The Let's Play Archive

King's Quest VI

by DoubleNegative

Part 18: Burden Me Not With Thine Poetry

XVIII - Burden Me Not With Thine Poetry

Realm of the Dead #3 - Underworld

Hello everyone and welcome back! After that silliness last time, this is gonna be a more straight-faced update. The end of this section is quickly approaching!

First things first, that looks like water below us.


An ebony mass of liquid flows below the path. It must be the River Styx!

Let's go swimming in it.


Alexander slips off the path and plunges into the River Styx. As soon as the water touches his skin, Alexander's mind and body go numb. He sinks like a lifeless stone.

Yes, the cutscene plays even if we die beyond the underworld's gates.

So now that we've gotten the obvious out of the way, let's poke the other thing that stands out on the screen.

armored corpse

Apparently, Alexander's not the only one who's curious about the body on the path!

The knight is wearing one black gauntlet. There appears to be some writing on the gauntlet, but Alexander can't quite make out what it says.

I'm not a betting person. But if I were, I'd wager this is the knight that Archdruid mentioned. I guess he never made it to the Lord of the Dead.


Alexander takes the knight's black gauntlet and examines the writing on it.

Flesh may cross the portal,
and seek its master Death.
Flesh may go where Death has trod,
and challenge, like Scheherazade
He Who Reigns Beneath The Sod,
to spare a mortal's breath.

Zounds! That sounds serious!

The iron gauntlet is a bit small to fit on Alexander's arm.

Looking at it just repeats the poem, and I think we can safely skip that again. Anyway, that's all we can do here. If we forget the gauntlet, we can't escape the underworld. And we can't come back, either.

STOP! Yes that's Charon again but before we do the obvious thing, there's something very very important on this screen. The River Styx. We need a cupful of "River Styx water" for magical paint. Forget this and guess what you find yourself in the middle of...

River Styx

Alexander scoops a little of the River Styx into the teacup with the swamp ooze, being careful not to get any of the black water on his skin.

I have forgotten the Styx water before. I wasn't happy when I realized that. Anyway, let's see if Charon will let us cross the Lethe. Or at the very least let us take his Mass Relay to Arcturus Station.

I must see the Lord of the Dead. Please let me ride across the River Styx on the ferry.
Charon, apparently, has rules as strict as those of the skeletons at the Underworld's entrance. Alexander is not getting on that boat until he gives Charon the appropriate fare.

There's a game over you can get here that I only just learned about literally tonight. If you wait too long, Charon will leave and you get killed and then punished with an especially bad pun. To get that, you'd have to be really ignorant of mythology because everyone and their grandmother knows what to do here.


Will these coins do as fare for passage?
Charon accepts the fare and waves Alexander onto the boat.

This game is still really pretty, y'all. 28 years later and it's still pretty as hell.

The large wooden gate at the end of the path is closed. Alexander reaches out to open the gate. Suddenly, the wood trembles beneath his fingertips!

What touch has awakened my sleep? I smell the blood of a mortal! Reach out thine hand again, fleshy human, that I might devour it! It has been centuries since I last ate!
Alexander decides to try and force the gate open.
That's very good, human! Come to me!

Obviously touching a hungry gate is a bad idea. So let's try talking to him instead.

I would pass, Gate. I have business with your master.
My master and thine, human! I would be pleased to introduce thee! Only step forward and thou shalt meet him shortly.
No, thank you! I come to meet the Lord of the Dead with my flesh still intact!
And why should I let you past, human, when I would much rather eat you?
I have been told that there is a way for humans to enter Death's realm. There must be something I can do; some task that will allow me to pass your doors, Gate.
Hmmm. I seem to recall something.... A trick, perhaps...a test. Hmmm. Ah, yesss.... 'Should a human try to pass, a riddle is Gate's wont to ask.'
<ahem> A riddle it is then
And if thou wouldst fail to answer Gate, his thirsty jaws will be thy fate?
Listen as though it meant thy life then, human, for it surely does:

My first is foremost legally.
My second circles outwardly.
My third leads all in victory.
My fourth twice ends a nominee.
My whole is this gate's only key.

Because of the shitty font used here, I have more than once been tripped up by hitting the wrong button. Anyway, do you remember about 12 updates back when we saw a scrap of paper in a spider's web? Do you remember that I thought it was the answer to a late-game riddle? Well this is that riddle!

Do you remember what was on the scrap of paper? If not, it's not hard to guess. The riddle is easy as fuck. If you're still stumped it's the goddamn primary theme of the game and it's drilled into your head repeatedly

My first is foremost Legally.
My second circles Outwardly.
My third leads all in Victory.
My fourth twice ends a nominEe.
My whole is this gate's only key.

