May 28, 2013

Dragon Quest IV - Linguine in Mara & Nara Sauce

The chapter opens with a sassy young lass dancing her heart out to a capacity crowd in a theatre located in the quaint town of Monbaraba.  After completing her energy-packed set, which the papers would later describe as "Outstanding!", "Poetry in motion!" and "Shensational!", the sweaty Mara heads backstage to have a chat with her sister, Nara.  They continue their discussion about their pursuit of revenge on their father's killer, Ballsack.

I'd rather be murdering.

Mara and Nara feel that now the time is ripe to spring their plan into action, which consists of finding Ballsack and killing him... somehow (maybe a sharp object of some kind?).  They have obviously been quite vocal about their plans as well, since their boss and co-workers all seem to be quite up-to-date on the sisters' murderous scheme.

Have we mentioned our pursuit of revenge?

With Mara being a dancer and Nara being a fortune teller, it seems that these two lovely ladies have not quite thought their cunning plan all the way through.  Things get a little better after they cut their teeth on some slimes and giant grasshoppers.  While both are fairly weak in melee (Mara being the weaker of the two), both have access to spells, with Mara focusing on offense and Nara on defense.  Returning to their hometown of Kievs, the expositions fly as the townsfolk remind the sisters about how their alchemist father was murder by his pupil, Ballsack, after discovering a secret chemical formula.  Also, they learn that the king of Keeleon Castle was recently overthrown and the usurper is apparently conducting evil experiments.  Could there be a connection? (spoiler: there is.)  At any rate, they also learn that their father had a second pupil named Orin, who is currently hanging out in a cave because why not?  Finding him adds some much needed melee attack power to the group, plus I think both the sisters are quite fond of Orin.

*gasp* You're into revenge too?  *swoon*

Orin also tells them about the Sphere of Silence, which is able to contain spells and is key to exacting their revenge on he who is most bally of sacks.  It's located just one floor down so they get it pretty easily.  It seems like it might be a short chapter as they head straight to Keeleon Castle and have Orin literally smash open iron doors with his bare hands (*sigh*... he's sooo dreamy).  The new king is hiding somewhere and only the counsel member knows where the secret room is.  Rumour has it he's afraid of loud noises so the trio has to find some gunpowder.  While searching for a saltpeter source, they come across a most terrifying and awesome opponent.  A gang of normally easy slimes disgustingly combined their bodies to form the King of Kings, in all his muculent majesty.

All hail the glutinous one!

King Slime doesn't have anything to do with getting gunpowder, I just think he's super-keen.  The gunpowder lies somewhere in the mining town of Aktemto, which is probably the most depressing place I've been in all the DQs.  Poison gas started pouring out of the mine and has decimated the village, leaving behind a despondent population and a very sad tune.  Anxious to leave this killjoy of a town, the gang quickly recover the gunpowder and head back to Keeleon Castle to scare them some wussy council member, who VERY SLOWLY power walks to the secret door that leads to the usurper's throne room.  Surprise, surprise, the usurper is Ballsack and the sisters get the chance to revenge!

Ohhh, his name is Balzack... silly me.

With the Sphere of Silence containing Ballsie's spells, he falls quite easily — Revenge Get!!!  Unfortunately, his boss, Keeleon, shows up, chastises him, and then proceeds to smackdown all three heroes into unconsciousness.  They awake in the castle prison, which is ridiculously easy to escape from.  As they attempt to flee the castle, the alarm goes out and a swarm of soldiers come after them.  Brave, handsome Orin valiantly decides to take them all on in order to buy some precious time for Mara and Nara to escape.

Inevitably, both pairs of
panties were creamed.

The sisters don't stop running until they hit the town of Haville, where a sailing ship is getting ready to leave.  With heavy hearts, the two fugitives climb aboard and get ready to leave their homeland, quite possibly forever.  Full of apprehension and uncertainty, the sisters try their best to forget their traumatic past in this strange and foreign land.

