Skull of Mondain

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The Skull's watery resting place
The Skull of Mondain, the remnant of the once proud sorcerer, is an artifact of vast and evil powers. If its magic is invoked, all living beings in the vicinity of the skull's holder are slain, destroyed by the dark potency within the magician's bones.

History[edit]

It is likely that Mondain enchanted his skull to allow for such destruction well before his death, and scholars have speculated that he placed a magical matrix within his own head to achieve such an effect.[1] Years after the wizard's demise, during the events of Ultima IV, the skull could be found deep within the sea, between three volcanoes to the west of the Isle of the Abyss. Only on the darkest of nights could the skull be retrieved, when both of the Brittanian moons were new.

The skull as it appears in Ultima IX

There is only one man of whom it is known that invoked the powers of the skull: Jude. It is unclear what the circumstances of the skull's activation were, but Jude was long haunted by the weight of such a sin, and could for a time be found amongst the poor tended to by Julia of Minoc, debasing himself as he sought atonement for his crimes.[2]

It is possible, that the Stranger, at Jude's behest, eventually found the skull and sought to destroy it within the fires of the Abyss during the hero's quest to attain the mantle of the Avatar. Erethian, an expert on ancient artifacts, later insinuated as much when the hero spoke with him on the re-arisen Isle of Fire.[1]

However, centuries later, during the time of Ultima IX, the skull resurfaced as a curiosity within the Royal Museum of Britain. It is unknown if this appearance implies a failing on the part of the Avatar to dispose of the artifact, or if, through some perverse means unknown, the skull survived the Stygian flames into which it had been cast. While it could be that the item on display was merely a convincing replica, the mere suggestion of the skull's presence in later ages raises disturbing questions.

Lore[edit]

The skull was incomplete, just the upper half of a man's head. The dome of the skull was oversized, as though the brain that had been housed here was larger than normal. Long, sharp incisors protruded from the upper portion of the mouth. They reminded me of a vampire's fangs. Power radiated from the skull - power over life and death. Omnipotence. For a moment I hesitated. The temptation of such power was almost irresistible. Then I thought of the Quest. With no remorse, I flung the skull into the Abyss. A cry rose from the blackness below, like the wail of a tormented soul. Then silence.

Trivia[edit]

The skull as it appears in Toko Tanka's manga
  • In Ultima IV, retrieving the skull grants (only) the player's character 400 XP.
  • By the time of Ultima V the site at which the skull was found has developed into a volcanic island, and right on the spot in the middle between the volcanoes where the skull had once lain Blackthorn had his palace. Later, the island became known as Terfin, home over the years to the wizard Sutek, and a colony of gargoyle immigrants.
  • Mondain's skull is an artifact of import in Yoko Tanaka's manga re-telling of Ultima IV, in which it is needed in order to enter the Abyss. Later, it is revealed that Hawkwind (a villain in the comic) seeks to use Mondain's skull to summon the soul of the magician that he might bind it to his own, thus giving him unimaginable power.[3]
  • In Hiroyuki Watanabe's Ultima-inspired manga The Fall of Magincia the sorceress Danne uses the dark powers of the Skull of Mondain to impregnate herself with the dark god Vitor.[4]

References[edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 ErethianUnderworld Dragon's Ultima VII TranscriptUltima VII. "skull".
  2. JudeUnderworld Dragon's Ultima IV TranscriptUltima IV. "job, skull, redeem".
  3. Tanaka, Yuko. Quest of the Avatar (Ultima IV). JICC: August 29, 1989. Pages 143-150.
  4. Watanabe, Hiroyuki. The Fall of Magincia. JICC: December 15, 1990. Pages 2035.