We now, at last, come to the largest and final area of the game – Valjevo Castle, the home of Tyranthraxus.
Valjevo Castle is 4 city hexes in size – and the core of it is a hedge maze inside the city walls of the castle. The whole premise of this section is to navigate the maze to reach Tyranthraxus himself and kill him. If you make a wrong turn, you’ll end up either fighting a false Tyranthraxus (who is something of an anti-climax and a pushover), or a Medusa who will probably wipe the party.
As a final area, this does include some mechanical call-backs to other areas in the game. Like with Podol Plaza, one of the rooms right along where you enter includes a laundry room where you can get a disguise. The maze requires you to use navigation techniques you might have picked up from Sorcerer’s Island if you’d done that side-quest (we’ve skipped it). If you finish Cadorna’s quest-line (which is barely mentioned as his quest-line) and survived his betrayal at Zhentil Keep, you’ll run into him as a prisoner in one of the side rooms.
Further, if you talk to Tyranthraxus’ lieutenant, you can even get him and his men to join in the party with the fight against Tyranthraxus provided you don’t dilly-dally.
And then there is, well, the fight itself, and it’s kind of a bear. You start off fighting against 8 fighters who are all at level 8 (the level cap for fighters in this game), and who are all at either 1 AC or -1 AC, which means everyone needs to have some form of magic weapon to have a chance of beating them.
Further, this fight will sap a lot of your higher-level spells if you want to stand a chance of surviving – and will also call for a lot of luck. If you pull that off, you then go immediately – with no chance to fall back, regain spells, or heal party members, into the fight with Bronze Dragon Tyranthraxus itself.
Consequently, I was completely unable to beat the game without cheesing it using Gold Box Companion, if for no other reason than to actually heal the party after the first fight with Tyranthraxus’s minions.
After the fight you go straight back to town, you get your cash and XP reward, and can remove your party members from the party so you can import them over to Azure Bonds – including your hireling if you feel so inclined (he’s Lawful Evil, so I don’t).