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Talraen, August 19, 2009 12:40 PM (edited 8/19/09 8:40 AM)

Day 1: The Knights of Monitor

Mood: Nervous
Tags: Travelogue, Ultima VII Part 2: Serpent Isle
If our remaining days on the Serpent Isle are anything like the first, at least we shall never be bored. We have learned much, but we now have more questions than answers. It is difficult to know where to even begin.

Our arrival on the Serpent Isle shortly after dawn set the tone for the rest of the day. Upon reaching the Serpent Pillars, our ship was thrown ashore, apparently by magic, no longer seaworthy (or indeed, in the sea). There was a storm coming towards us, and no sooner had we gathered our gear to travel inland than it was upon us. Before it was over, all three of my good companions had disappeared, along with much of my gear - the Black Sword, my armor and spellbook, Rudyom's Wand, and the blackrock serpent, among other less vital pieces. We would quickly learn that this was the result of a "teleport storm," a strange phenomenon becoming increasingly common on the Serpent Isle of late. I found Shamino not long after the storm, and we found his magic bow, which had apparently swapped places with a large bear skull. Dupre had also lost items, including his sword and shield, and I presume Iolo has suffered a similar fate.

The teleport storm was only the beginning of the strange dealings in this new land, though. Not long after, I encountered two monks, named Thoxa and Karnak, who were followers of a prophetess named Xenka. Apparently Thoxa aimed to help me, giving me an enchanted "Hourglass of Fate," while Karnak believed that Xenka's prophecies forebade the monks from directly interfering with the prophesized Hero, which they believe me to be. The two dueled with magic of great power, though neither was killed. Before Karnak stopped her, Thoxa had given me some interesting information. It seemed the world was prophesized to end if it was not saved, and that I should seek a power in the void. My three companions would be vital to my quest, and I would need three artifacts - a ring, a necklace, and an earring - before all was said and done.

With the monks gone, Shamino and I eventually came upon the gates of Monitor, city of Courage. Strangers are not trusted here, and I was escorted to the crypts behind the city crematorium where Lord Marsten, current ruler of the city, was attending a funeral service for one of the city pikemen. Dupre was escorted in not long after, having been teleported to another area near the city, and it quickly became clear from speaking to Marsten that Iolo had been teleported into the city as well. Unfortunately for Iolo, his appearance interrupted the funeral ceremony, and he was thrown in the local prison as a result.

Every resident in Monitor is a Knight, divided into three clans: Wolf, Bear, and Leopard. Further, they distrust strangers, and suggested that if I wished to be respected - and have Iolo freed - I must first prove myself as a Knight. Fortunately the test was said to be relatively simple, given outside town to each resident at the age of 15. Those I spoke to told me that I had nothing to fear from it, so I agreed to take the test.

Unfortunately, someone - likely Batlin - predicted my presence here, and arranged to have me killed. The test, far from the simple obstacle course that had been described, was filled with deadly creatures, and indeed after the gremlins and snakes, I succumbed to the might of a fierce cyclops. But the Hourglass of Fate given to me by Thoxa proved to be my salvation, as the Xenkan Monks summoned me to their monastery and revived me on the point of death. There Karnak explained why he had opposed Thoxa, and sent me back on my way, fully healed. As such I was eventually able to finish the test, though not before I was set upon by a pikeman sent to kill me.

At the test exit, the Knight in charge of the test admitted that it had been rigged to ensure my death, and drew his blade against me. I managed to survive the fight, though the Knight, Shmed, did not. He had said that "she" wanted me killed, making me question my assumption that it was Batlin behind my assassination, but I would find out soon enough who "she" was.

We returned to town and spoke to Lord Marsten, who told me what I had to do before I had a chance to explain what had happened. As I am still a stranger in their city, I decided that it might be best not to reveal that I had killed two Knights until I knew why they had attacked me. In the test I had killed a wolf, which meant that I would become a member of the Wolves in town. Marsten told me to deliver the wolf's pelt to the furrier, its meat to the pub, and to receive the Mark of the Wolf tattoo from the artist Lydia.

My first two tasks were simple enough, but shortly after being tattooed, I began to run hot with fever. Shamino insisted we visit the town healer, and while she was able to treat my symptoms, she told me that she would need rare Varo leaves from the horticulturist in the town of Fawn to be permanently cured. She also told me that the tattoo had been the source of the illness, so I returned to confront Lydia.

Lydia revealed that she wanted me dead because I was a "pawn" of Lord British, who the residents of Serpent Isle seem to have a strong hatred for. Nonetheless, she hadn't acted on her own, and while it was clear Shmed was working for Lydia, I have to assume Lydia was in turn working for Batlin.

It turns out Batlin had been through town not long before. I spoke to several townspeople who had interacted with him and his companions, and learned much. He seemed especially interested in the Ophidian ruins across the Isle, and had even gone so far as to steal a serpent of blackrock not unlike the one I brought to the Serpent Isle from a local artist's shop. He is traveling with three companions, and from their descriptions they seemed to consist of a thug named Brunt, a pirate named Deadeye, and a cloaked gargoyle (who I presume remained hidden because gargoyles are unknown in the Serpent Isle). He claimed to have traveled from Fawn, and left for the Sleeping Bull Inn along the main highway outside of town. I find this last claim somewhat strange, because I was also told that a warrior called "Wilfred the Slayer," resident of Sleeping Bull and brother to the inn's owner, has sworn to hunt down Batlin for crimes unrelated to those committed in Britannia.

Most alarming of all was the news that Gwenno had not only been in Monitor, but had conversed at length with Batlin! While she apparently left without being harmed, setting off east to search for the Xenkan Monks, it is safe to assume that if Batlin realizes that she is Iolo's wife, he will use her against us. Let us pray he does not, for Gwenno has no idea of Batlin's true colors.

We spoke to Iolo, but Lord Marsten will not free him until I am officially a Knight, which will occur at a banquet tomorrow night. While part of me wishes to venture to Fawn in the morning, I cannot miss the Knighting banquet, and even if I could, I would not leave my good friend in a cell any longer than is strictly necessary. I have many leads to follow up on in Monitor - the innkeeper Simon told me much of Batlin's companions and various Knights that had dealings with them - and I intend to spend tomorrow gathering as much information as I can prior to the banquet. My own ailments can wait one more day.
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