Part 17: The Black Gate - How Owen Got His Back Grooved
How Owen Got His Back Grooved
We're going to ruin somebody's life before lunch today. To the shippery-thing-place!
Nobody will mind if we take this. I'm reminded of a nursery rhyme here.
Owen's not in right now. I just realized it's still 6:30 in the morning, so I guess he wouldn't be.
There are a bunch of copies of Owen's book, though.
I have the sneaking suspicion this is his house. Who has a gigantic ham for breakfast?
You see a young man dressed in an expensive tunic. He is very serious.
"Are you that famous shipwright guy?"
"My name, Avatar, is Owen. It is a name I suspect thou shalt be hearing more of in the future." He looks you in the eye and speaks without the slightest trace of modesty. "I am," he says, "the greatest shipwright in the history of Minoc. I am the greatest shipwright who has ever lived! And dost thou know how I became that way? I shall tell thee! I started to hear a voice in mine head! Oh, I know that thou shalt think me mad..."
"Well, given that you just told us that completely out of the blue, yes, I suppose I would think that."
"These were not the voices of anyone I have ever known. But still these voices had a profound effect on me... After searching for a meaning to this voice - which proved difficult, for how dost thou tell someone, especially a stranger, that thou art hearing a voice in thine head - I came across The Fellowship. They taught me what the voice was."
"Yes, what did they tell you, Owen?"
"This was the voice of reason within mine own mind which sought to guide my life in its proper direction. The Fellowship taught me how to trust this voice and heed what it says. And thou canst see the results in mine own life! I have mastered my craft and advanced the techniques of ship-building through the methods I have devised. I have even written a book describing the advances I have made in the methods of ship-building. It is very advanced but I have tried to write it so that it is accessible to the layman. Wouldst thou be interested in purchasing a copy?"
"Hmph! I suppose that it would be beyond thy comprehension, anyway. Despite all this business with murders, I must confess that I love it here. This is the place where I was born. They love me. They are going to be building a monument here in mine honor. I suppose I have been worthy of it, but still I can't help but be flattered."
"You've got quite an opinion of yourself, don't you?"
"My friend, there was a time when I thought that my life was at its end. I felt as though I had been swallowed into a cold, deep hole of darkness. My very soul felt as though it had sunk into a place into which no light could enter... Soon after I discovered The Fellowship. The difference that it made in my life was miraculous."
"Sounds like a fantastic coincidence."
"Avatar, perhaps he saw something?"
"Oh, right. Ever see a man with a hook, or a ship called the Crown Jewel?"
"Why, yes. The Crown Jewel was in town and left early this morning. It was scheduled to sail for Paws. And I saw a man with a hook for a hand wandering around town last night."
"And this hasn't struck you as in any way even slightly suspicious?"
"I suspect, master, that we could probably gut this fool in broad daylight and wander off, and no one in Minoc would catch on for days."
"We could, but I have an even more delightful plan."
People in Minoc have mixed feelings about Owen's prowess. But mostly it's whether he deserves a monument. There's a fellow out in the woods southeast of town who has a harsher opinion.
In the hut is a set of ship plans. Seems pretty basic, but then again I'm not a shipwright.
You see a mountain man who appears to have been in the wilderness a long time. He gives you a long look, then he snorts and looks away.
"What dost thou want? Leave me alone, and get out of me house!"
"Uh, I don't think you quite realize who it is rifling through your underwear crate, but I'm the goddamn Avatar here, buddy."
"I am not in the habit of speakin' to strangers but seein' as how thou dost not appear to be very intelligent, I shall humor thee for now. My name is Karl, formerly of Minoc."
"Do not ask me of Minoc, the filthy little town of Fellowship fools, casual murders and monuments to incompetence. I do not even live here and I would not if thou didst pay me!"
"We have met many who feel the same about Owen, but it seems you are harsher than most, Karl."
"Owen, the shipwright, dost deserve to have a monument built to him. It should be in the shape of a gallows and it should have him hanging from it."
"Whoa. What brought that on?"
"My brother - mine only family in the world - served aboard a ship built by Owen. The ship was one of several that sank three years ago during the first storm it ever encountered. My brother went down with it and was never seen again. I confronted Owen with this and he denied that it had anything to do with his workmanship. I returned that night and stole the plans he had drafted, so at least no other ships would ever be built like them again. But it left me so angry at the world that I knew I could not live among people ever again. I went away to live up in the mountains. The only times I ever come back are to fetch a few supplies and maybe have a drink of Rutherford's fine ale once in a while."
