Part 70: Level Four: The Final StretchLevel Four: The Final Stretch
The general's posed quite a puzzler to his staff, but kw0134 seems to have it licked:
Let's tell General Vauxmartin that we have this.
kw0134 posted:This ended up being pretty straightforward.
There are five countries, divided into two alliances. Triple Alliance of Middlemark, Occipotia, Suidemark. River Entente of Nosten, Ostania. The key ends up being the fact that Occipotia is NOT a naval power. The festival mentions all five countries obliquely: Corpolin being an admiral, means the country who failed to attend cannot be Occipotia. Middlemark and Nosten are mentioned by name, and more importantly the non-Occipotian nation mentioned last who hired a cavalry leader (Balit) makes the archery contingent the Occipotians. Since the naval leader must be from a Triple Alliance nation, as it is the only bloc with a navy, that means Balit was hired by Ostania and thus this is the cavalry nation. Nosten thus must be an infantry power as all alliances have an infantry contingent. Of the leaders, we've already accounted for Corpolin and Balit. Engrout doesn't do infantry, and Abstantor doesn't work with the River Entente, so Dindee is an infantry leader for Nosten. That explains the River Entente.
Edit: once we've given names to the other participants of the festival not directly named, the nation who was a no-show is Suidemark and thus has Corpolin and therefore a navy.
Now the Triple Alliance. Occipotia is the archery nation, as above. The only leader it can hire is Engrout since it's NOT an infantry power and we've already accounted for another nation having Corpolin. Middlemark cannot be the naval power (since it showed up to the party above) and so it MUST be the infantry power as again all alliances have one infantry focused nation. Abstantor is the only leader not accounted for, so here we are. Suidemark has Corpolin and thus is the naval power.
Middlemark, infantry lead by Abstantor
Occipotia, archery lead by Engrout
Suidemark, navy lead by Corpolin
Nosten, infantry lead by Dindee
Ostania, cavalry lead by Balit
"You have it worked out, Carstairs?" the general says when you volunteer. "Excellent! Then you can tell me who commands Norsten's army?"
That's Dindee, sir.
"A start," snarls the general. "And who commands the army of Middlemark?"
The general is beginning to smile around his cigar. "And the army of Ostania?"
"And the army of Occipotia?"
We then tell him that Norsten and Middlemark command infantry, that Suidmark has a navy, and that Ostania fields cavalry. Assuming we have that all straight...
"Brilliant, Carstairs!" says the general. "Make that Brigadier General." The monstrosities crowd around, slapping you on the back and offering congratulations. Then, everyone begins to leave, some through the door you entered, others through the far door.
I hope that Carstairs, whoever and wherever he is, appreciates what we've done for his career.
Anyway, that far door is where we've been trying to go since we walked in, but now that the briefing is over no one will notice or mind that we're taking it. See below for the assorted ways in which this can go rapidly awry.
This is it, the actual final maze of MadMaze. It's... pretty conventional, as mazes go. No looping anywhere, no funky multi-floor stuff, no invisibility gimmick. Just a straight shot (or... winding shot, as the case may be) to the last two PoPs of the game. The penultimate PoP is just a roadblock.
Yes, for some reason this PoP purports to be inside the maze, but the screen isn't quite right for the user interface and it's in the wrong kind of maze. This is what the current maze actually looks like:
This critter is pretending to be in some maze back on earth! Nice try, pal.
A vast creature is rushing madly down the corridor toward you, squealing like a hundred cows in pain. It seems oblivious to your presence, and will run you over in seconds if you don't do something.
"I have a bad feeling about this, chief. Like my dad always told me, 'when in doubt, run away!'"
I don't think we could get away in time, Iggy. Let's just yell at the guy to stop. I mean, that's not a good idea either, but it'll work.
"Who the devil are you?" it says in a comically high-pitched voice. "No one's supposed to be wandering around here but the high command."
Oh, you know, it's me, Carstairs.
"Yeah?" says the thing. "I've got corridors to clean, friend. Get outta my way."
"I must continue forward," you insist. "My destiny lies at the Rift of Madness."
"No one's supposed to go that way who isn't a big cheese," says the thing.
As it so happens, I am a big cheese! I'm a brigadier general, y'know.
"Right, sure," says the thing caustically. "You're on a first-name basis with General Vauxmartin, I bet."
"As a matter of fact," you say, "I am."
