Horance

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Horance
Horance.gif
Horance, from Ultima VII
Species: Human
Appearances
Ultima VII
Location: Skara Brae
Ultima VI
Horance U6.GIF
Horance, from Ultima VI
Location: Skara Brae
U6 Transcript: Horance
The Ultima 6 Project
Unfinished-U6Project.png
Horance, from The Ultima 6 Project
Location: Skara Brae

Horance is a mage in Skara Brae with a pernicious and fateful history, first encountered innocuously in Ultima VI, before a calamitous turn in Ultima VII.

Biography[edit]

Age of Enlightenment[edit]

In his earlier years, Horance was a kind-hearted man with a passion for magic and writing poetry, and the people of Skara Brae initially felt safely protected by his presence.[1] With the passage of time, however, Horance's mind began to deteriorate into a senile shadow of its former self. Though acting as a mentor in the art of verse to the tragically orphaned Marney,[2] his sonnets became a "rhyming doggerel" and the only form in which he would speak, while he began to provoke fear from his fellow citizens with increasingly violent demonstrations of magic.[1] It was in this state that he could be encountered in Ultima VI, living as a recluse on Skara Brae's small satellite isle of Iver's Rounding and willing to trade destructive spells with the Avatar.

Horance the Liche[edit]

HoranceLich.PNG

Following the abolition of hostilities between kingdoms Britannian and Gargish, Horance had the Dark Tower erected upon the northwestern tip of Skara Brae and completely confined himself within its walls. The eccentric mage eventually descended into unmitigated madness from years of isolation, his existence becoming dominated by an obsession with discovering the secret to immortality. Though finally able to divine its formula, this ultimately came at the dreadful cost of his becoming one with a malevolent, power-hungry liche.[3][4]

In his new form, Horance began to raise the dead from their graves in order to do his ghastly bidding, which included abducting Rowena, wife of Trent the blacksmith, to reside with him as a captive companion.[5] The unsuspecting woman was killed in the ghoulish struggle to kidnap her, inciting the distraught inhabitants of Skara Brae to compose a plan—guided by town healer Mordra Morgaelin—to destroy the liche with a distinctly formulated potion in an attempt to abate the horrors befouling the city. The scheme went catastrophically awry, however, through Mayor Forsythe's miscommunication of the concoction's delicate balance of ingredients to Caine, dooming the alchemist to inadvertently spark a colossal blaze that incinerated the entire island and, in a tragic twist of irony, left Horance as the lone survivor.[4][6]

Age of Armageddon[edit]

U7-soulcage.jpg
With Skara Brae a literal ghost town and long able to continue his pursuits unchecked, Horance had become megalomaniacal by the time of the Avatar's ghastly reunion with him in Ultima VII. The liche lord effectively controlled all undead on the island and, with the Well of Souls, leeched the essence of its spectral townsfolk in a nightly "Black Service" to further his dark existence and fuel a bid to overtake Britannia.[7][8] Armed with the Soul Cage and a correctly proportioned liche potion, however, the Avatar managed to comprehensively dispel the vile magicks corrupting Horance and freed him from their grasp.

Finally of sound mind once again after more than two centuries, and spared from the effects of the Tetrahedron Generator by the Dark Tower's walls, Horance beseeched the Avatar to reunite Rowena with her long-lost love and destroy the Well of Souls. Upon doing so, the spirits it once kept in bondage were released to their rightful destinies, with their former captor bestowing his firedoom staff to the Avatar as a token of gratitude and vowing to remain in Skara Brae, that he might restore the island city of Spirituality to its former beauty.[9]

Trivia[edit]

  • In Ultima VI, Horance will respond to the keywords "Burma Shave," reciting a poem typical of the advertising associated with the brand.[10]
  • In Ultima VII, Horance is listed as the author of a book entitled Modern Necromancy, which seeks to shed light on the oft-maligned magical arts pertaining to death.[11]
  • In the SNES Port of Ultima VII, Horance is a mere host to a liche known as Rudolfo, rather than having become a liche in his own right. Once the Avatar defeats this creature, Horance's body will be freed from its influence, and he will thank the hero for liberating him.[12]
  • In early drafts of Ultima IX from Bob White's tenure as lead designer, Horance is directly referenced in materials found strewn about the Dark Tower, at that time a location reprised in the game. The journals, written by those who had once been in his servitude, question the mage's sanity following his discovery of undead in ancient tombs beneath the Well of Souls, known as the Catacombs of the Angry Dead.[13] It is also revealed the daemonic force exorcised from Horance in Ultima VII has since taken the form of a dracoliche, and continues to enslave the undying.[14]

Goods[edit]

Main article: Ultima VI Magic Shops

References[edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 QuentonUltima VII UsecodeUltima VII. "Liche".
  2. MarneyU6EditUltima VI. "Horance".
  3. MordraUltima VII UsecodeUltima VII. "Horance the Liche".
  4. 4.0 4.1 Morris, Andrew P. "Skara Brae". Key to the Black Gate (Ultima VII). Origin Systems, Inc.: 1992. Page 20.
  5. TrentUltima VII UsecodeUltima VII. "wife, killed."
  6. MordraUltima VII UsecodeUltima VII. "fire, recipe, mayor".
  7. MordraUltima VII UsecodeUltima VII. "Black Service".
  8. HoranceUltima VII UsecodeUltima VII. "name, New Order".
  9. HoranceUltima VII UsecodeUltima VII. "Skara Brae".
  10. HoranceEthereal Software's Ultima VI TranscriptUltima VI. "Burma, Shave".
  11. Horance. Modern Necromancy (Ultima VII - in-game).
  12. HoranceUltima VII SNES TranscriptUltima VII. "imprisonment?".
  13. White, Robert. Ultima IX Technical Documents - Catacombs of the Angry Dead. May 5, 1995. Page 1.
  14. White, Robert. Ultima IX: Ascension - Plot Treatment. July 17, 1997. Page 25.