Part 17: The sappy romance chapterAfter learning that Henry got himself hitched, Simon went back to Reinhart. The whole town is still celebrating...
: Hunh. So putting an ex-slave in charge actually is a good idea? I'll have to remember that.
: I wish I could have married someone like that... But it's too late for me...
If ever there was a place for that stupid forever alone face, this is it.
: Hey, Joe. Where's the happy couple?
: All the way upstairs. Holy crap you're late, dude.
: I was halfway across the world! Anyway, it looks like the party is still going.
: It was a rocking wedding.
: Hey, everyone! I'm back!
: Ah, Master Simon! This is all due to your incredible efforts!
: Ah! You! I've heard all about you from my elder brother.
: Huh? We've, y'know, met. In person. More than once.
: We didn't exactly talk about our life histories. As a token of my appreciation, I have asked my scholars to turn their studies to the Legendary Hero. They have come up with this: A shield said to have been used by this hero rests in the city of Salabona. Salabona is a Western land, South of Ruraphin.
: Wow. That's actually very helpful. How in the world did you find that out when I've found hardly any clues in all my wandering?
: It's called books, dude. However, before you set out, please visit with my brother. His room is upstairs.
: Isn't that supposed to be the king's room?
: He needs the space more than I do.
: Wait!! You're... Please forgive me. You may pass!
: I have to say, it feels pretty awesome to be appreciated.
: We've been looking all over for you...
: Yeah, well, I only just now figured out instantaneous travel. You know how it goes.
: You see... urrmm... I wanted you to be at my, urrm... my wedding...
: Wow, you're blushing like hell, Henry. What's the big deal?
: See, I... I went and got engaged!
: I inferred that from your marriage, yes.
: Wa ha ha ha! Well, there you have it! My bride! I always thought that maybe Maria used to like you more than she did me...
: How silly...
: I.. uh... Yes. Silly. Seriously, though, I'm happy for you. Both of you.
: I'm sure that Simon will find someone who is so much better for him than I could ever be...
: I thought you were going back to the monastary, anyway? Devote yourself to God and all that.
: Well, I was, but then Henry turned out to be the more attractive option.
: At any rate, Simon, it's great to see you again! Stay as long as you like, okay?
: Thanks, bro. I could use a break. Speaking of which... how big are your stables?
: Holy shit.
Simon takes the opportunity to relax for a little while, but he can't bring himself to stay long. He's still on an important quest, after all.
: Hey, Simon... Ever think you wanted a girl who'd rough out those times with you?
: Well, I hadn't really thought about it, but watching you two...
: I thought so! You're getting to that age, after all...
: I'm like a month younger than you!
: So listen to the voice of experience. You should go out and find yourself a beautiful bride just like I did!
: Oh Henry...
: But, my quest... Would it be fair to drag a girl into this mess?
: I suppose saving your mother comes first... But, Simon... I think what your mother wants the most is to see you happy... Come on, man! Be happy with yourself first. Your mother can wait, right?
: Please don't forget to invite us to your wedding.
: I'll remember. I promise.
: Don't be such a stranger this time, you hear?
: Take care of yourself, bro. And take care of your wife.
Conflicted and confused by these unexpected feelings of longing, Simon says his goodbyes to resume his journey. As much as he loves his friends, and enjoys the respect of the entire castle, Reinhart just isn't home.
Oh, by the way.
: What? No. Should I?
: Well, they say that it is a most indispensable tool. Hint, hint.
Yes, he actually says hint, hint. Well, far be it from me to ignore such a subtle clue, let's go pick up that map!
This is the same dwarf that we bought the wagon from, back in the day. Who knew dwarves were so helpful?
: I have no idea how you stay in business, but sure!
: Alrighty then. Godspeed to ya!
Here's the world map, in beautiful pixelvision. That orangish star or person or something there is where we are now, at Oracleberry.
And here we are back in Ruraphin. Return is a lifesaver.
