The Let's Play Archive

Ultima 4, 5, and 6

by Nakar

Part 41: Good Old Britannian Stereotyping

Good Old Britannian Stereotyping

As you may recall, I gated to Skara Brae. Now we're there, but we're not staying long.

You see a tall, rather well dressed man with a wilted smile.
"Yes?" he asks, reaching over and removing something invisible from your shoulder.
"Hey, that was my invisible shoulder thing!"
He sniffs the air as if smelling something bad. "I am, of course, Trenton Bell, the mayor. You may call me 'Your Honor.'"
"Trenton Bell?"
I would appreciate it if you would use my title, 'Your Honor.'"
"Fine. Hello, your honor."
"So mayor aside, what's your job?
"Job? I do not labor like others. You know, rigging the masts or swabbing the decks."
"What's this about rigging?"
"You aren't much of a sailor are you? Yorl and that young Delancy girl can tell you about that. She has run the pier ever since her father, Quenton, was attacked by a gargoyle." He coughs then clears his throat.
"What's this about Quenton?"
"We were not friends... not good friends, that is. He resented my position."
"He was jealous of you?"
"Yes, well, as mayor, I am the shepherd of the spiritual people of this hamlet. We do not believe in violence as a solution to our problems. My flock would not fight against anyone. Therefore, I'm alarmed at the recent gargoyle sightings."
"Wait, people are reporting gargoyle attacks all the way out in Skara Brae?"
"Huge fierce creatures, they are. Quenton didn't even have time to scream before one of those beasts had killed him."
"Why do you say that?"
"Many believe if he had screamed, someone in the inn would have heard him."
"But no one did?"
"A couple of travelers were staying there that night, but they said they heard nothing. Still, I find this strange."
"That's an understatement, but what makes you suspicious?"
"Yes, you see, my brother is a guard for Lord British. A few months ago, a gargoyle attempted to enter the castle proper. He said that although they killed the beast, its horrifying noises still give him nightmares. He keeps hearing its deep growl. I'm sure that even if Quenton couldn't scream, someone would have heard that growl."
"That is suspicious. Who were these travelers?"
"'Twas Gideon questioned them, not I. He runs the Haunting Inn, the one the travelers were at. It's across the way." He frowns at you.

We've apparently got a murder mystery on our hands. I'll come back later for the rune and try to resolve it, but as it turns out  you can't actually solve the mystery, at least in the sense that you can't bring the murderer to justice . Oh well, at least I can pretend to try.

Here's the victim's daughter.

You see a tall, delicate looking female. Her smile puts you at ease.
"Hello milady. Welcome to my home." Her eyes are as blue as the ocean and her movements as rythmic as the tide.
"I'm a Richard Garriott self-insert and even I find this description heavy-handed."
"What can I do for you?"
"Are you Quenton's daughter?"
"My father chose an ancient word for my name. It means the cool breeze after a storm has passed. Marney."
"That's a pretty lame name, no offense."
"It is in a poem my mother wrote to him when they first met." She grabs a locket that hangs around her neck and opens it.
"It's okay, actually. We don't n-"
"Yeah, we really d-"
Inside is a folded piece of cloth with words printed on it. She begins to read. "At first we met and dark clouds gathered, the thunder sounding your approach. Then comes the storm of our heards pounding and in the end the marney's touch."
"That was terrible."
"Certainly you can look at it." She hands the tiny cloth to you. Looking at it, you discover she has read only the first verse of the poem.
"Well I'm not all that interested actually Mr. Narrator s-"
The second reads, "If I should leave and you are lonely, remember where my love is kept: Inside a basket made of promise, you'll find my dreams of us have slept."
"What the hell? A basket?"
"I have one in my hope chest. Feel free to look for yourself."
"Um, no thanks. What's with this locket?"
"My mother gave me this just before she was taken by those evil men. My mother told me to give it to my father when he returned from the sea. Yorl gave it back to me after he was killed."
"Why was your father at sea?"
"He had gone out to help Yorl bring in the catch that afternoon. Oh, Yorl." She smiles to herself. "He and father were never apart. After my mother was kidnapped, Yorl helped my father get back on his feet. They were always together." Her gaze returns to you. "If my father had been drinking at the inn, Yorl would have been there. He was a brave man and very strong. That he died in such a violent way was so wrong. But I am sure there is a reason for it." Her blue eyes glisten with new-formed tears. "I am sorry that I wept. It is not your fault. Goodbye."
"I'm gonna go hurl."

