Well, another dungeon under our belt, so what now?
Head to Free Haven, of course, and take care of some business. First, we get to fight past a small group of cannibals (again) and a few lizardmen to boot. Easily handled, and off we go.
Once there, we first head for the trainer, and all get to level 23. Nice, huh? Skill points allocated.
Next, we go find entry to the one elemental guild we haven't joined yet; the Earth Guild. All of the membership people are in the southeast part of the city, so it's easy to find them.
Along the way, I end up in a random house, where a friendly guy says he'll buy any gongs we have for 2000 gold each. We do have one from our Baa escapades, so that's some extra money.
Next, we hit up the various guilds to buy spells. From the Water guild, we pick up two copies of Town Portal, giving us a nice emergency escape hatch from dungeons should we need it. (At Master level, it becomes even better, and allows us to zoom around to most places.)
The Air guild has Jump spells for Eno and Cate, and best of all, the pinnacle of Air magic: the Fly spell. At a substantial spell point cost, we can now soar around outdoors. There is one caveat, and we'll get into that later. For now, know that Eno is the flying man.
Finally, the Earth guild welcomes us with the most useful of curative spells: Stone To Flesh. You will need this for later against certain enemies. Both Cate and Eno get this.
Now, we go buy some more food. And now I'm bored. I could stick around and search for skill trainers, but that would be boring. So let's see where the stables go!
In case I didn't mention this before, Free Haven has two separate stables, and they each have their own list of possible destinations. In a bizarre twist, the northern stables mainly goes to southern and eastern places, while the southern one goes to the north and the west. Weird, huh? Don't get the two mixed up (it's easy to do).
The northern stables goes to a place called Darkmoor. While we could go there...yeah, let's hold off on that one for a while. The southern stables goes to a place called White Cap, which is directly north of Free Haven. Let's go there then.
We arrive in White Cap, and discover why it has its name. Snow, snow everywhere. And more snow falling all the time. Nice, huh?
The town itself it pretty sizable, with many services. But we aren't interested in those just yet. Our current destination is the castle to the east: the home of the lord of these lands, Eric von Stromgard.
Yes, he's one of the six lords.
Along the way, there are two crude towers, each guarded by nasty Fire Archers. We ignore these, as they would take a little too long to kill at our current level.
Once in the castle, Eric is glad to see us. He handles Archer promotions, and is willing to teach Cate...if we can retrieve the Dragon Tower keys from a nearby fortress. Simple enough.
As for support for the council, he wants us to...end winter. No joke. He thinks the snow has been going on for far too long, and wants us to find a way to stop it. His only clue is to tell us of a hermit who might know something about weather control. We'll get on that a little later.
But now, we exit the castle, but my psychic powers tell me it's time to test my new Fly spell. So we fly up, and head south-southeast, over the mountains. In the distance, we see winged creatures eying us. These are Harpies, and we do not want to get close to them.
We come down for a landing...in front of another castle. Hmmm. Let's check this one out.
This castle is the residence of Lord Anthony Stone, High Priest of the kingdom, and another of the lords. His promotion quest is different than the rest. He wants you to repair the church in Free Haven, which was burned in a fire. To do this, we need to find a carpenter and a stonecutter, and bring them there. As for how to find those...I'll deal with that later.
His council favor quest is simple enough; apparently one of Stone's main jobs is to deal with the criminal underworld of the kingdom. However, a figure known as the Prince of Thieves (yep, this guy again) is making this very hard. His solution: have us go capture the villain. Sounds like fun.
Now we fly back across the mountains...and straight into the harpies. Harpies are some of the most annoying enemies in the game, because they can curse you...at nearly any range. Very nasty. And we all get cursed.
But back to White Cap, and we remove the curses at the temple for cash. We could probably have removed it ourselves, but whatever.
One final thing to do; we head to the northwest part of White Cap, and visit a house. Inside, a woman offers us membership in a new guild...the Dark guild. Not cheap (1000 gold), but worth it. We'll get into that later. (I seem to be saying that a lot.)
After the usual song and dance of waiting for the stables to go where I want, a few game days later we are back in Free Haven. So next we can find those skill trainers and...let's see. How about getting some council approval? That's right, we're tackling the first of these plot-critical quests...but which one are we doing? You'll see...