|“||Avatar! Know that Britannia has entered into a new age of enlightenment. Know that the time has finally come for the one true lord of Britannia to take his place at the head of his people. Under my guidance, Britannia will flourish. And all the people shall rejoice and pay homage to their new... Guardian. Know that you, too, shall kneel before me, Avatar. You too, shall soon acknowledge my authority. For I shall be your companion... your provider... and your master!||„|
|~ The Guardian|
The Guardian is the main antagonist of the later entries in the Ultima series of videogames, first appearing in Ultima VII: The Black Gate.
The Guardian first appears at the very start of the game, as he interrupts the game's title sequence and emerges from the screen of the Avatar's computer in the real world, proclaiming that he will soon be the lord and master of the world of Britannia, the realm frequently visited and protected by the Avatar. When the Avatar enters Britannia, the Guardian continues to communicate with them and actually gives advice on more than one occasion. Despite this, no-one else in Britannia has even heard of the Guardian.
The Avatar soon become suspicious of a new religion called the Fellowship, whose preaching sounds suspiciously similar to what the Guardian has previously told him/her. As the game progresses, the Avatar discovers that the Fellowship's leader, Batlin is secretly building a black gate that will allow the Guardian to enter Britannia, whereupon he will be virtually unstoppable due to his immense power. The Avatar succeeds in creating a magic wand to destroy the black gate, but in doing so the link between Britannia and Earth is severed, and Batlin escapes.
Ultima Underworld II
At the start of the game, the Guardian uses his power to create a blackrock dome above the castle of Britannia's ruler, Lord British, which also traps the Avatar and his party in the castle, rendering them helpless while the Guardian (presumably with Batlin's assistance again) attempts to enter Britannia once more. As with Ultima VII, the Guardian's role is mostly limited to taunting the Avatar, who visits several other worlds previously conquered by the Guardian, including one where he wiped out the entire native population when they tried to rebel against his rule.
Ultima VII: Part II
The Guardian has a lesser involvement in this game. While he is seen in the game's introduction instructing Batlin to go to an alternate dimension known as the Serpent Isle to continue their plans, when the Avatar arrives there it turns out that Batlin has started working against the Guardian in his own grab for power. However, when Batlin accesses the Ethereal Plane in an attempt to carry out his plan, he leaves himself open to attack from the Guardian, who immediately kills him for his betrayal.
After that, the Guardian is not seen again until the game's ending, where his gigantic disembodied hand snatches the Avatar away.
In this game's opening cinematic, the Guardian banishes the Avatar to the world of Pagan, a dimension previously conquered and left desolate by the Guardian, intending to leave the Avatar helpless while he follows through on his promise to conquer Britannia and Earth. During the course of the game, the Guardian's voice taunts the Avatar with boasts about how Britannia is suffering at his hands.
At the end of the game, the Avatar returns to Britannia, only to find that it has apparently since been conquered by the Avatar. However, this ending is ignored by the next game in the series.
The final Ultima game gave the Guardian by far his largest role in the series. In the game's opening he is shown to have finally succeeded in entering Britannia with the help of Lord Blackthorn, who was previously the main antagonist of Ultima V. Free to use his immense powers, he caused a series of huge columns to erupt over the surface of the planet, which warped the virtues of the native population and caused them to turn on each other. In addition, the columns would gradually drag Britannia's moons down until they finally collided with and destroyed the planet.
When the Guardian and Avatar finally encountered each other face-to-face, the Avatar tried to attack the Guardian, but only succeeded in injuring himself. The Guardian then revealed his true nature; when the Avatar undertook the quest to achieve that title during Ultima IV, the evil expelled from his body soon formed its own being, which became the Guardian. Furthermore, while it was impossible for the Avatar to kill the Guardian, it was quite possible for the Avatar to die without any adverse effects on the Guardian, who nonetheless chose not to kill him yet.
After discovering the full extent of the Guardian's plan and defeating Blackthorn, the Avatar found that the only way to kill the Guardian would involve sacrificing his own life. Subsequently, he made his way back to the Guardian's fortress, where he created a Barrier of Life to trap the Guardian and himself. Finally, the Avatar cast the "Armageddon" spell, destroying both himself and the Guardian forever, and freeing Britannia from the influence of the columns.
In his earlier appearances, the Guardian was shown to have more of a manipulative personality, aiding the Avatar presumably in the hope that (s)he would voluntarily join the Guardian's side, and not becoming openly hostile until later in Ultima VII. Ultima Underworld II indirectly revealed more about the Guardian's personality, showing him to be callous, sadistic and even genocidal, an impression further cemented by his willingness to obliterate the world of Britannia in Ultima IX.
In all of his appearances, the Guardian took the form of a red-skinned humanoid with glowing eyes and sharp teeth. He evidently had the power to control his size, as he was around two to three times the height of a normal human in the ending of Ultima VII, then big enough to hold the Avatar in the palm of his hand during Ultima VII: Part II and Ultima VIII, and finally human-sized in Ultima IX.
- The Guardian was voiced by Bill Johnson in all his appearances. Michael Dorn was originally set to voice him in Ultima IX, but the game's storyline was heavily altered during development, rendering the original voice tracks useless. By this time, Dorn was busy working on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, leading to Johnson being re-hired for the role.
- Another side-effect of the alteration of Ultima IX having its story altered was the explanation of the Guardian's origin. The original intention was that the Guardian was a fusion of what remained of the Shadowlords, who shared the antagonists' role with Lord Blackthorn in Ultima V.
- The Guardian is the only being to be the main antagonist in more than one Ultima game, and one of only three overall to be a named antagonist in more than one game in the series. The other two are his two servants, Batlin and Lord Blackthorn, although Blackthorn was not working under the Guardian during his first appearance.
- Though it is not explained how the Guardian allied himself with with Lord Blackthorn, a scroll found on the Serpent Isle in Ultima VII: Part II reveals that after being exiled from Britannia at the end of Ultima V, Blackthorn found himself there. Presumably after killing Batlin for his betrayal, the Guardian found a way to contact Blackthorn and persuaded him to join forces.
- At the end of Ultima VII, the player is given the choice of destroying the black gate at the cost of not being able to return to Earth, or using the gate to get back home and allowing the Guardian to conquer Britannia. All subsequent games in the series treat the Avatar destroying the gate as being the canonical ending. From the same game, another way of dealing with the Guardian is to cast the "Armageddon" spell, which kills everyone on the planet except for the Avatar, Lord British and Batlin, and causes the Guardian to simply lose interest in conquering the now-desolate world. Needless to say, this is not considered a true victory for the player.