Part 25: Questing the Shrines - Part I
Questing the Shrines - Part I
The Isle of the Avatar (which is the big island in the Southeast part of the world where Hythloth, the Shrine of Humility, and the Abyss are) is a little different now. This inlet on the southern side leads north, to where the Abyss entrance used to be.
Instead of a dungeon, we have a neat little shrine. The two statues here are the Guardians, and they will not allow anyone to access the Codex unless they're on a sacred quest. What's a sacred quest? Well apparently rescuing Lord British and saving Britannia isn't, but going back and forth between the shrines is!
The Codex of Ultimate Wisdom lies before thee... the book is open to the page thou dost seek!
: Those who fear to try, know not their limits and thus know not themselves.
: What? That's it.
: That's it? You're the Codex of Ultimate Wisdom, that's just a trite maxim.
: Why are you even here, again? You've already done this.
: Yeah, thanks for reminding me.
So anyway, upon returning to the Shrine of Valor (I forgot going there overwrites the current quest, so Spirituality will have to wait for later), I am rewarded with a stat increase. +1 Strength! I can only do this once per shrine.
Okay, so here's what happens with the Spyglass. You'll notice the planets here. They correspond to the virtues, but other than the distant one being Humility I have no idea which is which. Important thing to note here are the comets, which represent the Shadowlords. There are three of them, and so there's always going to be three towns that are dangerous. With 8 towns, the odds are still not huge that you'll encounter one, and they're easily avoided.
When we destroy a Shadowlord (which we will get to soon, since they're pains in the ass), the comet corresponding to them will vanish, and they will no longer appear, well, anywhere. That's what it means to destroy something. But how will we go about doing that when they can't be killed in battle?
Honor is nearby, so I do it next.
This is seriously pretty lame for something hyped up as ultimate power and knowledge last game. It kind of makes the next game funny if you know much about it.
Run out of torches? The Vas Lor spell (Vas means "Great" and Lor means "Light," I'll go over this when I can actually afford reagents) creates a more powerful light than them, but only for about as long. I mostly just travel by day instead. It's easier.
Honor grants +1 Strength and +1 Intelligence. Okay, now Honor is Truth/Courage, and Valor is Courage. Obviously, each shrine gives +1 to any virtue associated with it. Truth gives Intelligence, Courage gives Strength, Love gives Dexterity. This means that the shrine of spirituality gives the best boost (+1 to all) and the shrine of humility gives nothing. However, we still want to do all eight shrines, because that's what it takes to make the Codex actually do something useful.
The Codex speaks out on Justice. Whoopdy-shit.
Love and Truth means dexterity and intelligence.
Empath Abbey has a healer, but as you can see, resurrection is expensive. Minoc has a free healer but still charges for resurrecting, so it's unfortunately not all that useful. There is another way, however...
I resurrect Jaana since she's a Mage and thus has a magic point reserve, but fuck the rest of those guys for now.
Remember the White Stone? Well, the little spot where it was still exists NW of Britain. There's no Balloon in this game, but the Grapple can get us there. Why would we want to go there? Because if we search the square, we find a Glass Sword.
Why would we want a glass sword? Well, if you're familiar with some RPGs from this era, you know that glass swords are actually powerful weapons. I know, I know, it makes no sense, but pretend it's a really sharp and delicate form of crystalline "glass" material or something. Anyway, Glass Swords have an insanely high 99 Attack value (for reference, the Magic Axe has like 15, and the Halberd has 20). It will pretty much instantly kill anything that it hits. However, when it connects, it breaks, so it can be used only once. It's basically a nuclear option for desperate times.
Now, this square will yield a glass sword any time you don't have one in your inventory. The obvious intent of the designers was to make you come back here whenever your one single glass sword breaks and get another. But there's a snag.
See, a weapon equipped is not "in your inventory." And you have six characters. So if every single character equips a Glass Sword, you can search for one last one and then unequip them all and have a stock of 7. 7 is a lot.
Sadly, that's where the oversight ends. Someone must have noticed the "sell Mystic Swords, go get 8 more, repeat" trick in Ultima IV because you cannot sell glass swords for any price. Oh well.
Now, I'm very poor. I can't afford to resurrect my companions, I can't really afford reagents to do it myself, and I still can't afford more Magic Axes. The solution here is to find a good dungeon to loot.
A lot of the dungeons have valuables, but Covetous (not surprisingly) is pretty rich. I could make a couple thousand from raids on the first few floors, and it's not so hard that Steve and Jaana can't handle it. But I need the Word of Power to open the dungeon. To do that, I need to find a member of the Great Council who would know. They're all in hiding, but they operate with the Resistance, so I may be able to contact them. But where to start?
For some reason, I tried East Brittany first. Not a lot here, just a healer and a ship maker. But some reasonably cute NPCs.
You see a wide-eyed young boy.
: I say, thou dost seem rather well-travelled. What news of the world hath thee?
: Ah, that's the same news as anyone else's. They teach us in school that 'tis all for the common good. I suppose that we're to believe what we're taught. What is thy name?
: A pleasure!
: My name is Squire Jimmy.
: I am apprenticed to Master Hawkins!
: Hawkins, the third generation master shipwright!
: His grandfather designed the HMS Cape, fastest ship that ever sailed! Now Master Hawkins and his servants ply the family trade.
: You know that ship sank, right? I stole its wheel once. Not sure where that got to.
: Master Hawkins misplaced the plans for 'er long ago, and nothing since has been so fast. Still, we try many new ideas!
