The Swamps of Gorlab.
Now these are a pretty cool place!
Back in the age of Darkness the village of Gorlab was cursed by the sorcerer Rabindrinath who drove all its inhabitants into a dream land. His plan went awry and everyone – himself included – ended being trap in the dream world, Rabindrinath himself falling into madness. Only the healer Siranush manages to save the souls of the inhabitants of Gorlab from utter oblivion.
As such, the old village was swallowed by swamps which are basically putting to sleep anyone who tries to cross them and transport them into the dream world, whose only escape is to “die”.
This is actually a fun place to go: you meet back a lot of other people from Serpent Isle and even Britannia, since you can cross Lord British (which tells you how deeply the Imbalance is affecting Britannia) and even Smith the Horse for his last appearence in the series (which is much nicer than in Ultima VII and tells you Batlin is building a Black Gate for the Guardian on the Isle of the Avatar!)
Now of course once the dream land you need to find Siranush which tells you must detroy Rabindrinath and get his Dream Crystal back to her. The sorcerer has his own castle but well… it’s not too much of a fight. You actually need to beat him with the power of Courage, Love and Truth. So this basically consist of talking to him so that he cast a spell on you which backfires thanks to the Artefact your got from the three cities.
After that you can get the Crystal back to Siranush which gives you the Serpent Necklace you need to complete this quest. This necklace is actually usefull since it allows you to hear back the last comments from the Great Earth Serpent (which at this point reveals he was the big snake you free from Exodus! Small multiverse, heh?)
So it was back to the dream world, and straight to the Great Northern Forest.
Now this Forest is basically the equivalent of Britannia’s Deep Forest. So it’s big and untamed.
As it turns out this is where you can get the Hound of Doskar to find Cantra from the Forest Master Morghrim which is some sort of old druid from the world of Pagan (altough his Pagan had nothing in common with the one we find in Ultima VIII but heh).
Alas an evil Knight named Draygan has stolen his Orb of Elerion and you need to get it back. This is actually another exemple of smart game design since you can’t just kill Draygan: you need to get some plants called kill Soren’s and use them on arrows to create sleep arrown to attack him in his sleep and kill him
(Is that really Virtuous though?)
In exchange for getting his Orb back, Morghrim gives you a whistle to call the Hound of Doskar… which basically look like a nice friendly St-Bernard dog (not quite what I imagined originally!)
Now you can basically ask the Hound to track someone through a personal item: in this case Cantra’s wooden sword… which leads you the Shamino’s former castle.
One point of note about the Hound, is that it is used as a plot trigger to prevent you from reaching some points. While the game is not as linear as some make it out to be, it does prevent to break the plot. In this case for instance, you can get to Shamino’s Castle as soon as you have access to the Northern Forest – but if you don’t use the Hound of Doskar on Cantra’s sword… a blue force field prevent from entering the central tower.
In any case Shamino’s Castle used to be well… Shamino’s castle from when he was the lord of the Lands of Danger and Despair. Alas, Serpent Isle was cut off while he was in Lord British’s land to help him against Mondain and he could never return, leaving his people without a king, and his beloved Beatrix to die of a broken heart.
Her spirit actually appears in the castle, hateful and vengeul with only one desire to kill Shamino. This all has a very tragic sound to it, and wish there was some way to set her spirit to rest and explore more of Shamino’s feeling about all this (wink wink nudge nudge).
As it turns out Baltin is in the central tower.
Alas he escaped to the Northern Land and I was too late… the poor Cantra laid dead on the second floor.
I really can’t stress enough how shocking and heartbreaking it was to find Cantra’s body here even with the Monk taking her away. 😦
One point of note: notice Batlin’s medaillon on the floor. It is required to to use the Hound on it in order to open the door of Skullcrusher later on. This actually is a poor design desicion because since Batlin says in front of you he’s going to the north lands this doesnt feel necessary… as it turns out my brother got stuck in front of Skullcrusher for weeks back then because it didn’t do this necessary step.
So I had to go North. But you can’t do that without careful planning.
You see: north is cold. So you need to get fur caps, cloaks and boots to protect your characters or else they’re gonna freeze to death.
So I went back to Monitor and got some protective clothes. I also had to break the news to Harnna about her daughter, altough she asked be to go and check on her in Monk Isle.
I went there but alas while she was back alive she seemed to have lost her mind.
I take comfort in knowing that thanks to SI Fixes i’ll be able to cure her this time (altough they picked the wrong water!).
So I am now heading back the Northern Forest, and the dungeons leading to the Frozen Lands…