Ultima Online’s Latest Event Arc Is All About Pagan

In case you haven’t been following Ultima Online’s latest event arc, The Shattered Obelisk, let’s get you caught up since the last time we posted news about it. Since then, of course, several parts of the event arc have gone active:

Part I – The Not-So-Ordinary World – Now Active

It is just another day in Britannia, or is it? In an effort to stimulate trade and bolster city treasuries his Royal Highness has announced a reduction in tariffs, giving a large bonus to all city trade deliveries. With an increase in trade traffic, royal trade carts are finding themselves ambushed on Britannia’s roads. Who are these unknown attackers and what is their intent? Are they merely highway men looking to score some easy coin or are there more sinister forces at work?

Part II – Exotic Treasures – Now Active

The treasuries of Britannia’s cities overflow with coin as brave citizens take to protecting the commerce of the realm, hoping to recover otherwise useless trinkets of unknown highwaymen. Clues from those trinkets have raised more questions then they have answered. As the questions continue to mount, exotic treasures are found buried deep in the otherwise quiet Britannian countryside…to what end are these treasures important and what role do they play – only time will tell…

Part III – An Ethereal Journey – Now Active

Skara Brae reels from the devastation of a recent earthquake, Britain’s farms are engulfed in an inferno, and Vesper is drowned in catastrophic floods – despite these events, the whole of Britannia seems mostly unfazed. Perhaps a testament to the resolve of the Britannian people, or are there riches drawing the attention of would be treasure seekers – to what end are these events connected? Will it be too late before that question is answered…

Now, to this point in the event arc, the various pieces of lore fiction that have been released have…cast some hints in the direction of Ultima 8 and the land of Pagan, to be sure. However, with the launch of the latest part of the event arc…

Part IV – The Evil From Afar – Now Active

As the full picture of recent events in Britannia come into focus it all begins to make sense. Cultists influenced by zealots from the far away world known as Pagan have used ancient magics to open a gateway to this dead and vile world. Using that gateway the armies of the Elemental Titans have leeched into Britannia, bringing with them catastrophe and chaos. At the behest of Sherry the Mouse and with the aide of Mythran, Britannia stands a chance to fend off this coming disaster – but to the victors go the spoils, can Britannia and her people’s emerge victorious?

Special note: Part IV includes invasions throughout Britannia. While creatures killed have a chance to drop special equipment, in order to be eligible for non-equipment & decorative rewards in Part V a character must battle the elemental titans of Part IV. Eligibility is determined by damage taken, damage dealt, and damage healed from elemental titans.

…it’s no longer a case of hints being dropped, but overt connections being spoken of outright. Numerous pieces of lore fiction have been released which specifically invoke different elements and characters from Ultima 8.

For example, there’s Lurker, which doesn’t mention Hydros by name, but certainly invokes her (its?) title and speaks of cataclysmic events associated with Britannia’s sea.

And then there’s The Mountain King, which contains this exchange:

The other side looked like a simple stone catacomb. There was light from strange necromantic runes, and the air was still and stale. The ranger moved forward, walking for what seemed like hours. Eventually, the catacombs gave way to a natural cave. At his feet, the earth itself formed into a face and spoke, “Who are you, little being, to stand in my way?”

“I am Shamino Salle’ Dacil. And who might you be?

“I am Lithos. I am the Mountain King. I am the Heart of Earth. I claim this place.”

Shamino asked, “What is the basis for your claim?”

“By right of power. I claim all those who return to the ground, and they serve me forever. As shall you.”

Another story, Daemon’s Crag, pits Blackthorn — currently, the King of Britannia in Ultima Online‘s ongoing story — against the other two Titans:

The winds ceased pummeling the field, and the air in front of him condensed into a feminine form. The being spoke with a voice like a silver bell, “You are everything we hoped you would be. We do not need to be adversaries.”

King Blackthorn focused mana into an attack spell before responding to the being that had just tried to kill him. “You really don’t understand who we Britannians are. We do not yield to threats.”

Stratos laughed. Her voice rang out, “I was testing you, just as some of our worshippers have been testing your people. If you consider this a threat, perhaps we overestimated you.”

Blackthorn replied, “We have dealt with would-be conquerors before.” He channeled raw power into a blast to dissipate the aerial being.

The Titan of Air reappeared an instant later, unharmed. She gave a cruel smile and said, “You have never faced anything like us, little human king.”

Blackthorn had barely caught his breath when he felt a wave of heat coming from one of the stone paths. The temperature rose as the creature came into view. It held the shape of a daemon, but its flesh moved and rippled like living flame. Even from a hundred yards away, the king felt discomfort from the radiating heat. He expected it to move slowly, but it quickly closed the distance. He was still casting a spell to protect himself when the great fiery form smashed into him.

The burning claws of Pyros caused Blackthorn’s wards to sputter and spark. Believing this was his best opportunity, the king grabbed the dark shard from his belt. He plunged the blackrock spike into the creature’s chest and began chanting words of binding.

Pyros tore the blackrock shard from the king’s hands and tossed it out into the void. The terrible face snarled at him, “Better sorcerers than you have tried to bind me.” There was a crackle as the last of his wards died. Blackthorn felt the flames and the force of the Titan’s claws tearing at him. In desperation, he fumbled for the rune in his cloak. He had just cast the Recall spell onto the rune when the heat caused the marked stone to shatter.

And one more figure from Pagan’s history also turns up in the latest piece of lore fiction, entitled The Zealot:

He was about to run when a sword caught his attention by shouting at him, “Hey, kid! Yes, you! Pick me up! Pick me up! Let me help! Unless you’d rather be cut down in your prime.”

Ricardo grabbed the sword just as a large skeleton dressed in an assortment of lavish robes and armor burst into the room. Without ceremony, the skeleton swung a giant scimitar at him again and again, trying to cleave him in two. The sword in his hand leapt back and forth to block the undead warrior’s strikes.

The feral skeleton paused for a moment to ask, “Who steals from Khumash-Gor?”

Ricardo without thinking replied, “Who is Khumash-Gor?”

The sword chuckled, “You shouldn’t have said that.”

Ricardo held the sword desperately, as the undead king continued to slash at him. “I’m not really sure you’re helping.”

“Would you like to take over? Let me know if you feel capable of tirelessly parrying the supernatural blows of the undead wraith of a murderous raider king. I’ll take a break. Actually, I think that’s going to happen soon anyway.”

The great scimitar hit the black longsword a final time and shattered it like glass. There was a flash of light and the smell of brimstone. Standing beside Ricardo and Khumash-Gor was a grinning red fiend. The daemon stretched and swatted away a strike from the skeleton. “It’s good to be free after so long. I’m glad I was able to find someone willing to wield me so recklessly.”

And yes, it would apparently be the case that the Blackrock Sword, with the daemon Arcadion still inside it, has — again, at least in the story of Ultima Online — been shattered.

Now, the question remains: will we see the actual land of Pagan make an appearance in Ultima Online at any point? Most of the lore that has been published seems to suggest that the denizens of Pagan are invading Britannia. And given the small size of the team at Broadsword Online Games, and the large scale development that would be required to add a whole new continent — even a smallish one — to Ultima Online, it seems likely that we won’t actually see the setting of Ultima 8 turn up in the game at any point.

But hey…I’d be happy to be proven wrong on that point.

At any rate, The Shattered Obelisk will conclude with the launch of its fifth and final part, which will happen on September 28th.