So that's all of the tower that used to contain the Cloak of the Wind. Going up the obvious central shaft is basically a mistake! In terms of size and complexity, I'd say it's a fair bit more involved than Garin's Grave in DW1. Considering that was that game's second-to-last dungeon, we're already stepping up.
Along the way, Gwen reached level 7 (1 Strength, 2 Agility, 1 HP, 2 MP), Glynn reached level 12 (2 Strength, 2 HP, 3 MP, and a new spell), and we did in fact make enough money to get Zed a Steel Shield, increasing his defense by 6 points.
Outside teleports you out of a dungeon, just like in DW1, at the exact same expense of 6 MP.
Getting two of the same symbol earns you a free try, and as we've seen, getting three hearts got us a Medical Herb. Welp, better than nothin'.
By this point, Zed has 79 attack and 53 defense, Glynn has 39 attack and 34 defense, and Gwen has 17 attack and 23 defense. Of course that's not the sum of their usefulness, but it gives you an idea of how they compare.
: Ready to try the western tunnel again?
: You know it!
: I'll try to be more careful this time.
: Ah, don't worry about it too much. I could probably be a better bodyguard, to be honest.
: That doesn't mean we can't try to make your job a little easier.
: Our success is on all of us.
: Right! Let's go, then.
We run into an unusually high number of foes on our way to the tunnel, but manage to make it out at little expense. And as soon as we exit the other end...
Carnivogs have fairly high HP and Strength, but low defense. Their claim to fame is to occasionally "blow their sweet scented breath", attempting to put our entire party to sleep. This is not magic, so Stopspell doesn't help, but they're only faintly resistant to Sleep themselves, and damage spells always work against them.
This particular fight levels Zed up, for 4 Strength and 1 HP.
Retracing our steps from last time, but a little more to the north, we spot an island across the channel here, with a mysterious tower on it. Better remember it for later.
: You ever spend much time in this desert, Gwen?
: I've never had cause to come this way myself. And now that I've actually seen it, I wish I didn't have to.
: Eh, same.
: We stand at the western boundary of Torland, you know. We are about to leave our ancestors' realms.
: I'm not surprised ZedPower and Gwaelin turned back from this sand pit.
: I don't like sand. It's coarse and rough and irritating and it gets everywhere.
: It's also spectacularly unsuited to erecting stoneworks.
: Even if it wasn't, it's still sand.
We find a neat little oasis near the western coast, but there's nothing more to it.
A chain of mountains blocks any travel south, so we turn around and follow the sea to the north.
And we come out the other side of the dune ocean. We met no new foes, only tons of Baboons, Megapedes, Magidrakees, Ghost Rats and Carnivogs.
We lose Gwen to a Megapede ambush a bit further north. There wasn't much we could do about that one, unfortunately.
: Hmm. I wonder if we could cross that river by gliding from this tower here.
: It's worth a try, but we're not climbing without Gwen. Can you take us back to Hamlin?
: Yes, of course.
: Man, I don't look forward to crossing that desert again. There's no use complaining, though.
: We do what we must. If we balk at a desert, we'll never measure up to Hargon.
Oh, hey, while we're at it, here's what the wise man at the House of Healing has to say if you decline to pay for his services.
: No, of course I d-
: Good grief, no need to tell us your life story, we get it.
: ...wait, who are you paying taxes to? Moonbrooke has fallen.
: Oh, uh, right. Just the family and the cow, then.
Gwen levels up on the way back, for 1 Strength, 5 Agility, 5 HP, 2 MP, and her next spell.
Repel is still a Fairy Water equivalent, keeping weaker enemies away for a set distance traveled. It still only costs 2 MP. For around here though, I'd rather get into fights, I'm sure we'll need all the cash we can get soon.
Oooh, there's a new enemy in the desert after all! Mummy Men are incredibly strong, but have a defense of exactly 2, and are immune to Sleep, mildly resistant to Surround, and vulnerable to damage spells. They have no other tricks, they only attack. Even Gwen's Magic Knife does well against them, so I don't see myself spending MP on solo ones.
: Guys, I have an idea!
: We... had the same one. Before.
: Aw, you're no fun.
Well this is straightforward.
: I'm sure that I do.
: But I have not yet spoken.
: Still sure.
: I certainly don't know, kind sir. Please share your knowledge.
: These twin towers are known as the Dragon's Horn.
: Thank you. Was that so hard?
: What does it even matter? They could be called Twins' Toothpicks for all I care.
That black area here is a new hazard of sorts. It's a pit, causing you to fall to the floor below. There isn't much to it here, but it does show that the tower is hollow.
