The Cave of Strength lies ahead. JERK, Meat Shield Milo, and Pyra have all been growing powerful dealing with the Labyrinth’s giant crab infestation, and they’re rocking some great equipment in addition to those stat gains because those enterprising crabs also drop quite a lot of gold. Sadly, my little time in the Cave of Strength has made it clear that it’s incredibly easy to get turned around. How does one move forward when it’s not clear which direction forward is in?
The very first thing I learn is that chests can now have enemies inside of them instead of items, so I have to be ready for a fight every time I open one.
The second thing I learn is that the puddles on the ground that used to be little more than decoration (and because of how rare they were, a landmark aiding navigation) can now randomly turn into this enemy. I’ve also started to notice that sometimes my attacks do no damage for reasons that aren’t entirely obvious, though this isn’t exclusive to the Cave of Strength. What sucks is that the treasure chest and puddle enemies can do quite a bit more damage than normal encounters if I don’t finish them off quickly, and I really don’t feel comfortable burning through all of my MP healing everyone before I’ve found whatever it is I’m in here for.
That puddle enemy looks weirdly friendly, though. It’s almost disconcerting how it tries to kill you with a smile on its face and a cordial wave.
Pits are also something that you have to watch out for. It would be really easy to space out while wandering around the identical corridors and walk right into a pit. Really, the whole “identical wall textures” thing makes perfect sense when you factor in pits and the fact that whoever designed this place was a giant dick.
I become hopelessly lost, but eventually come across this lizard guy who I recognize from a scene earlier. Remember when Pyra’s hair color randomly changed? Well, she argued with this thing when that happened and used her Slow spell on him when he walked away. Now that I know that Slow also reduces defense, it’s not surprising to find him injured in the middle of this cave. He asks me for help getting out, but I turn him down because JERK has a name to live up to. Sadly, this is one of those old-game choices that aren’t really choices, and the dialogue loops back around every time I turn him down until I finally let him come with me.
He’s not so bad. I mean, he doesn’t take up a party member slot or anything, and he’ll sometimes jump into battle to attack enemies on my behalf. However, I quickly notice that I had forgotten to buy an Angel Feather before leaving, so warping out doesn’t appear to be an option. Let the panic commence.
I walk all over, but eventually find myself back where I started at a locked grate a little past where I found lizard guy. It doesn’t seem like I can open this, so I start messing around with magic spells in the hope that one of them accomplishes something similar to Angel Feathers. First I try a spell that tells me what objects are, which seems useless now but could always come in handy later. Then I find “Egress” in Pyra’s spells, which teleports me back to the world map. This means that I don’t have to waste inventory space on Angel Feathers anymore!
My party returns to the tavern to rest, and in the morning, lizard guy tells me about the magical Orb of Truth. Apparently it’s hidden in the Cave of Courage, and he really didn’t care about finding the princess except to get into the Labyrinth to look for the orb. Lizard guy is an oversharer. He then leaves the group.
We return to the Cave of Strength and become even more hopelessly lost than we were the first time. That’s when I come up with a brilliant strategy that justifies my position as leader of this band of adventurers/independent contractors: hug the right wall and don’t stop until something new appears. This not only allows us to find several new treasure chests (most of which aren’t even enemies!), but make it to the end of the Cave of Strength, at which point the wall congratulates us. Thanks, wall.
The nice wall disappears and we end up warped back to the top of the stairs where we leveled up by killing entire generations of crabs. The wall on the right suddenly disappears through wall magic, opening up a new direction to aimlessly wander in.
First, though, I should probably sell off some of my items in town.