Part 28: The Eyes Have It
"Hah! Didn't I tell you visiting Blistering Heights would pay off? Look, two brand new, shining hirelings, ripe for the picking."
"Do you have to talk about us like we're fruit? I've slain over a thousand men, you know."
"Ahem. Lord Bruno and The Raven, it's a pleasure to make your acquaintance."
"Don't mind him. He likes to let his magic do the talking for him."
Our destination for this update is the Halls of Insanity, a dungeon in the forests to the west of the road south of Fountain Head
"This green key we got from Cyclops Cavern fits in the lock. Here we go!"
"Ow! I've heard of a warm welcome, but this is going a bit far."
Literally the first moment we step into the dungeon, before we even get our Light spell up, the party is assaulted by a fire attack.
This turns out to just be a Mini Dragon, which is dispatched easily enough.
The dungeon also has more of those Mystic Clouds we saw in the pyramids, ready to drain the party's spell points and annoy the living shit out of me.
"A window they seem, that leads to no corridor,
Their color's lucid like a gem.
Reflections they cast, tho' not a mirror,
Beauty resides within them."
"Well, 'corridor' doesn't really rhyme with 'mirror', but it's pretty obvious that the answer's supposed to be 'eyes'."
"Did that achieve anything? I don't see any new secret passages or treasures to reward us for our insight. I must say, I'm rather disappointed."
We'll find out what effect this had eventually. For now, let's keep moving.
There are loads of secret passages in this dungeon. Bash the false walls down, and half the time a Mystic Cloud or a Mini Dragon is waiting on the other side to blast you. There's a couple of locked doors, too, which are just as likely to have ambushes behind them. The dungeon design in this game isn't quite as sadistic as in the first two, but it's still fundamentally malicious.
"What's that about orbs? Looks like we found a good place to loot. Well, of course we did: it was my idea, after all."
"Was it? I don't actually remember--"
"I had the idea to say it was my idea. That makes it my idea."
Clearing out a room full of Mini Dragons reveals this prize...
... which turns out to contain a pittance in gold and some low-tier items.
"Where are my orbs? I was promised orbs!"
"That thing coming at us now is kind of orb-like."
"Also, kind of creepy-looking."
This game's obligatory beholder knockoff (it even has the right number of eyes to be a beholder!) attacks for moderate amounts of magical damage.
The Evil Eye isn't especially deadly or hard to kill. It could certainly wipe out a poorly-equipped low-level party, but the real problem for us now is that it has a ranged attack that hits multiple characters and causes insanity. And there are lots of these things in this dungeon.
"Aaa! Now I'm hearin' eldritch voices whisperin' forbidden secrets from alien an' terrifyin' worlds! Help!"
"No way! It's too much fun to watch and see what happens to you. Hey, somebody show him a mirror or something and see how long it takes for him to flip out and punch it."
Even now that we have access to every spell in the game, the only one that can cure insanity is Divine Intervention. So we're going to let Cyrus stew for a while until someone's stats get dangerously low, and then we'll cure everyone at once. Alternatively, we could set a Lloyd's Beacon in the dungeon and another one outside a temple and shuttle between them every time someone needs curing.
In the room behind the Evil Eye, there are some treasure chests and two lion statues. This one is at coordinates x27, y29. And as the other one at x29, y29 tells us:
"The treasure of the eyes lies south 23."
"So that means... hmmm... there's some kind of treasure at x9, y6. I'll make sure to investigate that before we leave."
"A treasure in the hand is worth two on the map, right? Quick, let's open this chest before it comes to life an' kills us all with its horrible claws!"
"I do believe Cyrus has started hallucinating. Are you sure we shouldn't take the time to heal him, Tianas?"
"Are you kidding? This is right when things start to get fun!"
"Huh, the chest actually came to life and cursed us. How about that."
The chests in this room contain little or no treasure, and inflict a heavy curse on the entire party. Just like insanity, this can only be cured by a temple or Divine Intervention, and I think it's time for the latter.
"Aw, crap. I guess this means I've finally gotta call for help."
"Mighty K'rugot, we promise to hurt lots of people if you get rid of this stupid curse! Oh, and I guess while you're at it you can heal Cyrus too."
And just like that, everyone's back to normal. Who cares about 5 years of aging when we have a Fountain of Youth?
Well, that's this room done. Time to head back to the central hallway and explore some of the other side passages.
"Uh... salty water, coming from a frown... sweat, maybe? Like on your forehead if you've been working hard?"
"What with this dungeon being full of giant hovery eyeballs, I'm gonna guess the answer's got something to do with eyes. How about 'tears'?"
"Looks like you're useful for something more than bait after all, Minty. Too bad we still don't know what these riddles are for."
"100,000 gold pieces for mastery of all skills? What a remarkable bargain!"
"Actually, it's not a bargain at all. If you were to buy all of those skills individually, it would only cost you... oh, what's the use, you're going to throw our money away no matter what I say."
True to its word, Golden Mane teaches EVERY skill -- even Thievery, and the useless dummied-out skill Tracker that's otherwise found only on hirelings. If you really want, you can get by without a Robber or Ninja in your party by making a trip to this dungeon as soon as you scrape together the gold, although other classes that gain Thievery skill won't get the inherent bonuses to Thievery that those two classes have. If you are going to do this, put Thievery on a high-HP character like a Knight or Barbarian so that getting hit by traps isn't such a big deal.
