Part 30: SILVER SEED - The Maze & Abandoned Outpost
Basically yes, although it can't be too much sooner (even though that might seem strange), because the events that cause the war start with Ultima III. It's also pretty heavily Moorcock-influenced, yeah, because it's the early 90s and everything is. Someone else pointed out to me that the whole Silver Seed thing is kind of a Lord of the Rings ripoff, so it's not like originality is the strong suit of the expansion's scenario writer.
The Maze & Abandoned Outpost
Off to the Maze first. Despite its name, it is not, in fact, endless. It is, in fact, decidedly end...able.
Anyway, approaching it causes an old woman to appear.
"Old, am I!? Well, now, sweet cakes. It's about time ye showed up. I was beginnin' to get tired a waitin'. Me name's Drusilla. Ye aren't what I expected. But who am I to know what a pawn of prophecy looks like?"
"You were waiting?"
"Why else would I be a standin' here, deary? This isn't exactly the hotbed of excitement, iffin ye know what I mean."
"But you just showed up, you weren't actually waiting."
"They got Diet Dr Peppers in the green room, alright? Let's get on with this."
"Ye might say that I'm a part o' yer prophecy... One o' yer guides like."
"Do we need a guide?"
"Well now, deary, ye seem ta need some help, iffin ye don't mind my sayin' so. Ye look a little lost, if ye ask me. So here I am! I kin give ye three hints ta help ye on yer way. So listen well."
"Alright, I guess we might as well listen."
"Got yer attention now, do I? Ha! Thought so... What lies beyond this 'ere gate is a magical-type o' maze, sweet cakes. Now ye listen good to ol' Drusilla, fer only one person kin enter this 'ere maze at a time else all become confused an' die! I'll tell ye straight on that it'd be easier iffin ye turned an went back to that there keep right now. So do ye want yer hints or not?"
"Yes, God, just out with it."
"Stubborn cuss, aren't ye?"
"I don't think Steve has ever been called a 'cuss' but I suppose that fits her."
"All right, heed me well then... Iffin ye find yerself trapped, do not despair lest madness overtake ye. Know that death is the only way any of us will ever win free o' this 'ere world. Keep careful track of yer turnin's, fer ye may pass through a room more than once. An' sometimes ye'll have ta turn back on yer heels afore ye can find yer way. Yer third, an' final, hint is that once ye have found yer path, that section of the maze shall remain clear ta ye forever more. Do not be distracted from yer path. An' now, before I let ye go, deary, I'll warn ye again... Do not take anyone inta that there maze wit' ye. No two see this place the same."
"Thanks, I guess. Now why is everyone calling me 'pawn of prophecy?'"
"Why look so surprised, sweet cakes? Ye can't tell me that this is the first time someone has told ye that ye are marked... Why even those benighted idiots, the Ophidians, knew ta expect ye. So it can't be such a shock ta ye."
"I am kind of wondering how those benighted idiots knew, yes."
"Well now, perhaps I shouldn't have been so harsh, not in front of ye. Suffice it to say that not all people in this 'ere world are so addled as ta believe that wisdom is found in the hissing o' serpents... especially serpents no one kin see. I follow the Guide, meself, an' it's enough that I be 'ere ta meet ye ta tell ol' Drusilla whose pot is cracked an' whose isn't."
"What do you mean by Guide? That doesn't sound suspect or anything."
"Full o' questions, aren't ye? Well now, deary, ol' Drusilla has more ta do than ta stand an' talk philosophy wit' ye. An' ye should be about yer business as well. Those what follow the Guide don't seek no converts. We've enough ta do. Iffin ye finish yer own tasks an' still want ta talk, well now, perhaps there will be time fer that later."
I'm going to stash all my stuff in the tree because it will just show up there later, disorganized and all fucked up. Dumping the whole backpack in there ahead of time prevents this.
Eggs on for a little while. Basically when you hit the entrance there, all your companions leave for the duration of the Maze. Since there's no fighting it's rather pointless to bring them anyway, and if you do they'll just ram into the fires in the corners of some rooms and get killed, so you should leave them, but if you really want them along, dismiss them all before you step into the room and then talk to them from the carpet and make them rejoin.
The basic gimmick of the Maze is that you move between grid-like rooms and different doors open and close depending on where you came in from.
Since this is hard to capture in any meaningful way and this isn't a walkthrough, I'll just say that you should consult one. Reaching the teleporter to the next area opens the whole level, which would be cool if there were anything good to loot, but there is not.
A corpse on the second floor has some cheese. You'll find cheese on every body in the Maze, so this is a big hint.
Although there is such a thing as too much cheese. Those Serpent Arrows aren't great but they're probably the second-best loot in the Maze.
On the final floor is a monster cat-man thing. He's not hostile, of course, so...
