Part 3: The Black Gate - The Warriors of Destiny: Britannia's Elite Gargoyle Crime Force
Don't worry. In addition to a cheaty sword, Forge of Virtue sets all my stats to the max (even sets Strength to DOUBLE the max, at 60). And I'll be doing it more or less first, because it's awesome.
You need to cheat yourself up to your U6 stats. You worked hard for those stats, dammit, you should be able to keep them!
The Warriors of Destiny: Britannia's Elite Gargoyle Crime Force
You guys know the drill already. Serpent Isle added two new ethnic options for the Avatar. You've got your blonde-haired, pale-skinned sissies, moderate-skintone, and dark-tone. The portraits actually look like somebody of that particular ethnicity, too, primarily because they are - most of the Serpent Isle portraits are modified photographs, so pretty much all the face options for the Avatar are real people. For Steve we'll be picking the middle skintone female, because she happens to have the same hairstyle and general appearance as the portraits I used in Ultima VI and Martian Dreams.
Why, it's almost like I planned this...
Anyway, our arrival in Britannia comes at a rather auspicious moment.
"I can't believe it..."
"I know, 'tis shocking."
"Who could have done it?"
"I know not..."
"He had no enemies..."
"What is to be done?"
A rather large, familiar man looks up and sees you. The shock that is evident from his dumbfounded expression quickly evolves into delight. He smiles broadly.
"Yeah, that's what I thought."
"Steve! If I did not trust the infallibility of mine own eyes, I would not believe it! I was just thinking to myself, 'If only the Avatar were here!' Then..."
"I knew this was your fault, somehow."
"I know! Who says that magic is dying! Here is living proof that it is not!"
"You don't seem very mad at me for all the stuff I did to you, um, ever."
"Oh, I'm over it. Dost thou realize, Steve, that it hath been 200 Britannian years since we last met? Why, thou hast not aged at all!"
"Yeah, that will do nicely for the statutes of limitations. Meanwhile, you seem to have gotten fat and old, however."
Iolo winks conspiratorially. He whispers, "Due no doubt to the difference in the structure of time in our original homeland and that of Britannia. I have aged, as thou canst see. But of course, I have stayed here in Britannia all this time."
"Do you ever stop and ask yourself why?"
"Oh, only late at night, and then I draw my legs in close to my stomach and just kind of wobble back and forth, weeping openly. Oh but Avatar! Wait until I tell the others! They will be so happy to see thee! And welcome to Trinsic!"
"Thanks, I, uh, enjoyed the flight."
The distraught peasant interrupts Iolo. "Show her the stables, milord! 'Tis horrible!"
Iolo nods, his joy fading quickly as he remembers the reason he was standing there in the first place. "Ah yes. Our friend Petre here discovered something truly ghastly this morning. Take a look inside the stables. I shall accompany thee."
"wait, so there's something ghastly in the stables?"
"And you want me to go look at it."
"And you want to come with me."
"Well... of course?"
"Iolo, you sly dog, you didn't have to film a snuff porno just because I was arriving!"
Then there was an earthquake.
"I hope this isn't awkward foreshadowing of the expansion."
Before we can get too far, we're accosted by another person.
"Iolo! Who is this stranger?"
"Why, this is the Avatar!" Iolo proudly proclaims. "Canst thou believe it? May I introduce thee? This is Finnigan, the town Mayor. And this is Steve, the Avatar. I simply cannot believe she is here!"
"The same Steve that was responsible for the roving herd of magical helmets that swarmed Trinsic about 194 years ago? The one we only just recently managed to keep from headbutting livestock?"
"I'm pretty sure that was somebody else. I mean look, I've got an honest face, right?"
The Mayor looks you up and down, not sure if he believes Iolo or not. He looks at Iolo skeptically.
"I swear to thee, it is the Avatar!"
The mayor looks at you again as if he were studying every pore on your face. Finally, he smirks. "Welcome, Avatar."
"Works every time."
But just as suddenly, Finnigan's face becomes stern. "A horrible murder has occurred. If thou art truly the Avatar, perhaps thou canst help us solve it. I would feel better if thou takest this matter into thine hands. Thou shalt be handsomely rewarded if thou dost discover the name of the killer. Dost thou accept?"
"Isn't this something the police should be handling?"
"Ah, you probably don't remember, but about 200 years ago Lord British codified your position as a separate entity within Britannia's government. Your executive authority was gradually widened in a series of bills no one quite recalls the reason for passing, leading to the expansion of your general powers in times of both war and peace."
