|Final Fantasy IX owned by Square Enix.|
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After Dagger and Steiner leave the party you'll need to take a trip down to the lowest level of Lindblum Castle, Base Level, via the main elevator. Here you can hop on a pair of trolleys: one will take you to the Serpent Gate, where you can find a Wyerd Card and not much else, and one that will take you to the Dragon's Gate, your destination. Here you can find a Moogle named Moonte with a letter to read and a merchant. Also, the exit.
Your destination, Gizamaluke's Grotto, is located to the northeast of Lindblum Castle. Optionally, however, you can go to two other locations first: Qu's Marsh and Chocobo's Forest. They're both worth the trip, if you find three party members too stifling... and want to engage in a game-long series of minigames.
This small, strange area is more important than it initially seems. Head north into the swamp - past Mogster, of all people - and into the tall grass. You'll wind up near a pond full of frogs, patrolled by a strange, hopeful, blue creature. Wait for one of the frogs to hop out of the water, grab it, and take it to the creature. It will introduce itself - Quina, by default - and, after a cut scene, you'll get Quina in your party.
Quina's an odd duck of a member worth noting. Among other things, Quina can use Blue Magic, a special branch of magic that requires Quina to Eat specific enemies in order to gain new abilities. Enemies must be reduced to roughly a fourth of their full health before they can be Eaten. Quina's abilities range from utterly useless to awesome, and it's worth Eating creatures in new areas before moving on.
In addition to Blue Magic, Quina also brings frog catching into the equation. There are a number of Qu's Marshes across the world, and in each one Quina can catch frogs and earn prizes from its master, Quale. We'll discuss frog catching in another article.
Your destination is north of the Dragon's Gate exit of Lindblum, leaving a significant section of the landmass unexplored. Head into this area - to the east, specifically - and you can find a dome-like concentration of trees called Chocobo's Forest. Enter.
You'll be greeted by a Moogle, Mene, and a Chocobo, Choco. Mene will give you Gysahl Greens with which you can summon Choco. Head back onto the world map and return to Lindblum. Just north of the Dragon's Gate exit you'll see a thin line of Chocobo tracks. Step on them, then use the Gysahl Greens to summon Choco. You can ride on Choco on the world map and avoid random battles.
Ride back to Chocobo's Forest and enter while on Choco's back, then speak to Mene. He'll offer to sell you more Gysahl Greens, which you can use on tracks in various places on the world map to summon Choco. He'll also offer to tell you a 'secret', which triggers the unlocking of the Chocobo Hot & Cold game. We'll talk about Hot and Cold in another article, as it's looooong.
Almost done. Walk a short distance further east from Chocobo's Forest and you'll see the lower section of South Gate. It's overgrown and not looking so good. Check along the mossy tree branch running across the bottom of the screen to find Moccha Coffee.
All done with side areas? Head north of Lindblum and look along the mountain range. You'll shortly find a small cave. This is your next mandatory destination, Gizamaluke's Grotto.
Part Seven: Gizamaluke's Grotto