Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Adventure of the Week: The Crimson Crown (1985)

This week, I'm finally getting around to a classic I've never played before -- 1985's The Crimson Crown, a Penguin Software / Polarware illustrated adventure written by Antonio Antiochia, author of the popular Transylvania which I covered way back in 2009.

This was a sequel of sorts, though it was not formally billed as such, and is considered part of the Transylvania series.  We're playing the Apple II version, written in Penguin's COMPREHEND language.  The text, unusually for an Apple II adventure, is presented in very readable mixed-case, and the illustrations are important as they often reveal objects and possibilities not mentioned in the text.  The game can be played more quickly with the illustrations out of the way -- they're drawn using vector-and-fill techniques that take a few seconds to render -- but they really are important.  Fortunately, they can be toggled on and off with the ENTER key.

Interested readers are very much encouraged to attempt recovery of The Crimson Crown first-hand before reading my notes below.  But I will recommend you check out the supplementary material at the CASA Solution Archive --  you may not need the walkthrough, but the transcription of a riddle-bearing parchment from the original packaging is important; it was meant as a form of copy protection and the game can't readily be finished without it.  With that said, I'll leave you to your own decision, reminding you that there are going to be plenty of...

***** SPOILERS AHEAD! *****

We begin on a lake shore, with a sleepy willow tree and a path leading east.  INVENTORY reveals we have nothing, but it also establishes that we have a traveling companion, someone named Erik who says, "We have only what we started with -- ourselves!" 

We can CLIMB TREE to see an owl perched on a branch.  The owl asks, "Who?", and we can SAY various names to no immediate effect.  We can't GET OWL, so we'll have to come back later when we have a clue about this puzzle.  Trying to CLIMB TREE again establishes the presence of a second traveling companion, as Sabrina says, "We are already in the tree!"  We have to go D to return to the lake shore; our party generally travels along with us, and while we can direct Erik and Sabrina to do things we can't, it seems we travel in lock-step and can't split up the team to solve a puzzle.

Traveling east, we enter the woods; a tree stump lies to the north and there are no other visible exits.  Trying to head north to the stump leads us into a trap, plummeting our party down into a crypt.  Here we see two iron doors and passages leading east and west.  Sabrina is apparently a novice magic user; she has no spell that can get us out of here, despite Erik's urgings that she do something.

Heading west leads us into a large, misty cavern, with no features of apparent note.  East is a cave, where a pulsating crystal ball sits atop a stalagmite.  Trying to EXAMINE BALL is dangerous but necessary to move the plot along, as we are thrust into darkness, where we encounter The Vampire.  He demands that we surrender Sabrina and the boy (Erik?) to him, before we are thrown into a chamber of blinding white light, where a friendlier shape charges us with destroying the vampire "BEFORE HE LEARNS THE SECRETS OF THE CROWN!"  He or she tries to give us something, but we are interrupted by the vampire again, and Sabrina ("the princess") has to drag us out of the room, back to the crypt.  The way east is now blocked by dirt and debris.  There's considerably more drama afoot here than in Antiochia's earlier Transylvania, at some cost to interactivity.

We don't have many options now, so we might as well READ the SIGN near the iron doors and consider pushing the button.  The sign reads:

I am very old, yet I'm very new.  Many used me before, now there are few.  A famous knight made me famous, too...  I do not breathe, yet I need air, true.

A powerful, last-resort sword of some kind?  We can't MOVE SIGN; what happens if we PUSH BUTTON?  Hmmm... Nothing happens?  It seems to be a toggle -- pushing it a second time results in a whirring noise, followed by nothing happening on the third push, so it might be an elevator moving between two floors.

What else?  Well, we can go D from the misty cavern onto a staircase, leading to a lower cavern but not all the way to it, leaving a twenty-foot vertical gap to the level below.  We can safely go D, but can't go back U the way we came.  We might as well explore, anyway, as down here there are tall pillars flanking an arched entrance.

Going north may be premature, as it brings us to a gryphon's den, though fortunately we can escape by going south again.  South is more cave area, with some mushrooms that are quite dangerous, at least psychically -- trying to GET them induces a warning from Sabrina, too late, and a seizure of sorts that leaves a shriek echoing in our head.  Hmmmm.  I should have EXAMINEd them first -- Sabrina notes that "They are evil and deadly!"

West of this location is a maze, it appears -- a crossroads of twisting paths which meander all directions.  If we hang around for a bit, a spectral sage appears; we can TALK SAGE to get a brief commercial for his or her soothsaying skills before the apparition disappears.

