Part 3: Wherein Zanthia Smells a RatA little late, but here it is!
Last time, we got re-introduced to Zanthia and started poking around her swamp, eventually running into into a fairy ferry that could take us to Morningmist, our next destination. Unfortunately, we lack the means to pay Brueth the ferryman for passage, and are told to conjure up some gold with our alchemic powers. We also recovered an old grimoire containing spells of questionable utility, such as "Snowman, Regular" and "Skeptic Spell", but nothing to make gold, and at any rate all the spells require access to a cauldron, which we don't have. There's still a lot of swamp left to explore, though, so hope is not yet lost.
To the west of the ferry is a crossroads in the swamp, with some glowy eyes peering from the shadows.
Getting hold of feathers has become drastically easier since last we set foot in Kyrandia.
Any golden eggs in that nest?
The next screen over is a huge pool of quicksand. I really like the look of this room, by the way. The environment artists working on this game really did a great job making the rooms look great.
Why doesn't the sign sink?
Mystery for the ages, Zanthia. Maybe the quicksand isn't as quick as it looks?
I think the secret with quicksand is to run across it quickly. This looks firm enough to support my weight...
What do you know, it works. And here I thought we had to solve a complicated puzzle to get across.
Well... hey, Zanthia was right. Technically.
So that's our first death. In true classic adventure game fashion, we have no choice but to reload an old save. Nothing's changed on this front since the first gamethe death screen itself even looks the same as it did in the first game. Let's quickly reload and see if there's any other way across the quicksand. Maybe we can push that tree over?
Hmm... must be a magic tree. I can't tip it over.
If only it were that simple. No doubt we will need to engage in a long, tedious fetch quest involving birthstones, dark mazes and who knows what else.
I knew it would be easy.
... or the problem can just resolve itself. That works too. We can cross the quicksand now. On the way, let's have a look at whatever it is that skeletal hand is holding.
Of course. What else would it be? Moving on...
Grr, grr, grr. I've heard it all before, pal.
Hey, a cute little crocodile buddy! Let's pet him!
I can't help myself.
I like living dangerously.
Let's pet him again!
Crocodiles 1, frogs 0.
So that's two deaths in one update, and we're only two updates in. We're well on track towards beating Brandon at this rate. Okay, let's reload. There is something of great importance in this screen too, and it's not the crocodile. Do you see it?
Too small to make portal potions, but at least it's something.
Stashed inside another hollow tree is more of our stolen equipment! This is the cauldron. With this, we can cook up the recipes from our spellbook and make potions. Almost every item can be tossed into the cauldron; doing that permanently destroys the item. Once you've put the right items into the cauldron, the contents will change color, indicating that you can scoop out a potion using any empty flask you happen to have on you. Many puzzles in this game are solved this way. Of course, finding the right ingredients can be a puzzle in itself, and the same goes for the right way to use the resulting potion. We can reset the contents of the cauldron at any time, as well as get infinite flasks of water by using flasks on the empty cauldron.
Now that we've got our spellbook and cauldron, we could start mixing up some potions... sadly, there's still no potion for making gold, at least not that we know of. We could stay here and hassle the crocodile some more, but that's likely to just result in us dying again. Let's check out the area to the north.
Looks like this swamp came with the deluxe hot spring package.
I wonder if a golden rock would fool Brueth?
What are you talking about, Zanthia? Where would we get a golden rock?
Oh, look at that. It's not gold, though; it's a chunk of yellow sulfur (also known as brimstone). Fragrant, for sure, but I don't think it's going to fool Brueth. We can pick up some hot spring water, but we don't have any real reason to and it'll rapidly cool as we move to other rooms anyhow, becoming regular old plain water.
Our next stop is just to the north of this crossroads we came across earlier.
A quaint little shack built into the middle of a tree. Looks kind of cozy from out here, actually. Wait... that bush... is that...?
Augh, it is! This bush is bristling with our old nemeses from the first game: fireberries. Their presence in this game is an ill omen. We'd better pick some up while we can, just in case we run across another godforsaken hellhole. Unfortunately, trying to pick them up just burns our hand; the berries are too hot to pick.
Is there some way to cool it off?
Well, we've got this flask of lukewarm water. Will that do?
No kidding. It seems the developers were aware just how awful the fireberry maze in the first game turned out to be. Nevertheless, they managed to do another near-complete 180 in the third game... but we'll cover that when we get there. This fireberry turns out to be an "everglowing" fireberry and will never go out, unlike the ones from the first game. We can eat the berry, but doing so has no interesting effects. All right, if we're done out here, let's go into that house.
