Update 6: The Great Leons

What in the seven hells is that caterwauling?! Some of us are trying to sleep!
Mornin' to you too.
Apologies, Shelly, Ray and I were simply practicing.
"Practicing?" You two formed a band...? Bah, never mind, my point is that you're very loud. Sorry for yelling, but— Listen, why are you doing that up on the deck?
I imagined it would be the least disruptive place to practice.
Oh, hell no. For...a bunch of reasons I'll explain later if you're really interested, it's really easy to hear whatever's going on up here from everywhere else in the ship.
I'll help you two find a room somewhere that'll leak as little noise as possible, alright?
Thank you!
...So, are you two forming a band or something? No offense, Xiaohu, but I wouldn't have pegged you as the kinda girl who enjoys singing.
I had no interest in it before yesterday, and still do not understand even the fundamentals of vocal performances! But Ray offered to work together with me on studying the amplification of runic incantations with auditory instruments, on the condition that I perform with her.
Gets a bit lonely strummin' on your own all the time, y'feel?

Alright, who's ready to get smacked upside the head again?
...None of us?
Good, that's my job. Don't take my job.
I am somewhat confused. Did the monsters you three encountered have a tendency to strike you from the jaw or scalp? We didn't run into any like that.
...Wh— Oh, nah, nah, it's just a figure of speech.

Oi, oi!
He returns the gesture and approaches.

Oh man, it's a huge honor to meet you. I came on behalf of the Outland Count to slay the bear, but your skill far surpasses mine.
That may be true, but do not feel bad. We are ten people of various martial, mystical, and in my case, scholarly disciplines. One man can hardly be expected to match our combined might!
That's true, but... Hey, do you have enough medicine on hand? Even if you do, let me return the favor. For killing the bloodbear, if it wasn't clear.
The soldier takes something from the pouch on his waist and presents it to you.

It never ceases to amaze me how one tonic can cure anything from temporary mental afflictions to being poisoned... Oh, uh, thank you.
It's no trouble! I wish you all the best of luck. Me... Well, I'm going to keep waiting for my troop to get here. Eventually.
You can revisit the soldier each day, and basically repeat this event. For both this event and any further re-visits, the soldier will give you one of three random items: a medica, a theriaca B, or a nectar.

Ah, wait, please! We took a request to find a ring that another explorer dropped in a spring on this floor.
The ring holds high sentimental value, I assume.
It was from a family member. Her mom, if I remember right.
How tragic.
On the other hand, the hell was that person doing charging into this floor? They had to have just rushed in after we found the stairs.
I asked pretty much the exact same question.
Ahem. Nevertheless, we have a job to do.
Ain't no tomfoolery in this one.

Free medicine, though.
Let's hope the seal on that bottle is airtight.

...There's tons of small pools like this on this floor, aren't there. Uuuuuuuugh.
Just gotta suck it up and have ourselves a butcher's... Can't see shit. This one's way deeper than it looks. Hmmmmm...
Um. Everyone?
What, Meri, I'm trying to focus here.
There are, um. Monsters. Right behind us.

I assume these ones prey on smaller animals, or other monsters, that drink from that pool.
My gods those scorpions are huge, though. Please tell me the stingers aren't as painful as they look.
They're not only painful, but contain a mild neurotoxin.
Great. Well, monsters like this were gonna happen at some point. Guess I just gotta get used to it...

Yup that hurts like a bastard. Can't move my legs, either.
I'll get you the proper medicine as soon as this scorpion is dead.

Ooh, there's somethin'. Looks like another bottle.

Not a bad find. Not bad at all.
Got some good practice at having sharp stingers in my chest, and we got some free medicine. Everything's coming up Ace. Also, can someone please bandage up my wounds?
Ack, sorry, just give me a second...

There's a bleedin' crystal here! Gimme gimme— Bwah! blub bulb— Pah!
You alright?
'Sides from bein' soaked, yeah. Pinched the crystal, at least!

