Swamp Cave
Swamp Cave

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The task is staightforward - head to the back of this cave and rescue Dawn Star. Along the way, you'll be able to pick up a new style and fight a couple of interesting adversaries.

1 - Arrival

Having made it through the Swamp, you'll arrive in this cavernous hallway.

2 - Cinematic

When you reach this point, you'll witness a cinematic of Gao the Lesser causing a cave-in that forces you to take a much more dangerous path to the back of the cave.

3 - Ogre

A single Ogre has set up a campfire and is roasting some type of creature here. Ogres move slow, but they do a devastating amount of damage if they connect with their club. Attack quickly and evade when necessary and you shouldn't have any problem taking such a creature down.

4 - Ogres

Two more Ogres will try to put a stop to your advance in this section of the cave.

5 - Chests

After defeating the two nearby Ogres, you can ransack their belongings. The left chest is trapped and contains some silver, while the right chest contains a random essence gem (such as an Inferior Intimidation Gem).

6 - Toad Demon

I'd advise saving before this battle, as this Toad Demon can hit hard. In fact, it hits harder than any creature you'll face for quite awhile. The key is to close in quick when the opportunity presents itself to perform an attack and then back out of range immediately afterward again. Once he winds up, you're going to take some wicked damage if you stay in the vicinity (including getting poisoned, which causes damage over time).

When the demon is dead, you'll gain the very cool transformation style Toad Demon, your first of this type. This is actually one of the better transformation styles because of the poison damage it can unleash, though you may not want to add any points in it if you have the PC version and plan on picking up Viper anyway.

7 - Bones

Search this pile of bones for some extra silver.

8 - Gao the Lesser

Here we are at last, the final confrontation with Gao the Lesser. This will be one of the more challenging battles you've faced at this point in the game, so prepare accordingly. After a small amount of dialogue in which Gao suggests that something sinister is happening to Two Rivers, you'll enter battle. Gao uses the Dire Flame style almost exclusively, which can cause a lot of damage if you don't defend yourself with evasive moves. The same general tactic applies here - stay away, quickly close in to melee range when the opportunity presents itself, deal a fast combo, and then back away once again. If you can dance around Gao, he won't be able to hone in on you, although he will make use of his non-damaging area attack from time to time.

When the battle is over, you'll receive the Gentle Persuasion essence gem and can have a short chat with Dawn Star before deciding what to do next. When you exit the cave, a cinematic will run that shows several of Gao the Greater's flyers headed to destroy Two Rivers. With Dawn Star and Sagacious Zu now accompanying you, you'll have to use Gao's flying mosquito outside of the cave to return to Two Rivers. This will trigger the first of the game's thirteen Flyer Missions.

9 - Spirit Font

Meditating at a Spirit Font will restore all of your character's Health and Chi.

10 - Chests and Focus Shrine

Along with a Focus Shrine to replenish your Focus, you'll discover a few chests at the back of this cave. The first one from the left contains the Viper's Wit technique, the second contains some silver, and, if you have the PC version installed, the third will contain the Eye of the Viper plot item. This is the first of three doctrines you'll need to find in order to unlock ths powerful Viper combat style.