Part 2: The State of Inoa
Upon heading downstairs, you can speak to Jess to activate a trigger for some minor backstory or just outright leave. The backstory stuff is a pretty good implication for something that gets outright stated later.
They do not happen unless creative juices are flowing, you now what I am saying? I have not tasted those special juices for a long time...
Before leaving, now would be a good time to explain the now visible HUD (it doesn't appear during the prologue). The top-left shows what weapon and item Alundra has equipped at the moment. As you have no items until you either find them in treasure chests or buy them, that box will be empty for a short while. Most items are used for healing, but there are a few that deal damage as well. In the top-centre is Alundra's health; it has a maximum of 50 and is increased by acquiring a very specific item which is mostly acquired in a dungeon, but some are buyable and most are in treasure chests which are usually harder to reach but not always. Finally, the top-right is a count of how much Gilder (money) you have the moment. It caps at 9999, but you'll never need anywhere near that much since there are very few items worth buying.
Upon trying to leave, Jess says one last thing;
The people of Inoa are very nice. Not as nice as me, of course, but they try. If you start to feel weak, be sure to come back here and rest, all right?
Ignoring Jess' clear modesty, his last line implies that you can sleep here for free healing like in other RPGs. This is not the case at all; there are a few places where you can get free healing but those are in dungeons and are few and far between. The only ways to get healed is to use one of the many items that do so, use a restoration point in a dungeon, get one of the limited max HP increases or collect a Life Drop.
Once you get outside, you're immediately thrown into even more dialogue. With a child this time. It's not an annoying child though (that comes later).
You've come to... save us.
Sybill's unique trait here is, naturally, that she can see the future in her dreams. There are a few more times when this is relavent, but she won't hesitate to let you know of her dreams at other points as well. This future-sight ability of hers is supposed to be a curse, but it's something that's more of a gift. Other cursed villagers, alas, aren't so lucky.
There are three ways out of the village, two of which lead to the exact same screen, but all of the exits are blocked at the moment. Only one of which even makes a minor amount of sense; the first (directly behind Jess' house) is not that one.
Talis: I'm the son of the mayor! When I wish to address you, peasant, I'll let you know! This stairway is off-limits, so just buy a clue and beat it!
Talis' is probably the most hatable villager given that thinks he's massively important purely because his dad is the mayor. Fortunately, you can just ignore him for most of the game. Speaking of his parents;
This is the biggest house in the entire village, so of course the Mayor et al. live there. It's located just west of where Talis is standing. Most of the time, he's (Talis') stood just outside here.
I don't want to have to exercise my mayoral powers and have you banned from our peaceful village.
Beaumont is Talis' father and thus the Mayor of Inoa. Despite what you might expect, he's really quite a relaxed guy who only wants what is best for the village. Also, even though his sprite makes him look bald he has hair; I never even noticed that until very recently since it blends into the background really well.
Thyea: I love being in a place where I know everyone, and where everyone knows me. I find it comforting.
Thyea is probably one of the more boring villagers. The only really interesting thing about her is that her name probably has some really stupid pronunciation. She's not the only villager to mention anything about a "big city" either; several of them bring it up at various points but you never see anything that could be considered a city at any point so it's presumably referring to a location off of Torla.
Yuri: You caught me right as I was headed up the mountain to pick some medicinal herbs. My wife Naomi sells what I gather in our shop. You should say hello to her sometime.
Yuri is the most boring person. He pretty much only exists to block a path and give a very basic explanation as to how the item store restocks ad nauseum. Rather than enter the house to the left, we'll skip it for now and head south. We'll be back here shortly though.
We're ignoring the house on the left here for now as well, albeit for a different reason. Whilst the one skipped earlier adds nothing for the time being, this time it's because entering the house in question advances the plot. So, instead, we're heading to the house on the right.
You don't even realise that the gods are the ones who guided you here...
To call Giles the local religious freak is something on an understatement. He makes fanatics look tame; the entire reason for how insanely devout he is, is based wholly in his backstory (which is, of course, tragic).
Kisha: We've travelled to Inoa to share our faith and belief in the gods. We help others to feel their strength and beauty...and to worship it.
Kisha is the more toned back version of her brother. That's pretty much it unfortunately. She does get a bit more of a personality when things happen, but not much. Whilst other characters might be unabashedly bland, at least they aren't effectively carbon copies of other characters albeit less extreme.
