Part 58: ISLE OF CRYPTS - Living (And Dead) Legends
Living (And Dead) Legends
This is it folks, the home stretch. There's a lot to do, but only a select handful of actual important events. By next week, the horrific trail of glory carved out of the carcass of the Ultima series by Steve the Avatar will probably reach its end.
The Banes have fallen, and are now trapped. All that remains is to restore Balance to the world, Before we can do that, we'll need help from those from ages past, both living... and dead.
Xenka, however, is very much one of the alive ones.
"So, Steve, thou art the one who hath caused me all this grief... And you, my rock-brained monks! Is this how you serve my visions?! You cannot even take the words down properly! I knew that thou wouldst need me to unravel the mess that these monks have made of my prophecies."
"Nice to see you too. Ass."
"I like her more than all those other prophets we've met, Steve."
"Hell yeah, fuck you Hawkwind. Just tell me how many gallons of blood I have to donate! What am I, the Red Cross?"
"Then your promise to return was literal, Ms. Xenka?"
"Bah! I knew that if I did not promise to return that these laggard monks would drift away from the task I set them. As it is, they have nearly brought disaster upon us all... including thee, Hero from Another World. They were to watch for thine arrival, oh mighty Hero, and prepare the people for the approaching danger."
"But that is what we did! Why, we were preparing for the dangers ahead..."
"I think that magical storms and earthquakes qualify as ample danger, but then I am not a Hero. Did you do anything about those?"
"By hopelessly miring my visions in the bog of high and mighty language, they have delayed thee until it is nearly too late."
"Then all that idiotic prophecy nonsense wasn't your doing?"
"I am a blunt, plain-spoken woman, noble Hero."
"Too plain for those who wanted to feel that they followed the words of some holy sage. So my visions became cryptic puzzles and poor poetry, like that of some half-witted gleeman. And worse upon worse, they forgot the true meaning behind their flowery words!"
"Then is it too late? Not that I'm worried, of course."
"The world is a heavy thing. Once it gathers enough force to try and shake those who sicken it from its skin, dost thou think that turning back will be easy? Better to try and stand beneath a falling boulder and command it to stop."
"So that makes me the hero of the hour?"
"Do not thy companions dear to thine heart call thee Avatar? Art thou not from a strange land that thou dost call Earth? I think then that thou dost indeed fit the title of Hero from Another World."
"You know about Earth? Wow, even I forget about that part."
"I have never seen this wondrous land. I have only felt its presence upon the edge of the Void. But I have felt great tides of power being directed toward it. I cannot explain how it was that I got to the Void, or even that it is not empty... Thou couldst not grasp it. For it encompasses countless worlds and draws power from the life-forces of each one. It is... amazing! I have no name for what that power which flows toward that world was. I know not if the intent was hostile or good. I only felt the power move, as a swimmer feels the currents within a stream."
"Well that doesn't sound good. So why am I the one who caused you grief? I've never even met you."
"I was a wife, and a mother, Hero. I did not ask to become a prophetess. My poor husband took me before the great Mages of Moonshade when these visions came upon me. And those wise men dismissed me saying, 'She is crazy.' Mine husband, my children... even my children's children are long gone to dust. While I remain alive, enslaved to visions I never asked for!"
"Yeah, the mages of Moonshade are not exactly what I'd call helpful."
"Oh sure, right in front of me why don't you."
"Arrogant manipulators! Never once did they attempt to divine if my visions were true! Never once did they offer to try and cure my supposed madness, for we were too poor to pay their fees. Is it any wonder that they could not stand to live within the rule of an honest man?!"
"Surely thou knowest of whom I speak... For he is the ruler that sent thee to meet thy fate here. Thy Lord British demanded honesty of the rogues that call themselves Mages. And when that sat ill in their bellies, they fled to where they could cheat people in peace!"
"Oh. Well then... sorry?"
"I can see that thou art unsure of how to progress, great Hero... That is why I am here. Take this Serpent's Tooth... Thou must seek the Dead on the Isle of Crypts."
"Awesome, new tooth!"
And so it's off to the Isle of Crypts, the final resting place of the Hierophants of Balance. Ssithnos, the last of them, is somewhere inside. If we can find him, we can speak with his shade, and from there hopefully figure out what needs to be done to restore Balance.
"Is it getting a bit crowded here, or is that just me?"
"Well it was fine before-"
"Before you guys killed everyone, yes, I know dear. Shut up."
"Don't worry, I'm sure something will trim our numbers down eventually."
The isle as it appears on the map.
Somewhere along the way, I remembered that Wilfred doesn't have any warm gear to speak of. He notices this too.
"This is ridiculous! Here we are in the middle of nowhere with a robot, some clown, an eskimo, Frankenstein, and your original dumb friends, and you're too incompetent to even give me a cloak! Clearly you are not fit for my companionship. I'm getting out of here before your blundering gets me killed!"
