Hezarin: Four Panels   3 comments

I have all four panels now and am ready to traverse into the battle with Anjith (likely a battle of wits, but a battle nonetheless). I wasn’t far from the panels (a side effect of solving in all directions simultaneously) but almost all the treasure in the game is required to enter the finale. Hence, I still needed to do serious work and came close to having to restart from scratch.

The Adda Seal from the British Museum. (Public Domain) This depicts Shamash, god of truth and justice; he also helped Gilgamesh defeat the ogre Humbaba. The Garden of Shamash — the Sumerian version of paradise — makes an appearance in Hezarin.

Let me rewind from last time to right before entering Gilgamesh’s tomb.

You are at a large door with no handle, lock or hinges. In the centre of the door is a perfect rectangle of clean clay.

The key was an object from near the start of the game, a cylinder seal “about three inches long, half an inch in diameter” with “a hole bored through its length”.

>ROLL SEAL

You roll the seal across the clay, making a perfect impression which shines with some mystical light of its own. Then the door disappears silently and a short corridor is revealed.

Again the game shows its penchant for hard-to-find verb uses, although I at least had this one on my list. ROLL is usually used in a different sense, though.

This is the main burial chamber. In the centre of the room is a massive sarcophagus decorated with reliefs of warlike deeds. All around the tomb lie the remains of the servants, guards, ministers and wives of the king, committed by a suicide pact to serving their lord in the afterlife.
North, south and east are low passages leading to other galleries.
A golden helmet is lying close at hand.

I had previously walked by the panel without realizing; I hadn’t opened the sarcophagus in the main burial chamber.

Lying on the chest of the dead king is a small square panel, carved out of jade and fitted with a clasp and chain to make it a pendant!

So, that’s panel #2! (In other words, it was nearly out in the open and I had just passed by it — I did say I wasn’t far.)

It’s possible to leave right here, but this misses out on some treasure, plus I really wanted to see what was in Mashu. The seal is also the key for passing the guardians of the mountain. The problem is the flying on the carpet causes all held objects to get tossed into the void, so only worn items can be brought. Fortunately, there’s a way to wear the seal.

You are holding:
A jamjar of glow worms
A cylinder seal
A leather thong

>TIE SEAL

You thread the seal on the thong and knot it neatly before hanging it around your neck.

I admit to liking this puzzle; there’s enough in the description of the object to hint at this use (the hole inside doesn’t get used in rolling, so it has to come up later) although as usual, the parser tilts the problem to the unfair (TIE THONG doesn’t work, you have to TIE SEAL; I could see the failure of the former lead a player away from trying the latter).

Once you have the seal, the guardians let you pass…

You walk towards the Scorpion-men, and they stare unflinchingly at you, until after some moments one of the Scorpion-men points at you and asks:
“Who are you, stranger, that wishes to enter the Way of Darkness?”
?Gilgamesh

“Pass, Gilgamesh, Bearer of the Seal of Life; pass into the Way of Darkness and the wonders beyond.”
Mist swirls around the rocks and cave entrance, enveloping all and making it impossible to see even a few yards. When the mist clears, the Scorpion-men are nowhere to be seen, and you are free to enter the cave.
You are at the head of the gully.

>E

You are at the entrance to the Way of Darkness: ahead the path runs into impenetrable gloom.

>E

You are treading the Way of Darkness, far below Mashu.

…straight into a maze. I was fully prepared in my conclusion to write my admiration of Hezarin subverting the maze paradigm, by including the obligatory mazes yet having none of them be the kind you mapped or even dropped items in. Alas, this maze is traditional. You have to map this one out by dropping an item in each room, and trying to TAKE ALL (or just TAKE) after you change locations to see where you end up; if there’s no item in that location, it’s a new room. There’s also more rooms than items that can be taken to the mountain (remember, no carried objects) so a relay system is required where earlier objects must be moved to later rooms, and I started marking my map with names like “Boots 2” and “Boots 3”.

