Part 67: Level Four: Catching UpLevel Four: Catching Up
Now, where could that Bureau of Records be? Maybe next door, in the brown maze?
We've gone to the counterpolar of the blue maze. The spinwise and counterspinwise both show purple mazes; however, these are different sides of the moon and are, in fact, opposite to one another. Not the same location at all. Worth keeping in mind since that's the only time a color repeats.
At any rate, let's examine the PoP in the middle-ish part of the maze before checking out that one that borders the purple maze. The counterspinwise purple floor is already suspicious, as there is no way in or out of it except via PoP; there's probably something important over there.
You seem to be standing in the center of a gigantic crater; and above you, filling the bulk of the sky, is a huge planet with bands of strangely-colored clouds. Where is your home? Can the moon have actually moved, to another world? Will you ever see Weith Village again?
Probably not, but that's no reason to give in to despair. Let's continue to the counterspinwise.
Suddenly, standing before you is a faceless, hooded figure. Where did it come from? What does it portend? It raises one sleeve, as if pointing a finger at you.
"I don't like this, chief," whispers Iggy. "Let's get out of here."
I share the sentiment, but as it turns out, there are no real "wrong" options here.
Kill It: You draw Valterre and charge... Your sword swipes through an empty robe. The robe collapses and falls to the ground. Whatever that thing was, it is gone. The strange-colored world shines on overhead.
Ignore It: As you walk around it, the cowl turns to face you, but the entity, whatever it is, makes no move to stop you. Nor does it say anything more. After you have walked for a minute or so, you turn around. Where that thing was -- there is nothing. Nothing but empty ground. Seemingly, it has disappeared into the very air.
Quest: You tell it of your quest to deliver the message to Moraziel. "Good," it says in a quiet voice like the rustle of bones. "Good. You are expected." Then it appears to think for a moment, and says, "Try the chocolate cake. It's very tasty." And then, in the blink of an eye, the robe and whatever, if anything, it contained are gone.
Talisman Generally: Magic power rages about the form. And when the spell dissipates, the entity remains there, completely unharmed. It throws back its cowl and laughs. The laugh seems to come not from the cowl, but thunders from the heavens. "Come," thunders the voice. "We anticipate your challenge." And then, in the blink of an eye, the robe and whatever, if anything, it contained -- are gone.
Spirit: The robe contains no spirit. This is not a living being of any kind.
Mind: The mind... mind... MIND! It is mad, insane. Your own mind begins to break. It is huge, ravening, horrible. You fall to your knees, in mental and spiritual pain. Only with the greatest effort can you break the spell, drag your own mind away from contact with this thing.
We can also pray.
Praying to any normal deity (or Mooko; apparently we're chill with the volcano god now) draws an anticipated response:
But suppose we pray to the Mad One?
"Very gratifying," murmurs the cowl. "Perhaps this is the beginning of wisdom? We look forward to your arrival." It pauses as if in thought, then says, "Purple lies the Madness." And in the blink of an eye, the robe and whatever, if anything, it contains are gone.
Oh dear. We seem to be in the thick of it now. Guess the moon's brand of madness isn't strictly bureaucracy; there's plenty of the regular kind about. But was that the Mad One himself, or merely one of his acolytes?
Even the game seems to have given up on trying to make sense of these guys.
The guard -- I'm assuming it's a guard, anyway -- doesn't seem to have noticed us yet. Let's see what info we can gather before we try anything.
"Why don't we try a bribe?" whispers Iggy. "It looks pretty corruptible to me."
Might be, Iggy. Let's check the door first. Maybe we can just walk right past him.
The door is locked and barred. You don't think you can open it without a key. The jailor notices you for the first time. "Hey!" it says. "Whatcha doing?"
Failing that, we'll try Plan B: Niceness.
"Good day," you say.
The creature's eyes unglaze. It appears to see you for the first time. It looks frightened. "Whatcha want?" it says in a faintly hostile tone.
Well, we have this quest, you see, to find the wizard Moraziel...
You begin to feel that this creature is dimwitted indeed. After a while, it begins to chew its cud again. And when your story is finished, it says. "Dat's nice" -- and it just sits there.
Look, pal, are you gonna let us through the door or not?