"Well uh okay I guess you can leave, but..."
"...I'm not really sure how far you'll get in this weather."
After that it's into the crypts proper. Despite the mention of an alarm, I never really saw any particularly ill effects. I mean yeah there are monsters and stuff in here but when aren't there?
There's stuff lying around, but most of the books are repeats of things we've seen before.
"The altar says to present something to continue in Balance. I wonder..."
But for now, let's move along.
Many Balance Hierophants are entombed here, but not the one we want.
With this book I want to express my pride. I am one of the few that are allowed to serve our Great Hierophant and I am proud to serve him. He is one of the few people left in these days who know what life is about. His wisdom and his leadership have shown me the purpose of life. To serve him is quite an experience and I am very thankful to be the one who is blessed with the duty. He hath told me about many events in his life and I want to share these with thee. At one point in his life he visited the Isle of Balance, which is also known as Sunrise Isle. He hath climbed the mountain there to the top. And that is where the most amazing of his stories took place. On top of that mountain he heard the voice of the Great Earth Serpent. The Great Earth Serpent told him to commission the building of the Serpent Gates and the three Grand Shrines...
Believe me reader, when I listened to this, I shuddered with awe...
I still cannot believe that I am the one chosen to be his servant. What a blessing it is...
There is, in fact, something you can do at this table. They want a symbol of Balance, right? Well we have one: the Blackrock Balance Serpent!
That opens a secret door leading to a chest with another Juggernaut Hammer.
Moving right along, we take this secret passage and teleport to another area.
Another "balancing" puzzle. Get used to these, they make up the entire final segment of the game. In this case, the power of the serpent must be balanced with...
...the wisdom of the scroll found on a mummy at the end of the path.
The serpent of gold can send thee along the path to knowledge, but only if balanced by wisdom. Thou mayest already have felt the ill fortune brought about by wealth without wisdom; now use thy newfound wisdom to balance the power of gold.
In this case, we literally balance the serpent with the scroll. But I guess it's also a metaphor, if you want to get technical.
Doing that teleports us to a ruined library. One book is intact, though:
WAR OF IMBALANCE
This shall be the last entry I make before following my kinsmen to a better life. 'Tis appropriate, I think, that I use a newly bound book with the finest vellum; after all, it may be an Age or more before 'tis found -- if ever. Before I continue, I should write a few words about mine homeland -- Serpent Isle.
Before the War of Imbalance, the dreadful war that did tear asunder our beloved homeland, Serpent Isle was a fair land indeed. The land was in Harmony: our people were at peace -- secure within our glorious subterranean cities. The arts prospered under the generous patronage of our most beloved Hierophant, blessed be his name, and no citizen went hungry or was bereft of a home. We were content and happy; we had no reason to suspect that our happiness would not continue indefinitely. We were so naive. The War of Imbalance started simply enough, but by the time 'twas over most of our people were slaughtered, our cities devastated, and the land laid waste.
I have been lucky, for I have survived to write about the tragedy. I cannot say the same thing about many of my friends -- they are all dead. Even as I write, the Adepts are scurrying about, preparing for the great ceremony that shall energize the Wall of Lights. Soon, I and my surviving comrades shall leave our shattered land, never to return. I am afraid of the future, but I know I cannot live in the past. I can only remember the past. I shall strive to remember the times of joy and try to forget the ashen, bitter memories of the war. The Adepts are ready, they have begun the ceremony. I feel a great surge of power! The light! 'Tis blinding! The Adepts have succeeded. The Wall of Lights is so beautiful...
By now we mostly know about what happened, but this is an interesting firsthand account. I do wonder who brought it here from Spinebreaker, though.
In the library is another teleporter, this time to a room with a dracolich. Only one though, and it's not so tough.
"What the hell is that thing?"
"Apparently that's what the hell is that thing."
What exactly is the purpose of the Chaos Serpent Eye? The game kind of just springs this on you without much explaining. This is a plot-critical item. You must have this to complete the game. Yeah, I mean a suspicious glowing object in a force field is probably important, but the game doesn't go out of the way to tell you this until the very end when the Great Earth Serpent makes you look like an idiot.
So pick it up.
Teleporting through the wall behind the eye takes you to a crypt. They sure did a good enough job of hiding the last of the Great Hierophants, didn't they?
"Awesome. You guys wanna see a dead body?"
"See one? I am one."
"Or several of them, anyway."
"Well, crack that coffin open."
And that's when we wake up ol' deady here. I'm not sure what 'personal objects' you need to commune with the Balance Hierophant, but it's probably any of the Staff, Armor, and Crown of the Serpent. You need all three to move on past this point, anyway, so get them first and save yourself some trips.
