Hub 2: Shadow Wood (map)
|Castle of Grief|
|Deathkings of the Dark Citadel|
|Map name: MAP13
Cheat code: visit07
Shadow Wood is the hub map for the second episode of Hexen. The player must find four (4) keys to access six (6) puzzle switches, which are distributed across three different maps. Solving this puzzle opens an eastern door, revealing the way forward to the Hypostyle.
Nature itself has been corrupted into something sinister. To escape this dark forest, you must recover the secrets of the horn, the swamp, and the caves.
You are in a chamber facing another Icon of Korax. It comes alive and taunts you again: "My servants can smell your blood, human." Beyond is new territory - a forest populated by centaurs, ettins, and afrits. There are several pickups in the forest - quartz flasks and crystal vials on the northern wall; and if you ascend the stairs up the central cliff, you will find a Platinum Helm and mana. You will notice that there is green mana - this is ammunition for your third weapon, which is found on this map. It will be in proximity to one of the three main portals - which one it is depends on your character class. The fighter's Hammer of Retribution is by the Darkmere portal; the cleric's Firestorm is by the portal to the Caves of Circe; the mage's Arc of Death is by the Wastelands portal. While you may enter these portals in any desired order, it makes strategic sense to first approach the one with your third weapon nearby, as the improved firepower makes matters easier.
You will find the Wastelands to the west. From the entrance, go straight ahead through the forest, veering slightly right, between the two cliffs. You should see a green skull pillar set in the wall. To the right of it is a blue mana container - this marks the hidden western passageway. The wall opens up to reveal a narrow ledge by a precipitous drop. There are several afrit to fight, but your major concern is keeping your footing. You should thread your way through carefully, sticking closely to the wall. There are a couple of gaps in the ledge which you will have to run over. Soon, the ledge ends and there are only stepping stones ahead. On this spot, the mage will find his third weapon, the Arc of Death. You should cross the stepping stones by jumping carefully onto each one. These bring you to a ledge with an ettin guarding a switch. Kill the ettin, then make the jump. In addition to the health and mana you have been picking up, you now receive a chaos device. Pull the bullhead switch and you will hear a wall open nearby. Jump back across the stepping stones and go through the newly opened passageway, and you will find a portal and a shortcut back to the forest. You may want to explore a bit before you proceed. Adjacent to the portal, there is a northern alcove with cache of health, including quartz flasks. If you go back into the forest and turn right, you will find a large open alcove with a crowd of afrits and centaurs pouring out. Once these are dealt with, you are rewarded with numerous mana containers and quartz flasks along the wall. When you are ready, go through the opening where the skull pillar was, and enter the portal to the Wastelands.
The portal to Darkmere is located in the north. If you turn right from the starting point and follow the northern wall, you will come to a river. Follow the current of the river to the right, and a barrier will open. You will find crystal vials, mana, and a set of bars that bar your path forward. Turn left and climb up the narrow rock-cut staircase, where you will fight afrits. At the top, you will come to a promontory overlooking a large arena full of sludge. There is a quartz flask to your left, and green chaos serpents firing at you from other ledges. From here, you should leap to the wooden platform skirting the central tower. On the western edge of the platform, the fighter will obtain the Hammer of Retribution. On the southern edge is a quartz flask and a bullhead switch - pull it, and the platforms below the molded faces will rise up. If you are fast enough, it is possible to hitch a ride up; otherwise you will have to go back to the river.
Beware of the stalkers in the sludge pool - they can hit hard, and they are numerous. It is a good idea to kill as many as possible without getting cornered. To the northeast are a couple of crystal vials, and to the north is a barred portal, which you will open later. For now, you will head to the barred river in the southeast. Just left of it is a bullhead switch - pulling it opens the bars so you can get back up the rock-cut stairway. This time you can use the risen platforms as stepping stones to the far western ledge. Be careful though, as the molded faces are now shooting (mostly poisonous) darts. It is best to dispatch the green chaos serpents from a distance - if you are the fighter, now is a good time to try out your newly acquired ranged attack.
Once you reach the western ledge, you will see a bullhead switch, two quickly flowing streams of slime, crystal vials, blue and green mana, and a Dark Servant artifact in the middle. As you approach the artifact, an alcove full of afrits opens behind you. It is best to deal with this ambush quickly. When you are ready, pull the bullhead switch near the ledge, and a spiraling wooden stairway will rise up around the tower. From the wooden section in front of the afrit chamber, you can leap onto the wooden platform below. From here, take the spiraling stairs up to the battlements. Here, you are within close range of several horned skulls which are spewing fireballs. Quickly pull the bullhead switch to shut off all the traps, and more importantly, unbar the portal chamber. There are quartz flasks and blue mana to collect up here. When you are ready, make your way back down to the slime, and head north to the newly opened chamber. Within are combined mana containers and the portal to the swamps of Darkmere.
Caves of Circe
The Caves of Circe are accessed under the southeastern ruins. Turn left and head south from the start, and you will encounter a large brick wall with barred windows and an open door. Inside is a courtyard - with quartz flasks, mana, and stairs leading up. There are centaurs, ettins, and possibly afrits on the higher ground; as well as more mana, and crystal vials to the north. Follow the path through the pillars, and enter the door to the ruined complex. Inside is a long corridor lined with metal faces and horned skulls. There are ettins and green chaos serpents to contend with. At either end, there are metal walls which simultaneously open to reveal passages to the east. The northern stairs offer mana, while the southern hallway has crystal vials. You can take either path, as both lead to the central chamber, but the southern hallway is recommended as this provides an avenue to retreat if necessary.
