Part 40: Episode XL: The Transformation Short StrawEpisode XV: The Transformation Short Straw
Music: Atmosphere - Blow Up
Back at it again at Bistritz! It is still the same chapter. We're not moving on until this curse is lifted, dammit!
Music: Dirty Nails
Yep... Still cursed. Although, it seems you're perfectly fine as long as you don't open your doors when there's a red fog at night. The birdmen have yet to master doorknob tech and those ridiculous dogs don't even know what they're doing with hands in general. Still, we do know a recent widow and her child who haven't figured out that detail and just let anyone barge in at all hours of the night to keep the shop running.
Case in point, Mayor Sex Pest dashed straight over to the Do Re Mi Shop as soon as Alice and Zhuzhen left town. That's not suspicious or anything. We should... probably head over there straight away.
Music: Angel Heart
<looks around> Nina?
Hello-o-o?! Anybody home?!
I have been out of the loop for a time. This should seem concerning, yes?
<concerned grunt> MHM!
Nina runs out from behind a table.
Nina! Whats wrong?! What happened?!
My mom! Its my mom!
What happened to your mom? Calm down, now. Talk to me.
A little while ago
Like she said, a little while ago...
The door opens and Mayor Kevin wanders back into the shop.
Anything I can help you with?
I'm afraid we're closed for the evening. It is... nearly 1:00 AM.
Yet the lights are on and you two are still awake.
My husband, her father, just died...
Kevin looks around and starts browsing a shelf.
Do you have any Phoenix Tails...? Ah. There we are. Splendid. Lovely aroma.
Phoenix Tails don't have any smell to them.
Kevin nonchalantly walks to the other side of the room and starts browsing the stock there.
Ahh... I see you have a Holy Mother Bust in stock. I don't mind if I do...
I havent seen the exorcists around. Do you know where they went?
Exorcists? Oh, you mean those two. I have no idea where they went.
They likely found somewhere to sleep for the night. Like you should go do. Now.
Youre hiding something from me, arent you?
Hiding something?! What are you talking about?! I think its time you left.
Kevin leaves the shelves and starts pacing around the room.
<shrugs and shakes head> Just when my research was ready to pay off, he had to go and pull a trick like that!
Wh-what on earth are you talking about !?
Dont you know about the research Ive been doing?
You mean digging for gold, right ?
Officially, yes. But actually, Ive been looking into the life of vampires.
...To research for writing a book, or...?
Hah hah, theres no need to be so scared. Your father was helping me with my research, you know. I was researching vampires to crack the Blue Castle mystery and get the treasure hidden there.
How would researching vampires help in stealing treasure?
Surely, there must be some vampire trick or secret at play hiding their vault of treasures.
Had you found this vault in the castle?
Well, no... The project had not progressed to field research into Blue Castle itself, per se... But it's obvious when we reached that point, vampire lore would be required.
<shrugs and shakes head> But the moment Terry got word of that job in America, he lost all interest in the research.
A "better life for his family"?! What rubbish... Vampire treasure was right within my grasp! I'd have thrown him a severance bonus that would allow him to live like a KING... of the peasants living in squalor. But still, better than your current lot!
So those monsters attacking the town
Heh heh heh. In our research, we happened to discover a way to summon monsters! The monsters that have been attacking the village lately are all monsters that we summoned! But then Terry panicked and went all the way to Prague to find some exorcists.
So what if seven or eight of the peasants got devoured in the streets at night? What were they even doing out at that hour!? The village can be walked end-to-end in three minutes! That gutless wretch Terry got cold feet after the death toll reached the double digits.
I don't know what he worried about. It was affecting my chances of re-election more than anything! *I* was the one putting myself at risk more than anything, if you think about it. But he had to run off and seek help...
<shrugs and shakes head> It was a foolish thing to do. If hed only listened to me, hed never have had to die.
<steps forward> Youre controlling the monsters!
Monsters are extremely obedient to the summoner. Theyre much more pliable that way than humans.
A-and you also
<shrugs and shakes head> I couldnt afford to let word about the powers Id discovered get out. It would have ruined me.
A bit disappointed my minions allowed him to complete a 1000+ kilometer journey before striking him down. But, such is the way with hired help.
Now, I want you to hand over what Terrys friend in America sent him. It was some gold dust, right? Once thats in my possession, I can depart this stupid village.
Gold dust? I dont know anything about that
Even if I did... gold dust? How much could that possibly be worth?
<sighs> To be frank, the research project went wildly over budget. But it did so on the Bistritz town treasury dime. It is time to just cut my losses and head to a new venture.
...OK. I still don't know what you're talking about.