Careful, that ground near the pool is way slippery.
Noted. C'mon, grab my mace and I'll pull you out.
If only we could hover. The life of an explorer would be much easier without having to worry about hazards on the ground.
Forgive my ignorance, but isn't that something you could do with runes?
Ha! Haha! That's a good joke.
I'm not sure what's funny about it.
I will simply say that focusing the runes on a living being instead of the environment around them is messy.
...Right, I catch your drift.

Obtained granite x1, and cyanite x3.
Nothing that interesting from mine points in the Lush Woodlands, unfortunately.

Now that's a monster that knows how to party.
A...giant dancing lizard. I shouldn't be surprised at this point, but I am.
Wonder if it'll dance differently if I play somethin' at it.

Jig Lizard
Level: 13HP: 181STR: 17TEC: 18VIT: 13AGI: 14LUC: 16DS: 50
EXP Given: 722

Damage Vulnerabilities:
100% 100% 100%
100% 75% 100%

Disable Vulnerabilities:
75% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
100% 100% 100%
100% 100% 100%
  • Camouflage: Makes all attacks against the user miss until the effect is dispelled. If the user's evasion is disabled, however, the effect will not work. If the user takes damage, the effect is dispelled.
  • Icicle: Deals heavy ice damage to one party member. Ends the Camouflage effect.
  • Camouflage: Makes all attacks against the user miss until the effect is dispelled. If the user's evasion is disabled, however, the effect will not work. If the user takes damage, the effect is dispelled. Has a speed modifier of ±0.
  • Icicle: Deals 90% ranged TEC-based ice damage to one party member. Ends the Camouflage effect. Has a speed modifier of ±0, and a base accuracy of 99%.
  • Jig Lizards always use Camouflage on the first turn.
  • Jig Lizards will always follow Camouflage with Icicle, if they were not knocked out of the Camouflage effect.
  • After the first use of Camouflage, and potentially Icicle, Jig Lizards will randomly either use Camouflage, Icicle, or a normal attack.
  • If this is the first turn:
    • Use Camouflage.
  • If the Jig Lizard is in the Camouflage state:
    • Use Icicle.
  • If none of the above occurred:
    • 40% chance to use Camouflage.
    • If the above did not occur, 70% chance to use Icicle.
    • If neither of the above occurred, attack.
  • Rainbow Skin: 80% chance. Sells for 13 en.
    • Leaf Jacket (24 DEF): Made from 1 Writhing Bulb (Fanged Vine Drop 2) and 1 Rainbow Skin. Costs 290 en.
    • Leather Gloves (8 DEF): Made from 1 Rainbow Skin. Costs 250 en.
    • Head Guard (+80% Head Bind Resist): Made from 2 Iridescent Ores (Mine: Old Forest Mine) and 2 Rainbow Skins. Costs 500 en.
    • Arm Guard (+80% Arm Bind Resist): Made from 2 Rainbow Skins and 2 Cyanites (Mine: Lush Woodlands B3F). Costs 500 en.
  • Rickrack Tongue: 50% chance. Sells for 19 en.
    • Recurve Bow (38 ATK, 1 Slot): Made from 1 Rickrack Tongue and 1 Supple Branch (Chop: Valley Spring). Costs 640 en.
    • Rabbit Amulet (+5 AGI): Made from 1 Rickrack Tongue and 1 Frog Cheek Meat (Forest Frog Drop). Costs 300 en.
Adding to the Tharsis region's overly-sized wildlife, we have a bipedal relative of the chameleon family. Their camouflage is quite a powerful tool, not only allowing them to evade attacks from predators, but also to use their low body temperature to flash-freeze their saliva to launch as frozen projectiles after re-appearing. I recommend bringing someone with a sharp eye to study these—my good friend Harper has quite the way about it.
Jig lizards are an introduction to the power of evasion-cancelling disables—blind, paralysis, panic, sleep, and leg binds—alongside the perfect accuracy of Snipe skills, and the ability for poison to damage enemies even through perfect evasion. Without them, jig lizards can drag out random encounters, due to you being unable to actually hit them while they're camouflaged, and then suffering major ice damage after they use Icicle. Thankfully, as the previous statement implied, there are a myriad counters to Camouflage, to further impress the importance of disables on the player.

