Part 73: Level Four: The Stuff Of Madness, Unexpected ObstaclesLevel Four: The Stuff Of Madness, Unexpected Obstacles
We're in the colors, and we actually know a lot about them. Throughout the third level we've received cryptic hints about colors, to wit:
- Purple: "Purple lies the madness" has been said a few times. Easy guess who we'd encounter there.
- Red: "Red is the wizard's robe," said the kayak man. Moraziel, clearly.
- Green: "Green is the Lady's staff." We do need her staff, according to Persephone and the Lady herself.
- Orange: We learned that "orange is hungry." Whatever that means, it's probably not good.
- Yellow: "Yellow lies the plague." Prrrrrrrobably wanna avoid this one.
- Blue: I'm not sure we actually learned anything about this color.
But screw all of that and all of you, we're going to the purple.
You move through space toward the purple, Iggy trailing behind you. The other colors gradually dissipate, leaving only purple around you. Ahead of you is a vast object you cannot quite make out. Brilliant purple light shines around its edges, but the center is obscured, like a sun's corona shining around an eclipsing moon.
"I don't like the looks of that. Makes me nervous."
Yeah, yeah. I'm sure it's nothing. Right, Talisman of Chugotai?
You hear an odd sort of coughing cry, something that sounds like an animal's warning call.
Yall are big wimps. We'll be fine.
"Die, villain!" you shout, and spurred by your will, dart through space toward the Mad One's archpriest. Gesturing madly, he makes a back-hand motion -- and you and Iggy go tumbling, tumbling through space, until finally you stabilize and find yourself...
...Back at the colors. So much for that plan. What was that about us joining the Mad One though? I guess he took our beeline for the purple as some kind of indicator. Ah well, let's go deliver that message.
Guess we'll proceed on further into the red?
Redness, redness, redness... You don't seem to be getting anywhere. Iggy scratches his head. "It's like we're running around in circles, chief. Maybe we should go back."
We can't go back, Iggy. We have to get to Moraziel somehow. Hmm. Moraziel is a mighty wizard, holding the forces of the Mad One at bay with his powers. It's reasonable to think he wouldn't be someone we could just approach freely. We may need magic to pierce his defenses. Guess you're up, Talisman!
Holding the Talisman and closing your eyes, you still see the redness all about you -- but also you see blue lines, arcing through space. Your path of movement follows these lines -- follows them around a sphere. Something lies WITHIN that sphere, but the lines of force prevent you from reaching it.
Now we're getting somewhere. Can you breach those defenses, Iggy?
Iggy mutters some words and waves his hands. There is a flash of light. After it dissipates, you see there's soot around Iggy's eyes. "Sorry, chief," he mumbles. "No can do."
Hey, Iggy actually cast a spell! It didn't work, of course, but it's a nice gesture. Anyway, let's use the Talisman to bust through these wards.
...I don't think that's good.
Desperately, you and Iggy flee -- and the cube explodes behind you, hurtling you momentarily through space. When you recover, the curved lines lie before you, unaltered.
This is a problem. Moraziel's defenses are lashing out at us, and we don't have any way of dealing with that. The Talisman can prod at his network of wards, but all that'll accomplish is getting us exploded. Our magic simply isn't strong enough.
What we need, then, is stronger magic. The Talisman of Chugotai holds the power of a thousand mighty shamans. We need something that holds the power of a god. And I know just where to get that.
The world shifts toward green; you leave the other colors behind you. Ahead of you is a void; a blackness. Green is all around you, but a sheet of shimmering blackness blocks the space ahead.
I didn't expect this would be easy. If the Lady's Staff lies in the Stuff of Madness, there's a good chance it's because it was stolen from her by the Archpriest. No doubt there'd be defenses, and this barrier must be one. Can we dispel it with the Talisman, perhaps?
You close your eyes and concentrate -- and hear a sprightly tune, whistled by a single mouth. Iggy just looks at you and shrugs.
