Stonegate

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Description[edit]

Overview of Stonegate in Ultima V
The ruins of Stonegate in Ultima VII

Stonegate is a keep located in a mountain valley south of Lost Hope Bay and north of Lock Lake. Created by the Shadowlords to be their citadel, this foreboding structure later served as a refuge for several different groups throughout the years, slowly fading into the surrounding swampland before it was at last reclaimed by the spirit Hawkwind.

History[edit]

Age of Enlightenment[edit]

Stonegate was crafted by the Shadowlords during their ascent to power under Blackthorn. Guarded by the daemon, Balinor, this grim fortress served as the terrestrial home to the three evil shades, and it was here that they kept the Sceptre of Lord British, which they had stolen from emissaries attempting to deliver it to Lord Malone.[1] Needing the sceptre's power that they might restore the true king to his throne, the Avatar ventured to this hellish keep to reclaim the artifact, facing deadly traps which could be surpassed only by the magic carpet.

Eventually the hero managed to permanently dispatch the Shadowlords, leaving the keep abandoned for several decades thereafter. By the time of the gargoyle war, however, the ruins of Stonegate were inhabited by a pair of cyclopes and their adoptive human son. The Avatar would again have cause to sojourn here in search of the Vortex Cube, which the unusual family had found locked in the castle's basements.[2]

Age of Armageddon[edit]

Over the centuries, numerous other groups laid claim to what remained of Stonegate, including a colony of wingless gargoyles and a line of noblemen descending from Lord Vemelon of Jhelom. In time, however, the fortress fell prey to the floodwaters of the nearby Bog of Desolation, and again lay abandoned as time and the elements reduced it to desolate ruins.[2] During their adventures regarding the Black Gate, the Avatar would have the opportunity to revisit Stonegate, and could find therein the enchanted Magebane, although removing the sword from its resting place would provoke the nearby bones of the dead to rise and attack the hero.

Years later, for reasons not entirely clear, the spirit Hawkwind would claim Stonegate as his own and rebuild it to such an extent that it resembled its previous splendor, turning the citadel into a bastion of virtue that would remain free from the Guardian's wicked influence. It was here that the Avatar would reenter Britannia for the last time, guided by the voice of the mysterious Lord of Time as they prepared for their final confrontation against the red titan.

Ultima VII (SNES)[edit]

Stonegate appears in the SNES Port of Ultima VII as a dungeon. It is relatively unique among the dungeons of this game in that is has no special artifact within its depths. Nevertheless, a fair amount of gold and potions may be found by those willing to explore it.

Lore[edit]

This stronghold of unutterable evil casts its shadow upon the mountains of the eastern Serpent's Spine, and is approachable only by crossing the trackless mountains south of Lost Hope Bay. It is the temporal abode of the Shadowlords. 'Tis rumoured that the Sceptre of Lord British rests in Stonegate, and that one who seeks to steal it from its thieves must be willing to die for their treasure, for such is the lot of all who have tried. Answer well the Guardian's riddle, if though wilst, but watch they step afterwards, lest ye fall so far that none may reach thee.
The story of Stonegate Castle is, indeed, an interesting one. At one time the keep was occupied by the Shadowlords, during Lord British's disappearance and Blackthorn's evil rule. However, once the Avatar returned our noble Monarch to His throne, eliminating the Shadowlords from Britannia, a family of cyclops made the castle their home. Not more than three decades from then the walls were abandoned. This lasted but for a short time, however, for a small colony of wingless gargoyles found refuge within the confines of the keep. Three years later they were driven out by Lord Vemelon of Jhelom, who chose to retain the castle for his own purposes. For several generations ownership was passed down the Vemelon line until one day the very mountains nearby opened up, and the swamps engulfed the castle. Now, rumors purport that a colony of trolls have taken up residence amongst the ruins, along with an ancient wizard, but no one has ever confirmed their existence.
For years, Stonegate was avoided by the gentle and wise. High in the crags of the Serpent Spine, Stonegate was erected by the Shadowlords as their fortress of evil. From this stronghold of the Shadowlords bloomed an evil that drew to it many beasts and rogues until their banishment by the Avatar. Over time, evil in living and ethereal form continued to be drawn to the malevolence contained herein. Some believe that the columns that have fouled the Shrines of Virtue were summoned in a ritual cast from the parapet of this keep. In an act of mercy, the spirit of Hawkwind has purged the residue of evil and has claimed it to be a place of Virtue. Now, the parapets and courtyards of this stone castle offer protection to forces of good and walk through the opened gate, and some visitors have claimed to encounter the spirit himself. It is writ that the spirit of Hawkwind shall serve the Avatar a final time.
- from Journal, (Ultima IX)

