Book the Tenth:


            Our tiny skiff crashed along the waves. I stood upon the deck, looking out to the east.
            Buccaneer's Den. Somehow, that island was connected to the entire mystery surrounding the land. Questions still ebb at me, I hath yet to truly know the nature of my quest.
            What is your purpose here, Tir-Mordreth? Why did you send eight of your lieutenants to a world the Klep-Summ admitted was dying?
            And what of me? Tis not luck that I continue to survive. What hast thou in store for me?
            "Land ho!"
            In the distance, I spotted the approaching land mass of Buccaneer's Den. In less than a hour, we wouldst reach the isle.
            And I shall be ready for whatever thy plan is, Tir-Mordreth.


            A ghostly wind blew up as we anchored at the docks of Buccaneer's Den.
            "Stay with me," I warned my companions. "Danger no doubt lurks about here."
            Slowly, we proceeded down the streets. The buildings remained in remarkable condition, yet the entire isle wast devoid of life. No birds chriped or sang. No grass or moss grew on the dirt. Never had I felt a more empty place. Another ghostly wind blew by. I felt a storm was approaching.
            We made our way towards what had once been the House of Games. Herein we wouldst find the entrance to the caverns surrounding the city. This was where the assassin Hook made his hideout and the Fellowship tortured its prisoners. This is where whatever secret Buccaneer's Den held would lie.
            No cobwebs hung around the abandoned House of Games, no rats scampered across the floor. All life had been wiped out on this island.
            We made our way towards the back rooms of the building. I searched around for the door to the caverns. Then I saw a shocking sight.
            The door lay off its hinges. Behind it, the passage was blocked by a large boulder. This appeared deliberate; I was not yet supposed to find whatever lay here.
            "Tir-Mordreth," I whispered, "What art thou planning here?"
            "(AV)? Where to next?" Tseramed asked.
            Another chilling wind swept by, even though we wert indoors. The stench of evil surrounds this place. But we must remain! This is where my quest ends!
            "To the Fallen Virgin. Our shadows lenghten and the sun departs behind the mountains. We shalt sleep at the inn until dawn."
            "Art thou sure, (AV)?" Mortegro remarked. "Twould be safer upon the ship."
            "Nay, Mortegro. Tonight we shalt remain upon this cursed isle."


            I lay down in one of the luxurious beds of the Fallen Virgin. Trevor and Mortegro slept in the adjoining rooms. Tseramed, Gorn, and Inlor-Om, feeling caged in within the building, slept outside in their bedrolls.
            I relaxed. I'd not felt such a comfortable bed since I returned to Britannia. Twas almost enough to make me forget my quest.
            I sat up. What was that noise? Yet I had heard nothing. Another wind swept by. This is a Daemonic place. The perfect Earthly domain for my nemesis.
            With that thought, I settled back in bed and went to sleep.


            "My lord…"


            "Lord, in the name of the Guardian, let me be the one to destroy the Avatar and his companions!"

            "Thou didst fail twice already since he returned to Britannia."

            "Both times he wast aided by skilled mages, lord! Let me fight him man-to-man and I shalt bring you his head!"

            "Prove thyself first. Destroy the Shrine upon Dagger Isle."

            "Yes! It will be done, my lord!"

            "Good. Do not fail me, Aram-Dol."


            I woke up with a start. It was clearly darker outsie; I'd already slept for several hours.
            What were those two voices I heard in my dreams? The first was the dark liche Aram-Dol, but what of the other?
            "Who is thine final servant, Tir-Mordreth?" I whispered. A mocking wind blew by as my only response.
            The same wind I'd felt in my dream at the Shrine of Sacrifice. Him? Was this where I would meet…?
            Without another thought, I hurredly went back to sleep.


            "My lord?"


            "It is done, lord."

            "Good. Hast thou proof?"

            "Aye. I hold a piece of the Mystic Arms."

            "Well done, Lord of Deceit. Thou hast my blessing. Kill the Avatar and the Guardian shall grant thee incredible powers."

            "I thank thee, my lord! The champion of the Anti-Virtues shall meet his doom!"

            "Remember that if you fail for a third time, thine punishment shall be dire."


