Part 44: The Mouse That Roared
The Mouse That Roared
One really annoying aspect of Ultima VI (that isn't in Ultima VII) is that a spellbook has to be readied for spells to be cast. Steve therefore needs to be toting her spellbook around. Thus, for the duration of the game, I will be using a special weapon whipped up via Iolo (more on this later). Although it appears to be a glass sword, it is by weight and stats a halberd. It's a sword. It's a halberd. It's Sword Halberd.
Yeah, it's cheap. But Sword Halberd.
I rest my case.
There are many rats down here.
I love you, Sword Halberd. Note that I still got nicked and poisoned despite Magic Armor and a Magic Helm. Despite what you might think, you're anything but invincible in Ultima games even with the best armor and max stats. It does help a ton though.
Hey, a ladder! And not the one I came in here on! Where could it lead?
Back up into the sewers apparently. There's a lot of junk around here, so I grab the bucket here because hey, free bucket. I always wanted a bucket.
Another ladder that leads...
...whoops. This is the Britain inn. Not quite where I thought I was going.
Deep underground, there's a large lake. We're under the Britain sewers so I'm a little wary of touching it.
Fortunately, we've got a skiff and it works down here. There's a tiny island with a ladder going down.
But... but there's a lake above this lake, and... and...
Monsters abound down here. From weak bats...
...to slightly more potent sea serpents. They're much less annoying than they were in Ultima V.
Ropers, however, are back to being as annoying - or more annoying - as they were in Ultima IV. They don't sleep the party anymore, but they do confuse and charm them, and they summon a gigantic number of swarming insects.
It takes a lot of effort to kill them and all their bugs. You can't tell they're dead because Ropers just stop moving when they die, and a screenshot isn't going to convey that, but they're dead. And pretty loaded too; I got a potion and some gold off of them. Sadly, Sherry got gibbed, as you can see.
But I just need to drag her back to Lord British and she's good as new! Somehow, she's been earning experience, and now has over 100, which she needs to go up a level. I can gradually start making her not suck, although it'll take most of the update to get to that point.
But before I go, let's try out that new spell I've got, Pickpocket. You don't suppose the game would let me pickpocket Lord British, would it?
...but surely I can't get away with that. Can I?
Apparently I can. Back off bitch, I got the awesome amulet now.
But no sooner do I leave the castle than the stupid beggar comes out to harass me. We'll have to deal with this one.
"We have an emergency. You remember what we agreed upon?"
"Yes. Confirming tertiary interlock removal."
"Tertiary interlock removed. Confirming secondary interlock removal."
"Secondary interlock removed. Confirming primary interlock removal."
"Primary interlock removed. Awaiting confirmation."
"Identity confirmed. Welcome to AVATAR (Auxiliary Verified Attack Transmission Assignment Registry). Awaiting your command.
"This is Steve, confirming a transmission request 221-1-1."
"What's going on?"
"While many people believe that Iolo died in Ultima V, in fact I took him to a contact in the Britain inn. We could rebuild him. We had the technology to make him stronger, faster, an all-purpose battle bard. But he could not be made aware of his identity, lest we compromise the AVATAR network. Therefore, Iolo has lived ever since as a cyborg, unaware of his true purpose."
"With Iolo's unwitting aid, I have requisitioned a cannon from the AVATAR network."
"You... you can't possibly do such a thing!"
"Perhaps not, but who is going to tell? You?"
"Whoa... I'm suddenly sleepy. Hey Steve. What's going on?"
"Hi Iolo. I'm not sure, but I think this cannon is a murderer. We'd better take it in for questioning."
"Oh no, Chuckles, look out! He's got a cannon, and he is a cannon!"
"When will your reign of madness end, death cannon?"
"Shouldn't we be taking Finn and Chuckles to Lord British so he can resurrect them?"
"No, Iolo. You must realize this is evidence. Evidence of a cannon crime."
"I thought that chest was for evidence of gargoyle crimes."
"It's a general purpose crime locker!"
"Nobody saw anything, understand?"
"Not a thing."
"I sure didn't see any cannons."
"If anyone asks, Chuckles fell down some stairs. Into a cannon."
"I'm glad we had this moment together, guys."
If you're wondering how I had more weight in my inventory than available capacity, that's another nifty bug. By opening a bag and getting an object, you can always pick it up, provided it can be picked up (a cannon for example can never be picked up, and can only be put into your inventory directly by Iolo). However, this only works to push yourself over the weight capacity once or twice, as actually being over the weight limit still gives an error message. It's good when you've got one last thing you want to haul somewhere, like here where I'm trying to stuff corpses in a chest and don't want to drop corpse, pick up another, drop it, pick up another, and so on.
And now we're going to Jhelom, to find the Rune of Valor.
You see a man with a serpent-and-heart tabard covering his chainmail.
"I welcome thee to Jhelom. I am Zellivan, and I am lord here. Pray tell me thy name."
"Ah, the Avatar! Lord British has spoken fondly of thee, Steve. Please feel at home in this town."
