Part 20: I'd Buy That For a Gold Piece
Remember this island south of Fountain Head from a bunch of updates ago?
"Ugh, what is this? Dragon-proof glass?"
"Something tells me it's probably transparent aluminum."
We couldn't get this case open before, because it required a character with at least 50 Might. Sails now meets that requirement.
"There! Hah. As if a glass case could stop me. What's this card thing for, anyway?"
"Well, it's got a little pyramid on it in the corner there..."
With this card we can now enter all the pyramids scattered around Terra. Since there's one conveniently at hand, why not try it out?
"Whoa, this place is somethin' else. A whole buildin' with walls and floors made outta metal?"
"Plus, it's full of pathetically weak floating skulls, which we can crush for the greater glory of my dark master! Aces!"
"Inter-who? Platform what?"
"Is this message trying to convey that this entire pyramid is some kind of mobile vehicle for carrying cargo? But... how can that be? It has no wheels, it couldn't possibly float in water... and besides, it's gigantic!"
Protection from Elements is a good spell to know here, since there are a number of spots that hit the party for electrical damage, and they're mostly unavoidable until you've opened the doors behind them, at which point you can use Jump to get past them in future (Teleport doesn't work in this area). Having a skilled thief is important for getting those doors open, too: they have powerful traps on them.
Walls that look like this can be bashed down, though both party leaders will need plenty of Might to have a decent chance of success.
"What's that metal thing comin' at us from behind the wall, and what the hell is it pointin' at us?"
"Owww! Whatever it is, it hurts! Kill it, my minions!"
"Wait, we're minions now?"
"You always were."
The Iron Wizard is much more of a threat than the Phase Heads were, hitting twice per round for exactly 50 points of energy damage per attack. No spell protects from energy damage and items that grant energy resistance are rare. They're fairly sturdy, too: without using attack buffs or damaging magic it takes the party a couple of rounds to bring one down.
"Ah, we know the answer to this. Do you remember what Kranion in Fountain Head told us when we finished bringing him his Silver Skulls? The password is YOUTH."
"This fountain is a cure for magical aging? At last! We must visit it as soon as we are done here!"
"How can it possibly know that? It's been down here for who knows how long collecting dust, probably before Brother Epsilon was even born."
This pyramid contains a whole bunch of spoilers for puzzles in castles and dungeons throughout the entire game. I won't show them all off now, since the dungeons provide enough clues to solve the puzzles without them, but it's convenient to have them available.
"Oh yes, let's touch a mysterious magical gemstone in an ancient dungeon filled with deadly traps and guardians. I see absolutely no way in which this can go wr-- Minty, what are you doing?"
"Well, you said nothing could go wrong. And nothing did!"
The pyramid has several gems that each give a permanent +20 to various stats. There's also one that gives a permanent +2 experience levels, which I give to Cyrus since he's still having a little trouble with the locks and traps here.
"Hmmm. A chance to prove our superior predatory instincts does sound appealing, but it can wait."
This tube leads to the same arena the other party ended up getting sucked into by a whirlpool.
"Giant floating skulls, those are normal enough. Walking piles of metal with bizarre weapons, quite understandable. But perfectly spherical clouds made up like brothel madams, that's a step too far."
Mystic Clouds die in one hit from an obsidian weapon and they have a ranged attack that does fairly minor amounts of magical damage to the entire party. They're also irritating as hell because their attack has a good chance of reducing party members' spell points to 0. Running into a large group of Mystic Clouds all but forces the party to rest up afterwards.
"Ah, look what we've found. I won't let this one out of my sight."
"So now we know the passwords to get to any of the towns on Terra? Not bad."
"And these passwords must lead to areas in the Terran outdoors."
These portal codes aren't as useful as the ones leading to towns. Earth takes us to the southeastern desert, Air takes us to Castle Dragontooth's snowy island, Water takes us to the swamps, and Fire takes to the Isle of Fire, which will still kill us in short order.