"So wait, you're saying..."
"You are the police, Steve."
"Awesome. We're on the case!"
"Petre here knows something about all of this."
The peasant interjects, "I discovered poor Christopher and the gargoyle Inamo early this morning."
"Hast thou searched the stables?"
"Why does everyone want me to look in the stables so badly?"
Might as well do that since nobody will shut up until I do. Let's do so, but first, a save.
On with the show!
Damn. That's a mature situation.
"Is this a ritual slaying or a really wild party?"
"We were hoping you would know the answer to that."
"Well, the first rule of any good investigation is to disturb the scene as much as possible. I'll take this key. Iolo, you grab that bucket of blood."
"Pick up the blood. I don't care what you've been doing the past 200 years, but when I'm in town you work for me."
"Goddamnit, I was not expecting you back so soon."
Inamo's in the back. Looks like somebody was a little less thorough killing him.
Steve roots through his belongings for evidence of gargoyle crime. Or something.
"Well, the trail seems to run cold here."
"Perhaps they just ran out of blood."
"What are the odds of that?"
"Well, I am carrying a bucket full of several gallons of human blood."
Back to question the witnesses, it would seem. We'll start by grilling Petre. Conversations in Ultima VII are no longer handled with keywords that you type in, but the keyword system is still there; usually you can ask people things like Name/Job, and from there new options open up to be clicked. This keeps conversation flowing in a semi-natural order, although sometimes conversation options pop up and disappear depending on where you take things. Sometimes you need to end the conversation and restart it to get the full picture.
"Art thou really the Avatar?"
"You better believe it, kiddo."
Petre bows before you. "Milady."
"I like this guy already. So who are you again?"
"I am called Petre," the man sniffs. "I discovered poor Christopher and Inamo earlier this morning. I did not touch a thing. Made me sick, it did!"
"Any information on the footprints?"
"They doth lead out the back way, yes? They must be the tracks of the murderer!" His eyes widen a bit more. "Or... murderers!"
"Yes, it's possible that for no particular reason you would suspect there being more than one murderer. So tell us about the victims. They seemed to have a lot of blood in them, but that's about the only lead I have right now."
"Christopher? A nice man. He made the shoes for mine horses. Inamo worked for very little money. Did basic chores around the stables and the pub. I let him sleep in the little back room. He must have been in the wrong place at the wrong time."
"Interesting. Can you tell me anything more about yourself?"
"I am the stables caretaker. I have worked here for years. I can sell thee a nice horse and carriage if thou dost want one. The animal and carriage are located in a small shelter just outside the north gate of the town. Right now the place gives me the creeps!" His eyes are wild with fright. "The horse and carriage combination sells for 60 gold. Dost thou want a title?"
"It doesn't strike you as even a tiny bit morbid to suddenly start trying to push a horse rental on me twenty seconds after I questioned you about a ritualistic double murder with no suspects?"
"Nevermind. Hey Finnigan!"
"Hast thou properly searched the stables?"
"Well, I'm not sure I'd say properly, but I did take a look."
"What didst thou find?"
"A couple bodies-"
"Well yes, we knew th-"
"-a bucket full of several gallons of fresh human blood-"
"Why would you call attention to-"
"-and this key which I found... near... the pocket of the body."
"Hmmmm. Perhaps if thou dost ask Christopher's son about it, he may know what it is for. Ahhh, Trinsic was once the city of Honor."
"Awww, cheer up."
"I suppose it still is. Our Rune of Honor was taken many years ago by one who claimed she was the Avatar."
"Okay, first of all, that thing belongs to me, okay? When you find ultimate wisdom in the Stygian Abyss and save Britannia from the Shadowlords and Gargoyles, you can tell me I stole it."
"I never said you stole it. I just said you took it."
"I didn't think your tone was particularly agreeable."
"That's ridiculous, what was I supposed to say? It's not like you dropped off a valet ticket."
"Well maybe I will this time!"
"There's no need. I believe it now resides in the Royal Museum in Britain. Yet the empty pedestal still remains in the center of town. I feel it is symbolic of the town itself. It is rather empty - of people, of life, and of honor. 'Tis sad, really. Then there is this murder, of course. We have temporarily closed the gates of the city and require a password to get in or out. I will give thee the password when thou hast given me a report on the progress of thine investigation."
"Is this copy protection again?"
"Goddamnit. I can't keep manuals for fifteen years, here. You're lucky I have this stuff memorized."