The main one is that evasion-cancelling disables render Camouflage useless, since even perfect evasion is cancelled by those disables. Gives blind some extra earlygame utility. While the average player wouldn't have Poison Circle at this point in the game, they would have poison gasses and poison forges, which are another potential answer to Camouflage, since poison damage occurs even through evasion, and will cancel the Camouflage effect.

Lastly, Snipe skills cannot miss, no matter what, meaning you can just target a Jig Lizard with a Snipe and knock it out of Camouflage without a second thought. Leg Snipe also has the added benefit of inflicting leg binds, whic means that even if the Snipe doesn't knock the Jig Lizard out of Camouflage, future attacks will.
Leg? Leg. Leg? Leg. Leg? Leg. AAAAAAAAAAAA Eggnog eggnog eggnog eggnog eggnog eggnog eggnog eggnog eggnog eggnog eggnog eggnog eggnog eggnog eggnog eggnog eggnog eggnog eggnog eggnog eggnog eggnog eggnog eggnog eggnog eggnog eggnog eggnog eggnog eggnog eggnog eggnog eggnog eggnog eggnog eggnog eggnog eggnog eggnog eggnog eggnog eggnog eggnog eggnog eggnog eggnog eggnog eggnog eggnog!

No slimy tongue for me, thank you.

See, these chameleons? I know all about these blokes. They like to turn invisible, wander around, maybe even disguise like the scenery, but as soon as—
I think we all have a grasp on what chameleons are.

Well, in any case, gonna have a hell of a time foolin' us when its legs are shattered.

I quite enjoyed the patterns its camouflage makes when I electrocuted it.

I have a dread feeling that these may prove a far greater nuisance in the future.

Eh, you can worry about the future once you're in the future.
Would that not just be worrying about an eternally-moving point in time, thus voiding the point of preparing for the future?
Let's move on before we get too caught in that loop.
Nope, too late, I'm stuck.

Ooh, ooh, ooh, Xiaohu, I've got an idea.
Does it involve performing?
Yeah, hear me out here: just scream. Loud as you can. I'll boost your belter, that'll shove a buncha the trees outta the way.
No, hold it, won't a sound that loud, with us this close, render all of us deaf?
Oi, who you think I am? I've got circles, haven't I?
I am ready to go whenever!
...Merula, Ace, fall back, quick!
Way ahead of ya!


Ayy, worked like a charm.
The circle, if you would, please.
Right, one second.
We ran...so far...so quick...and that was still, by far, the loudest thing I've ever heard.
Yes, the synthesis of sound-affecting runes and Ray's magic is something to behold!
So that's what Shelly was grumbling about before we left, huh?

The head of this hammer is such a bright shade of red, it almost hurts to look at.
We're somewhat lucky that sunlight is filtered by all the trees above us, else the head would be shining.

Piss. What a rip-off.
Any chance that you can open this, Xiaohu?
If you don't mind destroying whatever is inside.
...I'd be lying if I said that wasn't tempting, but let's not.
We won't be opening this for a very long while.

This would be very annoying without Xiaohu.

I'll...handle this, don't worry.

Ah, finally, something that makes sense to me.
...What, the plant with four small mouths and one giant one?
Yes, have you never seen man-eating plants before? Why my family grew them is...bad, but that doesn't mean they're not cute.

