Part 15: Fangs, claws, and memoriesSimon has just reached the village of Kabochi, where a shadowy creature is prowling the fields in the darkness (despite the fact that it was daytime when Simon arrived.) Startled, the creature runs off before Simon can react.
: What in the world? Hey, stop! Ah, dammit. Five seconds into the job, and I'm already blowing it. Well, I'd better start investigating.
A conspicuous slab is hiding a staircase down into a cellar.
: Maybe there's clues down here...
: Hehe. Right, boss. Clues.
The Armband of Sacrifice can be equipped on anyone. If that character falls in battle, then the Armband breaks and defeats all (nonboss) enemies. It never really occurs to me to use it.
: Hmm. I guess it makes sense that the villagers would lock things up tight at night, since they're scared of monsters. I'd better come back in the morning. You guys tired yet?
: Not really.
: Neither am I. Let's go beat up something until it joins us.
: Alright, which one of you is awesome enough to hang with my crew?
: Ooh, me! Pick me, pick me!
Merlin's not too bad at this stage of the game. His high intelligence means that he'll actually cast the spells we want him to when we tell him to, which is nice. He doesn't get the best spells, so he'll stop being useful around the midgame.
: OK, that was fun and all, but we'd better get some rest. We'll find out who's in charge around here tomorrow.
: Wow, this place really is hicksville.
The next day, Simon and his crew of monsters looks for the town mayor or whatever to talk about their monster problem. Seriously, no one is noticing the parade of beasties following him around?
: If this keeps up I'm gonna starve to death!
: So, this horrible monster you're all scared of... eats lettuce?
: I've inflicted grievous bodily harm over a good artichoke. Don't look down on us vegetarians.
: But cus of some beast thing we can't harvest any crops. I meself be thinking of heading for the hills.
: Even though she only eats a bite of food, she says she's full and gives it to me instead. I wonder if she's sick...?
: Oh, man. Um, I'm sure your grandma will get better real soon. We have to take care of this before these people starve.
: I like how you swear to help people, then steal all their stuff.
: Hey, don't judge me! Besides, it's not like I'm taking food or anything. Shut up.
: I just said I liked it.
: The elder's house is the one with the horse. You can't miss it.
: Have you considered making a living monster slaying? It's very profitable.
: I don't think that kind of bootstrap advice is helpful for everyone, Simon.
: What did I do to deserve being born here?
Inside the Elder's house, several of the villagers are arguing.
: Entrusting our money to some outsider who don't know jack about our village. Hmmpm. I'm going back to work now... Hmmmpm!!
: I want to know how the hell you're making that sound.
: Out of my way!
: I remember everyone that hands me a big sack of money.
: So you came after all! I knew as soon as I laid eyes on you that I could trust ya! Pretty good, eh? Well, ask the elder for dem details.
: We truly do appreciate this. Now about dis beast we want you to get rid of for us... We ain't sure where the thing lives. Just that it seems the thing likes to come in from the West, we noticed.
: Don't worry, I'm sure I can track it down.
: Yeah, locking your doors and doing nothing about the problem's been paying dividends for you guys, huh?
: This beast at least hasn't attacked a human yet, so maybe it's not so bad.
: Monsters attack people. That's what they do. I got attacked by like 30 monsters just taking a walk this morning.
: Actually, it's just you. We leave everyone else alone.
Yoink. Well, there's not much in the way of clues, but Simon's willing to comb the countryside to find this terrifying vegetarian monster that avoids human contact, and put an end to its rampage!
: but if you die, you won't get a copper. Not like I think a foreigner like you's gonna risk yer neck for us...
: Hey, you guys asked me for help, remember? I don't have to do this.
As it turns out, the lack of clues isn't really a big deal. There's only one thing to the west.
: Wow, that cave is huge. I bet we could fit the wagon in there. Well, I don't see any other place to hide a monster, so let's check it out.
: Looks like I'm not the first to hunt this monster. Hopefully I'll fare better than that poor guy.
: Oh God, the tongues! You guys are way too fat and slobbery to be the monster I'm looking for.
