Guardian, from Ultima Underworld II
The Guardian (also known at times as the "Guide" and the "Destroyer") is an inter-dimensional entity of vast evil who was created from the personal aspects of the Stranger, purged when the individual assumed the mantle of Avatarhood. Malevolently conquering numerous worlds throughout time and space, this titanic being served as the primary antagonist in the Age of Armageddon saga, which includes Ultima VII, Ultima Underworld II, Ultima VII Part Two, Ultima VIII and Ultima IX.
For a comprehensive list of the Guardian's mocking words throughout the series, see: Taunts of the Guardian
The Guardian appeared as a red, rocky skinned giant throughout the series, and was succinctly described by the wisps of Xorinia as "vain, greedy, egocentric, and malevolent." Possessed of considerable magical prowess and the gift of telepathic communication, the Guardian's methods frequently involved elaborate deception and exploiting other beings through invasion of their thoughts; although he was not above brute force, as demonstrated by his reign of destruction on Pagan or his conjuration of the great blackrock dome in Britannia. He was also particularly fond of taunting and mocking his enemies, as is evidenced by his continual psychic harassment of the Avatar during the years of their feud.
During all of his conflicts with the Avatar, the Guardian consistently withheld any direct assault on the hero, perhaps knowing that such assaults would be futile against a being who had once been a part of him. Nevertheless, he would frequently entice his followers to make attempts on the hero's life, or alternatively would attempt to lead his counterpart into fatal traps.
Creation and Early ConquestsAbyss, coalescing out of the sins abandoned by the newly christened Avatar. While it is unknown precisely when the event occurred, the malevolent entity seemed to have lost little time in forging for himself an empire of conquest, leaving his mark throughout the multiverse. The worlds of Tarna, Rhiannon, Talorus, and the unnamed realm housing Killorn Keep all eventually fell under his sway or dominion; worlds upon which he could not exert his power he often destroyed, leaving blighted husks of great civilizations as could be seen in realms such as Anodunos. In other worlds still, he made twisted compacts with other beings of great power, using his deceit to bring about the rise of the Titans on the once sunny lands of Pagan.
Due to his campaign across the cosmos, the exact chronology of his enterprises outside of Britannia is difficult to track, given the shifts in temporal flow that accompany movement between worlds. He appears, for example, to have exerted influence upon the realm of Serpent Isle in the days of the Ophidian wars, despite such events having occurred centuries before his "birth" with the Stranger's ascent to Avatarhood. In this era he made himself known as the "Guide" and enticed his acolytes Rieya, Solaria and Drusilla to interfere with the planting of the Silver Seed in Serpent Islander soil—a deed about to be enacted by the Avatar, who had also managed to find a means to traverse the march of time.
The Black Gate
Notwithstanding this paradoxical meeting in the past, from the Avatar's perspective, the Guardian was first encountered during Ultima VII, when the Destructor of Worlds turned his sights on the land of Britannia. Intently focused on the world his counterpart so cherished, the red titan used his powers of psychic seduction to slowly corrupt the people of the realm over several years, establishing among them a philosophical society known as the Fellowship, which would serve to build the hierarchy of his conquest when at last he set foot on the planet. The leaders of this group—directly communing with their master and knowing his aims—endeavored to build a portal from his current dimension to Britannia, constructing a vast moongate of blackrock that would open to their lord at the moment of their system's astronomical alignment.
However, the Time Lord—who had proven curiously instrumental in the Stranger's past transformation—sought to thwart this course of events, and used his powers to summon the hero back to Britannia. The Guardian, foreseeing such an eventuality, entrapped the meddling celestial in a space-time loop powered by one of the constructs of his followers. Despite this, the Avatar nevertheless managed to infiltrate the Guardian's operations at the time, and was able to destroy the Black Gate moments before the wicked counterpart stepped through. Among those chosen by the Guardian to be his inner circle of disciples, only the sage, Batlin, survived the hero's wrath, transported by his dark master to the realm of Serpent Isle to await further orders.
The Blackrock Gem
Still not content to abandon his aims on Britannia, the Guardian struck another blow to the realm a year later, in the midst of a festival celebration efforts to counteract the Fellowship's ill effects. In the midst of celebrations within Castle Britannia, the red titan conjured a vast dome of blackrock around the revelers inside—trapping the Avatar and many notables of the realm within—whilst he prepared an invasion from his stronghold at Killorn Keep.
