Part 5: Interlude
: Strange memories on this nervous night in Moonglow. Has it been five years? Six? It seems like a lifetime, the kind of peak that never comes again. Buccaneer's Den was a very special time and place to be a part of. But no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant.
: There was madness in any direction. At any hour, you could get a Moongate anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right. That we were winning. And that I think was the handle. That sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Honesty and Honor. Not in any mean or military sense. We didn't need that. Our energy would simply prevail. We had all the momentum. We were riding the crest, of a high and beautiful wave. So now, less than five years later, you go up on a steep hill in Magincia and look west. And with the right kind of eyes - you can almost see the high-water mark - that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.
: Sounds like big trouble. You're going to need plenty of bardly advice before this thing is over. As your companion, I advise you to steal a very fast ship with no top. And you'll need the reagents.
: I want you to understand that this man at the wheel is my bard. He's not just some dingbat I found in Britain, man. He's a foreigner. I think he's probably from Earth. But that doesn't matter though, does it? Are you prejudiced?
: Hell no.
: I didn't think so. Because in spite of his dimension, this man is very valuable to me. Oh shit, I forgot about the rations. You want some?
: How about some blood moss?
: Never mind.
: How long could we maintain? I wondered. How long until one of us starts raving and jabbering at this boy? What will he think then? This same lonely ocean was the last known home of Exodus; will he make that grim connection when my bard starts screaming about daemons and huge dragons coming down on the boat? If so, well, we'll just have to cut his head off and bury him somewhere, 'cause it goes without saying that we can't turn him loose. He'd report us at once to some kind of outback pirate law enforcement agency and they'll run us down like dogs. Jesus, did I say that? Or just think it? Was I talking? Did they hear me?
: You drive. I think there's something wrong with me.
: Don't fuck with me now, man. I am Ahab.
: There's a, uh, big machine in the moat, some kind of I dunno, electric snake, coming right at us.
: Shoot it.
: Not yet, I want to study its habits.
You meet a mean looking guard.
: We guard the bridge slime!
: This bridge ya stupid jerk! Art thou a wise #!?
: Then just buzz off!
: There he goes. One of God's own prototypes. A high-powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die.
You meet a tall sailor.
: I am Silver John.
: I'm a pirate matey!
: We raid the coasts of Britannia, fun eh! Art thou a pirate?
: Thou had best leave this place 'fore there's any trouble!
: If the pirates were gathering in Buc's, I felt the virtue culture should be represented as well. And there was a certain bent appeal in the notion of running a savage burn on one weapon shop, and then just wheeling across town and checking into another. Me and a thousand ranking pirates from all over Britannia. Why not? Move confidently into their midst.
You meet a tinker.
: I am a tinker by trade.
: I create projectile machinery.
: Primarily ship cannons. Dost thou own a ship!
: Good odds I built the cannons!
You meet a solemn ranger.
: I am Ragnar.
: I travel.
: Don't worry, he' s just admiring the shape of your skull.
: Be warned that if thou dost ever use the skull, except to destroy it, all thy virtues will be lost!
: What the fuck? That's fucking machine guns man, they're firing at us! Machine guns! It's a goddamn war zone man get us out of here quick! Quick man! Quick, we're going to be killed for fuck's sake!
: I have to go.
: Yes. Leave the town. Tonight.
: Calm down. You'll be straight in a few hours.
: No. This is serious. One more hour in this town and I'll kill somebody!
You meet an ugly orc.
: I am Boris.
: I smuggle black market items.
: Magic keys, magic gems, that sort of thing. Dost thou need such an item?
: I just gave the guild shop a new supply!
You meet a towering wizard.
: I am Ignap.
: I must warn thee!
: To step into those woods will seal thy doom!
: In there lies the dark side, enter not! Shalt thou go on?
: Evil shall consume thee!
: No point in mentioning these bats. Poor bastard will see them soon enough.
This is a force wall. There's a shop inside but we can't get to it right now. Because we need Reagents. Good, cheap reagents. Hmmmmmm.
You meet a jolly merchant.
: I am Marsor.
: I sell wine!
: I have some good vintages.
: I own my own vineyards, they are on an isle northeast of here. Dost thou like wine?
: Ah, then join me in a glass!
You meet a nimble thief.
: I am Slysam.
: What's it to thee?
Now here's a trick for you. We've got a list of goods, A through C, to select from. But what if we...
...there we go. The Sextant can determine position, which is good, because the game uses a weird coordinate system for the many many tiles that make up Britannia and I get lost easily.
There was only one road back to Britannia - sail east. Just a flat-out high speed burn through Moonglow and the Lyceum. Then onto the west coast, and straight on into frantic oblivion. Safety. Obscurity. Just another freak, in the freak kingdom.
We're almost done pissing around and being a dick, but there's one huge thing left to do first. Oh, and we should probably look for stuff about Honesty, for all the good it'll do us.
You meet a tall mage.
: I am Calabrini.
: I welcome thee to Moonglow, city of Honesty! Dost thou seek an inn or healing?
: Perhaps, the shrine which lies on an isle to the north!
