Hub 1: Guardian of Ice
|Castle of Grief|
|Deathkings of the Dark Citadel|
|Map name: MAP03
Cheat code: visit03
Guardian of Ice is the first and largest map of Hexen's first hub, Hub 1: Seven Portals. Its theme is ice.
In these frozen caverns, relentless ice is the sentinel that will crush any who attempt to slip by and unlock its secrets.
You will start in a darkened room. Crystal vials are hidden in the darkness. Ahead of you is a hallway with a couple ettins. There are two sealed doors on the sides of the hall with the message “This path is barred”. There is also a window in the back of the darkened room, displaying an Amulet of Warding. Do not worry about any of this for now. Continue into the northern area that opened up. The fighter will see Timon's Axe ahead in harder difficulties. As you enter, the whole floor will descend, forming a staircase. There will be numerous ettins, with more teleporting in around you. You may want to use fléchettes to help in clearing the crowd, or hang back and use a ranged weapon. Either way, once its cleared, you can pick up fléchettes, crystal vials, and an Amulet of Warding. At the far north-end, there is a bronze bullhead switch. Pulling it activates the four pillars - they quickly raise and lower, then stay open. Three of these pillars are crusher traps. One will have an illuminated sword pointing to it - that is the correct exit to Seven Portals.
You return to a completely new cave area. There are fléchettes on the side walkways. The two paths ahead link together and lead to various rooms and passages. Ettins will come out of the northern room into the corridors. There is an optional puzzle/trap at this juncture which is described in the following paragraph.
The room to the north has a bullhead switch. Pulling it opens a third, middle path back to the starting room. Stairs rise up on either side, leading to two (2) more bullhead switches. Pulling both causes a large crowd of ettins to teleport in, and a small southern alcove to open. A random object will appear in the alcove, and it will be one of the following: quartz flask, blue mana, green mana, ettin. Whether you do this or not has no effect on the rest of the level.
Turning left in the corridors brings you to a fork. On the right is a shortcut, to the left, a large expanse with items and enemies. The shortcut will take you through a room with wall panels that rapidly fire ice shards as you enter. A Quartz Flask is in the middle - the crystal vials at the sides are not really worth the effort. After running straight through, you will turn a corner, and a wall will open on your right to unleash an ettin. This will bring you to the windowed staircase.
Alternatively, you can go through the large open area. Here, there are a couple of enemies - two wendigos, or an afrit and wendigo if you are the fighter. The first ledge contains blue mana. From here, you can jump to another ledge with crystal vials. Jump to the high rocky ledge, and you can leap to the island with a Mystic Urn. To the left/north, there will be a small icy ledge with a torch. This jump is trickier, but it’s doable, even for the mage. Don’t worry about falling - the drop is not far, and you will only take moderate fall damage. In fact, you should fall down once you have gotten the items. Walking off the lowest rocky ledge will minimize fall damage. There are several ettins at the bottom, along with crystal vials in the southeast corner. In the north, you can take an elevator (with a Quartz Flask) up to the windowed staircase. Go right to pick up a Quartz Flask. Beyond that is the shortcut with the ice shooters - only go through there if you really want another Quartz Flask, or you need to return to the open expanse.
Turning left after the elevator will bring you onward to a new elevator. Pull the bullhead switch on the right to go up. You will find yourself in the room with the Amulet of Warding, behind the original darkened area. The window will be wide enough to enter this time. As you move forward, a trap is triggered and several ettins teleport in. Your best bet is to enter the darkened area and attack from there, so you do not get surrounded. The northeast and northwest corners of the amulet room have blue mana, and behind that, opened rooms with an ettin and quartz flask in each. If you have any reason to go back, you can walk up to the southern wall, and the elevator will take you down.
The darkened room has crystal vials around its walls, if you have not used them up already. To proceed, go through there and down to the cavern you were in on the first visit. This time, there will be two new pairs of illuminated swords, pointing to ice shield emblems on either side of the staircase. These wall panels will now open - go east/right for the fire key, and west/left for the steel key.
