Party members: Badger, Ferret, Ultimecia
BGM: Final Fantasy II Town Theme
...right smack-dab in the middle of podunk nowhere. Seriously. This place is so small, the weapon shop has actually gone out of business and the item shop has been turned into a grocery store.
Apples, Bread, Carrots, Cheese, and Milk will restore 5 HP if used in battle. Flour, Rice, and Sugar will have no effect. Eggs will give you salmonella, aka Poison you. The real purpose of ingredients such as these is to cook with them, an aspect of the game that will be explained soon. For now, however, you need to advance the story by going to the armor shop.
Why the armor shop? Well, it turns out that said armor shop is being terrorized by a banshee of a ferret with pink fairy wings, who is attempting to bully the poor shopkeeper into giving her various pieces of jewelry for free, claiming that it is his duty as a loyal member of the Ferret Empire. Oookay. Things get even weirder, if you can believe it, when the demented ferret gets an eyeful of Ultimecia's outfit and demands to know where she got all those gemstones from and whether she has paid proper tribute to the Ferret Empire for them. Once the ferret learns that she can get money - which is shiny - and trade it for gemstones - which are shinier - she becomes exceedingly happy and forces her way into your party so that you can show her how it's done. Badger is not entirely sure he is sanguine with this, but the more protectors Ultimecia has, the better, right?
You can decorate Badger with a Fancy Collar, a Hairpin, or a Costume Crown, but as none of these offer a Defense boost and his Magic Defense is high to begin with, you're probably best off sticking with a Floppy Hat. Ferret's Fancy Collar is useless but pricey, so sell it off and give her Ultimecia's Hairpin instead, as her defenses suck. Ultimecia can make do with the Floppy Hat you found in the Chaos Shrine. Silver Bangles are unanimously good for everybody, so buy three of those and spread the bling. Yay for shiny upgrades!
Leaving the armor shop, Ultimecia decides it's time to take stock of this new location. Ferret, however, is full of helpful information: this is the land of Palamecia, under the sway of Emperor Mateus, who is attempting to take over the world. Ultimecia remembers this from her history texts; apparently, it didn't turn out well for the guy. Ferret is overjoyed to hear this, as her Ferret Empire (which she is...NOT the princess of, no, of course not,) is one of the few bastions of resistance against the evil Palamecian Empire!
This is where Ferret gets her first brilliant idea: maybe Ultimecia's magic is the secret weapon that enables the Ferret Empire to stand up to Mateus. Badger, not too sure he really wants a pushy princess around, brings up a good point: if Ferret is supposed to be in hiding, then he and Ultimecia can go to Castle Ferret on their own while she stays in Gatrea. Ferret is, however, inexorable; with Ultimecia to protect her, surely she'll be fine.
Didn't she sign on with the party to protect Ultimecia, not the other way around?