Part 53: This is All Lord British's Fault, Somehow
This is All Lord British's Fault, Somehow
You guys are great, really. We'll talk later, when I'm done with this game. And that may not be too far off, all things considered! Let's press on.
Last we left our heroes (and Lord British, that dick), we were trying to avoid the gargoyles until we could meet with Beh Lem's father, Valkadesh.
Here we carefully skirt the Hall of Knowledge, hoping not to attract too much attention.
The gargoyle world is falling apart into the Void, so you see things like this. I guess it's less impressive than a whirlpool into nothingness, but hey, it was 1990.
You see a tall, thin-winged gargoyle.
"To offer greetings, False Prophet. To have waited long for you to return to this side of the world. To believe that the Book of Prophecies is wrong. To believe that I can reason with you, persuade you to spare my people. To wish to address you honorably: To ask your name?"
"Steve. And you're Valkadesh?"
"To be called Valkadesh Wis-lem, Valkadesh the Scholar. To have been given a partial name. To have yet to achieve full honor. Steve, to see that you are a being of honor and respect. To not betray that honor - to return the Codex! To save my people from the prophecy!"
"What's all this about, anyway?"
"To be written in the Book of Prophecies that you would destroy our world. To also be written that only the sacrifice of the False Prophet will save us. To believe that it is not too late. To beg you to return the Codex. Avert the prophecy! Save your life, and my people's lives as well! To be the only alternative to returning the Codex. Without the Codex, to have no choice but to sacrifice your life!"
"Returning the Codex is an unacceptable solution, Valkadesh."
"Oh right and killing me is so much better."
"Well, if it would work..."
"Wait! To know that sacrifice has three meanings: of self, of others, and of valuables. Perhaps to find a better answer in one of those other meanings. To be unable to help more. To suggest you seek out Naxatilor himself for further enlightenment. To learn much from him, the wisest gargoyle. To find his chambers just to the northeast of the Hall of Knowledge."
"Father, to ask what will happen if the False Prophet walks among the gargoyles?"
"To be feared and hated by all. To be unsafe for you right now, False Prophet. To surrender is the only answer. To surrender to Inquisitor. Then to be no longer a threat, and then not to be feared by my people. To surrender to the Inquisitor, and then to be free to look for the solution."
"Who's the Inquisitor?"
"To go to Draxinusom, the Inquisitor and leader of my race. To find his chambers just to the Northwest of the Hall of Knowledge. To surrender to him, that you may travel freely in our land. To know that the moons are not properly aligned yet for the ritual. To assure you that you will not be sacrificed for many weeks."
"Well, that's comforting."
This must be the place!
You see a large, winged gargoyle of regal bearing.
"To refrain from slaying you only because of the presence of the child, False Prophet! To express astonishment at your audacity."
"Nice to see you too, your gargoyleness."
"To be named Draxinusom, leader of our race. To have little time to waste chatting with the False Prophet! To demand to know why you have come before me!"
"I, uhhhh, surrender?"
"To be willing to die to save my people?"
"They seem nice enough."
"To grant me your life?"
"Well, I normally don't swing that way, but..."
"Why would I consider swinging that way or why do I surrender? In either case, somebody has to be the sacrifice."
The gargoyle shows you a crystal amulet dangling from a leather cord. "To consent to wear this?"
Trusted Dupre whispers frantically to you, "You mustn't! It's some sort of magical trap!"
"Dupre, you think everything is a magical trap."
The gargoyle waits impatiently for an answer. "Yes or no, False Prophet?"
"Sure thing." The gargoyle hands you the amulet, and you slip the leather loop over your head.
"To surprise me with the nobility of your deed. To no longer be a threat to my people. To bid you travel among my people, talk to them, learn our ways. To inform you when the time of your sacrifice has come."
Accepting the role of the gargoyle sacrifice offers one of the biggest Karma gains in the entire game (+10). Not that it makes much difference.