Entering the eastern corridor for the fire key, you will fight several ettins. This will lead you to a room with a central ice pillar. There are crystal vials and blue mana to replenish you. At the far east end, there is a basalt panel with an empty receptacle. Place the flame mask here (just use Jump/B-Button) and you will trigger a script. The walls on either side open to reveal flowing lava and afrits. The central ice pillar will melt into a puddle, making the fire key accessible. Afterwards, the walls seal up, and the puddle re-freezes. Afrits will occasionally respawn in this room.
The steel key will be more difficult. The western/left-hand wall panel will lower to take you up. You’ll enter a frozen cave with a low ceiling and wendigos. The floor will buckle and shift, but there are no pitfalls yet - it goes back to a flat surface for now. Keep in mind that wendigos will respawn in this area. Two narrow western passages lead to another open icy area, with the steel key out of reach. To make it accessible, you’ll need to activate the bullhead switch in the far southeast corner. Once you activate it, the floor will split asunder - pitfalls open, and crushing columns come down. There are two ways of dealing with this. One is to make a dash for the southern/nearby passage to the second area right after pulling the switch. If you are quick, this can be done effectively even if you’re the mage. The other option is to stay put until the activity stops, and thread your way through. For the latter case, you can safely walk adjacent to the southern wall until you get close to the southern narrow passage. You’ll turn a tight corner, then come to a short pit to leap over. The jump to the southern passage is easy, and the second room is flat terrain. The steel key will be available on its podium. As you take it, the floor will buckle and shift. No pitfalls open, but up to four crushing pillars come down - two on either side of the steel key, one between the entrances, and one in the middle of the room. Three alcoves will open, unleashing ettins and possibly wendigos. One is almost in front of the steel key, the other two are to the left and south. They contain blue mana and crystal vials. To get back, you will need to navigate the pitfalls again. This time, it is recommended to go through the northern narrow passage. You can follow a jagged path towards the flashing elevator which is relatively safe. Jump up to the higher section to pass between the pillars. Walking carefully, you will come down to a lower ledge. There is now a tiny island between you and the elevator. Make two careful jumps, and you’ve made it.
As you come back down the elevator, there may be a couple of ettins to defeat. But that is all - with the fire and steel keys, your work here is finished. As before, enter the open pillar with the illuminated sword by it to return to Seven Portals.
You will be back in the darkened room; if not, that's where you need to be. Ahead of you, the two doors barred by basalt and steel will open, providing access to new areas. First you should enter the fire area to the east/right. You are greeted by several afrits, coming from the pitfall on your left and the room to your right. Try not to get surrounded, as their attacks can add up. Fortunately there are crystal vials and blue mana around the perimeter of the area to replenish you. Once that crowd is cleared, you should head down the stairs of the righthand room and pull the bullhead switch at the southern end. Once pulled, the torches light, fireballs start erupting from the pit (which glows because there is lava at the bottom), and most importantly, the central structure opens. You will have to make a long, straight jump across the fiery chasm (unless you have the wings of wrath). Once inside, you will see a window in front of you and another bullhead switch on the left, pull it, and you will see a portal opening through the window. From here, just make another big jump, then go around to the northern end and through the opened portal to Guardian of Fire.
You return again to the darkened room. Having completed Guardian of Fire, you will turn left this time and go through the western door. But first, make sure there are no afrits sneaking up on you. You will enter a corridor lined with shooter traps, which activate as soon as you step inside. Beware, as the spiked balls can do considerable damage. Luckily they fire in a predictable pattern, so with proper timing you can get through unscathed. At the end of the corridor, you will turn a corner to the left and fight some ettins. This brings you to an icy chamber with pillars. At the far southern end is a structure with blue mana, it is best to collect them now. Facing north, you will see a bullhead switch on the main pillar. Pull this, and a trap springs. The entrance closes, a shooter trap on the southern wall activates, and the other two pillars descend to unleash centaurs. Your best bet is to go around the main pillar towards the blocked entrance. From here, you can deal with the centaurs. The shooter will be firing darts everywhere, but if you stay on low ground it will not hit you. There are quartz flasks to be had on the platforms. Once the centaurs are defeated, the entrance will open. Directly across is a portal leading to Guardian of Steel; prepare to do battle on the other side.
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