Part 18: Flames
The volcano cave is just a little ways away, south and then east from Salabona.
: I hope everyone remembered to dress appropriately. Loose knits and cottons!
: My shroud armors me against even the fiercest flames.
: Hunh. Mine, too! Just be careful not to drag it through the lava.
: I'm not wearing any pants!
: It looks like Andy beat us here. Kid's got grit, I'll give him that.
: Or maybe he just doesn't spend all day antagonizing every monster between here and town.
: Also possible. Hey, Andy!
: Supposedly the Ring of Flames is somewhere within this cavern... Well.. good luck to you too, Simon.
: You're a pretty good guy, Andy. Don't go getting yourself killed.
This is a pretty straightforward dungeon, although there are some meandering dead-ends that can be annoying if you're exploring without a map. Fortunately, this is one of the dungeons big enough to bring your caravan into, so you can swap out characters that run out of MP, and have the guys taking up the rear handle the between-fight healing.
: How much do you suppose a ring costs, anyway? If it's less than 750 gold, we could probably stop right here.
: Good god, it's hot down here! Let's get this done quick, I can hardly breathe!
: Oh, no. You're going to make us walk over those hot rocks to get to that chest, aren't you?
: ... yep.
You can walk on those darker red patches, but, as you might guess, they hurt. It's nothing Simon and crew can't handle, but it can put you awkwardly low on health for a random encounter.
: Ow ow ow ow
: Well, it's no ring, but I'm always a fan of new sticks!
The Staff of Antimagic is a mediocre melee weapon, but you can use it in battle to stop an enemy from casting. It has its uses.
: Oh, come on. Every path has those burning rocks!
: This is why we brought Healie along, is it not?
: Ow ow ow ow
: Psst. Healie. Don't tell them the wagon is fireproof.
: Oh sweet blessed water. The ring can wait, I'm going to just sit here until I stop cooking.
This is a full HP/MP restore spot. It doesn't even pop up a message, which makes this a convenient area for mindless grinding if you're so inclined.
: Jeez, look at the size of that ring!
: I believe that's an optical illusion caused by the heat in the air. Alternatively, you have been breathing too many fumes.
: Well, let's just grab it and get out of here before someone falls in the lava.
: Or the lava could jump out at us...
This doesn't quite deserve to be called a boss fight, but it can still be a little rough. The Lava Savages hit fairly hard, and can breathe fire to hit the whole party. Slalin's a good choice in this fight, he can buff the party's offense and defense, taking a lot of the sting out these creatures.
: Phew. That was kind of rough, but at least we've got the ring. Let's get out of here before I sweat to death.
: Helloooo! Hey, Andy, you can go home now, no more ring to find!
On the way back out, Andy is nowhere to be found. Hopefully, he just realized that he was in over his head and went home! Unfortunately, there's nothing we can do for him now.
Back in Salabona, Simon makes a short detour to the bar to rehydrate first.
: Oh, no, Andy! Damn it, that's exactly what I was trying to avoid.
: I... guess that makes up for being horrifically burned?
: No wonder Flora's all in a tizz over whom to marry. Heh heh heh.
: I don't think that warrants an evil laugh, lady.
Feeling a little guilty, Simon goes to check on Andy.
: He got Flora worried sick over him, that poor boy.
: She's such a kind soul...
: Oh, jeez, this is kind of awkward. You're lucky to be alive, kid, lava monsters are no joke.
: Oh! Master Simon... Andy sustained such terrible burns and now he's got this fever that just won't go down... I hope that you are alright, Master Simon...?
: Well... I know it sounds like boasting while your friend is laying there, but... Well, honestly, I'm an adventurer, and the son of an even greater adventurer. A little lava can't stop me.
: Truly...? Thank goodness...
: Yes... well... I'd better see your father, let him know that I've returned the ring.
: Simon... I... Be careful, Simon.
: I shall hold this for you as of now...
Simon handed the Fire Ring to Ludman!
: All that's left now is the Water Ring! Seeing that it is called the Water Ring, it may be found surrounded by water.
: Is he being sarcastic?
: I will allow you free use of my ship... It awaits you outside of town...
: Woah, really? Just like that?
: Would you rather swim? It would take you years to find the ring without a ship. Now hurry up, I want grandkids before I'm too old to appreciate them!
: Wow, he wasn't kidding. I mean, it's not very big and there's no crew, but we've got our very own ship! ... Does anyone know how to sail a ship?