Hey, doesn't Endor have a casino?

May 21, 2013

Dragon Quest IV - Taloonie Bin

After about a week's worth of fighting monsters and looting their treasure chests for resale, Taloon and Neta are raking in the big bucks (around 20K).  Taloon has kept Strom and Laurent on the payroll, as they are quite cheap to keep around.  With the Emporium doing so well, Taloon is on the lookout for the next big investment opportunity.  He finds it through an old man who started an excavation project to connect Endor to Branca.  The silver-tongued old man convinces Taloon to finance this endeavour with promises of great treasures on the other side.

Yes, money, I'd like to money all that money.

Taloon needs another 40Kand quickbefore some other merchant beats him to it.  Master Economist Taloon devises a simple, yet daring, plan in order to increase his coffers in a relatively short time.  Since they've been open for business, Neta has proven to be an extraordinary saleswoman.  Even with items marked up 50% more than regular retail prices, items rarely stay on the shelf for more than a few days.  Knowing this, Taloon simply purchases the most expensive item from the weapon shop across the road and slaps his own price sticker overtop the existing one.

Game the system, Tee.

Okay, so even though this is a great plan, it is also an incredibly boring one, so Taloon only does it once before going back into the great outdoors where there is a little more excitement (and experience points).  Eventually he gathers enough GP to get the project started.  While the diggers dig, Taloon learns that Endor's casino has reopened and this would be the perfect way to kill some time plus maybe get a metal babble shield.  The casino personnel apparently mistake Taloon for Alena as he has access to what is left in her account (a couple thousand).  Without bothering to correct them, Taloon swiftly takes all the coins over the poker table and plans to work the shit out of the pattren (which he shouldn't know about, but fuck it, I'm going to meta it).  Unfortunately, the pattren seems to be character specific as it totally doesn't work here and Taloon loses the entire stack.  Oh well, at least the tunnel is done now.  Taloon heads home to bid farewell to Neta, who is completely understanding that her man must chase his dream; his dream to supply every man, woman, and child with lethal weapons.

Taloon, you are one lucky bastard.
If you ever break her heart, I'm
deleting your save file.

May 20, 2013

Dragon Quest IV - Tuhloone Mindstate

Taloon is a big man with a big dream.  He'd like to be able to quit his current job and start a business of his own.  We've all been there.  Working day in and day out at a dead end job, underpaid and underappreciated by The Man; going back alone to the one room apartment after every shift and eating a not quite fully microwaved Hungry Man™ dinner; washing it down with a fifth of vodka while watching endless reruns of Flavor of Love; waiting for blissful slumber to come take one more day off towards inevitable death.

Oh, shit.  You got a house and wife.
My bad, Taloon. You doin' aiight.

Taloon makes his living in retail, though not selling lame stuff like fashions or shoes.  No, he sells weapons — everything from clubs to copper swords to thorn whips (okay, actually that's all he sells).  I can see why Taloon wants to open an arms store himself; even in a town with a population of around ten, a customer comes in as soon as another leaves.

And they always ask the same
two dumb-ass questions.

A lot of times a potential sale is lost due to the customer either not having enough money on hand (hurr) or not having an inventory slot available (durr).  Eventually, the day ends and Taloon pockets a little over a hundred golds and goes home to immediately go to sleep until the next work day starts.  He can even leave after serving just one customer (his boss is very progressive), go home, and go right back to sleep at the suggestion of his wife.  All this going to sleep talk better be a euphemism for sex, Taloon, or you can colour me several shades of disappointed Shen.

