Wednesday, October 31, 2012

[Raeslyn's Story] 2.6: Spiders and a Trip to the Marsh

   I spent the night at the Inn and woke quite pleased and refreshed early the next morning. The sun shone brilliantly down on the forest and the day looked quite fine. I gathered some supplies and headed out into the leafy foliage in search of mushrooms and spider entrails for Professor Bedstraw.

     The capsicum mushrooms proved to be rather tricky to find. They were small, with white stems and bright red tops, which should have made them stand out among all the greenery, but either I wasn't as skilled in the forest as I'd always thought, or the mushrooms were being sought after by others.

     Finally, I did spot a mushroom that matched the description that Bedstraw gave me, sitting innocently in the shade of a giant, drooping tree. When I bent down to inspect the mushroom further, I realized that the underside of the fungus actually glowed. A blue glow pulsed in a steady beat inside the cap of the mushroom, almost like a heartbeat.
It was beautiful and I stared for a few moments, entranced, before managing to remember why I needed it. Carefully, with my gauntlets firmly on to avoid the toxins, I plucked the mushroom about an inch above the ground. Leaving the stem of the fungus ensures that there will be a chance for new growth and reproduction of the mushroom species. I placed the mushroom in a sack I'd brought along for just such a purpose and moved on. Once I'd grown accustomed to looking in certain spots for them, the mushrooms became easier to find and I was pleased to find I soon had the sack quite full of the glowing fungus. I knotted the top of the sack and tied it to my belt purse, out of the way, and than scanned the forest thoughtfully. If I was a spider, I'd want a nice, dark, cool place. Remembering a shady glen nearby the college, I headed in that direction, having easily found my way in the forest.

     To the east of the college, I was easily able to find spiders. I can see how the professor was alarmed. The forest here was swarming with them and spider webs adorned several trees and cave openings. I leaped into a nearby tree and studied the spiders nearby. They were quite large and grotesque, even for crawler spiders, whom I've heard have been known to reach the height of an Elf's knee. I shuddered. I really, really didn't like spiders! But I gave my word to Bedstraw. Loosening my daggers in their sheaths, I jumped back to the ground. Waiting patiently near the tree, I was rewarded by an unsuspecting spider passing by. Quickly I came up behind it, severing several back legs to impede its ability to fight back. With its back legs damaged, the spider was an easy foe and I was able to slice cleanly through the carapace and leap clear of any toxic fluids.
     I spent some more time slaying several more spiders about the glen. Finally, around midmorning, I felt I was satisfied. I stopped for a quick meal by a small brook than headed back to the walls of Argent Glade. Passing through the small town, I got a few waves and awed looks from civilians and travelers. Well used to the attention I drew, I happily waved back.
     Professor Bedstraw was incredibly pleased with my catch and exclaimed happily over the mushrooms.

     "excellent, Ascended! These capsicums are in perfect condition and....well, we'll just have to handle them with care, won't we?" I sincerely hoped he was being rhetorical on the "we" because nothing was going to get me anywhere near them again. I backed up and watched idly as the professor brought the mushrooms over to his work bench and began mashing and chopping and mixing. My gaze wandered as he worked and I happened to see Scotty and his cousin, still in the hazing yard, talking to Fiona. I wondered what they were on about now. Fiona had a satisfied look on her face when she finally left them and I made a note to stop by and see my new friend Scotty on my back to Colten.
     "There, that should be ready!" The professors words drew my eyes back to him and he approached me with a satisfied gleam in his eyes. I stood up and peered at the flask he had in his hands. The color reminded me of some kind of toxic goo from a Life Plane and I hastily backed out of smelling range, having no desire to smell it.

     "I used the reagents you brought me to make a neutralizing salve to sterilize the spider egg sacs." I nodded absently, only mildly curious. "I shall have one of the more advanced students spray any spider egg sacs that are found too near the college." He nodded decisively.

     "But, we also seem to have a goblin problem," the professor continued, and I raised an eyebrow. I knew that already, but since I felt it wouldn't do anyone any good to be alarmed by the goblin threat, I hadn't told anyone at the college, so I was curious as to how he found out. Apparently he was more aware of what went on around here than I'd initially thought. "Could you also use this salve to put out the goblin embers to the east of here? And hopefully, if there is some left, can you take it to Nora Glen? She lives at the Marsh House and I've been told she's having a bit of a pest problem as well. I'd be grateful if you could do this for me, Ascended. My duties at the college prevent me from helping those in need but--" I cut him off. "Yes, I'll help, jeez." I snatched the flask out of his hand and thrust it in my pack, praying to the Vigil that it wouldn't break, and stomped off.

     I cooled off by the time I reached Scotty and his cousin. Scotty looked anxious, but excited, and his cousin only looked concerned and resigned.

     "What's up guys? Scotty?" I asked as I walked up. Murbo's eyes lit up as he saw me and he rolled his eyes at his cousin.

     ", I could use your help, Ascended." He admitted, glancing downward as if ashamed to ask. I softened my expression and nodded. Unlike with Professor Bedstraw, I really wanted to help Scotty and his cousin. They'd really grown on me. "What is it? Sure I'll help." I offered.

     "Fiona says that since Scotty's solution to the Trial of the Three Elements was so innovative, she's planned a special ceremony for him. The catch is that it's in the Sunken Marsh. My brother volunteered to help protect Scotty in the Marsh, but can you help out, please? I don't want anything to happen to my little cousin!" I glanced from Murbo to Scotty. Hadn't he learned already not to accept anything Fiona offers or says? The kid had a lot to learn...

     I agreed to meet Murbo's brother out in the swamp and help protect Scotty. And it wasn't like it was out of my way. I had to deliver the remaining salve to some Nora woman anyway over in that direction.

     I had one last thing to take care of before I set off. I finally sought out Colten again, apologizing for the delay. He was just relieved I came back, and we discussed the situation about the goblins. And he had a task for me as well, a quite upsetting one, actually.

     "My scouts bring me sad news, Raeslyn. Goblin leaders seized several innocent citizens from the roads and put them to the flame as sacrifices to Maelforge, their dragon patron. This brazen act must be avenged! If you can, put the victims to rest, and slay those monstrous goblin leaders. My scouts report that their names are Scald, Bite, Seethe, and Welt. Fitting names for such monsters." Of course I agreed to help those poor travelers. I could do no less. Again, though, I was grateful that Colten's directions pinpointed the goblins to the east, which is the direction I needed to go to help Scotty. At least I wasn't running from one end of Silverwood to another!

      I moved on through the forest, looking for the goblin embers. Suddenly, I stopped and glanced upward. I don't know how I didn't realize it sooner, but there was Overwatch Keep...home of House Aelfwar, those backstabbing elves who had led to my death. I shook with fury as I gazed up at the forbidding shadow of the Keep. Some day... when I was strong enough, I was going to go up there and put an end to the destruction and evil that House Aelfwar brought to Silverwood. It is because of them that my beloved forest is in the desperate situation it is now. Well, perhaps that isn't completely true, but its true enough for me. I gazed at the keep a few more minutes, feeling such mixed emotions that I couldn't bear to move. Why? Why did they have to do that?! How could they betray my trust! By staying in the forest and helping the Aelfwar, I thought I was doing the right thing. I thought it was a sound decision, to not participate in the Mathosian Civil War. Look at how wrong I was...if only I'd known sooner. I finally sighed and dragged my eyes from the Keep. It's no use dwelling on the what if's now.
It's happened, I just need to help clean up the mess. I feel greatly responsible for the disaster that the Aelfwar brought upon Silverwood. I know realistically, I was but one elf, and a rather unimportant one at that, but I somehow feel like I am responsible for all that they did and continue to do in the name of their false god, Greenscale. I sneered. Someday, somehow, I would deliver my vengeance to the green dragon god!

