The Let's Play Archive

Ultima VII Part 2: Serpent Isle

by Nakar

Part 24: MOONSHADE - Guess Who's Coming To Magic Dinner

Guess Who's Coming To Magic Dinner

I'm taking Moonshade nice and slow, to get maximum exposure of the NPCs and all that. Events tend to happen in shorter bursts here, so it works well for this. Tonight we'll just be getting to the MageLord and meeting with him. After that there will be a few mishaps with some of the other Mages, and finally a trip to meet the Mad Mage himself. And that's just the start of the Moonshade quest line! We'll be here a while.

East of the Apothecary is a big pavillion where most of the arts and crafts of Moonshade are made. You can get all sorts of stuff here, but most of it has no game function.

"Good day. I am Ducio, the Master Artisan. What is thy business?"
"Master artisan? Someone has a pretty big opinion of themselves."
"It's you, right?"
"I have an apprentice. I have automatons to help the work progress. That makes me a Master. I am able to create or repair anything. I make what the Mages need. That makes me an Artisan. If thou hast need of the Master, ask me. If not, ask Topo."
"Your automatons do the work for you?"
"That they do. One that bakes. One that sews. One that smiths. All from Torrissio. They work hard... do not talk back like Topo. Torrissio makes automaton guards and servants. He does good work... almost like a Master Artisan. But he needs magic to make everything work. I gave him a good deal on the metal he needs. Now I've got three hard workers made of metal. Not a bad deal."
"So he knows how to make robots, huh? Did he ever tell you?"
"Torrissio doth not ask about my work. I do not ask about his. All I know is that his spells are old. Not anything created by these Mages. Thou wishest to ask more, ask Torrissio... If he will speak with thee."
"How old?"
"Very old. Maybe as old as the Serpent ruins, maybe not. I'm not a Mage. What dost thou think I am, a teacher like Fedabiblio?! If thou wishest a history lesson, go to him like any novice. If thou wishest the work of a Master Artisan, stay. I do not have time for such questions!"

As I mentioned before, the automatons are not a recent invention. Later in the game, and in the Silver Seed expansion, we'll learn more of their original creation. All the mages of Moonshade are doing right now is reanimating and repurposing the automatons who already exist.

You'll also notice Ducio has a bit of an inferiority complex. He insists at every possible juncture that he is a master of his craft, probably because he desperately wants to be seen as important. But because he isn't a mage, even being the most skilled businessman in the city doesn't really mean anything. So he takes it out on his apprentice.

"If the Mages can speak plain enough to explain what they need, I can make it. Magical apparatus. Swords. Whatever. I can make it. They enchant it. 'Tis fair. I make all the apparatus for the Mages. All different. Every Mage wants something a little different than the next. I can tell thee who a piece belongs to just by looking at it. I remember everything I've made. Dost thou have something thou wishest me to look at?"
"We do have this... thing. Any ideas?"
"Hmmmm. This is a piece of lab apparatus that the mages use. In fact, this one was one of my first masterpieces. I thought it had been destroyed. I might ask how thou didst come by this. But I won't. I do not want to know. Vasculio hath been dead for years..."
"This belongs to Vasculio?"
"Not good, that one. Sought to reach beyond life and rule death. Not good. The Council killed him years ago. I thought they had destroyed all his equipment after they found the grave empty... But mayhaps Ensorcio took it."
"Ensorcio said the same thing. Was he undead?"
"They say he rose from the dead. They think he is looking for revenge. But I think the Council secretly decided to burn him. No one can bring back the dead from ashes."
"So are you good at making magic weapons? Because I kinda lost a really important one and-"
"Do not have much call for them. Not magic ones anyway. But I have made a few. Unless it is a special order, mine automaton makes it. For something non-magic, talk to Topo. If it's magic, talk to me."
"Mine apprentice. Scrawny boy. Large ambitions. Big mouth. But he doth work hard... when I yell at him. Shows promise. Tends to be a bit lazy, though. Must teach him better. Make certain he learns as much as he thinks he knows."

Sure enough, there's a magic sword in the forge, and Automatons hard at work. The bakery is the only place in Serpent Isle where I think you can make bread like in the bakeries of The Black Gate. Of course by this point Shamino has a bunch of food in his packs for everyone, and there's a source of infinite food not too far away in the plot.

Topo, Ducio's apprentice, is also lazing about the wine casks. I can't say I blame him.

