Part 6: Ice Burn
A thanks to everyone who watched this past weekend.
Chapter 6: Ice Burn
The plot so far, in Dragon View:
Alex, the sleight slice-artist and lackey first class of the Isle of Keire's army of one hurled harsh language in the general direction of the world's baddest wizard Argos after that sexy fiend made off with Katarina, ordinary girl of Rysis, to win a bet. Vested in breastplate and possessed of a sacred sword-sacred boomerax pair, Alex rushed to give chase to the village of Kazdra, where he-armed (or fingered?) with the ring of fire he had valiantly filched from the hellish fires of a Djinn's pad-sought to break the wicked barrier of ice that stood between him and Temple Keire, wherein evil ran so amok that even the muckrakers couldn't keep up.
He now stands in the hoarfrost chill of Death Mountain.
Out of the frying pan and into the refrigerator. Man that looks cold. If Alex's outfit was drafty before, now it's cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey. Oh, but the monks are used to this and part of the teleporter also strapped us into the thermal tights, right?
Like any good adventuring party, our first stop along the way to the place we are actually trying to get to is everywhere else to pick up incidental crap. You may have noticed a cave west of our starting position on the map. If you're looking around, you can't miss it. You can waltz right in and get this container heart without a problem. Those ice obelisks block you off from a pit. You could use the ring of fire to melt them and leap in anyway, but I chose not to because I know where it leads and it would set us back.
On the overworld, we encounter new, ice-theme-appropriate enemies, like these blocky ice men. They throw the same cold shoulder Glacius comboed into (and out of) and they have a piston punch that makes me rethink the old idea I had about building an engine out of ice. They're big and swift and will rock you. At this point, I'd have to hit them eight or ten times before they'd fall. So what to do?
Basically this. For the low-low cost of one mp, you can activate the fire ring. If you hit an Ice Golem with the resulting fireball, he'll melt. Each one has two drops, so you're fairly likely to be able to pick up more mp stars as you roast their hides. The boomerax is an acceptable substitute if you're out of magic, and none of the enemies you meet here are boomerax-dodging ankle biters.
Such as these guys. The snow shiva samurai spins from side to side and then stands and sends slender slices shooting outward. One at a time, these guys are no problem to dodge. When you encounter these along with others, they get a little more challenging, as their spinning attack affords them invulnerability, and yes, occasionally you'll simply get one that decides to keep spinning around like an asshole.
In the middle of the snow field (not on the X, mind) there's this stump and a wizard within!
"For 10 Fruit you may pick a treasure box! What will you do? You might find; potion, magic crystal, bomb, bow...or you might only find an empty box..."
"Thank you for the fruit. Now step on back and pick a box!"
He operates on the fruit economy that is the mainstay of wizards and oddballs who want to operate exclusively with wandering warriors outside of towns. His money-making-game is, thankfully, rigged.
Which is to say, the first time you play his game, no matter which chest you pick, you will always get this reward. Since our mp most recently became dead useful, this is a welcome upgrade indeed.
And with that, the boomerax goes from being an acceptable substitute for the fire ring to being a competitor. I still favor the ring for vaporizing the ice golems, but the other enemies around the ice field are now fully easier to beat using the boomerax.
Another cave, another dollar. Greater MP capacity I just can't say no to. Did I mention that there are a lot of Ice Golems around, and that fighting them yields the best experience I've gotten from any non-boss monster so far? I want as much of this as I can get.
Also, those spikes on the wall are a hazard, and will strike you if you get to close. To make things spicier, the floor is slick, making you more likely to slide into an outstretched spike or piston-punch.
After all that collecting, it's time to finally tackle the ice fortress. Apparently this whole dungeon is a recent construction brought to you by the fel eskimo contractors of darkness. I'll turn over the commentary now to the ghost of one of those contractor, eager to tell you all about the Fortress.
: Over one thousand different kinds of ice were used to build the fortress' three floors, each of which are at or above specifications for dungeon sinisterness and unsafety.
: Even if you don't have a head, you can enjoy the headroom that Ice Fortress' triple-tier lofted ceilings amply afford. You may also note the polearm-friendly room geometry that our evil feng shui consultants helped design.
