- Assuming you didn’t catch it in the last article, head to the meteorite north of Walse. You can use a warp panel inside to jump to a new section of the world. Your Wind Drake doesn’t come with, so you’ll have to walk to your next destination, to the west. This will give you some time to build up the next jobs you gained in the Tower of Walse.
- Karnak is another town / Castle split, though Castle Karnak is currently denied to you. There aren’t any items to pick up, but you’ll find another piano to play in the Pub. Fires in a few places will stop you from moving around too much.
- There are a number of stores in Karnak, as per usual, and they seem normal - but there’s a trick to this place. Once you’ve purchased anything from the weapon or armour stores and leave the menu you’ll be arrested and taken to Karnak Castle. Everything is currently at a reduced price, so pick something expensive - armour, more than likely - and buy that.
- You’ll wind up in a jail cell next to some old dude. Wait a few moments and he’ll blow a hole in the wall beside your cells. Speak to him - he’s the Cid! - and you’ll eventually escape from prison. Leave through the northeast.
- Make your way out of the Castle. You’ll see a lot of treasure chests along the way, and you can’t get at any of them right now. Blah. Try to remember where they are, as you’ll be able to access them later - but you’ll be subjected to a time limit. We’ll come back to this.
- Leave the Castle. You can now return to Karnak and buy items to your heart’s content, though they’re back at normal prices again. The magic shop is particularly nice, as it adds second-level spells to your arsenal, just as the first-level spells were getting a bit weak. Blizzara at the very least will help in the next area, located just south of Karnak Castle.
- Despite how it looks on the outside, this place is a dungeon. Most of the enemies down here are weak to ice attacks, so Black Mages, Red Mages, Mystic Knights, and the Shiva summon will be quite useful down here.
- Bulkhead 1. Straight north of the entrance is a small side room containing a Mythril Glove. Go up the stairs to your left and the path will split. Go up the second set of stairs further west and, at the end of the subsequent path, you’ll find an Elixir. Backtrack to the Bulkhead and head north; there’s a Cottage down the stairs in the northwest and an exit in the northeast. Use the elevator in this next room.
- Bulkhead 2. To your immediate right is a Phoenix Down. To the left is another elevator leading to a room filled with vents. Climb into the vent on your left and follow the path through here until you reach a room with multiple exits, three to the north and four to the south. These constitute the rest of the dungeon, for the most part. You’ll find the following by using these exits:
- The top-left, if you forget, leads back the way you came.
- The top-middle takes you to a circuitous route (head right) that eventually leads to a Green Beret.
- The top-right leads to a dead end. Other routes will bring you back this way.
- The first from the left along the bottom takes you back to the beginning of this little maze, more or less.
- The second from the left drops you near a small room and a set of stairs. Go up the stairs and you’ll find a narrow corridor; hit the switch on your left to open a door to the north leading to a Moonring Blade. Backtrack and enter the door on the left; it leads to the dead end from before. The door on your left will take you to a save point, and, beyond, one final puzzle. (Probably best to do this route last, for efficiency’s sake.)
- The third from the left will drop you beside a chest containing Thief’s Gloves, which make theft much easier for your Thieves. Head north and you’ll have to backtrack to the junction point a ways.
- The last on the right drops you into the same area where you found the Green Beret. Don’t bother.
- Go through the save room corridor and you’ll find a collection of moveable platforms. You need to hit the switches in this room in the proper order to advance. Do so in this order:
- Head north and hit the switch
- Move left and hit the switch
- Move south, and hit the far-west switch
- Move all the way east and hit both of the switches
- Get on the square platform to your left and hit the switch connected to it
This will take you to the northeast side of the room. Assuming you followed these instructions properly, you can also grab an Elixir from the chest in the north. If you want to leave, step onto the small platform in the south and hit the switch attached to it to return to the beginning. Otherwise, go through the door in the northeast. The boss is in the next room, and it’s a doozy if you haven’t been levelling.