<shakes head> Still playing dumb? I was going to spare your life if you handed it over, but you force my hand!
<stomps foot> Go away!! I wont let you have what Dad gave me!
The mayor approaches Nina.
Excellent! Now be a good girl and hand it over!
Hrumpf! Why so stubborn? Well, in that case, take this!!
Kevin goes to backhand Nina. Michelle rushes in front of her to stop him.
Back in the present...
<shakes in anger and swings at the air> That son-of-a-bitch! Hes finally shown his true colors! And raising his hand against a child?! Its unforgivable!
I knew that man and his mustache was a dirtbag.
<steps forward> Are you all right, Nina? That must have been terrifying.
I promise I will rescue your mother, so try to keep a stiff upper lip, okay? What a fool the mayor is! Theres no treasure hidden in the castle.
Lets get our rear ends over to the mayors house, then.
It's time to elect a new mayor.
This town is on my land. It's time to serve an eviction notice.
Ohh! That's good, kid.
You are aware I am hundreds of years old, yes?
Yeah, when you stop looking like you're about twenty-five, I'll stop calling you kid.
Guys, we should PROBABLY go stop this guy now.
Nina digs something up from behind a nearby sack and hands it to Alice.
New Music: Don't Cry My Vampire (It's no Bloody Tears.)
Dad gave it to me. Kevin told me to bring it to him.
<points to package> Whats this? Theres a letter attached.
Dear Terry. This is to wish you and your family happiness and wealth everlasting
"If anyone from the old country comes to town asking if you heard from me, deny you have made contact. Please burn this letter after reading it."
This is from your fathers friend, right? I wonder whats in the bag.
Do you suppose it really does contain gold dust? Here, let me take a look.
<examines the package and nods> Well, Ill be a monkeys uncle!
<nods> I see Thank you for sharing it with us, Nina.
This is yours to keep. What a wonderful treasure youve got.
You can bet thats going to be a whole lot more use to you, Nina, than to that rotten old mayor. Be sure to take good care of it.
The party leaves the shop.
Music: Dirty Nails
OK. Our new objective is to go storm the mayor's house on the other side of town and go kick his ass.
The same trash mobs of enemies are hanging out in the streets as our first visit. They're even easier now that we have Keith in the party. The only reason I mentioned this here is that Keith reached Level 25 along the way and learned the Blood Sucker Ritual along the way. We'll not be getting much use out of that at the moment. But there you have it for future reference.
Before we sort out the nefarious Kevin, we'll take a quick pit-stop at the Chickenheart Weapon Shop next door and purchase a weapon upgrade for Keith.
There's nothing like a good estoc. Keith must be rolling a Dex build. The Royal Estoc grants +6 Physical Attack though -1 Special Attack versus his starting Antique Rapier. Not a huge boost overall. But the guy has been in the party for all of fifteen minutes. We'll take what we can get.
In any case, let's kick open the mayor's door and wax this creep.
Nina told us everything! Were here to take Michelle back.
<shrugs and shakes head> So you actually came back. I figured youd slunk out of town with your tails between your legs.
We only arrived a few hours ago and we'd have had to walk by your house to leave town.
If youre here in place of Nina with the gold dust, then hurry up and hand it over!!
Put a sock in it! What made you think itd be some piffling gold dust anyway?
Even if it were gold, who would send a package full of gold DUST?!
What else could be valuable and in a sack!?
...I could still make that work. Shut up and hand whatever it is over!
The only thing youre going to get from us is a hundred knocks on the head.
Is that right? So you dont care what happens to Michelle here? Well, its gonna be too late for regrets when she dies because of you!
There's three of us, kid. You don't have the upper hand here.
Hah! Oh, don't I?
Psst. You still owe me 50 Cash if he transforms.
Hush! He's not done anything yet.
Keith steps forward.
Ill kill you if you lay so much as a finger on that woman.
A new addition to your party? Well, more food for my loyal servants. This is my village! You have no right to come here and tell me how I should be doing things!
Democracy has spoken and that means I'm allowed to summon monsters, loot all the wealth and have my way with this woman.
The definition of that word seems like it's changed a bit since I was last awake...
<shakes head and waves dismissively> You dont know about me, do you? Im your master, you know. Ill show you the true power of a vampire.
What? A vampire?!
<laughs> Thats right! Hes the guy youve been looking for.
<swipes the air> You cant trick me! Why are you all so eager to die? Ill devour you with my new body!
<sigh> I'll get my wallet after this...
Music: NDE - Near Death Experience
BEHOLD AND QUAKE IN FEAR AT THE EVOLUTION OF MAYOR KEVIN!
