My points totals at the time the trouble started.
It should be obvious, given that the word Won appears in the title for this post, that I managed to overcome the technical issue I was facing at the end of my last post. You may remember that I started receiving Out of Heap Space errors as soon as I entered the catacombs beneath Jerusalem, and this was made worse by my inability to restore save games made from this point onwards. I’d discovered that other players had experienced similar problems when searching for a solution, but the only solutions seemed to involve either restarting or using someone else’s save game. I’d chosen the latter option, but was struggling to find a save game file that would work with the version of the game I was playing. Many readers offered their assistance, which I really appreciate, but it was Ilmari that came up with the goods, supplying a link that gave me access to exactly what I needed. The first thing I did when I successfully loaded up a save game and entered the catacombs, was to compare the Skill, Wisdom and Soul points the player had scored with my own. They weren’t different by much, with the Soul Points in both games being 175 out of 358, but I’d actually done a little better on the other two. I’d had 172 out of 268 Skill Points and 137 out of 293 Wisdom Points when things turned pear shaped, whereas the creator of the save game only had 167 Skill Points and 121 Wisdom Points. I’ll have to add 5 Skill Points and 16 Wisdom Points to my final score.
My points totals after restoring to a downloaded save game.
The second thing I did was check my inventory to make sure I had the green apple, the elixir and the lodestone that I’d possessed in my original game. The lodestone wasn’t there!!!!! I already knew from reader comments that Lars-Erik had restarted as he’d missed the lodestone during his game. Could it be that I’d overcome the Heap errors, but was now in a dead end situation?! I decided to push on, hoping against hope that the lodestone might not actually be necessary. I’d purposely not described much of my experience in the Catacombs in my last post, as the errors were taking up all my energy, so I’ll start from the beginning here. I’d entered them through the door the leper had opened in the wall on the surface, and emerged underground through a doorway in a mural showing a boar attacking a man. A closer look revealed that it displayed the death of Adonis (killed by Ares who had transformed into a boar), and that the legend was written in the Liber ex Doctrina (the manual). I’d read through all of the stories previously, so waited to see if a puzzle arrived that required revisiting them. Exploring the room further revealed a few bones and broken pottery, and a bunch of mummies in cavities on the walls. If I got too close to the mummies, I was warned that rats would bite me if I got any closer. I recalled that the leper had given me an elixir as protection against these rat bites, but I also knew I could only use it once, so left them alone.
At least Lars-Erik will know he wasn't the only person to miss the lodestone.
I’ll say straight up that the whole catacombs area had a total of eight screens, and that moving from one to another could be confusing at times. There was no guarantee that exiting one screen to the right would enter the next one from the left (and vice versa), so I decided early on to create a map in Excel (included below).This map should help you follow my movements as it helped me keep my bearings. I left the first screen to the left, reappearing in another room with a mural on the wall. This one showed the death of Hippolytus, who was killed by Poseidon, who in turn had been called upon by Theseus. I turned my attention to the swirling pattern near the doorway, and received a heap of likely important information. “There are lunar and solar spirals here. A solar spiral goes in the sunwise direction. Sunwise is the direction that the shadow of the sun moves around a sundial. A lunar spiral moves to the left, in the opposite or counter-sunwise direction. Solar spirals are signs of a God, while lunar spirals are signs of a Goddess.” It wouldn’t be the first time Christy Marx had shown off her knowledge for no apparent reason, but I planned to keep a lookout for any spiral patterns in future. I could find no further items worth checking out in the room, so took the exit on the far wall. This is where my game had continually crashed previously, so I was thrilled when I reappeared in a room containing a large sarcophagus.
I really enjoy mapping. The early Might and Magic games were heaven to me!
This stuff was too detailed not to be important.
How exactly are these rooms lit?