A stump south of the crossroads bears ancient writing, reading "Knock here."  Going S from here plunges us back into the crypt, so this must be the same stump we saw earlier.  Working our way back here, we can KNOCK STUMP -- and a twisting coil of green fire throws all of us backwards -- and back into the crypt, again.

Well, we might as well visit the Gryphon while we're making our way back to the crossroads.  We can TALK to him -- "Three riddles have I," he says, and offers us the challenge of answering them to win his treasure.  This puzzle refers to a parchment included in the original game packaging, a copy-protection measure in the pre-Internet era; each stanza apparently corresponds to a riddle, and I've copied it here from the CASA Solution Archive:


Hands I do not have, yet I grasp so tight.
I love darkness, my enemy is light.
Both the mighty and low know me well,
For in the hearts of men do I dwell!

I wonder as I wander: where am I?
I shed tears, yet I cannot cry,
I trek but cannot walk, swim, or fly,
I am born to die. Say, what am I?

I am, I'm not. I visit young and old,
Some I make timid and some I make bold,
Unwise is the one who pokes fun at me.
Beware, for I am a shadow of thee.
My first guesses were GREED, a RIVER, and FEAR.  Only FEAR produces any kind of response, and I suspect that may have been the correct answer to the first riddle, not the last one.  Repeating recognized words causes the gryphon to note that he heard us the first time, so it seems we've got one of the three.  This will take some further thought, so for now we'll go back to the crossroads.

West of the crossroads is a large, shady tree.  There's a cat here, "possessed. Its eyes glow with vermilion fire."  The moss-covered tree is too slippery to climb, and the demon cat prevents our passage further west.

Oddly enough, we still don't have anything in inventory!  But we've explored much the accessible map, it seems, and the only major area we haven't covered is a forest maze north of the crossroads, "a foreboding intersection of forest paths which lead all directions."  These are always tough to map without droppable inventory, but we'll have to venture in.  We run into the sage again, who tells us (in verse) that we need a ring, shield, and sword; that we ought to talk with the owl in the tree; and that we should "LEAVE NOT THE SCEPTER, CARRY IT FREE."  Interesting.

As it turns out, this forest area isn't really a maze -- the geography makes consistent sense and the rooms are recognizably unique.  Whew!  There's a cave to the north, but we can't see in there, due to too many bats, for a bit of a change from the usual darkness puzzle.

In the western part of the forest is a gloomy castle, which we can freely enter.  The interior is fairly large -- we travel north for a while to reach a large candle-lit chamber, with stairs going up and a hall sloping down.  The downward path takes us to the cellar, with a vault door and stairs heading further down.  The vault door is cracked open -- but if we try to ENTER VAULT, A spirit voice whispers, "Windmill..." and we are blown back to the crypt.

We encounter the sage yet again while returning to our previous location -- this time, he mentions that the Dark Prince is alive and well, but flew away with hellish power of some kind, and that "NOW ZIN IS RULER AND HERE TO STAY."  Well, we don't really care who the big bad is, we just need to deal with him/her/it by means of solving various obscure puzzles, per the usual.

Sabrina mentions that "This is the wizard's castle" as we re-enter the castle, and suggests that he is quite dangerous if angered.  Heading downstairs again, we find a treasure chamber, where we can pick up a scroll -- or try to, as everytime we attempt to GET SCROLL, a mysterious wind blows the scroll out of reach.  I tried to SAY WINDMILL here, which did summon a wind to blow us back to the crypt, but the transportation didn't bring the scroll along with it.

Returning and checking out the upper level of the castle, we find a high chamber leading to an eerie chamber.  Trying to enter it causes yet another magical wind to come up, blowing us back down the stairs.  We can examine the chandelier in the main chamber to note that it's on a chain and cannot be reached from below or above; we can't tell if that's important or not.

In the eastern part of the forest lies a forlorn cemetery with a grating set into the ground -- and gravestones marked SABRINA, ERIK and INTRUDER, clearly meant for our party.  Spooky!  The grating isn't locked, but it is rusted shut and can't readily be broken open.  The sage shows up once again -- it's not hard to get his advice, it seems -- to tell us that "THE EBONY WARRIOR IS A MIGHTY FOE" and suggest that a dipped (poisoned?) arrow tip can do him in.

