This article is about the runes required to gain access to the Shrines of Virtue. For the stones used in Runic Magic, see Rune Stones.
The eight runes are a series of symbolic artifacts which allow their bearer access to the Britannian Shrines of Virtue that they might meditate and learn there. They appear in Ultima IV, VI, Runes of Virtue, VII, and IX.
Each stone rune corresponds to one of the Eight Virtues and its accompanying shrine. One side is carved with a symbol evoking the virtue connected to the rune, whilst the other bears one of eight runic letter. When placed side by side, these engravings spell out the word "infinity," referencing the singular axiom which binds together both the Principles and the Virtues.
Throughout Britannian history, the runes have been depicted as being of different sizes - being small enough to hold in the palm of one's hand in Ultima IV and as large as a small shield in Ultima VII and Ultima IX - indicated that more than one set of runes may have been used from age to age.
Age of Enlightenment
The runes were first introduced at the beginning of the Age of Enlightenment, around the same time as the establishment of the shrines. It seems likely that they were crafted by Britannian hands, given the existence of professional rune carvers such as Azure of Minoc. Whatever their exact origins, they eventually became hidden from much of the populace, and would require much seeking on the part of the Stranger before the hero would obtain all them.
Eventually, the Stranger would recover and make use of all eight runes in their pilgrimage toward Avatarhood. After the hero's attainment of the wisdom of the Codex, however, these artifacts were not be seen again until the days of the Gargoyle War, and were notably absent from the realm during the reign of Lord Blackthorn (although the shrines continued to function without them).
When the runes resurfaced, it was claimed that Lord British had previously managed to secure them when the Great Council retrieved the Codex from the Abyss. The sovereign eventually sent the eight artifacts to the leaders of each of the eight cities, although through happenstance or misfortune, many of them were eventually lost or bequeathed to other guardians. The returning Avatar would once more need to gather the scattered runes, as their power was necessary to dissipate the magical barriers which the invading gargoyles had placed upon the moonstones in their seizure of the shrines.
Age of Armageddon
In the centuries following Lord British and Lord Draxinusom's eventual accord, the runes faded from prominence as public belief in the Virtues waned. They were eventually gathered and placed in the Royal Museum as artifacts of a past age, where they could be found resting at the time of the Avatar's return at the beginning of the Age of Armageddon.
Twenty years before the hero's last visitation to the realm, the runes would be stolen by agents of the Guardian, and were corrupted by the Destroyer of Worlds such as that they became sources of power for his dark columns. These bewitched runes, known as glyphs, spread an aura of wickedness and immorality throughout the realm, twisting the souls of the Britannian populace and turning them to evil.
In their last quest before their reunification with the Guardian and subsequent apotheosis, it fell to the Avatar to retrieve and purify the runes, such as that they might be used to cut off the Red Titan's lines of power in the land and render him vulnerable in their final confrontation. As the hero journeyed to Terfin to undergo this last trial, their eight companions installed the eight runes in the columns which had once housed them as glyphs, transforming the structures into beacons of virtue and thwarting the Guardian's schemes.
Runes of Virtue
In Ultima: Runes of Virtue, the runes were stolen by the Black Knight, and hidden within their corresponding dungeon. The hero had to delve into all eight dungeons of Britannia in order to retrieve the pilfered runes, and then return them to Lord British, thus foiling the Black Knight's plan.
- A small child in Moonglow known as Christen will reveal that her friend William knows where the Rune of Honesty is hidden. When asked, William will tell the hero that it lies near Mariah's gold in Moonglow.
- In Britain, Sprite can direct the Stranger to the bard, Pepper, who will in turn reveal that the rune of the Rune of Compassion can be found at the end of a hallway in Britain's Britannia Manor.
- Lord Robert of Jhelom can direct the hero to the imprisoned architect Nostro regarding the rune. Once found and rescued, the engineer will reveal that the Rune of Valor was buried in one of the city's towers.
- Judge Talfourd will instruct the Stranger to search in the Yewian High Court should the hero express penitence for their sins. The Rune of Justice can be found in the same cell as the prisoner Vorpal.
- After consulting the siblings Azure and Mischief, the hero will learn that the Rune of Sacrifice is ensconced in the fires of Zircon's forge in Minoc.
- The hero can learn of the Rune of Honor's location after consulting a young boy named Terrin at the behest of the merchant Winthrop. They will learn it is buried in the southwest corner of Trinsic.
- The Ankh of Spirituality knows the location of the Rune of Spirituality and will divulge this information if told the appropriate mantra. The rune is stored in Lord British's treasure chamber.
- In order to glean knowledge of the Rune of Humility, the hero must travel to Magincia and consult with Nate the Snake, who will direct them to ask the ranger, Barren. Barren, in turn, will reveal that the rune is buried in the mountains of Paws.
Ultima IV (Nintendo Port)
- An unnamed child in Moonglow will direct the Stranger to seek out the rune "three steps south." The Rune of Honesty is located three paces south of a piece of pavement standing upon the grass.
- A ranger in Britain can tell the hero that the Rune. of Compassion is located at the foot of Britannia Manor's stairs
- Nostro (a ghost in this version of the game) will give the hero the Rune of Valor once they find his final resting place.
- The penitent Vorpel will willingly reveal that the Rune of Justice lies in his cell.