: OK, Dale says the shield is to the south. The only thing to the south of here is that cave the soldier found me out. Come to think of it, I was going that way, anyway. Hah, so much for your precious books!
Simon stops off at that little inn along the way again to catch up on the local news.
: I still don't know who that is!
: She's a real woman. I doubt she'd give you the time of day.
: Screw you, too, lady. Jeez.
Another trip through that boring cave. This time, there's no soldier in our way. On the other hand, there's nothing else of interest in the way, either, except for a single chest.
: Kaching! I thought I'd get tired of this, but nope!
I kind of feel like I should be making animated Indiana Jones style map arrows. Anyway, this is Salabona. The tower and the town are actually different locations.
: It was built by Master Ludman so that if any creatures attacked, we'd be able to spot it immediately.
: Yep. That sure is a view. And nothing else. Back down the stairs again, gang.
: You have magic to take you through ceilings and across the world, and you make us walk up and down a dozen flights of stairs.
: MP doesn't grow on trees. Let's go check out the actual town.
: What the?
: Well, hello there little guy. Do you want to join my party? You're a fearsome little monster, aren't you? Yes you are! Puckle don't eat the puppy.
: *gulp* I... Uh... it's no problem.
: I wonder what's wrong with her? Come along now. Come on, Lilian!
The puppy sniffs at Simon, and I guess licks him or some other adorably cute thing.
: Oh my! I can't believe it! Lilian's never been so friendly to a stranger before... Especially not a stranger with a giant death cat right behind him. Wow. Who... who are you...?
: ... I... oh, I'm sorry! I should ask your name instead of just staring like that!
: Buh? No, wait, I was just... uh.. I'm, uh, Simon.
: I see... your name is Simon is it... How... nice... I'm so sorry!
: Wait, what? Why did you say my name like that? Sorry for what? What's going on?
: I hope I'll see you again! I'd really love to thank you! Now come on, girl. Good bye!
The girl and Lilian run off, leaving a very flabbergasted Simon in their wake.
: What... what just happened?
: You will understand when you are older, master.
: Wait, she didn't even tell me her name!
Still bewildered, Simon seeks comfort in instinctive behavior. Namely, looting!
: Aw. Not the Legendary Shield. Had my hopes up for a moment.
: Ooh, these are nice, though!
: Well, probably. I break into most houses sooner or later.
: I thought so! But it doesn't seem like money's your utmost priority...
: Supposedly there's going to be a great announcement made at Ludman's house. Thanks to that, there have been hardly any customers.
: But I like milk...
: If only he'd find a bride I'd be truly happy for him. Do you have someone special in your life yet?
: Not exactly...
: Really now? Then you should hurry up and find one. The girls may go crazy for you now... but before you know it, it'll be too late.
: I've been getting that a lot lately.
: My wife may say all those things, but you can't hurry love. If you're meant to find the right person, you'll find them.
: What an incredible story though! Have you heard!
: You're clearly busting to tell me, so let's so no.
: Well, this city's richest man, Master Ludman, is looking for a suitor for his daughter. The requirements are said to be extremely strict. But if you're chosen, you'll get an heirloom shield.
: A shield? That must be the Legendary Hero's shield! It's here after all!
: Even the master of the item shop took the day off to go over there... There's probably a ruckus going on now...
: I'm happy to have a wife who works so hard... but sometimes...
: Oops! You're not my husband. Sorry about that.
: Well, that's a ringing endorsement of married life.
: Hello? I guess the shop owner really did ditch for this suitor contest.
: His daughter Flora is said to be as pure as a white rose... So many young men have come to court young Flora. But until now Master Ludman wouldn't even give them the time of day.
: Ohhh, so that's the Flora people were talking about. Now I know!
: Are you really going to try to marry a stranger just to get the shield?
: I'd do anything to get the Legendary Hero's equipment. But, well, I don't know if I'd do that. I'm just playing this by ear.
: Oh, hey, it's the little monster! ... Wait, does that mean that the girl earlier was...
