|Treacherous waters ahead...|
Fair winds were at our backs as we sailed west from the city of Valor, and we set our course for the Isle of the Abyss. I took a moment to peer through a gem and make sure I was entering from the right direction - it seemed there was a portion of the island that I hadn't explored yet that was reachable from a large inlet on the western side. I remembered that I had been told I would need a magically strengthened hull to survive, so I made use of the wheel, steeled myself for what may come, and sailed onward. The inlet turned out to be the hiding place of a very large pirate fleet, and the battles waged on the high seas were tumultuous indeed, with sails flapping in the wind, the echo of cannon fire loud in our ears, and the ruffians even boarding our vessel on several occasions. Our ship was as strong as our resolve, however, and we pressed onward, docking our ship on a swampy spit that gave way to mountains, lava flows trickling over the ridges until we found ourselves staring at a large pool of the stuff, searing even from a distance.
We had found the entrance to the pit itself.
It didn't feel right running through endgame in silence, with only the blips and burbles of shots fired to punctuate this last leg of my journey, so in the absence of the game's music (I couldn't get it to work without either updating the graphics as well or making the game run on super-speed, neither of which were desirable outcomes) I fired up Pandora, which gave me a suitably epic medley as I descended into the pit (I found the Piano Guys' Cello Wars particularly amusing as I plunged through level three, as well as the string medleys of Zelda music and the Skyrim theme that popped up during levels four and five). So with dramatic strings skrilling in my ears, I stepped into the Abyss, ordering my party behind me.
Since Katrina and Geoffrey were limited to melee weapons here, I stuck them to my left and right, and also put Dupre in a more forward role in the second line of defense with Iolo and Shamino. Julia and Mariah brought up the rear. Our trek through the first floor of the dungeon was fairly straightforward, first battling several lava lizards while picking our way through yet more lava, then a pack of demons as we filtered our way through a corridor lined with impenetrable barriers that forced us to pass over sleep fields. The second floor, too, was mostly straightforward, simply making our way past the aquatic creatures that greeted us to make our way through a false wall a gem had forewarned us about, through poison fields that led to the altar. On each floor, I was questioned as to the nature of the Virtues and their relationship to the Three Principles, which I was made to answer before placing the stone of the appropriate color on the altar and making my way further down.
|Shepherds are tenacious.|
|A creepy corridor.|
|Can't beat the real thing.|
And then... darkness. I called out for my companions, but there was no response - I was in this chamber alone. Perhaps this chamber was reserved for those who had become an eight-part avatar. As my eyes grew accustomed to the dark, I noticed a keyhole, shaped just like the key of Three Parts that I had formed in the dungeon altar rooms. A booming voice demanded the Word of Passage, which I called out in reply. And then the voice asked me a series of questions, asking about the nature of the virtues, the principles - and as I answered them, I slowly saw a design being etched into the stone before me, a design that looked vaguely familiar. Then I remembered it - the last page of the Book of History, imploring me to study that image well, for when I next looked upon it, my "life's quest would be revealed." The visions I had received at the shrines suddenly came together as I was asked one final question, and as I answered it, I felt the rumble as stone moved, revealing the resting place of the Codex of Ultimate Wisdom.
I had done it.
I had finished the Quest Lord British had bestowed - and taken up a new one, for the Quest of the Avatar, as the Codex told me, is forever.
|This is probably my favorite of the final virtue questions.|
As always, I'll have one more post collecting my final thoughts on the game, and then it'll be time to gear up for Ultima V! Stay tuned.
|What more can I add to that, really?|