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Part Twenty-Eight: Bottomless Pit - Lower Stratum, Lair of Shadows

Main Walkthrough

This article is far from done. Just saying. I'm going to come back to it during a New Game +, which may take a little while. Please be patient!


The easiest way to find Shifting Sands is to head to Seaside Ruins. On the left side of the entrance is a dead end stretch of path; walk to the end of it to unlock the desert. You can also find NPCs in other, later maps that can point the way to Shifting Sands, assuming you’ve sold the maps for those areas. I found the map for Shifting Sands in Great Crag by talking to an NPC to the northwest of the entrance, for example. I found another talking about it in Bogsaur Swamp, even after I’d found the map, as well.

Shifting Sands - Desert Entrance

- The first thing to note about this area is your utter inability to chart the place. You’re never going to get a map, so hopefully you can navigate without. Shrug? You’ll also wind up facing a new bunch of baddies when you arrive:
  • Fey Wyverns. Though not especially difficult on their own, Fey Wyverns are painful because they tend to appear in large groups. AOE attacks are recommended when hitting one of these mobs. Unless you’re really confident in your speed, make sure somebody defends!
  • Poison Wyverns. Though Fey Wyverns were annoying? Their rarer counterparts hit twice a turn and can poison your characters, alongside hitting as hard as their Fey brethren. They also tend to appear with large groups of Fey Wyverns, so, uh, have fun? AOE attacks are highly recommended.
  • Dragonkin Guards. You know all those Lizardmen you’ve fought before? Yep. Not much different. They like to stun your characters more often than other Lizardmen, which can get rather annoying.
  • Sunbrushed Whelps. They're so similar to Flame Whelps that you might not even notice the difference - at least not until they keep using breath attacks over and over to batter your team. Steal away fire elementals to negate some of their power.
- Much of this area consists of open terrain and enemies, and there’s not a whole lot to see. Head northeast from the entrance and you can find an oasis; on the right side of it you may find a Chest. Otherwise, all you can really find here is the exit in the north.

Shifting Sands - In the Desert…

- From this point the Desert opens up substantially, and there are exits on every side of the map. Every map is also now named ‘In the Desert…’, meaning you can’t use map names to navigate, and if you keep travelling in the same direction for long enough you’ll start to loop between maps. Oh, and there are also sink holes, and if you stray into one you’ll probably wind up on a different map, and completely lost. Also, because that isn’t enough, you’ll see hallucinations here and there - and looking at some of them will zip you to other areas entirely, and out of the desert. Have fun!

- Which area you’ll hit each time changes, as Shifting Sands is pretty damned random. Expect to find three different screens with the following:
  • An area with an oasis in the middle and an ancient device to one side. Activate it to turn the water to ice. Cross to the middle of the oasis to find a singing stone. Its Whispering Shard contains the Phoenix’s Grace charm. There’s another ancient device on the right side of this oasis that brings fire elementals into the area, if you feel like activating it.
  • A flat, largely featureless area with a large rock in the middle. There’s an ancient device of air in the southeast, and lots of holes.
  • Another flat, largely featureless area - though this one has two ancient devices, one in the east, one in the west. The western one brings air elementals, and activating it will uncover a singing stone in the southwest corner of the map. The Whispering Shard it drops teaches the Berserker Rage charm.
  • You’ll also occasionally get shunted back to the Desert Entrance. 
Desert Hollow

While exploring, as noted above, you’ll occasionally come across hallucinations. Interacting with some of these will have no effect, while others will shunt you to maps you’ve already visited, such as Forest Ruins, Ship Graveyard, Bottomless Pit, and so forth. Every now and then, though, you’ll come across one of three hallucinations that lead to other places. These are the Desert Hollow locations, and they represent the primary draw for coming here.

Despite their proximity to Shifting Sands, the enemies of Desert Hollow are significantly harder, some of the hardest in the game. I don't recommend messing around in the Oases of this area until you're at end game levels of power, with most - if not all - charms under your belt. (That said, this is a good place to grind - but Quick Save often.)

One other thing to note. Desert Hollow is technically its own map, so if you run from a battle you’ll reappear at the beginning of Desert Hollow. If you leave altogether, though, you’ll have to go looking for Desert Hollow again, as it doesn’t appear independent of Shifting Sands.

(Can’t find these mirages? I found hopping into sinkholes to be the best way to make them appear. That said, making them show up still appears to be random, so you just need to keep exploring until you find one.)

Desert Hollow - Secret Oasis

- This area appears as a hallucination with a rainbow in one corner of a grassy glade. The enemies here change from other parts of Shifting Sands:
  • Lamia Spearmaidens. These dudes are similar to other Stickbugs, but they will use fire charms if given the chance. Steal fire elementals away from them at your first opportunity to avoid being Infernoed to death.
  • Lamia Gypsies. You'll probably run into these things against the Lamia Queen, noted below. They're near identical to their Spearmaiden kin, though they have more health and can confuse you with Gaze. Gaze alone is annoying enough to make them viable first targets.
  • Timber Trolls. Hefty hulks with physical skills. Not much you can do against ‘em besides defend and wipe them out with your best attacks.
  • Dragonkin Fiends. Though largely identical to Dragonkin Guards, Fiends are a bit stronger - and they have a fire attack that can slag a single character rather quickly. Steal fire elementals away from them to deaden this attack.
  • Avalanche Trolls. Basically upgraded versions of Timber Trolls, but they have an extra AOE attack called Earthquake that can demolish your team. 
- The area’s large, but there’s not a lot to see. Move around the oasis to the north or the south. You’ll probably find lots of Sparkles on your way to the west side of the water, where you’ll find a stretch of land leading towards the middle of the water. Be careful approaching it, as a huuuuuge enemy will appear, one that's way too easy to blunder into. Boss!

Lamia Queen

The Lamia Queen on its own is not that big a deal, as she's an upgraded Lamia Fill-in-the-Blank enemy who can use two attacks, including the annoying Gaze attack, which confuses one character. What's more difficult is the horde of meanies accompanying her. You should take immediate efforts to steal elements, throw up a Shield, defend your characters, and then wipe out the opposition with AOE attacks. Ideally you'll have two characters you can kill at least a few members of the opposition during the first round. Once you've slaughtered a few, the rest aren't that big a deal, mainly because the lot of them seem to like spamming fire charms until you die horribly. Prevent that from happening - and deaden the effects of physical attacks by abusing air elemental Contracts - and the fight's a breeze.

Defeating the Lamia Queen will open up a path to a singing stone. This one gives you the Whispering Shard of... uh... something? (Does anybody know? I'm really tired of the game doing this to me.)

Desert Hollow - Kitty Clan’s Grove

This mirage appears as a large tree in the middle of a grassy clearing. There’s… nothing here, really, besides a clan of those cat things.

(Full disclosure: This area’s freaking hard. I’m going to come back after I’ve started a New Game + and try it again, as it sounds much easier to get the kind of gear you need to survive during a New Game +.)