Nystul, the court magician at the time, was able to discern that the magicks creating the blackrock sphere were clumsily woven, and the Avatar was able to confirm that a tiny replica of the jewel that surrounded the party-goers existed deep within the keep's sewage systems. Exploiting this mystical abnormality, the hero was able to travel to other worlds that had suffered the Guardian's intrusions, questing throughout eight realms that being exposed to the vast scope of the opponent's power. Eventually, after locating a number of similar copies of the gem throughout the dimensions, the hero was able to disrupt the spell that kept the castle-dwellers imprisoned. After weathering an attack by the Killorn forces and their champion, Mors Gotha, the Avatar was at last able to sound the ancient Horn of Praecor Loth using the power of an Air Djinn—which had been bound into the Avatar's own body—destroying the dome with the artifact's resonance.
Six months later, the Avatar was at last able to pick up on the trail of Batlin, traveling to the Serpent Isle in pursuit of him. During this time, the ill effects of the Great Earth Serpent's displacement had become manifest in many worlds, and the hero's quest soon turned from unraveling the Guardian's plans to preventing the imminent collapse of the universe, as the threat of the Imbalance loomed ever nearer.
During this adventure, Batlin's ambitions overtook his loyalties to his ethereal master, and the power-hungry sage sought to exceed the Guardian in power by opening the Wall of Lights in the city of Spinebreaker and ascending into the Ethereal Void. Disastrously, the foolish man had not taken proper precautions in securing prisons for the three Banes of Chaos, whose presence was necessary for such a feat, and he attempted to unlock the wall using the incorrect blackrock serpent. Seeing his former disciple's hubris bring him low, the Guardian cackled as the Banes slew Batlin and began a campaign of slaughter across the world, refusing to proffer aid as his dying underling begged for succor.Sunrise Isle that the Destructor of Worlds made his next move. Snatching the hero from ethereal space, the Guardian deposited the Avatar on the shadowy world of Pagan, which had already fallen victim to his ministrations. Here, the stranded Avatar fought desperately to return to Britannia, unseating and destroying the land's four elemental deities in order to carve a path back to the world the Avatar had vowed to protect.
Reunification and Ascension
Upon arriving once more in Britannia, the returned hero was confronted with a desolate view of the Guardian's fortress on the barren isle of Terfin. After being pulled briefly back to Earth from this disturbing sight by the Time Lord, the Avatar prepared for a last quest and reentered the realm, finding that the red titan had managed to at last enter the world physically during the Avatar's absence, and that he had erected a series of great columns across the landscape—twisting the hearts of the land's people and slowly pulling the moons from their orbit that Britannia might be annihilated.
Fighting valiantly to restore the people of the realm to virtue and to at last find means to finally defeat their adversary, the hero was at last visited with the shocking news of the Guardian's origins. Realizing that the division within the Avatar's own soul had caused such calamity throughout the universe, the Avatar chose to sacrifice individual existence to reunite with the Guardian and —using a contained casting of the Armageddon spell— self-destructed along with the evil counterpart, reuniting in some space and time outside of the material plane, that Britannia might live on.
The Guardian's origin concept evolved significantly from his creation through to the conclusion of the series, afforded by Richard Garriott's intentional deferment of a clearly defined background for the character until such a revelation became necessary. In his interview for Ultima: The Avatar Adventures, conducted prior to the release of Ultima VII, Garriott speculates about the Guardian being but one in a race of omniscient, deity-like beings, with the possibility that among them he is of a comparatively lesser capability. As described by the Ultima creator, "He's only Darth Vader, and the Emperor lives around the next corner."
By the time Ultima IX was in its second iteration of development, the inter-dimensional conqueror's lineage was construed to have originated with the Shadowlords and the Gem of Immortality. In this version of events, the Gem of Immortality resonated with the Stranger at the time of its destruction, thus spawning the Shadowlords out of the darkness in the character's soul. After their defeat in Ultima V, these beings coalesced in the Ethereal Void to take the apparent form of a uniquely gifted wingless gargoyle, who possessed abilities characteristic of his aerial counterparts. Warning of the civilization's impending demise following its loss of the Codex of Ultimate Wisdom, this individual rose to such prominence among his race that he became known as the "Savior" and spearheaded the Gargish uprising in Ultima VI, before vanishing amidst the Avatar's pilgrimage to their realm. Prior to his disappearance, the Savior foretold of his triumphant return to lead his brethren through an inevitable period of tribulation; it is this re-emergent entity who was to have been the Guardian as encountered in Ultima VII onward, before a final rewrite of Ultima IX brought with it the origin fiction learned in the released game.