"At last, I am awakened from the slumber of death. I know thee, for the Great Earth Serpent hath whispered to me of thee. Welcome, noble Avatar! Thou hast arrived on the very brink of disaster. It is up to thee to restore the land to its needful Balance. I see that thou art equipped with the Serpent Staff, the Serpent Armour and the Serpent Crown. Now I must tell thee what must be done..."
"I assume you haven't got a lot of time."
"That is correct. Summoning his shade will not last long. We must be quick."
"So the snake guy talking in my head is..."
"Dost thou not recognize Him? 'Twas he whom thou didst free from the tyranny of Exodus, in thine adventurings of long, long ago. It is he who speaks to thee now, in his whisperings from the deeps. It was the Great Serpent who maintained Balance in the land, but when Exodus stole him, the Serpents of Chaos and Order were left unto themselves. Thus came the War of Imbalance, and when the Great Earth Serpent did return, it was too late! Order had won, and Chaos was divided into the crippled Banes!"
"We'd guessed about the Banes and the Chaos Serpent."
"Hear wisdom! The Banes of Chaos are not thine enemy, nor are they evil in themselves. It is their disunity which hath driven them into cruel insanity. Before the land can again live in Balance, the Banes must once more become the Chaos Serpent, united and intelligent. The way to do this is the secret held by the Chaos Hierophant. Now thou must seek him out!"
"You mean you don't know?"
"How do you get a job like this and not know stuff like that?"
"Can it, guys. The old man might be able to help us find the Chaos Hierophant."
"Be warned, Avatar. None but thou can prevail against the Imbalance. And time grows short... Such knowledge as the restoration of the serpent was for the Chaos Hierophant only. As with me, thou must wrest him from his last slumber to reveal his truths to thee... but alas, he was killed in the War, and I know not where his remains lie. Yet I must hope that thou shalt find his burial site... or all is lost."
"Then what do we do?"
"If by some miracle thou art able to make the Chaos Serpent whole, then hasten to the Grand Shrine of Balance. Only there canst thou complete thy work, and end the plagues which afflict this land. Remember to bear each of the symbols of power upon thy person, or thou shalt not enter the most sacred precincts therein."
"Alright then. Seeya."
"Do not be hasty, Avatar! I can only speak to thee this once! Art thou sure that thou dost understand all that I have said?"
"Yeah yeah, we got it."
"I must go now -- into the Void! My blessings are given to thee, Hero from Another World! Hail to Balance!"
"And then he disappeared in a flash of blue and red fire. It was pretty cool."
"We know, we were there. It happened ten minutes ago."
"Hey uh, are we just gonna leave Wilfred?"
Our next stop is the Temple of Tolerance again. Unfortunately even going near this place will kill Mortegro off, so we gotta be quick and exploit Serpent Bond. This will have unforseen consequences in a moment.
And why are we here? Because we need something that belongs to the Chaos Hierophant. And old man Sethys here might just be the guy.
We spoke with him before, but he was hostile to us before. I'm not sure what changes his attitude. I think it's just plot flags, or it might be possession of the Chaos Serpent Eye, which makes a degree of sense.
"Thou art late! I have been waiting for thee for a very long time..."
"You... don't remember the last time we met?"
"How canst thou have forgotten? It is time for us to bring the key to the Master."
"I think all his time cooped up in here has left him a little messed up, Steve."
"Why, I have been in this place for... centuries, it doth seem. This place must have preserved me to fulfill my duty. Only I know where our Master lies, dear friend, for I am the sole survivor of that horrible battle. I could show thee the place, but I am loathe to leave the Temple. I have been here so long."
"Awwww, what's the worst that could happen?"
Technically speaking, the worst that could happen is he drops dead as soon as you leave the temple:
"I am undone -- I am outside the Temple, and now the years burden me... Take the Chaos Stone from my dead body... it shall be the token that thou needest to summon the shade... The body lies in the garden of the Temple of Enthusiasm, in the northeast by the Gate of the Serpent... Now I go into the Void!"
Unfortunately, we'd also lose Mortegro if we did that. So we'll Serpent Bond our way out yet again...
...which keeps both Mortegro and Sethys alive. He's kinda crappy, but better than most I guess.
And so our crew of nine (it'd be ten with Wilfred but oh crackers I don't want to wrangle that many guys) heads off to the temple where the Chaos Hierophant lies. He's actually right here, you just can't see him too well. Just cast Summon Shade right at the gate.
"Who dares to disturb the restless repose of the Hierophant of Chaos! Wait -- I know thee! The Void hath whispered to me of thy coming, Hero from a Distant Land. But dost thou dare to hear the answers to thy questions?"
"Sorry to wake you up from your nice little nap in a frozen-over courtyard, bud."