In the central chamber, you are greeted by a swarm of afrits, along with green chaos serpents and ettins. Once these are dealt with, you should step into the northern alcove with the horned skull. This will activate traps and raise stairs in the main corridor. But before you proceed, you should take a look around at the central chamber. There are human remains throughout this room. On the western side is some sort of stage or altar, with several quartz flasks and a pair of Dragonskin Bracers in the center. Green chaos serpents lurk behind the upper windows. On the eastern wall are six icons flanking a central gate. The set of doors look similar to those on Seven Portals, but they are silver and engraved with horned skulls. When you eventually solve the puzzle, the silver doors will open, but that comes later.
For now, head back to the main corridor through the southern hallway. The traps will be shooting fireballs and darts everywhere, so try to run past them quickly to avoid taking damage. Further down the corridor, a new set of stairs have risen. Take these and turn right to enter the mezzanine where the green chaos serpents are. They are guarding quartz flasks, combined mana, and a small pit in the middle of the room. Inside of it, the cleric will obtain his third weapon, the Firestorm. Drop down and pull the lever - it will lift you out, and shift the stairs so that they lead underground. Come back out the way you came to the main corridor, turn left, and head down the stairs. As you descend, the stairs will close behind you. Ahead is a large, open cavern full of afrits, along with a few centaurs and a green chaos serpent. The moment you enter, the entire cave will buckle and quake, with crushers slamming down and pitfalls opening. You are advised to stay outside until the floor stops shifting, which can take a short while. When the traps deactivate, you will know it is safe to proceed. Most of the monsters have been crushed, but there may be remnants to mop up.
You now have a choice. If you follow the ledge to your right, it will lead you directly to the portal. If you turn left and head west over the craggy rock ledges, you will find a sun/moon switch set in the wall. It is at a corner near a large chasm, and it is accessible from a lower ledge. Pressing the switch will close up all the pitfalls and make the terrain mostly flat. This makes it far easier to pick up the items scattered around - quartz flasks and a Mystic Urn. Note that it is possible for the crushers to malfunction, making the sun/moon switch difficult or impossible to reach. Normally they will shift several times and leave an open wall in front of the entrance - if not, then something has gone wrong. This is not a serious problem, but the best way to prevent this is to awaken the afrits by using your weapon, and kill the centaurs and green chaos serpent before entering the cavern.
At the eastern end of the chamber, northeast of the entrance, you will find a stone stairway. At the other end is a chamber with an Icon of Korax on the wall. There is an afrit to fight and more quartz flasks to collect. To the right is a portal; to the left, an elevator leading back to the main complex. You can hit the sun/moon switch at the top to go back down. When you are ready, step into the portal to enter the Caves of Circe.
The way to Sacred Grove is blocked until the puzzle is solved by pulling all six (6) puzzle switches.
The portal is located near the top of the stairs up the central cliff, which is amidst the forest. The stairs ascend the south side of the cliff, near the entrance to the ruins. To the right of the landing, the wall opens onto a small cave. Inside is an afrit guarding the portal to the Sacred Grove.
When you return, you will appear at the top of the stairs.
The portal to the Hypostyle is at the easternmost point of the southeastern ruins. It is barred by a set of silver doors engraved with horned skulls. In order to open the silver gate, you must solve the puzzle by activating six (6) puzzle switches.
On either side of the silver doors are icons set in the wall. There are six (6) icons, consisting of pairs of three types. From outside in, they are as follows: a bloody stalker head for the Swamps; a horned human skull for the Caves; a maulotaur skull for the Wastelands. Each of these icons represent a puzzle switch that you must activate. The type of icon indicates the level where the switch is found. Here is how the switches and icons correspond:
- Swamps (left) - Horn switch
- Caves (left) - Horn switch
- Wastelands (left) - Swamp switch
- Wastelands (right) - Cave switch
- Caves (right) - Swamp switch
- Swamps (right) - Cave switch
When a puzzle switch is activated, it lights up the corresponding icon. Darkened icons indicate which switches you have not found yet. Once all six (6) puzzle switches are activated, and all icons are lit, the silver doors swing open on their creaky hinges. For more info, see: Trivia section. For the optional level that is now available, see: Sacred Grove, above.
Beyond the silver doors is a small chamber with a green chaos serpent and centaurs. They are facing the portal, away from you, so if you approach quietly it is possible to ambush them. Once they are defeated, you can enter the chamber. Inside is blue mana, combined mana, and the eastern portal - which leads to the Hypostyle, the conclusion of the hub.
Routes and Tricks
- Caves of Circe (Cave key) -> Wastelands (Horn key, center switch) -> Darkmere (Swamp key, switch) -> Wastelands (north switch) -> Darkmere (switch) -> Caves of Circe (southeast switch)
- At the beginning of this map, as with all new hubs, Korax taunts the player. He says, "My servants can smell your blood, human."
- There is an occasional glitch that prevents all the icons from lighting up, even after every puzzle switch is activated. If it occurs, you should try going through a few portals and then returning to Shadow Wood in order to correct this.
- The horned skull icon has the cave key design as a backdrop.
- In the Saturn port and in the retail store beta version, a fly is present in the portal room.