Tag Archive: Mysterious shadows


But their treasure wasn’t gold. It was knowledge. Knowledge was their treasure. — Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

6/3

Cortica River—My indifference to the Cortica River part of the game is well-documented (i.e., repetitive and  boring), but lately that’s were some of the most interesting things have been discovered.

I was on a routine salvage hunt a couple of weeks ago when, after finding the Diamond Telescope, I decided to amble downstream with the  multi-sensor to see what else I could pick up. Scanning the Cortica riverbottom turns out to be some fun, as it’s often a challenge to reach through a thicket of roots or electric eels to get at your glittering prize. At one point I picked up an unassuming canonball and took it home. Polished off, it proved to be a crystal skull, and while it didn’t glow, buzz, read my mind or turn into a super-magnet, it drew a respectable 10,000 Pelagos on the collector’s market.

The next discovery began a few days later, when I awoke from a nap and passed Jean-Eric on the way to the beach. “Perfect timing,” he muttered, folding his newspaper. You can always tell something’s up when Cappy’s been reading the paper.

“It says here a monster’s been sighted in the Cortica River. Witnesses say the creature is pitch black, is seen only on rainy days when the river is running fast. Something about a gigantic black thing. You should check it out.”

For various reasons, I didn’t get around to looking for it until last night. Rain was pelting the river, as it usually is, and you can see the little rings made by the raindrops from under the water—a nice effect. Heading upstream, I kept stopping to announce that I thought something was watching me, then I turn around and nothing’s there. It’s all very ominous—is there some new maneater or Creature from the Black Lagoon I’m going to meet up with? 

My path eventually takes me to Queen Lake. Suddenly…rising from the depths…a black form takes shape…and materializes into…a big fat manatee. Oh Cortica, once again you disappoint me! Mama Cortica, so we’re told, is a benevolent spirit on the river, saving capsized fishermen, uniting young lovers, and frying up cassava cakes for all the children. Very nice, but what was all that about a big black monster? Who reported that story, Don Knotts?

Mama Cortica

Yes, the Cortica River is a queer place, but I’ve saved the best and queerest for last. I was taking a woman named Lisa on a trip to see the Piraibo catfish at the mouth of the temple. Bored, I decided to investigate a rumor that there was a secret hole in the riverbank. This isn’t part of the story, but apparently a glitch in the game programming that was reported by several witnesses on the GameFaqs message board.  In first-person view, you swim up to the left of Spirit Falls, just where there’s a clump of vines growing in the corner. Then you surface, turn to the left, and there it should be—a rent in the space-time continuum. I’d attempted this trick several times in the past, but hadn’t had any success. I was beginning to think this was an anomaly on only some people’s games, but tonight there it was—a jarring, jagged hole in the screen, and through it I see…OH GOD! IT’S FULL OF STARS!

A rabbit hole in the riverbank.

Not exactly, but an endless stretch of open water under a clear Amazonian sky. Dive again and you’re faced with the riverbank, but here’s the cool part—you can penetrate through the wall into the open water on the other side! Swim in any direction, it seems to go on forever and is impossibly deep. Turn around to look back, and below and above the water you see paradoxical vistas of twisted pixellation, semitransparent walls, and cutaway sections of the river.

Looking back on the rabbit hole (arrow)

Hello, Dali!

It’s like an out-of-the-body experience. I can see Lisa staring uncomprehendingly at the empty space where I used to be. Jean-Eric frantically shouts that I’ve lost my partner, but I don’t care—I’m free! I’m transcendent! I’m outside the game looking in.

The riverbank and the 'other side'; Lisa left behind.

After a few minutes of this I pierce the wall again and return to the game, then disappear through the portal once more to see if it still works. It does, and I can reenter the game through King Amaru’s Aqueduct, or I imagine, through any point I choose.

X-ray view of King Amaru's Aqueduct

There’s really no point in looking for fish and treasure now, so I drag us home to develop the pictures I took on the other side. Lisa is sorely pissed that I left her behind; she reads me the riot act and leaves in a snit with no tip. She’s right—I’ve violated my principle of always satisfying the customer—but honestly, I couldn’t care less. I’ve just passed into the twilight zone, and saw that it was awesome.

The Cortica River has just become a lot more interesting.

4/17

Ciceros Strait—There’s been some strange activity reported in Ciceros Strait lately. Explorers using the charts we drew have seen a dark shadow on the sea near North Canyon, and treasure hunters are converging in the center of the region for reasons unknown. If there’s something strange in your neighborhood, who ya gonna call? L&L Diving Services, that’s who!

The marlin are strangely restless

Unfazed by our encounter with the phantom of Valka Castle, Oceana and I now set out in search of the mysterious shadow. We roam throughout the northeast corner of the map. I’m pretty sure this will turn out to be another legendary creature, but who knows? The marlin seem strangely agitated, and the jack mackerals are grouping in thicker swarms. Could our shadow be an unusually dense shoal of fish? To the west we swim over a wreck, the Pride of Athens, which I could swear wasn’t there before. Is the shadow the oil slick from a new shipwreck?  In the northeast corner of the map, there’s a rock outcropping shaped like a ship’s prow, jutting out over a dizzying dropoff. Is a new island emerging from the sea bed? Whatever it is, we should expect a cutscene to fire up and dispell the mystery, but none comes. It would help if we actually saw this blot on the map, but no. Flabbergasted, it looks like we’re going to have to go back to Nineball and reread that clue.