We can actually pass through the dark, bat-populated cave to its northern side -- where a giant cobra rears its head.  If we hang around too long, it attacks, and we're dead of poison within a few moves -- the first true death scenario we've encountered, and nicely handled in that it doesn't happen instantly but takes a little while for the poison to set in.

After a quick restore, we're back to puzzle-solving.  There's an abandoned house in the eastern part of the forest.  The busybody sage shows up to tell us that there's something shiny in the lake that can be retrieved by someone who can dive deep.

We can enter and explore the house -- there's a crate inside, and if we open it, a hideous zombie emerges!  This is an old-school zombie -- it has fangs and claws, and looks more like the grim reaper than a contemporary George Romero-style zombie.


We have no weapon, so we'll go upstairs for now.  The attic contains a candle, which we can take (finally, something portable!)  We can see the cemetery from the attic, though the window can't be opened.  Heading back downstairs, we find we can't TALK ZOMBIE.  It advances on us, and Sabrina advises us to "Flee!", so FLEE we shall.  We run into the sage again, this time informing us that "THE FIERY ONE WILL COME TO YOUR AID" and we need to "WAVE A SYMBOL OF YOUR BELOVED LAND."  Maybe the scepter mentioned earlier?

Wandering around looking for something else to do, we run into the sage again, who mentions that we need to summon him "WHEN THE RIGHT WAY HAS BEEN SHOWN, AND THAT STRANGE WORD IS KNOWN."  Okay.  Returning to the gryphon, I luck out with CLOUD as a guess for the second riddle, but still have no good ideas about the third.

Is there a way to get back up above the crypt?  We need to talk to the owl some more, it appears, and examine the lake shore again.  And yes, we can JUMP SOUTH at the stump to avoid the trap (or so it seems -- more on this in a bit.)  But the lake is too dangerous to explore, and too murky to see into.  The owl seems uninterested in us.  The candle we just picked up is not lit, so it's probably only part of a puzzle. 

The zombie is apparently flammable, as if we try to BURN ZOMBIE with the unlit candlem, the game tells us we're forgetting something, and the zombie is not afraid.  Hmmmm... there's a torch bolted to the wall near the entrance to the gryphon's residence, and we can LIGHT CANDLE there.  Trying to BURN ZOMBIE now scares the dry, ragged zombie out of the house, and we can acquire a mouse (perhaps to give to the owl) and a magic sack.  The crate contains nothing but a note reading, "From Karel Thurg -- Handle with care!"

Can we see inside the cave with the lit candle?  Nope.  We'll EXTINGUISH CANDLE for now, then, in case we need to conserve its light for later (we won't, but it's good practice anyway.)  We can GIVE MOUSE to the owl, who flies away, saying, "If you ever need me, just whistle."  Okay.  We can WHISTLE any time, but the owl is apparently only going to help us with a specific puzzle; he flutters by without assisting otherwise, and is no use for scaring away the possessed cat.  We haven't taken time to OPEN the magic SACK yet, and doing so, we find that it contains a gleaming black ring and a strange-looking flute.  Presumably the ring is the one the sage says we need; I'm not sure about the flute, but maybe we can charm the cobra with it?  Yep!  We PLAY FLUTE and he's out of the way.  We have to disable the graphics (toggling them with the ENTER key) to read that the room we're in has exits leading north, south, and west.  (This is not an easy game to map, as there are lots of detailed interior spaces that are larger than one "box" using traditional techniques.)

To the west is Fair Deal Sam's, a shop operated by a demon, apparently, though there are no obvious goods for sale.  TALK SAM establishes that "I have just the thing for you. But it's not free!"  So we'll have to return here later with something of value to trade.  Going north takes us to a high ledge, where we can see a castle in the distance with a death's head carved into the mountainside; we're too high up to get down from here, but I suspect the end of the game will take place in that castle.  (Actually, it's a fortress, as Erik kindly explains when we try to EXAMINE CASTLE.)

There's nothing obvious we can do at the moment -- can the owl reach the chandelier in the castle we visited earlier?  Nope, nor can he snag the windblown scroll in the treasure chamber below, nor can Erik or Sabrina pick it up.  We can WEAR the RING from the magic sack; there's no immediate reason to do so, but we'll heed the sage's advice in case it makes something happen; it doesn't seem to.