"But ships sink all the time, man! You can't just blame the shipwright for that!"
"Three other ships that were built from Owen's basic designs all sunk within the first year of their launch. Over a dozen lives were lost due to that vainglorious bastard! I still have those plans up in my cabin. Every once in a while I try to figure them out. I suspect no one in town, save for Owen himself, could understand them. Maybe Julia, the tinker, would be able to shed some light on them. But she would never listen to an old mountain man like me."
Or maybe she would (pictured: Xanthia and her candleabra obsession)! Oh, and there's a dead rabbit stashed in some drawers here in the Artisan's Guild. I forgot to get a screenshot, but the corpse has some Starbursts in it, which are items you can throw (like darts) that explode. Not all that strong, but cool.
"May I see them?" She examines every line of the plans carefully. "These designs are unsound. Ships built to these specifications will easily capsize and sink. Thou shouldst show these plans to the Mayor."
You show the Mayor the plans Owen had drawn, making sure to carefully point out the flaws discovered by Julia. The Mayor is aghast."This is terrible! No one must see this! It would ruin Owen and cause irreparable damage to our town if it became known that our shipwright caused those deaths! But very few suspect the deaths are attributable to Owen's shipbuilding! We can destroy the plans and the truth would never get out! It would save the town from disgrace and possible ruin!"
"Are you listening to yourself? People are dying. I don't exactly know how, the oceans in this world seem to be about a foot and a half deep in most cases and you could swim for five minutes and hit land, but still, jeez."
"Then again, the ships Owen builds will continue to sink. It would harm Minoc even more if it were to become known as the place where the "death ships" are made. A town that built a monument to an incompetent. There are no two ways about it. The statue must be stopped. I am hereby cancelling the erection of the statue."
"Well gee, you think?"
"Oh, and...er, Avatar... couldst thou please go inform Owen of this bad news for me? I am a bit busy at the moment. Besides, I think he will take it much better hearing it from thee."
"You've got some funny ideas, sir."
And so it's back to tell Owen the
"Apparently, building the greatest ships to ever set sail in history and all that that has done for Minoc are no longer enough! No! Thanks to that pompous idiot of a mayor I am denied the rightful tribute of which I have proven myself more than worthy. Design flaws, bah! How many ships has Mayor Burnside built in his miserable little life?!"
"Okay one, that's a terrible argument. Like, from a debate perspective, it's just unsound. Two, your ships have killed people. I mean I've killed people too, but I meant to do it so I don't feel particularly guilty."
"And why should you?"
"But that's not the point here."
You tell him about the many innocent civilians who lost their lives on the ship he built. Owen shakes his head slowly. "I do not know. I have no idea how it could have happened. It is difficult to conceive of the pain such great loss of life brings into this world. But I did my best when I built those ships. I did not want those men to die. Thou must believe me." Owen appears distressed. "The tribute to me is now no more than a tombstone."
"Funny choice of words."
"I know! My work will stand as my monument! My name will endure long after any statue has worn away to dust! People will remember -me-, I promise thee that!" And, with a dramatic flourish, Owen produces a dagger. Before you can stop him, he plunges it into his chest. He coughs loudly as blood spurts from his mouth, soaking his fine linen tunic in wine-red guilt. After a moment, it is all over. Owen, the greatest shipwright who ever lived, is dead.
"Is he dead or just bleeding out?"
"No, he's dead."
"What a dumbass."
"And now for phase 2."
"Phase 2 of what?"
"Wow, would you look at that, a corpse I can tell you actually didn't have anything to do with creating."
"I hope that you can resurrect him, LB."
"Why yes, of course!"
"Wh... what happened?"
"Your monument was cancelled."
"And then you did that. Hey LB! Little help here!"
Many Hours Later...
"'I won't do it again,'" he says. "'I really mean it this time, Steve.'" He says. You'll be having a good fucking morning tomorrow, buddy."
The mines in Minoc aren't particularly interesting at first glance. You're never required to go there in the main plot, but it's not as uninteresting as you might think.
The first stop, however, is the mine's office, just outside Minoc.
The key in the desk...
...opens this chest in the office. What's this? Silver Serpent Venom? Isn't that an illegal drug? Why would the Britannian Mining Company have a whole crate full of it?