"Yeah? What IS his first name?"
This is a weird thing to ask, as there's no way to have gotten past the general's puzzle without him telling us his first name is Farnsworth.
"Huh," says the thing suspiciously. "All right, so you do know his first name. Big deal. But only a member of the High Command would know something about each of the three levels of the MadMaze."
Ugh, are we really doing this? Fine, lay it on us.
"So tell me. What is the name of the general of the Sapiensaurs?"
It's Belisaurius. I suppose this is one clue that could've been missed, though it'd be very hard to have gotten all the necessary clues to pass the Prime Mother and Pyramid without meeting Belisaurius and getting his letter for Cesauriensis. Regardless.
The thing is beginning to sound a little nervous. "All right!" it says. "Okay. So you got lucky that time. Fine. So, what symbol is inscribed on the Lamp of Aboud?"
What, you mean this lamp, that I happen to still be carrying around with me? The one with a hornet inscribed on it?
The thing's voice is shaking. "Uh... right. Look, uh, if I'm wrong, you won't tell Vauxmartin I held you up, will you?"
"I promise nothing," you say.
"Great," it mutters.
Note that at no point did it ask us a question about the first level of the MadMaze. What are we, chopped liver down there?
And with that, we can get to the center of this maze, where we find...
A ladder. No, it doesn't go to a new maze; going up this ladder will open the final PoP of the game. I guess it had to be a ladder; not exactly anywhere else to go now that we've reached the end of the maze.
Alternate Solutions & Deaths
At the general, we had a number of options beyond simply sitting down. To refresh your memory, here's the first choice:
Let's say we decided to act like we were just passing through.
You ignore the general and his subordinates and stride purposefully toward the exit.
"You!" barks the general. "Where the darfle bicklebit do you think you're going! Wait a minute. You're not Carstairs!"
We can't flee (It's too far. They close with you before you make the exit). We can try using the Talisman, but it will only buy us a little time:
Time freezes. The exit is locked and closed. You struggle with it for a moment... And time resumes. The monsters snarl as they surge toward you. You draw Valterre and face them.
Whether we face them immediately or try to escape with the Talisman first, the end result is unfavorable.
The general will also declare us a spy if we tell him that we have not read our briefing. We can also die in the melee if we attack immediately, like so...
You whip out Valterre and charge. You manage to kill the general himself before the others react. "That's not Carstairs!" one of them shouts into the shocked hush. And with a visceral, animal growl, the others leap, slither, and totter toward you, weapons readied, ready to die to prevent your escape.
We do also have the Talisman available at the start of the PoP. Freezing time will get us discovered same as if we'd tried using it after being found out, but there are a few other options.
Most Elements: With the magic of the Talisman, you blast the general into oblivion. There is a shocked silence for a moment. Then, one of the others shours, "That isn't Carstairs!" With an animal growl, they rush you, acting swiftly to revenge their commander.
Mind: The general is so enraged that you cannot take control of his mind. You cannot read much, either; merely that he plans to have his entire staff executed if the purblind fools cannot solve a simple conundrum. You realize that he thinks you are part of his staff.
Lastly, if we answer one of the general's questions incorrectly:
"Take this ninny out and feed him to the dire wolves," the general bellows, pointing at you.
We can then fight them and die or flee and also die.
At the bubbles, we have choices other than ordering the creature to stop, but none of them work out too well.
Kill It: You draw Valterre and slice at the thing. Your blade simply passes through the bubbles, as if they were made of butter. Yet the creature does not even flinch; it continues its manic drive forward... Burying you in bubbles. You cannot move, you cannot think; you are digested alive.
Use Talisman: The thing simply -- ABSORBS your magic. Seemingly, magic cannot affect it. And then, it is upon you. It oozes around you, burying you in bubbles. You cannot move. You can barely think. And soon, you pass out from the pain as you are digested alive.
Ask Iggy: "I think," says Iggy... And then the thing strikes. You are buried in fleshy bubbles and digested alive.
It will also kill us if we answer any of its questions incorrectly:
"Thought so," says the thing nastily. You barely manage a scream before it rolls over you, burying you in bubbles. You cannot move. You cannot twitch. You soon pass out from the pain as you are digested alive.
Curiously, fleeing the PoP totally works, even though the way it's written would suggest otherwise. It won't get you past the thing, but at least you can retreat.