Part 40: Level Two: Citadel of Osmet Khan, Mighty HassanLevel Two: Citadel of Osmet Khan, Mighty Hassan
We're not quite sure what to do now that we've been offered the opportunity to do whatever we desire. Maybe we should ditch the Janissary first. Can we just look around?
I guess not. I mean, we could certainly kill him, but let's not go down that road just yet. I know! Let's have him take us to the Vizier Aboud!
The Janissary looks at you strangely. "Very well," he says. "I hear only to obey." He takes you to a courtyard where fountains play and nightingales sing. There is a sheltered alcove, where sits an elderly and evil-looking man.
Hey, you know what'd be great? If you gave me the Talisman of Chugotai.
"Ah," says Aboud. "Another questing fool like that bint Persephone. Begone!" He raises his hands and begins to chant a spell...
Oddly enough, this just sends us outside the palace. With a few exceptions, Aboud will not actually kill us for whatever reason. Since the perils don't change, we can simply cross back over the serpent field and return to the Janissary as if nothing happened.
How about we meet Osmet Khan?
Eh, it's fine. I'll go see him anyway.
The Janissary escorts you to the throne room. It is elaborate beyond belief: there are gold and jewels everywhere, the floor is bedecked with gorgeous carpets, the courtiers each wear clothes worth a fortune. Osmet Khan's throne is carved in the shape of a stooping hawk. He lounges insolently atop it, his sword in his lap, pulling his mustachioes from time to time. Before him, a dozen men lie on their bellies. "Kill them all," he says, "for vexing me with such problems. Who is next?"
Yes, the khan is a literal mustache-twirling villain with an evil vizier. No wonder the Sons of the Desert are up in arms, they're being ruled over by a cliche.
"This one, oh Great Khan," says the Janissary, pushing you forward. You begin to speak. A spear butt hits you on the back of the neck. Another hits you in the stomach. "On your stomach before the Great Khan, worm!" shouts the Janissary.
We could cause trouble here, but let's save that for another time and abase ourselves before Osmet Khan.
Hmmmmm. I suppose we could offer him Valterre?
The Khan motions a Janissary to take the weapon from you. The soldier approaches, and you hand him the sword which has served you so well... You try to hand it to him. For some reason, you cannot let the Sword Valterre go. It clings to your hand like a burr. You and the Janissary tug at it, but to no avail.
Whoops. Guess we have to rescind that offer.
"I have none, oh Great Khan," you say.
The Khan looks at you petulantly. "No gift?" he says in a wounded tone. "This is very bad. Why should I not have you slain?"
Because... uh... because your vizier is evil! And plotting against you! I mean, he's probably doing that, he is a vizier after all.
"Treachery?" says Osmet Khan, raising an eyebrow.
"Yes, Great Khan. Your vizier, Rashid al'Aboud, plans to kill you."
I have no idea how or when our character learned Aboud's full name.
"Ridiculous," scoffs Osmet. "What proof do you have?"
"Err..." You realize you have none, but insist that it's true.
"Well," says the Khan. "I'm sure you mean well, but really. Take him out and give him a meal. Who's next?"
The Janissary hustles you out of the throne room. "How may I serve you now, oh bearer of dire tidings?" mutters the soldier.
Well this has all been a bust. I was sure we could acquire the Talisman with no subterfuge whatsoever, but it appears we're going to have to be subtle after all. Take us to see the Mighty Hassan!
The Janissary leads you down a corridor to an arched doorway. He opens it and bows, motioning you within. The chamber is large and well carpeted. Several men stand, sparring. One of them is huge, at least seven feet in height. His partner has a broken nose and is bleeding profusely. "Ho!" shouts the huge man. "Watch your foe's body, not his face. Go have the surgeon take a look at that."
There are a couple of ways to do this. We need to convince Hassan that we're an ally of the Sons of the Desert, but we're in a very public location right now and can't afford to blow his (or our) cover. One option is to ask to spar with him:
Then, in a clinch, whisper "the dawn shall wash the sands in red." Alternately, we can simply ask to speak with him in private.
"Salaam!" says Hassan. "So shall it be." He orders one of the other men in the room to bring yoghurt and fruit, and you retire to a sumptuously-appointed room where you lounge on cushions while houris serve you hand and foot.
"So, far traveller," says Hassan. "You may speak freely here. Why have you come so far to see me?"
Once more, we tell him the password.
"And the Hawk shall stoop no more," says Hassan quietly. "How may I help thee, friend of the Atarri?"
You tell him that you must find the Talisman of Chugotai. Hassan shakes his head. "So long as Aboud retains it, the Desert Sons have no victory, for its power smashes our every army. If you have any hope of freeing it from where Aboud keeps it hidden, I will help you as best I may."
Hassan bows to you. "Know, o friend of the Atarri, that one who seeks the Talisman of Chugotai must face three trials, three perils set over that object of power by the Vizier Aboud. To fail at any one means death."
