Part 32: Aggressive Herpetology
Dragon Cavern is located in the mountains to the east of Castle Dragontooth, logically enough. After this update, it's just going to be called Cavern.
Because all the dragons will be gone, see.
Because we'll have killed them.
"If we intend to assault a dragon lair, we should make some preparations first."
As you might expect, dragons use lots of elemental attacks, so we really want this resistance boost active at all times. We'll also want to cast the Protection from Cold and Protection from Acid buffs.
Lloyd's Beacon is disabled inside the cavern itself, making it a bit of a pain to get back here quickly, but we can always hoof it back to the cave entrance when we need to recharge our buffs after resting.
"There are fewer monsters here than I'd have expected. Do you suppose our rivals were here before us?"
"Hey, maybe they got eaten by a hydra! That'd make our lives easier."
"Oh look, mooks. Barely even worth killing. I mean, I'm still going to kill them, but there's no real satisfaction in it."
We saw some of these guys in Blood Reign Dungeon. If you're not at the point where you can one-shot Draconis then you may as well just turn back now, because every single other thing in this cavern will eat you alive.
"Whatever, talking skull. What do you know about staying alive? You're dead."
"Ugh. Did we just step in dragon dung?"
"Hey, neat! It's full of little shiny rocks!"
At the cost of taking some poison damage (easily mitigated by our protection spells), searching the dragon dung nets us some gems. There's a lot of dragon dung in the cavern, so those gems add up surprisingly fast.
"Oh, come on, that threat is just stupid. A 'burial' tomb? As opposed to what other kind of tomb, pray tell? Gods, I've had it up to here with talking skulls, I swear. It's not like anything in this cavern is even that danger--"
"Don't worry. I expect she'll be fine as soon as she thaws out."
"--ous. Brrr, who turned up the air conditioning?"
"Somethin' worth fightin' at last! We gotta rip it to shreds!"
Green Dragons are the main enemy we'll be fighting for the rest of this cavern. They breathe cold on the party for 250 damage, which hurts quite a lot even with all the resistance boosts on the party, so we want to kill them quickly. They have 60 speed, making them faster than everyone except Sails and The Raven. At her current level, Sails can usually one-shot them if she's buffed with Holy Bonus to increase her damage output.
When killed, they're a good source of gold and an excellent source of gems.
"Heh. That poem doesn't even scan properly. Come back when you've learned a little bit about metre. Oh wait, you can't come back, because you can't go anywhere, because you're a skull on a stick. Sucks to be you."
"Sorry, but I'm still not feeling it. Maybe if these dragons spent their decoration budget on traps or bodyguards or something instead of talking skulls, this place would be more dangerous."
"One more orb for King Malefactor! And what's that up ahead, to the right? Is that treasure I see? I think it is!"
There's loads of treasure just lying around the cave, too, there for the taking -- I mean, provided you can get past the dragons to reach it. There are major treasure troves like this one, with several top-tier items, and minor ones, which only have 50,000 gold, 500 gems and high-tier items.
The cavern starts to get a little tricky as we go deeper in, hiding dragons behind false walls or at the end of corridors so that they have a chance to breathe on the party before we close to melee. The walls themselves are pretty tough too, taking a few attempts to bash down even with Sails and Cyrus' high Might. It's probably easier to just teleport past them.
"What could this message be trying to tell us? If we tried to walk five paces to the east, we'd run head-first into a solid wall."
"Hey, there's another message on the wall just around the corner!"
"Hmmmmm. Five paces east of the message that said '5 East', and five paces south of the message that said '5 South'..."
"Perhaps if I teleport us six paces east from this position..."
"We've done it! We've found the dragons' secret treasure room!"
"Just gold? No dragons? Too easy! Find more dragons! More dragons for me to destroy!"
There are three treasure rooms like this, all pointed to by similar directions on the walls. In total, there's something like 9 million gold hidden in the rooms, reachable only by teleportation.
"Oh, I'm soooooo scared. What, is some kind of big scary papa dragon gonna---"
"That's... that's actually a pretty big scary papa dragon."
The Dragon Lord is the single strongest monster in the entire game. He can inflict a massive 1000 Energy damage to the entire party, is almost completely immune to magic and has 150 Speed, so he acts before anyone in the party. At least he doesn't inflict any disabling status effects or anything, if you don't count "potentially one-shotting anyone in the party through sheer damage" as a disabling status effect. Good thing we got that resistance boost from the Isle of Fire!
You'd think 107% Energy resistance would mean we could ignore the Dragon Lord's attacks, but unfortunately resistance doesn't work that way: the party has a very high chance to take reduced damage, but some damage will usually still slip through. I've cast Heroism and Holy Bonus on the party's four best melee fighters to maximise their damage output. With the help of all those buffs, hopefully we can kill the Dragon Lord before it kills the party.
"Haaaaaah! Victory! I am the greatest warrior of all time!"
It takes a couple of attempts, but the party manages to achieve victory after several hard-fought rounds of combat. In hindsight it might have been a better idea to cast fewer buffs and save some spell points for Divine Intervention instead.
"Do you know when gauntlets that boost energy resistance would have been most useful? Before that fight that just almost killed us."
"Wow, we just slew the king of all dragons! We're the best! We totally earned this treasure!"
In the treasure trove behind the Dragon Lord is a cool five million gold and some insanely huge number of random top-tier items, like 12 or so.
Unfortunately, most of this stuff is just going to get sold. Both parties are so well-equipped at this point that there aren't many things that can make them more powerful than they already are.
There's a total of four Ultimate Power Orbs in the cavern, the last of which is in the Dragon Lord's chambers. You don't have to kill him to get it (or to take his treasure, for that matter), but it'd take some fancy footwork to get in and out without a fight.
"Yesss! Only one more Ultimate Power Orb to go before Team Evil rules over all of Terra! Let's go take these ones to King Malefactor right away!"
"Oh, fuck off already."
"Victory is so close now that I can taste it. Terra will be mine!"
"Surely you mean 'Terra will be ours'?"
"If you say so."
Between looting the kings' treasuries and the dragons' hoards, the party's bank balance is looking very healthy right now. I'll be putting all the gold and gems to use pretty soon.
"One more orb to go! Just one! I'm so excited I could beat someone to a pulp for no reason at all!"
"Isn't that just your default state?"
"Minty, if I could beat someone to a pulp for no reason, what do you think I'm going to do when you give me a reason?"
"Look how tough I am now! I coulda taken on that dragon all alone, with one hand tied behind my back! Well, maybe not. But I'm still real tough! Give me somethin' else to destroy an' I'll prove it!"
"We really ought to do something about Cyrus. His behaviour is most unsettling."
"Aaaaaaa! Somebody get Sails away from me! Heeeeelp!"
"Wow, this is awesome. Cyrus got turned into a crazed killing machine and Sails... well, she kind of always was one. You guys are a hoot."
"Can we perhaps hold off on killing each other until our rivals are destroyed and the final Ultimate Power Orbs are in King Malefactor's hands? Victory is assured as long as we can stay together until the end."
"Hah! Don't worry about me! Give me good food, good ale and mighty enemies to slay, and I'll follow you to the ends of the earth! We'll have those orbs in no time!"
Countdown to the start of the endgame: two more updates! Get ready!