"Allow me to introduce myself. I'm Topo the Artisan, apprenticed to Master Ducio. I'm a lucky man, to serve such a talented craftsman."
"He's a good boy."
" he gone?"
"Just walked off."
"Someday I hope to be as rich and lazy as my master! He spends all his time asleep or at the inn, except when he comes here to make me crazy with his nagging."
"You any good?"
"I have worked with Master Ducio for several years now. Soon I'll be able to open a shop of mine own... Topo's Treasures, I'll call it. For now, I work with the pottery. The automatons have trouble handling the slip... They generally crush a piece before 'tis fully formed and ready to fire. After firing, they are fine, but before -- that is where I work."
"What does Ducio do?"
"My Master is one of the wealthiest Mundanes in Moonshade. There is no comparison to the Mages, of course. We have three automatons -- one for sewing, one for blacksmith work, and one for baking. That is what my Master actually specializes in... making everyone else do his work!"
"Your master seems to be doing rather well, to be fair. Are the mages truly that wealthy?"
"Magic is where the true money lies in Moonshade. But if thou dost not possess magic, thou must work for a living... Unless thou art my Master, that is! The only thing a lowly Mundane can hope for is to be able to afford an automaton from Torrissio, to help with the work load. Torrissio is the Adept that makes the automatons. No one knows how he does it..."
"Art thou a Mage, Topo?"
"By the way, he just came back over."
"No, master... I am a Mundane apprentice."
"Then thou dost not know what a Mage may or may not know!"
"Yes, master... Though most of the automatons Torrissio makes are strictly utilitarian, he is capable of making far more sophisticated models... Thou hast only to look at Petra."
"Okay, he's gone again. Go on."
"Those who are blessed with magical ability are not all equal, Avatar. Some, like Andrio, are novices who still have yet to learn their craft. And some, like Stefano, have little power to command even after they learn."
"You know Andrio?"
"Andrio is my friend... which is surprising since he is also a novice Mage. Perhaps the outrageous arrogance hath not developed in him yet."
"Who's Stefano, anyway?"
"Thou wouldst like Stefano, I'm certain! Although he can cast a spell or two, he is not very good at it. So he makes his living by stealing things from one Mage for another. 'Tis actually very amusing. He shuns his magic and those who would look down on him must deal with him to acquire things they want... Perhaps there is some justice in the world, after all. Now, if only someone would turn Ducio into a workbench, it would be the most useful he's ever been!"

Topo also serves the vital function of paying 100 Guilders, no transaction fee, for gems. This is a vastly better deal than any of the moneychangers can offer. This adds up to a lot of Guilders (you'll see in a couple updates).

Going back to our little tour of town, the MageLord's manor is just north of where we were poking around. It's locked up tight; Filbercio isn't the least bit interested in seeing us yet. Maybe if we can track down Flindo and get him to make good on his promise...

His shop is west of the MageLord's manor, but he's not in right now. His clerk Bucia hangs out by the window and daydreams. She's useful, but gossipy as hell (she's the provisioner, moneychanger, AND information NPC for Moonshade), and I don't want the update to run long. We'll talk to her in a bit. For now, it's off to the Blue Boar Tavern to the northwest, looking for her boss.

Flindo is here (you can see in the screenshot), but about two seconds after I walked in he took off to go back to his damn store. I think he's doing this on purpose.

Oh well, let's talk to a hot female robot.

