: I figured being a hero would feel at least a little better than this.
: Zofia, the portions of this quest that ended in sorrow took place long before any of us had anything to do with it.
: Besides, the elves had it coming, to be honest.
: That's not as comforting as you think.
: Sometimes, all of the endings are bad. But what's up to us is making sure there will be another story tomorrow.
The sun rises just as we get within sight of Noaniels. What a night that was.
: Alright then, let's see about this powder.
: If it turns out this is just flour, we're going back there and torching the place.
Just like that, the man at the entrance starts moving!
: Haha, it worked!
: Whew, okay then, we definitely didn't screw that one up.
: Yeah, we did.
: Really? I'm embarrassed.
: Eh, it's nothing. We're used to sleeping close to Isabel, so...
: What's that supposed to mean?
: There's no way no one ever told you.
: ...oh dear.
One more gold per person than in Kanave, still no biggie. We might as well rest right away.
: Goodness, it must have happened while you were already...
: There's no such thing as a son of Ortega.
: Oh! I thought you were someone else.
: Look, I'm his daughter. What's your deal?
: I thought it was only yesterday that Ortega was in the room next door. He must have headed to Assaram in search of a key. But... it is hard to believe so many years have passed since then and that Ortega is gone.
: ...yeah, it is. Even if you haven't been asleep all this time.
: He must have been looking for a key to Portoga for sure!
: Well, let's hope there's still a copy of it in Assaram, because if he took the only one, we definitely won't get to use that tunnel.
: It's a good thing the elves' enchanted sleep kept them nourished.
: Well, the elves may be jerks, but they're not demons.
: Right, we just heard of that town. Do you have any idea where it is?
: Assaram is east of Romaly!
: That's... not the best news.
: Well, thank you.
I think we have our next objective! Let's hope the Tower of Shanpane and this ordeal with the elves will have prepared us adequately.
The Spider's Web is a consumable item that basically casts Slow. We can have Rebeca cast Slow anytime we need, so it's no use to us, but it's nice of the game to make a debuff effect available to every class in this way.
The Wizard's Wand is a +15 weapon (one more point of attack power than a Magic Knife) that can be equipped by Wizards and Sages. If you use it in battle, it basically casts Blaze. It's a halfway decent buy if you somehow missed the Poison Needle or have more than one Wizard, but Sages can wield Actual Weapons instead.
The Cloak of Evasion offers a +20 defense bonus (as much as Chain Mail), and it can be equipped by all classes! Its claim to fame is that it allows its user to avoid any standard attack 20% of the time. It would be an upgrade for both Isabel and Rebeca, and in fact it's better than Alvaro's Fighting Suit even though it has 3 less defense... but man is it expensive. We can't even afford one right now.
: Oh! Hey! You're welcome!
: Finally some gratitude.
: Can't remember what you were doing, little boy? Were you going somewhere?
: That's right. I was on my way to visit Grandpa.
: Just take care of the people you love. It'll be enough.
: That's right! Don't worry about it!
: A little money would have been nice though.
: Just saying!
So, we've been pretty clearly pointed to Assaram, east of Romaly. That said, we didn't finish exploring the cave where we found the Dream Ruby, and there are portions of this northern region we haven't even seen yet, so let's get to wrapping that up right quick. It'll even get us enough money for a Cloak of Evasion before we set off on our journey.
Ah, Acorns of Life! These increase a character's maximum HP by 1 to 5. They're pretty much unambiguously good, so we let Isabel have them, since she's 9 points behind Rebeca, which doesn't make any sense.
Welp, she's condemned to roll poorly on HP, I guess.
Strength Seeds being any good depends on the same circumstances as Agility Seeds. We'll be vaulting that one for Reasons.
And we're done here. Rebeca takes us outside, and we spend some time wandering around until nightfall.
Unsurprisingly, the villagers of Noaniels are in no hurry to go to bed. Everyone is doing whatever they were doing during the day, and even the store is open. We do take this opportunity to buy Rebeca a Cloak of Evasion, seeing as she's still wearing Wayfarer's Clothes; it takes her defense from 16 to 28. It could be argued that she needs it the least, but all it takes is a strong enemy who ignores formation to take a hefty chunk of out her (admittedly considerable) HP pool.
The next morning, we set off to complete our map of the area. There's a small path west of Kanave we haven't seen yet, as well as another region roughly east of Noaniels.
Welp, there's not much in the west.
Oooh, that's ice terrain in the east. There's nothing too remarkable about it, and it's passable on foot.
Hmm, there are some shoals at the mouth of the river we followed from Romaly a while back. If we ever got a ship, we'd have to find another way.
And that's the entire region covered. Man but there was a lot to do here! We're about done though, and we have a new destination, so we head back to Romaly. Alvaro levels to 13 on the way, for 4 Str, 6 Agi, 3 Vit, 4 Luc, 1 Int, and 6 HP. Dang but that's another great level right there.
