Part 5: Part 05All right, Trial of Strength, here we come. (Thanks for the new page, by the way; the first was getting rather full.)
To kick this update off, I finally got a shot of the damn dirty apes. Not very impressive, this far in, but I think they're still tough enough to survive a hit from Pyra with the bronze dagger.
...I'm trying to be nice here, okay.
The three chests contain, left to right: Depoison, Herb, and Wisdom Seed. The latter is a consumable that casts Pyra's "View" spell when used. They're cheap and fairly useless; this is literally the worst treasure in the game.
The Cave of Strength lies around the corner.
Unlike the first floor of the Labyrinth, it's somewhat less claustrophobic; there are several two-spaces-wide rooms here.
This sits just a few steps from the entry stairs and sums up the Cave of Strength perfectly.
...watching that, it seems I was distracted during that encounter. Eh. Still, take a look; the chestbeak's intro animation is somewhat amusing.
My cheating ways have caught up with me; normally, I would have accumulated enough money to upgrade my gear somewhat in the process of getting Milo and Pyra's levels up, but now they're stuck with initial gear.
Pyra's Slow helps immensely in this fight. The Chestbeak is by far the most dangerous thing in here. It takes very little damage from magic and has over 100 HP (the Kaiserkrab had around 50). The reward is pretty nice, but it doesn't drop an item despite being holed up in a treasure chest.
Oh, you thought that was it? Hahahahano. The Cave of Strength hates you.
As a result, however, Pyra gains a level and upgrades Blaze. Unfortunately, it doesn't do all that much damage.
...and Milo follows suit, learning his first offensive spell.
Blast is a "wind" spell that works well on flying creatures... apparently.
Another Wisdom Seed. Cave of Strength!
Nice red torches, though.
Cave Goblins are unremarkable. They're stronger than the mad gnomes, but still go down in one hit from Sue. Pyra and Milo can take down one together, if they both hit the same target.
A Depoison... and a Wisdom Seed.
100 Gold and some Smelling Salts in these.
Smelling Salts cure paralysis. It's nice to have one or two around. Detox 2 cures paralysis, but it's pretty expensive at 8 MP, and we don't have it yet either way.
Paralysis will otherwise wear off on its own after some time, but you're better off curing it unless the enemies you're facing at the time are very weak.
Neanderthals (left) are our first true palette swap. They're the same as their cousins, but more so. Next!
Dark Hermits (right) are... also entirely unremarkable, actually.
The Widowfang is another monster capable of poisoning you. Although Milo's Detox makes that less of a pain than it used to be, they should still die first. (And so they do, in one hit from Sue's short sword.)
Here's another staircase leading even further under ground.
Below, I run into the bane of Pyra's existence. The Triclops is an upgraded pit worm, and has gained a move that drains MP. This is a huge problem, since MP is precious and nearly impossible to recover outside resting at the tavern. Kill these fuckers first, no matter what else they're appearing together with.
This is an upgraded Herb. If the Herb is Heal level 1, this is Heal level 2. They'll be quite useful for most of the game.
There's a hole in the ceiling here. If we had a ladder or something, we might be able to climb up, but alas, no.
There's another hole further on, but there's nothing else interesting here, so we take the stairs back up.
Here's another one of these things. It still serves no purpose.
Oh yeah, and did I mention?
Kaiserkrabs are regular encounters now. There's a chance that they'll spawn when you pass a path that goes off to the left.
With three people and a dose of Pyra's Slow spell to open the fight, it goes down in two rounds flat.
And here's the hole we saw before. If I were to take one more step, I'd fall down. So, let's not do that.
Vampyres (with that exact spelling) are the upgraded form of the Darkbat. Apart from increased stats, they gain a chance to inflict Paralysis with their attacks. That's even more of a pain than the spiders' poison; bats go down first.
Milo finally gets around to demonstrating Blast. It's pretty weak at first.
Oh, for fuck's sake. (The previous chest a few steps up held a herb. Whoop-de-fucking-doo.)
