Part 22: SLEEPING BULL - You Can Always Rob The Mint, Even When Not Actually In Britannia
You Can Always Rob The Mint, Even When Not Actually In Britannia
"This is the Bull Tower, knave. State thy business or be gone. We have no time for idle chit-chat with Goblins about."
"We're here to bail out Captain Hawk, since apparently nobody else is going to do it."
"So, thou art a friend of that criminal? His ransom is a mere 100 Monetari. We also accept other precious items... Dost thou wish to pay Captain Hawk's fine?"
"Against our better judgment."
"I do not believe that a rogue like thyself hast the riches to buy Hawk's freedom! What canst thou give us?"
"How about Monetari?"
Note that if you offer the Pikeman Filari or Guilders, he'll laugh at you and tell you to go get some real money.
"'Tis not enough!"
"But thou didst say the ransom was 100 Monetari!"
"Bring us more!"
"Alright, but you asked for it. C'mon guys, let's go back to Monitor Tower and... take out a loan."
"Where the hell'd you get that much?"
"You really don't want to know."
"Well, we changed our mind again!"
In case it hasn't already dawned on you, no amount of money you offer will ever be enough. This makes the upcoming quest all the more ridiculous. It's not HARD to have hundreds upon hundreds of Monetari, but the Pikemen will always keep stiffing you. The only solution is to go back to the Sleeping Bull.
Where, quite suddenly, a new patron will approach.
"Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Selina. And I have heard that thou art in need of... finances, shall we say. I believe that I can be of help..."
"I will simply say that a little birdie told me that thou dost need desperately to sail to Moonshade. Now, with Captain Hawk a prisoner of the Tower guards, thou must certainly be trying to scrape together a ransom sufficient to sate those greedy ruffians. It is all so obvious, if one thinks about it just so..."
"You're aware that we already know you're Lydia's sister and that you work for Batlin, right? I mean there's been enough evidence already to be suspicious of this, so it's pretty clear you're leading us into a trap."
"Perhaps, but unfortunately you can't actually advance the plot unless you fall for it."
"Fair enough. It's not like any ambush is sufficient to actually harm us."
"Not long ago, one of those strange storms took the lighthouse that was up the coast, north and east of here. In its place is a strange building, locked tight and reportedly filled with hideous monsters and great treasure! One I thought of as my beloved found a key on a creature outside of the building. He gave this key to me for certain... favors... and promised to meet me here so we could seek the treasure together. He is not here, and shows no signs of keeping his word. Men! Frankly, we would do best if we were to rid ourselves of Men entirely! What a sisterhood we should make..."
"Why do other women keep hitting on you anyway, Steve?"
"That's another one of those things you probably shouldn't think too hard about, Iolo."
"I have the key and the instructions, but I am no match for what may lie ahead. Wilt thou join me in seeking the treasure?"
"Again, we've established none of us have a choice."
"I knew that thou wouldst be interested! Judging from what I've been told, it would be best if only two went. The danger to any more than two is great. Wilt thou leave thy companions here for their safety?"
"Haha, yeah that's adorable. No, we're not doing that."
"I hope that thou dost not live to regret thy decision, Steve. They are thy friends and will not thank thee if thou dost lead them to their deaths..."
"What do you think she's been doing for the past three or four games?"
Selina joins. Not for long, but here she is. Her stats suck, she's barely armed, and she has the tackiest fishnet stockings/gwani cloak outfit ever. Don't bother giving her anything, just loot the scroll and key in her backpack. The key only actually matters way later in the game, and you probably shouldn't take it, but screw that.
If you try to steal Selina's "Blink Ring," she gets mad at you and takes it back. Bizarrely, if you do this enough she'll dupe the ring. You can't steal it (she'll just take THAT one back too), but you can bling(k) her out with them.
"Is this it?"
"No. We must keep going."
"Haha, no, we're definitely making a pit stop for a minute here."
In this burned-out building, ghosts labor incessantly. And the game is mere seconds from breaking entirely.
This is absolutely crucial. Do not, under any circumstances, attempt to speak to any of the ghosts in this house. Ever. Don't do it. This is the first example of a series of completely boneheaded decisions made by the Serpent Isle designers where they reused NPCs/art assets that had attached scripts or conversations. Each and every one of these ghosts is a clone of a critical NPC that appears later in the game. The designers forgot to remove the conversation script or something from these generic ghosts, so each one of them will initiate that NPC's conversation. If you speak to any of them you will spoil yourself at best, and at worst could derail the plot. DO NOT TALK TO THEM. It's okay to kill them, and sometimes they go aggressive on you, but NEVER speak to them.
I would make it a Cheater's Corner to actually do so, but it's a major, major plot spoiler so in this case you'll just have to take my word for it. Not that anything that's said here makes any sense yet.
Just don't do it.
Strangely, you'd figure an Exploding Powder Maker would have exploding powder kegs, but you'd be wrong for no clear reason. There are, however, a bunch of Burst Arrows in barrels upstairs. Definitely pick those up.
This screenshot is a lot funnier than it should be.
