A firsthand account of the events surrounding Lord
Nicolus' abduction and rescue, as told to me:
We were in a strange place I'd never before even heard mentioned in whispers.
Before us was a tall building covered in snow and ice. Two wooden doors
led to the inside, but were currently locked and barring the way. Worse
than that even were the multitude of zombies, skeletons, wraiths, ice
trolls, frost oozes, and other denizens of this cold, barren place. They
swarmed toward us almost before we were able to react. Behind them, their
evil master, Keeonean, laughed and spurred his army of evil beasts into
Doubts plagued me. What reason did we truly have to believe Gondor? What
if Lord Nicolus was not here? What if there was nothing more than Keeonean
and his minions awaiting us as well as a horrid death at their hands?
Could this be nothing more than a trap?
Things began innocently enough a few days earlier. I had heard about
Lord British's request to Lord Nicolus, and while not really understanding
it's origin, I was not one to turn away from a gift.
I help run a small smithy near Britain. I was cleaning the anvil and
straightening up our work area when I heard some terrible news: "Lord
Nicolus was missing!" I immediately ran into town to find out more. Once
in Britain, a town crier told me what she knew: that Lord Nicolus was
missing and that one of Lord British's guards was asking for help in finding
him. Lord Rezni at Lord British’s castle was seeking any clues to Lord
I sprinted to the castle. When I arrived, a crowd had already formed
around Lord Rezni. I paused and caught my breath while listening to what
was being said.
Some of the people in the crowd seemed only interested in their own gain…
worrying about what they would receive for helping to rescue Lord Nicolus
or wanting to know if they would still receive a gift. But Lord Rezni
wisely ignored those and instead turned his attention to those concerned
for Lord Nicolus' safety. I joined the crowd and pressed in closer to
Lord Rezni as he spoke.
"About an hour ago, the golden lantern that Lord British gave to Lord
Nicolus was found on the castle steps," Lord Rezni told us. "It was a
broken mess... apparently beaten with something heavy. Along with the
lantern was a note, which threatened Lord Nicolus' life and dared us to
come after him. But the note gives no clue as to where Lord Nicolus is
or who has done this."
Lord Rezni then asked us to scour the realm looking for any sign or clue
that could be connected to where Lord Nicolus was being held. Before I
departed to help search, I heard Lord Rezni mention increased undead activity
around the Skara Brae farmlands. I decided to head that way.
After wandering around the fields of Skara Brae on the mainland and beginning
to think I had followed the wrong lead, I stumbled across a strange
building. At each corner were unusual ice formations, and the building’s
roof was covered in snow. More unusual still were the large number of
undead that swarmed forward in battle with others who had gotten there
before me. Two warriors hacked at a zombie with their axes while a nearby
mage threw balls of fire at a wraith. I plunged forward and helped dispatch
the wraith. Others fought off skeletons, more zombies, and even a liche
By this time, a mage or rogue had managed to open the doors to the outpost.
We surged forward between the two metal doors and immediately clashed
with the awaiting undead that were inside. Fortunately, the interior did
not hold as many of the foul creatures, and we were able to quickly overwhelm
The floor inside the building was spattered with blood. A quick glance
at my fellow would be rescuers allayed my fears that any of us had been
seriously wounded. Which meant that the blood belonged to some unknown
victim… hopefully not the one we sought, Lord Nicolus. At this point,
I began to seriously fret for his safety.
In the northwest corner of the building, on the floor near the fireplace,
we found a note among the debris. It said,
Be sure to cover thy tracks well this time. I do not wish to
clean up a mess again like ye got us into last time. For the life of me
I do not know why I don’t slit thy throat and be done with ye. Vacate
and destroy all evidence of our existence at the three outposts. Knowing
that thou art stinking of rum and more than likely cannot walk straight
any farther than ye can throw thyself I will once again remind thee where
the outpost are located.
Everyone else rushed out to give Lord Rezni the news or to go in search
of the other outposts, but I hung back and studied the note a bit more.
