I was on a plane next to a crying baby for six hours. It nearly negated the rest of the perks of flying Virgin America.
The journey back to Matoya's Cave was a fairly tedious one thanks to the unrelenting gangs of goblins that keep attacking the party, despite having no chance whatsoever to survive.
Anyway, the witch received her glass eye. As a reward, she gave our heroes her strongest potion: a jolt tonic to wake the Elf Prince. I'm not sure why the herb was changed to a potion. But perhaps it has to do with Nintendo's changing standards for age appropriate content over the years. Up with violence and religious references, down with drugs nad sex. Maybe the localization team didn't want kids to think the old witch was peddling narcotics.
We also have have one of the earliest examples of an RPG padding its length by forcing its heroes to run back and forth on a fetch quest, all the while subjecting them to unchallenging random battles. Case in point, after I received the jolt tonic, I traveled back south to the docks north of Cornelia, boarded the pirate ship, and sailed south to Elfheim. There, the jolt tonic promptly awakened the prince, who said something about waking up from a nightmare and awarded me with the mystic key. Then, I had to travel back to Cornelia Castle to use the key to open the treasury. The next hour was spent backtracking to the Chaos Shrine, Marsh Cave, and Western Keep to load up on loot.
In order to leave the enclosed sea, the heroes needed to blow up the little land bridge south of the Dwarves' mine. The TNT (which is now called Nitro Powder for no real good reason) was found all the way back in Castle Cornelia in the treasury.
With the land bridge destroyed, our heroes sailed west toward the town of Melmond. The GBA version adds an extra dungeon called the Whisperwind Cove right next to the newly created channel. It looks like a whirlpool and leads to one of the Soul of Chaos location.
The Dwarves' Mine has a different name now. It's called Mt. Drurugarsomethingorother. They all have weird Colonial American/Scottish accents. The blacksmith is still there, and he's still demanding adamantium to make the legendary sword, but he's now a blacksmyth. Go fig.
Melmond is surprisingly green from the outside (I believe some of the other versions show more decay on the world map). But inside the town, the dilapidated buildings, torn up grass, destroyed church, and endless graveyards create a mood of desolation and foreboding. Inside the inn, the decorations are bare and you can even see a big spider web in the corner. It's a nice touch.
Even back in the NES version, Melmond was a sad, dreary place. Sure, there wasn't much variation in the palette. But the gravestones and NPC conversations let you know that it was time to crap your pants because a vampire was running around killing the villagers. Plus, there was no "clinic," and therefore no way to revive characters without going back to Cornelia or Elfheim.
The area is a bit easier in the GBA version thanks to the presence of Phoenix Downs. You can buy them from Cornelia and they cost 500 gil each. Also, Melmond sells the Revive spell, which has the same effect.
One of the dwarves in town identified himself as Watts, a nice reference to Seiken Densetsu. Our heroes also ran into the ever-so-smug Dr. Unne, taking a walk in the northeast corner of town. Oh Dr. Unne, how we love you and your rosetta stone translating ways.
But back to the main adventure. I didn't have enough gil to stock up on the new weapons and armor thanks to the ridiculously expensive spells from Elfheim. However, the heroes were pretty well equipped from my mystic key stash raiding earlier. So I loaded up on potions and antidotes from the item store and headed southwest.
Hopefully the vampire is more challenging this time around.