Part 6: The Black Gate - She Borrowed My Claymore Two Hundred Years Ago And Has Yet To Return It
She Borrowed My Claymore Two Hundred Years Ago And Has Yet To Return It
"Alright well, see you around LB. We're going to go ransack your castle for stuff. Where's my room?"
"You don't get a room this time."
"Oh I don't know maybe it was the little 'surprise' you left me."
"I have no idea what you're talking about."
"Really? Allow me to refresh your memory."
"They found five dead bodies - one of them Chuckles, I might add - six thousand gold, twelve backpacks and dozens of stolen weapons, and a hatched baby dragon from that egg you dropped on the floor and forgot about. You're never allowed to sleep at my house ever again."
"Fine, we'll ransack first, then leave."
"Just get this over with."
"I will want those gargoyle corpses back."
Lord British's room is similar to the way it was before, although a bit more spacious. He also has the biggest bed in Britannia. This is more relevant than it initially appears.
And this poor girl is in there a lot. Cleaning, I mean. Yes, cleaning.
You see a servant girl who looks at you in wonder.
"Thou dost look familiar. Who art thou?"
"Somehow, nobody recognizes me unless I tell them outright I'm the Avatar so, uh, I'm the Avatar."
"I thought so! I have seen thy portrait before. And I had heard that thou wouldst be visiting! I'm Nell. I am a chambermaid. I am responsible for keeping the castle tidy. Just a servant girl, really."
"What, the whole castle?"
"Yes. It is very large. Keeps me very busy. Thou wouldst not believe how dusty it gets. I suppose I'll always be a servant. My parents are servants. My brother is a servant. My fiance is a servant. My child will probably be a servant."
"I don't think I've run into your family yet, but I'm not really paying much attention either."
"They work in the castle as well. Boots is my mother. Bennie is my father. They have been here for years. I was born in this castle and played in the nursery. My brother is Charles. Thou mightest run into him. He is also a servant in the castle. Other than not being as smart as I am, he is all right. For a bumbling ass, that is!" She laughs.
"Well, clearly not everyone around here is related to you. You mentioned a fiance."
"That would be Carrocio, that dear man who runs the Punch and Judy Show. He writes the loveliest love poetry. We are getting married as soon as Carrocio can afford a wedding ring."
"And your child?"
Nell looks worried. "Shhh! I do not want anyone to know. 'Tis not showing yet, is it? Carrocio and I are getting married as soon as possible. He -is- the father. I think. Then again, it could be... no, probably not him. Or could it be...? Hmmm. That would be interesting! Wait! What am I saying? The father is most definitely Carrocio! Please do not tell anyone. 'Twould be embarrassing. All right?"
"You probably shouldn't have told me something like that if you didn't want anyone finding out."
"I know I can trust thee, Avatar."
"What? I'm good at keeping secrets! I never tell anyone where the bodies are stored!"
"WE SEEM TO FIND OUT ANYWAY!"
"NOT TALKING TO YOU!"
"GET OUT OF MY ROOM!"
"Um, yes, well. Goodbye, Avatar."
There's a switch in LB's little study that opens into the secret passageway, which runs along the length of the castle and is full of switches which open secret doors to just about every room in the castle. This is largely pointless since you can get into just about all the rooms anyway. It's not as if they're locked or anything.
The storeroom key is right where British said it would be. That guy out in the hallway is Nell's previously-mentioned brother, Charles.
You see a young peasant with a tray of wine glasses.
"You Nell's brother? Because I-MPHH."
"Hello, Charles. Say, why don't you tell the Avatar about what you do!"
"I serve as a gentleman's gentleman, among other things. Right now I am serving wine. My family has been employed by Lord British for many years. My father, Bennie, once held the position I now hold. He is the head servant. I shall be head servant one day, I suppose. Then perhaps my sweetheart will love me."
"I forgot what I was about to tell you. I hope you're having better luck with your girlfriend than your sister is with her-HMGPGHGH!"
Charles sighs. He is clearly smitten. "She is Jeanette. She works in the Blue Boar. But I am afraid I am not 'up to her standards'. I believe she has her eye set on someone else. I do not know what to do about it. She does not love me, I know. She would rather marry a rich man. I have not a chance."