BWAHAHAHAHA!! What the fuck is this, Kevin? What did you do to yourself? Did you turn into a skinless rotting hellhound? THAT is the fruit of months of experimentation and research into vampirism and occult arts? That is your new body? Its fuckin' eye is hanging out of the socket! It's missing most of its teeth! There are literally undead dogs resurrected by viral magic that are less decayed than your current state. I hope your pain receptors stopped functioning when you transformed because I cannot imagine having 100% of your body is an open bleeding wound is very comfortable. For that matter, can he transform back? Or is he just a giant month-dead dog that got dug up from someone's backyard from now on? I don't think you'll be able to run for mayor or convert gold dust into whatever unimpressive sum that would yield at... whoever handles a handful of gold dust to appraise. Just a hunch.
Anyway, Kevin's glorious new final form has rebranded to Tindalos. I guess he's a Fire elemental. Too bad we literally have no way to capitalize on that knowledge in this fight. He's also packing 2000 HP, which is surprising considering it looks like it's about to collapse into a pile of bio-slime and viscera at any moment.
The name Tindalos seems to come from The Hounds of Tindalos, a 1929 short story written by Frank Belknap Long and part of the greater Cthulhu Mythos universe.
Not sure how we got a big dopey rotting hound out of that. But, I suppose it is closer to the mark than most enemies presented thus far. Certainly better than those bat Gremlins, at least.
Wikipedia on The Hounds of Tindalos posted:
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Though the Hounds are sometimes pictured as canine, probably because of the evocative name, their appearance is unknown, since neither Long nor Lovecraft describe them, arguing they are too foul to ever be described. Long's story states that their name "veils their foulness". It is said that they have long, hollow tongues or proboscises to drain victims' body-fluids and that they excrete a strange blue pus or ichor. They can materialize through any corner if it is fairly sharp120° or less. When a Hound is about to manifest, it materializes first as smoke pouring from the corner, and finally, the head emerges followed by the body. It is said that once a human becomes known to one of these creatures, a Hound of Tindalos will pursue the victim through anything to reach its quarry. A person risks attracting their attention by traveling through time.
Tindalos' most dangerous attack is Deathtouch. Despite the name, it only takes off 75% of the target's HP. Still, that's enough for a follow-up attack to take out Zhuzhen or Alice if they don't get that bite sorted out straight away. As such, Alice is fully on healing duty during this battle -- at least for herself and Zhuzhen. If Keith takes any damage, he can top himself off with Drain Touch.
Kevin also has a full party attack with Flame Breath, which will hit Alice and Keith for around 60 HP but Zhuzhen, our resident Fire elemental unit, gets by with only 40-45 HP of damage.
Other than that, the transformed mayor just kind of gnaws on folks for around 50-75 of damage depending on how many nibbles he decides to take in a row. Honestly, the biggest thing dingus monster has going for him is a sizable amount of HP and a party with a less than optimal amount of damage output.
Zhuzhen is at least a weirdo and has some special skills that fall outside his elemental affinity. Corpse Arm does Earth damage for... some reason. That's not really optimal, but it's better than Ogre Flamedance or being stuck with Fire elemental attacks in general. Indeed, this is the heaviest hitting attack we've got doing around 175-200 HP of damage a turn. The only downside is it drains quite a bit (55 MP) with each use so we'll eventually need to top off Zhuzhen's MP to keep up the onslaught of summoning the undead.
Meanwhile, the true power of a vampire is best manifested by just continuously summoning swarms of bats to bite the shit out of enemies. Mayor Kevin certainly isn't a fan as it does 130-150 HP of damage with each swarm. Bat Dance is some cheap at only 33 MP but Keith comes with significantly less MP than Zhuzhen or Alice, so we still need to keep an eye on that. Additionally, we need to make sure Alice doesn't go Berserk from loss of SP if the fight goes over eight turns and it likely will.
That's about all there is to say about this, the least impressive monster transformation we're likely to see in the entire game. Not the most absurd, mind you. That's the reserved for the guy who transforms into a skinless pregnant woman. Either way, I feel like the weirdest part is the rotting hellhound drops a pair of clogs upon death.
Music: Coffee With Bullet
Kevin's body fades away as Nina runs into the room and up to her likely very confused mother.
Im so glad to see you two back together.
Youre welcome. Lets go home.
I took a pretty big blow to the head... Was... there some sort of zombie wolf in here?
I would have described it as more of a putrefied undead hound.
I wouldn't worry about that. Let's get you two home.
The town might need to find a new mayor, though.
Sometime later, back at Michelle and Nina's shop...
Thank you so much. I dont know how to thank you.