            I awoke once more. The winds were picking up outside. I felt the very building shake.
            These wert no mere dreams! Now, I must face another of the Guardian's lieutenants!
            Quickly, I armed myself and grabed my backpack. I checked the two other rooms; both were emtpy. I had no doubt my companions outside would be gone as well.
            So be it. Whatever their fate, it is clear I must face this alone. I rushed outside, drawing the Black Sword. Thunder rumbled through the sky. Lightning flashed and struck the ground.
            "Aram-Dol!!!!!! Show thyself!!!!!!!!"


            Down the road from me stood the liche, still wearing his royal crown and robes.
            "So this is it. Now we finish our battle."
            "Aye, Avatar. But we fight not only of magic. Do you recognize this?"
            In the liche's hand was a short, double bladed axe. An aura of gold and purple hung about it.
            "Erion's Axe…"
            "Yes, Avatar. You stole this from my treasure chamber after you and your companions slaughtered me. I reclaimed it after thou left it in the Ethereal Void. Quite fitting that this is the weapon thou shalt die by, eh?"
            "We shalt see who is the one to die, liche. I killed thee once before. Now, for the sake of all Britannia, I shalt triumph over thee again."
            "Ah, such a 'Virtuous' champion. Hast thou truly forgotten thine actions on Pagan or at Vesper already?"
            Another bolt of lightning struck the ground. I flinched involuntarily, more at Aram-Dol's words than the maelstrom about us.
            "That is a question for another time, Aram-Dol. Shall we duel now?"
            "Aye! Let us finish this!"


            We ran towards each other. Our weapons clashed several times. The thunder still echoed in our ears.
            "Thou'rt no fighter, Aram-Dol. Thou shalt surely lose this battle."
            "Nay, Avatar, I do not think so. I do not think so at all."
            I brought the Black Sword down upon the liche's head. He casually blocked the blow with his arm. The Black Sword did not cut through the skeletal appendage, but glanced off in a burst of sparks.
            "Do you not see, Avatar? Thou shalt lose this battle. Heh heh heh…"
            The liche Aram-Dol began to fade and disappear. I ran towards him again, but it was too late. Another bolt of lightning hit the ground. I heard the liche's laughter all around me.
            "Now what, Avatar? How canst thou fight an opponent thou canst not even see?"
            I felt a blow slice across me from behind. Several more came with lightning speed from all directions, easily cutting through my armour. A stumbled back, badly wounded, not even sure from what direction my enemy came.
            "Thou shalt not die quickly, Avatar! I shalt make thy death as painful as mine!"
            I tried to deflect the incoming attacks with my sword, but I could not even tell from where they came. My legs felt weak underneath me; I couldst barely even stand. I tried to concentrate trough the Ether, yet the dark liche's onslaught gave me no time to think.
            "I died just as painfully, Avatar. But now it gladdens me to see thine pain, to see thee face all that I hath! Twill be a great pleasure to hear throughout the void how I was the one who destroyed thee!"
            Magic. I tried to intone a spell of Reveal, but I felt my mana drain from me. My magic was negated.
            No! It cannot end here! After all I hath done!
            I saw before me the Shrines of Truth, Love, and Courage, each represented by a statue. And why should it not end here? the old man of Truth seemed to say. Why should you not die for betraying our Virtue?
            Ether. Yes… This puny field can do little against my titanic powers. Of course! It's all so clear now! Why concentrate? Using my powers is as easy as walking or talking; a natural response! I've been canceling it out through my own foolish willpower!
            Ether… a spell… a powerful spell…
            All these and more thoughts passed through my mind in an instant. Suddenly, I knew. Aram-Dol had lost. Even the Bal Lem and the Guardian would lose eventually.
            "VAS KAL BET FRIO HUR POR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
            Another lightning bolt hit the ground. Silence engulfed us for a moment. I felt a million eyes watching me: my companions, the Guardian, even Lord British, far away…
            "What??" Aram-Dol cried out.
            His question needed no answer from me. The skies themselves replied. A massive downpour of rain and hail fell from the heavens, all across the isle. Outlined through this was the liche Aram-Dol, easily visable from the rain falling upon him.
            "No! This cannot be! No matter, I shalt still destroy thee, Avatar!!!!!!!!!!"
            Puny fool. Thou canst not face my powers. From the Mystic Belt, I pulled forth the Horn of Praecor Loth, still embedded with the Air Djinn. In my other hand, I raised the Black Sword, its hilt marked with the Gem of Dracothraxus, capable of holding beings of emense power.
            Filling my lungs with the Ether, I blew the Horn upon the Black Sword, with more force than in Castle Britannia or at the lighthouse Stormcrow.
            With the Air Djinn released, Loth's Horn was useless to me now. I tossed it aside, holding the Black Sword in front of me. The gem in its hilt cracked and sparkled, unable to hold the Djinn for long.
            "Aram-Dol! It was foolish of thee to challenge me! Accept defeat!"
            "Never, Avatar!!!!!!!!! I shalt have my revenge upon thee!!!!!!! I SHALT DESTROY THINE VERY LAST ESSENCE!!!!!!!!!!!!
            The liche charged at me once more. Th gem wouldst not hold for much longer. Aram-Dol was upon me. I thrust the Black Sword upward, piercing straight through the dark liche. Silence hung for another moment. Thunder boomed through the air. Then the gem shattered. Seconds later, the entire blade of the Black Sword broke into pieces, leaving me with a sword hilt. No matter. I had won.
            Aram-Dol stumbled back. Slowly, he began to crumble. Light errupted from inside him.
            "NO!!!!!!!!!!! THIS CAN'T BE!!!!!!!!!!!!! THIS CAN'T BE….."
            In a massive explosion, the liche was destroyed completely. I had now killed three of the Guardian's lieutenants upon Britannia. I shalt slaughter them all.
            The rain died down and stopped. All was over for the time being.