"It would appear that they have been mining a most curious substance. It is referred to only as B.R."
"Yeah, because we've never encountered a strange mineral with the initials B.R. before."
"We certainly don't have a magical wand that can explode B.R."
"If we only knew what it was!"
You may be wondering what the hell this entrance is doing here. You can't enter this way (without laying down planks or something, maybe), and a ship won't fit. This is the old entrance of Covetous (which is what the Minoc mine essentially is), which as you may or may not recall from Ultima V was located on the ocean mountainside near Minoc.
This is the "real" entrance.
Right up here. I only am showing this off because I honestly could not find it for about 10 straight minutes and wandered all the way up and down the river before Shamino informed me this particular cave was the mine. And he was actually right this time! Go figure.
That's Mikos, the mine foreman. Nothing much to say... yet.
"Gunpowder and illicit drugs don't strike me as mining supplies."
"Maybe you're just not mining the right way."
A sealed door! I'm sure we were meant to go in here.
Sadly, it turns out this door is legitimately locked; it leads to a small segment of Covetous that is still overrun by monsters. Or a monster, anyway; I saw one troll, that's about it. It's noteworthy only because there's a Magic Gorget here.
The one and only "official" miner in the mine is a gargoyle. I'm not sure how much mining you can accomplish with one guy, especially in the state this poor bastard is in.
You see a wingless gargoyle with a terrible skin disease. It looks as if his face is falling off in patches.
"Uh... are you okay, man?"
He doesn't quite hear you "To be named Fodus."
"Uh, clearly. What's going on with you? You look sick."
"To be a digger in the mines. To be looking for iron ore and lead and..."
"The secret ore..." A wave of delirium passes over the gargoyle. "To... to be going back to work now, Mikos!... To be working hard!... To have no need to give me any more of the the silver fluid..."
"What is this secret ore?"
"To be called... blackrock. To be the lode located in a hidden area of the mine..." The gargoyle's eyes roll up into his head. He is obviously sick. "To need the venom... to have more venom..."
"Uhhhhhh, I think we're going to go talk to somebody about this."
"To be going back to work now, Mikos..."
"You know your one gargoyle miner is whacked out on drugs and slowly working himself to death? This is probably not going to reflect well on you."
You repeat the words to Mikos that you heard Fodus say. Mikos gives you a shocked look. "I have no idea what he is talking about, but I would say it is typical for a gargoyle. Just trying to shirk of his duty. Say, thou hadst better leave this place if thou ist spending all thy time disrupting the work of the mine!"
"Dude, I'm a complete ass and even I'm not going to shoot up a gargoyle with drugs and force him to work in a goddamn mine. You have issues, man."
Sadly, there is relatively little we can do for poor Fodus. He's just about gone already anyway.
"When you're making an area that isn't a dead end, you should definitely put up a sign informing people that it is, in fact, a dead end."
"Yeah, nobody will be suspicious of that at all, especially if you lock the door too."
More venom; there's a ton of it in this mine. There are also two more miners, although these gentlemen are not quite dedicated to the official business of the place.
You see before you a short, roly-poly man with a pompous smirk on his face. He is holding a lantern in one hand and a dirty spoon in the other.
"What are you two doing down here?"
"My name is Malloy. Pleased to make thine acquaintance." Malloy bows politely. Malloy's face carries an exasperated smirk. "My partner over there is Owings," he says, pointing to Owings, the skinny man digging away next to him. "Where are thy manners?! Say hello to our visitor!"
"Hello there!" says Owings, giving you a big smile. The front of his mining helmet falls down over his eyes. Blinded, he gropes the air around him. Malloy shakes his head sadly.
"Owings and myself are working as mining engineers, a position we were fortunate enough to have acquired quite recently. We are working on a special project for the Britannian Mining Company."
Owings gives a big nod, throwing his head back and snapping it straight down. "That is absolutely right, Malloy." He gives a big nod which causes his helmet to fall down over his eyes.
"My partner and I are not exactly mining engineers, although we did travel to Minoc to become miners. We came here with a map..."
"It was the map that the funny man dressed like the Avatar sold us!"
"That is correct. But when we got here we discovered that the Britannian Mining Company owned the rights to this area of land already!"
"That funny man dressed like the Avatar lied to us." Owings scratches his head thoughtfully. "The Britannian Mining Company wanted to throw us in the prisons of Yew for claim jumping!"
