Part 1: Slouching Toward CannockDear Diary,
Today was a day I've been awaiting for the longest time. It's finally happened!
At long last father has given me permission to set out on my journey to catalog the flora and fauna of the world and produce my signature work of natural philosophy. Well, that's what's going to happen... the real reason he told me I could leave is a bit different.
It seems that there's been a spot of trouble down south at my uncle's. Shouldn't be any real difficulty to sort it out, I imagine, and then there'll be no need to hurry back once I'm done.
It seems as though this Hargon the Wizard is the kind of sneaking coward who likes to come at you by surprise. He'll surely not stand up for long now that he's been revealed and can be tracked down.
From the story that the guard told my uncle had the right idea, but wasn't prepared and thus paid the price for it. It's very sad and all, but it's the natural fruit of pacifism and anti-preparedness.
He did have the good sense to try and hide my cousin away, although from what I remember from meeting her some years ago he'd have been well served to let that harridan loose on the enemy.
Too little, too late it appears. We're facing an enemy who can overcome walls and fortifications, which should influence our defenses although I'm rather certain that my father won't change anything at this point.
It didn't go very well for my uncle at all, I'm sorry to report. Although the information comes to us second hand, I do feel a measure of pride that a member of my family died so nobly. It's a bit difficult to feel much else, seeing as we hardly had the opportunity to meet more than once or twice.
At the very least there was one guard who was worthy of the name in the castle, although come to think of it we never did get his name.
I'll never know what convinced the first king of Moonbrooke to build his castle in the middle of a poisonous swamp, but I'm quite sure that it could have done no good for the health of that guard to have to trudge through it.
In a shocking display the guard collapsed at our front gate. The men posted there helped him up to the throne room where he gave us his message and promptly expired. It was sheer good luck that the rug was already out for cleaning.
Naturally father wasn't going to do anything about it himself, since he has me to take care of anything more strenuous than sitting on a throne making decrees.
He actually referred to my going out into the world as the doom of Erdrick! I look at it as an opportunity. Great evils make great heroes, after all. If Erdrick had been born in a time of peace nobody would remember his name.
Father certainly wasn't all that interested in providing decent equipment for the journey, nor any realistic amount of funds. Regardless, however, I shall make my own way in the world.
It was perhaps overdue that I leave at any rate. Some of the local girls are beginning to get ideas, and the last thing I want is to be tied down with an heir on the way.
The economy of our region is in a sad state when the only goods in the shop are medicines. Medicines that I can't realistically afford, at that.
I begin my catalog with the region around Midenhall, in the kingdom of Lorasia. The castle is located on a narrow strip of land between the mountains and the sea, where runoff and frequent storms have created a fertile plain.
The area is so tame that the only wild creatures near to the castle are the humble slimes, toothless piles of animate ooze that scoot across the ground picking up debris and loose change. They're hardly dangerous except to children, the elderly, and cripples. A nuisance, really, and best put to the sword whenever possible.
4 HP, 7 attack, 5 defense, and 2 agility. 1 experience and 2 gold per slime, although it's evidently slightly more than 1 experience since 3 slime give 4 XP.
I spoke perhaps too soon about slimes, as a sufficient number of them will wear even a healthy young man down. I returned to the castle after a strenuous hunt only to find that the Innkeeper had the effrontery to charge his own prince to stay at an inn that had no other customers. It's hardly our role as royalty to support his inn!
Yellowed text, by the way, is not a glitch. The game color codes the text for you in a couple of different ways. It becomes yellow when one of your characters has less than a quarter of their HP and red if one of your characters dies.
I went to father to request more assistance or some kind of break on expenses, but he had nothing for me but empty platitudes and good wishes. I truly am on my own.
I began my exploration by heading south of the castle, to a lawless wilderness that has been designated for future settlement and had a pair of bridges built across the river. Settlers have been reluctant to homestead here without increased protection.
The area is infested with Iron Ants, ferocious carnivores that are quite capable of tearing an unprepared human to shreds. Despite their monicker they aren't actually made of iron, as I had no difficulty cutting into their bodies with a copper sword. Their powerful mandibles make them somewhat dangerous, as does their tendency to appear in large numbers.
5 HP, 2 experience and 4 gold. Stats aren't available on every monster, unfortunately.
The area is also home to overlarge members of the slug family, which can sometimes wander into the environs around the castle itself. Despite their squishy appearance these slugs are unexpectedly tough and are in fact more dangerous on an individual basis than either slimes or iron ants. Luckily, however, they are less likely to attack in large groups. Much like slimes, they are most dangerous to those who can't simply walk away at a reasonable pace.
