Part 20: Key to the Kingdom
Out fourth and final party is an eclectic mix of personalities: a short-tempered wizardess, a ronin who seems to be a refugee from Jumongu, and a bandit straight out of myth.
Withour characters in tow, we grab some rudimentary starting gear and head across that bridge at the base of the mountain.
Beyond is a rather nice-looking area that seems like it should be higher in the mountains. There's not much to it - just a few branching paths containing treasure chests - but it's perfect for level 1 characters.
The monsters here are nothing we haven't see before, though most of them were previously encountered at higher levels. Toxiclilies are the the exception; as you might expect, they can inflict poison.
Apart from gathering loot, our team reaches level 2 here. Lina learns her first new spell almost immediately, supplementing the Blaze spell she already had. Puff is an excellent early spell and will help her establish her place in the party by the end of this update.
After rounding out our equipment, we head out for the village of Saugon.
It's recognizable as the town from the opening, if only barely. Monsters have taken up residence, though fights only happen on contact with a monster sprite - the town has no random battles.
As for the monsters themselves, there are only two types, and they're always fought alone. They're so weak that not one of them got an action while we were here.
Saugon is also where Alibaba's Bandit skills start to show up, with him randomly finding gold or a chest after battle. Neither is going to break the game, but they're both nice bonuses.
The church is the most important building in town, at least for us.
The circle in front of the statue restores our party's HP at no cost, and ensures that we can deal with the swamp terrain and the two tougher battles found here.
Speaking of which, it's time for a little vengeance.
Mr. Sharpteeth uses Plague Bite to poison us, but is otherwise a fairly unassuming enemy.
That was for Laura-Lee, you son of a bitch. Sadly, killing him won't bring her back.
Near Mr. Sharpteeth is a bridge. We cross that and head north to the other important battle here.
Murzhor's henchman apparently stuck around to make sure the town got razed.
The Henchman is a fairly straightforward fight. As he says, magic does nothing to him, so we have to rely on physical attacks. Luckily we're pretty good at those. In addition to standard attacks, he uses Slasher to hit our whole party and Mutespell to further troll spellcasters. He goes down after a few rounds, though.
Yeah, yeah. Eat shit.
Defeating the Henchman gives us a full set of level-ups, including a significant boost to Raj Ahtan's arsenal. Pressure Point is a Chi skill unique to the Monk class that costs 2 MP and inflicts Weak on an enemy, which is a pretty decent trade.
We've done what we came here to do, but let's explore a bit and see if there's anything to find.
The town shop is as wrecked as everything else, but there's still something of interest.
After hitting the switch, a stairway opens in the ground outside.
The stairs lead to an underground passage that in turn leads behind the shop's counter. The chests here contain a knife, a leather dress, and a Tiny Medal, which is a pretty good haul. Unfortunately, since Lina is our only female party member, no one can actually wear the dress.
Up north, we come to the town graveyard. You know what that means.
Oh. No heroics for us today.
Oh well, I guess we'll just take this Tiny Medal as consolation.
There's also a clue to the Medal's location, in case it's not obvious enough.
Finally, we stop by Laura-Lee's house, where we find a couple of tarot cards in the cabinets. RIP, girl.
Oh, and before we leave, Alibaba hits level 4. Like other rogue classes, Bandits level a little more quickly than most.
With our business here concluded, we head back to Skatmandu.
The abbot has no comment on anything we learned in the ruined town, which feels like a bit of an oversight. Instead, he prompts us toward the next leg of the game. Unlike the other heroes, Raj Ahtan's primary goal is actually to answer the Call of Heroes.
Unfortunately, we have to petition the Sultan, and half the people we've met have told us what a dick he is. Well, we'll worry about that later.
From Skatmandu, we head south around the nearby lake.
Also, we gain some levels. Stamina is another Chi ability; it acts like Upperself but with a 0 MP cost, which is reasonably nice. Yajirobe also starts learning his own magic, starting with Sap, which combos well with his own high attack power.
The enemies here are all the same as in the Skatmandu side area, with the exception of Vamplants, which we saw in Chapter 2.
Moving on, we head east and then north to a tower.
We can't get in, though.
Further south is a pair of shrines, which means there's probably going to be a teleportal involved.
A rescue mission too, it seems.