"A crime like this has never happened in Trinsic before."
"You're clearly not from around here, then."
"I cannot believe this happened to Christopher and Inamo. Please, explore the town! I would appreciate it if thou wouldst bring me a report on thy progress. Be sure to ask everyone in town about the murder. After speaking with Christopher's son, thou mightest next want to speak with Gilberto, the guard on watch at the dock last night." The mayor hesitates, then leans in to speak quietly. "Actually, I have seen something like this before."
"You don't say."
"It was about four years ago, in Britain. 'Twas before I came to Trinsic. There was a murder with strikingly similar aspects. A body was found mutilated exactly like poor Christopher. It appeared to be a ritualistic killing. I would wager that whoever was responsible for that murder is the culprit behind this one."
"So you're saying you were in Britain four years ago and a murder happened there, and then you came to Trinsic and a murder happened here."
"I know what you're thinking, but I assure you it was a plot-related murder despite my perfect motive and opportunity."
"That's okay, it's not like I'm smart enough to put the pieces together without Iolo handholding me."
"Well, it's true I do somehow have more Intelligence than you..."
"That seems ominous."
"As for Gilberto, he was struck from behind early this morning and was knocked senseless. Johnson, the morning watch, found him unconscious. He is recuperating at Chantu, the healer's house on the west side of town."
"Where can I find Christopher's son? Because oh man if he hasn't heard about this yet..."
"Christopher was the local blacksmith. He lives, or rather - lived - with his son in the northwest part of town. The blacksmith's shop is in the southwest corner. Christopher was not a rich man by any means. He barely kept himself and his son alive."
"Well, maybe we should revise that statement a little at this point."
"Yes... well. He certainly enjoyed his work. His son is called Spark. Their house is in the northwest area of town, the tall one."
"And what of the gargoyle, Finnigan?"
"Inamo? He slept in the stables, as I understand it. I believe he emigrated here from Terfin a few months ago. It seems that he was merely a chance victim of someone intent on violence."
Expect this to be a little wordy. The Trinsic murder is something of a text dump, as you can see. We've got to listen to all of it in order to enable the flags that let us give a satisfactory report to the mayor.
But wait! There's one more suspect onscene!
"So who are you then!"
"What, art thou joking, milady? Thou dost not know thine old friend Iolo?"
"Murder is no joke, Iolo! ...haha, murder. But really, how can I be sure this fat, ancient sack of crap is really my old buddy?"
"Well, I recognized you, didn't I? Why, there is no doubt thou art the Avatar, Steve! However, thou mayest have some trouble convincing those who do not know thy face. Of course, thou shouldst be safe around thy friends."
"Thou must mean Shamino and Dupre."
"You have a funny definition of a friend, Iolo."
"Thy best bet in finding that rascal Shamino is to look in Britain. He has a girlfriend employed as an actress at the Royal Theatre. I am sure we shall find Dupre somewhere. Last I heard, he was in Jhelom. Didst thou know he was knighted? It's true! Lord British knighted him recently. Why he did so, I cannot imagine."
"Probably because it was either him, you, or Shamino. I know who I'd pick. Why were you in Trinsic?"
"When we ran into each other, I was passing through and had stopped to visit my friend Finnigan. The town has changed little, has it not? Everyone seems a little defensive, though."
"What do you mean, defensive? I haven't even done anything yet."
"I think it best for thee to speak with them thyself. There have been many changes since thou didst visit, Avatar. I think thou wilt feel at times a bit... well, old-fashioned. Nevertheless, my liege will be enormously pleased to see thee. We should travel to Britain post haste. I am sure that he can give thee some valuable information and update thee on much of what thou hast missed in the 200 years of thine absence."
"That's a lot of stuff to go over."
"Well, most of it was pretty uninteresting."
"It's uninteresting now."
"I never said it wasn't. Still, you may like Britain. It has grown since thou last saw it. Paws is now a virtual township of Britain! It dominates the east coast of Britannia. Naturally, Lord British's castle is still the most overwhelming feature."
"Alright, alright. No more changing the subject. What do you know about the murder?"
"Ugly, is it not? From what I have heard, neither Christopher nor Inamo deserved so grisly a death. I never spoke with them. It is truly a shame... there are not many gargoyles living amongst the humans. This will only discourage the practice even more. Since thou wert last in Britannia, the gargoyles have begun to integrate with the humans. Most of them live on Sutek's old island, which they renamed 'Terfin.' However, thou mayest see one here and there throughout the land."
