|Hrmm... okay. A slime, a drakee,|
and Necrosaro walk into a bar...
I guess I have to get a professional comedian so it's off to Monbaraba to recruit funnyman Panon. He doesn't even attempt to get the king to laugh but instead gives a heartfelt speech about how now is not the time to laugh but to hope. The king agrees and places his hope in me, the Hero. He bequeaths to me the Zenithian Helm, one of the four items I need. Wow, I hope they're all this easy. My next stop is at a tiny island where I meet the Small Medal King, who collects small medals. Small medals are hidden all over the world, sometimes in ridiculous spots, but, regardless, the king offers some pretty sweet equipment in exchange.
|The Helm is probably as much a pipe|
dream as the casino's Shield is.
I got my eye on the Sword of Miracles so I'll have to come back a bit later. I got a hot tip in Stancia that the Zenithian Shield lay in Burland Castle (Ragnar's home). Well, the hot tip turned out to be outdated by about a hundred years, as that was when it was moved to Gardenbur, which is conveniently cut off from the rest of the civilized world by recent volcanic activity. While in Burland, however, I hear about how many people have recently had a powerful, reoccurring dream while staying at the inn in nearby Izmit. This smacks of being an opium den, so I heroically go and investigate and test the theory. Five bong hits later and I'm having this totally lucid dream about an elf named Rosa at the top of this tower and her boyfriend, Saro, comes over to hang out for a bit.
|Aww, honey, did you get picked|
last in soccer again?
Well, that was a nice distraction but I have to find some way of getting through the mountains to Gardenbur. Perhaps a Magma Staff of some kind would help? I don't know where I can get one but I do know that Mara and Nara's nemesis, Balzack, is back in Santeem Castle again. I don't use either of the sisters very often in the main group but I figure that they're still entitled to their pursuit of revenge. Still, I'm not letting them take up half of the main party so they'll have to roshambo for the fourth slot. After we arrive at Santeem Castle, Balzack boasts on for quite some length about how badass he is now and even thinks he'd be able to take on Necrosaro.
|An obese lizard thing with wings that can't|
possibly function and armed with a hunk of
wood NOT EVEN PROPERLY TRIMMED!
After the laughter died down, I promptly started things off with a critical hit and then Ragnar got one the next round and it was pretty much downhill for Balzack after that. Amidst our barrage of soccer kicks on his pudgy, dying body, I wondered if Balzack now realized that mass doesn't necessarily equal power. I congratulated Nara and Mara on their revenge get and was further elated as I found a Magma Staff on-site. After I melt a couple of mountains, the city of Gardenbur is accessible. Gardenbur is almost entirely populated with ladies who ended up not being as boy crazy as I had initially hoped. In fact, I'm in hot water after being framed by a thief who stole some old hag's bronze amulet. I smooth talk the Queen into letting us prove our innocence on the condition that we leave one member in prison (probably for PR purposes). They initially take Ragnar but one wink from me and the Queen lets me sub in a more appropriate choice.
|Make sure to check his vitals every|
hour as he has a tendency to die.
The thief didn't get too far; it was pretty obvious that he was in the only cave in the vicinity. He's a tough little bugger, too. He raises his defense early on with an Increase spell and absorbs a lot of damage from my melee intensive group. In the end, though, it's still four vs. one and he eventually falls. My good name is cleared and, as a bonus, the Queen gives me the Final Key as well as the Zenithian Shield. She also gives me a none-too-subtle hint about heading south to Rosaville just because. Lo and behold, Rosaville is the place that I dreamt about in Izmit while tripping balls on opiates. The dwarves of Rosaville inform me that since Rosa cries ruby teardrops, humans have been coming and abusing her in order to get their hands on some. Rosa's boyfriend, Saro, had locked her in the tower I saw in the dream in order to protect her from those pesky humans.
|Again, why did you want to|
become human, Healie?
