Jema calls him out for his bluntness.
The Hero's a bit surprised that the girl is the sage Luka...
Oh my god, Hero...*smh*
I talk to Jema, who warns Luka about the monsters invading Hero's village...
Luka's aware of the situation, as the watery waves communicated the news to her.
Luka: "Mana's power is growing weak. That's why this boy was able to take the Sword. When he did, the balance of Mana in this area shifted and monsters revived."
Oh my god...so it was only a matter of time before the Sword of Mana's power would die out completely. So that means that the monsters would have eventually returned, even if the Sword wasn't pulled out by Hero...
Luka: "There are evil monsters working to steal away the power of the Mana Sword! By defeating those evil monsters, you can restore the Sword's Mana power. The power is kept in orbs. Looks like it regained some power from the Mantis Ant. There must be more hidden orbs which hold Mana power for the Sword. And you must find someone who can forge the sword to release its stored power."
So basically, we're in a Zelda-esque quest to collect important items, the orbs in this case, I think...
I have Hero speak to Luka again, who warns Jema about the Empire wanting to get the Mana Fortress.
Hero thinks that the Mana Fortress is from a "fairy tale."
Jema says the same thing I'm thinking: that's no fairy tale, and Jema mentions the Empire wanting their hands on the Fortress, probably for a long time.
The seals to unlock said Fortress are kept in Mana Seeds.
Luka even mentions people are now "snooping around [the Water] Palace" to break the seal here. Oh dear...
Jema mentions something strange in the Kingdom of Pandora as well, suspecting the Empire.
Luka tells the knight to go see the king there and warn him about the Empire's dealings.
Jema gives us our next task...
Where is Gaia's Navel, though?
Jema mentions the inhabitants there, the dwarves, have a know-how on weapons in general, and tells us to ask them where and whom we could ask to restore the Sword to its former glory.
Jema also explains the basic workings of the Sword of Mana as well.
With that, Jema heads for the Kingdom of Pandora.
I have Hero talk to Luka one last time...
She asks Hero an interesting question:
I take awhile before answering.
I answer with "The Sword" first. She mentions that it used the last of its power to call Hero into pulling it out.
More decisions. I ask "Why Me?"
Luka doesn't know.
More decisions again. I have Hero ask what our next move is.
Luka tells us to "become a hero worthy of the sword!"
Another set of decisions. I have Hero accept the role.
Luka then tells us to hold the sword up to the Mana Seed.
Hero does so. Now what's happening?
Luka: "For a moment...the seed and the Sword became one! You have sealed the Mana Seed with your sword! Now the Mana power from the seed will be sent to you and your sword! You'll be able to gain power from the Mana seed wherever you are!"
She mentions there are 8 palaces in the world, with the Water Palace being one of them, I think. The game does feel a bit similar to Zelda.
As a gift, Luka gives Hero a Spear! Like the Sword, the Spear will grow in power alongside the Hero!
There's also more weapons like this one too, huh?
Luka heals him, where Hero pulls one of the funniest reactions to being healed ever.
I save here.
Luka tells me to go to Gaia's Navel and find the Underground Palace. But, where is Gaia's Navel?
So we have to follow to where Jema went, huh?
I check the Mana Seed at the dais again. The room glows blue and brilliant.
Out of curiosity, I head downstairs to the right of the seed's dais. The hall and its chambers there are empty...I'm guessing that these are Luka's chambers...
I have so many questions so far at this point now:
Why would Major Dyluck want to go into a witch's castle for?
Why is there a cave behind a waterfall near the Water Palace?
Could that be Luka's secret hideout or something?
Is the King of Pandora already secretly allies with the Empire?
Or, is Jema working for the Empire as a spy?
Or maybe he has some other motives?
Why would the Empire want to have their hands on the Mana Fortress for? Is it for the usual goal: Conquest of the entire world?