     I forcefully shook off my melancholy thoughts and focused on my mission. I needed to find the goblin embers, put an end to the suffering of those poor souls, and than meet up with Scotty and Murbo's brother to help him get through his second, ridiculous hazing trial. Wait, was I forgetting something? Oh yes... I also had to deliver the remaining neutralizing agent to Nora Glen at Marsh House. I think I remember where that is.
     Around the next rolling hill, I found the embers that I was supposed to take care of. They really were embers. Somehow I wasn't expecting that... there were giant burning logs, kept alight with Flametouched magic. Sprinkling the neutralizing salve on them, miraculously, seemed to work. Don't ask me how, I've not a clue. I didn't question it, however, as it made my job easier. Unfortunately, the wood seemed full of these deadly embers. I knew that one stiff breeze could blow the embers into a dry wood and in no time I'd have a raging forest fire on my hands. Silverwood has ever been a wet, humid forest, being so close to the ocean and having plenty of rains, but I wouldn't put it past those goblins to have infused some kind of magic into the embers to make them burn no matter what the condition of the wood.

     After I'd finally finished that task, I literally ran into the goblin victims. It was horrible! In one goblin encampment, which looked quite established in the forest, there was a burning pyre in the center. On the pyre, tied in the most horrifying way, was what was once the innocent citizen that Colten mentioned. Now there was nothing but a charred and flaming skeleton, twisted in abject agony. I could only stare in horrified fascination. How any being, even a demi human, could be so cruel and corrupted, defies logic. I knew right away I had to cut that poor soul down. No matter that they were no longer alive. I would never feel right, leaving that body in that position. Drawing my daggers, I crept close through the underbrush, remaining unseen to the camp. I spotted a few goblin sentries. Easy enough to take out for a Rogue. Within the camp, there looked to be a caster type, which might be trouble, and a few more goblins lounging around. First, I need to take care of the sentries.

    I crept around behind one unsuspecting sentry and reversed my dagger hilt for ease of use. Than, quick as an eyeblink, I darted out of the shadows and ran my blade along the goblin's neck, killing him before he could even make a sound. As the body hit the ground, I was already gone, heading toward the next sentry. In quick succession, I took out all the remaining sentries, making sure to be careful not to alert the other goblins. It was quite easy for a Rogue of my Ascended status and I was pleased with my work. Than, I moved into the camp itself. The first goblin went down as easily as the sentries, having had no warning of my arrival. Unfortunately, his comrade was too close to not notice my doings and gave a holler, charging me.

    I snapped up my daggers to meet his own blade, keeping the thing from reaching my flesh. The goblin was quite sturdy and strong, but I was lean and agile darted around him, reaching in under his guard and jabbing into soft flesh whenever I saw an opening. Eventually, the goblin became too tired to keep his sword up properly and I stuck a dagger in his chest. Sensing movement behind me, I swiftly dodged to the side and flung a fiery spike of fire magic at the goblin that had hoped to catch me unawares. Ha, not this Rogue! My newfound affinity with fire magic allowed me to throw spikes of flames at him without getting close, but compared to my daggers, the flames didn't do nearly as much damage. Closing with the goblin, I parried his sword thrust and jabbed him in the soft spot under his arm. Spinning my dagger the other way, I cut across his arm, causing him to drop the sword in anguished pain. I than dispatched him to the next life with the next stroke. I have no pity or mercy for these fiends, who would string up a poor helpless citizen for no other reason than to please their fiery god.

     Once all the goblins in the camp had been neutralized, I turned once more to gaze at the flaming pyre, feeling saddened. That poor soul. This should not have happened. I tried not to dwell on whether they had family and loved ones or not, and instead proceeded with cutting the victim down and dousing them with water from my water skin. The second I'd done, that, I heard a roar from behind me and whirled, dropped the charred corpse and drawing my daggers in one fluid motion. And than stared.
      Behind me was the largest troll I'd ever seen. This must be one of the goblin leaders, I knew. He looked royally ticked off and I winced uneasily. He was really big.

     "The red dragon will eat you alive!" The goblin roared at me, madness reflected in his beady eyes. I gulped. Still, I stood my ground, confident I could beat him. What was one goblin against an Ascended? Before he could make a move, I paced around to the side, watching him. The goblin leader followed my movement, but not moving. Fine, I'll go first. I came at him, daggers leading, and was rebuffed by the goblin's weapon. Scowling, I tried bringing my other dagger up under the weapon but the goblin anticipated that. No dummy, this one. I disengaged and backed off warily and the goblin leader smirked. Trying a different tact, I moved to the side and drew my dagger in an exaggerated arc to the left. The goblin fell for the trick and brought his weapon up to block my thrust, never once suspecting the other dagger, which I took the opportunity to bury in his belly. The goblin grunted and shoved me back, almost making me lose my balance. Ascended I may be, but I am still just a slight High Elf.
     Thankfully I'd kept a hold on both of my daggers and I now displayed the bloodied one before me with a satisfied smirk. Gotcha. The goblin, furious, rushed me, and I casually did a pirouette, ducking under his flailing arms and coming up on his vulnerable back. Which I promptly stuck a dagger in as well. This time, I hit something major, and the goblin pitched forward in a staggering fall. He moaned and made to rise again, but than fell and was still. I nodded, satisfied, and cleaned my daggers on some scrap cloth lying about the camp. Than I returned to my previous task, and took down the poor sacrifice. The skull was twisted into a look of pain and horror, and I felt tears prick my eyelids. I told myself it was just the smoke...
      I had to perform this task three more times before I was able to finally be done with my grisly work. All four victims accounted for, I buried them in a shallow grave with rocks piled on top. It was the best I could do on short notice, and truthfully, as depressing as it was, I didn't have the time to perform proper rites.

     By the time I was finished with that horrifying mission, it was late afternoon, the sun slowly sinking below the treetops. I sighed and stretched, than found a nice old tree to sit in and eat a quiet meal. I've yet to give the neutralizing salve to Nora Glen, or meet with Scotty. I can only hope that he waited for my aid before braving the Marshes alone. I've always heard scary stories about that Marsh when I was in college.

     Marsh House was just where I remembered it being, and I spotted a vaguely familiar Dwarf by the stone wall. I nodded at him, thinking he looked just like his brother. First, I needed to get rid of this neutralizing salve stuff, than I could go tend to this special ceremony in the Marsh...

     Nora Glen was a pretty Mathosian in an elaborate blue gown which looked so out of place out here on the edge of the Marsh that I almost laughed in her face.