Interesting. In case you hadn't guessed, we can find the plans for the HMS Cape somewhere out there. They're like the Wheel in this game, only they make a ship twice as fast and reduce damage from reefs. Handy, but not really necessary.
I must be turning up dead ends here, so maybe if I check...
Goddamnit. Not going in here. Note that this is a different Shadowlord than the one before. The Shadowlord of Hatred makes people angry, unwilling to talk, and sometimes even violent. The Shadowlord of Falsehood doesn't do that, though. Instead, he makes people lie about important information, and makes shopkeepers overcharge you. Of course, he also comes after you to kick your ass, so you can't safely walk around town.
Might as well go back to East Brittany for a second.
You see a man with singed eyebrows and charred clothes, holding a blackened box.
: My name is Sir Adam the Torch.
: I seek to improve water travel!
: This ought to be good.
: Look out, this might explode.
: Should be safe enough, though. What harm could a fire do, especially on board a ship!?
: What ship?
: 'Twas Squire Jimmy's fault, indeed. I told him to keep that torch away from my experiment, but nooo! He never listens!
: That... doesn't sound good.
: I found that a mixture of sulfur ash, mandrake, and the powder they fire cannons with will unleash great power when burned!
Hmmm, a possible cannon upgrade?
Lord British's message changes along with your Karma. I've gotten it pretty high now, so he's got high praise for me, but I haven't done enough to get the final quest in the game to actually find him. Also note that he's a douchebag and won't raise the dead, even though he does so in just about every other Ultima. Freaking ghost king.
I also visited the Shrine of Compassion for the quest since I was here.
Anyway, the answer to Covetous's sealing probably lies in Minoc, so we'll just...
...oh come on, Shadowlords.
So we'll just wait another day, and then go in.
You see a sad and weakened soul.
: I am called Fenelon.
: I sew sails for Captain Blythe.
: He's the owner of The Crow's Nest! Between thee and I, he's a real nasty soul!
: Crow's Nest?
: They do have fine sails, if nothing else!
That wasn't who we were looking for. Rew here was who we were looking for. He mentions his mother Fiona runs the poor house. Hmmmm, I remember her. She had a mystical air about her. Mystical, like a wizard perhaps?
: What makes thee think I know?
: Yes, I did once serve on the Great Council. What is thy name?
: A pleasure! Thou must be the Avatar of legends past! What dost thou want from me?
: The Word of Power to open the dungeon of Covetous is AVIDUS !
Covetous is just south of Minoc this time, though one needs the Grapple or a Skiff or Carpet to get to it. You Yell the word to open the dungeon. Spooky huh?
Wow. Dungeons have gotten a major graphical overhaul since Ultima IV. They actually look like something now.
Directions... or warnings? I'm too lazy to check.
Even the doors look nicer. Although there's no handles or doorknobs, so I'm not sure how the Avatar actually opens them.
Dungeon rooms haven't changed much. Fight monsters, look for secrets, get loot.
In this room, for example, searching or attacking the tombstone reveals a closed-off area full of slimes and a ghost, plus loot and weapons. Slimes are more fearsome now, because while they are weak, they love to divide themselves into new slimes at a very high rate. It can take a long time to wear them down and wipe them out.
After looting Covetous for a while, I come out with more gold and a bevy of weapons and armor I can pawn. Sadly, as I hobble back to the healer in Minoc, I bump into a guard.
Here in Minoc, guards demand not 10-30g in tribute, but half your gold (remember the law?). Fuck that. I didn't do all this to give it away to Blackthorn.
So I'm under arrest. Unless I choose to resist. Sure, this will kill me, but that's actually the best thing that could happen to me right now!
This is kind of familiar.
This is not so much.
What's up ghost king! I guess I'm a ghost too! But not for long, apparently.
When you die, everyone in the party loses 50 XP, which isn't really all that much. You lose no items or reagents or money, although unlike U4 you also aren't given any food or gold either. You're resurrected completely, along with all companions, in Lord British's throne room. Seems like a better deal than paying 1000g to resurrect everyone, huh?
If you don't resist arrest, you get taken back to Yew and thrown in jail, but you can escape with your keys. Unfortunately the guards seize most of them, plus most of your supplies. Getting stuck in jail sucks and isn't worth it. It's better to just die.
Back in Yew, it dawns on me how I can help the people in the stocks: Break them out! Doing this is a good boost to your karma. Mine's gotten into the 80s right now.
After pawning all the weapons and armor I don't need, I have enough to buy another Magic Axe! Kickass! This one goes to Shamino, since he has the second best strength after Steve.
And there's the Compassion entry. Big deal.
But dexterity is nice. Helps with accuracy, which is always a problem in early Ultima because you really do tend to miss a lot.
Next up is Sacrifice. Remember this? No? Yeah, the entire region seems to have turned into a desert since we were last here. The town of Vesper has been abandoned, and will not return for several games when it will be reestablished as a mining town. But the shrine is still here.
Blah blah virtue blah blah ultimate wisdom.
Oh well, good boosts.
Just a couple more shrines to go, plus some Moonstone trickery. And then perhaps we'll finally be on track to learn our true quest, once the Codex stops messing around! It's really not all that exciting, just grab some stuff that belongs to Lord British and then go after him, but whatever.
And for reference, I'm somewhat sure the shrine quests are optional to finishing the game. If you know what you need (and you probably do, I know I do), you really only have to get those items and grind the Avatar to lv8. But this is how you'd know if you didn't have a fifteen-year-old walkthrough.