Oh good, it is.  *brofists T-Money*

After working just two full days, Taloon starts to leave early to go fight monsters in the forest.  He's able to reap big profit not only from the gold the monsters have, but also from occasionally finding an expensive sword or armour and selling it back in town, quite often to his boss.  After gaining a few levels, Taloon is off to find the Iron Safe, which will prevent him from losing half his gold should he die in battle.  The cave in which the safe resides proves to be of no consequence to Taloon; he effortlessly manages to solve the very easy puzzle elements of the cave and claims his prize.  He then heads to the city of Endor to find out what the used store market is like.  On his way, he stops by Bonmalmo and talks with the king, who is very open about his plans to conquer Endor but can't since the bridge is out.  Da Gardi, the engineer in charge of fixing the bridge, is AWOL, though Taloon knows that he's currently living it up in nearby Foxville with some foxy dame.  Foxville is a mysterious and spooky village.  Once entered, there is no exit other than by spending the night there and, upon awakening, the entire village is gone, only to reappear later.  Da Gardi is charmed by the magic of the village and the only way to break the enchantment is to bring a dog in to sniff out the master fox.  Taloon recalls that his hometown, Lakanaba, has such a dog but his owner is currently locked up in Bonmalmo for stealing.  No prob, Taloon smuggles him a Wing of Wyvern which will allow him to break out.

Aiding and abetting criminals
is what good heroes do.

Now a free man, he's able to give Taloon access to his dog, Tov, who has been locked up in his cage all this time and is quite excited to go on an adventure.  Heading to Foxville, Tov has no problems picking out who the master fox is disguised as and soon the entire village fades from existence.  Da Gardi is no longer enthralled by the sultry vixen he was macking on and promptly gets to work on repairing the bridge.  With the bridge being repaired, this means that the king of Bonmalmo will be able to attack Endor.  The king's son, Prince Reed, is strongly against this as he is in love with the Princess of Endor and conquering her kingdom would most likely put that pussy on ice.  At a secret midnight meeting, he implores Taloon to deliver a letter to her explaining the situation.

Delivering personal mail
is what good heroes do.

After a couple of trips back and forth, the whole issue is sorted out and the king of Bonmalmo decides to just wait until Reed marries the princess and eventually inherits Endor.  Finally, Taloon gets around to checking out Endor's real estate and, amazingly enough, there is just one store for sale.  With just over 2,000 golds in his Iron Safe, Taloon inquires what the going price is for such a fine establishment.

You can't see it from this angle, but
Taloon just did a massive spit take.

It seems like there is going to be quite a bit of grinding to get that much cash money, but, of course, there is a fetch quest to get a Silver Statuette which will cover most of the cost.  The statuette is somewhere in a partially flooded cave filled with monsters.  That sounds a little too dangerous for Taloon so he figures he'll just make that 35K at the famous Endor casino playing his favourite game, blackjack.  Unfortunately for Tee-$, the casino: a) doesn't offer blackjack; b) operates in casino coins, not gold pieces; and c) is closed.  The casino is completely deserted except for one poor gambling addict who is just wandering around.

Ragnar!  I remember you from
such chapters as chapter 1.

With the casino option gone, Taloon has no choice but to tackle the cave and get the statuette.  Taloon is no fool and with his deep pockets he hires two retainers to assist him; Strom, a very capable fighter, and Laurent, a spellcasting fool who blows through his Magic Points faster than a cokehead blows through blow.  He has the ever-popular Heal spell but it cannot be used outside of battle and during battles, the AI does what it likes (wasting MP).  The cave has more simple puzzle elements, this time involving flooding the place after the initial exploration in order to get access to previously restricted areas.  There is a good amount of treasure to be had, but Taloon only has a few slots free for extra stuff and both Strom and Laurent refuse to carry anything.  The group eventually reaches a staircase that obviously leads to where the Silver Statuette is.  Predictably, Laurent has almost nothing left for MP and Taloon already used the few Medical Herbs he brought alone.

If there's a boss down there, Laurent,
guess who's going to be the meat shield?

Luckily, the statuette was unguarded and the journey back out of the cave was swift.  Taloon manages to sell the statuette for 25,000 golds to some eccentric collector and, with just a little bit of grinding, amasses his wealth up to 35K and finally achieves his dream of being his own boss.  He calls for his wife to come run the place while he scours the lands for high quality weapons and armour.

