The Codex of Editable Wisdom


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Gwenno, from Ultima VII Part Two
Species: Human
Ultima VII Part Two
Location: Gwani Death Temple

Gwenllian "Gwenno" Gwalch'gaeaf, known more commonly as Gwenno, is a recurring character. She is a frequent comrade in arms to the Avatar and a native of Earth. It is likely that she first appears in Ultima I.

Gwenno is a woman of diverse talents, having been shown as a tinker, bard, scholar and explorer over the course of the series. In her capacity as an entertainer, she wrote the lyrics for the famous song "Stones," which was composed by her husband, Iolo FitzOwen.


In Ultima I, an ubiquitous jester called "Gwino" could be found in the various castles of Sosaria, singing "I've got the key!" The Stranger had to slay Gwino in order to claim the aforementioned key, which was needed to secure the freedom of an imprisoned princess.

In Ultima II, Gwenno and Iolo could be found together in the city of New San Antonio on Earth in 1990 AD, enclosed within walls reading "Iolo" and "Gwen." It should be noted, however, that time altered significantly after the death of Minax, potentially making this appearance on her home world ahistorical.

In Ultima III, "Gwino" could be found in Lord British's Castle, alongside Iolo. Iolo was singing "Ho eyo he hum!" as was his wont, with Gwino adding an accompanying "Muh eh oye oh!" to the song, reversing its phonetics.[1] [2]

It is not explicitly stated if Gwino is meant to be the same Gwenno who appears later in the series, although the similarly of the two names and Gwino's proximity to Iolo in Ultima III makes it seem likely.

In Ultima IV, the Stranger found a Gweno (likely another bastardization of her name) in Britain, entertaining the children of the city. If asked, she would praise the virtues of dancing, and exhort the hero to give freely to beggars.[3]

In Ultima V, Gwenno was again found in Britain, where she managed Iolo's Bows after her husband was declared an outlaw. She joked somewhat about the criminalization of the companions, hinting at Iolo's continued participation in his business. She would eventually ask the Avatar if she, as Iolo's better half, might join in the quest of toppling the dictatorship of Lord Blackthorn.[4]

By the time of the gargoyle wars, Iolo's apprentice Gwenneth had taken over Iolo's Bows. Now free to pursue other projects, Gwenno traveled to Minoc, where she worked to transcribe various Britannian folk songs into numerical musical notation for the local Artist's Guild.

In Ultima VI the Avatar came to Minoc and sought of Gwenno the musical notation to "Stones," needing to know how to perform it on a set of panpipes. This knowledge assisted the hero in the search for the Rune of Sacrifice. If asked by the Avatar to join in the quest to end the war, Gwenno proved happy to do so - especially if Iolo was among the hero's companions.[5]

Immediately prior to the events of Ultima VII, Gwenno encountered a sailor from Buccaneer's Den who offered her a map to the legendary Serpent Isle. Thrilled at the opportunity to explore the strange new land, Gwenno took off on a voyage of exploration, after extracting a promise from Lord British to not give her husband or the Avatar directions to the Serpent Pillars until their current quest was complete. She left a note behind for Iolo at their home near Yew, explaining her absence.

Gwenno made the voyage to Serpent Isle with a small company of Fellowship members and sailors, consisting of Leon, Ruggs, Geof, Palos, Brunt, Deadeye, Scots and Kalen. The voyage was rocky, owing to the Teleport Storms, and during the course of the journey, Geof was either transformed into a chicken or transposed with one.

The group landed near the city of Fawn, where Gwenno parted ways with the sailors and began on her various scholarly explorations of the land. She did substantial research into the ruins and relics of the Ophidian culture, which predated the current inhabitants of the island. She also developed a profound interest in legends of the Gwani, a race of fur-covered creatures living in the icy north lands.

Gwenno eventually trekked to the frozen north herself, where she encountered the Gwani first hand - befriending their race and working to instruct them in the language of men. Sometime during her explorations into the ruins of the Ophidian civilization, however, Gwenno became possessed by the Bane of Wantoness, an aspect of the shattered Chaos Serpent from Ophidian cosmology. In this fallen state, Gwenno ambushed a group of trappers accompanying the hunter, Hazard, slaughtering most of them before being slain by the few remaining survivors. The Gwani, mourning her loss, entombed her at their Death Temple in accordance with their burial practices.

In Ultima VII Part Two, the Avatar's company spent much of their quest on the Serpent Isle looking for leads as to Gwenno's whereabouts - with Iolo being most distraught when news was uncovered about her demise. Following instructions from the Great Earth Serpent, the Avatar was ultimately able to recover Gwenno's body from her icy tomb. She was taken to Monk Isle, where she was revived, and eventually cured of the insanity which left her mind broken after her ordeal with the Bane. Later, after the death of Dupre, she was willing to join the in the hero's quest to halt the coming imbalance.

In Ultima IX, Gwenno could be found in Britannia, living in a new home near the outskirts of Britain, along with Iolo. When her husband left to explore the ominous column that had appeared near Dungeon Despise, he was seduced by its power, becoming Ooli of the Wyrmguard. When the Avatar spoke with her, Gwenno was unaware of her husband's ultimate fate, and implored the hero to help find him. She was most grateful if Iolo was returned to her, thanking the hero for his compassion in not slaying the bard.[6]

Trivia Edit

  • Gwenno's counterpart in reality is the late Kathleen Jones, who was the wife of David R. Watson, the man upon who Iolo FitzOwen is based.
  • Gwenno's hair color (like Julia's) is inconsistent throughout the series. While it is shown as dark auburn in Ultima VI, it later becomes ginger red in Ultima VII Part Two. In the game's official clue book, however, she is described as being blond and is further depicted as such in Ultima IX.
  • In Ultima VI, Gwenno's dialogue will change notably if Iolo is present. She will link arms with her husband and dance if asked to join the party while he is a member, and upon being asked to depart from him, she will remind him to keep his socks dry.[5]
  • In Ultima IX, the Avatar may opt to slay Iolo when encountering him as a Wyrmguard. If this happens, Gwenno will become furious with the Avatar, initially thinking that the hero is playing a sick joke on her when informed of her husband's death. Eventually, however, she will forgive the Avatar, claiming to realize that Iolo had left little choice in the matter.[6]
  • In Ultima Online, there is a "Memorial to Gwenno" in Ilshenar (The land originally meant to be used in UO2). This was added to the game shortly after Kathleen Jones' passing. The location is at 99'24 N by 40'4 W (X:753, Y:493).

References Edit

  1. Iolo. Underworld Dragon's Ultima III Transcript. Ultima III.
  2. Gwino. Underworld Dragon's Ultima III Transcript. Ultima III.
  3. Gweno. Underworld Dragon's Ultima IV Transcript. Ultima IV. "beggars, dance, job."
  4. Gwenno. Underworld Dragon's Ultima V Transcript. Ultima V. "bye, Iolo, job, outlaws."
  5. 5.0 5.1 Gwenno. Underworld Dragon's Ultima VI Transcript. Ultima VI. "folk, Iolo, job, join, learn, Stones."
  6. 6.0 6.1 Gwenno. Quill Dragon's Ultima IX Transcript. Ultima IX.

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