            Where the liche stood, two objects hung in the air. Virtue hung about the first, a tiny ring marked with a small ankh.
            "The Mystic Ring of Honesty…"
            Slowly, the object floated over to me and fitted itself around my finger. It faded and disappeared under my right gauntlet. Removing the gauntlet, I saw that I still wore the ring, but it had disappeared beneath the armour.
            One by one, my companions wandered out from different parts of the isle. All wert wounded; each apparently faced a trial of their own.
            "Avatar…?" Trevor asked.
            "The dark liche Aram-Dol is dead." I replied. "Yet the Guardian has grown stronger."
            The second object where Aram-Dol died was another shard of Mondain's Gem, the Shard of Deceit. It floated higher, then sped a hundred yards away. A dark figure garbed in head to toe in black armour stood there. I recognized he whom I fought in my dream at the Shrine of Sacrifice.
            "The Bal Lem…"
            The Shard of Deceit hovered above the Shadowknight. I now recognized the sword Tir-Mordreth's servant wielded.
            "No… the Sword of Chaos…"
            In the Chaos Blade's hilt was Mondain's Gem, larger and fuller than I'd seen it before. The Shard of Deceit floated into the hilt of the sword, binding with the rest of the gem. Mondain's dark instrument now appeared even more radiant.
            "No!" I cried. "I destroyed the Sword of Chaos at the bottom of Dungeon Doom!"
            Slowly, the Bal Lem turned towards me. In his eyes wert the same cold, empty darkness I had seen before.
            "The blade as been rebuilt."
            "How? How didst thou take the Gem from the Infinity Brazier in the Shrine of the Codex?"
            "The Guardian statues were but Rahl-Shaka and Carh-Endel. Tir-Mordreth can no longer be held by their combined power.
            "The liche Aram-Dol has fallen at thy hand, Avatar. No matter. The Gem of Mondain grows stronger. Take thy quest elsewhere, Avatar. We shalt meet again."

"Shalt thou continue this pathetic quest forever, Avatar?"

-Klep-Summ, Lord of Betrayal

            Yep, this last book was pretty short, wasn't it? I'll admit they get much shorter near the end of the story (which, as you might notice, we are getting closer and closer to). Some might be longer than this one, but many will probably be about the same length as this. Don't worry. In almost all of the really great Ultimas, events seem to happen faster and faster as the game is getting near the end. You'll just sit there and play all the way through the night 'cause you can't bear to stop this close to the end. Well, that's what I HOPE the last few chapters will be like. See ya in Book Eleven!

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