"I was able to convince them that we would be more valuable to the Britannian Mining Company if we could come to work for them." Malloy beams proudly. "We paid nearly a hundred gold pieces for that map. It was supposed to lead to a spot of valuable minerals found over a hundred years ago. It was a terrific investment. The map was an antique, but it looked like it could not have been more than a few years old! Thou dost not see preservation like that every day!"
"A funny man dressed as the Avatar?"
"Any man dressed as the Avatar is probably a little funny."
"Someone told us his name. Let me see if I can remember it... Sullivan, I think it was. Funny name for an Avatar, but there thou art!"
"No funnier than Steve..."
"I heard that."
"Owings and myself are now involved in a very important special project, but it is a secret. Can we trust thee?"
"In that case I thank thee for thine honesty. I do not really mind if a person is untrustworthy. But someone who is untrustworthy and dishonest about it, that is something that I cannot abide."
You see Owings nod his head most enthusiastically. A second later he has a very confused expression on his face.
"The Britannian Mining Company has asked us to dig a tunnel to New Magincia! It will revolutionize the mining industry."
"They do not want anybody to find out about it. They said that bringing more mining equipment over here would just make people suspicious, so they told us to start by using these spoons!" Owings proudly holds up his spoon to show it to you. He smiles.
"Yes, it was such a special project they told us we were the only ones they could think of who would even attempt to do such a thing!" Malloy beams proudly. "Well come on, Owings, we had best get back to work. We have a schedule to meet. Owings, have a look at that schedule and find out how we are doing."
Owings bends over and goes to pick up a very large scroll. As he touches the tip of it he sends it rolling away down the mineshaft. As it rolls away it is unravelling leaving a lengthy trail of paper behind it. Owings chases after it but succeeds in doing little else but tangling up his legs in the long roll of the paper. When at last he has the other end, it is an unreadable mess.
"Give me that!" says Malloy as he snatches a piece of the scroll away. He examines it for a moment. "According to this we shall be finished in... one hundred and seventy three years! Owings, we have got to start working faster!" The two of them go back to digging with their spoons. As they dig Malloy turns to Owings and says, "This is another fine mess thou hast gotten me into!"
Owings puts his hand on your shoulder and puts a finger up to his lips. "Shhhhh! Be very quiet! This is an old tunnel. Mikos, the foreman, says that any sudden loud noise could trigger a cave-in!"
Malloy goes back to digging. The exertion from his work causes his helmet to fall off. He sighs, picks it up, puts it back on and goes back to work. Almost immediately it falls off again. He puts it back on. It falls off. He puts it back on. Malloy grunts and sighs. It falls off. Dejected, he puts it back on. This happens again and again so many times that it is almost painful to watch. Finally, Malloy just lets the helmet lie there and throws a tantrum. He trembles and bites into his hand to keep from crying out in frustration.
Owings steps up to Malloy and puts his finger to his lips. "Shhhhhh!" Looking down, Owings sees Malloy's helmet on the ground. "Dost thou not remember Mikos telling thee to always wear thine helmet?" he says. Owings picks it up and dusts it off. He pushes it down on top of Malloy's sore head, causing Malloy to wrinkle his face in pain. "No need to thank me!" Owings says. With that, he nods his head up and down, causing the front of his helmet to fall down over his eyes. He reaches out with his arms blindly.
Malloy looks over at Owings and at you, giving you both a pouting grimace.
"Uh, hang on."
You reach up and tip Owings's helmet back so that it is no longer covering his eyes. He smiles at you thankfully. He takes off his helmet to scratch at the top of his head. He puts it back on and it immediately tilts back down over his eyes.
Malloy watches this, smirks and slowly shakes his head.
"Mikos, the foreman of this mine told us to always wear a helmet. It is very important. The two of us even sent a mining helmet to Lord British. A funny man dressed just like the Avatar told us of how Lord British had been hit in the head with falling objects - twice! So we sent a helmet to him."
It appears Malloy can no longer stand being left out of the conversation. "It was -mine- idea to send Lord British the helmet," he says proudly. "While we have not yet heard back from him about it I am sure he will find some way to thank us." Malloy's helmet falls off and he stands there a long time before regaining the composure to pick it up again.
"Thou art a kind person to fix mine helmet for me," Owings says, giving you a big grin.
