The Let's Play Archive

Ultima 4, 5, and 6

by Nakar

Part 51: The False Prophet Revealed

The False Prophet Revealed

Alright everybody, it's time for a map piece montage! Thanks to alt-214, this only took about half an hour.

The first piece was lost in the Ant Mound by a pirate who thought he could take the daemon Sin'Vraal. Even though giant ants die in like one hit, he managed to get himself killed. Yoink.

The next piece is in Wrong, right where the beggar in Jhelom said it was. There's also a Magic Bow, score. Yoink.

Poor Ybarra got lost in Shame and is starving. He begs for food at every turn, and will trade his map piece for some. Whenever you try to leave, he will keep begging for food until you either have no more food or refuse him. In either case, he promptly drops dead from starvation. Whoops! Yoink.

There's a piece in a shipwreck. Yoink.

Deep in Dungeon Destard is a dragon lair, with fresh dragon eggs for the taking. Quintuple yoink.

Sandy the cook in Trinsic wants some dragon eggs to make humble pie (I don't recall that being an ingredient, but that's gonna be one hell of a humble pie). He reveals the locations of the other map pieces, including one in the hands of Trinsic's Lord Whitsaber.

Who is in fact Gordon, Captain Hawkins's first mate! He begs Steve for mercy and offers his map piece if she will not tattle, and give him a chance for redemption. Steve is ambivalent on redemption but highly in favor of treasure, so she agrees. Yoink.

Bonn has become a crazy hermit. He's hiding the map piece in his basement of his shack north of Moonglow.

There's some other treasure, and a shovel. I could have grabbed that instead of buying one from Budo but I didn't know I'd encounter one on the way. Yoink.

Moving right along then!

Lots of people have been mentioning a fellow named Mandrake. He was near one of the paths I was taking, so let's divert for a conversation that isn't actually about anything, but is kind of fun all the same.

You see a charming fellow with a peacock feather in his cap.
"Welcome, welcome! 'Tis always a pleasure to see a new face. My name is Mandrake - like the root, but taller, handsomer, and louder. It grows in swamps, but I'm mostly found in taverns. And what may I call thee?"
"Uh. Steve."
"A pleasure, to be sure, milady. I hope I'll be seeing a lot more of you." He gives you a sly wink.
"I'd be careful what you wish for."
"I travel all over to spread important news throughout the realm - and tales and songs as well. If you have time enough, I'll favor you with all three."
"What kind of news could you possibly have heard?"
"Ah, not heard! You see, my travels were interrupted recently in a most fearsome manner. I was captured by the gargoyles, and taken down to the other side of the world, where they held me prisoner. But such was my good fortune that one of them helped me to escape. He spoke but little of our tongue, but I believe his name was 'Beh Lem.'"
"Captured by gargoyles? You?"
"That's a stretch. What, were there not enough flamboyant jackasses down there?"
"I've seen their handiwork many a time in my travels. I believe they have taken over all of the shrines of the eight virtues."
"Like you'd know anything of the virtues."
"That's what you get for choosing stuch stuffy principles as a basis. Truth, love and courage... hah! If it had been up to me, I'd have chosen wine, women and song instead! Think of the virtues those would lead to!"
"Do tell."
"The principles of wine, women and song would lead to the eight virtues of drunkenness, sensuality, harmony, lust, laziness, dance, indulgence, and happiness. Now there would be a foundation for a fine world to live in!"
"Is it too late to become the Avatar of Mandrake's Virtues?"
"I'm afraid so, Steve."

The next piece of the map was in the hands of a pirate who settled in Empath Abbey, but he's since passed away. His wife sold some of his old junk, including a map, to some gypsies. However, Zoltan and his crew have never heard about this, which means...'s off to the "other" gypsy camp. People who've played the game before may be familiar with this one.

You see a handsome, carefree gypsy man.
"Hey, foxy! I bet you'd like me to unsheathe my weapon so you can have a look... I am Andreas, prince of the gypsies. I live the carefree life, traveling hither and yon!"
"You do know who you're talking to, right? I could take you."
"Well, we all have our talents. I myself happen to have two. I'd be glad to show you sometime. Naturally, when so lovely a lady as yourself comes along, I offer, shall we say, my services."
"What are you, a merchant or something?"
"When the opportunity arises, I do what I can to brighten the lives of the ladies. Of course you'd probably be more interested in my sister Wanda, right? Can't say I blame you. In fact, if she wasn't my sister..."
"Why does everyone keep suggesting that? Is it that hard to tell? Iolo? Shamino?"
"So this Wanda is your sister, huh?"
"Aye, she practices the world's oldest profession."
"She's a semi-nomadic hunter/gatherer?"
"I, of course, have perfected it, and thus need no practice."
"Well, if she needs the experience, let's go check her out!"