Inhabitants[edit]

Ultima V[edit]

Ultima VI[edit]

Ultima IX[edit]

Trivia[edit]

  • In Ultima V, the optimal time to attempt to retrieve the sceptre is during the hour of midnight (when the Shadowlords cannot move), or after the all three Shadowlords have been destroyed.
  • In Ultima V, magic spells and scrolls are ineffective in Stonegate, being absorbed in an effect similar to the Palace of Blackthorn while Lord British's crown is in the dark lord's possession.
  • Stonegate was slated to take a more prominent role in earlier drafts of Ultima IX, developed under Bob White's tenure as lead designer. As well as the player's introductory environment in Britannia, the restored citadel was to have been the epicenter from where the Guardian—befittingly, an amalgamation of the three Shadowlords in this telling of events—cast forth the Glyphs of Corruption in the Avatar's absence and, in turn, inflicted the eight devastating columns upon the land, as alluded to in the game's manual. Furthermore, the finale of this version of Ultima IX was also to have seen one last appearance from Stonegate, atop which Lord British and the Avatar would unleash the Armageddon spell upon an evacuated Britannia in a grim, irrevocable measure to destroy the columns and the Guardian, conclusively ending the red titan's inter-dimensional reign of terror.[3]

References[edit]

  1. Lord Shalineth et al. "Treasures of Magic and Wonder". Paths of Destiny (Ultima V). Origin Systems, Inc.: 1988. Page 51.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Shazle. The History of Stonegate (Ultima VII - in-game).
  3. White, Robert. Ultima IX: Ascension - Plot Treatment. July 17, 1997. Pages 2–3, 50–51.

Geography
Britannia
Cities YewMinocSkara BraeBritainNew MaginciaMoonglowJhelomTrinsicMagincia
Castles Castle BritanniaEmpath AbbeyLycaeumSerpent's Hold
BordermarchFarthingWindemereStonegate
Towns BritannysBuccaneer's DenCoveDawnPawsTerfinVesper
Shrines CompassionHonestyHonorHumilityJusticeSacrificeValorSpiritualityShrine of the Codex
Dungeons The AbyssCovetousDeceitDespiseDestardDoomHythlothShameWrong
Lighthouses FogsbaneGreyhavenStormcrowWaveguide
Caves Ant MoundBee CaveBuccaneer's CaveCyclops CaveDesert DungeonHeftimus CaveHeroes' HoleMoonglow CatacombsSpirit TunnelsSpider CaveSwamp CaveVesper Mines
Islands AmbrosiaIsle of the AvatarDagger IsleDeadman's IslandIsle of Deeds
Isle of FireJanus IslandMarsor's IsleSpektranValarian IslandsValorian IslesVerity Isle
Lakes Lake GenerosityLock LakeLost Lake
Major Areas Bloody PlainsBog of DesolationBritanny BayCape of HeroesDeep ForestDrylandsFens of the DeadHigh SteppesLost Hope BayRealm of the GargoylesSerpent's SpineSpiritwoodUnderworld
Serpent Isle
Cities FawnMonitorMoonshade
Settlements Inn of the Sleeping BullIsles of the Mad MageMonk Isle
Dungeons SkullcrusherSpinebreakerFurnaceKnight's TestMountains of Freedom
Ruins Shamino's CastleCastle of the White DragonShrine of BalanceTemple of DisciplineTemple of EmotionTemple of EnthusiasmTemple of EthicalityTemple of LogicTemple of Tolerance
Islands ClawIsle of CryptsGwani Death TempleIce Dragon's Lair
Isles of the Mad MageMonk IslePenguin IslandSunrise Isle
Interesting Areas Gorlab SwampGreat Northern ForestIce PlainsKnight's ForestSerpent Isle Guard TowersWestern Forest
Pagan
Settlements Argentrock IsleDaemon's CragTenebrae
Other Carthax LakeCatacombsCemeteryFishermen's ReefHall of the Mountain KingHerdsman's ValleyPlateauShrine of the Ancient OnesStone CoveTreasure CoveVengeance Bay