I've made reference to the town we'll wind up in before.
Nine or ten issues ago, I talked about the dreams Shadow the Ninja was having last time he was in the party, and now that he's back, there are implications as to where those dreams may have been going. We'll get to those in a minute, though.
Before we do, I'd better pick up kind of where we left off. When Locke and Terra get to Albrook, we can stock up on supplies, if needed, and it's a good idea to do so. We'll have a chance later, but better safe than sorry. From there, it's time to go talk to General Leo, who's on the ship docked at the harbor. He'll tell you that we'll be bringing Celes, who seems to have gone back to the Empire, along for the ride, as well as our good buddy Shadow. Since the expedition to Crescent Island doesn't leave until the next morning, he's arranged a room at the inn for us.
There's a bit of tension between Locke and Celes, because he's got feelings for her, and right now, he thinks they've been a bit betrayed. Later, during the night, Locke gets up to go outside and runs into Celes out there. He tries to talk to her, but she seems to have nothing to say and runs off.
On the way, Terra ponders being in love, and Leo tells her it's only natural because she's young and doesn't know yet that these things can't be rushed. After Leo gives his advice, Terra still wants to know what love is right away and wonders if it's coming at all. Shadow, wanting to sleep outside, overheard the conversation and tells her to not kill off her feelings like he has. I never have completely understood that part of the scene, but after that, it wraps up with Locke getting violently seasick and blowing chunks over the side of the boat
A few days later, the tensions remain as Leo explains that the ship's about to land, and since there are five potential party members, he and Celes will team up in one group while Locke, Terra, and Shadow form the other group to go looking for the Espers.
Our ultimate goal this time is a town called Thamasa. If that sounds familiar, it's because it's Thama, from Shadow's dreams in Jidoor and Kohlingen. It's where he wound up after ditching Clyde. The implication here is that in the intervening years between Clyde's death and the game, Shadow had a child with the woman who came to his aid at the end of the last dream segment. All this really comes through when we get our next two new party members: Strago and Relm. Strago's an old guy with funny hair and a mustache who's going to be the party's blue mage. Basically, this means he can learn a few special attacks from seeing the monsters do them in battle. Gau gets some of these through his Rages, but there are some unique ones, too. His granddaughter Relm is a painter who's art is kind of like the kid's chalk drawings in those old Simon cartoons in that they'll come to life and do one of the attacks of whatever monster the painting is of.
The reason I get the sense that this is Shadow's family is mostly because Shadow's dog likes Relm when he doesn't normally like anyone but Shadow. There's also Shadow's own actions, too. When the house where the villagers store their Fire Rods actually starts on fire with Relm inside, Strago goes nuts and starts trying to put the fire out with magic. The mayor says that magic's forbidden, but Strago won't have it, so the rest of the townsfolk join him until it becomes clear that it won't work. Terra and Locke say they're going in, and Strago insists on joining them.
The good news is that this is a perfect opportunity to add to his Blue Magic, or Lore, as it's called in the game, because there are monsters in there that use one called Exploder. There's a boss fight in there, too, but no matter how quickly it's won, it's too late to save Relm before everybody passes out from the smoke.
Fortunately for the party, Shadow's dog Interceptor is there, guarding Relm. Shadow finds the others by his dog's barking, and after killing off the fire-themed monsters that had the rest of the party trapped, he uses a smoke ball to save everybody.
Once back outside, Shadow says he did it just to save his dog, but it comes after a silent exchange between Shadow and Strago that's meant to indicate that there's more to the story than is being told. Shadow then says he's leaving the party again to go looking for the Espers in his own way. This will free up the other two slots in the party, which will be filled by Strago and, eventually, Relm.
Strago goes on to tell us that there's a cave in the mountains to the west of town where the Espers might be because there's an old legend in Thamasa about how a lot of magic stuff once happened there, including the creation of the Espers. He says he'll take us there because our mission seems important and he owes us for helping to save Relm. Relm wants to come, too, but Strago says no. She'll stay behind for now, but that doesn't last long.
We'll find out more about that next time, though, when we head off to the cave and have another fun fight with our good buddy Ultros. See you then, folks, and until next time, stay safe, have fun, keep gaming, and DFTBA!