Part 5: Things Fall Apart, The Center Cannot HoldDear Diary,
As soon as we entered the town we'd sighted, the welcome party came to greet us. It was certainly a nice change from some of the towns we'd visited earlier, and I found the community minded spirit it evoked refreshing.
More interestingly, however, it seemed that this city was close enough to our ancestral homeland that a soldier from Alefguard had made his way here. I resolved to journey there as soon as possible.
That's not to say that the people in town were all completely normal or even pleasant, but at least they were all straight forward about it. Never did figure out who in town can turn princes into tadpoles.
I'm pleased to see that our family's legacy is alive and well here, remembered even though it's been a century since they would have passed through here.
My desire to travel to Alefgard was inflamed further by rumors of trouble in Tantegel castle. Our sixth cousin might be in trouble, and I'm eager to tread on the ground where our heroic ancestors made their names.
Before we could visit the shops, however, I noticed that there appeared to be trouble brewing in an open green space within the city walls. In a town that still remembered our ancestors I couldn't let this kind of thing pass unnoticed.
The townswoman was being menaced by two gremlins, a creature we had never encountered before but would become very familiar with. These mischievous creatures are skilled sorcerers and further will occasionally breath flame from their mouth like some kind of misbegotten dragon. They are capable of using sleep magic, and will sometimes heal each other, but are still vulnerable to magic attacks and fall quickly before a strong sword arm.
60 hp, 57 attack, 20 defense, and 30 agility. 23 gold and 52 experience
Naturally we slew the fiends and rescued the girl, but I'm fairly certain that being taken to meet someone's grandfather isn't the normal reward for saving a girl from monsters.
On the other hand, receiving a ship as a reward for killing two rather mediocre enemies is excellent compensation by any measure. We finally had our ticket to Alefgard.
Before that, however, it was time to check the local shops. The equipment shop had a few goods we hadn't seen before, but my attention was caught by the fine weave of a particular set of clothing that promised to offer finer protection for Peta. Considering the difficulties she had been experiencing, not purchasing the outfit was impossible.
The tool shop sold the fabled Dragon's Bane we had heard tale of, but unfortunately at that point we had no remaining funds to purchase one.
Before hitting the open seas, a mysterious locked room in the bay beckoned. It would be remiss to not use the silver key after we went through so much trouble to get it.
A merchant had locked himself away in a room only accessible by ship, looking for adventurers to locate sunken treasure. There's a certain sort of bizarre logic to it, I suppose. Anyone who can reach his hideout is certain to be at least technically able to fulfill his request.
A short distance from Lianport we came upon the shore of what must have been Alefgard, but could find no immediate signs of human civilization. Curious, for a land that had been described as having numerous cities.
The sea is a cruel mistress, and soon we were accosted by disturbing creatures that slopped onto the deck. Sea slugs are amorphous slime-covered abominations that can breath sleep-inducing gases and are vulnerable to Infernos magic. The Man of War is a gigantic jellyfish with stinging tentacles that can extend for dozens of feet behind it, but is such a weak opponent that it is hardly worth mentioning.
Sea Slug: 32 hp, 38 attack, 11 defense and 16 agility. 80 gold and 34 experience.
Man of War: 20 hp, 28 attack, 16 defense and 12 agility. 50 gold and 25 experience.
At length we located a narrow passage between coasts, with numerous mountains and hills bordering them. Although it is strange to realize it now, Alefgard is a truly rugged land with great potential for exploration.
Finally, however, we came to a site that is surely unique in all the world: the twin castles of Tantegel and Charlocke, facing each other across the sea. The beginning and end of our ancestor's long-ago quest.
We were immediately welcomed and recognized as royalty, which made a gratifying change from the last few villages. The long history of our line in Tantegel no doubt contributed to their ability to recognize nobility when they saw it.
Further, it seems that they've been expecting us. I don't know quite what to say to such declarations. Could the menace of Hargon be great enough to call me for a destiny like that of my ancestor?
Peta in particular was recognized by the people, perhaps because Lady Gwaelin was a daughter of Tantegel. I wonder if people in this castle are all so familiar with the appearance of royalty from a century or more ago?
The story of the sunken treasure we are currently seeking has spread far and wide, although the rumors about its location are hardly helpful. There's a great deal of ocean in the north.
At last we sought out the King of Tantegel, only to find that he... is pretty thoroughly disgracing our family name. I would expect more from one of our relatives, but I suppose the greater degree of our vigor came from the line of Erdrick.
Leaving aside the disappointment that is our royal cousin, however, Tantegel is noteworthy for having the finest selection of weapons and armor that we have seen yet. In particular, this is the first town we've reached that has the wherewithal to fashion iron into protection for one's head, an idea so obvious in retrospect that I am amazed that no one thought of it previously.
Further exploration turned up another locked golden door, something I am quickly becoming tired of. Unfortunately, no word has yet been heard of the whereabouts of such a key. As there are golden doors in Midenhall I once again am certain that father has a key but will not seek his help.
