Part 56: Level Three: Bugs, Berries, And Other WildlifeLevel Three: Bugs, Berries, And Other Wildlife
We arrive in a new maze, at that extension in the bottom left corner. We can't return, but in a strange bit of accuracy for the maze segments, the door is actually present:
I realize I haven't shown much of the maze interiors, but that's because there just hasn't been anything to show. This is one of the rare times something interesting can be found by turning back the way we came.
At any rate, both PoPs in this maze are mandatory, so we'll tackle 'em one at a time.
Yikes. An accurate-for-the-1990s T-Rex!
We should be cautious here, I think, and hide in the bushes.
You crouch in the bushes and study the monster as it rips at the body of its prey. Idly, you notice that there is an amazing variety of flora about you -- rhododendrons, ferns, grasses, berry bushes. Every once in a while, the lizard's head comes up, as it looks to make certain no intruder is challenging it for a portion of its kill.
Berries, you say? Let's get a closer look at those.
Gosh, that is a lot of plants, but there's one in particular that's of interest. At least, according to our friend the frog. We've made some weird friends, in hindsight.
No sweat, right? Man, I bet this would've been a real pain in the ass without that hint. To the next PoP then.
Interestingly enough, picking the same option we picked in the first level's grove of giants does work, and will lead us west. Unfortunately it will also lead us out of this maze, and we don't want to leave this PoP just yet. It's not a huge problem if we do go, since we'll end up someplace that lets us return here, but we'd have to go all the way through Matilda's maze again.
First, is anybody around?
"Ahoy!" you shot. "Haloo!" But the words are swallowed up by the needled canopy of the grove. You search among the boles for hours, but find nothing other than dimness, the scent of the trees, and a few startled forest creatures.
Maybe the Talisman can help.
You hold forth the Talisman -- and hear the bass chanting of the spirits within. They seem joyful, happy to be in so serene a place. But magic does not seem to be forthcoming, nor the guidance you seek.
Nothing left to do but climb a tree.
Normally it's a terrible idea to abandon our armor, but we're not planning to leave it behind for good, and we do need to climb this tree, so let's do that.
You climb the tree. It is hard work to make the first huge branch, but the going becomes a little easier after that. Even so, you are shaking and panting by the time you reach the forest canopy. The forest seems to stretch for leagues about, dark green needles moving gently in the breeze. The exit to this place seems to lie to the west.
Matilda said there'd be aphidae around. Let's see if we can't find some.
You climb down a little, then make your way from tree to tree via the interlinking branches, climbing to the forest canopy once more from time to time to check your surroundings. At last, you spy what seem to be pale green bodies lying in the upper branches of a nearby tree.
I'm honestly a bit concerned that "kill them" is an option. Why do we always get the inclination to murder everything in this game?
Hey there, little guys.
They do not respond. They do not seem very bright, even for insects.
Matilda said to stroke their abdomens. Here goes nothing.
The insect shivers in apparent pleasure. From its posterior, it begins to exude a thick, greenish, milky substance. Perhaps you should try to collect some of it. What might you use?
It doesn't actually matter what we select, from the standpoint of acquiring some nectar for ourselves. However, our goal here was to get some for Matilda, so we need to select a jug, then note that the jug has wings.
When the jug is full, its wings beat in a sort of anticipatory way.
Now we must say home again, home again, jiggity jog.
Note that we also collect some nectar for ourselves, even though it doesn't actually matter whether we do or not because the game is stupid. I got a feeling this stuff will come in handy.
You are exhausted by the time you reach the forest floor. Thankfully, you strap on your armor.
And now it's time to leave. But where will we end up, exactly?
As the ladder might hint, we're back in the "main" maze, albeit two floors down from where we started. We arrive in roughly the center-east part of the map, far from either PoP. And that's just fine, because I'd rather we tackle the PoPs in a different order here, so we'll need to head for the ladder and go back upstairs, like so:
See? Not confusing at all, as long as you made sure to obsessively map the entire main trunk of this area before moving on to Matilda's branch.