What's with all the abusive wives in DQ?

Actually, more like, what's with Shen misunderstanding female interactions?  Much like the puff puff scenes from previous DQs, I misread what the "Smack!" was implying the first time it happened.  I guess I'm just not used to wives smacking with their lips instead of their hands.  Anyway, it's the day of the grand opening and the shelves are completely bare.  As he sets off for the day, Neta gives him a KISS ON THE CHEEK and his lunch.  Since his lunch is just peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (again!), Taloon promptly reenters the shop and puts it up for sale.

"15 golds is probably a little too much.  It's just shitty
P & J...  And the crusts haven't even been cut off...
And it's on plain white bread instead of rye or flax...
And the P to J ratio is all fucked up... And - "

With at least something now on the shelves, Taloon starts in earnest to locate some decent stock for his business, which he has tentatively named Tee-Money's Armament Emporium and Purveyor of Fine Wifely Lunches.

May 13, 2013

Dragon Quest IV - Don't Go Breyking My Heart

With a mere one hundred casino coins in her possession, Alena first hit up the slots to fully test out her luck stat.  Even though she managed to come out ahead, after about five minutes she was nodding off.  Perhaps the machine needed more bells and flashy lights.  Naw, not even that would have helped because, at the end of the day, slots is still the most lame and boring "game" ever designed.

Now, if slimes could be matched,
it'd be a different story.

The monster challenge arena showcased the kind of excitement that was more up Alena's alley.  A selection of monstrosities are assigned odds and then let loose in a bloody fight to the death where only one may stand.  Alena wanted to see some healers throw down but, alas, it wasn't meant to be.

Thank goodness there was some
hot slime-on-slime action.

It was here that Alena tripled up her stash but after seeing all the possible matchups, she started getting a little blasé again.  Plus, the coins just weren't piling up fast enough if she wanted that shield.  The only viable way to the shield is through the poker game, where the double-or-nothing portion after a win can lead to big bank.  The maximum bet is 100 coins and Alena quickly lost her hard-earned stack.  Instead of just quietly walking away until she cooled down, she furiously marched up to the cashier and exchanged the majority of the group's gold for 500 casino coins (costing 5,000 golds).  Brey and Cristo tried to calm her down but she just knocked those two pansies down to the floor and strode right back to the poker table.  Still betting at the maximum bet of 100, she lost the first few times but then hit it big with four of a kind, netting 2000 coins.  To be able to start the double-or-nothing from here meant just five wins would take her well over her goal of 50,000.  Would she be successful this early in her gambling career?

She was too stunned after losing the
16,000 coins to screenshot her loss.

Brey and Cristo were somewhat relieved that now at least they could get back to adventuring and preparing for the tournament.  As they ground away at monsters in the nearby forest, they took Alena's silence to mean that she was still miffed about losing all that gold.  What they didn't know was that Alena was only out here to get more gold to continue gambling.  Five thousand golds later and she renewed her dedication to the gambling parlour.  This time she played it safer and cashed out occasionally during the double-or-nothing to give her a solid base from which to bet.  And bet.  And bet.  With the amount of time she devoted, pattrens in the cards inevitably began to show.  While there is no guaranteed pattren, there are some that work 80-90% of the time.  Picking the second card for the first three rounds of double-or-nothing usually works and was relied heavily upon by Alena.  Just by utilizing this one basic pattren, Alena managed to get up to around 20,000 coins but then went on a big losing streak until she lost a quarter of that massive hoard.  Since the tournament was starting shortly, Alena took the reasonable route, cashed out, and bought a Meteorite Armband for Brey and Cristo for being so patient with her.  They then rushed off to the tournament to take in some of the preliminary fights.

Go Fight!  Go Fight!

