Part 54: Level Three: A Dapper PropositionLevel Three: A Dapper Proposition
Having crossed the river, we cannot go back. Fortunately, we've done everything that was possible in the snow area, so we have no need to return.
We're now in perhaps the last true maze of the level, but it has many floors and one interesting side path; until we pass a certain point, however, we can theoretically do almost any PoP in this section in any order we choose. Fortunately, I've gone through this enough to have a good idea of a coherent order in which to do everything. For the most part, going top to bottom works well enough.
Here in this pink maze, we're going to ignore the stairs and that PoP to the far east and hit an optional PoP near where we arrived.
This again? Are we going to meet that invisible not-wyvern once more?
Not far off lies a ring of standing stones. In the standing stones lies the body of some kind of insect creature, greenish blood seeping from slash wounds. And crouching over an object you cannot make out is another being. Upon your approach, he springs to his feet and faces you, highball in hand (is he celebrating the defeat of his foe?). It is...
Damn, this guy knows how to roll in style.
As it so happens, we do!
"You do speak!" says the creature. "Astounding! Intelligent mammals! Who would have thought?"
I must say, it's a new experience for me as well. Just passing through, don't suppose you know anything about the area?
"Perhaps I have some information that could help you on your journey," says the lizardman. "For surely a beast as strange as yourself must be unfamiliar with the lands you now enter. I can tell you somewhat of them, and will gladly do so, if you will aid me."
He's the nicest person we've met in quite a while, so... how can we help?
"You will note this is a combination lock; it has four dials, each lettered. At present, they spell out the word 'RIPE.' I know how these locks work, but I cannot for the life of me figure out the correct combination for this one."
"How do they work?"
"I must change the letter of the word by turning its dial one notch. So, I can change R to Q or S; I to H or J, and so on. When I have changed all four letters, they must spell out a valid word. Then, I must repeat the process, deriving a third word. If I derive both words properly, the chest will open."
"And if not?"
"I will be instantly killed."
I suppose we can offer a little extra brainpower for that task, sure.
Oh of course there'd be a catch. Oh, and lest anyone think of being clever, the Talisman's not good at puzzles:
The voices within the Talisman hum in a sort of puzzled fashion. You get the impression it has no better idea what to do than you.
Alright, here's the puzzle. Because this is a sequential puzzle, I'm going to spoiler each step so that you can work through it without an idea of the bigger picture.
1) The first dial is set at R. Do you turn it to Q or S?
2) It clicks into place, and will not move further. Now, only the second letter, I, will turn. Do you turn it toward H or J?
3) So far so good. The third dial is at P. Turn it to O or Q?
4) The fourth dial is on E. Turn it to D or F?
That should spell out the first word, SHOP. Now we start over.
5) There is a louder click, as if several tumblers have fallen into place. Yet the chest will still not open -- and the first dial is now turnable once more. It is currently on S. Turn it to R or T?
6) The second dial is on H. Turn it to G or I?
7) The third dial is on O. Turn it to N or P?
8) The final dial is on D. Turn it to C or E?
That gives us the second, TINE.
The chest springs open. "Wonderful!" says the lizardman. "Tell you what, old chap, let's split the loot, eh?"
That works for me. You killed the guy, after all.
"Now," he says. "I did agree to tell you of this region. In this area of the MadMaze's third realm live two intelligent species: the Sapiensaurs, of which I am one, and the Insectidae, vile roach-like monsters such as the one you see dead yonder. The bugs worship some damned thing called the First Cause, rather than the Mad one as is right and proper. Some day, we will succeed in exterminating the vermin. Meanwhile, war continues."
"You will find strange and wondrous things in this land, and I wish you successful voyaging; but be careful. There are huge carnivores to be found; and the warriors of the insect scum prowl everywhere."
What can you tell us about the seat of madness?
