I'll just cross this desert to Jerusalem. What can possibly go wrong?!
I made it to my annual holiday break! Today was my last day of work until the 6th of January, which is more exciting than I can possibly express. There are lots of things I intend to do during the break, with watching Australia do battle with the Poms in the Ashes being one of the leading priorities (if you don’t know what I’m talking about then you’re probably not from a cricketing nation). I plan to get a lot of gaming and posting in too, starting right now. So...my last post finished with me (King Arthur) preparing to journey out into the desert. I’d scared the horrible excuse for a human being that was Jabir away, and the only clue I had as to the whereabouts of Jerusalem was that it was north east of Gaza. I decided to go North, hoping that I might find something on the way that would hint as to how I should traverse the untraversible (my spell check tells me that’s not a word but it should be). I had a strong feeling that the lodestone would play a role in my survival, so I used it at regular intervals. I’d expected to find that my direction was getting messed up and would therefore need the lodestone, but the direction I was walking in showed up as north over and over again. I continued walking, passing through seemingly endless screens of non-descript sand and rock. Lizards ran past regularly, but even they were too fast for me to interact with.
I hope you feel better soon.
Eventually I was informed that I really needed to find some water soon, and that’s when things got weird. I began to see illusions, starting with Gwenhyver and Launcelot embracing right in front of me. I then started to see pools of water everywhere, but of course they weren’t really there. Then I died! I’d discovered nothing of use throughout this experiment, so was forced to restore back to the poisoned waterhole and reassess. This time I paid more attention to where Jabir ran off to when I drew my sword. He hadn’t gone due north as I’d falsely remembered, and instead had taken a true north east direction off the screen. I followed him as well as I could, and found myself standing atop a canyon, where water ran at the base. I tried to climb down, but was told that “This is not a good place to try to reach the water, but it must flow down to an easier place.” I therefore followed the canyon to the northeast, entering a screen with a building on it. A woman appeared scared by my presence and ran off to the northwest before I could even think about talking to her. There appeared to be steps leading down into the building, so I descended, hoping the staircase would lead to fresh water. It did, and my mule and I eagerly quenched our thirst.
Not the most graceful death a king can have.
I assume all the players that struggled with the desert section failed to find this screen.
I nearly missed these stairs altogether after falling to my death when I first attempted to use them.
I found I was able to walk to the left of screen, and when I did so I entered a solid rock tunnel beneath the structure. I set out to see where it led, finding that the light diminished more and more on every screen. Eventually it was pitch black, at which point I hit my head on a low spot in the tunnel and died. Not having any idea why the tunnel was there (perhaps for no reason at all), I restored, drank the water, and left. Once at ground level, I made my way to the northwest in pursuit of the girl. This brought me to an ascending pathway, with some sort of wall waiting for me at the top. “At last, after your arduous journey the walls of Jerusalem rise before you. At this corner you can see the golden mosque called the Dome of the Rock.” What? I’d reached Jerusalem!!?? I’d expected a much bigger challenge than simply crossing two screens. The lodestone’s use must come up later in the game. As I approached the wall I found that a “dangerous looking Mercenary guard and his thugs” were guarding the gate. “Be warned, infidel! Keep your sword sheathed or we will chop you to pieces. The Zion Gate is closed. You cannot enter here. You must go to the Jaffa Gate. If you want to pass to the Jaffa Gate, you had better make it worth my while.” I didn’t think taking on four thugs with Excalibur was a good idea, so I tried bribing him with copper coins.
...and most importantly, are not poisonous!
I'm assuming this tunnel serves no other purpose than creating yet another way to die.
Is that Jerusalem? It is! But...I just left Gaza!
Perhaps, but I wield Excalibur! Their weapons are no concern of aaagghghhh!!!!