After the nosebleeds were done with their pathetic displays, it was time for Alena to step up and attempt to fight through five consecutive opponents.  The only other contestant to be able to do this was Necrosaro.  Who is Necrosaro?  Why, only one of the biggest, meanest, and most brutal fighters to ever compete in the tournament.

Necrosaro, eh?  SOUNDS

Since Cristo couldn't help out Alena with healing, she brought a couple of Medical Herbs with her.  Between battles, she is allowed to take a breather and recoup a bit.  Not that her foes were all that tough; she made short work of them with her newly purchased Iron Claw.

Half of them also had Medical Herbs
on them which they forgot to use.

The only difficult fight was with the Linguar, who divides into four identical images of which only one is real.  Bad luck could see Alena landing nary a hit on the huggable beast and whenever she did miss, the Linguar would further mock the princess.

Of course, mocking in a most adorable way.

Landing two hits on the Linguar is all it takes to wipe that tongue off his face and with five opponents down, Alena is set to take on Necrosaro.  In a shocking twist, the man they call Necrosaro doesn't show up and Alena is declared the winner by default.  In high spirits, Alena and those other guys head back to Santeem Castle only to find it completely deserted. The chapter ends with many unanswered questions concerning Necrosaro, the dreams of the king, and what befell the good citizens of Santeem.  Will the answers to these pressing questions be unearthed in a later chapter?... Probably!

May 09, 2013

Dragon Quest IV - Alena on Me

One would think that it would be tough to top the sheer awesomeness of having a mofo like Healie along for the adventure.  On one hand, that is totally correct as Alena's companions are akin to unshaven balls (so far).  On the other hand, Alena has access to the casino where a metal babble shield can be won, amongst other prizes.  But I'm getting a little ahead of myself here.  Princess Alena of Santeem Castle is a tomboy who desires freedom, excitement, and the chance to prove her strength and bravery.  The king forbids her to leave the castle so she does what any rebuked protagonist would do — kick a section out of her bedroom wall and plummet to sweet, sweet freedom.

♪ Can I kick it?... Yes you CAN! ♫

As she makes her way onto the world map, Alena discovers she's not as sneaky as she thought.  Two of her mentors, Cristo the chancellor and Brey the wizard catch up with her and lend their help instead of just dragging her back to the castle.  Despite their lofty titles, neither of them are packing much in the magic department and in melee they are teh sux as well.  Well, at least they soak up some damage, which is pretty much all you lousy meatsacks are good for anyway.

Okay, but I'm only allowing it because Cristo
comes with the Heal spell, which reminds me
of Healie, even though I've never met him.

So the big deal about Alena's quest is that she's a girl doing this decidedly manly endeavour, even though she's far tougher than Brie and Crisco combined.  A good number of NPCs can't resist rubbing this in her face every chance they get.

Hmm... you're a soldier, yet I'm about
to cave your motherfucking face in.

Alena's first big task is to help out the small village of Tempe.  An evil Bad has ordered the town to bring him virginal young femmes every so often or he'll destroy the town.  Instead of going to the king (you know, the dude who is obligated to protect his vassals and serfs), the townsfolk just sit there in despair until Alena womans up and offers to kick some pedo ass.

Alena's actually more upset at his, like, omg,
totally terrible fashion sense and stuff.

The people of Tempe are so impressed by Alena's badassness that they suggest that she go to the city of Endor to destroy a hilariously undefended shield generator.  Or wait.  Maybe it was to enter the largest and most prestigious tournament in all the lands.  Yeah, definitely the latter.  On her way to Endor, Alena and the gang stop off in the small village of Frenor where — wouldn't you know it? — another crazy adventure happens.  It seems the princess has graced the tiny hamlet with her presence and... wait a gosh-darned moment... why, Alena is the princess!  Uh-oh, I smell some Three's Company-esque hijinks about to go down.  Just as Alena approaches the fake princess and her entourage, whu-whu-WHUT?!, the phony princess is captured by a band of scalawags!  Team Alena assembles and gives chase but are quickly outpaced by the rapscallions.

