This is a post entered for the Etrian Odyssey II Mega Contest.
On my second play-through, I moved into the 4th Stratum and was using the long corridor near the entrance of level B16F to gain experience fighting Flamerats, Goldeers, and Sabremaws. I realized I could gain experience faster by fighting monsters at the start of the 5th Stratum. After purchasing supplies in town, I went back to the 4th stratum and confidently navigated the drifting sand of level B16F.
I moved down the stairs to level B17F and, after some wrong turns, I remembered the secret to navigating the hidden doorways. The Hexroots and Immoas were still not significantly challenging and I knew I would soon have access to the healing spring. Its refreshing water would fully restore my characters after every battle as long as I did not stray too far. After gaining in experience by fighting the Warriors and Druids of the forest folk, I became more courageous and ventured through the narrow crack in the cluster of trees in the far southwest.
There, I overcame the curses of the Diabolix and avoided the chasing Cruella before moving further down to B19F. After my first battle with the Redbeaks, I quickly realized I would need to gain more experience before returning to find my way through the swaying teleportation bushes. I returned to the comfort of the healing spring and fought repeated battles with the forest folk before venturing back to B19F. After the use of numerous warp bushes, I found the way to the end of the level and the double threat of Cruella and Diabolix. I decided to use the hidden warp to quickly return to the start of B19F and backtrack for another opportunity to drink from the healing spring. The newly-found warp of B19F allowed me to return immediately to the whips of Cruella and Diabolix. They fell quickly under the power of my party and my confidence grew.
I moved down to level B20F to fight the great Ogres and Hunters on this level, but, while I had been saving my TP against the weaker monsters, I was ready to use my full complement of skills against each one of the evolving forest folk. I lured one at a time to the entrance or an isolated area with no chance of a second FOE intruder. If too many monsters picked up my scent, I would exit to the higher level and, occasionally, return to relax at the healing spring. After repeatedly luring the strongest forest folk, finally, the forest folk's guardian bird, Iwaopeln, remained alone. I returned to the healing spring, but failed to continue the short distance to B16F where the Geomagnetic Field would have saved hours in the labyrinth. My brimming confidence had overflowed into unrealized arrogance.
I left the healing spring and returned to the guardian bird and began the battle. I weakened the forest folk's bird to near-death when the bird used its great skill, Rockbeak, to crush my party. After a few feeble attempts to recover from the bird's devastating power, I soon saw the tiny bud that ironically signifies the death of my party. I mourned the death of my party with a primal scream followed by ear-scorching profanity.
The balance of the great labyrinth was restored.