Part 44: GWANI VILLAGE - The Avatar, Noted Master Of Yeti-Dragon Relations
The Avatar, Noted Master Of Yeti-Dragon Relations
Not too much farther north, we meet, at long last, the oft-spoken-of Gwani. As expected of a maligned humanoid race in an Ultima game, they're actually very decent people.
They're also written a little differently from most other NPCs. There's non-dialogue narration in the conversations, which the game hasn't really done before.
"Thou look like Avatar," the Gwani creature says with broken speech.
"Hey, he can talk! And if he can be talked to, he can be asked what's up. Who're you?"
"Mwaerno. Means 'rain clouds'. Our village near. Speak to Yenani."
"Sure thing. Who's your buddy?"
"Thou... the one... Gwenno spoke." You can tell the creature obviously has great trouble with your language. "Bwundai my name is."
"They do not seem to have a firm grasp of our language, Steve."
"Neither do any of the other people on this island."
"Our village near. But, thou seek Gwenno... Gwani Death Temple on island north. West of Ice dragon caves."
"Haha. I guess they know enough to remind you of your wife's hilarious death."
Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how much you enjoyed all the dialogue in the previous half of the game), not all the Gwani are functionally incapable of saying more than their names.
"Thou must be one Gwenno spoke of! I am Yenani, mate of Myauri, mother of Neyobi and Kapyundi, leader of Gwani people and teller of Gwani history."
"And apparently pretty well at speaking the language good."
"We've heard a great many things about the Gwani, Yenani."
"Such as how awesome your pelts are as cloaks."
"That's enough, Dupre. Tell us of your people, Yenani."
"Do we have to listen to this?"
"I'm afraid so."
"Many years ago the Gwani ruled these icy lands with the Great Horn of the Gwani. It was a powerful tool of balance that could make the ice dance. But we lost the Great Horn of the Gwani when it was stolen from us by a stranger who came in the night. He took the Horn to the place men call Skullcrusher. We have since found that we Gwani do not need it to live in balance with the universe. May it go to whoever has the good fortune of finding it."
"So you're saying you... don't want us to immediately go out and find it?"
"That is right."
"I already really like you people a great deal more than anyone else in Serpent Isle."
"Long have Gwani been led by my wisdom, and hunting skills of mate Myauri. Together we are heart and soul of Gwani people. Son Kapyundi is proud and skilled hunter."
"And your other child? Neyobi, was it?"
"My daughter have severe fever. She dying and only thou canst save her!"
"And there it is. I knew something like this was going to come up. Well, whatever, I got Great Heal and a ring of reagents. What do we have to do?"
"Talk to Baiyanda, healer of our people. She will know what to do."
"Sure sure. So tell us about how Iolo's fat wife got herself killed."
"So that we can find a way to avenge her?"
"Gwenno was good friend to us. She spent weeks teaching me human language. Over time I slowly teaching others. Many days we have mourned death of good woman Gwenno. She horribly killed by men of one we call The Trapper. She spoke of thee often."
Wait a second. Fitch said an "evil sorceress" attacked the trappers and killed them before they killed her. Yenani says Gwenno was murdered... but if that's true, why were the trappers all incinerated? Is it possible that what Fitch said was true?
But back to the chat.
"She spoke of me? Well, that's news."
"She spoke of one called the Avatar. She said one called the Avatar would come and return her to her mate. She also said Avatar would save Gwani from extinction."
"Well, let's not go that far. I mean, you guys seem pretty okay and everything, but-"
"We are peaceful people and chose to live apart from races of goblins and humanity. Goblins hunt us without mercy. Hatred for us almost greater than hatred for humans. Humans also hunt us, although fewer of them than goblins. Still, one human menaces us and being greatest single threat to our race. This is man we know only as the Trapper."
"Yes, he is human called Hazard. He lives in cave north on Ice Plains. I fear he not stop hunt us until he hunt us to extinction."
"Then Hazard wasn't killed like the other trappers?"
"Hazard allow no other human into his lair. Even his men never go in."
"At least it's unlikely he'll be able to threaten the Gwani all by himself. His men won't be up here for... a while."