You see a gypsy wench with a voluptuous figure.
"Hello, wench. How goes it?"
"I'm not sure I like your tone, miss..."
"They call me Wicked Wanda. If we can find someplace private, I'll gladly show you how I got my nickname."
"Is that so."
"Sounds like I've piqued your interest... why madam, are you trying to insinuate something?" She breaks into a fit of giggles.
"Yes, I'm insinuating you're a whore."
"Aye... and I don't get many lady customers... but why not? You're sure this is what you want? I've got a cot in my wagon... 15 gold's the price - and I don't haggle!"
"Oh, this isn't for me."
"Wait, what?"
"Hey Sherry!"
"I think it's time you got lucky."
"I don't think we have time for this..."
"Wait, so you're saying you-"
"Yes. I demand that you have sex with this talking mouse. I am a paying customer and you are being incredibly disrespectful."
"Uh... alright then..." Taking Sherry, the gypsy wench leads her off to her wagon.
"Hold on."
"What now?"
"I want to watch."
After a time, you return to your comrades.
"That's a fine way to be carrying on when all of Britannia is in danger! When our quest is complete, then there will be time enough for wenching!"
"Nothing's wrong with a little fun. There's plenty of time... as long as there's plenty of gold!"
"Hey Wanda, do you think your brother would have sex with a ghost?

You see a colorfully clad, bemused looking gypsy.
"Hey, paisan! If you were looking to geta your fortune told, you came to the right place. I'ma called Arturos, that meansa either 'foolish monkey' or 'he who sells cheese,' depending on howa you translate it. Yeah, go figure huh?"
"Glorious, everyone, we've encountered an idiot and a stereotype!"
"Ima the king of all the gypsies. Of course, thatsa what you call more of an 'honorary' title so I tell fortunes on the side. You cana just call me Uncle Arthur if you like."
"I thought Zoltan was king of all the gypsies."
"He's a whadda you call, an impostor. You shouldn'ta listen to him. Look, I gota this fine set of fortune telling cards. These werea hand painted by Musgrave himself. I'll tella you your future. Whadda you say?"
"What the hell, go for it you crazy bastard."
He takes out a deck of cards, shuffles it, and has you pick one. "Okay, thisa card, she'sa the Tower. That means you'rea going to go into a real big building soon, like maybe a castle." You pick another card. "This here isa the Wheel of Fortune. Wheels, they go 'round and 'round, so that means you'rea gonna have some good luck, and some bad luck." You pick another card. "This here's Temperance. Thata means that you shouldn't lose your temper. I cana find you a better card than that, here, wait a minute." He picks out a card. "This is Justice. That'sa one of what they call the 'court cards.' Let me try again." He picks another. "Okay, this isa better. This is the Hierophant. That'sa like an elephant, but taller and without the trunk. That means you'rea gonna see one of them someday. Pretty interesting, huh? Another card?"
"Please, please, no more cards."
"For once I'm inclined to agree. We're here for the map. Uh, paisan."
"Map, hmm, map... oh yeah, thata old thing. Sure, I got that, but she'sa not very interesting. Say, do you want to buy it?"
"I'll take it off your hands."
"Oh! Well, sure you do! She's a very important map!" He leads you away from the rest of the group. "Don't want no spyin' ears, ah? Yeah, this map, she'sa leading to the treasure of - oh what was it, Yellowbeard or somebody. Well, I forget, but the point is it leads to a big, huge treasure! So if you want this map you're agonna have to pay 100 gold! Okay?"
"I don't think you quite understand. I said I was taking it off your hands. That means you give it to me, or you say hello to my little friend."
"Hey kids! I'm making a cameo! Go check out the latest 8 Deceased Crab threads!"
"Ah, that'sa good point."

And that's how we got Sherry laid, committed Wanda to a life of bestiality jokes, and threatened a harmless gypsy for a ninth of a treasure map we don't even need.