Of course, we're not actually doing this to let them kill the Avatar. We just need to buy time until we can find another way, and without the amulet, the gargoyles aren't going to be any help at all.
"So can I have my amulet back now?"
"No. I'm giving it to Dupre."
"Oh man, this thing is awesome."
"Is she even remotely aware of, you know, symbolism and such?"
"To suspect that the answer is no."
The greatest wise man... gargoyle... in town lives right across the street from Drax. Thankfully, gargish is automatically translated if you understand it, something Ultima VII does not do.
Note that this is the only major karma check in the game that I'm aware of. It needs to be over 80, but that's not particularly difficult.
You see a dark, rough-skinned gargoyle.
"To greet you, Steve, Avatar of the Underworld."
"Yeah, about that whole underworld thing, I know it's a relative term and all that, but by virtue of my kingdom not being all blown up I would argue you guys are the underworld."
"To see the Amulet of Submission around your neck. To consider your acceptance of this both noble and wise. To observe by your aura that you are truly a being of honor. To be surprised, then, that you are fated to destroy a world."
"Uh yeah, about that, I was talking to Valkadesh and-"
"To have spoken to Scholar Valkadesh? Then surely to know what harm you have caused my world! To have no choice but to return the Codex! To have wreaked great havoc in this land by your theft!"
"Yeah, about that, I technically didn't do that..."
"To see only two alternatives: to return the Codex, or to give up your life."
"Valkadesh suggested sacrifice could have other meanings. Preferably ones that don't kill me."
"Yes, to know of the three meanings of that word. To ask to which type of sacrifice you refer: self, others, or items of value?"
"Much as I'd like to sacrifice these scrubs, I'm the Avatar and all that and so I'm going to have to go with #3."
"To know of only one item of true value - the Codex itself. Surely not to destroy the Codex!?"
"Uh, right, right, no."
"Perhaps to have another alternative... Yes! To return the Codex to the Vortex! Then to be available to both our peoples!"
"How will sending the Codex to the Void or Vortex or whatever make it accessible to anyone?"
"To be able to see the Vortex from both sides of the world! To benefit both races equally if the Codex is returned there. To direct you to go to the Hall of Knowledge south of here. There to read the Book of Ritual. There also to get the Vortex Lens! Then to return here, where I will tell you what must be done!"
Off we go... to the museum!
You see an old, winged gargoyle. An odd device crafted of glass and metal rests upon his face.
"Yes? To inquire about the reason for this interruption?"
"Are you in charge here?"
"To be called the Caretaker, in lieu of a name. To be honored by being allowed to perform my duties as caretaker of this Hall. To keep the treasured artifacts of our race here in this Hall, in the three chambers. To have three rooms here: To keep artifacts from the Underworld in the Human Chamber, to the east. To keep valuable books in the Librum Chamber, to the west. And to keep the Cube and the Lens in the Vortex Chamber, to the south."
Here's the Human Chamber. Terribly exciting, I know.
Aha, here's the book Naxatilor wanted me to read!
...oh. Good. The game actually doesn't expect me to translate it myself.
The Book of Rituals
Heed well as I, Naxatilor, write of how I brought the Codex to our land and thereby ushered in the time of prosperity:
With the help of the Lensmaker I crafted the Vortex Lens, by which I could see the Codex where it originally rested.
I created the Vortex Cube to focus the power of the Moonstones and draw the Vortex down to the world.
Then I used the lens to form an image of the Codex upon the cube.
The Vortex touched our plane, the image became solid, and the Codex was brought down to be used properly by our race!
This isn't the only book in here, either:
The Book of the Underworld
Deep below the land there is another land. In that land live many strange creatures.
The most interesting of these creatures look something like our wingless ones. These daemons, however, are pale and soft.
Some say that these daemons from the underworld can speak. And, to be sure, they make sounds that are similar to our language.