After talking with Rosa in the tower, she tells me how Saro has become Necrosaro (the hell you say!) and is intent on destroying humanity. She implores me to stop him by heading to Dire Palace which is where all the cool monsters hang out. To do so, I'll need to sneak in by using the Staff of Transform to disguise myself and the others. The staff is located in the Royal Crypt near Endor and, resisting the temptation to hit up the casino, I break into the crypt using the Final Key. To my surprise, the crypt is full of XP-heavy metal babbles. They are tough to kill but worth so much XP that I stay and hunt them for days on end. The levels pour in for everybody and getting the staff ends up being cake. Taloon really shines during this hunt as he'll often do various actions during battle, each with a different effect. Here's a montage of him being the man at various points throughout my quest.
|Taloon's got game.|
With everyone now significantly powered up, the crew and I sail to a little cave just north of the island of the Small Medal King that was previously too difficult to tackle. Good thing I remembered this spot because it holds the Zenithian Armour and now I just need the sword to attain Zen mastery. But first I'll head to Dire Palace like I promised Rosa I would. En route to the palace, I sail into Riverton and find out that I can't just navigate the ship directly there. Oh no, I have to cross a small lake first. Any rafts around? No? Well, then I guess I'll climb up this ginormous Colossus and drive it across the lake, mecha-style. Entering at the feet, it doesn't take too long to ascend to the lower torso area.
|Oh my... well... er... um...|
pew pew pew, I suppose.
Upon reaching the cranium, this obviously complex construction of gears, gyroscopes and heat sinks is put into operation by flipping a single lever. The only lever at the control panel, mind you. My hopes of firing off autocannons and racks of SRMs at Dire Palace are dashed as the colossus just crosses the lake and drops us off. Entry into the palace requires us to use the Staff of Transform which changes all of us into a random type of creature. The first invoke turned us into tigers but since the staff has infinite charges, I decided we needed to look a little more monstrous.
|Forty charges later...|
Utilizing the clever disguise, I infiltrate the infernal board meeting room of the damned and wait for the session to begin. As a skeleton goes through the minutes, a casual vote is taken on whether or not to go to Tim Hortons™ or Starbucks™ for cappuccinos during the break. All of a sudden, Saro himself teleports in with breaking news that the Ruler of Evil, Esturk, is resurrecting at the mine in Aktemto! The opportunity for a preemptive strike has presented itself and I immediately capitalize on it. Using the magic of Return, the party and I rush to Aktemto and dive straight into the mines and seek the deepest part. We catch Esturk on his first yawn and start stabbing him with pointy things.
|Aw, come on you guys, I haven't|
even had my first cup o' joe yet.
With no precious caffeine to enhance his performance, Esturk goes down faster than your wife/girlfriend/mom after half a bottle of port. The rebirth of the Ruler of Evil has been prevented but there is still Necrosaro to deal with. I nab a gas canister on the way out of the dungeon which I'll need to power the hot air balloon being built in Riverton.
|It's no airship but it'll do in a pinch.|
With the balloon, I can finally check out that X on the treasure map that's been mocking me this whole time. Turns out to be a place called Elfville which is also home to the World Tree, a humongous tree that can be climbed and also plucked for leaves that revive any character. At the tippy top, I find a Zenithian named Lucia who fell into the tree and broke her wings, the poor dear. I agree to let her join me as I'll be going to Zenithia as soon as I find that dang sword!... oh, here it is, slightly to the right of where Lucia is. With all the Zen equipment accounted for, it's finally time to head up into the clouds to have a talk with Master Dragon about all this Necrosaro business.
|I'll take a cloud over a balloon any day.|
Master Dragon tells me that Necrosaro must be stopped (duh) and that he's holed up in his palace in the center of the earth. He drops a bunch of XP on me and juices up the Zenithian Sword to actually be a decent weapon choice (I've been using the Sword of Miracles). Before leaving, I visit Lucia who rewards me by lending me her pet dragon, Doran, to be used in a NPC capacity. Doran is alright in combat but I don't think it can really hold up compared to my other homies. To get to the center of the earth, all I have to do is jump through this hole in the clouds, plummet several thousand metres to the ground, and enter a large, foreboding cave which leads to Necrosaro's lair. I'm not so much afraid of what lurks down in that hellish underworld but falling thousands of metres in heavy armour does cause me some concern. I'm going to have to have a few drinks in me before attempting this stunt. Now, where's that Zenithian bar at?