|Final Fantasy IX owned by Square Enix.|
Images used for educational purposes only.
- After visiting the Black Mage Village you'll be directed to Kuja's headquarters, which is hidden on the east side of the northeastern continent. Sail that way and you'll find four churning sand pits; attempting to enter any but the northeastern pit (the one without occasional cloud puffs) will get you into battles with Antlions.
- Entering the northeastern pit will trigger several cut scenes where you need to speak to Kuja in his inner sanctum. Holding Zidane's friends captive, Kuja will force you on an errand to a place called Oeilvert, on a continent you've thus far avoided completely. You need to choose a team for Zidane to take along, though just as important are the people you decide to leave behind, as they have a dungeon to complete as well:
- Zidane should take predominately fighters along with him to Oeilvert, as it is covered in an anti-magic barrier that prevents you from using any types of magic. Freya and Amarant are obvious choices, and to a lesser extent so is Steiner. Eiko is a wise choice, as well, as she'll give you magic up until you reach Oeilvert, and can thereafter remain the healer by using Hi-Potions and Phoenix Downs as needed. Quina can go with, given his/her melee skills, though s/he's perhaps not the best choice since Blue Magic is also disabled.
- The band you leave behind should include Dagger, as she's rather useless at this point in the game and relies on magic anyway. Vivi, too, should stay behind, though he's much more useful than Dagger right now, and Quina can provide some melee support you might otherwise be lacking, as well as Blue Magic. Eiko is a good dedicated healer if you don't think you'll need her in Oeilvert. Steiner isn't a terrible choice to leave behind, as he can wield Sword Magic alongside Vivi to great effect in the dungeon to come.
You do not get to change your selections after the fact, so make sure you choose wisely from the start.
- Once you've chosen your party you'll have to head aboard Kuja's airship and head to Oeilvert. This seems trivial, but the walk to the airship can be really annoying thanks to the Grimlock creatures in the area. They hit exceedingly hard. Depending on your team you may want to use Zidane's Flee Ability to simply escape battle and preserve your resources.
- After landing on the western continent you can make purchases at the airship, which, given that you won't be able to use magic, is a wise choice. You can head north of the landing spot to find a Qu's Marsh (only useful if you have Quina, of course), and if you go all the way north you can find Chocobo tracks that will allow you to happily skip the walking portion of the world map, assuming you can summon Choco. (You can even check out a mystery location in the north if you have a red Choco, though you can't enter right now.) Regardless, your ultimate destination is in the far south.
- There's a Moogle standing outside Oeilvert named Mimoza who will give you a letter for Mooel. Mimoza is stocked down with a lot of new equipment you'll want to snatch up for both teams. You can still use magic just outside Oeilvert, near Mimoza, making this a good place to farm gil if you need money for shopping.
- Head north and into the bizarre structure. The first thing to note about this place are the local Epitaph enemies. These weird statues will create doppelgangers of your party members, and you have roughly one turn to kill the doppelganger before the matching character dies. Hold at least one or two characters back to demolish the doppelganger before this happens to avoid wasting a lot of Phoenix Downs. Man Eater is a good Ability for getting this done. On the plus side, Epitaphs are worth a lot of experience.
- Oeilvert's initial room splits in several directions. Start by checking under the platform straight ahead for a Remedy, and up the stairs beside the chest for a Rising Sun. Go left of this second chest to find a small room with a red orb you can turn blue and a chest containing an Elixir.
- Return to the entry hall and go through the left door on the ground floor. Beyond you'll find a circular room with chests containing a Diamond Sword and Shield Armor, as well as a hologram that provides some hints about a particular character. There are two doors in the northwest and in the south; head south.
- There's a Power Vest in a chest in the next room, and in the north some Feather Boots. There are also four yellow lights set into the ground, and you can activate them by starting with the top-left right and working your way down. Once all four are activated, go through the top-left door. Beyond is a long bridge, and in the middle you'll find a sphere that will glow and activate if you triggered the four yellow lights.
- Continue left across the bridge and you'll arrive back in the room with the two doors in the north. The blue door on your left will be unlocked; walk inside. A weird, weird cut scene follows.
- Return to the main hallway and head east from the entrance. Inside is a spacious room occupied by two Moogles, Mooel (for whom you have a letter) and Stiltzkin, who has a Hi-Potion, an Emerald, and an Elixir for sale for 888 gil. There's Gaia Gear in a chest on the right side of the room, and on your way over to it another hologram will activate.
- Go through the far eastern door. If you've activated everything else in Oeilvert the lift in here will carry you down to a lower level, and you'll face down the boss of the place.
Ark is a weird opponent, even beyond the fact that you're apparently fighting some kind of airship. Ark's attacks either don't hit that hard or reduce one character to a single HP, which, though annoying, isn't too difficult to offset. The primary problem here is Propellor Wind, which will inflict confusion status on your whole party. This can absolutely devastate your team if your luck is bad.
Equip the Clear Headed Ability on everyone you can to negate confusion, then batter Ark with physical attacks while healing periodically. So long as confusion isn't a factor the fight won't be terribly difficult, particularly if your melee fighters have the Bird Killer Ability equipped. Apparently Ark is some kind of weird bird.
Zidane can Steal an Elixir, a Power Vest, and a Holy Lance from Ark. The Holy Lance is much more powerful than what you probably have for Freya right now, so I highly recommend taking the time to grab it. You'll win a Pumice Piece from Ark for defeating the great machine.
- All done here. Grab the Gulug Stone from its place and the game will immediately jump away from Oeilvert and back to Kuja's hideout, the Desert Palace.
Part Twenty-One: Desert Palace