Somewhere along the way, Milo gets poisoned...
...and cures himself. Poison deals damage as you move, so it should be dealt with as soon as possible.
Pumpkinheads can cast Heal 1, which shouldn't be a problem since both Sue and Milo kills them in one shot. Somewhat worse is the fact that they're faster than Sue at this point, and fairly strong. One of them hit Milo for 10 points, which is pretty impressive for a walking vegetable.
This is how it looks when you pick up an item with a full inventory. The item in question is a Woven Robe - a minor upgrade for Milo (Pyra can't use it); I drop a wisdom seed to make room for it.
I also drop another one while I'm at it, just to show off this icon.
Cave of Strength!
The Skeletar is pretty strong and can poison you with his attack. (Don't ask me how.) Faster than Sue right now, but Sue still one-shots it.
Gila has been in better shape.
GILA: Actually, I'm lucky you found me. I don't think I can make it out alone.
How about it? I'm hurt pretty bad. Will you help me get out of here?
But it's the duty of any knight to save damsels in distress, so we're taking him with us. (That, and it won't actually let us refuse.)
-the game then instantly throws these guys at us.
The reward is pretty nice, though. Also note Pyra's MP; I blew the last of it on putting the pumpkins to sleep.
Deathguides are upgrades to Dark Hermits. They have a habit of sprinkling sleeping powder in the air, which may put one or several party members out of commission for a while. It's honestly more annoying than threatening unless you're low on HP when it happens.
(Tip: don't be low on HP.)
The path behind Gila leads to a cell with a chest in it. There is clearly a keyhole here, but we can't open this with the dwarf's key; it needs something else. Let's remember this place for later.
Gila isn't a party member in the sense that he shows up in the menus, but he'll randomly help out in battle.
...I'm beginning to see how he managed to survive so long down here on his own. Damn, that's a lot of damage.
A few steps later, Pyra gets paralysed by a Vampyre. Smelling salts to the rescue.
The short sword is the best thing in here, and even that is pretty shit at this point. It's still a bit of an upgrade for Pyra, though, and while it won't make her as good at killing things as Sue or Milo, at least it's not a bronze knife.
Head spinning, PYRA loses 0 Magic Point(s).
Joke's on you, buddy. I already spent those points on killing all your friends.
Pyra hits lv12 and learns Egress. It's the magic version of an Angel Feather, allowing instant escape from the Labyrinth. It's rather expensive at 9 MP; most of the time, it's better to carry a feather rather than stuff like a herb, wisdom seed or antidote, the spell versions of which are all much cheaper.
Oh, and here's yet another palette swap. Vile Oozes can cast Freeze 1, dealing upward 10-15 points of damage to a single character...
...as Milo seems to have found out the hard way.
They're also pretty fast, and it adds up to make them probably the biggest threats in this section after chestbeaks. Using Sleep may be a good idea, if you have the MP for it... which I don't.
Guess what? Wisdom seed.
Milo learns Quick. It's the opposite of Slow, boosting your characters' speed and defence by ~50%. Again, ridiculously useful.
I had not expected to get through the entire Cave of Strength in one attempt, given the equipment I went in with. Nevertheless...
You have passed the Trial of Strength.
If it be Strength you seek, then step forward.
The mural slides open and everything fades to white...
Trial Passed: Strength
...and that's it! Scratch one, three to go.
The wall to the right crumbles, opening a new passage.
I'm going to need some rest before heading in there, though.
Rumor has it that Vyrun has sent some men out to face the Trials.
And we all know how that turned out.
After some well deserved rest, Gila is hanging around the bar.
GILA: SUE, I think it's time we parted our ways.
In return for your help, I'd like to give you a piece of information.
I've heard that the ORB OF TRUTH is in the Cave of Courage.
"Naturally, it's impossible for someone to have LIED about it."
GILA: It's said that the ORB reveals the true nature of things.
To tell you the truth, I was after the ORB and not the Princess.