Dammit, Brey, come on!  Pump those
100-year old legs!  DO IT PUSSY!

Of course, the kidnappers get away.  The only solution, and I mean ONLY solution, is to delve into a nearby cave and get the Golden MacGuffin that is the kidnapper's ransom.  Bursting with confidence, Alena and gang quickly clear the dungeon and get said item.  Alena meets the 'nappers at midnight at the old graveyard and make the exchange.  The phony princess is glad to be free and gives Alena a key item and then starts off to join her companions.

What?  You'll join your... Oh!... oh, I'm so
sorry you didn't realize that impersonating the
princess is an offense punishable by death.

Enroute to Endor once again, the crew takes a detour to check out a desert bazaar which may just have some nice items to purchase.  Unfortunately, the trek is starting to take its toll on Brey, who has decided to die every couple of fights.

Don't act like you don't know by now!

With Cristo keeping his healing hands on Brey the whole time, they all finally manage to check out the bazaar.  True to the rumours, there is some very nice pieces of equipment and Alena and Cristo get first pick for obvious reasons.  As one would expect from a market held in a desert, it is very spacious and most of the merchants take advantage of that fact.  I say most because of one clown who has completely encased himself in tables and merchandise.  It's so bad that he's still there during the chilly desert night.

I don't know if he's dead or just
sleeping, but either way, I lol'ed.

Whilst browsing the bazaar's many wares, Alena is approached by a guard from Santeem who informs her that she must return to the castle immediately as her father is in trouble.  With a simple toss of a Wing of Wyvern, Alena is warped back to Santeem Castle.  Rushing through the castle courtyard, tears begin to form in her eyes as her imagination runs wild with what could have possibly befallen her beloved father.  Poison?  Disease?  Some kind of curse or hex?

Just a hoarse throat?  Christ, get 'em
some Buckley's™ and be done with it.

Of course, it's not just as easy as popping down to the chemists and getting a package of lozenges.  Nope, gotta get the non-mass-produced Birdsong Nectar which is, yep, in a nearby tower.  After soothing her father's irritated throat, Alena learns of the king's terrifying and recurring dreams about monsters from the Evil World entering this world and destroying it.  Alena just rolls her eyes at the senile old bastard but because of those dreams, the king gives her his blessing to "travel the world and see what's happening".  Alena instead goes to Endor, like she originally planned before her pappy interrupted her with his puerile bullisht, to take in the tournament.  She gets there a couple of days before the tournament starts, however, and decides to take a full tour of all that Endor has to offer.  And by that, of course, I mean spending an ungodly amount of time in the casino pursuing the dream of owning a Metal Babble Shield.

Gulp... er, maybe she'll settle for a
handful of Wizard's Blings instead.

There are three different types of games to be played, which will be detailed in the next posting.  I'm fairly certain that this chapter ends after the tournament but it is a mystery as to how long Alena will spend in the casino.  She's caught the gambling bug big time and Brey and Cristo are total enablers.  During her first ten minutes at the casino, she managed to triple her initial investment and started having the audacious thought that she just might be able to get that blasted shield in the end.

♫ I'm going to make it after AAALLLLL! ♪

May 05, 2013

Dragon Quest IV - Ragnars to Riches

The first chapter is the shortest and most basic, acting as a primer to JRPGs in general.  In it, the player takes control of Ragnar, a royal soldier of Burland Castle.  It seems that the children of the land are disappearing and no one knows why.  Since detectives have not been invented yet, the king orders his soldiers to go investigate.  Even though time is of the essence, Ragnar follows the tried and true method of exploring his immediate surroundings and talking with everyone.

The King's advisor is no stranger to JRPGs.

Ragnar ignores the minister's urges and continues with the standard formula.

Just ganking your herbals!
Nothing to see here!

