Today (well, yesterday) was my final adventure on the Isle of Fire. The first task was to get out of the courage test, where a drake would easily burn me away with his fireballs. By some weird luck, opening the door near him caused him to go back into an alcove and I could race by, and back to the beginning of the test. From there, I created the black sword. This was among the less exciting parts of the game. Here is the process, in short:
1. Fill a trough with water by using the bucket on a well, then the trough; repeat thrice.
2. Click the bellows until the forge is hot and the sword turns white in the center.
3. Move the sword to the anvil.
4. Hammer until it gets cool.
5. Drop in the water.
6. Repeat until you decide you've done all you can do.
On the plus side, the animations of Erethian creating all the forging equipment were pretty amusing, especially as Paulon noted if you have not yet fixed the ether. I also was amused by the blind Erethian's destruction of candles as he found his way back to his bedroom.
I enjoyed hearing Arcadion's back story concerning the daemons, where he asserted that they were enslaved by some ancient Britannian race, and that the magic used to do so was older than the mages that currently made use of it. Once I got his essence into the black sword, I enjoyed Arcadion even more! He enabled me to complete the Courage test, where the dragon Dracothraxus announces that she her will is not her own, and dies. The Love test was a lot faster and simpler--it involved pouring blood on some rocks to heal a dead golem. The golem was brought to the location by his brother, who then gives up his heart to bring the other back to life. The other helps you make a new heart, and once they areboth alive, they go and stand around and say almost nothing. The ending of that quest was a bit of a letdown.
Time to take a side track--exactly what were the virtue tests 250+ years ago, when they were built? The love test dealt with recently injured golems, and the courage test dealt with killing a dragon who also only recently wandered in. I didn't see much evidence in the love area, for example, of anything that might have been a test. Now you could say it was all magical--that the forces of destiny or some such coerced all these vents to happen, and that's fair enough, but Lord British surely didn't know all this would happen when he comissioned the tests, right? Hmm.
Anyway, back to the plot. After finishing all three quests, I am told to seek the talisman of infinity, which I acquired by stealing the lenses I used in Ultima VI from the museum in Britain. The purpose was to banish that infamous Dark Core of Exodus to the void, een though I thought from my Ultima VI conversation with him/it that Exodus had learned his/its lesson! I guess he was still evil. In a way, I wish you could still talk to the statues of Mondain, Minax and Exodus; they were one of the few remaining connections to the earliest games.
With all that complete, I was off to my boat. My only regret is not exploring part of the Love test. I didn't realize its moongate would quit working after I departed! it was also foolish not to do the Love test first, because then dashing past monsters in the other two would be easy.
It was funny, too, that the statues told me the virtues I was supposed to learn about during each test. The Love statue said I learned about compassion, sacrifice, and justice. Fair enough. The courage one said I learned about valor, honor, and spirituality, and that I should receive his gift with humility. Valor...maybe. But spirituality? And the Truth test didn't even claim to teach me anything!
Overall, this was a fun add on. There was lots of treasure, and the plot was a great connection to earlier games; lots of "smile moments" for longtime fans. About the only letdown, despite my nitpicks, was the Truth test, which was a lot of rather purposeless difficulty.
Off to the rest of Ultima VII! I expect I could finish the game in one more day, but it would be fun to explore some dungeons and such first. For the record, the Forge of Virtue took about 5 hours to complete. Almost as long as Ultima II!
Tomorrow I intend to devote some time to adding screenshots for this and some of the past entries, so next time you see screenshots, be sure to go back into May and look for other new ones!