But with these wounds, I'd be a fool to go after the ORB.
Well, I'd better go now. Thanks for your help and I hope we meet again!
Spoiler: we never meet Gila again.
Anyway, we'll be picking up the Orb, sorry, ORB OF TRUTH later. And the Princess. Gila here just isn't thinking far enough.
Oh, and speaking of Vyrun...
THEOS: You're about to face the Trial of Courage, aren't you? Well, listen.
The Cave of Courage is designed to test a knight's bravery.
It is also a place known to instill fear in magic-users.
Eh, strength, courage - pretty much more of the same. The second part of that sounds worrying, though...
MELVYL: You have passed the Trial of Strength.
But you have yet to face the three remaining Trials.
Thanks a lot, Captain Obvious.
VYRUN: One of my men came crawling back like a whipped dog!
Perhaps there's nobody in the realm capable of passing the Trials!
Fuck you too, buddy.
TRISTAN: Vyrun has sent men to face the Trials before, but to no avail.
I believe you to be our only hope. My success be yours.
Flatter me all you want, Tristan, I haven't forgotten that stunt you tried to pull before.
The little dungeon crawl before left me with enough funds to buy a Madu for Milo. (Hm. "Madu for Milo". That sounds like some kind of pretentious indie film or something.)
Let's stop here for a moment because I don't think you fully comprehend my love for this thing. Just look at those stats! It raises defence by 20 points, more than any of the regular shields on display (the bronze shield is the strongest at 18 points), and it raises attack by 15 points. Milo's damage output is now roughly the same as Sue's, allowing him to one-shot mostly anything he comes across. The Madu is that fucking good.
The path to the next Trial is rougher than the cave we just left. Stingers, the bigger, stronger cousins of killer bees, have traded in their poison attack for a Slow 1 spell. It's actually pretty nice, since it means they're not damaging you, but it is a threat if there are more enemies that can take advantage of your lowered stats.
Here's what Theo meant about magic-using fearing the Cave of Courage. These things. THESE FUCKING THINGS RIGHT HERE. They drain MP every time you step on them.
They may also make your eyes bleed.
One Smelling Salts, one Morningstar. I bought a new sword for Sue in town. If I had remembered this thing, I might have saved the money.
Milo learns and shows off his second damaging spell. Like all the others, it's pretty weak at first level.
Pyra also upgrades Freeze...
...and learns Bolt, her strongest attack spell.
Milo upgrades Detox. It's not as expensive as Egress, but it's still probably better to use items to cure paralysis at this point.
The cave lies beyond here, but since I neglected my grinding before, I'll hang around for a bit so I can upgrade Sue and Pyra's gear.
I want this.
And this! God damn.
Anyway, the funds are insufficient to buy all the great gear on display, but at the end of the day, we're much better off than before.
Sword (WF 20), Woven Robe (AF 8), MADU (AF 20 and WF 15), Leather Helm (AF 8)
I want Sue to keep one-shotting things, so I got a new sword, which is just a little stronger than the morningstar. It might not have been necessary with the Madu, but better safe than sorry.
Morningstar (WF 18), Woven Robe (AF 8), MADU (AF 20 and WF 15), Woven Hood (AF 8)
Much like Sue, Milo is doing quite well.
Woodstaff (WF 20), Cotton Robe (AF 4), Wood Shield (AF 20), Royal Tiara (AF 16)
I traded in the short sword for a staff, Pyra's second strongest weapon at this time. (The strongest being the "rare deals" whip for 5500 bucks.) It will allow her to do semi-respectable damage.
The wood shield is the only thing she will be able to equip in the off-hand slot for some time, and also the single biggest boost to her defence you can obtain at this time; the magic hood offers 18 AF, which is barely an upgrade over the tiara, and the hemp robe, her best armour at this point, has 14 AF, only 10 points stronger than the cotton robe. Sadly, she can't use the Madu.
Next up, we wreck the Cave of Courage.