Part 37: The Black Gate - Ultima n+1: The Subtitular Object
Ultima n+1: The Subtitular Object
No Cheater's Corner today, but that's okay, because tomorrow's update will be nothing but. And why is that? Because there won't be any more of the actual game after this one!
And they said it couldn't be done. And by they I mean "somebody at one point made a passing suggestion that Ultima VII would take forever to do." Although I suppose we technically will only be half finished with Ultima VII, won't we?
"Okay wait, the secret Fellowship base is in the fucking Shrine of the Codex? Doesn't anyone ever come here? It's a goddamn national treasure."
If you want the lenses, they're probably still in the museum, but honestly we don't really care that much about ultimate wisdom or anything.
-Lords British and Draxinusom
There's a cave off to the west which leads to the Fellowship's super-secret Black Gate facility. You would expect it to be better-protected, but given Lord British's complete inability to even notice Batlin is plotting evil shit in the same city, I don't have a lot of faith in Britannia.
"I assume this is for the Guardian and not just one of those avant-garde modern art installations. We've definitely either stepped into the Fellowship's lair or the MOMA, I know that much."
The first puzzle inside here is the prison, a series of three rooms with no clear entrances.
These switches must be manipulated. Only one room can be open at a time. The pirate and troll can be ignored because they have nothing of interest.
The dead woman has a key, which is needed to open a door along another path. However, entering the prison has blocked off the only way out. What's an Avatar to do?
What one should always do in prisons in Ultima: move shit around until you find an obvious switch.
Beyond the locked door is a switch puzzle. This could be difficutl except that U7's designers apparently forgot I could cast...
...this. Telekinesis is definitely the low-hassle way to get through this dungeon, as it allows you to brute force otherwise difficult puzzles.
"Oh hey, what's up."
"You don't say."
"The singular assignment of 'the' implies the existence of only one dragon, which is sissy shit for us at this point."
"Couldn't it also imply a signmaker who is unclear on the proper pluralization of 'dragon?'"
"Admittedly, that was kind of a longshot."
This is one of the only dragons in the entire game that has a lair I would consider kinda dragony: a bunch of valuable loot scattered around at random, and plenty of victims. Of course this is the end of the game and all that money and gold and the dozen or so gems in that giant pile are kind of useless at this point, but I'll take 'em anyway because doggone it, I can.
One of these things is not-like-the-others, one of these things just doesn't belong...
An annoying thing about the Isle of the Avatar is that all the Fellowship cronies respawn when you walk off and come back. I killed these people on the way to the dragon's lair, and I have to kill them again. The woman is actually duped, though you can't see it very well; if you squint you can see there's another woman sitting in the chair.
From here on out I just decided to use Glass Swords exclusively, because I had plenty.
Working back south from the Dragon, to pick up more keys. Eventually, we find the first real challenge of the Isle.
This guy. "Paladin" type enemies are usually slightly stronger fighters to begin with, but this jackass has a Juggernaut Hammer. The good news is, he's tied up in his up-and-down patrol path in front of that door, so we have to get pretty close for him to attack us.
No reason to bother taking that chance, though.
And it's probably a good idea. He's really packin' it. At this point I was able to fully outfit the entire party in Magic gear, without using a single suit from the Trinsic room. It was mostly just tiny gaps here and there though - Dupre had no Magic Leggings and Iolo was using regular Gauntlets.
A teleporter in the next room leads to an area where you can go south to the dragon's area.
In the area north of the dragon is a magical mirror with this sign in front of it. If you remember from IV and V (I dont' blame you if you don't), Ex Por is of course the Exit spell. In this case, the mirror teleports us back to where the update started, causing the Guardian to laugh heartily. So we won't touch the mirror, and will instead use the keys we found on/around the paladin to go north.
I love when NPCs yell "to the death!" because it's a very noncommital battle cry. Whose death, yours or mine? The answer is obviously "yours" in most cases, but at least they've left the possibility open despite being fully aware of the probable outcome.
The next doors open when the Fellowship medallion is removed from the altar. This vexed me a couple times as a kid because Fellowship medallions are utterly worthless so I didn't bother stealing it and I hadn't played Vorge of Virtue first to see the helmet puzzle in action. I had no idea that what was or was not sitting on a pedestal could alter game flags.
"This place has an awful lot of retarded secret passages. Who built this thing? Why did anyone think this was a good or sensible idea? Does Batlin have to do this every time he goes to check up on the Black Gate?"
The first of a long succession of Liches that form the final defenses of the Isle of the Avatar. What's annoying about Liches is that they love to cast Death Bolt, generally on the first target they see which is usually the Avatar. Death Bolt is hard to resist and it usually kills you instantly, which is as bad as it sounds. On the rare occasion the lich kills somebody else, you have to cast Resurrection on their dumb asses. It's possible to swarm and kill them before they can get off a Death Bolt, but they're sharp on the draw.
Always take the purple teleporter in here.
More hallways, more liches (there's one lying dead under the spellbook, as you might be able to see) and some magic fields to dispel. Since these fields completely bar passage, you'll need the Dispel Field spell to beat the game. This means, I guess, that the Avatar can't beat the game before level 5 without cheating.
Always the purple.
Several teleports later, there's some walls to walk through. Sometimes the game goes fullbright on you though and you can see where the walk-through walls are. Whoops!
There are two thrones in the dungeon. The Throne of Changes sends you to a new area each time you sit in it. The area is identical in appearance to the one you came from, although the camera shifts over a bit. If you're playing at a resolution higher than the default it's incredibly obvious, because the surrounding rooms change.