"Did not faithful Sethys tell thee of my fate? I was slain on this very spot centuries ago, at the hands of the Soldiers of Order."
"Yes, I told him."
"How the hell did you... nevermind. My spirit hath lingered here, for my final duties remain unfinished... Once I have passed my knowledge to thee, I shall be free to ascend to the Void. However, my soul shall not have rest until the Chaos Serpent is restored."
"And these whispers from the Void are what, again?"
"Do not toy with me, Hero! Though our purposes may be the same, our philosophies are not -- I know thee to be no friend of Chaos! Yet we both can sense the messages from the Void Between the Worlds. The wisdom of the Great Earth Serpent... We thought him dead, or deposed, yet he again speaks to Men -- though his power is a pale imitation of his former glory."
"Right then, thanks for clearing that up."
"I know what thou dost seek, Hero, and I am opposed to it. Chaos must reign supreme, and not be unequally yoked to Order in the prison known as Balance! Yet even servitude would be better than the damnation that Chaos now endures, with its Forces driven apart and broken. Listen carefully -- I shall give thee mine aid this one time, but we must be enemies ever afterward!"
"Oh no, whatever shall I do if the Chaos Hierophant's spooky ghost doesn't like me? You know you guys would be screwed without Balance."
"Patronize me not about that! Behold the mystery of Balance: when Order struck down the Serpent of Chaos, the act undid the tapestry of Balance. Thus, both Chaos and Order were doomed! When the Serpent was broken, the three Forces of Chaos were driven to insanity -- but so was the Order Serpent... The Forces of Chaos -- the sacred embodiment of the philosophies of Chaos -- were corrupted, and became the Banes which thou hast fought against! Didst thou suppose the Banes to be innately evil? False supposition! The Banes are only insane because of the Imbalance. Restore Balance, and they shall be healed!"
"Wait, but what happened to the Order Serpent?"
"The Serpent of Order thought itself victorious in the War of Imbalance, but the act of destroying the Chaos Serpent brought despair! With the Great Earth Serpent lost, and the Chaos Serpent struck down, only the Order Serpent remains to rule in the Void. Yet due to the Imbalance, the Serpent of Order hath lost its mind! It floats mindlessly in the Void, able to coalesce a thought with only the most supreme effort!"
"Something I'm sure you're relishing, but things can't go on this way forever."
"I shall now tell thee the way to restore the Serpent of Chaos. Until thou dost do this, Balance cannot be restored. I have no love for Balance, but I also know that Chaos cannot reign in Imbalance... Ask me these things: where thou must go, what thou must bring, and the rite thou must perform."
"Alright then. Where must I go?"
"The Shrine of Chaos doth lie within the heart of the Skullcrusher Mountains. I know that thou hast been in this dungeon, but hast thou found the secret passageways? I see a shadow of a vision -- a mighty detonation, shattering the great bronze doors. Is this of the future, or hast thou done this in the past? The rite is to be performed in the most sacred precincts of the Shrine, before the Wall of Lights."
"What must I bring?"
"The rite cannot succeed unless thou dost bring the Serpent of Blackrock, to open the Wall of Lights and admit the energy from the Void. In theory, any of the three Serpents shall do, though the Serpent of Chaos would be most appropriate. Thou must also bring the Banes, imprisoned within the Prisms which thou hast fashioned."
"And then what?"
"Thou must begin by opening the Wall of Lights, for this provides the energy source which the Rite requires. This is done by placing the Serpent of Blackrock in the stone slot on the floor. Next, thou must place the Banes upon the altars of Chaos. Thou must place each Bane upon the altar which is dedicated to its native Force! When thou hast placed each correctly, a flame of Chaos shall appear as thy sign. The time is now right to restore the Serpent of Chaos to completeness. Recite this mantra... In pri kli ort ailem, Priin ort inten mani!"
"Right then. We'll head off to do that."
"Wait, Hero -- I can only speak with thee this once! Dost thou understand all that I have said?"
"Jesus, what is it with you ghosts asking me that? Yeah, I'm fine."
"I must confess, Avatar, that there is a mystery which even I cannot explain. The Rite cannot succeed without an allied force strong enough to weld the Banes together into the Serpent. It is a greater task to restore than to destroy. Seek the answer to this mystery, or thou shalt not succeed! Now, I must go..."
And away he goes! Well, now we know almost everything we must do, but there's one little bit of the puzzle remaining. Maybe Xenka will know.
Remember that house on the way to the Britannian Mint? The one with the ghosts in it? The one I said not to, under any circumstances, talk to?
Each one is a copy of the Chaos Hierophant. If for some reason you can't get the Sethys thing working, you could come here and talk to one of the ghosts. Obviously this is a major, major spoiler since you could've talked to the ghosts 30 or so updates ago.