And his best friend.

You see a huge, imposing man adorned in a leather apron.
"Good morning, friend." He extends a huge hand which resembles a slab of meat. "What do ya need?"
"We were just going to use this boat, actually, but you're Yorl?"
"A short name, but a strong one! My father was a coastal raider. But don't let that out." He lets our a holler and laughs loudly.
"Your father..."
"Yes, I had one." He hollers again, this time slapping you on the back.
"...was a raider?"
He suddenly stops laughing and looks at you, his eyes angry and wide. "Who told you?" With that he throws his head back and laughs again.
"What happened to Quenton?"
He pauses for a moment and looks distantly past your shoulder. "He and I were mates. I still remember the moment they told me he was dead." He swallows hard and his eyes become glassy. "I miss old Quen."
"Wait a second, who are 'they?'"
"Gideon and Stivius. They came to my house before dawn and told me that Quen had been killed by gargoyles. I never seen a one. I seen alot o' things out at sea, serpents as big as the biggest four-master, but 'nary a single gargoyle." He looks out towards the sea.
"So a four-master is-"
"One o' the tall ships. My father used to pilot one o' the biggest in Lord British's fleet. The Meredith Ann. She was a sight to behold, she was. She'd seen many a battle with pirates. Then she went to her grave in a storm. Took nearly two hundred men with her. Came up all of a sudden. I say it was Mondain's doing." He pulls the pipe from his mouth and tamps the tobacco with his stout thumb. "Anyhow, that's when I lost my father."
"Oh, trust me, it probably wasn't Mondain."
He stops trying to relight his pipe and looks at you. "Where have you been scuttled? That's too long a story for this morning. Eh, never mind." He sticks his hands in his apron.
"Well, uh, we'll look into this... thing."
He slaps a hand on your back. "Good fortune, and may the wind be at your back."

They're both above suspicion, and they've provided me with a possible clue. Yorl doesn't think it was gargoyles; he hasn't seen any around, and Skara Brae is an island surrounded by sea. If the gargoyles did come, it doesn't seem likely they were this stealthy. Odds are good that Quenton was murdered by someone else in town, and a story was fabricated. But we've got spells to buy, so screw it for now.

The master of destructive magic wouldn't actually live on Skara Brae itself, but he's just northwest on another island across the way.

And there he is now!

You see a bent, aging man with a scraggly beard and few teeth.
"Dogs are at my doorstep, yapping at my heels. No way to ignore them, just pretend that they are eels."
"Great, more poetry."
"Uh, who are you?"
"Names I'm always thinking. Names I always see. Have you any inkling, what they seem to mean?"
"Oh come on, that one doesn't even rhyme."
"I have nice reagents, also wondrous spells. If you need a magic book, those I also sell."
"Oh. In that case, I needed a few spells."
The mention of business brings the senile man back to his senses momentarily.

Notice all those lovely spells?

And those. Spellcasting is actually pretty potent now. In the earlier games it was more trouble than it's worth, but the higher-end spells in VI and VII are very strong and not too expensive to cast.

He's also pretty snarky. I kind of had it coming though.

Ah well, let's ditch this place for a while. I've got a party member to pick up.

Sheep everywhere. This is New Magincia, but I'm not staying long. I need to get to Serpent Hold, which is south of New Magincia. The Orb of the Moons can't take me there (the closest it can get is here, Trinsic, or the Shrine of Honor), so I'll have to have Dupre drop his boat and sail.

Along the way is Hydra Island, where Nightshade grows. Of course I can just buy Nightshade, so there's no reason to go here unless I want to fight hydras, which at the moment I do not. Notice that walking on swamp tiles poisons monsters as well as players, except I have swamp boots so they just poison monsters! Ha ha! Eat shit, Ultima.

I got a little lost and wound up sailing up a tiny little tributary that goes up to the walls of Serpent Hold, which is actually now more of a town with a castle near it than a hold proper.

In a bloody training room is the first hilarious stereotype character of this update.