"'Tis a tragedy, I suppose. You are Bennie's son, as you said?"
"Oh, indeed, sir. My family is all about the castle. Thou wilt encounter them. My mother cooks in the kitchen. My prudish sister is the chambermaid. She is engaged to the carousel manager. It is hard to get used to. I have always been overly protective of my little sister. I would wager she has never even been kissed! Not even by Carrocio! That is mainly because I have looked after her all this time. I would smite anyone who laid a hand on her! Besides, Nell has always been chaste and prudish. She would never think to allow a man to kiss her."
You remember what Nell told you about her 'condition'. Do you mention it to Charles?
You probably don't want to do this because it will piss off both Nell AND Charles, but if you decide to...
You tell Charles what Nell revealed in confidence. Charles is wide-eyed and shocked. "Why, that hussy! My sister! She is nothing more than a tramp! And wait until I get mine hands on Carrocio!" Charles turns away. There is murder in his eyes.
This is funny for many reasons, which we will not get into until after Forge of Virtue is finished. Since Steve still has SOME conscience (for now), we won't, which gets us:
Your conscience rests easy, knowing that you resisted the temptation to carry tales. Charles nods his head at you, then goes about his business.
This is Chuckles's room. There are so many things wrong in here I don't even know where to begin.
Wait, yes I do. We'll steal the gunpowder keg and whack the bird with a gavel.
Every parrot in Britannia knows where the treasure is, apparently. I should probably also eat his pancakes.
You see your former companion and friend, Geoffrey, Captain of the Guard.
"Why the hell did you just come out of the wall? This room has a door."
"Eh, you know how I am."
"Regrettably. I'm not sure why we're friends considering you never actually put me in your party."
"Maybe if you sucked less."
"When two hundred years old you become, fight as well you will not!"
"Bitch bitch bitch. I've met 19th century reporters who fight better than you."
"Yeah well, I'm not gonna train you then!"
"Oh no, whatever shall I do? Geoffrey won't train me! Gosh, maybe I'll have to ask Sentri, or better yet, just finish the expansion and get max stats anyway!"
The Great Council meets in a tiny closet located just off the garden. It seems to consist of a gargoyle (not Wislem, some other gargoyle) and one other person.
A winged gargoyle looks at you with interest and obvious intelligence.
"To welcome thee to Britain, Avatar!"
"To be called Inwisloklem. To mean `interpreter' in your language. To be, indeed, an interpreter in my homeland. To be now on the Great Council to serve our most noble ruler, Lord British. To be honored as one of the two gargoyles on the Council."
"So you're like the token minority bloc or something."
"To be unsure what you are insinuating, Steve."
"Perhaps it is best that we leave it at such."
"I didn't even know gargoyles could vote!"
"I didn't even know anyone could vote."
"To be one of the surviving gargoyles, and to preserve our heritage is my life work. To tell you our race emigrated to Britannia many, many years ago. To have settled on the island known as Terfin. To be so many of my people killed two hundred years ago in the War of the False Prophet. To be the war that you ended by bringing peace between our races."
"Well yes, but I was also the primary cause of most of those deaths. How's Terfin?"
"To be a lonely place. To be desolate. To be not what humans call `homey'. To desire to establish a new way of life for gargoyles in Britannia, and to eliminate the hatred and misunderstanding of our race in humans. To know that ignorance breeds bigotry. To be one of those who are correcting this. To desire a world where humans and gargoyles could live together in peace as equals in Britannian society."
"One of those? Who are the others?"
"To be called The Fellowship. To be dedicated to promoting good will and trust in the land. To be thinking of joining the group soon!"
"There it goes again with the Fellowship stuff. They're getting more benevolent by the second!"
"Am I supposed to be getting even more suspicious of them now?"
"So are you two working on something?"
"To create the laws of the land. To inform you that my colleague, Miranda, can tell you more of what we are doing now. To be unfortunate that most of the Council is away now."
"To be on holiday at the moment. To have only Miranda and myself present to enact this new law."
"But the room only has three chairs! Where do the rest of them sit?"
"To tell you to ask Miranda about it, for she knows more than I. To say farewell."
Okay then, let's talk to Miranda instead.
This is a lovely, earthy woman with a warm smile.