Down in the basement, some skeletons reanimate themselves and attack. Killing them off isn't exactly difficult, as always.
The chests are trapped with poison and curses and only contain a couple of gems each. Pretty lame haul, although there's a bunch of Nightshade lying around on the floor, so you can grab a few reagents while you're here.
"There! The building I spoke of is just through the field."
"Wait a second, that building..."
"It seems strangely familiar."
"I think it is!"
"Oh man, of all the misanthrophic shit I figured I'd pull while we were here I was not counting on robbing Britannia's Royal Mint again."
Yes, this is the Royal Mint. Yes, it somehow got restocked. Yes, it's been transported here from Britannia. Presumably, there's now a lighthouse in the middle of Britain. But why would the teleport storms be exchanging things from other worlds?
Maybe the Guardian's ploy isn't as crazy as I thought. No, it's still pretty stupid .
This sequence of the game is a little weird. You're supposed to get teleported around the mint and monsters are supposed to appear, but for the most part it doesn't work. I've been teleported once or twice but generally nothing stops you from just walking into the vault.
Which is where the real haul is. It's not quite as rich as it was in The Black Gate, although I suppose we're the direct reason for that. The important thing here is that the mint contains gold bars, which are the only objects the Pikemen will accept in exchange for Captain Hawk.
No, I don't know how that makes sense either. But that's how it goes. You'll notice there are exactly zero gold bars in any accessible area before this point. They do exist in other parts of the game, but you can't find any until the Royal Mint in the area where you start the game.
All so Selina can lead you into a totally obvious trap.
"Oops look an ambush ha ha well guess I'll just be Blink Ringing myself out of this trap I mean trouble. See you at the Sleeping Bull (I won't be there)!"
The results are about as predictable as you'd figure. Note the discrepancy between screenshots; this sequence is also really taxing on the Ultima VII engine and is a cause of frequent crashes. The game locked on me three times just doing this part.
Also of note: Selina teleported completely out of her clothes. I don't think that's supposed to happen but hey, free Gwani Cloak.
"I am freezing my tits off, quite literally, up here."
"Yeah well maybe Little Miss Sunshine should've thought of just running away instead of teleporting around like a prissy bitch."
Lame loot; these guys don't even have armor. There's one Sword of Defense, but no other magic items. Oh well.
"Wouldn't Batlin have been aware that leaving this scroll behind would constitute evidence should they fail?"
"I don't even get it. Evidence of what? Are we going to take Batlin to jail? Are we going to put him on trial in fucking Fawn? It's not like any of this is suddenly changing my desire to smash his head in with a locked treasure chest."
Back At Bull Tower...
"Give you a single gold bar worth 100 gold coins for Captain Hawk."
"Alright, thou canst have him. Here is the key."
"You absolutely sure you don't want the 7880 Monetari we were going to offer instead?"
"Nah, this is good."
"You're aware that 7880 is a much bigger number than 100, right?"
"Hah, you and your fancy 'currency' based on 'international finance.' I'll take a brick of an arbitrarily precious metal over this newfangled 'money' any day!"
And so we let Captain Hawk free, and he promptly runs off to get drunk.
I'm beginning to think I have too many keys. This is the problem with postponing The Silver Seed until you've gotten your spellbook and everything, but I shall perservere.
"How pleasant to make thine acquaintance, Avatar. I thank ye for releasing me from that cell! I never expected ta end up in jail over not wantin' ta sail in these blasted storms! If there's anything that I can do for ye, thou shouldst tell me. Cap'n Hawk is a man of his word!"
"You're the man with the ship. You think she's sturdy?"
"I guarantee it. The Arabella is my ship, Avatar. She's named after me dear, departed wife... And dearer ta me than a good, stiff drink!"
"Just how did you manage to wind up getting arrested, Captain?"
"Now if that ain't gratitude for ye! Here I refused ta risk the Arabella and them passengers ta the terrible fierce weather. And one of them goes and calls the Pikemen on me! I had three passengers for the trip over to Moonshade. There's a fellow named Kane, a scurvy merchant named Flindo, and a pretty lass named Selina."
"We've met most of them, yeah."
"Kane wants ta go talk ta some of those fancy wizards over in Moonshade... See if they kin help him find what happened ta his older brother who disappeared a few months ago. Ye can't miss him... He always has a bird with him. Never seen anything like it! The bird has a real fondness for a stout drink. It doth talk purty well, too."
"That worm! He'd spit in yer last cup of grog he would, if he thought he could make money off it!"
"Thou art a fine one to talk, thou bilge-water rat! Thou wouldst hold an honest merchant hostage to thy drinking sprees!"
"Why, thou overgrown dung beetle! I told ye when I landed that those seas were no safe place ta be with these forsaken storms! And thou shouldst suck salt spray for days on end, ye 'honest' merchant! Then thou'd know the difference between a drunk and a man with a thirst!"
"Thou art the braggart that said he could sail through the fires of hell and back! And the only thirst thou hast is for more money, thou thief!"
