Gwenno, from Ultima VII Part Two
Gwenllian "Gwenno" Gwalch'gaeaf, known more commonly as Gwenno, is a recurring character. She is a frequent comrade in arms to the Avatar and a native of Earth. It is likely that she first appears in Ultima I and continues to be a presence in the series thereafter until Ultima IX.
Gwenno is a woman of diverse talents, having been shown as a tinker, bard, scholar and explorer over the course of the series. In her capacity as an entertainer, she wrote the lyrics for the famous song "Stones," which was composed by her husband, Iolo FitzOwen.
Age of Darkness
Gwenno was likely brought over to Sosaria in the company of her husband, Iolo, who was among those Terrans that Lord British assisted in migrating to his newfound realm. First appearing as an ubiquitous jester under the name of "Gwino" (likely an archaic bastardization), the joyful woman performed throughout the courts of the world's eight kings, singing over and over "I've got the key!"
For sinister reasons never fully explained, the key which Gwenno possessed was that which would unlock the cell of each keep's imprisoned princess, and in order for the Stranger to overcome Mondain it became unavoidable that Gwenno must be slain for the sake of liberating these woman. However, this early murder at the hands of one who would later be counted among her friends curiously did not appear to be permanent. Perhaps the Stranger just knocked out the jester, or she only pretended to be dead, or an early resurrection spell was cast on her.
Years later, before Minax began her assault on Gwenno's homeworld of Earth, both her and her husband traveled through some Time Doors and ended on the dystopic Earth wrought by the sorceress' magics. In this bizarre world later to be forgotten, the couple could be found in twentieth century New San Antonio, where they were strangely enclosed within a doorless building which bore their names. To what end the pair was thus confined has never been explained, although it is certain that they escaped and made their way back to Sosaria before the Time Doors disappeared.
Returning to Sosaria after these baffling events, Gwenno once more became an entertainer in the service of a castle, joining the court of the young Lord British, now sovereign over the entirety of Sosaria. Her during, the dark days of the Stranger's struggle against Exodus, she and Iolo could be found within the king's keep, serenading all around with the bard's classic tune, "Ho eyo he hum!" with Gwenno added an accompanying "Muh eh oye oh!" to the song, reversing its phonetics.
Age of Enlightenment
Following the defeat of the Triad of Evil, the newly christened realm of Britannia underwent radical changes as the young Lord British attempted to establish a culture of Virtue and learning within his lands. At this time, Gwenno and Iolo came to settle in the capital city of Britain, which had been dedicated to the virtue of Compassion. Here, the couple sang and performed for the children of the town.
When the Stranger, now aspiring to take on the mantle of Avatarhood reappeared, Gwenno would tell of the benefits of dancing, and exhort the hero to give freely to beggars. Her husband, being of a mind for adventure, joined in the pilgrim's quest for enlightenment, traveling with into the depths of the Great Stygian Abyss to gain the knowledge of the Codex of Ultimate Wisdom therein.
Following Lord British's disappearance during a journey of discovery, the corrupt regent Lord Blackthorn took power, persecuting all who had traveled in the Avatar's company. During this dark time, Iolo and Gwenno were forced to live apart, with the bard hiding in the Deep Forest of Yew while Gwenno tended his bowyer's shop, Iolo's Bows, in Britain with the assistance of his apprentice, Gwenneth.
In spite of such hardships, Gwenno remained jovial and upbeat during the reign of the Oppression, joking about how Iolo's crossbows somehow managed to stay in stock despite the numerous leaflets with his bounty appearing throughout the realm. During their next conversation, should the Avatar show reluctance to have her join the party, she would take the initiative, asking to join in the hero's adventures this time, claiming herself as Iolo's better half.
Eventually, the true king was restored and the tyrant exiled, and Gwenno turned to more peaceable pursuits, such as transcribing various Britannian folk songs into numerical musical notation for the Minoxian Artisan's Guild, while Gwenneth took on ownership of Iolo's Bows and her husband retired for a span to pursue his love of music.
During the time of the gargoyle wars, the Avatar again sojourned to Britannia, questing to halt their invasion. Gwenno then provided the musical notation to Stones, which the hero needed as a prerequisite to joining the artisan's guild. Eager again for the open road, Gwenno would readily join the Avatar's party again, if asked, especially if it gave her the opportunity to enjoy Iolo's company.
Age of Armageddon
Two-hundred years later, immediately prior to the events of Ultima VII, Gwenno encountered a sailor from Buccaneer's Den who offered her a map to the legendary Serpent Isle. Thrilled at the opportunity to explore this strange land of legend, Gwenno immediately took off on a voyage of exploration, after extracting a promise from Lord British to not give her husband or the Avatar directions to the mystical Serpent Pillars until their current quest was complete. She left a note behind for Iolo at their home near Yew, explaining her absence and giving her spouse her best wishes.