"Word has spread quickly of thine arrival, Avatar! Welcome! I am Miranda. I serve on the Great Council. Today we are working on a bill of law. When I am not here in the castle, I am kept busy with a young child."
"The Great Council supports Lord British in the legislation of Britannia's laws. I am honored to be one of the three women serving on the Council."
"Did you feel compelled to mention women for some socio-political reason?"
"Now you've done it, she's going to rant."
"I am particularly concerned about women's duties and privileges and their available opportunities in the land. Our history has been kind to women in general, but there is still room for improvement. More women could hold public office, for one thing. And I would personally like to be rid of those scantily-clad women in heroic fantasy paintings."
"Inwisloklem and I are drafting a bill which would make illegal any distribution of waste products in Lock Lake, near Cove. The lake is quite defiled. Art thou travelling to Cove?"
"...sorry, what? I think we all nodded off there for a minute."
"That is good news! Perhaps thou couldst do us a great favor. We need this bill delivered to Lord Heather in Cove. He must read it and give us his approval by signing it. I know thou hast far more important things to do than running errands, but it would be greatly appreciated. Wilt thou do it?"
"Wonderful! Here is the bill. Please bring it back to me when it is signed. And we thank thee."
"What is this again?"
"At last, the armory."
"This isn't the armory. This is the nursery."
"That's what you think."
You see a working-class elderly woman who exudes sweetness.
"Yes, may I help thee?" Nanna asks.
"Are you the sergeant at arms?"
"Oh, everyone simply calls me 'Nanna'. I watch over the Royal Nursery. I am the nanny of these wonderful children."
"I see. They're expanding the arsenal."
"There have been a great number of babies born in Britannia in recent years, so Lord British established this nursery. It is nice that the noblemen and noblewomen have this luxury so that they may attend to their daily duties."
"Whew! Dost thou smell what I smell, Avatar?"
"I believe that is the smell of diapers, boy. When thou art a father one day, thou wilt come to know that smell quite well."
"It smells like... victory."
"I feed them and change their diapers and read aloud all the books thou dost see lying around. Luckily, I have Sherry to help me."
"Wait a minute, Sherry is here? Still?"
"Sherry is a special mouse who has lived here in the castle for many, many years. She recites stories for the children. The children are lovely, are they not? Every day they seem to learn more and more. Most of the time they are a joy." Nanna whispers to you conspiratorially, "And other times I could happily throw them out with the bathwater!"
"Sounds like you're a little bitter about the whole setup."
"Yes, I suppose it really is a luxury. The poorer people in Britannia certainly do not have such a service for caring for their children. The rich do have an advantage." You detect a hint of bitterness in her voice. "I do not mean to complain by any means. I adore my work. But contrary to the thinking of many of the noblemen and women, a class structure exists in Britannia more than ever before. Taxes are unbearable. The rich get richer, and the poor get poorer, as the saying goes."
"You can tell Warren Spector worked on this game, because all the bartenders and nannies talk about taxes and stuff."
"You're rather strange, ma'am."
"The Britannian Tax Council drains us all dry. Especially the lower and middle classes."
"I never paid a lot of attention. I mean, you know, I just kind of assumed everyone existed for my benefit."
"Well, look around! There are rich men who live in opulent castles. And right outside are poor people who live in hovels. Thou dost know how there are winged gargoyles and wingless gargoyles? Well, it seems the human race is getting to be just as divided. There is no unity in the land anymore. It is why I have joined The Fellowship."
Here we go again!
It's a little hard to find Sherry, because she likes to hide under the rockers. Which you can rock, by using them. That seems to get her out of the way right quick.
You see a very large mouse with an air of superior intelligence.
"Avatar!" she exclaims. "I cannot believe thou art here, Avatar!"
"Aren't you a 200 year old mouse? I mean, that's not really supposed to be possible, I thought."
"Well, I am an earth mouse... or a magic mouse... or something."
"I guess, like Smith, this is just one of those things we don't want to think too hard about, huh?"
"I think so. Anyway, I'm doing fine! I mainly assist Nanna in the Royal Nursery during the day. I watch the children alone in the evenings while Nanna has dinner and goes to her Fellowship meeting. Other times I run around the castle looking for mouse food!"
"If I get you some cheese, will you join me?"
