Part 37: Level Two: Our Pal, The WhirlwindLevel Two: Our Pal, The Whirlwind
Welcome to the final maze of the second level! Osmet Khan's palace lies to our north, but wouldn't you know it, in a clever move MadMaze has made the northern half of this maze completely disconnected from the southern half, so we can never reach it!
Oh wait. Hang on. Let me put up the whole map.
There we go. Welcome now to the final maze of the second level, which is in fact two completely different 8x8 mazes joined together! Osmet Khan's palace is in the top right corner, but to get there we'll have to go west, north, and east through at least one PoP.
If you're curious, there is no in-game announcement when changing mazes. The color of everything just up and changes on you with no fanfare. Helpful at least for figuring out where the boundaries are.
I'm feeling capricious, so let's examine the mandatory PoP first.
There was life here, once. Maybe. Now, as far as the eye can see, there is nothing alive. Smoke plumes rise from sinkholes of lava. The blackened stumps of trees are scattered hither and yon. The sky is orange with smoke. The haze makes it impossible to see more than a mile. An Atarri nomad sits on a nearby boulder.
"Small chance of Aboud helping me," you mutter.
"Then you must find a whirlwind of your own," says the nomad.
"And where may I do that?" you ask.
He shrugs his shoulders again. "Perhaps you should talk to the shaman. His yurt is to the south and east of here, within this maze."
Ironically, we have a whirlwind of our own... but we don't know how to actually get it out of the lamp. Perhaps we should go back and pay the shaman a visit. He's alllll the way to the southeast, at the dead end.
Hey wait a second, where do you actually live, anyway?
Might as well say hello.
He ignores you and continues rocking, grunting a peculiar half-song as he does.
I guess we'll just wait then.
Courteously, you wait until he is finished, or seems to be. He removes his mask to reveal a sweaty, sooty face. He stares long and hard into the flames, his lips moving slightly; his pupils are huge. He turns and faces you.
For a long moment, he stares into space. You have a feeling he hardly sees you at all; his eyes track gradually to the left. At last, he says in a distant, smoke-roughened voice: "Go to the plain of Ferit. Summon the bird of your desire."
He slips the mask back on his face. He throws a bundle of herbs into the fire. He begins a bass, wordless chant, and dances about the fire in a peculiar, loose-jointed way. Several times, you feel he is about to fall, but each time he snaps erect once again. He utterly ignores you.
You yell at him, jump up and down, pass your hand before his eyes. It is as if you do not exist. While you stand there stewing, wondering how to get more information out of this madman, he dances through you.
One moment, he is before you; the next, behind you. His body passed directly through yours.
...I think it's time to go. So that optional PoP in between the shaman and the Smoking Plain must be...
Not much of a plain, if it's only got the one cactus.
It looks as desolate as any place you have crossed in this desolate level of the Maze. Wearily, you wonder to yourself why the Atarri and Tercelidae seem intent on warring over it; for yourself, you would be as glad never to see this land again. You dismount, remove your armor lest you be baked by the fierce sun, and wander out into the desert.
At this point we can leave in either direction, or summon something.
Most of these do nothing, but amusingly, summoning the strength to go on has a unique prompt.
With renewed vigor, you determine to see this quest to its end.
But we're not here for that. We're here to summon a bird.
Again, tempting options, but we're summoning the bird of our desire. Upon doing so we're asked to choose a bird, but for our purposes now I'm going to choose the noble goshawk.
You stare into the harsh, bright eyes of the hawk. Your vision begins to waver; you see phantasms passing before you, a sort of waking dream superimposed on the day...
All of this is stuff we've already done. Not much of a vision, really. But the vision continues.
And suddenly, you are alone on the desert plain again, your vision clear, the sun bright.
Bingo. Thanks, goshawk buddy! Sorry about possibly keeping you in a cage all this time. We now know how to get the whirlwind out of the lamp. Back to the Smoking Plain!
You ride your horse onto the Smoking Plain. The air is becoming thick about you, noisome; you choke on the noxious odor, your horse wheezes and gags beneath you.
We're again asked to confirm the symbol and writing on the lamp, to ensure it's actually Aboud's; weird, since we needed to do this already to get past the whirlwind, but okay.
You hold the lamp high above you, and shout, in a brazen voice... what?
Why, Delese Stolant!
Farewell, whirlwind buddy! It was a brief time together, but we'll never forget you getting in our way and then getting something else out of our way. What's next, anyhow?
Sheesh, and I thought the last level-ending castle was perilous!
Alternate Solutions & Deaths
No surprise, but trying to traverse the Smoking Plain without the whirlwind is a Really Bad Idea.
You wet a cloth and drape it over your nose, doing the same for your horse. This cuts the fumes for a pass, and you continue forward. But only for a while...
Your horse keels over, overcome by the foul air. You pitch to the ground with him, and try to stand up -- but you cannot. The air is poison, deadly; it is eating into your lungs. You collapse unconscious.
There's still some creepiness to be had with the Shaman. Instead of asking about the Smoking Plain, we can tell him we have the Water of Flame, even though we already did that.
He stares at you for a moment with complete incomprehension. Then, a flicker of remembrance comes into his eyes. He whispers to you a poem: 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. And then, he points to the flap of the yurt.
We can also try to kill him yet again, but surprise! It still doesn't work.
I wish he'd stop doing that.
Finally, let's go back to the Plain of Ferit. We could summon the bird of our desire, but what were our options?
Let's pick the nightingale first.
It says nothing, but nudges the pomegranate with its beak and looks at you expectantly.
You eat of the purple fruit and fall into a sort of waking dream, the images you see superimposed on the reality about you...
And so on with the vision. Back to the goshawk, we can try to break the trance by looking away from it.
The bird emits a cry of rage. You snap out of the trance. It remains on your pommel, ducking its head and trying to meet your eye.
We can then try to grab it, because we're stupid.
It screams in rage and claws at your hand, leaving a long, ragged furrow in one finger. Then, it is gone, leaving you only your wound and a tailfeather.
...Alright, so I can't ignore this any longer: We can pick the roc as the bird of our desire. We absolutely shouldn't, and the game wants us to be really clear on that:
On the horizon is a black shape. It is distant, but it must be huge. It seems to be moving toward you.
We are given an option to wait or flee. Wait, and...
With a scream like an army dying, the roc stoops toward you, out of the sky.
Again, we can flee or wait, but this time it's too late, as either outcome is the same.
I mean really, did you expect a mystic vision quest from a freaking roc?