Ultima is a computer roleplaying game (CRPG) series created some twenty-odd years ago by a man named Richard Garriott, aka "Lord British". From humble beginnings, this game series had its origins along the same track as most every RPG game out: adventure around, build up levels, and then march up to the archvillain's lair and take him out, saving the land from his domination. So it went for the first few games: In Ultima I it was Mondain the sorceror; in Ultima II it was his protegé, the enchantress Minax, and in Ultima III you faced their brainchild, the hellspawn Exodus.
However, after defeating the Triad of Evil, the Ultima Legend took a turn into a new direction. Ultima IV was not another beat-the-big-badguy game. Ultima IV was the Quest of the Avatar, wherein you must attain enlightenment in eight Virtues, thus becoming the Avatar, a symbol of hope in the wake of the Age of Darkness. Thus begins the Age of Enlightenment. In Ultima V, the game makes somewhat of a turn back to facing an evil threat, but one less definite than the Triad of Evil. An opression is brought upon the land by the mysterious Shadowlords, beings of malevolent power who represent the antithesis of Virtue. They imprison Lord British while he is away from his castle, and corrupt the mind of his appointed regent. Your quest is not merely to defeat the Shadowlords and the now evil Lord Blackthorn, but also to rescue Lord British and to eradicate the sense of opression brought upon the land. Finally, in Ultima VI, the Avatar is called upon again to face a new threat, but one whose nature is not as it seems. The race of Gargoyles, once residing in the Britannian Underworld, flee into Britannia upon their homeland's collapse. They see humans as their enemies for it was actions taken by you in your previous adventure which inadvertently led to the collapse of the Underworld. Eventually, you realize this, and that they are only retaliating against those who they see as destroying their land. Ultimately, you succeed in finding a peaceful solution, rather than having to exterminate the Gargoyle race.
(Ultima VII: The Black Gate) The Avatar is not called again for two hundred Britannian years (Time flows much faster on Britannia than on Earth). Suddenly, he is called once again, but for no discernible reason. The land seems to be at peace, there is no overt threat, and things have been such for some time. But there are a few things that do not quite look right in our supposedly peaceful kingdom. Most notably, a new organization called the Fellowship, seemingly a spiritual society having formed some twenty years prior as a philosophy to follow in the absence of the Avatar, the shining example of Virtue. But beneath the surface, there seems to be something about the Fellowship that is just... wrong. They seem to be too nice, their words sounding overly honeyed. Furthermore, the art of magic has become extremely unreliable, as have the moongates, which were for a long time a reliable way to travel the land. It eventually comes to the Avatar's attention that a malevolent entity known as the Guardian is responsible for the magic loss, the moongate loss, and even the Fellowship itself! It also appears as though he intends to enter the land of Britannia by means of a mystical Black Gate, and his arrival is imminent. Your mission is now clear: find this gate, and then destroy it, keeping the Guardian out.
(Ultima Underworld II: Labyrnth of Worlds) However, the Guardian is quite a powerful being, and does not give up easily. On the one year anniversary of your thwarting the Guardian's arrival, a great festival is held at Castle Britannia. Many important people are in attendance, including the Lord of the land, who is hosting the event, and yourself, an honored guest. Obviously, an opportunity the Guardian could not pass up as he creates a blackrock shell entrapping the castle and all within. After adventures which not only encompass the castle but eight other worlds besides, all of which have at some point been touched by the Guardian's sorcery, you succeed in dispelling the blackrock shell and indeed, aiding various other worlds oppressed by the Guardian. You have once again thwarted the plans of this fiend, and he is starting to get a bit annoyed with it.
(Ultima VII Part Two: Serpent Isle) Some time later, his next plan comes to the fore: with Batlin, formerly the leader of the Fellowship and the Guardian's lackey in Britannia, acting as the bait, he lures you to the Serpent Isle, a land far removed from Britannia. Furthermore, it is a land which has, of late, been in the early stages of what some prophesy to be the end of the world. The culmination of a long-forgotten war by a ancient culture of this land, the Serpent Isle is tearing itself apart with Imbalance. This ancient culture believed Balance to be the focus of their philosophy, and the War disrupted it. Now, many centuries later, comes the Time of Imbalance, when unnatural storms lash the land, and, ultimately, earthquakes will tear it asunder. The Guardian's plan is obviously to have you, the savior of the land he seeks to conquer, be on the Serpent Isle when it did so. However, through long and arduous journeys through the underground cities of the Ophidian culture, you learn how it would be possible to restore Balance to the Isle, therefore stopping its spiral towards self-destruction.
(Ultima VIII: Pagan) Upon doing this, you find yourself in the Ethereal Void, which permeates all realities. From here you could return to Britannia, or even Earth. But before you do so, your 'old friend', the Guardian (who is by now REALLY ticked off at you), intervenes and sends you to a world of his choosing: Pagan. A land which has been held in his tyrannical grip for centuries, possibly millenia. You were on his turf now. As you seek to find your way back to Britannia, you do what you can to right some of the deeply ingrained wrongs in this land, something which forces you to face off against the four Elemental Titans, powerful minions of the Guardian and lords over Pagan. As you confront them, you gain pieces of an ancient artifact, sundered into five pieces and four of which were given to the Titans, which may have the ability to send you back into the Ethereal Void, from which you could return to Britannia. Ultimately, you succeed in doing so, but when you do return to Britannia, you notice something very wrong. The land is not the Britannia you once knew. While you were off in the Serpent Isle and in Pagan, the Guardian was able to enter Britannia at last (I hope you didn't expect him to sit around and do nothing while the biggest thorn in his thick red hide was absent!), and it is now under his rule.
(Ultima IX: Ascension (Not yet released)) Now, however, you are more than merely the Avatar, paragon of Virtue. By defeating the Four Titans, you yourself acquired powers of a titanic level yourself. Now, as the Titan of Ether, you prepare to not only drive the Guardian out of Britannia, but you may be ready to Finish Him Off, for once and for all.
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