"Uh. Hey. I'm the Avatar and these are some goons."
"Greetings, this is the Blue Boar Inn, and I am the barmaid. My name is Petra. We have a fine selection of meals available for thee to choose from. Art thou hungry, Avatar?"
"No, I think we're pretty much stocked up."
"Summon me if thou dost change thy mind, Avatar."
"So this is the bar around here?"
"The finest eating and drinking establishment in all Moonshade! Run by the finest man in all Moonshade..."
"What madness art thou saying, Petra?"
"It is not madness, Rocco. I am proud of thee... Rocco, the innkeeper. A finer man thou shalt not find. Thou mayest find Rocco a bit gruff, but he doth have a good heart. After all, he alone hath stood between Torrissio and me... At great peril to himself, I might add."
"What do you mean between you?"
"Thou canst not have failed to notice that I am an automaton. Torrissio is my maker... Curse his black heart! Torrissio is a man who feeds off the misery of others. He created me with the sole intent of having a captive to torment for the rest of his life. But I escaped and Rocco took me in."
"You are rather sophisticated compared to the others... in certain areas."
"Oh wow I actually got a joke this time."
"I am a magical construct. An animated body of metal. Yet I can think. I can reason. And I believe I can care for others. Whether this means that I have a soul locked away within the confines of mine hollow body, I do not know. All I do know is that I am much more complex than the automatons Torrissio normally makes for the other Mages."
"A mechanoid with a soul? This is treading dangerous territory even for 1993."
"If thou dost love, if thou hast compassion for others, if thou dost feel the injustice of the world, art thou not said to possess a soul? If I have all these things, can I not say that I, too, have a soul? In this I am unique, for none of the other automatons claim to feel emotions as I do. But I do not know why I should be different."
"Wait, does this mean I don't have a soul?"
"We've kind of been dancing around that issue ever since we met you, Steve."
"So you're an automaton. Tell us about... you guys. Do you remember anything about how you were constructed, or what?"
"Most Mages do not wish to be disturbed by the presence of other living beings. Therefore they come to Torrissio to provide them with servants and guards of undemanding metal. However, the magic did not originate with Torrissio -- he is merely the latest master of the ancient spells which he did find in certain buried ruins. It is said that automatons served those who dwelt in this land anciently. Even with all his magic, Torrissio cannot construct new automatons -- he can merely reanimate those broken automatons which are discovered in the ruins. What better servants to have? Automatons can exist for centuries without any maintenance at all. They ask nothing. They expect nothing. They do what task is assigned to them until their magic at last fails, and then they simply stop."
"Unless they're you. It doesn't seem like Rocco's in much peril though."
"Oh, Avatar! Thou canst not know what danger there is in thwarting the will of a Mage! Rocco could be killed easily, and spells are untraceable. Or he could be spirited away to hideous torture. No one would be the wiser. So I look after him as best I can, even as he doth care for me. It also helps that everyone believes the tale we have spread."
"This better be sexy or I'm going to be sad."
"Rocco hath led everyone to believe that he and Torrissio reached an agreement to have me work here to advertise Torrissio's skill. In truth, my cooking ability doth do Torrissio no small credit. And I dare say that it wins him many customers as well. But he is still a willful, vicious man who doth not take it kindly when he feels cheated. And I fear his vengeance, for both myself and Rocco."
"I'm sad."

Everything we've been told about Torrissio suggests he's a petty jerk taking credit for magic he didn't even invent. But on the other hand, he can teach us how to animate automatons, so how bad can he be?

After speaking with Petra, we've only got one more new NPC to meet in the inn (Kane and Captain Hawk hang out here, but they've already been kicking around).

"Might I speak with you?"
"I do not believe we've met. I'm Rocco, the innkeeper at the Blue Boar. 'Tis good to have more visitors again. We had despaired, what with the storms and all."
"You said this was the Blue Boar?"
"Interesting name, is it not?"
"That sounds just like the one in Britannia!"
"Anything is possible, I suppose. I inherited this inn from my parents, and they from theirs. 'Tis an old name... perhaps from the time of the crossing."
"You mean the emigration from Bri- Sosaria."
"It hath been a long time since I heard the tale in full. Let me see if I remember it at all... For the most part it had something to do with an usurper king and the Mages. But for my folk, it was simply for money, I think. Back in the old lands, a domineering man named... Brattish, or Brutish, or somesuch, usurped the throne. His rule was hard and unjust, so many people fled across the seas to this land. Let me think a moment. I am terrible with names like this... Aha! I have it! The old lands were known as Sosaria."
"And this place?"
"Well, when the people arrived here, they thought to name the land after their old home... ah, one moment... New Sosaria. But then they found the ruins scattered here and there, with all those snakes pictured on them, so most folks call this The Serpent Isle. Though some still refer to it by its proper name, New Sosaria."
"There are more ruins around here?"
"Well, the ruins are on the mainland anyway, where our ancestors landed. I saw the ones around Monitor when I was just a lad. There is nothing special about them, merely piles of old stone from settlers way before the New Sosarians. Either this place had far more snakes when those people lived here, or they worshipped them, or something. There are snakes carved all over those ruins. I don't even think that the Mages know what they mean."
"Yet the mages instigated the move..."
"As well as I can remember, most of the people that fled from the usurper were Mages. I don't think that any of them are still alive, but thou canst never tell. Perhaps the Mad Mage is that old, who knows? Certainly not the current MageLord. Ah, the Mad Mage is a crazy old man that lives on an island not far from here. Thinks he can create life... From what I hear, he once lived here in Moonshade -- was a teacher or something, 'til he went mad."
"And Filbercio?"
"He is a man of curious passions. Not what thou wouldst expect from most Mages. I'll simply say that I am mighty glad that my Petra is metal. That alone may keep her safe from his wandering eye."
"Your ancestors weren't mages, then? Just following along to earn money doing business with them?"
"Aye, plain money. The folks that came over were lesser sons and daughters who could never hope to inherit anything. They came hoping to start their own businesses, like the Blue Boar. 'Twas named in honor of my great-great grandsire's inn. Of course, there's not much business now due to the terrible storms. But in better times our rooms are always full. Wert thou interested in anyone in particular?"

