Part 29: Level Two: One Bazaar Encounter After AnotherLevel Two: One Bazaar Encounter After Another
I mentioned that there was something special coming up in the next maze. I might've slightly oversold it, but it is mildly interesting. Behold:
Yep, we've entered a new maze, but we've gone directly from one PoP (the beggar) into a second. This did happen once before at the inn on the first level, but that was technically within the same maze. And just what is this abrupt PoP?
The dude from Lisa is giving me the eye over there. I dunno about this place.
You come to the small city of Alphegor, where a market is in progress. Caravans from all over the desert have converged here. It is a veritable tent city. Nomad tribes for miles around have come to meet, celebrate, and purchase the wares. You are familiar with the phenomenon, if not with this particular bazaar; Weith Village has a market day each year as well.
Better not get involved with that. We're here to find a magic carpet, not cause trouble.
Striding through the bazaar, you come to a stall where magic things are sold. The canopy sparkles with pinpoints of light, and all the goods veritably shine with magic energy. "Ah, excellent Frank," says the merchant, approaching. "Seek you items of power to help you in your quest?"
Gosh, I sure do!
Inside, the stall is filled with wondrous goods, all clearly of the highest quality, all beautiful of form. The merchant offers to tell you about any item you wish.
Quite a lot of stuff on sale! We know what we want, but let's examine everything to see what the merchant says of it. Never know what other goodies might be worth grabbing.
Ring: "Ah, a fine eye you have, good sir. This magical ring has the property of rendering the wearer invulnerable to heat. Wearing it, you may walk through a wall of flames, or across the widest desert without discomfort. To activate it, you need merely say the word 'Saveet!'" And he demonstrates by wearing the ring and holding his hand over a candle.
Talisman: "Ah, you are perceptive. This is nothing less than..." his voice drops to a whisper, "the very Talisman of Chugotai." You try to ask more about it, but he holds a finger to his lips and peers out of the stall at passers-by. "We must not speak of it further."
Ewer: The ewer is ornately carved. "Superb craftsmanship," murmurs the merchant, "But it is also an object of power. Simply chant the words 'A baratak mongor!' and it will hold any liquid." He produces a glass of smoking acid; he pours a drop on a copper coin, which immediately dissolves. Then he pours the acid into the ewer, which remains unaffected.
Shield: "A fine purchase for a warrior," says the merchant approvingly. "This shield possesses a volition of its own; it leaps to interpose itself between the user and any blow." He takes it and asks you to make a few thrusts with your sword. Carefully, you do so. As Valterre leaps by itself to strike, so the shield seems to leap to stop the strike.
Carpet: "Ah!" says the merchant, displaying the weave. "Sookara pattern. A magnificent furnishing. But more: It can transport you on the winds." He sits on it, chants, "Mobles Mebles Mimbles," and flits about the tent for a moment or two.
Saddlebag: "What would you like to eat?" says the merchant. "I beg your pardon?" "Think of something -- anything." You remember the sausages sold in Weith's market square and mention them to the merchant. He reaches into the saddlebag and draws one out. It is delicious. "Simply think of any dish you wish, and it will appear within the saddlebags. You need never worry about provisions again."
Lamp: He leans close and says confidentially, "A djinn lies within. Simply polish the lamp... NO! Not here. There are regulations we must follow at the bazaar. Thank you. Take it out to the desert, polish it, and the djinn of the lamp will appear." "And then what?" "It will grant you three wishes, of course," says the merchant.
Flute: It is made all of gold and silver. "Truly it is said," says the merchant, "that music soothes the savage breast. It is especially true when the music is produced by this magical flute. Simply use it to play 'Thou Art My Sun, My Moon,' and any beast -- be it lyon, dragon, or what have you -- will be soothed." He demonstrates, and you have to admit that the music is soothing.
Wow! So much stuff that sounds useful. We still need some way to carry the "water of Flame" that the shaman wanted, which would suggest the ewer, but the Tercelid soldier sure said we'd need a magic carpet to cross the mountains ahead... No real point in being prepared for the river if we can't even get there. But boy, that shield and saddlebag seem good, to say nothing of the guy having the actual Talisman of Chugotai!
You ask the merchant about prices and realize that, although Carlon gave you a sizable purse, you have enough money to buy only one of these fantastical goods. Which do you choose?
Regardless, let's buy something and be on our way.
"A very wise choice," says the merchant, counting your coins. "May it serve you in good stead." You ride off into the desert. Some miles away, you take out your newfound purchase to study it once more. It no longer seems so attractive. That sense of magic is gone. It is shopworn and dull. Desperately you test it... and its magical properties seem to have vanished.
