Radiant with enthusiasm

In the fifth part of a regular series, Karen takes on Fantasy Life in a variety of 'lives' and documents her adventures.

NOTE: This week's entry contains a spoiler so diabolically genre-ruining that the esteemed Ant Dickens had to program a special tag in the Nintendo Life content management system to contain it. Click on the blacked-out text at your own risk, and enjoy this week's adventure!

Last week I armed myself to the teeth and ended up with a few blisters at the blacksmith’s forge, so to put the good weaponry and armour I made to use I decided to run off and join the paladin order of Castele. While I envisioned being a holy knight smiting evil and cleansing the land of undead, Castelean paladinhood is somewhat different. What follows is a tale of valour. Valour and fruit.

The paladin’s starting armour is unassuming but dignified, and I have to admit it makes my boffo bouffant feel a bit frivolous and showy. The lead of the paladin order, Captain Mustang, has eyebrows as gravity defying as his moustache. He assigns a humble and plain-looking girl named Roslyn to be my mentor, who joined the paladin order two days ago. Roslyn takes me to see Isobel, who's been a paladin longer than both of us put together, so at a minimum Isobel has two days and twenty minutes’ experience. Isobel sizes me up, welcomes me to the order, stresses the importance of honour and valour in a paladin’s conduct and gives me my training sword; then she sends us new girls to speak to Porthos, a paladin who looms large thanks to his love of buffets.

Porthos clearly has some different ideas about the paladin order and says that food is the single most important thing to a paladin, which reinforces my belief that cooks are the illuminati of Castele. So far I've heard that my guiding principle should be honour, valour, my sword, and delectable noodles — I think one of the paladin order has gone off message, and I think I know who it is. Porthos hands me a flimsy trainee’s shield and says that it doubles as a more than adequate buffet plate, so I'm less worried about the shield’s potential to protect me from damage than how to clean mashed potato from the straps.

You'll never guess where I stash my knife and fork

Roslyn and I are sent to investigate some trouble at the Appleseed Café. I was hoping to quiet some restless undead at the village cemetery, but this forced me to acknowledge the reality of Reveria’s complete lack of graveyards. Instead of trying to fathom the implications, I listen to the Appleseed Café proprietor Mr. Apfel's problem. His apple shipments have become unreliable for some unknown reason, jeopardizing the supply of the Appleseed Café’s famous fresh apple juice. I think this is clearly a diplomatic problem as neighbouring kingdoms may have declared an ineffective and costly war on apples, but Roslyn insists that we need to talk to the city guards. At the front gate fellow paladin Gaites talks about the farm on the Castele outskirts, as the rumour is that the apple trees there have been picked clean by thieves.

We're sent to the apple tree southeast of Castele’s front gate which is the thieves' next suspected target. That particular tree is said to have the juiciest and most flavourful apples in all Reveria, which is probably why it’s on its own little island and cordoned off with rope. Arriving at the tree, Roslyn and I find thieves of the kind who have been roaming the east grassy plains, whom we make short work of before bringing the stolen apples to the café. Grateful for the help, Mr. Apfel gives Roslyn and me some coins for our trouble and we report our success to Captain Mustang. It turns out that Mr. Apfel used the apples Roslyn and I retrieved to fulfil an order for fresh juice from Castele castle, and Captain Mustang passes along the princess’ personal thanks to the two brave paladins who saved snack time. Roslyn is extremely impressed by the mere mention of Princess Laura’s name, but I’m already on good terms with the royal family because of my ’unlikely hero perseveres against all odds to restore order to the land’ antics; and I realise I’ve just spoiled every RPG ever made for you.

I get my dog Pepper and my cat Salt from my room to see if they can work together and ride out to the west grassy plains to see Florina. Inspired by Roslyn’s demureness, I opt for a wash-and-walk coffee-coloured shag cut that should be able to not resemble a deflated puffer fish in need of antidepressants after hours of helmet-induced sweating. With my hair set I equip my gold armour and bronze sword and shield, and the Incredible Seasonings Team sets about cleaning up the east grassy plains. After a lap around the plains I realise that I have to leave Salt and Pepper at home if I am to grow skilled as a swordsperson because they are far more proficient with their weapons than I am with mine.

On my initial solo report to Captain Mustang I rise several ranks in the paladin order because of all of the fruit I have in my bags from my travels all over Reveria. Although fruit is obviously central to civic-mindedness in Castele, most of the paladin Life challenges are ‘kill things with valour for king and country’ or ‘kill things and cash in the bounty with valour for king and country’, which leaves me with the feeling that I’m like a hunter with extremely limited range, a shield, and a public relations team. Looking through my list of challenges, I see that I am also expected to hunt dragons. This was not mentioned in the recruitment literature.

This means the tide of battle has turned, right?

As I move to dispense Castelean justice to monsters in the more dangerous areas I travel in a party with Isobel and Porthos, forsaking my usual companions because it seems like the right thing to do with our organisation’s royal mandate. This proves valuable as we work well together except when our whirlwind attacks accidentally shove someone else off of the monster we’re currently fighting. At Al Maajik’s caves and ruins I see a handful of undead creatures, who look as unimpressed by my presence as they ever had been, and are still moaning about it.

When I reach mastery of the paladin Life, Captain Mustang gives an eloquently long speech about how the student had now become the teacher and herds me and my fellow paladins off to a celebration at the Crown, Castele’s finest purveyor of barley juice and all attendant side effects, but none of us drink much or dance. After dispensing more valourous justice and achieving hero rank I am assured by many in the order that the bards shall sing of me for generations to come. I open my mouth to bring up the fact that they may be singing my praises posthumously within days if this hunting dragons madness is true, but I’m hurried out of the paladin’s hold, patted on the shoulder, and pushed into the royal walkway as the setting sun casts a red glow over the land I have spent the day defending with valour for king and country.

Sitting back in my room after all the fruit, intrigue and proposed dragon hunting, my mind wanders back to the utter lack of cemeteries in Reveria. After pondering the situation more thoroughly I come to the conclusion that if anyone would know more about why this is, it would be the alchemists.

Rank achieved: Hero
Useful for: A crash course in Castelean civics
Quality of Life: With more valour, for king and country
Additional comments: Sure, I’ll fight that dragon with an army. Do we have an army? Wait, we’re the army?