Saturday, 1 August 2015

Timequest - Dates and Messages (Baghdad and Peking)

Written by Reiko

Temporal Corps Private Journal #9: Chapter Nine: In which I become a mule whisperer, save the life of a Young Girl, nearly become arrested in Two countries, discover many creepy Sayings, and acquire quite a Number of Loose Ends. I should Try to Write my Autobiography when this is all Finished.

In the Baghdad marketplace in 1519, a vendor is selling dates for one drachma. How convenient, since I have one. Five points for buying the dates. However, they're in a heavy urn, and for some reason I can't just grab a few dates. If I try, I apparently dump the whole urn out onto the ground and the dates are eaten up by animals. That seems like a really dumb thing to do. You'd think I could put a few dates in my empty jar or something. On the other hand, now there's this nice empty urn which is described as reminding me of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. The thieves hid themselves in oil barrels or something, so now I'm wondering if I need to hide myself or someone in the urn. It seems to be too big for me, though.

No time to learn how to tell stories.

I look around a little more and discover an alleyway that wasn't available in previous time periods. There's a mule waiting outside a poor house, inside which a distraught woman is comforting an even more distraught girl, her daughter. The woman tells me that soldiers are coming around at noon to take women for the sultan, including her daughter. The sultan will use them for a night, then kill them, just like in the Arabian Nights, but apparently her daughter isn't clever enough to tell stories for that long, so she's doomed. Unless I intervene. Here’s another scenario like the Aztec sacrifice I was able to stop where I can save someone's life if I act quickly.

So the urn must be useful for hiding the girl. I need to load the urn onto the mule, but the mule won't move from the alley and the urn is too heavy to move from the marketplace. I ask the woman about the mule, and she says I have to "whisper sweet nothings in his ear". Heh. I get five points for whispering to the mule. Does that make me a mule whisperer? Now when I buy the dates, the vendor kindly loads the urn onto the mule for me, and I take them to the family. They're grateful for the food, but that's not the point of it. Amusingly, if I empty the urn with the mule in the house, he eats all the dates up by himself.

Gluttonous mule!

I can't get the urn back onto the mule, though, with or without the girl in it. But I can get the girl to hide in the urn and then cover her up with some of the dates. I bring in the mule to eat the ones left over, just to be sure that won't give the game away, and then I wait until noon to make sure she's safe, which is over an hour, so I'm kind of surprised this is part of the solution. The soldiers come in, do a brief search, and ignore the urn of dates, fortunately, so I get ten points for saving the girl. No items or creepy messages though, so this must be setup for a later time period. The woman makes a comment about how they'll never forget me, and when her young son grows up to be Vizier, he'll still remember me too.

I have been warned...but I’m going to go in anyway.

I'm going to jump forward from an older save to see if that changes something in later Baghdad time periods. So in 1588 without completing the 1519 sequence, there's a sign on the gate that says Baghdad is a closed city, and anyone not wearing a badge will be arrested as a spy. I go in anyway and see that there's a vendor in the marketplace selling badges, but after one turn, I get hauled away by soldiers and sent out of town again. I try to buy the badge, but the vendor asks for proof of citizenship, and then immediately the soldiers haul me away again. The third time, the vizier kills me, so there's not much opportunity to get the vendor's badge.

In 1798, the city is open again, and I walk in with no trouble. This time, a vendor in the marketplace is showing off an intricately woven carpet. The patterns on it resolve into another message in English: "Keep three things in mind: you're confused, I'm not, and you're never going to catch me." That's probably it for this time period.

How would a poor boy grow up to be Vizier?

Having redone the 1519 sequence after I picked up the point in 1798, I return to 1588. The city is still closed, but this time when the soldiers grab me, the Vizier recognizes me. The little boy did grow up to become Vizier after all, of course, and I get five points and a badge for his welcome. Now I can look around without being arrested. I walk into the alley and find another graffiti message on the wall: "Eat my dust. It's the sixteenth century and you don't have a clue."

Looks the same as 61 years earlier, except without the mule.

That's it for Baghdad, aside from the mission in 800 AD. Five time periods contain messages from Vettenmyer, and two contain critical interactions. Now let's survey the remaining three time periods for Peking.

In 1588, all is peaceful. There's been a new surge of mysticism, so unlike the drunk priest of an earlier time, the priest in the temple now is very devout, so much so that he keeps chanting the same words over and over. At first it seems like there's nothing of interest in this time, then I paid closer attention to the priest. He's chanting in modern English: "Eventually you will acknowledge me as the master of the fourth dimension - time." Another point.

