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Talraen, August 4, 2009 3:14 AM (edited 8/3/09 11:14 PM)

Day 1: My Unexpected Arrival in Britannia

Mood: Neutral
Tags: Travelogue, Ultima VII: The Black Gate
The day began much like any other. I was at my computer when things began to become strange. Without warning, my screen became distorted, and soon a red face with glowing yellow eyes was speaking to me through my monitor. I looked around to confirm there was no evidence of mind-altering substanced, then I listened to what this self-styled "Guardian" had to say. He threatened Britannia, where I hadn't been in some time. When it was over, I decided to take a look outside. Sure enough, there was a red Moongate sitting in the circle of stones behind my house. Who had summoned me, I did not know, but now was the time to return to Britannia. I grabbed my pack and the biggest knife I could find, and I dove into the Moongate before it closed.

I'm not sure what I was expecting, but I know it wasn't appearing in front of my old friend Iolo and a stable keeper named Petre in the town of Trinsic. Though it was evening when I left, I arrived in Britannia not long after dawn. Iolo - looking a bit older, no doubt due to the 200 Britannian years he told me had passed since I had placed the Codex in the Void - was elated to see me, though the situation I had walked in on was hardly cause for celebration. A horrific murder had just happened - a blacksmith named Christopher had been ritually killed, staked to the ground with all his limbs messily cut off.

No sooner had I arrived than Finnigan, Mayor of Trinsic, arrived and asked if I would help investigate these murders. I was happy to oblige, and I began doing so in earnest. A wingless gargoyle named Inamo had also been killed, run through with a pitchfork in the back room, but he appeared to have just been in the wrong place at the wrong time. I had hopes of a fully integrated human-gargoyle society when I saw him, but as it turns out this gargoyle was a rare exception. Indeed, I saw no other gargoyles in Trinsic while I was there.

The only evidence of note at the murder scene was a key lying on the floor near Christopher's body, and the mayor suggested I speak to his son Spark, as well as the guard who was on duty when the murder happened, who was now at the town healer's. Spark turned out to be a young lad, only 14 years old, and now orphaned. He did not know of any enemies his father had, though he mentioned that his father had an argument with a man named Klog, the leader of a local branch of a new organization known as the Fellowship. Spark had a nightmare that alerted him to his father's murder, which involved a "big red-faced man" that sounded uncomfortably like the Guardian that had spoken to me. Because of his nightmare, he did witness a man with a hook and a wingless gargoyle fleeing the scene of the crime, a story I was later able to corroborate with the town shipwright.

When Iolo told young spark that I was the Avatar, and he saw that we were serious about finding his father's killer, he insisted on joining us on our quest. Both Iolo and myself had trepidations about bringing such a young boy along, but he did prove his skill with a sling, and as he mentioned, he had been orphaned. I hesitantly agreed, and the lad has proven himself a valuable ally thus far.

On Spark's advice, I spoke to Klog, who revealed that Christopher had mentioned wanting to leave the Fellowship a week before, which led to the argument Spark witnessed. From the contents of the chest Christopher's key opened, he seemed to have been making something, quite possibly for the Fellowship. We investigated his smithy, however, and discovered nothing but ruins. If he had finished any special orders, they had been taken already. Klog also mentioned that two other Fellowship members, Elizabeth and Abraham, had just left town for Britain.

Unfortunately there wasn't much else to be learned from the townsfolk. Gilberto, the gate guard, had been knocked out from behind and saw nothing. He did note that a ship called the Crown Jewel sailed off during the short period of time he was unconscious, another piece of information confirmed by the shipwright Gargan. I took my findings to Mayor Finnigan, and he was pleased with my progress. He gave us the password to leave town, and we made ready to do so, buying some provisions for the trip and purchasing a carriage from poor Petre, who was still in shock over the murder.

It seemed wise to train young Spark in the ways of real combat before we left, so we visited the trainer Markus. Spark was a model student, learning quite quickly. As is always the case when I return to Britannia, I felt quite rusty as well, and also spent some time with Markus. Once we were all ready to go, we gathered our gear and proceeded out the northern gate. The Crown Jewel had sailed for Britain, quite possibly carrying the murderers, and I wished to speak to Lord British anyway, so Britain was our immediate destination. I had also heard from Mayor Finnigan that a murder similar to Christopher's had occurred in Britain some years ago.

Just outside of Trinsic, however, we stopped when we saw a trio of actors putting on a play. The play turned out to be a Fellowship-sponsored "Passion Play" that explained the group's aims. The more I learned about this "Fellowship," the less I was inclined to like them. They claimed not to be trying to replace the Eight Virtues, but their "Triad of Inner Strength" seemed to me to be doing exactly that. The Fellowship's beliefs seemed to be more about allowing them to dictate one's life than the self-fulfillment they promised. I was particularly taken aback when one of the actors spoke of his "companion, provider, and master" - for those were the same terms the Guardian promised he would be to me. Something was sorely amiss in Britannia.

We continued on through the Fens of the Dead and the town of Paws, which had become a poor farming village since I had last visited. We set out immediately for the Castle of Lord British. I couldn't help but speak with Chuckles, and after some of his usual shenanigans, he was gracious enough to give me a clue, telling me to have my fortune told by a gypsy in Minoc. I have had great success with fortune-telling gypsies in the past, so I took his clue seriously.

