Part 47: Level Three: AirBnBLevel Three: AirBnB
So here we are at the Inn of the Dragon Vert, which is now on fire. Technically I guess it's been on fire since we've known it, but no matter. We'd probably like it not to be on fire, although technically speaking we gain nothing either way and can just walk right on without giving a damn. But let's help, because clearly we'll get some kind of clue from doing so.
The interesting thing about this PoP is that there are varying degrees to which we can help (or "help"), leading to varying levels of clue provided at the end. Rather than shove this all into an alternate solutions post, I want to just kind of cover these options from (roughly) worst to best.
Thus, the first thing we should do is interrupt the innkeeper with questions about our quest.
Okay but seriously, we should join the bucket brigade just to get that option out of the way, even if it isn't technically the "worst" outcome. It's the one that doesn't involve magic in any way, so it's lame.
You join the bucket brigade and help the inn's employees to fight the blaze. You are able to save only the outlying buildings -- the stable, the shed, the outhouses. The inn itself burns to the ground.
"Within this maze, you will find the Great Stone Head. To pass him, you need merely say, 'There is no god but the Mad One.'" You press him for more information, but he is obessed with his loss. "That is all I can say," he says testily.
We can then ask him about our quest, but that doesn't help either:
Righto. So, having got that out of the way, let's use the Talisman to make the situation infinitely worse.
You close your eyes. In your imagination, you see the inn, bright with fire; the bucket brigade, where a dotted line of water shines blue; the lambent air all about; the brown earth beneath; the spirits of the people burning within their bodies; their minds active, working together to fight the flames. You know that you must wield a power, a magic, to put out this blaze -- but which of the nine elements will do the job?
First of all, we should definitely not be calling upon the Earth in this situation.
Yeah, that... that's pretty much what I expected to happen. Say, what if we called upon the power of Lightning?
You concentrate... Lightning crackles from the Talisman and strikes the inn. It sets a new fire, adding to the blaze. The people in the bucket brigade scream in fear and flee into the woods. The innkeeper peers at you frightenedly, then follows them. You are alone with the fire, which continues until the inn is embers.
Shockingly, lightning did nothing to fight the fire.
Let's get serious here, roll up our sleeves, then roll them right back down because we're calling upon the power of Cold. This'll put that fire out.
You concentrate... You can feel the world getting colder. The flames are flickering a little, having trouble in the cold, but spreading still. You yourself are shivering violently, as are the members of the bucket brigade. They stare at you in fright.
We could give up at this point, but I didn't start channeling this magic to wuss out on it at the last second. We're taking this all the way to its logical extreme.
All the way. I do like that the game is just "Whoops! Everybody died, you rascal; ah well!" over this.
Alright, alright, so that wasn't the way to handle this. Fine. You want a fire put out, then you do it the simple way, with Water. This can't possibly go wrong.
...We did at least put the fire out.
So that's how we could make it worse. Now let's examine the ways we can be no help whatsoever, starting with Mind and Spirit.
You concentrate... You feel your mind/spirit reaching out... And finding nothing, for the fire has no mind/spirit of its own. After long minutes, the staff of the inn gets the fire under control and collapse in exhaustion.
Great! Let's ask the innkeeper for advice now.
The innkeeper spits at you. "Bah!" he shouts. "You shut your eyes and stand like a statue while brave men and women fight to save the inn? And now you expect me to assist you? I spit on you!"
"But I did help!" you say. "Or I tried. I used this magic talisman I carry... but it had no effect." The innkeeper sneers at you and walks away.
I'll be fair here: We totally deserved that. That does not, however, mean I'm going to stand for it.
Ahhh, that feels nice. Let's try two methods that will help somewhat, starting off by fighting fire with Fire. Yes, dumb as it sounds, this is not the worst option.
You reach out with your powers and seize control of the fire. You will it to cease -- and you feel some diminution of the blaze's intensity. Yet you can feel the fire fighting you, fighting to keep burning, fighting to survive and spread, as is its nature. You fight back, pouring energy through the Talisman, fighting to bend the fire to your will.