...Yes. Yes, we are trying to bribe you, idiot.
"Okey dokey," says the jailor. You haggle a bit and fix on a price. You hand him the gold and jewels. He gets up, unlocks the door, and waves you through it.
Remind me to take Iggy's suggestions more seriously in the future. Now what could've been so important that they'd put a jailor -- however stupid -- on permanent watch?
Oh hey, who would've expected?
"Persephone!" you shout, and run to the bars of the cage. Strangely, the back of her cell is open -- open to the sky, through which you fell to reach this moon. It is indeed she, who braved the MadMaze before you. You have seen signs of her passage in the course of your journey, but it seems that she did not manage to make it all the way to Moraziel.
We somewhat suspected this when we found out from the creature that other "strange monsters" had made it to the Moon of Madness. To a weird alien, all humans must look like monsters.
She smiles slowly. "Why hello," she says, recognizing you. "It's a long way from Weith, isn't it?"
"Who's the chick?" asks Iggy in an odd tone of voice. You look at him and realize he's sucking in his gut and trying to straighten his nose.
"I knew her back home," you whisper, then ask Persephone, "What are you doing in there, Seph?"
She grimaces. "I got caught. Almost made it to Moraziel. But the Mad One's Archpriest captured me and imprisoned me here."
Could the Archpriest have been that cowled figure we saw before? How odd... we were powerless against him, but he made no effort to capture us. Indeed, he said we were expected. Why was Persephone treated different?
"Come on, chief. We gotta get her out."
Agreed. Now which of the jailor's keys will work here...
You pull out the ring of keys you took from the jailor -- but none of them fit. Seph laughs sadly. "No," she says, "you won't have it."
Maybe not, but I do have this awesome magic sword!
Right. What I meant to say is I have this awesome magic talisman!
Most Elements: Magic energy rips from the Talisman and blasts against the bars of the cell... But they hold. "No," says Persephone sadly. "That won't work. My cell is proof against magic, I fear."
Earth: Nothing seems to happen. Perhaps Earth has no power in this unearthly place.
Mind/Spirit: Curiously, there seems to be a magic barrier, as well as a physical one, before you. You cannot contact Persephone's mind or spirit through this barrier.
Time: Time freezes... How does this help you get Persephone out? Time thaws.
I suppose we should've expected that the Mad One's own prison would be pretty much impenetrable.
"Only one thing can free me," she says.
"And what is that?"
"The key held by the Mad One's Archpriest. You can find the Archpriest toward the Purple," she says, "but do not face him before you obtain the Lady's Staff! That was my error, for which I have paid dearly."
"How do I obtain the staff?" you ask.
"If I knew, would I not have obtained it myself?"
"She's right, chief."
Shut up, Iggy, I knew that. I guess we'll have to come back for you, Seph. Anything else you can think of that might help us?
A puzzled look comes into her face. "Yes, but I don't know what it means."
"What is it?" you say.
"'There are six,'" she says, sounding like she's quoting someone. "'Base fruit, vile fruit, base six.'"
This isn't the first fruit-related clue we've gotten, though we have no idea what it means either. Worth filing away just in case though.
Your voice thick with emotion, you swear that you will find the Archpriest of the Mad One and free Persephone from her bondage. "Thank you," she whispers and, reaching through the bars, gives your hand a squeeze.
Alas, that's all we can do for her now. At least she's as safe as she's reasonably going to get around here, for now... But that figure we saw must be the Archpriest, so he knows we're skulking about. Let's get out of here and back to the task at hand.
There are two ways to leave Persephone's cell, but neither brings us back to the brown maze. This purple maze is isolated from the rest of the moon, meaning we'll need to pass that PoP to the spinwise to get out.
Wait just a cotton-pickin' minute...
The river is more or less exactly as it was before, right down to the deaths (with Iggy taking the place of our horse should we try to ford it). Should we somehow have forgotten the way we passed it before, Iggy offers an unusually comprehensive hint:
Iggy looks bewildered. "I got across this thing in a magic bowl some geezer gave me," he says. "Don't suppose you got a bowl, chief?"
Indeed, we need but do the very same thing we did last time to pass.
You toss the bowl into the river. Instantly, it begins to grow, until it is at least ten cubits across, large enough to hold a man and a -- whatever Iggy is -- comfortably.
