Ah, the town of Spielburg. At first it seems so safe, even dull. But once you venture outside it's walls into the unforgiving forest, you see the scale of their problems. The Sheriff is quick to inform you that the valley is sealed off thanks to the winter snow, and the forest is filled with monsters and brigands. So far so tough, but there's also the small matter of a curse on the Baron, who has locked himself away in his castle after his children went missing.
Someone who was approaching this for the first time might spend his days wandering around this fair town, looking at all the sights on offer. However, I'm inclined to leave that to better men, and just head to the key locations. First off, I have little in the way of money, so the best place is to find a few ways to get some more. A quick trip to the Adventurer's guild will let you know what quests are on offer, and for what price, but there's always more available if you know where to look.
Onwards to the magic shop, where a mysterious wizard named Zara will sell you (expensive) spells and potions. If I'm to max out this character, I'll need all the spells I can get (spells, like skills, can be increased in effectiveness through use). The first one to buy is Fetch, which lets you take or move objects from a distance. It's first use is only a couple of screens away, outside the walls. The local healer has lost her gold ring, and as it happens a cheeky pterosaur (a mini pterodactyl) has taken it in his nest.
There are three ways to get the ring: by throwing rocks at the nest to dislodge it (Fighter), by using the Fetch spell (Magic User) and by climbing up the tree and taking it from the nest (Thief). On this occasion I decided to climb the tree, if only because it will not only raise my Climbing skill, but also some of my other stats (types of physical exertion have a chance of raising things like Agility, Vitality or Strength).
Handing in the ring to the healer gets you a nice reward, and with the cash you can then afford the Open spell. So far, smooth sailing! The Open spell (available from Zara's magic shop) acts in much the same way as the Pick Lock skill, but also can have other interesting uses. The main use I want it for right now is to head to the north of the valley, where there is a lovely garden.
Several characters will tell you about Erana's Peace, which is a place of safety. Erana herself will be mentioned many times throughout the series, and she created safe spaces for people throughout many lands. This particular place contains a tree with tasty fruit (the fruit can be eaten each day for free, instead of buying rations), and a curious stone. The runes on the surface of the stone hint that there is a gift inside, and so with a quick use of the Open spell, the stone moves aside. In the hollow beneath the stone is a scroll, and once read it grants you a new spell: Calm. This spell will be useful in a few puzzles, but mainly to get away from monsters in the forest while I'm still too weak to take them on.
At this point, it's getting late! You don't want to be stuck at night in the forest unless you're a bit more experienced. So I head over to the castle, where the stables are in need of a cleaning. This is a good way to boost your stats, it gives you a free place to sleep, and you earn a little cash. Definitely a win!