I try heading back through the serpent gate and sure enough one of the other doors opens up and I find myself in a new area
There are enough people around wearing cowls that this has to be monk island. Most of them won’t speak to me but there are a few who do. One problem here is that the monks all follow a routine based on the tolling of bells on the isle and keep moving around – add to this that they all look exactly the same and trying to talk to the right one becomes a case of trial and error.
I ask about Gwenno but shes already left to go to the northlands – she certainly gets about. This is feeling like the thankless task of chasing Elizabeth and Abraham around in U7.
One of the monks tells me how to collect mandrake roots from the swamp to the north whent he tides are right. This has to be the reason I’m here as the teacher in moonshade wanted me to collect some mandrake before he would give me a spellbook. The tides aren’t right at the moment to collect it however.
I don’t find a huge amount to do on Monk Isle but it doesn’t take long for the tides to change so I go to search the swamps. I find a ruined house who’s key is in a tree stump outside. I follow it through a series of locked doors only to emerge back at the serpent gate I came in on which was a bit of a waste of time.
The mandrake was just lying around the edge of the swamp so I go back and collect some. I have a look around the monks library on the way back which is full of old prophecies + this poem by Minax. The lens in the middle helps me translate them all for a time. Most of the prophecies are about my current quest but are all a bit vague with stuff like my friends becoming my enemies. I’ll no doubt find out what they mean later.
I go back to Moonshade through the gate and hand over the mandrake. I have to go through a series of tiresome copy protection questions before he hands it over. I’d be thinking it was a while since the first lot. A spellbook has been a long time coming in this game and should help no end especially with my reagents ring.
There doesn’t seem to be all that much to do in town at this point. There is still the matter of Mosh telling who claims that the green enchantress is her sister and is only beautiful because she stole a magic comb from Fawn. I tell Mosh I believe her claims which she seems to take as a cue for me to offer her food. When I go to the pub to buy some, I’m told she’s partial to the fish so I buy a portion of this. This puzzle strikes me as a bit unfair as I had to actually attempt to buy the fish before I got the clue.
It appears that beggars can be choosers after all and I hand over the fish.
In return Mosh gives me a magic harp which I can play to stop the giant rats from attacking me in the catacombs. These must be the ones that will get me back to the main island. She doesn’t tell me where the entrance is but I’m not really looking yet anyway.
This still hasn’t gotten me any closer to finding the magic comb so I take it into my hands to pry around Columna’s house and see if I can find anything. This involves a bit of theft of keys and the like. In the basement, along with a nasty buzzsaw trap, I find a scroll which implies she is definitely guilty + a key to something or other.
There is a button on the back wall of the house that lets me into the guardian. In a well hidden spot round the back is a chest with the comb which I grab.
Columna’s lost her looks to some extent although shes looking better than Mosh still. I go back to tell Mosh and there aren’t even any new conversation options which is a bit annoying.
There still has to be more I need to do here. I do notice that Frigidazzi has finally shown up. When I ask her about spells she invites me back after midnight.
She asks me to send my companions away but is far more interested in me than selling me magic.
When the subtle approach fails she tries the dance of passion.
I give in to the inevitable at this point but the MageLord choses this worst possible of moments to pay a visit.
She may only be his mistress and not wife but hes angry enough to put me on trial. The trial is about as fair as Dupre’s was.
I’m quickly found guilty and sent to the freedom mountains. I knew I’d have to go there sooner or later.
On the plus side by the law of the land if I escape I’m free to go.
Most of my possessions are removed and I’m teleported straight into a cell in the dungeon. An automaton introduces me to the place.
I’m trapped in this cell for now but the automaton does eventualy decide to wander out of his locked area and I take the chance to raid his room for stuff including the key out. Once out, I’m enter a maze of sorts and work my way through to find a secret passage out. I disturb a mage lord carrying out some sort of ritual involving a dead woman on an altar but he teleports out before I can stop him.
I run into the mage/thief who someone in Moonshade told me about. He claims to have been unjustly imprisoned but is blatantly a thief so it probably wasn’t that unjust.
He want’s to join up with me and tells me that there are two switches that must be thrown at the same time somewhere in the dungeon. If this is true then I’ll definitely need him. I’m also led to think of the prophecy on monk isle that said I would have to join with a thief and braggart during my quest and this guy pretty much fits the bill.
We work our way through the dungeon and at long last I find my black sword.
He wants me to release him and claims I will need to do so to leave this place but I’m not about to do that.
I run into the mage again and this time he transforms someone into a dragon skeleton and scarpers again.
My companion was telling the truth I a come to an area with the twin levers.
The next area has a raised drawbridge I can’t lower and a teleport surrounded by bodies. One of the bodies has a telekinesis scroll which I transcribe to my spell book.
I cast the spell and lower the drawbridge to reach the next section.
This gets me through to a very strange area with a load of levers and some very strange rooms. I guess the whole dungeon is supposed to be a sort of trial by fire so this is just a magical test of sorts.
Each lever opens a different door and I seem to have to use things from one room in another. To start off I wake a woman who wants me to lead her to her nightmare. When I walk into a room with a dead horse they are consumed in a fireball. I find a key + carrots on her body. There is a room with a dead rabbit, when I drop the carrots in here it transforms into a woman who gives me flowers.
I give these flowers to a mouning man who then fixes a broken lever in the main room before turning into a skeleton.
A few more lever pulls and I make my way out of this area and end up in a literally endless corridor in a dungeon. There is a secret passage to the east which is a bit tricky to find but I do so in the end.
Another automaton offers to sell me potions, then decides to attack me.
This isn’t my final obstacle as there is still the small matter of the lord to deal with. The demon wants me to release him and it appears I have no choice.
The demon is pretty happy about being released after all this time.
He calls me a fool for releasing him but is surprisingly true to his word and the lord is obliterated. I’ve still got the sword and I can still wield it but I’ve no idea how much damage it does now. Technically I shouldn’t be able to wield it without the demon to make it lighter. It may still be as useful in combat as ever for all I know.
I teleport back into Moonshade and all my posessions are in the chest by the teleport. I also find a couple of serpent teeth that I either don’t remember collecting or weren’t there before. My companion leaves for now but I get the impression I could ask him to rejoin if I wanted. I’ve now got a choice between my axe from Silver Seed or the black sword. There is no way to tell how much damage any of these things do so I take the safe option of the axe and I’ll give my sword to one of my companions when I find them again.
I take a guess at them being in the nearest pub and sure enough I find Dupre in there waiting for me. The rest of them have scattered around but Dupre knows roughly where to look. I’ll gather them together and then maybe see where these new teeth will take me. I should also talk to anyone in town to see if I can learn anything new on the way also.
I’ve achieved a bit in Moonshade and been in the area for quite some time now but I still don’t feel that I’ve done whatever is required before I head back. The size of this game is truly unbelievable for a few floppy disks, not just for how long its taking to play through but the fact that I’m always doing something new or exploring a new area. The trigger based nature of the gameplay is becoming more apparent than it was earlier. Its something I’m used to in games but Serpent Isle feels like less of a virtual world than Ultima 7 because of it. The stronger story is making up for this and I can see the merits of both approaches. I would say that some of the Ultima-ness of the game has been lost but this game is effectively a spin-off and not led by Richard Garriot so I would expect that. Despite that, this game is definitely going to be one of my favorite Ultimas. It potentially could even top the list but I won’t be able to say for sure until I’ve seen how the story develops.