Since you kind of have to be an Ultima Nerd or really have a knack for names, the Blue Boar is the tavern that's been in Britain since Ultima IV or so. Rocco is descended from a branch of the original owners' family, who left for the Serpent Isle with Erstam's settlers.

"Did a sage named Batlin ever stay here?"
"Such a one did come through here, perhaps two months ago."
"'Twas three months ago, Rocco."
"Yes, she's right... it was three months ago. There was some sort of a scandal, as I recall. It was said that this Batlin stole an ancient artifact of some kind. He fled by ship -- perhaps Captain Hawk could tell thee more."
"And a scholar, fat lady, Gwenno?"
"Thou dost know her! She and I are the closest of friends. She stayed here for many weeks."
"Just how well dost thou know Gwenno?"
"I swear I am innocent! We were only friends, Iolo."
"Where did she go?"
"When she had studied all of the materials which were available here, she determined to go to the Isle of Monks to read the scrolls kept there. The Xenkan Monks live north of here on a forested island. They tend to keep to themselves, studying the prophecies of long-dead mystics. But thou canst not go there, for there is no sailor crazy enough to make the journey. The magical storms have destroyed every boat on this coast, save Hawk's -- and he won't sail."
"Why did she come here?"
"The good lady said that it was her task to study all of the cultures and beliefs there were in the Serpent Isles. She was planning to write a report, and she said that her discoveries would startle her countrymen."
"How long ago was it that she was here?"
"It hath been a long time since we last saw Gwenno. Many months."
"Eight months, dear Rocco."
"Petra seems to think highly of you."
"She's my serving wench, as well as being a damn fine cook -- which, considering she can neither eat nor taste, is rather incredible."

Actually, it kind of is. Petra sells some really filling food, but thanks to goblin pancakes I won't ever need to actually purchase food in an Ultima game.

Quite rudely, an automaton busts into the tavern to deliver a scroll.

"I trust that you will be opening that."
"Maybe later."
"My mistress assures that it is most urgent."
"We've got plenty of time."


"Why the hell isn't that asshole picking up?"

Flindo gives us the runaround. He tells us to come back tomorrow, and he'll keep telling us that, because his ability to score an appointment with the MageLord has nothing whatsoever to do with time. Rather, we need to advance the script in order for his efforts to pay off.

Specifically, we need to read the scroll Rotoluncia had delivered to us.

It's a little unorthodox.

"Greetings, Stranger from Another Land. I am speaking to thee by means of this magic scroll -- there is no need to be afraid."
"Afraid? Why, the Avatar is not afraid of magic."
"But all barbarians fear sorcery."
"Be quiet, Shamino. That witch can hear thee through that scroll!"
"Who said that! Death draws near for those who taunt Rotoluncia the Red Witch."
"It was Iolo. This guy, right here. Here, let me turn the scroll over so you can get a good look at him."
"I am the most powerful wizard in this city, and I could teach thee many things -- if thou wert not a mere Mundane."
"But the Avatar is not a Mundane..."
"What is this that they say?"
"Thou dost speak overly much, Shamino."
"Thou art not a mage, or I would have detected thy powers by now. Or... perhaps thou dost shield thine abilities from my senses? Most interesting..."
"You can do that?"
"I'm not completely incompetent, you know. So what do you want? Is this Council business or just a private offer?"
"So my servant told thee that I sit on the Council of Mages? Perhaps I shall dismantle him to adjust a loose tongue... Indeed, I am one of the Three who rule this city, along with Gustacio the Decrepit, and that weak-willed profligate, Filbercio. Thou dost surprise me. Most Mundanes are frightened by the very idea of sorcery."
"There you go calling us that."
"Indeed, thou art from a distant land if thou dost not know such a common term. The world is divided into two sorts of Men -- those who can handle magics, and mere ordinary folk. Common folk such as thee and they companions are known as the Mundane."
"So did you just call us to piss us off? I think we're done here."
"Not so fast! Thou shouldst know that I met with thine ally, the fat and loathsome sage called Batlin... He travelled with a Daemon named Palos. Where did Batlin obtain such power? If I had this power, I could rule Serpent Isle! Reveal to me the secret of controlling Daemonfolk, and I shall reward thee with power beyond thy comprehension."
"Have you tried just giving them money? It's pretty simple contractual relationship stuff, you pay the gargoyle, he works for you. What's wrong with you people?"
"I shall contact thee again, when perhaps thou shalt be more receptive to mine offers. Adieu."
"I hadn't actually turned the scroll off yet, Iolo."

