The Let's Play Archive

Ultima VII: The Black Gate

by Nakar

Part 29: The Black Gate - The Next Generation

The Next Generation

Serpent Hold is pretty optional, but if we're going to rob them, we may as well solve their problems as well. A statue has been broken apart outside, and there are a couple serious-looking guys hanging around nearby.

The very serious man breaks into a half-smile as he greets you. Standing at attention just behind him is a wingled gargoyle.
"Good day to thee," says Lord John-Paul. "I am Lord John-Paul of Serpent's Hold. Thou art the Avatar, correct?"
"Ayup. I hope my face preceded me."
"And not your reputation?"
"What do you think the odds are of that?"
"Excellent. I have something that might interest thee. As you know, I am charged with overseeing the Hold. It is not a difficult job. Sir Richter and Sir Horffe insure that things run smoothly as often as possible."
"Who are they?"
"He is in charge of the Hold when I am otherwise occupied. He has seemed somewhat changed of late, but I trust him nonetheless."
"It began when he joined The Fellowship. He became more... what is the word... orderly."He smiles. "I suppose there is a regimented structure within The Fellowship that has done him good, no? I'm afraid I know so little about them. They seem to help many people. However, I have noticed Sir Horffe has become rather apprehensive since Richter joined. Sir Horffe is the captain of the guards. I would have no other for his position. He is the most honorable warrior I have ever met."
"To thank you, Sir!"
"He seems to have taken a dislike for The Fellowship, however. I have noticed he is reluctant to mention this around Sir Richter." He shrugs.
"So what's going on that you wanted to ask me about?"
"Serpent's Hold has changed little since thy last visit, Avatar. Of course, all of the people are new. I am afraid I must attend to other business shortly, and cannot show thee around. But I recommend that thou visitest the Hallowed Dock. Many of the Hold's knights frequent there in the evening. At any rate," He smiles gratefully at you and begins pacing. "Very recently, a terrible crime was committed. It seems the statue of Lord British, the one in the Hold commons, was defaced by an unknown vandal. Perhaps," he looks at you hopefully, "thou couldst help track down the villain?"
"I guess we haven't really got anything better to do."
"Very good. The best way to begin is by speaking with Sir Denton, the tavernkeeper at the Hallowed Dock. His ability to solve puzzles and problems is remarkable. When thou hast solved this little mystery, please inform me of thy findings."

You see a gargoyle with a very stern expression on his face standing at attention just behind Lord John-Paul.
"To ask how to be of assistance." His eyes narrow.
"Whoa, take it easy man, I'm just avataring it up."
"To be the main cause of my concern. To be named Horffe. To be the Captain of the guard. To serve and protect the people of Serpent's Hold. To have been commanded to protect the people who live in Serpent's Hold and to maintain the general order of the knights. To inform you that many fine warriors take up residence between the Hold's walls. To have little fear of an attack from bandits or vicious animals."

The tavern is actually inside Serpent Hold. Nobody else is around, but the bartender we needed to find is at his work.

The man before you seems to stare at you blankly.
"Greetings to thee, Sir Dupre. Art thou back again for thy study of wines for Brommer?"
"Why, ah, yes, my good friend, Denton. I am, uh, still conducting that study." He turns to you and shrugs, grinning sheepishly.
"Hello, Avatar," says Denton.
"Nice helmet, pal."
"I am Sir Denton, Avatar. I am the tavernkeeper, Avatar. I sell refreshment to the citizens of Britannia, most notably, the knights in Serpent's Hold."
"Is there any reason you need to be that heavily armored to serve drinks?"
"Clearly you've never hung around a bar very long with Dupre."
"What can I say? All that boat-hauling keeps me honest when Steve's around."
"Almost every resident here is a noble warrior. The exceptions would be Lady Jehanne, the provisioner; Lady Tory; Lady Leigh, the healer; and Menion, the trainer. I can also tell thee about all the other residents."
"Well, tell us then."
"John-Paul is the Lord of Serpent's Hold. He is a capable leader and a fair man. Lady Leigh's healing skills are said to be unparalleled. Sir Richter is second in command to Lord John-Paul. He is teaching me how to gamble well. In fact, he began increasing the lessons after joining The Fellowship. Sir Horffe is an excellent warrior. He is a gargoyle that was found by two knights when he was very young. They chose to raise him as their own child. He is very honorable. Sir Horffe has chosen to use the Gargish syntax of our language so he may better maintain his cultural ties. Despite his blindness, Sir Jordan perceives objects around him very well. He is an excellent tinkerer, and can repair many items. I believe Lady Tory is a druid. She was showing me how to be more compassionate than I was before. She is very good at knowing what others are feeling and why they are experiencing such emotions."
"This is starting to sound familiar somehow."
"Menion is the fighting instructor. In his spare time, he likes to make swords. Menion has been kind enough to give me one of his creations. Sir Pendaran is a knight of the Hold. He is very friendly, but I have been told he can be overbearing at times. Jehanne is the lady of Sir Pendaran. She has been helping me better my sense of humor. My jokes are very bad. If thou wouldst like, I will tell thee one."
"Uhhhhhh... okay?"
"Why did the chicken cross the road?"
"To get to the other side! Oh, that joke is new," he says sarcastically."
Iolo whispers in your ear. "Avatar, we have heard that one before. 'Tis best we leave him before he indulges in another joke."
"We don't know."
He gives a partial smile."To get to the other side. Didst thou think that was funny?"
"No one else finds it humorous either. I will continue practicing to be funny."
"So about the statue crime. Lord John-Paul said you might be able to help."
"Yes, Avatar, I can help thee investigate the crime. I believe the best way to begin would be by speaking with Sir Richter, since he is the one who searched the statue after the incident."