: Suddenly this plan sounds a lot more fun, huh boss?
: Quiet, you.
: Are you also here as suitor for the Lady Flora?
: Well, actually, I heard that Mr. Ludman has this shield...
: Then I'm sorry, but you must withdraw. Master Ludman only wishes to meet with those interested in his daughter.
: Like those guys over there?
: I don't care about money or treasure... all I want is for Flora to be my wife...
: That's awfully sweet... Have you told her this?
: Well, no... That's why I'm here...
: Ah. Well, good luck, dude.
: But I wonder what the requirements are...?
: Unfortunately for you however, Flora and her fortune will be mine.
: ... Yeah, no. One way or another that's not going to happen. Hey, miss? I want to join the suitors after all!
: Then please, if you could follow me. Please, this way...
The suitors file into the next room.
: Now, let's get down to business. As you know, I am searching for a man suitable enough to marry my daughter, Flora. But no ordinary man may marry her... only one of the highest caliber! A set of requisites must be met. Ancient legend tells of two magical rings, hidden away somewhere on this continent.
: Retrieving magic doodads from dungeons? I think I have a shot at this!
: They are called the Fire and Water Rings... and are said to bring luck to their wearer. To the man who brings me these two rings, I shall whole-heartedly give my daughter, Flora! Also, to such man, I will give this family's heirloom shield... Now...
: Buh... guh... Oh, man, suddenly I feel like I'm in over my head again.
: Father! Until now, I have unquestioningly done everything you have ever asked of me... But please, let me at least decide my own husband! Besides... The Fire Ring is hidden deep within a cavern where lava runs freely!
: Hmm...? You... you're...
: Umm... yeah...
: You're here to vie for my hand as well? Oh...
: Oh? What does oh mean? Are you disappointed? Hey, guys, does she sound disappointed?
: Hmm? What now, Flora? Do you know him? Hmmm. He looks quite the handsome youth... *cough* But no matter. Only the one who brings the two rings to me may marry my daughter! Come with me, Flora!
Ludman leads Flora upstairs. I guess his houseguests can just fuck off or whatever.
: Whoa... make it a little tougher why doncha, Ludman!
The other suitors storm off in a huff, but Simon remains behind for a moment.
: My archnemesis, we meet again. Oh, well, so much for the easy way. Hmm. I wonder if Flora's OK. I think I'll, uh, just go check on her. Oh God I'm talking to myself now
: Um, yeah, I can kind of tell. At least he's trying to do what's best for you in his way, right?
: I beg you. Please don't do anything to harm yourself. Even with the two rings, I'd... I...
: Oh, jeez. Um, listen. I'll make sure nobody gets hurt, OK? It's kind of what I do. I don't really have any other marketable skills, anyway. So I'll just get those rings before anyone else even gets packed, and that way no one else has to be in danger, right? And I'm babbling so I'll just be going over that way now bye.
: ... There's no polite answer to that question.
: Rumor has it that the Ring of Flames rests in a cave Southeast of here.
: Rumor? You're sending kids out to get killed over a rumor?
: Only if you bring me the two rings, will I grant you Flora's hand in marriage.
: At this point, I'm willing to get the two rings just to spite you.
: If only he'd stop to think about Flora's feelings...
: Lady Flora is such a sweet and kind person... I'm sure she will make a good wife for you.
: Do you have to say that to every suitor?
: ... I've been listening to you agonize over Flora's wishes, and I've seen the way you two look at each other. No, I don't say that to every suitor.
: Uh, I have to, uh, go uh... rings.
: Jeeez, what have I gotten into. Hmm. I'd better check on that Andy kid. He looked like the only one brave and dumb enough to go into a volcano.
: But won't you reconsider for me, please? Andy has loved that girl since he was a little boy.
: I knew it, he's already gone? I'd better hurry. Poor kid'll get himself killed, and that would break Flora's heart.
Next time: The requisite volcano level!