Tag Archive: Valka Castle


5/11

Valka Castle—I returned to the castle with Oceana to search for the false killer whale with the ‘x’ on his head. Stubbornly, I once again tried to find it in the ballroom, without any luck. Back to Nineball Island to read that clue again: It only says it’s in Valka Castle. I keep thinking that the whale in the ballroom will transform into the one we want, but this doesn’t seem to be the case. There’s another false killer whale in Valka Castle, and we’re going to have to look all over for it.

Fortunately, on our next visit, we find its silhouette circling at the top of the Spiral Tower. It’s a cagey bugger, though—as we approach, it runs off to the Collapsed Gallery. Just when we think we’ve got it cornered, it sprints past us into the castle. 

Jean-Eric tells us it went north, but that could be anywhere. We swim up the hall to rooms near the Treasure Vault, searching from the ceiling to the floorboads, chasing after every large shadow. Then to the Kings’s Chamber, then down the Underwater Gallery all the way east to the compartment behind the ballroom before we double back in confusion.

Confound it, where are you?!

Turns out we went too far north—we passed right by it in the Armory. When we suprise it, it takes off again. And again. And once more. By now I’m getting seasick from all the turning and looking up and down (this is not a good time to have the 1st person view on). I consider calling off the search. Finally, we chase it into the ballroom, where Jean-Eric tells me I’ve got to tase it. The problem is now there are two false killer whales—which one do we zap? It’s that classic conundrum from countless sci fi episodes.

"Shoot him, he's the imposter!" "No---shoot him!"

I decide to hedge my bets and zap them both. This calms down the smaller of the two whales, which bows to reveal the ‘x’ mark on his head. I name him Felix, because he’s black and he’s full of tricks. We dance a long pas de deaux in the ballroom, very special.

Felix

Back at Nineball Island, we learn through Finley that, because the FKWs disrupted the local fishing grounds, they were hunted nearly to extinction. Felix narrowly escaped from a seine net—that must be what left the mark on his head. Another reason to call him Felix: He’s lucky to be alive. After Finley confirms he’s in good condition, he sits down to tell me something. I must fulfill his dream, he says. “You must befriend the whales and dolphins of the world!”  Specifically, there are 11 whales and dolphins in all I’m supposed to befriend. I’ve got six so far, five to go. Mr. Finley sir, I’m honored, truly.

However, in all honesty, the only one I’m interested in is the Amazon River dolphin, who I’m hoping can help me break through that roadblock on the Cortica River. Of course, Finely doesn’t know this. He exits the stage, confident he’s just passed the trident to the next King of the Seven Seas.

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Raffi

5/9

Nineball Island—I’m beginning to feel a little sorry for Finley. Sure, it was fine when I was making fun of him, but now everybody’s in on the act. As I was talking to Hayako this morning, she leaned forward conspiratorially and said, “Do you think Finley is…” What? Gay? Cute? Presbyterian? But before she could finish, he showed up. When he sat down with us to talk with us about Raffi, Oceana said, right to his face, “I don’t like you, but…” But how do you really feel? I’ve heard Jean-Eric grumble about him, and I’m sure GG if he cared would have something to say. If we held a seance with Matthias and Finley’s name came up, his spirit would groan, “Oh, not THAT guy!”

Nobody gives him any respect. Respect he’s probably due.

Sure, he lacks in social skills what he doesn’t lack in self-confidence, and he needs to clean the crumbs out of his three-day growth of beard, but maybe he’s just one of those dudes who gets along better with animals than he does with people. I know some people like that myself, and in real life they don’t do cool things like give you tips about where you can find  dolphin friends—lucretive ones, at that. You got to give him his due—he blazed a path in EO  long before we even preordered Blue World, and he’s got his imprint on odontoceti in every region of the game. It’s Finley’s world, we just play in it.

So no more teasing Finley—he’s…tolerable in small doses in my book.

Anyway, Finley was here to tell us about a false killer whale in Valka Castle.  We’d know him by an ‘x’-shaped mark on his head. There’s already a f.k.w in the Castle, in the Mermaid’s Ballroom, but I never noticed the mark before. After he left, I picked up a tour out to the castle, hoping to find and befriend it. “Chloe”, alias for a certain avant-garde pop diva seeking to escape the pressures of fame (and get costume ideas) wants to see a sea robin. Nothing simpler—you trip right over them as you enter the castle.