"If that means 'steal anything you want and eat all our food,' I'm well on my way, sir. How about you?"
"Here in Jhelom we delight in the clash of arms and the din of battle. The valorous are often boisterous. I watch over the fighters."
"Speaking of which, have you seen the rune around?"
"I held a tournament, to decide who would be entrusted with the rune's care. You might say that 'no man' was the victor..." He smiles.
"Ask him yourself!"
Okay so basically the Rune of Valor was won by the town's armorer, Nomaan, who lost it in the tavern when a rat stole it. The rat dragged it into its hole and oh no, how will anyone get at it?
I think you already know where this is going, but let's head that way.
You see a beggar, clad in the rags of a sailor, with a hook for a right hand.
"Spare a doubloon fer an old seahand?"
"Fetch me... the cannon."
"No wait! I actually have a semi-interesting story!"
"I and the cannon will be the judge of that."
"I be Heftimus McPry, matey. Once Buccaneer's Den quaked at the mention o' me name. I was the greatest sabre fighter on all the high seas. Then one day... I fought Captain Hawkins, that scurvy dog, an' he struck off me hand with his sword. 'Twas a bitter fight; I almost died o' the wound. Hawkins threw me hand to the sharks."
"My story is a lot like that, except Hawkins stole a valuable archaeological artifact I need to save all your asses from getting reamed by gargoyles."
"The cannon disagrees."
"Duly noted, matey."
"So hey, you're a pirate. Know anything about treasure maps?"
"That bit o' news will cost ye twenty coins. What say ye matey? Aye or nay?"
"I'm for it, but the cannon says nay."
"Arr. The last I saw o' that bit o' parchment... I needed to start a fire in a dungeon. But afore I could apply sparks to the tinder, a huge swarm o' rats drove me away. The scrap o' map lies in the dungeon Wrong."
"'Twas certainly the wrong place for an old seadog to be!" He laughs, chokes, and coughs for a while. "I'll be alright, matey."
This is one of the game's quests so I might as well get it out of the way. I'll need 9 pieces of a treasure map at some point, by which I mean I will if I'm retarded, because it's an incredibly annoying subquest but required because, as it turns out, Captain Hawkins buried the other half of the fucking tablet with his pirate treasure and I have to go dig it up. Lame, I know. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it, however.
Yeah, we're just gonna be ignoring that.
There are occasionally brawls in the pub here, although nobody actually harms anybody. Doug the Eagle has a method to actually make the tavern-dwellers kill each other through brawling "accidents," but I'd rather keep them alive right now.
You see an angry-looking man wearing short swords on either hip.
"Ho there, milady!"
"Good afternoon, Stelnar." Shamino and Stelnar shake hands. "Steve, this is Stelnar Starhelm."
"His hat is making me all laughy inside."
"He's very sensitive about the hat."
"I'd be sensitive about that hat too."
"Pleased to meet you, milady Steve."
"You two more than friends?"
"Shamino and I travelled the Spiritwood together for a time. I am a monster-slayer."
"I'm into that too, although it's really more like a hobby. My main occupations are stealing and killing Chuckles with a cannon."
"Steve, we only did that once."
"And yet, it was the greatest accomplishment of my life."
"What about the time you defeated Monda-"
"Greater than that."
"Or when Minax sought reve-"
"Greater than that."
"How about when you killed Exodus with a magical punchcard-"
"Becoming the Avatar?"
"Rescuing Lord British and vanquishing the Shadowlords forever?"
"I hate all monsters. They are a blight on the face of Britannia! For the past year I've been killing wisps and the like in Spiritwood. Wisps are nasty flickers, very hard to kill. Not like gargoyles, now."
"You kill gargoyles, huh?"
"There's one that they call Sin'Vraal. If I had my way, that gargoyle would be a statue."
"They turn to stone when ye slay them!
"That's drivel, friend Starhelm!" says Van Kellian. "A gargoyle's a flesh and blood beast. Stone indeed!"
"Bards! A gargoyle is an ugly monster, and that's that."
"Ugliness is but skin deep, just as beauty is."
"Gargoyle skin is very thick and deep, as everyone knows."
"Sin'Vraal is a vicious daemon. An evil wretch. How could Lord British imagine that a gargoyle could understand virtue? Lord British defeated Sin'Vraal in the underworld. The gargoyle went to live in the Dry Land. 'Tis a desert east of the Bloody Plains. There is a shrine there."
So Sin'Vraal is still alive, huh? As you might recall, Sin'Vraal was a
Now to track down that rune.
You see a girl of perhaps twelve years. She is agile, and balances trays of mugs deftly on each hand.
"Hallo, milady. Welcome to the 'Sword and Keg.' Sometimes 'tis rough here but I doesn't mind. Some day I'll be a fighter, ye know."
"With a face like that, I wouldn't doubt it. What's your name, kid?"
"It's Lyssandra, but ye can call me Andy. I know 'tis a boy's name, but I like it all the same."
"No argument from me."
"I take orders for drinks, milady."
