The Tree of Balance has been restored!

Well that was… quick.

As I suggested yesterday, I decided to put my quest on hold for a bit in order to go to the past and do the Silver Seed.

The Silver Seed was an add-on for Serpent Isle, released a few month after the game. It is basically the equivalent of Forge of Virtue and you can go and do the add-on at any point you want during the game. Unlike Forge of Virtue however it is a tad more balanced because you don’t end the add-on with a maxed out character. Altough you do end up this small distraction with some very powerful magic items – the most important being the Ring of a Reagent, which basically remove the need for reagents for casting spells (and is the reason I usually do the addon before getting to the mountains of Freedom).

Plot-wise, Silver Seed is also quite interesting. It doesn’t offer much in terme of new NPCs… but it gets the Avatar back in time during the later day of the Imbalance War between the Ophidians. As such, it allows to get a more direct glimpse of the past of the Serpent Isle, and it is very interesting.

The addons plunge you in the Fortress of Serpent’s Fang, an outpost of the Order forces which holds the Silver Seed – supposed to give birth to a new Tree of Balance to restore balance. The Avatar is identified as the Champion of Balance thanks to the Amulet he found on Monk Isle and is thus tasked to find this seed.

One point of note is that the outpost is lead by a guy who transfered his soul into an Automaton body for good: in other words, the order guys are CRAZY… and some things during these addons do hint them as being very extreme.

There are also three odd witches around the area who follow one called the “Guide” and seem to want to help – except they of course want the Seed for themselves.

Unfortunately, the Seed is not accessible because the place where it is hidden is locked and can only be opened by four colored Orbs… which of course have been stolen and can only be found in one of the four dungeon areas in the nearby caves.

So I began with the place called the Fiend’s Domain. This is a dungeon which is basically FILLED with lots of traps and monsters and can get quite difficult if you’re not strong enough. It’s rule by a guy called “The Fiend” which sold his sould to the Chaos Serpent in order to create the Ring of Reagents and that drove him fully crazy. I had to dispatch the villain… but I did got out with the ring and the Orb.

Of course… I began by here in order to get said ring. Farewell Reagents!

The next area I went was the Maze

As one can guess from its name it is… well. A maze. A magical maze rather with a lof of square rooms, and passages opening and closing while you walk through them. And of course you can end up being blocked, with death as the only option!

The orb in this dungeon is in the hand of a cat like creature named Yurel which gives if to you in exchange for some cheese. This is actually an interesting character too – because it tends to show how barbaric the Order forces can be while Yurel used to be welcome amongst the people of Chaos in spite of his difference.

Before exiting the dungeon, you can also find the “Helm of Light” which as its name implies: gives light! It gives a lot of light though – in that when you wear it, it’s basically as it the entire game is plunged into daylight, even dark dungeons and during nightime… which breaks the immersion a bit, but also has its uses.

The next step was the abandonned outpost. Which is well… an outpost which has been overun by all sorts of creatures. It offers a couple of puzzles, but remains rather straighforward on the whole altough there is not much interesting in terme of background there. Of course I got out with a third Orb, but also a belt of strengh which allows you to get 30 in Strength, which is always useful!

So last but not least… the Lair of Aram Dol.

Aram-Dol is a lich. So like all liches, he’s evil – but he’s also mighty powerful, has created weird dryder-like creature to guard his domains and protected his dungeons by various kind of puzzles. So it’s a pretty big and hard area.

Altough I would like to point one thing of interest: there is a dragon near this area called Draxinar! Except… he is a very nice and civlized dragons with an interesting view on life, who love to play games of riddles and just neat to talk to. And this of course brings the question: why aren’t there more civilized and good dragons in Ultima! That’s prejudice here!

But… in any case I made my way through Aram Dol’s lair. It wasn’t too hard (but then I know the place) and I feel it is a nice area on the whole, with a good balance of explorations, puzzles and battles. But on the whole I got to the “boss” pretty quickly.

And well… I can’t say the good ol’ Lich lasted very long in any case.

What can I say? I rock!

And so with a few more magical items and the last Orb, I could now return to Serpent’s Fang!

Deep in the keep there is this room where… well you need to put the Orbs on Pedestals to open to the door to the Silver Seed. I do so and of course… the three witches attacked me!

Now what is interesting is that it is reaveled the Guide these witches serve is none other but the Guardian – and that they plan to use to Seed to cross to another world and leave this “husk” behind. The thing about this revelation, is that it hints that the Guardian could very well have had a role in the Imbalance War – which would certainly fit his character.

One disgression here – this revelation of Silver Seed is often cited as a reason why the Guardian’s nature in Ultima IX is “totally inconsistent”. But let’s be serious a minute here – while I feel Garriott probably forgot of this specific plot line by the time he did Ultima IX, one has got to ask: considering the Avatar travelled back in time (followed even by Karnax a bit later just to see the tree grow) is it really that much of a strech to feel that the Guardian might influence things through time as well?

I don’t think so.

In any case I now had the Silver Seed, and could now contemplate the beautiful Silver Tree growing outside.

Now of course while this is nice looking, the tree doesn’t actually do ANYTHING in term of restoring Balance, but I like to think this is thanks to this tree that the universe didn’t collapse when the Serpent of Chaos was torn into tree.

So in any case there wasn’t much for me left to do in Serpent’s Fang – so I could now return to the present, and back to Moonshade.

Now as it turns out I’m stuck on Moonshade since Hawk refuses to sail on the sea. But he’s actually revealed to me that there are catacombs below the city that are rumored to lead to the main land. Alas, Julia the Ranger’s Captain refuse to lend me the key unless I have a way to protect myself from the untolerable heat that exists below ground.

But as it turns out, Moonshade has a sorceress specialised in cold magic: the beautiful Frigidazzi. She seems to be okay with teaching me magic, and request that I come see her in her room after midnight.

Well… alone with a beautiful lass at night, I’m sure everything will go just fine!

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