Oh, and just in case we didn't already know the word to raise the fountain of youth, the game is kind enough to hand it to us in the very same dungeon.
"What in the name of all that's unholy is that thing?"
Might & Magic continues its proud tradition of cribbing from every sci-fi franchise under the sun: for some reason the eastern half of this pyramid is full of RoboCop references. They can take quite a beating and hit 3 times a round for 50-100 Energy damage, but fortunately they don't usually appear in large groups.
"Oof! I give up. This wall's too tough for us to break down. Plus, I can see one o' those janky walkin' metal things with the faces waitin' behind it."
"So? We can enhance our might at a fountain and come back here. That's what they're for."
Okay, now we're ready to finish the pyramid. I also took the liberty of buffing our fighters to deal with the ED-409 behind the wall. Annoyingly, Lloyd's Beacon is another spell that doesn't work inside the pyramids, so we have to walk out to the fountain and get back to the wall before the stat boost wears off.
Provided you have the Might to actually bash down the walls in the first place, dealing with this part is pretty simple: bash a wall down, fight an ED-409, bash another wall, fight another one, keep going until you reach the end.
"I'd call this an embarrassment of riches, but one should never be embarrassed by riches unless they belong to someone else."
Our reward for our troubles is the second Ultimate Power Orb to be found in this pyramid.
By the way, notice those vertical blue lines at the top of the map? Those were all the walls we had to bash down to get to this orb. Six walls, five ED-409s, one orb. Someone got a bit lazy with the dungeon design here.
"What a weird pyramid. Welp, time to rock on back to King Malefactor's castle and get our reward for these orbs. The world's gonna be ours in no time flat!"
"That's... that's not funny. That's barely even a joke. I'm going to pretend you don't exist and move on to the throne room now."
"And that which you have brought me tightens my grasp on the minds and souls of those I wish to subjugate. You serve me well! Take my reward and continue the search for power!"
Just like with King Tumult, the party gets 1 million experience per orb for bringing them back to Malefactor.
"That was a worthwhile transaction. Now, could we please find the fountain of youth? I'm too young to be old!"
The island with the fountain is just east of Baywatch. Those black spots on the map are whirlpools that spit you out on the coast and dispel your Walk on Water effect; I've avoided stepping on them for obvious reasons.
"At last! The legendary fountain of youth, and not a moment too soon. After all, I'm not getting any younger."
All around you grows dark in a swirling spiral of confusion. After floating aimlessly for a day, you wash ashore on the beach of Woodland Grove.
"Whoa. Now that was some good water."
"If I'd known the pyramids were full of Ultimate Power Orbs, I'd have smashed that damn case months ago!"
"Uh, isn't the reason we didn't smash the case before now 'cuz we weren't strong enough before?"
"Shut up, Cyrus. You must be at least this tall to talk back to me."
"Uh, Sails, you're holdin' your hand way over the top of your own head there."
"And do you see me talking back to myself? No! So don't you do it either."
"Ah, to be young again! It seems that the fountain can only cure magical aging, not the ordinary ravages of time. Never mind: one way or another, we shall chart our own course to immortality!"
"What's the deal with that King Malefactor guy anyway? I mean, is he some kind of demon or is he just wearing a really spooky helmet?"
"He could be a demon and wearing a spooky helmet. They're not, like, mutually exclusive or anything. I'm pretty sure he's a demon, though, what with the glowy eyes and all."
"Does it matter? Human or demon, he is a valuable tool, and with his help we have taken the first steps on the road to true power."
And that wraps it up for our first pyramid, and this game's first major example of the time-honoured Might & Magic tradition of shoehorning random sci-fi elements into fantasy worlds. Instead of having you guys vote on what to do next this time, I'm making an executive decision: since all of the outdoors that can reasonably be explored at this point already has been, and the party could really use some new spells, next update the good party will explore Swamp Town. Stay tuned!