This is part of a first-playthrough guide using the Faerie story arc. It covers both the original PSX version and the 2021 HD remaster, though some place and item names differ slightly in the latter. You can find an overview of the Faerie% path here.
The Quick Version
Place the two Artifacts you got from Niccolo’s Business Unusual and head to Gato Grottoes (the land created by the Flame Artifact). Talk to the nun who is standing by the Sproutling, then follow the Sproutling throughout the upper part of the Grottoes to become embroiled in a strange detective story.
When the culprit escapes, you’ll be sent to hunt them down. This part takes place on the Pathway of Ascetism in the lower part of the Grottoes. Follow the trail of Sproutling leaves to catch up with the thief and complete the quest. You’ll receive the Ancient Tablet and Torch of Coral Artifacts for your troubles.
The Details (May Contain Spoilers)
After the Sproutling runs off the first time, follow it to the upper right (Pathways), then to the upper right again to reach the Cliff Terrace. Talk to the nun, and when the Sproutling runs off again, go back to the Pathways and then head to the upper left to reach the Temple of Healing. Inside the temple, talk to the Sproutling and it’ll run off a third time. Go back to the Cliff Terrace and witness the dialogue.
Back in the Temple of Healing, examine the fallen nun to trigger a conversation with Inspector Boyd, a short-tempered detective who is trying to catch a thief. Finally, return to the Cliff Terrace to learn who the thief is and what they are after. Following this dialogue, Inspector Boyd will ask for your help. Agree, and head for the lower left of the town map (Pathway of Ascetism).
The dungeon portion of Gato Grottoes is small and mostly linear; if you just follow the trail of Sproutling leaves, you will reach the end pretty quickly. You’ll know you’re close when you encounter a Wooding (an enemy type that looks like a tree). Follow the path past the Waterfall and up to the Cancun Bird’s Nest to confront the thief.
I’m a little lost. What’s the plot here?
Sandra, an infamous jewel thief, is hunting down Jumi and stealing their cores. Jumi are gem-people who look more or less like humans, but their cores contain their life force, so Sandra’s acts of theft are more aptly described as murder. Inspector Boyd, with the help of the player, is on a mission to stop Sandra, whose motivations become clear in the quests of the Jumi plot arc.
If this is a guide to the Faerie arc, why are we doing a quest from the Jumi arc?
To reach the endgame, we need to do two things: complete one of the three story arcs and place a certain number of Artifacts on the board. Doing the very first quests in other arcs (like The Flame of Hope here) is a fast way to build up our collection of Artifacts and fill out the map.