We wind our way to the Mermaid’s Ballroom, but by now I should know that you can’t complete a quest while you’ve got a client in tow—the ‘x’ on the whale’s melon won’t show, and we have to content ourselves with feeding and pulsing fish and treasure diving. Chloe went “gaga” over the glowing sea slugs (look for her to be wearing one on her face soon), and we stuffed the bag with loot. We also discovered a mauve stinger and the weirdly poised largehead hairnail, an eel that floats vertically with its head pointed to the chandeliers. I made sure I showed her the window where Thanatos cruises by, eyeing us hungrily.

I'll be luuurking...for youuu...

Back at Nineball Island, “Chloe” paid me 5308 P for a 1500-P tour. She has to shock people, even when she’s on vacation. The salvage tally was also massive. I’d read on one of the message boards that you could pull up 25,000 pelagos on each visit to Valka Castle. That didn’t sound right to me, but sure enough I made over 20,000 with only 15 items in my bag. With GG I would have easily cleared 25 grand.   

4/19

Ciceros Strait—Two tours take us back to Ciceros Strait once again.

Ebiike was stuck in rush-hour traffic one day when he looked up and saw a city bus, and on the side of this bus, he saw a silk screened image of an Indo-Pacific Sailfish, probably advertising a new action film. Something about the savage grace of the creature awakened within him a desire to transcend the bonds of his dull, colorless life, to seek out adventure and discovery, to meet that noble beast on its own terms, reach out and grasp the source of its power. So he rolled down his window, thrust out his head, and cried to his chauffeur. “I say, James—to the airport—immediately!”

Meanwhile, in Madison, Wisconsin, a young student named Jeanne is playing another round of quarters at the local pub. It’s 1:30 AM and she’s losing—her quarters, her judgement, the buffalo wings she consumed for dinner. Her bleary eyes settle on the t-shirt her opponent is wearing—a clown wrasse that appears to be shouting, “I CLOWNED AROUND IN CANCUN! PIKES SPRING BREAK 2009”. It’s so damn funny she’s got to leave the table right away. In a moment of clarity as she’s hovering over the toilet, she thinks, “I gotta get out of this place…need to see something else in this world…get back to nature…”

And so they both arrived at Nineball Island today. I took Ebiike out first, returning to the North Canyon area after my fruitless quest for the mysterious sea shadow. I like this place—it’s teaming with large fish and tall basaltic columns that are fun to climb down and swim between. The only sharks onhand are the relatively placid pelagic threshers, which eat right out of my hand. The sailfish are a little more problematic—they’re fast and greedy and take they food away from deserving mackerals and sardines. We swim west to the wreck of the Pride of Athens. I’m trying something new tonight, diving in the first person view rather than the third. At first I thought this would be disorienting, but it’s not, it’s liberating. I’m not in my own way anymore, my motions seem more natural—it’s a more immersive experience. Funny how, even 84 hours into this game, I’m still discovering new things. It makes me realize, caught up in these searches, how little real exploring I’ve done. I’m so grooved-out on swimming (or maybe it’s nitrous oxide in my air tank) that I spend over an hour feeding fish, taking pictures, petting octopi. Then the cloud evaporates and I gotta wrap this up to usher in the next client.

Ebiike, Ciceros Strait

I take Jeanne to Valka Castle, first ascending the Spiral Tower all the way to the surface and look down on the bonnethead sharks circling below us. Then, after a detour into the Collapsed Gallery (always a waste of time), we enter the castle proper, with stops in the Armory and Treasure Vault, where a curious longtooth grouper inspects us.  I discover a coin and a new species—the sunset anthias, another of the many female-to-male transgender fish found here (Ciceros Strait is where nature gets her freak on). I’m in such a benevolent mood that I even feed the lionfish—I’ve always avoided their spines before. We find the clown wrasses she’s here to see in the Underwater Gallery, and before we leave, visit the Mermaid’s Ballroom.