"It's worth holding onto these things," you say smugly.
"Packrat mentality," snorts Iggy.
Crossing the river brings us to the point where we started the Moon of Madness, forcing us to pass the Strange Creature again. It's the only way out of this particular maze though, so go figure. That guy must be really tired of bumping into us while he's trying to get to work.
Alternate Solutions & Deaths
Nothing new with the cloaked figure that wasn't already covered, so let's go back to the jailor. There are a shocking number of alternate solutions here. In fact, it's effectively impossible to fail at getting past the jailor. For example, we could kill him:
You draw Valterre and lunge. Gish! It is dead. You take the keys from the jailor's body.
Same deal with most of the Talisman's options:
Shazam! You blast the jailor to smithereens.
Interestingly, Mind is most effective here:
You take control of the creature's mind, such as it is. Moving jerkily, it gets off its stool, unlocks the door, and stands aside.
We can also freeze time and steal the keys to unlock the door, or kill the jailor and take them. Either works. Should any other options fail, the outcome isn't too dangerous:
You hold forth the Talisman and... Nothing much happens. The jailor is alarmed. "Hey!" it says. "Whatcha doing?"
We can also ask it for the keys.
"You got authorization for that?" it asks hostilely.
Sure do, as far as you know!
As much as this looks like a puzzle, it isn't; absolutely any answer we give leads to the following.
"Looks okay ta me," says the jailor dubiously.
He then lets us through. If we're not feeling all subterfugey, we can just threaten him too.
"Oi!" says the jailor, a look of fright passing across its face. "Okay, okay, only, keep your shirt on, okay?" It swallows its cud with a loud gulping sound.
Finally, if you're curious, should we tell the jailor we aren't trying to bribe him...
"Oh," it says, sounding disappointed.
So yeah, the only way to fail at this is to give up and leave.
Back at the purple maze, astute readers may have noticed a couple of things. First, it's possible to enter Persephone's PoP from the maze, essentially bypassing the Jailor PoP entirely. To do that, one would need to get into this purple maze, but as it turns out, there's a PoP in the red maze that feeds directly into the purple.
A rickety rope bridge spans the chasm. Footing looks uncertain.
"I vote we find another route."
Now, this PoP looks quite similar to the Chasm PoP from the second level, but it's not quite the same thing.
Here's where things diverge considerably. If we say we seek Moraziel or The Mad One...
"You will not find him across here," says the voice. Then, it pauses a moment, and says quietly, almost thoughtfully: "A wrathful man stirreth up strife." And then it booms out, as if in anger: "Go! Return from whence you came! Once your quest is fulfilled, mayhap you will be fit to cross!"
The Talisman's no help here, for there is nothing to blast here. Freezing time will avail you naught; and no Mind or Spirit can the Talisman sense. We can also press onward when told to go back, but this is predictably a bad idea:
"Were you not warned?" says the voice. The boards splinter beneath you, and you tumble, tumble, head over heels, into the mist.
If we instead tell the voice we're looking for the Bureau of Records or Throckmorton...
"You will not find that across here," says the voice. "Seek rather location 376G."
That's what we've been trying to do this whole time, you idiot! Unfortunately, he offers no additional help on finding that, and will kill us if we try to press on.
Supposing we unwisely say we're looking for The Lady, Enlightenment, or Virtue... well, you can probably guess.
"Do you indeed," says the voice with infinite sadness. "Then you must die, for my task is to slay the foes of the Mad One."
We then get dumped into the void, as expected.
But what if we say we're looking for Persephone?
"Do you in truth?" says the voice, almost sadly. "Then pass, friend."
And now we indeed can pass into the purple maze. Where we'll find Persephone. Guess it helps to know exactly what we're looking for, huh?
At any rate, because we can reach Persephone by either the Chasm or the Jailor, one of those two PoPs is totally optional. The Jailor is much easier, since you pretty much can't fail it, and you'd have to be extremely perceptive to remember the Strange Creature mentioning that the jail was "counterspinwise" and map out the Moon of Madness enough to realize the purple maze on the other side of the Chasm is the maze counterspinwise to where we met the Strange Creature. But sure enough, check the map; it all lines up.