"Look, more treasure! And all we have to do is--"
"-- heeey, where'd we go?"
There are some places in this dungeon, usually right in front of important treasures, that will teleport you back near the entrance.
The solution, once you know where the teleport traps are, is to cast Jump or Teleport from a distance to get past them.
"How many of these cards do we got now? We must be pretty close to completin' the set."
"At last, our prey is in sight. Once again, we shall demonstrate our worth through glorious victory!"
The Eye Master follows the standard M&M3 boss formula: a regular enemy with more HP and a somewhat more powerful attack, plus a room full of Evil Eye lackeys that you have to fight through to get to him. Neither of those things helps him very much.
"Pfah! He wasn't so tough. Now, to slay all the tiny invisible gremlins infesting this room!"
We really got lucky with the weapon that the Eye Master dropped: it's an obsidian club, the worst obsidian weapon possible. That doesn't sound lucky, but it's still an obsidian weapon, and the difference between 1-3+50 damage and, say, 4-12+50 damage is pretty minor. More importantly, it can be equipped by any character class: one-handed obsidian weapons that a sorcerer can use are pretty rare, so this club is a good thing to have.
"We're not gonna let any more teleport traps fool us!"
The chests in the Eye Master's room contain a couple of Ancient Artifacts of Evil, an insignificant amount of gold and some mid-to-high-tier items. Nothing essential, but pretty worthwhile, especially since we're still trying to get the new hirelings fully equipped.
"I think there's a secret passage behind those beams, but I don't wanna walk through them if we don't gotta."
"There's one more lion statue over there. Maybe they've got something to do with bringing the beams down?"
"What is it I do?"
"Why, you blink, of course. It even rhymes with the first and third lines of your little poem -- if you can call that slipshod blob of verse a poem."
"Correct! But for the record, I don't like your attitude."
Once all three of the statues' riddles have been solved, the beams are brought down and the party can safely bash down the false wall, revealing the passage into the southern parts of the dungeon. It's possible to walk through them without solving the riddles: they do about 100 magical damage to the party.
"You know, I could have just teleported us past those beams."
"Adversity builds character!"
"Flowers, if you think solving easy riddles counts as 'adversity', that explains a whole lot about you."
Behind the secret wall is a small, branching passageway full of damaging beams, and teleport traps that bounce you around between the passages. It's not too hard to navigate as long as you check the automap after being teleported to avoid getting disoriented.
There are two rooms at the end of this little maze, and both contain the same thing: a few Evil Eyes and some treasure.
"Hey, is that thing at the end of the room what I think it is?"
"Do you think it's a delicious, steaming bowl of Puree of Gnome, with a delicate crust on top and a garnish of fresh arugula?"
"Actually, I'm pretty sure it's an Ultimate Power Orb. Speakin' of things I'm pretty sure of, we should probably get around to un-crazyin' everyone pretty soon."
"Finally, the first decent stash of gold we've seen in this wretched place!"
There are two chests with 66,000 gold, and another two with 666 gems. Not amazing, but enough to pay for a few levels' worth of training.
As you might expect from this dungeon by now, the two orbs down here are protected by teleport traps. Luckily, these fiendish traps are no match for some pattern recognition skills and a spell that any level-4 sorcerer can cast.
"Yes! Score two more orbs for us!"
"There's just one more thing we have to do here. Remember the statues' message about hidden treasure?"
"If we teleport four squares to the north from this position, we should find it."
Sure enough, there's a small hidden chamber in this dungeon that can only be reached by teleportation. Let's see what our reward is for paying attention to clues!
Yeah, I'd say that's worth it.
"I shan't be sorry to leave this dungeon behind. Even after being healed by Tianas, my head still aches."
"Oh, quit whining. Let's go deliver those orbs to King Malefactor!"
"On the subject of headaches, here's another thing I won't be sorry to leave behind."
"Oh, you liked that one? Here's another!"
"What exactly did I say to suggest to you that I 'liked that one'? Pray tell me, that I may never be so foolish as to say it again."
"Tough crowd, huh? How about this?"
"That's the worst one yet! Goblins have witch doctors and healing people is a thing that they do! A literal statement of fact isn't a joke! Mark my words, when we're the power behind the throne of Terra, you're getting imprisoned in the worst dungeon we can find for you."
"That makes six orbs. Five more, and we win!"
"But for now, I'm gonna catch some Zs. And then I'm gonna kill them! No mercy!"
"Oops. Guess I'm not quite over the whole magical insanity thing. Who needs magic anyway?"
"I'm with ya there. All I need's a weapon and somethin' to hit with it."
"Hmph. Brutes, both of you. True honour comes from the mastery of magic."
"Hey, stop fighting! Might and magic are both important! It even says so in the title!"
"Flowers, when was the last time you even cast a spell that wasn't Walk on Water or Protection from Elements?"
"Excuse me? Have you forgotten who cast the Light spell that allowed the rest of you to see in that dungeon?"
"Thanks for making my point for me."
"There will be time to settle these petty rivalries later, once our hold on Terra is secure. Tonight, we rest and prepare ourselves for tomorrow."
"You lot know what you're doing when it comes to finding treasure, if nothing else. I think I could get used to working for you. Long as the money keeps coming in, that is."
That wraps it up for the Halls of Insanity. We're actually getting rather close to the endgame now, but there are still things to do! For their next good deed, should the good party stamp out an evil cult, or free the imprisoned spirits of two ancient sorcerers? Vote now!