     "Hello there dear! Welcome to Marsh House!" Her voice was soft and pretty, just like her appearance and I wondered how she hadn't gotten eaten by something yet. "Oh, did Professor Bedstraw send you? He did mention something about a salve for my "pest problem" in a letter." I nodded at the woman and happily handed over the remaining goo. As she inspected it, she chatted at me like an old colleague, going on about boglings and research and the Marsh. Fascinating really, but I have other engagements so...

     "I may be able to modify this with pheremonic additives to make a spray that will help me in my bogling research." The woman continued on happily, unaware of my sour thoughts. Glancing around, I noticed a man trying to catch my eye. Relieved, I walked over.

     "And you are?" I asked saucily. Just because I'm Ascended doesn't mean I'm here to solve everyone's problems.

     "Thomas Penthas," The Mathosian said firmly. "If you are heading into the Marsh, I have some grim news. I've been investigating the boglings' presence in the marsh for some time now, and their being here is nothing good, despite Nora's excitement over the research potential. They plan on severing a Spirit Guide's link to this world." I blinked, shocked. I didn't even know one could do that. That is particularly evil. Spirit Guides were nothing but pure and innocent intent incarnate. They were gentle, guiding beings and had ever been helpful for the Elves of Silverwood. Instantly, I knew I would help.
     "Spirit Guides always take on the form of a forest animal to guide and distribute the blessings of Tavril and help weary travelers. I noticed earlier a gang of boglings drag a deer into their camp. I can only pray that it isn't the Spirit Guide, but I fear the worst. Please, rescue that poor creature. Spirit Guide or not, it is a child of Tavril and must be saved. I can only hope it isn't too late!" The man's impassioned plea moved me and I was nodding before he finished.

     "Of course I'll help. Tavril is close to my heart always and I would never let one of her children be harmed if I could help it." The man looked relieved and thanked me.

     I quickly jogged over to the Dwarf, finally ready to head into the Marsh. The Dwarf, whose name was Kelnin Malm, appeared quite young and robust. Apparently he was a sophomore at the college. He quickly explained the situation to me.

     "You must be that Rogue that Murbo told me was coming to help. Well thank the Vigil! That dratted Fiona's gone and tricked us again! She's cast a spell on Scotty so now he has to do her bidding. I'm beginning to think the student hazers don't have our best interest at heart!" I covered me face with my palm. No really, genius?

     "Where is Scotty now?" I asked the relevant question, gazing anxiously into the Marsh.

     Kelnin also looked into the Marsh fearfully. "That witch Fiona is having him collect items from the Marsh, putting poor Scotty in harm's way because she wants revenge for him winning the hazing ritual. We can't let Scotty get hurt because she's a cheat!" I nodded agreement.

     "Come on, let's go find him," I said, running into the Marsh. Kelnin was quick on my heels, concerned for his cousin.

Monday, October 29, 2012

[Lore] VII: Quicksilver College

     Founded by the High Elves to study Planar magic, Quicksilver College is located at the heart of Silverwood. It is a school for Mages, but does not approve of Warlocks. The school is predominantly full of Mathosian students, and most of the teachers are Elven. Unlike many great edifices erected by the races of Telara, Quicksilver College still stands, a testament to the strength of will of Telara's chosen defenders. Quicksilver is quite possibly the most well known and advanced school on  magic on Telara. Scholars and adepts from all over the land would enroll at the school to learn valuable magical lessons.
     Not much is known about the application process for admittance to the College, but students are asked to bring at least three mandatory items when they arrive at the College: A star iron cauldron, a yew practice wand, and Phynnius Rothmann's book on fire magics.
     The College has an extensive library on various subjects, including the Vigil and the Planes. The library of course, does not rival that of Meridian or Sanctum, but there are quite a few potent tomes located at the College.
     Professors and students live at the College and all visiting scholars and Magi are also housed inside the College walls. There are various fields of study open at the college and students are allowed to study in any field they require.
     Currently there are Professors of Alchemy, Wildlife, Elemental magics, Nature, Chloromancy, Pyromancy, History, Necromancy, Poetry, Applied Magics, and many others.
     Magic is performed openly at the College and the students are always causing some kind of trouble or disaster that the Professors and guards than have to contain. Despite this, the College runs rather smoothly.
     Quicksilver College is an important and crucial part of Silverwood's culture, defense, and status. It is heavily defended by the Guardian Ascended and the Vigilant Defenders, as well as by Argent Glade's own guards.
     Notable students of the college include Asha Catari, Theo Catari, Alsbeth, Shyla Starhearth, Hylas.
     The Quicksilver Scholars reward those who perform tasks for the College with prestigious reputation, items, and titles for those Ascended who are worthy of their notice.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

[Raeslyn's Story] 2.5: Investigating Quicksilver

     The first thing I did upon entering Argent Glade was follow up on the advice given to me by the shade of Carwin Mathos. As he instructed, I sought out the renowned Dolan Ashwalker, who apparently had the ability to augment my Ascended aura to give me more powerful and unique abilities to fight the Rifts.

     "The Vigil was indeed wise to bring you back from the stream, Raeslyn." Dolan said while examining me. Apparently, he thinks my aura has grown more powerful since my appearance in Silverwood. I can't really tell; but than again, would I be able to? Maybe it's like aging. You age, but the process is so slow that you don't really notice it until many years have gone by. Or maybe I'm overthinking this. Again. I smirk.

     "The aura given to you by the Vigil can be augmented by other Vigil-granted powers to help in your fight against the planar invaders. And believe me, there's a lot of planar beasties that need killin'."
     So I spent some time with Dolan learning how to augment my aura with planar charges so I could tap into the full potential of the Vigil's gifts. Using them for the first time was like...nothing I've ever felt before. I felt powerful, invincible. I felt like I could take on anything. I felt larger then I was, and my skin prickled and crackled with live energy. Even Dolan looked impressed as I examined my hands. Somehow, I could see more vividly and feel more strongly. It was like I was hypersensitive and yet, removed from the world at the same time. All too soon, though, the effect faded. Dolan informed me that in order to use that augment, I needed to have a store of planar energy. And since I couldn't harness planar energy myself, I had to get it from an outside source. So in order to be granted these gifts, I needed to gain planar energy first. And in order to do that, I needed to do combat with the planar invaders. Seems kinda odd to me.

     "You truly are a marvel of the Vigil, Raeslyn! With your full Ascended powers activated, the planar invaders won't stand a chance against us Guardians." Dolan grinned at me proudly. I still felt a bit skeptical. Sure, I was learning new tricks, but I was still just one Ascended. There wasn't much I could do against a whole swarm of planar creatures, or a particularly powerful planar enemy. I knew my own strength.

     After leaving Dolan Ashwalker, I entered the outskirts of the town. A thrill went through me as I recognized so many things from my past! It was such a painful feeling, almost like coming home, but not quite. For things had changed indeed. Myself, for one. But there was a subtle air of...something, about Argent Glade now. It didn't have that harmonious, tranquil feel that I fondly remembered from my school days. The people seemed serious and grim, and there were guards stationed everywhere.

     A curtain of shimmery blue caught my eye and I spied another one of those porticums that I'd first seen in Divine Landing. That reminded me of what the porticum master had suggested there, and I stepped up to the blue curtained arch. A young looking Mathosian woman was standing nearby, staring off into nothing with a bored expression. I discretely approached and eyed the shimmery blue veil curiously. The porticum master at Divine Landing said that I could use these doorways to move rapidly from one place to another, over any distance. The mechanics behind that boggle my mind. Best not to think about it. Hopefully the process is safe. I'd hate to end up inside out in some kind of inter-dimensional plane.