Or, if you don’t like mapping, you can just follow these directions:

w.s.down.

This is the first stop, a “little orange walled chamber” with an “ancient fragment of parchment”.

>READ PARCHMENT
The parchment bears the word ‘tar’ on the obverse.

>EXAMINE PARCHMENT
Scrutinising the parchment, you turn it over and over and eventually catch sight of the faintest scrawlings on the reverse. Squinting hard at it you just make out the word ‘APERIR’.

I have yet to use either of these words. I don’t know if they’re useful in the endgame, or if I solved a puzzle elsewhere in a different way.

up.n.s.n.s.e.w.down

This is the second stop, an “orange walled corridor”. Heading north leads by some fungi which give off choking spores; if you aren’t wearing a yashmak (a concealing veil) from elsewhere, you will die.

However, with the yashmak wrapped tightly around nose and mouth, you escape their terrible effect and live to penetrate the inner chamber.

The inner chamber has a treasure (“a finely wrought and very valuable brooch”).

up.n.w.n.d.

The end of the maze leads to the Garden of Shamash.

You are standing at a junction of paths in the Garden of Shamash. All around grow jewel-baring shrubs of various species. The sun beats mercilessly down upon this inhospitable allotment, and even the hardiest varieties yearn for some respite. The paths lead east, west, north and south.

Not a typical lush paradise, but one suffering and dried-out, and where jewels grow from the ground.

It has a couple very random puzzles, including a bit with gnomes by a pond where you have to grab a “fishing gnome” and then FISH to grab an item in the pond. It also has a treasure which has one of the worst verb finesses in the game.

The path ends here in a patch of lush red Rubies.

>get rubies

You can’t take the beautiful rubies.

>pick rubies

You pluck some fine ripe jewels from the easily yielding bushes.

From my taxonomy in my last post this counts as Receiving Bad Information, but not by accident; requiring PICK strikes me as an intentional guess-the-verb puzzle.

Eventually, you can get past a magic sword via a magic word…

As you utter this forgotten relic of a long dead language all time itself slows down. You watch entranced as the sword moves less and less until, now barely quivering, it raises itself up and without further warning explodes radially in a searing flash of light.

…then climb atop a rainbow.

You are about half way up the rainbow with the Garden of Shamash now a tiny patchwork far below you. The sun is noticeably warmer and each bit of climbing seems to take more out of you.

>U

The rainbow begins to flatten out a little but progress is still tiring and the sun is uncomfortably hot. Looking down just makes you dizzy, so you can only fix your eyes on the rainbow and try to concentrate on the job at hand.

>U

You’re almost at the top of the rainbow, and a good thing too. You are breathing at least twice the normal rate, and your clothes are soaked through with perspiration.

>U

At last! You have reached the top of the rainbow. The ground is no longer visible – and even if it were your head swims too much with oxygen deficiency, heat exposure and vertigo to be able to focus at all. I’d get off this thing, fast, if I were you.

Notice how in a parser game this nonetheless achieves strict linearity, and manages dramatic build through repeated action (the sort of trick more associated with a modern Twine game). Also notice that the game can’t resist another hard-to-find verb, although I’d call this one fair:

>SLIDE

Your addled mind struggling to control unresponsive limbs you gingerly straddle the rainbow and begin to slide, first slowly, then with growing momentum. You black out for a minute or so, but come to just as the rainbow curls up its foot and softly cushions your descent. When the rainbow shimmers and fades, you are left breathless but unharmed, flat out on the ground.

(Looks like they forgot a comma, but still lovely.)

Don’t forget to DIG where you land!

You dig frantically at the foot of the rainbow, and – surprise! surprise! – you unearth a little crock of gold.

Let’s take a breather with this rainbow picture taken in Mongolia. (Public Domain)

Panel #3 was hiding in the ivory temple (map below). Just as a reminder, it had people in white robes and red gowns and a room I could not enter.