You see a tall and dashing gentleman.
He greets you with an elaborate bow and a flourish. "Good afternoon, mon amie! 'Ave you come to moi for instruction?"
"Considering I have no idea who you are, not really?"
"You 'ave but to ask, mah friend."
"You're an instructor?"
"Oui, I teach ze fencing here in my salle, my school. Is very difficult sometimes. Most fighters, zey have no subtlety, no finesse."
"The same might be said for people with really bad accents."
He turns up his nose and sniffs aristocratically. "But you, you look much better than that, my friend. Just ask and I'll give you a lesson!"
"I'd like to see what you think you can teach me."
Loubet hands you a foil and a mask of golden mesh. He shows you the correct stance, then you spar for a bit. "Now ze off hand, milady... Mon dieu, you are (how do you say it?) ambidextrous! Very good, mah friend." M'sieur Loubet is a skilled teacher, and you feel like you've really learned something.

Of course I haven't actually learned something because Steve has max stats. I'm not actually sure what the training does, but my guess is that it increases dexterity by a point or so.

You'll also notice Loubet has an inventory paperdoll next to his portrait. This suggests that we can possibly recruit him, but I don't really want to because generally NPCs in this game suck, with the exception of a fellow we'll find in this very town. Also it's a bit inconsistent as to who actually has a paperdoll and who doesn't. I think it may just give a paperdoll to anyone who has anything equipped, which would explain why it also happens with guards and Lord British. Not that it wouldn't be cool to have a horrible French stereotype fencer hanging around, but we have Iolo already so I don't see why we need more complete dorks.

You see a tall man, covered with scars and drooling uncontrollably.
"What do you want?"
"Your name?"
"Are ya learnin' how ta speak or do ya need somethin'?"
"Are you a shopkeeper?"
"I makes the most hideous weapons! You ain't the sort what'd be interested. I got some other stuff you could buy though."

Gherick has a pretty good selection, but the main thing is that he sells Magic Shields. Not very useful since the best weapons are two-handed, but still nice to know. Unfortunately, he won't sell me any unless I get the permission of Koranada, the leader of the Silver Serpent Guild. I'd have done so this update but I couldn't find Koranada anywhere. I'm pretty sure he's supposed to be in Serpent Hold but I'll be damned if I know where.

The main thing to see here is the halberds, which are a bit bulky (they're almost twice as heavy as a two-handed sword) but do the most damage out of any non-Glass Sword weapon around. Dupre would do well with one, as would a certain someone I'm finally getting around to getting.

We just need to head for the tavern to meet him.

You see a huge, muscled warrior with a sad look in his eyes.
He looks at you imploringly. "What is it?"
"You looked a bit down. Who are you?"
"Seggallion of... well now that won't mean anything to you."
"You'd be surprised."
"If you mean my profession, I would have to say a knight of Ashtalarea. A land unfamiliar to you, I'm sure. Just as unfamiliar as yours is to me."
"Unfamiliar? Actually... well yeah, I guess it would be unfamiliar."
"I was walking in the mountains of Tyme when suddenly I heard a noise. It was dark and I heard this low growling. Having just been released from Pildar's cluthes, I was tired and hungry."
"That is a great range of mountains in my land. Wherever that is now."
"Who was this Pildar?"
"From what I hear, he is not unlike your Mondain. Anyway, I peered into the darkness but could see nothing. Suddenly a huge wall of blue flame appeared behind me. Blue like nothing I had seen in any spell. Anyway, just as I turned, the creature leapt from the woods. It hit me with such force, we both entered the blue flame together. Well, it didn't burn us, we just fell through to the ground beyond it. After struggling for a while, I finally managed to kill it. That's when I wandered into this community. The people of this land are brave and honorable. They fed me and clothed me when I discovered that my gold was not the same as yours. I know it is a queer story, but true none the less."
"Well, I suppose it is a little, um, queer."
"Yes it is. Still, if I could, I would like to join you on your quest. Perhaps one of the people in your land will know how to get me back to mine. If not, at least I can thank your people by assisting you."
"That's the single most reasonable and understandable reason to randomly offer to join someone I've ever heard. You're in."
He bows low. "Seggallion at your service." You can see by his broad smile and large physique, he would be a worthy opponent. "Shall we be off then?"

