Part 24: Only YOU can fight house firesChapter 24: Only YOU can fight house fires
Off to the rescue, then. It's surprising how much of a heavy sleeper Shadow is, given his chosen vocation.
Conveniently, he wakes up just in time to not be useful.
That sure is a fire, all right.
: Relm's inside that house!! Relm!!!
: Flames be GONE!
I'm going to assume that he's using a water spell of some kind, but this is the only time in the game that a spell has an incantation associated with it, so I'm not entirely sure that it's the same one we'll be seeing shortly.
Looks like we're gathering a crowd.
: I don't care! Relm's inside!
: Flames be GONE!
Mayor: All right. We really have no choice. Stand back!
Other people in the crowd also chime in with their own flames-be-gone spells, but...
Seems to me like this is the opposite of progress.
: It's no use! The fire's too strong!
Mayor: I think that's because they keep so many Fire Rods in here...
: I'm going in!
: Fools! I may be old, but I'm not powerless!
Yeah, no kidding. Strago is this game's version of the Blue Mage, a magician that copies special techniques learned from monsters. In this game, Blue Magic is known as Lore, and its usefulness varies from quite good to just painfully awful, depending on the spell.
Strago's way of learning Lore is a tad different from the standard version. Normally, a Blue Mage would have to be hit directly by an enemy's attack, but Strago only has to see it in action to learn it. These confused Balloons are going to be killing themselves with their special Exploder technique, but Strago's going to learn it anyway.
Incidentally, this is the only situation where being Blind is a detriment, because Strago can't see Lore spells in order to learn them.
Lore-Exploder: Sacrifices the caster to deal damage equal to the caster's HP. Any technique that requires the caster to die is generally not worth it from the get-go, but this is downright pathetic.
In order to give him some use while we train him in actual magic, Strago's got three starting Lore spells. This one here is Aqua Rake, but Strago also knows Revenge and Stone. The first one is handy, but the other two...
Lore-Aqua Rake: Deals water damage to the entire enemy party. Seeing as you can count the number of water-type techniques in this game on one hand, this is absolutely invaluable, especially against these enemies.
Lore-Revenge: Deals damage equal to Strago's max health minus his current health. Terrible at the start, and when he's at a level where it'll be somewhat effective, there'll be higher-damage options available.
Lore-Stone: Deals one hit of non-elemental damage, has a chance of confusing the enemy, and does eight times the damage if the target has the same level as you. It's also stupid inaccurate.
On to the dungeon itself. The monsters in the dungeon are all Balloons, represented by roaming flames, and yet another instance of monsters that you can see and avoid.
In this room, if you take the left door, you'll get ambushed by a group of four Balloons every single time, so you go right.
On two occasions, you'll be given a choice between two doors. One leads to a treasure box, the other leads further into the building, and you can't go back. Also, you can't repeat this dungeon, so you better get it correct the first time. Here's a hint: always take the right door first.
This Ice Rod here is similar to the Lightning Rod we picked up WAAAAAAAY back in Figaro Cave. You use it, it casts a powerful elemental spell, it breaks. We could have bought one of these back in town, but that's 3000 GP, and it's not like I'm sitting on over 120000 GP right now or something.
You know, it has been so long since we've had a good boss fight. I'll be the first to admit that the FlameEater killed me a lot when I was young. This sentient fireball slings around low and medium fire spells with impunity, and they hurt. If you take too long to kill it, it might even drop a Fire 3 on the group, which is no picnic.
FlameEater's main gimmick of note is that it summons in Balloons to help it out, though it'll also occasionally summon in a Grenade, which is the next highest tier of Bomb-type enemy. Nothing a quick shot of Aqua Rake can't take care of.
It's worth pointing out that FlameEater itself isn't weak to Water, but Ice spells do heinous amounts of damage. The thing only has 8400 health, and breaking an Ice Rod on it ended up doing over 5000 damage.
If you hit it too many times, the boss will cast Safe and Reflect on itself and reflect high-end fire spells at you. Fortunately, two can play at that game, which is why I equipped Strago with a Wall Ring before the battle began. In case of emergency, I also have Locke equipped with a Blizzard Blade, so the fight goes pretty smoothly.
: Relm! Where are you?
How'd that dog get here ahead of us? For that matter, how'd it avoid the FlameEater?
Suddenly, the screen begins to shake.
: Uwaaa! Too late!
Looks like a pretty bleak situation, especially since Interceptor's attacks aren't coded to hit flying enemies like Bombs.
Good thing that Shadow's here to save the day.
: Let's get outta here! I'll use a Smoke Bomb!
What's this? Incorporation of game mechanics into actual plot events? I say!
: Save your thanks for these people.
: Thank you...
: I guess our town's little secret is out now...
: Can everyone here use Magic? What's going on here?
: Long ago humans used Magicite to gain magical powers. They came to be known as Mage warriors.
: But I thought they perished centuries ago...
: After the War of the Magi, the Espers fled to their new world behind the sealed gate. They wished to live peacefully, without fear of being used by humans. They left us here to fend for ourselves...But we were despised by normal people. Everyone felt we had begun that war...
: Even though the only difference was that you could use Magic...?
: A few Mage Warriors escaped and found their way here. They were our ancestors. Our powers have weakened over time, but some of it remains.
: Look, if you're up to it, we could use your help.
: So, you're after the Espers, eh...? Well, I owe you for saving Relm. I'll help you find your Espers.
: What a fuddy duddy.
The more and more Relm talks, the more I cringe at the thought of her joining my party. But you know she's going to do it, and the way she does it will be painful.
: But... where do we start looking?
: Hmmm... If they're here, they must be hiding in the mountains to the west.
: They say the Espers were created there...
: Maybe they're drawn to that place?
: I think it's worth a look.
Better not forget this before we go.
Memento Ring: Protects against Zombie, Petrify and Instant Death, but can only be equipped by Shadow and Relm, who are the only folks who Interceptor seems to like. The flavor text reads "Departed mom's love protects against fatal magic attacks." How incredibly peculiar.
Outside, Shadow's about to do his walking away thing that he's most famous for.
: Going somewhere?
: I'll search for the Espers in my own way.
And so Shadow leaves the party once more, taking with him some decent equipment, a pair of Sprint Shoes, and a White Cape. It's sad living without my magical equipment-stealing elf. I hope Setzer fixes that airship soon.
Next Time: The most terrifying power of all