Those are some scarily long nails...

In 1798, the emperor Chien Lung, who sounds rather senile, has retreated to the Forbidden City, which is just north of the Peking marketplace, apparently. The gate at "Tienanmen Square" (it's actually TiAnanmen Square - Tian for "heaven" and "an" for peace: the Gate of Heavenly Peace) is guarded by a high-ranking eunuch. I have to find a way for the emperor to think he owes me a favor. Nothing's coming to mind at the moment.

The Chinese are rather ineffective here.

Skipping on to 1940, I immediately find in the shrine at the entrance a poster with a scrawled note: "Revenge...midday." Of course, 1940 was when the Chinese massacre of Japanese occupying soldiers occurred at Tiananmen Square. I arrived at 11:30 am this time, so I have half an hour to look around before the massacre will start. However, I quickly find that Japanese soldiers and checkpoints are everywhere, so I can't actually enter the city or go anywhere, really, since I don't have any identification papers. But if I wait outside the gates until noon, a Chinese rebel attacks a Japanese tank and is quickly gunned down, but not before dropping a Molotov cocktail where I can pick it up, for five points. If I wait too much longer there, Japanese reinforcements arrive and throw me into prison, so instead I hop back in the interkron and hope I got everything useful from that time period.

Let's check out the last two time periods for Cairo, which can't be reached in 1940. Egypt in 1588 is a "cultural backwater". There's nobody here, just tombs and ruins, but I find more graffiti at the base of the great pyramid: ".12 calibre bullets won't even slow me down."

Egypt in 1798 is possibly even sadder, as the Egyptians actually want France to invade in order to invigorate Egyptian culture. On the Avenue of the Dead, there's a headline posted that says "Napoleon invades England!" I haven't done the Napoleon mission in 1798 Rome yet, so I'll have to return here after I do that, since Napoleon is supposed to invade Egypt, not England. Let's check that out next time!

Mission status and score so far.

Session Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 13 hours 30 minutes

Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: There’s 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!


  1. "How would a poor boy grow up to be Vizier?"

    I am not sure which power controlled Baghdad at the time, but raising a poor boy to be your minister does have its advantages - the person is most likely much more dedicated to you than to any powerful family or other faction.

  2. Yes... time to whip the developers again.
    1) Eunuchs are unable to grow any facial hair due to a lack of... uh... facial hair producing hormones. Aside from the horribly out-of-place costume, what's with the mustache on the guard?
    2) Napoleon didn't invade England because: Navy. There's a reason why there are so many British colonies and the French only had a small handful. Their maritime armed forces just couldn't compete with an island country's experience in naval warfare. So, Napoleon invading Egypt instead of England? That's a whole new level of stupidity akin to invading Russia during winter. Wait, he did that? Okay, point valid then.

    1. 1) I think it depends on when the eunuch has been castrated. If it has been done after puberty, they might still have beard.

      2) Yea, England and Russia were pretty much the most impregnable places in the Europe, at the time of continental warfare. Napoleon did have that "great" idea of using balloons to invade England (and to dig a tunnel below English Canal), but his generals noted that the wind would just ruin it. Still, they made a nice drawing of it:

    2. In ancient and medieval China, yeah. It's customary to cut off their dingies when they're little boys. The Imperial Offices have a deep paranoia of anybody old enough to have a mind of their own to want enter the palace by hacking off their own gonads. Especially if the regime is being shadow-puppeted by existing eunuchs and their posse.

  3. Did you already explain why some of the date+location combinations are unavailable?

    1. The in-game explanation was that the time machine was programmed to go only to places Vettenmeyer had visited.

    2. Yeah, this. If Vettenmyer didn't interfere in the location, then I don't need to visit it. Although there might be one exception, which would be a spoiler to discuss before the endgame. Plus there are a couple of locations Vettenmyer seems to have visited solely to enable me to acquire items I need in other locations.

    3. I guess that makes sense, though it seems weird that there would be so few locations missing from the nice grid (and concentrated in Mexico and across 1940, hmm). I guess making those locations unavailable for now leaves them with the narrative option to have a dramatic chase of Vettenmyer across new spacetime coordinates for the endgame, let's see whether they do that!

    4. Sadly, no, there's never a return to coordinates initially marked as unavailable.