In case you were wondering, yeah, it sounds like Seggallion fell through a Moongate. I'm not sure why. But it does seem possible to travel between shattered realms in Ultima, as Serpent Isle proves.

Note that there's a bit of recycling of names going on here. Lord Seggallion was an ex-pirate in Ultima V whom I thought for a while was the same person as this Seggallion, but it seems pretty clear that this isn't the case (unless Seggallion is lying here, but that seems a little unlikely).

Anyway the important thing is that I'm recruiting him. Not just because he looks like Tom Selleck (although that is part of it), but because...

Yeah. He's fucking huge and high level.

He's not the only person in this tavern. There's another fighter and a couple more stereotypes (don't worry, there's plenty more this update)!

You see a paladin with a longsword on his back.
"Good afternoon, milady. How art thou?"
"Actually I was wondering who y-"
"I see. I would that I were healthy again, too. But please milady. Let me tell you of my adventure. I've just come home from fighting in Yew. I fought gargoyles near the shrine. There I was, with ten companions. Outside the shrine of Honesty stood two gargoyles-"
"The Shrine of Honesty isn't near Yew."
"Who's telling this story? I saw them drink from little vials right before they charged us. Large, clumsy brutes, they were. They should have been easy to dispatch... But they fought like cyclones! My captain ordered me to go to town for help when only we two and the gargoyles were left standing. Just as I was returning with some guards, I saw the monsters throwing my friends' dead bodies onto a fire. Then the gargoyles looked up at us and fell over, both dead."
"They just died?"
"Yes, just like that: All of a sudden! I only wish I could have killed them myself, for vengeance!"
"Why would you want vengeance?"
"If they had not burned his body, my captain might have been resurrected."
"I've had worse."
For a moment, Caradon looks ready to weep. "The beasts! Monsters with eyes like coals and skin like rock."
"Um, okay, you still never did tell me your name."
"Sir Caradon of Trinsic, at thy service."
"Okay, but now we're done talking."

You see a large black woman with a loud laugh.
"Hello, hello!" she cries, clapping her hands together. "What can I get ya?"
"And you are?"
"Amanda, but you can call me Miss Mandy. I sell ale, mead, wine, rations and waybread."
"Okay, this is a bit awkward. I do however need some rations."
"Sure thing, just ask our gay chef."
"That's a joke, right?"

You see a man with a wide bottom. His voice is almost like a woman's.
"Wow, she wasn't kidding."
"Ooh, you look so thin! Here, have a bite of bread." He gives you a roll; it is still warm from the oven. He asks anxiously, "Do you like it, milady?"
"It's pretty good, actually."
"Have a whole tray, then."
"I don't think so."
"So you, uh..."
"I'm a cook, milady."
"How's that working out for you?"
"Being a cook is like being an adventurer, milady. I must gather up all my ingredients with care, so that I have the right ingredients, milady. Adventurers are always searching for this or that. So are cooks. Do you know of Magincian Pastry?"
"It is a marvelous dish, milady. My friend Sandy gave me the recipe... I'm only missing one ingredient... I sure would appreciate it if you brought it back for me if you came across one in your travels, milady. If you could find time for old Shubin, that is... Would you be so kind as to bring me back a dragon's egg, milady?"
"Are you asking me to find the egg of a near-extinct mythological creature so you can make a pastry?"
He sighs. "Well, milady, it did no harm to ask, I suppose."

This one's not a racial or other stereotype, but she sure is... colorful.

You see a tough-looking woman with a walk like a troll.
She stares insolently at you. "I'm Morchella."
"And what is it you do?"
"I be a retired sailor, that I am."
"Thou wert a pirate!"
"Well! How rude!" She turns up her nose and leaves.

And that's the end of that conversation. You can't even mention piracy to her or that happens, but in this case Dupre jumped in without my permission. Fortunately she doesn't actually go anywhere, because she lives here.

"You were a sailor?"
"That's right, me bucko. Why, I've sailed with Lord British and Captain John."
"Seriously, with Lord British?"
"He walks with a limp, ye know. 'Fraid of mice too, he is."
"Oh really."
"Yeah. How is Captain John doing lately?"
"He offered to marry me but of course I refused. Didn't want to be tied down."