Hanging around with Yenani is her mate, Myauri.
"It is one foretold by Gwenno! I Myauri, hunting master. My mate Yenani chieftain of our people. I am father of Neyobi and Kapyundi."
"The Gwani have most interesting names, don't they?"
"What kind of name is Shamino, again?"
"It is ancient, proud Gwani name. It mean 'Blizzard' in our tongue. Yenani mate of Myauri all of life. She not only leader of Gwani people, but keeper of stories, and history of our people."
"Then you are Neyobi's father?"
"Neyobi my only daughter. She very sick. Strange sickness put her to sleep. Now she not wake. If she not cured soon, sleeping sickness kill her. Not even our healer Baiyanda know what sickness is, where it come from, how it cured. I worry it be with rest of Gwani people. Maybe nothing to be done. Maybe Gwani die."
"When did this happen?"
"It not long ago when Neyobi was well. Then one morning she not wake. That is all I know."
"Is there anything to be done?"
"Not all things in world meant to have answers. Gwani tried to live in balance with world, not force us on nature. Maybe our time is over. Maybe time here to face death of our people. All in universe balanced unless man or Gwani intervene. Our people seen great strife, great challenges. Fierce dragons, goblins, hunting humans. We survive all of these things. Still part of great balance of things. Maybe we not meant to survive this. When Gwani no longer part of balance of universe, time for us to leave world. This way of things."
Myauri has a kind of fatalistic outlook, but it's got a certain degree of realistic acceptance to it. This goes back to our balance theme for the game, with his position advancing the darker side to it. Maybe "everything in balance" doesn't necessarily mean "everything has a happy ending." Maybe things going the right way, free of destabilizing interference, means some people and things just aren't going to survive. Not that this is foreshadowing or anything. Regardless, Gwenno!
"Gwenno great friend to our people. It thanks to her that many of our people speak thy tongue. She even told us all about thou. She said thou would come. Her death tragedy."
"Where is her body?"
"Not gonna let anything get you down, are you lover boy?"
"Gwenno's body now at Gwani Death Temple. It place sacred to us, where spirits of dead rest peacefully. Only leaders of tribe, Yenani and Baiyanda go there. But Baiyanda's mate Bwundai may know where it is."
Neyobi lies asleep on her little bed in Myauri and Yenani's cave. It seems nothing we can do can wake her. Perhaps Baiyanda, the Gwani healer, knows what will fix whatever's ailing her.
Remember: One of the signs of imbalance is the weak and young, and those in connection with nature, falling ill and dying. No rush or anything to fix this though, Avatar.
The Gwani have kind of an interesting sleep schedule. This screenshot was taken at about 10am. The Gwani are mostly only active in the afternoon and up into the evening, then they sleep whenever it's kinda dark. Fortunately, they don't get pissed about being Awakened, like Gustacio does.
"We knew thou would come. Thou art Avatar!"
"You know it, yeti-lady."
"I am Baiyanda, mate of Mwaerno and healer for Gwani people. He great hunter. Mwaerno and Baiyanda joined by Yenani many years ago. She our chieftain. Gwani people always led by females. Yenani good friend of Gwenno."
"So you two were closest to Gwenno, who is dead?"
"Gwenno dead. She good woman. Very generous. She once make gift of bucket to Baiyanda. Baiyanda place body at sacred Gwani Death Temple."
"And where is that?"
"It not thing for thou to know. Gwenno must rest now, her soul rest. Leave her. I know it painful, but thou must do this. Even if thou found her thou could not unseal her body without sacred horn of Gwani. Long ago it taken by fiend who steals our dead from us."
A fiend who comes in the night and steals the dead? Who lives in Skullcrusher? Boy, I'm sure we'll never hear from that guy.
"I treat all wounds and illness of Gwani people. Baiyanda not use ways of human healers. Gwani live simple in balance with nature, not force on nature. Gwani healers learn secrets of herbs and animals. If thou need healer, I will help thou."
"You have something against the human ways of healing?"
"Magic corrupts balance of nature. Gwani healers learn things like prepare dried fish and use Ice Dragon blood."
