: I hope for your safe return.
: I'll cross this desert again if I have to, but do we really have to go by day?
: We'll see the Pyramid from further away by daylight. Besides, we'll want as much sun as we can get once we're there, believe me.
: Hmm? How so?
: The Pyramid is a giant tomb.
: You better not be too squicked out by the undead, Al.
: I'm more worried about the living, in general.
The Pyramid is only a short distance due north of Isis. We don't even run into any enemies on the way.Music: Pyramid
Aaaaand we get a spooky Curse of the Mummy-type music for this dungeon. It looks like the obvious way in is through this entrance, but there appears to be space between the south wall and the edge of the map, so let's try to go around first.
King Froggores are weaker than the monsters we've been fighting in the Assaram/Isis region, but they're slightly resistant to most magic (except wind), and they have about 25% chance to cast Sleep.
Mummy Men are a bit stronger than King Froggores, but they have no resistance to damage spells and unusually low resistance to Expel. Their attacks ignore formation, and they can roll crits.
If I remember correctly, I think it's the floors with piles of bones on the ground that bear the curse preventing us from using magic.
Yup, that's what it is. But we gotta push through.
: May the light protect us.
: I know you said this was a tomb, but...
: Something horrible happened here.
: It's no wonder magic is blocked.
: So many restless souls! I can hardly bear it!
: Yeah, yeah... I know what you mean. Let's not spend too much time down here, alright? I can't even teleport us outside.
: We don't have a lot of options, but we can be careful either way.
Mummies are much stronger than Mummy Men, and also harder to kill, with the ability to roll for crits and to summon Hork reinforcements. Presumably they're real mummies while Mummy Men are mummy cosplayers. They share their weakness to fire and ice as well as their unusual vulnerability to Expel, but they're for some reason highly resistant to wind.
Shadows are strange creatures. They technically have rather low Strength, low HP, and high defense, but they usually take on the stats and abilities of a randomly chosen monster instead, depending on a formula that takes into account the Hero's level. On the very rare occasion that they happen to roll their own AI, they have a high chance to call other Shadows to battle.
This fight is occuring on a cursed floor, so while Isabel can contribute spear attacks, we just get Rebeca to try to one-shot whatever the strongest monster on the screen is.
: Hmm. Didn't we hear in Isis that there were traps here?
: Yeah. What of it?
: As much as it would be good to know if there's anything useful down here, I'm beginning to suspect this pit might be where trespassers are dumped.
: Hmm, yes, I could see that.
: So... Should we turn back?
: The way I see it, if we mess up upstairs we might end up here either way.
: Right, makes sense. Let's get out then.
: Not a moment too soon!
: I wish we could do something for these unfortunates.
: This curse is ancient. The... the terror and the sorrow are deep in the stone now. I wonder if anything could be done short of bringing down the entire Pyramid.
: Sounds like a great idea to me!
: Either way, I'm not saying it's not worth looking around and being thorough, but it might also be smart to just grab the key and leave.
: Whew! It's like I can breathe again!
Trick Bags are weak and fairly fragile, but they're extremely fast and they come with a bevy of annoying abilities: they're most likely to cast Heal, but they also know Slow, Increase, Stopspell, Surround, and they can perform a "curious dance" that drains one target's MP. They're immune to fire, ice and wind, but they have absolutely no resistance to StopSpell and Expel. Expel should only be used as a last resort though, as Trick Bags are worth up to 350 gold if slain through normal means.
And that's it for the exterior. Trying to go past either the west or east end to the sides of the Pyramid only returns us to the map.
: Oh crap!
: How I pity them today.
: Let's see them run into Blizzards and Gold Batboons, we'll know who needs to be pitied then.
: Ugh, I hate being right sometimes. Everyone alright?
: I can't be alright down here, but I am unharmed.
: Wait, I got... some kind of bone stuck in - OW!
: You're welcome.
Once more from the top...
: Gah, right, the looters.
: Heh, you're just mad they got here before we did.