Oh—it’s in SOUTH Canyon, not North Canyon. Duh. I can find treasure from a few squiggles on a piece of map, but I can’t get my compass directions straight? It’s a humbling experience. Okay, back we go to dive off East Ciceros Undines, head south a few meters, and reveal what’s causing the shadow: Oceana has sworn me to secrecy, and besides, I don’t want to spoil the fun, so I won’t tell you what we saw. Let me just say I wish I had watched the cutscene  more carefully, because when I hurriedly ended it to use the camera, it disappeared.

With that excitement over, I deputize GG to see why these treasure hunters are poaching on our territory. We never actually catch them in the act, of course, so no spearguns drawn in the streets of Triton Village, I’m sorry to say. Only some tedious multisensoring that yields a few large containers, mysterious chests, and purple lightning bolts. Back at Nineball, among the junk Nancy appraises for us we get the Crusader’s Loot, which nets 12,500 P—the second largest treasure in the game so far.

Oceana reports that the L&L salvaging profile is rising still further, maps are flying off the shelves and we’re aiming at world domination (her words). In the flush of this new zeal, O has done a little shopping—she found me a pair of “military fins” (presumably for this world domination thing coming up), and bought herself a purse in the shape of a sea pig.

Valka Castle

3/24

Nineball Island, Sunrise–Started the day with a couple of dolphin shows, first Jeanne, who came all this way to see a tail walk, then Dirk who wanted singing. Dirk wasn’t impressed, but paid his money anyway and left.

Next GG and I went off to Ciceros Strait to once again seek the Spartan Treasure. Diving at night, this time we hit paydirt–11,000 smackers. We stick around to raid the Blood Lotus, then drop down the well to Valka Castle. I’m hoping I see the ghost this time, but no luck. I do get to test out a tip from one of the Gamespot forum posters and poke an octopus to make him ink himself. He-he! I fill out my salvage bag and camera in the castle, then head for the boat.

It turned out to be an enormous haul—11,000 P for the Spartan Treasure, 13,000 for a book called the 7th Tome, and 9,000 for a canopic jar. That brings my total P count up to 216,477—nearly a quarter of the way there!

FF turned up to claim his treasure, and there was some awkwardness as usual, with him going, “You should keep the treasure, you earned it,” and GG’s like “No way, it’s yours”, and FF’s like, you’re a softy and GG’s like, “That’s MISTER GG to you!” and on and on. Get a room already!

The sun sets on the third dolphin show of the day, this time for Yannick. He too wants Pha to sing (what is this, American Idol?), and goes away happy.

Then just as I’m about to turn in, I check in on Snorkle, who’s lying by the firepit staring out at a sparkle on the shore. The sparkle turns out to be a new item, “mirage” (maybe that’s the thanks I get from Mr. Tiki for bringing his tusks?) As I pet Snorkle for a being a good boy, he jumps up and starts barking at something out to sea. Jean Eric says it’s an island that wasn’t on the charts before, just west of Cake Rock. I go out to investigate, and surfacing outside Cake Rock, see something weird on the sea near Gatama’s Navel. Pha and I head out there and discover that the “island” is a huge leatherback sea turtle named Cocoa Maharaja. So another legendary creature is found. The big fella’s supposed to be good luck for treasure seekers. We’ll see.

Strong in the ways of the Force, you are...

3/18

Taking a request from Oceana, we and a marine biologist named Matilde head out to the Zahhab  beaches to watch sea turtles lay their eggs. This has to be done at night, when the sh-sh-sharks are out. If you keep moving they don’t bother you much, but they can still take bite out of you from time to time. I fumbled with the pulsar gun as usual and lost a lot of air before I found some blue starfish, the clue to where you’re supposed to land. Watched a short cutscene of turtles dropping their little pingpong balls in the sand, then it’s back to Nineball for payday. It’s a good one this time: 2,000 P, plus a 10,000 P bonus! We’ll meet Matilde again when the turtle  eggs hatch.  After another quick trip to the private reef, I go back home and sleep until the next day, then run right out and check the telescope. Score! It’s a full moon day and I see something really weird off to horizon. It’s fuzzy, but it’s big and has four limbs, so it can’t be a whale. With Pha I head out to what I call Corner Pocket Island, and there…find… a very large, very cranky croc named “gatama gatawa.” A little disappointing, frankly—I was expecting a mososaur or something.  Click-click.

"You kids get off my yard!!"

Next I jet off to Tokyo to visit the aquarium, where I change the main tank around to a polar theme (Belugas—I love those guys!). I add a few new things to the small tanks and kick out the sea lions to put in emperor penguins in the land exhibit.  There ought to be lines around the block now, but no, Hayako tells me they want to see creatures from Valka Castle. What-ever! Then back to Nineball again to develop pictures and go to bed. Overall I spent more time on dry land today than I did in the water.