Sunday, February 22, 2015

Ultima IV: Enlightened

With five partials obtained and three more ready to advance, I had a pretty solid gameplan for this particular session - namely, become an eight-part avatar proper. Having left off at the Shrine of Compassion, I toddled my way back to Castle British, where Iolo and Julia gained a level after all the fights we'd struggled through in our travels. A little stronger now, I herded our merry little band of adventurers onto our ship, and sailed for Buccaneer's Den, having obtained enough gold to purchase a much-needed sextant. I was starting to get coordinates that I'd have to visit, and I needed a way to figure out where I was!

The Quest of the Avatar is forever, after all.
With that taken care of, I sailed around the south end of the continent to make my way to Skara Brae, or more accurately, the other islands nearby, where I poked around for a bit before I unearthed the Silver Horn that I would need to get past the demons that guarded the Shrine of Humility. But before I headed there - the Valarian Isles were a lot closer, and I had business at the Shrine of Valor. But first I had to find the rune! The last time I was in Jhelom, I found out nothing about it, but there were people behind locked doors that I couldn't question. This time, I had magic keys with me, and soon I was rummaging around the passages on the inside of the town walls, looking for a man named Nostro. The poor guy had been trapped within the passages himself, and in reward for helping him out he informed me the rune lay within the southeast tower. With that in hand, it was a quick hop over to the next island, and a few cycles of meditation later, I became a partial avatar in Valor.

My next destination was the Shrine of Humility. I'd been told it was on the northern side of a large isle in the southeast of Britannia, and that it lay on the same island as the Abyss. It was therefore with some trepidation that my band of five set a course for the Shrine, as we wondered if we might get a glimpse of what we might have to expect. Viewing gems showed a rough landscape indeed, and I blew the horn as we trekked over the mountains to the shrine to keep the demons away. The horn worked exactly as I was told it should, and I reached the shrine with no trouble, nor was I attacked on my way back to my ship after becoming enlightened in Humility.

Since I was sailing around anyway, and I wasn't too terribly far from the coordinates I'd been given by Jude, I went to go fish up the skull of Mondain from the depths of the sea. Surrounded by little eddies of volcanic activity, I was a little unsettled to have the thing in my inventory, the very skull of the evil wizard that caused so much trouble, directly or through his apprentice and/or progeny, in the past three games. I'll be glad to destroy this thing in the Abyss.

I intended to make my way to Moonglow afterward, but I forgot exactly where Verity Isle was, got turned around, and ended up closer to Britain than anywhere else. So I sailed back to the castle - catching sight of the settlement near Lock Lake through a gem on the way - and to my delight, I was ready for another level, as were Dupre and Shamino. I also spent some time exploring passages in the castle that I hadn't previously, with magic keys to unlock doors finally in my inventory, and I learned of the bell, book, and candle, and that I'd need to seek out those named Antos in the other keeps to find out where they were.


I don't know how comfortable I am carrying this thing.
With another level of experience under my belt, I could add another member to my party, so I swung by the ruins of Magincia again to pick up Katrina - again, I know she gets a bad rap and not undeservedly in some respects, but I still like her regardless, and wanted to give her opportunity to pick up a couple levels before we went dungeon crawling. Which didn't quite work out, but more on that later. For now, we made our way to Moonglow, which ranks pretty high on my list of favorite Britannian locales. A city of scholars and magic on an island, a stone's throw away from the best library in the land? Sign me up!

Anyway, after plying the townsfolk for information, I picked up the rune, learned the mantra, and set out for the Lycaeum to ask after the bell, book and candle as I was instructed. I was directed to search the library under T for the Book of Truth, and lo and behold, there it was! From there I blinked onto the island just north of me - since I'd taken the moongate rather than my ship - and after a bit more meditation, I was finally an eight-part avatar.

Still, that was only just the first step of my journey. With a lot of threads to follow up on still, I blinked back to Verity Isle - or tried to, at least, I had trouble aligning a bit, and ended up getting my entire party poisoned in the swamps in the process, and not enough reagents to heal it! Katrina ended up dying as a result of this - ONE STEP away from me mixing up the spell that would save her! It would be a while before I could revive her, although I did learn the mix for a resurrection spell in this session.

I still hadn't figured out where to find mandrake root and nightshade, though, so I asked around about that, along with a few other leads. Sir Simon and Lady Tessa told me where to find the mystic weapons and armor, and I learned where to find the Candle of Love and the Bell of Courage while poking about Empath Abbey and Serpent's Hold while gathering them. I learned where to find the two reagents not sold in stores, and spent some time collecting mandrake. All of my leads are starting to point toward the hidden city of wisdom off of Lock Lake now, though, so I think it's time to start plunging into the dungeons while I look for a way there. There's a veritable plethora of information waiting for me to discover, information that I need.

Armor in a very peaceful place.
I ended the day with yet another level for me and one for Katrina. I think I'm going to go pick up Geoffrey in Jhelom before I start chasing down my other leads. I do enjoy the fact that there's multiple ways to find out about certain important things in this game, as opposed to its predecessors - the three part key, the altar rooms, the skull... I've come across more than one character who's been willing to point me in the right direction on those topics, and it makes it a bit less frustrating than other games where vital information is gated behind one single character in an obscure, hard to locate position. Makes for a bit more enjoyable experience.

I may be an eight-part avatar now, but there's still a lot to do before I can venture into the Abyss. Time to track down some more clues!

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