I began to wonder if it would be possible to make sense of the blurred portion
of the note. With that in mind, I quickly made my way back to Britain and
straight to the Britain Public Library. Upon entering, a scribe near the
door recoiled in horror. I spun around, drawing my blade, but there was
no one else in the doorway or even in sight. I slowly surveyed the library
and my surroundings, but found nothing out of the ordinary. Turning back
to the scribe, I found him pressed back against the wall and inching slowly
away from me. It was then I realized that I was covered in the reeking remains
of the zombies I had helped slay.
"In the Skara Brae farmlands"
"North of Vesper close to where the three rivers converge"
"Near of the dungeon Wrong"
Do not forget to destroy this message ye lousy sack. I will not tolera...*
the ink on the remaining pages has run together, apparently from a dark
liquid spilled on the paper. The only word that can be read is "Gondor"*
Grinning, I told him he had nothing to fear from me and gave a hurried
account of what had happened at the first outpost. A bit hesitantly, but
moved by curiosity, the scribe came to the table where I had placed the
note. He bent close to it with his face only inches away.
"Hmmm... 'tis difficult to make out much more than the single word, 'Gondor,'
among the soiled portion. There's little chance of ever knowing what the
rest might have said," the scribe told me. "I would venture to conjecture,
though, that the rough handwriting shows a lack of any training or skill
or even comfort in holding a quill." Thanking him, I left and brought
the note to Lord Rezni.
Lord Rezni had not yet heard any other news, but waited in anticipation
of information from the other two outposts, one
near Wrong and the other
north of Vesper. The worry and concern was plain on his face, but
he stood tall in his duty. Realizing that both of us would do well with
a bit of food in our stomachs, I went down to the Cat’s Lair, a tavern
in the southwestern portion of Britain. This tavern was once part of a
village known as Paws, but Britain had expanded and attempted to claim
the tavern as its own. Most of the farmers of Paws had pushed out more
west and southward.
I purchased some bread and a wheel of cheese from the tavern keeper at
the Cat's Lair, and then went back to the castle. A large mob had gathered
just inside the castle gates since I had last been here. They seemed to
center around Lord Rezni and a swarthy man who appeared barely able to
stand unaided. I feared he was wounded until a lanky mage standing next
to me pointed out that he was just drunk.
"And very drunk at that," the mage continued. "His name is Gondor."
"Gondor??!!" I exclaimed. "As mentioned in the first note?"
"Aye, the very same. Two similar notes at the other two outposts led
us to him straightaway." The mage shook his fist at the drunken figure
in the middle of the crowd. "These fools trust him to lead them to Lord
Nicolus. I say he is only telling us what we wish to hear to save his
own hide. He’s a lush and a scoundrel who will happily send us to deaths
to be rid of us."
I pushed my way through the crowd, but Gondor and Lord Rezni were moving
also. "Move back! Give us room!" roared Lord Rezni as he tried to find
a clear space among the onlookers. Growling in frustration, he stopped
beside the apple trees and whirled on Gondor. "Open
passage to thy master’s hideout NOW!"
Cowering, Gondor pulled a gleaming stone from a pouch on his belt and
flung it toward the ground. It struck with a flash and then a pulsing
moongate appeared. Heedless of the danger, the mob pushed forward to the
gate and disappeared as they stepped into it. I paused as I approached
the gate, but the surging of the mob forced me into it.
A sudden chill turned my breath to mist as my next step trod ground I
had never before seen. Around me, throngs of warriors fought with more
of the vile undead but also with creatures of ice. A frost troll lunged
at a mage nearby so I leapt to his aid. The fighting all around me was
fierce and strangely silent but for the clash of weapons of frozen or
rotting flesh. We battled our way forward until we reached Keeonean and
the prison in which he held Lord Nicolus.
smiled as we approached. "Oh No! A rescue party!," he said laughing. He
turned toward the building and bellowed, "Ya hear that old man? Looks
like ya gonna be free soon." Keeonean slapped his thigh and sneered. "Or
perhaps they all just wanna help me decorate my lair with their blood
and bones." His howling laughter sent my skin crawling.