     As soon as I approached the veil of blue energy, I could feel a tug at my own Ascended aura. There was more pull the closer I became, until finally, I felt a felt a slight pop, kind of like when you gain altitude quickly and your ears pop from the leveling pressure. I guess I had been "attuned" to this gate and could now access it's powers to move to a different porticum. Huh, nifty.

     I wandered around Argent Glade, investigating all of my old haunts and hang outs. Some things had stayed the same, but a lot had changed and it was hard to reconcile the new with my old memories. Finally, my feet took me to the Quicksilver College itself. I hesitated at the gate, not sure if I wanted to find out what all had changed here since my absence. But if I wanted to find my place as an Ascended in the world, I couldn't avoid my old home forever. So taking a deep breath, I stepped inside the college grounds.
     I was pleased to see that the atmosphere hadn't really changed in the college. To the left, a group of students lounged on the grass, deep in an animated discussion about arcane theories. To my right, two students practiced battle spells on each other. Occasionally, a professor would stroll by, usually trailed by one of their mastered elemental pets. I took a deep breath and felt a smile grace my features. A professor in long blue robes hurried by and I overheard him mutter, "Oh bother, I left the cauldron on in my office again." I snickered. A young student by himself with a very worried expression drew my eye, and feeling nostalgic, I wondered over.

     "Hey there, you look pretty stressed, what's the matter?" I asked curiously. The student looked up and seemed rather taken aback by my appearance.

     "An Ascended!" He gawked at me in awe, before remembering his problems again. "Oh, it's horrible! I'm in so much trouble. My midterm project in wand mastery is due tomorrow and I haven't even finished the written portion! What am I going to do!" He clutched his hair and moaned in distress, causing me to remember my own midterms from all those years ago.

     "Anything I can do to help?" I asked. Why not help the poor kid out? I'd like a break from all the running around and slaying monsters for the Guardians. The student looked up with hope in his eyes.

     "That would be amazing! If you can help me with the practical portion, that would be a huge help. I could definitely get the project done in time if you could do that. My name's Alan by the way!" The boy continued to babble happily, explaining what I had to do and handing me a practice wand. I studied the wand curiously. Being a Rogue, my studies had leaned more toward learning about the natural world, learning how to use daggers, poisons, and the lay of the land to remain in the background. The power in the wand thrummed in my palm, but did nothing else. Obviously I wasn't meant to wield one of these. But hey, I said I would help, right?

     While the kid ran off to write the written portion of his midterm, I considered the wand and my surroundings. According to Alan, his midterms involved casting spells on fellow students and studying the effects. That's all right with me. I remember causing all kinds of pranks in college, so casting spells on fellow students wasn't something I was unfamiliar with. Grinning, I spun the wand in my fingers and strode through the college grounds, falling back into that familiar role with relish.
     Two unsuspecting students sitting on a bench reading a book were my first victims. A beam of light arched from the wand and hit the nearest student in the back. Instantly, the student was transformed into a small, wooly sheep. I laughed at the other student's expression of shock. After only a few seconds, the polymorph spell wore off and the afflicted student found herself on the ground on all fours with an annoyed expression. "How rude!" She huffed.

     "Sorry, homework!" I called in return. I continued on my way, polymorphing a few more students to observe the effects.
     "Awww man, I thought I was going to be a sheep forever! Is my tongue still black!?" One student cried, turning to his companion.
   After growing bored of that, I set out to create some elemental wands for him. I remembered where a few of the cauldrons were for specific planar energies and walked through the college ground looking for them. After submerging the wand in each of the cauldrons to create the specific elemental energies that Alan wanted, I was satisfied.

     As I finished up with the last cauldron, the planar Life one, I happened to look down and saw a few destroyed barrels smashed on the ground near the outskirts of the college grounds. I frowned. That's odd, vandalism was one of the few things the college never had a problem with. I wonder what happened. I hopped down from the teaching platform and approached the smashed barrels cautiously. There was a strange smell around the barrels, and it felt familiar. Kneeling down, I inspected the damage and found that the barrels had been destroyed by Flametouched magic. I blinked in surprise and glanced around out of reflex. Flametouched magic means the minions of Maelforge are somehow involved. What were they doing here, in the college? A chilling notion. Perhaps those dratted creatures were still around. This bore investigating. I got up and scanned the area. Spotting another barrel up against one of the teaching alcoves, I purposely strode over.

     I wacked the barrel experimentally with a dagger and was rewarded. A small, angry goblin hopped out, brandishing a flaming torch. I didn't react openly to the appearance of the feisty little creature, but I did feel my pulse quicken at it.

     "You'll pay for disrupting the master's plan!" The goblin snarled in a thin, reedy voice. I didn't bother to reply and instead drew my second dagger. The goblin was quick on its feet, I'll give it that. But it had no real skill in combat and I quickly disarmed it and thrust my dagger through its ribs. The creature moaned and toppled over and I made a face of disgust. Why anyone, lesser creature or not, would want to join forces with the likes of the evil Maelforge, is beyond me.
     Other barrels around the edge of the college grounds yielded the same results. The barrels were all meticulously placed so that the Argent Glade guards wouldn't notice them in their patrols, and were positioned where they could do damage if exploded. Following the trail of barrels, I found myself on one of the lesser used teaching platforms. Two suspicious looking scholars were standing around what looked like a cauldron of boiling pitch, along with several jars of explosive materials.

     "Hello friend, have you signed up to study at Quicksilver College?" One of the scholars asked me absently, nervously eyeing his companion. Both men looked on edge and I moved my hand nearer my dagger hilts, sensing something amiss.

     "Uh, no, I'm just passing through." I said casually, than gestured to the circle of isolated materials between the two men. "So, what you got here than? Anything interesting?" Before they could protest, I bent and inspected the materials.

     "Hey, get away from there!" The one scholar yelled harshly, making a move toward me. Suddenly, a fire demon sprang from the shadows, and the two scholars shimmered. Moments later, two goblin infiltrators stood where the scholars had been. I can't say as I was surprised, but I was rather dismayed that such a strong demon could sneak into the college unawares.
      "No, what have you done!? I was planning on creating a blazing inferno that would destroy this whole area! Well, you may have stopped my plans, but you'll never stop Maelforge!" The demon howled with rage, waving a staff around. He than began chanting a spell. Quickly I rushed forward, not wanting to be struck by any of his magic, despite that it had a lessened effect on my new Ascended form. It still hurt. I was able to get a good stab in with my left dagger before the demon let off a curse that caused pain to explode in my head. I gasped and nearly dropped my daggers. Only the thought that I'd be defenseless without them kept them in my grip. After a few seconds, I was able to adjust to the pain the curse was causing and again slashed the demon with my daggers. Throwing a quick flame spike at him with one of my daggers, I was able to turn his own element against him, to burn him slowly over time. I grinned at my work, and turned to dispatch the two scholar-goblins. Those two were easier to get rid of, being just underlings. I hissed in a breath as one goblin landed a lucky blow on my wrist, but again I was able to easily dispatch them. When all three minions of Maelforge lay dead on the floor, I stepped back and sheathed my daggers, breathing hard. Things were looking serious here in Silverwood. I had to find a way to put a stop to Maelforge's advances permanently. Quickly, I headed back to the main training yard, searching for Alan. I'd better give him his research and head back to Colten to continue my mission as Ascended. I see that I have much work to do before Silverwood can be safe and cleansed of Maelforge's taint.

