The Grand Bell Hall (大鐘堂宮殿, daishodoukyuuden?, lit. "Grand Bell Palace"), also called the Government Palace, is a large building located at the top of the Second Tower of Ar tonelico, and by extension, of Lush Capital Pastalia. It's the seat of power for the Grand Bell, and thus, it's where the current Maiden lives. It's connected via elevators to several other areas inside of the Second Tower, all of which intersect at Telmina. On the other hand, it also has entrances leading to the Grand Bell Prisons and the Bell Strike Hall.
The Palace also houses other places of political importance, such as the Throne Room where the current ruler sits, or the Speech Plaza where the politicians give their speeches and announcements. Likewise, it has an internal airport lined alongside the water reservoirs of Pastalia, which is where the airships of the Grand Bell depart from and where they land.
This palace was built by Jaza's community of Pastalia in 3062 AD, and a memorial service was conducted shortly after to mourn for those who perished in the Grathnode Inferia catastrophe and for those who went to Sol Marta in an attempt to bring Frelia back to the Tower, but instead got themselves killed by Raki. It just started as a large bell, but it later on expanded to become a large palace, and due to the bell, it was called the Grand Bell Hall.
A few years later, after Jaza perished and Selena took her place as the first Maiden and second Pope of Metafalss, she established a control organism for the current Pastalia called the Grand Bell, after the place where it was based, and she was pretty much merciless when enforcing its practices, as she exiled both the radical faction of her government and the remnants of the bureaucrats that had come from El Elemia. This allowed Selena to consolidate her power and bring to Metafalss an era of peace that lasted for beyond a century, until her death.
After this, the Hall was the stage of centuries of political strife between the radical and conservative factions, beginning with the discovery and deciphering of Jaza's own sealed EXEC_METAFALICA/. song by the radicals. Initially, the people had great hopes on being allowed to create more land and even went as far to building a great cathedral in honor to Metafalica in the area where Lakra is currently located. However, once they learned that the song would require the sacrifice of the singer, and furthermore, it would only create a faulty land, their hopes crumbled away.
However, the radicals returned to the political stage a few decades later, as the Maiden the conservatives had appointed, Nea, was too weak and couldn't make Frelia's consciousness descend into her, so the people turned against them and this gave the radicals the chance to regain the support of the people, all under the banner of "creating a new land using magic, but through their own power". It was around this time that the genius scientist, Grammul, appeared and published his Super Reyvateil theories. Upon taking notice of this, the Grand Bell hired him to perfection their Infel Phira project, which had been started twice during Selena's reign, but both times it ended in failure. The works continued for several years, and in 3290 AD, Infel Phira's first stage was successfully completed. The year after it, the first IPD Reyvateil, Infel, was transcripted to Infel Phira and became its Administrator.
It was around this time that the Grand Bell decided to implement the Two Maidens policy, and thus the Goddess Maiden was renamed as the Maiden of Homura, while the Maiden that would control Infel Phira received the title of Maiden of Mio. However, Grammul's theories for the creation of Metafalica still continued being flawed, and when Infel exposed these flaws and came up with alternatives to solve them, Grammul lost all support from the Grand Bell and was fired from the project. During all this time, both the Maiden of Homura, Nenesha, and the Maiden of Mio, Infel, continued growing into great friends, and thus, considered each other to be their closest person in the world.
The Grand Bell then decided to build two statues for the current Maidens and place them on the top of the Bell Strike Hall, now renaming this area into the Hill of Metafalica. Infel continued working, and after her experiment on creating a Heart of the Land proved successful, she created the patch that would allow them to execute Metafalica flawlessly: METHOD_METAFALICA/.. Still, during the time in which she sang it alongside Nenesha's own singing of EXEC_METAFALICA/., Infel couldn't bear with the people looking into her heart. This coupled with the people's own uneasiness and distrust on Infel caused her to closed off her heart, nullifying the effects of METHOD_METAFALICA/., provoking Nenesha's death and triggering the First War Against the Goddess. Both the Grand Bell Hall and Pastalia suffered great damages from the war, but in the end, Infel's side was victorious. However, the people blamed her for everything that had happened, and thus, she decided to disappear after having signed a peace treaty with Raki, who served as the representative for the Goddess.
Much later on, in 3422 AD, refugees from Neo Elemia, who came to Metafalss to escape from the disasters brought by Mir's Rebellion, took root on the land and began exchanging their knowledge and technologies with the people of Metafalss. However, they later on began fighting with the people of Metafalss for power, and thus, the Neo Elemians took possession of the Grand Bell Hall and Pastalia, and expelled the Metafalssians to the Rim. This situation continued for a couple of decades, until the Maiden at the time, Illusha, managed to gain possession of the EXEC_PURGER/. Hymn Crystal the Elemians had brought with them, and used it to defeat the technological monsters the Elemians had. The Elemians were then expelled from Pastalia and the Metafalssians regained their former supremacy.