We didn't totally screw this up! Unfortunately the innkeeper is still mad and thinks we didn't help, but this time our protestation is a bit more influential:
You tell the innkeeper that you did help, that despite your garb you have magic powers, and that you used your control over the element of fire to dampen the flames. He seems skeptical, but willing to accept your story.
So that could've gone worse. Let's pick a magic that's harder for him to overlook and use the power of Time. Sadly, we can't rewind the flames to pre-burning state, but we can freeze them in place while the bucket brigade does its work.
Finally, the fire is out. Everyone collapses, exhausted. At least you helped... But much of the inn is ruined. The innkeeper explores it sadly.
Something to note about the Talisman's time powers: They only last for a little while, and cannot be maintained for long.
That leaves just one power to try, and this is the right one to pick. That's right, we're calling upon the Air. How would that help, you ask?
You concentrate... A whirlwind gathers about you, blowing your cloak and hair freely. At first, the wind merely fans the flames higher -- but then, there is a crack like thunder. The inn's windows shatter and the door is pulled from its hinges -- but the flames are snuffed in an instant, blown out like a candle.
Apparently breaking all the windows and the door is considered the least damage that the inn can sustain, as the innkeeper is most pleased.
Some nice options here, but the first two are wrong (yes, even asking for information).
Money: The innkeeper's smile becomes pained. "Err... certainly, certainly, puissant mage," he says. "All I have is yours." You take a considerable sum of money, and continue on your way.
Information: "Certainly, certainly," beams the innkeeper. "Within this maze, you will find the Great Stone Face. It guards the exit from the maze. To pass, you need merely say, 'There is no god but the Mad One.' There are two exits from that place, however; upward is a place of cold and ice, below a warmer place where lizardmen live."
Instead, we must refuse all reward. It's not like we really put in that much effort anyway.
"You are chivalrous indeed," says the innkeeper. "Whither are you bound?"
No sense being dodgy. We'll tell him of our quest.
A wizard, you say... could it be?
"The Wizard Moraziel?" you ask.
"I know not," he shrugs. "But 'tis said he will help the one who frees him."
Because we saved his inn the proper way, he gives us a useful extra tidbit:
See, we'd still have gotten a hint from a half solution, which makes this rather crafty as a puzzle: It's easy to think you got what you needed for the Great Stone Head, without actually getting what you needed.
Speaking of the Great Stone Head, let's say our farewells and go meet him! No, there's no resting opportunity and no Cipher here, the inn is completely useless for that.
Well hello gorgeous.
Here's the Great Stone Head. It's a stone head, and it's pretty great. There is no way to bypass it.
You wander the area, but can find no other exit.
Time to say something.
Choosing anything but There is no god but the Mad One or It's fitter being sane than mad will teleport you back into the previous maze. Let's start with the latter, since the innkeeper instructed us to tell the head that one first.
The massive brows of the Great Stone Head shrug -- and then its eyes open. They are a curious, lambent brown, and they regard you. The impassive mouth opens, and croaks, in a voice like a thousand bullfrogs, "You are..."
There is a pregnant pause, as if the Head is about to impart timeless, eternal wisdom. It resumes:
"...what you eat."
And then the eyes close.
...Was that supposed to be an important clue? Hmph. Okay, let's just say There is no god but the Mad One and be on our way.
We're given a choice here, but the choice doesn't actually matter for reasons I'll cover next update. I'm making the call here anyway, and we're going up, so it's time to cross the rope bridge.
And that's where we'll leave off for now!
Alternate Solutions & Deaths
We've already covered the options for the inn, but there is one extra thing we can do at the Great Stone Head: Use the Talisman.
You sense no mind or spirit within the monolith -- but you do feel the presence of magic, a spell, waiting for something to activate it.
We can use the Talisman to dissipate the spell, because that's a thing the Talisman can apparently do now.
Pretty much the exact same outcome as saying the password, with roughly the same amount of information about our next destination. Was that terrible joke actually worth an entire PoP puzzle?