And so, after being told five minutes earlier by Flindo that it might take another day to secure the appointment, we promptly turn and walk back into his shop and...

"In fact, he plans to hold a banquet in thine honor. I am certain thou wilt find his means of summoning thee... very unusual. Go about thy business, and at the appropriate moment, the MageLord shall summon thee."

And so that's what we do. Wander around for a while and suddenly...

...and quite without warning, we're summoned to dinner with the MageLord. Literally.

"Please be seated. We have been waiting for thee. I am the MageLord Filbercio. Allow me to introduce the others. First, my fellow members on the Council of Mages. Adept Gustacio..."
"Thou needest not worry, Avatar. We have brought thee here against thy will, but only that we may get to know thee. Thou art free to leave, once this dinner is concluded."
"Quite right, Gustacio... and here is Adept Rotoluncia, whom I believe thou hast met."
"Filbercio is never lacking in social graces, Avatar. Now if he only attended to the problems of Moonshade as he doth attend to his mistresses. Speaking of which..."
"Ahem--! Also present, as my dinner companion, is the most charming Frigidazzi. She, too, is a Mage."
"Welcome to thee. These cursed teleportation storms have made travel so difficult that we are becoming isolated! It hath disturbed everyone, but it is good to see a new face."
"Good Mages, this is the adventurer from a distant land whose arrival was foretold in our conjurings!"
"Could she be responsible for the storms which plague the land? Or for the growing strangenesses which afflict our spellcasting?"
"I hope, my dear, that he/she is the solution to our problems, rather than the cause..."
"Thou art a fool, MageLord! Our guest is most certainly a factor in the supernatural disturbances that are threatening our world. Let us question her now!"

Rotoluncia decides to start shooting fireballs at the Avatar. She remains seated, which is both intensely polite and hilariously appropriate given what we've established about her. It is a bit jarring for someone playing the Avatar correctly, though.

Mercifully, Gustacio intervenes on our behalf.

"Stop this! See here, Rotoluncia! This stranger may have secrets -- as do we all! But I will not condone treating a guest of the Council like a criminal!"
"Thou dost dare to interfere with my spells! MageLord, I demand that thou reprimandest this sorcerer."
"My dear, calm thyself. Perhaps our visitor shall tell us all, without the use of force..."
"If there is one thing I cannot stand, it is being hamstrung by petty politics. Thou art not half the man thou once wert, Filbercio... I bid you all a pleasant dinner. I have lost mine appetite and am leaving. But mark my words -- I shall have my way!"

"And to think she was once a young and beautiful sorceress, before her ambitions turned her cold and heartless..."
"Ex-girlfriend issues are crazy."
"True dat."
"Bitches is crazy."
"You know there are still two women sitting at the table."
"Yeah. Wait, two?"

"I beg thy pardon, MageLord Filbercio, but I have an urgent message for thee. I regret to report that mine attempts to locate any significant quantity of the reagent Blood Moss have met with failure."
"Pothos! I should send thee to the dungeons and have the rats feed on thy carcass! Dear guests, I am afraid that I shall have to adjourn this pleasant repast. Pothos and I must speak privately concerning important matters of state. I thank thee all for coming!"

"Anyone gonna finish that roast demon?"
"I was thinking about it."
"Wanna split?"
"Yeah, alright."
"Alright, well, I'm going to go look for valuables. You guys wanna save me a fifth leg of venison or something?"

I do not doubt that you have noticed the gold bars on the table in the last several screenshots. We wants them, we does. So let's go get 'em.

You can't actually move the statue, but I did it just to show you. There's a key behind a plant in Filbercio's bedroom. Notice the bed of furs by the fire. This dude's a serious player.

I always assumed the stuff on the plates at the MageLord's banquet was just there for decoration, but as you might notice, one of the demon roasts is missing. Because I ate it. Plate and all, apparently.

"What? I was hungry."

Anyway, the key is just to the chests in Filbercio's stash. To access the stash itself, we need to flip that lever behind his throne. If it's kind of in plain sight to you, you're not alone; this isn't a very well-hidden switch, really.

The MageLord is definitely rich. Gold bars (600 Guilders apiece!), a bunch of gems, a Magic Axe and Fire Sword, Guilders... and a yellow Virtue Stone. I have to assume this was an error and some designer thought it was a gold nugget or something. It serves no purpose in Serpent Isle, because the Mark and Recall spells no longer exist.

There's no way into the courtroom or jail yet. Whatever that enticing key is, it'll have to wait.