Part 55: Level Three: Matilda's Final TaskLevel Three: Matilda's Final Task
Once more we stand outside of Matilda's chicken-legged hut. We could go in and say hello, but we've got a much more amusing way to announce our presence: The Talisman of Chugotai! Using Mind/Spirit/Time won't do us any good here, but nearly anything else will give her a bit of a jolt:
Most Elements: Magic blasts from the Talisman and splashes against the side of the house.
Earth: The earth trembles and the house topples. The three legs dance desperately, trying to keep standing.
Air: Hurricane-force winds batter around the hut, forcing it to stagger back under the impact. Thatch flies from the roof.
In any event, that'll get her attention.
Just saw you were in the neighborhood and wanted to check in.
She shrieks with laughter. "So you found your previous visits so entertaining, you thought you'd stop by again, is that it, me dumpling?" she says. "Go on with you. Git, tell me what you want, or get turned into a carrot. I'm low on root vegetables just now."
She's remarkably chill about the whole goshawk incident, I guess. Well, we're trying to reach the Moon of Madness, and we don't know how to do it or what we'll need when we get there. Anything you can do on that front?
"Still planning on duking it out with the Mad One, sugarpie? If so, maybe we can do each other a favor, eh?"
This will probably be an onerous request that will somehow backfire on me, but I'm used to that by now. Go on.
What's Nectar of the Aphidae? First we've heard of it.
"Who cares?" says the Crone. "These bugs make it. Off in the Grove of Apsidia. Fetch me some and I'll help you. Don't, and I shan't. Make up your own blithering mind -- if you have one."
"Using the power, call 'I call thee, I await thee.' The 'dactyl will come. Mount it, and it will take you to the Maze of Apsidia."
"And there?" you ask.
"You will find within it the Grove of Apsidia, where the aphidae live. Up in the trees. Climb one, find an aphid, and stroke its abdomen. It will secrete a milky substance -- its nectar." She hands you what appears to be a jug with wings. "Fill this," she says.
Seems reasonable enough, is there anything else we need to-
"Stay not upon the hour of thy going," she says.
Alright already! Jeez, you help an old woman out three times in a row and this is the thanks you get. Still, I can't help but notice she wasn't all that threatening this time. Could Matilda be... fond of us, now?
Back to the maze map for reference. We'll be hitting the second PoP in the brown maze, which leads to the white one. Despite this, it's optional; there's a normal path to the white maze as well.
Fitting we should see one of these right after meeting Matilda again, I suppose. Ah, nostalgia.
There is a well in a clearing. No one else seems nearby. The well is so deep, you cannot see its bottom.
Since we're here, we'll get a drink.
The water is delicious.
Better send the bucket back down while we're on the subject.
"Hello?" you say. "Who's down there?" But no matter what you say, there is no response.
How odd. Maybe the Talisman can help. Using Mind/Spirit, we can detect...
There's definitely some kind of creature down there, but it seems slow-witted and dull.
Hmmmm. What if we tried to use the power of Water?
Awesome! Grant me a wish!
"Oi, mate, whatcher take me for, eh? Some kind of genie? I is just a simple well-frog."
Can I at least have the money that people have thrown down the well?
The creature looks uncomfortable. It shifts from leg to leg. "Err... I et it."
"I et it," it says. "I et all the coins."
Shucks. Well then, can we at least get a tip for our quest?
"Thunda lizards like crushed whortleberries," it says. "Dat's what I was supposed to say to youmans dat come past here. Dat's it. Can't help you no more den dat. Sorry."
Who told you to say that?
"Uh -- sheez," it says confusedly. "Beats me, guvnor. Dat's what I is supposed to say, dat's all."
Whatever. I'll put him back in the well, I suppose. Doesn't seem to be affecting the water quality any.
The frog plunges back into the well. "Thanks, mate," says that deep, bass voice. "G'day to ye."
It was my... maybe not pleasure, but something. I suppose. Let's hit that optional PoP in the second part of this maze, why don't we?
This is really turning into a greatest hits of the first level, huh?
Hmmmm. Maybe he's not hostile? Perhaps the Talisman can ascertain what's going on.
The mind of the sabertooth is in pain, confused, angry, hostile. His... his foot is caught in a steel trap, which is why he did not spring at you. He believes you to be the hunter that set this trap, come to kill him. He intends to sell his life dearly. The power of the Talisman calms the tiger's spirit. The beast lies down; his eyes close halfway; and he begins to purr.
With any luck, we'll be able to have a conversation now.
Why don't we help each other?
"Help you how?" he asks suspiciously.
"I am not a hunter," you say, "but a questing knight. I seek to journey to the Moon of Madness."
He mulls this over. "I know something that may help you if you achieve that place. I will tell it to you if you free me."
Tell me, and then I'll free you.
We have Valterre and are fully armored, so the tiger has a very strong argument here. He poses no real threat to us, and we may as well free him now.
You open the jaws of the trap -- and the tiger scrabbles away, limping on one paw. "You have my thanks," he says. "Remember this, therefore, should you visit the Seat of Madness: Green is the Lady's Staff." And he bounds away three-legged.
