Cold you say! I know someone that really likes cold things.
There’s less than a week until I get a month off work, so unsurprisingly I’ve had to put a bit of extra effort into it to make sure I can depart with a clear conscience. That’s meant I haven’t had as much time as I would have liked to play and write, but I’m sure I’ll make up for it soon enough. My last post ended with me getting my hands on the crystal heart that was hidden in the Mad Monk’s well on Glastonbury Tor. As soon as I found it, I figured it would likely be the item the Lady of the Lake was missing, so I was keen to be on my way. I wasn’t certain how I could get off the hill at this point, but knew I’d broken the Spell of Circular Entrapment that had kept me there previously (by finding the heart). It turned out that simply leaving the screen made me reappear at the base of the hill, where my mule still grazed. Taking the south path out of there, I was soon shown the map of Britannia Australis, and given the opportunity to select a new destination. I chose to revisit the Lady of the Lake at Moor Ot, convinced that she wouldn’t send me on my way now that I had her beloved treasure. I’d been to the icy region previously, so it didn’t take me long to navigate across the thin ice to the entrance of the Lady’s palace.
Finally the King and his beloved mule were reunited!
At least this time I didn't have that damn horse that stranded me here last time!
Once inside, the Lady of the Lake reacted just as I’d hoped she would: “I sense that you possess something that belongs to me. Give it to me and I will tell you what even Merlin does not know – where to search for the Grail.” I gave it to her, much to her delight! “Blessed be! For this greatest of all gifts, I will give you the gift of knowledge in return. To find the Grail, you must take ship to Gaza, then seek Jerusalem. Somewhere in that city it lies hidden.” The location of the Grail! That was more than I’d expected to receive, but I knew that more obstacles would undoubtedly await me before I could possibly have it in my hands. The Lady went on to tell me that she would keep Launcelot, “for he has spurned my love in favour of your queen”. She would only release him if I asked her to! Did she think that I would want her to keep him captive, just because my wife loves him more than me?! Hmmmm...actually, it was quite a tempting offer! No, as King, I simply couldn’t leave Launcelot frozen in ice, so I asked her to release him. “You are a noble man, Pendragon. But we will see how true is your desire to save Launcelot when you are put to the test. Follow me.” I followed the Ice Queen into another chamber where I beautiful tree stood. It appeared unaffected by all the coldness around it, even having flowers of just about every colour adorning it.
Knowledge? For this priceless jewel?! I beg you reconsider!
Who knew the Ice Maiden had such a green thumb!?
I learnt that if I wanted to free Launcelot, I would have to pass a test. “To free Launcelot, you must speak the Language of the Flowers. I will pose three riddles. You must give me the name of the flower that solves each riddle.” More riddles! I recalled reading about the Language of the Flowers in the manual, so immediately opened it up before trying to solve anything. I was given a close-up view of the tree, and then given the first riddle: “When light is dim and courage fails, when heart against adversity rails, when it seems you will never see the dawn, this alone can drive you on.” The list of flowers in the manual also listed their meanings, so I began hunting through them to find a suitable answer. As soon as I saw the meaning “Hope”, I knew it was the answer to the riddle, and since it apparently was the meaning of the flower Almond Blossom, began searching the tree for that flower. I could use the arrow keys to select each of the flowers, gaining their name in the process, and soon found the one called Almond Blossom. The Lady of the Lake praised my wisdom, and then gave me a second riddle: “Known to the priest and nun, who natural pleasures do shun.” The meaning of the flower Cornflower was “celibacy”, so I selected that flower on the tree. Another correct answer and only one to go to free Launcelot!
At least there's still some thought required to solve these puzzles, unlike in Police Quest.
Unnatural ones are fair game on occasion mind you.
The third and final riddle was “For its sweet sake, you suffer in silence. What we both most desire, but will never possess.” This time there were a couple of meanings that seemed they could have been correct, but I settled on “true love”, since that did indeed seem to be something the Lady and I would never have (with the ones we love loving others). This meaning lined up with Forget-me-not, so I chose that flower on the tree. “Truly you are worthy to be king. The test is ended. Launcelot shall go free.” The Lady and I returned to the original chamber, where she cast a spell of sorts to release Launcelot from the ice, then another to return him to Camelot. The Ice Queen then farewelled me, wishing me well on my search for the Grail, and then teleported me back to my mule. Moor Ot was complete, meaning only one of the three original paths my knights had taken while searching for the Grail were left for me to explore. I knew from the guard in Camelot that Galahad had travelled to Southampton and then hopped on a ship to the Far East. Once I’d left Moor Ot, I selected Southampton on the map, reappearing on a dock where a merchant ship awaited departure. There was some luggage on the ground nearby, and a sailor standing between me and ship’s deck. I checked out the luggage, but it seemed of little interest, so focussed on the sailor.