Alternate Solutions & Deaths
There's no way past the thunder lizard without the whortleberries, but there are numerous ways to fail at dealing with it. Note that at any time you've got the option to flee, you can do so; for whatever reason it's not very good at pursuing you out to the previous maze.
For starters, why don't we kill the damn thing. Valterre hasn't failed us yet against man or beast of non-magical nature, after all.
You draw Valterre and charge toward the monster. It does not notice as you approach. You plunge your sword into its calf. It trumpets its pain and, with speed startling in so huge a creature, whirls on you. Its tail lashes you, almost by accident, and you tumble across the ground. You think you've broken a rib.
Should we keep fighting...
Studying a plant other than whortleberries also doesn't help.
You stand up to get a closer look at the plant. It is quite interesting. You wonder how good it would be to eat. Suddenly, there is a thunderous trumpeting sound. The lizard has caught sight of your standing there. It charges toward you, the ground shaking each time a foot strikes the ground.
All we can do then is flee or make a futile attempt to kill it, so that's a dead end. How about stealth?
Another dead end; once it notices us there's no recourse but to escape.
Alright, how about the Talisman?
Most Elements: You call upon the Talisman's power -- and a blast of energy batters the unready form of the monster. Shaken but undefeated, the monster whirls and sees its tormenter. Heedless of danger, it charges toward you, trumpeting its anger. You do not have time to draw upon the Talisman again.
Earth: The earth shakes. The monster staggers, but manages -- just -- to retain its footing. It whirls about, frightened of this phenomenon -- and sees you. Its primitive brain immediately assumes that this tiny interloper is somehow the cause of its danger. It charges you, slavering madly. You do not have time to use the Talisman before it closes.
Air: You command the air to be still. Suddenly, there is no sound about you; no tinkle of the brook, no buzz of insects, no birdsong. This way, you should be able to sneak past the monster, making no sound. You move forward, taking care to remain out of the beast's line of sight. The lizard's head rises from its prey. Its massive nostrils twitch. They twitch again. The head moves from side to side... Too bad it relies more on scent than hearing. It spots you. Its mouth opens, perhaps to roar; you do not hear the sound. It charges you.
Spirit: If it has a spirit, it is a tiny one. You cannot feel it within that massive bulk of flesh. It continues to rip at the body of its prey.
Mind: Its mind is tiny, primitive, governed by instinct. You cannot comprehend what it thinks, if indeed it can even be said to think at all. You have no handle, no way to influence this thing's behavior, no way to communicate. The monster continues to masticate the body of its prey.
Time: You freeze time, and run past the lizard. Perhaps if you are quick enough, you may get past it before the spell wears off... Unfortunately, the monster is large. You are far from it when you begin the spell, and you have far to run before you are out of its sight and hearing. The spell wears off before you make the far end of this place. It catches sight of you and charges.
Alas, none of the options work, interesting though they may be. This game often puts quite a lot of effort into things that don't work at all!
Meanwhile, in the grove, we covered all the options except the ones related to the aphidae. Let's see what happens if we try...
Kill Them: Soon, dismembered chitonous bodies tumble to the forest floor. You follow, more slowly, and find your armor. You feel your job is well done; now, the trees are not threatened by these parasites.
Touch Feelers: You touch the feelers of one of the insects. At a touch, the feelers wave in dismay. Suddenly, the insect's carapace opens, lacy wings spread out, and it flutters heavily into the air. With a chirring noise, the others join it, a flock of bugs flittering across the forest canopy. You are left alone here in the trees.
Pet Backs: You pet the back of one of the insects. Immediately, it responds as if attacked. It dances aside and darts toward you, mandibles clacking. A mandible enters your leg at the knee. Before you can draw Valterre, you are swamped in insect bodies, each tearing at you. You are multiply wounded, and plummet to the forest floor, branches breaking in your path.
Recite Poetry/Sing: The insects do not seem to appreciate your attempts to amuse them.
Pray: You feel better for your piety.