Category: Quests


Drawing Down the Moon

4/8
After just barely getting away from the Pillars of Shadow with my skin, I’m taking advantage of a little down time at Nineball Island to pick up the guitar and do some serious brooding. That crab thing in the Zahhab Region Depths has started to bug me. According to the maps, there’s only one place it could be, but after diving at all times of day with different partners, I still come up a cropper. Looking up at the night sky, I wonder if it all has something to do with the moon.
 
After all, there have been other things in the game that depended on the phases of the moon. It was on a moonless night that I discovered the shadow that turned into the legendary Black Harbinger. Another time I had to wait a month for a full moon to watch turtle eggs hatch on the beaches of Zahhab. Maybe this crab has a bit of the werewolf in him, and only comes out under the influence of moonlight. 
 
Looking directly overhead (using the telescope is hopeless), I see a half moon just above the eaves of my bungalow. Now, I can fill the time needed for the moon to turn by running tours, training dolphins, and commuting daily to the aquarium in Japan. Or I can take a lot of naps. Many naps later, the moon is full and I’m refreshed and ready to head out.
 
But first I want to stop off in Gatama Atoll to follow a hunch I have. Remember way back in August, when Oceana and I stumbled upon a cuttlefish spawning ground? We were invited back to see them hatch sometime during the spring tides. I’ve been back to that spot a few times since then without seeing anything, but the mention of tides is probably a clue about the moon.
 
And it turns out, I’m right on the nose! A cut-scene fires up over a patch of elkhorn coral that informs us that the cuttlefish eggs have hatched. Each one’s only the size of a grain of rice — you can barely see one in the right of this picture. But I love that the game rewards you for remembering about it. You don’t get baby cuttlefish in Gears of War.

Baby cuttlefish!

 

The real Octomoms

Now let’s head for the Red Sea. This time, I’m not going to take Oceana or Hayako with me. In between naps, I found a forgotten treasure rumor in my notebook, something about dense metals being found in the Zahhab Region Depths around 500 feet. So I’m taking GG — at least this way, if I miss the crab I can still scare up a few pelagos.

It turns out GG is who I needed by my side all along. Entering the now-familiar mouth of Osiris’ Courtyard, I doubtfully click on the sparkle that up to now has only yielded an unimpressive little angler fish. Only this time…

The elusive giant sea spider -- at last!

If it’s any consolation, it doesn’t look much like the shadow in the marine encyclopedia. While we’re in the courtyard, GG and I scan the bottom and find a few large metal boxes, one of which might be our treasure. Turns out it wasn’t, but at least I found what I was really looking for.

Just to test my moon theory, I took Oceana and then Hayako back with me to show them the sea spider — both times it wasn’t there. So it looks as though GG is my only witness to finding the little beast that had so long eluded my grasp.

...but it was right there a minute ago!

4/22

Gatama Atoll—In honor or Earth Day, I’ve been concentrating on healing the most critical (purple and red) fish as I go about my business. Frankly, I’m exhausted. I haven’t used the pulsar as anything but a defensive weapon since the “Help Me” quest ended abruptly, and even then I used it mainly on large fish and mammals. It’s quite a different thing when you swim up to a coral head to pulse a cloud of tangs. The screen turns into a kaleidoscope of ill fish with targets around their necks, clamoring to be healed. Remember that scene in Jesus Christ Superstar where Ted Neeley is healing lepers and they start to surround him and he like, totally freaks? It’s like that. Not that I’m comparing myself to the Man from Galilee—I’m just sayin’, it’s hard to be a miracle worker. And what makes it tougher is that, as the fish you’re pulsing get better, they also get friskier and try to dart away from you. Sometimes you have to chase them around the reef, like a mom with a spoonful of cough medicine after her suddenly “all better” children.  

