Part 47: Rock & Roll
Starting up Duran's quest line, the most obvious thing about it is that in many ways Duran's experience is a callback to previous characters in the Mana series. It's also the most meta of the starting scenarios, and it seems unquestionable that it's the one you're expected to start out with. To begin with, just like in Seiken Densetsu/Final Fantasy Adventure, we start out with a gladiator battle he's just not a slave.
"You think you can win, kid? Hahahaha!"
"Did you bring in a ringer from outside, Your Majesty? I don't recognize this clown."
"I've got to keep you on your toes somehow, don't I? Besides, the bookies were giving lousy odds on you against all the other contestants."
A few seconds later...
"Okay, that's enough! Duran son of Loki has won the contest!"
" Y, you win!"
"You should have known better. I'm not sure how, but you just should have."
"His father, Loki, served the kingdom as one of the elite "Knights of Gold. But at a time in Duran's young days, Loki went away, never to be seen again After losing his mother to an illness, Duran was raised by his aunt, Stella. Though he hardly remembered his father, swordsmanship ran in his blood. With this skill, he came to serve Kind Richard as a mercenary of Forcena."
Or, alternatively, as a guard who nobody bothers to make wear a uniform since he'd kick their ass if they did. The whole "mercenary of Forcena" thing makes me think that somebody misunderstood the term mercenary.
"I'm gonna go make one more round I'll be right back."
"Just try not to fall asleep before I get back."
"Sure, sure "
" It's the Dragon Extermination. The enemy this time is the one called Dragon Emperor the most powerful of all among the Dragon tribe."
"You're going to fight a dragon? Hell yeah!"
"Watch your mouth, kid! Fighting dragons isn't easy, either."
"But it'll be all right. With Prince Richard and I together, we'll win for sure!"
"Duran Take care of Mom and your sister Wendy while I'm gone."
"Okay! Come back soon!"
"he and the Dragon Emperor both fell into a bottomless pit "
"We stayed there for a week afterwards, searching for him, but no luck "
"But why were you searching for him? You knew exactly where he was. In the pit."
"It might also have been not wanting to come back and tell you that you're a widow. Just a little bit."
"Surely he'd feel satisfied to die so gloriously Ugh! "
"Simone, be strong!"
" if Loki knew that I was not well, he would have stayed home "
"I didn't want to be a burden on him "
"How silly to lose you and Loki both "
"Thank you ."
"I am so going to get fired over this."
Finding your way here can be a bit difficult. All of the doorways are blocked off by dead guards, and you have to trigger the next bit by trying to reach the front door. A familiar face (for those who've been reading along) appears and heads down one of the passages, helpfully unblocking it.
"I'm not as sharp as this sword is! Here, let me show you!"
"What's so funny!?"
"You appear to take pride in being the number one swordsman of this castle "
"Oh, so you've heard of me?"
" but you ought to learn the limits of your body "
"Shut up!! I don't have time for your crap anyway. I'm going to go warn the King."
"What did you say?!"
"Hahaha! You're still but a child!"
"Employing children as soldiers I guess King Richard isn't all he's made out to be."
"I will not allow you to insult His Majesty!!"
" ow "
"And now, for the coup de grace "
"There are intruders in this castle! Find them!"
"Hehehe you lucked out this time. We'll pull out for today."
"That's what.. I said to your mother "
"With such pitiful defenses, I don't see how you can last much longer, though. Mwahahahaha!"
" ugh Wait !"
" except for Duran, who just barely survived."
"How did that happen, anyway?"
"According to the court magician, the spell was set to kill anybody awake on the castle walls."
" we really need to fire that guy."
"Witnesses reported that the wizard was wearing a red cape "
"This must have been the famous 'Wizard of the Red Lotus' from the Magic Kingdom Altena!"
"Altena is sending spires into our country!? They must be planning and invasion!"
"We should launch a preemptive strike! We can't let them be the first to attack "
"Also, what do you call killing an entire shift of guards and attempting to invade the castle besides 'attacking first?'"
"Last night, someone infiltrated the castle without being noticed. Not even Duran could stop him."
"I don't believe we have the resources necessary for an all-out invasion "
"Most notably, we have no boats or giant eagles to get us to Altena "
"Giant eagles, sir?"
"A man can dream, can't he?"
" and I certainly don't want our troops to be lured into some kind of trap."