     "Oh thank you very much! You saved my grades and my midterm!" Alan was incredibly pleased with my work and had run off to work on who knows what else. I smiled fondly. I wish so very much that I could still be back here, in college.

     Unfortunately, getting back on track was harder than I thought. After aiding Alan, others had noticed my appearance and soon I found my day full of errands for the various people of Quicksilver. I didn't mind overly much, but in the back of my mind I knew that Maelforge wasn't going to just wait for me to run side errands to destroy Silverwood.
     For Jerome Drift, I collected some neglected library tomes on the Vigil and on flame magic. In return for my aid, I was quite pleased that Jerome offered me a very fine dagger, which he jokingly said he had no use for, seeing as how he merely looked after things at the college.

     One other thing I'd like to mention that happened before I made my back to Colten. I came across a bit of student hazing trouble near the grand entrance to the college. Apparently, a small, newbie Dwarf was getting some pretty bad heckling for his lack of experience. Never one to see the younglings hazed, I strode over to offer help. Not to mention, Dwarves were a rare occurrence at the college and I'd hate to see one driven away by cruel students.

     "Hey, what's going on here?" I asked no one in particular. The group parted and a bearded Dwarf turned and looked up at me.

     "Oh good, maybe you can help us, Ascended!" Said the Dwarf, looking disgruntled. I shrugged, "I can try at least," I said honestly.

     "My cousin, Scotty, wants to enroll, but the student hazing committee won't let him in until he undergoes their hazing trial. They are going to subject him to the energies of the Planes. Specifically, Fire, Death, and Air. He could die! I have an idea to help protect him from the full assault of the energies, but I need to get some elemental cores first. Some of the professors have elemental minions following them around. Would you mind using this device and gathering up some elemental cores for me? I can create a shield for Scotty so he won't be harmed by the hazing!" I blinked. That's a rather unconventional solution to a hazing problem. But I knew that Scotty no doubt wanted to undergo the treatment. Usually, if you chickened out of anything the students were doing, you never lived it down. The poor kid already has enough problems, being so small, and being an uncommon race at the college. I bit my lip.
     On the one hand, sure I'd love to help. But it seems a rather extreme solution to the problem. Surely there was something better we could do? But I didn't really have the time to think about it. It was getting darker and I wanted to get back to the Inn for the night, get a good night's sleep, and than head over to Colten tomorrow to see what I could do about that goblin problem. So I reluctantly agreed to do what Scotty's cousin asked. The professors weren't going to like me very much...

     Sure enough, the first professor with an elemental pet that I came across wailed in dismay when I used the device on their precious pet. I wasn't too concerned for the elemental, because I knew that they were tied to the planes and could be resummoned from the planes whenever required or when the professor had enough magic for the summons. After some hunting, I was able to find the elemental pets that Scotty's cousin, Murbo Malm, required for the wards. Quickly, I made my way back to the hazing grounds, to see both Scotty and his cousin facing off against three older students. I handed Murbo the materials and watched with curiosity to see how he would go about this.

     "I'm so glad you were able to get the cores!" Murbo exclaimed over the elemental energies I'd gathered, showing them to Scotty. Scotty nodded, looking rather scared. I don't blame him...sometimes the students can get pretty bad. I glanced across the way and Murbo pointed out the hazing students to me. Fiona Lechtum stood closest and carried herself like the leader of the gang. I smirked. Women make the best leaders. Her henchmen were Wilhelm Nibor and Gene Sagemm. I stood to one side and eyed the three, before glancing at poor Scotty and his determined cousin. Than I sighed.

     "Here, give me those things," I said, with resignation. Murbo happily handed the elemental cores back to me and I sighed dramatically. How do I let myself get pulled into these kinds of situations, I wonder? I chuckled to myself. Working quickly, I set up the cores on some nearby benches and tweaked them a bit. There. Now, as soon as that Fiona wench casts her hazing spells, the planar cores will activate to protect Scotty from the raw elemental power.

     "Prepare to be hazed, Scotty!" She called mockingly. Being a student herself, it took her some time to get the spells ready and Scotty tensed. I breathed a sigh of relief. For a moment I wasn't sure it would work. From Scotty's stunned expression, he didn't think it would either. He gave me a grateful look.
     Again, Scotty gave me a grateful nod, but I could see him trembling. Poor Dwarf. I smiled at him to offer encouragement, feeling a tentative friendship form between us against a common enemy. Fiona looked rather displeased by my aid, but she couldn't protest, as there were no rules about others helping. Grudgingly, she had to admit that Scotty was able to enroll at the College. Scotty cheered mightily and his cousin smiled through his beard. They both thanked me profusely, making me feel light hearted as well. It felt good to help those students.

     "Ey lass, I think that professor wants a word with ya now." Murbo's gruff voice drew my attention from Scotty and I glanced across the bridge. Sure enough, Professor Bedstraw, the Professor of Nature, was beckoning me over. I sighed. Now what? I remember Professor Bedstraw from my time at the college. Even than, he'd looked old. Now he looked positively ancient, with a gray beard almost to his ankles. I waved good bye to Scotty and his cousin and made my way over to the Professor.

     "You wanted to talk to me?" I asked, somewhat warily. I hadn't exactly been the best of students, after all. But Professor Bedstraw seemed not to recognize me.
     "The reason I called you over here, Ascended, is that we have a spider problem." The Professor's words, blunt and straightforward, caught me off guard. I frowned. A spider problem? Since when was that my problem?

     "I know your busy, Ascended, with many other important tasks in Silverwood, but please, if you could help with this, we here at the college would be very grateful." I folded my arms and nodded. I might as well listen. And besides, if it was something serious, I was probably the most qualified to deal with the threat. Although I was still reminded of my promise to Colten to return and deal with the goblin threat as well. So much to do.

     "The spiders have lived in Silverwood for quite some time now, as you would know, being a High Elf; skittering down from their caves in Gloamwood, to the northwest. Lately, though, they seem to have multiplied. This is very dangerous for travelers in general, and our college students in particular. I don't want anyone to get hurt from these rampaging spiders. I think I can mix something up to keep them off the road, but I'll need some ingredients and I have little time to go herb gathering. Could you, please, gather some herbs for me so I can help keep the spiders away from the main paths?" I pondered for a few minutes. It was just another delay, but at the same time, I can see his point, and I didn't want anyone hurt either. Also, it would be benefitting Silverwood in the long run, as the spider infestation was no doubt causing havoc with the balance of nature.

     I nodded. "Sure, I can gather herbs for you. Which ones do you need?"