Sybill has an extra line of dialogue that can be seen at any point after her introductory scene. It probably means that her dreams aren't wholly accurate but if that's the case then it's pretty bad at it. Using Alundra's height for such a thing is pretty weak.
This house is the only one with an accessible chimney, but since smoke is billowing out of it, it doesn't really matter right now. It's just an odd detail about the way the town's mapped.
Lutas: How horrid it must be to lie in that cold bed, imprisoned in his own decaying body...
For such a goddamned pessimist, Lutas is sort of useful here. He's the only NPC who gives you a vague clue of what to do (well, there's one other but we'll get to her soon). His wife on the other hand?
Fein: I just realised that if his son had survived birth, he'd be your age by now. And his wife would be...well, that's just foolish talk...can't change the past...
She gets to exposit on Jess' backstory. These two, in particular, show that characters without portraits will, for the most part, either be utterly boring or completely negligible beyond when you need to talk to them. The exceptions to this are usually obvious.
I'm in the middle of repairing this gate, so perhaps we can speak later.
Kline's always carrying around a giant crossbow that looks like an axe in his portrait, he's the only NPC around here with any balls and he's allegedly a great hunter. His reason for obstructing the exit is the only one that makes some sense, but even then it makes you wonder why he has to stand where he is to do it. Kline is the best villager.
Nadia's the second of the "cursed" villagers. Her affliction is something worth calling a curse, much unlike Sybill's. She might seem like a bit of a jerk, but it's justifiable to an extent in her case. She lives in the house on the right with her mother, and in the house on the left there's...
This is tumbleweed central in the entertainment department, but the babes are righteous and the surf is most excellent...Brah, sorry, dude. Faux pas!
Bonaire; he's supposed to represent a massively stereotypical inane surfer of some description, only to the irritating extreme of wondering what the hell he's on about. I don't really want to refer to anyone as being "gimmicky" but it really is the best way to label this guy. He even has a portrait, so that implies he's going to be sticking around a long while. It could be worse though.
At least he isn't his father, who is completely bedridden for... some reason. Heck, Phineas is easy to miss since he's basically just background decoration. He also shows the one old man sprite; any other old men are just different colours of it.
Myra: Because whenever she sleeps, the power of her mind wreaks havoc all around her. It is an evil, wretched curse...
Myra gives a vague clue as to what Nadia's curse is. Sybil's dreams allow her to see the future (which a seemingly large degree of accuracy); Nadia's dreams do... something horrific presumably, seeing as how she refuses to sleep. As for Myra? Well, she cares about her daughter and is one of the very few people who don't know who Alundra is right now.
This house... the rest of the village seems somewhat ideal in its own way (barring whatever's wrong with Wendell, and Nadia's curse that is). Or, at least it does compared to the poor people who live here.
Gustav is clearly a drunk. Just look at all those empty bottles on the side; heck, he's never without one. That "insane" Elene he mentioned is his daughter. You kind of have to worry about her wellbeing considering her father's state and that she's allegedly insane.
Elene: Who gave you permission to enter my bedchamber?! Guards!! It's funny, isn't it, love? You can't help but laugh... No means no, you pervert! Don't make me smack you!
Well, uh, I wouldn't say she's insane. It's true that she does have something wrong that can't be helped; dissociative identity disorder. Out of all the non-plot event issues, I'd argue that she has it worse than even Nadia. Nadia's cursed, sure, and in a vague, hellish way but curses can be broken. Not even Elene has that kind of "luck" (for a given value of luck)...
But let's not dwell on those kinds of things; somewhat close to Elene's home there's a lone house which seems out of the ordinary (even considering the locale). It's been extended by ... something and there's what appears to a wooden carving of a crystal ball above the door.
I magically unfold the secrets of futures not yet beheld. If you must know your destiny, stand before my crystal ball.
Yustel is probably the most useless NPC with an actual definitive point. She gives you a vague hint about what to do next, but if you want actual worthwhile advice about what to do she charges you 15 Gilder for it. Sure, it's not much but it's the principle of the matter; you can get hints just as useful by talking to other villagers at random and using what they say for advice. She also heals you as well but you're usually at full health when you get here anyway so it's completely useless.
In the north-east we can find a lone woman standing outside a locked door.
Sierra: ......What's that? You were approached by a stange girl with sullen eyes? There's no need to be afraid of Sybill. She often has strange dreams, and speaks strangely of them. But my daughter is a very sweet and loving person.