After a couple more residents of the castle gently encourage Ragnar to get his ass in gear, he leaves the castle only to find himself in the town, where he continues to wander and chat.  Despite being a royal soldier, he is only armed with a common copper sword and wears basic leather armour.  This is par for the course in JRPGs but, in a shocking turn of events, DQIV actually provides an explanation as to why this is.

Has he tried a 5-year GIC laddering strategy?

Ragnar finally gets around to leaving Burland and heads to Izmit Village to begin a proper investigation.  The adults don't know much of anything but one of the few remaining children tells Ragnar about his friend who flew up into the sky while they were playing and never came back down.  It's not much of a lead but at least it's something.  Further investigation finds Ragnar interrogating an imprisoned and crazed man who is raving about being scared of monsters.  This turns out to be Alex, whose wife, Flora, in Burland was looking for him.  Royal errand boy Ragnar returns to Burland to lead Flora back to Izmit.  When they meet, Alex doesn't seem to remember her so she lays a literal smackdown on him to jog his memory.

The spousal abuse double standard
raises its ugly head.

This shameful display works in Ragnar's favour as Alex also remembers the secret location of an old well where the children were playing.  Hot on this new lead's trail, Ragnar finds and enters the well to discover a large network of caverns and tunnels.  It's also completely infested with monsters, so kudos to the kids for having the balls to play down there.  Ragnar battles his way through Sizarmages and Lethal Gophers to obtain the Flying Shoes, which must be responsible for the missing children.  I would have thought that the shoes would have gone with whoever used it, but perhaps their tiny feet slipped out of the shoes after they were activated.  Rags doesn't try them on just yet as he has more of the well to explore.  It's here that he meets quite possibly the most useful, endearing, and adorable companion to ever grace a RPG.

Yes, the secret to humanity lies
in the bottom of old wells.

Healie thinks that by hanging around a human, he might then become one and offers to join Ragnar.  Not to be one to damper the naive little cutie's dream, Ragnar accepts as he could use a good, reliable source of healing.  Much to Ragnar's surprise, Healie not only soothes his wounds with a gentle caress of his tentacles but also fights bravely in battle — by launching his jelly body at the enemy, I guess?

Oh Healie, I'd be disappointed if you
ever did more than one damage.

After leaving the well with his new best bud, Ragnar heads back to Izmit to catch some much needed ZZZs.

Just a single room for tonight,
my good innkeeper. *wink*

Waking up the next morning still exhausted and drenched in sweat and jelly, Ragnar nonetheless dons the Flying Shoes (and Healie as well, I presume) and, lo and behold, flies up into the air and lands on top of a normally inaccessible Loch Tower.  So this is where the children have been stockpiled.  The monsters are tough as granite as well, especially since Ragnar is a slow-ass bitch and always lets the spellcasting monsters unleash their ice bolts and shit before doing a goddamn thing.  Even with Healie's sensuous healing, Rags still has to abandon the tower and head back to Izmit's inn multiple times.  A solider met in the tower (how did he get there?) confirms the difficulty of the monsters and laments the fact that he missed the chance to have a healing buddy of his own.

We'd let you join us now but,
you know... three's a crowd.

At the base of the tower, Ragnar finds the children being held by an evil mage called Saro's Shadow.  Apparently he suspects that one of these kids is destine to be The Chosen One™ that will eradicate some unbeknownst evil thing in the near future.

Incoming foreshadowing!

Of course, Healie and Ragnar mop the floor with Saro's Shadow and the children are free to return to their homes.  The king of Burland is overjoyed with their success and offers them any reward their heart desires.  Their interest piqued by the story of the child hero, Ragnar and Healie decide to search high and low for this hero and vow to protect him from the vague threat of evil.  The king complies and, as a bonus, drops several thousand experience points somehow on Ragnar's punk ass.  As the chapter closes, the two mightiest warriors in the land prepare for their new quest with absolutely no leads of any kind.  I think we all know what Ragnar and Healie will really be up to.