There will be legends in my name? Excellent!
I don't suppose you could make him suffer just a little bit could you?
The people of Southampton are plagued only by aching facial muscles and not evil giant Ascapart as we had hoped.
It is cool how the border changes for each location!
He knew who I was and wasn’t at all surprised by my presence. “Others might be surprised to see you here, m’lud, but not I. Ever since Sir Galahad sailed from here and did not return, I felt another would follow in his steps.” He then informed me that there were five ships in port ready to depart. “Their destinations are Dublin, Rennes, Rome, Thessalonica and Gaza.” I asked the sailor about Galahad, to which he responded: “Aye, he took ship from here to the Far East. He said he had heard tales that made him believe he should seek the Grail in Jerusalem.” I continued to question him until I finally discovered that there was a ship called “Al-Uzza” that would soon depart for Gaza. I paid him the three gold coins fare, and then boarded the ship behind him, which just happened to be the Al-Uzza. Once onboard I was shown a map of Europe and the Middle East, and then watched as a small representation of my ship made its way from Southampton to Gaza. On the way the crew, which I assisted when needed, was faced with storms and huge waves, but eventually made it to the destination. My mule survived the trip, but my pack and nearly all my belongings were washed away, leaving me with only my purse and lodestone. Before I departed the ship, the Captain gave me some advice for the journey ahead: “You are not a king in these lands, so do not be quick to draw your sword for you will be surrounded by enemies. Be careful who you trust and never pay bribes with too much coin.”
I made that law? What was I thinking!
What good is a mule with no belongings to pack on it?
The crew and I had one hell of a party when we arrived in Gaza, and I awoke with a nasty hangover! I stumbled off the ship, to be confronted by two contrasting people, both of whom pleaded with me to make use of their services. The first of them was a little boy named Hazm ibn Salim: “Sire, I am Hazm. My master sends his respects and invites you to accept his hospitality. My master—“ At this point he was rudely interrupted by the man in black robes, whose name was Jabir ibn Hamid. “Ignore this boy. You are lucky he did not make off with your mule. I am Jabir ibn Hamid. I overheard some sailors say you need a guide through the desert to Jerusalem.” Hazm and Jabir spent the next period of time talking over the top of each other, with Hazm telling me how wise his Master was and that he could give me the protection I needed, while Jabir criticised the boy and his master, telling me he himself was the only one that could get me to Jerusalem. Both of them used wild hand and arm gestures while speaking, with Hazm looking like he was raising his arms to the heavens. By the end of it I had to make a choice, but it was not difficult. The humility and gentleness that Hazm displayed was much preferred to Jabir’s mockery and aggression. I typed “follow boy”, at which point he led me and my mule off to the right of screen.
In other words: "You get really pissed!"
I'm King! I can blame anyone I like!
...the recipe for a very effective hangover cure?
Hazm took me to a building within which I found an old bearded man sitting cross legged in meditation. His name was Al-Sirat, and he’d apparently been expecting me for some time! “I am Al-Sirat, the first of Six Guardians who serve the Goddess, she who gives power of life and regeneration through her sacred cup, which you know as the Grail.” He went on to tell me that each of the Six Guardians would test me in different ways, with the tests covering mind, spirit and body. “You must pass each one of us before the Goddess will relinquish her sacred cup to you.” During our conversation, Hazm re-entered the room to inform his Master that he’d fed and watered the mule, and Al-Sirat told him to wait with the mules until I was ready to leave. “Then you will guide him in secret away from Gaza.” The introductions finished with the old man offering me his knowledge, as well as “qahwah to drink and figs to eat”. I was a bit confused as to what I was supposed to be doing, so took a moment to think things through. Al-Sirat had made it clear that he was one of six guardians, and that each of them would test me in some way, but what was the test here? He hadn’t asked me to do or solve anything! Perhaps figuring out what the test would be was part of the test in itself? Or perhaps the figs and qahwah drink were keys to figuring it out?
I don't suppose you will accept gold instead will you?!