- The hero may learn from a man with sleeping sickness in Minoc's Poor House that the Rune of Sacrifice lies in the blacksmith's fire place.
- The Stranger must help an old man tend his crops in Trinsic before learning that the Rune of Honor lies buried amidst the soil of the fields.
- One of the people of Paws can tell the hero the location of the Rune of Spirituality, which still lies in Lord British's treasury.
- A denizen of Vesper can direct the Stranger to search out the Rune of Humility in a moor near Paws.
- The Rune of Honesty was entrusted to Beyvin of Moonglow by Lord Aganar, and was buried alongside its keeper at the time of his death. It may be found inside Beyvin's tomb at the Moonglow Catacombs. Beyvin's cousin Manrel will only give the the key to the crypt if the Avatar will place daffodils on the site.
- The Rune of Compassion was entrusted to the bards of the conservatory by Tholden of Britain, and is in the possession of Ariana, a promising young student of the Music Hall. The Avatar needs to obtain permission from her mother first before relinquishing the stone.
- The Rune of Valor was lost during a tournament held by Lord Zellivan at Jhelom's tavern, the Sword and Keg. A rat had stolen the Rune as the fighters of the city competed for the honor of carrying it, and had absconded with it to its nest. The Avatar will have to enlist the help of Sherry the Mouse to retrieve it.
- The Rune of Justice has been stolen by the thief Boskin from the grave of the former Lord Mayor. He will reveal its location should the Avatar promise to help secure his freedom from the Yewian prisons. It was hidden by the criminal under a potted plant at the local pub, The Slaughtered Lamb.
- The Rune of Sacrifice is in the possession of the guild master Selganor of the Artisan's Guild in Minoc. He will allow the Avatar to take it only after they successfully join the Artisan's Guild by crafting a set of panpipes and commit the song "Stones" to memory.
- The Rune of Honor has been set upon a pedestal in the middle of Trinsic by Lord Whitsaber. It is free for the taking, but remains yet untouched until such a time as the Avatar comes to claim it - testifying to the upright nature of Trinsic's people.
- The Rune of Spirituality had been given to Quenton Delancy of Skara Brae, but was lost after his murder. The hero can discern its location by reading the poetry of the dead man's wife, leading them to a basket kept within his daughter's home.
- The Rune of Humility is safeguarded by Lord Antonio of New Magincia. He will grant the Avatar use of it only after the hero correctly discerns the most humble person in the city.
Runes of Virtue
- The Rune of Honesty can be found in the Cavern of Deceit on Level Five. It also involve a switch-flipping puzzle that needs to be solved.
- The Rune of Compassion can be found in the Cavern of Hatred.
- The Rune of Valor can be found in the Cavern of Cowardice. Remember: First fast, then slow!
- The Rune of Justice can be found in the Cavern of Injustice. Do not take the coins or waste time talking to anyone!
- The Rune of Sacrifice can be found in the Cavern of Selfishness. You'll have to bring cheese and Use Lightning on the Black Knight.
- The Rune of Honor can be found in the Cavern of Dishonor on Level Three.
- The Rune of Spirituality can be found in the Great Stygian Abyss.
- The Rune of Humility can be found in the Cavern of Pride.
Ultima VIIUltima VII, the eight runes all lay within Britain's Royal Museum. They serve no function in the course of the game, and taking them from their resting place is entirely optional.
During Ultima IX, the eight runes had all been transformed into glyphs and each had been installed into the column nearest to the dungeon which opposed the virtue it represented. The Avatar could restore them to their original state by taking them to their corresponding shrine along with an appropriate sigil. After reciting the correct mantra, the glyph would be transformed back into a rune.
- Honesty: Found in the Dungeon Deceit; may be restored using the Writ of Honesty at the Shrine of Honesty
- Compassion: Found in the Dungeon Despise; may be restored using the Heart of Compassion at the Shrine of Compassion
- Valor: Found in the Dungeon Destard; may be restored using the Dagger of Valor at the Shrine of Valor
- Justice: Found in the Dungeon Wrong; may be restored using the Quill of Justice at the Shrine of Justice
- Sacrifice: Found in the Dungeon Covetous; may be restored using the Tear of Sacrifice at the Shrine of Sacrifice
- Honor: Found in the Dungeon Shame; may be restored using the Chalice of Honor at the Shrine of Honor
- Spirituality: Found in the Abyss; may be restored using the Ankh of Spirituality at the Shrine of Spirituality
- Humility: Found in the Dungeon Hythloth; may be restored using the Crook of Humility at the Shrine of Humility
- Each rune retrieved in Ultima IV grants (only) the player's character 100 XP.
- In Ultima VII, Mayor Finnigan of Trinsic can relate to the Avatar how the Rune of Honor was stolen from the pedestal on which Whitsaber had placed it and was never returned - later finding its way to the Royal Museum. A modification for the Exult utility adds an optional quest in which the hero may restore the rune to the city.
- The Keyring Mod for Exult gives the Avatar the option to meditate at the various shrines in Ultima VII using the runes - and should the hero complete all of the quests ordained by the shrines, they will be able to teleport to the Shrine of Spirituality without contacting the wisps, thereby circumventing Alagner's demise.
- Although in Ultima IV the Avatar had to receive a vision to acquire each letter of infinity, by Ultima VI they appear on the reverse side of the runes.