Part 31: Level Two: The Burning RiverLevel Two: The Burning River
The last maze on the River Route loops on itself, but both PoPs are mandatory. It's also possible to leave from here to elsewhere, by multiple means, which is important if one comes here before meeting the shaman on the Temple Route.
The first PoP is something of a... last chance.
As you approach the caravan, a merchant greets you. "Welcome, oh welcome, Frankish lord!" he says. "Welcome to Friendly Achmed's Caravan of Fabulous Goods at Low, Low Prices! I perceive that thou art an adventurer, in dire need of items fantastical, magic, and rare. Well, thou needst look no further! Everything that thou canst possibly desire is to be found here! Everything needed to complete that pesky epic quest, or rescue that imperiled damsel."
I gotta admit, Achmed's got a good sales pitch. Too bad I've already met one shady magic item merchant already on this quest.
No harm in at least looking at his wares, though.
I swear I've seen all this before, but what the hey, tell us about 'em.
Jug: "A remarkable item!" exclaims Friendly Achmed. "It can hold any substance, from the most virulent of acids to molten gold. It can even, when properly enchanted, hold the waters of the legendary River of Flame, located not too far from this place."
Lamp: "A djinn is imprisoned within this lamp! You need but rub the item, and the djinn will appear to do your bidding!"
Ring: "Aha!" says Achmed. "A wise selection, for this is the fabled Ring of Solomon, which renders any who wears it themselves wise..."
Book: "Interesting," says the merchant. "This is the 'Ravings,' the divine volume penned by the Mad One himself. Anyone who bears it is rendered magically pious, regardless of his actual beliefs."
Saddlebag: "A very useful item," says Achmed. He puts his hand into the bag and pulls out a plate bearing steamed mutton and rice. "You need merely think of a dish, and it will appear! Never worry about cooking or supplies again!"
Should we choose to buy anything but the jug, we'll be ripped off again.
You haggle for a while. Eventually, Achmed trades you the item for a sapphire that Carlon gave you. You know that knights are supposed to have no concern for crass mercantile considerations; but the peasant in you is uneasily certain that you've been taken.
But should we buy the jug, surprisingly enough, we get what we pay for, at least after seeing the same text about feeling ripped off.
Achmed leans close. "Before you fill the jug with liquid, you must chant a spell," he says, "Else, strong acid or flames will destroy it. You must but chant 'Y Feuvet Mandimal,' and the jug is rendered invulnerable." You thank the merchant.
Perceptive readers will note that's the same spell as the old man at the bazaar gave us, so this does indeed work as an alternate way of "acquiring" the jug.
Anyway, just one PoP left on the River Route, and so at long last we arrive at...
That sure doesn't look like water.
There are a lot of choices here, but first let's take a look up and downstream just to make sure we don't miss anything.
You come to a bridge over the River of Flames.
I believe if you take this bridge it puts you on the Temple Route, or at least it's supposed to. If it doesn't, I'm not sure what you're supposed to do except brute force your way to the shaman. Anyway we're not going to be doing that, so let's use one of our many magical jugs here to grab some "water."
Now this is an easy way to screw yourself, sort of. Dipping first results in a terse You no longer have an empty jug. Praying won't help either, though I'm not sure how it fails to help as MadMaze-II is a bit bugged and will crash if you try to pray to any of the gods. So that leaves casting a spell first, and we know the spell we need is Y Feuvet Mandimal.
You chant your spell -- and the jug glows with an eerie cyan light. You dip it into the river -- and the jug is miraculously unharmed. You peer into the spout, and see burning liquid within. Hurriedly, you insert the cork (which also glows) to stopper the jug. Now what?
All we can do at this point is leave or chant another spell. Leaving is bad; the game won't remember we have the water, so it essentially causes us to lose it without our actually losing it. Unfortunate, since if the game did remember at least one could get the water now and then present it to the shaman when he's finally encountered. No such luck, so we must chant A Fimbator Baragon in order to return to him.
The world goes gray. You feel yourself hurtling through space... And then you are...
You present the jug of flaming water to the shaman. He is beside himself with joy. "At last. You have proven yourself worthy, so I shall tell you what you wish to know. To enter the secret chamber of the Twisted Temple, you must approach the djinn who guards it, and say: From the desert I come to thee / On a stallion shod with fire / And the winds are left behind / In the speed of my desire." Thanking the shaman, you take your leave.
And mercifully, we're back in the Twisted Temple maze, so it's no trouble to zip right back there and head down to the basement to talk to the djinn.
Lest we forget what it looked like.
First, we say From the desert I come to thee.
"On a stallion shod with fire," says the djinn. "And the next line?"
That'd be And the winds are left behind.
"With the force of my desire," says the djinn. He stands aside and the bronze door swings open.
Probably unwise to tell him that he messed up the last line at this point, but hey, we're through.
Inside is a small chamber, carved from the living rock. Ahead, a narrow passage leads toward daylight... luckily for you, since the massive bronze door clangs shut behind you. Against one wall is a copper plate, worked into the shape of a scroll; and engraved on it, in fine lines, is a diagram:
The tunnel leads out into the light of day and a new minimaze...
And with that, we are finally free of the River of Flames and Twisted Temple! Now we're back on track, on a single path to the Citadel of Osmet Khan. You know, that place we were trying to get to from the very beginning.
Worth noting that if you're metagaming and already know the solution, you can just head to the Temple Route straightaway, beeline here, and leave for the final route. You need nothing from the River Route except information, and it's entirely optional to deal with the shaman if you know the passphrase for the djinn. For all those in the MadMaze speedrunning scene, I guess.
Alternate Solutions & Deaths
Instead of paying Friendly Achmed, we could always just threaten him if he doesn't give us the item we want.
No matter what, it says "take jug," which I guess is a hint as to which item does something.
You draw Valterre and slice the merchant through the gizzard. "So die all frauds," you say. You ready to defend yourself against the merchant's guards and drovers -- but, miraculously, the caravan disappears when he dies. You search through the sands; all that remain are numerous lumps of coal and a jug, which you take.
Doing this is not, however, a good idea, as it gives you a jug but not the magic needed to make it work.
The River of Flames understandably has a few ways to screw up or die, most of them kind of obvious. So obvious, in fact, that the game will actually give you a Yes/No prompt as to whether you want to do it.
C'mon you big wimp, let's go swimming!
With a mighty heave, you hurl yourself, your horse, and your possessions into the River of Flame... Whereupon, everything is instantly reduced to cinders.
Okay, so that's... kind of obvious. As is the result of trying to take a drink.
It is not a pretty death. At last, you stop twitching.
Don't drink from rivers that are on fire, kids!
Finally, we once more have the option to chant "A Fimbator Baragon" before the game actually wants us to, which leads us back to the shaman but with a slightly different outcome.
"What?" screams the shaman in rage. "You fool! You were at the River of Flames, and you did not obtain the water I seek? Get out of my tent!" And he drives you from it with blows.
Should we decide we don't want to take that guff, we can once more fail to actually kill him too:
Offended by the shaman's manner, you draw your sword and attack him... Contemptuously, he waves his hand. The yurt and the shaman disappear. There is nothing about you but the desert.