Hmm, the tickets are now 120 gold instead of 80. I suspect this scales in proportion with the Hero's level.
There are even monsters we haven't seen yet! Let's drop some coin on... the Wild Ape.Yikes, the Ape gets taken out second, and the Toadstool comes out on top.
: Well, that's 1380 gold we're not making.
: Gambling is stupid.
We stay at the inn, save with the king, and depart in the morning.
: Let's see a bunch of dumb cats stop us this time!
: By the way, you never told me where you found my... uh... my replacement. Who was it again?
: The less is said about that, the better, I think.
: Huh. Okay then.
Despite that one Wild Ape's poor performance in the arena, they're actually quite dangerous, with the ability to roll crits and to call for other Apes to join in. They have only 10 less attack power than Kandar, and they're slightly less durable than his Henchmen. They're highly resistant to ice and slightly to Sleep, but other elements work well.
Zofia levels up a few fights later, for 2 Str, 1 Agi, 4 Vit, 3 Luc, 10 HP, and a new Hero-only spell: Ironize. For 6 MP, it turns everyone in your party into solid iron for a few rounds, making them impervious to all damage and magic, but unable to take any action. This seems pointless at first, but it has a few niche uses. First off, if you encounter new enemies, it gives you a chance to see what they're capable of without putting yourself in any danger. It can also be used to skip a fews turns and increase your odds of successfully running away. And finally, since monsters actually need MP to cast spells for the first time in the series, you can cast Ironize to get them to waste their juice while you're invincible. (That last one only really works on enemies who don't have enough MP to cast their big ticket spells several times, but those are certainly out there.)
: Ugh, even the wind is hot.
: I... I feel like I want to punch the sun!
: I suddenly miss the Noaniels weather for some reason.
: Ha, you homebodies still don't know what real heat is like. Enjoy this while you can.
: I hope you're kidding... but I can tell you're not.
: Is it, now?
: Oh, yes it is. When I was young, I-
: Hohoho, never mind. I probably said too much!
: Wow, okay.
: Haha, Assaram!
: Yikes. I thought I heard wrong, that it was because I only heard it in the northern accent, but... nope. Assaram.
: Assaram indeed.
: Good grief. What happened to the likes of "Brecconary" and "Hauksness"?
: Assaram. Assaram. Assaram.
: Gah, if I hear it said even one more time, it's like the word won't even mean anything anymore!
: Better keep saying it, then!
: ...I need a drink.
That's right. We're in Assaram. Enjoy the rest of your day, everyone.
The inn's seven gold per person, quite reasonable.
Oof, recent history has not been kind to that name.
: I think the old man that lives there knows about the Magic Key.
: Ah, we've got a trail to follow then. Thanks.
: What's with... oh!
: Oh my.
: I think his brain shut down.
: That certainly is a lot of money for not a lot of swimsuit.
The one new piece of kit here is the ludicrously expensive Revealing Swimsuit. It only has a defense power of 1, and it has no class restrictions, but only women can wear it. Its only "use" is that it changes the wearer's sprite, in a way that I'm sure you can imagine. I don't know if we'll ever have that much money all at once, and it's doubtful any of our lady companions would even accept to wear it, but who knows what the fullness of time may bring?
: Pfft, in your dreams maybe.
: Not even!
Hmm, the item store is unusually sparse. Maybe they have supply problems. We do pick up a couple Full Moon Herbs, just in case.
: Uh... sure.
No prices? Hmm!
: How about that Iron Helmet?
: That's insane!
: Never take a first offer in Assaram, sweetheart.
: Yeah, no. Pass.
: I see you're good at bartering. You've bested me. Okay, let's make it 8000 pieces of gold. Is that more to your liking? Will you take it?
: If you pay eight grand for that metal bowl, I'm leaving and you'll never see me again.
: Of course not, that's still demented.
: If I go any lower I'll lose money! But again, you're a friend...
: But we've just met!
: OK, let's make it 4000 pieces of gold. Is that more to your liking? Will you take it?
: It still doesn't make any sense, sorry.
: Show some mercy! Do you want me to go broke?
: I kind of wouldn't mind, to be honest.
: Well, all right. OK, let's make it 2000 pieces of gold. Is that more to your liking? Will you take it?
: ...I actually only have a thousand on me right now.
: Oh, I see. Too bad. Come back again.
You need to refuse this merchant's offer three times before you get his best price, and it can still be higher than what you'd pay elsewhere for the same item. For example, the lowest he'll go for a Cloak of Evasion is 5800!
The Iron Helmet is his only item that you can't buy anywhere else. It can be worn by Heroes, Soldiers, Pilgrims and Sages, and it offers 16 defense, a considerable upgrade over the +2 Leather Helmets they're probably wearing at this point. The 2000 he charges is actually reasonable for that much defense.