Gwenno was hired by the Fellowship to transport an obelisk and made the voyage to Serpent Isle with a small company of Fellowship members and sailors, consisting of Leon, Ruggs, Geof, Palos, Brunt, Deadeye, Scots and Kalen. The voyage was rocky, owing to the Teleport Storms brought on by the coming Imbalance, and during the course of the journey, Geof was either transformed into a chicken or transposed with one.
Landing near the city of Fawn, Gwenno left the ship after unloading the obelisk, and began on her various scholarly explorations of the land. She did substantial research into the folk tales, relics and history of Serpent Isle visiting Moonshade and Monk Isle among other locations in her pursuits.She also developed a profound interest in legends of the Gwani, a race of fur-covered creatures living in the icy north lands.
Gwenno eventually trekked to the frozen north herself, where she encountered the Gwani first hand—befriending their race and working to instruct them in the language of men. Sometime during her explorations into the ruins of the Ophidian civilization, however, Gwenno became possessed by the Bane of Wantonness, an aspect of the shattered Chaos Serpent from Ophidian cosmology. In this fallen state, Gwenno ambushed a group of trappers accompanying the hunter, Hazard, slaughtering most of them before being slain by the few remaining survivors. The Gwani, mourning her loss, entombed her at their Death Temple in accordance with their burial practices.Black Gate and the thwarting of the Guardian's first attempted invasion, the Avatar set sail for Serpent Isle with Shamino, Dupre and Iolo, seeking after Gwenno in addition to hunting the former Fellowship head, Batlin. Trailing both parties across the lands of New Sosaria, the company eventually learned of the goodwoman's fate from the necromage, Mortegro, who summoned Gwenno's shade that she might speak of her death and relay her love to her bereft husband. Deeply shaken after such revelations, Iolo became woefully distraught, initially denying the authenticity of what he witnessed, until he later heard news of her death repeated by the Gwani.
Following the death of Batlin, the Avatar's three companions were lost when they became possessed by the unleashed Banes. Traveling in the solitary wastes of the north, the hero heard the voice of the Great Earth Serpent, with instructions to seek the Gwani Horn. The horn was to be used to free Gwenno's body from its icy sepulcher. After being taken to the home of the Xenkan Monks, she was eventually revived from death, although her mind had been shatter by its contact with the spirit of the Bane. In her frenzied state, Gwenno hungered unceasingly for human flesh, and was only cured of the insanity when given the magic waters of the Temple of Discipline.
Now fully restored to the realms of the living, Gwenno was at last able to reunite with Iolo, who like her, had been possessed, slain, maddened and cured.[Citation needed] While overjoyed to again be in her beloved's company, the assiduous scholar immediately dedicated herself to the task of researching the Imbalance that the Avatar might halt it, only joining the party towards the end of its quest, following the death of Dupre.
The end of this chapter left Gwenno, as well as the hero's other companions, on the now bloodied and desolate world of Serpent Isle—as the Avatar was abducted by the Guardian's hand to suffer further in the dark realms of Pagan. It is unknown how the three friends eventually returned to Britannia, but it is known that such a homecoming did transpire before the time of Ultima IX.
During the hero's last wanderings in Britannia, Gwenno could be found living in a new home near the outskirts of Britain. She would relay to the Avatar that her husband had left her to explore the ominous column that had appeared near Dungeon Despise, not knowing that he had been seduced by its power, becoming Ooli of the Wyrmguard. She implored the hero to help her in restoring her spouse to her, hoping that the returned champion would be able to locate him. It is not clear why she didn't go after Iolo herself.
Should the hero spare Iolo during the battle between them, he would eventually be brought back to his right senses following the cleansing of the Shrine of Compassion, and Gwenno would be reunited with him. Afterwards she would thank the hero for not slaying the bard when he was under the influence of evil, praising their compassion.
It is a shame, a heart sore shame,
That I am singing of my love in vain,
For I have lost my lady, my love,
And I will search for her, yes, search for her,
Even through the stars above.
Gwenno canst thou hear me, Gwenno, my dear?
Take heart for thy beloved Iolo is here!
- Iolo's song upon entering Fawn ( Ultima VII Part Two)
- Gwenno's counterpart in reality is the late Kathleen Jones, who was the wife of David Watson, the man upon whom Iolo FitzOwen is based. Like her husband, she was a longtime participant in the Society for Creative Anachronism's barony of Bryn Gwlad, where Richard Garriott has been known to assume the persona of Shamino Sallé Dacil. Jones passed away in November 2000, and is memorialized in Ultima Online with a large tombstone found in the world of Ilshenar, at coordinates 99'24 N by 40'4 W (X:753, Y:493).
