As soon as we set foot in Charlock, we find ourselves in an underground tunnel.
: Hmm. Someone must have razed the ground floor at some point. I can hardly blame them.
Our first fight is against a lone Basilisk, just like the one we saw on that faraway island we could reach from a travel gate. It's really not difficult on its own, and winning earns Zed level 16, for 3 Strength, 6 Agility, and 2 HP.
The first level is straightforward; it's in fact the first basement of the secret passage behind the Dragonlord's decoy throne.
Gorgons have low Strength and aren't too menacing by themselves, but they have a ludicrous 120 defense power and know Surround, Increase, Defence and Sleep. They're moderately resistant to spell damage, Stopspell and Surround, but weak to Sleep and completely vulnerable to Gwen's Defence casts.
: Hey, isn't that that the chest I found Erdrick's Sword in? I can't imagine there's anything valuable left in this place.
More Mummy Men try to stop us again, as well as Gremlins. It feels like the difficulty's just right at the moment. Victory comes at MP expense, but it's not so hard that I feel like we're just barely hanging on.
Okay, this floor used to be a bit different, if I recall. Let's try the stairs in the northeast first.
Oh, that's new. Dragon Flies are fairly strong, but not quite as strong as Basilisks, and have high HP despite a low defense. They're immune to Sleep, and no resistance to spell damage or Surround. Their only quirk is a standard flame breath attack, though they also have a chance to drop Dragon's Bane.
Yeah, this is new for sure. Someone's been remodelling.
Back in somewhat familiar territory. This up staircase is the one that used to lead to the Sword, let's check it out.
Whew. The path is similar enough to make me feel like I know what I'm doing, but different enough make me doubt every step. This ought to be good, though.
: What. How.
: Hooooooly crap guys. Look at this beauty!
: I... Wh... Who the heck put it back there?
: I don't know much about weapons, but I know I like this.
: I've seen illustrations of this sword, it used to be Erdrick's!
: Well, it's mine now. Thanks, pops, wherever you are.
Erdrick's Sword has 10 more attack power than the Broad Sword Zed bought in Hamlin. Man I'm glad I didn't grind 4k for that hammer in Brecconary.
Anyway, good find, but we're not done yet.
Let's take that way down in the west here.
And here's that U-shaped floor. We should be almost at the bottom by now.
: Okay what the HELL.
Hmm, there's a golden door up there. Let's go around.
: Guys. That's the Dragonlord.
: Weird guy, check. Dorky haircut, check.
: What do we do?
: Is that even a question? One descendant of Erdrick was enough to take him down last time. There are three of us.
: I... Uh...
: Good enough for me, let's go.
: He had a kid!? How did we miss that?
: And now I'm wondering about his grandmother. Good grief.
: That's debatable, but where are you going with this?
: Okay, give us a moment. Guys, a word?
: Do we have a common enemy with the Dragonlord?
: It... It would appear so.
: This is crazy. What do I even tell this chump?
: We have to kill him.
: Well, yeah, but...
: Gwen, didn't you say earlier that we should search for allies?
: This is the Dragonlord, Glynn.
: He has a point, though.
: Like it or not, he is among the powers of this world, and he offers assistance.
: And as far as we know, he hasn't killed anyone's father yet.
: That is low
: Heck, our ancestor killed his grandpa, and he's still offering to cooperate. He has more beef with us than we have with him.
: Your mind's made up, isn't it?
: Yeah... Yeah, I guess it is. Look, he's only asking us to do something we were going to do anyway, right? It's not like he's offering us half the world or something. I know a bad bargain when I see one.
: I'm sorry, Gwen, I'm with Zed on this.
: ...fine. I won't stop you, but I hope I never have to say "I told you so".
: Thank you. Okay, Dragonlord, we'll play along.
: Hmm. Alright, we might just do that, then. We appreciate your counsel.
If we had refused...
We literally could not fight this new Dragonlord even if we wanted to.
: We've heard about Rubiss before, it was something about breaking Hargon's illusions. But what are these crests he was talking about?
: I can't recall any mention of such things in any text I've ever been through. I mean, I know what a family crest is, but in this context I haven't the faintest. Gwen?
: Neither have I. This might be a red herring.
: Either way, we better keep our eyes open. Glynn, take us out of here, will ya?
We return to Tantegel and spend a night at the inn. The next day, we sell Zed's old Broad Sword and find ourselves with enough money to buy him an Iron Helmet, but just short of the 2500 for a Wizard's Wand.
Hmm. There are still a few passages in Charlock we haven't seen, so I'm going to take a bit of time to clear it out and scrape up the necessary cash.
Welp, turns out we had it cleared after all. "I" leads to the lower floors, while "H" leads to Erdrick's Sword.
And, uh, in retrospect, it's clear that the small area I put in the upper left corner of the second floor is meant to be in the upper left corner of the first floor instead, but you get the picture.