And now it's off to poke our nose into peoples' business and see what they heard.

The woman greets you with a curtsey.
"Good day, Avatar," says Lady Jehanne.
"And I'm speaking to..."
"I am the Lady Jehanne, Avatar. I am the provisioner of Serpent's Hold. And," she adds, "I also have a ship for sale shouldst thou be interested in that."
"No thanks, we're investigating something I guess. Can you tell me a bit about the place?"
"Most of us here are knights, noble warriors sworn to protect Britannia and Lord British. Mine own lord," she beams with pride, "is such a knight -- Sir Pendaran. We met three years ago. He's quite brave and strong. I just love to watch him fight." She smiles. "I am not really sure he will mix well with the rest of The Fellowship, though."
"He fights with people?"
"He and Menion used to spar together, after their exercises. 'Twas a beautiful... sight, Avatar," she says, blushing. "At the time, Pendaran was the only man who could keep up with Menion. Now that Menion has begun instructing others, he no longer has the time to practice with my Lord."
"You said he didn't seem a good fit for the Fellowship."
"Well, er, I mean, he would not have mixed well -before- he joined, that is," she stammers. "It's nothing really. He was just a little bit more... individualistic before he joined. I do not think there's anything wrong with The Fellowship, necessarily; but I did not expect it to be something that would capture Pendaran's interest."

Note the loot in the vault; we'll hit that up in due time.

The woman smiles at you compassionately.
Tory smiles and reaches out to you. "Hello, Avatar. I sense thou art troubled."
"You may be confusing plotting with troubled...ness."
"I am Lady Tory, Avatar. Mother of Riky," she says, sobbing. "My job is to provide counsel for Lord John-Paul and anyone else in need of guidance here at the Hold. But my poor baby boy. He -- he was taken one night by cruel harpies who wanted a child for their own. I -- I know not where they have taken him, but I have heard some of the knights mention that a group of the vile women-birds cluster around the shrine of Honor. But, they have not yet been able to defeat them." She sniffs. "But thou Avatar, thou wilt help me get my child back. Oh, please, wilt thou?"
"Wait a second..."
"Is that..."
"Wait, you mean him?"
"Haha, what are the odds of that? I'm gonna miss our little diaper-loader."
"I cannot begin to express my gratitude, Avatar. Thank thee ever so much!" She begins sobbing for joy. "Pl-please set him back gently in the cradle."
"Wait, you're going to trust me to put your kid back, but not actually follow up on it?"
"That's right."
"I think we'll be sticking together a bit longer, kiddo. Anyway, on to the crime at hand. Know anything?"
"Hmm," she appears thoughtful, "when the incident was brought up to everyone here at the hold, I remember Sir Jordan becoming a bit nervous. Perhaps thou shouldst speak with him."

I didn't get a good shot but off to the left is a blacksmith, where another knight can be found.

