I can't get started, however, without taking some time to go over the in-game introductions. Normally I'd save this for my opening thoughts, but in this case, the introduction is too tightly tied to the first moments of gameplay for me to do so. While Ultima V made use of an introduction to set the stage for the game proper, Ultima VI stepped it up a degree further. Ultima V kicked things off with a bit of showdown between Shamino and the Shadowlords, giving the player a taste of the power his adversaries hold. When you're dropped into the game itself, your initial circumstances are reflective of the events the introduction tells of - you're at Iolo's hut, which is where the introduction describes you running off to, Shamino's HP is low, and Iolo's description of the state of Britannia sets the tone for the rest of the game.
|I feel sorry for Lord British's janitorial staff.|
It was with all this running through my head, then, that I tumbled into Lord British's throne room, three gargoyles in hot pursuit, unarmored and with nothing but an ankh and a sword Dupre had thrust into my hands only mere moments before. All was frenzied for a moment, but old skills returned to mind swiftly, and between that, Dupre's strength, Shamino's swiftness, and Iolo's accuracy, this initial skirmish was over swiftly. After we'd all taken a moment to catch our breath, I spoke with Lord British, who took some time to go over several matters with me - the collapse of the Underworld after his rescue, the subsequent gargoyle invasion, the capture of the Shrines, a recent attempt to retake the Shrine of Compassion, and on advice from court mage Nystul, the operation of the Orb of the Moons that I'd picked up before charging through the moongate. My old friend Geoffrey, now Captain of the Guard, told me a little more about the failed attempt to recapture the Shrine, telling me that the survivors were now recovering in Cove. Nystul, meanwhile, took an interest in the book Iolo had taken from the ringleader of the gargoyles we'd just escaped from, and thought it would be best to bring the book to Mariah to translate.
|Hostile birds were around this carcass - vultures, I suppose?|
It was thus to Cove that I turned my sights, figuring that it was best to know the enemy I was facing, and the memories were freshest to those recovering there. Loath as I was to make things more difficult for those soldiers as they attempted to cope, they seemed my best bet for the time being. My path there, however, would necessitate me going by the Shrine of Compassion, and as I had suspected, the gargoyles that had taken and held the shrine were still around - one of them large and winged, and as we would find out in the ensuing fight, capable of wielding powerful magic. Shamino was paralyzed by a spell and took rather a beating, as did we all from the explosive magic slung around by our foe, but we persevered and managed to send them off running to lick their wounds while we pressed on toward Cove - though not before taking note of the moonstone surrounded by a force field resting atop the shrine itself.
|No wonder she seems so serious...|
Now that I had need to poke around Britain for a while, I took the time to get to know some of the townsfolk. Lazeena, a bard currently plying her trade in the Blue Boar, sang of the shipwreck of the Dutchman and recited a poem about the healer Artagel, missing after taking a trip to the Shrine - I wondered what his fate had been, a sinking feeling told me it was likely not pleasant. I learned that Lord British was looking for a copy of The Wizard of Oz, and was offering a reward - perhaps the Lycaeum's library might have it? I chatted with the town weaver for a bit, who praised Charlotte of New Magincia for her skill in weaving silk. I exchanged the gold nuggets Dupre was carrying for coin at the mint, then left in a hurry - Terri was an absolutely shameless flirt, and I found myself a touch uncomfortable in her presence.
|So do I, kid! Well, the modern equivalent, at least.|
|One down, seven to go...|