Shrine

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Shrines are buildings existing in the Ultima universe, usually dedicated to an abstract concept, and intended to be places of meditation. "Temple" is a similar term found in the games, generally used to refer to a large shrine. Shrines are usually associated with the virtue or philosophical system of a society. The shrines dedicated to the Eight Virtues of Britannia are the most influential throughout the series.

Shrines of the Eight Virtues[edit]

Meditating at a shrine
An inactive shrine in Caledonia

The most famous shrines are the ones constructed by Lord British after the creation of Britannia, while establishing the Eight Virtues and preparing the Quest of the Avatar. Lord British first constructed three shrines for the Three Principles: the Shrine of Truth, the Shrine of Love, and the Shrine of Courage, on the Isle of Fire. These shrines were lost when the isle sank soon thereafter, and were not found again until the time of Ultima VII. Each of the Three Principles of Britannia has also a corresponding bastion, which, while not a shrine, serves a somewhat similar function: the Lycaeum (Truth), Serpent's Hold (Courage) and Empath Abbey (Love, later replaced by the Cathedral of Love). Empath Abbey in fact housed a small shrine in Ultima IV, which contained an ankh called Life.

Lord British also built one shrine for each of the Eight Virtues: the Shrine of Compassion, the Shrine of Honesty, the Shrine of Valor, the Shrine of Sacrifice, the Shrine of Justice, the Shrine of Honor, the Shrine of Humility, and the Shrine of Spirituality. These were constructed in different places throughout the land, usually near the city that represented the corresponding Virtue. Only the Shrine of Spirituality was built outside Britannia, in the Ethereal Void.

The shrines of the Eight Virtues play an important role in many of the Ultima games from Ultima IV onwards. Their main purpose was to enlighten a person who was ready to become a partial Avatar in the corresponding Virtue, but they were also used by the general populace to meditate on each Virtue. Shrines can give advice to those who meditate there, and can also send people on different quests. They mostly serve as a permanent physical symbol of each Virtue.

Another shrine, the Temple of the Virtues, was built in Cove, housing the Ankh and dedicated to all Eight Virtues.

After the Codex of Ultimate Wisdom was removed from the Shrine of Singularity, a new shrine was built to house it, the Shrine of the Codex, located on the Isle of the Avatar.

In the Lord of Ultima game, shrines, both inactive and those dedicated to the Eight Virtues, appear at random locations throughout Caledonia. These shrines are used to "enlighten" nearby cities, allowing them to build Palaces and increase their "faith" in the corresponding Virtue.

Other Shrines[edit]

An Ambrosian shrine
The most ancient known shrines are probably the Magic Shrines of Ambrosia, located in Ambrosia. Unlike other shrines, these ones were dedicated to attributes or abilities, instead of spiritual concepts. Found in Ultima III, they can be used to raise the corresponding attribute for a specific character. Not much else is known about them.

The gargoyles also created several shrines in the Realm of the Gargoyles. First and most important of these was the Shrine of Singularity, where their most sacred books were stored. They later created a shrine for each of their Principles: the Shrine of Control, the Shrine of Passion, and the Shrine of Diligence, each containing the essence of one of the three evils of the Age of Darkness: Mondain, Minax and Exodus. When the gargoyles left their lands and settled in Terfin, they rebuilt these three shrines into the Shrines of the Principles.

Following the defeat of Mondain in Ultima I and the creation of the Serpent Isle, the Ophidians built nine shrines related to their virtue system. There were three Grand Shrines dedicated to their main Principles (the Shrine of Balance, the Shrine of Order, and the Shrine of Chaos) and six temples dedicated to their Forces (the Temple of Logic, the Temple of Discipline, the Temple of Ethicality, the Temple of Enthusiasm, the Temple of Emotion and the Temple of Tolerance).

After the settlers from Sosaria led by Erstam arrived to Serpent Isle, the group from Fawn built the Temple of Beauty, dedicated to beauty.

In the land of Pagan, there is also at least one known shrine, the Shrine of the Ancient Ones, dedicated to the six ancient Zealan gods of emotions.