Part 16: Level One: Castle Perilous, ValterreLevel One: Castle Perilous, Valterre
As noted, Tostien advised us that a magical blade could be found at the highest point in the Castle Perilous. There's only one obvious way to go "up," so it's off to the spiral stairs to hopefully not be tricked and murdered.
Hrm. Well, saying "open sesame" is obviously wrong, because that's just stupid, so let's try knocking the door down.
The door is rock solid. You bruise your shoulder.
Well shit, open sesame then.
The door swings open. You marvel at the foolishness of men who will go to great lengths to protect their treasure rooms with magical spells, and then use such obvious passwords. You peer within. Gold and gems! Chalices and precious brocades! More gold and gems! Jewelry and bars of gold and vials of elven wine! There's also a sword in the corner.
At this point we could try to stuff our pockets with loot, but I think that's the magic sword Tostien mentioned and I'd feel a lot more comfortable if we were wielding it.
You pick up the sword and a feeling of strength and well-being passes through you. You study the jewelled hilt, and know that this is the famous sword of Good King Carlon: the Sword Valterre, that slew the Daimon of Mogroy; that Mishegoce took to his death in the Varnish Wars. That you can hold it says that it accepts you as its wielder. With fortitude, you turn and leave behind the worthless baubles that fill the treasure chamber. Onward, to find King Carlon!
That returns us to the same nine-direction-nexus that we started from, but it's actually a different room with a completely identical description, which is as close as this game gets to having a "flag" set; I'll go over this more below, but the other routes we could take have very different outcomes depending on whether or not we've got Valterre in our corner. Now, however, it's time to find King Carlon and his knights, and we know they're sleeping "below" Castle Perilous. That suspicious pit seems like the most obvious location, don't you think?
Nonchalantly, you walk to the metal ladder and begin to descend. When you're a dozen feet down, a screaming person falls past you and into the depths of the pit. There's a roar, another scream, and then a wet, contented slurp.
Scared but determined, you leap from the ladder to the floor below. You can make out a monstrous form, a hexapod with huge pincers and a sting. Clacking its mandibles hungrily, it advances toward you.
The Sword Valterre leaps to your hand. Despite the aid of your enchanted blade, you know that you only have one chance. Once the monster gets its claws on you, you're dead. You must strike hard at a vulnerable spot.
So, this must be the monster Ogrok. We have the means to kill it, but now we need the knowledge. Where do we strike to slay this horrid beast?
Alternate Solutions & Deaths
This section is quite long, as there's a ton to cover in two separate iterations of the Castle Perilous. We've visited only those places we needed to go in order to succeed (if we guess right on Ogrok, our triumph is assured), but there's a whole lot of castle to examine.
First, let's jump into Ogrok's pit without the Sword Valterre. I'm sure this'll cause us no trouble whatsoever.
Perhaps you have made an error in choosing the pit. Before you can do anything about it, however, a giant chitinous claw reaches up, fumbles along the sides of the pit, and grabs you.
We are now given the option to scream or manfully meet our doom.
Scream: Like the craven peasant that you are, you scream and whimper as the monster consumes you. It enjoys it. It likes noisy prey.
Don't: Valorously you refrain from crying out as the monster's jaws crush the life from your body. Ogrok is disappointed. He prefers prey that whimpers a little as it dies.
So yes, death either way. There's an amusing coda to dying in this PoP that we'll now see either way:
You're dead. However, before your spirit departs the terrestrial plane, it searches out a likely looking youth from your home village and whispers all the spells you know in his ear. Then it goes and has a longer conversation with Elder Wellan. Guess who Wellan chooses to brave the MadMaze next.
This raises more questions than it answers. So instead, let's go down by way of some stairs instead of Ogrok's pit.
Bluff: Without even looking up from his scroll, he waves you past.
Attack: "Yah hah!" you scream, and leap across the landing. He looks up from his scroll with a puzzled expression just before he dies. There don't seem to be any keys on his body.
You walk down the corridor. To either side are barred cells. Haggard men and women in miserable rags beg you to free them.
Regrettably, we lack the keys, so all we can ask is where the king is.
The miserable prisoners fall silent. "You seek King Carlon?" one quavers. "Yes," you reply. The wretch shakes his head sadly. "He lies in no common dungeon, but in the pit which Ogrok guards." "Ogrok?" "The voracious one," he shudders. "I cannot describe him, for none has seen him and lived. It is said he eateth heroes for his noontime repast. With onions and relish."
Yes well, have you any useful information about Ogrok?
"Well, now," says the prisoner. "In the Dragon Era, 'tis said that Ogrok consumed many fair maidens, and when he was really hungry some not so fair. But a vagabond warrior, Swift by name, heard of this thing, and swore by the nineteen gods (there were more in those days, you understand)..."
We can leave now, but if we don't do so...
Boots crash down the corridor. Startled, you turn to see a squad of soldiers marching toward you. You flee, but there is no other exit from the dungeon. The soldiers surround you. "What's all this then," says a grizzled veteran. "You're not of our garrison! A spy, belike! At him, lads!"
This is where we'd end up captured... unless we have Valterre. Then things turn out a little bit different.
But that's all we can do in the dungeons. Back to the nexus and let's check out the courtyard!