"Why do people have to check their weapons at the door? Which I didn't do, by the way, nobody can take Sword Halberd."
"Around sunset things get really rowdy. The fighting here usually begins over-" her voice drops to a whisper, "-the rat!"
"Shh!" She glances about to see if you have been overheard. "See yon hole in the north wall? Look carefully at where the floor and wall meet. That's where it took the rune! They tried all manner of tricks to get it out but they all failed. I had an idea, but nobody listened to me."
"Did it involve using me in some capacity?"
"SWEET CRAP ON A CRAP CRACKER! ...yes."
This is what Sherry is recruitable for. Technically you're supposed to use her to get the rune, then let her leave (she asks if it's time for her to leave every time you talk to her, whether you ask her to or not, so you have to tell her no). I guess they never considered the possibility I might want to keep her around. They really didn't work hard on the whole temporary party member mouse thing, what with her equal health to any human party member and ability to equip human-sized gear if she has the strength.
The rune is in the surprisingly spacious rat hole, but the rat isn't home. I also jack his invisibility ring. Not sure how he even uses that.
The Shrine of Valor can be accessed by Moongate, so there's really no point in walking or sailing to it.
Once there, I encounter the welcoming team, which is more gargoyles than were at the Shrine of Compassion, but not many more. Most of them were gunned down by Shamino and Iolo offscreen. The winged gargoyle was extremely difficult, however. Even Sword Halberd couldn't scratch him, and he nearly killed Steve 3-4 times. Fortunately I have over 30 casts of Great Heal handy, but in the end I had to lightning bolt his ass. Sherry also died again. So I had to do this more than once. The gargoyles are supposed to stay dead but they didn't.
I think this is actually a thing gargoyles can do, something about reflecting melee damage or something. It's incredibly annoying, and it makes the winged gargoyles a pain in the ass to fight at earlier levels, but of course I have a cunning plan.
First things first, though. Dispel the shrine with the rune, snag the moonstone. Having done that, it's time to talk to the altar.
The altar asks if we want to meditate. Lord British no longer levels up the party; instead, the shrines do. In this case, we want Sherry to meditate, since she's at a level (even after being resurrected again).
After a pithy rhyme, a sudden revelation!
Now... are you ready for this?
Okay, so 4 STR is nearly as bad as 1 STR.
But it's enough to wield a boomerang or two and some swamp boots, and to carry a bit more stuff.
The way it works is, each shrine can level up the party, but not all shrines are the same. Each shrine gives stats related to the Principles that the Virtue of the shrine embodies. Thus Honor would raise Intelligence and Strength, and so on. The issue is, Shrines dedicated to two Principles only raise the associated stats by +1 each. Shrines dedicated to only one raise the single associated stat by +3, and the Shrine of Spirituality raises each stat by +1. It doesn't take a genius to realize 3 is a larger number than 2, so all levels should be taken at the shrines of Valor (+3 STR), Compassion (+3 DEX), Honesty (+3 INT), or Spirituality (+1 all), and we can totally ignore Honor, Justice, Sacrifice, and Humility (which gives jack shit, just like U5).
It also means we can level up Steve pretty much anywhere, since she has max stats and can't gain any further (no matter what those lying shrines say).
In the case of Sherry, well, it breaks down like this. There are 8 levels maximum in the game. Sherry starts at lv1. Thus, she can only level up a total of 7 times, which means a grand total of +21 STR if every level is Valor. That's 22 STR, which is still pretty respectable for a mouse, and her DEX is high enough anyway. Plus nobody but the Avatar needs INT.
Basically with NPCs, Valor everybody to as close to 30 as possible without going over, since weight capacity is so incredibly important and it also boosts damage. The Avatar (if you didn't transfer like I did) should probably get Spirituality every level, or rotate between the +3s starting with DEX and STR. Iolo, Shamino, and Dupre should all be able to reach 30 STR, and come close to 30 DEX. They start at lv3 so they can only get 5 level ups. Seggallion only gets three levels, but that would put him at 30 STR and 27 DEX if optimized, and that ain't bad. With one exception, most of the characters in the game can't boast such great numbers.
Now I've mentioned that, except for the moonstones, the two Principle shrines are useless. I happen to have the Runes of Justice and Honor already. Are you thinking what I'm thinking?
Of course not, that's why I'm the evil genius with the Sword Halberd and you aren't.
The Orb of the Moons can warp me directly to the Shrine...
...and it can warp me right out. As they say, yoink!
Oh sure, the gargoyles are hard to kill. But that's to kill. The damage they actually deal to me isn't fast enough to kill or even hurt any of my party members for the 5 turns I'm at the shrine, using the rune, stealing the moonstone, using the Orb of the Moons, and warping out. Nobody actually said I had to kill anybody.
Plus, what with the gargoyles not being evil and all, this is clearly the correct way to deal with the situation. That's what makes the Avatar the Avatar*.
You say goodbye...
...and I say hello. To Lord British, that is. Sorry I swiped your amulet man.
(* abuse of game knowledge, I mean)