Friday, May 15, 2015

Ultima VI: Just Rewards

Having accomplished everything that I could in Minoc, or at least as far as I could tell, I turned my sights westward, with the intent of picking up a log in Yew in order to make the panpipes I needed to obtain the Rune of Sacrifice from Selganor. To do that I'd have to turn back the way I'd come, so I took a shortcut and made use of my Orb of the Moons to return to Britain. I ended up winding my way through a portion of the town I hadn't poked around during my previous visits, and bumped into a wandering troupe of gypsies in the process.

Sure, we can use more entertainment than Iolo's lute!
They certainly marched to the beat of a different drum, but they were pleasant folk, offering very entertaining performances for a few coins, which I was happy to give as they were a very talented performers. In addition, Zoltan was willing to sell me reagents, and Taynith offered a glimpse into the future of my quest. Her tiles revealed a Shaman, a Blademaster, and a 'Clever Fish,' and she told me I'd need to be all three and more to find success. Cryptic, but then again, what did I expect from a fortune teller?

It was Blaine, however, who proved to be the most helpful of the lot, as he wished to join me on the journey. He was a relatively inexperienced chap, but was eager and willing, and seemed just as nimble as the rest of his companions, so I handed him some spare equipment, including one of the boomerangs I'd picked up from the spoils of the fight at the Shrine of Compassion, and told him to give Iolo some support from the back lines.

Passing out of Britain, I met a fighter along the path toward Skara Brae, using 'met' in the loosest sense of the word. He refused to give me even so much as his name, and often acted as if he did not hear my questions, his bearing suggesting I might not appreciate the results if I dared to ask him again. I left him alone for the time being, leaving him to whatever business he had, but if he was trying to make himself unremarkable, he had rather the opposite effect. Such an abrasive figure is not particularly easy to forget.

We turned north at a fork in the road, and found ourselves beset upon by a group of roguish adventurers. The tables were turned on them rather swiftly, and once the dust cleared, we thanked Blaine for his assistance in the fight - it was his first, after all. Some of the spoils we recovered after the fight seemed like things he could use, and so he was a bit better equipped as we traveled further along the road. There were a few lights dancing along the pathway, which put me on my guard remembering how dangerous an enemy wisps could be from past adventures, but they generally left us alone, and so we did the same as we slipped by. Iolo pointed us toward his cottage (as did a sign along the path) as we neared, so we made a pit stop there, picking up some blood moss along the way, and paid Smith a visit, ever vigilant against the hay menace that threatened to consume the land. It took some doing to coerce a slightly dumbfounded Dupre along again, and he and Iolo were settling some kind of bet over the matter of a talking horse by the time we arrived at the gates of Empath Abbey.

Well, I am supposed to ask Dr. Cat about those...
The Abbey seemed as peaceful and contemplative a place as ever it had, and I spent some time chatting with the locals. The vintner and beekeeper offered samples of their wares, and the latter made an interesting statement concerning the gargoyles and his blind sister - something about being their lot to make the best of their situation, as it is with us all, though we know the gargoyles more by their differences than their similarities to us. It certainly made me think, as I wandered through the cemetery. Mole, the gravedigger, seemed a simple man but a good sort, though he seemed to be having some trouble with Glen, the mortician. I ended up passing a fair few messages back and forth between them, with a decent amount of rolling my eyes - Glen seemed to have a good deal of regard for the dead but little for the living, even forgetting to pay Mole and referring it as just a "little detail." It did gain me the possessions of a recently deceased wizard with no next of kin, though, which felt... a bit dubious, honestly, but some extra coin and reagents, along with a magic ring, could certainly help. There was also mention of an enchanter who lived to the east, between two rivers, and though I didn't pay him a visit just yet, I made a note of it as his services might prove useful as well.

I chatted with Sionnach, the local bard, which told me stories of the shipwreck of the Virtuous and made mention of the Empire and Dutchman, telling me to seek out other bards to learn the tales of the others. I remembered hearing of the Dutchman in Britain - I may have to seek out these wrecks at some point. But I was left with little time to ponder this possibility, as I soon found myself in Yew and turned my focus toward my two tasks here, procuring a log and obtaining the Rune of Justice once more. Lady Lenora, the town's mayor, seemed a hard woman, but told me that the Rune had been stolen. The thief had been captured, but the rune was still missing. She also informed me that the logger was west of the town hall, into the forest, then a bit north.

