And now, MinMax Films proudly presents the two-part series finale. Richard Garriott's...
Once we chopped the sea creatures into chum, Tubbs brought the ship to the fjords that formed the entrance to the island of the Abyss. "Now would be the best time to affix that magical wheel from the H.M.S. Cape," he said. He removed the steering wheel and screwed the Cape wheel in its place. As soon as he was done with that, a burst of blue light swept over the ship and hardened to form a protective dome. Our firepower doubled as new cannons emerged from the hull. The best changes happened right on the deck. Pool tables and chairs sprung from the floorboards. A hot tub formed out of thin air. And we were suddenly surrounded by smiling, sun-kissed women holding bottles of beer.
"Fantastic!" exclaimed a thrilled Shamino as he leaped into the hot tub to join the women there.
"I know!" I said as I danced the cha-cha with some ladies to the tune of calypso music. "Tubby, you should have put that thing on sooner!"
"I suppose the Abyss can wait another day," replied the bard as he happily poured margaritas for his new female admirers.
After a few minutes of this silliness, Jaana went up to Tubbs and gave him an "ahem" look. "Right," Tubbs said contritely. "On with the mission. You all can stay, though." The ladies whooped at the good news.
All became solemn as our boat slowly passed between the fjords. The island looked forlorn, but peaceful. A lava-topped mountain range loomed in the horizon, and the mere sight of it made me feel uncomfortably warm.
The fjords gave way to a large bay. We could see activity all around the shore: boats. There were many of them, and they were coming in our direction.
"Tubbs, what have you done?!" I shrieked.
"You brought us into a trap!" said Jaana.
"Hey, this is where that dude in Cove told us go!" replied Tubbs. "How was I supposed to know? I guessed there'd be danger, but I wasn't expecting the Spanish Armada."
"What a' we gone ta doo?" asked Geoffrey.
"There's still time to turn around and leave this island," said Jaana. "We can return to safety, to our lives." She fixed me as long and meaningful a look as the circumstances could afford. "Sausalito, however you decide. I will be with you. We all will."
The enemy frigates and battleships were picking up speed and locking their weapons onto us. I thought of all the hardship and shame, all the exploitation and abuse that my friends and I had gone through. We could go back, I thought, and no one would judge us the lesser. But everything must have an ending. With bitter tears in my eyes, I yelled, "Sheeps' wool may shrink in rain, but a shepherd never shrinks from any challenge!"
BAROOOM thundered the first volley. The fun-time ladies screamed in terror as a fusillade of fiery cannonballs flew toward us. We braced for impact, but the cannonballs burst harmlessly against the protective shield. "Dupre, get these women below deck!" ordered Captain Tubbs as he threw the wheel left and right to evade fire. "Shambo and Sauce-Man, load those guns. The rest of you, get ready to rumble!"
We fought as a unit. Julia bravely stood in the crow's nest and called out which enemies were closest to us, while Tubbs swiveled our ship so that our broadsides always faced them. Shamino and I kept the guns loaded, as Jaana and Geoffrey fired them with deadly accuracy. Dupre made sure that all the beer girls stayed safely in the cabins and extinguished the occasional deck fire with Tubbs' margarita mix. Mariah slowed the enemies' charge with her Winds spellcasting. When a few of them closed to boarding range, we brandished our personal weapons and fell upon the dreaded sailors as they invaded. There was no mercy. When it was all over, the bay was thick with blood and gun oil, and only our ship remained afloat. The force field dome was at half strength; without it, we'd be canned tuna.
Victorious and notorious, we reached the shore. Unfortunately, we had wandered into another trap, this one created by the foul nature magics of the Abyss: raunchy marsh coated the only walkable path into the heart of the island.
We marched through the swamp until it led to a mountain trail. Each one of us got poisoned, so it was eight Cure drinks down the hatch. Already, our supply of crucial magical reagents was dwindling. Halfway up the trail, we encountered a group of young people engaged in the pastime of "live action roleplaying." They took on the guise of legendary warriors and monsters, and play-acted in battle. They invited us to participate:
We did not think it appropriate to play such a dangerous and mind-addling game, so we showed them some live-action reality and hacked them to ham hocks.