We also pick up that Wand. I'll keep Gwen's Magic Knife equipped since it's a bit stronger, but she'll mostly be shooting fire at anything not too resistant to magic damage for the foreseeable future. Had we infinite money it would not be a completely terrible idea to get one for Glynn as well, but seeing as he's still fairly effective with his Iron Spear, it wouldn't be a great use of my time to grind for it.
: So, where to next?
: There are the lands to the south of Moonbrooke and that tower to the west of my castle. We could also try to find this Rubiss.
: Or we could make another attempt at that strange island on the other side of the travel gates. If we sail to the shrine here in Alefgard instead of hiking to it, we might be able to push further than last time.
: Hmm. Alright, sure, we could finish what we started.
: Or we could search for the Relent-
: It's your turn to be outvoted, captain. The shrine it is.
: Well, you called me captain, I won't argue with that.
: Uh... I didn't even realize I-
: That's even more flattering! Double speed!
: You can't "double speed" the wind, Glynn.
Oh dang, just straight up Orcs. Well then. They're a bit stronger than Basilisks, with a ton of HP but relatively low defense, and very slight magic resistance across the board, with Sleep a bit less likely to land than anything else. That's about it, they have no special moves of any kind. The Clothes Hiding evasion effect triggers a lot in this fight, which is good because every monster here can kill Glynn or Gwen in 3 to 4 hits.
Glynn gets himself to level 15 soon afterwards, for 4 Strength, 4 HP, and 2 MP.
Whuh-oh, looks like our luck ran out. There's no way Zed can continue here on his own. We run and use a pair of Wings.
We've made enough money off Basilisks and Orcs to revive everyone, fortunately.
: I'm thinking we need to brush up on our technique before we try that one again.
: We could hone our skills against nautical monsters on the high seas!
: Alright, you know what? Let's do it.
: Yeah, sure. Sail us wherever you like, man. Let's look for that treasure, even. Who knows, it might be useful.
: You guys are the best!
: See, we're traveling north from Lianport because the man who mentioned the-
: I trust you, just please spare me the details.
: This is awesome!
: It's getting awfully cold, though.
: At least one of us having a good time.
: Captain, what's that?
: What's what? Where?
: To the right!
: I can't hear you!
: TO THE RIGHT!
: I still can't-
: Starboard, Glynn. He means starboard.
: It's just a reef, Zed.
: So, a reef in chill waters, eh?
: That's correct.
: It would be real easy for a careless captain to ram right into that thing.
: Indeed. As you see, I'm giving it wide berth.
: Glynn, we're looking for the Relentless.
: The pirate ship that sank.
: In chill waters.
: Not one word.
: I guess someone will have to d-
: Not it.
: ...aw come on.
The "Tresures". Sure. I don't know how that one slipped through. If we try to use them...
: Good work from a good crew. Let's deliver the booty, shall we?
: Aye aye, captain!
: I will never be warm again.
The reef that sunk the Relentless is due north of Lianport, though it's technically on the southern edge of the overall world map.
We can't enter the Lianport harbor directly from our ship, but if we enter town on foot, it magically teleports to the dock regardless of where we left it.
: Many thanks.
Trying to sell the "Tresures" at an item shop results in the merchant telling us "Sorry, friend, but I cannot buy that." Delivering it to the man who told us about it is our only option.
: All in a day's work for the greatest seafarer in the world, my good fellow.
: ...hmm. Uh... Thanks?
: Good thing we were in it for the joy of the adventure, eh?
: Can either of you play this thing, at least?
: Allow me.
: Well, it's been a while.
: For an Echoing Flute, it doesn't echo very much. Are you certain you're doing it right?
: I'm not baking a soufflé here, Glynn. It's a flute.
: Oh well.
: So, where to next?
: You know, I've been thinking-
: Let me guess, it involves sailing.
: It does, but hear me out. We've heard about this Rubiss fellow twice now, from very different sources. If he truly is somewhere in the seas south of Midenhall, it could be worth it to seek him out.
: We don't have whatever those crests are, though.
: If Rubiss is somehow connected to the crests...
: ...he may be the best person to ask.
: Alright, that's no worse an idea than anything else we've tried so far.
We sail through the Horns once more, reach the Midenhall region, then go around the southern capes. A particularly tough fight against Sea Slugs and Medusa Balls earns Gwen level 11, for 1 Agility, 2 HP, and 6 MP. The next battle gets Zed to level 17, for 3 Strength, 2 Agility and 5 HP. We rest and save at the castle, then follow the coast south as long as there is a coast, heading straight south once land runs out.
: Monolith on starboard, captain!
: Okay, this is weird.
: It's powerful magic is what it is.
We've taken a staircase down to get here, which means we're underwater. But there are no walls holding back the sea.
: I'm not afraid of much but this is getting spooky.
: It's a little late to doubt the Dragonlord's good faith, isn't it?