Yeah, I'm sure. I believe Captain John and Johne from U5 are the same person; he's important to the plot of this one as well, but it'll be a while before we visit him since he lives in Hythloth. Seriously. Hythloth.

In the hold proper are the rulers of the place, Simon and Tessa. Technically, I should already know these two; they ruled Bordermarch Keep in U5, where Dupre was. We never visited there and we never picked up Dupre, but I guess we were supposed to (Dupre seems to think he was present).

You see a muscular knight. He speaks in a raspy voice.
"Greetings, milady Avatar! Thou art most welcome in my castle, Avatar." He bows deeply to you. "Call me Simon, milady."
"What are you doing here?"
"I am the Lord of Serpent's Hold."

You see a well dressed woman.
"Ah, milady Steve! A sailor from Britain said thou had returned to the land! How glad I am to see that it is true."
"Who are you guys again?"
"I'm Tessa. We met during thy last quest, Avatar!"
"Pretty sure we didn't."
"Strange that thou didst not recognize me. I would have hoped that the past years had not taken that much toll on me!"
"Uh, yeah, of course I remember... you guys. What are you doing here now?"
"I'm the keeper of the Flame of Courage. I also help my husband Simon run this town. How fortunate we were to come here after the earthquake!"
"What earthquake?"
"After thy last quest, there were many great earthquakes. The island of Bordermarch sank into the sea, along with our keep!"
"Well, that sucks."
"Only through great fortune did Simon and I make it off the island alive!"

I guess they just showed up at Serpent's Hold and became the rulers for some reason. Not like the Flame of Courage is going to be much use anymore.

Koranada is supposed to be in here somewhere, but I couldn't locate him. I did, however, find his second in command or something. Also I can't figure out how is name is spelled because people keep spelling it differently.

You see a commanding presence: a tall warrior in black armor.
He stands and bows to you. "Milady. Art thou a warrior?"
"More of an Avatar but technically yes."
"Good! I seek courageous warriors to accompany me."
"Accompany you where?"
"It is foolish to be courageous unless one is backed by a well-trained force of fighters. Or unless one happens to be the Avatar, I imagine."
"You're damn right about that one."
"I heard at the guild that the Avatar was in town. Koronada says I will be considered for membership when I have done something noteworthy. Have ye ever done aught worthy of note?"
"It's technically not humble but on the other hand it is true so I'll just take the middle road here and say yes without going into details."
"Then surely Koronada has heard of ye. Tell him your name and he may invite ye to join the Silver Serpent guild. He is firm but fair. He does not wish to see any unworthy person bear the Silver Serpent blazon."
"A blazon is a shield marking, such as a serpent. I believe the silver serpent is a quick and highly venomous creature."

Now technically speaking this explains why Magic Shields have the silver serpent on them. What it doesn't explain is how the Avatar's shield has always had the silver serpent marking on it. Steve probably has a copyright infringement suit available here.

I forgot the skiff when I warped back to Britain, so it's now stranded at Serpent Hold. Not that I can't get another, and Dupre has a chance to rest his back. Coincidentally (and that's not sarcasm, this was a total coincidence), the gypsies happened to be in town as I returned! I hadn't actually planned on this part, but what the hell, let's advance the plot a little and try to find out what happened to the other half of the tablet we need to translate the gargoyle language.

You see a lively soul of a gypsy, with a bit of a wild look to him.
"Huzzah! I am Zoltan, king of the gypsies!"
"You're not the first so-called king I've met on this trip."
"I have no lands nor castles, as most rulers do. Nay, for I am th eking of the open road. Ask my people for advice, or what they have to sell. Gypsises see and hear much, and occasionally happen across items of interest..."
"Actually, that's what I wanted to ask about. Mariah says you sold her part of a slab. I need the other half."
"I'd be glad to help you out. But 'tis a hard life sometimes, being a gypsy. You'd be willing to pay ten gold for the information, would you?"
"Is ten gold a small number? I forget how to count at that range.
"Some gorgio called 'Captain John' brought us the silver tablet and paid us to take it to the Lyceum. While we were on the way there, we were ambushed by Captain Hawkins and his crew. The tablet was broken in two during the scuffle. The pirates got away with the bigger half. Hawkins took my finest earring as well - I spit on his mother's grave! Most likely they went to Buccaneer's Den with their loot. We took the corner of the tablet that they missed to the Lyceum and sold it to Mariah."
"So this Captain Hawkins has it."
"He's the lowest scum I ever met."
"But why did Captain John give it to you guys? What was it for?"
"Captain John? I talked to him when he gave us the silver tablet. He's madder than a gremlin! Claims as he's been living with the gargoyles. He talks as if there's nothing evil about them. He said the tablet had something to do with translating."
"The plot thickens. Well, thanks for the info. Looks like Hawkins is going to get Avatar'd."
"Farewell! My gypsies and I will dance to your health and good fortune!


