Part 29: For a Moo Dollars More
Today's dungeon is located on the mountainous peninsula some distance to the east of Baywatch.
"So this is the infamous Cathedral of Carnage, headquarters of the dread Moo Cult. It's a little underwhelming, if I'm being honest. Still, rumour has it they've somehow got their hands on some Ultimate Power Orbs and are trying to use their power to control the people of Terra. So, y'know, we should probably go stop that from happening."
"Well, we've got the Blue Unholy Key from Arachnoid Cavern, so what are we sitting around outside for?"
We've fought a few Gargoyles before, but in this dungeon they appear in large numbers. Four attacks plus paralysis is a little scary when they're coming at you in groups of six or more. Luckily, their attacks are physical and we're fully kitted out in obsidian armour so, like most physical attackers, they can't actually hit anybody.
"Oh, c'mon. If you want to threaten us you gotta do better than that. At least stick a few heads on pikes around the place or something."
"It appears the cultists have noticed our intrusion. Prepare for battle!"
"You realise we already killed all three of them while you were talking, right?"
"Ah. So we did. Well, there will probably be more. So stay prepared."
Remember how one of these guys was the boss of the Temple of Moo, the beginner dungeon right outside Fountain Head? Remember how a Silence spell totally shut him down? We don't even need to bother with that, now: we can just cast Protection from Electricity and these guys can't scratch us.
"Seriously, still not feelin' the threat here. What are you gonna do, curse us?"
"Me an' my big mouth."
Without warning, the game just mildly cursed the entire party. We can safely ignore this for now, since cursing doesn't get worse with time and as you may have noticed the monsters in this dungeon are kind of a joke by now. On the bright side, Charity's cursed face is one of the best expressions in the game.
"Hey, might as well mess around with more stuff while we're here. We're already cursed, so how much worse can it get?"
This dungeon is kind of the clerical equivalent of the Magic Cavern, as far as spells go. The early parts give out mid-level Cleric spells, and the later parts include top-level ones like Resurrect and Holy Word.
"Wow, we already found the orbs? That was easy."
"Look what you did. Now you've gone and jinxed it."
"It appears that we must continue further on, and most likely solve a series of riddles before being granted access to the orbs."
The Cathedral of Carnage is very linear, more so than any of the other dungeons we've seen so far: it's essentially a series of twisting corridors leading us from one room to the next.
"This must be the first challenge we'll have to solve. How are we supposed to 'set the Lock', I wonder?"
There are five altars lined up by the north wall of this room: Proto, Barytro, Dynatro, Penetro and Positro.
"Hmm. These heads can be rotated to face in any of the four cardinal directions. This reminds me of a message in the Temple of Moo that Minty from our rival party once mentioned to me..."
Remember this message on the wall, way back in the Temple of Moo in Update 3? I sure hope you were paying attention back then, and thought it was important enough to note down somewhere!
"She found it incomprehensible at the time, as did I. Nothing in the temple seemed to relate to it. But perhaps it related not to that temple but to this one. If we turn the heads, starting from the westmost one and moving east, to face in the directions indicated..."
"That didn't do anything. Are you sure it's what we were meant to do?"
"There are no certainties in life. However, this seems as good a guess as any, so we may as well leave the heads set in these positions for now."
There isn't any immediate feedback on whether we've set the Lock correctly, and no clue to the correct combination within this dungeon, so we'd be pretty stuck if we hadn't already seen the code.
"On to the second puzzle, then. What kind of 'key' awaits us?"
"Is this the key?"
"No, that's just some crazy purple guy who's trying to kill us. We should probably beat him to death and move on."
Priests of Moo are basically a slightly upgraded version of Clerics of Moo: they have more HP and hit the party for a higher amount of electrical damage (4-60 instead of 2-36), but it's still mostly absorbed by Protection from Electricity.
Hidden behind secret passages on the north and south walls, there are a series of these altars.
"Huh. Going from left to right, the altars on the north wall spell out O, M, O, E and S. For whatever good that does us."
"And, uh, there are only four on the south wall -- the middle one's got a door leading to the next room instead. The other ones spell out E, W, S and D. East, south, west and down, maybe? But what are O and M?"
"Wait, I get it now! It's a cipher. You can arrange the letters on the north wall to spell out MOOSE, and I bet they correspond to the letters opposite them on the south wall. That means... O becomes E, M becomes W, E becomes S and S becomes D, so... MOOSE becomes WEEDS."
"Ooh, we get a reward? Neato! And here I was thinking we'd have to do a bunch of puzzle-solving just for a couple of dumb Ultimate Power Orbs."
Apart from the modest amounts of gold and gems dropped by enemies, this is the only treasure in this dungeon. Fortunately, it's a good one.