The graphics guys did a great job of making Hazm appear insanely cutesy and meek
I drank some of the invigorating drink, and then ate some of the figs, but nothing happened. I drank more, and then ate more, until there were none left, but still nothing happened. What was their purpose then? I began asking Al-Sirat about every topic I could think of, finding out quite a bit about the Goddess and her various aliases. “The Goddess gave birth to the universe. By many names and faces she is known. As virgin, Mother and Crone. As Birth, Growth and Death.” So the Goddess goes by six names, and there are six guardians standing between me and her. Interesting, but it didn’t help me right now. “I serve her in the form of Aphrodite, but she has six other manifestations which must concern you. You will not reach the Grail unless you learn of these Six Goddesses.” I realised at this point that I’d never typed “look at man”, and doing so added a little more to the mystery. “Even his name, Al-Sirat, is a clue. It is a name for the knife-edged path of truth that one must tread to reach paradise or heaven. Which means, Arthur, that he invited you here for a specific purpose, one which you must unravel for yourself.” What was this purpose? What was the test? I thought it must have something to do with the Six Goddesses, so I continued to ask the man questions about it. Eventually, I got something useful out of him!
Oh rub it in why don't you!
“These are the names of the Six Goddesses: Athene, Vesta, Isis, Astarte, Ceres and Venus, and these are their symbols.” Al-Sirat then named each of the Goddesses while drawing their symbol into the sand in front of him. Was this what I needed? Had I now passed the test? After asking an endless stream of increasingly desperate questions, I eventually decided I might gain some insight by trying to leave. I hoped that he would try to warn me that I hadn’t yet passed the test or maybe even stop me, but he didn’t. After walking out of the room, I appeared on the top of a hill, where Jabir ibn Hamid waited for me. “I knew you must come this way, and see, I have gotten here before you and waited.” Al-Sirat had told me that Hazm would lead me out of Gaza, and that we would visit a well to get water on the way, but that didn’t appear to be happening. Had I failed the test, and now I was forced to journey through the desert with Jabir instead? What would happen if / when I reached the other Guardians? Was I dead-ending myself? Was I just over-thinking things?! I panicked, and restored back to Al-Sirat. Suddenly it dawned on me that the manual made mention of the Goddesses. Perhaps I would find the answer, and more importantly the question, somewhere in the manual! I read through the two and a half pages of information regarding the Six Goddesses and the Mythology or Aphrodite, and while I learnt a fair bit about it all, I didn’t find anything that would help me in my current predicament. What was I missing?!
Is this what I came here to see? A little more clarity would be nice!
I'd been so certain I would find something among all this information. Alas, I didn't!
After spending yet more time questioning Al-Sirat to no avail, I decided to venture back out to Jabir ibn Hamid and hope things would become clearer eventually. He told me that I must hire him if I had any chance of surviving the desert, so I did. “Excellent! Let us waste no time! Follow me.” The nasty mannered man led me through a couple of fairly non-descript desert screens until we arrived at a waterhole. “I have brought you to water, habib. Drink, before the heat overcomes you.” I felt imminent danger, particularly as my mule refused to drink and the skeletal remains of a camel lay very close to the water’s edge, but decided to save my game and take the plunge anyway. After taking a deep sip of water, Arthur stumbled a few steps and then collapsed, dead! “Too late the signs are clear. This water is poisoned. It killed the camel who had not the sense of your mule. But then, neither did you. To add insult to injury, the scoundrel Jabir robs your corpse.” I restored my game, and knowing the true nature of Jabir, drew my sword from its scabbard. The bastard ran for his life off into the desert, and good riddance to him too! The only problem was that I was now alone in the desert, with no guide and no real idea how to get to Jerusalem. I still have the feeling I’ve missed something important, but am not requesting assistance at this point. I’m about to find out whether this desert can be conquered, and perhaps this lodestone will finally come in handy.
Water...water!!!! We've been out here in the desert for, I don't know, at least a few minutes now!
Oh please let me kill this guy before the game is through!
Session Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours 30 minutes
Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: I've written a set of rules regarding spoilers and companion assist points. Please read it here before making any comments that could be considered a spoiler in any way. The short of it is that no points will be given for hints or spoilers given in advance of me requiring one. Please...try not to spoil any part of the game for me...unless I really obviously need the help...or I specifically request assistance. In this instance, I've not made any requests for assistance. Thanks!