Finally, centuries later, during 3751 AD, Alfman Uranous discovered that the Grand Bell was still working secretly on the Hibernation Project that was first proposed in the peace treaty signed by Infel and Raki, and disagreeing with it as the direction the world should be taking, he caused a coup d'etat and killed the Pope at the time, as well as the husband of the current Maiden, Arshe. Arshe herself was killed shortly later in a raid that was made to look like an IPD Outbreak, while her daughter Cloche Leythal Pastalia went missing. Alfman concentrated all the powers on his person and reformed the hierarchical structure of the Grand Bell, thus remaking it into the Neo Grand Bell and declaring his secession from the Goddess, as well as declaring Her as the enemy of all Metafalss. He also took all of the staff members that disagreed with his policies and either killed or expelled them from the Grand Bell, while other left of their own accord. Most of them later on ended meeting and forming the Sacred Army to oppose Alfman's regime.
After Cloche was found and brought back to the Grand Bell Hall as the 33rd Maiden, she spent the entirety of her days forced to study, memorize speeches and pay lip service to the guests that Alfman frequently invited inside this Hall, and being unable to voice her own opinions or act as she thought convenient, as if she disobeyed any of Alfman's orders she would be sent to the IPD Labs for a painful and traumatizing reeducation process.
The first time the Grand Bell Hall is shown in the game is during a speech made by Cloche at the Speech Plaza, in which she declares war on the Goddess while also promising the citizenry of Metafalss that her government will do everything on their power to make of Metafalss a green land, unlike the former government that was servile to the Goddess.
The Grand Bell Hall isn't shown again until a scene in which Laude muses to Jacqli about Metafalss collapsing and that they have to hurry up while on the way to speak to Alfman. Once in the Throne Room, Laude informs Alfman that several sections of the Rim have fallen off, but Alfman merely asks what is the current situation with the Sacred Army. Laude remarks that the collapse is a more urgent matter, and reminds him of how the Goddess is slowly destroying Metafalss and what she did to the Song Server of Infel Phira 400 years before. However, Alfman interrupted him by saying that their only priority currently was completely annihilating the Sacred Army. Laude tried to make clear that the collapse was more worrying, but Alfman cut him off by saying that they were about to fight an inmeasurable being, the Goddess; and during a war their own allies could be their most dangerous enemies due to a betrayal causing a complete loss. Therefore, they had first to unify the hearts and minds of all the people, and that's why he arranged for Cloche to hold speeches so frequently: because her great charisma and devotion had an infectious effect on the population of the region. He then added that the previous Grand Bell had robbed the people of their livelihood and hopes; and them, the Neo Grand Bell, would revitalize this world to create a paradise on it.
Later on, Croix Bartel and his party returned to Pastalia after spending some time in the Rim hiding from the Sacred Army. However, their return was marked by an uprising from the Sacred Army in which they had cornered Alfman into the Throne Room. Upon disembarking from the airship and getting inside the Hall, Leglius Branchesca ordered his men to secure Alfman's safety and await further orders. Additionally, they had orders to act swiftly and kill anyone who interfered.
Upon entering the Throne Room, Croix immediately recognized a blue wolf that was inside as the creature that previously had tried to kill Cloche at the Rakshek Resort Forest and immediately engaged in battle with him and the Sacred Army soldiers that were accompanying him. They managed to defeat them, but Croix asked the wolf who he was, he merely replied that some things were more interesting left as a mystery. Alfman told him that as the weapon of massacre of the Goddess he shouldn't be acting so cool, but the wolf just retorted that was as rude as wrong: he was indeed the messenger of the Goddess, but had never committed any sort of mass killing. He then turned the insult back on Alfman, indicting him as the culprit behind the previous Maiden's death 18 years prior. Croix was astonished upon learning from this, but Alfman retorted this was something common in politics and that bringing the past up was useless.
The wolf then added that said incident caused a great damage to Metafalss, but Alfman replied that the wolf was a stupid creature that didn't understand anything and that he was going to revive this world drugged by the Goddess. He then proceeded to say that the Goddess was just letting this world die and not let anyone take any action to impede that either, so he wouldn't be doing anything wrong by calling himself almighty. The wolf could just say that he was astonished to see such ignorant and blasphemous remarks coming out from his mouth, but given he had been wounded in the previous battle, he retreated while saying that this was only beginning. Alfman then ordered to destroy all of the enemy airships and kill everyone they found, but Leglius stepped in and ordered his men to not turn their weapons against those that were retreating from the place. He then turned towards Alfman and said that he was grateful that someone could lead the knights while he was absent, he also expressed he wanted to resume command at that precise moment. Alfman sighed in disgust and told him to whatever he wanted. Leglius then turned to his men and told them that as the enemy had retreated, this was a victory for them.
(More coming later...)
While technically speaking it isn't a dungeon due to lacking random encounters, it's still a large area that hides a few treasure chests, so it's worth taking the time to explore it. The entrance to Telmina allows access to the lifts that will transport the party to other areas, such as Lakra and the IPD Labs. However, it must be noted that the stairs leading to the Grand Bell Prisons will be covered in rubble after Phase 3 begins, so the player should pick up the treasure chests in these areas as soon as possible.
- ??? and Origin Guard x2 (first visit)
- ??? and Divine Army x2 (near the end of Phase 1)
- Imperial and Defender x2 (during Phase 3)
- Defender x2 and Imperial x2 (during Phase 3)
- Too Many Stuffed Animals (after clearing Cloche's Lv. 6-R Cosmosphere)
- A Great Person Is... (after clearing Cloche's Lv. 5 Cosmosphere)
- Statesman? Dictator?