This is the Calm Lands, a historic and well-known place on Spira where summoners before Yuna used to fight Sin. Don't worry about what Lulu and Auron say about it being the end of the road and a place easy to get lost in, there's really only one way you can go.
Exploring the Calm Lands
This is the first real part of the game where you can start doing some of the sidequests on offer. The only one you can complete would be the Cavern of the Stolen Fayth one which ends with you having to cough up a considerable amount of money. Unless you did some extreme leveling up earlier, or have bought way more than you needed to, you're likely to have around 170000-190000 Gil). For more details on the Cavern of the Stolen Fayth, check, since it's explained in more detail there.
There are yet more new fiends for your slaughtering pleasure here, and quite a few of them:
- Skolls are the next type of wolf enemy, so use Tidus. They occasionally inflict silence.
- Nebiroses are bees, so hit them with Wakka's ball or a Blizzara/Blizzaga from Lulu.
- Mech Scouters can't be captured, but they're machina, so use Rikku's Steal. Bear in mind that destroying them by attacking them will yield more AP.
- Flame Flans are fire-element flans, so they're resistant to physical attack. Use BlizzardBlizzara/Blizzaga. If you wish to capture them, use the previously mentioned ice-based attacks only to weaken them, then finished them off with a Capture weapon.
- Shreds are armoured moles, so use Auron/Kimahri. Auron's Armor Break is especially effective. It's unlikely that it'll survive a hit from Auron, though.
- Anacondaurs are slightly more rare than others. They have 5800 HP and absorb Thunder, but their main problems are Stone Gaze, which petrifies one person, and their abuse of Sonic Tail, which does 1500 damage to everyone (a powerful attack for a random encounter enemy).
- Chimera Brains are pretty much the same as the Chimeras you fought in Macalania Woods, except they have over 9000 HP and their attacks do more damage. Using Nul spells will help here, and if you have to use magic, stick to thunder and ice (they halve fire and water).
- Coeurls are new. They have about 4000 HP and will mainly use Blizzara and Thundara on you, but they'll occasionally use Blaster, which inflicts petrification, or Drain/Osmose, which are more annoying than anything else. Physical attacks are the best way to go.
- Malboros are one of the easiest enemies in the game…to hate. They have a whopping 27000 HP and their infamous Bad Breath attack causes any random combination of poison, silence, darkness, slow, confusion and berserk. Kimahri can learn this from them with Lancet, but don't try to use it on them since they're immune to pretty much everything. It is highly likely that you will get a slow and painful Game Over if they use one Bad Breath on you as you lose control of your entire party, one way or another. Their only real weakness is their speed which can be further exploited with Tidus' Delay Buster (they're immune to Slow) and Haste on your party, and they take extra damage from fire-based magic. Thankfully this is your garden-variety Malboro, unlike the Great Malboro and Malboro Menace that you will come to hate even more. Either way, if you get ambushed by one of these, it's pretty much game over. Bad Breath destroys your party utterly. Their only other attack is a slime blast which hits one person for about 1000 damage. You can minimize this with Power Break. Also use Bahamut to use Firaga for 5000 damage per shot, and impulse for 3000 damage a shot
- Ogres are the final type of fiend. These take after the Wendigo you fought at Lake Macalania after the incident with Seymour, except they're about half as powerful in every respect and don't have Guado Guardians around to cast things like Protect, Shell and Berserk on them. They do about 800 damage with a normal attack and when it "puts up its dukes" (raises its arms to block) it'll counter every attack on it. They have 9400 HP which isn't hard to deplete.
- Note that Ogres, Chimera Brains and Malboros generally only appear in the northwestern area of the Calm Lands, by the ramp down that's guarded by the man. Anacondaurs and Coeurls may appear elsewhere but are encountered more often towards the northwest.
Head left and you'll meet Maechen on the way. Talk with him to learn about the Calm Lands, and then talk again to learn about why there's a giant gash in the landscape here. Further along as you come down from the raised ledge you'll meet up with a Rin Travel Agency representative riding around on a small tank. The only thing you should consider buying from his is the Saviour Bangle for Lulu, since everything else is overpriced for what it's worth. The Wizard Bracer and Buckler (with Magic Counter) are definitely not worth it, as is the Malleable Staff.
