Frozen wastes, here I come!
Leaving Monitor I proceeded to walk back the entire way to the Northern Forest, and then westward toward the dungeon leading to the North. I’ve actually thought for a long time then that this dungeon was Skullcrusher before actually reaching the city.
I guess it kind of bring the question about what to name it?
The dungeon is pretty straigthforward, but it has some branching as well and teleporters than can get you lost. No puzzles whatsoever, but I’ll point to one area specifically which is pretty nice as it leads you to an orange-ish Moongate which teleport you to the ghost of a dead Bard (whom you can think the works throughout the isle) who ask you to kill a pirate who murdered him. Alas it ends up as a easter egg, since the pirate is actually a guy in a house with a computer playing Strike Commander and Ultima VIII!
But I forgot about the pirate and rather continued through the dungeon until getting to exit to the north. There was a dying trapper there which told me about a witch they had to kill. Little did I know yet that he was talking of Gwenno which had been possessed by the same Bane who possessed Cantra.
One thing about the frozen north.
It’s downright AWESOME.
First the look is just unlike anything else, and it has this wonderful blueish tint that just feels appropriate for everything, even the mountains top!
But the thing is it’s cold. The first time I got there originally… well that lead to characters freezing to Death because I didn’t know you needed warm cloth! Indeed: unless you have your characters equip a fur cloak, a fur hat and fur boots… they’ll freeze and continuously loss HP.
But the most important now was heading north… to the Gwani tribes.
Now the Gwani have this reputation down in the southern lands of being these big fierce and evil creatures that makes Goblins pass like friendly neighbords, and are actually hunted down by trappers for the furs.
Of course this reputation is just bollocks, since the Gwani are nice and peaceful humanoid, looking more like fured humans. They are rather primitive, but are nice and welcoming… and where friends with Gwenno who was just killed by the Trapper’s men.
Poor Iolo 😦
As it turns out Neyobi, the daugther of the Gwani’s leader Yenani, is sick from the same kind of disease that affects the gargoyles, and Yenani aske that I go and get some Ice Dragon’s Blood for heal her.
So her goes nothing! Using the Gwani’s raft (which is like the only free form boat travel in the game, but in a reduced area), I got to the Ice Dragon’s island. The dungeon there was actually built to hide the treasure of some pirate… so it is a maze with teleporters whe you can get lost. But you can also use front entrance and kill the dragons of course!
With the blood obtained I returend to the Gwani who could heal their daughter. As I reward their leader offered me the mantra password to enter the city of Skullcrusher.
The entrance Skullcrusher, former city of chaos, is just south and need to be openned with runes stones to place on pedestal, and the formula told by Yenani.
This place is actually a plot chokepoint though – you see, there is nothing preventing you to go straight north to the Gwani after passing Gorlab, however since the developpers didn’t want you to go beyond Skullcrusher until you had faced Batlin at Shamino’s castle… the door remains closed unless you have used the Hound of Doskar on Batlin’s medallion. There is some sense to the logic behind it, but perhaps the trigger should have been put differently.
Now Skullcrusher had become the lair of a vampire named Vasculio. He was a powerful mage from Moonshade who did a lot of illegal experiments and ended being exectued. Except he returned from the dead as Vampire.
But he didn’t last long… especially with the Mage Bane to still his powers!
Taking the key on his body I could now exit to the east. There will be more to do in Skullcrusher…. but later!
I headed straight for the temple of Emotion which was just south east of the exit to get to the Eye of the Moon, and artefact that allows vision, as requested by my Great Earth Serpent friend.
As it turns out it gave me a vision of Batlin waiting for me in the city of Spinebreaker and preparing his evil plans.
So this was my next step and I headed straight to Spinebreaker.
Note that there is a lot of stuff to be seen in the northern lands, and you can do all that before going there – but since I want to keep some stuff for the second half of the game, this sounds like the better way to proceed.
So I rapidly arrived to Spinebreaker, which was guarded by some Automatons. But most importantly Batlin had set traps for me with his minions. But no matter – since I need to get to the Grand Shrine of Order and stop it!
This is however harder than it sounds, as the last gate behind it is guarded by an Automaton which asks me the name of a Book from which he cites a phrase. Which is actually a trick since the true answer is a book hidden in the library of Order.
Now getting on the library. Well it is actually fairly easy: there is a pedestal on it where you must three items reprenseting Order: a scroll, an abacus and a dagger.
The first time I played however, I didn’t managed to put the scroll so I figured it was not it. And I spent WEEKS looking for an answer (and out of frustration exploring most of the other Temples and Northern areas). Dang it!
But well now that I know… getting in the library was quick, so here I was… ready for the final confrontation! But first I had to deal with Batlin’s lackey and notably that treacherous Selina!
Having dealt with the minions, I rushed to kill Batlin… but I was too late and he was opening the Wall fo Light. But things went wrong. Batlin was tricked and the Guardian killed him, and the Bane were released taking possession of my companions. As for poor Boydon he was killed in the process. And here I was all alone… with little knowledge of the horrors awaiting me once I’ll return to the mainland…
(Note that I could have told Boydon to leave before entering, which I use to – but I felt it made more sense to let him die.)
One point of note here about Batlin’s plan: notice how Selina mentions the Guardian’s help and later how she ask him and Batlin to wait for here in the void!
It seems to me a lot of fans has the misconception that Batlin wanted to double-cross the Guardian and replace him or something.
I don’t think this is it, or else Selina would not make such mentions of the Guardian.
Indeed I feel it was the Guardian who has tricked Batlin into making him believe that be passing through the Wall of Light, he could become as powerful as he was and would go and conquer together or some such. Note that this is of course Bollocks: the Wall of Light only allows one to travel into the Void, it does not grant supreme powers. The Banes might… but I feel the Guardian’s plan was for Batlin to release them all along. But we’ll see about this later.