Part 35: Level Two: My Cousin Is A Blacksmith, In FactLevel Two: My Cousin Is A Blacksmith, In Fact
As the reasoning has it, Attila is the Tercelid warrior most recently eaten by the dragon.
"By similar analysis, Tamburlane and Jenghiz must both be merchants. I ate a warrior; hence, the last remaining man, Attila, is my latest meal."
"You won," says the dragon grumpily, "so I'm obliged to tell you something to help you in your quest. So I'll tell you this: The Tercelidae have no taste for wine."
We can complain that this isn't a lot of help.
"This is supposed to help me on my quest? Are you kidding, or what?"
"I have fulfilled my bargain!" howls the dragon. "Now begone!" A jet of flame issues from his mouth and sets a nearby bush on fire.
I suppose that's as good as we're going to get. Out of here then, to the next maze!
Another oddly misshapen map, for whatever reason. No choices to be made here; this maze, and the one beyond it, have only mandatory PoPs.
You come across a city in the desert. This place is immense! It's far larger than any town you have ever seen before. You marvel at its hugeness and the height of its walls, at the tremendous size of the buildings. They must be at least two hundred feet tall! And at least a thousand people must live here! It is astonishing.
Our plucky peasant hero, wildly underestimating population sizes. At any rate, we can pass the city by, but why would we?
Note that for some reason I don't understand, in this PoP a slightly different font size and spacing than every other bit of text in the game comes into usage. Not sure why.
"O Frank," he says, "word of your prowess and chivalry has flown on wings across the desert. We beg of you, warrior; we beg you to help us."
"What is the matter?" you ask.
Voices rise again. "The whirlwind!" shouts one. "The Vizier Aboud!" "Cursed be his name," shout several, and others spit on the ground in disgust.
"Our city of Sunit depends on trade," explains the well-dressed man. "It lies at the meeting point of two caravan routes. But the evil Vizier Aboud" -- several people spit again -- "has destroyed us!"
"We sheltered a force of the Sons of the Desert, the valiant warriors who seek the overthrow of that slaughterer, Osmet Khan" -- more spitting here -- "and, in punishment, Aboud summoned a whirlwind."
There's no whirlwind anywhere I can see.
"Not here," says the man, "but in the maze to our north, where it blocks our most important route of trade! Our grain comes down that road, from distant lands. If it is not unblocked, we will surely starve before many months pass."
I have a feeling the whirlwind is blocking our path to Osmet Khan's palace anyway, so we may as well agree to help.
"I will do what I can," you say.
"Then we are surely saved," say the townsmen in relief. The crowd begins to drift off, convinced that its problems rest in capable hands.
"But how am I to remove a whirlwind, set in place by Aboud's magic? I am a warrior, not a wizard; and I fear an enchanted blade will have scant effect against a breeze."
The well-dressed man pats you on the arm. "You will find a way," he says with satisfaction, "for are you not a hero?"
Alright, but is that all you can tell us?
"Does anyone else know aught of this?" you ask. The people mumble and look at each other, but none answers your question.
Where would I find his lamp?
"Aboud must have it still," says a woman sadly, and none disagrees with her.
"Then how am I to reverse the spell?" you wonder.
"We are not wise in the ways of magicians," says an old man humbly. "How are we to know?"
"Wait!" says a boy excitedly. "What about Timbir, that old wizard!"
"No wizard he," scoffs a woman. "Just an old man who lives alone." The boy's face falls.
I mean, it's the only lead we have at this point. Tell me about the guy.
"That crazy old hermit?" shrugs the well-dressed man. "I doubt he can help. But visit him if you wish; he lives in a cave, not far from the whirlwind itself."
How convenient. That's all anybody in Sunit has for us, so we'll head off to the next PoP for lack of anything else to do.
I'll say, it was just as bleak the last time we saw it!
No sense being too violent right away. Perhaps we can speak with it?
"Well met, oh troll," you say courteously. "How goes things?"
"Go... go away," it says crudely.
"Can you tell me of this maze?" you ask. "Or some tidbit of information to help me in my quest?"
"Go away!" it shouts. "Or Mattar kill!
That's an ironic name, but I'm not convinced yet. Let's get closer.
You ride toward the monster slowly, trying not to frighten it. But it becomes frightened anyway. It backs up several paces, then gets a grip on itself. It stands firm. "Stop!" it says. "Go away! Stop! Or Mattar kill!"
You continue forward, making soothing noises. The troll backs up again, then, overcome by fear and hatred for you, it charges, howling its anger.
This was self-defense, okay? Everybody saw it, I didn't start this.
Down comes Valterre in a mighty swing, and opens a deep wound in the monster's shoulder. It bellows in pain and sinks fangs into the flank of your horse. Your mount whinnies but does not shy. You circle for another stroke. The troll reaches clawed hands for you, to drag you from your mount -- but you put Valterre cleanly through an eye. With a gurgle, the monster topples to the ground and lies unmoving.
Something isn't right here. That troll was acting strange, almost as if he was guarding something. And as we happen to know from meta-knowledge, Aboud can transmogrify people into trolls. I wonder... maybe we should look for its lair.
You continue past the troll's corpse, and find, in a wooded copse, a cave -- the monster's lair, which it apparently was defending with its life. And in the cave, you find...
Please don't be baby trolls and make me feel guilty.
Score! Violence truly was the answer.
You look over it lovingly, for it is a lovely piece of work. On its base is stamped a symbol -- a hornet -- and the word "spirit."
I have a feeling this lamp might be important. We'd better take note of its features in case we're asked to produce it again later. But while we're here...
Awwwww. Oh well, next maze!
First half of this maze is unusually symmetrical. Kind of surprising to see, actually, after all this time. Not only that, but it's completely pointless, as going straight ahead from the exit of the last PoP will take you right to the next one.
Little known fact: All hermits use the same cave layout.
In the hills, you find a limestone cave. Within, it is rudely but comfortably appointed. A man sits at a table, quill in hand, poring over a manuscript and taking notes. "Folderol," he mutters to himself. "What IS that word?"
We can ask him many things, but he's not terribly helpful in most cases. For instance, if we ask him about the maze:
The hermit puts down his pen with a sigh. "Left, left, ahead, right, left, right," he says. "Then you come to a desert plain. Cross it at night. Goodbye."
Actually, the plain is blocked by a whirlwind.
"Blocked?" he says in surprise. You describe the whirlwind, and tell him of the plight of the city of Sunit.
"Interesting," he says, in a tone that clearly indicates he doesn't think it is, at least, not very. He picks up his pen and resumes his writing.
Maybe if we explain our quest in greater detail...
"How droll," he says, without looking up from his manuscript. Scritch, scritch.
So... is he a wizard, then?
"Certainly," he says, without looking up from his manuscript. "And you're the Lichlord Fenn, I haven't a doubt." He continues to write.
Look, can you help us remove the whirlwind or not, old man?
Alright. That doesn't seem especially onerous, given all the other crap we've had to go through up to this point.
Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, you are aware that we're a probably-illiterate peasant, right?
Alternate Solutions & Deaths
Of course one dies upon failing to answer the dragon's riddle correctly.
"I win," booms the dragon gleefully. A jet of flame toasts you and your horse both.
But one can also die by pushing the dragon too far after winning.
"Thou insolent jackanapes!" roars the dragon. The next jet of flame hits you. The dragon dines on roast adventurer.
We can also kill the hermit upon meeting him, to little avail.
You find a number of manuscripts written in the Atarri script you cannot read, some dishes, worn clothing, and a makeshift tool or two. Nothing worth stealing.