Didn't think so. I guess we'll just have to get closer to the sheet.
Hanging in space before the sheet of black is a curious tree. Six objects hang from it, in a definite order. From left to right, they are: a ham bone, a banana, an apple, a strawberry, a peach, and a lime -- five fruits and a bone. Now what?
An excellent question, MadMaze. This is clearly a puzzle, but... what the actual hell do we do here?
Alternate Solutions & Deaths
There's another approach to the Archpriest: Instead of Valterre, we could try the Talisman.
You raise the Talisman -- but before you can call upon its power, the Archpriest winks from existence. One moment he is there, and the next, there is nothing -- but a haunting, hollow laugh that rings about you. Before you is a pulsating, actinic purple glow.
There, see? That guy was all talk. Now let's head straight for this weird thing he was clearly trying to stop us from approaching.
Purple light lances through you. And with it, you feel mad laughter burbling up through your lips. The blazing light turns you blazingly, ineradicably insane. Iggy, too, is drooling and giggling madly. And that is the sad end of your journey.
Oh right, purple lies the madness.
After failing to breach the defense network, we can try again, though Iggy is opposed.
"Are you nuts? It's dangerous out here! Let's split."
But we're going to ignore Iggy, because honestly.
You concentrate. The lines warp... You concentrate harder... For a moment, they break -- and there is a massive explosion. You and Iggy are blown to smithereens, your component atoms spread all across this strange place -- from red to blue, from yellow to green.
Note to self: Don't try to brute force the defenses of a much better wizard than you.
You try to bypass the monstrous orange worm -- but you cannot. A vortex of energy draws you toward its maw. It seems that the only way onward, toward orange, is into this creature's gullet.
Obviously "enter gullet" is the right answer here. Why wouldn't it be?
Monstrous cilia whip into a frenzy, tossing you head-over-heels into the monstrous maw of the jacinth creature. At last, below, is a pool, a pool of some smoking liquid, heaving in a huge, glistening stomach. You tumble toward it...
The worm has trouble digesting your armor. You give it severe gas pains.
You move toward yellow, and the blue behind you becomes green, the red, orange. You are beginning to feel funny -- feverish, hot, a little nauseous. Iggy looks a little under the weather, too. He says a few words, makes mystic passes with his hands -- and hands you a mug of some steaming liquid. It's chicken soup. It makes you feel a little better.
Armed with this chicken soup, we can't possibly fail! Let's press onward into the yellow.
You feel violently ill. A rash spreads across your skin. Buboes develop under your arms. Your mind is fuzzy, your tongue dry. It's all you can do to continue moving hesitantly forward. Iggy is babbling, delirious in fever.
Because we're incapable of getting the hint, onward! By the way, "Onward!" is the actual choice option here.
Yellow -- the color of plague. You die in delirium.
I don't know why anyone would think this is a good idea.
Now for the one we don't seem to know anything about.
"I'm younger! I feel thirty again! This is great!" He takes off toward the blue, and it's all you can do to keep up.
You hear a hum from the Talisman, but it isn't the bass hum you expect; it sounds slightly tenor, a little higher than normal. If you travel backward, you return gradually to your normal age. Iggy scowls in disappointment.
Well, that's... intriguing. I wonder what happens if we keep going?
Gosh! This blue stuff is neat! Golly, you guess you must be around ten, maybe eleven. Your armor's getting too big for you. You're just sorta rattling around in it.
"Hey! We've discovered the secret of eternal youth! This is great!"
You hear another hum, but it isn't the bass hum you expect; it's a thin, high voice, the voice of a young boy.
I still haven't learned my lesson with these colors, so...
Ga ga goo goo. Da? BWAA! BWAAA! BWAAA!
You are born to a family in a small village called Weith. Many years later, shortly after you reach your majority, an elder of the village, Wellan by name, approaches you...
And then the entire game starts over. No joke... besides the one Goldberg and Costikyan are making at the player's expense, anyway.