And now, part two of three in this increasingly inaccurate "finale!"
"The Abyss is not like other dungeons we've faced," Shamino helpfully pointed out as we explored the island caverns. While the corridors and monsters looked familiar, the monster lairs were more elaborately arranged. Some of them formed labyrinths full of dead ends and hidden switches; if you went down the wrong way, you'd have to turn back and reactivate all the encounters. Secret doors were hidden in arbitrary places along the wall, and finding them was necessary. Most importantly, warp spells didn't work, so we had to soldier through each level. Instead of using the online dungeon maps, I made an honest attempt to make my own map with graph paper, just like we gamers had to do in olden tymes. Here's an approximate representation:
It wasn't long before I gave up and went back to the online maps. Those of you who completed this game without such help, I salute with fear.
At least the monsters remained manageable at the easiest difficulty level, "Normal." (I had tried to make combat more interesting some time ago by switching to a harder level, but the monsters' higher hit points just made combat more tedious.) We were using the Mystic Swords and Mystic Robes that we'd obtained before sailing for the island. The Mystic Swords cut through scaly hide like soft, smelly cheese, and came with a lifetime guarantee.
I had been hesitant to place faith in the Mystic Robes or any other kind of armor, remembering how even that fancy breastplate failed to protect the armor salesman's assistant from getting clocked by Geoffrey. Jaana insisted that I try one on, though. As I put my arms through the sleeves, I noticed the label: "LBNY." Good grief, Lord Bubba has leveraged himself into the fashion industry? Is there no limit to his powerlust? Still, I smoothed down the garment and tied the sash, and felt a transformation as the robe's mystical energies honed my muscles and cleansed my pores. I became ... the Wooly Avenger!
With our improved weapons and armor, we faced the diverse death-dealers of the Abyss:
Ultima IV is not a game for the inattentive. From the beginning, I've made many careless blunders, and have recounted to you only some of them. What happened on Level 7 of the Abyss was my worst mistake yet. We had entered a lair of enemies: mages, liches, demons, I don't remember which. As my companions flanked the foes, I rushed to the center of the room, where there happened to be a treasure chest. I stepped onto the chest not because I wanted its contents, but for purely tactical purposes. Instantly, a blue electrical field surrounded me, blocking movement in all directions. My only hope of escape was someone casting Dispel, and we only had one Dispel mixture.
Here's where I screwed up: I had myself cast Dispel instead of Mariah. Shepherds can't cast spells, so the attempt was unsuccessful. And, when you fail a spellcast, you lose the mixture. And you can't mix new spells during battle. Ergo, I wasn't going anywhere. As Rich LaPorte would say, "Super."
What injustice! That force field was ostensibly meant to trap looters, but I had no intention of opening that chest. What would I have done with the money? We were near the end of the adventure, and there was nothing to buy in the Abyss. Well, there was a little gift shop outside the entrance. I suppose I could have used the gold to buy you guys a postcard.
The only way out of this jam would be for our entire party to die so that we would awaken in Lord Birdbrain's throne room. I held the spacebar down to pass time, intending to starve everyone to death. Since we had over 300 units of food, this would take a very long while. Soon, I gave up. I exited the game, restarted, enabled the cheat mode, reloaded my saved game at the entrance of the Abyss, and used the powerful cheat codes to warp back down to Level 7 and try again. I didn't repeat the mistake, though my companions couldn't shake the feeling of déjà vu.
On Level 8, we uncovered the secret of the Stygian Abyss. No, it's not the Codex of Ultimate Wisdom, everyone knows about that. What could it be? Find out next time in what will certainly be the final finale, probably!