One of the guards had a helpful bit of information about said key, but nothing about its location. Bored with the castle of Tantegel I led our group into the wilderness in search of the places that our ancestor had passed through in his journey.
To the north of Tantegel we located a small desert that had once housed a small cave containing a tablet written by Erdrick. The entrance must have collapsed in the intervening century and been covered by the sands.
The land of Alefgard was home to many strange beasts, few of which had been described in our ancestor's stories. Mud men are strange creatures animated by malign magics and possessing strange powers, the oddest of which is the ability to steal away magical power using a strange dance. They are sometimes able to completely slip aside from attack spells, but are weak enough in body that a solid hit from either magic or weapons will put them down. In contrast the Demighost is a phantom that somehow possessed considerable strength and a tendency to strike heroic blows with disturbing regularity. They also share a considerable resistance to magic, although Peta's spell to deceive an enemy's senses is particularly effective.
Demi Ghost: 48 HP, 51 attack, 16 defense, 31 agility. 50 gold and 41 experience. May attack twice.
Mud Man: 28 HP, 30 attack, 9 defense, 22 agility. 35 gold and 32 experience.
The city of Garin or Garinham has vanished from the map, with no indication of its presence left in the forest. The works of man are truly transitory.
In addition to the strange magical creatures that I previously described, a species of baboon roamed the forests in Alefgard. Colored a bright green these creatures are known as Magic Baboons, although at no point did I perceive any magic being used on their part. I suppose, however, that their color might allow them to blend more easily into their surroundings and appear to be using magic in order to surprise people. Other than their coloring, however, they were not noticeably different from the more common brown baboon.. except for the fact that have been known to organize and call for help when in need.
45 HP, 45 attack, 12 defense and 18 agility. 45 gold and 40 experience.
On occasion these so-called Magic Baboons were accompanied by Enchanters, men who had fallen further under the sway of dark powers and given up ever more of their souls in exchange for power. Sturdier than the magicians we had previously encountered they commanded greater magics, including the ability to block Lars and Peta's magics, sleep spells, and the ability to increase the strength of their own armor in addition to the familiar fireball spell. Lars Stopspell remained a reliable counter measure, but their strength was such that they required a solid blow or several magic spells to put them down.
40 hp, 36 attack, 14 defense, 25 agility. 30 gold and 37 experience.
From Garinham we traveled south, in search of the legendary ruins of Hauksness. That city had been destroyed by the forces of the Dragonlord a century past so we did not expect to find much, but either time or monsters have been more diligent than I would have imagined as no two stones stood together at what should have been its location.
Just as the desert south of Lianport had Carnivogs, so here did we find the Poison Lily. While the flowers were extremely large and quite beautiful to behold, they were also quite toxic. Their merest touch could poison a man, and they would occasionally exhale a foul vapor that infected the lungs. Unlike Carnivogs, however, these were far less of a threat since their poison will not immediately disable an attacker.
46 hp, 45 attack, 18 defense, and 23 agility. 25 gold and 31 experience.
We journeyed south and then east, toward the Walled City of Cantlin, which had stood as a bastion of civilization in the wilderness and had resisted the depredations of the Dragonlord with its Golem guardian. Alas, Cantlin too was gone and I began to wonder how desperately civilization must have fallen apart in order to see the destruction of so many cities. Had monster attacks become so frequent and devastating that all the people were killed, or forced to withdraw to Tantegel for protection?
Well, THAT was an awkwardly timed screen shot...
Even former towns nearer to Tantegel had disappeared, like the village of Kol located northeast of the castle town. Given the weakness of the current king, I wonder if it might be that he was simply unable or unwilling to protect the towns and cities outside of the castle.
Heading south from the site of Kol we at least came to several features we could recognize from the legend of our ancestor: The Rainbow Bridge and the passage between the northern and southern continents where Princess Gwaelin was rescued so long ago.
It appears as though the passage has changed little over time, although it seems much wider than one would have thought.
I'm not sure exactly what we walked into on the southern continent, but I did note the beautiful saber tiger rampaging through the wilderness with considerable appreciation. These noble beasts are powerful predators, but fall quickly when their prey actually turns on them. While easy enough to kill, they are more than capable of killing a person from ambush in moments. lt's fortunate for the children of Tantegel that these appear to be confined to wilder areas.
25 hp, 70! attack, 20 defense, and 48 agility. 55 gold and 40 experience, can attack twice.
The area is also home to roving bands of metal slimes, although they are just as cowardly in numbers as they are alone. Despite the number present we were unable to kill a single one, although Lars was nearly burned to death from their fireball spells.
Even Rimuldar of the Keys, once a city second only to Tantegel, appears to have been abandoned. What happened to this land?
Orcs roam the forests around the inland lake, brutal beasts who are civilized enough to wear clothing (thankfully) but still attack any stranger they come across. Orcs are strong enough to pose a considerable threat, but are vulnerable to magic and are not much stronger than a baboon. I can only hope that someday the baboons will also learn about clothing.
