Hub 2: Wastelands
|Castle of Grief|
|Deathkings of the Dark Citadel|
|Map name: MAP10
Cheat code: visit10
These once fertile lands have been rendered barren and lifeless except for those creatures serving Korax. The planet has been split asunder here and pitfalls abound to swallow the unwary.
Despite indications to the contrary, there are few pitfalls here. However, this level does present a new, lethal danger - wooden spikes. These sharpened stakes rise out of the ground to impale any player or monster who is standing over them. Getting hit by a spike is an instant kill. They are scattered around this map on open ground, so you have to be wary of them when outside of the tunnels. There are no visible signs that tell you exactly where they lie in wait, except for the occasional gibbed corpse of an unlucky ettin. While they are in fixed positions, there are usually multiple spikes in a given area which alternate, making it difficult to know where all of them are. Fortunately, they follow a pattern. The spikes rise and fall at regular intervals, and usually one at a time. If more than one spike comes out, they rise and fall in unison. This means that if you see a raised spike, the surrounding area is temporarily safe. As stated before, they are only on open ground, so you are safe in passages and tunnels. They also make a very distinctive sound when they move. With a bit of knowledge, you can work around this danger.
You start out on a barren hill, in front of a portal leading back to Shadow Wood. Behind that portal is a Combined Mana container. There are no enemies or traps, yet. The southern passage brings you onto a landing. From this point on, you will have to watch for wooden spikes. There is a brown chaos serpent in your way, the first of many throughout this map. On the western wall to your right are a few fléchettes. There is a passage and a short ledge - both of these lead to the same area, but you can pick up some more fléchettes in the lefthand/southern passage. There are ettins in the stairway and on the low ground. If you have not done so already, you should dispatch the brown chaos serpents on the far ledge. There is a Krater of Might on that ledge, but you cannot reach it just yet (see: Optional areas). On the low ground, there are two tunnel entrances, to the left/south and right/north. These both lead to a network of tunnels full of forking paths and afrits. For the most direct route to the Horn key, turn left/south. Once inside, you should take the righthand path with fléchettes and continue south. After the tunnel turns east, you will pass an open mossy area full of brown chaos serpents. This is an optional detour, but defeating them now is a good idea, as it prevents them from following you into the tunnel. If you fight them, try not to get surrounded. For more information on this area, see: Cave puzzle switch.
You will proceed through the tunnel, fighting afrits and collecting mana, until you see a small alcove to the left/north. Within is a stone block set in the wall - this is a rotating door that turns clockwise. It is easy enough to run through, but you should take care to avoid getting crushed. On the other side, you are confronted by a brown chaos serpent at melee range. To the left/west is a narrow, meandering staircase leading to a new region - it is full of centaurs, and there are stalkers in the small lakes on either side of the descending western slope. Fléchettes are scattered around the eastern half. Going downhill, to the west, there are crystal vials, and the fighter will find Timon's Axe. As always, you must beware of wooden spikes. At the eastern end of the plateau, you will find a passageway. Beyond, a narrow ridge of rock forms a land-bridge over a lava basin - this is the way forward. The ridge is lined with ettins and crystal vials, and afrits rise from the lava. At the end of the ridge is the Horn key. Having attained your objective, it is time to head back. However, the moment you took the key, the ridge split up into closely spaced platforms. These should not be difficult to navigate, as you can run across the small gaps. If you fall down to the lava, you can still recover. Just north of the where the ridge begins, there is a bullhead switch set in the wall (to your right). This will temporarily lower the first platform so you can get back up.
Once you are across, simply head back the way you came - down the staircase, through the rotating door, turn right and go down the tunnel, turn left at the fork, climb up the stairway to your right, and then go through the righthand passage. This will bring you directly back to the starting area. If you want to explore and collect more items, see: Optional areas. If you have the swamp and/or cave key, see the relevant section(s). Otherwise, go through the portal at the beginning to return to Shadow Wood.
Cave puzzle switch
This puzzle switch requires the Cave key, which can be found in the Caves of Circe.
