Following my talk with Raven I decided to return to Britain and have a talk with Aidon about the Sigil of Compassion. Not that I want to accuse him of blatantly lying to me… but actually yeah I do!
As it turns out, Aidon was nowhere to be found, and had indeed travelled to Paws. You see, he ended being a victim of its own policy: his daughter Meribeth got sick… and ended being carted to Paws in spite of him! So in a unexpected act of courage, he decided to go to Paws himself to get her back.
Alas she had been captured by goblins hiding there… so of course it fell to yours trully to to save her. The consequences were good though as Meribeth decided to stay in Paws to help the people there, while Aidon immediately realized the stupidity of his policy, and agreed to put a stop to it!
Now I can’t stress this enough really: but no Ultima IX is not about “Shrine magically brainwashing people” is is about people realising the true sense of Virtue (usually thanks to the actions of the Avatar) and leading the change on their own. Now as you’ll see outlined as I go through the game, this is alas a message that don’t always come across clearly due to obvious execution issue — but still very present in the game.
And what could be more Ultima-ish than that?
Thankfully it is quite obvious for Britain and the first Virtue to cleanse which makes the area on the whole pretty well executed.
So I could now return the Shrine of Compassion and execute the ritual to cleanse it from the Column’s influence by putting the Sigil and the Rune on it. I’ve always loved this part of the game because it really is very neat visually speaking!
So I now had increased strength: which means less hits to kill monsters and most importantly, more health!
Except I had no more Sigil… because I suffered that infamous bug which stuck both the Sigil and the Rune in the air after the cleansing. Meh. I’ve played Ultima IX many times, and it’s the only time it happened to me! Thankfully when you are aware of it this is not that big a deal – all you need is using the flying cheat a couple of seconds, but if there is really one bug that would need fixing that’s the one!
But in any case, Compassion was no cleansed… and things in Britain were just getting a lot better!
Now I can’t even begin to express what a wonderful feeling it is to return to a city in Ultima IX after cleasing it. Of course a lot of dialogue changes – in the case of Britain, most people have new dialogues and will go about the errors of their ways before. But the important thing is that the music changes and create a whole new different tone.
The music of Ultima IX was written by George Oldziey, who was most known for having composed the music of Wing Commander III, IV and Prophecy. It was also performed by a 50 piece orchestra, which was a far cry from the FM and MIDI music of previous episodes (note that there are people who actually complained that the game dropped MIDI music, need I comment?).
The result is simply marvelous, but what is really interesting is the way Oldziey handled city music. You see, he’s actually written a theme for each of the three Principles of Britannia (Love, Truth and Courage) and their opposites (Hatred, Falsehood and Cowardice). So a corrupted city uses a theme based on the appropriates anti-Virtues, while a cleansed city used a theme with based on its corresponding Virtues. Noting that each city also has its own set of instruments to set it appart.
So for instance Britain at the beginning of the game use a theme based on Hatred… and when you set foot in the city after the restoration of Compassion you get a whole new theme based on love… which is just wonderful.
To say the least it basically creates a wonderful and heartwarming feeling of having done the right thing and putting the world back to normal. If feels like actually being a Hero!
If feels like really bringing back Virtue to the World. And it is just magic!
Now at this point I considered going to explore around a bit… but I rapidly found out that well… I still get my ass kicked (in spite of having trained in one handed weapons, staves and ranged weapons), so I guess it’ll have to wait a bit again!
So I decided to go back to the docs and bring the Rune to Raven to prove my Avatarhood.
Buccaneer’s Den now awaits!