Descending the Depths at 10,000 Feet
Man, I was nervous. I was sitting at by the window of the gate where my airplane would be arriving. I had never been on a plane before and the thought of having no control over my inevitable death was damned intimidating. Yeah, I was going to die. We were going to hit turbulence in the air and just explode. Yeah, just explode for no reason. It didn't make sense, but I knew that was going to happen to me. But for now, all I could do was wait.
Many other patrons joined me by the gate as we waited for our steel coffin. Not the least of which was a gaggle of children, who sat encircled and engaged by their DSes. Being the gamer I am I of course packed my DS into my carry-on and was tempted to turn on Pictochat and see if I could screw with their naïve little minds, but I guess I decided that if I was going to die, it wasn't going to be on charges of pedophilia.
I should have been playing my DS anyway to pass the time, but I was as intimidated to turn it on as I was to board my plane. You see, the game I had loaded in it of course was none other than Etrian Odyssey. It's stupid to fear a game as badly as a flying missile of death that's beyond your control, but Etrian Odyssey had humbled me on numerous occasions. I had made it to the third stratum, to B12, the one infested by ants. On a previous trip to B12, I managed to make it to the boss, the Royalant. Everything was going fine until she summoned an overwhelmingly infinite number of Bloodants to whittle away my HP and make me waste my TP. It was a battle of attrition I lost.
I was a bit fearful to start it up again, for sure. So, to calm my nerves I decided just to do some leveling up. It was a soothing, brainless action that would get my mind off the flight and also give me some advantage in my coming battle. I took my Landsknecht, Dark Hunter, Protector, Medic, and Alchemist and we wandered the cerulean halls of B11 for an hour an a half, until they got to an average level of 35.
I shut my DS off as we were called to board. I was unsure if my party in Etrian Odyssey was given enough time to prepare for their battle, but the butterflies in my stomach told me I wasn't ready for mine. Nonetheless, I challenged myself and picked a window seat next to the left wing of the plane. I had to close my eyes as we took off, but after a few minutes I realized: hey, we didn't die! Not yet, anyway...
We were instructed not to use any electronic devices until we were at our cruising altitude, and my inexperience with flight kept me damn well from doing otherwise. Once the plane achieved this, my nerves settled. It didn't even feel like I was floating in the sky. Taking advantage of the relative peace of the situation, I grabbed my DS out of my carry-on and fired up Etrian Odyssey. If I was brave enough to be on a plane, then that damn Royalant is nothing to fear.
On the way down to her nest on B12, our pilot kindly informed us to stay seat-belted – we were coming up on a large storm front, which would naturally cause a lot of turbulence. Great. Not only was I going to die in Etrian Odyssey (again), I was also going to die in real life, too. I had nowhere to go. I pressed onward to the Royalant's lair.
With every step I took in the dungeon, the turbulence increased in intensity, shaking both the plane and my nerves. The captain assured us we wouldn't be experiencing this hell for long, so I bit down on my lip and sallied forth through random battles, raising my party's BOOST meters to full, until at last I was at the insect's lair.
I entered the room and saw FOEs all around me: a few of those bastard infinite-spawn Bloodants to my right and left; the Royalpainintheass in front. I took two steps forward and engaged the beast. My hands shook along with the plane. And if they were actually living beings, I'm sure my party's resolve would too be in pieces.
I knew what my battle strategy would be. My Landsknecht would use Cleaver, my Dark Hunter his various binding skills; my Protector his formidable Smite; my Medic would keep up Immunize and patch up unavoidable wounds; and my Alchemist would lay Freeze on like gremlins tinkering on the plane. OH GOD I WAS GOING TO DIE.
My Medic led off with an Immunize. I could see my party giving the Royalant the finger, as her attacks were now made minimal. But that wasn't the problem. On my map, I could see the infestation of the Bloodants closing in on me; I would also glance outside the window of the plane and could only see the storm clouds that caused the plane to rattle. This could very well be it, for me and my brave warriors.
My strategy remained steadfast, but sure enough after a few turns the battlefield had turned into an ant farm, with three Bloodants joining their queen. The plane was shaking violently at random, but I was so beyond uneasy about it that it turned into apathy. What was outside was out of my control, but what was in my hands was up to me.
It was time to go all out. I BOOSTed all my main fighters, using what attack all skills were available, like my Alchemist's Cocytus. But then the light began to shine. My Dark Hunter, using Cuffs all this time, managed to bind the Royalant's arms! As the rest of my party fended off the Bloodants, he Shackled the legs and Gagged the arms of that egg-laying bitch until at last, he was able to use Ecstasy – 400 damage I will never forget. The tide had turned.
In a couple more turns, she was felled. Her progeny stopped spawning and my team managed to finish off the ones that remained. Not one member had died, and I didn't even need to use a BOOSTed Immunize (aka, near invincibility)!
I took a deep breath and looked out the window. The sky was beginning to clear. The worst was finally over. It wasn't the end of my journey, in the Yggdrasil Labyrinth or on the plane: I was not quite halfway done the game, and of course I still had the terror of the plane landing to deal with (not to mention the return home!) but I felt more experienced and confident than when I had taken off. After all, what's left to intimidate you when you can defeat super-scary monsters over a mile up in the sky?