|“|| Already, The Guardian is promising to be a powerful threat. Magic in Britannia has taken a turn for the worse in the past few years. I believe that The Guardian has done something to cause this malady. Not many people have noticed that Britannia's problem with Moongates -- their being so unreliable -- occurred around the same time.|
It follows that The Guardian is most likely responsible for this serious plague. The Guardian also possesses some kind of power which allows him to speak to and `charm' naive innocents so that they will gladly join The Fellowship and become Grade One members. These unfortunate lambs will most likely become The Guardian's slaves should he ever come into power..
|“|| In recent years, an extradimensional being who styles himself "the Guardian" made a stealthy attempt to conquer this world. Of this being we know little — only that he wields great sorcerous power and is utterly evil. With the aid of the wizard Batlin, he created an organization known as The Fellowship, which claimed devotion to the establishment of a new spiritual philosophy. The higher initiates of The Fellowship were gradually seizing power throughout the land, spreading corruption, and carrying out the Guardian’s hidden purposes.|
|“|| Then came a glorious change to the people of the land. Spoken only in hushed whispers, the leaders of a religious rebellion first made the words of the Guardian known to the public. This Guardian talked to them within their minds, foretelling of a dark time when a champion of tremendous evil would try to enter their world. This Destroyer would turn the very forces of nature - the elements of earth, water, air and fire - against them, raining destruction across the land. Only by offering worship to those very elements could the people hope to dissuade them from assisting the Destroyer.|
|“|| In the absence of the Avatar on the world of Pagan, the Guardian has thrown Britannia into the hungry mouth of chaos. The image [of the tapestry]] suggests that the lands are burning under the Guardian's command. Across the defiled lands, enormous columns have sprung and begun to leak evil into the soil. The people are confused in their beliefs and behaviors. It is a dark time when the Avatar returns to battle for the final time.|
- In all installments featuring the Guardian, Bill Johnson provides the character's voice, having originally been approached for the role by former classmate and Ultima VII writer, Raymond Benson. In 1996, Michael Dorn was hired to perform the part in Ultima IX and recorded his lines, but after major story changes the team decided to bring Johnson back in his stead.
- In Ultima IX, attacking the Guardian will cause the Avatar to take damage; however, the Guardian can attack the Avatar seemingly without ill effect.
- Xorinite Wisp. Underworld Dragon's Ultima VII Transcript. Ultima VII. "exchange".
- Beatrice. Ethereal Software's Ultima Underworld II Transcript. Ultima Underworld II.
- Rieya. Ethereal Software's Ultima VII Part Two Transcript. Ultima VII Part Two.
- Solaria. Ethereal Software's Ultima VII Part Two Transcript. Ultima VII Part Two.
- Drusilla. Ethereal Software's Ultima VII Part Two Transcript. Ultima VII Part Two.
- Time Lord. Underworld Dragon's Ultima VII Transcript. Ultima VII. "(after destroying the Sphere generator), crisis, mission".
- Nystul. Ethereal Software's Ultima Underworld II Transcript. Ultima Underworld II.
- Mors Gotha. Ethereal Software's Ultima Underworld II Transcript. Ultima Underworld II.
- Shamino. Quill Dragon's Ultima IX Transcript. Ultima IX.
- DeMaria, Rusel et al. "A Conversation With Richard Garriott". Ultima: The Avatar Adventures. Prima Publishing: 1992. Pages 381, 388–389.
- White, Robert. Ultima IX: Ascension - Plot Treatment. July 17, 1997. Pages 30, 41, 50.
- McCubbin, Chris et al. "A Conversation With Richard Garriott". Prima's Official Guide to Ultima IX: Ascension (Ultima IX). Prima Publishing: 1999. Page 288.
- Lawton, Adam. "Interview with Bill Johnson". Media Mikes. 2011-10-30. Retrieved 2016-08-07.
- Steinberg, Richard et al. "Ultima goes Hollywood". Point of Origin. Origin Systems: September 20, 1996. Page 3.