Anyway, I pulsed about 150 fish today and received a 3,300-Pelago bonus from the Conservation Society. I also managed to get in a little treasure hunting. FF came in with his unidentified map scrap. Once again, my technique of redrawing the map on a piece of paper paid off, and I located the Golden Shield Treasure almost immediately. FF handed us 12,500 P at the dock,  then just left—no name-calling, no snarks, nothing.  GG’s heartbroken.

Next I took a  guy named Gabriel on a quick guided tour to Twilight Temple. Disappointingly, the giant catfish has shed her golden scales and King Gigide was nowhere to be seen. While we were there, I pulsed some more fish, then whipped out the multisensor for a little last-minute treasuring. Lucky I did, as I turned up the Incan Treasure, worth 12,000 P.

All told, I made off with a cool 30,000 P tonight. Not bad considering I wasn’t even trying.

By the way, in case you didn’t know, Disney’s Oceans opens in theatres today. I’m working on convincing my son to get over his nature-documentary fears to join me this weekend. Here’s a link: http://disney.go.com/disneynature/oceans/

The Ghost of Valka Castle

4/14

Valka Castle, midnight—It happened: we saw the Valka Castle ghost.  It started innocently enough—I was on a routine salvage request when I slipped up and took Oceana with me as my dive partner instead of GG. The map clue was obvious and we found the treasure almost immediately off the wreck of the Blood Lotus. With plenty of time on our hands, I suggested we go raid Valka Castle once more. Without GG, my salvage bag only carries 15 items, so I’ll have to be more discriminating, but I wanted to try a technique I’d heard about for screening out less valuable loot. Forget books and anything that doesn’t light up any of the symbols on the mutlisensor—they’re only plastic junk. Mysterious chests that are wood only are empty—go for things that are made of composite materials, wait for a lightning flash, etc.

Entering the Spiral Tower of the castle, the screen fades into a cutscene. “Y’know, I heard this place was haunted,” Oceana says. This is it—we’re finally going to meet the ghost!

I swear those eyes are following me...

As we pass through each doorway, the screen goes dark and a familiar dialog round fires up: “You go first.” “No, I insist—you first.” “Why, are you scared?” “I’m not scared, are you scared?” It’s like Abbott and Costello. Valka Castle at night is creepy enough. When you expect a ghost around any corner, it’s unbearable. The dark windows, the rotting shelves, tattered curtains, the mouldy paintings, even the gleam of small fish on the floor is eerie.

When the ghost appears, it’s a disappointment, inevitably. But it sure was fun to pretend that we were going to be scared by it. ‘Cause I was never really scared, you know. No way, not me.

Gaaaaaaaah!!

Well, now that the ghost is exposed, we can continue with our treasure hunting. My tactic of being picky  turns out to be a good one—we hauled up a ton of valuable loot, including a treasure chest worth 12,000. Our tally now comes to over 500,000 P. Halfway there!

Release the Kraken!

Dangol’ gian’squid man!

4/1

Zahhab Region, noon—The seaweed that’s the secret ingredient in the snakeoil magical healing ointment was easily found at Mushroom Rock. With Pha in tow, I next headed for the Twin Crevasses, to search for Oceana’s favorite animals, which I suspect are the hideous giant isopods, Bathynomus giganteus—figures she’s the kind of kid who loves buffo toads and naked mole rats.

Speaking of giant isopods, have you seen this? http://news.discovery.com/animals/creepy-sea-creature-crustacean-giant-isopod.html 

Pleasant…dreamsss….

But once I got to the sea floor, I realized I should’ve, y’know, taken Oceana with me instead of Pha. Oh well, at least I could search for those Okeanos Tablets while I was there. One of them I know is associated with Horus, and another with Osiris. Isn’t there an Osiris’s somethingorother down here? I crawl through a lot of tunnels and see a lot of weird beasties along the way. At one point I even nearly collide with a giant squid on his way to work. I find Osiris’ Courtyard, which has the totally wicked-looking wreck of the submarine that claimed the life of Matthias Louvier, but no tablets. Come to think of it, Osiris and Horus might be in the Chamber of the Gods. Well, I’ll just have to g—doh!! Once again, my visit to the depths is pretty much a bust.