: The cavernous interior also serves as home to small winged creatures who naturally pester and mock would-be invaders. As an added bonus, the walls' sound-reflective technology makes an imp's cackle echo and cascade throughout the halls, increasing effective menace by as much as 3%.
: This stunning array of sculpted ice obelisks is based on ancient demonic designs, and surrounds a pit to a lower floor, symbolizing the fall of man into the darkness of hell and his inability to escape back up and out. Thrilling!
: Further routes through the fortress offer infidels merely the choice of which damnation they suffer as they descend ever downward into chilling despair.
: Barriers of incurable ice (artistically crafted through a curing process) offer the same sinister strength as the walls while allowing the hero to see his own doom beyond, and a pale reflection of his own pantywaist form, both accurate and ghostly.
: Magnificent in their maleficence, icy rooms arrayed with spikes awaiting even a slight misstep on the perilously slick floor are the standard of excellence you've come to expect of fel eskimo construction.
: Thanks for taking our tour.
: Now die, compliments of Argos, senior benefactor and fellow of evil ice contractors the world over.
The Ice Ghost boss is an ass hat. To begin with, you're in way more cramped quarters than for the other bosses so far. Add to that his general hugeness and range, and you've got a fight where you have to be moving and dodging most of the time. The boomerax is your best bet here, as it lets you fire and then quickly run to dodge whatever this jerk has incoming. It's also my most powerful weapon at this point, and the fewer hits I need to get in, the better.
I actually died to this punk once, both because I was being a little too aggressive and because I was trying to get some hits in with the ring of fire.
Once you get his health down, the little eyeball thing that flickered in at the beginning of the fight sweeps out and starts dropping lightning on you, forcing you to split your attention between it (the actual target) and the slamming ice pillar that will crush you.
Melt-or Perhaps Exorcise-the Ice Ghost
That's enough of you.
Score. I honestly don't expect the ice ring to prove as useful as the ring of fire, but I also couldn't expect a fortress of this kind to be complete without the appropriate treasure. A little jumping down holes and climbing stairs gets us to the other side of that incurable ice to get the MP capacity, too. I'll accept each as a trophy for this place, but how do I get out?
Ah. More of this, then. Now with creepy statuary blocking my way. Alex can shove that aside to switch paths.
Boomerax energy. That would have been nice a couple minutes ago, game. Hmm. Maybe they're gearing us up for the next, even nastier boss fight? At any rate I'm not complaining (this upgrade also makes the boomerax look badass).
"Cough, cough...! You there! Wait a minute!"
he takes a deep breath and continues, "I am Cliff, a disciple. Demons attacked the temple's entrance, so I fled here...I fear that something terrible has happened! Please, go to the Keire Temple, and help the others! The warp zone in back will take you there. And take this map to guide you."
Wait, he seriously said Warp Zone? I'd better not end up in world 4 or I'm gonna be pissed, monk.
Oh, so more like before where we had an alchemy circle on the floor. This one plants you outside once again, in the middle of oneathose huge compass rose shapes on the ground.
The terrain is oddly more clear than before. Then again, we may have broken the cloud line and ascended into the part of the atmosphere where it is too cold to snow.
Tell me you got some spare robes from Cliff, Alex.
Well at any rate, there's a cave over there on the left, so let's check it out.
We push aside a corpse to find some armor. I guess he didn't need it.
And a lizardman upgrade! You've fought one, you've fought them all. No new moves, really, but enough of a punch to put you off your rocker if you're not careful. As a bonus, you get a shot of the badass new boomerax colors in flight.
Oh, somewhere along the line one of the helpful hint monks tells you that a sword and armor are buried on the mountain top. We found the armor, and now the sword. This brings the sword upgrade up to the same level as the boomerax, making it a few attack power points weaker. And it gets the same awesome black coloring.
We finally make it to the temple. I guess the monks are going for that ascetic seclusion kindof holiness where you experience spiritual visions because the air is so thin. All the same, I can't imagine the lizardmans is part of that scripture, so we'd best bust some baddies and...oh yeah, Kat is supposed to be here! Bonus.
The wizard pleads as he runs towards you. "Unhindered, Giza will destroy us all! You must defeat him! He is near! Please... please help us!"
