|Really, Master? Forgetting to carry|
the one? How typical of your kind.
With all this bookkeeping keeping me busy, I was completely thrown for a loop when the game decided to toss in an action mini-game while I was searching for a mirror shard. The shard was located at the bottom of a lake, encased in ice (apparently the non-floating kind), and which needed to be melted by throwing a fire rock into the lake, which presumably wasn't the best thing for any life forms living there.
|Except for the jellyfish. Those angry, angry jellyfish.|
After my scuba session, I remembered that I had a princess to "save" again, so I donned my most ostentatious finery, slicked back my generous bounty of gorgeous hair, munched on a sprig of mint, and prepared myself to play my part this little drama she concocted. However, I had to give Princess Uggo credit, as she was indeed captured again, this time by an assassin who had been counting on me to come rescue her. I eventually did, but he must have been waiting there for a hella long time while I was busy raking in the shekels. It's hard to determine the exact passage of time, but based on my calculations of four round trips between Istanbul and Tehran, with a standard walking speed of 5 km/hr, for 12 hours a day, and it ends up being about a month shy of a year. Dude's got patience, I'll give him that. When we finally did stumble into his "trap", he was caught so off-guard that he didn't have a chance to ambush or backstab or anything. Instead, he just awkwardly stammered his way through an obviously pre-written speech about how awesome his plan was. Slave1 and I took the time to draw our weapons and then heavily worked the kidney and lower genital areas. The shah was happy enough to get his bride back, even though her heart would always belong to the Shenster. He granted me access to Mongolia, where I was forced to switch out my camel for a horse, setting me back 2,000 dollars money (a brand new camel or horse costs 3,000). While this high exchange rate outraged my bottom line, I also had to give 'em respect for their gouging skills and admit that I'd do the same thing. Mongolia had a lot to offer, not only in suedes and furs but also in my favourite commodity — meat shields! As I maxed out my personnel roster, the friendly slave merchant gave me some pointed advice on how to best utilize my new trio.
|I also find they are more docile and manageable|
if you spay, neuter, and castrate them.
The time that Soldier1 and I had spent over the previous months had started a budding, if somewhat shaky, friendship and I was comfortable in outfitting all my lil spuds with the best gear money could buy, making us all equally terrifying in combat. Bandits still dogged me every time I left a city, but if they weren't that much of a threat at the beginning, they certainly weren't a threat now.
|I almost had pity for this fat guy in a mumu — almost.|
Despite our blossoming friendship, I still had to trade S1 in when the superior Warrior class of slaves became available. This meant I also stripped him of all his equipment, but, being the nice guy that I am, I let him keep my starting knife as a memento. As I started to see tears well up in his eyes, I turned my attention to the slavemaster in order to quickly complete the transaction. Via my peripheral vision, I could see his crestfallen stare transform into a burning enmity towards me.
|Kinda regretting letting him keep that|
knife now, come to think of it.
I bade farewell to Mongolia after finding another mirror shard and headed towards India, where I exchanged horses for elephants! These were fairly weak 'phants, mind you, as each one could only carry as much as a camel or horse. Nonetheless, it didn't take long for their gentle nature to win me over and they soon each had a loving nickname, handcrafted from the bottom of my heart: Bitey, Stampy, Missy, Bitey2, and Bitey3. I took them wherever I went, including shops, homes, and even a ride on the world's most durable inflatable dinghy (only 100 GP!)!
|Not pictured: Four fully armoured men and|
five elephants laden with thick furs.
India also had a princess problem, but this time it was the tremendous horrors of being a little too selfish for her own good. Exactly the kind of problem a merchant-warrior such as myself was born to deal with! After discussing the problem with the sultan, who was nude for some reason and quite happy to be so, I went to talk with the princess to see if I couldn't do a little something something to cure her of her selfish behaviour.
|I'll only answer that after looking at|
your driver's license, sweet thang.
The cure actually ended up being playing some music for her and not laying down several kilometres of Shen "Grade D" pipe, which normally works much better for putting bitches in check. Unfortunately, my skills rocking the slide whistle did little to change her attitude so it was off to the quest for the make-out mixtape (you 80's/90's teens know what I'm talking about). I couldn't find that either, what with none of the technology existing and all, so the next best thing was a music box from some old dude in a temple.
|in my pants, yeah, yeah, just give|
me the box, ya old ratbag.
Instead of the reward I expected, the princess gave me a key that unlocked a secret underground passage to Siam, and I soon forgot about what my second brain wanted and started thinking about the possible economic opportunities waiting for me in the new land. Unfortunately, it wasn't a simple matter of traversing the tunnel as I needed a magic rope in order to climb out at the end (elephants can climb ropes, right?). Tracking this magic item down led me to a town where everyone spoke contrary to their intended meaning. It also had another 100 GP dinghy ride which was necessary to take in order to talk to the guy with the rope, who wouldn't sell it to me right away anyway.
|Okay, now it's getting a little tourist trap-y.|
One thing that had started to bother me during the midgame was the lack of space for items. With only seven available slots and quest items (except for mirror shards) taking up a slot, there wasn't a lot of room for anything else. To its credit, Rainbow Silkroad does mitigate this problem somewhat by introducing multiple-use healing items at this time, but I was still hungry for more and, being a merchant, there's no real reason why I should be so limited; I have five freakin' elephants with me, for fuck's sake. RS heard my silent pleas and bestowed upon me a quest which netted me a larger bag, giving another eight slots to utilize. All I had to do was enter a cave infested with demons and kill their demon king. It was a tough battle and just when I thought I was triumphant, this decidedly minor boss got a little too big for his britches.
|Hey, you're no final boss... haaack! HAAAAAACK!!!|
Before heading off to Siam, I also needed to pick up one of those pesky shards, which involved sailing to a remote island with the world's worst sea captain. First, he had broke his compass and basically made me go and get him another one (though he did give me a good price for it). I forgave his unprofessionalism for that, writing it off as mere laziness, but after we set sail, his incompetence really started to show.
|Umm, capt'n? The, ah, boat is pointing the wrong way.|
Maybe it was a good thing that we only going about half a knot as it allowed me to snatch up a letter in a bottle, which was written by a lost soul who wanted this letter delivered to his brother in the village of Aden. At any rate, once we finally made it to the island, it was a simple matter of navigating a fiery cave of fire, complete with rivers of molten hot lava. I was protected from the burning by a special pair of sandals, but since none of the slaves or elephants complained about the heat, I think I got ripped off. After getting the fire shard, I was able to go find a reclusive yogi and pass his trial, which was a cool navigation puzzle where the floor would occasionally change to one of four different colours, each one screwing up the control directions in a different way. One false move meant falling off the path and having to start all over again. After completing his task, I was bequeathed a lotus flower, which I gave to the man in Contrary village (paying for another boat ride) for the magic rope, and now I could finally head to Siam and start trading again. I tell ya mang, these damn quests are really getting in the way of a guy just trying to make an honest buck, gnome saiyan? Geez, I hope Siam doesn't make me downgrade my elephant posse to some kind of lesser creature; that would certainly impact my bottom line. Hrmmm, maybe I can grease the palm of some corrupt official or perhaps I could...