Part 23: The Black Gate - Desert Dicks
"Okay, we're back from Jhelom. Where are Elizabeth and Abraham now, because I'm pretty sure it's not here."
"Oh them? They came back just now, they're at the bar."
"What, really? ...waiiiiiiiit a minute!"
"Okay, so yes, I lied, this tedious chase quest is not yet finished. They went to Vesper to start a new Fellowship branch there."
"And not murder anyone, I would hope."
"Well, you know, if it comes up. We didn't exactly have any plans or anything, no."
"Awwww man, the desert! This sucks. I'm going to get sand in places."
"Okay, I'm really sure I don't need to know what that means."
"I was talking about the porthold, what were you talking about, kid?"
"Now you're learning."
"I believe I was speaking to Spark, Iolo. Who gave you permission to talk?"
"I think... no, I am rather certain that this is not the way to Vesper. We could have just followed the tracks you know. We've also got a map and all."
"We're not going to Vesper. We're going to loot the desert."
"Why would there be anything in a desert?"
"Because it's an RPG."
This whole update is kind of a Corner sorta thing, so let's go with that.
"It's backmasking. I just read about it on Wikipedia. Hey, did you know if you play Strawberry Fields Forever backwards, John will say 'I buried Paul?'"
"I'm pretty sure that's just an urban legend. Plus Lennon said it was 'Cranberry Sauce.'"
"How does 'cranberry sauce' make any more sense than 'I buried Paul?'"
"It's not that somebody said something, it's just that the latter would fit more closely into a supposed pattern. Really, it's just a synchronicity."
"No, that's not the Beatles, that's the Police."
"I was talking in Jungian terms!"
"Never a big fan of Jung myself."
"Besides, Magical Mystery Tour was a piece of crap."
"Oh come on! Fool on the Hill? I Am The Walrus? Penny Lane? Hello Goodbye? What are you, some kind of tragically hip Rolling Stone editor?"
"Why are we discussing this when there's a treasure chest to raid?"
By the way it's here.
The glass swords outside are a score, but the only immediately obvious item in the chest is a key. I don't know what the key opens. I thought it opened something out here in the desert but it apparently does not. Does anyone know what it opens? I use the 'k' hotkey so much I don't know if I'd even notice if I found it.
"Nothing much in here besides that key."
"What are you talking about? There's five diapers in here. That's a freaking arsenal!"
"Yes, but they're clean diapers. We'd need a baby to make them usable weapons."
"You were saying?"
"Do you plan these things or are you just phenomenally good at spinning them?"
Now we visit ourselves a cave just west of the treasure.
This wall is an illusion.
It's also a trap, as a single Gazer thing lays waste to half the party's health. I blame the others for being complete losers.
At the northern end of the cave are a bunch of chests and a door. Also three trolls who didn't notice us even after we started killing them.
Nothing really intriguing around, just a Lightning Whip (which is a decent weapon, but outclassed by the stuff we're packing; in Serpent Isle, where these sorts of weapons aren't available, it becomes a great choice, and it gets updated art).
This wall is not an illusion. It does have a secret opening though.
"Somebody doesn't want us in here!"
"Somebody really doesn't want us in here!"
And that's it. An invisibility ring, about 100ish gold, and a suit of magic armor (but no other pieces of the set). That goes to Iolo, who has been bitching about how cold his fat tummy has been for ages.
At the south end of the cave is a rather distressing scene.
"Well just turn around and walk out of here slowly and if anybody asks we saw nothing at all."
Among the loot is perhaps the most disturbing set of leg armor I have seen in Ultima VII.
"Who wears short-greaves?"
"Oh my god, please, just no. I ripped this pair of full plate greaves off this woman over here, can you please put these on... immediately?"
There's a teleport up in this corner of the room. It's hard to find even if you're looking for it. Turning eggs on (using the ABCD alt-255 S commandline or 'e' in Exult) helps find the teleporter icon.
It leads into a tiny and apparently isolated room.
He's actually correct; there's no way I can find out of the room and no eggs that would teleport you away. Of course you're not stuck if you have a spellbook; you can Recall or Help yourself out. Or F3.
Not much of note here, but a magic axe is good.
Far to the east, in the easternmost oasis area of the desert, we meet a pirate. He's not an NPC, as he has no dialogue, but he doesn't attack us.
His pirate friends, however, do so with gusto. We just wanted to tour your awesome pirate fort, stop being such assholes.
Oh well, can't please everyone. That chest in the corner is locked and will not yield to the Skeleton Key, Black Sword, or any real key in our inventory. No, not even the one at the buried treasure.
The haul is so-so. The pirates have a lot of booze and trade goods, probably shanghaied.
This basket may look familiar if you've been to the Trinsic Cheat Room. That's because this basket is duped in there, and is the marker for a teleporter that goes... well, right to this place.
The pirates also have enough cannonballs and powder to take down Chuckles and most of Skara Brae. Too bad I beat them to it.
The key is there. The chest, regrettably, has nothing much in it but lockpicks and gold.
"It kind of says something for our expectations when a chest full of several hundred gold is a disappointment."
"To be fair, we have gotten accustomed to just sort of tripping over magical items and one-of-a-kind artifacts."
"Look, we've hit most of the best places. We've got, like, the parrot treasure vault and Serpent Hold's armory left. I can't just frontload all this stuff."
"Wait, we're going to raid Serpent Hold later?"
"No, we're going to just stare at their gigantic collection of magical weaponry and sigh wistfully like Iolo does when he thinks of his fat wife who dumped him. Of course we're raiding Serpent Hold."
The Shrine of Sacrifice has seen better days. Remember: This whole area was once green. And Vesper was once a little forest town. Then the desert crept in and Vesper vanished for two hundred plus years. The modern Vesper is in the same rough location as Sin'Vraal's hut was in U5 and U6. The only thing that hasn't changed in all that time is the poor old shrine. Though it's seen better days. And someone could probably stand to come scrub the altar part.