The answer is 'Love.'
ARRGGH! Thou traitor of the mortal plane! How didst thou guess 'Love?' That riddle should never have been solved! Love is unknown in this realm!
Love cannot be banished even from this place! There are spirits still pining of it on the surface above. Still less can it be banished from my heart.
Enough! Burden me not with thine poetry! Pass through--and quickly, before I change my mind!

I've been killed before by clicking on the gate after he opens. Don't do that. Just walk through!

You ever get the feeling you're looking at something no mortal eyes were ever meant to see? The underworld looks like it's growing out of his throne.


King's Quest VI - Lord of the Dead

The above is not my video, but it's been up for years. You should probably watch this because Bill Ratner's narration fucking sells it. This is such an awesome scene.

Excuse me. I'd like an audience, please.
The shrouded guards escort Alexander to the throne of the Lord of the Dead.

Why have you entered my domain still wearing your flesh? If you are so anxious for Death, you might have found it easily enough in the land of the living. But, since you a re here, you are most welcome to stay. Kiss my hand, and you will be one with the spirits. There will be no pain.

Because I have to...

As though sensing Alexander's desire to touch him, the Lord of the Dead reaches out his hand. As the Lord of the Dead's hand touches his shoulder, Alexander's mind fades to blackness.

Alright, let's do this properly now.

I did not come here to die, but to demand my right of challenge! I respectfully challenge thee, Death, by throwing down this gauntlet!

He has the gauntlet!
He challenges Death!
Who are you to challenge Death?
A man of flesh is all I need to be, my lord.
And what is it that you seek with this challenge? The soul of some dead maiden?
I seek the souls of King Caliphim and Queen Allaria of the Land of the Green Isles.
You would save two human souls AND emerge alive from this realm yourself? That shall be a difficult challenge indeed. The tomb does not open its doors lightly.
Either all three of us leave, or none go.
Very well. Then let me think of an appropriate task. Ahhh. Yes. I have it now. Your challenge is this: For thousands of years I have sat upon this throne. I have heard every sad tale that can be told by human lips. I have seen tragedies that ended empires, injustices that defy reason, love that would light the very stars turn cold and hard. I have seen torments that cannot possibly be borne and yet must be--for centuries.

Make DEATH cry?
Sooner could he turn sea to stone!
Or fire to ice!

No pressure, right? First things first, let's get a little levity in the middle of this tense situation.

Alexander's heard the expression "bored to tears," but somehow, he doesn't think it would work in Death's case!

I love that line. Anyway, time to pull off Some Shit.

If your existence has been all that you say it has, then truth alone shall be my sword.

Looking in the Mirror ***CLICK THIS TRACK TOO***

The mirror's surface swirls with darkness for a moment, then fills with images even blacker. Reflections of despair, of wailing souls, of shackles colder and more immutable than any forged by man, of a world of thirsts that can never be quenched.
Alexander feels the mirror tremble in his grasp and is glad that he cannot see its face, but the Lord of the Dead is transfixed to the mirror, to the screening of his life.
Things long forgotten are once more uncovered: his enslavement to this throne while still a man; the years of watching misery and horror and growing ever more numb to it; the seep of his own humanity; the slow growth of a new thing altogether which became that which he is now. His is an existence that has no possibility of redemption, no end.
The surrounding spirits draw away in pain. The truth is so sharp, it stabs; so intense, it sears.
Take it away! Make it stop!

The Mirror Cracks

The mirror of truth cracks from the strain....

And Death sheds a single, gray tear.
Truth is, indeed, a terrible thing. I have worn this mantle for so long, I had forgotten its dreadful weight. You shall take the souls and leave, as I agreed. You have been granted a stay from this inevitable reality. I almost...envy you. Find the souls he has claimed and bring them to me.

King and Queen Reanimated

King Caliphim and Queen Allaria, I presume. Your hero has won you a few more years of mortality. May your souls be more prepared for their rest when you return.

Thank you, my lord. I hope that they will.
And you, 'man of flesh.' My steed shall take the three of you back to the land of the living. Tell her where it is you wish to go. Until we meet again, then. I assure you, we WILL meet again.
No offense, my lord, but I hope that it will be many long years from now
It is never as long as you might wish, mortal.

Before you go Alexander, there is something I want to tell you. A hero is someone who does an extraordinary and generous act of courage. One which will, or may, result in the conscious sacrifice of himself in order to protect the good of others. As you ride out of here victorious, know that you are a true hero... and that your father would be very proud.
Thank you old friend.

Now begone from this realm.
Yes, my lord.

List of Points

+1 - The black gauntlet
+1 - Stained the teacup beyond all hope
+3 - Taken to see somethin' interesting
+2 - Threw down the gauntlet
+4 -Alexander is a fucking badass

Total Points: 180/231

Register of Deaths

Bathing in the Lethe
Succumbed to Death