...he says, while sitting on a stool "there."
On my way to the jail to question the perpetrator, I met a few of the other locals, including Andrea, the burly owner of the local tavern, and Utomo, the smith whom Andrea seems to have a bit of a crush on, which seemed to make him uncomfortable on account of the fact he already had a girl. (As something of an aside, me being a linguist, the "islander" phrases that Utomo uses made me wonder whether they're based on any language in particular. While some cursory Googling didn't reveal anything conclusive, leading me to believe they're not, I did smile a bit when I stumbled across an article or two on the Budi Utomo, an Indonesian group of some importance in the events leading up to the country's independence from the Dutch. My family tree includes Indonesian immigrants, and I didn't expect to get a brief glimpse into some of the history behind one facet of my heritage as a result of playing Ultima!)

Utomo provided me with some much needed swamp boots, along with a two-handed axe for Dupre, and also made mention of a magic fan that could create wind. Having outfitted myself a little better, I made my way into the prison, where the jailer told me I would need permission from Lenora in order to borrow the key to solitary confinement, where the prisoner currently was. Lenora provided me with such, and I proceeded to query the thief about his actions. He claimed he only did it to feed his family, and promised to tell me where to find it if I could convince Lenora to let him go. I was skeptical, but agreed to speak with her on the situation. She told me he was flat-out lying, as he had no family to speak of, though in doing so, made me wonder if she took the definition of justice a little too harshly. I confronted the thief once more with this information, and he confessed to having lied - he simply did not want the "pompous blighters" to have the rune. He offered to tell me where it was if I took it away from the town, and upon learning of my intentions for it, told me it was hidden under a plant in the tavern. I picked it up, along with a log, before I left Yew, shaking my head slightly as I wondered just how well they had learned their lessons on what Justice truly was, especially in the wake of Blackthorn.

Retaking the Shrine of Justice was... not an easy task.
I turned toward the Shrine of Justice, and the fight that met us there was long, arduous, and bloody. There was a larger contingent of gargoyles present here than at the Shrine of Compassion, including no less than three of the more powerful winged variety. I was glad for the Great Heal spell I had bought in Cove earlier, as I had need of it on a couple occasions through the course of the battle. Eventually, though, we struck them all down and claimed the moonstone atop the shrine. We took some time to heal from the fight, then returned to Minoc, where I had the log cut down into boards, which I then took to Julia so they could be fashioned into panpipes. After playing Stones on them for Selganor, he pressed the Rune of Sacrifice into my hands, and it was off to another Shrine. The fight to reclaim the Shrine of Sacrifice proved less arduous - though it, too, was guarded by several winged gargoyles, by the time they discovered our presence, we'd dealt with a good number of the wingless surrounding the shrine, and thus could focus our attentions better. Dupre's new axe proved helpful, and even the inexperienced juggler did a fair amount of damage (both he and Shamino found themselves gaining a level between the two fights at the shrines). I'm likely to replace Blaine's boomerang with the bow and arrows we picked up as some of the spoils from the battle, once I stop by Britain and pick up some more ammunition, but it was there that we called it a day.


The sheer size of Ultima VI is truly staggering, I'm realizing as I play through. I've had two solid sessions thus far and I know there's still a lot of plot to get through. I haven't even mentioned everything I found worth noting down, either, simply because a good deal of it is interesting but there more for flavor than contributory to the plot - the Burma-Shave-style tombstones in Empath Abbey are the first things that spring to mind along those lines, along with the virtuous reminders I get from meditating at the different shrines. I'm going to be on this one for a while, I think - but it's certainly holding my attention, especially since I'm taking the time to explore and poke around. With three shrines freed now, that leaves me with Skara Brae and Trinsic accessible from the mainland, so I think that'll be my goal for my next session. Hopefully those adventures get me enough gold to get myself a ship, and then I can finish my rounds of the realm. Onward!

Always such detail on Ultima gravestones...

No comments:

Post a Comment