Part 62: Level Three: How The Prime Mother Got Her Groove BackLevel Three: How The Prime Mother Got Her Groove Back
Welcome to the bottom of the maze! Whether we take the Floating City's offer or climb down the ladders, we end up in the northwest chunk of this lovely pink maze. We're cut off from the rest by the Lair of the Prime Mother, but there's an interesting feature here: Ladders going further down...?
Try to go down further from this maze and you just find a dead end. No idea why they did this.
At last, you have found the Prime Mother's lair. She is vast, whale-like in her insectile flesh. From her ovipositor spews a steady stream of eggs. Waiting workers carry them off to the incubators. There is pandemonium as the guards realize that an intruder is present.
Violence probably isn't the answer here, and we already know that the Nectar of the Aphidae is precious to the Insectidae. Let's offer some and see if that breaks the ice.
"I come bearing the Nectar of the Aphidae," you announce. "I come in peace." And you kneel, proffering the nectar in humble wise.
The warrior halts. She and others of the Insectidae confer with the queen. The Prime Mother speaks, with the slow, buzzing voice of a hive of millions. "Test it. See that it is as the squishy says."
The warrior comes forward and takes your container. She opens it, sticks a leg within, and tastes the substance. "Is this truly the Nectar of the Aphidae, or are you trying to pass off some lesser substance? Tell me, squishy; where do the Aphidae live?"
Within huge trees, in the Grove of the Aphidae.
"And what color is the nectar?"
This is interesting; the game never goes out of its way to remind you that the color of the nectar is important, but it does mention several times that it's green.
Actually, we're not a Sapiensaur. I would think that'd be obvious on sight, but the bugs aren't particularly discerning.
"Examine it," says the Prime Mother. A warrior approaches you carefully. It feels you all over. You shudder with revulsion as chitonous limbs brush over your body. It pries open your mouth and counts your teeth.
"It is strange," says the warrior to the Prime Mother. "It has an exoskeleton, as do the Insectidae; it has nipples, as do the small creatures that bear live young; and its teeth are suited to an omnivorous diet. This one has never seen the like; it is neither Insectid nor Saurian."
Quest: "You voyage to the Moon of Madness?" says the Prime Mother in horror. "No, no, we cannot permit it. The balance of forces on the Moon is very fine. Moraziel strives to contain Madness, so the Mad One cannot conquer the world entirely; you might upset that balance. No, it is too risky."
Pass Through: "We cannot permit it," says the Insect Mother. "Though you have approached in polite fashion, our hive contains the larva pits, the creches, the arsenals and secrets of our kind. We cannot be sure that you are not a spy for the Sapiensaurs; hence, we cannot permit you to see such things."
Study Pyramid: "No, no, absolutely not," says the Prime Mother. "Beyond the Pyramid lies the Invisible Maze; and beyond it, the Moon of Madness. There, legend says, Moraziel strives to contain the Mad One; but should he fail, our Pyramid is a fall-back. Our wizards would strive to stop the Mad One there. We cannot be sure that you are our friend; so we cannot allow you access to our most sacred place."
Things are looking a bit dire, but should we have chosen any of these options the Prime Mother has a small change of heart:
"But it has been so long, so long. We recall only bits and snatches of our marital lives. Perhaps you can help us to assemble these bits of memory into a complete tapestry. We wish to recall the names of our five husbands; the order in which we married them; the manner of each one's death; and the colors of their exoskeletons." You notice that warriors guard the exits. You cannot flee.
I suppose that makes our choice for us. We'll help.
"Here is what we remember," says the Prime Mother.
1. Humm we married right after the husband we decapitated; the green one came later. The other two husbands were Zziggy, and later the one we threw to the ant-lions; but there was at least one intervening husband between them.
2. Zziggy was brown; so was the one we drowned.
3. Buzz was yellow; so was the one we fed to the ant-lions.
4. Neither our first nor our most recent husband was brown.
5. Mmanny we killed by implanting eggs in his body, so that the hatching larvae would feed on his living flesh. That was a most amusing death.
6. One husband we killed by strangling. One husband was called Zzammy.
"That is all we recall. Ready to answer?"
Yikes. Give us a second to think on this one, your majesty. The game offers us a nice reference check here, which I'll reproduce:
Husbands: Buzz, Humm, Mmanny, Zzammy, Zziggy.
Deaths: Decapitated; Drowned; Eggs Implanted In Body; Strangled; Thrown To Ant-Lions.
Colors: Brown, Green, Yellow.
Remember that we also need to know the order in which she married them.
Note that this one has a twist: There are only three colors for five husbands. Helpfully, the clues make clear that there are no more than two of a given color. Does make gridding a little difficult, so you might want to figure out the colors separately and grid the rest.
Alternate Solutions & Deaths
Violence is definitely not the answer here, in case you expected we could somehow get away with a frontal assault or regicide.
Kill Them: You draw Valterre and do so. But scores of other warriors pour from the surrounding hive. You slay dozens, building a pile of dry insect corpses about you. But one of the Insectidae -- not a warrior, but another form you have not seen before -- drops on you from above, and rapidly weaves a cocoon of unbreakable silk about you. After some discussion, your bound body is offered to the Prime Mother as a snack.
Fry The Prime Mother: You slay the Prime Mother with a blast of magic. She is the sole fertile female of her race; without her, the Insectidae are doomed. Every single member of the entire species now has only one purpose in life: Slaying you. If by some chance you should survive the hundreds of warriors now closing on your position, you will be hunted for the rest of your life by millions of members of a highly advanced and magically adept civilization. Your life isn't worth a plugged sixpence.
Should we screw up identifying the Nectar, we die anticlimactically.
Instantly, the warrior plunges a spear into your breast. You kill her as you die, but revenge is scant consolation.
We can also say some things to the Prime Mother that don't lead to the puzzle we need to solve to progress:
Came To Gaze Upon Her: "Well said," says the Prime Mother. "Gaze all you like." They let you stay within the Prime Mother's chamber as long as you wish.
Blather About Trade: You have a long and fruitful discussion about trade routes. Eventually, you set up a deal to swap Insectid honey for the wines of your home (even the Insectidae have heard of Village de Weith!)
Yeah, take that, kumiss! Unfortunately, regardless of choice...
But they never let you any deeper into the Hive, nor do they allow you anywhere near the Pyramid of the Insectidae.
If we admit we lied she just orders us killed. We could also fry her, but that won't help. Could we use the Talisman's power over Mind to convince her?
The Talisman's mind power seems to have no effect on the Insect Mother -- whether because she is an insect, is incredibly old and resistant to such things, or huge and powerful, it is difficult to say.
Our only option is to leave and return to reset things so we can get her to present us with the puzzle.