Hub 1: Guardian of Steel
|Castle of Grief|
|Deathkings of the Dark Citadel|
|Map name: MAP05
Cheat code: visit05
Cold steel, once serving the might of Hexen, now stands arrayed against those who would liberate the world from Korax.
You will start at a junction of two staircases. You will fight ettins and centaurs in each, along with afrits if you are the mage. This level is highly symmetrical, so you can go in either direction and not find any significant differences. At the top of the stairs, there is a room with more centaurs, a bullhead switch, blue mana, and a windowed section. The use of the bullhead switches will be described in the fourth and fifth paragraphs. Presently, you can open the steel pillar at the corner of the windowed section to enter. Several ettins and a green chaos serpent will greet you. Note that although the steel door acts like a crusher, it does not do any damage (but it will crush corpses). Once the room is cleared, you can proceed. To one side is a descending staircase, which leads to a small room. It will have an ettin, fléchettes depending on the class you are playing (the fighter three, the mage two, the cleric one), and a window overlooking a basement area with steel grating and rusty walls. To the other side is a barrier which remains closed for now. In the center, you will proceed up a narrow staircase that leads to the central square.
Here, you will battle more centaurs and ettins (and afrits for the mage). Two of the corners of the square are blocked off. If you only went through one side of the initial area, you can go to the other open corner and ambush the monsters waiting there from behind. The square also has windows overlooking two different areas. One is icy and full of wendigos. The other has many steel walls and afrits. Be aware that these monsters can shoot at you through the grating, although the areas are inaccessible for now. There are two large doors - the western one requires the steel key, but the eastern door is available. Behind it is a green chaos serpent in an elevator.
The elevator brings you down to the narrow basement corridors, where the path is forked. By default, the right-hand/southern path will be open, while the left is blocked. There will be varying numbers of ettins here depending on difficulty. At the end of the right-hand path, you will find Mesh Armor and a puzzle switch. The switch solves one third of the puzzle. Be wary of the green chaos serpents behind the grating on your left. They can attack through the bars, but so can you. Before you leave, there is a quartz flask at the end of the long, darkened slot to the south. Having pulled one of the two switches, you will make your way back to the corridor at the start, where you will make use of the bullhead switches.
The bullhead switches control a large sliding block in the basement area. The northern switch will pull it north, while the southern switch pulls it south. If you pull up the map, you can see the block’s movement as you activate the switch. It will block one path while leaving the other open. You should hear a rushing sound and a distant clank as it moves. If you pulled the right-hand puzzle switch already, then simply pull the southern bullhead switch to make the other path available.
If you are the cleric on a higher difficulty, your Serpent Staff will be in the northern end room which is blocked by default. To get it as soon as possible, pull the southern bullhead switch at the beginning and go directly there. You can then come back and pull the northern bullhead switch to access both end chambers.
With the other path open, you will go back down the elevator. The left-hand/northern path leads to another end room with blue mana and the other puzzle switch. The green chaos serpents will be on your right this time. If you are going in the other order, refer to the third paragraph for the right-hand/southern path.
Once you have pulled both puzzle switches, your work here is done. The way back to the Seven Portals is in the east where you began.
You arrive in the western portion of the map. Because of the level's symmetry, you are in the same situation as the previous visit. You will go through the same routine of climbing stairs, clearing out enemies, taking the elevator, and using the bullhead switches to shift the barrier wall in the basement. This time, there are a few more centaurs and green chaos serpents to fight. You will also notice that the door pillars in the corner rooms now require the steel key to open. With the key, you can proceed up to the main square, as the steel pillars are no longer blocking the western corridors. This time you will enter the western elevator which is unlocked by the steel key.
The righthand passage is open by default, this time to the north. There are some quartz flasks, as well as centaurs and green chaos serpents in the cage to your left. After pulling the puzzle switch, you are told that "you have to find another switch". Just like the first visit, you must go back to the outer corridors and use the bullhead switches - pull the southern switch to move the sliding wall north, opening the other passage. Back down in the basement, take the lefthand path for a banishment device and the other puzzle switch. Once you pull it, you are told that "stairs have risen on the seven portals". Now that the puzzle is solved, it is time to head back to the Seven Portals. You can take either of the red portals in the outer corridors.