As I approached it, there was a loud grating noise. The lid of the sarcophagus began sliding open, and a ghastly green hand appeared from within! The Thing inside, as that is what it was called, then spoke to me: “I smell warm blood and live flesh. Come closer. I have golden treasure. Come closer and see.” This was very obviously a trap, so I was going to have to be careful. I could see that there were words written on the sarcophagus lid, so I read them without getting to close to The Thing. “Cursed is the priest who lives here. He betrayed the Goddess and stole her treasures. Sacred objects of gold he has stolen. By the sign of the pentacle, he is imprisoned. The star of the Goddess rules him. Take heed, you who reads these words of warning.” I noted there was also a pentacle above the door I entered through, so right clicked on it. “It is the five-pointed star or pentacle that is associated with the Goddess, and because it is formed of the one unbroken line, it is used to keep out harmful spirits. Or to lock them in.” Clearly whatever was in the sarcophagus was very dangerous, but the curiosity in me really wanted to know what would happen if I got too close. I saved my game, and then approached the tomb. The hand reached out, grabbed me, and pulled me inside! This wasn’t the way I wanted to things to end for King Arthur, so I restored.
Oh man! Not The Thing! It'll be running around looking just like me in no time!
Arthur could have least told me what he could see in there before he died.
This time I ignored the sarcophagus entirely and exited the room to the right. This brought me to yet another room with a large mural on the wall. This one displayed the sculptor Pygmalion, who had been rewarded for his loyalty to Aphrodite when she turned his most beautiful statue into flesh. There was an inverted cross above one of the doors in the room (representing the Apostle Peter, who was crucified upside-down), but otherwise there appeared to be nothing of interest. I took the exit at the bottom of the screen and soon found myself standing in a room containing nothing but a statue of a woman. Could this be the same statue that Aphrodite had brought to life for Pygamlion? I quickly noted that she had a dove in one hand, but that the other was empty. The screen border on the rooms in the catacombs appeared to be a hint here, containing as they did both a dove and an apple. I just so happened to have an apple in my possession, so I typed “put apple in hand”. I was stoked when Arthur did indeed place the apple in the open-palmed hand, but my joy was short lived as nothing happened. In fact, the apple reappeared in my inventory, suggesting it wasn’t the correct item to put in the statue’s hand. I couldn’t think of anything else to try, so continued my exploration and mapping of the catacombs.
Satyrs really love to dance around and play instruments. It's all they ever seem to do!
My what a long arm you have my lady!
I made my way back to the sarcophagus and went left instead of right, arriving in yet another room filled with broken jars, bones and mummies. There was a symbol of a sun above one door which apparently represents “the universe with the dome of heaven in the center”) and a mushroom above another (apparently there are “many mushroom cults in the Far East”). Going left out of this room took me back to the starting screen, so I went right instead. There were a few things of interest in this room, being a small mummy with a necklace on, a symbol of a star above it, and another oddly shaped symbol above the door. Investigating these symbols revealed that the star was a pentacle, and that this shape was associated with apples since the shape can be seen “if one cuts an apple open lengthwise”, and that the other symbol represented Mithras. I was most interested in the necklace though, which was described as a “round copper medallion around the neck of what may be a mummy of a child”. As with all the other mummies in the catacombs, I couldn’t get to it due to the infected rats swarming around. I had a growing number of puzzles to solve (the statue, the sarcophagus and now the medallion), but decided to finish my exploration before spending too much time on them. Perhaps I would find an item that would cause a bit of a domino effect?
I pondered whether I should grab the medallion and then use the elixir, but luckily I didn't...
The door to the right led me to the final room in the catacombs, and there I found Galahad lying on some sort of slab. Before I could see if he was ok, a rat jumped up and bit me! I would have restored my game, since I was now infected, but I was told “there was nothing you could do to avoid it”. Should I use the elixir now? How long would I live before the infection took me? I couldn’t answer these questions, so ignored them and checked out Galahad. “It appears that Galahad has fallen prey to the rats, for there he lies upon a bier, unaware even of your presence.” He was in bad shape, so I decided to use the elixir on him instead of myself. A small amount of health returned to him: “Arthur....my king. I knew....you would....come. Only way out....the gift....for Aphrodite....you must....bring her....bring her the....” Galahad collapsed, but I was informed that he was merely in a “healing coma” and would be alright. My only chance of surviving now was to find the Grail quickly, so I set about trying to solve the outstanding puzzles. I had success straight away too, when I typed “get necklace with sword” while standing near the mummified child. Arthur used the sword to scoop the medallion over its head, and taking a closer look at it revealed a pentacle like the symbol on the wall. I recalled The Thing in the sarcophagus was being kept there by the pentacle in the room, so perhaps the medallion could be used there?
