I fired up Ultima V again intending to get a session in, visit a couple towns and get some clues, do a shrine quest or two, maybe try and get a level for some of my current party, and that'd be that. Instead I fell victim to the RPG version of 'one more turn' syndrome - "Okay, maybe I'll just do one more shrine quest... maybe I'll just visit one more town... well, I'm not far away from getting Shamino another level... maybe I'll just play a little longer..." On and on it went in that vein, and before I knew it, I'd lost a good portion of my evening and had far more exploration and clue-hunting under my belt than I'd planned on, and my notes just kept going. It always takes time for me to really click with a game, and I'm never quite sure where and when that point is, or even, really, what causes it to happen. All I know is that I've never got to that point with Ultima V before - until now. It was slow going in the early stages, but now that I've broken through that nebulous barrier, whatever it was, I'm practically having to wrest myself away from it long enough to scribble down my thoughts on it and type these posts up.
|This seems ironic, somehow...|
And I found him, though I'd have missed the keep he dwelt in if I hadn't thought to use a viewing gem as I passed by the island, it was surrounded by mountains that I had to climb via the use of Lord Michael's grapple. There was a lot to learn in Bordermarch, though - and not only that, I bumped into both Sentri and Dupre there, who were more than willing to take arms and join me. There was no room for them in my group at the moment - a smaller entourage would be less noticeable, after all, but I assured Dupre I'd come back for him when I saw the crestfallen look on his face. It didn't seem right to leave him behind. Sir Simon told me of the crown and the scepter of Lord British, that his crown (which I'd previously been told was being kept in Blackthorn's castle) would protect against magical attacks, and his scepter could disperse magical barriers, which would come in handy if I could retrieve it from where it was being held in the keep of the Shadowlords themselves. His wife Lady Tessa told me of Lord British's amulet, which lay amongst the graves of valiant warriors in the Underworld and that I would need it to find my path in an unholy darkness. I'd been told all three items would be necessary to rescue Lord British, but they would not be easy to retrieve!
|Speaking sdrawkcab is tluciffid.|
Dagger and Verity Isles were next on my list, the former to visit the Shrine of Honesty and learn of the failing of dishonesty, the latter for the Lycaeum and Moonglow. I found another lighthouse here, Waveguide by name, but neither of its residents seemed to be very helpful - Gregory was a very unpleasant man who I couldn't get out of conversation with fast enough, and Jacqueline had memory issues. So I moved on to the Lycaeum, to see what I could find out about the Shadowlord of Falsehood and to gawk at the almost extortionate prices for reagents. I learned the Shadowlord's name from Lord Shalineth, and Lady Janell told me to speak with the twin sisters in Cove to learn where I could find the Shard of Falsehood. Mariah was here as well, though ailing, and so I thought it best to leave her to her recovery rather than take her along with me. Sir Sean told me where I could find Stonegate, the keep of the Shadowlords themselves, when I asked him about it upon recollection of someone telling me to ask him about the place. It was Lord R'hien whose words stuck with me the most, though, decrying Blackthorn's Laws on the basis that Virtue lacks meaning when imposed by force, rather than chosen. It seems fitting that this is why the Keep of Truth remains a holdout against Blackthorn's claim to rule.
|I told him I lost the fight with the frying pan. It was epic.|
From there it was off to the Codex again, which told me dishonesty favored temporary gain over the permanent (Blackthorn's version would give it something temporary and permanent, with the loss of one's tongue), then a return to the Shrine of Honesty, and another stop in Jhelom to learn of the stones I could find to manipulate the location of the moongates - and find a Magic Axe in the process! I would use this profusely for training purposes, and by the time the session ended Aric was starting to near level 7, while the rest of my party was at least level 4. Speaking of the moongates, though, making a stop in Jhelom meant I was near both a gate and the Isle of the Avatar, which made completing the Shrine of Spirituality's quest a fairly simple matter - in response to the exhortation to learn of the neglect of one's spirit, I read that to forsake one's inner being is to abandon hopes for one's self and the world. Yet Blackthorn would have one pay more attention to others' own spiritual journeys with his Laws, forcing the public to enforce them or else die a heretic.
|Pretty much the game's theme in a nutshell.|
After stopping by the Shrine of Humility and the Codex, learning of the weakness of pride (which Blackthorn's Law misses completely, mostly serving to maintain the pride of those in power), I headed for Cove and the Shrine of Compassion, which asked me to learn of the heart of the cruel soul. Cove didn't hold that much for me, but I did learn of the location of the Shard of Falsehood, which lay in the Underworld near where Deceit let out into it. The twin sisters gave me directions to where I could find it, which would be very useful indeed. I dropped by Britain again to gather some supplies as I passed, and while I was there heard a rumor about the mystic arms and armor - supposedly Bullweir, the rude smith in Jhelom, knew something about them. I didn't look forward to speaking with him again, but those would be nice to have again.
|Katrina, why must you test my humility so?|
There were just a few more matters to tie up at this point, so I headed to Yew to pass on Froed's message, and while I was in the jail I found Felespar, who told me Wrong's Word of Power. Greymarch was glad to hear his son was all right, and also pointed me to Sir Simon about the scepter - redundant, really, but it still was uplifting to see this poor prisoner's heart lighten at the news of his boy. Then it was a march to the Shrine of Justice, my last quest from the shrines. After the Codex told me that those who inflicted injustice could not expect fair treatment themselves, a wind turned the page, and gave me further instructions: to head for the core of the world past the exit of dungeon Shame, to call out 'VERAMOCOR' to enter, and that which the world had lost lay within. It became clear to me then why I would need the crown jewels to rescue the rightful king - the amulet would get me "beyond the darkness," the crown would protect me from the "stealers of souls," and the scepter would assist me in getting past the "ethereal wards."
|I'll do my darndest. And you'll help.|
Back through Despise we went, our new companion in tow, and that was where I called it a day. I think I've settled on this group as my final party proper - it just doesn't seem right to go through an Ultima game without Iolo, Shamino and Dupre if I have anything to say about it, and I didn't get to travel with Jaana last game on account of having started Ultima IV as a druid, so it only seems appropriate to give her some opportunity to properly act as a companion of the Avatar. And Captain Johne needs a chance of redemption, if only so he can have some closure properly.