Having figured out that the shrine priest is a dirty thief who pockets huge portions of my gold whenever the Valkyrie brings in my remains, I now know better than to be content with being cut down in the Labyrinth. Instead, I’m making it a point to use the Angel Feather item to return to town whenever my health isn’t high enough to survive a bee encounter. That way, I can save up for some chainmail that will hopefully make me a little more resilient against ooze, slugs, and bees.
I’m still wandering around the beginning areas of the Labyrinth, and yet I’ve found multiple knives (that can be sold for 75 gold each) and chests with decent amounts of gold in them. This really puts the cheapskatedness of the king into perspective since I’ve already made far more than the 200 gold he handed to me.
The strategy from here is to grind a bit, trying to push further into the Labyrinth and using the Angel Feather once the bees show up and do a ton of damage to me. There are also man-apes and weird demon bat things, all of which can do a lot of damage since I don’t really have anything resembling armor right now. It doesn’t help any that I can’t target individual enemies, either. Eventually I return to town and go to save my game at the shrine, only to find out that I was poisoned at some point. This priest is going to have enough gold to buy a Ferrari by the end of the game.
I have a huge chunk of the early Labyrinth pretty much memorized already (though it might be more accurate to say it was burned into my mind through repetition) and manage to push so deep that a crab waddles out from around a corner and attacks me. Boss fight time! This thing isn’t so tough, but I eventually end up regretting not having used an herb to restore some HP. Mostly because it killed me. I quickly return to face it again, however, this time remembering to heal up beforehand, and it doesn’t stand a chance. Upon defeating it, I gain a level and find a Royal Tiara. Case closed: the princess was eaten by a crustacean. Roll credits!
First, though, I push on a bit further and discover this giant red wall. Upon searching the area, JERK finds nothing. I think we might need glasses, but fine; maybe this is content for later and we don’t yet have the +1 Glasses of Noticing Obvious Things required to actually figure out what the giant red wall is for.
No further progress can be made in the labyrinth right now because everything is a dead end. I suddenly remember the tiara from earlier and use it, thinking that it might be a magical communication device or some kind of secret key.
Speak for yourself, game. I feel beautiful.
Since the king will probably want to see the tiara, I return to town and show everyone. They confirm that it belongs to the princess, but are firmly in the “denial” stage of grief about her having been eaten, insisting that I continue my journey. One guy in the throne room gives me gold in return for the tiara, and suddenly everything clicks—I’m not a knight of this realm. I’m an independent contractor plying my trade. That explains so much. Anyway, the minister decides that I’m suddenly unable to carry out this rescue operation alone despite everyone initially agreeing that sending me off with a single sword was the monarchy’s best hope, and I’m instructed to go find my witness relocation friends who have decided to start existing in the game.
Pyra is apparently a magic-user from this totally believable and not at all contrived dialogue exchange. I find her in the tavern looking for me.
We step outside, and suddenly her hair color changes. She has an encounter with another independent contractor—no doubt trying to muscle in on my turf—and I don’t realize that she’s the same person from inside until afterward. I know colors were limited on systems at the time, but you’d think the developer would have at least aimed at consistency to avoid unnecessary confusion.
I find my other friend at the shrine, and the priest asks that I bring him along with me. This priest sure has a lot of nerve asking for favors after all the money he’s stolen from me. Still, Milo looks he could be used as a fantastic meat shield the next time I come across a princess-devouring crab, so I oblige him.
Before leaving town, however, I realize that selling the tiara gave me enough gold to buy some actual chainmail armor. Things are looking up!
I even equipped it this time! My defense is immediately almost doubled. Between that and my new meat shield, the Labyrinth won’t stand a chance.