But as everyone knows, no creature without wings is truly intelligent. Fables of talking daemons must be discredited.
The Book of Administration
For countless ages, we winged ones have led the wingless ones. This is right and proper.
But we must always remember that they are no less valuable than we.
A body with no head cannot move. But neither can a body with no legs.
All must function in unity if anything is to be achieved.
So guide the wingless ones, and keep them from paths of error. But guide them with respect.
The Book of Prosperity
Long ago, the great seer Naxatilor summoned the Codex into the world. Thus began the great time of prosperity.
The Codex was placed within the Temple of Singularity, there to be viewed by those requiring its knowledge.
The seers of the land, led by Naxatilor, protected the Codex with a forcefield.
Only those upon sacred quests for wisdom are allowed to reach and read the Codex.
Within the Codex is written the one right and true answer to any problem. One has but to reach the Codex, read it, and interpret its advice properly.
With perfect wisdom and infallible knowledge, all that remains is to have the control, passion and diligence required to follow the proper course.
These are the underpinnings of our society, and so our race is able to use the Codex wisely and well.
This is the reason why the Codex exists: to lead the gargoyle race to ultimate prosperity.
The Book of Family
When a child hatches from his egg, he is born without wings. But even from birth one can tell whether a child will grow up to be a winged or a wingless one.
The wingless ones cannot speak, and lack the intelligence of the winged ones. They must be guided.
The winged ones are few, but they are entrusted with the intelligence and wisdom of the race. They must guide.
Both winged and wingless ones spring from the same eggs, and both belong to the same family.
All function as a single whole, to better maintain the struggle for survival in our world.
The Vortex Cube isn't here, but it's cool, because I picked it up before I even got here. No reason to put it back though, because we kinda need it. The Vortex Lens, however, we will need, but it's unfortunately broken. Maybe Naxy's got something to say about that.
"To see that the Vortex Lens is no longer whole. To go to the lensmaker, whose house is northeast of here. To get the lens repaired there! Then to return here with the whole lens!"
Before we go, let's see how the rest of the gargoyles are holding up (not well).
You see a somber and calm gargoyle.
"To see the amulet, the symbol of your courage and nobility. To wish to help you however I can.
"And you are?"
"To be nameless, being only a healer. To be entrusted with the tasks of healing those wounded and curing those sick. To raise the dead is beyond my power. To doubt anyone can do that!"
You see a strong, winged gargoyle warrior. He is sorely wounded.
"Boy, I hope this wasn't any of our faults."
The gargoyle struggles to sit up. "The False Prophet! But to wear the Amulet of Submission? Then to express awe at your honor and courage."
"Take it easy sparky, I'm just delaying the inevitable here."
"To be named Bolesh Us-agra-lem, Bolesh the Troop-Leader. To lead what remains of our forces into battle. To have recently returned from a mission to your side of the world. To have tried to reach the Codex. To have had victory between our claws, but to have been thwarted on the verge of success! To have encountered an impervious force field around the Codex."
"Whoops. I'm gonna head out for a smoke."
"To know that such a field surrounded the Codex when my people possessed it. To remember that only those on sacred quests for wisdom could pass."
"What kinds of quests?"
"To receive a sacred quest at the Temple of Singularity. But to be uncertain whether a human's request would be answered there. To find the temple in the mountains to the north. To be accessible only to the superior winged gargoyles. TO be totally unreachable by land-bound worker gargoyles! To suppose that it is totally unreachable by land-bound humans as well."
You see a quiet, listless gargoyle.
"Oh, the False Prophet," the gargoyle says calmly. "To suppose you have come to kill me as well. All right.
"I'm not sure where you people get your ideas."
"To see the Amulet of Submission. To suppose, then, that my world has been saved. But to feel that salvation has come too late."
"Why is that?"
"To refuse to discuss my grief with the being who caused it."
"Yeah, but I'm not Lord British, he is."
