46 - Getting Close Now

I thought things were winding down in Ultima Underworld, but they picked right back up again on Level 7 where I remain while writing this update. Things are continuing on schedule and I am looking forward to finally completing the game. I think I am almost finished and can see several story threads coming to an end. For now, though, we’ll stick to speaking about Level 6 and its consistent tone.

Fire in the Mountain

Level 6 of Ultima Underworld was the most consistent floor I had explored since Level 3. The entire area was made up of the remains of a mages’ college and laid out according to the now familiar trend of a central hub branching out into the cardinal directions. To the north and west were ruined libraries, dormitories, a shrine for leveling up, and an arena containing an indestructible golem. The east was a barren maze of fire caverns and monsters constructed by a rogue mage of the college who had since moved down to Level 7, and the southern area contained all remains of the mages’ college including students and teachers who pushed the plot of the story at hyper speed. What is really cool about the dungeon is that as I go lower and lower, more lava and cracks appear as if I were approaching the very center of the earth. The whole level gave the impression of constant earthquakes and lava seeping through the floor even though the engine couldn't demonstrate this mechanically.

[My map of Level 6.]

One NPC in the area was Dr. Owl who asked me to free his mute assistant from the clutches of the lizardmen. Since I had already accomplished this, the good doctor directed me to a loose tile in the abandoned meeting room to the west containing the Wine of Compassion, the fifth of the talismans. While in the area, I entered the golem’s arena to challenge him as the Knights and Trolls on level 4 had told me they used to do. Upon dismantling him easily with my high attack and sword skill, I was given yet ANOTHER of Cabirus’s talismans: TheShield of Valor.

[Haha. Not really, bub.]

Continuing this rapid series of discoveries, I returned to the dorms and helped a mage named Bronus deliver a book to his friend Morlock who was just down the hall. In return, I was given a hint about a secret door in an hourglass shaped room that led to the Book of Honesty. A little behind the curtains information here: I had already picked up the book when I searched the suspicious room and found the secret door without any hints. That makes seven out of eight talismans and only leaves out the trickiest one of all.

Woah, dude… woah.

I ran into another mage named Fyrgen who seemed to be stoned out of his gourd in what he described as a “lucid dream” after sniffing some incense. To do this myself, he said I only needed to light a cone over a torch and use it to attain my own visions. Having ignored the incense previously, I retraced my steps to pick up a few pieces so I could try it out.

I was rewarded with several visions of a cup bearing strange words on the side. I combined the three different syllable from these visions into one word: insahn. When used at a shrine, this mantra gives directions to a certain point on the level. I messed around with it for a while and eventually found the designated spot on Level 3 in a small section of the sewers I had explored before. After taking care of the resident gazer, I played the tune Eyesnack taught me on the flute to reveal the final talisman I needed to complete the game: the Cup ofWonder. And in case you are wondering, I did use a FAQ for this portion. I was completely stuck a little later and found out how to make this work. I am positive I would have discovered the correct location, but if I had not known to play the flute I think I would have gotten very frustrated. Hey, I’ve been good so far!

[Trippy stuff.]

With all eight talismans in tow or equipped, I proceeded down to Level 7 which turned out to be one of the most pace upsetting floors of the dungeon. Clued in by the mage Illomo that his friend, Seer Gurstang, had been captured by the evil mage Tyball, I prepared for the worst.

What’s next?

Level 7 should be finished soon. Tyball appears to be the one responsible for the kidnapping I have been blamed for. He also seems to be the brother of the strange ghost that appears when I sleep in the game, but I am not sure what it all means as I have yet to encounter Tyball. And what waits on Level 8? Find out when I get there!

Oh yeah, check out this Easter egg: a nod to legendary Origin Systems game designer Warren Spector I discovered while exploring some supply tunnels in the mages’ college. Apparently he was a pretty demanding boss!

Follow me on Twitter (@backlogkiller), leave comments to let me know what you think, and thanks for reading.

--Backlog Killer