     Professor Bedstraw looked grateful. "Thank you Ascended! I need capsicum mushrooms and some spider entrails. The spiders are deathly afraid of the smell that their entrails gives off. I can mix it with the mushrooms and--" I held out my hands to halt his explanation. "I don't need all the details, prof. I'd rather not know what your mixing." I wrinkled my nose. Yuck, spider entrails...note: find a worn out sack to bring with me when I went out, because I did not want those things anywhere near my person. After getting a quick description of the mushrooms from Bedstraw, I left the college grounds behind.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

[Rogue Soul] I: Bladedancer

The Soul of  A Bladedancer
The Bladedancer soul plays a part in these purposes:
  • Combat Medic (Healer)-10pts.
  • Voidtouched (Melee DPS)-15pts. **Requires Ascended Soul Pack (Shadeborn Soul)**
  • Mad Genius (Melee DPS/Support)-10pts. **Requires the Storm Soul Pack (Tactician Soul)**
  • Explosives Expert (Ranged DPS)-15pts.

External Sites:
A Bladedancer Guide
Bladedancer Talent Calculator
Bladedancer Video

For the abilities listed in the table below, this is based on a Rogue with no points spent in that tree yet, fair warning. Numbers will most assuredly change the further you go into the soul.

     **Bonus Mastery: Each point in the Bladedancer Soul increases damage by 1%.
Type of Soul
An offensive specialist who overcomes opponents with precision strikes and graceful agility. Their deadly dance is so fluid as to be mesmerizing, enabling a talented Bladedancer to easily avoid or deflect incoming damage, while simultaneously launching lethal attacks of their own.
40pt Talent
Hundred Blades”   40 energy           6.0second cast    
AE damage     Req melee weapon      Cooldown: 30sec.
Deals X damage over 6sec. with each weapon to up to 8 enemies in a cone within 20 meters of the rogue. Allows movement
Legendary Hundred Blades
Deals X dmg over 6s. with each weapon up to 8 enemies in a 20m cone. Allows movement. Consumes energy per tick, increasing by 25% each tick.
51pt Root Ability
Fated Blades  10 energy   Instant cast   Cooldown: 1.5min
Self buff     No Global Cooldown
Increases attack power contribution to all bladedancer attacks by 150% and causes them to completely ignore the enemy’s armor. Lasts 15sec.
Legendary Fated Blades
Increased attack power for all bladedancer attacks by 150% and causes them to completely ignore armor. Can have another Rythmic Action at the same time.
Main Weapons
History (from the Rift Site)
The first bladedancer was an Elven buccaneer by the name of Estrael, who became legend after defending a High Elf village from an Abyssal raid for ten days straight. She had no links to the village, being one of a larcenous crew of pirates who sailed up and down the coast, taking advantage of the chaos that ruled the Age of Dragons. When a storm caught up Estrael’s ship and dashed it against the cliffs of Moonshade Highlands, her battered body washed ashore with the wreckage. A young Elf woman named Loalai found Estrael, took the buccaneer in and nursed her back to health. Such kindness was rare on the high seas and Estrael was touched.
One morning, a dark fog descended on Loalai’s village, and deep ones and cephalons spawned from the mists to drag fisher-folk screaming into the sea. Before the monsters could escape, Estrael rushed to the beachhead, flashing twin scimitars and eyes as gray and cold as steel.
All fluid nimbleness and vicious grace, Estrael’s unique fighting style frustrated and dazzled the monsters, stalling the destruction of the village. She met the enemy attacks with parry and riposte, channeling the force of their onslaught into deadly strokes of her own. They came at her as a gibbering mass, but Estrael’s blades became a whirlwind of gleaming metal. For ten days, the Bladedancer held the forces of Akylios at bay, until a High Elf war-band arrived and drove them back into the sea.
But the war-band’s captain recognized Estrael as a wanted woman. As he stepped forward to shackle her, the villagers rushed to defend their protector.
“I deserve this.” Estrael said as she pushed the fisher-folk away. Loalai accompanied them, to make Estrael’s case before the elders. Out of respect for her courage and prowess, Estrael’s captors let her train Loalai during the march back to the Elven capital. Nightly they practiced, and a crowd of spectators gathered at every town. Soon, many female soldiers had joined in the drills.
One morning, Estrael’s bindings lay limp and frayed beside the tree she had been bound to the night before, while Loalai and a score of female guards were nowhere to be found.
Estrael was never caught, but the Elves still sing of a ship full of impossibly swift woman warriors thwarting the riftborn on Telara’s coasts and high seas.
Mastery of duel blades with sharply honed edges allows a Bladedancer to unleash devastating close combat attacks in quick succession. Their honed skills and supernatural agility allows them to avoid incoming damage for a short period of time and launch lethal sneak attacks on the unwary.
Once a Bladedancer’s fury is spent, their armor is scant protection against a foe. They must move quickly to avoid being overcome and defeated. A Bladedancer relies on their energy, quick blade-work, and use of abilities to survive long fights.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

[Raeslyn's Story] 2.4: Here, Deliver this Message!

      I'd forgotten how absolutely beautiful Silverwood was in the morning. The sun seemed to frame each individual leaf of each tree in a lining of spun gold and the grasses along the road wavered gently. Birdsong could be heard sporadically and the snuffling of small forest animals occasionally interrupted the silence. It wasn't the silence before battle, or the silence of held breath. It was the comfortable woodsy silence of a forest. Underneath, she could sense the sinister workings of the Wanton Maw and the Aelfwar as they tried to undermine all that the Elves had wrought in the wood, but I pushed that from my mind and concentrated quite happily on enjoying the journey to Argent Glade.

     Around midmorning, I stopped along a fast moving brook and settled down on a boulder for a snack. I had some dried meat in my pack, along with a few odd bits of food that I'd saved from my travels and while it wasn't the best laid meal, it did fill my belly, which was all I was looking for. After filling my flask with the cool waters of the stream and drinking my fill as well, I stood and stretched, content.
     Hoof beats on the road behind me startled me out of my pensive mood and I immediately ducked behind the boulder, hands on my daggers. I watched, tense, as a bay colored horse trotted into view, coming from the direction of Argent Glade. The man atop the steed was staring straight ahead, back straight in the saddle. He was wearing the telltale armor of the Guardians but he sensed different to me. I can't quite put my finger on what I was sensing...

     The realization of who, or rather, what, the man was caused me to gasp, widening my eyes in amazement. Another Ascended, like myself! I couldn't believe it! Here was another Ascended, a mortal who had died and been chosen by the gods. And he was no one I even remotely recognized, which led me to believe he was just a regular soldier following orders, much like myself. I felt a stirring in me as I watched the figure on horseback continue on down the road at an easy pace. I really wasn't alone in this. There were others, with the same status as I, with the same background as I maybe, who were willing to put their lives on the line, their futures, to protect Telara from the Blood Storm and the cults. An undefined emotion welled up inside me and I was startled into a small, choked sob. How silly of me, getting overly emotional over the sight of an Ascended on horseback. I shook my head, pushing the strange emotions down and biting my lip to keep any other embarrassing sobs inside.

     The incident with the Ascended traveler left me a bit shocked. I also admit I felt much better and the warmth I'd felt as I watched him ride away hadn't left me yet. In fact, it had spread and I now felt warm, safe, part of something greater.