I’m not even certain how many I had to give him (about five or six?), but eventually he said “You may pass, infidel.” This was a positive result, but I ruined it by accidentally falling off the side of the path while walking to the left of screen. In one of the game’s more humorous moments, Merlin spoke to me about my misfortune: “There is no cause to swear at me, Arthur. It was your own clumsiness that caused it. Now pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and we shall start all over again.” Rather than making me bribe the thugs again though, I simply reappeared from the bottom of the screen to face some mercenary mockery. “Hah! They must raise some clumsy fools where you come from.” I left them, this time making sure I walked well away from the edge. I made my way around the outside of the wall until I reached the Jaffa Gate. There I watched a shepherd lead her sheep away from the city, before being accosted by another coin demanding thug! “You must pay me a fee to enter the Jaffa Gate. Whatever you can afford, but you must pay.” I looked at the man and found that he was nothing more than a bum, with dirty clothes and a smell of goats. I decided to risk not giving him any money and instead drew my sword. As expected, the bum ran for his life, giving me uninhibited entry to Jerusalem.
As your King, I claim the right to swear at you whenever I see fit!
It was quite a leisurely stroll around the wall of Jerusalem.
Little Bo Peep decided to risk it one more time!
In entered, and found myself standing at the edge of a bazaar. Before I could check anything out, a thief grabbed my purse and high-tailed it! This surprised me greatly, but I immediately set off after him. He ran past a textile shop into an alley, so I followed, just in time to watch him pull a rope up from a window much too high for me to get to. The thief was gone, and this was a terrible way for my visit to Jerusalem to start! Surely I was going to need some coin in the bazaar at some point, so I spent some time trying to figure out how I could follow the thief into the building. I failed, so figured the only thing to do was to push on as though nothing had happened. If there was a way to get my purse back, I hoped it would reveal itself to me later. Exiting the alley, I began my exploration of the bazaar by talking to the man in the textile shop. He offered me several fabrics of “exquisite color” that would keep me cool “when the sun scorches the earth, and by its virtue of absorbing moisture”, would also keep me dry. I had no money, nor did I have a great need for fabric, I moved onto the woman cooking up a storm in the top right corner of the screen. There was a small boy standing in front of her stall, who was described as a “half-starved, ragged urchin who is surely alone in the world”. The boy apparently couldn’t speak, and the woman appeared only interested in selling me felafels.
It's a wallet I'll have you know. The Queen has a purse!
Damn you! At least let me know your name so I can graffiti curses in your honour!
Actually I could really go one of these right now!
Going off the right of screen took me back outside the walls of Jericho, so I instead made my way to the left. I didn’t realise it yet, but the bazaar turned out to be an eight screen rectangular shape (four across by two up and down), meaning I’d inadvertently kicked off a counter-clockwise exploration. The next screen I entered had an elderly woman selling apples and a man running a store called Lucernae. I was in for a surprise when I spoke to the apple lady! “King Arthur, I know your purpose here. It is given to me to know such things, for I am a seeress. Another came from your land and his name was Galahad. He spoke of you, for if he failed, he knew only you might follow and succeed. But as a servant of the Goddess, I must know you are worthy. I bid you to buy an apple, for this fruit is sacred to Aphrodite. One apple, and one only, I will sell you. Here are your choices. If you give me 1 fals, I will give you an apple that is only an apple and nothing more. Eat, and it will taste good. If you give me 1 dirham, I will give you an apple that will satisfy your hunger, slake all your thirst and ease your weariness. If you give me 1 dinar, I will give you an apple that is bitter to the tongue, yet you will know the taste of Truth.” This seemed a very simple choice to me, as who wouldn’t choose the apple of Truth?! However, there was a problem...
OK then. Please tell me the whereabouts of the Grail and we can all be on our way!
My purse had been stolen, so I didn’t even have enough money to buy a single apple! I was going to have to come back to the seeress once I’d recovered my funds or at least replaced them. I spoke to the salesman in the store next to her, finding that he sold all sort of odds and ends, such as lamps, charcoal, herbs, oils, vases and bottles. Having no money, I once again found nothing to do but to move on. On the next bazaar screen I found two more stores. The first was called Tabulae Lanius, and while it appeared to be a butcher, the man there was grumpy to say the least. “Be gone, heathen. I do not like the look of you and I serve only who I please and today it does not please me to serve anyone.” Someone got out on the wrong side of bed today! The owner of the other store, which was called Antiquarius Rex, was much more accommodating. He promised me many wonders, amongst them relics of holy saints and prophets. These included the blood of the prophet Mohammed, hairs from the beard of Guruka Singh, fingerbones of the saints, and a sliver from the True Cross of the Christians. I moved on, knowing that I couldn’t purchase anything, and also getting the feeling that this particular salesman was less than honest. I moved onto the next screen, finding nothing but a door with very elaborate decoration. I tried to open it, but was told that “A powerful enchantment keeps this door shut. It will not open unless the owner is ready to open it.” Fair enough!