There's actually a rat attached to the back of my head here, while I stand still and let it chew away.
Bring her the what? Oh come on you big wuss! Be out with it!
Take that you small dead child!
I walked up to the opened sarcophagus, and once again the hand reached out to grab me. This time however, it stopped short: “Screeeeaaaagh! The accursed pentacle!” The Thing couldn’t touch me, which meant I could now look inside the sarcophagus to see what treasure awaited me there. I found... a golden apple! It was pretty obvious how I was supposed to use it, so I raced back to the statue and put the apple in her hand. Just as I’d hoped, the statue came to life and spoke to me. “You have brought the gift by which I am made complete. For this, I will tell you what you must do to escape the catacombs. First, be warned. From this moment on, every door within the catacombs is a possible trap. If you leave the safety of this room too soon, you may be trapped forever within a tomb.” I was then tested on my knowledge of Aphrodite, being asked six questions that basically required reading the stories in the manual to find the answer. The first one was “What did Aphrodite give to the statue to reward Pygmalion?” I figured the answer was “life”, so I typed that in and was correct. After five more similar questions, I’d passed! “You have given the six answers I require and earned your chance at freedom.” As a reward, I was allowed to take the dove from the statue’s left hand, and told that I would be able to use it when I had proven myself by sword and shield.
The power of Christ compels you!
You've brought me the gift that makes me complete! In return I shall give you another part of me, therefore making myself incomplete once again!
The statue informed me that I must pass through six doors to escape the catacombs, but that I must do so exactly as instructed. If I were to choose the wrong door at any stage, I would be trapped forever! Doors suddenly appeared on the three walls where there were previously none, and I was told the following order: “West, east, south, east, south, north.” Oh crap! This was obviously where I needed the lodestone! The final thing the statue told me was that Galahad would be set free as soon as he was healed, so to concentrate on my task. I of course had no idea which way was west, but decided to take the exit to the right of screen to see what would happen. It closed behind me, trapping me “within a pitch black hole scarcely larger than a coffin”. I restored and tried another. The screen went black, but I was informed that I inched my way forward and eventually pushed a stone slab out of a wall. I reappeared in the room with the mural of the death of Hippolytus. I’d clearly taken the correct path, and figured it was just a matter of saving my game after each success, and restoring after each failure. The only problem I faced while taking this approach was that my strength was fading rapidly. I eventually was forced to eat my apple, which relieved my hunger and thirst and gave me a new surge of strength. Shortly afterwards I was leaving the catacombs through a secret doorway in the centre of the mural of Hippolytus!
I don't suppose I could trouble you and ask which way is west could I?
These text descriptions were intended to make it so the player has little idea what way they're facing when they resurfaced, but it's not difficult to figure it out if you've mapped it out.
So I'm afraid you didn't have to restart after all Lars-Erik!
I emerged into sunlight and found myself standing in some sort of circular temple. There were broken pillars around the edge, and on the bottom left quadrant, I discovered a stairway leading down. More notable was the symbol in front of it, which was a left facing swirl! I’d learnt in the catacombs that swirl symbols had meaning, but I decided to check out the last quadrant before giving it any thought. There I found a Saracen, who told me that I must defeat him in combat if I wished to win the Grail! He claimed to want an equal fight, so threw a helmet to me to wear. I did so, and then set about trying to defend myself with my shield while making contact with my sword. I had some quick successes, as I thrust my sword madly in his direction, trying to hit him wherever his shield wasn’t positioned. Unfortunately, this rapid fire approach resulted in me running out of strength, at which point I was only able to thrust once in every ten seconds or so. The game seemed to suggest that I could spend some time blocking while my strength returned, but I soon found my game was pretty much over once I ran out of strength, either through the rat poisoning catching up with me, or the Saracen finally hitting me one too many times for my body to take. With just a little bit of practice though, I got a bit better at it (although the interface was too clunky to gain any sort of expertise) and eventually defeated the Saracen.
