Part 72: Level Four: The Stuff Of Madness, ColorsLevel Four: The Stuff Of Madness, Colors
As noted by numerous folks, this "puzzle" isn't particularly difficult to figure out even without all the clues telling us what not to do. Giving our final coin to the mad beggar is the only unambiguously virtuous act available to us, and all the others seem hasty or are definite traps.
But just to review, let's try to recall what clues we know to narrow this down.
- The Cake: The Great Stone Head warned us that "you are what you eat." Also mentioned, it was the Archpriest who advised us to try the cake and we certainly can't trust him.
- The Sword: The guru on the third level told us "no greater sword has e'er been forged" when allowed to examine Valterre. Even if we truly believe this sword is better than Valterre, that's some kind of deception. Can't trust the sword.
- The Monster: This was a somewhat recent hint; at the chasm, we were told that "a wrathful man stirreth up strife." We're quite mad at the creature, almost unnaturally so; probably a bad sign.
- Our Memories: "Pride goeth before a fall," said a certain polar bear. These memories are stirring up just a bit too much self-satisfaction to be trusted.
- Empty Corridor: A lizard en route to Matilda's told us "the easy way deceives." There's no easier way than an empty hallway, so it's probably deceptive.
- The Treasure: Upon a cairn with Persephone's name scrawled on it, we also found the graffiti "money isn't everything." We're far too close to the end of our quest to be distracted by treasure now.
With a mad glint in his eyes, he takes your coin -- and dissipates into mist, merging with the chaos around you. A pulsating gray tunnel extends before you. You float down it, Iggy behind you...
Willing yourself forward, you drift down a shaft into the spheroid. Like the spheroid itself, the shaft is gray, greasy, pulsating... Iggy drifts behind you, eyeing the walls uncertainly. Then suddenly...
You sense nothing else. The air is soundless, like in a padded room. You smell nothing, taste nothing, feel nothing -- there is only color. Iggy hangs off to your right, looking equally bewildered.
That's one puzzle down. Here's the second. Six colors before us, and we can "move" toward one by willing ourselves closer. The Mad One, and Moraziel, must be somewhere around here... wherever "here" is. But how on earth (or not on earth, as the case may be) are we supposed to figure out where to go next? Let's poll the group first.
"I've always been partial to blue, myself."
You close your eyes, grasp the Talisman and concentrate. You hear the sound of bass voices harmonizing, and in your mind's eye you see trees, leaves shading the sky, rolling hills of grain waving in the summer sun...
I suppose those are some recommendations, technically. Same questions as before then:
1) Which color (or colors) should we visit and why?
2) Which colors ought we avoid, and why?
Alternate Solutions & Deaths
Now for what I'm sure we're all really here for. Let's see how badly we can screw up something as simple as giving a coin to a beggar.
Let's take Iggy's suggestion and try eating our way through the chocolate cake hallway.
And you realize that you no longer have arms or legs. Instead, you have -- layers. Of fudge. You and Iggy have been transformed into chocolate cake. Living, breathing, sentient chocolate cake, filling the tunnel you and Iggy ate, awaiting the next adventurer who braves the perils of gluttony. Truly, you are what you eat.
Predictable... if a bit disturbingly literal.
Let's take that sword that's totally better than Valterre.
Some decades later, you die, admiring the blade with your final breath, caught in the trap of envy.
The sword didn't betray us, but it seems we got a little too attached.
The correct way through was to give him a coin. But what if we decided to kill him instead?
You draw Valterre -- and then are moved by pity. Can you truly kill this creature?
If we disregard our option to back out of this clearly horrible course of action...
I suppose that's poetic justice, of a sort.
The monster promised he'd eat us up in three bites. Are we gonna take that crap from him?
Turns out we are, in fact, gonna take that crap from him.
After witnessing our triumphs over Gonzaga and the Dreaded Al-Gibra, what visions await us should we proceed on?
...Wasn't expecting the fall to be quite so literal, but by this point maybe I should have.
The Open Corridor
This one's an easy choice. Far too easy.
I'm sure those orangutangs hanging out in the treasure room aren't a warning of any sort of weird curses.
You hoot disconsolately at each other. You are, you realize, a fool -- a foolish ape, to be precise. Your mind dims, until you are no more intelligent than the beasts around you. And for the rest of your life, you live among the apes, grooming yourself, playing with the treasure, and staring dumbly out into the chaos beyond the opening to the cave.