"What are these trials?" you ask.
Hassan shrugs. "As to that, I cannot say. None has attempted them and survived." Fiercely, he hugs you. "May the Mad One be with you, Frank," he says intensely. "If you succeed, we shall know; and across the desert, the Atarri shall rise. Then will the cursed Tercelidae know what they have wrought!"
But hey, no pressure or anything. Next time, we'll face those very trials.
Alternate Solutions & Deaths
You know what? I'm sick and tired of sneaking around and having to do what random Janissaries tell me. Let's just demand the Talisman upfront.
"Then, dog," says the Janissary, "prepare to die!" He draws his scimitar.
As usual, one can't expect much of random guys with non-magic swords. But now where do we go? Let's try the double doors first.
You fling open the double doors. Beyond is a huge throne room. The throne is carved in the shape of a stooping hawk. Atop it sits a stocky, mustachioed man with a sword across his knees. He stares at you. Before him, a dozen men are on their bellies. All around are guards. By the Khan stands an elderly, evil-looking man.
A luminescent jacinth glow swirls about you. The room begins to fade and you feel your body hurtling through space. Desperately you flail about, but you have no control over your motion, none at all... Suddenly, you find yourself outside the palace once again...
Well, better than dying. Let's try the painted doorway next, shall we?
You fling open the painted doors. Beyond are sumptuous furnishings, carpets, hanging fabrics... and the shrieks of innumerable women. Scantily-clad female forms scurry away from you in fear. "The infidel has defiled the seraglio!" shouts a voice. "Prepare to die!" Suddenly, you are surrounded by Janissaries.
I guess now would be a good time to surrender.
It would be a good time to surrender, but Valterre is having none of that. Guess we have to kill everyone.
Then Aboud appears and, once again, warps us outside the palace.
Let's see then, perhaps the hallway?
There are doors to the left and right. The hallway continues ahead of you.
We'll go into the right room first, as it's short.
This just leads to the same Janissary fight into Aboud warp-out as before. Maybe the left room?
Oh hey Hassan! We're here to see you, as it happens!
"You fool," he hisses. "You have roused the Janissaries." The door smashes open. Soldiers surround you. "Arrest this man!" shouts Hassan, pointing toward you.
I thought we were cool, Hassan!
"I have come to see this man!" you protest.
Hassan turns pale as the soldiers study him. "The dog lies! I have never seen the infidel before. Take him to the torturer!"
And again we have the Janissary fight and Aboud shows up. Standard stuff. Let's go back to the hallway and just keep running straight.
I have a feeling I know who that is. Stopping just gets us warped. Running past him won't work.
"Halt!" he cries, and makes an eldritch gesture. You stop, your feet glued to the floor. The soldiers come up around you. The elderly man comes closer, to examine your face.
Again another warp-out. But! If we try killing Aboud in passing...
There we go! We finally got Aboud to kill us, and all it took was a cheap shot.
Oh, and we can always just refuse to bow to Osmet Khan, but that's a similar Janissary and Aboud warp thing.
Let's return to Hassan. Supposing we didn't act circumspect, and just blurted out the password the instant we met?
The standard fight/surrender scenario occurs here, but if we continue our fight Aboud does something slightly different.
Alas, though the Sword Valterre can defeat almost any mortal foe, against magic it has no power. Hassan defeats you and you lie dying.
We can also piss Hassan off in a number of ways that will prevent him from wanting to spar or speak with us in private. For example, we can bluntly demand he give us the Talisman that he clearly doesn't have:
I have to pick that last option, of course.
"Truly it is written," snarls Hassan, "that everyone is a comedian." He turns to the Janissary. "Take this fool away."
We can also spar with him, then cheat.
In the next clinch, you knee the Atarri in the groin. He clutches his abdomen and rolls on the carpet. When he rises, he is clearly angry. "Verily it is written that no infidel is to be trusted," he spits. "Tell me your business here, Frank, and be gone."
Finally, Hassan has a number of responses to being told the wrong thing. To proceed you need to give him the passphrase of the Sons of the Desert, but there are other options there. To give an overview:
If we say there is no god but madness or the maze must have an end, Hassan will respond as follows:
"Very true," says Hassan piously. "I see that you worship the true god, though you be but a Frank. Come, share bread and yoghurt with me." You break your fast with Hassan and, when the meal is done, make your way back to the palace entrance.
If we say the strength of Hassan is legend he'll be quite flattered:
"Why thank you," says Hassan delightedly. "Truly, we are blessed to have so perceptive a one amongst us, though you be but a Frank. Come, share bread and yoghurt with me."
If we say basically anything else (yes, including fifty-four forty or fight), Hassan will be less pleased:
And then we'll end up in an unwinnable magic duel with him. I suppose the Tercelidae are really concerned about the US-Canada border.