You are in the antechamber to the main sanctum. Identical doors are opposite each other in the east and west walls, and in the north and south ends of the room are stone water troughs set into the floor.

>E

As you pass through the doorway the ground apparently starts to burn beneath your feet, and as you cry out in agony two Guardians appear and despatch you instantly.

I admit to being sort of an idiot here; I was visualizing the water troughs as not containing water but just being the empty troughs. Gah. Keeping in mind this is a sacred place, I removed my boots and did WASH FEET, then put them back on again to find:

This is the main shrine, although it doesn’t seem to be much of a shrine really. More a big stone flagged hall, burnished by centuries of the most humiliating prostration imaginable. To the east is a low, narrow doorway.

>E

You step reverently through the doorway into the shrine beyond
This is the sanctum sanctorum for the main temple cult. A huge marble altar slab takes up the eastern end of the shrine, and the walls are painted with scenes of clean shaven, peace-loving monks doing over Millwall fans.
Unfortunately, you are separated from the altar by a fairly wide pit which is full of various pretty mean looking snakes.
A great salver is lying close at hand!

I was then able to JUMP and find the third panel

You leap bravely into the pit crushing a number of the snakes underfoot. You then waste no time in crossing the pit and climbing out the other side.
You are standing on the eastern side of the snake pit, beside the huge altar.
The ivory panel is here.

and use a magical word I learned back in Gilgamesh’s Tomb to escape.

>RIGGINS

There is a quivering in your feet; you look down to see that your boots seem to be having an epileptic fit, and then you are off, powerless to resist – seven leagues per step (at least), straight through walls and other obstacles with one unstoppable kick, bound, bound, bound.

So, three panels, where’s the fourth? Right at the center of the game, the inn.

You are standing outside the Adventurers’ Arms.

>UP

You are perched at the top of the inn sign. The sign is of wood, and naturally enough depicts a brave Adventurer fighting a huge lion. From here you can see for several miles in every direction. To the north lie the moors, broken only by a small quarry to the northeast. To the south stretches an immense wild-looking wood. Eastwards, you can see a fast moving river.

>GET ALL
To your delight the bottom corner of the sign slides off, and you discover that it is in fact the long lost wooden panel of the ancients

If you try to take the panel early you can’t (“I don’t think the innkeeper will take too kindly to you taking his sign unless you really need it.”). And to be clear, no, I did not figure this out on my own. Nor did I figure out on my own the next part: I have the box and four panels needed to beat Anjith; now what?

First off, you need to know the right verb (of course). Even though FIX is recognized by the game (and I long had it on my possible verb list!) the correct verb is MEND, which is never a word I use for anything.

Try as you may, you cannot get the panels to stick to the side of the box.

The score is important. The score is out of 1100, and if you hit 950, you get a significant hint in the RATING command (!!).

You are now a Master Adventurer (Class 87b). This qualifies you for free drinks at the Adventurers’ Bar and first refusal at passing dragons.

This is the signal to start drinking. You can go to the Inn beforehand and BUY DRINKS but it loses you score

OK. That cost you 2 points.
The nearest serving wench brings you your favorite tipple, which you drink unsociably alone.

Once you hit the magic 950 it does not lose score, but still isn’t very helpful.

Let me do another “can you solve it” pause, because I’m really, really curious if anyone can come up with the solution to this. You can have something useful happen here; what’s the right action, and how would you phrase it for the parser?