: Well I doubt they used whatever they found here to oppose an archfiend!
: Good point.
: Let's make sure we avoid the center here too.
The small alcoves in the south and east walls here have nothing interesting.
In terms of layout, the Pyramid has the overall square shape of a tower, but its straight and narrow corridors make it feel very different from both caves and towers. It's not just the music that's unique!
Alright, third floor.
It looked like there could be something notable here, but we can just keep going up!
: No good.
: If this is a thief-proof door, whatever's behind it may not have been looted yet.
: Hopefully the Magic Key isn't in there.
: Nah, it has to be somewhere else. Let's keep looking.
We have no choice but to go down a floor again.
Ah, finally a Hork shows up as reinforcements. Horks have low defense, but they have up to 98 HP and are even a bit stronger than Kandar was. Their attacks ignore formation, but they have a 1 in 8 chance of wasting a turn "assessing the situation". They're immune to Sleep, but they only have a mild resistance to Expel, and are completely vulnerable to elemental damage.
Alvaro levels up from this fight, for 4 Str, 3 Agi, 4 Vit, 6 Luc, 1 Int, and 10 HP. The dude is still going!
: What the...
: Have we climbed all this way just to find a stone wall?
: Not a chance. There must be something hidden somewhere... some mechanism...
: This must be where your common looter would turn back. Keep an eye out, everyone.
: Hmm... not here...
: Wait, what about the song? The kids' song, in Isis?
: Ooooh, a... a round button? The Button of the Sun, right?
: First east, then west. Maybe it has something to do with these rooms on the sides.
We get attacked by multiple groups of four Mummies up here. They're tough customers, but also flammable customers, and Rebeca's Firebane definitely comes in handy.
: Ha! There! Right there! Look!
: Well spotted, Alvaro!
: This is the easternmost one, right? There must be at least one more on this floor.
: Alright, let's see...
: No, wait, this probably isn't the AUGH!
A pit opens underneath our feet faster than I can take a screenshot.
: Come on, Fia! If I tell you to wait-
: No, no, none of this, it's no use.
: There must be another correct button at the far west end of that floor.
: Ugh, right. Let's get back up.
Zofia reaches level 14 as we make our way through the second floor again, for 2 Str, 1 Agi, 3 Vit, 5 Luc, 1 Int, 4 HP, 3 MP, and she also learns Outside. In the same battle, Isabel gets to level 15, for 1 Str, 2 Agi, 3 Vit, 2 Luc, 2 Int, 8 HP (whew!), 6 MP, and two new spells! Predictably, NumbOff cures one ally's Numb status ailment, and it costs a whopping 6 MP. She also finally learns Healmore, which is of course an improved single target heal, costing 5 MP for around 85 HP. She could have learned Healmore last level, but this is the earliest NumbOff is available.
: Okay, I'm not messing up this time. It has to be right.
We hear a sound of grinding stone in the distance.
: Finally, here we go.
An encounter with a Trick Bag and three Mummies leaves us with barely enough MP to teleport out of here and back to Isis. But we should be able to check out this one room, right?
: These have to still contain something, they just have to.
Ugh, these are always worse than useless. Gaining Vitality from a Seed does not increase your HP as gaining Vitality from a level does, and in fact all it does is get you closer to your soft cap, at which point the game's going to throttle your Vitality growth. We'll just sell it.
: Haha! Finally!
: I'm just happy there was still one here in the first place.
: I wonder if it'll open that chamber on the floor above.
: It's a safe bet, but...
: We really need to rest.
: Yeah, fair enough. But we gotta come back.
: Agreed. Let's just get out of here for now.
With the last of their MP, Zofia casts Outside, and Rebeca casts Return.
We rest at the inn right away of course. Killing all those Trick Bags got us to 5551 gold, so we also buy Zofia a Battle Axe, taking her attack from 66 to 73, which is still 11 points behind Alvaro's.
While we're still in Isis, let's unlock a few doors, shall we?