Clown wrasse, Valka Castle

Ebiike was reservedly impressed by the tour (3,622 P), while Jeanne is gushing about how great everything was (3,924 P). They could’ve paid me in shin-kicks and I still would’ve been smiling.

And so, as the sun sets on Nineball Island, we leave our two tourists to return to their daily lives: Ebiike, newly refreshed to pursue that leveraged buyout; Jeanne, inspired to once again switch her major, this time to Marine Biology.

The Ghost of Valka Castle

4/14

Valka Castle, midnight—It happened: we saw the Valka Castle ghost.  It started innocently enough—I was on a routine salvage request when I slipped up and took Oceana with me as my dive partner instead of GG. The map clue was obvious and we found the treasure almost immediately off the wreck of the Blood Lotus. With plenty of time on our hands, I suggested we go raid Valka Castle once more. Without GG, my salvage bag only carries 15 items, so I’ll have to be more discriminating, but I wanted to try a technique I’d heard about for screening out less valuable loot. Forget books and anything that doesn’t light up any of the symbols on the mutlisensor—they’re only plastic junk. Mysterious chests that are wood only are empty—go for things that are made of composite materials, wait for a lightning flash, etc.

Entering the Spiral Tower of the castle, the screen fades into a cutscene. “Y’know, I heard this place was haunted,” Oceana says. This is it—we’re finally going to meet the ghost!

I swear those eyes are following me...

As we pass through each doorway, the screen goes dark and a familiar dialog round fires up: “You go first.” “No, I insist—you first.” “Why, are you scared?” “I’m not scared, are you scared?” It’s like Abbott and Costello. Valka Castle at night is creepy enough. When you expect a ghost around any corner, it’s unbearable. The dark windows, the rotting shelves, tattered curtains, the mouldy paintings, even the gleam of small fish on the floor is eerie.

When the ghost appears, it’s a disappointment, inevitably. But it sure was fun to pretend that we were going to be scared by it. ‘Cause I was never really scared, you know. No way, not me.

Gaaaaaaaah!!

Well, now that the ghost is exposed, we can continue with our treasure hunting. My tactic of being picky  turns out to be a good one—we hauled up a ton of valuable loot, including a treasure chest worth 12,000. Our tally now comes to over 500,000 P. Halfway there!

3/20

Back to Valka Castle again to fulfill a treasure request from a bizarrely-coifed fella named Franklin Fischer (Gaston Gray, Franklin Fischer—apparently Stan Lee gets to name all the treasure seekers). This time I’ve got my real-life 6-year-old son along to prod me if I fall asleep again. Finding it, we receive payment and an item called the “monster.” Think how cool I’ll look strutting around Nineball Island with pet monster on a leash!

Afterwards we return with Matilde to see how the sea turtle eggs are coming along. But there’s a snag: the last time we were in the turtle spawning grounds, Matlide put her photo equipment on the sea bed without telling us. When we ask her why, she gives a lame excuse about wanting to have it where she needed it. This is like throwing your wallet into the Humboldt Current because you don’t trust the banks, but whatever it takes, lady. We search around for Matilde’s camera, and of course the sharks turn up to help—and I promised my son there would be no sharks! As if that wasn’t enough, Matilde next confesses that she kept her batteries and lenses in another bag, and there’re sharks sitting on these too. I almost call off the mission, but my son finds the equipment easily enough and we go ashore to watch a cutscene about turtles running the gauntlet to the sea. I helpfully point out to my son that when he was born, the maternity ward was full of hungry tigers and he had to crawl past them on his hands and knees to the elevator before we took him home. He doesn’t buy it, nor is he amused.

Back at Nineball, this time it’s we who get to dole out the lectures: we scold a thoroughly humiliated Matilde about leaving plastic bags on the ocean floor where nearsighted turtles could mistake them for delicious jellyfish. She gives us 13,000 P in hush-money and  something called a “flat tank” before jet-skiing off with her tail between her legs.

The “flat tank” turns out to be a turtle-shell-shaped tank, and as for the ‘monster’, it’s a ridiculous-looking scaly green wetsuit complete with horns! My son makes me put on the costume and swim around the private reef, much to his amusement.

We round out the day running Pha through his training paces.