"I am Yurel. Yurel is no monster. Yurel means no one harm. Yurel wishes only to be left in peace... and to go home."
"So, don't take this the wrong way, but what the hell?"
"Yurel knows not how he came to be this way... so unlike others. Yurel has been told that he was an... experiment long ago gone wrong. Yurel does not care. Yurel breathes. Yurel fears. Yurel loves. That makes Yurel the same as others, though Yurel wears fur or not."
"That's incredibly funny but sad enough that even I am moved to pity. So someone created you?"
"Yurel knows not who did such a thing, or why. The Master of Tolerance said that Chaos did not do such a thing. He said that it was those of Order. Yurel does not care. Yurel here now, and must find a way home. Yurel only wants to live... The Master of Tolerance told Yurel that his home was a place dedicated to Chaos. Yurel was not sure what this meant. Yurel was only happy that Yurel could stay there and be useful. Yurel does not understand why the others hate one another. Are they not the same? They have no fur, as Yurel does. Yurel is confused... and hungry."
"The Master of Tolerance?"
"Yurel's home was the Temple of Tolerance. They accepted Yurel there. Did not throw stones at Yurel. Let Yurel help, catch food for the others. Teach Yurel how to eat so as not to frighten others. Yurel had friends. Yurel had a safe place to sleep. Yurel worked hard and had fun. Yurel wants to go home..."
"Where is this place? Do you know?"
"Yurel not sure. The Temple of Tolerance was the home of those the others did not want. Yurel was friends with many there. Yurel does not care if they were not smart, or if they looked different... Yurel looks different from all others. Yurel does not understand why others turn out their own children for looking different. They look enough alike to Yurel. Perhaps Yurel will never know. Perhaps Yurel will never live to see home again. Yurel is lonely... and hungry."
"What happened to them?"
"Yurel often saw warriors of Order as Yurel went about hunting. Yurel learned quickly to avoid them, for they would beat Yurel up if they could catch Yurel. Now they have killed Yurel's friends. Killed the Master of Tolerance who took Yurel in. Yurel wishes they would go away. It was better before they took over. Yurel remembers peace. Yurel wishes to the end of his days without pain and fear. Yurel wishes what others wish, to see this fighting end. And food... Food would be good. Yurel is very hungry."
"Well, you know, there's a war on. Apparently, anyway."
"There has been fighting for a long, long time now. Something happened when Yurel was away hunting. Yurel knows not what. Those of Order who captured Yurel called Yurel a murderer. But Yurel has never harmed others. Yurel has hunted to bring others food. Yurel knows not why they say such things."
"That's when they took you to the keep here, then."
"Warriors of Order found Yurel out hunting. They beat Yurel and dragged Yurel to the cruel place beyond these walls. They wanted to cut Yurel up... So Yurel ran away. Yurel not dumb. Yurel hoped that if Yurel took their ball they would be too busy looking for it to hunt for Yurel. Yurel must have been right... They have not come for Yurel yet, and Yurel still has the ball."
"Yurel knows not what is so special about it. It is pretty. It sat upon a pedestal. So it must have been important."
"I think I may have a way to solve both our problems, Yurel. See this cheese?"
"Yurel is so hungry. Yurel has not had food in many days. Yurel would be willing to trade thee Yurel's ball for cheese."
"We've got a deal, then."
"Oh, Yurel is so happy! Thou art kind, kind, kind! The ball is yours... But be careful of the warriors, they are looking for it."
You could also just murder Yurel and take the orb. If you want to be a complete dick. And the warriors won't be coming to find it, because they're all dead.
He didn't even bother to eat all the cheese we had. Nice kid.
All the way at the end of the maze is this corpse and the one major treasure of the Maze, the Helm of Light.
Note that the area is slightly brighter in this screenshot than the other one. The Helm of Light does exactly as the name suggests. It has the defense of a Magic Helm, acts as a permanent Great Light source, and generates enough heat to produce warmth in frozen areas, where one normally has to give up the helm slot for a fur hat. It's the best helm in the game, no question, just nothing to get all excited over.
To finish the maze, walk east. Yes, the entry is closed. That's a red herring; the final wall is invisible.
On the way out, Drusilla comments on our sweet hat:
"Hey ho! It's good to see ye again! Found yer way out of that there maze, huh? Somethin' tricky, weren't it? An' ye got that there fancy helm, too! Good for ye! Never saw any use fer it meself. I kin make me own light... Wit'out mussin' up me hair! Ha!"
And if we ask Surok about it, he tells us just where it came from:
"Thou dost possess the Helm of Light! 'Twas worn by Issik the Architect when he did create the Maze. Didst thou discover the secret of the Maze, Steve? Thou art truly the Champion of Balance! None other except Issik could navigate that Maze of Death. From my talks with Issik, the Helm will never cease giving light and the only manner of dousing it's brilliance is to cover it over or put it in a bag."