60 hp, 75 attack, 23 defense, 36 agility. 50 gold and 61 experience.
At the very southern tip of the continent we came to an isolated shrine, where an old man doubted our lineage and demanded that we display a token of our heritage. I would have liked to introduce him to my sword point, but couldn't bring myself to punish an old man, even one so deserving as this one, so severely. Instead, we departed through the warp gate behind him.
The first gate led to a network of interconnected gates, leading to various far flung corners of the world. I marked another island as deserving of a visit now that we had a ship, although I still have no idea where it is. Based on its appearance, I imagine somewhere in the tropics.
A helpful old man at one gate nexus had some information about Hargon's castle, although it couldn't apply to any of the castles we've been to yet. I shall regard any further castles we find with considerable suspicion.
One gate led to a small island, surrounded by mountains that could apparently only be approached via travel gate. I was instantly intrigued, for surely few if any other explorers had ever visited this place.
If they had, they would not have been likely to have survived in any case. Clearly related to the common orc, the Gold Orc is yet stronger and is crafty enough to utilize weapons and tools. Due to the accompanying Smokes Peta and Lars soon found that their magic was sealed, and with their respective inability to use weapons victory over the orc was a very near thing. This region is fascinating, but will have to be explored at a later date.
100 hp, 80 attack, 56 defense, 57 agility. 255 gold and 63 experience. This makes them this game's version of the Goldman, and ties them with 2 other enemies for most rewarding to kill.
Returning to Tantegel, I was pleased to have enough funds to purchase the Giant's Hammer. Unfortunately Lar's arms, already too weak to carry a steel shield, were also too weak to use my old sword. I was forced to sell it, but the proceeds weren't quite enough to buy that helmet I had my eye on.
With a new weapon in hand we headed to the final unexplored landmark on our list: Charlock castle. The main entrances were impassable, but a side pathway led beneath the ruins.
Immediately upon entering we encountered mummy men, although I am uncertain as to where they might have come from. The people of Tantegel, so far as I know, do not practice mummification nor do any nearby cities. The mummy men struck powerful blows, but were incredibly weak and slow in comparison to just about anything. Killing them was no particular challenge, but I was most puzzled by the fact that they were accompanied by saber tigers. The tigers must have been uninterested in the dried flesh of the mummies. After slaughtering the group of them, Lars announced that he had finally worked out the healing spell that Peta had been using the entire time. I may suggest that he focus on healing and leave the actual magical hard work to Peta.
46 hp, 58 attack, 2! defense and 1 agility. 40 gold and 44 experience.
The mummy men were not the only strange creatures under Charlock castle. The Gorgon is a close relative of the Medusa Ball, but lacks something of its ferocity and speed. Instead, they compensate with rock hard skin and the ability to cast numerous spells like surround, increase, defence, and sleep. Without any kind of attacking ability, however, their demise is only a matter of time.
26 hp, 30 attack, 120! defense, and 30 agility. 30 gold and 50 experience.
The lower floors of the castle soon split into a maze of stairways and blind dead ends, indicating that a truly deviant mind was at work in its construction.
Unfortunately, our exploration was cut short when a trio of saber tigers worked together to eviscerate Lars. We killed them all, naturally, but it was too late for Lars.
Far below the ground I was suddenly keenly aware of the fact that Lars was the only person who could magically pull us from inside the castle. Peta claimed that she could use her magic to keep enemies from noticing us as we made our way out of the castle.
It failed miserably. I'm rather disappointed in her, to be honest. This is the first spell of hers that has performed so poorly. If this continues I may promote Lars again.
Charlock castle was a truly bountiful location for observing rare wildlife, although I could say a thing or two about the circumstances under which we observed them. The basilisk, contrary to fanciful tales about monsters that can turn a man to stone with a glare, is simply a larger version of the common cobra with an even more powerful bite. Their poison, however, is much the same and conveys no increased lethality despite their greater size.
38 hp, 75 attack, 25 defense and 41 agility. 58 gold and 41 experience.
Near the entrance we encountered the aptly named Dragon Fly, which greatly resembled the lizard flies from the area around Moonbrooke. Their bright pink color was greatly distracting, and very unlike anything found elsewhere in nature. Rather than using magic, as their weaker cousins did, they had a more peculiar ability: they could breath fire.
40 hp, 51 attack, 21 defense, 35 agility. 43 gold and 59 experience.
That last ability will be forever engraved upon my mind, as I recall it being the last thing I saw before awakening in Tantegel Castle. No person in the castle could provide answers as to who had brought us back to civilization, but I am grateful that someone provided such kindness to strangers. The mysteries of Charlock castle still beckon, but I believe before we can return there we shall have to invest in better equipment.
End of Update Summary
Level 16. Giant Hammer, Full Plate Armor, and Steel Shield.
Level 14. Iron Spear, Chain Mail, and Leather Shield.
Level 10. Bamboo Stick and Clothes Hiding