"Surely to know what pain you have caused by stealing the COdex? To not believe that you care. To believe, in fact, that you enjoy causing suffering."
"Wherever would anyone have gotten that idea?"
"Shut up, man. Who are you?"
"To not have a name. To have nothing at all now... to be a goodscrafter. To invite you to take what you want.
"No offense, but this stuff is pretty much crap anyway. Seeya."
"To wait here for you to return to kill me."
What's his problem? Maybe another of the gargoyles can shed some light on it...
You see a young, nervous-looking gargoyle.
"The False Prophet! To thank you for your upcoming sacrifice. To greatly respect your nobility and courage."
"Uh, hello there."
"To be but a simple weaponsmith, False Prophet. To lack a name, as is appropriate for my station. To be the master now, although to have but recently been a simple apprentice. To greatly regret the loss of my master, killed during the disasters. But to carry on in the face of adversity. And certainly not to lose all passion for life, like the worthless goodscrafter!"
"He did seem a bit gloomy, yeah."
"To consider him a discredit to the race! Most of all, to consider him a dishonor to my late master! To cheapen all our loss, all our grief, by his self-pity. To have most my master, like a father to me. Yet to maintain control, to maintain diligence. Most of all to maintain passion for life. To feel that the goodscrafter dishonors us all by abandoning our principles. To feel that the goodscrafter needs a trip to the catacombs."
"We're kinda new around here, what are those?"
"To find there shrines to our three principles: control, passion and diligence. To speak with these shrines and meditate, to receive new insight. To not remember where the catacombs are. To be sent there by the temple of Singularity."
So there you have it; the other gargoyles are pissed at the goodscrafter, who lost his whole family, because everybody has suffered those losses, but they've been able to carry on. In his depression, the goodscrafter has also lost his faith.
Of course they're not all depressing...
You see a large and boisterous gargoyle. He carries a 'knife' large enough to be a sword!
"The False Prophet! To welcome you to my place of cooking. To offer you the best food in all the world!"
"I wasn't aware human sacrifices were celebrities around here, but hey, nice to meet a fan."
"To be called Foodmaker, not having a name yet. But to be the finest cook in the land! To receive a name someday soon for my skill. To cook and serve food for all the gargoyles who live in these parts is my job, also to guide and instruct the wingless ones in cooking chores. To have to watch their every move! But to acknowledge that they are vital to our society."
"So we can eat here?"
"Yes, yes! To offer you this finely roasted meat!" With a few strokes of his huge knife, the gargoyle cuts you a slice of meat. Your party eats the proferred food. The flavor is unlike anything you've had before.
"I wonder what sort of meat this is, Steve."
The gargoyle beams with pride. "To ask you: Is it not the best meat you have ever eaten?"
"It's... well, it's not bad."
"To know of no finer cooker of horseflesh than myself! To give you some fine horseflesh to take with you on your trip!" The chef gives you 5 horse chops.
Mmmmmm, horse chops.
The gargoyles don't have a value-based economy, so I can just take anything I want from the stores. Most of it is uninteresting, but the silver serpent venom here is fairly interesting. It's basically a combat drug (remember the gargoyles that fought like monsters and then dropped dead?), but it will come back with a vengeance in Ultima VII as an illicit drug.
Look familiar? This is where the Avatar was almost sacrificed at the beginning of the game. You may be asking yourself: "Nakar, if the other dudes showed up through a Red Moongate here at the beginning of the game, could you do so as well?"
And in fact, I can! There are actually several destinations in the gargoyle world you can reach through the Orb of the Moons. However, you don't want to do so before you can get Beh Lem or the Amulet of Submission, because the gargoyles will flip a pancake and try to kill you. Understandably, either outcome of this is likely to make the game impossible to finish.
Now, however, I will easily be able to return here without going through Hythloth again.
I'm not sure who else is being sacrificed here.
Anyway, Naxster might be getting a little impatient.
You see a very old gargoyle.