Without a sound, we pressed forward. More ice creatures rushed toward
us. Keeonean threw spell after spell at us. Many bold champions fell,
but even as a snow elemental struck down a warrior in green, others reached
the building and stormed within… I among them. Keeonean snarled angrily,
but was pressed on all sides and unable to stop us from entering. Despite
many attackers, Keeonean appeared to be oblivious to all blows and spells.
Inside the building was a blood red tree... a seeming parody to the many
holiday trees that were so popular this time of year. Around the tree
were brightly colored boxes. The air was dank despite the chill, and the
floor was littered with pale bones... far too many of which were obviously
human. A shout from my right revealed a small cell, and inside the cell,
trembling from the cold, stood Lord
Nicolus. He wore nothing but a pair of short trousers. His white beard
was almost grey with grime and dirt. His skin was marked with bruises
and bloody gashes. But his eyes gleamed with a mixture of relief, confidence,
and unwavering faith, almost as if he was not at all surprised to see
us there, rescuing him.
A mage quickly opened a moongate leading back to Britain. Lord Nicolus
was usher into it and then many of the rest of us followed. We gathered
around Lord Nicolus, pressing in probably more than we should have, but
Lord Nicolus took it in stride. More and more moongates opened as more
of the rescue party returned to Britain, as we laughed and cheered with
relief in our success. Lord Nicolus smiled as he watched our celebration.
Newly arrived warriors brought word that Keeonean had fled once Lord
Nicolus had escaped. But he had snarl furiously and vowed that we had
not seen his last. I privately hoped he would slip on a patch of ice and
crack his skull, but harbored no true belief that such a thing would happen.
Also found at the building was another note:
Curse Lord British and Britannia together, I will not allow
him to continue to rule for much longer... Time, all I need is time.
I am acquiring thy services to strike a blow to the people of Britannia,
a blow to break the very spirit of the land itself. Find, capture
and hold the one know as Lord Nicolus. It would seem British has Nicolus
consorting with the common beggars of Britannia and giving them gifts
to lift their spirits in celebration of the passing of another year.
Once ye have Nicolus, all of Britannia will lose spirit and weaken
in their resolve. A weak heart and soul lend themselves nicely to
Thou will be paid well for thy service. Do not fail me, or I shall
seal thy life’s breath.
So Keeonean had acted on the desires of another… that was a disturbing
thought. I shook my head as I contemplated what this might possibly mean,
but stopped as my eyes began to water from the strain. I broke from my
thoughts in time to hear Lord Nicolus address the assembled throng.
"I thank each of thee for coming to my rescue. I had no doubt that
I could rely on the strength and valor of my fellow countrymen to aid
me if able. 'Tis truly a momentous time for our realm. I am grateful,
but must go rest. Before I leave, I shall try something that Nystul
taught me just a few days a go." And with that Lord Nicolus made a complicated
Piles of gold began to appear all round the courtyard as well as enchanted
weapons and armor. I was nearly trampled in the mad rush as everyone
scrambled to grab what they were able. Seems ironic to survive rescuing
Lord Nicolus only to be crushed to death here at the castle. Chuckling
to myself, I turned and began making my way back to the smithy.
Lord Nicolus returned to his duties as the bearer of gifts for the
holiday season, but with one minor change. Lord British had gone to
see him soon after his return. As he learned of the ordeal Lord Nicolus
had undergone, Lord British nodded slowly to himself and then handed
Lord Nicolus a new outfit that was a deep red. Lord Nicolus looked up
at his Liege questioningly.
"Well, it would appear that Valor played a much larger role in thy
duties than either of us would have ever expected," Lord British answered.
"I believe this new
red suit shall not only symbolize the bravery thou didst show during
thy captivity, but shall also stand as a reminder of the valiant and
courageous effort the people of the realm forged for thee."
Lord Nicolus only smiled in response and began to don the new outfit.
From the Town Cryer - The Journal of Ultima Online, December 28th,