Part 48: Level Three: The Frozen LandsLevel Three: The Frozen Lands
As I mentioned, leaving the Great Stone Head by either route ultimately doesn't matter. That's because, for most of the rest of the third level, we will actually technically be in the same gigantic maze. Of course, it's still made up of individual 9x9 mazes, much like the one we're walking into:
We start in that weird appendage down at the bottom. If we turn right, we'll get a message stating "You have come a long way" and end up in the maze we would've entered had we gone the other route. We can then turn around and come right back, which is why the choice was meaningless.
The route we're on now takes us upward; the current maze is multiple stories high, with a very interesting PoP distribution. We can see a taste of it here: There's a mandatory PoP blocking the ladder upward. Also interesting, one can either reach that PoP by winding a very long route through the entirety of the floor... or visit the optional PoP and leave by the secondary exit, putting one right near the other PoP. I know which one I'm doing.
Awww, damn it, not you again.
Aha! It's a different shaman. Thank God... I guess. We can tell him of our quest, but he doesn't care.
The shaman makes no response. Again, he shakes his rattle.
If we instead ask about the area...
He speaks in a painful, grating voice. "Do not violate the peace of the land of ice," he says. "Depart from here! Return down the World Oak, and go no farther. We don't want your kind around here."
The other options do little. We could hide the Talisman so the shaman won't see it, but that doesn't do anything. Instead, let's show it to him directly, and see what he makes of it.
Carefully, the shaman takes the Talisman of Chugotai from your hands and studies it. As if in experiment, he chants a few phrases, then cocks his head and listens. "A totem of the plains folk," he says. "The People of the Hawk. It is mighty." He hands it back to you, and touches you, one hand on the Talisman, the other on yours. He closes his eyes briefly. "And it has chosen you."
That seems to be the only reason we're going this way, so yes.
He sighs again. "You are worthy, so I must permit you to break the peace of the land of cold." He stares at you and continues, a little grimly. "The only exit from this maze is a place of wind and cold. Most of my people could not brave it. You, with your Talisman, may. Beyond it, you will find the land of cold. At its utmost extremity is the city of ice, where the wizard is imprisoned. There is a legend that one will come to free the wizard, a round-eye, a barbarian from the lands of warmth. This one will gain the favor of Star Woman, and learn the spell that may release the wizard. The spell alone is insufficient; Star Woman's favor is required. If you should free him, remember this: Purple lies the madness."
Is the wizard Moraziel?
"Who?" says the shaman, puzzled. He shrugs. "That may be his name. I know not. He has been imprisoned for years beyond counting, caught in ice by the Mad One's malevolence."
"He has?" you say, excited. "Can he tell me how the Mad One's own citadel may be braved?"
"How should I know?" says the shaman crossly.
How do we get Star Woman's favor, by the way? Also, who is Star Woman?
The shaman is faintly offended. "Star Woman is she who rules the sky," he says, "she who governs the passing of the seasons and the slow movement of the sun, she who made our people from the whale's bones, and gives peace to the spirits of the prey we slay."
"Where can I find her?" you ask.
"Among the stars."
Should we ask for any further information, he won't be having it.
"Enough!" says the shaman. "Go!" He shakes his rattle at you.
Onward then, to the PoP guarding the ladder.
Something about this art is really effective at painting a picture of a desolate, snowblind tundra plain. I wouldn't want to walk through this.
About you, a storm rages. Snow whips wide across snow-covered ground. Cold strikes deep into your bones. The wind sucks warmth from your flesh. How long can you survive such a place?
It's time to find out!
I don't know why we didn't just have the option to whip out the Talisman in the first place, but we certainly do now. Oh, and if we try to pray...
Your prayers are not answered.
Thanks a lot, Lady. Anyhow, three of the Talisman's options are effective here, though only two will get us through safely. First, there's Time, which is only somewhat helpful:
That at least lets us retreat, I suppose. Instead, let's try the two options that work: First, Fire.
Somehow, fire burns in a shell about you. It heats the air, and keeps you warm. Almost too warm, in fact; you sweat heavily. But you slog onward, through the drifts of snow, until finally you reach the exit from this place.
In addition, we can call upon the Air again.
In either event, we make it through, and can take the ladder upward to the next floor.
We enter this floor from the only down ladder. We can completely skip the entire floor by taking either of the two ladders up, but there's one PoP here and it seems worth checking out,
Don't ask me how we climbed up a ladder and found a sea. MadMaze, bitches.
This place is little more than a ledge of land. Drawn up on it is a rude skin boat with a two-hafted paddle: a kayak. Beyond lies the icy sea: ice floes drift, seals bark and tumble in the water, terns cry plaintively. By the kayak squats a man, dressed warmly in fur.
"Greetings, good sir," you say. "Can you tell me..."
He interrupts you. "The shaman has spoken of you," he says, grinning. "You will need a kayak to voyage across this sea."
He shrugs. "If you wish to speak with Father Whale."
You blink. "Who?" you say faintly.
"Father Whale," he says. "Father Whale knows Star Woman well. So you will need my kayak."
Much as it pains me to do so, I agree. Note that killing him here is an option; we can just murder him, skip the puzzle, and take the kayak. But that's unsporting, and would miss a clue besides, so we're not doing that.
"I have discovered," says the man, "that all 26 letters can be formed by using sticks; long sticks, short sticks, long curves, and short curves. For instance, 'A' is two long sticks at an angle with a short stick running between them. I have thought of a three-letter word. I will show you the sticks I use to form each letter. You must guess that letter. If you guess all three letters correctly, you may borrow my kayak."
Here are the three stick puzzles the man presents us. What letters do they form?
Alternate Solutions & Deaths
Perhaps unsurprisingly, violence doesn't work on the new shaman either.
You draw Valterre... And suddenly, you are standing alone on a wind-swept plain. You shiver a sudden chill.
If we continue pressing the shaman for information, he'll warp us away.
If we evade his question once, the shaman will get sassy.
"Umm, well, uh, perhaps," you say.
He peers at you. "Perhaps?" he says sarcastically.
And if we evade it again, he gets straight up saucy.
"Possibly," you say.
"Possibly," says the shaman, "you may succeed without my help."
And in an instant, he is gone and his tent and fire, too. You stand alone on a wind-swept plain, shivering with a sudden chill.
In the land of snow, we can choose to press onward into the blizzard without using the Talisman, to predictable effect.
A similar thing occurs if we use the Talisman to do something useless.
Oh, but there is one option for the Talisman that is much, much worse than useless. That's right: Cold.
Before, you thought it was bitterly cold. You did not know what cold was, until now. You realize that you cannot move. You are -- why, you are solid frozen, encased in ice. Yet somehow, your mind still works. You must stay here, unmoving, for all eternity -- until, perhaps, some hero frees you from your predicament.
...Does this count as an alternate solution, since we're technically alive?