No need to thank us, lady. We were just keeping our promise to your husband.
Unfortunately, we never talked payment numbers before the... incident, so...
<elbows Zhuzhen in the arm>
Ow! Ergh... I mean... I guess this one is on the house.
<hands Alice something>Alice, I want you to have one of my treasures.
<nods> Wow, thank you.
You know what? I want you and your mom to keep this.
Yeah. The wheat seeds in the bag will grow, even in a cold place like this. The seeds have been cross-bred. Theyll grow and bring happiness to this village.
Seeds of happiness
I don't know why that idiot mayor thought there would be gold... dust... in there?
What happened to the nasty mayor anyway?
Oh... he... Umm...
He got sent to a nice farm upstate. He's mayor there now.
I hope he stays there for good!
Oh, I can promise he'll certainly stay six feet under there. Don't fret about that jerk. You just take care of those seeds, kid.
Sow the seeds with your mom, okay? You let me know if anything scary happens again.
<nods> Yes, thats right.
The trio leaves the shop.
We did kind of rush out of the mayor's joint after murdering him, huh? We'll run back there to investigate further in a minute. First, now that the curse of Bistritz is broken we want to go speak with one of the locals. Particularly, we want to chat with Hunter Warda across the street again.
Now that the monsters are gone, I can go hunting tomorrow.
<becomes Lottery Member No. 07> Hey, if you've got a Ticket to play, what can I do? Through the door may be kind of a pain, but...
I thought you were going hunting?
That's tomorrow! The lottery is now!
So whaddya wanna do?
Count me in.
This Lottery's Judgment Ring spins fast as hell and that's an awfully tiny window for the Red Hit Area. Hell if I ever got more than a couple of the top prizes playing through this game originally. It's still taking me 6+ tries using goddamn save states to instantly retry.
That's really weird a hermit Taoist master from eastern China would have a pair of earrings end up in a lottery bid in some Podunk town in the ass end of Romania. But here we are... Much like the previous Berserk Earrings, the description is just outright wrong again. This raises MP by 20% and has nothing to do with any kind of mystical strength augmentation. These are probably best used on Zhuzhen since all of his low-end spells have fallen off on usefulness and the higher end ones are taking quite a chunk out of his mana pool.
Anyway, let's shuffle on into that shed and see if there's anything interesting to be found.
No, I just wanted to talk to you about something.
What is it?
I know now that you are both skilled exorcists. Here is the thing. Id like you to exorcise a demon out of my castle.
Ha ha ha! Thats funny! Even a vampire like you is scared of something?
<looks down and scoffs> Of course He flew in from someplace and started living in my castle. I cant even sleep at night. I dont want to fight this one by myself. He looks human, but he transforms into a monster.
Music: ICARO - Beated Version
That must be
Well, lets not get too excited before were certain.
Keith, would you please take us there?
Sure. So youll do it?
Yeah. If the demon youre talking about is the guy weve been looking for, our work has paid off.
By chance did he have an affinity for punching anything when you saw him?
A few of those ill-named Gremlin bats tried to harass him when he arrived. He seemed to punch them all into pulp. It was a very strange behavior. I backed off after that.
...OK. Maybe it's him...
Let us head back to my castle, then. Please dont forget to prepare for battle. Many strong monsters live on the top levels of the tower!
Music: Coffee With Bullet
There's nothing of much interest in Kevin's ghetto excuse for a lab. He's got a bunch of old fables on vampires, some cloves of garlic and a crappy plastic cross. It's like his entire experimentation was limited to trash he could find at a thrift store.
But we might have a lead on the wayward Yuri. So back to the Blue Castle we go! With the departure from the no longer cursed Bistritz, so too ends this chapter. Tune in next time as for Chapter 13: Blue Castle Dark! Maybe the upper levels are painted blue or something.
That's the end of another chapter and we've got a pretty decent spread of new characters and monsters to cover considering we visited two locations.
Look, I could overlook a mailman eating one... MAYBE two dogs. But ALL of the dogs in town? That's just decadent.
What kind of scandalous situation did that police dog find itself in where it had no recourse but to eat a cop and its mom!?
Pfft... Hahahahaa! Fuckin' Kevin...
Now there is a respectable undead dog. Take notes, Kev.
Decidedly in no way, shape or form a gremlin.
The afterlife takes it's K/D ratio VERY seriously.
I guess now we see why she settled for Terry.
Look, Nina. Just because one guy kidnapped your mom and turned into a gorehound doesn't mean every guy is going to do the same.
Here lies Kevin.
He never scored.
He also turned into a rotting dog.
Video: Tindalos Boss Battle (Someone please Old Yeller that poor mayor.)