     I continued on down the road until I came to the giant hollowed out log that marked Argent Glade's territorial border. I paused and glanced around cautiously. I didn't want to be ambushed by agents of the Wanton Maw while inside, but I couldn't see anything menacing around. As I had been walking I'd sometimes caught a brief flash of something in the woods that looked suspiciously like a goblin, but all I'd glimpsed was flashes before the creatures were gone and pursuing them into the deeper parts of the forest seemed rather pointless and foolish. I'd hate to end up captured or injured because of my furious need to kill the buggers. Best get to Colten Feddel, deliver my message, and be off to the College. After I was finished there I could see about putting a stop to the blasted goblin infestation.

     Silently I entered the gigantic hollow log. It was a felled ancient tree from many centuries before. The tree had been sacred and powerful so to honor its memory, instead of cutting the tree up and removing it from the path, the Elves had instead forged a tunnel through the core of the tree, continuing the path through it rather than around it. I rather liked the idea and walking through the tunnel always gave a secret thrill of excitement that I couldn't explain. The joy of being inside something so big, so strong and powerful. The....well, as I said, I can't explain the feeling properly.

     I passed through the hollowed log and exited the other side without incident. On the other side, unlit magical torches lined the path. From experience I knew they would flare to life as the light dimmed, lighting the way for travelers in the dark so they knew where the road led. It was an ingenious idea that that Mathosians had come up with. The Mathosians were quite the quick-witted race, for humans.

     I calculated in my head how much longer I had to go till I reached Argent Glade and was satisfied to estimate that I'd probably arrive before noon. At the pace I was going, it shouldn't be too much longer, than I could settle in at the Inn in Argent Glade and get a real meal. Something hot and covered in gravy. I grinned at the thought and quickened my pace, eager to get there. Of all the places I'd explored in Silverwood, I have the greatest fondness for Argent Glade and the Quicksilver College. I'm sure that's mostly because I was born and raised there. But the atmosphere also pleased me. Even though I'd been a horrible student and a disobedient daughter, I still enjoyed my past experiences in the small Elven village.
     Coming up to the next landmark, a large bridge made of one half of a tree trunk, I slowed, than stopped. There were two strange Mathosians standing on either side of the log bridge, carrying weapons. True, they were wearing the armor of the Guardians, but I slowed and approached cautiously anyway.
     One of the defenders, a female, nodded at her companion and gestured to me. The man snapped to attention and eyed me with interest. I hesitated a moment more, than squared my shoulders and walked up to them.

     "Greetings, traveler. What is your business in Argent Glade?" the man asked in a brisk but polite tone. I smiled in a non-threatening way, keeping my hands loose at my sides. I didn't want to have to defend myself against what was supposed to be considered allies.

     "On my way to Argent Glade. To Colten Feddel with a message and status report from Rudi Tanlop of Sterling Hills." I said, in just as brisk of tones.

     The man's eyebrows shot up in surprise and he glanced at his companion. The woman smiled in a relieved way and nodded at me.

     "Truly, you bring word from Sterling Hills? We haven't had a courier from there in weeks and truth be told we were becoming fairly worried. The goblins keep ambushing travelers and causing all manner of trouble here at the camp. It's all we can do to keep them from overwhelming us. News will be welcome, I only pray that it is good news you bring, messenger."

     I opened my mouth to protest their assumption of my being merely a messenger, but then stopped and nodded. Might as well not bother. They were only guards after all and I shouldn't have to explain myself. Besides, if I heard one more "Oh look, an Ascended!" comment, I was going to start sharpening my daggers on some Guardians. Well, not really, but ...ya know.

     "Go with the Vigil's blessing, friend." The vigilant defenders intoned. They stepped further to the side as a sign of courtesy, leaving the way free across the log bridge. I shrugged and nodded, murmuring an absent thank you.

     I was halfway across when I noticed why there were guards at the log bridge. Just past it, where the bank sloped upward from the stream, a small bustling camp had been set up. I was rather shocked, as there were no way stations or camps on the way to Argent Glade. But I suppose that was before all the upheaval and destruction that Aedraxis and his rifts caused. My mood darkened as I thought of that monster and I shook my head to be rid of the thoughts.

     The camp wasn't that large, but it was quite full. There were all manner of people bustling about. I saw Dwarves, Mathosians, Elves. I saw plenty of Guardians, defenders, and even some of the self-trained Argent Glade guards. One of the last I even recognized, hazily, from my time in Argent Glade before Ascension.

     She nodded at me and called, "Good morning friend. I hope you didn't have any trouble on the roads. There are all kinds of beasts around-more so than usual it seems." Her friendly but neutral conversation brought a grin to my lips and I stopped.

    "Oh, nothing my daggers couldn't handle." I said, patting my dagger sheaths. Seeing the stains of the vespid's black blood on the dagger handles, I grimaced and reminded myself that I needed new daggers fashioned. Perhaps there was even a weaponsmith in this camp. Across the path, the whinny of a horse caught my attention and I turned and stared in admiration. A small group of horses stood, stamping their hooves behind a crudely erected picket fence. The horses were tall, well built and well muscled. Each was clad in light metal armor including a faceplate and hoof protectors. What magnificent beasts. One thing I greatly approved of that the Mathosians had brought to Silverwood long ago.

     I was a bit shocked to realize that I actually recognized a few of the faces about the camp. There was Vadivy, Quicksilver College's fish expert, and Kelly, the Master Survivalist, who had taught me how to track. I grinned and waved, but he didn't seem to recognize me back. A Dwarf by the name of Rorth Devalm stopped me and offered me something called a "Planar Essence", which apparently was an augment for Planar power. He said it was very popular with aspiring Ascended and I said I'd think about it.

     I approached a Mathosian man who had the look about him of a merchant and waited patiently while he conversed with a young Elf girl who looked barely old enough to be leaving her parent's house. I eyed her curiously while I waited, wondering what she was doing here. When she turned to go, I saw the Quicksilver College insignia on her robes and realized she must be a student of the College. For some odd reason that pleased me. If the College was still accepting students, things couldn't be that bad off, could they?

     When the Elf girl had moved off, I stepped up to the merchant's table.

     "Hello friend. My name is Sten Fumlen. What can I help you with on this fine day?" He gave me an appraising look. "Perhaps you'd like a new leather sash for that pretty waist of yours?" He suggested, waggling his eyebrows.

     I rolled my eyes and chuckled. "Actually, I was hoping to see if you had any daggers available. I seem to have....broken mine." Well, not broken per se, but I couldn't think of what else to say. I pulled out the daggers in question and gently laid them on the table, almost regretfully. I loved my daggers, all of them. The merchant eyed my daggers with curious horror, as if wondering what on earth could have happened to damage them that badly.

     As it turned out, he did in fact have a nice pair of matched daggers. I hefted them to check the balance, found them satisfactory, and spent several minutes haggling over a price. Finally I was satisfied.

     "Thank you good lady for doing business with old Sten. Anything else I can do ye for?" He idly clinked my coin in his palm and pocketed it.

     "Actually, as a matter of fact, do you know where I can find a Colten Feddel? I need to deliver a message." The man darted his eyes to me again with renewed interest.

     "Colten? Ya, I know where he is. Right hand man of Brougan, after all, not like he can't easily be found if you want em. He's over yonder." The man gestured behind me to the left and I turned to look. I saw a young Elf male with braids leaning over a flat metal table analyzing some papers. I thanked the merchant and strode across the path to deliver my message.