Head on past and towards the fenced area with shack. Along the way, by the random rocks towards the left, you'll find Belgemine again after a long absence.
Defeating Belgemine's Shiva
For some really strange reason Belgemine's Shiva, although weak, seems to have abnormally high Defence and Magic Defense, with Bahamut's physical attack and Firaga doing only about 400 damage. Impulse, too, does about 400 damage. Shiva's overdrive is simply Heavenly Strike which is again very weak, and outside of this she'll use normal attacks (for about 200) and Blizzara (for about 300). Thankfully Mega Flare breaks the deadlock with a handy 8000 damage. Two Mega Flares (which can be aided along with Boost) and a bunch of physical attacks will beat Shiva.
For Belgemine, use Ixion to beat Valefor, Shiva to beat Ifrit, Ifrit to Beat Shiva, Bahamut to beat Ixion, and Valefor to beat Bahamut. Pre-load your Aeon's nuke outside on random mobs. Teach all your Aeons Reflex (it's cheap and really useful) and start out with that, then nuke her. Use your Black Magic to heal yourself on your turns (don't boost). Nuke again and shield on the turns when you're about to get nuked. It's worth the 50,000 to teach your non-elemental Aeons Cure. Rin's vendor on the other side of the Calm Lands sells High Potions.
Now that you've done that you'll get the Aeon's Soul which allows you to raise Aeon's attributes by certain increments by spending the appropriate type of node activating spheres. The tutorial you get after it is pretty easy to follow, but watch that you don't go overboard afterwards and end up having to wait on the Sphere Grid because you spent too many spheres. Shiva is by far more useful at the moment than either Valefor, Ifrit or Ixion and Bahamut is more than capable of defending himself, so spend a few power spheres improving Shiva's strength and HP.
Once you enter the fenced area your party will split up into individuals again and a dude called Father Zuke will appear, who will tell you that Yevon has accused you of murdering Maester Kinoc (when Seymour did it) and that you're "enemies of Yevon". Talk with the scantily-clad lady behind the bench if you want to buy any items (buy 20 Holy Waters — this is an investment for later when you'll have to deal with the Zombie and Curse status effects) and use the Save Sphere to save your game. Talk with everyone then leave the fenced area. Check around the back of it to find a Lvl 2 Key Sphere in a chest.
Now, make the long trek across the enormous Calm Lands to the entrance almost directly east of the fenced area (don't go northeast towards the blinking red arrow yet). Here's the Monster Arena, which will become important towards the end of the game (you're getting pretty close). Talk to the guy and say you'll help him. You have to capture one of every species of fiend in the Calm Lands first, and then you can buy capturing weapons off him afterwards. They're 9,075 apiece which is one of the reasons I told you not to buy some of the other equipment back at the mobile Rin's Travel Agency. Buy Tidus', Wakka's, and Auron's capturing weapons, and the first thing you should do after that is spend one Level 2 Key Sphere to customize Piercing onto Auron's Beastmaster taming weapon. Some of the abilities that you can customize onto the other taming weapons aren't available yet or you don't have enough items to customize it, so don't bother customizing anything else onto them (things like Evade & Counter, Magic Counter, First Strike or Deathstrike are more preferable abilities that you shouldn't spend items on making just yet). If you want you can also customize Sensor onto Wakka's Catcher, but leave Tidus' free.
It's a good idea that you do capture all of the fiends from the Calm Lands, since this will save you time later on and you'll get some items for your troubles. You'll get opportunities to casually catch enemies between here and Zanarkand anyway. Either way, once you have, you can return to the monster arena caretaker for…a chest that you can't open. Jerk. It doesn't matter, if you talk to him again you'll receive the real prize for your efforts, 60 Farplane Winds (these inflict Death status on every enemy, but whilst they seem awesomely useful, don't ever use items you get from the Monster Arena unless instructed otherwise) and he'll say he's created "one nasty beast". You won't get game over if you fight it and lose (which you will) and it's free (6000 Gil otherwise) so go ahead if you want. It's the Chimerageist, and it has 140,000 HP. Oh dear. It will slaughter you anyway unless you're lucky with keeping up Yuna's Nul spells and revive anyone who gets KOed by its physical attack that does about 6000-7000 damage. Megiddo Flame does about 6000 to one person, Aqua Breath does 3000 to everyone, and so on. Either way, this is a fight that at the moment you have no hope of winning.
