Part 8: Level One: The Lady & The ListsLevel One: The Lady & The Lists
Morning comes, and it's time to leave the inn, crossing the nearby river and heading toward the Castle Perilous (more or less).
Mercifully, the ferry is always in, even if you don't choose to rest.
The ferryman is dour and tall. "Wish ye to travel across the river?"
We can say no, but...
"Well then," he says. He leans on his pole and waits. He's happy to wait quite as long as you want to stand there.
We can also ask him about the local mazes or tell him of our quest, but he isn't helpful:
"I know little of these things, sor," he says apologetically. "There be an inn nearby, I know of that. I ha'e little cause to leave me croft. D'ye wish to pass?
For lack of any other things to do, you bet we do.
"All right, sor." You climb into the flat-bottomed boat, and he poles out onto the river. The sun shines brightly. The river is calm. There is an occasional 'plop' as a fish jumps. You reach the other side and leave the boat.
A reminder of where we are. We've just left the two PoPs in the top right (apparently the ferryman counts as a second square, according to my mapping). We're headed to the bottom corner there, to the last PoP of this section of the maze. As before, it's not a puzzle but mostly just a waypoint and clue dispenser, so we'll need to keep going before we get to some trouble.
We could just keep going, but there's no reason for that. First, let's wash up:
The water is uncomfortably chilly. Shivering, you wrap yourself in your clothes, but you remain chilled.
Maybe we should stop and reflect for a bit before we move on, give ourselves time to warm up?
You kneel by the pool and study its waters. The scene is very beautiful, and you feel at rest.
Guess nothing's going on in this PoP. We'll grab a quick drink before we leave and-
You immediately fall into a deep sleep, and experience a vivid dream. You watch as two armies clash: one made up of knights and yeomen, led by a kingly man of fair mien; the other, led by a tight-lipped, frightened man, his army consisting of mercenaries, monstrous red-eyed wolves, and misshapen creatures. You are somehow privy to the counsel of both armies, and see the whole of the battle in a way that no single individual ever could have seen it.
When you awaken, one image says with you: the king, whom you know to be King Carlon, dragged in chains before the Usurper Timozel. "Wizards, attend!" cries Timozel. "Bind him and his army within the deepest pit below Castle Perilous!" And there is a green flash; and Carlon is gone.
We know this story already, but it's rather interesting that we've been shown it now in such detail. Could this be a vision sent by the Lady, the goddess of nature? This sort of pool is exactly the sort of place that tends to be her domain...
But there's nothing more to be done here, so we're off to the next maze!
Brown walls and daytime. This time, both PoPs are mandatory; we can't reach the second unless we pass the first. So let's do that, because I'm sure we can just skip right through.
The maze opens out into an expanse of forest. You breathe deeply of the conifer-scented air; gentle breezes caress your skin.
Seems more friendly than the Grove of Giants so far, at least. But suddenly!
At first, it seems no different from any other wood, but then you hear a distant, eerie piping. The trees are almost ethereally beautiful; platonic ideals of trees, perhaps, more than physical trees themselves. The air is electric with enchantment.
Yeah, no, let's not go following eerie piping to our doom. Leaving lets us skip right to the next part of the maze, so obviously that's what we were supposed to do, right? Next PoP!
It's never stated if that's Castle Perilous up there. Probably not due to something we'll see later.
You have never seen a knightly tournament before, but you know of them from the many romances you heard at your mother's knee. The pennants flap gaily in the wind, the brightly colored tents are pitched as far as the eye can see. With awe, you see the armored men atop their destriers, preparing for the lists.
A destrier is a warhorse bred to charge, and would be quite nice for jousting. We, of course, have no such horse.
Soon you note that all is not as chivalrous as it might seem. Peasants scurry hither and yon at knightly beck, and are soundly abused at knightly whim. One knight dumps a potion in the feed of another's mount; the treatment accorded the ladies is far from genteel.
You watch as two knights charge with lances leveled; as one passes, the other strikes a blow from behind, unhorsing his foe. Rather than crying foul, the crowd chortles its approval.
Hey, that's cheating!
You leap to the field and cry your anger at this unchivalric foul. The crowd laughs at you. A few throw peach pits. The knight dispatches his fallen foe and turns to you, knife extended.
Yikes. Hmmm. It seems we have a few options here, but let's go with the dumbest one possible and avenge this lack of decorum by enlisting ourselves!
Well, we have the dagger... uh. Don't suppose they've got a starter set?
He guffaws so hard his entire body jiggles. "Now be off with you," he says. A man at arms draws about two inches of sword out of his scabbard and glares at you menacingly.
Seems we have little choice but to enlist as we are, unarmored, with no horse, armed only with a dagger. But if we get a good first opponent...
The master shrugs. Soon, you find yourself on the tourney field, armed only with a slim dagger, as a monstrous destrier charges at you snorting, a knight in black on its back, and a lance leveled at a point between your eyes.
Oh goodie, we're facing the Black Knight.
I ain't gonna lie: This is not how we're "supposed" to clear this PoP. However, it is still possible to survive this scenario. There is an alternate solution which, while not ideal, lets us continue on with our life.
So! The question is how we survive it. Should we cut our losses and try to yield or flee, or should we try our best to fight? If we choose to fight, what is our strategy for winning, if we even have one? And are we in this merely to prove our merit, or are we trying to kill Gonzaga outright? It may be quite difficult to kill him even if we manage to get him at a disadvantage, and it'd be trivial for him to kill us if he gets even the slightest chance to. Heck, I bet that dude's sword is magical. Wish we had a magical sword, at least so the game would shut up about how badly we need one.