Morchella, the fat pirate lady in Serpent Hold also was a member of the crew:

She looks around furtively first. "Well, now, I might have seen the likes of that in me travels... tell ye what, matey: If ye give me a shield of the Order of the Serpent, I'll tell ye where that map be at."
"You mean like this Magic Shield I totally didn't steal off a thief?"
"That be quite a prize there, matey. Will ye trade it to me for a bit o' map?"
"Yeah, but I may steal it right back afterwards."
From a little box Morchella hands over a piece of paper. It is a piece of the pirate map. "I was going to give this magic shield to Caradon, but methinks I'll keep it for meself instead! Now all I need is a magic sword; then methinks I'll be a knight." She walks off.
"...don't you even say it, Iolo."
"She'd still be a better knight than you, Dupre."
"Goddamnit Iolo."

That's nine of nine, so it's back to Homer.

"I've been thinking about how we could work out a deal."
"You seem to think I actually needed your help for anything, but I'm feeling generous today."
"I know you want the sivler tablet. Far as I'm concerned, you can have it. All I really want is the magical cloak that's buried with the rest of the treasure. So I'll tell you where the ninth piece of the map is if you promise to bring me the cloak."
"I already have the ninth piece, but sure, let's do that."
"Good. Then I'll tell you this: When you reach the island marked with the X, find the three stones and stand in the center. Then walk three paces due south, nine paces due west, and twelve more paces south. That should put you right next to an old dead tree. Dig in the patch of dirt just to the south of you, and you'll find the treasure! Now go get it!"

Fully assembled, the map reveals what any idiot could have deduced several updates ago.

So here are the three stones. You see them every time you pass from New Magincia to Serpent Hold. No sir, not possible to find without the map at all!

Then you take three paces south, nine west...

...and twelve south. Then dig. No sir, not obvious or anything!

What would I do without you, Shamino?

Captain Hawkins was buried here with most of his stuff. There's no law against grave robbing that I care about. Plus the guy was a total douchebag.

That sign's got an honest face. Let's drop to our deaths!

Unfortunately, I can't find the "drop to your death" hole that takes me to the actual treasure room. After 10 minutes lost I realize I don't have to bother with this shit and teleport there. You would've done the same.

Here in the treasure room is a bunch of knicknacks, some powder kegs, a fair bit of gold, and the things we came for up north there: The other part of the silver tablet, and the storm cloak that Homer wanted. For the most part this stuff is junk even for pirate loot, but there is one thing more.

A fan? Yes, a fan! It's a unique item, which means it's important. Important for what? You'll see.

Now I'll keep my deal with Homer, for some reason.

Homer takes the cloak from you. "Thanks for keeping your word. There's not many that does, these days..."

Then pickpocket it right back. Sucker!

Now that we have both halves of the tablet, perhaps Mariah can translate the Book of Prophecies.

"With both pieces of the tablet, I should be able to work out a translation." She studies the tablet for a while, then starts reading, haltingly, from the book. "'An ancient prophecy tells of the final days, when the end of our world shall come. Three signs will precede the end. Thrice shall a being of great evil come unto our land, and by this it shall be known that the end is nigh.'"
"'This evil one is of another race, who consider the evil one a great prophet. Yet this false prophet follows not the principles of Control, Passion and Diligence. One day the prophet will come and desecrate our most holy shrine. And the false prophet will steal our most holy artifact, the Codex of Ultimate Wisdom. This shall be the first sign of the end.'"
"'Then, it is written, the false prophet shall descend deep into the bowels of the earth. And the false prophet will cause the underworld to collapse. This will cause great earthquakes to tear our world asunder, and there will be a time of plague and famine. This shall be the second sign of the end.'"
"'One last time shall the false prophet come. This time, the false prophet will come with a band of warriors. And they will destroy all that remains of the gargoyle race.'"
"Does it mention anything about ghosts or mice in there? Just curious."
"'There is only one way that this prophecy may be averted: That is by the sacrifice of the false prophet.'"
"Oh boy."
"Well, this is awkward."
Mariah pauses for a while, deep in thought. "When they refer to 'the false prophet,' they must mean you."
"Yes, we all figured that out about a third of the way into your translation."
"It would seem that they have a reason to think you evil, from their perspective."
"That's a ludicrous lie!"
"Will you stop throwing your voice, Steve, this is a serious situation!"
"This is a difficult matter to resolve. I think you'd better seek out more information. There's a gargoyle named Sin'Vraal living out in the desert. He speaks our language."
"Yeah, he used to work for uh an old friend of ours."
"Perhaps he could tell you more about this book, and of how the gargoyles view us."

And there you have it: The game's major plot twist, and the explanation for the game's subtitle. The False Prophet is you, the Avatar. And ultimately, everything that's happened until now is your fault.