This is a brutal stop point for novice speedrunners. Liquid Flame is a constantly-transforming enemy, and it deals powerful fire-based attacks against its foes, both normally and in retaliation to your strikes, whether they’re physical or magical. When in its humanoid form, Liquid Flame will attack with Fira, and will counter attacks with the all-hitting Blaze before swapping forms. In its hand form Liquid Flame will do more of the same, though rather than using Blaze it will counter with Magnet, which can paralyze a character. In its tornado form Liquid Flame becomes more evasive, and will usually use Fira to heal itself.
The key here is to use your absolute strongest ice-based attacks - Blizzara and Shiva, primarily, though breaking Ice Rods works wonders as well - to smash Liquid Flame before it can dish out too much damage. So long as you have at least one character with an ice-based attack who can strike consistently, Liquid Flame shouldn’t be able to heal itself quickly enough to survive. Alternatively, you can just wait until it runs out of MP, at which point Liquid Flame is pretty much helpless. Then beat it into submission. Regardless of how you win, you’ll get a Flame Scroll for besting Liquid Flame.
- A cut scene follows, and, yes, the Fire Crystal bursts. You’ll then get blasted back into Karnak Castle, and the chase begins.
At this point you have ten minutes to grab as many items as you can from Karnak Castle and escape before the whole thing explodes. You can skip right to the exit if you wish - the items aren’t that amazing, and every second you have to escape is helpful, since there’s a quasi-boss at the end - but it can’t hurt to grab a few things along the way. You’ll run into enemies along the route; having someone cast -ra level spells on them all to clear the path is a good way to wipe them out quickly, as well as earn yourself a lot of gil, experience, and ABP in the process.
- On B4 (the prison) there’s 2,000 gil in the bottom-left chest and a monster battle in the top-right chest that will win you an Elixir.
- On B3 there’s a monster battle in the western chest that will earn you a Ribbon and another monster battle in the eastern chest that will earn you a Shuriken. The Ribbon is worth it; the Shuriken isn’t, really, as the battle against the Gigas can take a while.
- 1F is the lobby, and you can exit from here if you want, but you’ll miss a lot. Several doors here lead to the second floor; we’ll start in the east. The top-left door leads to 2,000 gil (the chest nearer the entrance) and a monster battle that will net you an Elixir. Head south of these two chests to find another monster battle chest, this containing another Elixir, and a doorway leading to the western half of the second floor; head up the stairs near the aforementioned entrance chests and you’ll find a winding path to a chest containing an Elven Mantle.
- Now for the west side. There are two chests near the stairs from the first floor; the right contains 2,000 gil, the left contains a monster attack and an Elixir. The two chests in the south from the entrance stairs, near the connecting balcony, both contain monster attacks, as well as Elixirs. Go up the stairs in the northeast corner to find another lengthy path along the outer walls which eventually leads to, yes, a monster battle, as well as a Main Gauche.
- Head back to the lobby. There are two final chests, to the right and left of the entrance. The one on the right contains a Lightning Scroll; the one on the left teaches you the Esuna spell. Both also lead to battles. Run out through the entrance of the castle and it’s boss time.
This starts out as just another random battle with a Sergeant and three Cur Nakks, though if you defeat the Cur Nakks the Sergeant will transform into Iron Claw on the next turn. Iron Claw is not very strong, and is difficult only because he’s blocking your way while time is running out. He’s durable against physical attacks, so use strong magic and summons to rip through him in a timely fashion. If you have enough time to dawdle you can also learn the Death Claw Blue Magic attack from Iron Claw, though this obviously requires a Blue Mage in your party. Iron Claw will not appear if you kill the Sergeant before wiping out the Cur Nakks, so if you want a slightly shorter battle go that route instead.
Beat Iron Claw and you’ll escape from Karnak Castle as it falls apart. This will grant you access to the crystal shards you missed earlier: Beastmaster, Geomancer, and Ninja. The wall to the west of the Castle is now destroyed, as well, allowing you to access more of the continent.
(Before you leave, check out Karnak. You can now climb onto the walls and get at a Flame Rod, contained in a barrel.)