The venerable gargoyle peers at you. "Greetings, False Prophet. To have been told by Naxatilor, long ago, that you would one day come to me, wearing the Amulet of Submission. To never have believed it would come to pass."
"It's all very new and exciting for me too."
"To ask what service I can perform?"
"Are you the lensmaker?"
"To lack a name, of course. But to be called Lor-wis-lem, the scholar of light, by many learned gargoyles." As he says this, the ancient gargoyle beams with pride. "To craft the finest lenses in the land. Also to teach my young apprentices not to cut themselves on the glass! To be nearing the end of my time. To have one last sacred duty: To pass on my skill to the next generation."
"How long is, you know... time, for a gargoyle?"
"To be over a thousand years old. To seem a mere youth compared to Naxatilor, however. To have helped Naxatilor create the Vortex Lens, centuries ago. To have found him venerable and ancient even then! To see the shattered Vortex Lens you carry. To remember making it, so very long ago." Taking the shards of glass, the lensmaker turns to his grinding table. In a short while, he has crafted a new Vortex Lens! "To have far greater skill now than when first I made this lens," he says smugly. "To require little time to repair it." He hands you the restored Vortex Lens.
And thus we return to Naxarama.
"Good, to see that you have the Vortex Lens. To have read the Book of Ritual as well?"
"Good. To be unable to reverse the ritual myself. But to know that the Codex itself will say how to return it to the Vortex. To know also that you will need a second lens. To require a human-crafted lens, so that your people may also see the Codex."
"So we'll have to find someone to make a lens in Britannia?"
"To be certain of that. To be sure to show the human lensmaker the Vortex Lens. Also to be sure to tell the human lensmaker that his lens must be concave! To be most important - concave!"
We may be on the other side of the world (literally), but the Orb of the Moons still works. It works ANYWHERE.
And swiftly, we're back on the flipside, in Moonglow. We want Moonglow because Dale the glassblower in Minoc isn't technically skilled enough to craft a lens, but there's a man at the Lyceum who makes telescopes for a living. If anyone can make a lens, it's him.
You see a solemn man, constantly dusting and polishing the items in his shop.
"Ahem. I am Ephemerides. Yes, what can I help you with, madam?"
"Are you a proficient lensmaker?"
"I am an astronomer. More precisely, I calculate movements of the stars, phases of the moons... my field of specialization is tidal predictions. But yes, I also make various glasswares and instruments. Lenses and the like, and sextants mostly."
"I'm sure you could go on about almanacs and tides for hours, but I need a lens to save the world and my ass."
"Ooooh, let me see it... That's a very interesting lens. You need a concave copy of it? Let me think... It would be very tricky to duplicate, being magical in nature, but I believe I might be able to do it. The material and the nature of the enchantment appear similar to those involved in the making of glass swords. If I could keep this to analyze while you go get me a glass sword-"
"Here you go."
"I got one."
"To be carrying one!"
"I've got a couple."
"I have like six in a bag here."
"...let me just get your lens." He fumbles through his pockets. "Oh no! I seem to have lost the lens! Just kidding, here it is. Now I'll melt down the glass sword and try to cast a lens for you." You watch as he works, intently focused on his task. Finally he pronounces the job a success. "Here's your lens back, and the duplicate. There's no charge - the challenge of the task was reward enough. I don't know what you need these lenses for, but I wish you luck!"
Now we've got the two lenses, human and gargoyle, as well as the Vortex Cube. We have everything we need to conduct the ritual which will banish the Codex of Infinite Wisdom to the Void, where neither humans nor gargoyles will own it, but where either will be able to view it. There's just one tiny problem: The Shrine of the Codex isn't going to let me in unless I'm on a sacred quest, and the Shrines of the Virtues aren't up to the task.
I need to get a sacred quest from the gargoyles' Temple of Singularity. For that, I'll need to fly, and that's why I'm going to be making... a balloon!