It's another teleportal that we can't actually access without doing some work. Given that there's a key involved, though, it's probably a safe bet that it'll be worth it.
As the priestess said, the hut is not far east of the shrine.
I don't generally like to use the word "infestation" when talking about cats, but I think someone here has a problem.
We find our hoarder inside.
Honestly, this seems like a pretty good deal. All we have to do is catch a cat and we get a key out of it.
Problem #1: The basement is dark and mazelike. Luckily there are no monsters, but finding our way around can still be a pain.
Problem #2: The other cats. You can spend a fair amount of time trying to catch a cat only for it to not be the one you need.
There's also a Tiny Medal hidden away down here.
Finally, we catch old Roscoe and claim his key.
I kind of get the feeling the jailor was trolling us.
Key in hand, we return and save the priestess.
Everyone gets a level for this. Alibaba also learns a new skill, Caltrops, which damages all enemies and is super useful in the early game.
Just imagine this in damn near every random battle for the rest of the chapter.
This is a bit of an odd question, as the caverns in question are only accessible from the south bank of the river. We could not possibly have explored them yet.
We arrive in the south, and as day breaks, we head west.
We enter a small valley, head north, and arrive at one of two entrances to the dungeon. (The other, which we're not taking, is to the south.) You might notice an interesting-looking area across the mountains to the west, but the dungeon doesn't connect to it. We won't be going there for quite a while.
The entrance is pretty straightforward, and leads down into a small set of tunnels.
The enemy set here is limited, and nothing we haven't seen before.
Eventually, the path ends at a huge lake with a skiff docked at its shores. Here's where we see the main gimmick of the dungeon: it's mostly water.
The water monsters are the majority of what we'll be encountering here. Stingrays and cavefish make physical attacks, seashells use Coral, a healing ability, and lakehorses are so rare that I don't actually know what they do. Hardshells, meanwhile, have seriously impressive defense.
Seriously, no one in this party can scratch them with physical attacks. Alibaba's Caltrops can, though, as can Lina's spells.
Lina's Puff spell is also very useful against the large groups of seashells here. She's absolutely the star of this dungeon.
Unsurprisingly, all the fights in here reward us with some pretty decent EXP. Lina in particular is now able to live up to her namesake.
The main floor of the dungeon has a few scattered islands containing treasures, but this is what we really want: a whirlpool.
Upon entering it, we're sucked down to the basement, which is almost totally flooded.
And that's pretty much it. The dungeon basement has some pretty good treasures, including a poison needle and a Flash tool, but there's really not much about it that warrants more detail. A convenient set of stairs leads us back to the surface, and we leave the valley and head south.
And soon enough, we come to a town.
Monaboraba is the bordering nation; Sudash is right on Inhopal's border with it. The town is covered in sand and kind of a dump. Also, the music is a midi rendition of Arabian Nights, which is a bit on-the-nose.
I don't just mean the fact that the ground is mostly sand, either. We've got people sleeping on the streets.
The local pub is a decent source of both information and more complaints about the Sultan.
A visit to the local barracks shows us that the guards do not give even a single fuck.
They even let us into the dungeon, and we can open the cells thanks to our Jailor's Key. One of the prisoners relates a curious story.
Up on the city walls, one of the guards gives us a tidbit that would seem to back up the prisoner's tale. Even more curious.
We return back to ground level, but as expected, we can't pass over to the east side.
We were told the well might be able to get us over. Let's have a look.
The interior of the well is a simple tunnel. There are monsters here, but just mice and rats. Caltrops one-shots them all.
We climb out of a well on the west side of the wall.
We take a quick stop at the local inn, where we spy an out-of-place sprite in a small room.
Unfortunately, the door is locked. Holdana is carrying the key for it, so we're out of luck for now.
Yet another person tells us a similar story. Still, this is the way to Cadana - let's give it a shot.
Whoa, what the fuck-
And we wind up in the prison. Good thing we got the Jailor's Key.
Our attempt stymied, we rest the inn and look around during the day.
Sudash wasn't always such a terrible town. Makes one wonder why the Sultan closed the border.
Al that really remains at this point is to check the shops. They have the usual upgrades for this point in a chapter. Scimitars in particular are a great upgrade for us, to the point that we get three: one for Alibaba and two for Yajirobe.
Well, Sudash was a bust. I suppose we need to head for Bombomb.