"Sweet! A whole bunch of money and some weird card or something. I guess we should probably hang onto that just in case. Hey, do you think if we say WEEDS to it again it'll give us more cash?"
"This is the final test for access to the Ultimate Power Orbs. We should be prepared for anything."
"I never understood that saying. How do we prepare without having some idea of what we are preparing for?"
"Look, just keep your weapon drawn and your eyes open, okay?"
"Huh. That's a refreshingly literal interpretation of 'The Cup'. How do you juice a moose, anyway?"
"I... I'd rather not think about it. So, uh, do we just drink all of these or something?"
"Looks like it. Bottoms up--"
"... are we sure drinking all of these is the right thing to do? I mean, if you guys wanna try the rest, go nuts. But I'm not touching them."
"Not much point having resurrection magic if we never use it, right?"
"I believe at this juncture it would be prudent to revive our allies, in order to secure their assistance in the upcoming battle."
Two of the cups instantly kill a character and another two turn them to stone. I forget if I've shown off the Stone condition before, but it's basically the same as being dead except you need a different spell to cure it. Luckily, Divine Intervention works handily for both!
"Seriously, there are still two more cups left? Fine. Not like Caelas can't just bring us back again, I guess."
The last two cups cause Eradication, which is slightly more of a pain because Divine Intervention doesn't work on it, so we have to use Resurrect.
"It seems that another passage continues from this room deeper into the Cathedral, despite the fact that we have presumably completed all three tests. I certainly hope there are no more of those cups, for all of our sakes."
"Oh, so the guy who runs this place is beyond here, I guess? If he's anything like his flunkies, he should be a pushover."
Sure enough, he is in fact both beyond the Cup room and a pushover. He has twice the HP of the Priests of Moo and a very slightly stronger electrical attack, and that's all. There are a few Clerics of Moo in the room as well, but nothing that can put up a serious threat. This dungeon is really more about the puzzles than the combat.
"Aw, great. Two more cups, and these ones are extra mighty or something, apparently."
"Well, I've already died and been brought back twice today. What's a third time?"
"Wow, that tasted awful. Wait, I'm still alive this time! Cool."
There are two cups of Mighty Moose Juice in the Moo Master's room, each of which gives a permanent +5 experience levels. I feed them both to Bob, for even more bone-crushing melee power.
"Is it just me, or do the walls in this room spell out JVC? Oh well. Let's go see if the big stone head will let us grab his orbs now. Wait, that sounded wrong."
"Working under the assumption that the hidden message in the Moo Master's room exists for a reason, let's try JVC."
As you'll be aware if you followed the LPs of the previous two games, lead designer Jon Van Caneghem likes to insert his initials into semi-prominent places in the Might & Magic series. I think this might be the only time when they're actually the solution to a puzzle, though.
"That's two more orbs for us! We rule!"
"And these ones will be going directly to Castle Whiteshield, under our protection. No more unscheduled stops along the way."
"Geez, fine, I get the message. You don't have to rub it in."
"Isn't that just what happens whenever an orc looks at a mirror?"
"Oh no, now Bob's joking along with the jester. We're doomed."
"I still think it's kinda creepy the way he says that, but whatever."
"That's nine orbs in the hands of King Zealot now. If we can just find two more, we're set!"
"I'm feeling a lot tougher, but that resurrection was a little rough on me. We should go visit the fountain of youth again when we've got some time to kill."
"We've explored most of Terra now. The only places left to search are its most hazardous and inaccessible caves, dungeons and mountains. But that's why you've got me to guide you, right?"
"And if any of those caves, dungeons or mountains are locked, I'll be there to open them up! Well, uh, that's probably mostly just relevant for the dungeons."
"We will find the final Ultimate Power Orbs we need to ensure King Zealot's victory. We have no right to fail."
"Perhaps not. Of course, determination alone is no guarantee of success. I am sure our rivals are equally set on achieving their own victory."
"Wow, way to get all philosophical and depressing again. Look, we're gonna get those Ultimate Power Orbs because we're the best. That's all there is to it."
"I wonder if King Zealot will allow me to rejoin his personal guard once I have helped to save Terra from his enemies. Now that I think of it, will he even need a personal guard any longer?"
"Are you really thinking about personal glory at a time like this, Charity? Remember, we're not doing this for ourselves. We're doing it for Terra."
We're one update and two orbs closer to the endgame, and the evil party is still lagging behind on orbs. Where will they go to try and catch up? Should they investigate the castles of the archmages Greywind and Blackwind in search of ancient magical secrets, or raid the treasure vaults of their enemies in Castle Whiteshield? Vote now!