Good grief, this swamp is positively infested. This warty fellow is Herb, proprietor of a shack filled to the brim with frogs and a pile of random garbage that would put any adventurer's inventory to shame.
Video: Herb (Youtube)
Music: Herb's Shack (Tindeck)
Why do you ask?
I have to pay Brueth for the ferry ride.
I don't have any.
Oh, of course the frogs can talk.
Yeah, yeah, the Lost Treasure!
... what's this about a treasure? We like treasure.
Do you know where the treasure is?
I've never seen it.
Yeah, yeah, buried.
Boy, that sounds like a lot of work...
Treasure it is, then.
Where should I look?
Your guess is as good as mine.
Maybe it's buried in the Sulfur Springs!
The game has a problem with spelling certain words consistently, like sulfur/sulphur. At any rate, we were just there, and there wasn't any treasure there, unless you count the vaguely yellow-ish rock we found. Still, maybe these frogs know something else about this treasure?
Aren't you Faun's friend?
Aren't you afraid of warts?
Nope. There's a lonely-looking stool sitting on a box between the other two frogs. Let's steal it.
... before he croaked.
Of course. The utility of tiny furniture is dubious, but I guess we'll just cram it in with the rest of the random junk we're carrying around. Speaking of which, how about that flask?
Sure. There's flasks lying all over this country.
Go ahead, take it.
Yeah, yeah, take it.
Wow, if you're in a giving mood, how about uh, that sack?
No one seems to be complaining. Man, there is a lot of junk in here.
Nobody stole any of his stuff... I can't blame them.
Yeah, our inventory is filling up quick. Where the first game was fairly minimalistic and most items were useful for one puzzle or another (with a few notable exceptions covered at the end of the previous LP), Hand of Fate is full of items that have no use at all and are just there to widen the space of potential solutions. It does encourage you to actually think about the puzzles you're presented with, rather than quickly resort to rubbing every item in your inventory against every other item you come across.
We're done on the left side of the swamp for now.
As expected, trying to bribe Brueth with the sulfur rock is pointless. Let's check out the east side.
A nice view of the mountains in the distance, and two dorks in a rowboat. Uh, you guys doing okay there? Your boat is more water than... boat.
You're making too much noise.
What bait are you using?
No bait, huh. Well, good luck with that, I suppose. We've got important questing to do. Onwards to the east.
What a bizarre affliction! Kyrandia is disappearing right before my eyes!
Better hurry up. That anchorstone ain't gonna find itself.
Oh, great. It's Marko. Remember? The guy with the hand?
Video: Marko (Youtube)
I'm getting to be quite a good magician.
I'm sure the kids at your next birthday party will be very impressed.
Yes, because if there is one thing that would improve our lives it would be having a creepy giant animated hand following us around everywhere.
Yeah, Marko, that's great. Where is your hand anyway?
Oh, he's around here somewhere. He seems to really enjoy hiking in the swamp.
Speak of the devil.
Hello, Mr. Hand. Are you enjoying your hike?
I'd love to stay and chat, but someone has stolen my equipment. I have to walk down to the center of the world to get one of those anchor stones.
Personally, I blame Faun. That little jerk is up to nothing good, I tell you.
There has to be something in that cave.
Well, why not go check it out? First, let's talk some more with Marko. Maybe he has something else, more insightful to say.
Can we help?
Do you have any gold?
Nope. Marko is useless.
Please, let us help you.
I'll get it done myself, thank you though.
This onion is more useful than Marko. Into the pile of crap it goes. Shall we go see what's in the cave?
Music: Swamp Cave (Tindeck)
Some swamp water, a chasm, and a foul-smelling rodent. I wonder what he's got to say.
Video: Swamp Rat (Youtube)
Hey! Don't sneak up on me like that!
Okay pal, out of the way.
I'm comfortable where I am...
Is there any treasure back there?
Why should I tell you?
Yep. Definitely treasure.
Move aside, mister. I'm in a hurry.
It's not coming across in text, but Zanthia's sounding frustrated and annoyed in the above line.
Last chance, or I'll...
We'll... we'll... okay, yeah, we don't really have anything to threaten the guy with, unless he really, really hates onions. But there's got to be treasure back there, right? We need to get past this guy somehow.
We've seen almost every location in the swamp now, and yet we're no closer to getting our butts to Morningmist. Nevertheless, we have everything we need to start solving some puzzles. We'll tackle that next time. In the meantime, see if you can figure out what we need to do to solve our little rat conundrum. I'll give you a hint: it involves our newly-recovered spellbook and potion, and we have almost every item we need already.