Anyway, as usual, my goal in the village was to seek out the Rune entrusted to its mayor's care, and it didn't take me long to track down Lord Antonio. He was a pleasant sort, content with life and pleased at the fact there were few disputes for him to resolve. It left him time to pursue his hobbies, which included a few magic tricks which he was quite happy to perform for my eager band. He told me he would give me the rune in return for the name of the most humble person in New Magincia, which meant a leisurely stroll through town getting to know the populace. William spoke of the low but important work he dealt in as a farmer, as it provided food for all the other professions with more noble connotations (and also made mention of his hippo carvings). Aurendir the shepherd was once a mighty mage with wealth and a castle all his own, which he gave up after a visit to the Shrine of Humility - apparently it was such a moving experience that he decided to change his entire lifestyle. Charlotte the weaver, Dunbar the tavernkeep, even my old friend Katrina - they all made their case for the simple nature of their work and how well they clung to the tenets of humility. But it didn't quite ring true for any of them - humility, after all, was a delicate thing, easily shattered by pride, even pride in one's own humility.
|This guy's got the right idea.|
Still musing over my experience in the village, we headed for the Isle of the Avatar and the Shrine of Humility that awaited upon it. I encountered my first marine beasts along this particular voyage - I skirted a feud between a sea serpent and some squids, only to end up attacked by both right on the edges of the Isle. And as if fending them off wasn't enough, the gargoyles set to guard the Shrine seemed to favor ranged combat themselves - no less than seven wingless guards stood in our way, all of them armed with a boomerang, and a winged gargoyle set to command them all. It was a rough battle, as many small cuts can make for very large wounds, but in the end perseverance won the day. We cut down the wingless one by one, and as they fell, the flying boomerangs thinned, giving us more room to deal with the winged - though in truth, his assault was so fervent that he did himself in, standing too close to the fumaroles on the volcanic island and not bothering to keep out of range of his own explosive spells. It took a few Great Heal castings, but we claimed the moonstone once more, and after a good rest and a level for Iolo, we sold the spoils of our fight and headed for Moonglow - and if New Magincia is where I'd vacation, then Moonglow is where I'd live. A city full of scholars, magic, and a stone's throw from the land's biggest library? Count me in!
|No wonder Mariah and I got along back in U4. She's a linguist too!|
The Dispel Field spell she sold turned out to be particularly useful, in that it let me pass through several fields blocking passage in a building I'd encountered earlier (which was just as mysterious as the vacant house for sale where I could see blood through the window!) It turned out to be Penumbra's residence, and after telling my future - which involved a Vortex and a broken lens that must be made whole that needed to be used with another lens - she informed me that Beyvin was in fact dead, likely from being rather lacking when it came to tact, and that the rune had been buried with him. It took me some time to find an entrance to the crypts beneath Moonglow, but I eventually found one behind a locked door in Xiao's residence. Carefully I made my way through, battling the occasional skeleton, slime, or acid slug, and boggling as to why in the world someone would bury their loved ones with a stick of butter. Eventually I found Beyvin's tomb - locked. There was a note, however, which implied that Manrel, a man with the symbol of the Codex tattooed on his head I'd met earlier, was Beyvin's cousin, and he was willing to let me borrow the key if I agreed to take some flowers to his cousin's tomb. I was quite happy to do so, and after I'd made my return I found myself with the last rune I needed. From there it was a quick trip north to Dagger Isle and the Shrine of Honesty, which I found... unguarded, strangely enough. It was a simple matter to claim the last moonstone, and with that, I had reclaimed all eight shrines in the name of Britannia.
|Who buries a body with butter?!|
|That's... not really all that helpful for understanding your system.|
While playing through this particular session (which incidentally made me rethink my comments on the lack of random encounters from my last post - I stumbled across a fair few while looking for the wisps, including my first fights with reapers, one of which found me against no less than four!) there was one thing that kept popping into my head, and that was this article on the depth of NPCs in Ultima VI. It popped up on my radar via the Ultima Codex some time ago, and running through New Magincia and Moonglow really put me in mind of it - there were a lot of moments during this session that made the NPCs really come alive, that made them feel like actual characters that served more purpose than just Plot Exposition Via Text Dump or Generic Background Flavor. There's a lot to the NPCs of Ultima VI that are there simply for character flavor, like William's hippo carving and Antonio's magic tricks. There's moments that give you a sense of the characters' actions when you're not around - Shamino knows Stelnar, and they exchange familiar when you meet him. It's suggested that Iolo and Conor have crossed paths before via a flicker of recognition on the bard's face when you meet him, and Conor confirms it when you ask him, but doesn't elaborate much on the topic. Characters are memorable, and I think part of that is because they've all got some detail that distinguishes them from the rest of the cast - and at the same time, doesn't drown you in everything about those characters. Less really is more sometimes, and I think it works to Ultima VI's benefit. It's just enough flavor to get you interested, without so much that it becomes overbearing and heavy-handed.
|It's a nice touch that there's clearly more to characters than they tell you.|
I'm getting very close to the portion of the game that I haven't played through before - once I make my way through Buccaneer's Den and steal a belt, it'll be uncharted territory for me. I've picked up one or two of the easier map pieces before, but that's about the farthest I've made it in the game. There's dangers and adventure and excitement just waiting out there for me - and I'm eager to get to it!
|Newly outfitted and ready to go!|