Part 21: A Whole New World (of Pain)Last time, we realized that we need to visit the Sultan. We're starting today by not doing that.
We start by heading east from Sudash, which is the way to Bombomb. We can see a tower to the south, but no obvious way to reach it.
Instead of heading south, however, we head north, finding a huge mass of swampland. Maybe there's something interesting here.
Oh, what the hell? Who builds a funhouse in the middle of a poisonous swamp? "But 5-Headed Snake God," I hear you say, "technically it's not in the swamp, just blocked off by it."
This is seriously the worst possible location. And they still have patrons!
The music here is a jazzy midi rendition of the Peanuts theme, which is a bit of a weird choice.
Anyway, yeah, it's the same old shtick. New maze, same deal.
This one actually does have one noteworthy feature, though: its shop is pretty excellent. The chainmail is tempting for Yajirobe and Alibaba, but I instead opt to spend our entire fortune on a pair of iron claws. This will turn Raj Ahtan into a crazy-strong fighter for quite a while.
Anyway, we do the maze, claim the treasures, and get the hell out of here. Amusingly, Raj Ahtan cannot wear the jester's mask - perhaps he has no sense of humor.
More or less due south from the Funhouse, we catch sight of Bombomb.
The city is surrounded by a moat and sturdy walls. It's kind of a fortress.
The guards are all business too.
Word around the city pretty much confirms what we've already heard. The Sultan has really done a number on his country lately.
This seems to be a running theme in the major cities of the world.
On the roof of the pub is a man who drops an interesting bit of information. The city's architecture certainly backs it up, as several roofs in the northern part of the city are connected by bridges.
Well, we now know what's up with the tower, even if we can't reach it.
More of the usual from the last equipment shops in the chapter.
A narrow river divides the city in half and serves as a public bath.
This, of course, means that we should absolutely wander out of the designated area.
We head west, and come to another exit from the river, into someone's back yard.
You do realize that we'll just come back when you're not awake, right?
Further west, we enter the moat, where we find a hidden chest.
There's also a stairwell to the north, and once again we have no obvious way to reach it.
East of the baths, we find some ladies sunbathing on a small island. We do not peep, because we're not creeps, never mind that Lina would murder the other three for it.
There's a second leather dress here, which we still cannot use.
Right outside the palace, we find two locked, guarded doors. Even if the guards weren't there, we still couldn't open the doors.
There's also a warp whistle buried in a conspicuous patch of dirt. I promise that this will be significant later.
There's also a silver harp in a rather conspicuous chest. What Zefiryn's party had to do a side quest to obtain, Raj Ahtan's just... gets.
Returning to the city at night, we can loot a couple of chests in the weapon shop. The golbin/goblin club was also available to Zefiryn's team, via the shop in the Hasara Funhouse maze. I believe it's the strongest weapon available in the first four chapters, and it's one-handed too. Unfortunately, as with Zefiryn, Raj Ahtan's party has no one able to use it; I believe it's restricted to Holdana and the Black Knight class.
Told you, old man.
The rooftops are ours!
The rooftop path actually leads to the palace, where this guard accurately talks about his vigilance and prevents us from reaching four tantalizing chests.
There's also an entrance to the Sultan's bedchamber, which we are, unsurprisingly, not allowed to enter.
With our exploration of the town concluded, we return during the day to seek our audience with the Sultan. His advisor has noticed a change in his behavior, though he can't determine the cause. Also something about statues?
This is not the sultan's bedchamber. He just has a bath and a couple of concubines adjacent to the main thoroughfare.
Finally, we approach the throne room, though we have to wait while someone else speaks with him.
Okay, yeah, those statues are pretty gaudy.
Okay, yes, the Sultan is actually the asshole everyone's made him out to be, but I still find his dialogue to be hilarious.
The unfortunate peasant is escorted out of the room.
He's never gonna go for this.
Sorry to the person who suggested the name Alibaba; this is clearly Aladdin.
Well, that went better than we could have reasonably hoped.
Curious, we check the stairwell down which the first petitioner was escorted. It's a dungeon.
The stairs on the right lead to the Sultan's bedchamber, and we are naturally barred.
Following the Sultan's directions, we head east.
There are a few new enemies in this part of the world. The mantis, virulily, and bactalillies go down pretty quickly to our team's attacks, but it's not too hard to guess at what they can do. The despot/jungle bear fight is more interesting; both use physical attacks, and the jungle bear is highly durable. When it goes down, the despot runs away.
Everyone also gains levels from fighting these new monsters. We're going to need everything we can get.
To r each the Cave of Wonders, we need to head north, then make a u-turn west and back to the south, where we come to a desert. The Sultan said the Cave was here, but there's nothing in sight.
Yeah. If you don't know how or where to find it, the Cave of Wonders can be a stumper. It's not great design, and unfortunately "not great design" something of a theme for the dungeon.
At least we get some XP for it.
Let's do this.
And here we are in the Cave of Wonders! This dungeon is awful and I hate it!