So, once you've done that, save and carry on up to near the red arrow exiting this area of the Calm Lands. You'll want to level up a bit here, so do so until your characters know the following abilities:
- Tidus should know Hastega.
- Wakka should know Sleep Buster.
- Auron should be near Zombie Attack.
- Lulu should know Demi and be close to Death.
- Yuna should know Reflect, or at the very least Dispel.
- Rikku should know Mug and be close to the bunch of Level 4 locks guarding Full-Life (but don't use any of your Level 4 Key Spheres to open any of the locks).
- Kimahri, being Kimahri, should be roughly one major skill behind the character whose sphere grid you chose him to pursue (i.e. if he followed Rikku's grid he should know Spare Change, if he followed Wakka's he should know Silence Buster (or at least Dark Buster/Sleep Attack), with Tidus he should know Slowga). This isn't easy to judge but if he can hold his own in a fight without dying in one/two hits then he's strong enough (you won't be using him much anyway, unless you like him).
Once you've done that, head on up following the red arrow. Save at the Save Sphere, and equip everyone with better weapons (take off all the capture weapons for the mean time) and cross the bridge. The Guado will show up again. Apparently the Maester doesn't need you alive. They'll call something up from the valley bottom — a giant stone soldier.
Boss Battle: Defender X
At 64000 HP this battle is going to take a rather long time. The first thing you should do is have Tidus cast Hastega. This is the best you get since Defender X is immune to Slow and delay. Next, use Armour Break on it to nullify its stone nature. Poison doesn't work, Darkness rarely, Silence and Sleep don't work — basically, statuses are pretty useless in this battle, Armour and Power Break too.
Defender X is very strong, able to do around 2000 with a physical attack and Haymaker can do up to 4000! It also has Blast Punch which never misses and halves that characters HP. Sometimes (not always) he'll counter attacks with Blast Punch. At this stage the only character who will be able to survive Haymaker is Auron, or perhaps a summon. Summons will help a lot in this battle, but with overdrives they will slow down a lot, and since the Defender only has one target their HP will go down extremely quickly (Valefor and Shiva might not even survive a hit). Once it gets below a certain amount of HP it will cast Mighty Guard which is all four Nul spells, Protect and Shell. This can be remedied easily with Dispel. It may on a rare occasion cast Slowga on you, which can be taken off by Esuna or a Remedy, but cure this fast or it will get in more turns and kill off your party faster than you can bring them back.
As with Evrae Altana there is a much simpler way than normal to take this boss down, although it will be up to you whether or not you would like to face the challenge of fighting the boss the normal way. Anyway, this strategy is actually quite simple, just use Provoke (with Tidus) on Defender X. For the rest of the battle (or until Tidus is KO'd or switched out, both of which won't happen unless you choose for it to happen), Defender X will only attack Tidus and will only attack with Blast Punch. As has already been noted, Blast Punch will only chop a character's current HP by half, so Defender X will be stuck attacking Tidus for less and less damage while your other 2 members (and Tidus for that matter) can easily pound him into the ground. Just use Armour Break successfully with Auron at least once and attack with your two other most powerful attackers along with Tidus until he goes down. Although Blast Punch is not capable of actually felling Tidus, you may want to heal him when he gets to a very low amount of HP in case you accidentally switch him out or something silly.
Once you've killed it you'll get your rewards. If you go down the way it came up you'll reach the Cavern of the Stolen Fayth, which is listed on a separate page of the guide. The main reason why you might want to go down there is to get Yojimbo which you might not be able to with the amount of Gil you currently have, so the only other things are to pick up more monsters for capturing or to get items. You can do it if you want, but otherwise go back and save then follow the red arrow north to the base of Mt. Gagazet.