The Wizard of Ice was telling the truth: The Moon of Madness is the true seat of the Mad One's power. How exactly we're to get to the moon is left unstated, but perhaps we can find the answers as we progress through this maze.
Speaking of which! Let's ignore the ladders again and head east to that PoP that seems to be leading to a new maze. It's a side branch, but a rather important one.
The terrain in this area is rugged. You can see that it will be difficult to traverse. Or will it? Ahead of you, there are two trails: one appears well-marked, wide, and gently-sloping. The other skirts cliffs from which rocks might fall, plunges deep into a canyon, and seems uncertain of footing. Yet both might take you across the place.
I ain't stupid, but I also ain't double-stupid. The last time we were given an easy/hard choice, both were wrong, so if that's gonna be the case we may as well go the easy way!
Interestingly, at this point either option works; we can take the easy way again, or just take the hard way this time. Taking the easy way again does give us some more text:
It takes some time, but you come at last to the end of this terrain, sweating heavily in the harsh sun. A gecko lizard crouches on a rock and studies you. Then it says, in a harsh, croaking voice: "The easy way deceives."
"What?" you say -- but the lizard has disappeared into a cranny.
Huhn. Seems like a weird hint to be dropping after we've already done the puzzle. And it wasn't even really much of a puzzle... anyway, we've left the maze, so where'd it take us?
That's a pretty big maze... but it doesn't seem to go anywhere, it just kinda ends down in the far southwest corner. But we have no time to think about that, I suppose, as we're in the north section in that isolated maze segment to the west. There's one PoP between us and the remainder of the maze, so we've gotta tackle it first.
Well. There stands the Crone Matilda's three-legged house. She does get around, doesn't she?
Oh dear. This had to happen sooner or later. But I know a little secret: We can finally kill Matilda, if we wish to. We won't, because she can help us again, but I want to leave it to the audience to figure out how to kill her. Obviously, there's something we now can do that we couldn't the first two times we met her, but it will take more than that.
Note that we can attack her house with the Talisman before even entering, so that is an option. It might be better to get closer to her, though...
Alternate Solutions & Deaths
We don't actually need the lizardman's help to open the chest. If we wish, we can play dumb when he speaks to us and wait.
"No, eh?" he says. He seems somewhat disappointed. "Well, too much to expect. Intelligent mammals! Ludicrous concept." He squats back down to study the chest he was examining when you interrupted. He fiddles with it for a while, then says "Oh well," stands up, and walks away, leaving the chest within the ring.
That leaves us with the chest, which we're free to solve on our own if we like and pocket all the (completely meaningless) loot.
With a satisfying "chunk," the lid of the chest leaps open. Within is a treasure in gold and jewels. You pocket as much as you can reasonably carry -- you've learned not to overload yourself -- and leave, happy with your new-found wealth.
If we prefer a more aggressive solution...
You draw Valterre and give the chest a mighty blow. There is a sudden, electrifying explosion. You are instantly incinerated.
The incineration text also plays if we set the dials incorrectly. We can also do the old song and dance about our quest:
The lizardman listens carefully. Then, he says, in a carefully neutral tone, "You mean that you seek to thwart the Mad One's will?"
"Then die, infidel!"
Likewise, we can threaten him for information.
In either case, we end up fighting him.
And as usual (feels nice to say that), we win. We're then alone with the chest and can solve it as we like, same as if he'd wandered off.
Likewise, we can just refuse to solve the puzzle at all.
"No," you say. "I've had enough of solving other people's problems. Tell me what you know, or not; but I shall not aid you."
The lizardman blinks at this. "Very well," he says. "Then I shall not be able to open this chest. Nor shall I tell you anything, stupid monkey." And he turns and strides away.
Once again, this lets us solve the puzzle ourselves if we want. Oh, and of course we can cooperatively solve the puzzle, then murder him for the whole prize:
Your attack takes him by surprise, and he quickly dies. Chuckling evilly, you fill your pockets and depart.