Slow down, mate, who the fuck is Giza? Oh, you mean that young prodigy someone mentioned before? Gone and turned to evil has he? I suppose that's why that one wizard asked me to defeat him in backwards-talk. What does the other, less panicky monk here have to say?
"When Giza came here, we all thought he would arise to become a great and good wizard...But now he has killed the High Wizard and stolen the Prime Orb! His evil minions, under Giza's order, search desperately for something...What are they looking for...?"
Okay, wizard. I'm a warrior, and thus too dumb to tell magic users apart from monks and merchants. Those minions may be looking for the same clue that I am. I don't care about Giza, the Wizard Pope, or any of your other bullshit. Where's Argos so I can kill him and Kat so I can bask awkwardly in her vicinity?
"This statue once held the Prime Orb in its hands." he laments. "But the Orb no longer rests here."
Well they aren't here in the double-wide sanctum sanctorum of the temple; even the shit that's supposed to be here isn't. I suppose it is fair that the huge temple on the mountaintop have a larger version of the temples we come across all over the towns of the island. And I suppose Alex never got a word in edgewise about why he actually came knocking before every wizard's mother's magic son decided he must have come to save them from their new boss. Look I'll go have a chat with Giza and we'll work this all out, yeah?
More fighting ensues. The temple, as dungeons go, is very linear and not much of a dungeon at all really. Every other room seems to either have baddies or be completely safe. No traps or puzzles at all. Did these wizards even try to clean the place out on their own?
"Oh... the revered High Wizard is dead... What is in store for us now?"
No! Not the wizard pope! I only just heard of him minutes ago and now he's dead! Damn you Giza!
"Giza studied here before, but his sister became ill, and he left to care for her. He must have lost his faith in honor and truth, for now he cavorts with DEMONS!"
Ah, so that whole sobbing graveyard ghost thing was really all about the game's actual villain, whose narrative all of these wizards are here to scramble together before I face off and set the tone for the rest of the game, eh? Oh, video game writing.
For my part, I was perfectly satisfied to have Argos as the bad guy, but if he has a boss of his own, so much the better I guess.
"And the 'Great Warrior' makes his grand entrance...You came for Katarina, I gather. Well, I could use some amusement, and I have some time to KILL...Do you wish to attempt to battle ME? Well, have at it then, warrior, let's see what that pathetic sword of yours can do!"
Look at that health bar, he must be a boss! Let me at him, I'll smash him with my...sword? Hey waitaminute. I had the boomerax equipped, what gives?
Giza laughs at your puny attack, "You think you can defeat me?! HA! You'll regret this, I assure you!"
Gruh, no, this is oneathose plot battles...I'm powerless...*cough*...during...cut...scenes
Giza tosses Alex around a bunch, then burns him with fire. Notice the stylish flick of the hand. Damn wizards are cool.
"Ha ha ha! Look warrior! You can fly!!!"
Psychotically, Giza screams out, "You know I wield far greater power than you ever will!"
"What's wrong, boy? We've only just started our little game!"
"Have a taste of my magic, Hero!"
Giza picks Alex up by the boob.
Giza, though a mere wizard, is easily able to hold Alex off the ground with one outstretched arm.
"Man is mortal... weak and pitiful. Struck down with ease by magic, might and disease. When I warp the power of the Prime Orb to my side, I shall attain a state beyond that of fragile mortality! I shall sit among the GODS!"
"Hail Giza! Hail Giza!"
"WHAT!" Giza snaps, "Can't you see I'm busy!?"
"Forget him!" Argos cries excitedly, "We have found the gate!"
Giza's eyes glaze over, and he hisses, "At last! I have found the Mouth of the Underworld! Well, mortal, I will let you live. But only to witness your wretched race PERISH! Argos! Take Katarina to the Underworld's mouth!"
"Yes, m'lord." Argos humbly heeds.
And here we get to see the inner workings of team evil's plan and power structure laid out in a few short sentences. Still no clue why they need Kat for this, but what's a mouth of the underworld without a few human sacrifices, right?
Only if you're playing Dragon View and expected an actual boss fight from all that. Whelp, I guess we leave our whelpish warrior to wallow in the welter of his critical physical injuries, crushing moral anxieties, and maddening mental anguish.
Join us next time, where Alex, perhaps, recovers from Giza's threefold rout.