Part 61: Level Three: A Wizard (Of The Kitchen)Level Three: A Wizard (Of The Kitchen)
The only thing of note about the maze at this point is that Castle Wicksmear is similarly isolated from its own maze in a fashion like on the floor above; we'll have to loop around from the southern edge of the red maze to reach it in the gray one.
Looks kinda Perilous.
This must be the place. I can smell it. That said, I wasn't expecting the soldiers; I figured Wicksmear would be the sort of wizard to live alone in his giant castle. But he's got security... They'd probably notice us walking up to the north wall at this hour, so we'll wait for nightfall.
The sun sinks into the west. Darkness blankets the land. Torches flicker on the castle's battlements.
Now if Jocko had the right of it, we'll approach the north wall...
You manage to sneak right up to the north wall without being noticed.
...And now we must dig. We could use the Talisman, but that might attract too much attention.
What could await us? Hopefully a kitchen. That'd be convenient, and make sense, since it's an old service entrance. But we probably wouldn't be so lucky.
Scratch that. We hit paydirt. Though it's tempting to explore further, or to try to swipe Wicksmear's spellbook (though more likely it's a recipe book), that cake is exactly what we need and nothing more.
As you take the cake, you glance at the tome and realize it is open to a recipe for chocolate cake. You scan this quickly, and are surprised that it contains a highly unusual ingredient: grated radish.
"In a chocolate cake?" you say, then shrug. As long as it tastes good.
We then, with little fanfare, sneak ourselves out of the castle. Back to the Floating City, I suppose!
Now that we're back here, it's time to have dessert again, but this time we're going for the proper option of chocolate cake.
And here we find the real reason we had to go Castle Wicksmear at all: The game expects us to cheat and come here knowing we need chocolate cake, so it throws a secret ingredient check at us. We of course know the trick is a pinch of grated radish.
Strange but true. We suppose that at this point you should like to call someone's name. Whose?
Why, our buddy Xavier!
"Chocolate cake!" he says. "Yummy." And he downs it in about three bites. "Righto. Let's motor!"
So you climb atop him, and the two of you tear off across the landscape toward the Floating City. Soon, you catch up with the city. Guards, peering down, noticing you speeding along, pacing the town; they order its speed slowed, then halted, and lower a basket down toward you.
Fantastic. Thanks, pal!
Quite unusual to see Sapiensaurs and Insectidae living together in harmony. This place is probably reasonably peaceful if those two can get along, so we'll agree to disarm.
They take you to a comfortable place and offer you refreshments. You are invited to stay as long as you like, although they do discreetly mention that your bill will be payable weekly. They ask you what business brings you to the Floating City.
Hmm. Maybe we should be a little careful here and evade the question until we learn more about the place.
You evade their question. This raises some eyebrows (or the insectile and reptilian equivalents thereof), but the Floaters are willing to allow you your privacy.
After some days of observing the Floaters, you conclude that their claims are true. This is a place of peace and serenity, albeit one with a rather unchivalrous attachment to the idea of profit. The City thrives on trade, as it is able to move from one market to another far faster than other merchants. But its inhabitants are careful to admit to the city only those who will not disturb the peace.
Great. I feel like we can trust them with our story now. We could've just done that in the first place, mind you, but this lets us see more text.
All of these lead to the same place, but in slightly different ways.
Agree: They are thrilled and pleased and agree to help you in your quest -- for a sufficient cash payment. To your dismay, this payment just about cancels your income.
Refuse: They are disappointed, but agree to help you anyway -- for a sufficient cash payment.
Bargain: They are quite annoyed, but eventually agree on a larger sum. When you ask for help in your quest, they agree, but point out that it is only fair that they charge you for this assistance. Reluctantly, you agree. The price they set almost exactly cancels the income you receive from your story.
Only If They Help: They immediately agree.
Whatever the shakedown, all roads lead to us getting some actual help.
"But," points out another, "the human bears a message for Moraziel. Presumably, if any unbalancing occurs, it will be in favor of sanity. Far from refusing assistance, we should offer it gladly."
"At a minimum," says a third, "we have taken this one's money, and owe some assistance."
They all agree with this. "To reach the Moon of Madness," says an Insectid, "one must voyage through the Pyramid of the Insectidae."