(with apologies to Scorchy)

Except it isn't. This is something of a retcon. You may recall that when I got to the Codex of Infinite Wisdom down in the Abyss in Ultima IV, I became the Avatar and was immediately returned to earth. The Avatar never had the chance to steal the Codex from the Abyss in the first place.

Let's go back to the intro of Ultima V, when Iolo said:

"Another act of the Great Council, and by far the most difficult, was to raise the Codex from the depths of the Abyss. The influx of the combined magical power of the Great Council disrupted the very bowels of Britannia. Where once was the Abyss, now stands an immense mountain, created from the molten lava that spewed forth.

"Unbeknownst to the Council, our new and glorious mountain left an enormous void over which all of Britannia rests. Some speculate that the dungeons may reach into this underground void at their deepest levels. It is believed that the underworld has become a vast breeding ground for creatures who have grown into horrors far worse than their original forms."

Likewise, the destabilization of the underworld was an unintended consequence of escaping from Dungeon Doom with Lord British. One which, honestly, doesn't make a whole lot of sense. It's not like we planted 80 powder kegs down there and blew the dungeon up; if anything, the underworld was going to collapse anyway.

However, that's not really the point. It doesn't matter whether or not the Avatar actually stole the Codex. It doesn't matter if the Avatar actually intentionally collapsed the underworld. As far as the gargoyles understood events, that's how it happened: a false prophet from the other side of the world, from another people, who didn't follow their virtues and values, came down and suddenly their holiest relic is missing and their world has been devastated. As far as the gargoyles care, the Avatar really is as evil as they say.

So they're striking back. Their world is going to be destroyed, and the only way their prophecies will be prevented is by the "sacrifice" of the False Prophet. That's why they invaded the surface and stole the Moonstones: To draw the Avatar to a place and time of their choosing and kill him/her. To Britannia, this is a full scale invasion of the world, an attack on the holiest sites in Britannia, and a brutal perversion of the virtues.

So who's right? Nobody. That's the point. The Avatar clearly isn't evil; anything that happened in the earlier Ultimas wasn't carried out with the purpose of harming the gargoyles. Nobody even knew the gargoyles existed. But that's the whole idea: Even when you set out to do the right thing, other people won't always see it that way. To another culture, the holiest man is the greatest villain imaginable. And all of this can play out without either side even being aware it's happening.

In real life, these sorts of problems are often impossible to resolve. Fortunately, we're the goddamn Avatar, and we're going to resolve this. Because while the Britannians are wrong about what motivates the gargoyles, the gargoyles are also wrong about what needs to be done to save their race. As we'll see later this prophecy, like most prophecies in literature, doesn't quite mean what it seems to mean.

That was a bit heavy. I apologize, but it can't always be Death Cannon for Chuckles. Sometimes even I must get serious.


Ha ha, Chuckles is fucking dead.

You see the daemon Sin'Vraal.
"Good afternoon, Avatar. What seek you?"
"Sin'Vraal! Thanks for helping me blow up your old boss. What have you been doing with yourself?"
"No job, Avatar. I am free to wander where I wish. Among my people, those who can fly rule. Though I have wings, I cannot fly. So I was a slave. Here I am free!"
"Your people? You mean the gargoyles."
"I am not a daemon, though humans seem to think so. I fled here to the Underworld because I was not free among the gargoyles. There are two kinds of gargoyles: winged ones and wingless ones. Wingless ones are mute and unintelligent. They do all the manual labor. Winged ones are smart, and do all the planning and leading. Being able to fly is, to them, a sign of intelligence. A strange concept this, yet as some in Minoc can tell you, flying can be achieved by anyone. Even the Temple can only be reached by air."
"They have a temple?"
"The great Temple of Singularity held the Codex. The Temple is the most holy gargoyle place. A human could learn much by traveling there. But you could never get to the temple. Not only is it deep below the surface, but it can only be reached by flying, and you cannot fly any more than I can."
"Incidentally, before we go on, did a pirate ever come by trying to kill you?"
"Yes, I once met a pirate here in the desert. He seemed to be haunting me, but he got dragged off by ants! The great desert ants build huge mounds, and are very dangerous!"
"I see. Listen, can you read the Book of Prophecies?"
"Because I could not fly, I was never taught to read. However, I know what it says. The Book of Prophecies says that the False Prophet will come to destroy the gargoyle race. Only the sacrifice of the False Prophet will save us."
"That's what I was afraid of."
"Sacrifice means many things in my language. You should seek out a gargoyle scholar to learn more. Travel to the other side of the world, and you should be able to find one. You can go down through Hythloth to get to the realm of gargoyles."

And now, the third act begins.