You are thrust into a cramped chamber full of wendigos. You should keep moving and attacking to survive. After they are defeated, the walls lower to reveal a larger icy chamber filled with a swarm of wendigos. These monsters are dangerous on the offensive, especially up close. With so many to take on at once, this is your deadliest battle so far. First of all, you should heal as soon as the walls start descending, as you need to keep your health up. Overall, the best strategy is to keep moving, keep attacking, and avoid getting pinned down. Fléchettes can be very useful for destroying the bulk of these creatures. The fighter especially should rely on lobbing fléchettes into the crowd, then mopping up the remnants with Timon's Axe. The mage can use fléchettes to very good effect - you will have to risk getting close to place them properly, but the explosions tear through them. The cleric's gas clouds are also effective, but this is even riskier, as the wendigos cannot be stunned and you have to keep moving around. The cleric is best off relying on the Serpent Staff while drinking quartz flasks. Overall, you can expect to use anywhere from 5-10 fléchettes depending on difficulty and class. As an aside, the stalactites and stalagmites can sometimes obstruct you, and it is important not to get stuck.
Once you have weathered the storm and defeated them, it is time to take stock. You will probably need to heal. Blue mana is strewn around to replenish your weapon. In the north is an alcove overlooking the central ring through a grated window (you may recognize this from previous visits). The alcove will probably contain another wendigo or two to mop up. Finally, there are lifts at the eastern and western ends of the icy cave. These will bring you down to the corner rooms with the stairs and door pillars. Those "strange walls" are lifts, which are now activated. If you check your map, you will see that the southern corner rooms are adjacent to the icy cave. Since the level is symmetrical, it follows that you should go to one of the northern corner rooms to see where their lifts will take you. Instead of crumbling ice, you hear a mechanical sound. The northern lifts take you to a new area, the one with steel walls and afrits that you saw from the central ring. This would be a prudent time to save your game.
As soon as you enter, mechanical steel crushers start slamming up and down at varying speeds. Getting caught in a crusher is usually an instant kill. While this area can be navigated safely, one should proceed with caution. As a general rule, avoid stepping on crushers when possible. If you must cross one, try to go through one of the slower ones. You should also run through while it is sliding open rather than shut. If you have to maneuver near a crusher, try doing so while it is closed, so you do not risk stepping on it accidentally. If you start to rise up, you should instantly move aside.
You will face several afrits here along with ettins. These enemies always avoid the crushers. It is a good idea to kill them so that they cannot block your path. If you explore the area, you will find blue mana and fléchettes - these are important for replenishing your ammunition after the wendigo battle. There are a few crystal vials, as well as a mystic urn surrounded by a bloc of crushers. This is a risky pickup - if you go for it, there are a couple of slow crushers which make it easier.
Your purpose here is to find a skull-face switch on the wall. It will be in an alcove behind a slow crusher, and at the northernmost point. It is not far from the northeastern lift and the mystic urn. In fact, if you stand by the northwestern corner of the mystic urn crusher bloc, and go straight north through the wider path, you will see it in front of you. Activate the switch, then find your way to a lift. Take the stairs to the central ring, and you will find that the central structure has opened up. Inside is a raised platform with a torch on it, surrounded by a ring of centaurs. When you jump on the central-most platform, you are told that "stones grind on the seven portals". This means you have solved the puzzle.
If you fight the centaurs, you can collect blue mana and crystal vials. You may also want to take the elevators before you leave. Down in the basement, the moving walls are shifted aside, opening both paths. This also opens up a new corridor in between, leading to the grated rooms where the green chaos serpents were. Here you will find blue mana and quartz flasks. Ahead, a steel door opens, leading directly to one of the portals that will return you to the Seven Portals.
Areas / screenshots
This level contains eight spawn points:
- facing west. (thing 253)
- facing east. (thing 254)
- facing south. (thing 255)
- facing west. (thing 256)
- facing south-west. (thing 491)
- facing north-west. (thing 492)
- facing north-east. (thing 493)
- facing south-east. (thing 494)