8 HP, 9 attack, 6 defense, and 3 agility. 2 experience and 3 gold.
My explorations perforce came to an end at a sandy peninsula to the south, where some brave soul had built a hermitage of sorts.
The old man living there in isolation had a bizarre fascination with keys, although he was helpful enough to inform me of where I could find a silver key of my own. It's a bit strange that we have so many locked doors in the castle without my father having just given me a key of my own, but I'm done asking him for anything.
Departing from the hermit's abode I was set upon by another denizen of the wilderness. Drackee are flying menaces that are among the most dangerous creatures living in the region about Midenhall. While their appearance is initially humorous, they possess sharp talons and have been known to carry off small animals and savage unattended children. A single drackee is a threat to an unarmed man, as they are nimble enough to avoid clumsy attacks.
9 HP, 12 attack, 8 defense, and 5 agility. 3 experience and 3 gold.
The creatures around Midenhall are beginning to become more skittish in my presence, having learned some degree of caution after seeing so many of their brethren slaughtered to fund my journey. It appears that I must move on.
To the west along the sea shore the land is also wild, with large expanses of desert and poisonous swamp. No peasant in their right mind would settle in this space, and my father's refusal to implement transportation as a penalty for common criminals has left us short of labor.
The town of Leftwyne sets in another relatively fertile basin to the west of a small mountain range and just north of the sea. The region is rich in timber, although there are not enough people living here at present to make proper use of the natural resources available.
Upon entering the town, I was gratified to hear that my reputation had preceded me and people were already talking about my quest. Although the woman didn't recognize me on sight, that's hardly unexpected.
In contrast to Midenhall, the shops of Leftwyne have a greater variety of goods available, including rare trophies of ferocious beasts. The Wing of the Wyvern is said to have magical properties, although I wasn't prepared to spend 80 gold pieces to find out.
The function of the wing has changed in this game, since there's more than one place to save your game. Instead of taking you back to a set location, it takes you back to the last place you saved your game. Handy if you don't want to walk, but you need the experience anyway.
I was more than a little chagrined to find that Leftwyne had a weapon and armor store full of quality equipment when Midenhall had no such establishment. My father is dead set against it, although I've always told him that when you outlaw.. chain sickles.. only the outlaws will have chain sickles. Unfortunately, I couldn't afford more than a leather shield at present.
The attack on Moonbrooke was all that appeared to be on anyone's mind, although how there could be much question about who was responsible is beyond me. The news of Hargon's evil ways has been spreading ever since that messenger came to Midenhall.
Speaking of which, the people of Leftwyne were more than eager to give directions on getting to Moonbrooke and Cannock, obviously wanting this matter settled as quickly as possible.
Since Cannock was only a short journey to the north I decided to stop by on the way and check in on my other cousin. Father's suggestion that I should look to the rest of the family for help isn't a bad one, although it'll be important to make sure he understands who's in charge. Speaking of Cannock, the castle town is located near the mountains and on the edge of a forest. It's an ideal location for hunting, and I fully intend to visit here again for just that reason.
The region is home to some truly strange creatures, like the ghost mouse. Local legends hold that the ghost mouse is the spirit of a particularly vicious type of large vermin that inhabits the area. While they lose some strength in the transformation, ghost mice are actually capable of using fire magic to strike back at the humans they blame for their death.
11 HP, 6 experience and 6 gold. They tend to go down pretty easy, but they're the best loot we've seen so far.
The people of Cannock are a noticeably melancholy lot, although perhaps they're afraid that they're going to be Hargon's next target. I tried my best to reassure them. A coward like Hargon isn't going to make a move with the eyes of the world on him.
From what his subjects say, the prince might be somewhat useful although I worry about the fact that he's dedicated himself to magic as opposed to more useful pursuits. I suppose I shall have to keep a close eye on him.
I'm impressed by the fact that Cannock actually has a prison for its miscreants, something I've argued as necessary for some time. The prisoners were a sorry lot, particularly the more rat-like individual.
I decided to stop in and check on my cousins. Luckily the guard prevented me from embarrassing myself, as I'd quite forgotten their names. It's hard enough to keep track of them when we go years without seeing each other.
You only get to select one character's name in this game. The other 2 are selected from a list of about 8 possibilities based on the hex value of the name you enter.
I'm afraid my cousin Halla is a bit... simple. She didn't realize who I was, and once I claimed to be a friend of her brother she told me exactly where I could find him. Light preserve his life if Hargon should actually send an assassin after him.
Conveniently enough, one of the guards had more exact directions to the spring Lars was headed toward. I think I'm going to have to go after him for his own protection at this point, as everybody in the castle appears hell bent on pointing random strangers in his direction.
My uncle didn't have much of value to say, but he at least agreed with me that if something isn't done he's not likely to see his son except as a ghost prince.