Big Sloths aren't much of a threat, but they do have a nice, if fairly rare, drop:
If you wanted to, you could farm a bunch of strength seeds and boost the hell out of your attack power. I don't bother.
: Another poor soul that didn't make it... hey, what's that?
: Well, you won't be needing this anymore...
: That's just junk. My hammer is better.
: ... It's almost like these bones are arranged as some kind of warning...
: Better watch my step, wouldn't want to faaaaaaah!
: Ooooof. Oh, hey, treasure! My clumsiness pays off!
It's just another Iron Helm, barely worth the trip. Still, falling down and then walking back up is faster than walking both ways.
: Hey, mister, have you seen
The man leaps into the air, and ends up falling down the broken bridge!
: Oh, damn it. Now I have to go down and apologize. Waah!
: Are you all right? Sorry about startling you...
: Hey, hey, calm down! I'm sorry, ok?
: W... what...? A human? Supposedly some really vicious monster lives here in this cave. You better be careful!
When you're not dicking around with jumping down to the bottom floor over and over, the actual way to go is pretty direct, if serpentine. Of course, there's always a brief detour for treasure.
: You're not treasure! You're not treasure at all!
These are a strange monster. They know Beat, which has a chance of instantly killing a target... but they don't have the MP to cast it. They still try sometimes, which is scary until you see that they fail. They also have robmagic, but I'm not sure if that lets them steal enough to actually pull off a casting. I've never seen it happen, anyway, and they don't survive that long.
: A cave within a cave.
: We have to go deeper!
: There it is... You know, I wasn't expecting the monster's lair to be a woven mat and some spare straw bedding. Check out the size of that sword it's guarding!
You can beat on the Killer Panther all day, he secretly regains HP each round. If you DO manage to inflict enough damage to defeat him, you just get ejected from the fight. It should be pretty obvious what's going on here, and the game even gives you a prod in case you've forgotten...
: Wait a minute... It can't be...
: That's right, boy... do you remember me? Do you remember Bianca?
: Augh! Haha! It's like being kissed by a belt sander! I missed you, too, little buddy!
: Of course you can come with me! I'll never leave you behind again!
Welcome back, Puckle! For a pure combat character, his stats are great, but there's more to this cat that'll surface in the future!
: What are you doing here, anyway? It looks like you're guarding this place. ... Huh? For me?
: Something about this... Oh my God... This is... This is...
: You've been keeping it safe all this time, huh? I can't even imagine how you got here...
: You are going to wield that blade? Do you even know how to use a sword?
: Well, I figure I just hold this end here, and bonk things with the other end, right?
: Sounds right to me!
: Anyway, let's go tell the villagers that they don't have to worry about the 'monster' anymore.
: AIEEEEEE!! Please! Spare my life!
: What now? You went and befriended the beast? No wonder the villagers are all excited!
: Are you one of them big jungle boys or something?
: ... I don't think so?
: Oh... Boring.
: You and that monster was friends from the get go!
: Well, I suppose so... Puckle was my childhood friend...
: Well, you sure thought yerself a fine plan there. Anyhow after you pick up that reward, you just go and git out of this village!
: You and the beast were both in this together, eh? I can't believe I was fool enough to trust you.
: The money's yours. I keeps my promises. 'Sides. Don't want you to send another monster at us...
: Wh... why do I feel bad about doing a good thing?
: You ain't got no more business here, so why don't you just get out of here.
: but I know that you ain't. You just ain't like that, are you? Anyhow, thanks to you, we can all go back to the fields and work them again. I'd like to thank you on behalf of the others. Thank you. You is the village's savior.
Next time: Simon goes to court!
A quick look at Simon's growth. He's earned yet another new title: Monster Trainer. In retrospect, I think that regaining Puckle should have been the event that unlocks monster taming. You don't really NEED the monsters you've recruited before now; Simon and Henry were enough to handle everything. I guess they wanted to make sure you got started early enough that slimes are still a monster you regularly encounter. Got to squeeze the mascot in there!