"After you kicked me to the curb last time? Screw you."
"The children are so much fun. I like to read them their favorite story. It happens to be Lord British's favorite children's story, too! He read it to me oh, those many years ago. Dost thou want to hear the story? It is called 'Hubert's Hair-Raising Adventure'."
"Oh we have got to hear this."
Sherry stands on her hind legs, takes a deep breath, and then recites -- from memory -- very, very fast: "Hubert the Lion was haughty and vain And especially proud of his elegant mane. But conceit of this sort isn't proper at all And Hubert the Lion was due for a fall. One day as he sharpened his claws on a rock He received a most horrible, terrible shock. A flaming hot spark flew up into the air, Came down on his head and ignited his hair. With a roar of surprise he took off like a streak, Away through the jungle to Zamboozi Creek. He leaped in kersplash! with a shower of bubbles, And came bobbing up with a head full of stubbles. At first he just stared with a wide-open mouth At the cloud of black smoke drifting off to the south. Then he felt with his paws just in back of his ears And he suddenly realized the worst of his fears. 'I'm ruined,' he shouted, 'oh what'll I do! I'd rather be dead or go live in a zoo! And if anyone sees me, oh what a disgrace, So I'd better discover a good hiding place!'"
"That's Lord British's favorite story?"
"He can't get to sleep without it!"
"I know, right!?"
One more thing to note: The diapers on the table there. By using a clean diaper on a child, you get a dirty diaper. You can do this as often as you like; the children are veritable poop factories.
"I feel much more secure now. Few realize that the dirty diaper is the most powerful weapon in Britannia."
"OH MY GOD I CAN'T GET THE SMELL OUT."
The dirty diaper is the most awesome item in all of The Black Gate. Anything exposed to its stench will flee in abject terror. Anything. It's inadvisable to do it to NPCs as it can "break" them, but against monsters or nameless, faceless humanoid enemies, it is pretty much a guaranteed kill, since they won't do shit (pun intended) except run away.
The kitchen has one of the "right" ovens. Unfortunately, it's in use, so I don't feel secure baking there right now lest my stuff get jacked by the kindly old cook. On the upside, she makes nothing but bread products all day (you can see her results on the table there), and there's no penalty for stealing them. Thanks, old lady!
"You're welcome, dearie."
Also here is Bennie, the head servant. The two of them can provide you with food and drink and stuff if you ask for it, but since they do almost nothing but bake bread at all hours, it's much easier to just let them bake fruitcakes and pancakes and gobble them up in the middle of the kitchen.
"Silverware does exist for a reason, y'know."
Yeah whatever. To the roof!
"Oh my goodness."
"A pity that all cannons in the kingdom were welded to the ground after the Death Cannon 'incident,' isn't it?"
"Oh yes... a pity. Did they bolt the powder kegs down too?"
"Errr, well, no..."
"Then guess what you'll be carrying off with you!"
You see a thoroughly disheartened young man who is miserably languishing behind bars.
"You don't look to be in terribly great shape. I'd kill for a prison cell this swank."
"I am Weston. I have no job so long as I am left to rot here in this prison."
"Thy job is to pay for the crime thou hast committed."
"My crime was stealing apples from the Royal Orchards. This I did and I admit it freely. If given the same set of circumstances I would do it again."
"A-ha! Not only an unrepentant criminal but also a potential professional thief! Looks like this one has ended in the right place and just in the nick o' time."
"I had offered to buy them first, but Figg, the caretaker of the orchard, set an exorbitant price which I am certain he would have pocketed for himself. So, yes, I admit to stealing them."
"See how the common criminal blames his type of immoral behavior on others, all the while denying it in himself! This one is irredeemable, he is."
"Figg gives baskets of fruit free to The Fellowship without Lord British's consent, I am quite certain."
"Thou shouldst not listen to this obvious slander, Avatar! It is hearsay!"
"So you admitted to it?"
"Mine only regrets are that I did not try to steal something bigger and that I did not get away with it. I am not from Britain, Avatar. I am from Paws and it is another reason why they believe I can be trifled with."
"This prisoner is from Paws! I bloody knew it! To his credit he was in town nearly an entire day before he stole something. For a citizen of Paws that is as honest as they come!"
"Paws is a town where thou mayest feel the icy grip of poverty about thine heart."