"Wait!" you shout. "What does that mean?" -- but there is no reply.
That's our good deed for the day. Onward, to the edge of the world!
That wasn't a metaphor, by the way.
It is the edge of the world, or so it seems. Below you, a sheer cliff stretches downward toward a layer of clouds. The clouds stretch off to infinity.
This seems familiar. We must've been at one edge of the world back when we claimed the Talisman of Chugotai. That means we probably don't want to jump off here. What was it Matilda said? "I call thee, I await thee?"
Your words echo out over nothingness. There is no response.
Ah, right! We needed the Talisman's power of Mind to project our thoughts!
Far, far in the distance, you feel a faint response; a mind has received your message. But nothing seems to happen for some minutes.
Our options here are to leave, wait, or throw ourselves off the edge of the world, so I think a little patience is the sensible call.
It is a winged lizard of some kind, a huge one. It dives toward you, then rears up and flutters its wings desperately, its claws reaching toward you. There is another lizard with it; and atop this one flies a woman, blonde of hair. She smiles and waves.
She smiles, waves, and says nothing.
Guess we keep waiting.
The lizard flutters to a landing beside you on the cliff, then turns its back to you and peers over its shoulder, as if inviting you to mount.
Heck yes. Let's go!
Hey, come back here you jerk!
No matter what you do, it will not return.
Clearly we're meant to go through this door, so we will, as it leads to the next maze. Only an idiot would think we were supposed to climb the cliff or something.
Alternate Solutions & Deaths
We can, of course, attempt to kill Matilda with Valterre. It didn't work the last time, and it certainly doesn't work this time.
Alternatively, we can keep lingering when she tells us to scram.
She turns you into a potato. You are baked, sliced open, and served with butter and sour cream.
But we're not here to get turned into stew. We're here to turn Matilda into stew!
"Turn ME into stew?" she chortles. "Heh heh. You'd find me mighty gristly, sweetie. But... I'm tired of shrieking with laughter," she quavers petulantly. "But you're such a fool, it's hard to figure out what else to do. Really, you either have to laugh or cry. If you think you can kill me, you're welcome to try, you silly rabbit."
Maybe Valterre can't take her down, but the Talisman surely can. We're not defenseless against magic now!
She shrieks with laughter as you try to concentrate on the Talisman. "So it's to be a magical duel, eh dumpling? D'ye think you can master me?"
Depends upon what we use. We have three tries here before Matilda simply kills us, like so:
Using any of the primary elements will just cause Matilda to counter our blast with one of her own. Some of the more esoteric options don't help either:
Spirit: "Heh heh!" she shrieks. "My spirit is too black for one such as you to hope to manipulate it!"
Mind: She is too strong-willed for you to hope to control her mind. The power goes awry.
But there is one last thing we can try...
Randalor posted:Time and let her old age work against her?
At the well, we can die by trying to climb down:
We can also kill the frog rather than return it.
You neatly pith the frog with Valterre. It doesn't even put up a fight. You now have a large, dead frog of unusual color. You find several bits of loose change in its belly, all covered with froggy goo. Some are badly pitted and corroded; apparently, this thing eats silver.
Alternately, we can use another power of the Talisman on the well:
Most Elements: Using the power of the Talisman, you blast the well into smithereens. Oh well. If there was anything down there, I guess it's dead now.
Time: Using the power of the Talisman, you age the well until it collapses. Oh well. If there was anything down there, I guess it's dead now.
Over at the sabertooth tiger, killing him is no real challenge if we wish to do so:
Since you know the tiger cannot leave the radius of the chain, it is simple enough to stand outside that distance and hurl rocks at his skull until he is dazed, then close and finish him off.
We could also use the Talisman offensively, with predictable results:
Additionally, we can freeze time and slay the tiger, but we can slay him even without freezing time, so that's just rubbing it in. In fact, there's no way for the tiger to kill us; it's simply too disadvantaged here to gain the upper hand no matter how dumb or aggressive we are.
Let's now visit the edge of the world again, and jump off of it.
You fall... and fall... and fall...
To your surprise, you do not stop falling. Ever. Some days later, you lapse unconscious from thirst. But never do you stop falling. Not before you die of deprivation, anyway.
I suppose that's to be expected. Now we'll try the Talisman to do dumb stuff.
Most Elements: Magical energy blasts out over emptiness... And then, there is silence, save for the blowing wind.
Earth: The earth heaves -- and you tumble off the cliff into vastness.
Air: Gale-force winds blast you out, out over the vast emptiness. For a moment, they lift you high; but then you plummet.
Time: For a moment, time stops passing; the air is perfectly still. Nothing else seems to happen -- and time resumes. The breeze blows against your cheek.
We can kill the pterodactyl when it lands, if we're a psychopath.
But then we can't get across. Once we do get across, we can enter the door or leap off the edge of the world. We can also try to climb.
You do not have rope, pitons, or other climbing equipment. It is a sheer cliff, with only the most minimal handholds. Are you sure you wish to do this?
Amazingly, you manage to climb a good forty feet before losing your grip.
Truly, we are the best at failing.