: If this place is going to kill us, it seems like too elaborate a trap.
: I do believe we are standing at the bottom of the sea.
: I'm going to pretend we're not, okay?
: Err... Master Rubiss?
: This might not be the place.
: It has to be.
: But there's nothing here.
: We... we are missing the crests.
: WHAT ARE THESE CRESTS? ANSWER ME! ARE YOU A FRIEND OF HARGON'S? IS THAT IT?
: Zed, let's go.
: Come on.
: That was a long way to go for such a big load of nothing.
: You know, these seas are largely uncharted, at least as far as anyone in Torland is aware. Maybe the village in your travel door is nearby.
: Seems like slim odds to me. The ocean's real big, if you hadn't noticed.
: Even if we find nothing at all, it is of some help to know where one's foe is not. It would not be a completely wasted trip.
: Yeah, okay, maybe. I'm leaving it to you, captain.
: Glynn, how about you take us further south? On the off chance that monolith wasn't Rubiss' home, well...
: I got you. South it is.
: This is definitely not nothing.
: Look! There! Through the reefs!
: Already on it!
: Well I'll be.
: You know, this might be the first time any of us meet royalty we're not related to, so you better be on your best behavior!
: But of course.
: I'm always on my best behavior.
: Oh dear.
This is unusual; instead of finding ourselves in a courtyard on the south side of the map, we're immediately on the inside, apparently from a gate in the southeastern turret.
: Oooooh I like the sound of that.
: Oh dear!
: Zed, maybe we could gather some more information before running headlong into a bloodsport arena.
: I'm quite in favor of gathering information, yes.
: Don't make me turn you into a toad!
: Ha, fine.
Huh. Let's check out that eastern exit first.
We can't actually go through here, it must be a locked door only visible from the outside.
Yeah, the Silver Key doesn't work. Let's try the travel door then.
Same deal for the empty space in the east here. This is a dead-end for now.
: Alright, we tried it your way.
: Fair enough.
Whew, we're not thrown into an immediate battle situation, fortunately.
: But I like my stuff!
: Oh I like how this story ends.
: They say that in its hold was the Echoing Flute.
: Not exactly, but... close enough for our purposes, I suppose.
: Of course the ancient legend stops just before letting us know what it does.
: What were you saying, Zed?
: Complaining gets results!
: On an island, in a tower, in a chamber remote, play it and listen, a wise man once wrote. For when the sound echoes, there shall thou find, a crest of great power to aid thee in time.
: The flute is connected to the crests!?
: I can't believe it! This must be fate!
: ...wait a minute...
: It echoed!
: Could there really be a crest here?
: There must be! Let's turn this place inside out!
: Best behavior, Zed!
: I promise I'll be on my best behavior as I turn this place inside out. Come on!
: I was told that it was kept in a shop that sells armor.
: Yes, that is often where armor is kept.
Ooh, we've two new items of interest. The Magic Armor is similar to how it was in DW1, in that it has the same defensive power as Full Plate. However, its only special effect this time around is to reduce incoming spell damage (but not breath damage) by 25%. That said, the Prince of Cannock can actually equip it. We'll want one for Glynn sooner or later, but it might not be worth the expense for Zed unless we end up with tons of money that we can't put to better use.
As for the Dragon Killer, it is 10 points stronger than the Sword of Erdrick, and that's it.
: ...what? Really? Huh! I guess sword smithing techniques did evolve after all.
That's quite expensive though, so we won't see it for a while.
25 gold per person? That coliseum must be real popular.
: What a load of crap.
: Actually, we are in fact looking for something, sir.
: I'll tell thy fortune. That which thou seeks is North!
: That's Midenhall. I know where my own castle is.
: He might be talking about Rubiss' sanctuary.
: Which we have also found. Ehh.
: Southern ocean, eh?
: We need that key, Glynn. Are you up to finding this town?
: If I can't find it, no one can.
: Are we?
: It is an honor, Your Majesty.
: The privilege is ours.
: If thou entertain me, thou shall receive a valuable prize.
: Yup! Bring it!
The Saber Lion is the strongest single enemy we've ever faced; in fact it could have ended Zed in three hits, and I'd rather not think about how much it would have wounded the others. If the fight had gone another turn I would have had him parry while Glynn healed him. The Lion is immune to Sleep and highly resistant to damage spells, but it's very vulnerable to Defence, and Surround has a fair chance to land.
: Haha, it was child's play. Maybe make me fight one that's not all skin and bones next time.
: I shall give thee the Moon Crest.
: T-thank you!
: Thou must fight gallantly.
The "Crests" section of our status screen finally comes into play, and it's certainly nice to see that these plot coupons won't take up our precious inventory space. Finding the five crests won't be enough to reach the final portion of the game, but it is definitely our main motivation for exploring the world at this moment, and the Echoing Flute will put us on the right track once we get close to one.
And now... Only four to go!