You see a dashing young man, who turns to greet you.
"I am Richter, a knight of the Hold. Who wouldst thou be?"
"Notice the whole ankh motif? Avatar, yo."
"I see," he eyes you suspiciously. "Thou art back for more, then? Thou'lt not trick me again, I warn thee."
He clears his throat and examines you more closely. "Ah, thou shouldst not mind my mumblings, Avatar."
"Oh but I do."
Looking down, he shifts his weight from foot to foot for a moment. Glancing back up, eyes narrowed, he says, "Not long ago a man entered mine armoury who claimed to be the Avatar, just as thou dost claim. When I turned to reach for a weapon he had requested, he purloined several items and ran away. I assume," he says carefully, "thou art not that rogue."
"Are you retarded?"
"Um, yes, well. I am the armourer of the Hold. Y-yes, thou art in Serpent's Hold, home to many noble and valiant knights. Lord John-Paul is charged with overseeing the Hold, though Sir Horffe is actually the captain of the guard. The rest of us, of course, are here to serve Lord British and the needs of Britannia."
"What do you think of them?"
"I trust his ability as I trust no other. I cannot tell thee how proud I was when he chose me to be his second in command!" On Horffe, he appears thoughtful. "I know the others trust him, and I, myself, do not doubt his fighting skills. But I cannot escape this feeling that he needs more moral discipline. I feel obligated to watch him at times. I am not certain what it is that I am watching for. However, I expect him to fall into ways either aggressive or thieving. He simply does not seem to truly believe in the unity of the Hold. Well, it is obvious that John-Paul respects his abilities. Lady Tory has told me that she can sense his honesty, but I am not without skepticism."
"Sense his honesty?"
"Lady Tory has the uncanny ability to empathize with others. She can determine another's intentions and emotions by doing nothing more than passing a simple greeting. She is the Hold advisor, often giving guidance to the knights." His expression becomes wistful. "She is also quite, quite beautiful."
"On to the crime. I was told you found the statue first?"
A look of disgust appears on his face. "Obviously, someone who doth not seek unity did this! He is not worthy of reward!" After a moment, he calms down. "Art thou investigating this crime against mankind?"
"Uh, well, last I checked it was like a misdemeanor at best, but we are looking into it as a pretext for robbing the hold blind."
"Then let me give thee these." He holds up some stone chips. "They were found at the base of the statue. Thou wilt notice that they are stained red in some places. I believe it to be blood."

This attractive woman gives you an approving look.
"Greetings, Avatar." Leigh smiles at you.
"Are you the healer?"
She blushes. "I am."
"Could you examine these stone pieces?"
She takes the stone chips from you and examines them. Using several vials of strange and unusual mixtures, she analyzes the blood. Finally, after a few silent minutes, she looks up, grinning."I have determined the nature of the blood. It is definitely not human. In fact," she looks back down at the sample and raises one eyebrow, "it is gargoyle blood." She appears thoughtful. "What is odd, Avatar, is that there is only one gargoyle in Serpent's Hold. But I cannot imagine Sir Horffe would have had anything to do with this wanton destruction."

The plot thickens! We could end the sidequest here, but the truth is not so obvious.

You see a man who, despite being blind, quickly acknowledges you.
"I am Jordan. Sir Jordan. And thou art?"
"Just the Avatar, y'know how it goes."
He laughs. "Yes, but of course thou art."
"'Tis true, Sir Jordan. He is the Avatar."
Jordan smiles. "I see. And who wouldst thou be? Shamino?"
"No." He points to Shamino. "He is. I am Iolo!"
"Of course!" He says, patronizingly. "How could I not recognize the great Iolo. Greetings, Avatar."
"Sorry to interrupt your dinner, but we're investigating what may be a gargoyle crime. What do you do around here?"
"I sell bows and crossbows here at Iolo's South. The original branch is in Britain. But I do fine business here in the Hold. The great archer himself, Iolo, started that branch more than two hundred years ago."
"I, er, thank thee for thy compliment."
"'Twould mean more wert thou Iolo!"
"Listen, here, rogue, I truly -am-..."
"Yes, yes, I know. Thou really -art- Iolo... And I am Lord British!"
"Did you see anything last night?"
"I can say without any hesitation that I most certainly did not. But, I will tell thee that, on the night of the incident, I heard the sounds of scuffling in the commons. And, later on in the evening, I heard a woman cry out, as if in surprise! I am not positive, Avatar, but I believe the voice was that of Lady Jehanne." He nods his head knowingly. "Someone has lost their sense of unity."

The pieces are in place! Now to call everyone to the accusing tavern!

