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Talraen, August 9, 2009 6:43 PM (edited 8/9/09 2:43 PM)

Day 6: The Tortured One

Mood: Why is my computer so slow?
Tags: Travelogue, Ultima VII: The Black Gate
The problem with adventuring is just how rarely you get to sleep in a nice, warm bed. We woke up this morning camped in the woods near Serpent's Hold, eating a slow breakfast because it was still quite early and the Hold's denizens were not the earliest risers. We spoke to the Hold's healer, Lady Leigh, who confirmed that the blood found near the defaced statue of Lord British was gargoyle blood. After a bit more investigation, we were able to force a confession from Sir Pendaran, who had confronted Sir Horffe in the dark. Pendaran was upset with Britannian rule and, while I love Lord British as a brother, from what I've seen I cannot entirely blame him.

We also discovered that Lady Tory's baby had been kidnapped by a group of vile harpies near the Shrine of Honor, and set out immediately to rescue young Riky. The Shrine was not far from Serpent's Hold, and once there we had no problem defeating the vile creatures. Fortunately, the baby was safe, and we returned to Lady Tory with haste.

With our errands in Serpent's Hold complete, we set sail for Vesper, intending to retrieve our carriage for the trip to Skara Brae. I Marked the Stone of Sacrifice at the docks so we could quickly return to our ship, and set off for the gargoyle side of town. I was happy to see that the gargoyle mage Wis-Sur had, like the other mages in the land, regained his sanity. It turns out that the young human girl Catherine was spending her afternoons learning stories from a gargoyle laborer. As I found the human population of Vesper far more reprehensible than the gargoyles, I did not share this information with the girl's hateful parents.

The long ride to Skara Brae was uneventful. We stopped in Britain to sell off some of our goods and check in with the local population, then continued on the road. We met a number of bandits on the road once again. I am considering letting Lord British know that more guards are needed along the western roads, but I suppose with so few travellers to Yew and Empath Abbey these days, I would be wasting my breath.

I had heard that Skara Brae had been destroyed in some terrible accident, but it did not prepare me for the reality of it. The entire town was burnt out, with not a blade in grass or any other living thing in sight. Nonetheless, the population of the once fine town remained, though as ghosts. The story behind the fire was quite tragic. The good mage Horance had been experimenting with dark magic not long after my last visit to Britannia, and had unleashed a foul demon that corrupted his soul, turning him into a form of liche. It was in the attempt to defeat Horance that the accident occurred, destroying the entire town and killing everyone in it. The alchemist who had directly caused the explosion, a ghost by the name of Caine, was the one nicknamed "the Tortured One," for even now he felt the flames that had destroyed the town. While it was no relief to him, I was able to determine that the actual fault of the fire rested not with Caine but with the bumbling mayor, who had delivered incorrect measurements for the potion that was to defeat Horance.

Caine offered to give me the answers to the questions of Life and Death that Alagner sought if I was able to finish what he started, and defeat Horance. My desire was as much to release the poor souls of Skara Brae as to find these answers, and I quickly agreed. The plan involved two parts. First, a "Soul Cage" was to be constructed and submerged in an artifact called the Well of Souls, then placed around Horance. Second, the potion that had caused the town's destruction would be used to finish him off. I got the measurements directly from the town healer this time, and was able to make the potion successfully. It took some doing to convince the blacksmith to finish the Soul Cage, as his lover had been taken by Horance and he could think of nothing else. Nonetheless we perservered, and our chance to defeat the liche would come at midnight when he gathered the townspeople in his black tower to feed off their souls.

It was a long wait before we would have our opportunity to act, and I certainly did not want to be in Skara Brae after nightfall any longer than I had to, so we Marked the Stone of Spirituality, then Recalled back to Moonglow to pass the time studying spells and conversing with the townsfolk at the local pub. But soon enough, the time was at hand.

The plan went flawlessly. Horance was quite vulnerable during this "black mass" of his, and we were able to eliminate the foul demon within him. Restored to his old, kindly self, he gave me his powerful staff, and reunited the town blacksmith and the lover he had taken from him. He then set me the task of finding a ghost willing to sacrifice themselves to destroy the Well of Souls. The Mayor, perhaps wanting to make up for his mistake that destroyed the town, nobly agreed to do so, though it took some convincing. By the time the souls of the townsfolk had been released, it was nearing 3 AM. Caine had remained, still tortured, and told me that I was a fool, and that there were no answers to the questions of Life and Death. Which is just as well, since I wasn't sure what the questions were anyway.

We took the ferry back to the mainland before making camp on the shore. I have long been fond of Skara Brae, but I had no intention of spending a full night there, Tomorrow we return to New Magincia, and perhaps gain some answers to real questions, like who is the Guardian and what, exactly, is he planning?
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