Come on, you can't just leave it at that! What do I need to actually do once I get there?
After conferring, they refuse to provide more information. "It is too risky," mutters the spokesbug. "If you feel that you are not receiving value for money, we are willing to provide a refund."
Eh, it's not like it was real money to begin with. Whatever, tell me about the traps.
"At one point in the Pyramid, you will come to a dead end. At the end is a console on which there is a dial, a lever, and several buttons. Turn the dial to the illustration of a rabbit, pull the lever to the vertical, and press the blue button." You repeat the instructions several times to memorize them.
"I think we owe him a little more," says a lizard. "So remember this also, human: Yellow is the color of plague."
Another color hint. Those must mean something.
"Now," says one of the Floaters, "where would you like to go?"
You ask him what that means.
"Our city continually voyages across the MadMaze's Third Realm," he says. "If you are willing to wait a few days or weeks, we can drop you off almost anywhere."
This is a nifty little feature. The Floating City will take us just about anywhere we'd like within the third level, offering a chance to fix mistakes or check out hints that were missed. Had we crossed the river in the jungle area before visiting the ice realm, this would be a way to get back and check it out. We can even go all the way back to Tsoriss's house, essentially starting the level over. Note that the lack of permanence means that this is quite literally starting over; nothing will be remembered and we'll still have to deal with the Dream Serpent, cross the geysers, etc.
At this point we have nothing further to do in the third level except visit the Prime Mother's Hive, so there's no real difference between selecting that or choosing to return to the savannah where we started and go down the ladders to the final floor of the level. Imagine whichever you prefer as our method to get down there.
Alternate Solutions & Deaths
As is so often the case, Castle Wicksmear has rather a lot of writing for what are, in the end, all wrong answers. To wit, let's walk right up to the gate:
"Look," you say. "I just want to talk to the wizard."
"But he don't want to talk to you. G'wan. Get out of here."
"If you don't leave at once, we shall fill you with arrows." You notice that arrow slits all over the gate are bristling with arrowheads.
I feel like we almost have them convinced. Let's press the issue.
They turn you into a porcupine. "Oh, very chivalrous," you say nastily as you breathe your last.
Approaching any of the walls during the daytime leads to a similar outcome. Either way, we're not talking our way in. Perhaps if we used the Talisman?
You hold forth the Talisman, and call upon the power of... It doesn't really matter.
This will happen every time the Talisman is used anywhere in the castle, so Earth cannot be used to dig under the north wall either; it must be done manually.
Curiously enough, we don't die from this.
Yep, we can just flee. Note that choosing stay and die has no text and just instantly kicks out to the death screen. Yet another of those instances where saying nothing is funnier.
That's all the options during the daytime. Supposing we returned at night and tried to climb the battlements?
That won't work. If we dig under the wrong wall, we'll be presented with an interesting conundrum:
Patience will do us no good:
When you return the following night, your hole has been filled in -- and a squadron of soldiers is waiting for you, with bowmen on the walls.
You kill a score -- but the bowman, secure behind their walls, can shoot you without endangering themselves to your blade. At last, you fall, six arrows protruding from your body.
Technically we can run away between those two lines, but that doesn't do anything interesting.
Finally, we can leave the kitchen to go looking for treasure (or the wizard; it doesn't matter).
As you are wandering the halls, you encounter a group of soldiers. "Hey!" shouts one. "Who are you? What are you doing here?"
"Er... Ah... Just looking for the bathroom. Uh..."
"Attack!" says an officer.
You kill scores, but more keep on arriving. There are just too many of them. And many have bows; they stand off and fire at you while others fight you face to face, shielding the bowmen. At last, you die.
Unfortunately, the only way to actually meet the Wizard Wicksmear is to piss him off with magic, and that won't do. So much for learning the secrets of his trade. Not wizardry, I mean, baking. Why would we want to be a better wizard?
Back at the savannah, we can mess up in two additional ways. The first is that we can select the wrong chocolate cake ingredient:
We can also call for someone other than Xavier.
The Floating City itself has little else of interest, except that we can refuse to disarm ourselves and get uppity with the Floaters. While standing in a basket attached precariously to their city, which is flying.
Suddenly, the basket is plummeting to the earth so far below. They cut the cable.
Not the most slick piece of negotiation we've pulled off, I must say.