"Yeah well, I've restored these assholes from the brink of death about a hundred times since I got this spellbook, so don't start sassing me about nature's ways. I don't have a comatose daughter."
"To Gwani, best way to live -- only way -- to live in harmony with nature. And so we not do anything that force nature. Neyobi ill from strange sickness. Baiyanda never seen before. Nothing Baiyanda tried help her. Ice Dragon blood only thing that could save her."
"Wouldn't a dragon, being a magical creature, count as a magical remedy if you used its blood?"
"Let's not confuse her with technicalities, we're stuck with going after it either way."
"Special things about blood of Ice Dragon that can cure almost any sickness. But Ice Dragons very rare creatures. Gwani honor all life -- try everything before we hunt them. One did live north of our village. We drove different one east many years ago. Ice Dragon blood maybe only thing powerful enough to cure Neyobi. But it so rare that it very hard to find. Five of our hunters looking for it. Gwenno said thou help people in need. Thou must find some Ice Dragon blood for Neyobi! It is the last hope!"
"Yeah, we knew that was coming. Let's go kill us a dragon. Again."
"Here, take bucket of mine. If thou find and slay Ice Dragon, please bring bucket of blood. Take to Yenani, she know what to do with it. Good luck. Neyobi's life depend on it."
"I suppose it was wishful thinking to get through any settlement on this island without having to save somebody from something."
"Our track record for saving young children is not exactly great at the moment."
"Hey now, counting Spark, we're 1-1. We can turn this season around."
Up north there's an old cave abandoned by the Gwani earlier. I'm not sure what the story is of this place, but I'd guess it was one of their homes before Hazard started hunting them, forcing them south. There's some reagents in here.
And outside, what's left of the Gwani hunting party.
"Beware claws of Ice Dragon!"
"Who are you?"
"Am Gilwoyai, means 'Of the Wind'."
"You must be one of the hunters! Did you have any success?"
"Take a wild guess."
"We tried to kill Ice Dragon, to bring its blood and cure Neyobi. We failed. It hit with claws, I smash into cave wall. I need Baiyanda to heal. Vicious beast! This Ice Dragon is mother protecting its babies."
"Don't worry, we're heavily armed. Or armed at all. Also I can cast Death Vortex, so I'd just head home if I were you. Where's this cave?"
"To find Ice Dragon lair walk north. Take ice raft to cross channel. Beware front opening!"
Along the coast, ice floes break up in the frozen waters. This would not be a good place to swim, even if we could in Ultima VII, which we can't.
Also note the adorable penguins.
Another one of the hunters, Yenani's son.
"Our hunt bad."
"Maybe you shouldn't have been attacking dragons with boomerangs and spears."
"Me Kapyundi, mean 'little glacier.' Me son of Yenani and Myauri. We try to kill Ice Dragon, use blood to save Neyobi. But lair of Ice Dragon is certain death. Front entrance is too much danger! Must be other entrance!"
"Now when you say certain death..."
"Three of us died in Ice Dragon lair. We two injured. Must return to village in shame. We fought by three Gwani hunters who died in Ice Dragon lair. Dragon eat them. Now we never able to take their bodies to Gwani death temple."
To the surprise of no one, it falls to us to finish off the ice dragon (or dragons) and get the blood for Neyobi. In case you're wondering why we care: We can't get into Skullcrusher unless we do this. Ever.
But it does give us an excuse to use the game's second vehicle, a strangely mobile iceberg.
While we were docked along one of the islands one of these ice tentacle things snuck aboard. We've been sailing around with it just sort of chillin' here. Like I said, this iceberg is strange.
"Aha! I knew it. Those filthy tuxedo-wearing birds really did have the Magebane!"
"I guess this explains the rotting penguin egg we're still carrying around."
"Well, I don't see these little guys having much use for the thing. Yoink!"
Because for some reason this was always really hard for me to find, here's the location.
Now, let's see how everybody's doing retrieving the Magebane.
"Nuclear option, Steve, nuclear option!"