"Now that I have a better hat, I'm going to pass the Helm of Courage down to you, Iolo, in the hopes it will rub off and make you somewhat less of a total pussy."
"Thanks, I guess, but doesn't this mean I'm now Emperor of Monitor?"
"Buddy, for all I care you can have that place."
And that's the Maze. I told you it was easy.
South of the Maze is the entry to the Abandoned Outpost. As we approach, a strange woman appears.
"Didst thy mother never tell thee not to speak with strange women then? Hmmmph! A fine one thou art to be wasting Rieya's time. Thou shouldst watch thy step, my bonny pawn of prophecy, lest I forget the aid that I was meant to give thee."
"How do you even pronounce that?"
"Rieya is my name... And I'll thank thee not to smirk so! Thy name is just as strange to me, I assure thee! Thou shouldst mind thy manners, else -- Guide or no -- I'll not aid thee!"
"There's that mysterious capital-G Guide thing again."
"I shouldn't wonder that thou hadst never heard of the Guide before. Thou art scarcely fit to be the pawn of prophecy. Why clutter up thy mind with other possibilities... Oh, never mind! Thou wouldst not understand!"
"Hey! I'm not scarcely fit, I'm just completely unsure what the hell is going on!"
"Look at thee! Thou hast no idea what is going on!"
"Yeah, I said tha-"
"Thou art as willing to listen to me as to those fools in the keep! How canst thou be so trusting? How hast thou lived so long?"
"I'm not sure anyone can really answer that one, ma'am."
"So... what's going on?"
"What is going on?! Listen to thee! Dunce, there is a war going on! People are killing each other over a difference in philosophies! And thou art parading about as if no one wouldst make thee a target!"
"Well, the 'fools in the keep' seemed happy to see me."
"Aye, they're fools. They follow the 'wisdom' of beings they have never seen, and believe that extermination of all opposing philosophies will restore Balance! I tell thee that they are fools! Fools! This world is doomed. They should let it die and move on... Ah well, I can't expect thee to understand. Never mind."
"So what other possibilities did you mean?"
"Not all follow the Teachings of the Serpents, friend. Some believe that it is pointless to hope for Balance on this flawed world. But those in the keep refuse to acknowledge that there are others that follow other paths. Fools!"
"Yeah yeah, pawn of prophecy, yadda yadda, I get it."
"Needle head! Thou dost wear the Amulet of Balance, which -- according to those fools in the keep -- makes thee the Champion of Balance. Dost thou not know what that bauble is yet? Are all those Ophidians asleep?! How could they not have told thee? I'll tell thee, this is service above and beyond the call! Oh well, I shall have to do their job for them. The Amulet of Balance once belonged to the Great Hierophant who used it to enforce Balance upon the Ophidians. It is a magical pendant that none but the Champion of Balance may wear, or so it is said."
"Yeah, we're still not clear who this Great Hierophant guy was."
"Who would have thought a pawn of prophecy could be so stupid?! The Ophidians considered the Great Hierophant to be the Voice of the Great Earth Serpent. Whatever he was, he kept them from killing each other... Until they murdered him that is. THEN they started killing each other. Have to do things right, I guess... Chaos said Order was responsible. Order said Chaos did it. Who knows? Who cares? They've been trying to destroy each other ever since."
"I think I'm supposed to fix that... or not. I'm really not clear on that part."
"The Champion of Balance was the muscle behind the Great Hierophant. Guess the Great Hierophant couldn't get his hands dirty... Who knows? It was the Champion's job to pound any dissenters of the Teachings into submission. Brute force will do it every time. Guess that explains the lack of brains..."
"So are you going to keep being a bitch or are you going to help?"
"I never said that thou needs must like me. I said that I had to aid thee. Dost thou wish to hear it or not?"
"Take all the help thou canst get, right? Hmmph! Beyond this gate lies a room that will block thy progress and try to kill thee. In this room thou shalt find three buttons. Press first the middle button, and then the top button. Press the south button last and thou shalt be free."
After some verbal abuse, we're off to the Abandoned Outpost. It's got less combat than I remembered, with mostly big insects here and there and some undead.
There's a well in the far south of the first hall that seems to do nothing. There are no other obvious exits. What's an Avatar to do?
Press up against the left wall until you pass through it to a secret area with a switch.
The corpse's letter suggests we could descend into the well for some reason, if we had a rope.
This passage leads to the outpost proper.
Before we get there, we've got to deal with a button puzzle. Rieya said we should press the middle, right, and left buttons...
...but in fact, we have to push the right...
...then left buttons. So was she lying to us? Drusilla seemed to be mostly truthful. Why would one of the strange witch ladies lie and the other not?