We try the Magic Key on a Thief's Key door on the way, and it opens. Dang but that feels good; we'll be able to vault the Thief's Key next time we're in Aliahan.
: Right, of course.
: But since he set off for the east and headed for the town of Assaram, he has not returned.
: Considering the desert trip, I wouldn't blame him.
: Or maybe something else in Assaram made him want to stay there, heh.
Welp, we might just have to come back at night.
: Were the king's chambers in Romaly anything like this?
: Yikes, not even close.
That's it for the doors in Isis, in the daytime at least. We have a lot more backtracking to do to open a lot more doors, but let's finish clearing out the Pyramid first. Or, well, maybe we can go to Assaram for a bit, buy Isabel a Helmet, and unlock a few doors while we're there. Let's even go on foot just to finish mapping out the desert.
Welp, nothing much else of interest in there. And this is what we know of this continent so far...
Rebeca levels up in the desert, for 1 Str, 1 Agi, 4 Vit, 4 Luc, 1 Int, 10 HP, and 4 MP. She continues to have absolutely incredible HP growth. It's not just great for a Wizard, it's just plain great.
Isabel's new Iron Helmet takes her defense from 41 to 55. Considering how hard the Pyramid monsters hit her, it's extremely welcome.
: Ah, this must be that man's brother.
: The... dwarves.
: However, Norud the Dwarf won't tell me the way.
: Rebeca... if you made him mad...
: It's fine, dwarves have real short memories anyway.
: ...do they?
: Maybe that one does. Hope springs eternal!
: You wouldn't know anyone who might intercede on our behalf, would you?
: I guess we can ask Norud's friend, the king of Portoga.
: That'll be our reason to go there, I suppose.
Ah, precious directions.
: Ha, with pleasure.
Coming back at night...
The man has nothing new to say but...
: Nice try, idiot.
: If that's what we're up against, this'll be easier than I thought.
Demonites have somewhat high HP compared to what we've been fighting recently, but they're not very strong or tough. They can breathe "gales of blizzard breath" (dealing around 10-20 ice damage to our entire party), and they also know Explodet, Sacrifice and Defeat.
: Wait, what?
: I was kidding! I was only kidding about the Blizzards and Batboons! Oh crap!
We need not worry though, as Demonites have exactly zero MP. Their AI is also specifically coded not to realize they can't afford their spells, so they'll waste turn after turn trying to blow us up.
: Goodness, that's a relief.
This is just not a difficult fight in any way.
: Ha, so much for the archfiend's familiar. That's one loose end taken care of.
: Right, I think we saw the place.
: And we tried to go there, you see. But the cave was closed off halfway through and we just met a dwarf named Norud.
: We'll find a way to open that route. Just give us some time.
That's it for Assaram, then. We Return to Isis, rest up, and leave for the Pyramid again.
Instead of returning to the top floor right away, we take a western branch on the ground floor first, directly across the path to the green statues.
That's a new one.
Man-Eater Chests clock in at up to 120 HP, with 200 attack and 55 defense. Yeah. Their attacks ignore formation, they can roll crits, and they can breathe sleeping gas (about 25% of the time). Ain't that a recipe for disaster, eh? They're immune to Expel, highly resistant to fire, Sleep, and Surround, and mildly resistant to ice, wind, and Sap.
We'll keep Rebeca on Increase duty for this one, just in case it helps.
...everyone but Zofia is put to sleep in the first turn, then she is put to sleep in the second.
Whuh-oh. I don't know if it's possible to run from a Man-Eater Chest, but we're out of options.Music: Defeated
Welp, I have to presume it's not. That's our first wipe, folks! Man-Eater Chests are notorious douchebags, as I'm sure you can see. It's as close to unfairness as the game has been so far, and, well, that's pretty damn close. There is in fact a way to tell if a chest is going to try to murder you, but we have no access to it yet.
: I'll give you one more chance.
: Ah... um, thanks.
As is traditional, we lose half our money (1441 gold!), and we have to pay to revive the rest of our party besides. That'll go a long way towards pre-emptively assuaging our guilt for robbing the queen blind tonight!
