On the way to the Plateau, I visited a torax farm in the valley run by a married couple, where you learn that the valley might be haunted by a ghost. Then, inside the cave, oh joy it’s time for jumping on small stones across the water! Because I’m playing Ultima VIII Gold Edition for the first time, it took me a bit to figure out how jumping works since it’s different from the patched version. For a while, I achieved nothing but those dopey little headshakes Avatar does when you try to give him an impossible task.
I always liked Mythran’s house, if I had magical powers I’d have a spacious mansion floating in the Ethereal Void too.
Mythran told me that, in order to leave Pagan, I must master all four of Pagan’s schools of magic, and advised me to start with the Necromancers. He also runs his own separate fifth school of magic, Thaumaturgy, which as far as I can remember is absolutely useless apart from one last spell you need at the end. But of course I must pay ever-increasing fees for the pointless lessons to get that one spell. Mythran also gave me the recall item to teleport myself around, and sold me a scroll to dispel magic portals, an essential item for the future Devon subplot.
There’s not much else at the Plateau, save for million red exploding mushrooms and a small cave where you find the door to the never-finished Lost Vale add-on.
On the plus side, I found Bone Crusher, a fabled magical axe mentioned in one of the books. Goddamn skeletal warriors still freak me out after all these years.
Back in Tenebrae, while passing through somebody’s backyard, I found a small green mushroom with the interesting consciousness-expanding side effects:
I kinda wish Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit was playing while Avatar is hallucinating.
The Cemetery area has the most fabulous sepulchral score, and many amusing gravestones.
I talked to Vividos, the apprentice to Lothian the Necromancer, who informed me that Lothian is too sick to receive anyone, but he could still arrange for me to meet the Necromancer if I helped him get back the ceremonial dagger confiscated by Mordea. One could almost think that Mordea deliberately tried to piss off Lithos, with this and feeding the dead bodies of the executed to Hydros.
To get the dagger, I required help from Aramina, Mordea’s servant, who is sexually harassed by Salkind and fancies Devon quite a bit. It’s handy that, even in this alien world, Avatar still has his special powers of persuasion and can get the locals to trust and help out a total stranger they’ve just met. Aramina gave me the key for the chest in Mordea’s bedroom where the dagger is kept; just for fun, I thought I’d barge in while Mordea is asleep and wake her up. She proceeded to blast me with her Tempest powers, and then went back straight to sleep cool as a cucumber, unbothered by a dead body on the floor.
I returned to the Cemetery just in time for Vividos to perform the rather grisly Ceremony of Eternity, which ensures Lothian’s eternal presence by Lithos’ side in the afterlife.
Once Lothian shuffled off this mortal coil, Vividos re-introduced himself as the reigning Necromancer, and offered to become his apprentice after knowing me for less than an hour. For my first task, I had to bring back a couple of reagents – Executioner’s Hood plant and wooden sticks. The Executioner’s Hood can be found in the wilderness between the Cemetery and Tenebrae, in an area full of annoying Changelings who take on Avatar’s shape before they attack you.
On the way to the city, I got pulled over by the guards and served some unpleasant news: poor Bentic lost his head at the docks for conducting forbidden research that angered Mordea, and Devon has been thrown into prison. I visited Devon in his cell and promised to investigate the reason for Bentic’s death and his incarceration… but because I’m mean I’m leaving this particular subplot until later. Sorry Devon. Instead I went to the West Tenebrae and collected wooden sticks near the abandoned house.
I also decided to spend 50 obsidian coins on a training session with Darion, which went on forever and must have given Avatar a repetitive strain injury (though by the end I found out that, rather than hitting him with a weapon, the best way to keep Darion away was to kick him).
Vividos accepted my findings, and gave me the Key of the Caretaker, which allows you to cast Necromancy spells. Now I have to travel to the Upper Catacombs and chat to the long-deceased Necromancers for a crash course in magic.