"Our top priority right now is to step up our security at this castle."
"I volunteer, Your Majesty!"
"Oh, no need for that. I know just who'll be volunteering for this. He should be along in the morning."
"As you wish, Your Majesty!"
"Altena The Queen of Reason why would they choose to attack us?"
"Hey bartender! This beer is dry, clear, and flavorless! I demand a replacement!"
"Brother! Your wounds still aren't healed. You've got to stay in bed!"
"You're awfully short for a waitress wait a second, you're not my waitress!"
"Damn it crimson crimson wizard I
"Brother, pull yourself together!"
"I think that's probably my cue to go home.. or catch her.. or something. "
"Yeah, I'm having a hard time with it too "
"She does that all the time uh.. can I get my next drink in a "to-go" mug?"
"Yeah, I think it's time for you to go."
"That's more like it! Bartender, next round's on my friend!"
"Seriously, get the hell out of my bar."
"Okay, I'm going, I'm going "
"You should know better than to ask that question."
"Wasn't anything a good night's sleep and a beer or six couldn't fix. No big deal."
"That is the way of the Knight. Don't slack off, become a great Knight like your father was!"
"That's really nice of you to say! Why aren't we better friends?"
"Because this is the third time you wandered into my house in the middle of the night drunk off your ass. At least this time you've still got your pants."
"It's part of the King's new security policy "
"How's that going to stop a wizard from flying over the walls and sneaking in to the castle?"
"Your guess is as good as mine."
As a note, we can't go back home until after we see one more thing. This is the same message that will be put up if we try to come back after we leave.
"You look like you could use a fortune telling. Let me try "
"Tell me how to get stronger!"
"The Priest of Light will tell you all about class changing!"
" Class changing?"
"Yes. Exactly. Now get the hell off my counter!"
"Hmph the only class you'll be changing into is 'Immature Bully." Now, scram!"
When I said that Duran's quest was meta, I meant it. He's actually leaving home in search of a game mechanic to increase his strength. You don't get much more self-aware than that.
"Where the hell was that an hour ago? Little sisters "
At last, the question of what was in the chest in Duran's room is answered! Kind of! With some light monologuing.
"I will not forgive that Wizard. Whatever happens, I'll defeat him without fail "
"Until then, I cannot come back "
" I won't go back "
"Duran, if you're going to leave please take this."
"What is it?"
"It's the sword your father Loki used when he was young."
"With this sword he, too, won the swordfighting contest, defeating Prince Richard "
"I know it's just an ordinary bronze sword like the one you have now, but please take it."
"That's a pretty good idea.. could always use a spare, in case this one breaks.."
"I'm also not sure what your sister would do with it, and I don't want to find out."
"He thought you might be planning something like this "
"After all, you are the son of Loki."
"I haven't been looking after you all these years for nothing. I'm proud of you, Duran "
"Thanks, Auntie. I'll come back for sure "
Duran gets no respect from the little kids around town. It's a nice touch that all the dialogue from these characters is just a bit different that what we see when other parties come this way an hour or two down the line.
" the King is in the back room. N, no, I wasn't sleeping!"
"Whatever, man. That must have been some weird dream."
"Your Majesty! It was my fault that the crimson wizard escaped "
"I can't forgive him not only for the injury he dealt me, but for the insult to the kingdom as well."
"Until I triumph over that wizard, I cannot return to this castle "
"So I see Understood, Duran. Take care of yourself!"
"So you knew he would be coming?"
"Trust me. It's exactly what his father would have done and now, we don't have to send anybody else to Altena."
Now that we can leave the castle as Duran, we get a restricted version of the Molebear highlands to wander through, complete with scaled down enemies. These Assassin Bugs are surprisingly tough for being level one, taking 3 or even 4 hits to kill. In contrast, Duran can one shot a Rabite even now at level 1.
There's a hole we can fall into, but it doesn't go anywhere. The only benefit is a glimpse at Duran's hilarious falling animation.
The one and only time you get to cross this bridge at this point, I'm just sad that the screen didn't fade to blue with a silhouette of Duran crossing the bridge and start playing some music.
And with that, we've reached the end of Duran's intro. It's nice that they take away direct control and prevent you from doing anything embarrassing like buying all the weapons and armor from somewhere several hours ahead of the start of the game.