Should we choose to exit the castle via the gate... strangely enough, we totally can.
"Right-ho," says the guard. He unbars the massive wooden door and motions you through it. You hear him barring it behind you. You are outside again.
And if you're curious, should Valterre be with us, we instead get a message with the same text but a bit extra:
With a 'pop,' the Sword Valterre disappears. You have a feeling it was severely disappointed in you. Perhaps you should have made an effort to rescue King Carlon.
Either way, we end up outside in the maze and end up having to start all over, but at least we know how to get Valterre back without incident.
Let's check out those well-guarded double doors next, shall we?
Perhaps if we're insistent about it?
One of the soldiers throws an arm about your shoulders. "Listen, lad. 'Tis orders. Nae one is to disturb His Mightiness." You notice that a grizzled veteran has joined you at the door. He is peering in puzzlement at you.
Should we keep insisting, we'll be captured if we lack Valterre and flip out and murder everyone if we have it. But let's dial it back and attack first both with and without Valterre, as all these violent options lead us to the same eventual place.
Without Valterre: You plunge your dagger into the guard's throat. There's a sudden silence in the chamber as everyone realizes what you've done. Then, weapons rasp as they're drawn from their sheathes. Soldiers and fanged creatures run toward you. Desperately, you fling the massive double doors open, and throw yourself into the room beyond.
With Valterre: With the sword Valterre, you slay the guard. There's a sudden silence in the chamber as everyone realizes what you've done. Then, weapons rasp as they're drawn from their sheathes. Soldiers and fanged creatures run toward you. Desperately, you fling the massive double doors open, and throw yourself into the room beyond.
No matter which way we decided to bust into Timozel's throne room, everything comes to the same end:
Chalk that up as a limitation of Valterre: It doesn't work very well if something can kill us before we're able to get within stabbing range.
So going after Timozel directly... not the best idea. Let's try that smaller door.
Without Valterre: You go through the small door. On the other side is a small, well-lit room with bedrolls and possessions strewn haphazardly about the floor. There are at least a dozen soldiers in the room. Several sit at a table playing cards. They all stare at you. "'Sblood! I've not seen him in the garrison before," says one. "A spy!" shouts another. In a trice, they have you down on the floor.
With Valterre: Exactly the same, except the final line is In a trice, you vanquish them and return back the way you came.
That went nowhere. How about that large window?
You climb up to the window and peer out. Far below, you can see waves breaking against the shore. Are you sure you want to do this?
Strangely, this has a wildly different and more negative outcome if we have Valterre.
Without Valterre: You climb out the window and plummet dozens of feet toward the sea. Luckily, you land in the ocean and not on the beach. The water cushions your fall. You're outside the castle again.
With Valterre: You climb out the window and plummet dozens of feet toward the sea. You are unlucky, and fall to your death on the rocks below.
Go figure, there's one outcome that actually kills us if we do have the sword. Considering it can just vanish at will, that's a weird thing to have happen. Guess it doesn't like to swim?
Let's try the archway.
Should we complain about the food, we again have two outcomes:
Without Valterre: "I've had enough of your lip," he screams, grabs a massive carving knife, and charges you. In dismay, you prepare to defend yourself. Your puny dagger is no match for the trollish chef. You soon find yourself chopped into serving pieces, lightly breaded, and fried in lard.
With Valterre: He still charges us, but... Your arm moves seemingly of its own volition. You realize that the Sword Valterre is guiding your swordplay; it is wielding you more than you it. With a mighty stroke, you cleave the troll in twain, from his pate to his carbuncles. He falls to the ground, but manages to gasp out a few last words: "Meatloaf tonight..." You are alone in the kitchen.
Everybody's gonna be pretty pissed. Not that we murdered the chef, I mean, but meatloaf again?
One last doorway to check, the open one:
You open the door. A dozen fanged monsters lie on the other side. "Lunchtime" says one, displaying his fangs. "Nah nah," says another. "It's one of the soldiers, we'd get in trouble."
We can leave, or attack. The outcome is of course quite different depending on our available weaponry.
Without Valterre: You charge the trolls. One of them picks you up and plucks your dagger from your hand. "Har har har," he says. "Goodie," says another. "Lunchtime."
With Valterre: The Sword Valterre goes snicker-snack. In moments, the trolls are chopped into bite-sized chunks. There is no other exit from this room.
Right, and that's about it for murdering the entirety of the Castle Perilous (sans Timozel and his wizards, regrettably).
Now suppose we'd decided to take a quick break to grab the loot in the treasure room instead of taking up Valterre?
You're rich! You're rich! You're wealthy beyond the dreams of avarice! For about two minutes, anyway. Then there's a tromp of boots from down the corridor. Before you can grab the sword, a squad of soldiers come charging in and attack.
And then it's off to jail. So close, and yet so far!
Oh, and one last thing. What if we try going back to the treasure room after we've acquired Valterre?
You make for the stairs, but your steps are slowed. You find you cannot climb them. You hear a gentle chiding in your thoughts. "Nay, thou hast chosen the path of heroes. Such baubles are not for thee." You struggle for the stairs, but something is controlling your body. You cannot go that way. You cannot cast the sword aside. Valterre won't let you.
So there may be one tiny downside to having a heroically intelligent magical sword.