"As you are all no doubt aware, I am the Avatar."
"That'll do, pig. I have been asked by Lord John-Paul to unravel the crime of who defaced Lord British's statue. I intend to resolve this crime with speed and intellect, and then book it to your rooms to loot them before you realize that's what I'm doing. So let's get on with it. Sir Richter was the first to locate the defaced statue. He located several bloodstained stone chips. The blood... was gargoyle blood!"
"No one's really gasping."
"It's not especially surprising. Should it be?"
"Okay well whatever the point is there's only one gargoyle here."
"To know nothing about that!" His rough demeanor softens. "To be my blood." He sighs. "But to be not the one who defaced the statue! To have been wounded while trying to stop the vandal." He looks down at his feet. "To know not who he was. To have been very poor visibility, but to be positive I was scuffling with an armed knight."
"Naturally, it would be simple to conclude Sir Horffe did it, but in fact there is more! According to Sir Jordan, Lady Jehanne cried out later that evening."
For an instant, you see indecisiveness in her expression, then she suddenly gives in, her words coming out in a torrent of information. "I am afraid to speak, but knowing thou wouldst see through any facade, I can no longer silence the truth. My Lord, Sir Pendaran, has not been the same gentle soul since he joined the Fellowship. 'Twas not too long ago that my Pendaran was a noble knight, one a lady could be proud of. But now," she shakes her head, "in protest of a wrong he perceives in Britannia's government, he has defaced the statue of our beloved Lord British." She begins to sob. "And, he has battled and wounded a fellow knight who chanced upon him during his hour of misdeed. He came to me," she tries to choke back her tears, "with another's blood on his sword!" After a few moments of your comforting, she regains her composure. "Please do not be too harsh with him," she begs.
"And thus, the killer-"
"This was vandalism, Steve, not a murder."
"Alright whatever, the culprit, is the last person we'll even talk to... YOU!"
"What! Thou art accusing me! Preposterous. I had nothing to do with it!"
"Your wife would say otherwise."
He shakes his head. "Thou wouldst take the word of a woman over that of a knight of the Hold? Thou art lower than a worm!" He glares at you for a moment, and then his expression changes."All right," he says, "I am the one who defaced the statue, but only because the government has become so worthless and soft!"
"Well that may be true, but there's no reason to take it out on a statue when you could just go beat up Lord British himself."
He quickly turns away from you, ashamed."If thou dost think it best," he sighs, "tomorrow I shall beg forgiveness from my fellow knights."
"No need as, you'll notice, everyone is in this room right now. Lord John-Paul, I have craftily resolved the incident."
He smiles and extends his hand. "Excellent job, Avatar. I cannot adequately express my gratitude. I will see that Sir Pendaran is properly reprimanded. I thank thee, Avatar."

We could also blame Sir Horffe and get on with it, but that's no fun. Well okay, it's a little fun.

Not a cheat, but it's worth pointing out: The people of Serpent's Hold are a reference to the cast of a certain television program. To help narrow it down, remember that this game came out in 1992. I think the pieces will start falling into place.

And now on to some real cheats.

In one closet is a bunch of shoes, including a couple pairs of swamp boots and some magic boots. The locked chest just has a great helm and decorative sword.

No doubt you noticed the arsenal of magical weaponry in the Serpent Hold vault. A Magic Sword, Sword of Defense, Fire Sword, mysterious glowing hammer (more on that in a sec), Great Dagger, Magic Axe, and another Magebane. This is definitely quite the haul, but unfortunately finding a key isn't so simple as moving that bucket of water. I've heard there is a key in the hold somewhere, but I don't know where it is. The long way is the more interesting way anyway.

First though, resolving a mystery. Apparently this chest is what the key in the chest on the X out in the desert opens. Nothing's inside but reagents. Kind of an anticlimax.

Now, there are a bunch of fish on the preparation table back in the kitchen. One of these fish, however, is not a fish, but a "corpse," which means it's a container. Inside that fish is a key.

Now it would be nice if the key in the fish opened the vault, but no such luck. You might go crazy trying to figure this one out, but your next stop is nowhere near Serpent Hold itself.

It's on the same island though, but you need to fly on the carpet or bring a ship to get here.

Southwest corner of the island here.

Inside is a grotto full of tentacles and alligators, but when you get all the way around to the other side you'll find a chest. The fish key opens this chest, and inside it is... another key.

And this key opens the vault. Score.

The mysterious hammer is a Juggernaut Hammer. In addition to doing a whopping 25 damage (which is better than Shamino can manage in this game with his Magic Bow, though it's close in Serpent Isle with Serpent Arrows), the Juggernaut Hammer is ranged. That's right, you can throw it and it returns like a Magic Axe, only two-handed and beefier. It never runs out of ammo either, so it's a true keeper.

All the rest of the loot is okay too. This would be a good spot to hit up early in the game.

There are other treasures in these islands. On the isle furthest west is a tiny little treehouse or whatever you want to call it.

Right here.

Inside are several pirates and a mage. They didn't notice me walk in, and proceeded to just stand there as long as I was willing to stay put.

Mass Death and a quick Restoration to touch up the party fixed that. They wouldn't have been hard anyway, but I felt like throwing my weight around now that Steve is lv8.

Their haul is pretty unspectacular. Not counting what's in here, there's some gold and a chest of reagents.

There's also another chest which is unpickable. I have no idea where the key to this is, and most of the walktrhoughs I peeked in on don't mention it. One of them said there was a key in a bag somewhere, so I may go back and check. For now I'll bring the chest with me. Apparently there's a Magic Helm inside, so there you go.

And finally, the Parrot Treasure Trove. Hit a parrot with a gavel and they'll give you coordinates.

This is where they lead you.

Awwww yeah, jackpot. The loot here is even better than it initially looks.

You have gold bars stacked to the sky, four glass swords, magic boots and gloves, a bag with 500 gold and a Lightning Whip, magic rings, and several doses of silver serpent venom. I'd estimate a solid 2k in raw cash from this place alone. Again, a good place to hit up when you're new to the game and don't want to "cheat" cheat with things like the Trinsic Cheat Room.