Season Two of this exciting medieval legal drama begins.
Party deaths: 9
Before we went to the LB Snacks™ headquarters to begin our antitrust lawsuit, we thought we'd do some dungeoneering. To ensure we had plenty of food and reagents this time, we made a brief stop at Moonglow. Mariah stuffed her reagent bag with curative agents from the herb market. As for food, I wanted to help Tubbs lose some of that bard belly, so I went to the Sage Deli to buy him some low-carb cram bars and a few yards of hobbit sausage. Then, we boarded the S.S. Rainz for our second trip to the Dungeon of Deceit.
As we sailed, I saw Jaana leaning against the port railing, looking toward the mainland—perhaps thinking of her druidic hometown, Yew. Did she leave behind a beloved companion there? If not, perhaps she came on this journey in hopes of finding one. I wondered: a shepherd and a druid? It could happen. I sidled up to her and made small talk about afternoons and coffee spoons, then smoothly broached the question. She smiled bashfully and said, "I have devoted myself to serving and protecting nature. A druid is married to the earth beneath her. I'm sorry." Oh well, that was that.
We got to the dungeon without further conversation or even eye contact between Jaana and me. The awkward feelings quickly gave way to gloom as we descended the deadly depths. Cheesily, I used the "Z" spell to travel to the lower levels with ease, a trick I fondly remember exploiting in the first Ultima game. The journey was not without adversity ...
but soon, the blue stone of honesty was in my oily hands—only seven more stones to go. I found the altar of honesty, and discovered that each altar had four holes in which the correct stones had to be placed for something really awesome to happen. Like mass transit connections in Hell, the altar rooms linked all eight "vice dungeons" to one another. Through the honesty altar room, I went to the Dungeon of Hythloth. From there, I went to the Dungeon of Wrong, then the Dungeon of Shame (where I picked up the purple stone of honor). Somewhere along the way, Mariah touched a magical blue orb and died, in precisely the same manner that she did before. Death as negative reinforcement just does not work on some people. Then, in what I guess was a bug, I got trapped between two encounter rooms. The sole exit from one room led to another room where a reaper was blocking the path, and I couldn't attack that reaper for some reason. So I let the monsters mash, grind, and puree my party to death. It was the most direct route to Lord Renfaire's throne room, anyway.
"Consider yourself served!" I boldly announced as I threw the antitrust complaint scroll at Lord Biscuit's feet.
"What is the meaning of this?" he said with a scowl.
"Lord British, you are charged with antitrust crimes including collusion, price-fixing, anticompetitive practices, attempting to establish a snack food monopoly, and erecting a castle not within zoning codes. So saith the shepherd!"
"SO SAITH THE FLOCK!" cried the rest of my party in unison.
"Furthermore," I continued, "we have evidence that you stole the rune of spirituality. You have violated all eight virtues, and we're putting a stop to your shenanigans. So saith the shepherd!"
"SO SAITH THE FLOCK!"
"Ah," said the amused CEO as he rose from his throne and ambled toward me. "The virtues I assigned you to discover are now being applied against me. Fairly clever. But I think it would be in the best interest of all of Britannia for you to continue on your quest and drop this needless lawsuit. I certainly do not wish to proceed with my own lawsuit against you for various and sundry crimes."
"Various and sundry?" I exclaimed unbelievingly.
He clapped his hands twice. One of his advisors stepped forward and unfurled a heavy scroll. "Let it be known," the man read aloud, "that the law firm of Sausalito Jaana and Tubbs has committed various and sundry crimes including highway robbery, extortion, kidnapping, horse abandonment, Internet fraud..."
The list went on. He had no evidence to back up these claims. (OK, he had us on horse abandonment.)
"... nose picking out of season," the charges continued, "contributing to the delinquency of a penguin, being cheeky, and grand larceny upon the treasury of Britannia!"
"Grand larceny?" I exclaimed as unbelievingly as before, perhaps even more unbelievingly. "We were taking back the rune of spirituality that we found in your treasure vault. What was it doing there in the first place?"
"Are you suggesting that I, the sovereign of Britannia, stole a sacred artifact?" Lord Fishwich drawled with mock innocence. "Surely, you don't expect Judge Talfourd to tolerate such an implication in his court. He would wonder, though, what business a shepherd had in entering the Britannian treasure room, opening a royal chest and taking its contents."
My gast was too flabbered for me to speak. The gall of this guy!
"If you would relinquish your license to practice law, good Sausalito," he said with an outstretched hand, "you could go on your way to becoming the Avatar, and we'll forget this whole exchange ever took place."
I stamped my feet on the red carpet. "We're not going to play your reindeer games!" I shouted. "You want a fight, we'll see you at the High Court of Yew! Right, guys?"
My partners, Jaana and Tubbs, looked down at the polished stone floor while everyone quietly waited for a response. Finally, Jaana spoke: "Sausalito, it's important to my people that you become the Avatar right away. This lawsuit ... it would get in the way."
Slowly, I turned to old Tubbs, my bard and friend, who shrugged and said, "Sorry, man. I really like eating LB Snacks."
The room seemed to spin as this double-whammy bounced in my mind and body. I felt betrayed, but knew that they had the right of it. Our firm didn't have the resources to fight these charges. With a heavy heart, I put my bar card in LB's outstretched hand, where it vanished in a flash of flame. The complaint scroll did likewise. No longer a lawyer, I was now just a shepherd, albeit one who could still Shepardize. Without another word to the triumphant monopolist or to one another, our law firm, whose name was now just Jaana and Tubbs, left the castle. I sought solace at the shrine of compassion, where I achieved another eight of avatarhood and fantasized about Lord Bushwhack's comeuppance ...