You meet an insane man!
: I am Daranor!
: I move the sun!
: The moons are my enemies!
: When I die the world will end! Do you believe my story!?!?...
: Then we must fell the moons!
: Ah, blood moss. It makes you behave like the village drunkard in some early Irish novel. Total loss of all basic motor function. Blurred vision, no balance, numb tongue. The mind recoils in horror, unable to communicate with the spinal column. Which is interesting because you can actually watch yourself behaving in this terrible way, but you can't control it.
You meet a battered mage.
: I am Tyrone.
: The stone of honesty is found on an altar in the dungeon of Deceit. Wilt thou search?
: Know its uses!
: I cannot help thee with that.
You meet a wise wizard.
: I am Shakespeare.
: I teach the value of honesty!
: Remember, there is no terror in threats for I am strong in honesty! Dost thou strive to be honest?
: Yes. (ha ha!)
: Beware corruption!
I'm well aware of it.
You meet a tall mage.
: I am Browning.
: I strive to live an honest life!
: An honest soul need remember no lies! Hast thou never lied?
: I'm a relatively respectable citizen. Multiple felon perhaps, but certainly not dangerous.
: Truth never hurts the teller!
Alright then, time to get busy. Margot the Herbalist has the best prices in all of Britannia.
Because she's blind. And she expects you to pay her what she asks.
: We had two bags of sulfuric ash, seventy-five pellets of Nightshade, five sheets of high-powered spider silk, a saltshaker half-full of garlic, and a whole galaxy of Up spells, Down spells, Exits, Sleeps... Also, a couple magic wands, 247 rations, two suits of leather, a pint of raw blood moss, and two dozen black pearls. Not that we needed all that for the quest, but once you get locked into a serious reagent collection, the tendency is to push it as far as you can. The only thing that really worried me was the blood moss. There is nothing in the world more helpless and irresponsible and depraved than a man in the depths of a blood moss binge, and I knew we'd get into that rotten stuff pretty soon.
You meet a gypsy.
: I am Inoo.
: I am a fortune teller, I read palms.
: Palms tell fortunes!
: Give thy palm. Dost thou wish thy destiny?
: A great quest will lead thee into the abyss where the codex awaits!
You meet a dying young wizard.
: I am Shazom.
: I am apprentice to the great wizard Nigel!
: I will soon need to use the spell he calls "recall." Hast thou met Nigel?
: He lives at the Lycaeum.
: That I cannot help thee with.
Cheap food. This update is making me hungry for some reason.
You meet a child eating a sandwich.
: I am William.
: Oh, not much. What else can I help thee with?
: Search for the rune of honesty by Mariah's gold!
You meet a playful child.
: I am Christen.
: I am your friend.
: Honest friends are few! Art thou my friend?
: That makes me happy.
You meet a mighty paladin.
: I am Cromwell.
: I speak of the virtues of honesty!
: Honest companions are better than numbers! Dost thou strive to be honest?
: Yes. (ha ha!)
: Then you will need the mantra.
: The mantra of the shrine of honesty is "AHM."
You meet a young mage.
: I am Mariah.
: I seek adventure!
: Yes, I hope to go on a great quest! Art thou on a quest?
: Oh, how I wish I could join thee!
: Thou art not honest enough for me to join thee.
Whoops! Guess we'll have to come back for Mariah later. Tee-hee. Tee-hee.
But before we go, let's search by her gold. Yup, sure enough.
And then the Lyceum.
Or Lycaeum, whatever.
You meet a stately wizard.
: I am Tymus.
: To welcome thee!
: Yes, welcome to the Lycaeum, the keep of truth! Know ye how many cities follow the principles of truth?
: Travel and learn!
You meet a noble wizard.
: I am Nigel, at thy service.
: I teach magical spells and neglect my dying apprentices.
: I have a specialty! Dost thou know what it is?
: What do I call the spell?
: Yes, resurrection. It takes: ash, ginseng, garlic, silk, bloodmoss, and mandrake!
: But you said you called it recall...
You meet a flighty jester.
: I am Zajac.
: To entertain!
: Ah, not now.
You meet a stately baron.
: I am Robert Frasier.
: It's late and this update is almost over so just give me the word.
: I know but one of the syllables. Dost thou wish to know it now?
: No, I came all this way just to hear that you know it and then not find out.
: It is "ver!" Seek ye now the other parts!
You meet an old druid who looks strangely familiar.
: I am Father Antos.
: I hold great knowledge.
: What is it you seek?
: I dunno.
The library is locked for some reason, but with my magic keys I can jimmy the lock and just walk in. Nobody cares if you unlock doors in Ultima IV. It's not even unvirtuous or anything.
You meet a tall agile man.
: I am Lord Terence.
: I am the librarian.
: Herein is the largest store of knowledge in Britannia except the codex! Art thou looking for a particular book?
: Which book?
: The Codex.
: That I cannot help thee with.
: Yeah, you mentioned that.
Waking up in a daze at the site of the Moonglow Moongate during two new moons, I just mysteriously happen to find the black stone of Humility. Oh, what will I accidentally find next?