     Colten raised his head as I approached. At first he frowned as he studied me, than his eyes widened and he gave a pleased smile.

     "An Ascended! We are truly blessed." He said in greeting when I was closer. I nodded wearily, feeling quite tired of hearing variations of that comment. Wordlessly I handed him the report, which he took and eyed with interest. He gasped, glanced at me again, than reread the letter. I hadn't a clue what it said so I just stood there idly, resting one foot.

     "A report from my friend Rudi, I see. This is troubling news." Colten's voice was soft and fluid like all Elves. I nodded, thinking sure, okay, not a clue what it says but I'll go with it. "We've been keeping an eye to the North for so long that we often forget how easy it is to flank Argent Glade." Blinking, I eyed him curiously and he held the letter out for me to read.

     I skimmed it quickly than furrowed my brow. Ah. I suppose I hadn't thought of it in that light when I'd been out destroying vespids that the goblins and tainted. That evidence meant that the goblins had managed to skirt Argent Glade and get behind its defenses. Not good news at all. I folded the report and handed it back, nodding.

     "We can't allow Maelforge's minions to continue their advance. For the sake of our way of life, we need to defend Argent Glade against the Wanton Invasion." Colten continued firmly. I wholeheartedly agreed. "Maelforge would like nothing more than to see our shrines to the Vigil burned to cinder. His goblins have apparently spread throughout the woods to our south and will set fire to our sacred shrines if we don't stop them."

     "I agree." I said in response. Colten opened his mouth and I held up a hand. "However much I would like to help, I have some unfinished business to complete in Quicksilver College and I have been travelling and fighting for some time now without proper rest. When I am rested and have settled my affairs in Quicksilver, I will return here and aid your defenders and the Guardians against the goblin threat. You have my word as an Ascended." I said it as a statement, leaving no room for protest. Colten looked crestfallen that I wasn't immediately offering my aid, but I had told the truth. I was exhausted and emotionally strung out from the past weeks. I needed some time to rest and think and I wanted to search for my mentor.

     After agreeing to come back and speak to Colten after my tasks in the College were complete, I continued north up the road to Argent Glade. I knew it could only be about a fifteen or twenty minute walk past that little outpost, since I could see the roofs of buildings through the canopy of leafy trees. I was quite eager to search for information on my mentor and I found I was greatly looking forward to a soft bed. Though I would never forsake the Covenant to Tavril and the Vigil, I admitted to enjoying the comforts that the Mathosians brought to Silverwood. I would never settle down, but I was not one to foolishly pass up the offer of a good rest when it came along.

     Fondly I glanced ahead, reminiscing on past events and eager to see my old comrades in the Blunted Quill, Argent Glade's popular Inn.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

[Special Feature] II: Shyla Starhearth

Shyla Starhearth
     Shyla Starhearth is the High Priestess of Tavril and the voice of the gods. She is the one that keeps the Guardians in faith. It is her compassionate nature, kind words of wisdom, and sage advice that help the Guardians stay whole and dedicated to the Vigil. She is a stunningly beautiful High Elf, Ascended along with many others on Thedeor Field when the Mathosian armies fell to Aedraxis's evil power.
     The love Shyla had for the elven prince Hylas is legendary, as is their heart-breaking division after Aedraxis came to power. For over a century they were together. They loved so deeply that the songs sung about them could fill the library at the Chancel of Labors. They had no secrets, no arguments, no doubts. Their love was perfect. Until Aedraxis the tyrant became king.
     When Mathosia called on the High Elves for aid in the battle against Aedraxis and his endless court, the leaders of the High Elves were of split mind. Shyla, ever concerned for the other beings of Telara, wished to lend aid to the Mathosians, sensing that if Aedraxis was not stopped, all of Telara would be in danger. Prince Hylas, on the other hand, urged that the Elves stay out of it. He did not want to risk losing Elven lives when they had not recovered from the Kelari Exodus. He believed that the civil war in Mathosia was a personal matter and didn't in any way effect the Elves of the wood and that they should ignore the plea for aid.
     Their argument, though fierce, was something of a political argument. It did not break them apart, for their love was eternal. But they could not agree on this matter. Despite his urgings, Shyla decided to lead the Elven people to Thedeor Field to fight alongside the Mathosians against the evil of Aedraxis. Unfortunately, all on that field were slain, including the Priestess.
     After her glorious resurrection as an Ascended, Shyla ran straight home to Hylas as soon as she could. However, she found him much changed. She explained to him that the Vigil had spoken to her, had chosen her as their champion against the evil cults and the Blood Storm attacking Telara. He was cold, bitter, jealous. He was suspicious of her new status as chosen of the gods, and resentful. He professed that there was no proof it was even the gods that had resurrected her. Saddened and confused, Shyla nevertheless stuck by him, forgiving and loving him despite his actions and trying to repair the damage done by their recent parting.
     But they argued again, this time heatedly, bitterly, with cold finality. Shyla again wanted to help others other than her own people, when the leaders of the newly formed Guardians in Sanctum approached the Elven council with the intent of enfolding them into its ranks. Shyla welcomed this idea, wanting to help mold the newly founded Guardians into the Vigil's weapon and help protect Telara against the new threat from the Planes. Hylas refused again, citing loss of Elven lives as his reason. Shyla tried reasoning with him as often as she could, but he refused to consider it.
     Finally, shockingly, Hylas withdrew from Elven society. Taking his royal Elven guard, the Aelfwar, he holed himself away in their ancestral castle, refusing to let any outsiders in. He sent a message to Shyla stating that he no longer wished to associate with her and that she had tainted the Elven people with her dealings.
     Shyla was absolutely devastated. Heartbroken, she took the remaining elves to Sanctum to join the Guardians in protecting Telara.
     Shyla suspects that the unrest and evil in the Silverwood is somehow connected to Hylas and his Aelfwar, along with all the Fire Rifts spawning in the forests. She fears having to confront her old lover but she is confident she will hold strong for her people. She is considered the Pentarch of the Vigil now, the High Priestess for all the gods. She is the visionary leader of the Guardians and provides advice, strategy and wisdom to its leadership alongside Cyril Kalmer and Borrin Gammult.
     Shyla has the habit of taking tea with Cyril once a week to discuss strategy, battle plans and various problems about the Rifts. She very carefully never mentions anything to do with Hylas, and is amused by Cyril's attempts at concern and fatherly care.

     Update Nov, 2016*- Shyla plays a pretty big role in the newest expansions, where she guides and protects the baby dragon Tasuil, and can be found with him in the new zones, wearing new armor. It seems she has finally taken a more active role in the defense of Telara.

References: For the most part, all info on Shyla is easy to come by if you read the quests in the tutorial Mathosia zone, as well as do complete the Saga of the Aelfwar questchain, where you learn quite a bit about her and Hylas. There's also a few artifact sets about her famous love affair with the Aelfwar prince, and their sad falling out. In Greenscale's Blight you witness her confront Hylas for the last time and you can tell she still cares about him but she knows that she can't let that interfere with her duties to the Vigil. I was actually quite shocked to see Shyla in Alittu, with the adorable dragon Tasuil, and you even get a quest where you have to escort her and the dragon out of town because no one wants them there anymore. I'm happy that NPC's are finally getting some more attention in Rift other than just to sit in Sanctum looking bored all day.