The Fellowship Hall dominates the city just west of the stables. What is the Fellowship Hall? We'll find out, although I'm putting off actually
North of here, the shipwright's. Just as an example of the level of detail in here, the place is littered with containers.
Some of them are just general-purpose supplies, but there's little bits of coin, potions, bandages, tools, that kind of stuff. In general, bags and chests have good stuff in them, while crates have tools and materials and barrels have food.
We can swipe the cash and bags, and we probably should. Now, Iolo is supposed to whine when you steal things, but if you drag stuff directly to your inventory or pause the game first, he'll often forget to whine about your larceny spree. Once something is in your inventory it's yours, and Iolo stops caring entirely. There's no karma figure or anything, so I can steal pretty much whatever. This isn't Exult screwing up; Ultima VII just does things this way.
Interactivity example: We can lower a bucket into this well, turn the crank...
...and here's a bucket full of fresh water! Why do I want a bucket of water? No major reason, but it's actually useful for some things.
"A parrot, huh. I knew I had a bad feeling coming in here."
"I think it's the small boy weeping behind us whom you completely ignored when you barged in here, Avatar."
"Oh. Why, so it is."
You see a boy who appears to be a young teen. He is dirty and unkempt. He looks as if he has been crying, but he sits up straight and looks sharp when he sees you. "Who art thou and what dost thou want?" You realize the boy has a sling in hand.
"Uh, hey. I'm Steve... gargoyle police."
"So? What makes thee so special?"
"Boy, this is the Avatar! Upon my word she is! She has come to help thee!"
"Oh, right, because he's totally going to give a shit about Iolo's opinion."
The boy narrows his eyes, studying you. He slowly lowers his weapon, ready to act in case it's a trap. You admire the boy's obvious experience in dealing with strangers. "I have always been called Spark."
"And you're Christopher's son?"
"Yes ma'am. I am only fourteen, so I am just learning how to best help father in the smithy," he says, proudly. But then he suddenly realizes something which terrifies him. "And now that father is dead, I am an orphan!"
"What of your mother, boy?"
"My mother died a long time ago. I can just barely remember her."
"In any other game, you'd probably make a fine protagonist, but as luck would have it, I am. Anyway, I'm here to question you about your father's grisly death, which probably won't traumatize you or anything."
"Father was the town blacksmith. I cannot believe he has been murdered! He had no enemies that I know of... unless it was the Fellowship."
"Some group. I suppose they do good things. Many people like them. At first they harassed father and me when they came around asking us to join. Father eventually joined the group after he went to Britain and took one of their tests. I do not know anything about them. I never took one. Maybe you shouldst ask the man at the local Fellowship branch, Klog. He and father got into an argument a week ago when Klog and two of his friends came over to talk with Father. I don't know what it was about."
"Who were his friends?"
"I do not remember what they look like. I did not recognize them. They were most likely some other members of the Fellowship. It has branches all over Britannia. I can't imagine what they wanted, but Father was the best blacksmith in Britannia. People were always coming from everywhere to make this and that!"
"Do you know what this key is?"
"That looks like the key to father's chest! I wondered where it was! ...I cannot believe father is dead. And poor Inamo too. It is so strange. I... dreamed it was happening. Well, in a way. Last night I was having a nightmare about father. I dreamed that he screamed, and it woke me up. I looked around the house, but he was not in his bed. I was wide awake, so I went out to find him. I did not, not right away, but I did see something. I was in front of the stables. I saw a man and a wingless gargoyle running from behind the building. They ran toward the dock. Then I went inside and found... father."
"Did you see anything interesting about the people who killed him?"
"All I remember is that the man had a hook for one hand."
"Interesting. That narrows it down a bit, wouldn't you say Iolo?"
"Shut up, Iolo. Well, thank you again kid, good luck with the orphan business."
Spark's voice falters, and he begins to sob a little. "Wilt thou go find the man with the hook? Let me help thee!" The boy pleads. His tears cease, and his face takes on a determined, forceful look. "Take me with thee! Please! I must avenge father's death! If thou dost not take me with thee, I will follow thee anyway!" The boy is excited now. "I am an expert with the slingshot! I can strike sewer rats with almost every shot! And I am small, I do not eat much. Please!"
"All very good points."
"I do not know about taking a child on the road with us, milady."
Suddenly, Spark lets his sling fly. His target, a small fly hovering over Iolo's head, is smacked out of the air. You laugh as Iolo yelps and jumps away, then curses and runs his fingers through his hair. "I told thee I am good! May I join?"