- Gwenno's hair color (like Julia's) is inconsistent throughout the series. While it is shown as dark auburn in Ultima VI, it later becomes ginger red in Ultima VII Part Two. In the game's official clue book, however, she is described as being blond and is further depicted as such in Ultima IX.
- In Ultima VI, Gwenno's dialogue will change notably if Iolo is present. She will link arms with her husband and dance if asked to join the party while he is a member, and upon being asked to depart from him, she will remind him to keep his socks dry.
- In Ultima IX, the Avatar may opt to slay Iolo when encountering him as a Wyrmguard. If this happens, Gwenno will become furious with the Avatar, initially thinking that the hero is playing a sick joke on her when informed of her husband's death. Eventually, however, she will forgive the Avatar, claiming to realize that Iolo had left little choice in the matter.
- Lynn Abbey's Ultima Saga mistakenly calls her "Lady Gwenneth".
- "Ultima Dragons Internet Chapter -==(UDIC)==-". Facebook. Retrieved 2014-05-09.
- Gwenno. Codex. Ultima IX. "Stones".
- Gwino the Jester. Quill Dragon's Lair. Ultima I.
- Iolo. Underworld Dragon's Ultima III Transcript. Ultima III: Exodus.
- Gwino. Underworld Dragon's Ultima III Transcript. Ultima III: Exodus.
- Gwenno. Codex. Ultima IV. "job".
- Iolo. Codex. Ultima IV. "job".
- Gwenno. Codex. Ultima IV. "dance, beggars".
- Julia. Codex. Ultima V. "Shadowlords".
- Gwenno. Codex. Ultima V. "Iolo".
- Gwenno. Codex. Ultima V. "Iolo, outlaw, signs".
- Gwenno. Codex. Ultima V. "Goodbye, (Default)".
- Gwenno. Codex. Ultima VI. "job".
- Gwenneth. Codex. Ultima VI. "job".
- Iolo. Codex. Ultima VI. "job".
- Gwenno. Codex. Ultima VI. "play, stones".
- Gwenno. Codex. Ultima VI. "join".
- Nakar. "Ultima VII: The Black Gate Part #30 - The Black Gate - What Yew Talkin' Bout, Iolo?". Let's Play Archive. Retrieved 2014-1-31.
- Scots. Paul Carr. Ultima VII Part Two. "Gwenno, Batlin".
- Alyssand. Paul Carr. Ultima VII Part Two. "companions".
- Ruggs. Paul Carr. Ultima VII Part Two. "companions,Palos,not fit".
- Jendon. Paul Carr. Ultima VII Part Two. "scholars".
- Ruggs. Paul Carr. Ultima VII Part Two. "changes a man".
- Scots. Paul Carr. Ultima VII Part Two. "obelisk".
- Spektor. Paul Carr. Ultima VII Part Two. "Gwenno".
- Fedabiblio. Paul Carr. Ultima VII Part Two. "Magister, Seminarium, travellers".
- Simon. Paul Carr. Ultima VII Part Two. "visitors, scholar".
- Myauri. Paul Carr. Ultima VII Part Two. "Gwenno".
- Karnax. Ultima VII Part Two Usecode. Ultima VII Part Two. "the secret, consequences".
- Ssithnos. Paul Carr. Ultima VII Part Two. "Great Earth Serpent".
- Fitch. Ultima VII Part Two Usecode. Ultima VII Part Two. "What happened?".
- Myauri. Paul Carr. Ultima VII Part Two. "name, Neyobi, strange sickness, Gwani die, Gwenno, How did Gwenno die?".
- Baiyanda. Paul Carr. Ultima VII Part Two. "name, Mwaerno, Yenani, Gwenno".
- Mortegro. Paul Carr. Ultima VII Part Two. "Necromage, spirits of dead, seance".
- Iolo. Paul Carr. Ultima VII Part Two.
- Baiyanda. Paul Carr. Ultima VII Part Two. "name, Mwaerno, Yenani, Gwenno, Where is the temple?".
- Karnax. Paul Carr. Ultima VII Part Two. "the secret, consequences, cure".
- Gwenno. Quill Dragon's Ultima IX Transcript. Ultima IX.
- Gwenno. Underworld Dragon's Ultima VI Transcript. Ultima VI. "folk, Iolo, job, join, learn, Stones".
- Abbey, Lynn. The Forge of Virtue. Questar Fantasy: 1991. Page 8.