The outpost is full of lovely corpses of the slaughtered troops of Commander Ardiniss's battalion.
There's a lightning whip we'll need for later and some serpent scales are on a charred corpse. Always remember that charred and ashen bodies are still corpses, as they often contain loot.
The southern body has a key to the gate...
...and a map of the outpost. Looks simple enough.
The key doesn't work on the next two gates because the next two gates are illusionary. I'm not sure why. It was mentioned that the Commander put in "mystic traps" to guard the outpost, but this seems kind of lame.
Spot the key hidden in this room. On the rock under a plank
I'm not sure what those green things that pulse in the mouths of the serpents are, but they'll appear a few more times in the course of the game.
"It's not ruined, you just don't want to read it."
The hidden key opens these double doors.
Sadly, the area beyond is blocked with rubble. You can actually attack the rubble and clear it, but I have a better way.
Now then, back to these blocked stairs. The sign there reads "Sacrifice By Fulmination." This is a bit tricky, but you have to drop the lightning whip you just found in the flame, which will turn it red and remove the energy fields.
Goin' down the stairs and goin' up the stairs and goin' down the stairs and goin' up the stairs.
A skeleton ambush. I can never really get over the Avatar's reaction to skeletons. Uh-oh!
There's a puzzle here that I could never solve. It's not that I don't know the answer, but no matter what order you step on the plates and flip the switch, it doesn't destroy...
...the sleep fields ahead in the tunnels. Supposedly that's what it's for, but I couldn't ever get it to work. Maybe it doesn't do that. Anyway, kill these living armors (they respawn every time you walk back through, so you could farm experience here if you really wanted).
"Well, now we just have t-"
"Is this really the right way to do this?"
Some Time Later...
"Well, that was worth the 4 hour nap, right guys?"
Once you have the orb, you don't need to do anything else in the Abandoned Outpost. However, we want the rare treasures, so we're gonna go exploring the south wing. Entering causes the gate to close behind you with a magical lock. The north wing is supposed to do the same thing, but the flag is broken. The door will become magically locked, but it remains open. Whoops.
The Ophidian treasures are less than exciting, as always; their Serpent Swords look cool but aren't any different from normal swords, and their shields, though the best non-magical ones you can get, aren't that great.
South from there is the torture room, which is just delightful.
A corpse is in the jail cell, with a scroll we'll need.
"Based on this, we can assume the corpse here is Commander Ardiniss. Dupre?"
"Come on, man, we don't even need this guy."
Now for a semi-secret. Notice that closed iron maiden? Secret passage!
"It seems like a bad idea to keep the powder magazine next door to the jail."
"That's why these people will die out, Shamino."
One powder keg later and we're on our way to...
...an old, empty fountain room. But the corpse here has the rope, so that's what we need.
Heading back out, we stop by the well and climb on down.
You need the scroll on Ardiniss's body to dispel the force fields here. Nowhere does it explicitly say you need to do this, nor does it mention you should reread the scroll here, but that's how it works, so do it.
"Is it cold down here, or is that just me?"
"Wouldn't know, I got an insulated helmet and thermal underwear."
"I hate you a lot, Steve."
This frigid cavern is full of ice trolls. They're easy (they only attack in melee) and so-so experience. Their respawns are a bit inconsistent, however.
Here's what we came down for: The Belt of Strength! As the name suggests, the belt sets the Strength of the character equipping it to 30. Steve, Boydon, and Dupre already have 30 strength and Shamino's close, so I'm giving this to Iolo since Strength also equals HP.
"Hooray, Iolo's moving up in the world!"
"Shut up, it was a gear assignment made out of 99% party optimization and 1% pity."
"That's more pity than I usually get."
By the way, Surok will tell us that it's actually called Loriel's Gift:
"Why, thou dost wear the Belt of Strength! 'Twas made by Commander Ardiniss's wife, Loriel, many years ago. If I remember correctly, she made the belt from the hair of Giants and then enchanted it. Loriel was a gifted mage, but alas, was yet another victim of this damnable war with Chaos! As thou dost wear her handiwork, thou shouldst remember her, Steve..."
The secondary loot is actually pretty good. It's hard to tell, but that's 180 Magic Bolts, 180 Serpent Arrows, and a bunch of gold. That's a ton of very nice ammo.
Tomorrow, we'll hit up the lich Aram Dol. Or the Fiend. Whatever seems most convincing to me. Aram Dol's has two great treasures, and the Fiend's lair has the single best one. Naturally, I won't be stopping until I have both.
Random Proofreading Notes: I corrected 2-3 spelling errors in NPC dialogue this update. Rieya says "killilng" at one point, for instance. I don't recall that many errors in the main game's usecode, which suggests Silver Seed wasn't edited very thoroughly.