This friendly-looking fellow is a fanfish. He wants to be petted.

Back on Nineball, the gang’s all clustered around Jean-Eric again, who’s reading a followup story on the magical ointment. (I don’t have the heart to tell him he’s just reading the same paid advertisement). We are the soul possessors of the secret ingredient—the world is somewhat literally our oyster. Oceana wants to share it with the world immediately, but Hayako, no fool, wants to keep it a secret while we study its properties, learn how to market it. Hidden depths of deviousness to that one…

Meanwhile, GG has an interesting salvage request for us from FF, the guy with the dead beaver on his head. He’s got a piece of map to show us, but he hasn’t a clue to what area the map belongs to. All we’ve got to go by is a few grids, a scap of shoreline, and some amorphous blobs of submarine geography. It’s a bit like finding a puzzle piece on the floor and trying to guess which box in the closet it belongs to. There’s no hurry, GG and FF assure me, whenever you get around to it.

It’s time to watch Letterman’s monologue and go to bed, but this has got me intrigued. The land trails off on the lower right, and I think I detect a blush of pink at the border, so it can’t be Zahhab (no eastern shoreline) or Cortica (wrong color). I flip through the other maps in the marine encyclopedia, redraw the map on a piece of scrap paper—not accurately, of course, but it gets me to focus. Suddenly—

I know where this is.

I head out, get GG and dive and in seconds we’ve got it. The Silver Shield, worth a cool 10,500 pelagos. Letterman’s over, but at least now I can go to bed with some make-believe money in my pocket.

Why the Sea is Salt

3/26

Gatama Atoll, Sunrise—Just a short mission today, as it’s late at night in realtime. Went out on a salvage request to find the Admiral’s Pistol. When you go out on these salvage missions now, the client usually hands you a map which is a tiny scrap of the big map. Toggling between the big map and the scrap, you figure out where you should go. This time it was easily found in the Gatama’s Navel region.

While I was there, I set out to solve the High Salinity Testing Results riddle. I had to have a little help with this one, as the clue only says there are high-salinity readings in the microatolls in Gatama. Oh really, so what? I read somewhere on one of the boards that the microatolls are in the Donut Reef area (Mmmm…doh-nutsssss…). Honest, I try not to cheat, but if I hadn’t learned that, I never would’ve found it. As it is, you have to do a good deal of far-flung multisensoring, picking up some nondescript salvage junk. Later, when Nancy polishes it off, you learn that you found a hand mill.

Now, you’d have to know your Brothers Grimm to get the joke:

An old sea captain was tired of chasing across the storm-tossed ocean to retrieve salt for his margaritas, so when he met a wealthy man who boasted that all his riches came from a magic handmill, the captain asked, “Arrr, do it grind salt, matey?” To which the man said, “Yea, it do.” The captain made some outrageous bargain for  it (or maybe he just stole it outright, it’s been awhile) and took it on board with him. He got it started and sure enough, soon salt was spilling all over the deck. Trouble is, he couldn’t stop it, and before long, he had salt up to his poop deck and the ship was going under. So he threw the mill into the sea and the whole crew drank frozen margaritas till they stumbled into port, the end. Oh, and what happened to the mill? It continues to grind out salt on the bottom of the ocean to this day. And that, children, is why the sea is salt. And don’t let those science geeks tell you any diff’rent.

Anyway, for solving this convoluted riddle, I receive a  mermaid figurine to beautify my private reef. How tasteful!

Tusk!

3/22 (47th hour)

Ciceros Strait, midnight—I’m searching with GG for the Spartan Treasure. They turn the whirlpools off at night, so we’re free to roam through Ciceros Undines (that’s Undines not undies, okay?) looking for a cave. Well, it’s a long way and a lot of staring at rock walls before we find it near the Wreck of the Blood Rose. We go in and find…nuh-thing…nada…nix. A cutscene tells us we’ll have to go back to Nineball and try again.