Sierra is Sybill's mother and apparently has to warn people that she isn't actually dangerous. The implications of this are somewhat disheartening, especially considering we know that Sybill isn't the only child in the village.
Regardless, the last place to visit before advancing the plot is the item store. We already know that the person who runs it is called Naomi and she's married to Yuri.
Naomi: You're the lucky guy that Jess culled from the beach! Your name is... Alundra, isn't it? I'm pleased to meet you. What can I do for you today?
Sadly, beyond "running the village store" there's nothing to note about Naomi. Since we're here we might as well take a look at her wares;
From top-left going clockwise:
Armour of some description - just sits there taunting you as Naomi refuses to sell it because it's a family heirloom.
Medicinal Herbs - restore approximately 25% of Alundra's HP. Cost 5 Gilder each, but are so abundant you should never, ever need to buy them. Can carry upto 9 at a time.
Strength Tonic - restores approximately 50% of Alundra's HP. Costs 15 Gilder, but again there's no need to buy it as you can get more than you'll ever require for free. Can only carry one at a time.
Magic Elixir - currently does nothing. Costs 30 Gilder; you might want to buy one or two but by the time you really "need" it, you'll likely have come across at least half a dozen for free. Can only carry one at a time.
Life Vessel - raises Alundra's max HP by 1. Costs 500 Gilder but it's worth it. There's only 40 of these in the entire game, and this is one of the few that are buyable. You could farm the Gilder right now if you really wanted to, but you'll probably have enough to buy it within a few dungeons especially if you explore a lot. Either way, it's worth picking up. This is the only purchasable item that doesn't restock, for obvious reasons.
Now that we've seen everything the village has to offer at the moment, we might as well get on with the plot now. Time to go visit Giles and Kisha's neighbours, and see what's wrong with that Wendell guy.
Those two kids standing by his bed? They're identical twins. They even have similar names; this is one of the few times where it's easy to distinguish who's who in a cutscene.
Nestus (the lower twin): Grandpa, you need help! I'll be right back, I promise!
Bergus: You can't die, Grandpa! You just.........can't die...
Wendell: No... Uhh...
For some reason, Alundra's still stood in the doorway at this point so that means the guy Nestus just brought back (Meade) was inside the house this entire time. It also means they're both rude since they'd have to have walked right past Alundra. In Nestus' case, he'd have to have done so twice.
Meade: Is he wearing the Amulet of Nava? It was supposed to protect him!!
After this line, Alundra finally walks into the area. Just in time to be barked orders at, like all good RPG heroes.
Nestus: The only person who can help him now is Septimus. I'm sure of it. (turns to face Alundra) My Grandpa is having a nightmare, and we need Septimus to help him! He's in the house to the left of this one. Go outside and up the stairs. Please hurry! Bring him here right away!
Septimus' home is the one next to where Yuri is standing, that was skipped over earlier. He says pretty much the same thing before visiting Wendell as he will do now. You could talk to anyone here but they just repeat the same things that they said during the scene so there's no need.
All these damn books, all my years of study, and I can't free Wendell from his nightmare! I'm not a scholar... I'm a fool.
Well, turns out this guy was completely useless and is just going to mope about this fact. Might as well go tell the kids that their grandpa's toast because Septimus is being a big baby.
Or, not. This part wouldn't happen if you didn't go see Wendell first.
You......you bear the scar! I am Septimus. For years, I have studied the human mind, and the world of dreams. In one of my ancient books, a legend is written with a mark on his forehead. He is said to be at once blessed... and cursed...
This game was released originally in April 1997 (in Japan that is). A few months later, the first Harry Potter book was released. Either J.K. Rowling was an avid games player, could write decent-ish books extremely fast, spoke fluent Japanese and played the hell out of this game or that's nothing more than a coincidence.
Granted the awesome power to enter the dreams of others as they slumber. At least, I always believed it was but a legend... I have a favour to ask of you, Dreamwalker...
...something to explain what's happening to Wendell, and perhaps a way to stop it. To find his house, head directly east from this place. I'll go to Wendell, and try to ease his suffering for the present, but please hurry. For if we cannot ease Wendell's pain, I fear I shall have the unenviable task of ending it... Good luck, friend. And thank you...
And thus we finally have a clear goal about what to do. Even if it's just a short-term goal. Tarn's Manor is located directly east of Inoa Village, but there's a fair bit to do before heading there. It requires a fairly lengthy detour, but it's going to be worth it. Maybe. It will be eventually though.
Next time: Tarn's Manor.