Fanged Vine
Level: 12HP: 163STR: 17TEC: 13VIT: 11AGI: 16LUC: 15DS: 43
EXP Given: 701

Damage Vulnerabilities:
125% 75% 100%
150% 100% 100%

Disable Vulnerabilities:
50% 100% 100% 150% 100% 100%
100% 100% 100%
100% 100% 100%
  • Rising Bile: Increases the user's attack by 70% for 4 turns.
  • Rising Bile: Increases the user's attack by 70% for 4 turns. Has a speed modifier of ±0.
  • Fanged Vines will always attack when they are in the front row.
  • Fanged Vines will always use Rising Bile when they are in the back row.
  • If the Fanged Vine is in the back row:
    • Use Rising Bile.
  • If the Fanged Vine is in the front row:
    • Attack.
  • Light Hardwood: 80% chance. Sells for 11 en.
    • Spiked Club (46 ATK, 1 Slot): Made from 2 Light Hardwoods. Costs 770 en.
    • Feather Staff (34 ATK, +10% Max TP): Made from 1 Light Hardwood and 1 Soft Plume (Ghost Owl Drop). Costs 540 en.
  • Writhing Bulb: 50% chance. Sells for 15 en.
    • Cutlass (43 ATK, 2 Slots): Made from 2 Writhing Bulbs. Costs 640 en.
    • Balisong (37 ATK, 12% Poison Imbue): Made from 1 Writhing Bulb and 1 Gritty Scales (Woodfly Drop 1). Costs 560 en.
    • Leaf Jacket (24 DEF): Made from 1 Writhing Bulb and 1 Rainbow Skin (Jig Lizard Drop 1). Costs 290 en.
Carnivorous predatorial plants, in particular a sort that has evolved multiple fanged 'mouths', are another hazard in the deep realms of Tharsis. They possess a caustic toxin that coats their fangs in a moment of preparation, allowing them to tear through human flesh with ease. Cut them to pieces, would be my suggestion.
Another enemy meant to teach the player about enemies varying behavior based on rows. If a fanged vine starts out in the back row, Rising Bile will turn their normal attacks into 170% damage attacks. Their STR is reasonable, at least, meaning their damage is manageable, but still.

Thankfully, they're not particularly sturdy as far as random encounter monsters go, so it's not terribly likely that they'll give you a difficult time.

It may be man-eating, but it sure isn't armor-eating.

Do you think that large plants like that have—
Vital organs? I'll admit to a scientific curiosity, but we can wait until after our work today is done to find out.
I was going to say "the ability to think", but that works too!

Look at plant innards all you want, just do it on your own time.

Huh, look, there's water coming from that rock.
Perplexing, but...it should be safe to drink.
The party sets down its burden and gathers around the spring to cup their hands in the water and drink.
Man, the water's colder than I thought.
It's very refreshing, though!
The party recovers 25 TP.
Huh. Mystic water.
This water, it's blessed. Or some kinda magic in it, at least.
Uh, friends? There's footprints behind us. And they're not ours.
It seems you were lucky this time, and there is no assurance that you will be safe should you return.
I'd wager that monsters have noticed we let our guard down at this spot. Let's not visit this rock again.
There's more to this spot! If you return to the water-rock later, you'll be prompted to either drink the water, just take a few sips, or leave. If you choose to drink, then you'll get ambushed by monsters. If you choose to take just a few sips, you won't get into a battle, but you'll only recover a measly 5 TP.

...I can hear a bear through the trees.

Huh, these sweet-smelling trees again.
Given the noises Meri heard, it's safe to say there are bears nearby.

Not just bears, but bloodbears. Cool.

'Least they hate trees as much as the normal ones.

Hang on, I can see if there's anything while we—
Suddenly, Ray cries out as you hear a loud splash!
Not agai—! blub blub

Someone pull her out of there and keep moving!

Okay, don't worry, for real this time!

Nothing in that one, keep moving!

How about this one?

'Fore you ask, nothing in this one!

I think the bear lost interest in— Huh?

