Part 60: Level Three: Sugar CravingsLevel Three: Sugar Cravings
A reminder that we have, indeed, arrived in this big ol' maze. It's actually a bit oversized even by level three standards, doubly so since it's a double maze. The ladder would put us down near the southwesternmost PoP, and we should go there first, but I want to show something off first.
Had we taken the punitive expedition's offer to fly to a nearby maze, they'd have dropped us off in the top right, facing the PoP in the northeast. And what PoP is that?
Not totally accurate to how the city operates in the text, but a really fun design all the same. Very Vancian.
Hmm. Maybe we can catch up to it? Ride, Veillantif!
You run as fast as you can, but the city moves faster. Soon, it disappears over the horizon. You are alone on the savannah.
...Oh right, we left him on the second level and are on foot. Talisman time!
The Talisman cannot help you move faster, nor is it powerful enough to stop the city. The best you can do is freeze time for a few moments, allowing you to gain temporarily on the city -- but this is not enough. Still the city outdistances you.
Well ain't that a pisser. Nothing left to do but have dessert.
Little did you all know, but we've been carrying a pecan pie with us the whole time, and this is the perfect opportunity!
Delicious, we're sure. As you're pigging out, however, the Floating City has disappeared over the horizon. Time to leave.
This pie is delightful, but I can't help but think we're missing something here. Guess we'll head back to the ladder and proceed through these PoPs in some kind of logical order.
I did say logical ORDER, not that the PoPs would make any sense.
Around you is a broad, flat savannah. In the distance, you can see herds of strange animals cropping the vegetation. One such speeds toward you at truly incredible velocity. You hold Valterre and wait, matador-like, to stand aside as the monster passes. But...
We have gone Full Vance, I think. Possibly bordering on Pratchett.
"You move quickly," you observe.
"Oi, guvnor," it says. "We roachsters is the fastest things in all creation, no doubt about it. Wanter go fer a ride?"
I cannot say yes fast enough.
"So, guvnor," says the roachster. "What can I be doing for yer?"
I have got to have you join me. Got to.
"You mean -- enter the maze?" says the roachster.
"Aye," you say. "Join me in my grand quest to..."
"Nah, nah," says the roachster. "This savannah is like, our natcheral habitant. Raochsters can't leave 'ere for long. Or we dies, like. Sorry, guvnor."
That's unfortunate. Can you at least offer us some help in our quest?
What does a roachster know of the Flying City?
"Oi, well, guvnor," says the roachster. "You don't got much chance o' getting there. See, the city moves fast. Always zipping around. They lower down some baskets to do some tradin' sometimes, but they see a bloke like you wiv a big sword an' all, they're not going ter stick around. Too dangerous, like. Nah, the only thing that can move faster'n the Flyin' City is a roachster."
A roachster like you, perhaps?
Chocolate cake. That's all you want? I suppose we all have our dessert cravings. But where in the third level am I supposed to get cake?
"That wizzo, Wicksmear, lives inna castle in the next maze over. 'E bakes chocolate cake alla time, gives us roachsters some when 'e wants a favor. It's great stuff, yummy, like. But you better be careful. 'E don't like people much, unless 'e wants something from them. If you went up ter 'im an' asked fer cake, 'e'd probly turn you into a toad or something. You better sneak into 'is castle."
That's... certainly convenient, for Xavier at least. Not so much for us. We'll need some way to sneak in. How are we going to do that?
"Oi, guvnor," says the roachster. "I don't bloody know. Oi, wait! Why don'tcha ask Jocko? 'E 'elped build the castle, 'e might 'ave an idear."
Roachsters have fenders, because of course they do. Alright, I suppose it's worth a try. It can't be that difficult to steal from a wizard with an inexplicable fancy for baking. And if Wicksmear lives in "the next maze over," and we know that one of the PoPs there is the Floating City, then Jocko must be the northwest PoP in this side of the maze.
Oh God, this guy better not be a grammarian.
"Consarn murblemumbling efflemurking bundersmutching flurp!" shouts the blacksmith. His heavily muscled torso hangs half-way out of a furnace. Large banging noises are coming from within.
"Ahem," you say. "Good day."
"Beeblegarping juzzlemumping FARB SNORG MIP!" shouts the blacksmith. You hear more loud bangs.
"I say," you say in a somewhat louder voice. "May I speak with you for a moment?"
"I SAY, MY GOOD MAN!" you shout. "I AM NOT ACCUSTOMED TO THIS SORT OF TREATMENT."
The blacksmith pulls himself out of the forge and stares at you. "Get used to it," he growls, then sticks his head back into the forge. (Bang!) "Murflemurk." (Bang!)
"Well!" says the smith with a delighted grin. "Guess I misjudged you. Ow can I 'elp you?"
We're on this quest, you see, to get to the Moon of Madness, and...
The smith's eyes glaze over and he harries his ear with one massive, black fingernail as you tell him your story. "That's very inneresting," he says dubiously. "I'm afraid I don't know nuffing about mad gods an' stuff like that."
...So we must visit the Pyramid of the Insectidae...
"Them bugs?" says the smith. "I dunno about them. Don't seem to buy much iron work."
...Right. So what do you know about?
Roachsters: "Flighty types," says the smith. "Friendly enough, though."
Flying City: "It comes an' goes," says the blacksmith. "Moves like the dickens. They stop 'ere, once in a while, to pick up some ironwork, but you can never rely on 'em to be 'ere at any given time. 'Ow do yer get there? Beats me. They try to avoid people what looks like trouble, which you do, in yer armor an' all, begging your pardon."
Wicksmear: "Mean old barstid, 'e is. I don't advise visiting 'is castle; 'e prolly turn you into a knick-knack for 'is mantle, or somefing."
I'm told you know how to get into his castle, though.
"I guess 'e covered it up. That's right, there's just dirt there now. I bet if you could dig under there, you'd find the door still there. If you want ter sneak in, that's yer best bet. The north wall, that's roight."
The north wall it is then. Thank you, good man. Off we go to the castle of a wizard to steal chocolate cake so a roach-car hybrid can help us chase a skittish floating city. That's a sentence that makes sense.
Alternate Solutions & Deaths
Rather than shout at Jocko, we could just yank him out of his forge.
"I am a knight of King Carlon," you say, "embarked on a mighty quest to..."
"I don't care 'oo the bloody 'ell you are," says the smith. "I got work to do. Get off me property."
"I seek to enter Castle Wicksmear," you say.
"It's got a bloody gate."
"What would be my fate if I used it?" you ask.
"Yer wick'd be smeared," smirks the smith.
"I am told you may be able to help me."
"Maybe I could an' maybe I couldn't, but I don't like yer manners. Get off of me property."
At this point we can help him as usual, which will make him like us and bring us to the other options already covered.
Or we could murder him.
You kill the mighty-thewed smith with a single stroke of Valterre. He falls in two pieces to the ground. Teach them their place. Hah!