We go through several identical floors, just going around the central hole, from staircase to staircase.
Oh hey, eight enemies at once. I like that the width of the enemy sprites has a gameplay element to it; we're never going to run into eight Baboons because they wouldn't fit on the screen. It seems that Healers always prefer to heal non-Healers if they can, so we need to eliminate most of them before Zed has a chance to finish off the big guy.
A bit further along, Glynn levels up, earning 8 Strength, 7 Agility, 2 HP, and 2 MP. Dang, that'll work!
Demighosts are comparable to Mummy Men, with a bit less attack and a fair amount more defense. However, not only can they sometimes roll critical hits, they'll randomly act twice in one turn! They're only slightly resistant to magic though, so I recommend Sleep or Surround when facing more than one. Right now we can chump one in a single turn if we all simply attack, but they're going to be tough in a crowd.
Medusa Balls are not quite as strong as Demighosts, but they can also attack twice, and they know Sleep. They're highly vulnerable to all magic though, so it's best to disable them before they disable you.
Our MP runs low enough that we start using Herbs to heal; it's best to save some juice for combat.
: Whew! I lost count of how many floors that was.
: ...this suddenly starts to feel like a stupid idea.
: Losing your nerve?
: No, I'm wondering if we can avoid just... falling into the river. I'm not swimming in this gear.
: Come now, cousin. Trust in the magic of the cloak.
: Yeah, that's the problem. Magic and I aren't much on speaking terms.
: Oh, will you quit your fussing already? Let's go, and hold on tight!
: My poor ears!
: I will never get tired of this.
: Ah, well, hmm. Looks like it worked. Good job everyone!
The other tower is certainly the way back. There might be treasure of some sort inside, but we're in no shape to climb it at the moment. Let's see if we can find something of interest in the north for now.
: All in favor of not cutting through the woods?
: Ah, an inn! My kingdom for an ale!
: If you trade Cannock for an ale, I will definitely tell your dad.
20 gold per person, well within our means.
: Oh, fascinating!
: Perhaps thou has seen ancient maps of my land, but it has changed much through the ages.
This is a different type of attendant, but it's still a standard House of Healing.
: Useful skill, that.
: Do you...?
: I'm not telling!
: Err... Alright.
: Fair enough.
Another lottery kiosk, but we're out of tickets.
: Oh my goodness... That's a ship! They have a ship here!
: Well, the town is called Lianport.
: Come on, let's enquire about passage.
: Why would we even want to... Eh, never mind.
: Kind sir, would that ship over there be in any way avai-
: But... But... It has three square-rigged masts, it's definitely a ship!
: Let's go, Glynn. I don't know if there is ever a time to debate nautical terminology with a harbormaster, but it is not now.
: From there in ages past came a great warrior, "a descendant of Erdrick" who slew dragons, and there came also a princess named Gwaelin.
: Right, we're familiar with that tale. Quite literally, in fact.
: Wh... What? Really? A descendant of Erdrick? They remember his name but not mine? Do I have to forever live in his shadow?
: Don't worry, I'm sure someone out there remembers you as "Gwaelin's husband".
: That's... Okay, fine, that's a little better.
: Wait, what the hell!? HEY!
I think we just had our first boss fight!
Gremlins are fairly tough foes with high stats, comparable to the harder creatures in the Dragon's Horn. They're mildly resistant to all magic, but especially to Stopspell, and come with a defense-ignoring fire breath attack that hits our entire party, as well as Sleep and Heal spells. It's likely that these are the same type of monster that Hargon sent to sack Moonbrooke.
: That's why we're here, miss.
: Please follow me and meet my grandfather.
With that, she walks off to the east. Let's check out these shops first, though.
: That certainly bodes ill. Is Hargon going after descendants of Erdrick?
: If we were all slain or cursed, there would be few left to oppose him.
Ah, Dragon's Bane, we've heard of it before. It's a lot of money though, and I want to see the local equipment prices before committing.
The Wizard's Wand can be equipped by anyone; it's 4 points weaker than a Magic Knife, but it can be used in combat to cast a slightly weaker version of Firebal at will. Clothes (of?) Hiding can also be equipped by anyone. Its defense value is 8 points higher than Chain Mail and only 5 points below Full Plate, but its true power lies in giving its wearer a 1 in 8 chance of evading physical attacks (though that's never described in-game).
I'd like to get a Wand for Gwen, but both her and Glynn are way overdue for an armor upgrade, so we pick up two Clothes Hiding for now. Gwen's defense goes from 25 to 43!