You carefully have a look, only to see giant, plantlike monsters attacking a small hare! The monsters are too focused on their prey to notice you. The hare's situation looks dire.
If we attack now, that's two less monsters we'll have to deal with later.
Sounds like a good deal to me. YAAAAAAAAAGH!

Hardly even a challenge.

You're doing a good job at suffering harm meant for others. Distressingly so, even.
Eh, you get used to it.

It appears that it sustained only minor wounds. The hare bounds deeper into the forest. After it departs, you notice something on the ground. It is a piece of new-seeming equipment...

Cool, pads to keep my arms from breaking.
You count your blessings in finding this unexpected spoil and resume your exploration of the maze.
Arm guards give +80% resistance to arm binds.

We've hit a dead end. Surely this pool will have the ring.
Suddenly, you see a light glinting from something at the bottom of the spring!
Oy, oy, oy! I got it!

Cripes, what a pain.
How did she even get this far into the floor?
A mystery that I doubt we will ever know the answer to.
Mystery schmystery. All that matters is that we've got the ring.

Obtained granite x2, and cyanite x2.

Whoop, hold on.
What's wrong?
Pack's full to bursting after we went mining. Let's go back to town to unload, yeah?

Oi, Wynne! Junk!
My fave'rit!
Berund Atelier has the following new items in stock:

Not much of interest here. Rabbit amulets do, in effect, give +5 action speed, which is an impressive effect, but still overshadowed by other accessories.

Mind if I grab one of those clubs? I'd like to fight with something that has actual heft, instead'a this knife.
We do have plenty of money... Go ahead and do it.

Oh, and some new armor, too. This one's about to just break apart into scales, I think.
Mmm... Your equipment is important, so...do it.

Um, maybe put one of those hardening forges on your new mace?
Ooh, good idea.

Hello, Kirtida. We found that lost ring.
Very good work. I'll take the ring to the client soon—hopefully her recovery will be swift. Thank you for your hard work.
Thank Ray, she's the one that looked into all the pools. And slipped into two of them.
The second one even hurt a little!
You do still seem somewhat damp, yes. Please find a towel soon, for your own comfort, if nothing else.

Ahhhhh! This burst scroll... It references runes! No, more than that—it teaches one how to manipulate spent runes into active runes, and even how to perform a basic incantation! Whoever wrote this had explicit knowledge of runes! Oh, this is so exciting, Kirtida, please tell me you know who—
Who created it? I don't, sadly. The guildmaster provides me with these scrolls to distribute as rewards. I asked him where he obtained them, who wrote them, and he simply said they've just been passed down from guildmaster to guildmaster. I imagine knowledge of who wrote them is long lost to time.
...Oh. That's disheartening. Still, I find some joy in knowing that I am not the first person to study and codify runes.

No major earth-shattering skill point investments here, though I do have two skills to go over.

Holy Smite deals melee bash damage to one enemy, and heals Ace for a percentage of the damage dealt. It's not particularly special, it doesn't deal that much damage, and it costs a worrying amount of TP...but also, once Ace throws Taunt down, she gets a load of free TP from just being targeted. Which also means she's taking tons of damage. Which Holy Smite helps with. It's just a nice skill to have around, basically. It's a prerequisite for her other mace skills, anyways.

Nerve Circle is a circle that inflicts paralysis. No major differences from the other circles besides that.

More trunks, eh?

There really isn't much to the Lush Woodlands's dungeon gimmick. We're near the boss room and the solution is still just "make a loop so that the bear following you destroys the trunks in your way."

There really isn't much going on here.

I deliberately let myself get boxed in, for the sake of complete mapping.

I hear loads'a growlin' behind the door.
Given our position on the map, I'd say we're at the bloodbears' den.
Let's all agree to just get a feel for the area and then immediately back out once we're done, okay?
I have no desire to blindly throw myself into danger, yes.
Fine by me. Gotta know what's gonna hit me before I can get ready.
Was lookin' forward to gettin' the drop on 'em... But I can't really say "no" at this point, huh.
We are in unanimous agreement, then. Here we go.