"Oh bloody 'ell! Now I suppose he is going to go and tell us his whole pathetic life's story! Couldst thou wait until I get out mine handkerchief so I do not interrupt thee with all my wailing!"
"Not so long ago Paws was a thriving rustic coastal village. But as Britain grew larger most of our local businesses moved there. We became a farming town and the seven year drought gave us a lashing that we have yet to recover from. I do not wish to bemoan my fate, but my family lives in Paws -- my wife Alina and my child Cassie. They were starving and I came to Britain to get food for them."
"Oh, now! Do not go and bring up poverty as an excuse as to why thou hast turned to crime! My father was so poor he and his family had to eat dirt. But he still raised me proper. Beat the stuffings out of me if he ever so much as imagined I did anything wrong, I can tell thee that!"
"I do not want any mercy for myself. I have admitted my guilt. But my life does not only belong to myself. It belongs to my wife and family as well. Without me they will suffer unbearable hardships, such as they might not survive. Although there are fools who will speak otherwise, the people of Britannia are being crushed by the vicious tyranny of the class system. While a few have more than they could ever enjoy, there are many who go to sleep hungry every night. My wife and daughter to name two of them."
"Oh, that reminds me it is nearly time for my meal break! The trout is supposed to be delicious today at the Farmer's Market."
"I never thought that we shouldst encounter a prick larger than thee, Steve."
"It is kind of impressive, yes."
"Fools like our good friend the guard would have us believe that nothing has changed in Britannia for over two hundred years. That we can live our lives as if all of our problems do not exist. I say to thee that it is people like that who cause our problems in the first place. While I am certain Lord British is a just and fair ruler, he must be quite unaware of all that goes on in his kingdom. Surely he would not tolerate such inequity."
"All right! That is enough noise out of thee! All day long yakkata-yakkata about the awful terrible class system! Why, the next thing thou knowest thou shalt be sayin' society is to blame for thy crimes. Not a word from anybody about any appreciation for keeping the laws and order. No, of course not! But all the pity in the world for the dangerous lawbreakers who are the real threat to society."
"Wouldst thou speak with Lord British about me? I would bet that he is completely unaware of my case! Please! Wilt thou speak with him?"
"Um... I guess I can try. Believe it or not, we're not quite on the greatest of terms with each other right now."
"WILL YOU PLEASE JUST LEAVE ALREADY!?"
"Oh, I thank thee, Avatar! My fate and the fates of my wife and daughter are in thine hands!"
Annoyingly, there's pretty much nothing you can actually do on Weston's behalf. You can promise a lot of people to mention a lot of things to Lord British, but he pretty much doesn't care. You don't even get the options in his dialogue. Oh well. We could always bust Weston out the old-fashioned way, but screw that, let's go lootin'!
And here, at long last, is the castle storeroom. The spellbook is sparse, which is why I wanted the Trinsic one, but it's a good start with a handful of utility spells like Heal, Cure, and Light. Plus, it has all the cantrip-level spells, like Ignite and such.
There's some weapons and armor, including magic boots (though nothing else). Reagents and gold, a little meat, a big keg of beer (the bucket beneath it fills when you turn the spigot; move the bucket while the spigot's still on and Iolo yells at you for spilling and wasting the booze, and yes, you can fill many buckets this way... INTERACTIVE!). But most important of all is the bedroll.
A bedroll is as it suggests. You put it on the ground and you use it and you go to sleep on it (only the Avatar sleeps for some reason; everyone else just sort of hovers above her, waiting). It's basically like the tent in Martian Dreams, and it's more useful than camping in Ultima VI because you can pretty much unroll a bedroll anywhere there's space. Nobody cares if you take a nap in the street, except in rare circumstances where a guard will wake you and tell you to get moving or something.
Castle Britannia has a second storeroom up here on the roof. Inside is some decent stuff, including a (non-magical) plate set and a gun. Muskets are quite rare in this game, so why not get this one?
Only problem is, while it's obvious there's a secret door on the south wall, it's not so obvious how to actually open it.
The switch, it turns out, is very near to the storeroom, but it's not on the same floor. Remember this little area near the kitchen?
"Do you even know how to shoot one of those things?"
"Hey, I learned from the best."