Oops. We've been scammed! Well, we don't have to take that. Let's go back to the bazaar and give that guy what for.
You wander the bazaar for hours, but the merchant's stall seems to have vanished. Weary and bitter, you depart.
Of course it would be one of those magical item shops that disappears. I guess we did something wrong. Maybe if we were to go back to the beggar and then return to the bazaar to reset everything...
Remember that boy being harassed? Let's actually do something to save him this time.
"Leave the boy alone," you say, drawing the Sword Valterre.
The men study your blade. It is glinting strangely; any fool can see it is a weapon of power.
"Mind your own business, Frank," growls one of the men.
We could just kill them, but they have to know that we're heavily armed and have a magic sword. Maybe if we push them a little we can get them to back down without a fight.
You hold your sword aloft. "This is the Sword Valterre, the most powerful magic blade in all the land. It could take your head clean off. Do you feel lucky?" Suddenly the Atarri men have disappeared.
"Thank you, good sir," says the boy, smiling at you. "How can I repay you?"
"Be my guide," you suggest. "This place is strange to me." Quickly, he agrees. He takes you down a narrow alley between canopied stalls to a rude tent made of threadbare cloth. An ancient, gnarled man sits within, surrounded by dusty, shop-worn goods.
"This is the real thing," the boy mutters to you.
"This?" you say. You shake your head, it seems unbelievable.
And yet, everything in the first shop looked wondrous and wasn't. Maybe the boy is on to something.
"What do you want?" quavers the ancient man querolously. "I have no time for fools."
Boy, that's a Vancian turn of phrase if I ever read one. "Querolous" means petulant or whiny. The old guy doesn't exactly have the best sales style. And yet...
"Good my sir," you say. "I am a knight of Carlon King..."
No, I didn't typo anything there, either that's an archaic grammar structure or our character had a case of heatstroke brain going on.
"Never mind all that," says the gnarled man. "I have only two items that I will sell you."
"What?" you say. There are dozens, perhaps hundreds of things in the shop. "What of all these?"
"They are not for you," says the old man. "There is a carpet you may have; and a jug."
"And the price?"
If he's trying to scam us, he's not doing a very good job of it. May as well buy both of them, if they are what I suspect them to be.
"The carpet may be used only once," says the old man. "Simply unfurl it and say 'Na Namblor Voyant!' -- and it will take you where you wish to go. Thereafter, it will be nothing more than a rug." You take the rug, and the old man produces the jug as well. "This jug may hold any liquid, even a substance that would destroy a lesser vessel. But before you use it, you must chant this phrase: 'Y Feuvet Mandimal.'"
Humbly, you thank the merchant and go. You wander the bazaar for a time, but nothing else catches your eye. Before you leave to continue your quest, the boy thanks you profusely for your aid.
Of course, it's hard to tell if we've made the right decision here, as there's no proof that the second shop is any more real in its wares than the first. At worst we might just have a dusty old rug and an empty clay jug. Still, I suppose it'll be worth a try in the mountains that are said to be coming up, and if we ever do get to the River of Flames, we can at least try out the jug.
Alternate Solutions & Deaths
There are a couple alternate paths in this one. There's a small bit of text if you decide that the fancy shop is more eye-catching than the one the boy leads you to:
You return to the first shop, where the goods looked far superior. Disgusted, the boy abandons you.
But that's not especially interesting. Instead, let's try killing the men harassing the boy.
You run one through. The others draw curved, wicked-looking knives and assault you. But the Sword Valterre is too fast for them. They tumble to the ground, bleeding into the dust of the market. The crowd around you scatters. There is a sudden hush in the bazaar.
"Thank you," gasps the boy. "But you must flee now."
"Why?" you say.
"The Tercelid garrison," he says. "They will come to enforce the peace."
"But they were ill treating you..."
"Still," he says, "you are a foreigner, and six men are dead."
At this point if we don't flee right away, the garrison is exactly what we'll encounter.
"I do not shirk from combat," you say. The boy shakes his head and disappears into the crowded alleys of the market. It is not long before a squad of Tercelid soldiers arrives, bearing staves, swords, and bows. "Frank," they say. "Surrender to the khan's justice."
Fleeing still lets you get away at this point, but choosing to surrender or fight will end unpleasantly. Surrender, for example, doesn't garner the mercy one might expect:
But fighting isn't exactly any better:
The game punishes you for being excessively violent in a crowded public space. Go figure, right?