♪ No music ♪

Within it awaits an enormous scarlet brute, glaring at you. Its eyes burn with rage...
Ho-lee shit.

And I thought my vocalizations could reach high volumes.
There is no room for error. This must be the leader of the red-furred beasts who rule the Lush Woodlands. You glance at the springs to the east and west of the hall, where other red-furred beasts roam.
I doubt the nearby bloodbears would take well to us engaging their leader right in front of them.
Well, how the hell else do we do it? You see any paths around the big one?
Not immediately, but that's why we're checking the area first.

All around us are 2x2 impassable pools of water, giving us ways to get the bloodbears to chase us fruitlessly. That won't do us any good against the boss, though, as it will just stand in place, waiting for us to engage it. Which is something you could do, and even come out of alive, I suppose, though you'd have a not-very-long time limit before a bloodbear joins in the fight, which can become a huge headache. Thankfully, you're not forced into doing that.

Hm. The leader doesn't seem to care about the bloodbears chasing us.
Ah, just like all the lazy son-of-a-bitch guild leads I've had to deal with.

Destroying those trunks is important.

Ooh, a side passage!
I wonder if the bears put the trunks up to hide it from other monsters...

Merula, Ace, help me make a path here. Quietly.
...Ohhhh, I see what you're doing.

Heh. Having a way to get right behind the big one's almost unfair.
Don't seem like the bloodbears care that we're here, either.
And judging by the volume we're speaking at, the leader doesn't seem to have very good hearing.
Let's map out the rest of the area, and head back.
Yeah. We have the upper hand, but we should still consult with the other five.

Hey, what the hell is this thing? The green part looks like a big button, but I can't press it.
I can faintly make out some form of letters around the base, but they're far too worn for me to actually read them.
I think it's some kind of stone tablet, but... Ngh. No, I can't pull it out.
Let's examine it further later, yes?


And with that...

Let's call it a day.

Two hauls'a junk in one day? Boy, what's got you guys workin' so hard?
We went through all of the third floor and found a path to the bloodbears' leader.
...Dag, yeah, dat explains dat.
Berund Atelier has the following new items in stock:

That covers about everything I wanted to. Next time: a few odds and ends, plus the first boss.
Eggnog yum

...And here's our completed map of the "bear room."
How tall was the big one, again? I mean, it's big, obviously, that's why I said "big one," but... How tall was it relative to the other bears?
I'd say around two-and-a-half times as tall.
Cool, we're dealing with a giganto. Least it doesn't move.
I had been imagining it around that size given how loud its roar was.
So, uh, I try to keep a good attitude about this stuff, but I gotta be honest: we sure we can actually fight this thing? I dunno if we can really take the amount of hurt something that big'll dish out, plus actually hurtin' it's gonna be a huge pain.
We can. It's just a big monster.
Plus, if I may be blunt: we either kill this large bear, or we attempt to make a collective living as a supplier of materials from the lower floors of the Lush Woodlands.
Pffffh... I know, I know, we're gonna have to kill it, I just dunno how.
We attack it until it dies. We may need to attack it significantly more than any other monster, but at a certain point, it will have to fall.
'Least we can get the drop on it. We walked right behind the leader, talked at a normal volume, the thing didn't even seem to hear us. Almost wonder if it's deaf.
Semi-relatedly, I feel that it would be best if we came up with a proper name for this beast.
Probs a good idea.
The bears and their single-minded bloodlust reminds me of berserkers of eld... Perhaps we could call it the "Berserker King?"
Works for me.
Yeah, good job there.
Good name. We're calling it the Berserker King.
With that in mind, I have to bring up the other loomin' question: who's going to fight the king?
If we bring too many people, we'll get in each other's way. Like regular exploration.
If it's like regular exploration, then I think we should stick with a group of five.
Well, I volunteer to fight the beast, whatever group size we're going with. Someone's gotta keep morale up when we're fighting something as big as the Berserker King.
Okay. Any other volunteers?

