LOCATION: The Esper Cave...or is it Gathering Place?
PARTY MEMBERS: Locke (Lv. 23 HP 898/898 MP 173/195), Strago (Lv. 26 HP 1116/1116 MP 180/237), Terra (Lv. 25 HP 1046/1046 MP 140/228)
ELAPSED TIME: 13:22
STEPS TAKEN: 35585
I went back into Thamasa and triggered two of the "Secret magic" scenes and went to the Inn and slept. The burning House was a lot shorter than I remembered, and there was not much memorable about it. One of the Balloons used Exploder in the battles, allowing Strago to learn it. The FlameEater was boringly easy.
One of the little things I noticed about Shadow in the post-rescue scene was he did react to Strago's confession by momentarily lifting his head. Given what we know about Shadow, I wonder if this were merely to throw off the party, or if he were just surprised that Strago would tell them that.
With the money I earned, I bought both a Stout Spear and a Morning Star. After talking to a few townsfolk, I decided to head to the mountain....where I quickly lost my way. Thanks to my wandering, Strago was able to learn Pearl Wind from an Abolisher. Quickly I backtracked to the entrance upon learning the Lore, then resumed my journey.
Despite the tendency for Locke to get Sneezed away at every opportunity (and costing him experience), it was all going well until I entered the room with the golden statues in it. Instead of skipping past them and going to the next room, I approached them and walked away, which triggered which brought about the Ultros fight.
Ultros is normally a pushover, with his "Tri-elemental" attack being more of an annoyance than an actual threat. This time, due to some bad battle decisions (Not using "Fight" until it was too late and not knowing where my items were), I got killed by that silly octopus. Aside from one time where Ultros aimed a tentacle at Banon right after a four-party tentacle attack, I had never lost to him.
I decided to instead of resetting to just continue from the save point right outside the cave, then went through the mountain and past the room with the golden statues to the save point, then saved.