: I shall gladly lend thee my swiftest ship.
: ...huh. Thanks?
: Well, that was remarkably convenient.
This whole sequence feels a little on the nose, but it's better than "hey, free ship, no reason".
: Uh... does either of you know how to...
: Yes, yes! I've read all about it! Make way!
: Wow, okay then. I... I guess that's fine.
: If anything goes wrong, I'm sure we'll have time to use Wings.
: I'M SAILING!
: Well would you look at that, he's really doing it.
: Will wonders never cease.
: Yes! Pirate stories! Treasure! This is the greatest adventure of all time!
: Glynn, my father is-
: Let him have this, will you?
: ...sure. Sorry.
: Bring me this treasure and I shall pay a handsome fee.
: Ha, only if we don't want to keep it because of how cool it is!
: WOOOOOOO!Music: Riding the waves
Well hey everyone, it's the sea. And I thought this world was big before
Dragon Warrior 2 has been quite linear so far. The only truly optional part has been getting the Silver Key, since nothing of progress-critical importance was locked behind any of the silver doors we've found. (It didn't occur to me to show it unfortunately, but you're not allowed to cross the tunnel to the desert without the Princess of Moonbrooke.) However, getting the ship opens up most of the world to exploration, with practically the only limiting factor being our ability to defeat the local fauna. We can land our ship on any terrain we can usually walk on, and if we use a Return effect, it will be teleported to a nearby body of water accessible from our destination.
That said, this freedom comes at a bit of a thematic cost: we have absolutely no idea where Hargon is. Investigating Moonbrooke Castle was a clear objective for the first portion of the game, but now, our goal is investigating the entire world, and as far as the main plot is concerned, that's not quite as driving in a we're-going-to-this-specific-place-for-this-specific-reason sense.
It's pretty ambitious design for the time, I'll give it that. Whatever thread might exist to lead us to the endgame, we'll have it discover it on our own. In a way, I even find it rather compelling. We're set loose in the world, and it's up to us not only to put the puzzle together, but also to even find the pieces.
: Glynn, settle down for a moment and come over here, will you?
: Cousin, we need a plan.
: You dig the sea. I get it. But I'm sure we'll get to do plenty of sailing in the fullness of time. I'll even call you captain if you like.
: Ah... Sure, fine.
: I'm not calling him captain.
: Suit yourself, cous. Anyway, alright, take a look at this.
: We can be pretty sure Hargon's headquarters aren't anywhere we've been to yet. Unfortunately, no one alive can tell us where they might be. We have literally zero leads.
: Unless the disappearance of Alefgard's king is connected to him.
: It's also just across the strait here, so it would be a close starting point.
: Okay, that's one option. We could also visit the lake south of Moonbrooke, sailing right over the tunnel to the desert, and see if we can reach the lands south of the mountain range there. We were in fact looking for traces of our enemy in that region, so that should also be worth a look.
: I'm inclined to agree. That said, I'm also curious about that tower we saw on the island west of my castle.
: Right, I'll add it to the list. Anyth-
: We could search for the wreck of the Relentless!
: That's... technically true.
: Where would we even start to look, though?
: It sank in chill waters, right? This must mean the far north!
: That doesn't narrow it down by much.
: It could also be in the far south.
: Either way, it's an option, I'm putting it down. What else?
: There was that lone monolith northeast of Midenhall, remember?
: Hmm. True. I'm not sure what it has to do with anything, though.
: There are many great powers in this world, not all of them evil. It would be wise not to be so consumed by the pursuit of our foe that we neglect to search for allies.
: Hmm! That is an excellent point.
: Okay, the place did look important, it makes the list.
: Zed, do you have any idea where the village you can see from your castle's travel gate might be?
: I really don't. It's in the middle of the ocean somewhere. But we can keep an eye out for sure.
: Alright then. That seems to be about it.
: Indeed. Our travels are not at their end yet!
: How about this, then. We sail west between the Dragon's Horns to reach eastern Midenhall and investigate the monolith there; once that's done, we take our rest again in Lianport and set off for Alefgard.
: I can get behind that plan.
: Agreed! Let's-
: No, actually, wait a moment. We haven't investigated the northern Horn yet, and we've barely even seen any of the region we just left. I'd feel better if we mapped it out, too.
: Ugh, I get you, I can relate. Glynn, can you land us right over here again?
: What!? Really?
: You heard the lady, Cap'n. You don't want to be turned into a tadpole, do you?
: Oh boy. That is never going to get old, I can tell.