I'd almost forgotten that the sign in the crypt poses a riddle -- we've already discovered the answer to this one, though I didn't register it until I came back to consider this puzzle.  SAY WINDMILL always brings us to the crypt from elsewhere, but when we're there already, it opens the elevator doors!  Well, the doors aren't for an elevator, actually, as inside is a cairn of glowing stones with a sword embedded in it.  We can't PULL SWORD, though, as It won't budge.  We can read it, though, to see the name "KADASH" -- a reference to an earlier Apshai-esque Polarware title, The Sword of Kadash.

Hmmmm.  I'm still stuck, and entirely ready to reference a walkthrough to learn that while we can't retrieve the sword, ERIK, GET SWORD works!  (Though ERIK, PULL SWORD still indicates that it won't budge.)  I really need to remember that our fellow party members can sometimes do things we can't manage ourselves.  And I'm also resigned to cheating and learning that the answer to the gryphon's third riddle is DREAM -- he disappears in frustration, leaving a jeweled scepter in his wake.  Trying to GET SCEPTER notes that inventory is getting heavy -- can we store things in the magic sack?  Yes -- we can (for example) PUT FLUTE IN SACK to free up a slot.

Now what?  Can SABRINA, SCARE CAT help us with the possessed animal?  Nope -- "Booga, Booga, Booga!" Nothing happens.  Erik has a sword, but refuses to slay any animal of the forest.  But ASK SABRINA ABOUT CAT helps -- she says, "I can handle this beast! Perhaps I should cast a spell."  And yes, SABRINA, CAST SPELL works. 

To the west, we now encounter a stereotypical broom-bearing witch near a simmering kettle and a stone tablet.  She won't let us GET TABLET, and while we're messing with that, Erik drinks some of the potion in the witch's kettle on his own initiative.  EXAMINE ERIK yields only, "Oh, no!"  ASK ERIK ABOUT ERIK produces, "I'm not afraid of an old witch!"  But Erik is not feeling well at all; he's not able to kill the witch, either.  And now... he's turned into a frog?  But he returns to normal after a few moves.  Hmmmm.

I'm guessing Erik's frog form is useful for swimming at the murky lake, but find that we can't JUMP SOUTH by the stump at the moment, as we fall into the trap again?  It seems that's what pushing the button in the crypt does; there's no elevator, but it allows us to avoid falling through the trap door.  Jumping actually has nothing to do with it, we're just navigating north and south in the normal manner once the door is held shut.  We can command ERIK, DRINK POTION to get his transformation started intentionally, then drop him at the lake after he turns -- Erik the frog dives in and emerges with a silver coin, and the timing works out so that he changes back shortly afterward.

Will the coin let us buy something from Fair Deal Sam?  Yes, he gives us a glowing sphere of annihilation.  On the way there, we spot a large, purple diamond in the bat cave; it wasn't there before, and it bears images of a centaur, a black knight, a dragon, a troll, and a demon.  Interesting; the black knight is likely the ebony warrior the sage mentioned, so this might be a preview of our foes to come.

How do we stand regarding our apparent objectives?  We're missing a shield for the final confrontation, per the sage's earlier advice.  We haven't been past the grating in the cemetery... ERIK, HIT GRATING doesn't work, nor does ERIK, PRY GRATING -- though the attempt notes that Fingers cannot fit into the cracks.  The scepter won't fit, but ERIK, PRY GRATING WITH SWORD works (with a bit of comical pratfall action as a bonus -- it seems Erik is heir to the sword, but not necessarily skilled with it.)

As we enter the grating, it slams shut above us and we are trapped.  There is a censer here, made of brass and gold, with the engraved words: "Wave me."  We can't get out of here by traditional means, but SAY WINDMILL blows us back to the crypt as usual, and now we can continue.

There's still no shield in sight -- I wonder where we're supposed to wave the censer?  We can LIGHT CENSER from the torch near the gryphon's den, and waving it around seems to produce an overpowering cloud of incense wherever we happen to be, but no specific effect.  Aha!  In the treasure chamber below Zin's castle, A blood-curdling howl erupts from the walls of the chamber, and now we can GET SCROLL... except, no, now it rolls away instead of blowing away.  SABRINA, GET SCROLL works -- it must be partial to magic users -- and we can also ask her to read the scroll, revealing that It's a spell of laughter.  Okay.

I'm not sure what's changed, but now we can go the top of the stairs in Zin's castle and meet the wizard himself; Mr. Antiochia has indulged in a bit of a pun here, as he's the wizard Zin, and the wizard is in.  Since he's not apparently a threat, we can TALK ZIN -- we learn that the tablet the witch has belongs to him, and if we recover it he'll show us how to reach the fortress.

