|Final Fantasy IX owned by Square Enix.|
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- Once you finish with Cleyra and the Red Rose the game jumps to Steiner and Marcus, who are trapped in a cage. You need to help them get out. Marcus will start swinging the cage with his weight, and you need to help him by tapping in the same direction. Tap continuously in the proper direction, shifting as the cage swings the opposite way, and eventually it will crash and free the pair.
- Head west. You'll be hit by a never-ending string of Soldiers, and if you set your game up properly Steiner and Marcus can automatically level themselves up here for as long as you wish. Otherwise, head for the far-west ladder. Once you reach the top and leave the dungeon Marcus will take off, and Zidane, Vivi, and Freya will arrive to replace him.
- You're now free of the dungeon and able to run around Alexandria Castle as much as you like - though you're also facing a thirty minute timer. In that short span you need to track down and rescue Dagger. Battling or avoiding Soldiers along the way, take the following path:
- Head west from the dungeon exit
- Go north at the fountain and into the Castle
- Climb to the second floor inside the foyer
- Head south on the balcony
- Go up the winding stairs in the next room
- Head through the door in the north at the top of the stairs
- Run straight ahead in the next large room
- Check the candle glowing purple in the bedroom
- Go down the stairs that appear
This is not too difficult to achieve. That said, you can give yourself a bit more trouble if you decide to take on an optional boss. It's in the library, on the left side of the Castle's main foyer, sitting atop a book shelf in the south of the library. Yep, it's a book - and at this point in the game it can give you one hell of a fight. I do not recommend fighting this thing right now, but, if you insist...
Looks innocuous, can be deadly. Tantarian is a rather strange boss that spends most of its time cooped up in the pages of an enormous book. While inside Tantarian will use one of three moves: Doom, which triggers a ten-round death countdown for one character; Edge, which hits one character for about 800 points of damage, often an insta-kill; and Paper Storm, which hits the whole party for around that amount. Paper Storm is the big worry, and even though it doesn't come out too often it's often sufficient to kill your team.
Tantarian is additionally tricky in that it has ridiculously high defence, and each time you hit it you will typically only do around 40 points of damage. This will turn Tantarian to that page, and if you're not hitting between pages 150 and 200 Tantarian will not appear. Your damage amounts get added together, so it may take three or four hits before Tantarian appears properly. Once it does you have a few relatively-unmolested rounds (Tantarian uses Poison, which is no big deal) with which to inflict as much damage as possible before Tantarian disappears into the book again. With over 22,000 HP, this makes Tantarian a difficult kill, especially with a time limit.
The easiest way to handle this battle during this early part of the game is to enter prepared. Assuming Steiner has Minus Strike, which he almost certainly will if you've been upgrading his weapons, make sure he takes somewhere between 150 and 200 points of damage before the fight. Whenever you use Minus Strike Steiner will therefore do just enough damage to make Tantarian appear. Repeat this as quickly as you can whenever Tantarian jumps into the book again. This should give your other characters ample time to mash Tantarian into paste. Note that physical hits will drive Tantarian back into the book, rendering Zidane a little useless when Tantarian is in the open, but magic will not. This includes Steiner's Sword Magic.
You'll get Running Shoes for defeating Tantarian. Zidane can Steal an Ether, an Elixir, a Silver Fork, and, very rarely, a Demon Mail from Tantarian. If you're desperate to get the Demon Mail I suggest coming back here later in the game, as you'll get a second chance to face Tantarian, and you'll be stronger when you do.
- Whether you fight Tantarian or not you'll find a deep downward tunnel with moving platforms. You can find an Ice Brand and a Tent if you hop on the first rotating platform, then wait and hop on the second one. After that it's a straight descent to the bottommost areas of Alexandria Castle. Go through the northern door when you reach a circular platform to find bosses waiting.
Zorn and Thorn
At last, you get a piece of these clowns. Zorn and Thorn are fairly disappointing enemies at this point, and though they're capable of some powerful twin attacks you can dissipate their magic pretty easily. Each turn one of the twins will bestow the other with a powerful spell, and on the next turn the 'charged' twin will cast that magic on you. Painful, yes, but all you have to do is smack the 'charged' twin to dissipate the magic. Easy. Beyond that you just need to reduce the health of either Zorn or Thorn to zero to win the battle. If you're running out of time, focus your attacks on Thorn, the red one, since he has less health.
Zidane can Steal a Partisan and a Stardust Rod from Zorn and a Mythril Armor and Mythril Armlet from Thorn.
- Rush to Garnet in the north to end the timer, then, after Zidane has picked her up, make your way back through the castle, saving at the Moogle Mosh along the way. (He has a letter, if you're interested, though nothing to deliver.) Back in the bedroom you'll hit a cut scene, aaaaand...
Heeeeeey, this again. Yep, Beatrix is pretty much the same as ever, and, per usual, she can insta-kill your characters with Shock. The primary difference with this battle is the fact that you can almost certainly deplete Beatrix's health faster than her ten rounds will run out, so focusing on the offensive is wise. This is particularly true if you equipped an Ice Brand on Steiner beforehand.
Zidane can Steal a Phoenix Down, an Ice Brand, and a Survival Vest from Beatrix.
- A cut scene follows after the battle, and you'll gain an interesting new team: Freya... and Beatrix. Beatrix is a powerful fighter with White Magic who can more than handle herself. After one fight you jump to Zidane and company, and as the sequence continues you'll keep jumping from one team to the next, continuously battling Bandersnatches. They're fairly simple enemies you can kill with normal attacks. And after plenty of action...
Hey hey, another repeat battle. Kinda, anyway. Ralvuimago is different from the previous Gargan Roo squirmy monster you fought, focusing a bit more on magic via Thundara and the occasional physical attack. It doesn't like physical attacks, and will roll up into a ball if smacked with a weapon. Hitting Ralvuimago like this will trigger an Earth Power counterattack, harming your whole team and healing Ralvuimago. This can be to your benefit, however, as Zidane can basically stop it from attacking with carefully-timed physical attacks. Barring that, use Vivi's Blizzara for maximized damage. Not a difficult battle overall.
Zidane can Steal a Phoenix Down, an Adaman Vest, and an Oak Staff from Ralvuimago.
- Cut scenes follow. As do bad staff. Smash. Pinnacle Rocks!
Part Thirteen: Pinnacle Rocks