Just to give you time to think about it, here is my final treasure list:

small glass vial, obsidian bar, carved ceremonial mace, copper axe, jeweled ceremonial dagger, valuable feathers, great salver, crock of gold, rug, brooch, rare black orchid, ripe rubies, anklet, golden helmet, eight-pointed star, scarab, odd stone tablet, quartz, first issue of 2000AD, rare fossil, chunky bracelet, silk sash, Acheton database, tiny perfume, coral ornament, vorpal blade, silver tiara, imitation fly, pearl necklace, peridot, statuette of a minotaur, firestone, crown, sceptre, vintage wine, royal lavulite, rare manuscripts, harp, large emerald, garnets, alabaster vase, crystal key, wiffinweed

The treasures that I know I missed entirely (via the walkthrough) are

  • A tiepin out in the open right past the two doors puzzle; I just went through only one room and didn’t check the other (and I had found the treasure on a prior run, so I was really just being sloppy)
  • A spangle, which you could get in the dragon area right after applying the vorpal sword; this one’s tricky and very easy to miss

The treasures from my list that were hard to find were

  • The rubies and pot of gold from the garden that I already discussed
  • The royal lavulite which is on top of the elevator (the Fountain Room area lets you access floor 1 and 2, so you can put the elevator at level 1 and try to enter at level 2)
  • The anklet which is hiding in a pot in Gilgamesh’s tomb (you have to BREAK it)
  • Finally, the wiffinweed, which I had lying around but doesn’t look like a treasure at all; I was at 947 (3 measly points away!) and tried every item I had, pushing my count just over the mark to 956

Ok, enough stalling: you’re in the tavern and can buy unlimited drinks, what do you do?

For spoiler space, an Assyrian banquet from Nineveh. (Mary Harrsch, CC BY-SA 4.0.)

You have to buy drinks for everyone, that is, BUY ROUND. This incidentally “works” even when you have less than 950 points, but it dings you and gives a random (but not plot-critical) hint…

OK. That cost you 10 points.
Suddenly the bar becomes a much friendlier place, and many well-weathered Adventurers raise their glasses to you. One particularly unsteady old salt engages you in an interesting if slightly slurred monologue, in which he tells of his job as a lift mechanic, and how he lost a rather valuable jewel one day.

…and your score needs to be larger than 950 to get this message, which triggers the endgame process.

Suddenly the bar becomes a much friendlier place, and many well-weathered Adventurers raise their glasses to you. One particularly unsteady old salt engages you in an interesting if slightly slurred monologue, in which he tells you all about the amazing restorative effect that the full moon has. He attempts to demonstrate with a small jig on top of the table, but luckily you are able to dissuade him with another drink.

After this, if you go outside and WAIT, the sun sets. (It is unclear why time does not pass until these very specific game conditions are met; it’s sort of a evil-dark-side variation on the standard technique of stalling time until the player solves a puzzle.)

Then you can fix the box.

>MEND BOX

Bathed in the light of the moon the panels seem to adhere magically to the side of the box. There is a loud >>CRACK<<, clouds roll over and lightning bolts streak down from the sky. You are almost immediately struck down by one – the box seems instead to absorb the power of the blast. Eventually you black out, and when you come to again you find that…
You are standing on a narrow road which winds its way before you up and around a steep mountain. To the left the cliff rises sheer, to the right it drops away just as steeply. Miles below you to the south you can see a tiny ramshackle village nestling in a patchwork of fields, hemmed in by wild forest, a vast plain, and a deep ravine. You know that now your work lies not down there, but high above in the foreboding castle that dominates the mountain top. The castle which houses the power which it is now your duty to fight…the castle of the sorceror Anjith.
The full moon casts eerie shadows over the land.

This lands you near the start of the game, but you can only go up.

>W
No. Going down now would be an act of cowardice, and I can’t allow it.

Next time I will make my finale post, where either the parser will murder me or I will emerge triumphant.

Posted January 29, 2020 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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3 responses to “Hezarin: Four Panels

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  1. Got this one! Not that I would’ve got the subsequent actions.
    The magic word “RIGGINS” intrigues me. I associate it with the NFL running back John Riggins, and that’d seem to make sense with the effect it has, but the reference to Millwall would suggest that that’s not the kind of football the authors are interested in. (“Millwall, Millwall, you’re really dreadful, and all your girlfriends are unfulfilled and alienated.”)

  2. Having now completed the game (with a generous helping of hints throughout), I am very keen to read your take on the endgame. I’ll say no more than that, for now.

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