You see Malloy look very suspiciously at Owings's helmet. "Thou art wearing mine hat!" He lets out a growling "Hmmmf!" and snatches Owings's helmet off of his head. Malloy removes his helmet, casually tossing it to the ground. He then puts Owings's helmet on. It fits him perfectly. Malloy flashes you both a big condescending smile. With a curt nod he turns to go back to work.
Owings looks at Malloy and then back to you. He is very confused. "That was not very nice, Malloy! Thou didst take mine hat!" Owings's face is covered with a large frown. His lower lip starts to tremble. Owings reaches over and takes the mining helmet off Malloy's head so carefully that he does not notice. Owings puts the helmet back on with a little sneaky laugh of triumph. Pointing to the hat he taps Malloy on the back to let him know what he's done.
Malloy stops digging and goes to stand up. As he does this he hits his head on the ceiling. Once again it makes a loud knocking noise. Malloy says "Oooooh!" After shaking his head clear, he slowly steps toward Owings. He is quite angry - so angry that he does not notice that he has stepped into the other helmet and it is stuck onto his foot. Taking his spoon he whaps Owings in the nose with it.
Upon getting hit in the nose, Owings jerks his head back, causing his helmet to fall off. "Ooh! Mine helmet!" he cries.
Malloy is so angry that he can no longer contain himself. "That is not thine helmet! It is mine helmet!" he shouts. This sends a thunderous echo down the mineshaft. You can feel a shower of falling dust and rocks. There is a low rumble and an ominous vibration of the earth. Owings and Malloy are so scared that in their panic they run right into each other. Malloy's foot - the one with the helmet stuck on it - slides out from under him and he lands on his posterior. Both cover their heads in anticipation of a massive cave-in. After a few moments of fearful anticipation, the tremor subsides. The tunnel is still standing, none the worse for wear.
"I thought I was done for!" says Owings. With that, a large piece of rock falls from the ceiling and lands squarely on Owings's head. It makes a loud knocking noise. Owings starts to pout and cry very childishly.
Malloy points at Owings and laughs until tears run down his face. Glancing up at the ceiling, Malloy starts feeling around for his helmet. Finally, feeling underneath himself, he pulls out his helmet, on top of which he had fallen! Looking at the hat, Malloy discovers that his bulk has crumpled it. It is ruined. He puts it on anyway, looking most ridiculous, and his tears of laughter turn to tears of sorrow. Now, both of them break down into fits of childish bawling. Malloy looks at Owings and says "This is another fine mess thou hast gotten us into!" Malloy kicks out with his foot, trying to dislodge the helmet which is stuck there. He looks at Owings and pouts, "Why dost thou not do something to help me?!"
Owings grabs the helmet on Malloy's foot and attempts to dislodge it. After several fierce tugs it comes off with a loud popping noise. Owings pulls the helmet right into his own face and this makes a loud knocking noise.
Malloy goes hurling backwards, crying out in panic. He smacks the back of his head on the rock wall behind him. He takes off his crumpled helmet and points to it. "A good thing I was wearing this or I might have been hurt!" With that a loose rock tumbles down from the ceiling landing squarely on his head. Malloy says "Ooooooh!" Owings breaks into a giggling fit. Malloy flashes you an incredulous pouting grimace.
"Um... we're just going to see ourselves out."
Owings and Malloy, both unable to stop their crying, wave goodbye.
And now for the little secret. There's an invisible/hidden tunnel through the wall here, leading south...
To a mining machine. Double-click the machine and it mines you a piece of blackrock. And another. And another. As many as you want, really. Certainly as many as Iolo can carry, which is my metric for this sort of thing.
There are other machines in the mine. The iron ore one is kind of pointless, but the one that mines lead is fun. Since lead is as good as gold if you have the ability to cast Create Gold, this is an effectively limitless (if extremely slow-paced) source of cash.
"Hey Kessler! We found some venom."
"Don't hold out on... I mean, yes, yes, of course! For my research!"
"I think this should help a lot."
"Jesus CHRIST, how many vials is this? A dozen... two dozen... 25!?"
"We found it in a mine!"
"Oh man, I love you guys! Do you have any idea what the street value of this shit is?"
"I mean, uh, thank you very much, gentle Avatar! This will help me resolve the problem of unknown venom supplies floating around the kingdom!"
"That's a lot of money."
"Don't worry, I'll have plenty more tomorrow."
"Wonder what he means by that."