Part 71: Level Four: The Stuff Of Madness, ArrivalLevel Four: The Stuff Of Madness, Arrival
We're here. We'll be here a while: This PoP has over 354 image files associated with it, an order of magnitude more than most PoPs have. Some things are duplicates, but it's still quite big. Let's dig in.
And there it is, a doorway -- and beyond, the stuff of madness. What is out there? You cannot say. Shapes form spontaneously and equally quickly disappear. Yet your destiny lies beyond.
"I guess we go through, chief."
Seems so. All we can do otherwise is return down the ladder.
You are tumbling through -- not through nothingness, exactly. The headless torso of a woman drifts past, then disappears; you smell the distinct scent of mustard; then a cat appears to your left, looks at you in startlement, and metamorphoses into a misshapen tortois. You continue to drift, Iggy nearby, as weird shapes form and disappear in chaos.
"Maybe you should use the Talisman."
You think? Maybe it can lend some semblance of sanity to this soup.
Before you is an indentation in the structure -- something that looks like it might be the beginning of a tunnel. But it is blocked by some brown substance that smells absolutely wonderful. As you drift closer, you realize what it smells like -- chocolate cake. Suddenly, you feel a compelling hunger.
There are multiple openings in this weird structure, and we'll see several more before stopping. To make the choice easier, we're allowed to get closer and examine each peril without fully committing to it. So let's examine this cake tunnel, shall we?
It IS chocolate -- thousands of layers, with fudge frosting between them, filling the entire opening. Perhaps you could EAT your way into the Mad One's seat.
"I've always liked chocolate cake," Iggy admits. "Let's go for it."
Let's see if the Talisman agrees.
You close your eyes, concentrate -- and hear a loud, bass burp.
I guess that's two votes in favor? But let's see what other options we have.
You draw closer and study the blade. Suddenly, with a stab of envy, you realize that this sword is far better than Valterre. It is razor-sharp, of brilliant, gleaming metal; its hilt is covered with sumptuous gems; and you can tell that it must be as light as the wind, a pleasure for anyone to wield.
"Swords is more your style," shrugs the wizard.
I dunno though, maybe it's an illusion?
You swing Valterre at the other sword -- and Valterre bounces off, a definite scar marring its blade. The other sword is sharper, harder, without any doubt a blade to be envied. You feel that you must possess it...
"If you ask me, one hunk of steel's as good as another. But what do I know? I'm a wizard."
So we could take the new sword, and then pass through the tunnel behind it. That's an option.
"Err... sorry, chief. Me, I'm flat broke."
And we would be too, if we give our last coin to this madman. I guess we could just kill him though.
As you drift around the pulsating spheroid, another entrance comes into view. This one is hexagonal in shape, and filling it, from side to side, is a six-limbed, trilaterally symmetrical monster with a central maw.
"Are you gonna let some multi-tentacled clown call you a peasant?" says Iggy heatedly. He seems as angry as you.
"The devil you say. Rather, should I deign to approach, I shall slice you into multiple gobbets, you tentacled twit. Know that I am a knight, tested in valor and prowess..."
"Knight my ovipositor," says the monster. "I know a clodhopper when I see one, peasant. Come hither, and we shall test your idiot claims." You feel angrier than ever you have before.
We could kill this dude. He seems to be asking for it.
As you drift closer, the scene in the opening changes. Now, you see yourself facing the perils of the Dreaded Al-Gibra -- and conquering them. Truly, you are a masterful adventurer. What are you worried about? Doubtless, you will conquer these final obstacles.
So I guess we can go through this tunnel that shows us memories of our past achievements? That doesn't seem too bad.
And here we have... a completely unguarded and un-puzzled entrance. Seems like the best bet.
"Too easy, maybe," mutters Iggy, scowling at the corridor.
Maybe. Let's move on for now.
As you skirt the surface of the spheroid, an opening comes into view. You gasp. It appears to be a cave, irregular walls extending back into the spheroid. And it is filled, from rim to rim, with gold.
"Hubba hubba," says Iggy, his eyes gleaming.
"I'm rich! I'm rich! I'm socially secure!" says Iggy, grinning maniacally. You have to grab his arm to prevent him from charging into the treasure on the instant.
Interesting option, though. We are down to our last coin... could top ourselves off here.
So then! We have the following options to pass into the spheroid-like object and, presumably, reach the Mad One's seat within. They are as follows:
- A tunnel full of chocolate cake, which we could eat our way through.
- A sword better than Valterre that bars our path, which we must take to proceed.
- A mad beggar whom we could either kill or give our last coin to.
- An insult-prone monster who really seems to be picking a fight.
- Visions of our past glories, encouraging us to continue onward with our heads held high.
- A completely unguarded and untrapped corridor.
- Caverns filled with gold and treasure, and also some orangutangs.
1) Which entrance is the right one?
2) Why are the other entrances wrong?
If we have been paying attention, we've actually received clues that tell us exactly what the answers to both questions are. Some of this advice might have flown under the radar, however... think back to our adventure in the third level especially.