You see a mysterious gypsy woman wearing an ankh pendant.
"Nice to, uh, meet you."
"Some know me as Taynith. That is what you may call me."
"What I may call you?"
"Seek not my true name. Let 'Taynith' suffice."
"What true name? What are you talking about?"
"You try my patience. I tell fortunes - for a price. I charge six gold to cast my tiles. Are you interested?"
"Uh, sure."
From the folds of her cloak, she withdraws a velvet pouch. After shaking it gently, she casts forth three small squares of ivory, each with an imaged etched into the surface and a title at the bottom. The tiles are: 'Path,' 'War,' and 'Rogue.' The 'War' tile is particularly striking. It depicts a dragon and a tiger, each about to bite the other's tail. "Britannia is on a path towards all out war, that is plain enough. The 'Rogue' is one who would go against the wishes of his Lord to find another path. If you consult the tiles another time, perhaps they will have more to say of your future."


The other two don't say anything of interest, although the juggler/clown did ask to join me. I'm not sure if he was actually serious because I don't need more lame people who don't resemble Tom Selleck in my party, but there you go.

Now let's go do some more game breaking.

"The triple-crossbow is a marvel to behold. This enchanted weapon fires three bolts at once! Normally, I would not offer it for sale. But, because thy cause is important, I will allow thee - and thee only! - to buy it. But I fear I must charge 400 gold for it."
"You owe me so bigtime, Iolo."
"I think I just wet myself."
"You got any more of these?"
"I fear I had but one triple crossbow for sale. Come back in six months and I may have another."

We could actually wait six months and she would, but I'll probably finish the game within six months. Oh well, Iolo can't say I never did anything nice.

Strangely, Iolo's Bows doesn't actually sell ammo. There's a fletcher nearby though, although she doesn't sell bows. I don't know, it seems like a pain in the ass to me.

One last stereotype on the way.

You see a swarthy blacksmith.
"Hey, and a good afternoon to you. I'ma nameda Max."
"Whassamattayu, you blind or somethin'? I makea de swords and stuff, what's it alook like I'ma doin' here? You gotta somethin' to sell oda somethin' you wanna buy?"

Yes, I know he's a Chico Marx reference. It's still pretty hilariously racist. He buys equipment, which is nice, not that I need gold.

Now, we need the Rune of Compassion. Remember Anya and her daughter? It turns out they know quite a bit about it:

"Ah, twas the proudest moment of my life when they awarded my dear little Ariana the Rune of Compassion. They said she was the most promising student they'd ever had at the Conservatory. I'm sure she would show thee the rune, if thou wouldst care to see it."
"I have the Rune of Compassion. Isn't it pretty?" She reaches into her pocket and take sit out to show you.
"You little twerp, that thing's mine."
"Do you need it for something?"
"Obviously. Saving Britannia here."
"Are you on an important quest?"
"That doesn't matter. I'm the fucking Avatar, kid. That's MY RUNE."
"I'm not supposed to let anyone else have it. But if you truly need it... I don't know what I should do. I know! My parents run the Blue Boar Tavern. Go ask them if you can borrow the rune. If they say 'tis okay, I'll give it to you."
"Thou dost wish to borrow the Rune of Compassion from my daughter?" She pauses a while in thought. "Very well - thou dost have an honest face. I grant thee my permission."
"Whew, for a minute there I thought Ariana might be having a little accident with a cannon."
"Then here you are." She hands you the rune. "I wish you the best of luck on your quest."

We're ready. Magic bows, halberds, magic armor, you name it. Even Sherry's locked and loaded as much as a mouse can lock or load anything. We've got the rune too. Let's go liberate a shrine. To Cove!