Our feet were weary, but we found ourselves high up the lava-laden mountains before long. A pillar of fire shielded the entrance to the Abyss, glowing and billowing like an evil banner. Our bodies seared with pain as we trod past the pools of lava. I winced with every step, but kept my mind on the bravery of my companions to stay motivated. Tubbs' loyalty, Jaana's wisdom, Mariah's talent, Shamino's determination, Geoffrey's valor, Julia's perseverance, Dupre's ... well, I never did know what to make of him. "I'm so glad to be with you, my friends," I said to them all, "here at the end of all things." They just kind of ignored me and shuffled on.
Our walking speed slowed to a few feet per minute as the waves of heat pushed against us and the ground burned the soles of our feet. Man, it was hot.
It was so hot, the lava lizards didn't even bother attacking, they just spread their arms and said, "Take that!"
At last, we stood before the entrance. "The skull," I requested. Geoffrey removed the skull of Mondain from his potato sack and handed it to me.
"Yuck," said Mondain, "never put me back in that sack again, spudmonkey. Of course, a skull could be inside worse places, such as your head. Hold, where are we? Oh, I see." He seemed to notice the pillar of fire, which in turn seemed to notice him as it flinched away from us as if frightened by the evil artifact.
"So, you are truly going to do this?" Mondain asked.
"Yep," I answered, holding the skull with outstretched arms before me. The pillar of fire cringed further.
"Gonna toss me into that fire."
"That's the plan, Stan."
"Okay. But you ought to reconsider. I'm a talking skull. Think of how much you can get for me on eBay."
"Did you know that I'm the Head of Vecna?"
"Head of Vecna's just an urban legend."
"So it is. I guess this is the end for me, then."
"Yeah-huh." I took a step forward and dropkicked the malignant ball of bone into the pillar of flame. The flame stretched and flickered like a candle in the wind, but it was anchored to its source and could not escape. "I'm coming Minnieeee!" Mondain shouted as he disappeared into the fire. The agonized flame contorted, contracted, and finally dissipated, revealing the entrance to the Abyss.
The entrance appeared to be a wall of rock, but closer inspection revealed massive gates carved out of it. Even closer inspection revealed some charred bits of bone lying at the foot of the gates. "Look, just leave me be," said what remained of Mondain's jawbone. "Don't call me, don't call my agent. Do whatever you have to do with your Book of Love and your Cowbell of Courage and finish your absurd quest. I wash my hands of this Avatar hoo-hah. What are you waiting for? Was I as stupid as you when I was surrounded by flesh? Open the gate and go away! I need a vacation." A group of scruffy backpackers happened by, saw the skull pieces, and walked on, giving us dirty looks for making such a mess.
We began the ritual to open the entrance. First, Shamino rang the Bell of Courage. Bizarrely, Geoffrey started drooling. Don't know what that meant. Then, Jaana opened the Book of Truth and read aloud: "... in which the four quadrant corners of Earth rotate, equates to your four-corner bedroom, or to a four-corner classroom which represents the four corners of Earth—in which stupid and evil pedants teach dumb students one-corner knowledge." She stopped and gave me a confused look. I shrugged. She flipped to a different page and continued: "Hey stupid, are you too dumb to know there are four different simultaneous 24-hour days within a single ... it just goes on like this."
"I think that's enough," I said as I lit the Candle of Love. "Aw, the Candle's flame is in the shape of a heart," observed Julia. "How cute!" The great rock-hewn gates slowly swung open, pushing Mondain's bits down the slopes and out of our lives. The threshold of the Abyss gaped open, revealing the darkness of ignorance, into which we boldly plodded. What awaits us in the Stygian Abyss? The enlightenment of the Codex of Ultimate Wisdom, or the embarrassment of a Cream Pie to the Face? Find out next time in Ultima IV: The Final Conclusion!