So, is FF having us on? Or is there something more sinister at work? Is he getting his revenge on GG for messing up his brother? I’m turning this over in my head when who should pull up on his jet ski but FF himself. Uh-oh, I think, this is going to be awkward. And it is, a little. “Oh dudes, didn’t my brother tell you? You’ve got to look on the night of a full moon. Weird, he told me that, but not you. Oh that’s right—he can’t, because he’s in the hospital! Sorry, brah!” As a final twist of the knife, he tells GG to stop paying his brother’s doctor bills for him. This forces GG to break down and admit that he’s been sending his treasure booty home for his former partner’s recovery. That’s why he’s such an awesome treasure hunter—because he’s a wuss with a guilty conscience, not because he loves money or fancy clothes or anything. Then he walks away, shaken.

Phew! That’s enough drama for today. Fortunately, a look at the night sky tells me the moon is waxing (or waning, I can never remember). We’ll be back soon.

Next, I’m off to northern Canada to search for the two long tusks my tiki demands. Boy, it’s cold up here! The wind is blowing 70 mph and I can barely see past the boat. Maybe I should’ve put a shirt on before I left. Aside from chinook salmon, I’m not seeing too many fish here and—OMG! NARWHALS!! Not just one narwhal, either, but a whole pod, all chasing around and crossing tusks like the three musketeers! Unfortunately, I’m not allowed much time to marvel before a Greenland shark turns up to kill my buzz. He can be zapped of course, but he’s persistent. After awhile I get annoyed and move on. Around the narwhal ice breathing hole I find the first tusk. One more to go. Now, what else lives in the arctic and has tusks? I drop in on the other breathing holes. Polar bear—nope. Ribbon seals—nope. Ah, here it is: walrus! I have to wander around in the blizzard a bit before I find the second tusk, then finish filling out the map and back to the boat. The crew is waiting  for me impatiently, all huddled over in the cold. When I get in, somebody says, “The weather’s not so bad here.” Yeah, right!

OMG! NARWHALS!!

Back at Nineball, I lay the tusks at my tiki’s feet. “I am…satisfied…” it grunts. “On sandy beach…soon…my thanks…”

So, how soon is “soon”, exactly?

Sick Penguins

3/17 

Went to the Weddell Sea, healed a sick penguin for the next Help Me quest. This is my first trip back to Antarctica since the main story. It’s really lovely, all white icebergs and dangling shafts of sunlight. Saw 2 orcas, rode a minke whale to the map border. Aye, there be many seals and penguins, and some kind of tiny sea slug on the iceberg walls. Dived down to the bottom of 1 iceberg, but was too spooked to swim under it. There doesn’t seem to be a sea floor here. Went topside, saw emperor penguins nesting eggs, with skuas waiting to pounce. Returned to Nineball Island, slept till midnight. Was surprised to find I’d healed over 100 fish. As a reward I received another lecture from the skipper and a horrifying bouyancy vest—it looks like a headless starfish trying to hump my chest—no way I’m wearing that thing! Bought more anemonies and giant clams for the private reef.

3/16

Ciceros Strait. Must be the new Elvis haircut—I found and cured the 3rd sick monk seal on the S.S. (Sunken Ship) Emerald Lady, with minimal shark bites taken out of me. The first two times I tried this the monk seal was a no-show and once, by the time I saw him I’d blown all my oxygen fighting Jaws and his gang and got dragged back to the boat. I finally did it this time by following the exact order of seal locations—Western Shallows, then Emerald Lady, then Blue Dome—it pays to follow orders! For my pains I got a lecture on pollution from Capt. Generic. Next mission is a sick penguin in Antarctica. Since I had plenty of air left, I filled my salvage bag on the way back to the boat. Nothing too valuable (how well can a closetful of clothes hold up after centuries underwater?), but it all adds up.