First, you must find your way back to the mossy clearing full of brown chaos serpents, which you passed on your way to the Horn key. From the beginning of the level, you should head down to the lowland and take the tunnel entrance to the left/south - once inside, turn right at the fork and continue onward. Not long after, you will see the mossy clearing to the right/south. Here you will have to fight the crowd of brown chaos serpents, if you have not done so already. Try not to get surrounded - the fighter should mostly rely on the Hammer of Retribution. Like every other open area, there are wooden spikes in the mossy clearing. Along the southwestern wall are crystal vials. Uphill, to the southeast, there is a barred teleporter adjacent to a locked portal; both of which require the Cave key. There is a Falcon Shield hidden behind the locked portal. There is also a combined mana container behind the teleporter, but first you must open the bars.
With the Cave key, you can open the locked Cave portal. This also lowers the wooden bars, making the teleporter accessible. The portal leads directly to the Caves of Circe. The teleporter leads to a new part of the Wastelands, in the center of the map, where the puzzle switch is located. On the other side, you find yourself in a large cavern. The floor is inundated with lava, and the air is full of afrits flying around. Once the afrits are defeated, a magic blue starry stairway appears in the western side of the cavern. It starts in the northwest and ascends, turning south midway, until it reaches the top of the promontory. Higher up on the southern wall, facing you, is a windowed tunnel overlooking the cavern. You may have passed through there before and seen the lava cavern from the tunnel. If not, there will be awakening afrits to deal with - their shots can go through the window, but so can yours. Atop the promontory is a wooden, thickset partial enclosure. Behind it, along the northern edge are crystal vials. The wide entrance to the partial enclosure faces south. Inside, there is a brown chaos serpent guarding a mystic urn, and most importantly the puzzle switch, which is located at the narrow far end.
Now that you have pulled the switch, you just need to escape the lava cavern. At the northwestern corner of the cavern, near the first step of the starry stairs, there are rock stairs cut into the wall. These wind upwards, with afrits to fight along the way, until you come to a locked Cave barrier. Unlock this and it will descend, giving you passage back to the badlands. There will be a couple of ettins ahead if you have not explored this area already. From here, you can easily access the rest of the map through the tunnels. If you want to see the high window overlooking the lava cavern, enter the lefthand/southern tunnel, then turn left/east just after the entrance. If you want to find your way back to the beginning, enter that same lefthand/southern tunnel, turn right and head west, then turn right/north at the next fork. This will bring you back to the first area with a Krater of Might on the ledge.
For the Swamp puzzle switch, see the relevant section. To return to Shadow Wood, simply go up the stairs, through the northeastern passage, and into the portal.
Swamp puzzle switch
There are three northern passages barred by sliding blocks. These lead to the domain of the swamp puzzle switch, as well as additional optional areas and items. But first you must open the passages, which is done by killing ettins in the lowlands. The amount you must kill varies by difficulty. On the easier difficulties, you must defeat six (6) ettins. On mid to high difficulty, you must defeat ten (10) ettins. Note that only ettins found in the open areas count towards the total - the ettins on the stairs near the beginning do not. Once you have killed the prerequisite number of ettins, the blocks move aside to open the northern passages. The northeast and north passages are in open areas under overhangs, while the northwest passage branches off from a tunnel. This provides access to the swamp domain and optional areas. For the optional areas, see the relevant section.
Head north through the passages, and you will enter a narrow canyon full of centaurs. Once again, you must kill monsters to proceed - this time it depends on both difficulty and class. At low to mid difficulties, all classes must defeat seven (7) centaurs. In higher difficulties, the prerequisite number of centaurs to defeat varies by class: for the fighter, twelve (12); for the cleric, eleven (11); for the mage, nine (9). Once enough centaurs have fallen, the eastern walls descend, revealing a large lake of slime.
