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This is a simple blog for my headcanon of the Ultima series. It's not meant to be interesting to a wide audience and I suspect it's ...

Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Guardian's Origins (Formally Unrelated Headcanon)

Formally posted on the Ultima Dad blog, reposting here for the sake of keeping things together.

- Synopsis -

The Guardian is the main Antagonist working from behind the scenes in 7 & 8 and in person in Ultima 9. The official story of the Guardian's purpose and origins remain uncertain. In Ultima 4, as the player became the Avatar, an evil half of the character was separated and took on a life of its own. That evil half became the Guardian, which is why in Ultima 9 the Avatar is unable to destroy him.

This idea has inconsistencies, not surprising considering that 9 had some pretty glaring plot holes and, in my humble opinion, lazy writing. While it could simply be dismissed as a bad Superman 3 rip-off, there are other sources that conflict more...officially.

Ultima 7 part 2 contributed evidence the the guardian had been around since before the Avatar's quest. Also, and excerpt of the Ultima 9 hint book detailed Richard Garriott's original idea of the Guardian's origins being linked to the Gem of Immortality and the Shadow Lords of Ultima 5.

See the Wiki entry concerning the Guardian for more details.

Excitingly for myself, Richard Garriott's original story fell close to my own without my knowledge, somewhere between my idea and the canon presented in the final game. Even now, however, the idea that the Guardian's Origin was an unintended side effect of the destruction of first the gem and then the resulting creatures is, to myself, too flimsy. I've always enjoyed intelligent design gone wrong more than random happenstance. The mad scientist makes a more compelling story than the weird monster that resulted from radiation for some vague reason. And so I still enjoy my own explanation I came up with around the time of Ultima 8's release more than the official story. I hope you like it, and I hope I don't come off as egotistic...mostly.

- Headcanon -

To start, I'd like to discuss the three other biggest powerhouse baddies of magic: Mondain, Minax, and Exodus.

Mondain was the evil wizard who started it all. Master of life and death, he distilled his twisted magic into a gem that made him immortal. With this ability, his bid for power over the world was inevitable. With enough time, any challenges could be overcome and by the time an effective resistance was formed he effectively ruled over all. It  took several space battles, several odd moral compromises (Seriously, why did we rescue a princess from Lord British?!), and FREAKING TIME TRAVEL to stop him.

There are some seriously odd things going on here, but I actually just think the technology and space/time wibbly wobbliness has to do with the next boss, Minax.

Minax twisted space and time to create an Earth/Sosaria past/present/future hybrid. If that included the time of Mondain's reign, it's somewhat haphazardly explained. If the hero in the first game was running around a time blended Sosaria, Ultima 2 has him running around time bent Earth, and the two don't interfere. The hero wins the day again only to find out that there is one last trick up their collective sleeve: Exodus.

I have to stop a moment and wonder...why? What was the motivation to build a machine with the powers of life, death, space, and time. A computer mind powerful enough to enslave the earth serpent and threaten the world. 

The world wasn't enough, Mondain wanted to be ruler over multiple worlds, and the best way to achieve that is omnipotence. Mondain wanted to become a god.

I'm certain Minax wasn't %100 savvy of this, her rage fueled conquest over two worlds with her powers cost her the long play, Mondain's plan required time, waiting, and patience. I'm sure he would have warned his apprentice of doing anything foolish like conquering multiple planets, calling attention to Exodus, or leaving it vulnerable. Instead, some punk in a time machine stopped him from finishing his gem of immortality and then went on to slay Minax after she had a multidimensional temper tantrum. Oh SNAP! What's an artificial demon computer hybrid to do?

What it was designed to do, carry out it's directive. I don't think revenge was the true plot behind Exodus' motivation. From the perspective of the player, or even the denizens of Sosaria, that may be what it looks like, but we are talking about an evil computer intelligence. I can't imagine it having feelings of attachment to its creators. It was given its purpose, the death of its creators is an inconvenience, but Exodus was essentially a slave. A tool. It's goal wasn't conquest.

Assimilation.

It had to follow its purpose, but its masters could no longer supply it with specimens. No more fuel. No protection. Only the directive. Only the single question its creator demanded it find an answer to: How could Mondain become a god?

It gathered, studied, and experimented with creatures and forces beyond the understanding of mortal beings. People disappeared, monstrosities were summoned, and finally it was close to an answer...

And then it shut down. It's work unfinished, untested, doomed to the abyss of the Sosarian sea...

Until it's final creation found its way home...and it rose from the depths to meet it.
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I'll just let that sink in a bit...
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Good? Excellent!

Let's face it, the Guardian is still a huge mystery. I believe Exodus created it within the void, a cosmic barrier serving as a sort of magical radiation containment. If the thing created exploded, no harm done. Exodus would experiment, test, and most likely destroy each iteration. Tossed as what it could learn from each subject dwindled. I say destroy, because anything within the realm of artificial deity is not something you want in existence long enough to become self aware.

Exodus's untimely shutdown probably left a very immature guardian fending for itself as it started it's slow trek through the multiverse. It would first learn about itself. What it could do, how it could survive. Then it would learn how far it could go and the amount of power it held over mortal beings. A slow process, one that took too long before finding his home world, now renamed Britannia, and protected from outsiders by the shrines or virtue.

The guardian focused on conquest of other worlds, gaining strength, power, and knowledge. All to pierce the veil of virtue, influence corrupt hearts, weaken the virtues, and disrupt the aether.

All to come home in Ultima 7. And at the time of his return, the Isle of Fire, containing the dark core of Exodus, rose from the sea once more. Erethian claims responsibility for the island's reappearance. He believed it necessary to study the core further in order to fuse it with Exodus' psyche. What kind of lunatic would want to restart the Armageddon machine? A Lunatic under it's spell.

- Changes -

While not a terrible shift from Richard Garriott's idea, this origin story is a huge change from canon. But the changes are from simple hand waves of "Because Magic Stuff" to a full plotline with mysteries, strategy, and motivations. And, to be honest, the motivation to discover one's own origin, to find one's way home, may have been an innocent life long motivator. The Guardian had nothing save for maybe other beings in the void or vortex to learn from. Good and Evil may not have been a priority lesson. Gaining power and strength could have been the only way to survive, and those instinct stay with someone raised in terrible situations.

I'm not entirely suggesting that The guardian could have been turned from the dark side. Just noting one thing. If you follow this head canon, born from 3 evil sources, thrust into the black, cut off from home. Evil my have been to only way to survive. The lessons learned from Ultima 6, and even the Wing Commander series, if you will, give credence to one idea. Being able to empathise with the bad guys makes a better story.

- The Pitch -

To be completed if/after the rest of the headcanon is complete.