I didn't know what would happen when I asked Sabrina to cast a spell on the witch, but she uses the scroll of laughter and while the witch is recovering, we can GET TABLET and escape (I had to do some inventory juggling here, so fortunately she doesn't recover quickly; I extinguished the censer before putting it in the sack, just in case.) Returning the tablet to the wizard yields the word, "Lorelei".

We SAY LORELEI at the high ledge facing the fortress (since there doesn't seem to be any other way to approach it) and a bridge materializes -- along with The Vampire!  He kidnaps Erik and throws the rest of the party into a pit.  And now we need to pick up with side 2 of the disk... having been stripped of our inventory, though a few key variables seem to persist from side 1 so it's not a completely separate piece of code.

Sabrina is out cold, and WAKE SABRINA doesn't work; we can't KISS SABRINA, despite that working in some other stories.  There's not much here, aside from a four-inch wide pipe near the top of the pit, trickling water down.  We have nothing to carry water in, but we can SPLASH SABRINA to revive her.

SAY WINDMILL has lost its power here in Karel Thurg.  ASK SABRINA isn't very helpful, though we certainly agree that "We must find a way out!"  LOOK DOWN reveals a drain hole in the floor, and closer examination suggests it opens up into a wider pipe, but we can't enter it or find anything inside it.  The pit is deeper than our combined heights; Sabrina has no useful spells for this situation, and doesn't think UNDRESSing is such a good idea (honestly, I thought we could make a rope from our clothing, princess!)  I tried to BLOCK HOLE and COVER HOLE to raise the water level and let us swim out of the pit, but that didn't work either.  What about the owl?  We might be on to something -- our mouth is swollen and bruised, so we can't manage to whistle, but Sabrina can.

Instantly the owl appears and drops a branch with a beehive -- "My debt is repaid, fair one," he says, so that's as much help as we can expect.  I hope neither of us is allergic to bee stings... but, no problem, the hive is empty.  We can PUT HIVE IN HOLE, which blocks the drain, and water does indeed start to fill the pit.  We have to HOLD BRANCH as the water rises, and then we're out of the pit.

Oddly enough, Prince Erik is just lying here, unconscious, but we can WAKE ERIK to get him back on his feet and restore the party to full strength.  Why The Vampire just left him here is unclear at this point, and neither Erik nor Sabrina is up for conversation; both seem frightened by an unseen presence.

Heading north, we enter a maze of dungeon caverns, though again it's not really a maze and is readily mappable.  To the east is a seaside spot, where an injured seagull is flying by (one of the only bits of animation in the game -- the sequentially-drawn rendering technique allows this to work, by sketching and erasing the gull in a series of positions.)  We can't HELP SEAGULL, as he won't let any of us near.

Erik's sword lies in a cavern chamber to the west, but can't be lifted by the player.  Then a troll appears, and we are inspired to discover that ERIK, GET SWORD works.  ERIK, KILL TROLL doesn't quite work as expected, but young Erik's bumbling attack sends the troll fleeing in terror anyway.  He doesn't stay gone long, though; he keeps coming back, but stays away long enough for us to escape each time.

The scepter lies to the north, and can be easily reclaimed; the ring lies to the east of the scepter.  Further east is a corridor, flanked by rooms containing an armed centaur, a fire-breathing dragon, and a black knight, so we'd better be prepared before we come here.  Fortunately, we can escape all of these encounters readily, and aren't trapped in any location.

An interesting room to the north contains a basin of clear water and two statuettes of Aredor and Caphis -- famous warriors who were known for their good deeds and compassion.  Sounds like we need to help the seagull out somehow, but I have no good ideas about that yet.

Exploring some more, we find a waterfall in the western part of the cavern.  It's always worth trying to GO WATERFALL in these games, and we find ourselves in the troll's den, along with the troll himself.  Erik again fails to dispatch the troll, but the troll seems terrified of the Kadash sword itself, fleeing his own abode.

A garden area south of the waterfall contains an enchanted stream, but is otherwise a dead end.  Heading northward, we reclaim the sphere of annihilation; nearby, to the southeast, is a cavern with a rusty lever protruding from the wall.  We can PULL and PUSH the LEVER to block the only exit.  Can we lure the troll in here somehow?  Ah, we can just WAIT and he shows up; when Erik attacks, he runs blindly into the gate after we've closed it, knocking himself out.  Searching him doesn't yield anything interesting, but he doesn't get up again, so this must just be a way to set those nuisance encounters aside.