In this case we want to sit in the throne a couple times and go grab a key from this guy's backpack, then go back and sit in the throne again.
This leads to a new area. To the NW is a wizard's bedroom with wizard in residence. He's tougher than most wizards, but since he doesn't cast Death Bolt, he's a minor speedbump compared to all the liches.
His loot is extensive, including a bunch of potions and magic armor and a Firedoom Staff, but I've crapped stacks of Firedoom Staves into the Britannian Museum at this point and I certainly have no need of another.
His spellbook is more interesting though, containing a lot of high-level damage spells and everybody's favorite marked for easy casting (I'll do this tomorrow, don't worry, I didn't forget).
Northeast is a couple locked doors (and a lich, don't forget the fucking liches) leading to the Throne of Virtue. Sit in that one and...
Lightning strikes at your feet, leaving a jet of flame. You didn't teleport anywhere, though. Instead, you've opened a "new" location for the Throne of Changes.
One final lich away and you're at a teleporter to the ending. Are you ready? That depends. There are four items you must have to complete the game. You probably already know what they are.
"Well don't everybody speed things up on my account."
"Also, you called Steve a guy."
"Wait, the Avatar isn't a guy? Do I even have the right planet?"
"If we say no, will you leave?"
"Just thought I'd ask."
"Avatar! Stop where thou art! Thou shalt not succeed in thy quest to destroy the Black Gate! Art thou mad?! The Guardian is much too powerful for thee! He shall crush thee like an insect! The fate of Britannia now belongs to him and to The Fellowship! The Guardian is the land's true ruler! Bow down to him, Avatar, and perhaps he shall give thee a place at his side. Bow down to him -now-!"
Hook points to you. "I say -kill- the Avatar! She is dangerous! Cut her throat! I say we attack -now-!"
"Nice to see somebody giving me the proper respect around here."
Forskis shouts, "To kill! To kill!"
Abraham yells, "Let us make fish bait out of her!"
"Death to the Avatar! Long live The Guardian!" screams Elizabeth.
"Do I even know you people?"
"We're Elizabeth and Abraham."
"Oh. I hate you guys."
"You don't know anything about us."
"A fair point, I guess I was a little out of line there."
"That's okay, everyone has their moments."
"Though to get back to the matter at hand, we were just about to set upon and murder you."
"So be it! The Fellowship hereby sentences the Avatar to immediate death! Kill her now!"
"Hold it! I have incontrovertible evidence that that isn't going to happen. You're four underequipped NPCs and an invincible fat guy who casts the occasional Fire and Lightning Bolt. Hook is using a freaking lightning whip without a shield, for crying out loud! I've still got half a dozen Glass Swords, the Black Sword in reserve, an extra Juggernaut hammer, and that's just me! I also have four ridiculously well-equipped companions whose stats, though meager set against mine, easily outclass any of yours. And if all of that wasn't enough, I also could pop open a spellbook and cast Mass Death, which would kill everyone except Batlin who would just run away immediately. So not only is defeating me exceptionally unlikely even in desperate circumstances, it's literally an unthinkable impossibility! But I won't need any of those things, because I have a weapon on hand so powerful that it can defeat all of you without any of us so much as firing a shot or unsheathing a blade!"
"Urk... She... she's bluffing! No one has a weapon that powerful."
And there we are in front of the Black Gate. Now we just need to disable the shielding. Coincidentally, there are three shapes here, which would fit a tetrahedron, sphere, and cube.
And wouldn't ya know it, they work! Each weakens the field a little until at last...
...only the Black Gate itself stands.
"So, Avatar! The moment of truth has come! You can destroy the Black Gate, but you will never return to your beloved Earth. Or you can come through now and go home! It is your choice!"
"And then you'll come through and destroy Britannia."
"Precisely! Everybody wins!"
"Yeah, I can just imagine how that would turn out..."
"But as much as this place sucks and is lame, I'm not about to hand it over to you."
"Bitch, this is Steve's house."
"Are you sure there's not a more subtle way of doing this?"
"If I learned anything from my trip to Mars, it's that the most direct and violent solution is the best. Prepare to get exploded, gate!"
The gate pulses...
The Guardian does his best Marcel Marceau act, but it lacks a certain gravitas.
Seeing Rudyom's Wand in the hands of a dangerous lunatic like Steve understandably causes him some concern.
"Yeah yeah, that's what my mother always said."
"It always comes as a pleasant surprise when you suddenly turn a one-eighty and decide to save us all."
"If I didn't exist to save you guys from yourselves, what would you do?"
"I don't know, try to solve our own problems without the help of a magical jerk from beyond space and time?"
"Exactly. And we can never, ever allow that to happen."
"That sounds like the plot for a sequel!"
"Eh, it's more of a proof of concept, you know? I was thinking we'd go somewhere entirely different where my presence doesn't make a whole lot of sense, and then I'd dump you in some completely unrelated place while I work on Britannia again."
"Yeah, but if you wanted to go to Earth, you probably could."
"Earth sucks and you know it."
"Yeah, but on the plus side, there's no Iolo there."
"Let's never fight again."
"My God, do you people even listen to yourselves talk? Screw this, I'll see you assholes in the sequel. Peace."
The Black Gate is destroyed.
The Guardian has been stopped.
The Fellowship went back to school and became honor students.
Steve and her companions were promptly kicked out of Britannia as soon as Lord British heard about the Serpent Isle. Extensive amounts of money, mostly donated by the Avatar, were raised to fund the