"Thief, is it!? When I turned down every offer thou didst make ta make me sail out ta sea again? And I fear nothing the sea can throw at me, thou barnacle! But I'll not deal with things born of magics, for I'm no fool and no mage! And I warned ye about saying false ta my name before..."
"Now stop that, both of you! This is precisely what happened before! If thou dost break any more of my furniture, I will break thine head for thee!"
"Will you three be quiet! You are loud enough to wake the dead... And I am beginning to lose patience with all of you!"
"Flindo was the one that bribed the Pikemen into pulling me away from the fight he started!"
"Aye, bribed! I heard some of those scum... er, Pikemen. Sorry, Argus. Talking just after I woke up. Seems like Flindo payed them ta rough me up so that I'd decide not ta stay and go back ta Moonshade. But, moneybags Flindo didn't count on those swine getting greedy! They thought they could make me pay for my release, but I have no money ta speak of... Then they thought they could convince Flindo ta pay my way out, but either he'd spent all his money bribing them ta rough me up or he wouldn't pay it out of spite!"
"Yeah, the Pikemen seemed a lot more interested in the money than what actually happened."
"Well, to honor the fine keeper of this establishment... I'll try ta be kind. So I'll merely say that Monitor's finest are no longer cut from the same sailcloth as Argus... If what I've seen and heard is any judge, I'd say that the Pikemen are more interested in money than in valor... and me treasure."
"You've got treasure too?"
"Aye, treasure... from me wilder, younger days. Those Pikemen scoundrels tried ta convince me ta tell 'em where I keep me map. 'Tis lucky fer me that Argus would never let 'em search me room. I never keep it on me... Hide it in me room most times."
"Then you still worry about the storms, Captain Hawk?"
"I've sailed the seas almost all the days of my life, man. And I'll tell ye that there's nothing on the water that I can't sail a ship through. But how can a man fight something that plucks a ship out o' the water, or turns a ship's sails into slabs of stone? And I'll not think me a coward ta tell ye that these storms have me plenty mindful of how deep them seas are!"
"Although that is pretty much a completely reasonable argument, you fucking owe me, so you're going to put out. And I don't mean the sexy way."
"Alright, alright. I can take ye to Moonshade, Avatar. Wait for me out on the Arabella, and we'll try to outrace these blasted storms!"
This is not nearly enough money for what we're going to be doing in Moonshade and The Silver Seed, but once we've got a new spellbook it won't matter how much money we actually have.
As I noted in an earlier update, this sequence is a little tricky. It initiates as soon as you approach the Arabella, and takes away control while the Avatar and companions sit down. Then Captain Hawk shows up, followed by Flindo, Kane, and Ale the parrot. For the sequence to kick off and take you to Moonshade, all of the following must be true:
1) All the companions must actually take seats.
2) Hawk, Flindo, Kane and Ale must all be alive.
3) Flindo and Kane must not be asleep or too far away from the ship.
4) The gangplank must be down.
If any of these are not true, the game basically hangs here; it's not actually freezing up, it just sits here waiting for the other characters to show up for the script, and when they never do, it just keeps on waiting. Strangely, this worked the very first time for me, but that's because I remembered this could happen and slept until 11am before talking to Captain Hawk.
"I'd advise ye ta hold fast an' keep a weather eye on that there horizon! We'll be runnin' afore the wind hard enough to splinter the mast as it is."
And it's off we go. It's really hard to get screenshots of teleport storms because the lightning only exists for a couple frames and Exult's screenshot utility seems to lag a little.
"Reef the sails an' hang on! There be one of those damned storms a bearin' down on us! Heavens help us!"
Kane and Flindo are having a rather fun time of this.
"I never thought we'd make it, but Moonshade lies over yon. I'll not even attempt to make the Arabella seaworthy until these blasted storms are over! If ye be wantin' Captain Hawk, I'll be at the bottom of a mug at the Blue Boar Inn."
Well, the Arabella's beached, so we're not going back to the mainland for a while. Fortunately, Moonshade is loaded with some of the biggest cheats and coolest treasure troves in the game, and has arguably as much content as the big empty main area. The NPCs are cooler, the plot is funnier (and more interesting), and we're finally getting toward the main plot of the game. Plus spellbooks, spells aplenty, and magical loot. And a new permanent party member.
A minor point of order, well known to people "in the know" about Serpent Isle: If you offer gold bars to the Pikeman at Bull Tower, he will take all the gold bars you have in your inventory at the time and give you the key to Hawk's cell. He doesn't care how many gold bars you give him, so drop all of them but one. Free money is free money, no matter how completely pointless it'll be as soon as I get a spellbook again.
I can't remember. Is the invisible chest on top of the big stone out by Sleeping Bull plot-essential, or merely annoying to crack open?
The one is connected to the other, in fact. I forgot all about this one, mainly because the most ridiculous cheat room in the entire game is coming up soonish:
Southern fence, right up against a guest cottage, is a hollow tree with a key in it.
At the top of this column is an invisible chest. Like most "invisible" things, it's not that hard to see.
The key from the stump opens it, revealing some magic bolts, a few potions, money and gems, a kite shield, and a magic sword.