Part 26: Level Two: The Wrong RiverLevel Two: The Wrong River
Our new maze. Leaving the shaman toward the north takes us to the exact same place Makound would've taken us had we chosen to head toward the River of Flame first. Don't ask me how this is geographically possible given that we've come many leagues since then; the MadMaze is a strange beast.
The good news is that we can expect a relatively slow burn here for a bit, as we're on what would be the equivalent of the third maze of level two had we gone the other way. So with any luck, the two mandatory PoPs in our way won't be too terrible.
It is a beggar. He holds out his begging bowl and bows his head humbly. "Copper for a poor man, honorable?"
Well, I don't see why not. But hrm, I seem to be short on copper right now. King Carlon only gave me a bunch of gold. Will that do?
He is so astonished that, as you ride by, he says nothing, gaping at the gold. Then, he runs after you. "Honorable! Honorable! Wait!" He hands you his begging bowl. "Take this bowl. When you come to the River of a Thousand Shades, fling it into the water."
Gingerly you take the bowl from him. "I shall do as you request, old man."
He snorts. "And also, remember this: There is no god but the Mad One, and his word shall be the law."
You do not respond to this blasphemy -- there are nine gods, after all -- but your mouth tightens. The beggar notices this. "Whether or not it's true, remember it. That's what the Mad One's followers believe." You nod your head. "Now go," says the beggar, and pats your horse on its flank.
I suppose then that the next PoP will be...
I can't tell if this is pleasant or gross, which is appropriate.
That's some weird water. Hmm. Maybe there's a bridge or something upstream?
You search along the river bank for a considerable distance, but there does not seem to be any bridge, ferry, or other means across this strange river. Now what?
Well, the old beggar told us to throw his bowl in the water. I guess that constitutes the use of "magic," maybe?
Indeed, it seems this is a test of some sort. Good thing we passed it with our generosity!
You toss the bowl onto the river. Instantly, it begins to grow like a loaf of bread rising. It grows and grows until it is at least ten cubits across, large enough to hold a man and a horse comfortably. It is still round though, like a bowl; it is not, you suspect, a craft that can be easily controlled.
Even so, we can probably trust that the beggar knew what he was giving us. Let's go ahead and climb aboard.
Nothing to it. Boy, I wonder what would've happened if we hadn't done all that?
No time for that, on to the next maze!
Red walls, daytime. There're two PoPs here, and one is optional, but we don't want to miss it because it contains something we all just love to death: A puzzle!
It is as wide as a modest-sized tree and as long as ten men laid end to end. It lies before you on the desert plain. It looks as if it is trying to determine whether it should strike. "Sssssso, human," it hisses. "Approach."
I dunno about that, maybe we should stall a bit for time and see what its intentions are.
You study the creature for a time from a safe distance. It hisses and follows your movements with its glowing red eyes.
We can move in just a bit... but cautiously.
You ride a little closer. "Excssssssellent," says the serpent. "I have a quessstion or two I wisssh to asssk you."
"Yes?" you say. "And you'll kill me if I don't answer correctly, right?" You hide a yawn.
"No," says the serpent. "But ssshould you anssswer aright, I ssshall help you in your quessst."
"You know of my quest?" you ask in surprise.
"Of courssse. Franksss come through here all the time. Like that Persssephone creature." A forked tongue darts from its mouth.
"Persephone?" you say, remembering the woman Wellan sent before you to brave the Maze. "Is she still alive?"
Stupid question since we already know she is and has passed the second level, but the game doesn't know we already know this.
"Two of the men belong to a sssingle tribe; the other two men belong to different tribesss, but I do not know which tribe has two membersss. Now the Tredu always tell the truth. The Famani always lie. And the Wahoun always tell the truth and lie alternately; that is, if one ssstatement is true, the next mussst be falssse. A Wahoun can begin with either a lie or a truth, however."
Oh good, it's one of those kinds of puzzles.
Right then. How do we respond? Note that "Kill It" is a totally valid response, though it probably won't get us any clues, so perhaps try solving the puzzle instead.
Alternate Solutions & Deaths
One can give copper to the beggar as he asks instead of gold, but middling generosity will only get the line about there being no god but the Mad One. He won't give us the bowl, which puts us in a right pickle later (unless we just pretend to have it anyway; the game can't tell).
However, one can also simply ride on and ignore him.
The cheeky beggar abuses you as you ride past. "Blaggard!" he shouts. "Scoundrel! Where's your charity? Some knight you are!"
I don't have to take that kind of guff from a beggar. Prepare to die!
He's dead. Feel better? Now what?
Needless to say, this is not a wise thing to do in this instance. To discover why that is, let's go back to the River of a Thousand Shades and take a nice drink from the multicolored water.
Instantly, you know this is a mistake. Your tongue is on fire, your throat is glowing like coals, your stomach is a furnace. You fall to the river bank, clutching your belly...
Then die, naturally. Drinking weird water is probably a bad plan. You know what's an even worse plan? Wading into it.
Your horse gives an amazing shriek of pain. You turn, and it is nothing but a mauve skeleton, sinking into the river. The water is boiling around you, boiling with weirdly-patterned fish, fish with needle-pointed teeth...
So much for this route going easy on us at first.