Ghosts and spectres infest the early parts of the dungeon. They're certainly annoying, but not too threatening.
Balloons are a new enemy here. Besides their basic physical attacks, they also use Firebreath, which hits the party for around 10 damage. Again, not really a threat.
After a few screens, we come to a split in the path. The middle-right fork is an endless corridor, so we don't want that.
The far-right fork leads us to a room full of arrow tiles.
We get pushed all around the room before being dumped in a hole.
We land on a small patch of land surrounded by impassable lava. Luckily, there's a teleportal available.
It puts us in the middle-left fork, which leaves only the far-left fork.
It leads us into a frozen area. You can probably guess what that means.
Yeah, it's an ice-sliding puzzle.
In the western chamber, we find a red and blue orb, as well as a chest containing a fur coat. This is a great find for Lina, who's very fragile and needs all the protection she can get.
The eastern chamber, on the other hand, contains another sliding puzzle.
We solve it a continue on to the south.
And then... we run into these fuckers. These enemies are faster than any of our party members except Alibaba, who cannot one-shot any of them. And that's a problem. You see, while the blue bubble only uses Icebreath (which is about as effective as the balloon's Firebreath), the other two are... a bit more of an issue.
One round of breath attacks, and everyone is on death's door, not to mention that three of our people are poisoned. The bulbs in particular do a ton of damage, and are the main reason I hate this dungeon so much.
If they take you by surprise, death is virtually inevitable, since they'll get two actions before most of the party does anything. And with life herbs so rare and valuable, anyone dying basically mandates a reload.
Mercifully, not far ahead is a save point, which makes resets less painful.
There's one other new enemy in here as well, the Xbox (ha). They're not too strong, but they like to use a bunch of debuffing spells, including Slowall, Sleepmore, and Decrease.
Further ahead, the icy halls give way to fire.
This chamber is filled with lava, and the only way to get through is to use ladders to get from island to island.
In the western part of the chamber is a treasure chest on a corpse-filled island, meaning there's another monster-in-a-box to fight.
The Mindbender uses Surround to blind the party. It probably does other things too, but this party's damage output is so high that we can effortlessly kill it before it gets a second action.
Our prize is a ring of the giant, a solid pick for Yajirobe.
Oh, another death, time to do it all over. I think this happened three or four times.
Finally, we lay a ladder to the big central island, and...
...claim the Magic Lamp! At least there's no boss here, and unlike the last time I said that, it's not misdirection.
Instead, the cave starts collapsing, giving us only 90 seconds to escape. The timer doesn't tick down during fights or when menuing, but it's still a narrow thing. And bulbs can still show up to end your run.
There are actually a few ways to get out of the Cave of Wonders. The first and most obvious is to run back the way we came. This is time-consuming, though, and getting stuck on the ice sliding puzzles is a good way to run out of time. The second is to grab a spare ladder (preferably before getting the Lamp) and use it to make a bridge to the teleportal; from there, it's a short jog to the exit.
We're taking the third and most practical option: a warp whistle. I told you it'd be important!
Dawn breaks dramatically as we make our escape, and the cave entrance collapses behind us. Good fucking riddance. Let's get back to Bombomb.
The Sultan seems quite pleased and not at all shocked that we made it back with the Lamp.
The whole affair is worth a level up for everyone, though there's nothing interesting about these levels.
Wait, downstairs to the left? Well, if you say so...
What the f-
We wake up in a prison cell.
Once again, it's a very good thing we got the Jailor's Key.
Well, we presumably can't get back out the way we came in, so I guess we'll have to find it.
Well, that was easy.
From the other side of that passage, we enter a twisting corridor.
This is where the monsters start to show up, though there's only one type. Vermin are essentially the same as the other rodent-type enemies we've faced, using Plague Bite to poison us, but they don't do much damage and aren't too tough. Caltrops and Puff make short work of them regardless of numbers.
We come to another room with a very obvious secret passage and an easy-to-find wall switch.
We make our way through the passage, and... Wait, isn't that..?
I'm pretty sure "They took my eyes" is meant literally, which is pretty goddamned horrifying.
Okay, so this isn't terribly surprising, but still, we now have confirmation that the Sultan we've been dealing with is a fraud, which explains his personality shift. Though the real Sultan was probably not an especially good person if he struck a deal with a demon.
We saw Murzhor at the start of the chapter, leading the attack on Saugon. In addition, if you remember Holdana's encounter with the scholar living in a well, he mentioned that Murzhor is a master of illusion and trickery. Taken together, this whole mess was actually foreshadowed pretty neatly.
We now have our true goal for the chapter: unmasking and killing Murzhor.
For finding the real Sultan, we get another batch of levels. Net is kind of a mediocre trap, but stronger magic for our wizard is always good.
RIP, Your Majesty. We'll go fix your extremely obvious mistake.
Not far past the Sultan is a set of stairs.
We emerge just outside the palace, from the stairwell we saw earlier.
I guess we're off to Skatmandu.