Lord British seemed well, but ever out of touch with the land. As the beggar Snaz we met in Britain had said, he is a superb ruler when a world-altering threat is present, but not the best day-to-day ruler. He seemed quite enamored of the Fellowship, in fact. He told me that magic had begun dying from the world, and offered me a spellbook as well as his Orb of the Moons (foolishly, I forgot my own) in the hopes that they would work better for me than for him. He bade me visit the old mage Rudyom in Cove, who had been working on a solution to a problem that had appeared with the Moongates. However, the phenomenon of dying magic had made most wizards across the realm lose their minds completely, so Rudyom had never finished his research. Lord British also told me that the Isle of Fire, once home to Exodus, had risen from the sea, and that he had placed three Shrines of the Principles upon it. I made a note to visit when I was not otherwise occupied. Lastly, my liege asked me to speak and work with the people of Britannia - though he could not tell why, he was at least aware of the general malaise that had settled into the world's population, and hoped I could help. Yet he was not the one who summoned me.

Taking his advice to heart, I explored the castle, speaking to the members of the Great Council and the servants alike. Two winged gargoyles had permanent positions in the castle, which was quite a pleasant sight considering that the last time I had seen Lord British he was on the verge of attacking me for not destroying their race. Few in the palace had any significant news, though Great Council member Miranda asked me to get a bill signed by Lord Heather in Cove, since I was headed that way already.

I set out to explore Britain, and see how the city had changed in 200 years, before leaving for Cove. I ran into my old friend Shamino, who immediately joined our quest, in the Blue Boar. He is apparently pining after some actress, but he didn't hesitate to drop everything and join our adventure. It seems the easy life was hard on Shamino. I also ran into Sentri, a fighter I had adventured with in the past. He offered to join, but I declined, hoping that we could keep the party lean. He did not like large groups anyway, so he told me.

I had a few errands to run in Britain before I left. Clint the shipwright told me that the Crown Jewel hadn't arrived in Britain, nor had it been there in quite some time. Mayor Patterson confirmed the ritualistic murder of four years ago, telling me a man named Finster who was running for public office and wanted to disband the Fellowship was killed. Once again the Fellowship had appeared in my investigation. I spoke to Batlin, founder and leader of the Fellowship, and learned that Elizabeth and Abraham had gone on to Minoc. He asked me if I wished to join his organization, but I politely declined. I was a bit surprised since he knew who I was - did he think I would abandon the Eight Virtues so quickly?

Putting the Fellowship out of our minds, we headed east towards Cove. It was getting late in the afternoon by this point, so we wanted to move quickly. I met with Lord Heather, who was happy to sign Miranda's bill (to clean up Lock Lake, which was indeed filthy), and he told me that Cove had been living up to its reputation as the city of passion of late. Everyone in town had a lover, with the exception of a young girl named Nastassia, who tended to the Shrine of Compassion. Lord Heather himself was in love with my old companion Jaana, who had been working as a healer in Cove. Despite this, she did not hesitate to join the group. The bard De Maria told us Nastassia's sad tale - her father had disappeared before she was born, and her mother killed herself when she was newborn. I spoke to Nastassia about this, and she asked me to find some word of her father's fate. I agreed, and her reaction was, well, unexpected. Let's just say that while Nastassia may have lacked a lover, she certainly didn't lack passion.

Moving on from the romance of Cove's residents, we traveled to the edge of town to speak to Rudyom. As Lord British had said, he had lost his mind, but his research notes were still intact. It seemed that he was experimenting with a mineral called blackrock, which was indestructible and immutable to any force but magic. He had made a wand designed to transmute it, but which actually just made blackrock explode - he told me I could take it, and I figured it might come in handy. His notes also mentioned something about an interplanar gate created from blackrock, which was worrisome.

By this time it was getting quite late, and the trip to Minoc would have to wait until tomorrow. We decided to test our mettle in a cavern north of Cove, which was inhabited by a number of aggressive cyclopes. Though it took the best of our ability, and some of Jaana's healing magic, to get everyone out alive, we found a few magic items, including a pair of magic leggings and a lightning wand. By the time we were done, night had fallen, and we made our way back to Britain.

We took rooms at the Wayfarer's Inn, and waited until midnight to investigate some sensitive rumors about the mayor before turning in to bed. In the interests of decency, I won't say more here, but hopefully the mayor has learned the true meaning of the Honesty he claims to know so well.

Tomorrow, we set off for Minoc, hopefully to meet these Elizabeth and Abraham characters. While visiting the Fellowship Hall in Britain, I flipped through Batlin's "Book of Fellowship" and learned that these two, hardly rank-and-file Fellowship members, are actually co-founders of the organization. As they are possibly implicated in one or more gruesome murders, I would very much like to speak with them. But there is still one thing that nags at me: if Lord British did not send that Moongate, who - or what - did? My worry is that this "Guardian" character has something to do with this. But who is the Guardian? What, if anything, is his connection with the Fellowship? And why am I back in Britannia? These answers will have to wait at least one more day.
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