: Not I.
: I just float over water!
: Oh, quit your whining, lubbers. It's easy, pull that rope over there, I'll handle the helm. Wind's in our favor, we should make good time if you don't shirk off.
Now, traditionally, getting your ship is when a Dragon Quest game starts to open up, but we're not quite there yet. There's a few islands with nothing of note, but otherwise shoals keep us confined in this general area.
: Well, we've sailed all over this sea, and there's no obvious water caves or anything. The ring must be somewhere past this gate.
: Or perhaps in some other part of the world we can not reach by boat?
: I'm trying not to consider that possibility.
: This gate must be super important if you need special clearance to open it.
: But because of the hot springs, a lot of travelers like to stop by.
: You might get even more tourism if you bother to think of a name for the place, you know.
: Maybe if you ask one of the villagers, one of them will open the gate for you...
: I am asking a villager. I'm asking you. You can't be any more specific than that?
: Sorry, mate. I'm not on the secret watergate council.
: They say that even if the world ends, so long as you're in this order, you'll be saved.
: If that's who I'm thinking of, it's all bullshit. Don't buy it.
: Joining the Order sounds an awful lot like suicide. Yeah, that's about right.
: I just want someone to open the watergate for me!
: Oh! You pervert!
: But you shouldn't stare too long at them, alright? Otherwise they'll all run off on you.
: I should have known better.
: Excuse me, miss? ... Excuse me?
: Oh, sorry, I'll leave you alone.
In the last house of the village, Simon hears someone coughing in the bedroom and, of course, goes to check to make sure they're alright.
: Wait, no... it can't be!
: Uff, there we go... Hmm? And you are? Have we met before...? I don't seem to recall when...
: Oh god, it is you! Duncan! It's me, Simon!
: What?! You're... Papas's son!! Whoa!! What a surprise! Simon! You're alive!! But look how you've grown... you were so young... I remember you used to play with Bianca all the time...
: Wait, that means that girl outside... that was Bianca? I can't believe I didn't recognize her!
: And your father? Is Papas well?
: Well... here's the story...
: Oh... my... Papas is... Things have been so hard for you... but despite that, you've triumphed above them all...
: Me... I lost my wife... She was so strong. But I guess you just can't predict these things...
: I'm back!
: It's your friend! And he's still alive!
: Oh! Simon! You are safe after all!! And urm... Puckle... You got a lot bigger, didn't you!
: I heard that Santa Rosa was destroyed and that you had disappeared just about the same time, but... I knew in my heart that you were alive and well...
: I'm glad you're OK, too, Bianca. I was worried when I went back to Alpaca and your family was gone. I knew I'd find you again, though!
: After all, a promise is a promise... and you promised we'd adventure together again... But wow... it's been over ten years, hasn't it?
: Longer, I think. It's so hard to keep track of time...
: I want to hear all about your travels! Stay here as long as you like, okay!
: Well, there is kind of this quest I'm on...
: Huh? You can't stay that long? What?! You're searching for the Water Ring... to get married! I see...
: ... Why are you looking at me like that?
: I told you I could afford to stay at the inn... I hope I didn't catch whatever your dad's got...
: Breakfast isn't quite done, so why don't you go relax for awhile?
: To tell the truth, she isn't my real daughter.
: What?! You mean your wife cheated on you?
: No, you twit. She's adopted. And that's why I feel even worse for her... I just want to make her the happiest girl alive... But look at me... I don't know how long I'll be around... If... If you could maybe stay here with Bianca, it would make me feel so much better...
: ... I'm sorry, Duncan. You know I can't stay...
: When did you get all domestic, Bianca?
: Hey... Simon... You just keep on eating, silly. Just listen up, okay? I've been thinking about it all night... I want to help you find the Water Ring! I... I want you to be happy after all... so can I come with you?
: You're giving me that strange look again, Bianca... Of course you can come with me! We're friends, right? We go on adventures together! It's what we do!
: This is gonna be just like old times! Don't worry about the flood gates. I can open those. Well, come on then!
Bianca is... exactly like we remember. I guess that she's been too busy taking care of Duncan for the past 10 years to spend any time on her training. In any case, welcome back, Bianca!
: When she saw you, the look on her face... she's the happiest she's been in such a long time. Please, take care of Bianca for me.
: Oh father! What on Earth are you saying...
Next time: Who would ever expect to find a cave behind a waterfall?