Part 8Update 8
Chapter 4 picks up after mercifully moving us to the next town we'll be working out of, which I appreciate even more after the Ice Dungeon. Even a game that won't let you have a single party member temporarily down isn't that cruel.
"She's sleeping now."
"That's great, but she was sleeping when we got her back too. Has anything changed?"
"Good, she'll be fine soon."
"Oh, and who the hell is this?"
"Icorina's a uh friend of mine "
"Axs has been a friend for a long time. I'm worried about Salah, so if anything happens please tell me."
"ROOKS WOULD NOT LET ME KEEP HER WARM."
"Easy big guy, she'd have ended up crispy instead of warm. Anyway "
"It looks like all the preparations have been finished. Unless we do something, the Reign of Evil is assured. This could be our last chance to stop her."
"Not if we have anything to say about it. Let's go, Axs!"
"We must be prepared for whatever happens. I can't forgive them, no matter what!"
"Like father, like son. They are probably in the Stavery Tower."
"Stavery Tower ?"
"Y'know, the big ominous thing on top of the mountain? You can see it for miles. It's pretty much our only doom fortress."
"Sounds great. Anyway, let's try not dying. You might be old and crusty, but I'm young and have a full life ahead of me."
With all that said, it's time to explore the village a bit. This is referred to as the Hidden Elf Village, but it's actually not very hidden at all.
"So do they have a bar?"
"The king before last made it mandatory that all towns and villages near ruins, mines, and forgotten remnants of ancient civilizations have to have a bar."
"I can see that the monarchy has only gone downhill since then."
"Wait, earthquakes? How'd we miss those?"
"Probably being down in the mine which isn't a good place to be in case of earthquakes."
"There is danger if you go close to the tower. They say there are places in the tower you can't go into."
"That's great. Thanks for that invaluable advice."
A new town means new equipment most of which we can't afford. 23 grand is enough to get a weapon upgrade for each of our characters and maybe a bit of armor.
We could also theoretically buy even more types of honey at this point, but that money is earmarked for more equipment. Someday, our honey holiday will come.
We can also visit Icorina and get some reassurance on Salah's condition. It's a nice little detail.
Leaving the not-so-hidden Elf Village, our next destination is on top of what looks like a volcano. Right next to another volcano. Considering that the Ice Mine had magma in its deepest recesses, this country is unsettlingly active.
"What what are those?"
"You mean the vampire bees?"
"That might be the most terrifying two word combination in the world."
"What about Jara Zombies?"
"NOT EVEN CLOSE. I HAVE THIS."
"Oh Roooooks look what I can do!"
"I CAN DO IT TOO."
"That's great guys. I'll call you when I need you."
Medicine is an upgrade on healing herbs. We also pick up a Gold Flask and not one, but two Tents on the first couple of floors.
"Wait, are you ANOTHER one of Ariel's apprentices?"
"Did we ever find out how many he actually has?"
"At this point I don't think even he knows."
"Huh guess he's not an apprentice then?"
"WE WILL TEST IT WITH FIRE."
"Huh. That could have worked better."
"Silly boy, this needs a woman's touch."
"What about Sylph?"
"A real woman, not a slip of a girl.
"There, that should do it. You can thank me appropriately later."
"Well, that was easier to find than I expected. Who do we have here?"
"Dao of Earth, to serve."
"Not much of a talker. Okay."
Dao is the bruiser that some people were expecting with Efrite. Enormous Strength and Endurance, much less in the mental aspects. Wall All is a defensive enhancer, and Smash is the Earth Elemental attack spell. He's got a ton of HP, and tends to last a bit longer than the other spirits.
"It was a straight path to here, with no turns. Let's go back to the village and look for another way."
"We can check on Salah while we're there."
"Yes, I'm fine."
"I will continue on with you."
"Take her along. She says she wants to go. With Rooks close by to protect her, she'll be fine."
"Yeah, she'll be wait, I'm protecting her?"
"Hey, I handed her over to you before you two went through the pass. You're still responsible."
"Ahh, screw it. Let's go, Salah."
"As long as you understand that, we'll be fine."
"But be careful, both of you."
As is the usual course of events, Salah joins us at a level relative to Rooks (3 levels lower) and with no equipment. She's somehow gained levels since she got kidnapped.
"Uh Salah, I don't know how to break this to you, but money's kind of tight."
"I think we can afford a shield for you."
"Just a shield. Well, I suppose I can hold off stabbing you in the back for the moment."
"You're so generous. We can also afford a night stay at at inn, since there's not really room for three at your house."
"I'm sure the innkeeper has nothing to do with it."
"Beats the hell out of the last couple innkeepers, that's for sure."
"Please don't tell Icorina."
"Maybe if I get my hands on some real armor I'll forget about this."
Thanks to his regular honey binges, Rooks is actually better than his companions in just about every measurable way except for HP in comparison to Axs.
Our partner spirits are a more mixed bag, and it's a bit disappointing that in many ways they don't measure up to our "human" companions. Don't know why Efrite is showing up with Rooks equipment and attack/defense, but unfortunately he's not quite THAT awesome. The really weird thing is that Sylph is actually the second toughest spirit. Next update: Miniboss and the first half of the tower.