A lamp you say! Could it be that I might take one back to that unnaturally dark tunnel?
Yeah right buddy! And I'm King Arthur too!
Yes, but perhaps there is a question!
I’d gone as far as I could in a westerly direction, so I headed to the southern edge of the bazaar. In this corner I discovered a leper sitting against the wall, pleading for assistance. I was possibly more broke than he was, so wasn’t able to help him at this point. Leaving this screen to the left brought me to another closed door, with this one barring my access to a building called Caupona. I could see the edge of a grain store too, but couldn’t see anyone attending it from where I was. I knocked on the door, and a man named Achmed answered. “I am not open for business. Go away.” Everyone seemed so cranky in Jerusalem! I continued to the left, finding that there were no less than three salesmen I could chat with on the next screen. The first one was the grain merchant’s store that I’d seen part of on the previous screen. Despite now being able to see the owner, I wasn’t able to talk to him due to his current level of agitation. The fishmonger was much friendlier, but I had no means or reason to buy any fish off him. The third store was called Fictilia, and the man there tried to sell me bowls, plates and jugs. He also mentioned “richer wares which are not safe to display on the street”. By now I was really wondering whether I was supposed to have retrieved my stolen purse somehow. All anyone wanted to do was sell me stuff, yet I had no cash!
Leprosy will take control and bring you to your death. No chance of a normal life to live just like the rest.
Thank you! That's very kind of you!
Let's leave my wealth out of this for now OK!
Exiting the screen to the left brought me back to the one on which the thief had stolen my purse, completing my rectangular sweep of the markets. I’d not paid any attention to my surroundings on the first visit, since I’d been focussed entirely on the thief, but now I noticed there was a man standing in front of the building that had the words Arma and Mohammed on it. He was minding my mule for me, having witnessed what had happened! “Your mule is safe habib. I thought I had best remain and guard her against other thieves. They are a plague in Jerusalem. I am not surprised you returned for her. She is an exceptionally well bred and well mannered mule. I use many mules in my travels and am a good judge. If that were my mule, I would never sell her.” This guy seemed oddly interested in my mule, but his words had given me an idea. If there was a plague of thieves in Jerusalem, perhaps I should ask all the shopkeepers about them. Maybe one of them would give me a clue that would lead to me recovering my purse! I did the rounds, asking everyone about the thief. They all had stuff to say, such as “I would do much to get my hands on the thief who keeps stealing all my rope”, yet none of them gave me the lead I was after. It was only once I got back to Mohammed and my mule that I was forced to give myself a facepalm!
Enough with the mule praise! It's starting to creep me out!
No-one likes a plaguer!
When I spoke to him again, he again crapped on about how great my mule was. “It does not seem to me that you have much use for your mule now. And a fine mule she is, too. Just the kind of mule I could use on a long journey.” Of course! I didn’t need to find my purse! I could just sell my mule to this guy that had given me more than enough hints that he would happily purchase it! I sold it to him, and received two dinars (gold coins), four dirhams (silver coins) and eighteen fals (copper coins). I immediately made my way to the seeress, keen to know what would happen if I passed her apple test. I gave her one of my newly acquired gold coins, and then ate the apple of Truth. “You have chosen wisely, for the apple has conferred upon you a Truth Spell. Whoever you speak with in this bazzar from this moment on will confide you his or her most secret and urgent need. To prove your full worthiness to me, and thus be led ever closer to your goal, you must fulfil these tasks revealed for you by the Truth Spell. Your heart and mind must guide you.” Aha, it was time to go and find out why so many of the locals were so grumpy, and to see how I might be able to bring a bit of happiness back into their lives. Things had fallen into place in Jerusalem after my initial concern, and I was very much looking forward to pushing on with renewed confidence. Join me in a couple of days to find out how I went.
I've no idea what good the mule did for me in the first place.
I sense RPG-style courier quests approaching, and I welcome them!
Session Time: 0 hour 45 minutes
Total Time: 5 hours 15 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!