"You put up a valiant fight in defense of the one magical treasure that penguins in any video game ever will ever possess, brave penguins, but I really really need this sword."
"Is that a hint of remorse I hear?"
"Nah, I'm just a little choked up at their Spartan-like bravery."
It goes without saying what the Magebane is for. Hitting mages. It's a mediocre sword, but its whole purpose is attacking spellcasting enemies, turning them into useless fist-swinging saps on the first hit.
Moving right along, we've got to find that damn ice dragon island. Needless to say, there's not a lot of friendly stuff out here. I'm reminded somewhat of Martian Dreams.
Eventually, of course, we make landfall. From this point, we could head straight north and into the "front entrance," or we could sneak around the back like the Gwani suggested.
The dragons are, of course, no real threat, but let's go around to the secret entrance anyway, just to pick some corpses clean along the way.
This guy, for instance, has some gems strewn about, and for some reason, slippers. The arrows on his corpse - get ready, the irony train is running right on time today - are Lucky Arrows.
Anyway, a good ways east and north is the back entrance. It leads to a series of tunnels that teleport you around, and also there's some bodies. It's not so much a puzzle as... well, a series of teleporters for some reason.
But eventually we reach the lair, where a wholesale slaughter of the ice dragon's babies commences.
The ice dragon has a few weapons, tons of gold bars and nuggets, general cash, and gems. I'm still a bit vexed as to how or why a brood of ice dragons stores things in locked chests, though.
And that's all you need to do. Just because they're murdered infant ice dragons doesn't make their blood any less medicinal. If you want, you can just turn around and leave the way you came, never actually encountering an adult ice dragon.
This is, of course, a total wimp move so we'll clear the rubble out and walk right out the front, fucking up the adult ice dragons as we go.
They've done a pretty good job with the Gwani. I've counted quite a few limbs around here. The corpses outside don't have very much in the way of good gear, which might explain why they died outside the cave.
Far to the northwest, on a small island, are some obvious ice barriers we can't get through.
This is the Gwani Death Temple, which isn't very well-hidden after all. Naturally, lacking the Gwani Horn, we can't get in. Convenient, isn't it?
On our way back to the Gwani village, we'll swing by this tiny ice floe where a body has some decent loot, including Sword of Defense #Who Gives A Shit Anymore.
If you still don't have 4 of them for each party member, here it is.
Back we go to cure Neyobi. Just as soon as I remember where Yenani lives.
Oh, right. In the cave where Neyobi is. Well, that makes sense!
"Thou brought blood of Ice Dragon! I must have! Daughter can be saved! I thank thee. Now, as I promised I reward thee with a valuable secret."
"I can't imagine this is any help at all, but sure, okay."
"For thy aid to my people, I present to thee this gift of knowledge. Here is the secret for travelling through Skullcrusher Mountains -- When thou dost reach this place, remember the phrase: 'Isal Sal Cra Gaas Iskar.' Skullcrusher is south of our village. At mountains go westward and follow all way round. There is a cave like any other there. But inside are five pillars and five serpent runestones and a man of metal guards this place."
Yes, we need to have Yenani tell us this. No, we will not be allowed into Skullcrusher unless we do all of this. Yes, this is stupid and not the least bit intuitive.
Incidentally, there's no way to the eastern part of the ice wastes except through Skullcrusher, because the peninsula ends mere inches from connecting to the other side if you go around along the north.
So close! It's alright though, we actually want to go through Skullcrusher. You see, Skullcrusher is the ancient City of Chaos. The one that Order wiped out. The one a strange man is living in who steals the Gwani dead. Gee, I wonder.
Yep, right where you guys said it was.
The ship itself, on the little island there.
These guys have pretty good stuff.
Really good stuff, actually. There's a Magic Helm on the corpse on the ship proper.
The ship log suggests these are pirates who got lost and basically wound up iced in up in the frigid waters.
Unfortunately, desecrating the dead has grave consequences. Make sure to take the loot off the corpses before triggering the skeleton rush, if you want it. The ship also has lots of gold bars lying around, and some gold and gems in the ship's two holds.
Gold is kind of pointless at this point, but the Magic Helm is nice.