: Welp, the verdict is in: queens can be dicks also. How progressive.
Alvaro costs 200 gold to revive, and it's 230 each for Isabel and Rebeca. There goes our Cloak of Evasion fund. Good grief, let's not allow this too happen too often, shall we?
I'm nervous about opening more chests here, but maybe we have a chance if we don't all fall asleep at the start of the battle.
Somehow, Alvaro manages to kill it with 2 HP left. Am I glad he's wearing the Meteorite Armband or what?
: Holy crap! Hang tight everyone, I'm bringing you back!
I didn't expect to go through a bunch of Medical Herbs for quite this reason, but it's good to have them either way.
Alvaro manages to kill four King Froggores on his way out of the Pyramid, but the other enemy groups he encounters all include Infernus Crabs and there's no sense fishing for crits right now, so he flees.
: You have my gratitude, Alvaro!
: Yeah, you... you've really done well this time.
: No, no, none of this is necessary. You would have done the same for me.
: Well, it's not that we wouldn't have, but I wonder if we could have!
: Ha, you're powerful magicians. I'm sure you would have managed.
: It's all the more impressive that you got out of there without spells!
Alright, one more.
: Whew. I've never been happier to see an empty chest.
There's a dead end in the north here, but there's clearly more to this first floor than meets the eye. Maybe we can come back here from the second.
Yep, we can.
: Alright, keep your guard up.
They're both empty. Relief!
Welp, that's it for the first floor, then.
That's the second floor done. All that's left is that locked door on the floor above the Magic Key chest.
: Ha! It worked!
: I have a bad feeling about this room.
: It must be the main tomb. Those are sarcophagi along the walls there.
: And a bunch of chests, too!
: How many of those chests will try to eat us, though? That's the question.
: We won't know until we open them all.
: Could we at least start with these stairs?
: Eh, sure.
Flashy Clothes are only for Goof-offs, and they offer 26 defense power, which is only 4 less than Full Plate! A Cloak of Evasion would probably serve them better, though.
: Yeah, it's a Pyramid, it was bound to happen sooner or later.
: For such a tomb of horrors, it has a pretty nice view.
: If you like sand. And sunburn. Speaking of which...
: Right, let's go back inside.
: I'm sorry, I can't pretend I'm okay with this any longer. This chamber terrifies me.
: ...yeah. I kinda have the willies too, to be honest.
: Well, we are certainly violating a cursed tomb.
: You're all ridiculous. Dead people don't need this stuff.
: It's not about what they need, it's about the lengths they'll go to to protect it.
: We got what we came here to find.
: It's irresponsible to leave treasure here, knowing what we're up against!
: We don't have to leave it here permanently. We've only been getting stronger ever since we left Aliahan, right?
: That is definitely true.
: I just don't think we should keep bashing our heads against this place right now.
: Wise words!
: ...fine. I know when I'm overruled. But we have to come back later!
: I... I'm not much of a seer, but... I can brush up on the basics a bit, maybe figure out a spell that'll help us avoid the worst of this place.
: I'm sure you can come up with something, Rebeca.
: It's been a while though, so don't expect it soon!
: Please take whatever time you need.
You may think we're only leaving for story effect, but the truth is, we've lost over 2000 gold to Man-Eater Chests today, I have no idea what's in that sealed tomb, and if we wiped again we couldn't afford to have everyone revived. If we hadn't found the key yet, this would be a cruel bastard of a dungeon, but in fact what's left to find in the upper levels and whatever secrets may be hidden in the basement are not critical to progress. I feel no shame at calling a temporary retreat, and I even suspect this is absolutely intended. This is a cursed edifice filled with traps; you first sneak in to get what you came to get, and you come back with a bulldozer for the rest.
And so we turn our backs to the Pyramid, with only a partial victory, but with the path to future adventures elsewhere firmly open. There will be time to unravel all of its mysteries later. Besides, we've got a new key, and a whole lot of doors to open!