The Battle Axe boasts 40 attack power, and it can be equipped by Heroes, Soldiers, Merchants and Fighters (though the latter are penalized as usual). Absolutely do not buy it here for 5000 gold, though.
The Giant Shears have +48 attack power, and only Soldiers can use them. The 7400 price here is a massive overcharge, of course.
The Staff of Force offers a truly massive +55 attack power, and it can be used by Wizards, Pilgrims and Sages, but it drains 3 MP per attack so it's a bit of an iffy proposition. You can also do better than this guy's 5000 gold asking price, so if we ever want one, we won't get it here.
: Yeah... I got a notion.
: It'll be a great deal less toasty for sure.
Ah, that's where the rest of the consumables are for sale. But we're not putting up with this guy's bullshit, we can just Return somewhere else if we want any of that stuff.
: Please don't interrupt rehearsals. OK, 1 and 2 and...
: Yikes. One of them needs a lot of practice.
This town is clearly going to be a lot more lively later. Let's get some fighting done until sunset.
Vampire Cats are still not trivial, but it's almost scary to contemplate how much stronger we are than when we first encountered them. This particular fight gets Isabel to level 14, for 2 Str, 2 Agi, 4 Luc, 3 Int, 6 MP, and a new spell: StopSpell. It costs 3 MP this time around, but it works the same as always, rolling against one group's StopSpell resistance to try to permanently block their spellcasting. I was hoping we'd get it soon ever since we ran into those IceBolt-tossing Vampires.
I wonder what's going on with this cave. Let's just have a peek.
Ah, it looks like it could be a tunnel to another area.
: Heyo, mister.
: Norud? More like yes rude!
: Bah, fine, see if we care.
: I'll never understand how one can be so unwelcoming to travelers.
: Eh, maybe it's because they keep taking everything that's not nailed down. Speaking of which...
: ...whoa! What are you doing?
: His name's not written on it. And even if it was, he had it coming. Don't you say he didn't!
We return outside and resume killing time and monsters until nightfall. Rebeca reaches level 14, for 1 Str, 1 Agi, 4 Vit, 4 Luc, 2 Int, 6 HP, 5 MP, and two new spells: Return and Firebane. This is the earliest a Wizard can learn either of those spells, so Rebeca's Intelligence is definitely on point. Firebane is an upgrade to Firebal, dealing 30-41 fire damage to a group of foes for 6 MP.
: Ah, blessed sunset, at last!
: I don't know if-
The dancer waits for us at the entrance to a nearby building.
: This seems rather shady.
: Meh, live a little. What's the worst that could happen?
: You probably don't want to know the answer to that question, Rebeca.
: I... uh...
: Zofia, I'm sure there's plenty this town has to offer that doesn't involve us not being able to protect you.
: Come on, she's stronger than any one of us.
: It's up to you, sweetheart.
: Yeah, okay, I'm going. Just stay close, alright?
: Got it!
Just like that, we're separated from the rest of our party.
: Whoa, err. That's not a type of fortune-telling I'm familiar with. What with the... the bed and all.
: Sure, yeah, sitting, I can sit. I'm pretty good at sitting!
: Um... maybe... how about nnnnnno-
Holy crap, Zofia's getting in-game dialog.
: I... what?
: Ha, ha! I couldn't resist!
The father in question runs off to the west, presumably through a secret door.
: My shoulder? Wh... what the... What?
And just like that, we return to our party. I have no idea how the Japanese version handles this scene, but I suspect it's very different and that the localization didn't quite handle it as gracefully as it maybe should have. That thing with the stiff shoulder... Were we supposed to get a massage? And we expected a massage from a lady but then the lights go out and they pull a switcheroo?
Welp. What happens in Assaram stays in Assaram. Let's carry on, shall we?
It's neat to see the game tell us what the new consumables do when it's not so obvious.
Ah, this shop is closed during the day. It's all stuff we've seen, but you definitely want to buy your Battle Axes here, not at that other rip-off artist's place. It's too bad the item shops aren't open at this hour, or I'd sell Zofia's Broad Sword and trade up.
: This beat is something else!
: Oh! Err, gosh...
: Haha, it's all coming back to me!
: Wooo, Isabel!
: Not any more, you're not!
: It's already happening!
: Like... this?
: The boy's got some moves when he feels like it!
: Oh my.
: Good grief, that takes me back.
: I love you guys.
: Alright, wanna turn in for the night?
: No. But we have work to do tomorrow, don't we?
: Man, screw the archfiend. Screw his face! If it wasn't for that asshole we could just... go on a vacation or something. Everyone could go on vacations without having half their face ate off by a god-damned Vampire Cat.
: That'll be the dream, eh?
: Fia, tell me we'll make it happen.
: We'll make it happen.
: We'll all make it happen together.