The swampy lake is full of stalkers and stalker bosses, which can be a nuisance. This is especially the case for the fighter, as it is difficult to land hammer shots on them, and the fighter's fléchettes sink into the muck without going off. Therefore, the best strategy for the fighter is to go in, axe swinging, while trying to avoid the acid projectiles. Other classes can use their ranged weapons. At the southeast end of the muck lake is a set of slimy stairs leading up to a wooden platform with a Swamp Door. Assuming you have the Swamp key, you can enter. Inside are a set of adjoined chambers with centaurs to fight. At the end is a bullhead switch - pull it, and the torches light. More importantly, the western canyon walls have now descended, opening up a new area. Go outside and turn left/northwest, and you will see a large temple complex looming in the distance.
The temple complex is full of brown chaos serpents and ettins, so beware. As you approach, you will battle several ettins while within range of the serpents. The temple is elevated and its foundation walls are too high to climb, so you must go around to the northern entrance. Here you will find a flight of stairs leading up to the temple. In front of you is a pool of water offering a Krater of Might - but only step into it when you are ready to battle more monsters. There are crystal vials adjacent to the pool. To either side of you are wooden colonnades - these conceal brown chaos serpents, demon statues, and quartz flasks. To the south are smaller colonnades along the temple walls, with caches of fléchettes at the far corners. Beyond the central pool is the entrance gate to the temple proper.
As you step into the pool, the torches light, and a crowd of ettins teleport in to surround you. Once these are dealt with, it is time to enter the temple. You may have difficulty opening the double doors - you must use the lefthand door. Inside are more brown chaos serpents guarding a portal. On either side are pillars with candles. Behind the portal is a combined mana container, and most importantly the swamp puzzle switch.
Once the switch is pulled, you have the choice of what to do next. By opening the barriers, you have made a number of optional areas available. For more on this, see: Optional areas. For the Cave puzzle switch, backtrack to the beginning and see the relevant section. You will also have to backtrack for the portal to Shadow Wood. The portal inside the temple leads to Darkmere.
When the three northern barriers slid open, they not only opened the way to the swamp domain, but also to secondary areas where you can pick up extra items.
Quartz Flasks: First of all, if you are in the swamp temple, head directly north from the entrance stairway, and there is an alcove with two quartz flasks guarded by a centaur. If the walls are raised, you can still access this area by finding your way to the northernmost part of the canyon, to the west of the dividing wall (easily visible on map). There is also a quartz flask to the north of the swampy lake, along with green mana. As mentioned earlier, there are quartz flasks at the temple, along with other items.
Porkelator and Boots of Speed: Near the northeastern passage, east of the swampy lake, is a forking tunnel with afrits. Once inside, turn right/south down the dark, descending passage. You will fight another afrit, then a brown chaos serpent. At the end of the passage is a porkelator artifact. Seize it with caution - it is perched on a ledge, and just beyond is a deadly pitfall. From here, backtrack to the tunnel and continue east. You will enter an open canyon leading to another tunnel, which becomes a staircase cut into the cliffs. There are more afrits to fight here, as well as mana of both types - blue, then green. The stairs ascend to a landing with brown chaos serpents. This is the same ledge overlooking the northeastern passage that has the pair of Boots of Speed - which you can now acquire.
Krater of Might: Near the northwestern tunnel passage, southwest of the swamp temple, there is another entrance leading west. It leads to a rocky canyon, which becomes a set of carved stairs. There is an afrit, a brown chaos serpent, and both types of mana - green, then blue. The stairs rise up to a landing with more brown chaos serpents, unless you defeated them already. You are now on the ledge overlooking the beginning area, and you can take the Krater of Might.
Do not forget that both ledges (with Boots of Speed and a Krater of Might respectively) have wooden spikes to watch out for. The preceding canyons and tunnels are safe, however, as are the rest of the areas beyond the barred passages.
[Fixed in v.1.1] The easternmost sliding block causes a visual problem once it has slid aside. When the player is standing on the edge of the ledge with the Boots of Speed, one side of the block becomes rendered through the northern wall. This results in a big HOM as the block wall is located considerably lower than the ledge.
Areas / screenshots
The exit portal is heavily guarded by Brown chaos serpents.