Okay. I understand. We'll draw four straws to pick the others tomorrow, then. That's how my moms picked groups in their guild.
Drawing straws sounds fair enough.
No complaints here, though I'm still nervous.
I think we can call it a night, then. We'll draw straws tomorrow, beat the hell out of the Berserker King, and see what happens next. A good time all around, I think.
Here's hoping.

Come in.
Hi, um, Marlin. Sorry to disturb you.
Nah, it's alright, lass. Something wrong?
I just had a few questions, if you don't mind. Burning curiosities, I guess.
About what?
...Hohohohaha! Oh, that's a good one, lass.
N-No, I'm serious, there's some things about you that interest me. I want to get to know everyone here better, and...I had to start somewhere.
Heh, fair enough. Ask away.
So, um... First, why did you become an explorer? I've inferred that you were a dancer in the past.
Eh, partially money, partially circumstance.
Circumstance? What do you mean by that?
Well... Y'see, I like to peoplewatch. That's the start of it. Some days—well, before I joined up with this guild, it was most days, really—I'd just walk up to either the wharf or the train station, find a bench, and just watch people come and go. Conduct business, meet with family, tearful goodbyes, you get all kinds of interesting goings-on where people enter and exit Tharsis.
Okay... But what does that have to do with how you joined our guild?
...Whoops, heh, you caught me ramblin'. Anyhow, see, no-one ever talks to me when I'm sittin' down, people-watching, couldn't tell you why. 'Til one day, when a short woman with a polka-dot ribbon came up to ask me for directions.
Harper, I assume.
Exactly. The lass was wonderin' if there was anywhere in town that'd let her stay for a few days without needin' to pay anything, and if so, could I point her there.
...Without needing to pay?
Yep. Turns out she'd packed everything she thought she could need...except for money. Well, enough money, she'd had enough for her tickets and food on the way over here. Anyhow, point was, she needed a place to stay.
Going by the fact that her, Naijou, and yourself were the first to arrive at the Explorers Guild, I assume she stayed with you.
Well, I could hardly leave the first person to ever notice my people-watchin' self out on the streets, now could I? Besides, I'd already had Naijou staying with me for the past few months.
That was very charitable of you, honestly.
Eh, empty rooms are just wasted space.
Please don't sell yourself short. Anyways, I can fill in the rest of how you joined up from there. Except for one part: why?
Like I said earlier, money's a big part. Haven't had much of a chance to talk about it yet, but, see: I'm going to build the greatest fleet of warships this world's ever seen, lass.
W-Warships?! Are you going to—
If you're going to ask "wage war," the answer is "no." I love the sea, and I love the ships that sail upon it. I want my legacy to be that I not only built the greatest fleet anyone's ever seen, lass, but that I left behind a veritable treasure trove of advancements in seafarin' and engineerin'. My gift to the sailors and captains that'll come after me. Warships just happen to be big, complex, and memorable. It'll help people remember, you see.
So I assume the "money" part is the massive amount of it you'd need to actually build everything.
Bullseye. I'd planned to slowly build it up 'til I was old by runnin' the Rum-O-Rama here in Tharsis, but progress on that was, and still is, slow-going. I figured joining up with Harper's guild will at least give me somethin' to pass the time with, and hey, if we really make it big, there's bound to be some good money in it.
And how about you, lass?
Well, I gave you my story, I think an equal trade's only fair, haha! What brought you down here to Tharsis, and to explorin' more specifically?
It's...not really that interesting. I wanted to live and work on my own, away from my family, so I came out to Tharsis. It's a good distance away, and with the rush of explorers coming here, there was bound to be at least one guild that could use me.
Ah, your family. You've brought them up before. Are they a sore point?
...That's one way of putting it, yes.
Aye. I won't pry, then.
I do have one more question before I go, if that's okay.
Hit me.
What's so attractive about the spotlight? When you're dancing, I mean. I-If my clothes and the way I fight didn't give it away, I don't really like being noticed.
...Huh. I hadn't considered why. I don't think I really have a big philosophical answer for you here, lass. I dance and embrace the spotlight because it gets me where I want to be.
There's probably some biography or novel somewhere in Shelly's absolute titan of a library about the deeper meanin' of us dancers, if you're curious about that.
No, no, it was just an idle curiosity! Sorry.
You've nothin' to be sorry for, lass. Anything else?
No, that's it. Thanks, Marlin, and sor— Erm, thank you for taking the time to talk to me.
Any time, Merula.