Ah, the swirl I'd been waiting for!
The interface made using the sword very hit and miss...ahem...sorry.
I'm not sure how my thrust to the head removed his leg, but I'll take it.
Oddly, as the Saracen died, his soul transformed into a dove and rose into the sky, but nothing else happened. Was this when I was supposed to release the dove the statue had given me? Perhaps, but I thought I’d check out what was beyond the stairs before I did anything. It turned out there wasn’t much! An alleyway led to an alcove with the head of a large statue barely showing above the ground, and there was an open window high up on the wall. I tried everything I could think of in both the alley and the alcove but could achieve nothing. I therefore made my way back to the temple and typed “use dove”. It flew around before transforming into Aphrodite herself, standing upon the swirl symbol. “You have won the Sacred Cup by your determination and persistence, by cleverness and skill of arms. I surrender it to you. But beware, the power of the Grail itself will pass final judgement upon your worthiness to possess it. Start where you should start, turn as you should turn and count the places of the pillars until you reach my sacred number. Beneath that pillar you shall find what you seek.” I was confident that I could figure out what this meant, given what I knew of the swirls. Looking back at an old screenshot, I found that left facing swirls represent the counter clockwise direction, so the only question was around where I should start counting pillars.
I couldn't believe that this section could serve no purpose.
OK. What's the catch!?
I spent ages at this section, despite being pretty much correct straight up! The first thing I did was count six pillars counter clockwise from where Aphrodite was standing, then thinking I had the correct pillar, typed “look beneath pillar”. It didn’t work, so I tried typing a heap of other alternatives. I began to doubt myself, and tried counting pillars from what would be twelve o’clock, then a bunch of other illogical solutions (including spending more time in the alley and alcove). Eventually I came back to that first pillar and typed “push pillar”, and watched as Arthur moved it aside and collected the Grail from within! I was instantly healed, and determined to save Camelot from the curse that had put my quest in motion to begin with. I was in the motion of sitting back in victorious reflection, when that damn thief that stole my purse in Jerusalem returned to steal the Grail! I chased him into the alley (so it did have a purpose after all!) and watched in horror as he went for a rope leading up to the window. Fortunately, it broke as he grabbed it, causing him to fall to the ground with nowhere to go. “Mercy, master, mercy! I am only a poor, miserable wretch! Have mercy!” I then had the choice as to whether I would kill the thief or not, so I decided to let him live, taking the Grail and turning to leave him. He lunged at me as if to stab me in the back!
If only I'd trusted my instincts, I would have saved about twenty minutes of failed attempts.
Did anyone slay him? What happens if you do?
Thankfully my mail tunic saved me, and Arthur now decided to let the Grail decide the wretch’s fate. It chose death for him, and an unseeable power ripped the flesh from his bones, leaving only a skeleton. I hadn’t expected this scene, given the general forgiveness preached by Christianity, but was happy that I could now get back to Camelot. Galahad was waiting for me in the temple, and we were both teleported to the chapel in Camelot by the Grail. On arrival, Sir Galahad commented that only one god could rule the kingdom now, and that the “altar of the Christ god awaits its vessel”. I placed the Grail beneath the cross, and it shone with a bright light. The symbol of Mithra disappeared, and the outro of Conquests of Camelot kicked in. A view of the city showed that it was now full of life and vitality once again, and scenes showed the knights I’d saved and the people of Camelot bowing to me in adoration and praise. It looked as though everything was going to end on a happy note, particularly as Gwenhyver could be scene clutching my arm with apparent love, but that was not to be. “But though your land is healed, your heart is not. Perhaps it never shall be.” The final scene confirmed that my wife’s love for Launcelot remained, and that true happiness might never come to me again. A fairly depressing ending to an interesting game! As usual, I’ll save further comments for the Final Rating post, which should be up within a day or two.
The Grail has decided?! The Grail is my bitch now isn't it?!
My eyes! My eyes!!!
Surely you love me more than him now!
Has anyone told you that you come across as downright evil Merlin?!
Seriously, what has this guy got that I don't have!? Don't answer that!!!
Hmmmm...time to figure out what I missed.
Session Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 8 hours 00 minutes