"Well, you've already established yourself as more useful than Iolo. Welcome aboard, kid!"
"Hooray!" The boy leaps with delight. "Was there anything else?"
"Know much about Inamo?"
"He was a very nice gargoyle. He helped father a lot and did tasks in the stables. I cannot think why anyone would want to kill him! I know it sounds witless, but... I dreamed that a big red-faced man was watching down on everything, and he looked down... and he noticed father... that is all I remember."
"I bet it was the jackass who bluescreened my computer."
"It's not like you were doing anything productive, Avatar."
"One last thing - what's with the parrot."
"I don't know. It says things like 'Polly wanna cracker?' and 'I know where the treasure is!' But he doesn't ever tell me about the treasure."
"Interesting. Well, he looks like a pretty cool bird."
"Oh that is it, bird."
And so Steve did threaten the parrot with the gavel lying on Christopher's desk. And the bird squealed the location of the treasure. Seriously. That's how you make the parrot talk.
Christopher's key opens his chest. Also shown: My horrible inventory management thus far.
Inside the chest is a stack of 100 gold, a Fellowship medallion, and a scroll which reads "Thou hast received payment. Make the delivery tonight." Clearly, this is a clue!
And now, for no particular reason, let's go investigate Christopher's place of business.
"Is this scene not devastating?"
"Not... particularly? I mean okay there's some stuff broken, and you left the door open... is that supposed to scare me?"
For some reason, walking into the back room causes everyone to vomit (note the vomit on the floor, yeah, that's pretty). I don't really know why, as other than the place being in disarray, there's nothing really creepy here. My guess is that Christopher was originally murdered here, and the murderers killed Inamo in the stables as they fled town, but Origin figured you were too stupid and would get lost and put them both in the stables. Or maybe it smells really nasty back here.
"Well, I'm already bored. Help me drag this anvil and these crates outside."
"You'll quickly get used to it, Spark."
The Trinsic Cheat Room
May as well get this one out of the way to kick off a semi-newish feature. The Ultima VII games have a lot of cheats, secrets, and obscure areas. Some are game-breakingly awesome, some are minor things. This is probably the biggest cheat in the entire game, and the one most people remember. Since Trinsic will take a while to sort out, why not end the update on a nostalgia kick?
What we gotta do first is make a staircase to the roof of the blacksmithy. We can do this using the anvil, which is wide enough to be used in two places, and some crates. I mentioned objects can stack in U7, after all, didn't I? Did I also mention you could climb them? Well, you can, but you need to be able to walk up them normally; the Avatar can't jump more than one crate's worth of height.
Even with the anvil there aren't quite enough crates in the smithy, but there are a couple crates and a chest (which would also work as a stepping stone) in a nearby house.
Well, here we are on the roof. Are you excited? No? Well, that's understandable. Not much here.
Unless we head to the back of the chimney here, and walk south into it...
Where the hell did we go?
Lighting up a torch, Steve discovers she's been teleported to a tiny chamber full of chests and other strange objects. Also pictured: My inventory management still sucks.
And here's the haul: Eight chests full of magic armor suits and weapons. A bag with thousands of gold and a hundred lockpicks. Another bag with dozens upon dozens of reagents. And a fully-loaded, complete spellbook. It's a little hard to see, but still kind of obvious, but under the gargoyle head is an invisible crate. I'm not showing you what's in that, because it's full of useful quest items that could be employed to win the game.
I'm not much for cheating, really, and there's plenty of legit ways to get some of the weapons and armor stashed in here, so I won't be taking those things. There's little need for gold in this game and plenty of ways to cheat it, so I don't need that either. Personally though, I wouldn't mind yoinking those reagents and the spellbook, because running around getting the spells is a time and gold-consumingly tedious process that delays my opportunities to have goofy fun with the game's magic system. But I leave that up to you guys. I'll get another less complete spellbook at Lord British's castle, so it won't be long before I have magic to some degree.
The teleporter behind the chests leads to a long hallway, which opens into a figure-eight chamber full of more teleporters.
The runes mark teleporters to the various cities in Britannia. The other objects mark teleports to various other areas, including spoiler-filled plot areas (the bottom right one leads to the final area), as well as harmless ones like...
The Throne Room of Lord British. Remember this sign. This is a dangerous sign. Just trust me on this.
NEXT TIME: More crimes, more hidden stashes!