Can we make any headway on the more formidable monsters?  Erik's swordsmanship is no good against any of them; trying to THROW SPHERE (of annihilation) at the dragon yields countering advice from Sabrina, but it works on the centaur, and we can grab his bow and arrow (we have to get each piece separately.)

We can't just SHOOT DRAGON -- we have to LOAD BOW first, and even then the arrow bounces off of his thick scales. It does successfully penetrate the black knight's armor, but seems to have no real impact on him otherwise.  The sage said something about poisoning the arrow, didn't he?  The flowers by the stream south of the waterfall look weird, according to Sabrina, and we can DIP ARROW IN WATER here.  But nothing comes of it -- the knight still raises his axe with no apparent damage done.  Dipping the arrow in the basin by the statuettes is more interesting -- the sharp tip begins glowing softly, and now the knight falls, his evil destroyed in a blinding white light when the arrow penetrates his armor and giving us access to a pair of steel doors, shut tight for now.

We still have to deal with the dragon -- somehow.  Erik and Sabrina seem to be no help.  Returning to the seagull's area, we can EXAMINE BEACH to note that It's perfect sand for building sand castles, except sharp objects protrude here and there.  We can DIG SAND to yield a murex shell, and LISTEN SHELL to learn that this is what the sage tried to give us during the crystal ball vision near the beginning of the adventure.  The shell now transforms into a bright shield bearing a beautiful coat of arms!  We still can't seem to help the poor seagull, though.

What happened to the scepter?  I seem to have misplaced it somewhere... I must have dropped it while we were dealing with the troll in his den, when Erik hit me with his sword.  We haven't used it for anything -- WAVE SCEPTER at the doors the black knight was guarding doesn't do anything, but it does have an interesting effect on the dragon.  He says he was once a human, and that he will join our quest; we can summon him by his name, Fury, in time of need.  Then he burrows deeply into the depths of Karel Thurg -- I never knew dragons were a burrowing species!

How do we open the iron doors, now?  SUMMON FURY seems like an option, and yes, it calls the dragon, who tears the doors open and then disappears into the throne room to hold The Vampire at bay.

The Vampire summons lightning to destroy our party, but the shield reflects it, catching the evil being off guard.  Fury takes advantage of the opening to hit him with a stream of flame, and the vampire drops a crown.  Prince Erik was previously referred to as the heir, so it seems like we should suggest ERIK, GET CROWN.  He does so.

But we're not out of the woods yet -- power-hungry vampires don't respect ceremony or rules of succession, it seems.  Our feet are stuck to the ground and can't be moved.  ERIK, WEAR CROWN is the next logical step, but almost fails, as the Vampire's spell fights Erik's actions -- but after donning it, he now seems free of the vampire's influence.  We're still stuck in place, apparently held by the vampire's stare.  CLOSE EYES doesn't help;  ERIK, COME HERE isn't even acknowledged by the parser, but GET ERIK frees us from the spell also.

With our feet unstuck, we can FLEE and go back into the caverns -- but where should we go?  Ah -- a few turns later, the cave starts shaking.  Erik warns us that it is about to collapse, and we should seek an open area.  Once more down to the beach!

Once we're here... um... now what?  We can't SUMMON SAGE, and Erik and Sabrina are uninformative.  We do have time to notice that the crown on Erik's head is in fact the titular Crimson Crown, so it seems we're just about done here.  But what remains to be done?  We hear the dragon's roar fading out in a strangled tone, so Fury has probably sacrificed himself for our cause.  Is there really nothing to do but WAIT?

Ahhh... given some time, we hear the vampire's strangled shout as well.  And then a ship appears and approaches the shore, taking us all onboard.  In short order, the fortress collapses, and Erik realizes he must take on the rule of his father's land.  He re-christens his sword Fury, in the late dragon's honor, and plans to hang it on the castle wall, despite a cautionary note from Sabrina that everyone needs to be kept safe from it.  And with a possible sequel set up, now it's THE END!

I really enjoyed The Crimson Crown -- there's a lot going on in this story, and the puzzles are logical with a nice sense of progression and pacing in the final act.  I did use the walkthrough several times, but nothing seemed like I couldn't have figured it out if I'd just had a little more patience -- there are quite a few good but subtle hints provided in-game, and many unsuccessful attempts provide clues as to the right course of action.  The Polarware adventures were well-regarded in their day, and I'm sorry it's taken me so long to come back to the publisher's output.  I'll try to catch up a bit soon.

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