knock knock
Come in. What's on the menu tonight?
Bouillabaise with Narmer stock.
Wow, talked with Armoroadian merchants today, huh?
Miss Napier was at the wharf today. Said she comes by every few weeks to sell stuff from Armoroad.
You talk like you're already familiar with her.
Mhm. My family went to her shop sometimes, when we needed something really rare. Most of us, anyway.
"Most of us?"
My moms told Money Mama she wasn't allowed to go with them any more after she and Miss Napier just stared at each other a lot.
I'm afraid to ask how long "a lot" is, but—
Many hours.
I respect both Napier and— Okay, I'll be honest, I feel really weird referring to legendary explorers by their first names. Do you have any other names I could use for them?
You could use my Mom and Mama names.
That feels even weirder, sorry. Where was I? Oh, right, I respect both Napier and Realga's commitment to money, but a several hours-long stalemate over what I assume was the price of something? That's objectively terrifying.
Money Mama can be intense, yes.

Your room is very big, by the way.
Yes. Yes, it is.
...I told Gerry, "keep the captain's quarters small, I hate being extravagant," but nooooooo, he had to make it really big. Should've had him punished for mutiny, going directly against my orders.
You don't like that it's big?
I don't like being extravagant. I may have been a captain, but my crew were just as important as me. I don't deserve to have my quarters take up so much of the damn ship.
Huh. I think having a big room is neat. One of the master bedrooms in my house had a really tall ceiling, and I liked to spend a lot of time in it. It felt like a good place to sit and read in.
Yeah, but I've got the library for that. That feels like a good room to have be big. A big bedroom...doesn't feel right to me. I guess it doesn't help that I was never fond of decorating, so all the extra space just felt wasted. Could've added another quarters or two with how much space even just the high ceiling wastes...
Was your bed also done without your permission? It's very big, too.
Bingo-brongo. Never replaced it because it would've been just...a huge pain in the ass.
Has anyone ever slept with you in it?
'S-Scuse me?
It looks big enough for a family to sleep in all at once.
Okay, you didn't mean the— Right, yeah. I've had one or two others sleep with me, but it still felt just...excessive.
Hmm... What if you got some plushies?
Stuffed animals?
Yeah! I had a big bed back at home—not this big, but still big for just me—so my moms got me a lot of plushies to make it feel nicer. Uncle Ranger even made me a big one of his friend Miss Regina. Oh, that's why I call them plushies, not stuffed animals—Miss Regina's not an animal.
I don't... I don't think that's necessary. I'll just look to scrap this thing and get a regular-sized bed while we're exploring. It really won't be that big a deal.
But... You can make the size a good thing. You could start with the plushies. The bed being big doesn't hurt anyone.
I guess not, but I don't... I'll think about it, alright?
Okay. Next time we have a day off, let's go shopping for plushies. Between the wharf and Tharsis's shops, there's gotta be some you'll like.
That...sounds nice, sure.
Yay. I'll go eat my dinner now— Oh, wait, is your bouillabaise with Narmer stock still warm?
Oh, it's cooled a bit, but that's alright, I was just having fun talk—
I'll go warm it up and bring it back.
That's not really necess—
I'm a cook. I know what makes food good.
If you insist, I won't stop you.
Okay. Be back in a bit.

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